(As a warning, this is long, meandering, and some of it originally started as me reacting mentally at least to this article about girls and video games... then never got anywhere near it. Also, since this was total stream of consciousness, I believe it'll have more than a few run-on sentences. You have been warned.)

For some reason this week, I keep waking up with songs in my head. I actually listen to the radio less than I used to while living alone (I don't turn it on in the mornings anymore, for example), and yet twice in the last week I've woken up with earworms.

Earlier it was "Beautiful U" by Deborah Cox, and I think it was because I'd heard it on the radio a few hours before bed. This morning it was "Eye of the Tiger", which I can at least blame on having played Rock Band 2 last night (though again, hours before bed). Though maybe having been unable to sleep well, my psyche decided I needed some sort of motivating to get going... though it's going to learn that annoying 80s rock is not the way to do it.

Of course, after playing it again last night and remembering this post and having played it last night, suddenly I have it stuck in my head once more. *sigh* My psyche hates me.

Beyond all of that, I'm now fully enjoying my post-post-graduate phase, and throwing myself into other leisure activities. Last night, for example, I was falling asleep on the couch while playing Rock Band 2 at 7 o'clock at night, 'cause that's how I roll.

Hell, a Friday night recently both the DB and I were ready to go to sleep at 10 o'clock. I don't know about him, but the only thing that kept me up until 11 was that we were watching an episode of CSI: Miami I hadn't seen, and I wanted to know how it ended. *shame*

I think sometimes the DB doesn't enjoy watching television with me simply because I do heckle or mock the conventions, stereotypes and other things that I see that annoy me. I can certainly turn my brain off and enjoy something that doesn't have much in the way of educational value, but at the same time, I can get seriously irritated with the misogyny, misandry, stereotyping, insulting, blah blah blah that occur in the show.

I know of plenty of people who hate Sex and the City, for example, and I can completely sympathize with the reasons why, whatever they may be (though some, like the attractiveness of the characters, is a completely subjective issue -- as I for one think that Parish Hilton is incredibly unattractive, but there are those out there who would love nothing more than to be all up in her grill). But I think for a lot of people -- men and women -- a great deal of the appeal to the show was our ability to relate to the issues that the women were going through. Financial difficulty, divorce, adultery, exes, new relationships, going crazy in a relationship, childbirth, conception... many of us have experience with some or all of those issues, and while perhaps we didn't react in the same manner, we could at least analyze why the characters acted the way they did.

But there are certain say, genres, of commercials that simply drive me batty. Beer commercials, on the whole, are one of those. Commercials for cleaning products are definitely there -- 99 times out of 100, it seems as though the person doing the cleaning or bemoaning the lack of an effective cleaning product is a woman, and if a man happens to be present in the commercial, he appears to barely have the wherewithal to dress himself competently, let alone use whatever cleaning product the woman is currently having orgasms over. Let me tell you this -- I have never, in all of my 28 years of being female, had or witnessed a woman in any kind of throes of ecstasy over a new toilet scrub, mop, broom, Swiffer duster, counter scrub, paper towel, or anything else of that nature.

Now, as a caveat, I believe it's a variation on Rule 34 -- there is a fetish for everything. There are men and women, I am certain, who have fetishes for cleaning, cleaning products, etc. That said, I am willing to go out on an unsubstantiated limb and declare that these people are in the minority -- so why the fuck am I subjected to their all-pervasive fetishes on television at all hours? To my mind, it's akin to every commercial that plays off sexuality using furries as their basis; certainly, there are furries in the world, but they are not the majority, by far -- so why would their fetish be used as the baseline/norm?

Oddly enough, I haven't actually seen any cleaning product commercials in recent memory; most of my tv watching lately has been DVDs or PVRed shows whereby I get to fast-forward the commercials. Either that or it's been Spike/whatever other network runs CSI marathons, and I keep seeing ads for Patrick Swayze's new show, Beast (yeah, I just participated in viral marketing -- but I'm still not going to watch it, do you hear me Spike!?)

Newsflash, Proctor & Gamble, SC Johnson, Unilever, and all of you other companies (and I don't even know if these ones make cleaning products); there are lots of men out there who do some, most or all of the cleaning in a household, even when there are woman around! While I take ownership of the laundry in our house, it's primarily for two reasons: one, I don't have to subject the DB to my dirty undies; and two, I have a lot of sweaters and pants that can't go in the dryer, and rather than try to tell him which is which, it's just easier to do myself. Beyond that, though, he cleans his own bathroom, I clean mine, and he does the vacuuming. We both deal with garbage and the dishwasher, and previous to living with a boy, I handled all of these horrendous tasks on my own -- and he handled all of them on his own, because he hadn't been dropped on his head repeatedly as a child and actually understands how to use cleaning products without having his mom or some other female presence nearby to read out the big words to him and/or explain that sometimes things get dirty and you need to use something to clean them.

If I were to see a trend towards advertising agencies/companies showcasing men as just as capable and just as likely to be doing the cleaning in their ads, I might just become a brand-loyal consumer, that holy grail of consumers. As it stands, we're as likely to buy no-name as not, if there isn't a difference (I have learned where it doesn't pay to go cheap, like garbage bags, for example). And as a caveat to this -- this doesn't mean that you try for the ironic approach, like that commercial that ran in the last year or two that sets us up to expect a woman by panning up the backside of someone bent over a stove, focusing somewhat on his/her butt and then giving us the surprise reveal when a man turns around, wearing a frilly pink apron, wearing oven mitts and complaining about having been slaving over a hot stove all day to his executive wife. This is not the same thing as subverting stereotypes, since you're simply calling attention to them and then reasserting them by making the average consumer react like, "ha ha, that's not right! Men don't cook, wear frilly pink aprons or care abuot slaving over the hot stove all day! Women don't have high-powered jobs, or if they do, they're supposed to be the ones coming home to cook a hot meal!"

And to try to pre-empt the argument I've heard a few times -- "But it's just one commercial, it really doesn't mean anything... and quiet down, you're scaring people" -- yes, it's just one commercial. One of anything in isolation won't usually have much effect on something. But when this message is repeated day in and day out in media after media... it has a serious cumulative effect that isn't even always immediately apparent.

To illustrate my point -- if one stranger one day told you that you were fat/ugly/stupid/whatever, it's easy to shrug off. But if you were to be told this over 2,100 times a day (the number of ads we see in a day, and if memory serves that figure comes from the 90s, so up it), then it's going to affect you. Assume maybe half of those ads aren't saying anything negative about you -- after all, we see ads for diapers, which aren't usually sexualizing women or equating romantic love with a consumer product -- that's still over a thousand times a day that random people are telling you that you're fat, ugly, stupid, and so on. Add to that the fact that not only is consumer media telling you this, but the people around you are advertantly or inadvertantly reinforcing this message, and it's enough to make you want to scream. Which is where I come in.

See, it's things like this that make me fairly certain I fell into the right degree (for clarification, BA and MA in Communications with focus on media studies) and sort of career path (government communications, focusing on media and some web designing; bit of a bird of a different feather, but still related). Right now, as I think about it, I didn't immediately see the application of my degree to my career, and even though I was fairly certain that I remembered maybe 1/100th of what I learned, I think it's all slowly coming back out as I go day to day.

I've also become much more aware of and comfortable with discussing feminist issues, which is going to be the next eventual degree (after paying down some debt), although I think for career development purposes, the web designer role will be the next one pursued. I know a friend of mine from school wants to get into hosting a webzine, and I'm going to be the lead on the tech side of things, which sounds fun. In the meantime, though, there's the exercise goal that comes first, as well as life in general.

I don't have specific goals for the next few years, but I've always had vaguely-defined ones. When I first signed on with my financial planner, he asked me what my financial goals were, and I really didn't have an answer. I was 23 when I first started contributing to my RRSP, and my declared goal was to own a house before I turned 30. Voilà, goal achieved.

I've also always wanted to be married and planning if not starting a family before I was 30 if life worked out that way, but that was a harder one to pinpoint. After all, saving up for a house is mostly dependent on me; meeting someone compatible who feels the same about me and wants the same things out of life isn't as easy to pursue. I did my best, dating all over the place, even when I knew I wasn't seeing someone long-term. That was a learning process in and of itself, as I've said many times on here (it's a bit like doing a year of an undeclared major in university -- get a feel for what's out there, figure out what interests me, and make efforts to pursue that).

However, I can't and won't specifically set lines in the sand for when personal life goals must be achieved, especially when they involve someone else as significantly as marriage/babies do. We're talking about going down south again this spring (originally the date mentioned was April; now apparently it could be as late as May), and so I have a fitness goal I've finally began working on and I have a deadline of sorts in place. Am I going to stop my efforts when we return? Hopefully not. Am I hoping I will look good in a bikini for once in my life by then? Certainly. Will I beat myself up if I don't? No. I'll be disappointed, certainly, but I can't turn it into a make-or-break issue, otherwise I'll simply see it as too daunting and I won't work on it (see: research paper). That's partly why I haven't talked about it and I'm only slightly talking about it now; if I go around telling everyone that's what I'm going to do, it's additional pressure that I just don't want. I'd rather simply surprise everyone. :)

So yes, I have my personal goals that I'd like to work towards, but when you're dating someone who's both stubborn and seemingly doesn't like to plan beyond maybe a week (or on rare occasions, a few months) in advance, it can be challenging. When we first moved in together, it was me who raised the issue and it was sort of not really out of the blue. My lease was coming up, his landlord brought another person into the house without consulting him, and we were practically living together already -- but we basically talked about it once or twice and then got started on looking for a place (which I found, go me). We had both hoped to have purchased a home by then, but neither of us wanted to buy a house without having lived together first, obviously.

I tried to raise the issue of post-lease arrangements once or twice, but when there was still 8 months to go, it was still somewhat early and I recognized as much. In August, when we were in Vegas (with about 2 and a half months left to go on the lease), I raised the issue again -- and that gave it a bit more momentum. But again, there wasn't a great deal of in depth conversation on it, and while on the one hand I don't have any problems with how we went about everything to date, on the other hand I sometimes have a concern that we might have been perceived as impulsive, or uninformed or something. There was definitely a lot of advice given pre-house-purchase, but no one (aside from the Arrogant Bastard in his own way) came out and said, "Don't do this."

We have had brief conversations about marriage and babies, but it's only in bits and pieces that I learn what it is he wants for that kind of future (career-wise, I already know; he's way ahead of me on that count). I have no clue when or even if my friends talked about how many kids, what kind of school/religion they would have, where they see themselves personally X number of years down the line, etc., with their spouses. I've been told that marriage counselling is great for getting these issues out in the open and discussed, but I can't help but feel as though these should come about before engagement happens.

I chatted briefly back in the summer with my French friend Ben (otherwise known to some of you as the Marshmallow), who talked about buying pets with his fiancée after the kids are grown and out of the house. At this time, they have no children, either together or apart, and it kinda startled me to hear about someone talk so long-range about their life -- but at the same time, I felt like maybe this is how you should think if/when you're planning a future with someone. Maybe you're supposed to look beyond the now and into what about 10, 20, 30 years from now.

However, you can also get hit by a bus tomorrow and not have this future, so maybe you shouldn't try to plan too far ahead.

So I do know a few things, here and there, but I often have to bargain to get them out of him. It's one of my few semi-ongoing frustrations about our relationship, the inability at times to have an actual serious conversation. He claims I'm just as bad, but I feel I initiate more of the serious conversations, and that when I do, I'm able to stay serious through them longer. Maybe I'm biased about it, and I know that it's as much a security measure for both of us as anything (hell, I joked at both of my grandfathers' funerals, because I'm just that awesome), but that doesn't mean it can't be annoying.

That said, there has been at least one conversation in recent memory that was serious all the way through -- I think I alluded to it on here. I'm not sure that the issues raised at that time were resolved (for all I can tell, we've regressed right back to where we were then), but I found it encouraging that a few hours later when the DB returned home, he said that he had thought about what I had said and agreed with me on a number of points, and brought up ways to address them. As I told him then and as I'm repeating now, I hadn't wanted and I wasn't trying to engage in any finger-pointing -- I know that many of his bad habits are just as equally mine -- but it was nice to hear that my concerns were recognized and shared, and to have constructive ways presented to try to address them.

In other news, I finally found a treat that even Venus likes -- so yesterday ended on a pretty positive note.

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