Resolutions Resolved

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New Year’s Resolutions:

At the end of the Great Depression, about a quarter of American adults made them. At the start of the 21st century, it grew to about 40%. Today, about 45% of us still do.

How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them. ~ Benjamin Franklin

According to Statistic Brain, only 8% of us actually succeed in following through with the resolutions we make. While a whopping 75% start out strong the first week, the will eventually tapers and we are left with our usual smoke inhaling, beer guzzling, procrastinating selves. Apparently, we have the courage to own our faults Mr. Franklin, we just can’t seem to fix them.

The most common reason found for our inability to keep a resolution is the lifestyle change it requires. In his book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg explains that our brain clings to old routines helping us conserve our decision making neurons for work and problem solving. By the time a habit has been practiced enough, both the habit and reward become automatic. These routines require no willpower, they exist out of the sheer lack of effort it takes for our brains to perform them, such as brushing our teeth. The trick is to replace the bad habit with a better one. If we continue to reinforce the reward, we have a chance at accomplishing the goal– still maintaining a routine, just with different habits.

When I was young my New Year’s Resolutions used to be things like: wake up at 6:30 every morning and jog 3 miles. In most cases, resolutions are at least acted upon for a period of time. The ‘get back in shapers’ join a gym, the ‘smokers’ purchase nicotine gum. I don’t recall even setting my alarm for that following morning, nor do I remember ever running three miles up until then. I think I was thirteen, and they didn’t get any better as I got older: learn a new language, play an instrument, take up tap dancing…

With a history of creating resolutions that only self-disciplined, professionals can attain, I decided to apply my new knowledge of goal setting to the new year. I also narrowed my list down to things I can do for myself and things I can do for my relationship. Being that this blog is not called, ‘Kari Laskowski and her self discovery to her inner beauty’, which I think would allude to more ‘self pleasure’ spam and less followers, I will save you the read a book once a month or wake up thankful everyday jargon and cut right to the important stuff.

My Relationship Resolutions for 2013:

1. Call my grandma once a week.

I’m hoping to accomplish this by calling on Sundays. I will substitute the habit of lying on my couch with my computer for the habit of lying on my couch with my phone. Also, I will remind myself that she is getting older and my reward will be how proud I will feel that our relationship has strengthened when the time comes that she will no longer be with us. Of course, the reward will also be the relationship itself.

2. Have more sex.

I plan to accomplish this by:

  • Buying a sex book: whenever I go to a white elephant and there is a sex book, it’s always a hit. Just recently I went to a Christmas Party and we were supposed to bring an inexpensive or “naughty” gift.  A book about cunnilingus got all of the attention. It stole the comedy, not only with the couples at the party, but also among strangers at the bar afterwards. I realized it’s okay as long as everyone knows it’s funny or that it’s just a gift, however, we would be too embarrassed to purchase something like that for ourselves.
  • Renting a porn: I did all this research for my blog, There Ain’t No Shame or Blame in That Game, but I haven’t yet followed the advice of trying one out. The point of the blog is that the porn industry has catered to women more now than it ever has and that studies have shown sexual images can enhance women’s sex lives.
  • Seeing a sex therapist: I recently made friends with a sex therapist at a party. She had so much incite on couples and their sex lives. Her clients are mostly couples 50 years and older. However, there are therapists for newlyweds and for couples of all ages who help you learn how to avoid getting into a rut and how to continue on a good path. Sex: never, sometimes, often.

The rewards will be obvious, but in case anyone needs the statistics: a couple that plays together, stays together.

3. Fight better.

I have the same reactions to the same things that make me tick. These nuances are always going to bother me, but if I change my reaction I might see a change in the result as well. And if not, what do I have to lose? Most of the time our anger is only feeding the negative energy that spawned it in the first place. I met a woman once who told me when she and her husband call each other names, they have a rule that they always have to say the word “sexy” in front of it. “You are being a real sexy prick right now!” If I  take up name calling I’ll only do it because of this rule.

4.Compliment my partner more.

With our culture’s emphasis on beauty, compliments in terms of appearance often fall more on women. Maybe it’s because we spend more time thinking about what we are going to wear and getting ready. However, I’ve noticed when I tell Mike he looks good in something, it’s always well received. And if you think about it, men are secretly thinking about what to wear too, they’re just better at making decisions about it. Why should us women get all the credit, when men are able to look good and do it in half the time? In her book, Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More, Sheryl P. Kurland teaches us that complimenting our partner is a good way to make a conscious effort to build the relationship up, instead of our normal tendencies of breaking it down.

So there you have them. They each require my attention, but not too much. A lifestyle change? Not a big one, just a tweak here and there.

With all the stats on resolutions there still is one yet to be mentioned: People who make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t make resolutions.

Now, don’t be a sexy stick in the mud. Get out there and give it a try.

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A Love Story

This is an interview posted on Huffington Post.com about a couple who met and married 20 years ago, The Marriage that Will Make you Believe in Love. Hilda Chacón, 49, and her husband, Pedro Morán-Palma, 48, sat down with StoryCorps in 2010 to discuss how they met.

Hilda Chacón: So tell me, Calvito, what did you think when you first met me almost 20 years ago?

Pedro Morán-Palma: I saw there was a beautiful lady sitting in this party. At first I thought that you were with somebody. Then I saw that it was my roommate who was bothering you, and I tried to rescue you.

Hilda: I was wearing a short skirt, and he insisted that I go up the stairs so he would see me from behind, and I got so mad that I was ready to beat him up. But you came to my rescue and pulled him away. I remember you apologized for him being so rude and drunk, and I just started saying, Ugh! Men! And you said, “Not all men are like that.” “Yes, they are!”

We sat there at the top of the stairs, and we started talking like no one else was there. I told you I was visiting from Costa Rica, that I was divorced, that I had a kid that I really loved. And then I started talking about men, saying, “I don’t know why people get married, you know? You marry a guy and you have to put up with so much crap!” How come I didn’t scare you?

Pedro: You were fascinating. I was mesmerized, I think is the right word. You were the most intelligent, creative woman I’d ever seen in my life.

Hilda: It’s funny, because when I met you I was totally sure that love did not exist. But there you were, with this exquisite sensibility and sensitivity. You came over with this calm attitude, very gentle, very sweet, and I felt like you could sense what I had gone through. Still, I thought to myself, this man is bald! I had always said I could never, never be with a bald guy. And there you were, becoming the most handsome man on earth. You have a little less hair than then, but I still think you’re the most handsome man alive.

Pedro: It’s hard for people to believe that we only dated for 10 days.

Hilda: We cried profusely at the Phoenix airport when we said good-bye. I just thought, This man is great, but he’s here. My life is in Costa Rica: My baby [Nadia] is there, my friends are there, my family is there, my life is there. So it’s too bad.

A week later you called, and you said that you had gotten a ticket to Costa Rica, and that you were coming.

Pedro: My friends were saying that I was crazy. At some point I thought, Maybe this is too much. But suddenly I said to myself, This is my opportunity. Because it’s something that my whole body was telling me: You’ve got to do this! This is the most wonderful thing that’s going to happen in your life — you cannot let this go! So that’s when I decided to visit you in Costa Rica.

I always remember your eyes when you were waiting for me in the airport. The sun was shining in your eyes, and Nadia was hiding behind you. She was trying to see who the guy was.

Hilda: We went to Bahia Gigante, and the three of us sat there looking at the sea and the sunshine. You started telling me these weird things, like how grad students didn’t earn much in the U.S., but they could live well. And you told me about the school system. “Hmm, that’s good.” I didn’t know where this conversation was heading.

All of a sudden you said, “Well, I don’t make much money, but if you want, we could get married, and I think the three of us could live with some dignity until I finish school.” And I just thought to myself, This man is either totally crazy or has the biggest cojones on earth, because after all that I said about marriage, here he is asking me to marry him? I was shocked, and honestly, I had never thought about marrying again. But I just thought, If I let him go I will never forgive myself, because I’ve never felt this connection with anyone before in my life. And I said, “Yes.”

I remember everybody being terrified, because I was marrying a guy that I had met 10 days before and taking my daughter out of the country. I pretty much left everything behind to follow you.

I remember that the second day in Costa Rica, you and Nadia sat to watch a TV show. She started asking you all these questions, and little by little she started leaning on you. Then, I remember, she sat on your lap, and she put her hand over your shoulder. And I thought to myself, This is one of the nicest images I’ll ever save in my mind. The two of you were laughing about that TV show, so happy. And that’s how I picture the two of you today. You have this laughing relationship, so close and funny. Even if you stop loving me tomorrow, I could never pay you back for all the love and affection you have given my baby.

Pedro: When I met Nadia, I said, I’m going to present myself as I am and see if she likes me. And fortunately, things turned out well. I’m a really proud stepfather.

Hilda: People say, Everyday things kill love. I probably used to say that 25 years ago, before I met you. But the things that we do on a daily basis, simple things like going to get the fruit at the market or paying the bills, or just cleaning the house, they aren’t chores or responsibilities but fun things when we do them together.

I told you when I met you that I don’t like husbands. Boyfriends invite you to the movies or to dance and bring you flowers, but husbands just take you for granted, right?

Pedro: So says tradition.

Hilda: But you’re not a traditional husband. I have this strange sensation with you — part of me feels like we met yesterday, but there’s another part of me that feels like I’ve been with you forever.

Pedro: And it feels good to feel young with you, and at the same time to grow old with you. And it’s all those things together at the same moment.

Hilda: Love you, Papito.

Pedro: Yo también.

 

The Inevitable Mistake.

They dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake.  ~Alexander Pope, The Wife of Bath, 1713

War of the Roses

Boston Family Therapist, Terrence Real, says “There comes a moment in all relationships when you lie in bed, roll over, look at the person next to you think it’s all a dreadful mistake.” He claims this can happen anywhere from a few months to a few years in. Real says when the initial attraction we once had for our partners has fizzled, it is actually the first day of our marriage. “It’s not a sign that you’ve chosen the wrong partner. It is the signal to grow as an individual.”

I met Mike when I was living in Breckenridge, Colorado. I was only twenty-four-years-old. Every time I return to Breckenridge, I get this feeling of excitement and vulnerability. My mind instantly takes me back and I’m taken over with emotions–a roller coaster of butterflies, angst and fear. It’s as though I were watching a movie that I loved, and hadn’t seen in a while.

The strangest thing is, while I’m still with Mike, I’ll never get to experience him in that way again. It’s all part of the beginning of a relationship: the high, the lust, the sex, the feeling of being the most important and the most insecure person at the same time.

When we meet someone we really like, the intense infatuation is sparked by our brain releasing the chemicals adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. According to WebMD, The brain can release these love-related chemicals and hormones within one-fifth of a second of first sight.

Adrenaline is why my heart would pound so fast when I’d see it was Mike’s number calling. Or, why all of a sudden I felt like I could go for a six mile run just from making plans to meet up. Adrenaline is the worst if you ask me, it’s clearly obvious when my heart is pounding: my voice cracks, I start to pit out, and I have this lost, scared look on my face.

Dopamine is the reason why I was able to fill Mike in on every detail of my life ’til the sun came up then, without any sleep whatsoever, skip off to work with a permanent smile.  Sleeping next to each other these days, doesn’t have the same effect as it used to. (Now, we actually sleep. And the creepy smile has been replaced with a normal, more subtle one.) The reaction to dopamine on our brain is similar to a reaction to cocaine. I was literally high on love.

And finally, the decreased levels of serotonin explains why I couldn’t get him out of my mind. My brain was fixated and I had no control in the matter. An interesting fact: these levels actually match the same amount of levels in those diagnosed with OCD- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

According to Christine Meinecke, a clinical psychologist, it’s the building up of the other person that has an overwhelming effect. “It makes partners overestimate their similarities and idealize each other.” Eventually, the facade wears off and we are left with unexpected incompatibilities. This is when we wonder if we’ve chosen the wrong person. Before, we were so focused on what was “perfect” between us, and now we are focused on what isn’t.

The good news is this stage fades too. It takes work, but self-reflection and inner happiness are just a few ways to get through it faster.

While we’ve definitely had our shining moments. I haven’t had the full fledged “I think I chose the wrong person” experience yet, however, I’m not going to rule it out. I imagine it’s more likely to come when we have kids. (That’s when we will want to kill each other, exhausted and up to our ears in shit.)

If you want to read more: Psychology Today’s article, Are You With the Right Mate, by Rebecca Webber.

And Oops My Bosoms Come Flying Out

Women show more cleavage in a recession than during times of plenty. Researchers found when resources are scarce, overall competition between individuals increases and women tend to show off their ‘ladies’ more than they usually would. —Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, Florence Williams.

A Little Off the Top

(Continued…) an article from knot.com, 7 Relationship Mistakes Even the Smartest Couples Make, provides us with the seven most common blunders we make once we are married or become settled in our relationships.

Mistake #4: Letting Yourself Go

A study finds that women are more apt to pile on excess pounds after marriage, while men add the weight after a divorce.                  —USATODAY.com

The fluctuating weight of women is an ongoing lifelong battle that will always be a part of our lives. It’s a fact that the body fat percentage in women is always higher than in men. It’s part of evolution. We have hips, we have bellies, we have boobs–not all in that order. All most likely to carry a larger percent of fat so we can provide a nice comfortable home for our babies. Sometimes the home is a studio apartment, sometimes it’s a mansion.

An article from Cosmopolitan, How to Keep Off Post-Wedding Pudge, found that it’s common for women to gain weight in the first five years of marriage. One study claims new wives gain an average of 21 pounds in the first year. (Awesome! It’s freshman year of college all over again.)

I did some research to find the most common reasons for weight gain among newlyweds.

1. How the bride goes about losing weight before her wedding, may in fact, be the reason for more weight gain after.

With all of the diet options, brides are often choosing the quickest ways to lose the pounds. The result to the unhealthy quick fix is an inevitable weight gain. Nutritionist, Natalie Rosenstock, suggests hitting the gym as a way to lose the weight before the wedding, making exercise a habit and keeping the weight off longer.

2. Newlyweds tend to spend more time with their partners after marriage than before when they were busy planning their weddings, getting in shape and working.

Psychologist, Michelle Gannon, says, “Balancing ‘we’ time with ‘me’ time is a challenge for most newlyweds, especially women, who tend to prioritize their relationships over themselves. They are often likely to sacrifice exercise for hanging out with their spouse.”

3. Women try to keep up with their spouse’s eating habits.

It is a known thing, men just eat a lot, often without it showing up on their hips first thing the next morning. An article from fitnessmagazine.com, Happily Ever Fatter, How to Avoid Post Wedding Gain, says, “The average active man needs up to 3,000 calories a day, compared with an active woman’s 2,200, and his metabolism is 10 to 15 percent faster, which means he can put away bigger portions and not gain an ounce.”

So, what can we do about it? First, we can start by watching our portions. One article suggests dishing yourself first and ordering before your spouse in a restaurant. (That way you don’t hear that he’s getting the Mucho Nachos to go along with his rack of ribs and mash potatoes and think, Hmm, I was going to get a salad, but that sounds good, “We’ll have two.”)  And secondly, make time to go for a walk or morning run, hit the gym or get a personal trainer. The knot.com even suggests getting fit together.

However, if you are like me, who trains for a triathlon while your boyfriend does nothing, and then one day decides to “join you for a run,” only to kick your ass so badly you feel like punching him in the face when you finally finish, then “getting fit together” might not be your answer.

This is how I pictured our run together was going to be. (Except we were on a sidewalk, and we had clothes on.) But, that’s the only difference.

Can we be frexes?

In the Huffington Post today, is an article titled, Of Course Exes are Allowed at the Wedding. Jade Walker writes that she is not only friends with her past ex-boyfriends, she had one as a witness at her wedding. Her reasoning being that she once enjoyed this person for who he was as a person and just because the romance died doesn’t mean the friendship has to. “The reason is simple: If I’ve spent months or years loving someone, I see no good reason to throw away a prized friendship just because our romance fizzled.”

I used to be like Walker. I’ve had two serious boyfriends in the past. I told each of them at the at the time we were dating, he was invited to my wedding and to my funeral. There’s so much intimacy shared in just the friendship aspect of a relationship, it made sense to have this person be part of these significant stages in my life. In a way, they helped me achieve the “significance” by contributing directly or indirectly to who I am.

Unfortunately, as I’ve grown and changed, I don’t think it’s as cut and dry anymore.

Walker says she has a clear understanding between someone in the “friend-zone” and someone in the “dating-zone”. She says some people blend the two, but because she never has, she is able to continue the friendships of her past lovers as they are now in the “friend-zone”.

I wish it were that simple but I’d like to think I’m ‘the one who got away’. Even if this were in no way shape or form to being close to the truth. It’s my truth. Which means, there’s no way an authentic friendship could be maintained.

Walker says, “I’ve been able to create a unique and wonderful circle of friends, many of whom just happen to have seen me naked at one point in time.”

It’s not so much for me that they just happen to see me naked, it’s the fact that we most likely had unremitting, sometimes awkward, sometimes mind-blowing, sex. And we will never do it again. I could see it now, sitting across from each other with our new “significant others” enjoying a nice spaghetti dinner pretending we never bawled our eyes out if front of each other, or spent days at a time in the bedroom only to come up for air and a quick bite to eat. “Kari, could you pass me the salt?” says ex-boyfriend.  “Oh, the salt? Like the salt you poured on my wound when we were drunk and you were mean to me in front of your friends and made me cry myself to sleep? That salt?” I’d say. And then I’d just smile and say “only kidding” and everyone would laugh.

Or, perhaps we could all four go to a movie, and if there’s a sex scene, we could take turns between picturing each other and picturing our present partners.  Then, maybe we’d remember the time we decided to take naked pictures of each other. Would it be rude to ask if he still has them? Maybe I’ll wait ’til the movie is over when we are all sharing a nice banana split. It will be when I’m eating the banana. Mike won’t mind, he knows ex-boyfriend is now in my “friend-zone”.

And just for kicks, let’s just say Mike didn’t care that I was friends with my exes. There’s no way their wives would be hunky dory with their husbands palling around with his shockingly stunning, perfectly shaped ass, non-saggy boobed, ex-girlfriend who isn’t married…okay, maybe I went a little overboard, but the last two are 100% true. (My boobs aren’t saggy, but that’s another post yet to be written: Kari Laskowski, the Late Bloomer.)

Walker ends her article with a list of questions to ask your partner. She claims if you had trust between you and your partner, being friends with your ex wouldn’t  be a problem.

If you agree with her or not, they are still questions worth asking. Perhaps, if only to strengthen your relationship.

Here are her questions:

Do you trust your mate to never stray?

Do you trust yourself?

Have you discussed your sexual pasts and preferences openly and honestly?

Are you upset that your mate has had other lovers despite the fact that you knew he/she wasn’t a virgin when you met?

Have you made peace with your past, or do you dwell in “what might have been”? Has your mate?

Are you an unforgiving person or more open-hearted and open-minded?

I guess what makes this difficult for me is what I loved most about the men in my past was how they made me feel. They held me in a special place- which is where Mike holds me now. So, I’m good wishing them the best and making room for new friends who can compliment my life without complicating it.

I love you, you’re perfect, now change.

Albert Einstein once said, ” Women marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. So each is inevitably disappointed.”

I grew up in a conservative Catholic home. For the better part of my life, I based my values and beliefs accordingly.  I remember once when I was about twelve years old, I was riding with my mom in the car. I saw a group of kids standing in the alley. One of them stood out to me, he had a purple mohawk, was dressed in all-black and was smoking. I said to my mom,” If I ever date someone like that, I know I could help him be a better person.”  Taking this opportunity to teach her child a very important life lesson, my mom turned to me and said, “Kari, don’t ever be with a man you think you can change.”

She said this with such simple conviction, I knew it was not only true, but spoken from experience. Time and time again I see couples struggling because one wants the other to be something he or she isn’t.

In an article from Psychology Todaytitled, “Can your Partner Change, Believe it Even if You Don’t See It,” says that if we believe our partners can change, even if we don’t see it right away, they have a better chance at being able to. It is important that both partners be open to change and when a request is made, the one who is making it needs to be patient and appreciate even the small steps that are taken.

I think the key to success here is to pick your battles. The article says couples often get so caught up in the negative perception of each other, they don’t see the small gestures that it often takes to change. It doesn’t happen overnight.

When Mike and I first moved in together, he always left the toilet seat up. This would drive me crazy. As much as I would remind him, he would remind me that it’s a habit and he can’t break it over night.

I tried leaving sticky notes: Morning, please put the GODDAMN SEAT DOWN! I wrote poems: Help me avoid the porcelain splash, on my ass. Apparently, not as impressive as I thought. I decided to have faith in the fact that he was acknowledging my frustration. It took some time, but eventually, he changed his habit from leaving it up, to putting it down.

When I do things that drive Mike crazy: leave dishes out, forget to eat the doggy-bag leftovers, don’t screw the cap on all the way, don’t give enough blow jobs, he seems to get just as frustrated. I too, remind him how hard it is to change a habit. After time, I now either eat my leftovers right away or throw them out and I’ve become a cleaner person, oh, and I’m even better at screwing; the cap on! (still gotta to work on those bjs.)

All I’m saying is for someone to be able to change, they have to have the will to do so. And, if you want to be in a happy relationship, you kind of have to have that will.

As far as the kid with the mohawk, he was probably happy being who he was and most likely wasn’t looking to be rescued. My freckled faced, pig-tailed, ribbon wearing self would have been his worst nightmare.

Is he your daddy?

In medicalnewstoday.com, psychologist Dr Lynda Boothroyd of Durham University, says the quality of the relationship between a woman and her father has an impact on whom she finds attractive.

In an article titled “Are You Dating Your Father?” from Life Script, women who don’t have a healthy relationship with their dads either do one of two things:

a) They choose a man similar to him in order to have a chance to fix the problems they have with their dads in the relationship with man they are dating.

b) They choose someone with completely opposite traits.

While I love my dad very much, there is only room for one of him in this world, let alone in my family. Whenever I was dating somebody and they had a mannerism similar to my dad, it wasn’t as much a red flag that slowly waived from a distance, but more a demolition wrecking ball that would come charging through wherever we happen to be: a bar, museum, doing charity, training for a marathon, helping at the soup kitchen, volunteering to clean up the city (okay, I really meant when we’re at the bar.)

As soon as I’d meet someone who seemed like I could really like him, he’d have me pull his finger or tell a corny joke. My dad loves telling corny jokes, mostly about his wallet being empty. (Probably, because he’s always helping out one of his four children in some way.)

Now, it’s not the schmaltzy joke that would get me, it’s the telling it and laughing at it the hardest and the re-telling it for the rest of my life.  There’s only room in my heart for such antics to come from one man.

I’m not saying I’m above fart jokes either, but my boyfriend does not have me pull his finger every time. He throws in a few new ones, keeps it fresh (not the gas, just the jokes.)

So, there we were having what I thought was a good conversation up until that point and then out it would come, the demolition wrecking ball. It would come right on through as if it were already drawn back, waiting to be let loose. There was no way to stop it.

Demolition wrecking ball aka “red flag”.

This happened time and time again. Sometimes we’d be dating for months, having a typical “couples debate”and then something would come out of their mouths as though it had come straight from my dad, “Kari, what you don’t understand is….” and I wouldn’t even be able to hear what they were saying next. It was just a loud noise of nothing. I’d see their lips moving but I knew it was coming. The unlucky guy at the time, would just look at me and wait for me to respond to whatever he just said. I would just stare. First, with a look of fear and then sympathy because I knew he was about to be pummeled.

After the wreck, I would just walk away. There’s no explanation to save the situation.

Now, here’s the catch…

My boyfriend, Mike, and my dad do share similar features; blue eyes and curly blond hair. I wasn’t even the first to notice it. I mean, I knew that Mike had these traits but, I didn’t realize they were so similar to my dads. It was my oldest sister, Val, who pointed it out and when she did, I just about spit out my beer. I thought, “No way! That’s just crazy talk!” I was sure she could see how cute Mike was and needed to make up excuses so she wasn’t smitten to her little sister’s boyfriend.

Then, I saw it… there they were, standing together with their almost transparent eyes and light, ringlety hair. My dad happens to have a few grays but nonetheless!

After following Mike around for several days, I realized he was going to be okay.  No demolition wrecking ball had come. And if he happen to share a few similar traits with my dad, I knew he wouldn’t be stealing any of his jokes.

and this is my dad, Clark Griswold.

Ever since I was a kid, I could never quite explain my dad to people. Then, one day I saw a movie and it changed the rest of my life. I saw Clark Griswold in the movie Vacation. It was not only the first time I was actually able to show others a small glimpse of who my dad is but also, the first time I was able to appreciate his sense of humor without being directly affected by it.

I am the youngest of four kids. Every year my family would pile into a van and road trip to somewhere across the U.S. One time, we drove 30 hrs to Washington D.C. If we would stop to sleep, it was normally in a motel-one room with two beds. The only requirement was, wherever we slept had to have a pool-even if the pool was dirty, covered in leaves or not filled up all the way.

Clark: Why aren’t we flying? Because getting there is half the fun. You know that.

Our most recent family vacation was a month ago. With my sisters, brothers-in-law, brother, nieces, nephew and parents, thirteen of us set out in a caravan to St. Louis, Nashville and Memphis. My dad does most of the planning on these trips and when things don’t go down as planned, well it gets a little intense.

Clark on vacation with his family.

 
 Ellen: You set standards that no family activity can live up to.
 Clark: When have I ever done that?
 Ellen: Parties, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, holidays…
 Clark: Goodnight Ellen
 Ellen: Vacations, graduations…

 

We were in Nashville during the Country Music Awards. No, we did not plan it on purpose. Which means there were a ton more people than normal and my dad was not about to miss out on any of the fun. We spent most of our time on Broadway Street (which is a cleaner version of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.)

With all the excitement, my dad decided to book an extra night. We thought this was a good idea at first, but spending three nights on Broadway Street with my sisters who couldn’t drink, and four kids, two nights ended up being more than enough. My siblings nominated me to share the news with my dad; that we think we should head to Memphis in the morning instead of staying the extra night.

My Dad on vacation with his family.

The situation was similar to when the Clark’s family decided they didn’t want to go to Wally World anymore. I put in ( )s around what my dad added to it…

Clark (aka my dad): I think you’re all f—-d in the head. We’re (at) the f—–g fun park [Nashville] and you want to bail out. Well I’ll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun. I’m gonna have fun and you’re gonna have fun. We’re all gonna have so much f—–g fun we’ll need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles. You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’ out of you’re assholes!

Yep, it went something like that. Nonetheless, we headed to Memphis in the morning and spent the rest of the trip on Beale Street (which is a cross between Bourbon Street and Broadway Street.) The kids loved it. Until they didn’t love it anymore. Luckily, they couldn’t tell the difference between the drunk people and the crack addicts. Eventually, we had to divert from Beale Street so the kids could have a little quieter place to eat. We settled on a restaurant a block off of Beale St. It had a few less people but the waitresses’ all wore tiny crop tops and mini kilts. Everyone was happy.

(I have a point I promise.) To be continued…

Does Love Stink?

An experiment was conducted where six men were to wear a T-shirt for two nights in a row. They were instructed not to wear deodorant or soap, so women could more easily pick up their Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). Women were then given the six T-shirts to smell.

Three of the T-shirts had MHC similar to them and three had MHC that was different. The women found that the T-shirts with the different MHC reminded them of past or current boyfriends while the ones with the similar MHC reminded them of family members.

Also, women who were on birth control chose the T-shirts with the similar MHC. Scientists speculate that the birth control often tricks the mind to think it is pregnant and therefore uninterested.

For all the women who think they are crazy and keep dating the wrong man, well maybe your birth control is choosing him for you through scent. Now, if you decide to go off of birth control as an experiment to see if you are attracted to someone new, please do not forget this “experiment” when you are out at the bars enjoying libations. The objective here is meant to create happy dating lives not babies.

Scientists found that females are more likely to choose a mate who is not closely related to themselves. This would allow the offspring to carry different genotypes, having stronger immune systems and a better chance at surviving.

This makes sense because my boyfriend Mike will eat something off of the floor (five second rule need not apply), get three hours of sleep and still spend the next night out drinking, doesn’t obsess about washing his hands and is never sick. I on the other hand, wash my hands the minute I walk in the door, would never eat food off of the floor and if I get anything short of my eight hours of sleep my voice becomes hoarse. (I’m getting a tickle in my throat just thinking about it.) It may be a small case of hypochondria but I still feel every symptom, and it hurts. You can never be too careful!

Hopefully, our kids get his immune system.

In Marie Claire’s June issue, was an article titled, “Scent of a Marriage.” It was about a woman who didn’t like the scent of her husband, but he had all the other qualities she was looking for. Eventually, they had too many differences and divorced. She then remarried a man with a scent she was instantly attracted to. While they still have their differences, it’s been several years and they are still happily married. She attributes the attraction she still has for her second husband to his scent.

As a follow up, a woman responded to this article saying that she was engaged to a man who had an intoxicating scent. She then went on birth control and the hormones made her hate his smell. She ended up finding a birth control that allowed her to enjoy his scent again and they were able to reconnect.

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