Tuesday, May 28, 2013

But seriously folks

If you know me, or are getting to know me through this blog, you will know that I am not terribly fit... and that is putting it mildly. I am not much of a gym-goer. I don't really "do" classes for my own well-being. I walk a lot, but that is more a method of getting from A to B than an attempt to do something good for myself. And I did not run*. I had never run for a few reasons; the socially acceptable: bad knees; the medically questionable: aerobic induced asthma; and the undeniable: I am lazy and running* is hard.

Last year I was passed a flyer during one of my daughter's classes. There was a group starting, comprised only of new moms, that would be training for and subsequently walking/running a 10K to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Despite my natural instinct to throw any flyer I am handed away immediately (as a New Yorker, you get passed A LOT of crap pieces of paper), I held onto this one and brought it home to examine in my free time.

About a week later, I re-read the thing for the 30th time. There would be free training sessions, once a week, with other mothers in varying states of fitness, you could bring your kid, training for a race you could walk, run or not do, all to raise money for a great cause. It seemed too good to be true and that scared me. You see, in addition to being quick to throw away unnecessary flyers, New Yorkers can be overly suspicious of things that seem too good to be true.

This Moms-in-Training group, as they are called, is simply not the kind of thing I would ever do. I'm not much of a "joiner." I'm a loner Dottie... a rebel. I hate entering situations where I don't know anybody. You see, while I love rambling on and on here, I'm not really one for small talk. And to top it all off, I had to run... SO not for me.

Somehow I left my comfort zone behind and decided to join. With the help of a wonderful trainer, Meri (who does her own stroller fitness classes in New York), and the support of the other moms, I trained for the 10K. Two weeks before the race I discovered that we were meant to be working out on our own during the week between our weekly group training sessions... whoops! On the day of the 10K, I was joined by another mom who stuck with me through the entire race and definitely kept me running WAY longer than I thought I would or could. (Thank you Amanda!)

This year I am doing it again. I have managed to fit in a few of those mid-week solo training sessions and went for a few runs* on my own. It's really not so terrible, this running stuff. (said in my best Jewish grandparent voice)

A few reasons why I am running:
  • I can now run for longer that 5 minutes without wanting to pull my lungs from my chest and throw them in the river.
  • I can run straight for 3 miles or 30 minutes, whichever comes first (typically the 30 minutes). My first day last year, I set the goal of running straight for 1/3 mile. So I am actually improving.
  • I finally get to buy workout clothes that are not meant for a rainy/lazy day, but for using as they were intended.
  • When I have my earbuds in with the music playing, I appear to be listening to music. Really I am just lost in my own thoughts, or devoid of any thought... which is an amazing reprieve from work, life, children or all of the above. 
  • I am that runner that makes all the other runners feel great about themselves. And I know exactly how good I make them feel because I recently passed another runner for the first time. The physical and mental boost associated with passing someone (never mind that he was slowing down as he finished his run) was incredible. 
  • I am cool with being the slow one that gives the other runners that boost. 

A few reasons why I am running for LLS:
  • They asked - a big thanks to that flyer that I didn't throw away.
  • Their mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
  • The money we raise goes to researching medicines that are very often used to fight other forms of cancer, not just the various blood cancers that they are initially approved for. 
  • At our training sessions we hear stories of children who have fought and beaten cancer, and they are an inspiration.
  • At our training sessions we hear stories of children who have fought and lost their battle with cancer, and they are an inspiration.
  • None of us are impervious to the effects of cancer. It is everywhere and not going away quickly enough. So much research still needs to be done to make it A-treatable and then, hopefully one day, B-gone forever.
  • Every step of every run is a reminder that I do not need their services and for that I am so incredibly grateful.
  • I hope I never need their services. I hope you never need their services. But I am so glad they exist for those that do.
I hope you will help raise money so that our future can be one in which cancer no longer exists.

Contribute Here Now

Thank you! And I promise to be funnier in my next post.

*Please note: the use of the words "run," "runs" and "running" throughout this post denote the action most commonly referred to as jogging. But "Why I Jog" didn't sound quite as impressive, and I'm trying to solicit donations... so back off!
This "toddler-in-training" supports her "mom-in-training"
Best Cheerleader Ever!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Please "like" if you're not a complete jerk

Social media is making me crazy. No, wait... not crazy, because that would be silly. 
Social media is making me feel like a major a$$hole.

I used to enjoy making fun of "Brag"book and its tendency towards posts and updates that are nothing more than people showing off. OK, you're on a boat... we get it! How much you truly "like" your friend typically skews how you read a post. So it's either, "Oh my goodness, how amazing that this person is writing their own book. They are so smart/funny/interesting. How exciting for them." OR "OK, we get it! You're smarter/better than us! Seriously? That jackal can write a book? I can F-ing write a book too..." etc. 

But it has gone pretty far beyond that now. I am left longing for the simpler time when posts were merely a recount of your latest achievements: new pets, jobs, kids, sexual conquests, et al. For some unknown reason I continue to check in on my friends via Facebook and Twitter even though it makes me some combination of angry, sad, guilty or frustrated WAY more than it makes me happy just to hear how everyone is doing. I willingly choose to subject myself to the guilt, agony and ridicule found lurking in the seemingly innocuous status updates and tweets I read. 

Of course it is amazingly convenient to point the finger at social media rather than self-examining my own laziness, guilt and jealousy. But that's what I'm doing, so deal with it. (regarding that amazing convenience - see laziness referenced above)

I check in on my friends regularly. I am hoping for pictures of their new homes, cars, kids, friends and the time and place of their next vacation, but what I also get, as an added bonus, is a laundry list of things to freak me out and make me feel like crap. 

So here it is, My Top 10 list of Ways Social Media Makes Me Feel Like An Arsehole:

1-What I read: N is asking her friends for a dishwasher detergent recommendation that doesn't contain X chemical.
What I think: Holy sh!t. So now I am killing my family because I use f#$king Cascade? Natural dishwasher detergents don't get my dishes clean. Sh!t! I have to choose between the health and well being of my family or clean dishes? OK, give me a sec. But I really like clean dishes. I hated not having a dishwasher. I love not having to wash them myself. But now, if I'm using Cascade, I'm a horrible person who doesn't care about her family. Damnit!

2-What I read
What I think: OK, but not every piece of fruit I have consumed has been subject to this seemingly simple washing solution, so what does that mean for me? For my kid? For my husband? (not necessarily in that order, of course *blush*)

3-What I read: P just clocked in a run of 8.6 miles with her Nike Facebook app.
What I think: Ok, so not only does P find the time for an 8+ mile run with two kids running around at home, she is tech savvy enough to sync it with her sneakers, or her phone, or her socks or something... I don't know what, but she got it on Facebook for everyone to see. Thanks P. Nice reminder that I am not only unhealthy, but tech illiterate too. Sweet.

4-What I read: Please look at this optical illusion and respond in the comments section or click like to see what happens next... it will blow your mind!
What I think: No it won't. It will disappoint me. And then it will show my friends that I like it, when I really don't. In fact, is there a way for me to block these types of messages from appearing in my feed? I seriously don't care how many rectangles everyone can see or if the bear is going to jump off the mountain. I want the five seconds it took to look at it back.
Stare at this picture as long as you like, nothing's going to happen. I just wanted to use it.
5-What I read: Please adopt this incredibly cute, incredibly sad dog pictured here. 
Cue Sarah McLachlan song
What I think: This dog is incredibly cute and incredibly sad... kind of like the other 30 incredibly cute, incredibly sad dogs you posted this week. Clearly I have a lot of friends who are dog supporters... frequent-posting dog supporters. And I am truly grateful for their work on behalf of the dogs. I hope they get them adopted. But at the end of the day, I am neither in physical proximity to these friends, nor in a position to adopt these heartbreakingly sad dogs. So I just feel like a MAJOR jerk for not being able to help while secretly wanting the posts to thin out a bit.

6-What I read: I am running/walking/spinning/dancing to support XXX charity. Please support me.
What I think: F#$K! I totally do this! I post my charitable requests online asking friends to help with my run/walks. Then when I read the requests of others, I donate sometimes and then just feel incredibly guilty for not being able to donate to everyone. I seriously would. If I had more money and more time, I would sit and click on every page and make some sort of a donation. But I don't always do that. Checking Facebook on your phone (which is how I read Facebook 90% of the time) makes clicking on links and entering credit card details more time consuming and difficult than it should be. Unfortunately this inconvenience is usually enough to prevent me from going home, logging in and remembering who was requesting money from where and going on to contribute to their drive. Of course, when I am soliciting donations for my cause, I am baffled by how few people do just that. So the requests really just point out A-what a jerk I am for even asking and B-for not making the time to help everyone else. I really suck.

7-Don't even get me started on the mind-f#$ks/invasions of personal space that are the "sponsored" ads. They possess an uncomfortable level of relevance to my life. When it showed a bench that I had just been admiring in a magazine that was sitting in my lap, I actually had to spin around to make sure someone wasn't physically looking over my shoulder. It's pretty damn omniscient and it freaks me out.

8-Or how about the crisis of conscience I experienced after changing my profile picture to show the red marriage equality signal? They asked to change it for a day, then extended it for the week. Cut to the awkward moment late into the following week when I was like, shoot, if I change my profile picture from this, will everyone think I just up and changed my mind about marriage equality? Am I meant to keep this up until we have marriage equality? Can I just change it because I finally have a cute picture of my kid that I want to share? What do I do?? Again, unnecessary stress and anxiety brought on singlehandedly by social media. 
I mean, come on government... just get SOMETHING done already!
9-Let's not forget the incredible restraint we have to show when our friends of friends post incredibly ignorant or politically aggressive tidbits. I once made a snide comment in response to one of these posts and instantly deleted it, fearing both a pseudo-intellectual debate via the comments section of our mutual friend's photo and/or that my friend would side with the other person and not me. I wasn't interested in either option so I just deleted it, but not before a separate mutual friend "liked" my comment. Phew! At least I knew I was in the right. I just lacked the social media conviction to pursue it any further.

10-Yeah, um, I don't actually have 10. I have noticed, though, that most of the more popular articles and posts are formatted in this way. So I went back and revised it to read as a Top 10 instead of my usual prose. Because, let's face it, Top 9 just doesn't have the same ring. I suppose we could make #10 the need to oversimplify and over-categorize things in the quest for public acceptance. Or we could focus on the MAJOR a$$hole-ness involved in making a Top 10 list out of 9 things... yup, that one's on me. Curses to you, alluring appeal of famous Top 10 lists!

So, for the most part, I am looking to continue my shallow existence in/on(?) social media. I want to see your pictures. I want to hear about your achievements. I want to watch the first few seconds of your videos. I want to hear what news you have. I do not need to know when you're moving your car for alternate side of the street parking. I don't care that you like Best Buy and think that I should too. For the most part, I do not need to know that you have completed major feats of talent or strength if you want anything more from me than a "like." Let's keep it light people. Save your soapbox forum for your blog (as I have), or your budding political career. Please stop giving me stuff that helps me makes me feel like crap. I mean, I know I can be kind of a jerk, but stop making me feel like such a major a$$hole!
Thanks in advance, 
Miss Spartacus

Monday, May 6, 2013

What's all the cuss about??

I come from a long line of cursers. My mom is a curser, my... well, that's about it. Not really that extensive, but I've been around curse words my entire life. The effect it has had on me is one of complete desensitization. I use curse words, often. I use them as descriptors, adjectives, nouns and sometimes just for effect. It doesn't mean very much to me, but I am aware of the fact that it does mean something to other people.

I try very hard to not curse around strangers and elders. It is out of respect to them. Similar to when I used to smoke, I would never smoke around my friend's parents. Not because I didn't want them to know, but because I felt like it was somehow disrespectful to do that around them. Well, maybe I also didn't want them to know, but as a non-smoker these days I am aware of how naive that was... I reeked!!

But cursing is much easier to slip in around people you respect, when you feel comfortable enough. These days cursing is easier than ever. Somehow, we have invented multiple publicly acceptable ways of cursing. In print it involves using a hodgepodge of punctuation marks in place of certain letters in curse words. It is, essentially, the pu$$y's way of cursing. I'm basically putting the word out there, but I am able to feel less crass because I didn't properly spell it out. Genius... f#$%ing genius! What? I didn't say it! And on film you just say it and leave it for someone else to bleep. Lazy, but BLEEPing effective.

Some people judge those of us that curse as being low-class or having inferior intelligence. They perceive our use of curse words as a sign of poor vocabulary. They believe we use curse words when we could easily use a better, nicer word in it's place. Well, f$&k that sh!t! I am immune to that line of reasoning, not because I have a decent vocabulary, but because I have a satisfactory vocabulary, an adequate vocabulary, a sufficient vocabulary, an ample vocabulary.

These judgmental folks need to resist the urge to judge because there are actually many situations when cursing is not only accepted, but required. I wish I could bang my hand/foot/head and not curse. But I can't. It happens before I even realize what happened. The curse word is out of my mouth before I even have a chance to think "Oh fudgsicles!" I have no idea how to get ahead of that curve.

I became aware of my cursing prowess (what, you thought I was going to say problem?) only after I had a child. I had spent 18 months cursing with reckless abandon in front of my daughter... right up until her first "sh!t" (the first time she said it, not the first time she did it). Then all of a sudden I realized the issue. I don't really care if she does it in front of me, I just don't want my daughter to curse in front of other people. That is mainly so I don't have to use that fake guilty look when another parent gasps at my potty mouth in the presence of their sh!tty children. Sorry. I know I shouldn't be raising a child that curses. I do know that. It's not like I sing them to her and teach them like the ABCs. But sometimes I curse around her, less now than I used to, but it happens. I just hope it's not enough that she sounds like the truck driver in her kindergarden class. And who am I kidding... I think it's hilarious when she parrots a word. It gives me a chance to play evil parent mind games with her... "what frog? I don't see a frog sweetie."

Clearly they didn't do this enough when I was a kid!

With regard to specific curse words, I show them all love, (hell yeah I do!) but my current favorite is C U Next Tuesday.

I believe there is a huge untapped market in the word c#"t. Before I have the liberal feminists up in arms, hear me out. The word should be stripped of any and all associations with the female anatomy. I am pleading with society to detach that word from any and all affiliations with a lady's nether regions. If you can, you are well on your way to discovering the beauty of c#"t.  It has nothing to do with a vagina. It's neither a creative nor effective nickname for it. In that context it is crass, harsh on the ears and completely unnecessary. It has no significance and no real reason it should be used for that purpose. Like tw@t, both should be stricken from the list of available words for the vagina. If you need a nickname, stick with something like flange or bajeaniss, or for the English folks, fanny. **To the Americans reading this, fanny means front bottom to them. This should explain why English people find it so funny when we refer to a fanny pack.* Anyone that uses c"#t to mean vagina sucks. They are just trying to get a rise out of you, don't take the bait. Don't let them ruin an otherwise perfectly wonderful curse word.

Once we can eliminate the association, we are free to expose the beauty and clarity of the word as a descriptor of very specific things. It is a harsh word, I'll give you that, and therefore should not be used outside the arena of curse words. I will obviously not be letting the little darling hear this one too much. To those of you adults that will not use it as a curse word, you are missing out! There are certain times when only a "c#^t" will do.

"You are a C*#T!": People that deserve the title:
Referees that make the wrong call and don't correct themselves when given the opportunity.
People that "key" cars. That's what you call scratching the paint off a car with a key, right?
Cops that abuse their power.
People that don't merge properly into an even merge: one car from this lane, then one car from that lane.
People that don't let the person with only one item go in front of them at the grocery store. That is specifically why I HATE it when someone asks me. I know I'm a c*#t if I say no.

But it's not just for people. Inanimate objects can be c*#ts too.
A piece of cardboard that slices your hand open.
A pickle jar that doesn't open despite your best efforts.
Doors and walls that appear as if from nowhere.
Saran wrap - in particular the expensive brands for being too clingy and getting balled up immediately upon removal from the roll with seemingly no edge to be found.
Surprisingly heavy objects that manage to fall square on your foot.
Dog sh!t, anywhere you step in it.

And if we are really going to be equal opportunity ladies, the word can't be completely disassociated with females.
A lady who, despite your best efforts of being extremely sweet and nice to her and trying to make her happy, insists on being nasty and impossible to please is a c*#t.
On the flip side, a man who is out to harm someone else for no apparent reason is a c*#t.

The point is, don't knock it until you've tried it. If cursing isn't for you, I will accept that. It's not for everyone. But if you use the word "cussing" because you think "cursing" is too severe... yup, you guessed it: you too are a c*#t.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

To gift or not to gift... wait, what's the question?

Humans are a funny bunch. We adamantly believe certain things to be the absolute truth until we learn another way and very easily and willingly change our minds. The past month made me do a complete 180 on requesting no gifts for your child's birthday.

It all started a few weeks back when we received an invitation to one of my daughter's friend's birthday party. I was very excited to go. I don't have many new mom friends, so when the kid gets an invite, I feel like less of a loser too. I posted the invite on the fridge under a magnet. After I purchased a gift for the birthday girl I noticed the bottom line on the invite said: No Gifts Please. 

I instantly took exception to this request because A-I had already bought a gift, and let's face it, I'm not usually that prepared (Note to self: keep leaving things until the last minute), B-I didn't think it was fair to the child. Obviously the parents had made this decision on behalf of the two year old child, who, I truly believed, would wholeheartedly object to that request.

My own objection turned into full on confusion as I debated whether to honor the child and get her a gift, thereby ignoring the parents request and looking like a very rude person, or to honor the parents request and not get a gift and then feel weird about it because it's her birthday and it seems so mean to not get a kid a gift, regardless of what the invite said.

In the end I decided to scale back the gift and just give her a book. I figured that if the request was made in the interest of preserving precious New York City apartment space, one more book would not hurt. I thought it was a lovely book that the little girl would enjoy. And I believed this decision would exempt me from my usual self-loathing when I inevitably make the wrong call, one way or another... a happy medium, of sorts. But of course I was wrong about that. 

As we walked into the party, I noticed a completely full table welcoming us in to the space. It was a table full of presents, just so we're clear. I instantly hated myself. Why did I have to be such a cheapskate? Why didn't I just keep the whole present and give it to her (like everyone else obviously did)? Now it just looks like we gave a crappy gift. Which then makes me ponder whether we would have been better off giving nothing. What an annoying situation. I feel like I didn't do what was asked of us, and yet I didn't do what I would have normally done out of some internal negotiated middle ground where I didn't totally deprive the child and didn't completely disrespect the parents wishes.

For the entire fortnight following that party I had a very colorful internal monologue going about how terrible the request for no gifts was.

Two full weeks I grappled with the feeling of being viewed as cheap and yet somehow also undisciplined and disrespectful. Two weeks I struggled with what the right decision was, and hated being put in the situation where I had to make a choice. Two weeks I cursed the other attendees for not listening either, and therefore making us all look bad. Two weeks... and then came my own daughter's birthday party.

I had fielded several inquiries of what to purchase for my child for her birthday. As we don't really buy her many toys, I just said whatever these fellow parents believed was a good fit for a two year old. What I didn't realize is that there is a lot of stuff out there and most of it can be enjoyed by a two year old. Now, don't get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful for these very generous gifts. I am just now in a complete panic as there are simply too many to allow one child to have at once. It's excessive. It's unnecessary. It's messy. It's more than we can fit comfortably in our apartment. (Aha!)

So, one month later I have had a complete change of heart on the cold, brutal No Gifts request. It is actually OK for the child. It is definitely OK for the parents. And as I learned first hand, there are still plenty of people who will ignore it, so you will get stuff to tuck away in the closet and dole out each month for the next few months regardless.

Maybe we could all agree to not buy presents for each others kids and just buy a bunch of gifts around our own kids birthday to shower them with during their birthday month. We can all save a little money, sanity, internal grappling and pride. At least, that's what I believe to be the answer today. Ask me again in an undisclosed amount of time and I will probably have changed my mind. 
                           Can you ask for cake as a gift? That's all she wants anyway.