Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chivalry is not dead.

When I was in my twenties, I dated a boy who insisted on holding doors for me. Admittedly, his noble gestures were lost on this girl, the one who was raised like a farm hand.

I found myself sitting impatient and irritated as he held up a finger-instructing me to stay seated- and walked around the front of the vehicle to open my door. 

I found myself slightly agitated when he abruptly stepped into my path to grab the door handle for which I was reaching.

I found myself ungrateful for his "gallantry"; probably because it didn't feel authentic. It didn't feel at all like it was for me. Instead, it felt like a blatant chivalry display (like something at a museum), one which I was required to admire and enrich with praise and noises of ladylike astonishment. Clearly, that relationship failed to work for either of us.

Through the remainder of my 20's, I didn't have any further struggles with excessive or forced gallantry. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I had managed to cut all the gentlemen from my world. Go me. Until I met Brock...


I will never forget the first time Brock heaved my heavy purple Walmart bike into the bed of my pickup truck for me. I was shocked. No one had ever loaded anything heavy for this girl who grew up lifting haybales that equaled her in weight. I wasn't accustomed to people thinking I couldn't do something physical. I mowed a five acre lawn with a push mower when I was 12. I used to challenge myself to load the full grain buckets over the side of the truck bed with ONE ARM. For fun. I was the only girl in my 6th grade class that could climb the peg wall. I could do 10 chin ups (past tense- who do you think I am, Wonder Woman?). I certainly could load a freaking bike in the bed of my own freaking truck! How dare he! So I froze, unsure of what to do. Then I remembered my manners and grunted out an insincere, "Thanks", after which I waited for him to fall into a well-rehearsed diatribe about his mama raising him to be a gentleman or some shit like that. I was poised with my eyeballs ready to roll behind their lids.

Instead, he looked at me in confusion and asked, "For what?"

Suddenly a light dawned upon me. Maybe it wasn't so bad having someone to lift all the heavy things. After all, I did suffer from chronic back pain. Maybe this new way of life would allow a manicure to last more than two hours.

I laughed and realized that this guy was probably honestly courteous. So I married him. From that day forward, he has continued to randomly surprise me with gestures that are authentically for me: throwing my giant man-saddle on my giant man-horse here, crafting a handmade trunk there, delivering a cup of hot coffee to me when I silently prayed for it, and building me a freaking awesome Zen Den.

No, my friends, true chivalry is not dead. I found it! But maybe that's because I married outside of my own generation. Those AARP benefits and early bird specials are pretty sweet, too.

Fast forward to Spring Break 2015. Brock, the boys and I were headed back from Iowa, hauling two horses that we will be using for the summer. After six hours in the vehicle, we stopped for lunch, pulling into a large empty parking lot across a divided road from a busy burger joint. I carried two new five gallon water buckets to the establishment to fetch water for the horses. Once they were filled, they needed to be lugged back across the divided road, which was a 150 meter obstacle course of cars, curbs and slopes.

Brock was at the table with the boys as I  carried the full buckets out the door. He met me outside.

I heard his voice behind me, "You can't do that."

I looked up at my husband's mocking face and said, "What are you talking about? Of course I can."

He clearly had forgotten my entire childhood history.

"I'm not going to let you do that, you silly woman " He said, incredulously. "I'll do it," he insisted.

I raised an eyebrow and calmly suggested, "Let's just leave the buckets here and finish eating. We'll talk about it after lunch."

"Fine."

"Fine."

After the greasy burgers were consumed, I announced, "I'm going to take those buckets. You bring the kids and my purse, mkay?"

Brock started up again, "Oh my Gawd, you cannot carry those buckets! You'll spill it all over everything, then I'll be listening to you whine about me not helping you. You'll soak your jeans and your boots. You'll whine about being wet. You'll never make it all that way. Do you think I would even let you do that?"

"You're mocking me. Now I have to do it," I concluded stubbornly.

I added, "Don't worry about my purse. I'll come back for it."

Then I carried those freaking buckets across that obstacle course and NEVER SPILLED A DROP.

BAM!

Once I arrived at the trailer, I looked up at the horses heads, which were far above my own 5'6" frame and decided that Brock could lift them high to offer the water to the steeds.


I walked back to the restaurant, grabbed my purse and the boys and told Brock that he could come too, if he desired.

I then instructed him to inspect my jeans and boots for water, which there WAS NONE.

HAHA!

I win.

When we got back to the trailer, Brock lifted the buckets as I loaded the kids in their car seats. I sized up the bucket and the window height and decided to take the challenge. I heaved that water up and held it at my nose to let the dun horse drink. 

Naturally, after all that work and strife, both horses declined the water.

I set my bucket down carefully, still never spilling a drop.

But Brock's experience was a little different. You see, Brock's bucket caught on his shirt pocket and he doused himself, from pecs to piggies, in water.

I took pictures, because evidence.










Water buckets of shame. So much well deserved shame.

"You're going to blog about this, aren't you?" he asked.

"Duh," I said.

No friends, chivalry is not dead, but neither is mockery... nor karma.


Peace, Love and Girl Power,
Johi

P.S. Speaking of karma and mockery, a little story I wrote, titled "What You Mock, You Become", which was published in a fun little humor anthology titled, I Just Want to Pee Alone, is now a New York Times Best Seller- making me and 35 of my friends a New York Times Best Selling Author! Hells yeah!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

So This is 40

I woke up this morning, 40 and irritated. I was not bothered to be 40, I was annoyed because I had one of those dreams where my husband was being inappropriate and belligerent. (No one who read my last post will be shocked by this. #10 speaks volumes.)

So of course I told him all about it and said he could make it up to me with a latte from Starbucks. And a pastry. And bacon.

I checked my phone to see a text from my sister.

She wrote:

"It is 40:-) !!! Here comes your first mammogram!"

Wow, this day is getting better by the minute.


While sipping my black coffee that is decidedly not a Starbucks' latte, I reflected on my life and the things I have learned about myself, others and the world in general. While sadly, I still have much to figure out, I have gained some valuable wisdom in my time that I will now share with you.

I sound like I should be wistfully stroking my white beard while smoking a corncob pipe, don't I?

So This is 40 - A list of things I now know from three solid decades of learning (mostly the hard way):

1. I enjoy being waited on.

For me, nothing is more of a killjoy than an 'order your food at the counter' establishment. I want someone to walk up to me while I'm comfortably seated and ask me what I want and need. And then this beautiful thing happens; they bring me what I ordered. That right there is the good stuff, folks.

Clearly I was meant to have servants.


2. My passion for country life, nature and horses is actually a necessity.

I found this out when my horses where gone for three years. I was left with a deep chasm in my soul- one I filled with shoes, scarves and handbags. I need grass, trees, chirping birds and horse slobber; those things all make me a better human.



3. My family means the world to me.

Yes, I realize I wrote about my horses first. Whoops. 

This world means nothing without connection to others. My children, husband and extended family are all shining stars in my life. Our relationships may not be perfect, but they are braided tightly from time, shared experiences and love. I wouldn't trade my people for the world. Not even for an obscenely large sum of money.



4. My close friends are like family.

It's all about the people; it's all about the love. My friends are the bee's knees. They support me, they protect me, they listen to me, they care about me, and those things are reciprocated. They enrich my life in immeasurable ways. Find those people and keep them close. 


5. Wrinkles. So what?

I have them. I like some of them... and others, not so much. In fact, I have gained a variety of things from aging: kids, a husband, a house, successes, failures, a great career, wisdom, life experience and a killer cowboy boot collection. A bit of lined skin doesn't scare me- as Edie Brickell said, "Wear with pride the scars on your skin. They're a map of things you've done and places you've been." She forgot to mention how kids cause wrinkles, but other than that, I like her take on skin marks. I'm kind of proud of my path and therefore, I embrace my wrinkles (except for the really deep ones under my eyes- those could go away.)



6. Living comfortably outside of my comfort zone.

This is a big one and took me years to figure out - in fact, I'm still working on it. But it has been a game changer and I like the direction it's taken me.



7. It is easier to truly see people.

Nothing is more humbling than aging while being a parent. You are challenged- sometimes daily- past your breaking point and pushed beyond reasonable physical and mental limitations. Yet you love those little people beyond measure. You accept them. Then you realize that every person on this planet was once one of them and that their experiences -good and bad- formed them. Then you feel a bit more forgiveness, acceptance and kindness toward people in general. And you embrace them, flaws and all. And you also realize that some of them are so broken that in order to protect yourself and your loved ones, you can't allow them inside your circle, and that's okay too.



8. I know my tastes, style and preferences.

These are great things to have a firm grasp of and - at 40 - I finally do. Hells yeah.




9. Being surrounded by a life I created.

We manifest everything, every experience and everyone around us. It's pretty cool, and also a little scary, if you think about it. So plant those flowers, paint that fence, read that book, engage in that conversation, write that story and spend that time. We're driving the car- let's steer it somewhere amazing.




10. Love.

Isn't love the best? Sure, it's frightening and uncertain, but what isn't? I think that there's no better risk than love. If you don't remove your armour you'll never feel the true agony and delight of love. It's probably like never drinking caffeine, which is sad.





Feel free to celebrate my birthday with me today. Hell, I'll be celebrating for a least two weeks, so join in the fun. There will be cake, wine and laughter. 
So, pretty much the same as every other day.

Bring it, 40.

Peace, Love and Unicorns,
Johi


P.S. I did eventually get my latte and a blueberry muffin. I'm still waiting on the bacon...







Friday, February 13, 2015

Things no one should ever have to say

When I step back from the context of pretty much any given situation in my life, I'm often appalled by what actually fell out of my mouth.

Here is a quick rundown from the past two weeks of things no one should ever have to say- except I said all of them:

1. Stop playing with your brother's buttcheeks.

2. Stop picking at it. What? Fine. If you pick at it, make sure you wash your hands before and afterwards.

3. Who peed on the wall again?

4. Who put their dirty socks on the coffee table again?

5. It's like sleeping next to a rutting hog who's running a chainsaw.

6. Well, at least it isn't measles!

7. She ripped up your Valentine and you are making her another one? Oh honey. Please don't.

8. Are you seriously crying because you're riding a pony?

9. Does anyone in this house know how to flush the toilet?

10. Brock, you cannot watch pirate porn with the babysitter.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Self-promotion is hard, yo

After much contemplation, it has become clear that I need a more "professional" page for marketing myself. As much as I would like to assume that all people want to read stories of PMS, pubic hair, vacation fails and my childhood as an indentured servant, I think assuming that would be incorrect. Except for the crotch carpet, because obviously everyone wants to know all about that.

When I first started blogging, narcissism soon became a concern of mine. Holy moly, does blogging entail a lot of talk of oneself. I quickly swept those concerns under the rug when I realized that I was mostly sharing my complete and utter failures with all of you, to enable you some laughter or commiseration in your day. No narcissist here, thankyouverymuch. Do you like my hair like this?

Anyhoo, I am in the process of creating a website where I talk about all the fabulous things I do with stories, photos and art. So... yeah. It's hard, you guys. I'm so used to being a smart ass that I'm finding "selling myself" difficult.

Here's my site: www.johikokjohnwagner.com

Check it out and let me know what you think. Basically, I'll be sharing things like this:





Instead of things like this:



Isn't Brock the best?

I've been working on the new web page for two days straight. Thing 1 just walked into my office and asked what I was doing.

I said, "I'm building my business so I can take you guys on vacations and maybe buy you some bigger horses and a bigger house with more property."

His eyes lit up and he said, "You're working on your business so you can make money?"

I answered, "Yes, my child."

Then he patted my leg and gravely said, "Keep working, mom."

So there's that.

And here's what I ask of you, my lovely and loyal readers of the Internet, who helped me not only name my husband's business, but also the prestigious and world famous kitteh- Captain Fluffernutter.


Sorry, I got distracted by his cute, wittle paws and pink tongue.

What I need from you are ideas of what to say about myself, as you are the ones who read my stories and are affected by my words. It will be particularly helpful if you have read my work in Chrome magazine and Paint Horse Journal, or if you have ever worked with me on a ranch, around horses, or in a creative capacity.

Wish me luck and follow my new page on facebook (if it suits you).

Peace, Love and Business Building,
Johi