Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Hanson Complex: What Were You Doing When You Were 14?

The Olympics are inspirational, aren't they? The world's best (and often best-looking, hello Ryan Lochte) athletes converge to break records, push their bodies to the limit, and demonstrate what hard work can really do. But after I'm done basking in Team America's reflected glory, googling leotards and vowing to go to the gym more, I am left with a small seed of disappointment in myself.

What could I have possibly been the best at if I had really dedicated myself to it? I took piano lessons for a few months as a kid but quit when my teacher made me cry. I also took gymnastics but quickly grew too tall and busty to really be a success. Cross-stitch? Reading? GAH!

I refer to this feeling as the Hanson Complex (official psychological term), as the first time I felt this way, I was 14 which was two years older than Taylor Hanson (that lovely specimen on the left) when MmmmBop was released. Hanson, unlike Britney Spears who also hit the scene at a young age, wrote all their own music and played all their own instruments. These boys are now all married with multiple children and continue to MmmmBop themselves all the way to the bank.

But at 14, did I really have the motivation to completely dedicate myself to one thing? Did I even like one thing enough to know I wanted to dedicate all my free time and my family's free time to it? ISN'T HIGH SCHOOL HARD ENOUGH, DAMN IT?

In Malcom Gladwell's book 'Outliers', neurologist Daniel Levitin is quoted saying, 'The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert--in anything.' 

While it's never too late to learn a new skill and I truly love trying new activities, ten thousand hours sounds like a lot to me, particularly when there are so many 'Real Housewives' seasons I need to catch up on. So yeah. I suppose I will have to reside myself to being a well-rounded 'Jill of All-Trades, Master of None' until BRAVO stops airing such addicting television.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Can I Have That In A Sentence With No Misspellings, Please?

Spelling Bees give me hope for the future. Like, stand up and cheer as though you're watching the end of Rudy hope. These kids are going places (probably the library). If  I were to ask 10 adults in their twenties and thirties on the street how to spell 'dirigible', which is one of the words recently spelled successfully by my new hero 6-year-old Lori Ann Madison at the National Spelling Bee, probably about half would spell it correctly. I would also guess that even fewer people know the definition, but that's neither here nor there.

Of course, I don't judge people based solely on their spelling skills. That's what appearance is for, right? And what with spell check, autocorrect and the like, it's almost as though you don't need to know how to spell anymore, unless of course you want to qualify for the National Spelling Bee and have your five minutes of fame on television (a great incentive). Or if you're an adult who wants to appear competent.

Recently, the Associated Press released an article discussing whether texting is ruining the art of conversation. Check it out:

I'd also suggest that texting is one of the factors maintaining poor spelling and grammar. To many younger generations, 'before' has become 'b4', 'your' is  'ur', and no one seems to know the difference between 'there', 'their', and 'they're' or even care. This is not a huge deal when you are texting or even writing a quick email to a friend. It's when the text shorthand begins creeping its way into term papers, resumes (something I definitely saw at my previous job), etc. that a few minor spelling mistakes could have major results. What a shame to be overlooked for a job because you didn't use spell check!

Not everyone is a natural born speller or a nerd who read the dictionary as a child, like myself. But with a little effort and this handy poster, I am sure everyone can achieve a basic spelling foundation, B4 ITS TOO L8.

The Coolest Kid At The Spelling Bee

Friday, April 20, 2012

They misunderestimated me: George W. Bush and I have the same IQ

So after taking a peek at an article today on celebrity IQs, (I had to confirm that I'm smarter than OJ Simpson) I discovered that George W. Bush and I share an IQ of 125. AMAZING. While G Dubbya and I do not share the same political views, I always thought he'd be a hoot to go share a few beers with, maybe play a game of darts or two, devise ways to balance the budget on a cocktail napkin, etc. Here is a listing of the top 10 Bushisms:

We fall a few brainy points above JFK and Britney Spears (also smarter than OJ Simpson) but well below Reggie Jackson and Shakira. This basically means folks, that I totally have the smarts to run for President OR be a gyrating pop-singer. The world is my oyster. Who knows what's next, Kim Kardashian for mayor?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Palm Sunday Eggcellence

While many other Christians were enjoying their ham with a side of Cadbury Creme Eggs yesterday, as a Russian Orthodox Christian I still have one more week of fasting and church to go before celebrating on April 15. In case you were wondering why the Orthodox celebrate Easter on a different date, we can thank the Julian calendar which dictates that Easter must occur after the Vernal Equinox, after Passover, with the first full moon in Spring, and on a Sunday after March 21. The Gregorian calendar followed by all other Christians basically uses the same determing factors except for Passover (even though, the Last Supper which Jesus celebrated with his apostles the day before His crucifixation was a seder, so I personally think that the date of Passover is an important determinant).

Ok, stop yawning, I'm done with the history lesson! In the spirit of Easter season though, my brother and sister-in-law came down to Virginia to make traditional Ukranian pysanky eggs which are Easter eggs decorated with melted beeswax. The technique is as follows: You dip a stylus in wax, melt wax in a candle flame, write your first design on the egg, dye the egg a light color, wait for the egg to dry, write your second design on the egg, dye the egg a darker color, wait for the egg to dry, repeat until you have the desired design and colors. You then remove the wax by holding the egg near the candle's flame and wiping it off with a soft cloth.            

If you have a steady hand, patience flowing through your veins, and an egg dye kit that isn't a PAS one from CVS, you could potentially make eggs that look something like this:

I have none of these. Here is my paisley chicken.

I hope everyone had a joyful Passover, Easter, Spring Equinox, Palm Sunday, Bubba Watson winning weekend!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Haters Gonna Hate

Did anyone else stumble upon an article or two yesterday about Samantha Brick, a British journalist who recently authored an essay discussing the hardships of being of being really, really, ridiculously good-looking?

If you haven't, below is an excerpt:

"Throughout my adult life, I’ve regularly had bottles of bubbly or wine sent to my restaurant table by men I don’t know. Once, a well-dressed chap bought my train ticket when I was standing behind him in the queue, while there was another occasion when a charming gentleman paid my fare as I stepped out of a cab in Paris."

"Another time, as I was walking through London’s Portobello Road market, I was tapped on the shoulder and presented with a beautiful bunch of flowers. Even bar tenders frequently shoo my credit card away when I try to settle my bill."

"It’s hard when everyone resents you for your looks. Men think 'what’s the point, she’s out of my league' and don’t ask you out. And women don’t want to hang out with someone more attractive than they are."

You might now be thinking to yourself, ‘Sheesh, what kind of goddess is she? Long, flowing, locks, angelic features, a body to die for?’ Or maybe……………

Well, haters gonna hate, y'all! Some of the comments attached to the articles I read were downright cruel from calling her article a belated April Fool's Day joke to 'We need to remember that British hot is American not-on-meth' (ok, that was pretty funny). Some people even seemed personally offended at her perception of herself, as though her thinking she is beautiful made them in some way less beautiful.

But what actually persuaded me to write about Ms. Brick today is that even though I do think she borders on grandiose and is perfectly average-looking, I slightly admire her confidence in herself. Even with all the naysayers, she thinks she's hot shit.  Actually, not even just hot shit--the hottest of shits EVER!

On days when you're feeling low because money's tight, pants are tight, wouldn't it be nice to have such self-assurance to remind you that you're still a total treat?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Making Obama Proud by Running an 8 Minute Mile

MY GOD, I LOVE THIS PICTURE AND WANT TO BE BEST FRIENDS WITH THIS LITTLE KID.  Anyways, I recently read an article about a 35-year-old man who thought it might be fun to retake the SATs to see how he faired as an adult. Doesn't sound like my idea of a fun Saturday afternoon, but to each his own.

In the same spirit of drudging up old painful memories while I was huffing and puffing away at the gym today, I thought, 'Hey, Michelle! I wonder how you'd do now on the Presidential Fitness Test!'

Ah, the almighty Presidential Fitness Test--never failing to remind me just how slow and weak I really was in grade school. One area where I was a total champion though was the sit-and-reach test which was meant to gauge flexibility. Did you know that being awesome at the sit-and-reach test predicts success later in life?*

I've made sincere progress in my fitness since then. I can now run a mile (or two or three!) without dying and have developed both lower and upper body strength so to appease my curiosity, I plan on retaking the President's Fitness Challenge. I'll share my results in a subsequent post and even if it's not the confidence boost that I hope it is, at least I won't be wearing ugly gym shorts this time around and that's a good start.

*oops, not a real fact, but it should be, right?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Is Lent the Best Diet Ever?

While as a child Lent meant replacing my Disney afteschool lineup with religious epics (my brother and I can quote almost all of 'The Ten Commandments' and 'Jesus of Nazareth'), eating spaghetti for dinner at least twice a week, and spending what felt like endless hours in church, as an adult I have come to know Lent as a time of renewal both spiritually and physically.  

As an Orthodox Christian, if I were to strictly follow lenten guidelines, as a general rule I would abstain from meat and dairy products for the entire forty days, including the week preceding the beginning of Lent and the week before Easter, for a total of 56 days.

On Wednesdays and Friday, which are considered strict fast days, I would also abstain from oil, fish with backbones, and alcohol. I am the first to admit this is way too challenging for me to do, even for just 56 days. Sorry, Jesus!

I do abstain from meat during Lent which means more veggies on my plate and this year, I have challenged myself to abstain from alcohol. While my body is currently still adjusting to these changes, I know that by the end of my lenten journey my body will feel more nourished and refreshed.

Lent is also the perfect time for 'spring cleaning' your soul and eliminating the distractions that take you away from your purpose. I hope that this Lent I will make the time to mediate more, exercise more, be outside a little more, and do more things that make me happy. As a Christian, I can't ignore that Jesus is the reason I observe Lent in the first place. But I also think that one of the best ways I can thank Jesus for His ultimate sacrifice is to acknowledge that His spirit lives within me and to take better care of myself.

That being said, Jesus and I hope to see y'all at Ramparts for wing night April 18.