Thursday, April 30, 2015

Slogans Part Deux

Why slogans again, you ask? I don't know. They're kinda my go-to. My what to blog when there's nothing to blog. What can I say? I have a strange obsession with advertising. I go around all day making up slogans and tag lines for things. Cyndie: Making Up Slogans in Her Head. All Day. Every Day. 

Today, though, I thought I would use my extensive marketing expertise to re-write and otherwise mock real slogans that I think are not quite right. And by "marketing expertise" I mean that I read magazines and billboards. And watch Mad Men and Bewitched. Extensive, right??

So here goes. My slogans that I think are highly inaccurate. So I rewrote them. Because I can.

WalMart: Save Money. Live Better.
Um, I'm gonna say no. But how about just: Save Money. Unless you consider it "living better" when you are the only person in the store not wearing a wifebeater. Or with shoes on. Or without holes in your clothes. I don't know exactly why I hate WalMart. But I do. Maybe it has something to do with the crowds, or the lack of popcorn or Icee machine, or the sheer blue-ness of it. I don't know. I mean, isn't blue the color of sadness and depression? Yes. Yes it is.

I think it would be better to just redo the slogan altogether. Like what about this? WalMart: It's No Target. But it is a Little Cheaper.
Or WalMart: For When You Can't Wait 2-Days for Shipping from Amazon.

McDonalds: I'm lovin' it.
How about this: I'm not lovin' it. My kids are. But then again, they eat their own boogers, so what do they know?

A little lengthy, sure. But way more accurate, don't ya think? I don't know exactly how they did it. By some miracle of advertising, or branding, or brainwashing, or a deal with the devil, McDonalds is somehow able to make every kid think that it is THE place to eat. Without actually serving anything that tastes good. They even have a psychotic-looking clown as their mascot. What the what?? I don't get it. 

Except that I do like their fries. But I eat Circus Peanuts, so what do I know?

M&Ms: Melts in your mouth, not in your hands. 
Weellll, not exactly. I mean, if we are going for any sort of truth in advertising, it would have to be something a little more like this:
M&Ms: Melts in your mouth, and in your hands, and in your kid's hands, and in your carpet, and on your couch, and in your car, and on your pants.

I mean, it's chocolate after all. It's good. But it's not miraculous.

L'Oreal: Because you're worth it. 
Wow. I'm worth 9 dollar hair color? Really?? Aw, that's so sweet. 

How about: L'Oreal: Because you're worth way more, but we're all you can afford. 

They can tack Paris onto the end of their name and have all the famous and beautiful spokesmodels they want, but as long as they're peddling their wares at the local grocery store, I'm going to keep hanging on to the thought that I'm worth a little more. Even if I will never be able to afford it.

Visa: It's everywhere you want to be.
Granted, it probably is. I mean, I'm never where I want to be so I won't really ever be able to test that theory. However, just about everywhere I am does, in fact, accept a Visa card. The flaw in this slogan is that something being "everywhere" does not inherently make it a good thing.  

Do you know what else is everywhere I want to be? Terrible drivers. My children. And stupid people. 

How about just: Visa: Cuz buying stuff is fun. And it makes you forget for a moment about terrible drivers, your kids, and stupid people. Who are everywhere you want to be.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

On Finals

I am enrolled in five college classes right now. To be fair, one is merely a lab. (No offense intended, Sniffy the Virtual Lab Rat.) But there are still assignments due in that class, so I'm still going to count it. Also, it makes me sound more overachiever-y. Which I am. To my eternal detriment. At any rate, I have just a week and a half of classes left. Which means that I have about 13,456 end-of-semester assignments due (Or maybe it's just 12. Whatever.) And 4 comprehensive finals coming up. I hate comprehensive finals. In fact, I hate the very word "comprehensive." Unless it's talking about a comprehensive look at the making of Hugh Jackman's six-pack. Which it never is.

I got a brief look at what life is like for my children right now. I overheard this conversation when I got home last night. I was making my way down the hallway to my bedroom to try to sneak in a 17-minute nap in between work responsibilities and church responsibilities.

My five-year old had a neuro energy drink and asked my 13-year old what the label said:

13YO: It relaxes you. And helps you not be stressed. Do you know what stress is?

5YO: No.

13YO: It's when you're really MAD. And you just CAN'T TAKE ANYMORE! Like Mom.

5YO: Oh!

Yes, that. Exactly that.

I'm too old for this sh#*.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Dear Statistics,
I guess we both knew this day was coming. We make each other miserable. You, with your coefficients and indecipherable formulas. Me, trying so hard to make sense of something so nonsensical. The probability that we would work out, well, it was always unlikely at best. Things have always been a little uncomfortable because I dated your cousin, Algebra II, in high school. But it was a long time ago, and I thought we could make this work. The truth is that even though Algebra was not my favorite, even from the beginning (I was cheating on him with English the whole time, if you must know) I did come to understand and appreciate him at least a little. But you, Stats, have all of his negative qualities and almost none of his positive ones. I know it hurts to hear that, but I just feel like it’s time to be honest.
I think we both know that we bring out the worst in each other. You were always too clever for me, and I just never quite understood you. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t think you ever tried to make it easy on me. You were so wrapped up in yourself that you never thought about how hard this must be for me. You have always been selfish that way. I mean, making me hand calculate ridiculous data sets and hypothesis tests only for me to find out later that there is an entire software program designed to do just that?? What was that all about? I guess maybe you were just trying to show me a different side of you, but all it did was make an already bad relationship even worse. 
And sure, maybe I didn’t try hard enough from the beginning. Maybe my Sigma’s look like E’s and my Mu’s look like u’s, but not everyone knows the Greek alphabet like you do. Do you have to be such an elitist? I guess the truth is that I just don’t want to try this hard. I feel like if it was meant to be it wouldn’t be so much work. And I wouldn’t feel like crying all the time.
I don’t blame you if you feel used. After all, I did get only what I needed from you and now I’m moving on. But it wasn’t for lack of trying on my part. You know how many hours and days and weeks I’ve spent with you. Not to mention everything I have given up just to be with you. 
I think the worst thing is that you have ruined any small amount of belief in people that I used to have. You knew when we first met how hard it was for me to trust anyone. I almost never believed anything I ever heard or read. But then you had to go and make it worse. Now I have really seen how you can tweak and twist people's words and data around to make any study sound believable. The word “empirical” means nothing to me now. And I blame you for that.
I am not foolish enough to think that we won’t cross paths again; that I won’t need you again someday. That day will probably come. And I hope that when it does, we can be civil with one another. Maybe when the wounds aren’t so fresh. Until that time, I hope you can find someone who can truly love and appreciate all of your quirks and peculiarities. I know there are plenty of people out there who are smarter and more understanding than I am. You’re not an inherently bad subject. We just weren’t meant to be. 
Best Wishes,

P.S. I always really hated it when you compared my curves to everyone else's. Who are you to say what normal is??

Monday, April 20, 2015

Lifespan Development

Lifespan Development. It's the name of a class I'm currently enrolled in. Which means it spans not only embryonic and child development, but also middle and old age (also known as middle and late adulthood, in case you were wondering.) All the way to death. If that doesn't sound like a depressing class to take in your 40s, let me assure you that it is. First of all, the chapters on Emotional and Social Development in Childhood serve as nothing but a reminder that you did it all wrong. All of it. Proper play interactions. Discipline. Educational learning experiences. Nutrition. Everything. Oops.

But it really isn't until you get into the Middle Adulthood chapters that you just want to give up entirely. Because it may be the most disheartening information that you have ever seen. I say "seen" because you already KNOW these things. But let me tell you, seeing the words in cold, hard print? Well, it just makes it that much worse. Take for instance this little gem I read in the Early Adulthood chapter. "Once your body structures reach their maximum capacity and efficiency, senescence begins." That doesn't sound so bad, right? I mean, senescence, that's a pretty word. What does it mean, though? Biological aging. Which pretty much means that after your early 20s, you've hit your physical peak and your body begins the slow process of completely falling apart. Strength, endurance, sensory acuteness, even immune system responsiveness? All in complete decline. For the rest of your life. So all those funny Over the Hill jokes and party favors you save for a 40th or 50th birthday? Yep. You should be pulling those bad boys out for the big 2-4. Cuz it's all downhill from there.

Then come the Middle Adulthood chapters. First, you have to wrap your mind around the fact that at 40+, you are considered middle-aged. I know they say that 40 is the new 30, but Dr. Laura E. Berk says otherwise. I mean, I'm not dumb. I am perfectly aware that I do not have the energy, strength, metabolism, resilience, or complexion of a 20 or 30 year old. I know. But that doesn't mean I need to be reminded. And I know it's all just biological and psychological facts, but it's still kinda mean. 
And apparently just about everything is worse if you're a woman. Go figure.

So for those days when I don't already feel my age, here are some wonderful things I have to look forward to in this new decade of my life:

*Deterioration of vision and hearing.
*Sagging skin and visible blood vessels. And because the dermis of women is not as thick as that of men, women's skin ages more rapidly. Of course it does.
*Loss of muscle. 
*Accumulation of fat. Again: gains of about 6-16% body fat for men, 25-35% for women.
*Osteoporosis. Yep, women's bone mineral reserves are lower than men's to begin with. 
*Menopause. I don't have to tell you that's only a woman thing, too, right? But don't worry, there's always hormone therapy. Which might kill you. Or just double your risk of dementia. 
*Loss of cognitive processing speed and ability.
*And the decline of creative accomplishment. 
To name a few.

So what is my point in sharing all of this hopelessly depressing information with you? Well, first off, misery does love it some company. Second, as a warning to never take this class. (Plus, I've just given you an entire semester's worth of information in a few short minutes. So now you don't have to. You're welcome.) Third, I never share the bad without also sharing the good. So here's the upside:

*Vision and hearing loss clearly mean I can ignore people I don't want to listen to, AND I have a perfectly valid excuse for my gross shower. Mildew? I don't see any.
*My skin's already completely shot, so what's another hour by the pool in the sun? Plus, I think my extra thin dermis warrants more massages.
*Too weak to carry children. And groceries. 
*Can I please gain that 25-35% just from KFC? I could eat some fried chicken.
*One word: milkshakes. I hear they're chock-full of calcium.
*Menopause: Um, do I have to say it?
*Sorry I can't help you with your homework, kiddos. Mommy can't think anymore.
*Now you now why I have no Pinterest boards.

Add up all of those bright sides. Now factor in the reality that we are already in the process of dying...I mean, what better excuse to live each day like it's your last?

So, I'm gonna go ahead and seize the day. If my soon-to-be veiny & arthritic hands can keep a hold of it, that is.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ordinary Days

I have struggled a lot in the past year with my self-confidence. Maybe it was turning 40. Maybe it’s that going back to school makes me realize I am neither as smart nor as capable as I once thought. Maybe it’s because being faced with the reality of providing for my family makes me feel ridiculously inadequate. Maybe it’s the fact that my “you-look-so-cute-today”-child moved out and left me with my “those-shoes-are-ugly” and my “i-don’t-know-why-people-think-you’’re-really-not”-children. And the one who pees in my closet. 

Perhaps it’s the culmination of all of it. Whatever it is, it’s been a strange, hard year. And one that has really made me question my abilities and my worth.

Rewind to a couple weeks ago. Twice a year, my church has a general conference. This is a time when leaders from the different organizations in the church come together and share messages of hope and faith and love. It happens every April and October. This year it happened to be on Easter. So to prepare for it, during the prior week I decided to listen to talks from the previous conferences when I could. One morning while I was getting ready for work, I had one of the talks from last October playing in the background. I was half listening-half yelling at my 5-year old to finish his breakfast-half feeling like a slob because my bathroom is a mess and I never have the energy to clean it-half hating my clothes and my face and my hair like I do every morning when I’m getting ready. (That’s a lot of halves shoved into just one whole morning. I know.)

And then I heard something that made me pause. And filled me with gratitude because I needed to hear it:

My dear sisters, whether you are 8 or 108, there is one thing that I hope you truly understand and know:
You are loved.
The infinite and eternal Creator of light and life knows you! He is mindful of you.
Yes, God loves you this very day and always.
He is not waiting to love you until you have overcome your weaknesses and bad habits. He loves you today with a full understanding of your struggles. He is aware that you reach up to Him in heartfelt and hopeful prayer. He knows of the times you have held onto the fading light and believed—even in the midst of growing darkness. He knows of your sufferings. He knows of your remorse for the times you have fallen short or failed. And still He loves you.
And God knows of your successes; though they may seem small to you, He acknowledges and cherishes each one of them. He loves you for extending yourself to others. He loves you for reaching out and helping others bear their heavy burdens—even when you are struggling with your own.
He knows everything about you. He sees you clearly—He knows you as you really are. And He loves you—today and always!
Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to Him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think He wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe?
He loves you not only for who you are this very day but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become.

Despite the fact that I had JUST put on mascara, tears streamed down my face as I listened to this. In that brief moment, I felt loved. And understood. And beautiful. I say brief moment, because that day went on. And it was just another ordinary day. One where I messed up, and failed, and doubted myself. I lost my temper, I didn’t make dinner for my kids, I struggled with homework. Ordinary day. But the message I heard that morning has stayed in the back of my mind through all of my ordinary days. And it has been a reminder to me of where to look for validation.

Because it is easy to forget. Particularly in a world when we are ceaselessly bombarded with images of people more attractive, richer, and more successful than we are. Particularly in a world where friends, followers, readers, retweets, shares, likes, and comments have become just another way to gauge ourselves and fall short. It is easy to forget that none of that matters. But it is vital to remember.

Because no matter who we are: We are known. We are cherished. And we are loved. Every ordinary day.