Saturday, April 30, 2011
I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night because like a number of people I know, I find myself startled awake by some idea or situation that simply will not leave my mind and as a result, I can’t fall back to sleep.
Since I slept poorly last night, I felt very tired by about 3 pm and tried to take a nap this afternoon. It was mostly pointless for quite a while and then I fell asleep. You know how I know? My dream.
I’m not going into every detail here – you’re welcome – but the highlights include the following:
I had a new boss at my current company: Barack Obama.
After several delays, he and I had a meeting in an enormous unfamiliar, conference room.
He handed over sheets and sheets and sheets of legal pad pages, all containing notes and figures. Nothing more formal than that – no reports, charts, or presentations.
He went on to tell me that my sales of $14,000 (I’ve not been in a true sales position for many years) were inadequate. I told him that figure wasn’t correct; that it was significantly higher but he didn’t seem to hear me.
Bottom line: I lost my job.
I’m still not a big believer in dreams but here’s what I learned from Dream Moods: Your Dream Symbol Interpretation.
To see a stack of papers in your dream, denotes lots of stress and lots of responsibilities. And surprise - I'm not handling it well.
To dream that you lose your job, represents instability and insecurity in your waking life.
Fired: to dream that you are fired from your job apparently has nothing to do with your career. It's a symbol of something else and a desire to end it. As a bonus, I"m "supressing" what I really want out of life.
I'm just a party waiting to happen, right?
To all this may I simply say: no kidding. Suffice it to say, life is more than a little challenging these days for many, many reasons. Working on it with limited success but I’m trying. Not one bit of it is welcome or easy. Despite my glacial efforts to make positive change, it would seem that even when I‘m sleeping, I can’t seem to find any relief.
I’m kind of tired of using the OTC sleep aids, which are not really a solution. So if anyone has any ideas about overcoming this nighttime wakefulness – ideas that really work – I’m listening.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Now, onto the post. And be happy.
If anyone is looking for proof that the women’s movement has landed in the twenty-first century with a decided thud, turn on your television set. Women may think we’ve attained equality of the sexes - whatever that was supposed to mean - but we’re wrong, at least according to one major consumer products company. Turns out that for about five days every month, many of us turn into needy, easily satisfied, empty-headed whiners who just want to be pampered. Don’t believe me? Okay, remember this ad campaign? Sadly I do. I went something like this:
During a certain week of the month, to quote the ad copy, “looks like it’s time to bloat, whine, pig out, cry for no reason and smile.” But hey, it doesn’t have to be a sad, gloomy couple of days. Gosh no! It can be a “happy” time. The new campaign reminded women that in addition to buying one particular brand of protection, they could overcome their monthly nuisance by doing small things for themselves that will add delight and contentment to these dreary days. Some suggestions: by all means, take a cab for once. Put on some nail polish, or as they so subtly suggested in their print campaign: “If your claws are out, you might as well paint them.” (I’m not making this up.) Eat some cookies or some chocolate! Crown yourself ‘Queen for the week’ and indulge yourself.
Just stop this. Right now. And forget about the affront to women this whole campaign represented. The question is this: Does everything in our lives have to be ‘happy’ for god’s sake? Some things, like a monthly cycle, just ain’t that happy most of the time. I’d call it normal and I’d call it natural but I’m not willing to go so far as to call it happy. And it absolutely does not warrant this kind of “treat yourself - you deserve it” drama. I’d have thought we’d moved past that about thirty years ago but I’d be wrong about that, at least according to the focus groups.
When the ad agency tested the idea of “a happy period” with groups of women, they were “ready for this,” according to the product’s brand manager, as reported in The New York Times. The brand wanted to make an emotional connection with women because their research told them that women respected the brand but they didn’t love it.
Can we pause on that for a second, please? “…they didn’t love it.” Do we need to love it? Do men need to love the stuff they buy?
This is so annoying for so many reasons. I guess no matter what we face during our monthly cycle, we can manage it with some chocolate, some grooming or some “me” time. Any of these options will make us feel better, even if we have to run the kids halfway to Philly and back five days a week for soccer camp. Or maybe a woman has to run the school board meeting. Or the company sales conference. Or the country. But don’t you worry for one single second about the added stress that accompanies that one special week every month. Have some candy or a cookie and feel better! (God forbid we should try doing some stretching, or walking or any other form of exercise, which could help alleviate any discomfort once a month.)
Is it just me or is this entire campaign built on the antique notion of women as the weaker sex?? Lesson one: Working women can’t be trusted to handle the really big stuff because we’re out of commission at least a few days every month. Fortunately, this lasts for only about forty years of our lives. Lesson two: For non-working women, God help the people in their lives - husbands, friends, and neighbors - who encounter them during a bad moment each month.
Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just too cranky today. Wait...checking a calendar....oh, good. This is not my fault! It’s just my ‘happy’ time again.
Monday, April 25, 2011
You might say competent is "the new black." Or "the new forty." I wouldn't but whatever it is; I like it.
I checked several sources and not one of them indicated that the act of being competent is a “negative.” Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary defines the word as “having sufficient ability or authority.” The Oxford University Press Dictionary takes it a step further and then defines competent as “having the necessary skill or knowledge to do something successfully.” Secondarily, they define the word as “satisfactory or adequate, though not outstanding.”
You might say that’s damning with faint praise, but given the stories that dominate headlines of the day, doesn’t competent sound pretty darn good? No? Consider this: What if the response and solutions offered to address the economic meltdown during the fall of 2008 had been termed “satisfactory or adequate?” Or how about the devastation that resulted from the Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Wouldn’t we feel better if we could've called that response “satisfactory or adequate?” Ditto the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I rest my case.
I’m taking this opportunity to launch a campaign to reintroduce the word ‘competent’ into our national lexicon. And yes, can I get an “amen!” on that?! Some genuine enthusiasm, satisfaction and confidence in our voices when we use it? We can do it. We really can. Let’s try.
“How was the customer service rep when you called about that mistake on your invoice?” “Competent! He was competent!”
Or how about this: “Did you get the report you requested on the survey results?” “Yes, she did a competent job.”
“How was the city snow removal last winter after the big storm?” “It was competent! What a relief.”
Who wouldn’t welcome this? How content we would be if instead of waiting to be wowed by the creative geniuses we hope to find in our families, our schools, our employers, our communities and our elected officials, we were all nicely satisfied with competence. I’ll take competence any day.
It’s all about expectations. Somewhere along the line we decided that when it comes to quality of life, good enough wasn’t good enough. We want outstanding. We need exceptional. We desire unprecedented success in order to deem anything worthwhile. And the sad fact is that much of this expectation for “the best” in every facet of life was the result of exactly nothing. We haven’t grown increasingly smarter. We’re not more clever than we ever were. It’s little more than an outgrowth of what Alan Greenspan rightly called “irrational exuberance.” Competence was viewed as just one baby step away from failure, or at the very least, from the dreaded “average.”
Being competent has been severely underrated; we should give it its due. In fact, in light of the endless blame, the divisive rhetoric and the lack of responsibility being spouted by so many government officials these days in the wake of our deficit, our involvement in the Middle East, and the relentless employment malaise, I submit the next candidate searching for wholehearted support from Americans of every political stripe adopt this slogan as his or her campaign tag line: “The competent candidate.” Talk about capturing the public’s attention! Imagine what could be accomplished simply by competence!
Where’s Harry Truman when you need him? I’m sick of everyone who claims to have the answers, or lists the excuses, or calls for investigations or spends time passing the buck. I’m already tired of the 2012 Presidential campaigns. I suggest we choose to support candidates who show by word and deed that they can do the job at hand. While we can’t predict the circumstances that may arise to challenge any leader’s ability, we can hedge our bet by voting for garden-variety competence over flash any day of the week. I can’t help but think we’d all be much better off supporting candidates who demonstrate that they have limited interest in their legacies or in their own re-election but have relentless interest in the situations right in front of them. And guess what? It just can’t be a bad thing to leave behind a legacy of competence. What a concept.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Memory 1: I have this amazing soft spot in my heart – and elsewhere – for chocolate milk. I come by it honestly and with great affection. In fact, it wasn’t until I saw “chocolate milk” listed in a quiz titled something like “favorite kids’ treats you miss as an adult” that I realized I might be some kind of chocolate milk freak. Did that mean all adults didn’t drink chocolate milk? Who knew?
This is the result of a girlhood memory. Too many times to count, I heard this request from my Dad at some point during the evening: “ ’Nays, make me a glass of chocolate milk.” And because he retained just the littlest bit of his boyhood Brooklyn home in his voice, it sounded kind of like “Chaulk-lit milk.”
So there you go: I grew up spooning out the Quik, watching a grown man drink chocolate milk pretty regularly. (I have not one memory of my Mom ever requesting or having a glass of her own.) My siblings and I must have stirred up our own glasses of chocolate milk at the same time but I can’t quite remember doing that.
Memory 2: For about fourteen years, my husband packed lunches for our three sons to carry to school. The reason he made them was simple: he did it very well. He spent real time on their sandwiches, creating popular, delicious “main courses” for them five days a week, as opposed to what I would do: slap some lunchmeat between slices of bread, use few if any condiments, and call it done. The boys would often remark in the evening how tasty a particular sandwich was that day. They never said that to me. (Saying I have a knack for creating sandwiches is like saying Charlie Sheen has a knack for creating a calm, spiritual atmosphere wherever he goes.)
Other than the great vs terrible sandwiches, their dad and I took the same approach to their packed lunches: a sandwich, a piece of fruit or some grapes or carrots, plus a pudding cup, or Jell-o, or String cheese or a cereal bar of some kind, or maybe one other kind of treat. We also offered beautifully decorated hard-boiled eggs for a few days every spring, following PB&J on Fridays for six weeks every Lent. (They were my specialty.)
I did write notes to the boys once in a while and tuck them into their bags. And everyone knows one note = 47 really good sandwiches.
You can imagine my incrankulous response to the headlines in the news about food in schools. One story reported on schools in the D.C. area banning chocolate milk from their cafeterias, in an effort to address childhood obesity and remove the high-fat, high-sugar drink from cafeterias. Their confounding choice came down to this: students getting less calcium and fewer nutrients as a result of the ban or students taking in more calories and sugar by drinking chocolate flavored milk. Uproar from parents and students alike led to the drink being reformulated into a “healthier” version and reinstated in many schools. Sounds delicious.
The second news story goes a bit further than addressing the “problem” drinks in the cafeteria. Teachers and administrators reported seeing too many unhealthy lunches over the years and believed that students would get better nutrition by purchasing lunch in school. New rule: Students may not bring a packed lunch from home. They must buy what the school offers in the cafeteria.
This might be the perfect time to pause to ask this question: For God’s sakes of America, what is going on here? Schools and parents are beside themselves because children are drinking five cartons of chocolate milk a week. Administrators and teachers are horrified at the chips and sodas included in the lunches some students carry to school each day.
You know what might be a good idea, right about now? You know it – I know you do. Moderation. Remember moderation? Neither do school administrators.
Go right ahead and serve chocolate milk; but serve it just once a week. You’re concerned about the packed lunches that contain cupcakes, not carrots? Sure you are but what do you do about the lunches that have the carrots not cupcakes? The phrase 'baby and bathwater' springs to mind.
Since most physical education classes are just short of a joke these days, here’s an idea: everyone gets up and takes a walk around the school or around the perimeter of the gym or the cafeteria for the last 5 minutes of lunchtime everyday. That way, you address your concern about what’s in the lunch bags by encouraging activity to offset it. Sadly, five minutes of activity a day or twenty-five minutes a week may be all the exercise many kids get these days.
Or how about this: offer students a reward for bringing a healthy lunch from home. A healthy lunch five days in a row gets you credit at the school store. Or a “library late fee forgiveness” voucher you can use the next time you have an overdue book. Talk with business in the community and see what you can cobble together for prizes.
Obviously, I don’t have the answers. But making rules - just because you can - is never a good idea. The question is this: What does it profit a man to ban Fritos in a lunch box if the alternative is a plate of chicken nuggets or mozzerella sticks?
And I'm sorry, but the idea of a childhood that is chocolate-milk-free just sounds kind of sad.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Note to Sharon: I'm right there with you, sister.
And let me just say: this kind of nonsense isn't getting me any closer to Toronto!! I started limping around two weeks ago, was quite debilitated for several days following that, and finally gave up on even walking on the treadmill about ten days ago. Because not being able to walk and drive everyday isn't an option, I finally saw a doctor and now have a prescription. I feel better after only two days of meds but the bad news is he told me not to run for about two more weeks.
So there it is. A month ticking by, with only a handful of miles on the books to show for it, before I became the non-walking, non-running wounded, with an aching butt (which I didn't even know was possible) and an aching leg. Fabulous.
The last time I felt this kind of pain was around the 11th month of a pregnancy, when I was literally limping around Giant one evening, hanging onto a cart so I didn't fall over. (I'm not a martyr, really. I don't think I would have attempted shopping if I were in pain before entering the store. It kind of came over me quickly and pretty strongly.)
So the good news / bad news here:
The good news: I'm not pregnant.
The bad news is: at least the last time I experienced this, at least I ended up with an adorable baby, or two or three. (I can't remember which pregnancy this was.)
This time, I end up behind - so to speak - on my run to Canada. I may push that 'no running for two weeks' window.....hmmm. Just a mile or two or three. (Looking for any advice here from someone who has dealt with this successfully.)
If not, then onto May and a bit of a 'make up for lost miles' kind of month. Yay.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Husband or Boyfriend: You Make the Call: A Wedding Season quiz for the alert bride-to-be
This quiz is my gift to brides-to-be, about to spend their lives sleeping beside, and putting down the toilet seats of, the men they love. If you don't do very well and find yourself uncomfortable at the end of it, don’t postpone the big day. Just go into it with a little more information than many of your older sisters had when we said, “I do” and ... you're welcome.
1. You’re dining with two other couples, including women you've befriended through your job. As you pull into the parking lot, you turn to the man of your dreams and say: “Okay, they're Ken and Dana, Mary and Chris. Right? Remember?” Your companion that night is:
A. your husband
B. your boyfriend
Correct answer: A. Your husband always enjoys these evenings enormously but will barely recall one scrap of information about anyone between occasions. You recite crib notes before every get-together. You: “I worked with Dana and her husband is the engineer? Mary works freelance and her husband is the cop?” [Your husband is concentrating; possibly on the clues, possibly trying to remember who played right field for the Phillies in 1964.] “Anything sound familiar?”
He retrieves a shred of knowledge from his memory, and with a look of satisfaction he declares in triumph: “Chris follows Penn State? And Ken is the cyclist?” Atta boy.
Never correct: B. Your boyfriend knows exactly who they are. Couples don’t categorize friends until they’re about to marry and are drafting guest lists and seating charts and overhearing the inevitable “bride or groom?” question posed by ushers the world over.
Fun fact related to question 1:
As a dating couple, you see friends regularly.
As a married couple, you have his and her friends you see bi-annually, until you have children. Then you see them every leap year.
2. The man who obsesses about the dog’s burned out four-inch-square patch of dead grass on the perimeter of the yard will ignore the twelve inch gouges your son’s football cleats left in the center of the kitchen floor. This keen eye belongs to:
A. your husband
B. your boyfriend
C. the landscaper you paid $7,800 (plus shrubs) to upgrade your property.
Correct answer: A or C. But the landscaper will comment on the damaged linoleum before your husband does.
Never correct: B. Your boyfriend doesn’t know you have a yard.
3. It’s after ten p.m. The man across the room wants a little snack and asks: “Do you have any ice cream?” He is your:
Correct answer: A or B. This is a trick question, with the latter being slightly more logical but that doesn’t matter. My husband is perennially curious and surprised about the food in our kitchen. Despite the fact that he does more grocery shopping than I, he continues to ask, “Do you have any chips?” “Do you have any cookies?”
It couldn’t have been this way when we all lived in caves and wore animal skins. Did the men ask the women, “Do you have any mastodon?” "Did you save any of those nuts and berries I gathered?"
4. It’s snowing and the roads are treacherous. You’re behind the wheel and your hero has dug out a reasonable path in the snow and ice for the car. He wants you to give it a shot and he straightens up, backs away and calls out: “Now...cut the wheel!” He is your:
C. Tow-truck guy
Answer. All of the above. All men say, “Cut the wheel” and I guarantee you there is not one woman alive who has ever said it. I always make the wrong move, and my husband in his infinite patience will shout over squealing tires, “Stop!” as he shakes his head at my lack of fluency in his language.
5. You stand before family, friends, God and everything you hold sacred, as the man beside you pledges to love and cherish you - cherish you! - for the rest of your life. He is your:
Correct Answer: All of the above.
Monday, April 11, 2011
“Don’t be the last to know.” Ominous, right? “The last to know what?” you may be wondering. It’s a pretty good tagline as those things go.
This is one of those times of kismet where I find something that reminds me of a previous post. A little while ago, I included a reference to an abomination titled AshleyMadison.com in a blogpost and in an effort to be equitable; I offer this cyber-response for your consideration: Cheaterville.com
This is a website that masquerades as a public service but it’s nothing of the kind. It’s a way to identify and humiliate cheaters online and inexplicably, humiliate those being cheated upon at almost exactly the same time.
Say you have a friend and you know her husband is having an affair. This kind of knowledge is never pleasant nor welcome. You want to do the right thing but what is the right thing? You can’t quite convince yourself to tell her because it will be sad, and difficult and risky, but she has a right to know, yes? Let’s read what Cheaterville.com has to say about their purpose and then discuss.
In a world where temptation and lust are facilitated by online media, where does moral accountability fit in? With terms like discreet adultery and cyber affair, how is the truth to be told and where can it be found? Cheaterville was created with one goal in mind, keeping you ahead of the heartache -- even when it hurts. So whether you’re a victim, perpetrator or curious acquaintance, Cheaterville can give you the inside scoop on that special someone before you’re another heartbroken mess writhing in the wake of Ms. Madison or Craig and his lists.
Cheaterville gathers information from a variety of sources using our proprietary advanced search engine algorithm. Our database will show you postings from other Cheaterville members on a specific person and information gathered from the web. If you meet someone and want to know if they are playing it straight, or playing you, Cheaterville will let you know if they are married, have a sordid past, or a crazy ex! If you’re in a relationship and want to make sure your significant other stays on the straight and narrow, Cheaterville can alert you if anything is posted about them – good or bad and free of charge.
Got that? That means you may be off the hook. Instead of confronting the horrible truth face to face, you can send someone a link to Cheaterville and leave them to it.
So we now have a website dedicated to exposing cheaters and measuring our dedication to our relationships. Why not – we have them for everything else. I refused to register for the site because I already get too much spam but I think it works like this:
1. Sign up – for free
2. List specifics about the cheater you want to reveal, including telling the story behind their behavior, posting a picture, and warning others away from the heartbreak that’s surely waiting for them.
You can also search for a cheater by filling in his / her name and location. But even if you don’t have a cheater to report and no one to check on, the site offers some diversions. Read the “Top Cheaterville Posts,” and vote on “Cheater of the Week,” based on the stories posted about their transgressions. The “Post of the Week” carries a $100 prize for the best story about a cheater. Or play “Whack a Cheat” or “Sheen Shoot Out.” (I’m not making this up. I earned 250 points playing “Whack a Cheat.”)
This is America after all so, yes, you can shop on Cheaterville.com. In addition to the T-shirts, mugs, and mouse pads, I found boxer briefs and thongs, a journal and a keepsake box, a gym bag, beach tote and a messenger bag, a stadium blanket, presumably to display at the football game you attend alone, and a Christmas ornament. (A Christmas ornament?)
Aside: I haven’t been on a date to meet someone new in almost thirty years but let me just say this: if I were in a relationship and in an intimate moment, or about to be, I might find myself suddenly distracted and possibly even called away on an emergency if I saw the Cheaterville boxer briefs. Hmmmm. A Cheaterville gym bag in the corner wouldn’t exactly inspire confidence and trust, either.
I’ll give the company this: they built a better mousetrap, or saw a need and filled or even better, created a need and then filled it. They tapped into the power of the web and turned the plot of “The Dilemma” into a website everyone can visit, to post or to check on posts.
The watched something like AshleyMadison.com emerge and succeed in the marketplace and thought: what about the people left behind? Don’t they deserve a site of their own? Where is their justice?
I can't answer that. But here's the bottom line for me. There just isn't much about an adulterous affair, or cheating on your partner that I find entertaining. I don't need to play games or vote on "cheater of the week" to amuse myself.
But I do know we can hop on AshleyMadison.com to look for a date while we’re married or committed and everyone we meet there will understand. We can go on Cheaterville.com to report a cheater (although presumably not someone we met on AM.com) or check on someone’s track record.
It’s easy. It’s the way of the world. And sorry - it’s depressing.
Monday, April 04, 2011
And if that's the case, shame on us. And if that's not true, well it feels true. Maybe I've missed the outrage, the talking heads, the endless opinion pieces...
Today's Daily Caller column is linked above - please take a look and share it in the name of a woman you love.
Saturday, April 02, 2011
But it’s the end of March and I’ve logged about 127 miles on my virtual run to Canada. I’m nearly to the border between New York and Pennsylvania, to the east of something called Mt. Pisgah State Park. And since I have no intention of doing all the research that will turn this journey into a travelogue, that’s about all I’m going to say about my current location. (I never promised enlightenment, here. Just a month-by-month account of my year-long attempt at running 450 miles.)
And speaking of 450 miles, turns out Toronto is slightly closer to me than I thought. I had to tack on another 30 miles or so to hit my number so now I’ll end up in “You Never Heard of It,” Canada. It’s just north of “Nothing Listed on the Map,” Canada. That’s awesome.
And how am I feeling? Well, I haven’t yet leaped onto the treadmill in delight and squealed with happiness as I pounded the miles out. I can’t believe that will ever happen, as a matter of fact. The only thing that delights me in a weird way is that I haven’t given up – yet. I’ve done my first three months and it’s been almost a year since I started using our treadmill a few times a week.
And if we get to a more micro level about this, I’ve very rarely ever given up on running a 5k, either. My rationale: If I’ve done a mile, I can do two. If I’ve done two, I can do three, for God’s sake. And if I do three, I can certainly remain upright for another tenth of a mile, yes? That’s what I tell myself anyway.
Here’s how my mind works – and what I discussed with my husband and a younger co-worker the other day. I relate almost anything uncomfortable, challenging, or exhausting to having a baby. It’s kind of cliché but hear me out, please.
My friend Molly shared this bit of wisdom with me when we were both pregnant twenty-one years ago: every labor pain you have is one less you have to have before the baby arrives. It’s come and gone and you never have to have that particular one again: it’s on the record and you’re onto the next. And one of them will ultimately be the very last one you have before you’re holding your baby.
So somewhere out there in the universe, even when labor ends in a Cesarean delivery, there is an unknown, finite number of contractions and pushes you have to do, and then you get your baby. And the better news is that you have to do only one at a time. As someone said in Chorus Line, “That I can do!”
I feel like that while I’m running. Run another quarter mile, another half mile and you never have to run that one again. It’s on the record. It’s not entirely comfortable all of the time and more than anything, you just want to get to the end but you can do anything for a little while, right? And you’re that much closer to your 450.
So – after the month of March, I am that much closer. I have 127 miles on the record; another 323 to go. Which is about 35.88 miles a month for the rest of the year. Which is about 8.97 miles a week. Which is about 2.24 miles four times a week.
That I can do.