5 Star Problems but a **** ain’t one

I have a problem.

A Tripadvisor problem.

It happens every year.

At about this time, my mind and body starts craving/dreaming/needing a vacation. Somewhere different. Preferably to a place where trains are called metros and where you can stay in a flat instead of an apartment. Or maybe a tropical turquoise retreat where I can drink from a coconut and lay on beach.

A place where I can be Vacation Mom and Vacation Wife. The one that doesn’t worry and nag and yell and order. The one that lets you buy obscenely pricey gum from the gift shop and stay up until you feel like falling asleep. The one that doesn’t care if anyone has brushed their teeth or combed their hair. She’s awesome. I miss her.

But in order to transform into this groovy, go-with-the-flow chick we need to get the hell out of dodge first.

And in order to do that we need to find a place to go.

And every time we find a place I am compelled to that damn website to check out the reviews.

It never ends well for me.

Everyone has an opinion, and I read every last one.

MaryS from Wichita thinks the rooms at a certain resort in Puerto Rico aren’t clean enough.

George from New Jersey didn’t like any of the restaurants but loved the pool at his hotel in Hawaii.

clevergirl8 from Texas loved Peru but had a horrible time with customs at the airport.

I try to focus on just the positive. You can’t make everyone happy, I say to myself.

But then I toss and turn and doubt. And doubt.

Are people just really really picky?

I realize that I could never have been one of those people backpacking through Europe or Asia or Idaho. I need research. Data. Background. I need to know that others have gone before me and had a good time. Or not.

So we’ll make our plans for vacation and it’ll be very exciting, but deep down I’ll be thinking about MikeP from Albany, who thought Dublin was beautiful except for the hotel concierge who was a bit grumpy the whole time.

I give Tripadvisor.com 3 out of 5 stars. Lots of consumer information which usually results in the firm knowledge that no matter where you are going or what you are doing – it could have been better somewhere else.

Embrace the Strange

Guest post by my seester. I love any blog that uses Willow Smith and Susan Cain.  I’ve seen Susan live and she’s fantastic – and more corporations would have happier employees if they would listen to her – just sayin’.

Strangeness has been on my mind lately. I know that sounds…(I won’t say it)…weird, but it’s made me pretty emotional this morning, so I want to share. I followed a link from Design*Sponge (a really cool design blog that has just gotten better over the years) to Willow Smith’s new single, “I Am Me.” Since I don’t have cable and I don’t really listen to contemporary pop music or the radio, I’d never heard it before. It might not even be new now, I guess. It’s all about Willow embracing who she is, regardless of those who criticize her music or fashion decisions.

While I was watching it, I couldn’t help but think that Willow is strange. She doesn’t dress like the typical tween, her hair is shaved very close to her head, and she is a t.w.i.g. In the video, Willow actually looks like a young Will. The fact that I noticed (and I’m the last to register these sorts of things) got me thinking of our very narrow perception of beauty. You have to be white, or a minority with very European features: small boobs, small butt, angular features, straight hair (full disclosure: I only have the small butt, which just makes jeans shopping a chore). If you’re a girl, you need to look feminine.

Now you may be thinking, “DUH,” but I think what’s so powerful about this is how deeply rooted this thinking is in our global culture. Indians value light skin and European features just as much as Americans do, and I’m sure other minority cultures are the same. So what Willow is doing—flaunting her Strangeness—is really impressive because it’s having a “global” impact.

Yesterday I watched Susan Cain give a TED Talk called “The Power of Introverts,” all about how our society seems to hold extroverts and extrovert qualities on a pedestal (group work, group think, etc), when really anywhere from a third to a half of our population is made up of introverts who just don’t function as successfully in groups. Again, it had made me think about how such people are called strange for what is essentially a biological quality. How messed up is that?!

I don’t know how we go about changing such a deeply rooted problem, but isn’t step one recognition? Isn’t step two conversation? I think I made that one up, but it sounds appropriate. So parents: please share these two videos with your children, and tell them to embrace what’s strange about themselves. But remember that you have to do it too.

Here’s the Willow Smith video. If, like me, you cry if a butterfly flaps its wings in Japan, grab a Kleenex before you watch. Also, this made me think of the “Everybody Hurts” video for some reason.

And here’s the TED talk: