Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lessons for all!

Not just gold-diggers. The CrankyProf ranted about a girl in one of her classes, one of those girls who's working hard on her MRS degree. Living where I do, I honestly have never met someone in that particular degree program; my college has too many non-traditional students working two jobs to support themselves and/or family for that sort of nonsense to take root. CrankyProf offered a short list of things the silly girl ought to be doing instead, and I wanted to expand on it a little bit:

-Learn to handle your own finances/Live within your means and budget.
-Learn how to do (most) of your own car maintenance.
-Find something you love to do for yourself and by yourself.

Now, I'm sure the girl in question pictures herself as an 'Orange County' housewife, not an actual housewife (you know, one who realizes it's a job), but she needs to understand mastering the list above is essential to being a good housewife. Running a household requires budgeting; your husband is not always going to be around to fix the car (and there may be times when you can't afford to pay someone else to fix it); and he doesn't exist to provide your entertainment, so get a hobby (and the pool boy doesn't count).

This is all academic anyway, because a girl who thinks playing dumb is cool definitely needs to be single for a while yet. Neither Kate nor I would ever put ourselves in a position to be taken advantage of; we work hard, read often, and do everything we can to insure we're on equal footing with people we may come in contact with. I can't do most of the maintainance on my car (or even some of it), but I'm sure I could learn.

Trust me girly-girl, I know women who were abandoned by their husbands once the kids left home (or even before), and left them with nothing; it'll happen to you too, so get an education, and some self-confidence while you're at it. Like it says on our sidebar, we're not anti-marriage, we just don't think you can be happily married until after you've learned to be happily single.


In light of the near-frantic call I received from Kate this evening, I thought I'd let everyone know that we opted to not spend Mardi Gras in New Orleans this weekend, and thus were no where near the parade route when the shootings occurred. You may return to your regularly scheduled internet reading.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Traveling somewhere?

The adventurous spirit craves and desires the experiences traveling to new and un-marked territory can give it.

As a seasoned traveler, I cannot say there is anything better than a trip to the unknown with the feeling of freedom it offers. Catching a plane to Valetta, taking the train to Vienna, seeing new towns and cities like Lima and Pisco, stepping onto the streets you’ve only ever read about in books in Venice, admiring your favorite artist's original paintings in the Albertina, sipping a cup of coffee in the square of Zagreb, taking a stroll on the beach in Almunecar.

It all sounds so romantic, but one little mistake could make it all not so grand.
Travel for singles can be fun, but without the right precautions it can turn into their worst nightmare.

While single men run into less dangers than a single female would traveling, it's important to remember that almost anyone who is not alert and aware of their surroundings can be taken advantage of in some form or other.

For the most part I have always been very alert and cautious in all my travels, and made decisions that in several cases prevented terrible things from happening. However, I also made some mistakes that made some of my trips not so fun, and even a bit dangerous.
A valuable lesson I learned the hard way taught me that while it seems like a good idea to go with friends who are originally from the country you are traveling to, it's never a good idea to travel with them when you don’t know them as well as you think you did (making you trust them entirely too much), and it's best not to depend on their reassurances of the hospitality of their family. You are better off making all the plans yourself and insuring that you can get fed properly and taken care of at all times on your own.

Never take anyone’s word for granted and never expect them to hold to any of their words, always prepare for the worst. While sometimes, people go above and beyond and over take care of you while visiting, this is something you can never totally depend on. It's best to plan on buying all your meals out, and it's not a bad idea to insure a good hotel room at a hotel in a good part of town; this gives you more freedom, and you know exactly what kind of place you will be staying in ahead of time, rather than being unpleasantly surprised.

While my situation was not as extreme, because I did not stay as long with the family I visited, Jonathan McCullum’s story certainly drives this point home:

Jonathan McCullum's parents said the exchange program should have warned
them that students placed with Coptic families would be subject to dietary

It's always important to know what sort of situation you are putting yourself in before you go, and always be sure to bring enough money to take care of yourself at all times.

If you choose to go on the cheap and do it backpack style, it's more than likely that you will have been mentally preparing yourself for it, and will not be expecting the safest place or cleanest places to stay. It's very important that you are mentally and emotionally prepared ahead of time for where you will be staying. If you are not completely aware and ready, than you will come unprepared. This is why, again, it is never a good idea to depend upon the word of anyone whom you might stay with. Also, if you put yourself in a situation where you go with a friend who already has friends and family from the place you intend to visit, they will expect you to hang out with them and their friends, and will most likely not want to go see sites or museums. Its very dangerous to visit sites by yourself, and you can’t assume anyone hosting you to also want to see the things they grew up around. I speak from experience, and while some hosts are very kind and offer to accompany you on such trips, you can never always depend on that.

This is where having someone who is a close friend or family member that has also never traveled there can be a great benefit. When you want to see new things, its always so much more enjoyable to share it with people who are just as curious and excited about the sites as you are.
There is so much I could go on about, about all the trips I have taken and the lessons of traveling I have learned.

Safety is first and foremost the thing that you should think about when taking a trip abroad.
One particular subject and issue I have tried to keep myself well informed about is an issue few female travelers bother to think about, and should be alert and aware of its presence.
While some people may think the sex slave trade can’t touch them and will never be an issue for them, in reality it is a very serious problem, and ruins hundreds of lives every day.
Recently I had been researching how much of it goes on in our own country, even in our own home towns. I discovered something very shocking, I couldn’t believe it, right here in Colorado springs, and Denver.

This website also has videos of ads making people more aware of the issue around the world, and actual news interviews and documentaries of women who escaped it.
I was excited when they came out with the new movie “Taken,” because it gets the word out there and makes the public much more aware of what is going on, and that these things really do happen. I just hope more people take the film seriously than I have seen so far. One female film critic did not like the movie, and felt that it was mostly made up, and practically asked the question if the sex slave trade actually existed or not. I was horrified and shocked at the ignorance of someone who is supposed to be so “intelligent.” It's no wonder the monsters who run these trades get away with it so easily and so often.

I went to see “TAKEN” just a few days ago with my mom, we both very much enjoyed the film, and while we both agreed it had a few holes, it had a lot of good lessons to teach, and is something every single female should watch. As Angela said “It’s a movie about pretty much everything you are not supposed to do (while traveling).”

It's ok to travel with friends and have fun, but one important rule, every person traveling outside of their home should obey is, to coin the phrase from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” when the villain (not yet revealed as the villain) says to Dr. Jones, “Don’t trust anyone”, and later when he’s turned on Dr. Jones, he reminds him that Dr. Jones did not take his advice when he told him “not to trust anyone” and is essentially now paying for it.

It's an easy rule to follow but hard to remember when you're having fun and getting way too comfortable with your surroundings. You're fine in your home town, not because home is always a safe place, but because you know who to stay away from and you already know the places and streets to avoid generally; but in a new place, you don’t know these things, and so you can never assume anything.
The article and web link below was a link I found when searching for traveling advice for women. I found that they had some fantastic advice to give and some very good points.

Cultural Concerns

Being immersed in a new culture can be an exciting, yet challenging,
experience. It is important to recognize that, as a woman, you may be treated
differently in each destination. Some countries view men and women as equals,
while others give women few rights. In 1980, the United Nations summed up the
differences between men and women throughout the world: Women, who comprise half
the world's population, do two-thirds of the world's work, earn one-tenth of the
world's income and own one-hundredth of the world's property. You can expect to
experience and observe this difference on your journey abroad.
As a woman,
you may be respected in one culture and harassed in another. You may be expected
to wear certain clothes, and you will be expected to obey certain laws. Being
aware of these differences prior to leaving can help ease your assimilation into
a culture.......
click link to read more

My favorite advice is given by Rick Steves
He pretty much covers it all from “eating out," "traveling smart,” “dealing with men” and “handling harassment.” He also gives advice that is helpful to single guys who want to travel on their own.

Traveling Alone Without Feeling Lonely
Here are some tips
on meeting people, eating out, and enjoying your evenings. (Note that these tips
are also helpful for men traveling alone.)……….

*Rick Steves*

There is so much advice out there from your fellow travelers, that traveling alone should be a piece of cake and very safe if you heed it.

It’s a great world out there and there should be no reason for you to hold back from seeing it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Singles Awareness Day?? Or a day to be glad your a single?

From Blissfully single Kate’s log:

It seems a lot of singles dread this day of hearts and valentines, and while some have good arguments that it’s a stupid day, it’s the singles who cry on this day because they are single that I’m addressing. The day is full of commercialism and profit making, but if you let this day bother and upset you and you actually believe its “Singles Awareness Day (S.A.D)” than you probably feel generally upset about being single all year round and think you need to be in a relationship to make you happy. This blog is all about being happy as a single, and not letting the rest of the world dictate how you should feel about your status as a single.

For those who need to see the upside of V-day and all its advantages it has for Singles read Kate’s previous post about V-day:

Achieving a new sense and feel for the day most singles detest!

As for those of you who agree the day is bogus and just a scam to rake in extra money, and a silly excuse to put off love till that day for lazy lovers, than you will enjoy Angela’s post:

Valentines Day: a pinnacle of consumerism

Always remember one important thing, Singleness is not the definition of Loneliness!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Getting in gear

I really haven't taken advantage of the freedom being single affords me. Once I started college, I just let myself be consumed by it, putting my head in the books at the beginning of each semester and not looking up until finals week ended. Now that I'm in my final semester, and finally have a light course load, I actually have free time and a little extra money to do some fun stuff (and not-so-fun stuff).

The fun: I had my first Krav Maga class tonight, and lemme tell you, I am not in as good shape as I thought. Part of my New Year resolution was to not drive back and forth between work and classes (they're close enough I can walk, and it takes the same amount of time), and earlier today I noticed all that walking was starting to pay off. I don't know what I was thinking; the warm-up before the training whipped my butt. I was actually seeing spots at one point! Once we started training, though, I was able to really enjoy it. Kit and I (she started classes a couple weeks before I did) are going to Academy tomorrow to buy some wrist guards/gloves, because the punching is really hard on your fingers and wrists.

The not-so-fun: In other news, I was finally able to accept a CASA assignment! For those who don't know, a CASA volunteer is a Court Appointed Special Advocate who represents children in foster care. They're sort of like social workers, except CASAs only represent one child/sibling group at a time, and stay with them until their case is closed. They are also appointed by a judge, and do not work for the social services offices (which is good, since I pretty much despise what our nation's 'family services' branch has become). I became certified back in September, but for several reasons was unable to take on a case until now. I'm assigned to two sisters, and will meet them Tuesday!

It's exciting to be at a point where I can do things that matter to me, instead of things I need to do to get through the semester.

Volunteering is a very important issue to me. If something outrages you, or you think something needs fixing, don't ask someone else to do something about it; go do it yourself. I studied foster care abuses for about 8 years before I learned of CASA, and realized there was a small way I could help. I give 10% of every paycheck to charities I think will do the most good, most effectively (you can see several of them on my other blog, Literate Gypsy). On that note, I'll end this post with a challenge to singles: your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find a place in your area where you can volunteer. Even if it's only for an hour a week, someone, somewhere needs your help.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentines Day: a pinnacle of consumerism

I can't tell if I'm posting this before or after Kate's Valentines Day post (stupid time zones!), but I just wanted to chime in with my own views on this day: I hate it. I know Kate says you don't have to and all that, but I think you really do, and not because of the relationships part of it. Pretty much the only holiday I like anymore is Thanksgiving, because advertisers really can't do much with it except push turkey and yams at you. It's also the only holiday we have about being grateful for what you have, as opposed to what you're hoping to get, or what you can get out of others. I think of Valentines Day as the pinnacle of consumerism, Hallmark's ode to useless garbage (except for those little heart-shaped, pastel-colored candies; those are good).

Also, there's a very good reason you should dislike Valentines Day from a relationship point of view: your 'someone special' is (presumably) someone special all year long. What better way to assuage your guilt of ignoring or taking for granted him/her the other 364 days of the year than by buying something that will be in the trash within a week? Actually, that has a touch of irony to it, though not in a good way.

Anyway, it's a day that should be ignored. Take your significant other on a picnic, or stay in and do something, whatever floats your boat, just remember that you ought to be doing it year-round, not on Valentines Day when you're being charged exorbitant prices for what ought to be common place for the two of you.

As a single, I'm free to completely ignore the day (except for when I'm laughing at people spending $50+ for flowers). There's a forum I'm active on, where a boy was complaining about not being able to stay in a relationship. Not just complaining, he actually seemed panicked about it. Everyone was busy comforting him, letting him know that eventually someone would come along, etc. I pointed out to him that being single isn't terrible, it's a wide open world where you never have to hear, "But why don't you want to spend time with me?" or, "Why don't you call when you say you are?" These seem like pretty big perks to me. Then again, I'm a twenty-two years-old curmudgeon, so take it for what it's worth.

Achieving a new sense and feel for the day most singles detest!

From blissfully single Kate's log:

As the dreaded day for most singles approaches, I realized I needed to think this one out. For a very long time I harbored relentless bitterness and hate for V-Day, in fact I joined every 'hate Valentines Day' group on Facebook a few years ago, only to later realize that no matter how many groups I joined, no one participated in them and I wasn’t going to get any kind of satisfaction from it.

Valentines Day has got to be probably one of the most depressing days on the calendar for most singles, so I realized I had to address it, because being happy as a single becomes very hard to do the closer the day approaches. I’d like to provide a little advice on how you can avoid all the miserable feelings that society tries to evoke in singles on that day and all the weeks leading up to it, and how to embrace the day and see why the day actually has a lot of positive things about it for singles.

For years I celebrated the day with my family as I grew up, as I got older I started to hate what the day represented, I started to resent its implications and its demands. Now I’m trying to embrace it, and have realized its potential, and the advantages the day brings to singles.

In my youth it was a fun activity to make things for each member of my family, but I started to lose that spirit once I reached my late teens, and than began hating the day profusely. I even hated it when I was in relationships, only because most all my relationships I was in during that time of year were long distance or some other issue. I realized later, that I just wanted to hide the fact that I wanted something from someone on that day, I wanted to be taken out, I wanted someone to give me flowers, but I was a rebel and had to prove to myself that I “did not care“ if no one did anything special for me on that day, and I know I was not alone in this mind set. I know of several singles who feel the same way, but try to hide it, and choose to hate the day rather than embrace it. The fact is, we are expected to hate it, and we are expected to only be happy with that holiday if we are in a relationship with someone, but society and its rules should never rule how we feel about any holiday, or our singleness.

The benefits of this day started to become more and more clear to me just in this past year. Valentines Day is a day that was originally created for “lovers”, but it has evolved into more of a day of just “love” period, and if we consider true love, it would probably throw out half the “lover’s” relationships out of the boat and celebrate the love parents have for their kids, and kids have for their parents and siblings have for each other, and close friends.

If you want to celebrate on that day, don’t think for one minute you have to do it with a date or have some sort of romantic time with someone. Take a single friend out for fun, or a family member and get them something if you want to. The best part of it is, you're not required to, and no one is expecting anything out of you when you're single. No demands, no expectations, only a time for you to get creative and brighten a few people’s day by showing them the day can be for everyone.

Think of all the wives or girlfriends who expect something big from their spouses or boyfriends, and how it could get messy if he fails to meet expectations, and in turn she really does have to get him a little something. Of course not all relationships are like that, but these are some benefits of being single that we should appreciate until we do find that special someone. As a single you are free from anyone expecting or demanding anything out of you. You have the choice to give as you please to those whom you love and appreciate in your life that are not expecting anything from you on that day.

Now, my favorite part of this day has created another holiday for me. Its only this time of year that they make an incredible amount of chocolates, with Valentines themed boxes, putting them in the category of “must get rid of” the day after. The 15th of February is in and of itself a holiday for me. All Valentines Day chocolates at Kmart and all over go 50%-75% off. I like to think how I was not required to purchase anyone anything for the day before at an exuberant price, because I was not tied to the requirements of the day, and can celebrate the great feeling of a sweet deal and enjoy all the chocolates I want the day after. This does not happen any other time of the year. I love the 15th and I always look forward to it, it helps with ignoring all the hype of having a date or a special someone on the 14th, because you now have turned the 15th into a holiday that most people don’t realize is way more fun to celebrate.

As a single, you are not tied to the requirements of the 14th, and you can even take time out to show your appreciation for family and friends. You can save some money, and indulge yourself and others in chocolate you can afford the following day, thanks to the hyped up holiday the day before. Don’t let the world tell you how you should feel on that day, or how you should feel any time of the year as a single. As Angela and I have pointed out many times, this blog is not against marriage, but for being happy while you are single, so that you can enjoy every aspect of life, and not worry if you will find someone special or not, because when you worry, then you close your eyes to so many wonderful things out there that you could be doing and achieving.

I hope you all have a Happy Valentines Day this year and that you can find a way of expressing your love for your family and friends on that day, and remember, singleness does not equal loneliness!