Archives for February 2011

New iPhone APP-The Man Script

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

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I have an idea for a new iPhone app.  I am confident it will redefine marriage and solve the disparity between Mars vs Venus communication quagmires.  Basically, it all boils down to a script for men. 

Any man, employing these simple top ten phrases will successfully navigate the difficult and treacherous road to a women’s heart.  Finally, the man-fixer and the woman-emoter will live in peaceful harmony.

When a man feels like saying “that’s dumb,” the iPhone will translate with proper tone and enunciation, replacing his words with, “I never thought about it that way, how compelling.”

 

MAN THINKS                                                 iPhone AP REPLIES:

How can I fix this problem?                     That must be difficult dear

Oh no, she’s got that bitch face on          Tough day?  How can I help?

Your boobs look hot!                                   Honey, you take my breath away.

I want sex!                  I am the luckiest man here to be going home with you.

Those jeans make your butt look fat.  Those jeans make your butt look hot! 

If I go through the motions, can we have sex? Let’s just hang out and talk? 

This dinner sucks.      This is interesting, how did you go about preparing it?

Celine Dion tickets? If I pretend to like them, will I get sex?     I love this gift! 

You spent how much money to look exactly the same? 

                             I noticed you got your hair done, it looks lovely!

The Birthcontrol Pill in Jr. High?

 

In line at Starbucks the other day, my seventh grade son grabbed a caramel macchiato from the barista, winked at me in gratitude, and headed out the door for the patio.  A group of Jr. High kids passed on the way out and gave him a subtle, but clear, “what’s up” in the form of a nod and cool appraisal. My son casually nodded his head back in response.

When we walked outside to join my husband and baby, I suggested my son might want to go and hang with his friends.  His face lit up and he sauntered over to the group, shared some high fives and sat down.  These were friends from school I didn’t recognize.  They appeared to be more mature than his usual sports buddies; it was a co-ed group and the girls looked about sixteen, though I knew they were barely teens.  

The kids were also unsupervised, raising instant red flags in the back of my mind, and so my husband and I watched them curiously.  We tried to look cool and blasé, but were staring none the less.

One pair in particular stood out, a boy and girl who looked a little too friendly with each other.    Completely oblivious to the world, the kids couldn’t keep their hands off each other.  The girl leaned back into the boy’s arms. Her bottom snugly tucked into his lap and his arms wrapped tightly around her waist.   Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream played in my head. 

It was an intimate act that suggested pure sex.  Generally, those kinds of lap wiggles are reserved for the bedroom or private Jacuzzi.  Clearly, certain  boundaries had already been crossed and if they weren’t already sexually active, then they were getting close. Either way, it was inappropriate and shocking. It was a blatant “get a room” kind of move that makes people uncomfortable.  I was even more surprised at their audacity, as if they were unaware of social norms and space, or parents in particular.

And there sat my baby boy in the midst of these horny teenagers.  My sweet and innocent little angel corrupted by tarts and P Diddies.  (Ok, possibly an overreaction, but I am relatively confidant my son is still pure) And I got scared and a little sad.  Because, the truth is I can’t protect him from a culture that is hyper sexualizing everything down to tennis shoes.

On the way home, I questioned my son about his friends.  He mentioned the affectionate couple was dating.  I strained to remember what dating in Jr. High meant.  All I could remember was spin the bottle at parties, holding hands and possibly a first kiss for the kids who were going out. (Where “out” was, we will never know?)

 After a little research, from the Culture and Media Institute, I discovered the average age for a youth in the United States who is sexually active has now dropped down to age fourteen. The general consensus among the public seems to be reluctant acquiesce.  In Portland Maine (2007), the school board voted to allow birth control pills to be distributed to children as young as eleven.  Maine also dropped the age limit for sex to be considered illegal down to fourteen.

More disturbing than these statistics are the disparity of messages we are sending our teens.  “Don’t have sex, but if you do, here is how you put a condom on a banana.”  Hmmm? It’s as if no one believes saying no is an option. 

Why can we Just Say No to drugs but throw in the towel on children having sex?  Clearly, there will still be defiant and curious kids that will engage no matter what, but the message is still the same…avoid at all cost.  I am concerned why this message is applicable to one and not the other?

The morning after the Portland school board approved the measure allowing birth control to be distributed in the school, NBC’s Today Show featured Meredith Vieira and Dr. Nancy Snyderman, the network’s doctor-on-call. 

As Dr. Snyderman said, “Middle school kids are having sex!” Rather than letting that be a call for contraception, shouldn’t it be a wakeup call to our culture? If 11-year-olds are having sex, there are greater problems that need to be addressed than any pill can ever hope to cure … or prevent.

I agree with Dr. Snyderman in the bigger issue our culture faces. I would suggest that in the absence of a compelling reason to not have sex, we have just raised the white flag.  If no one will fight for teen abstinence and purity in light of the constant sexual barrage by the media, then we have already conceded. Why should any kid care if no one is willing to take a stand?

After we gently questioned our son, my husband and I walked home from Starbucks with him and talked openly about sex, love and what God has to say about it.  And that day, we took a stand; ready for a battle we may lose, but willing to fight against a culture where sex sells and little girls take birth control pills with their chewable vitamins.

Let’s Get It On

People are prone to memory lapse, some more so than others (hint, hint honey). We lose the car keys, the iPhone” (ok maybe I hid it), and leave our sunglasses everywhere but on our face.

But often in the marriage realm, we forget something even more important…the person we are, or better yet, who we were before life moved into fourth gear. 

Long ago, in a seminary class filled with very spiritual people (ok…not so much), I learned how personalities operate differently under stress.  There is our natural personality, the person we are when life is good, and then the shadow personality, the person we are when life gets overwhelming. Looking back, I guess it was one of those red-light warnings suggesting the life of a minister might not be all sunshine and roses.

It seemed like once my husband and I were outnumbered by kids, then deluged by work stress and ministry, this shadow personality started to emerge in full force.  It wasn’t an obvious body snatching, but a more subtle transformation amidst a whirlpool of snotty noses, interrupted sleep and a leaky church roof. 

Slowly, we lost the best parts of our personality in survival mode. It wasn’t intentional, but it was there, in the unspoken sighs and the little comments like; “Remember our Honeymoon?” (translation “Remember when you used to be fun?”)

When my husband approached me and said we needed a mini-retreat desperately, it was as if God’s voice broke through the busyness cloud and shouted, “Go for it! You are not the job, a mommy martyr, or the pastors wife…you, my darling girl are Mine.”

Deep down, buried under layers and layers of stress, I vaguely remembered underneath all the burdens I carry, there is a whimsical and frisky girl who loves romance, goofy humor, and spontaneity with her man.

“Ok,” I said, faking nonchalance, “When do we leave?”

 After two days and two nights with the in-laws, which included one of the best gifts of all…sleep, we were ready and rejuvenated enough to venture out on our own for a whole twenty-two hours of freedom.  We got lucky on Priceline and scored a beautiful resort room for a fraction of the cost. 

I was shaking in my flip-flops with excitement when we pulled up to the glamorous Hyatt Grand Champions Resort in Indian Wells. 

Now I knew the expectations of this mini-retreat.  My husband’s idea of vacation is unlimited sex, (sorry to shock all of you who think pastors are celibate) and my idea of vacation is unlimited rest, but I figured somewhere in between the yawns and negligees, we could find a nice compromise.

But a funny thing happens when a woman cuts the cord from her kids, even for just a short period of time.  Without the backpack of motherhood weighing me down, I literally felt lighter.  My spirit rejoiced in being with my husband and the walls which often separate began to crumble. 

When I glanced over at him, he didn’t look like the demanding “horn-dog” I secretly make him out to be when overwhelmed.  He looked handsome and content to simply be with his wife and go on an adventure.  Maybe it wasn’t just  physical? 

And all of a sudden, a wave of appreciation rolled over my heart.  I saw my husband’s love for what it is…tender and gracious. I could see adoration in his eyes. And so, my heart turned a proverbial corner and leapt with joy and longing for the man God had given me to care for.

As we headed to our room, my emotions crashed around in a crescendo of desire for my husband.  Unbeknownst to him, I pilfered his “intimate” agenda.  Like Marvin Gaye said best, “Let’s Get It On” played on my internal iPod as we headed to the room. He didn’t know then what my little smile insinuated.

The rest of the story is private, though I can say we both have stupid smiles plastered on our face three days later.  But, more importantly, I learned a few things from our mini-retreat that I don’t want to forget.

First, my husband’s overwhelming need for intimacy is not an issue in our marriage.  The issue is the busyness in life that becomes overwhelming, and makes even good things, like intimacy, a chore. (That being said, we do need to have realistic expectations dear…)

I also need to remember the man I married, and conversely  the woman he proposed to still exists, even during stress and extreme exhaustion.  Sometimes I just need a little coaxing, or better yet a crash course (AKA “vacation”) in remembering my identity when the darkness of life turns my light into a mere shadow.

And sadly, I had almost forgotten what it felt like to just be me; without a baby pulling on my leg, writing deadlines, or my son’s never-ending pile of athletic paraphernalia needing to laundered right “now.”  I’m so glad my husband loves me enough to help me remember that the girl he married is just a vacation away.

No Tweets for CIA

Detail, Panel Three of Jenny Holzer's 2006 Tri...

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I have a secret.  I am totally obsessed with spies right now.  I started researching the CIA for an article, and now I am having a proverbial field day, ruminating on codes, pondering treachery and analyzing patterns of security breaches.  My brain is a convoluted mess of Hollywood idealism interspersed with car bombs in Iraq, Egyptian revolt and CIA headlines insinuating data errors.

Sadly, I don’t think I am alone in my fascination with our country’s defense, or lack thereof right now.  The media have pretty much guaranteed every quagmire in the world is played out before our very eyes.  And the effect of this supersaturation is an uprising in my spirit of an inner (dormant) bad-ass that wants to be freed. 

I am shocked at my own intensity because I am a relatively passive gal. I want to rally the troops, hack into satellite imagery of North Africa and go get the bad guys. Call it the “Ironman” syndrome, but deep down I think there is a hero in all of us, just waiting for an opportunity to get our hands dirty and fight for the oppressed.

I feel so helpless watching Cairo crumble. I  walked those streets, now filled with angry protestors, and sailed on the Nile only a few short years ago when my husband and I spent our honeymoon in the Mediterranean.

I have to laugh now at my naivete…because I  expected Cairo to look like the charming scenes of white washed buildings, dates and monkeys from the pre-World War II days depicted in Raiders of the Lost Ark

But reality is a far cry from Hollywood, and while the history and ruins were truly remarkable, the city itself was disturbing.  It was overcrowded, polluted and unsettling as an American.  I remember the guards on every corner with machine guns; the trash piled so high it created mountains, and the rebar stretching out like tentacles on unfinished buildings in a never-ending sea of millions of squatters.

 The whole time we were in Egypt, three very long days to be exact; I struggled to relax or let down my defense.  Just like Jason Bourne, I was acutely aware of my surroundings.  Unlike Jason Bourne, my ninja skills are limited to dangerous words and inciting comments. So, in the back of my mind, I plotted escape routes and assessed each pyramid for dudes with guns and danger.  Of course, just about everyone there has a gun, so it was a rather limiting exercise.

I almost had a heart attack when my husband decided to take a walk along the beach in Alexandria by himself without his shirt on(trust me…the abs were smoking).  I  knew he would be kidnapped and ransomed off as a sex slave. And then I would have to join the CIA and hunt him down myself!

But on a more serious note, when I saw this article on Yahoo news yesterday, Should spies spend more time on Twitter, my interest was piqued. It begs the question whether our Intelligence analysts should have the right to be eavesdropping on evil doers plotting death and destruction.  Hmmm…this is a tough one!  In all honesty, there are some days I only wish big brother would censure  people and their incessant updates. 

I struggle with the argument that free speech is being hindered by Intelligence analysts tracking known terrorists or even suspected terrorists on Twitter and Facebook? It’s not like the CIA is interested in anyone’s 400th picture of their baby with cereal on his face, or even for that matter,  those questionable pics from the office Christmas party that you “accidentally” got tagged in.  They are looking for something a little darker…like Osama Bin Laden and his minions!

But I may be alone in this sentiment, along with House Republicans and even president Obama, because the extension of the Patriot Act was voted down on Tuesday. Come again?

That’s right…voted down. 

I am getting pretty frustrated here.  Because by the time I am in ready to join the CIA, they will have had their hands completely tied by Washington, have almost no power left, and will be run by a bunch of teenagers whom, oh, by the way will be Tweeting all day, but not actually allowed to use Twitter for any real good; as in catching terrorists (see my last article.)

Where is Jack Ryan when we need him?

Wanted: Secret Agents

Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency of the...

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Many words come to mind when I think of the CIA— espionage, clandestine operations, INTELLIGENCE, authority, strategy and adventure.  Strangely enough, “desperate” is not a term I would ever have associated with this government agency. 

But what am I to think when I hear an ad driving home from work the other day on KIIS FM, a local teeny-bopper radio station, advertising for CIA agents?  It sounded like an open call audition that just happened to include a polygraph test and a background check.  

Shut the front door!  Are we, the grand ‘ol USA, really that desperate to find qualified civil servants, that we have to pander to a predominately under-aged audience of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga wanna-be’s?  

Now, I work in marketing, and generally my intended audience is the one I am targeting; so what this ad campaign tells me, is that these “CIA “jobs, once so coveted that major movies and books were penned depicting their glory and honor, are now being mass marketed to teenagers getting their first job at Wal-Mart or McDonald’s.

After reading Leon Panetta’s comments on “said” radio campaign, I am now even more befuddled. The new director of the CIA (former chief of staff for Clinton and an Obama appointee), who is responsible for the ads, states that his goal is to reach out to minorities and people with foreign language skills; he is also trying to recruit more “Muslims, Arabs, African-Americans and Latinos.”

Ok, let me get this straight.  Affirmative action and lagging language skills are behind this? Now, I went to UCLA during the prime years of affirmative action.  My 4.0 GPA guaranteed that I might, (did I say might?) get a seat next to my good friend who was a quarter Indian, with a whopping 3.2 GPA.  Yeah, that was fair.  I busted my butt and he cruised on in. He didn’t grow up disadvantaged or on a reservation.  He lived around the corner from me and his house was bigger than mine.

So, is this the future of the CIA?  We dumb it down so that it’s politically correct and turn it into a late-night joke?  Call me naive, but true equality seems pretty simple, it’s when the best man or woman for the job gets the job, without racial or gender stereotypes. End of story.

 And when it comes to the protection of our country, is this the best we can do? How about stepping up the language training?  Or, possibly investing a few dollars in better recruitment tactics that appeal to minorities? Why don’t we leave those radio ads to ProActive and Geiko?

My confidence in this nation’s defense just fell quite a few notches, not that it was high to begin with.  But hey, at least our new linguistically skilled CIA agents will be able to dance to Chris Brown and Britney Spears.  If there is ever a covert op at a disco in Cairo maybe they can stun them with their killer moves.

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