Almost here

Almost here

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zip for Char, Nat & Yvonne

As my last post for the A-Z challenge I've created a little ditty:

To my fellow writing wenches who made me join
Yvonne, Char, & Nat
Thank you
For now I cannot stop pouring words onto page
Keystrokes across my screen
My heart on a sleeve
Even when other things beckon for my attention
Shopping, schlepping and even showering
I'm stuck posting to my blog like a loyal little blogger
But as they say all good things must come to an end
So I bid the A-Z challenge adieu
Alas, I know I will be back
Because I might have zip for you tonight
But tomorrow is another writing day

Y is for Yuck to Fakes

Yuck. I can’t stand fakes. I’ll admit to faking a tan or celebrating a fake holiday – National PB& J day was April 4th, after all, but I can’t stand someone air kissing me on the cheek or pretending to be my friend while stabbing me in the back. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but there seems to be more fake people now than there were back in high school. Perhaps it’s the government. After all, politicians are the ultimate fakes. They tell you what they think you want to hear, often stretching the truth to suit their needs, particularly in the last election. In fact, according to Time Magazine, “the 2012 campaign witnessed a historic increase in fact-checking efforts by the media”…”clear examples of deception fill websites.” If our leaders are setting the standard it’s no wonder people might be acting more fake than ever before.
I’ll take a fake politician over a fake friend, or should I say, frenemy, any day. Like my pal Debby in the fifth grade. She slept at my house on New Years because she knew my mother made awesome chocolate chip cookies and we had cable. How did she repay me for being able to watch Grease in her PJ’s? By reading my diary and then telling everyone the name of the boy I had a crush on--- including said boy.
And then in junior high there was Jen, your friend only if you met certain parameters. She would unabashedly pull the label out of the back of your shirt to see what brand you were wearing if it wasn’t already splashed across the front of your shirt. You only remained in her good graces if the label read Benetton, Esprit  or Forenza.
She was similar to the kid in school who was only your friend sometimes. The friend who might be willing to hang with you in class, but ignored you when you passed in the hallway. Unfortunately, those friends, or frenemies, don’t seem to have disappeared with locker combinations and braces. You know whom I’m talking about. Take my friend Julie. She told me about a woman who acts like she doesn’t know her even though they were once stuck volunteering together for over half a day. I get that you don’t need to be everyone’s friend, but it’s called courtesy. This kind of behavior baffles me as an adult. Perhaps Julie offended her while wrapping muffins at the bake sale, or is there another explanation for turning into a ‘Plastic’ from Mean Girls?
Prosopagnosia-- also known as face blindness is a neurological disorder. They can’t recognize faces. I caught a segment about it on 60 Minutes and it was an ‘aha’ moment. However the disease only effects 2% of the population, so chances are Julie’s frenemy is just a mean girl that took the halls of high school to the lawns of suburbia.
Fake friends are promoted everyday on “reality” shows like Housewives of NJ, NY or other states where women reside that want to pimp their lives out on camera. These shows are where the fake pretend to be real and then proceed to deceive their ‘friends’ and receive fame and fortune for it. The more notorious a character--the more profitable, marketable and sometimes even more loveable. Think Teresa Giudice.
A few years ago my hairdresser, Veronica, was on a reality show for the Bravo Network and asked me to be her customer for the episode. Since I needed a haircut anyway I agreed.  The premise of the show was a competition between two couples where each had to teach their trade to their spouse. Veronica’s husband, a plumber, was to learn to cut hair. Although he came from a family of plumbers, Vin was an aspiring actor and had assisted at the salon before. He knew as much about hair as he knew about washers making the competition already far from real. I didn’t get to meet the competing couple, another hair stylist and contractor hubby, but Veronica raved about how lovely they were while filming together.
When the show finally aired three months later, Veronica got to watch all the nasty things the other couple said about her and Vin on camera to the rest of the world. Fortunately, Veronica won the competition and $20,000, although my five minutes of fame ended up on the cutting room floor (no pun intended).

I guess when it comes to friends, your real friends are the ones that you know won’t lie, ignore, or say nasty things about you –even if they’re a politician or on a reality show.  Still it can’t hurt if we all take a pledge this month not to fake smile, fake thank you, or fake friend anyone even if it’s only on Facebook.

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for Xenophobia

Xenophobia is defined as an irrational fear or hatred of foreigners. Of strangers. Of their politics or cultures. Just a word. Until those irrational fears fester and grow like a giant whitehead on the face of mankind eventually oozing blood and puss. And although the wound may heal, it will leave a massive scar.

I am scarred. My family is scarred. But it is not the scar of the A6056 tattooed in blue across my father’s forearm. It is the murders tattooed across our families’ history.  That can never be removed. The slaughter of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and future descendants that will never exist.

As the first generation of a holocaust survivor on this Yom Hoshoah day – Holocaust Remembrance Day – I think of what might have been. The family my children will never know. I vow like many others to never forget and to never let it happen again.

Sometimes I feel that Latino immigrants are the new scapegoat in the US. Not only undocumented, but documented as well. I get the rational arguments. That if you want to live here, you learn to speak the language. That if you come here illegally, you shouldn’t be allowed to stay. But I sense the shadow of xenophobia along the perimeter. They are not like us. They are foreigners. Go away.

And now in the Ukraine. A recent video showed three masked men handing out fliers outside a Donetsk synagogue. The fliers demanded that all Jews older than 16 register with the new leadership of the Donetsk Republic – the loosely organized masked men who had taken over the regional administrative building in the center of the city. They were published on what appeared to be Donetsk Republic letterhead and released on the second day of Passover. Representatives of the pro-Russia group denied involvement in the letter’s creation and distribution.
Xenophobia is rearing its ugly head again. Like a monster in a bad Godzilla movie.  It’s Xenophobia vs. Godzilla and who will be the victor? But just like in those old Godzilla movies, sometimes our mouths are moving but there’s nothing coming out and we need to speak up.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

W is for Winnie as in Winnie The Pooh and the meaning of life (or at least on Facebook)

I can still remember the opening sequence, the camera panning the bedroom with stuffed animals until it finally rested on the rather unfuzzy bear resting on a shelf. This was the introduction to The Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, which I think aired on CBS on a Sunday evening in the late 70’s, but I’m not sure. I am sure that it was something I greatly enjoyed. The fact that it still resonates with me is either endearing or pathetic.  I haven’t given that silly old bear much thought since then. Surprisingly, a lot of other people have.  

You might be familiar with the Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff published in 1982. It used Pooh and his comrades to illustrate the basic concepts behind Taoism, an ancient Chinese philosophy. I’m not going to delve in to it, but it’s very live in the present moment and new age kind of stuff. I actually might read it. Then there’s numerous articles spouting all the wonderful life lessons that can be learned from Pooh. Even Forbes has an article providing customer service lessons in Poohism’s, “Some people talk to animals. Not many listen thou. That’s the problem.”’ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh. Writers, bloggers, even academics use Pooh to illustrate anything from how to live your life to believing in yourself, “there is something you must always are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think…” Pooh and my yoga instructor seem to have a lot in common.

Not all the comparisons to Pooh and his friends are positive. There’s an entire article by the Canadian Medical Association categorizing the mental disorders of Pooh and friends. Did you know that Pooh has ADHD and obsessive fixations? “He exhibits careless and indifferent behavior towards his peers” and “he is obsessed with honey.” Even more bizarre are articles claiming that Pooh and his friends were actually on drugs. Pooh was an addict -- honey obsession. Pooh was on LSD—hallucinations and love of sweets. Eeyore is a pothead…lack of motivation, slow reactions, doesn’t care about anything. Finally the blog, Blogala Maho, claims Pooh and his friends, “Comprise an allegory of male sexuality.” Pooh “is the personification of male adolescent sexuality…he is in fact a symbol for the penis.” And, “The Honey Pot, Pooh’s favorite thing, represents the male fantasy of the vagina…it is passive, will-less, and locked up in a safe place until male lust (i.e. Pooh) want a piece of it. As such, the Honey Pot is also a symbol of the whore.” Even Freud would be appalled.

All of these comparisons and studies got me thinking about in what other ways we can identify with Pooh and friend. So to add to the stellar body of work above, here’s my attempt at the Facebook of Pooh:

Pooh – He’s the guy who shares funny videos, stories, whatever makes him laugh and doesn’t understand why you don’t share too. He’s also very zen and inspiring. He often reposts yummy recipes, particularly desserts. He’s the character most likely to like Tigger’s posts and mean it.

Piglet: Doesn’t post much, with the exception of urgent matters like the threat of an impending snowstorm. However, he reads everyone’s posts and will comment on deaths, birthdays and other emotional events.

Tigger is constantly posting, usually without restraint. He can go from ranting and ranting to gushing and gloating within minutes. He’s most likely to post photos of himself in uncompromising positions and  of his friends too – so watch out.

Eeyore loves to complain. His posts, when he’s motivated to write them, are all about the glass being half empty. Don’t try to cheer him up that will just rile him up. He’s happiest when he’s unhappy. He’s most likely to post an imoji of being angry, sad, or frustrated without any explanation. He will be even more depressed if you don’t ask him what happened.

Rabbit is most likely to repost information. If you want to know twenty- five different ways vinegar can improve your life, he’s the guy to watch.

Owl likes to show off how smart he is.  He’ll post newsworthy articles and then endlessly pontificate about them.

All Kanga posts are things about her kids. It’s like a Christmas letter everyday.

Christopher Robin posts links about writers, artists, books and shows. He’s into the arts and has quite an imagination.

V is for Van -- as in why I love my mini-van

I spend more time in it than anything else. It’s not my favorite pair of jeans or boots or even my bra. It’s the clunky hunk of metal in my driveway. My miraculous mini-van. Miraculous may be a stretch for a car I once turned my nose up at, but it does so many things, serves so many purposes in my life that in a way it is miraculous.

April is always the month I associate with my mini-van because that’s when it entered my life and it’s also when it will leave -- once my lease is up. It seems like only yesterday when its shiny blue exterior beckoned me from the dealership lot. In a previous life I might have said it was taunting me, however this was the second mini-van I was to own and I had long ago resigned myself to its elephant like exterior, sliding doors and soccer mom connotations. After all, I do drive my kids to soccer in it.

Surprisingly, my mini-van has become more than my ride. It’s my home away from home. Sometimes it’s even my sanctuary. I will admit to hiding out in my van waiting for some random child of mine to get out of a class or sporting practice and enjoying my twenty minutes of alone time. It’s my chance to chill out and enjoy the music piping through  the excellent stereo system with its array of satellite choices from 80’s nostalgia to coffee house, my own personal DJ at my fingertips. Or I might turn the radio off entirely and recline back in my heated seat and close my eyes – silent bliss.  Occasionally it’s a bunch of celebrity gossip magazines or a good book that make for a mini-getaway in the mini. And if I don’t want anyone to interrupt my precious few minutes of me time, I can even confine myself to the second or third row where tinted windows are the ultimate privacy screens.

Alas, a fashion statement the mini is not. I recently went to a party in Manhattan and parked the old sliding door sanctuary in a parking garage. As I drove into its cement trenches, gleaming Mini-Coopers, Mercedes-Benz, and Porches immediately greeted me. I felt like an outcast. Unlike the Mini-Cooper, my mini seemed anything but mini in a NYC parking garage. I swear the parking attendant looked offended that I actually wanted to park in his garage. Worse was waiting on the pick-up line hours later. One by one the parking attendant pulled up in shiny hybrids, fancy sedans, even a Rolls. And then my mini. It suddenly felt like I was wearing sneakers with an evening gown. It reminded of the bumper sticker I recently saw on the back of a mini-van driven by a fashion forward Mom, ‘I am not what I drive’. What’s wrong with looking like you might drive a mini-van?

Not many years ago I worked in advertising and my largest client happened to be a luxury carmaker that did not manufacture any mini-vans. Instead they had stylish SUV’s and crossovers. There was many a meeting I sat through where we discussed how to attract soccer moms to our luxury SUV or crossover. However, it was always stressed that said SUV did not resemble a mini-van in any photography and all copy reinforced its off-road, fun to drive attributes and not schlepping kids around. We were essentially targeting ‘soccer moms’ who didn’t want to look like ‘soccer moms’. Most women I know are not running around sporting sun visors with whistles around their necks, but in their book even if she was wearing Prada heels, if she was driving a mini-van she looked like a soccer mom.

For many years I couldn’t escape this luxury carmaker’s definition of what a soccer mom looked like and I didn’t want to be her. So I got a gas guzzling SUV instead, which happens to also have room for lots of kids, friends of kids, and stray kids and the possibility of taking an off-road adventure because there’s so many opportunities for that during carpool. In addition to gas prices rising, I felt like I needed a stepstool to reach the seatbelt to strap my kids in their car seats and was always worried some kid was going chop their finger off slamming shut the heavy metal doors. Suddenly the mini-van didn’t seem so bad. 

And it didn’t lead to an identity crisis. In fact it reinforced who I am. A mom in heels going to soccer or ballet or a club in the city. So now I embrace my behemoth of a car and rejoice over the two televisions that keep kids busy on long trips, numerous coffee cup holders, and storage for everything from book bags to video games. It might not get me any hot dates, but I will ride it into the sunset -- at least until next April when another miraculous mini-van will take its place.

Friday, April 25, 2014

U is for why Underdog never made it on Underoos

I asked for a retro word that began with the letter U in keeping with Throwback Thursday on Facebook.

The first word I got was Underdog, but that was preceded by numerous submissions for Underoos so I felt the need to talk about them both.

First off, I discovered Underdog never appeared on Underoos. Bummer for Underdog as Underoos were crazy popular in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Here are just some of the characters that adorned Underoos during that time:

Daisy Duke of Dukes of Hazzard Fame (and you thought they were only shorts)
Pac-Man (sounds like these might have caused some nightmares about them chomping away down there)
The Hulk (I think my husband would like these now)
Aquaman (a classic superhero for Underoos, but only meh in my opinion)
C3PO, R2D2 & ET (looks like I’m texting right?)

I guess Underdog didn’t have a chance for Underoos fame as by the early 70’s he was done and rarely played on the air. In fact, I had him and Hong Kong Phooey totally confused. After all they were both blue-collar working dogs– Underdog, a shoeshine worker and Hong Kong Phooey, a janitor. They stick on a mask and cape and become a super dog. In fact there was a connection between them. I discovered W. Watts Biggers one of the co-creators of Underdog co-created the theme song for Hong Kong Phooey.  Alas, I don’t recall ever seeing Hong Kung Phooey Underoos either. A missed an opportunity for Underoos I think.

The real reason I think Underdog may have been kept from Underoos fame is that he was a druggie. Seriously, he would pop an Underdog Super Energy Pill for strength when he was feeling weak, which he kept in a special ring he always wore. As of 1970’s the pill popping was deleted from the cartoon, as they didn’t want to encourage kids to take drugs. Who knew Underdog was the original junkie.

So even though Underdog proclaimed, “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here”  - he didn’t mean on your Underoos.