Archive for: November 2010

I have to admit…I take the whole gift giving thing pretty seriously.

In my world, gift giving is much more of an art than a science, and I’ve learned to appreciate the finer art of gift giving for a significant other.

It starts with listening.  Listening to your loved one about what THEY like, what THEY appreciate, or what THEY would never get for themselves…but would love to get.

It’s supposed to be about THEM.  Not US.

But the truth is…it’s downright tough to think about them and figure out what they’d like!

And I know this from experience.   I wasn’t always good at this stuff.

I mean, no guy should have to get a sweater with leather patches on the shoulders and elbows each year for Xmas (sorry Brian).  But then again… no woman should ever have to get a hot-air popcorn popper for her birthday (again…sorry Brian).

But I’ve learned (and so has Brian).

And I think now I’ve gotten pretty good at gift giving, especially for my significant other (lucky Matthew).

Cause I think I’ve figured out the rules.

Finally!

I mean, you’d think someone would have told us all the rules by now!!!!

So…in an act of community service during this 2010 Holiday season, I offer you…

The Rules of Gift Giving for A Significant Other

by Cindy Carrillo

Part 1: Rules for Giving Gifts to a Woman (Significant Other)

Rule #1…NEVER give a woman who is your spouse or significant other an appliance Of ANY KIND for a special occasion or holiday.  I don’t care if the toaster/washing machine/vacuum cleaner just broke and she ASKED for a new one.  Get it next Tuesday…but NOT for a holiday or special occasion.

Rule #2…If it has some utilitarian function…don’t get it.  She can (and probably will) get it for herself.  However, giving gifts of “experiences” (things SHE likes to do!) are like gold to a woman (‘cause then she doesn’t have to make all of the plans herself!!!!).

Rule #3…DON’T listen when she says she has everything and doesn’t want anything.  But DO listen to what she talks about and shows interest in, and DO pay attention to what she pauses to look at in the store.  Exception:  collections are fun and all…but don’t take the easy way out and get her another cow or turtle or coffee mug (that’s what your other family and friends already get her!).

Rule #4…If it would make her feel pretty or special or pretty AND special…get it.  It’s worth every penny!

Rule #5…It doesn’t matter if she already has 17 pairs of earrings, 12 necklaces, 15 bracelets and 6 rings.  The new one you get her this time…will end up being her new favorite.

Part 2: Rules for Giving Gifts to a Man (Significant Other)

The rules for Men (I think) are somewhat different…but still…follow the same basic premises as above:

Rule #1…Never give a man an appliance as a gift…as if a woman would ever get a guy a washing machine for his birthday!  Exception:  Power Tools (unless of course he’s Jewish…in which case you want to give him a gift certificate for a handyman).

Rule #2…If it has utilitarian function…GET IT.  Again…that whole power tool (or electronic) thing.  Not sure why, but men seem to like stuff that actually does something useful.

Rule #3…I have yet to hear a guy be coy about what he wants, because men don’t play games like women do.  So if he tells you what he wants, get it.  He doesn’t need the surprise or for you to figure it out for yourself (like women do).

Rule #4…If he’s into lookin’ good…it’s worth every penny to help him feel that way with a great addition to his wardrobe.  But if he doesn’t care how he looks…don’t get him clothes…or you’ll risk being thought of as his mother (which we all know is the kiss of death to a relationship!).

Rule #5…Unless he collects cufflinks or ties or sports team paraphernalia (or whatever!) …don’t get him stuff he already has.  “Choice” just doesn’t mean the same to him.  Think “the latest electronic” or gadget or game.  He’d rather turn something on and play it, than wear it!

There you have it!

I hope you’ll follow these rules and have years of happy and fruitful gift giving between you and your significant other (and never receive a popcorn popper or leather patched sweater ever again!).

I’m speaking (mostly) from a girl’s perspective here.

(Obviously.)

Appropriate:
Something she wants, that she didn’t even realize she wanted.
Inappropriate:
Something you want, whether or not she realizes she wants it.

Appropriate:
Something she would never get for herself because it’s too extravagant.
Inappropriate:
Something she would never get for herself because WHO WOULD WANT THAT?

Appropriate:
Something she’ll use.
Inappropriate:
Something she needs.

Appropriate:
Something she wants that she explicitly asked for.
Inappropriate:
That mattress pad that she explicitly asked for.

Appropriate:
A book by her favorite author.
Inappropriate:
A self-help book about how to stop being a control freak, even if it’s by her favorite author.

Appropriate:
A gift certificate for a full day at the spa.
Inappropriate:
A gift certificate for a full body waxing… even at a spa.

Appropriate:
A cookbook.
Inappropriate:
A diet cookbook.

Appropriate:
Lingerie
Inappropriate:
Lingerie two sizes too large (or too small).

Appropriate:
Something for the house.
Inappropriate:
Something to clean the house.

Appropriate:
A DVD of a movie that you both loved.
Inappropriate:
A DVD of a movie that you loved but she fell asleep or covered her eyes through.

Appropriate:
Some nice lotion.
Inappropriate:
Nice lotion that has “anti-aging” or “clears acne in one week” on the bottle.

Appropriate:
A sweater.
Inappropriate:
A sweater your mom picked out.

Appropriate:
Candles in her favorite scent.
Inappropriate:
Scented candles for the bathroom.

Appropriate:
Diamonds.
Inappropriate:
Fake diamonds that you pretend are real.

Appropriate:
A new car.
Inappropriate:
A muffler to make her old car sound “manly”.  (Mike asks me every year if I want one… Every.  Single.  Year.)

Appropriate:
A gift certificate for a massage.
Inappropriate:
A homemade coupon for a hug.  (Unless it accompanies diamonds or a new car.)

You get the idea.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.

Maybe she really wants a muffler!

But, you know, better safe than (really) sorry.


Topic: What food best describes your family?

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

Nuts.  A Big Pile of Mixed Nuts.

Anyone who has had the absolute pleasure of meeting my family (and I’m talking my immediate as well as my ever growing extended family) would have to agree that they are all nuts.

But what family isn’t?

We’re not a big family.  My grandparents had three girls and each of them only had two kids each.  So we were manageable in size.  But that just exemplified the nuttiness of each individual.

Way before I was born, my dad decided to take my mom away from the rest of her nutty family in the hopes (I believe) of gaining some sanity.  They moved more than 2,000 miles from the closest nut, but it didn’t work.

The nuttiness seeped through.

But as a kid, I loved it.  I loved the way we would all get together for family gatherings and everyone talked at the same time, yet were able to hear the juiciest details from the other conversations.

I loved the way the older generation would tell the same family stories over and over and over again as if they were telling them for the first time.  And when the stories got too many to remember…they assigned numbers to them and would shout out “number 23!” or 48 or 51…and everyone would laugh hysterically.

I loved the way we would spend hours on end trying to decide which restaurant to go to…and always ended up at the exact same place each time we visited.

And, I loved the way each person had their own unique nutty quality about them that we would discuss openly and exploit whenever possible.

Now I feel like I’ve created my own little nutty family that’s grown into a hodge podge of family members and close friends, with its own little mixed up nutty combinations.

There’s our nuclear family, my extended (well documented) nutty family, Brian’s family -which added a whole new breed of nuts to the mix, Matthew’s wonderfully nutso family, and our combined friends who quite literally could keep mental health professionals busy for a lifetime.

But when you put them all together in one big pile…you get a richly diverse mix that feeds me every day of the week…and nourishes my soul.  And I don’t know what I’d do without that.

Because it’s the week of Thanksgiving, I’m going to say my most favorite Thanksgiving food EVER.

Mashed sweet potatoes with melted mini marshmallows.

(It’s not just my favorite because it’s DELICIOUS, but also because it’s pretty much the only time it’s totally acceptable to put marshmallows on your veggies.)

How does this awesome concoction describe my family?

First of all: it’s a little odd.  I mean MARSHMALLOWS?  On POTATOES?  It’s weird.  It makes some people tilt their head to the side and raise their eyebrows and shake their heads…

(I just can’t be friends with these people.)

My family is the same way.  We’re wonderfully – awesomely – weird.  We freak people out.  We make people drop their jaws.  We get ourselves a whole lot of raised eyebrows.

(And not just when we explain the whole #divorcedkidneys extravaganza.)

And I love us for that, just like I love the sweet potatoes and marshmallows.

Secondly, the sweet potatoes and marshmallows make me happy.  I mean, how could they NOT??  They taste yummy, they’re pretty, and I can convince myself that I’m being healthy because sweet potatoes are really, really good for you.

(Right?)

My family makes me happy.  We laugh and smile and have a great time.

(They’re also really pretty.)

And we’re good for each other.

Really, really good for each other.

Finally, sweet potatoes and marshmallows are special.  You don’t get to have them all the time.

(Well, I guess you could eat them more often, but you don’t get a free pass from judgment like you do on Thanksgiving.)

(Which is kind of sad… but also kind of good… you know, health wise.)

(ANYWAY.)

Even though I do get to be with my (immediate) family whenever I want, they’re still incredibly special.

We’re totally unique.

We’re not like any other family I know.

My family is full of really good people covered in sweet, gooey goodness.

(I mean that in the best possible way.)

And that?  Is extraordinarily special.

Topic: What is a Feminist?

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

Me.

I consider myself to be a feminist but I honestly don’t think about it very often.

It’s just a part of who I am.

When I was a teenager, the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was in full force.  My mother was an adamant supporter of the ERA and attended public rallies and marches to push the cause forward (with me in tow), but the movement took another turn toward public policy, instead of a constitutional amendment.

Even so, the effect on our family was dramatic.

Until then, we had been a pretty traditional family.  Dad went to work.  Mom stayed home.  The kids kept quiet.

And then my mom started listening to the Gloria Steinem’s and Jane Fonda’s of the movement, and soon after…we all became feminists.  My dad, my mom, my brother and me.

It changed the way we thought about traditional roles and responsibilities.

We adopted new ways of thinking and new ways of acting toward each other.  As a consequence, the stereotypical roles of women and men in a family, in business, in politics and in life in general, began to explode wide open.

And for the first time, I was told – OUT LOUD – that as a woman…I could do anything.  Be anything.  Want anything.    And from that…my potential – my future – was blown wide open.

So to me, a feminist is someone who:

  • Thinks a woman offers value to the world, as a woman.
  • Doesn’t believe a woman must compete to BE a man…because BEING a woman is perfect as it is.
  • Believes women are fully capable of doing anything they want to do, assuming they are willing to work at it to become proficient.
  • Believes that compensation should be paid fairly for the quality of work done…regardless of sex.
  • Strives to be tolerant of others and expects tolerance in return.
  • Believes there is no such thing as inequality between the sexes…just lovely differences that offer value and fullness to both.

Being a feminist is a part of who I am.  I don’t think about it.  I don’t feel I have to fight for it.   But I have spent my entire adult life trying to honor the gift of feminism that was given to me by my parents and by the times.

I don’t take it for granted.  I guard it with my life.  And I raised my children to be feminists so that they would be the type of people who tolerated others, believed in equality and realized that they could do anything, be anything and want anything, regardless of their sex.

So far, I think I’ve done a damn good job with that one!

I have my degree in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Colorado.  I didn’t choose that as my major because of the crazy amount of career opportunities (obviously).  I chose it as my major because I loved it.  I loved studying people and society, and the things that we all do that we don’t even think about.  I loved looking at the world through a different set of lenses.  A pair that’s more attuned to the rights and wrongs that we all commit.  A pair that sees things differently than most people.

That lens, most of the time, was Feminism.

Being a Women and Gender Studies major got me a lot of shit.  I heard every joke and rude comment in the book.

“Oh really?  I studied women in college too.”

“So is that, like, sewing and cooking and stuff?”

“Does that mean you’re a lesbo?”

I think that the term “Feminist” scares a lot of people.  I met lots of people in college who hated that word, for a variety of reasons.  Some hated it because, in their mind, it was too radical.  Some hated it because it was too “hippie”.  Others wouldn’t use it because, originally, Feminism (First Wave) was incredibly racist.  And some held the idea that Feminism was something to hate, to look down on, to not take seriously.

I learned dozens of definitions of types of Feminism (most of which I forget because I loathed my Feminist Theory class… I am in no way claiming to be an expert).  And I learned what “being a Feminist” means to me.

And there’s a big, huge point I’d like to make about Feminism.

I truly believe that it’s about more than just a definition that somebody else makes for you.  It’s more than a one-size-fits-all label.

It’s what you make it.

Of course, I believe that there are certain things that Feminism must include.  Most notably the belief that women and men are created equal.

(NOTE: I’m not saying women and men are the SAME.  That’s an important distinction.)

The other thing that all definitions of Feminism must have, I believe, is the belief in a woman’s right to choose.

Now, I’m not JUST talking about abortion, here.  I’m talking about Choice for everything.

Which brings me to my personal definition of Feminism.

I believe that women have the right to choose anything that they feel is right for them.  As long as that choice doesn’t hurt others (and let me be clear that I do not include “fetus” in the definition of “others”), then I believe that women have that right.  (I also believe that men have that right, but I feel like we rarely deny (straight) males their right to choose.)

If a woman wants to have babies and marry her high school sweetheart, that’s her choice.

If a woman chooses NOT to have kids, or to never get married, that’s her choice.

If a woman wants to join the army, become a teacher, a lawyer, or model, that’s her choice.

If a woman wants to dye her hair, pierce her nose, go barefoot, or never wear a bra, so be it.

And, what a woman does with or to her body, is HER CHOICE.

When it comes down it, THAT is feminism.

Treating women any less than men is inherently NOT Feminist.  Believing that women should strive to be men is inherently NOT Feminist.  Hurting women is inherently NOT Feminist.  Judging women because they are women is inherently NOT Feminist.  Being racist, homophobic, or classist is inherently NOT Feminist.

Of course, it’s much more complicated than that.  We can debate whether or not a woman can actually choose to be in adult films, or get paid for sex.  And we can debate whether or not a Feminist can be a conservative Christian or stay in an abusive relationship.  There are even theories that one cannot be a Feminist and eat meat.

(Me and my salami sandwich tend to disagree with that one, but still…)

But I’m not here to debate.

At least not right now.

I grew up in a household that never overtly defined itself as “Feminist”, even though we all are.  My personal definition of Feminism includes components and beliefs that I’ve been taught my entire life.  Equality.  Choice.  The right of every single person to live in a safe environment.

I never had to question those things.  They were the rules of my world.  It wasn’t until I got to my later years of high school, and then college, that I realized that everyone isn’t raised with the same values.  That there are (lots and lots) of people out there who are AGAINST all of those things.  I think it really hit me when my family and I (plus Mike) went to D.C. for the March for Women’s Lives.  Walking through the capitol, having very angry MEN yell that I was a horrible person, really made it clear to me that my family wasn’t the norm.

And I think that’s why I gravitated to Women and Gender Studies.  Because I wanted to know why people fight so hard against those things that I think are basic fundamentals of humanity.  Why people hate.

(In case you’re wondering, I never found those answers.  I found clues, but the truth is, I don’t think I’ll ever figure it out.)

But I did learn why it’s important for me, and others, to stand up and believe in equality, choice, safety, and everything else that Feminism stands for.  Because it’s important.  It’s important for women AND men, little girls AND little boys.  It’s important for everyone.