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The American dream…


Actually, that image is me apologizing to myself.

Despite working in television, I really do not watch that much of it– at all.

Except for HGTV.

I watch a RIDICULOUS and totally inordinate amount of time watching HGTV fantasizing about a house I don’t even own. (In fact, as Hubby-to-Be and I sat here this evening looking at listings for homes we have no hope to buy in anything that’s remotely considered the near future, I said more than once that I could assist with any renovations because “I watch HGTV.”)

(I don’t actually think that qualifies me to renovate much. I am not that much of a twat, I promise. However– I am not TOTALLY hopeless… I mean… I figured out how to make jewelry, right?!? I can probably paint a room or arrange tile in a pretty design, right? I mean, if Hubby-to-Be thinks he has solid experience as an electrician because he worked with one for three months, then clearly, not only are we READY to take on a fixer-upper, we can probably build a shelter equivalent to a child’s homemade blanket fort.)

(We GOT this.)

Anyway– I LOVE looking at houses, floor plans, renovation shows, the whole thing.

But the thing about HGTV I can neither understand, nor keep my blood from boiling over, (though clearly their tactics work because I continue to tune in regardless), is the unimaginative & annoying homeowners they cast. (Buffy…)

Okay, so yes, I get that it’s not true reality. I would wager about 90% of the time the Love It or List It people already know what they really want to do and are just looking for a discount renovation, and I’ve heard the House Hunters people are totally staged.

I also have worked in some manner of reality TV before and now work in news, and yes, I understand scripting, and editing and all that nonsense, but here’s the thing. Even if we WERE going to edit things together totally out of context (which on a serious note, I am totally against and is totally unethical, but that’s a serious journalistic rant for another time and place), you STILL HAVE TO SAY AND DO THE STUPID STUFF in order for us to string it together!

For example– Every SINGLE episode of Buying & Selling or Property Brothers I’ve ever seen where the couple/family insists on living in the home while it’s being renovated, they all spend approximately 85% of the time whining about how it’s such a pain to live in a home that’s in the middle of being renovated and less than 10% being grateful for what they’re getting, and whatever’s left is when they finally act like acceptable humans. I’m talking tears, confessional cameras with heavy, panicked breathing, anxiety over having to sit on the floor to eat, the whole nine. Um… okay, A. YOU CHOSE THIS. You SIGNED up. I’ve lived in a home that was being renovated before, too, and I am against washing dishes in the tub as much as the next person, but are you seriously that ungrateful you can’t see what you’re getting and there’s a means to the end? Really? I would LOVE for those adorable brothers to come hook up some dump of a house into the Taj Mahal for me, I don’t care how inconvenienced I am for a few weeks. (Apparently I have no B. here, but you get the point.)

Then, there’s the aforementioned Love It or List It. If you’re unfamiliar, the gist is, one person hates their house because they were stupid when they bought it and didn’t realize what a disaster it is, and other person is fully convinced that despite the fact that it’s an 800-square-foot shack, somehow when the magician designer is finished, they will be living in a 4-bedroom, 5-bath McMansion, on a $30,000 budget. Inevitably, both people once again come off like unimaginative spoiled brats. They’re stunned they can’t get a larger, fully renovated, stunning home in their same city neighborhood while only paying $25,000 more than their current home is worth. Who ARE these people? And if the producers script it, are we supposed to hate them? I don’t get it. And how do they manage to only find people with current homes that will have some sort of totally shocking, completely devastating and budget-eating must-fix-now-or-die issues? What do the producers put in these casting call requirements? I won’t even touch on how awful the hosts’ banter is.

And finally, House Hunters. These people are perhaps the most unrealistic of all. They never seem to understand why they aren’t getting a perfectly designed and decorated home with huge rooms, the exact paint colors they want, right on the beach, for their $175,000 budget (or insert whatever is a ridiculously low budget in your area here). What do you MEAN I can’t have a penthouse suite on Park Avenue for a song and $10K? Most of the time they pass up homes I would be THRILLED to own,  because there’s yellow paint in the living room, the carpet has a stain, or the driveway is on the left instead of the right. Do any of these people have any idea how that sounds? That’s not even talking about the guy who had to have all his sisters accompany him to check out townhouses whose chief complaint was whether his garage would be good enough for his “baby”, which was admittedly, a beautiful red sports car of some sort, that he spent FAR too much time petting in the episode. Or the guy who kept complaining living rooms weren’t big enough for his Sunday Football multi-TV setup… and when they cut to him at the end, he had a flatscreen TV wired to the wall, and then what looked like 2 different 13-inch woodgrain wrapped tube TVs from 1973 atop barrels. (Classy. I can see why you made your wife forego all the houses she liked for this). Or the lady that thought giving a home character meant painting the beautiful cherry cabinets varying, non-matching shades of green. The list goes on.

I get that the shows have to be entertaining, but it does make me mad that all my favorite designers only work in Canada and the people they choose to do cool stuff for on the shows are rude to them the whole time. (Well, most of them.)

So here I sit… typing this post, petting my dog, and planning my upcoming weekend of HGTV watching.

I have no life.

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Dear parents of teenage girls…

Christmas shopping with just 4 days until the big day is always a hassle.

People are animals, they park in random places that are decidedly not parking spots, and you feel like you’re taking your life in your hands by being anywhere near a mall or shopping center.

This isn’t what bothered me today.

Before I go much farther, I will make this clear that this is going to be a rant of sorts. If you’re a parent, especially one of a teenage girl, stick around… if you’re not, but like a good rant, this is for you. If you’re none of the above… see you tomorrow 🙂

Still with me?

It was like 85 degrees in Central Florida. I still can’t get over it being that hot around Christmas, the New Yorker in me is having a tough time feeling festive.

I went to the mall to purchase the last few gift items… and as usual during this time of year, it was a complete zoo.

But the absolute worst thing was the amount of ass on full display.

I don’t mean one or two adults.

I mean dozens of teenage girls with their butt cheeks hanging so far out of their barely-there “denim shorts”, you were literally looking at cheeks when they were standing up STRAIGHT.

Now, I am not yet a parent. Hopefully soon, in the next year or so, if Hubby-to-Be and I can get ourselves together. So before anyone tells me I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent, I don’t know how hard it is, etc. etc., let me head you off and tell you– yeah, I know, I’m aware.

But this isn’t about attacking any one person’s parenting skills, it’s about a problem we seem to have in society as a whole.

Why are you letting your 11-17 year old girls out of the house wearing shorts so short, that if someone wanted to look hard enough, they could pretty much see all the goody parts? (To be clear– I didn’t have to look hard. Cheeks hanging out of shorts. Right there.)

Listen, I know what kind of a pain-in-the-ass a teen girl can be. I used to be one. I am not at all proud of half the stuff I did and said.

But right about now, I’m almost happy I grew up as a fat kid. My parents only had to worry about my boobs displaying too much cleavage, because after the age of 11 I was pretty much too embarrassed about what my legs/thighs looked like to bother trying to wear booty shorts ever, much less out of the house.

Here’s the thing, though. I know what it was like to want to get dressed up and go to the mall, just in case some really cute guy was there or something. (Not that they were ever interested in me, but it didn’t matter. It’s what girls do.)

I know what it’s like to want to wear whatever is “in style” and whatever all the “trendy” teen stores sell, what all the “cool” girls wear. And my parents knew how to tell me “no.”

But these days, what the teens are wearing frankly scares the hell out of me, and I’m only in my mid-20s. When your butt is hanging that far out of your shorts, before you even bend over, how is that okay?

Parents wonder why cyber-bullying happens, why other kids call their daughters sluts, I mean, are you kidding? Because it’s appropriate for a 14-year-old to wear shorts or a skirt like that, with her belly hanging out, see through, with a neon-colored push-up bra, creating cleavage that rivals a Playboy bunny’s? This is okay?

I am in NO way at all advocating cyber-bullying, calling girls names suggesting they are sexually promiscuous, nothing. I am not even suggesting these same nameless girls I saw are any of those things, either.

But the reality is, stereotypes exist for a reason, right or wrong. We all know they are wrong. But as humans, we cannot help ourselves. Whether we think we do or not, we judge. So why allow your child to perpetuate one?

I am scared to death to have a baby girl, because what will be “in style” when she’s 13 that I’m fighting to keep her out of? Will it make people think she looks like a slut, even if she isn’t? And just as scary, will I have a baby boy, who I will have to constantly fight to make sure he doesn’t see or refer to girls/women that way himself?

So here’s what you can do: don’t buy clothes like that. They make them because you buy them.

I also saw plenty of teenage girls at the mall looking “trendy” and “cool” in age-appropriate clothing. Buy that for your girls.

I can remember plenty of times I argued with my parents over what was okay to wear where. They always won. YOU should always win. Not the child. Stop being their friend and be a parent. If it’s cute, but isn’t appropriate, well, then, they’ll be 18 soon and/or out of the house soon enough, and hopefully you taught them well enough beforehand that they don’t think they need to be hanging out to be accepted or called beautiful.

Don’t you remember growing up and “hating” your parents because they didn’t get you when you were a teen? (I’ll say, I was lucky enough to have parents I never hated. Oh, sure, they pissed me off and vice versa, but they managed to find the right balance between friend and parent.)

But that’s the point! They aren’t supposed to like everything you do or say! You should get along and they should feel comfortable coming to you, but it should be clear– there is a line and you are the parent, disciplinarian, boss. They are not going to like it all the time.

This doesn’t mean you can’t listen to their arguments, value their opinions, but it does mean ultimately, you make the decision that’s in their best interest.

And yeah, you’ll make mistakes. We all do. But it will work out.

This goes for clothes, social media accounts, video games, parties, friends, driving, sex– anything teens want to do, but should be mature enough and educated enough to understand fully and just be able to handle.

I’m SO tired of covering stories where a teenager goes and does something awful, be it violence, cyber-bullying, commits suicide or anything else… and hearing soundbites from parents saying they didn’t want their teen to be mad at them, or even worse, just not being there at all.

Let them hear the word “no.” Let them learn about disappointment in a loving environment where the end result is a lesson, where at the end of the day you will still love them. Because when you turn them loose on the world… the world won’t do that for them.

It may not be easy. It’s gonna suck. But we can do better.

And as I write this all… I hope that in ten years, this still exists for me to look back on. Because I know that it won’t be easy. I know that babies don’t come out of the womb with a handbook that spells it out. I know that it will be difficult, stressful, and I may sometimes think it’s easier to just say “yes” than argue.

But I hope that at the end of the day… at the end of the teenage years… we’ve all made it through and my kids have self-respect. They can handle disappointment.

And they wear shorts that cover their asses.

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