Saturday, January 19, 2013

Why football and shopping are exactly the same thing...and other thoughts I have about random things.

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I think lots of things. Some of them makes sense (like toast and homemade jam with butter are absolutely delicious) and others take a little explaining. Like why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.  My Wonderful Amazing Husband and I laugh together sometimes talking about how one and the other of us would react if we could spend even a moment inside the others' head. I have informed him that whenever I think about how his mind works, there is always the sound of gears and mechanical equipment that goes along with it. I am pretty sure I am right too - I think he just doesn't notice the sound because it has always been there and so he is used to it by now.

This is the only example I could find to illistrate how my mind works:

But you have to imagine that all those tiny dots are actually words. There is lots of color in my brain - I think in color most of the time. (I have never dreamed in black and white in my life) and the color may or may not be actual pictures. Every person in my life has a color, every event, every word. And what part of my brain is not illustrated in color, is made up of words and phrases just floating around within the color - the words are probably not spelled correctly, but I can understand them so that is all that really matters.

At heart, I am a people person. The unusual amount of solitude I have had in my life has curbed that a bit so that I understand and even identify with the introverts in my life. But ultimately, if I like the people I am with, being social gives me energy, it does not take it away. So I think my original programming was "extrovert" and life has just taught me how to deal without people when I have to.

I believe I have talked before about how when I was growing up, I only stepped outside my house and out among my peers 1-2 times a week, and even then it was only for a few hours, at most, each time. So I had to become a quick study. I learned how to watch body positioning, phrasing, language and social cues so that I could take as full advantage of being with people as I could. There is little worse then being an extrovert, desperate for human interaction, only to discover that because you don't understand general social cues, you are more alone among your peers then without them.

As I grew older, I more and more realized what I was doing, and was able to filter. Who was socially successful? What were they doing/not doing that was different from those that were not successful? What measuring stick in different social groups was used to judge that success? What kind of success was more likely to contain the aspect of longevity that I needed in order to take me through my teens and into adulthood. What relationships had purpose? How did I measure that purpose? What needs did they fill? Did they benefit both parties involved or just one? What did the benefit look like? Was there power at play? Who was the dominate? Why?

I was able to learn the traits needed to climb the social ladder - well, to be satisfied with my position on the ladder at least. Sadly I was not always nice about it, and please let me take this moment to apologize to anyone I may have hurt in my psychological teen experiments - goodness that sounds terrible!  But let us call it what it was. I lost friendships that could have been lasting because I forgot to be a good friend, I was too interested in the science behind it all. I did have a handful of real friends in there, and I am blessed beyond measure to still have those friends. We have stuck together through flame and famine.

As I got older, I learned that people needed to be treated as people, they were not my own lab rats - sorry again. I am trying to be honest here. And I have been greatly humbled by God and by people through it all. One of my directors in college used to tell us the story of how he became an actor.  He said it all started because he struggled with stuttering as a child. But he soon learned, that if he had something memorized he didn't stutter. So he created and memorized a response to every social setting he could think of - and in so doing, trained himself in acting.

That story always struck a chord with me - as a child I felt like every time I was put into a social setting I had a handicap (imagined as it may have been) because I had so little experience among people. And so I started memorizing. I had catch phrases, automatic responses and "an answer for everything" so I could appear to be quick witted - whether I was or not (teenagers are extremely predictable). And, as a result, I have always felt completely at home on the stage.

Of course, all that to say: Even as an adult I have a unique perspective of people. I don't think my perspective is always correct, I don't claim a deep understanding beyond the surface that is presented to me. But I will claim the unique.

For instance, as my title suggests: It has recently occurred to me that shopping and football are exactly the same thing. How did I come up with this hypothesis you ask? Well, the other day I was attempting to find myself a new pair of jeans. I hate shopping for jeans, almost as much as I hate shopping for shoes. And as I was boogie-ing myself into a perspective pair in the dressing room, I overheard two teenagers talking a few stalls down.

Teen #1: (her phone bleeps): Awe, it is my mom. She says we need to be all done.
Teen#2 : How does this dress look? Awe, already? Ha! And we didn't even get what we came here for!
#1: I know! We have like a BILLION things and we didn't even have time to find what we were really looking for!
#2: Yeah, like the time goes by so fast when you are shopping? Have you ever noticed that? Like when you are shopping the time just flies by and you are done before you even know it?
#1:'s sad.

This got me thinking. And we are talking generally here - why is it that girls like shopping? And as the differences between the genders is one of my favorite topic of thought; I grabbed the first thing I could think of on the opposite side: Football.

Why is it, that girls like to shop. And guys like football. (again people, we are talking generally. I know there are always exceptions.)What evolutionary gene is responsible? I knew there had to be a connection between the two. So I started to pay attention - both to myself and the feelings I get while shopping and watching those around me. I always use myself as a control in my social experiments. I think I have mentioned this before. I make assumptions based on things I have heard or the way I perceive a matter. It is surprisingly accurate to the point where I am surprised when it is not accurate...which also happens sometimes. But I generally give myself about an 80% accuracy rating, which is sufficient to my own quanderings.

I am a bargain shopper. I get a jolt of adrenalin when I can buy something I need for a fraction of what it goes for retail. I generally save an average of about 30% off my bill by shopping sales and using coupons, sometimes far more. Why? Because, deep down anthropologically speaking; I am a gatherer. I get a jolt of endorphins when I supply my family's needs. Most guys are wired to be hunters/protectors or in my husband's case, builders. They get the same jolt when providing for their families in the same fashion. As I was sitting and thinking this over, I starting categorizing those around me - one of my favorite things to do. Not in a judging sense, just all of a sudden in my brain the setting changed to cavemen times (wooly mammoths and all. You HAVE to have wooly mammoths when there are cavemen. You simply must.). What would he/she/they/them have been if they lived so long ago? Hunter? Farmer? Beekeeper? Wooly Mammoth breeder? It was very entertaining to say the least. Some people are easy (like my husband for instance) and others are a little trickier.

Now, I have no doubt that all this train of thought has been proven, dis-proven and discussed countless times in hundreds of thousands of journals, papers, books, etc. I may have even learned about it myself in my intro to psych. class in college. But there is a difference between reading it on paper and doing the calculations yourself. That is why seeing the problem figured out in a book is never enough for mathematicians, they have to do it themselves or it isn't true.

All that to say: I felt quite satisfied with my own social analysis. Enough so that I wanted to share it with you all. 

I decided that I would have been a gatherer. Be that food or simply useful tools to make life easier. I have been having fun watching my kids, and those around me to see what traits are dominate in their personalities. For some weird reason when I imagine it all we are all dressed like the Flintstones, which adds an air of comedy to it all.

So if ever you see me staring off into space with a whimsical smile on my face feel free to do a little caveman dance, it will add to the realism of my imaginings. That and it will be extremely entertaining, and we all need a laugh every so often. Right?

Ah, I want to write more but reality calls. I will have to go back and edit this post later. For now, enjoy my ramblings. Hopefully they make sense. I have my doubts sometimes. And for no reason what-so ever I shall leave you with this bold musing:

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!
~ Lewis Carroll


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Abracadabra Day

   "Abracadabra Day was the best holiday of all. It was listed in no almanac and printed on no calendar. It was a secret holiday that belonged to the show family. They had invented it, and no one else knew about it. The secret was this: no matter how bad you were on Abracadabra Day or no matter what pranks you pulled, you would not be spanked or punished. It was the one day in the year, in the Hackett family at least, on which you were supposed to be bad."                                                                                  - Sid Fleischman (Mr. Mysterious and Co. )

We (the big girls and I) read Mr. Mysterious together recently. Taylor especially, could not stop talking about Abracadabra Day. In the book, each of the three kids get to take a day to be terribly mischievous and get away with it scott free. I think my strict rule-following daughter found this morbidly fascinating and she kept begging for us to adopt the tradition. Now I believe that I have mentioned several times on this blog how I believe that reading about disobedient children (such as Tom Sawyer, Calvin and of course, Ramona Quimby) is a wonderful way for kids to let off steam and live in an imaginary world of rebellion while still remaining obedient to the rules in real life.

So keeping to that, I informed Taylor that while I did not think we could do Abracadabra day in the tradition sense, we could have an Abracadabra Day tea party. The kids took to this idea right away and immediately started planning. We decided that since this was an abracadabra day tea party, we had to do things a little silly. So we planned for lots of dessert and sandwiches and of course, tea! We decided our tea would be on Thursday, since Thursdays are the most boring day of the week and needs some spicing up. We made our grocery list and we all went out together to buy what we needed on Wednesday and the girls went to bed that night excited for our Abracadabra Day!

Thursday morning the first thing I heard was "It is Abracadabra Day!" The girls patiently waited for mom to finish her coffee and we read the Bible and prayed together - and then the preparations began!

The girls started by putting together the fruit and toothpicks so we could dip them into melted chocolate. They took their job very seriously as you can see - and of course did lots of sampling. Have to make sure that the fruit is all good! We cheated and bought scones, but popped them into the oven so they would be toasty warm.

 Here is one of the finished master-pieces. I started rolling out bread while they worked on that and covered it with cream cheese and jam for pin-wheel jam sandwiches.

Kaylee helped too. Especially with the tasting.

Next it was time to set the table. This turned out to be a bigger job then anticipated, especially with the help of a baby sister!
As we prepared. the mother was heard saying things such as "Now girls, I want you to make sure that you remember this is an abracadabra tea. That means you have to play with your food, ok?" and "I don't want anyone asking if they can have another sugar cube, you have to eat as many as you want." And Taylor would say things like "I am going to eat my dessert first!" And "I am going to squirt the whipped cream right into my mouth!" There was much excitement at all the mischief this tea was going to bring. After all, you never know what could happen at an Abracadabra tea party!

The food was ready, so the girls went off to dress for the occasion. Dresses for all of course. Though it might have been more abracadabra-ish to eat in our PJ's!

Each of the cups, the girls soon discovered, had funny drops in the bottom of them. I told them it was mystery tea. We poured and magically everyone had a different color tea!

Everyone is ready to eat!

Chocolate anyone?
How about whipped cream?

Kaylee too!


Fun was had by all. Lots of sugar was consumed, the kitchen is a mess and kids had an abracadabra-licious time. Taylor says that she thinks this should be a new tradition. So we have decided that it can be something to look foreword to after Christmas ever year. We will now have an abracadabra tea party every January, right before going back to school.

So Happy Abracadabra Day everyone! To celebrate with us, I think everyone should eat dessert first today. It is, after all, an Abracadabra Day!