Thursday, October 25, 2018

Broken Record



Ever have someone say something so baffling, or so stupid, you're still thinking about it days later? Not thinking about it because the actual words were bothersome, because we all know how much I care about other people's opinions of me. More just completely being stymied by the thought process behind the words.

The other day certainly wasn't the first time, won't be the last time, and it wasn't even the worst. The other day, I posted this article on Facebook, in anger, about the information leaked by the New York Times, that the Trump administration wants to define gender as biological, immutable, determined by genitalia at birth, which would roll back all kinds of protections for transgender community. I did call Trump an orange douchebag. I used choice words for the old white politicians who do his dirty work.

Then I was called a hypocrite and a bigot. How can I preach all this love everyone then have all this hate "for our nation's president". And I think toward those who support him too. I'm not sure since the ranting in question left a lot to be desired in terms of spelling, grammar, sentence and paragraph structure, etc. I may write with slang, or write how I speak, but coherence has never been an issue.

I was dumbstruck. Not just because I don't even know how that's the conclusion that comes from my posting, but that after talking to B, he feels that could be the thought process of many on the "other side".

I just don't know how there's ever going to be any healing of the divide when there's no understanding. I don't know how it's possible not to see these things as clear as day. I'm not talking about fiscal issues, even though those are tied to social issues as well. But I have acquaintances in finance who only seem to see things in terms of the stock market. If the stock market is okay and their lives are status quo, they're happy. They don't much care about the social issues. They don't think any of it affects them (even though they have children it will affect) so they're all MAGA for now. While selfish and short sighted, it's not quite the same as the people who only vote on social issues, AGAINST other people's rights.

PEOPLE'S RIGHTS. EQUALITY. Ideals we're supposed to have founded this country on. These are actual people we're talking about. Not just nameless, faceless people. Friends, family, friends of friends and family of family. I personally know two transgender kids and one transgender adult. Then there are the ones I don't know personally but know about. And I don't know anyone who DOESN'T know someone or have someone close to them that considers themselves gay. So when you're voting, you're literally deciding whether these people you know get to have basic rights or not. Their right to be who they were born to be. To dress how they see fit. Call themselves what name they feel comfortable with. Be able to safely use the bathroom, get married, get a job, healthcare, and anything else the rest of us enjoy just by virtue of being born with the right parts. 

That's where I'm talking about clarity. One side wants to live and let live and the other side is actively voting against people's equality. It's not different than voting for segregation. They just refuse to see it because it's cloaked in religion. Religion somehow makes it acceptable. I'm waiting for one legitimate answer as to why it's okay to strip people of their rights. I still haven't heard how it adversely affects anyone else if the LGBTQ community keeps any rights they currently have or are fighting to have. Except, I guess, that in a broad brush stroke, if we allow them rights, we're all just going to hell in a hand basket. #FineByMe

I'm also waiting for that answer to the age old question of, if everyone BIRTHS all the fetuses, are you willing to PAY to help those born babies? #waitingforever #ifiheldmybreathidbedead

As much as some like to believe it's a one religion country, which people have said in my own backyard when they think no one is listening, we do not have a national religion. We're not supposed to be making laws based in religion. I don't know why we have to keep saying this. This is the problem with proselytizing religions. It's this mentality drummed in that you're supposed to push your religion on to others and make them live how you live. That's not the way we're supposed to be governed here.

How is it not clear that if you don't want to have an abortion, don't have one. If you aren't gay then don't have a gay marriage. If you're not transgender, then what rights or protections they have shouldn't be an issue for you. One side is trying to make sure everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, and the other side wants any marginalized people to be stripped of their rights and protections under the law because it doesn't gel with their interpretation of religion. The ones on the anti-progressive side can't even come to these feelings of their own voluntary thinking of right and wrong, but through someone's interpretation of something they follow.

I don't know it isn't common sense to see how crazy and wrong it would be to legislate that everyone must have abortions or be gay. How it is not common sense to see it from the other side??

Written above is just me being a broken record, but what's worse was what came next, after I was called a hypocrite and a bigot. It was something like "SMH, it's never going to happen. Stop believing everything you read!".

People, respected political pundits, said Trump would never be elected President. He was elected. We've already seen White Nationalists & Nazi's marching in the streets of a city in the USA after it was said that some were being overly dramatic by comparing Trump to Hitler. Trump stole a Supreme Court nominee and then got another one. He helped make a mockery of the Supreme Court with the Kavanaugh circus and could populate the whole Supreme Court with ultra socially conservative judges. That could affect protections for millions of people. Yet, men and women alike support taking rights away from people because it doesn't seemingly affect them and much of it in the name of religion.

When someone says "it's not going to happen" in terms of reversing Roe vs Wade, defining gender in a way that strips people of their rights, or any other quality of life issue, I just think about how privileged view of the world that must be. To be so much a part of the majority that they can discount how scary it is to be any minority just waiting for your existence to be erased, jailed, deported, separated from family or forced to have a baby you can't take care of or don't want. Sorry if I can't just take the average person's word for what will and won't be legislated while just laying down and taking it. Russia elected our President. Clearly, anything can happen.

We already had a time without legal abortion. Remember Penny from Dirty Dancing, the dirty table and rusty knife situation?  Revolutionary Road? Coat hangers? While the movies themselves may be fictional, those situations aren't disputed as being fictional. Yet, we have people so stubborn in their feeling that abortion shouldn't be legal that they're willing to cling to Trump as their Christian Family Values poster child. The man married three times. Having five kids with three different women. Known to have paid thousands of dollars to pay off a porn star that he cheated on his wife with. THIS, is the person being held up as the moral vote just because he's willing to say he'll abolish abortion and take away rights from the LGBTQ community.

I was called a hypocrite and a bigot but to me, the clarity should be that it's hypocritical and bigoted to decide that other people should be abiding by law based on the rules of your religion. I've been told the message Christianity is supposed to give is of love. That the only one who can judge is God. As far as I see it then, He or She gets to make the laws up there, and we make the laws down here. For everyone. Equally.

We can't heal any divide when we have people expecting everyone to stand for a flag and a national anthem, pledging- "And liberty and justice for all", when really they mean- "And liberty and justice for those who believe the same way I do". We can't heal a divide when we have people yelling "Fake News" about the truth. We can't heal a divide when we're okay with some people having all the rights and some having none. We can't heal a divide when there is no empathy or regard for people who are different, don't have as much, and/or who don't want to live within the confines of someone else's religious beliefs. People have been fleeing religious persecution since the beginning of time. The reason being that no one wants to be forced to believe anything.

We can't heal a divide when people are yelling "If you don't like it, if you don't stand, if you don't whatever- then get out!" People shouldn't be expected to conform to just live. You don't have to agree with my positions. You don't have to agree with or like abortion. You don't have to agree with  or even be okay with any LGBTQ lifestyle. You don't have agree with, like, or participate in any activity or lifestyle that conflicts with your religion or belief system. However, you shouldn't be able to legislate that other people can't, and that, is where there is a problem. I don't know how many ways it can be said. You don't lose anything by living and let live. But others DO lose when you try to put your beliefs into law.

Look how crazy people get when even the thought of taking any gun rights away comes up. The NRA supporters, who tend to also be on the side of revoking other people's freedoms, think it's preposterous to even consider tightening gun laws, because they believe something is being taken away from them. Yet....

I feel like I just said the same thing over and over and over again. Like a broken record. I guess I'm just going to have to keep saying it until it sinks in.

Am I angry? Yes. Do I disparage the current President? Hell yes. You know how the Holocaust happened? It happened by people just sitting around doing and saying nothing when they came for other people. Until they came for them too. Don't tell me it can't happen because I can find you people who lived it. It's very easy to mobilize sheep- just look up a hate group or two on Facebook and see how many members are in any given one. If that doesn't scare you into standing up for people who need it now, then all I can say is #baaaaaaaaaaa

**By the way- I'm sitting here at work with the tv on. I just heard a political attack ad from Hugin (R) about Menendez (D) in NJ. It's from the perspective of a mom with a newborn daughter, claiming in this attack ad that Menendez allegedly went to prostitutes who were as young as sixteen. That she could never explain a vote for him (Menendez) to HER (the innocent newborn daughter). Now, I don't know anything about Menendez and teen prostitutes, however, our Lecherous Leader In Chief has many sexual allegations against him, told someone how you should grab women by the pussy, and worse. This, THIS is the subject matter this republican is using againt his democratic opponent?? I think my head just exploded. How is Hugin then going to explain his support of anything Trump, ever? I hope he plans on speaking out on what an utter scumbag Trump has been to and about women if he's trying to run on the Family Values, wholesome family man platform. Again, hypocritical and baffling to where my head just exploded.

Talk about clarity- anyone can say anything now, nothing means anything, and we're all living in some kind of alternate universe. The universe where the President is publicly calling a woman he slept with "Horse Face" and we're all talking about the size (or lack) of his penis.

#AbrahamLincolnisrollinginhisgrave #Vote2018

Friday, October 12, 2018

Sing Me A Song

I'd totally be lying if I said I was definitely going to get back to writing on the regular. I just know I'm not. It isn't because I have nothing to say. I have plenty to say. I just have to risk sounding like a broken record. Or a lunatic. Depends on the day. Yesterday, I'm pretty sure I could've been considered Kanye level batshit crazy. People are asking me a simple "how are you?" and I'm full on TELLING them. Not just a "fine, how are you?", but full on Chicken Little and "The sky is falling!". It's how I feel since November 9, 2016 and only getting worse. Not to mention, when I haven't washed my hair in like five days or looked in a mirror, I already look halfway to crazy without opening my mouth. My schedule is brutal and I'm sure that's contributing to my insanity.

Yesterday was the pinnacle of it all. The Florida Panhandle was decimated, Kanye went on a rant in the Oval (In. The. Oval.) making Trump look like the sane one, it was pouring here, I had to drive all over goddamned North Jersey for E's activities, and I can't tell you the last time I was able to go to the supermarket for a proper shop. Meaning, not just grabbing stuff piecemeal at the place closest to wherever I happen to be at the time. Oh, actually I can tell you when I last went. It was on Yom Kippur when I ran into an old friend who also happened to ask me how I am and I went off there too.

So, like I said, I'm not going to lie and say I'm going to get back to writing all the time. I don't know how to ignore what's going on in the world and write about As Seen On TV products and whatnot when I feel like I'm crawling out of my skin. I cried like three times yesterday and I was all, "What is this salty discharge?" because usually, I'm only crying at commercials, shows like This Is Us and the contestants on America's Got Talent and The Voice (THE STORIES!).

But speaking of crying, I watched Jimmy Kimmel last night and saw this singer Lynzy Lab. I've been pretty off social media for the past year. Here and there I check out Facebook but hadn't been watching the news much, reading magazines, or REALLY reading Facebook closely. Well, until last week with all the Kavanaugh assholery. I needed to see who I needed to set on fire. In my mind. IN MY MIND. My social media reading has still been intermittent. I go on, then have to go off, before I really go off. Jimmy introduced this girl and said her song about parents saying they're worried about their boys went viral. Of course my interest was piqued. By the end of the song, I was #uglycrying in my bed. Thus, being the third cry of the day.

I'm sure Lynzy doesn't need me to promote her, but I am, because I feel she has it correct and deserves to be shared. I have a boy. The last thing I'm worried about is that he could be falsely accused of any sexual assault. You know, because I'M TEACHING HIM NOT TO BE A RAPIST.

Here's Lynzy. Listen carefully. She deserves your full attention.




Thursday, September 27, 2018

Today, in my Calendar



Yeah, I was going to post what I'd written about my experience ringing the bell at the NYSE, a few weeks ago, but I can't. Instead, I'm paralyzed in front of the tv, watching Dr Christine Blasey Ford tell her story and get grilled over it, needing some outlet to get my feelings out about what I'm hearing and seeing.

I actually didn't know who Senator Chuck Grassley was before this morning. I usually listen to the tv, not watch it, but I picked my head up to see who this angry, rude man was from what he was saying. Just the way he was speaking before actually talking TO anyone, just about what was about to go on, to how he spoke to Senator Feinstein, was abhorrent. It was totally degrading and dismissive.

Before Dr Blasey Ford even spoke, I was already emotional. I'm stuck on the whole "why didn't she report" nonsense. For me, that's really personal. I wrote about my #metoo story when another high profile sexual assault story came out in the media and people started sharing their stories. I said that my moment, my violator, I found out only a few years ago, is a family judge.

I didn't get "rape-raped" as I've described in an earlier entry. I managed to get out of that room relatively physically unscathed. But I identify with any person who left a room or scenario of that nature, physically assaulted or physically unscathed, who still felt guilt, shame, and a whole host of other things. I remember thinking, well, I probably shouldn't have gone there. Maybe I did know what I was going there for? I didn't feel like I knew I was supposed to be going there for sex, but maybe it was implied, and being seventeen, I just didn't know?

So, I didn't get raped. It didn't even occur to me that what happened to me could be reportable. I didn't tell my mom because I wasn't supposed to go anywhere after my community service shift. I didn't want to get grounded. I didn't tell my boyfriend at the time because he was SUPER jealous and I felt like I'd "get in trouble" with him too. I don't think I told any of my friends because the guy said "You know what you're here for", "You better not tell anyone, because you're not going to ruin my life". He made it sound like it was my fault, so part of it felt like it might be. I was also confused because I had thought we were "friends". Of course not realizing that twenty-three year old men are rarely looking for friendship from a seventeen year old girl.

It's not something to report to any authority, now, over twenty-five years later. I got away. But, like Dr Blasey Ford, the person who attempted to assault me is a judge. Bet your ASS, if he got put on a short list for the SUPREME COURT, the highest court of the land, I would come forward with my story. 

Someone I'm shocked by, said to a friend this morning, "If we were all judged by stuff we did in high school, it would be a disaster!". Well, if you don't attempt to sexually assault someone in high school, you'd have nothing to worry about. Someone else I know has said, "I'm worried about my son. Any girl can just say anything about him, that she was assaulted, and he'll be screwed". No, teach your son not to be a rapist, he'll have a spotless reputation, and he, and you won't have to worry about it. I have a son, and that's the last thing I'm worried about- BECAUSE I'VE BEEN TEACHING HIM ALL ALONG NOT TO BE A RAPIST.

He's not being judged on what he did in high school to get a job at a fast food restaurant. He's going for a LIFETIME APPOINTMENT TO THE HIGHEST COURT. There's a HUGE difference. Anyone that doesn't understand that is just digging their heels in for partisan politics. This shouldn't be a partisan issue.

No, I don't want a conservative Supreme Court judge. It looks like we're going to get one no matter what. You're going to tell me we have NO viable conservative with no sexual assault allegations pending?? #wecandobetter

Further, I'm baffled at the WOMEN still supporting Trump when his excuse for support of Kavanaugh is that he knows from personal experience how women have lied about sexual assault perpetrated by him. How do you support this person when he is willing to just dismiss sexual assault just to "win"??? I saw in the news this morning, that a woman, a Trump supporter, said TO HER TEEN DAUGHTERS, that groping is no big deal. Then I read further, and her hill to die on is abortion. Figures. Make sure you HAVE the fetuses, if she gets groped later, it's no big thing. It's boys being boys. #turninyourVcard

Say what you want about Obama, but his respect of women, HALF THE POPULATION, never once, came into question.

To discredit Dr Blasey Ford, someone in my husband's Facebook feed stated as evidence that she "had no tears". That's what we should go on? A lack of tears means she's a liar? I'm curious how he'd be thinking if she was his daughter. I would love to ask his daughter to tell any #whyididntreport she has, because we all do, to her dad and see if he changes his tune. Sure, false allegations happen. But when they happen, they're proven to be false pretty quickly.

I'm just so disheartened, disgusted, and angry at the lens that some people are seeing this through and the words that are coming out of their mouths, pens and fingers about it. Words and thoughts made "okay" by a cancerous head. 

Just as I had started watching this at ten o'clock this morning when I came to work, a woman came in, sort of to say hello, sort of to solicit, which we all know how I feel about solicitation. It didn't matter though, I couldn't even concentrate on what she was saying because of the disgusting disrespect I was hearing on TV via Senator Grassley. Luckily she and I are of the same side of thinking, I found out quickly, from the word vomit that just came out to her when I opened my mouth.

She was the first human I'd had contact with today, during this emotional moment, so it all just came tumbling out. By the time she left at eleven thirty, almost two hours later, and only because a customer came in, I felt like we'd bonded on shared PTSD from the sheer disgust of victim shaming, and partisan power struggle, trying to push this candidate through at any cost. When she left, we hugged, knowing what a pivotal moment in history this is, for the future sanctity of the Supreme Court, and for humankind. I really felt like we shared a moment like I can't articulate properly. So, thank you Michele. Whether you feel the same or not, from this atheist Jew, you were there this morning for some kind of reason, and I appreciate it greatly.

Then I saw another friend outside my store, having taken her daughter out for lunch, who I know is just as devastated by all this as I am. I'm not even a hugger, but we hugged, also like two people with PTSD from this administration and all the garbage it's ushered in with it.

If this guy gets pushed through to the Supreme Court, I don't even know what to say. It will be a terrifying day for this country. That's all I have. What else is there.

Let us just remember that THIS IS NOT A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION. This is JOB INTERVIEW. People have been turned down for jobs at Burger King for less! GET ANOTHER GUY.

I know today's entry is mostly a stream of consciousness. I'm not even going back to clean it up - as I normally do. I just want to have this moment down, today down, for some reason. You know, since keeping calendars is so important and telling. And you all get to be the recipient.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Our Maine Event


View from Lori's office

We went to Maine. I didn't post from there, because I've read and watched the news. You don't post while you're away from home. No one needs to be burgled because you HAD to post on social media when you weren't home. #ThanksKyleRichards

We went to visit Camp Wekeela, a sleepaway camp in Hartford, Maine. I didn't go to sleepaway camp. My only idea of sleepaway is Meatballs, which is one of my Top 10 favorite movies. I guess a current camp owner wouldn't want their camp compared to Meatballs, but we can all recognize that it was the the early 80's and that's probably what sleepaway WAS really like then. I know when I went to day camp in the early 80's there was A LOT less supervision than there is at the same kind of camp E goes to now! But when I think of Meatballs in regards to sleepaway camp, I think of the sense of family, tradition, being unspoiled, utilizing the outdoors, summer.

It just happened to be coincidence & luck that I know the owners of Wekeela, Lori & Ephram Caflun. I worked for Lori when I was twenty till about twenty-two at a day camp, when I was home for the summer for college. Then I did winter camp for her somewhere else, and hostessed kids birthday parties on weekends at the Bergen YMHA. When they had their first son, I went to Boston with them to watch the baby while they were doing wedding stuff for her sister's wedding.

I'm going to give you an account of Wekeela from my perspective, not from brochure-speak. I didn't ask a ton of questions- I just sort of went in winging it, so I don't know all the facts & figures. This is more about the feeling I had from being there.

So, first, would I have thought of Maine to send my only child to sleepaway? No. That ride from Bergen County is no joke, and I didn't even drive. B drove there AND back. I also have an only child. The idea of sending my only child that far away should give me hives. However, really KNOWING the owners is a huge game changer. These are exactly the people I'd want to know I was entrusting my kid to for the summer.

I am fully aware that there are tons of sleepaway camps in the immediate area of NY/NJ/CT/PA. Originally, when I thought about sleepaway, I assumed I'd send him to somewhere in the Catskills. I don't know why- that's just what was in my head. Probably because I also figured I'd be sending him to some kind of (relaxed, practically secular) Jewish camp, because I could apply for some kind of financial aid. (The Jewish affiliated camps do that).

It definitely didn't occur to me that if I send E to camp so close, he's most likely going to be with all people from our area. Sending him to day camp twenty-five minutes away from home, I thought he'd get to make friends from other towns. Turns out, many other parents aren't like me, wanting their kid to have to figure out how to meet new people. They WANT their kids to be with friends from their own town.

The groups in his day camp are pretty much grouped by town. Different elementary schools in town, but still all people they know. It's nice because he gets to see his town friends that he doesn't really see during the school year, but for the first three years I made it so he WASN'T with his town friends. I wanted him to have to branch out and get to know other people. He did, but he was also confused why everyone he knew were in another group. "Why can't I be with x, y and z? Why are they all together?". I just played dumb. At a certain point I had to give in and let him be with the town friends. It didn't make any sense, and I had no good excuse as to why he was the only odd man out, in a group with all kids from somewhere else.

If I was going to seriously consider sleepaway camp, I really value the Caflun's opinion on the subject, so I knew I had to ask them. One of the first things, I've never forgotten, that Lori had told me about Ephram, back like twenty-five years ago when I met them, was that his dream was to own a camp. To have had that dream and make it happen is not something everyone actually does. If that was your dream all that time ago and you made it happen, you must REALLY love camp. When I think of them, I think of people who REALLY. LOVE. CAMP.

I emailed Ephram last fall or winter to ask his thoughts on the more local Jewish camps. He told me it was a much longer conversation than an email and to come over to their home in Ridgewood (how convenient for me!). They weren't trying to sell me- they just wanted to make sure I was fully informed and to give me some food for thought. One of the points they made to me about Wekeela is that they have kids from many different countries, nevermind all over the US too. If I really wanted E to experience some diversity, sending him to Wekeela in Maine would guarantee that he'd really meet people from all over the world.

*It just so happened that the first, friendliest, most outgoing kid E met this weekend was from Brussels, Belgium! This kid is nine, was recruited for camp IN Brussels, basically signed himself up and with no trepidation came across the world to go to camp for a half session (3.5 weeks). He told us that he's coming for the whole summer next year. Color me impressed.

Over the course of the weekend, I met campers and counselors from all over the world- Alabama, Belgium, Iowa, Maryland, Scotland, England, Massachusetts- and those are just the places I remember.

Obviously I have no other sleepaway camp to compare it to, but what I was struck by was that all the kids and the counselors, looked happy and relaxed the whole time we were there. There is a structure to every day, they're all on a schedule, and they were participating in their activities, but they all just seemed like they were on vacation, if that makes sense.

Ephram was driving us around on a golf cart to show us around when we first got there. He took us to different kids doing different activities, and it just seemed...slower paced. Slower than the pace of life I'm used to with E. There were what looked looked like tween girls playing volleyball, no one just sitting, but it wasn't an intense seeming game. Teen boys were playing some game on the waterfront by the lake but it was more like Hacky Sack vs something competitive. We went by arts & crafts where the oldest kids, BOTH boys and girls, were all engaged, making scrunchies and dream catchers. No one stood out as over dressed or overly made-up. They just looked like normal kids.

Why would I point out that they seemed like "normal" kids, or even think about that? When I say "normal", I mean, you can't tell by what they're wearing, what kind of money they come from. Sleepaway camp isn't inexpensive. For that reason, some sleepaway camps can get a bad rap for having spoiled and entitled kids (and parents!).

Who could forget the post that went viral - The Running Of The Jews - about visiting day? In a nutshell, it's commentary on the ridiculousness that goes on where parents are bringing mountains of candy, baked goods, and gifting expensive gifts to the rest of the kids in the bunk on visiting day. Being there hours early to scout out the best spot on the camp lawn with tents and generators to spoil their kids. The same way I didn't want to move to certain towns, I don't need or am I interested in a place where parental wealth (or our lack there of) is a "thing".

Knowing Lori and Ephram personally, I couldn't see them humoring this kind of behavior, but who knows? Maybe it's just a thing every camp does. Luckily, I remembered to ask Ephram about it and he just looked at me like I had nine heads and said- "No, we don't do that. A mom once asked me what she can bring- like towers from Dylan's Candy Bar and Baked By Melissa cupcakes. I told her nothing. She said, "What do you mean? I've heard people bring all this stuff". I told her that you need to bring nothing and asked if this is why you chose this camp. That kind of thing is not why you chose us". That made me feel better. I'm not bringing any iPads as a bunk gift (I feel like I've heard of that happening in other places), nor would I want E in the position of being given extravagant items that we don't/wouldn't even give him.

We came up on a Saturday, mid-day, and I asked if they do anything special on the weekend. I was told there is no "weekend". There is a four day schedule - A, B, C, D. Those are structured days and they just go in order. Then they have the a fifth day which is or could be a trip. I'm not totally sure how that works. I think they go to local water parks, attractions, and such. Then every night there's an activity after dinner that the whole camp participates in. The first night was a staff soccer game that the kids were all watching and cheering for. The kids were all into it- some even performing a half time show.

The second night was Casino Night with a Great Gatsby theme. Most of the kids got dressed up. Including my own kid, who I spied in the dining hall, wearing his friend from Brussels button down shirt. And, for some unknown reason, the same shorts he'd been wearing for two days. We were leaving before "Dancing With The Staff" night, which I would've LOVED to see. I'm bummed I missed that.

After Ephram had showed the three of us around, Lori had put E into a group/bunk of kids his age. That was pretty much the last time we saw him until mid-Casino Night the next evening. He just joined right in and became part of their group. The kids were the nicest, most welcoming bunch of nine year old boys I've even encountered. I mean, REALLY nice. Surprisingly nice. They took E in, and literally gave him the shirts off their backs. I was afraid they'd be so bonded, they wouldn't be into having an "outsider".

E had the option of staying in Ephram and Lori's house (on the camp campus) with us, but Lori gave him the option of staying in the bunk. He jumped on it. Before the words even fully came out, he said- "I'm going to stay in the bunk. I don't care if I have to sleep on the floor". They pulled a mattress into the bunk and he did, in fact, sleep on the floor. I'd brought a sheet, a pillow and a blanket and he was set.

Every counselor or boys side administrator that we encountered throughout the evening, that had seen E with "his group", said that he fit right in and that we were going to have trouble getting him to leave Wekeela to come home. That made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Like I knew my intuition was correct- that he was born for camp. 

**As an aside- The ONLY reason we even saw him mid-Casino night was because he went balls to the wall, didn't really eat well, didn't really sleep, and gave himself a migraine. He was supposed to sleep in the bunk again- we'd even bought him a sleeping bag while in town. He ended up, crying, in pain, and sleeping with us. 

I actually didn't mind that this happened though. While I don't ever want him with a migraine and nauseous, it was a great lesson. If and when he goes away to camp next year, he needs to pace himself and make sure he makes good choices. He needs to make sure  that he eats right, drinks enough water, and sleeps. Just like other kids don't learn until college. I guarantee that there are less kids who've gone to sleepaway than those who haven't, who go buckwild when they get to college. They've already had a taste of that kind of freedom and having to make decisions.

We all ate in the dining hall both days and I have to say, the food was pretty darn good. It was like being at my college and eating at Daly's. The first night, it could've been because I was starving, but I was a bottomless pit. It was spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread. It was comfort food and I loved it. B said he'd never seen me eat like that. One morning there were scrambled eggs, some kind of sausage, and potatoes. The next morning was pancakes and some other kind of sausage. There is always toast, cereal, yogurt, granola, etc. Just like college, you have to learn how to make good food choices.

They ARE nut-free. I didn't see that in my quick look-see of their website. I just remembered seeing that they work with all kinds of allergies. Lori just happened to mention that they're nut-free in conversation.

Speaking of "nut-free", they're VERY on top of their supervision. Since we were staying with Lori and just shooting the breeze at the end of the night in the house, somehow it came up that they have people patrolling the grounds after 12:45am, making sure no kids or campers have snuck out of their bunks to fool around. Being that this is a co-ed camp, not separating the sexes by a lake or anything, I'm sure this is more of a concern than for camps that are single sex or co-ed with some kind of proximity separation. So if sexual hi-jinks are concern for you with a co-ed camp, rest assured, Wekeela is ON that. This is where Wekeela and Meatballs definitely differ.

I love that it's co-ed with no separation. Sleepaway camp is like college, in the way that it's a microcosm of real life where we all live and work together- men and women. In their most awkward years, they're getting to learn how to live and work with the opposite sex.  They're learning how to find their confidence and relate to each other on a daily basis without having parents helicoptering all over them.

Also on the co-ed train of thought- at Wekeela, both boys and girls do all the activities. Believe it or not, five or six years into E's experience at his current day camp, I JUST found out that the boys do not get the opportunity to do dance, or other "typically girly" activities. Lori and I both found that to be bizarre. My kid likes sports well enough, but he doesn't LOVE sports. He certainly wouldn't choose sports all the time if he had options of other things to do. He is also a creative type that loves to dance. At his day camp, it's not expressed, at all, to the parents that the boys have limits on what they can choose for their optional activity. Like, if E wanted to do dance, he couldn't. That's just not offered to him.

At Wekeela, he could do dance, performing arts, art, whatever he's into. E got to do all kinds of cool stuff in the short time he was there. He said he even tried to water ski. His words were, "I didn't do very well, but it was still cool!". It was also the female grade level leader who came up to B and I in the dining hall, to tell us how it was a pleasure getting to know E. In many camps the sexes are so separated, she wouldn't have had any interaction with him.

I think it might be relatively smaller camp, in comparison with others that B knew about. I have no idea what the average is for this kind of camp. There were three hundred and seven kids there. I think that's a good number. Not too big, not too small. No big fish in a small pond or small fish in too big of a pond. I've heard with some smaller camps than this, it could be hard for new people to jump in who aren't from a long legacy line. Then, with some bigger ones, a kid might find lost in the crowd. I am comfortable with this kind of number.

MANY of the staff are former campers, which to me, says a lot. They obviously liked it so much they decided to work there. I met a husband and wife who work there- The husband was a camper. He is school psychologist during the year, which is awesome asset to have at camp. His wife is one of the nurses on staff. Their retention for their staff is high too. That's really hard when you have a lot of kids working for you. I just thought it was really nice that they have so many former campers who opt to still spend their summers there. I even met some kids who are children of former campers. Not to mention all three of their sons work there too.

It's also pretty comforting to know that Lori was a teacher and guidance counselor in the Bronx. That prepared her for just about any kind of personality. For example, she deals with kids that come there with anxiety. B asked her if there are a lot of kids there with anxiety. She said something very interesting- "They all do. Everyone has anxiety over something". It was just very telling that she's in tune with how the kids are feeling and able to handle any kid's stresses they bring to her attention. She's not going to just blow it off or push it on to someone else to deal with. As a camp owner, you really wear every hat. It's nice to know that she's also there to deal with the kids on such a one on one level that she's doing journaling and other exercises with the kids that need it, to alleviate their anxiety.

I've written about camp before and everyone knows my feelings. Not going to sleepaway camp is a huge regret of mine. Especially these days, when else does your kid get to just be a kid? Unplugged from electronics for three and a half or seven whole weeks? Away from all the stresses of regular life. I'm a firm believer that kids need to get out of their town, away from the kids they go to school with every day, away from their parents, and the only way to do that is camp. Day camp is great- E's gone since he's two years old. But sleepaway camp is the ultimate in a gift you can give to a kid. There is simply no other way to gain that kind of independence.

In my own town, I've seen tween turned teen girls beyond devastated as drama inevitably unfolded between them and their friends from school. They have no outlet- no other place to go, no other friends to turn to, so every argument between them seems like the worst thing that's ever happened to them. They feel like their life is over because they're fighting with their friends. I can't help but believe that if they'd had camp or camp friends to turn to, they wouldn't have been AS upset.

I also always think of Howard Stern when I think of sleepaway camp. He always talks about how much he hated school. He was bullied and didn't fit in at school, but he was the King of Camp. He counted down the days every year until he could get back to camp and reinvent himself. I want my son to have a place that's such a safe haven for him if that turns out to be what he needs. Kids have so much more pressure on them for everything now, including to fit in, so if there's another place besides home that can be a source of joy and empowerment, let that be camp.

B said it just before- he really looked at the kids at Wekeela and they just looked like "normal" kids. He's glad there's still a place where that exists, where kids just there, just enjoying the land they're on.

I've had a lot of parents, who don't "get" camp, say to me- "I could never send my kid away for x amount of time" - or at all. My answer always is- "BUT IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU". They say- "I'd miss my kid(s) too much". Well, we all are parents and I know we all do or would miss our kids when they're away. Parenting is more than just doing what WE want and how WE feel. Although, I guess you could say it IS about you in the way that you get to reconnect with the person you married, if you're married, in a way you haven't in years. Or, if you're not married, you could use that time to work on you, or date.

It's really about what's best for our kids. If you're only sending an oldest, you get to have one on one (or one on more) time with younger kids that you and they wouldn't ordinarily get. If it's your only, I know, there are just things I don't even realize I do for him that he could be doing for himself. I just can't see how giving a child the opportunity of independence, in the world we live in today, could be a negative thing. I know kids who are nine and ten who aren't allowed to cross the street without a parent. Or ride their bike alone. Or walk to school. I need to know that when I do send my kid off to be a functioning member of society when he's eighteen, that I've given him the tools to navigate the adult world to the best of his ability. To me, having sleepaway camp exist is the no-brainer tool to help that become a reality.

I really hope that E gets to have this experience and I'm so excited for him. This is a kid made for camp and while I know it will be a little nerve wracking for him to just jump into leaving us for that long, what he'll gain will be invaluable. I feel strongly about a lot of things, but the gift and experience of camp is in my Top 3.

If you have any questions about Wekeela, I can try to answer or at least point you in the right direction. But if you're thinking about sleepaway camp for your kid(s), I urge you to check them out.
https://www.campwekeela.com/ 
If you send away for a brochure & information, make sure you let them know I sent you! I need credit for that. ;-P

***I barely have any pictures of E at Wekeela because he just took off with his new friends and we barely saw him there. I looked in his bag and saw he had a paper with all their names on it, presumably to get their phone numbers. B said when he went to say goodbye to them, he got all teary.

Thank you Lori, Ephram, and all the staff for an amazing eye into your Wekeela world! 

E eating veggies the kids cooked over campfire


E at "Cooking"

Dining Hall- E's over there somewhere

Dining Hall (Panoramic)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Life Hack Review

Every half a year or yearly I end up doing a post or two about what I call my life hack products. One I wrote in May: Somehow Summer. I've said before that I love As Seen On Tv products and any kind of gadget. Doesn't have to be technology. Truth be told, I do love the idea of technology but I don't want to take the time to learn it. Thus why I need all the bells and whistles in my car, but by the time the three years of the lease is up, I've never used any of it because I don't know how and don't have the attention span to learn.

As an aside, my new Jeep Renegade has all the technological advances and they freak me the F out. I never had the bluetooth set up before or it didn't work the same in the old car, but now, I'm driving and the car starts reading my texts to me. "Briana said- "what a dumb bitch". Do you want to respond?" Meanwhile, E or someone else is in the car and I'm practically throwing myself at the dash board to turn it off. Not all technological advances are necessary or desired.

I wrote about the Better Brella last month. I got it but hadn't used it. I've used it. It's worth it. It's not any bigger or heavier than any other Totes automatic umbrella. The upside down and being able to turn inside out is key. We all know that once a regular umbrella turns inside out, it's done. Even if it doesn't LOOK done, it's done. I bought mine, the regular size (as opposed to a large), at Harmon for $19.99 then used a Bed Bath & Beyond $5 off coupon. Good deal and it's made well.


I said I'd be back with my review of the Cool Cabana. It ROCKS. By the amount of people who've asked me about mine, I'll bet that next year, the beach we go to will be chock full of cool cabanas. It's easier to put up than a regular umbrella & it doesn't blow away or inside out. It is also open so it doesn't obstruct anyone else's view. It's not like one of those giant tents that house a picnic full of people and is inconsiderate of others around you. I'd say that it takes up the same amount of room as the diameter of a large umbrella, just in a different configuration. My friend and I sit under the shade of one comfortably. But it's not for a bunch of people at once. I have us and my cooler.


Speaking of coolers, my friend Alex wants a Yeti cooler (which I had to look up) and while they had a great deal on them on Amazon Prime Day, it's not for me. I like a PackIt that freezes the whole bag, I don't want to have to get ice or use ice in a cooler. That's the whole point of why I use a PackIt. However, in the hot sun on the beach, even my PackIt loses it's ability to keep things cold, on the faster side. I saw in CVS the "Chill Chest". B pointed it out because he knows I love this stuff. I wasn't going to get it because it cost $29.99 there. Lo and behold, I got a CVS 30% off coupon like two days later and I bought it.

*I* definitely think it works. It looks like it would be cumbersome, but it's not. It's Styrofoam or something. It folds down flat too, which is key. As long as you keep it somewhat cool before putting stuff in, it keeps things cold. I put my whole PackIt Picnic Cooler Bag in the Chill Chest. I'd frozen two waters before coming to the beach and they were still almost totally frozen by the end of the day. It also doubles as a table next to your chair. I don't know *how* it works and don't care- I just know it was a good buy for me.

The only thing I wrote about that I can say I'd skip is the Alert Drops. They're the ones that Potsie from Happy Days is a spokesperson or something for. You spray it on your tongue when you're falling asleep while driving. It does shock you for a second because it's SO SOUR. But it's kind of gross, and it doesn't really work. B said it made him MORE tired, which is hard to believe. It didn't do much of anything for me. I'd say the $9.99+ and just take a nap before driving.

I bought into the whole microfiber towel thing now and bought three towels from Dock & Bay and one from Sand Cloud. Supposed to be fast drying and sand repelling. B doesn't like the Dock & Bay ones- he says it's like using a Shammy and he wants to go back to plush beach towels. I thought I'd like the Dock & Bay ones more because the Sand Cloud is more like a blanket or sarong look and feel. But I actually ended up liking the Sand Cloud more because it's softer. They both don't seem to dry any faster than other towels, that I'm seeing but they are thinner, so maybe they do absorb less? I don't know.

On the positive side, they are thinner than regular towels so they do take up a lot less room. It makes the beach bag less heavy and bulky overall. I don't mind not having a plush towel, but it takes a little getting used to. If you're not keen on bringing sand home, then that's another major plus. 

I did just get an Echo Show on Prime Day and received it already. It seems pretty cool so far and B said the speaker is really good. They had it for $129.99 so I took a shot. I wouldn't pay more for it though so if you were thinking of picking one up and didn't, wait until Black Friday. I really want The Ring- the doorbell camera thing, but I don't really need it. I can wait.

Ok, that's all I've got for you right now. Hope you're enjoying your summer! It's going WAY too fast. I suspect that's how it goes the older and more self sufficient your kid gets. It's not like when you have a toddler and you're counting the hours until your husband comes home so you can hand him a baby and run.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Real Reality

We live in Bergen County, so it's not unusual that we'd sometimes get a professional athlete, an actor, or some kind of celebrity or local personality in our store. I don't know professional athletes though. I don't watch sports and don't care about meeting anyone in sporting whatsoever. I also NEVER seem to be here when someone extra exciting, to me, comes in. Like this last time...

Everyone who knows me, KNOWS, I'm a Bravo-holic. B got me into all the Houseswives shows years ago, then he bailed when he felt each franchise jumped the shark. I never bail. I'm still watching Grey's Anatomy!

For most of the seasons of Real Housewives of NJ, the women featured on the show lived nearby- Franklin Lakes, Wayne, etc. One season, half of them lived more down the shore area, but every other season was local. At one time, years ago, there was more of "friend of" the Housewives, that used to come in but I was never here and she wasn't really ON the show. She was on here and there to stir up drama.

About a week and a half ago, Dolores Catania came in to have a lamp fixed. I had JUST LEFT. But I had to wait home for E to come off the camp bus and B said she was quick. He texted me that "Someone from the Housewives was just here. Maybe you'll be able to catch her when she picks up". He fixed her lamp quickly on a Monday so that maybe she'd pick up during that week.

I washed my hair every other day so if she came in, I would look okay enough for a photo. #ifyoudonttakeapicitdidnthappen My friends all watch the Bravo shows too and they would be tickled. I have a pic with Teresa from some event, but it's from a few years ago, so it's time for a new one.

Yadda yadda, washed hair and no Dolores. I don't know why we assumed she'd come during the week but we did. Well, I get a text from B on Saturday, while I'm on the treadmill (i.e. totally unwashed and gross hair), that she just picked up, but that her car was still out there. I should come as fast as I could, safely, and maybe I'd be able to catch her. Because clearly I'm a stalker.

I ran out the house- didn't look in the mirror, yelled to E that I'd be back, no pocketbook or wallet, did not pass go nor pick up two hundred dollars. B thought she'd gone into Stone & Rail, but she went into Giannella's Deli on the other side of my store. I saw her in the window, waved, and went in.

I quickly introduced myself, saying I'm B's wife. She immediately gave me a hug and was the nicest, down to earth person, ever. I've met moms at E's school for the first time who were less friendly. She had ordered breakfast and was planning to sit and eat, so she offered me a seat. Then....

She let me ask whatever I wanted about the show. I know this may seem stupid to those of you who don't watch, but I guess it would be like if you were into sporting and got to sit down and ask whatever you wanted about their sporting. As my friend Evangeline, who passed away, would say- "This is my Superbowl". Now SHE, who also attended some of the same RHONJ events as I have, would have TOTALLY appreciated this story.

Dolores was so open and engaging, and made me laugh because she was eating such a Jersey staple. Taylor Ham and egg on a hard roll. #ImWithHer She offered me some sour cream & onion potato chips, which was also nice to see she wasn't trying to front with some vomitous healthy green drink. I declined the chips I was waiting to eat my own bacon & egg flatbreat sandwich at home.

This is the thing. A lot of these reality people are not down to earth. They travel with an entourage. They don't let you take pics with them. I had it out with Bethenny (RHONY) over Twitter, some years back, because hundreds of people, including me, waited outside in the rain to have a book signed by her, only to be told that she wouldn't take pictures with any fans. Listen, we're in the age of social media and we all want pictures. #OrItDidntHappen

I actually can't think of anyone else on the Housewives franchises that would just sit and have their breakfast with a stranger. I'm trying to imagine going up to Ramona or Nene, Tamra or LuAnn, and them just engaging like that. Nope. Not happening. And DEFINITELY NOT BETHENNY.

We've had reality tv personalities ask for things from our store for free or heavily discounted. We've donated items to their charities without as much as a personal thank you. You never know what you're going to get. I've met many of them at their book signings, but you get like half a second to say hello, and this jerk at the book store rushes you off. OR, this just happened, where someone is HYSTERICAL on tv and radio, and was a total DUD, upon meeting in person. 

Dolores had just come from yoga, had little to no make-up on, and was dressed in workout clothes. She was such a good sport. She'd taken a picture with B before I got there, because he knew he had to be my proxy.

I sat with her for at least an hour. Just chatting. I showed her my "Lampshamed!" photos from the reality shows that I have on our work Instagram. Including one of her boyfriend's chandelier shades and Siggy's butt (she was standing on a chair fixing something on the chandelier). I'm glad she thought the photo was funny vs insulting.

E was home wondering to where the hell I vanished. I was supposed to be at the pool, where I lost my spot by showing up late. It was WELL worth it though. I still have more questions. I thought of them later since I had to think of them on the fly when I was with her. Note to self: keep general questions in my phone just in case. She came BACK into my store so I could get a picture with her too. Then she told me to put it on her Instagram story for her because she didn't know how. Neither did I, which I didn't want to say, and why it then took three tries. But she didn't have to do that. Most of the housewives have paid endorsements and they won't promote anything when they aren't being paid. She didn't give it a second thought.

She's just a real Jersey girl. We got into deep conversation quickly and it felt like I'd known her for years. It was so worth losing my spot at the pool. I hope she comes back, even for a few minutes, because I need to ask the rest of my questions. Plus, she also enjoys the C word, so I know she's my people. 

I'm posting the pic of Dolores and B because I don't know what happened to the one with me, but I looked terrible anyway. They just finished filming Season 9 not too long ago, so I have to think we're going to be seeing it in the fall? Maybe sooner? #didntget2askthat

Oh, and her teeth are REALLY white. I wonder if she endorses a dentist or toothpaste because her teeth looked fantastic.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Get Your Papes Here!


E fell in love with the Disney movie, "Newsies" the first time he saw it. He LOVED that movie and watched it like a hundred times. Just like with every other kid movie, I've seen parts but never watched the whole thing through. I did recall the one scene, in the street, with the whole Seize The Day thing.

We knew it came out on Broadway and always thought it would be cool to see. Realistically, we knew we weren't getting to Broadway though. It's too expensive and we really don't have time to get into the city for a play. We could've made it work if we were given free tickets or something, but since we don't have a fairy godmother, we were just never seeing Newsies on Broadway.

Just recently we saw on Facebook that Jake Aboyoun, our friends' Eddie & Sherri's son, is IN a local production of Newsies. Well, that was a game changer. Broadway is out, but the Rhino Theater in nearby Pompton Plains, NJ was totally doable.

We bought tickets and went this past Friday night. It didn't disappoint! Rhino Theater is small and intimate. So it's kind of an interactive experience which really makes it cool. Every seat is a good seat. The acting was terrific and we really enjoyed the show.

Newsies is running until July 8th. So if you have a free night - Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, with or without the kids, it's a fun time. We go to all the Glen Rock High School plays and we missed seeing Jake do his thing. He's home from college for the summer, so it was nice to see him act again. The whole cast was fantastic. It was just a really good show.

Rhino Theater - get your tickets here and see the rest of the schedule. Freckleface Strawberry is up next once Newsies closes. We'll probably go see that too!

E never met a step & repeat he didn't like



Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Rainbows and Cake


The NYC Pride Parade was this past Sunday. We weren't sure if we were going to go. We knew it was going to be SO hot. We had also just gone to the one in Asbury at the beginning of June, AND walked IN it. We do love the NYC parade but it's way more crowded and difficult to navigate. Asbury is just an easier time.

The route was different this year too. I read that the route changed in preparation for next year's 50th anniversary celebration. It made it REALLY confusing. In one way it was good, because no matter what street we went down in the west village, we were seeing parts of the parade. However, trying to GET anywhere was rough. Streets were closed and you had to show ID to get through. Crossing streets in some places was rough. We were trying to get somewhere to eat and had to just abandon because we didn't see any way of getting around to the place we wanted to go.

We did get parking in a garage and it only cost me twenty five dollars. We parked on 19th St and 10th Ave from 11:15a til around 5p.

When we decided we were done with the Pride festivities, we decided to do a bakery run. That's what E and I do when we go to auditions. We try to find the closest bakery that sounds good. Last city run we ended up lost around Chinatown and found ourselves in Tous Les Jours. It's small, but it was SO good. I got a a clear Solo cup filled with cream puffs and French Macarons. E got a smoothie and cake. Everything was so good, I was dreaming of coming back there. I am not usually in that part of the city though. I looked the bakery up online and saw they have a location on 32nd street, between 5th and 6th Ave. Perfect, I thought. Except we had to walk like fifteen blocks. I still didn't think it would be that bad, but it kind of was that bad. E kept asking- "Are we there yet?" and I wanted to choke him out. I told him to count the numbers as we pass.

We got there and it was SO worth it. SO. WORTH. IT. This location is bigger, with more stuff. They had a cake in the other location, called Strawberry Fantasy or something, not sold by the slice. I got a strawberry cake in this location that I don't think was the same. I do want to get that cake at some point because I NEED to try it. I got some other strawberry whipped cream thing that was amazing. It was sort of like a croissant with whipped cream and strawberries in it and powdered sugar on top. I could've eaten ten of them. That's my kind of dessert. I also had a strawberry creme filled croissant which was different than the one I just described, and that was good too. I just liked the first one better.

B had a blueberry tart and E had French Macarons. Both were happy with their selections. 

http://www.tljus.com/our-story/tous-les-jours/

It was a good day. We walked over six miles. We saw cool floats, gorgeous drag queens, and some boobs with pasties on them. A very nice woman, who lives somewhere in the village we decided to stand, brought her own tall ladder for her sons to stand on. She wanted them to be able to see. Her boys looked to be around E's age. She let E sit atop the ladder for a little too so he could see. He loved that. So I thank you, helpful, kind mom who I didn't catch her name.

Oh, I did try to buy a charging cord for my iPhone at CVS, Rite Aid, and AT&T. All three tried to rob me blind by trying to charge $20-$25! What the hell? I went into a tiny food mart and was able to get one for $10. Still high, but acceptable in a pinch. But really- $25 for a charging cord? Not happening. And I didn't think chain stores like that would be doing that. At my CVS over the bridge in Jersey has them in bins for like $5!

Just by the way- I posted some pics from the day on Facebook, and sadly, got the inevitable questions private messaged to me- "Is your husband or son gay?", "I'm confused, who's gay?" so I feel I have to reiterate that NEITHER ARE GAY. None of us are LGBTQ. But we SUPPORT. It's not any different than supporting immigrants being separated from their kids, prison reform, the environment, etc. I don't need to have gone to prison or have been separated from my child to be able to sympathize or support those who have.

Again, I write this not to distance us from the LGBTQ community, but to explain that you don't have to BE something to SUPPORT something. Going to the Pride marches, parades, and festivities doesn't make you gay. It doesn't make you look gay. It just makes you an ally. Besides being a great cause to be an ally of, Pride events are FUN. Who doesn't like rainbow everything? Rainbows make people happy.

As a parents, it's part of my job to make sure my kid knows & understands diversity. To show him that there are people who are persecuted just for who they are and who they love. It's paramount that he's a good person who supports people who may be hated & discriminated against for their differences. We have to walk the walk though. It's not enough to just tell him. This is the easiest way to get him to understand why we need to show our support. So there you have it. That's why we go.



Thursday, June 14, 2018

Three Minutes to Wapner


I should probably name this entry, "Issues for a brand shopper". Though, one might think I'm talking about luxury brands like Gucci or Fendi. However, I'm talking more like Dickinson's and Pepperidge Farms. Don't know what Dickinson's is, you say? Oh, it's the brand name of the only jelly worth eating on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It's Seedless Black Raspberry to be exact. If you could ask Rita, she'd agree. It's not only brands though. It's stores, companies...specific products, I'm talking about.

I'm routined. Rita called it rigid. As in, "You and your Aunt Barbara are so rigid!", as she was probably over an hour late to meet me. I just like my stuff. MY STUFF.

I could eat the same lunch or dinner every day for years. I *have*.  You'd think this would make life easy, but it doesn't. It makes life exhausting. What happens when items are discontinued??? I'm at a total loss. I think I seem to feel it more than other people. Or other people just aren't talking about it. I get to the point of writing angry letters to the companies. Some times they answer, sometimes they don't. Whether they do or don't, the items never seem to find their way back to the shelves and I'm screwed.

Entenmann's used to make the best cake- "Chocolate Chip Filled Crumb Cake". It was like a vanilla chocolate chip cake in two layers with this light fluffy chocolate in the middle. I'm not even a chocolate person but it wasn't too rich or heavy. It was amazing. I'd always stop and grab one to bring to someone's house if I didn't have time to make brownies or whatever. Then, one day- GONE. I angrily wrote Entenmann's. They were #sorrynotsorry and just sent me a coupon for something else. Like the crappy chocolate chip cake they put out in it's place. NOT THE SAME THING. Even the person I stole this photo from online called it "sex cake".



B didn't know this until yesterday, when we were discussing my Skinny Cow chocolate and caramel Divines being discontinued, that I haven't eaten peanut butter & jelly in two years, since my bread was discontinued. He said- "Well, how did you find the first bread? Can't you taste other breads and find a new one?". No, no I canNOT. It's not the same.

I wrote to Nestle asking about the chocolates. The rep who answered told me- "Oh, yeah, they've been retired. Please enjoy our frozen treats". Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! I don't want to enjoy your frozen treats a-hole! 


I know this probably sounds crazy to most people. Why CAN'T I just find another bread? Because I can't. I'm not tasting other breads because I just know from the make-up of the bread I lost that there isn't a real comparison. Plus, I was reading diabetes forums where people were discussing how upsetting it was losing that bread and they hadn't found a suitable replacement. B asked why I'm eating diabetes bread in the first place - I don't have diabetes. I JUST LIKED IT. The consistency mostly. I don't like "light" bread because it isn't filling enough. I'd be hungry too quickly. I didn't want regular bread because of the carbs and calories. Pepperidge Farms Carb Style was perfect. It had the consistency of potato bread. It was perfect. Now, it's gone and I'm breadless.

This is also why I have to go to like five supermarkets to get everything I need, even though I don't really cook. I need certain things and not every supermarket carries them all. Shop Rite in Paramus is the only one who has MOST of what I need. Like, I can go there and not really NEED to go somewhere else. It would be more of a want than need.

I'm so pissed about my chocolates though. Granted, I think it's partial OCD, but the other part is the mind of a lifelong dieter. I'm not a drastic dieter - I still eat dessert every day. I eat my bread and butter. But I have the mind of a dieter, as in- I watch what I eat during the day. There's just some things I wouldn't do or the food floodgates would open and never close. I don't eat cake during the day. I wouldn't just grab a doughnut for breakfast. I wouldn't eat two doughnuts or two cupcakes in a day. Unless it was after-dinner-dessert and they were small.

I plan my food out for the day. I eat the same way every single work day. I pack a lunch bag. I take one Graze snack, two fruits (usually blueberries and something else), my Special K flatbread bacon & egg sandwich, a Yoplait (vanilla) Greek Yogurt or a Breakstone's Raspberry cottage cheese single. And THREE SKINNY COW CHOCOLATE CARAMEL DIVINES. My three little individually wrapped Divines are the highlight of my food day. WERE, were the highlight.

I was just saying to B a few weeks ago, musing about what would happen if my Special K egg sandwiches were discontinued. They used to carry them in Target and then they were gone. As soon as something is gone from where it usually lives, I get distressed. Luckily they carry them in Kilroy's, my local little grocery in town.


Everyone jokes about how I eat dinner at Early Bird Special hour, always eating the same thing, calling me Rainman, but I ENJOY it. I love a restaurant with a huge menu just to know there ARE options, if I ever want. I still order the same thing, I just like knowing I could order differently if I so desired. I haven't eating at Houston's in years, since they discontinued their bread service and got rid of their sweet summer corn dish. Now, it's not worth going there.

I recently stopped going to pick up Jenny Craig food because they totally changed the only two meals I ate. I had whittled what I liked down to only two meals out of their whole line- Roasted turkey medallions with green beans, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. It was my absolute favorite and I pretty much ate it four nights a week. I also would mix in their barbecue meatloaf with potatoes and vegetables. Guess what? They ruined them beyond edibility. The turkey is now just with mashed and corn and it's WET. Like...stew. It's disgusting. They just told me what they did to the meatloaf and I'm not touching it with a ten foot fork. Done. I've been a member for over ten years and I'm done. Pissed and done.

Old recipe for Roasted Turkey Medallions
I don't know that I *want* to be this way. I just am. It's exhausting. I wish I could be less rigid about my food. Or not so much food, but needing my specific items. Believe it or not, I've actually relented on some and have become more laid back. There are just some things I need. If I was just naturally skinny or something, maybe I wouldn't care. I'm just trying to maximize taste for what I like, within a calorie and portion amount conducive to not growing a giant ass.

Maybe it's just that I don't do well with change. My Remington make-up mirror (long discontinued) that I've had since college finally bit the dust. I'm pretty sure I got it at Service Merchandise (also long out of business). I combed the internet to actually find one, new in the box, literally from the 90's, that I bought on Mercari (like a Poshmark or eBay). I was ecstatic. Sometimes, I do, get a win.



Now, I guess I do have to find a replacement for my chocolate. After I buy all the ones left at Kmart. *sigh* I can't even discuss that E's silver dollar pancakes he's been eating since he's two, have been missing from Trader Joe's for weeks. I do NOT want to hear there is a discontinuation on those...


Monday, June 4, 2018

Parading Around


 It's June! Which means that besides school almost being out, it's also PRIDE month! In May, I posted some PRIDE events going on locally. I attended the PRIDE flag raising in Glen Rock on June 1. This was the second annual flag raising and we had a decent showing for a really gross weather day. It was super hot and muggy but we still managed to eek out something like one hundred and fifty people. Maybe more. I tried to do a quick count, but it wasn't easy. For a noon time on a Friday, obviously during the work day, I think that was pretty good. I saw people later who said they forgot and were bummed to have missed it, so maybe next year!

Glen Rock Pride Flag Raising- June 1, 2018

GR Mayor & some of the council members
This past Sunday was NJ Pride in Asbury Park. They have a parade and a festival with booths, food and music. We have gone as a family the two years prior and went down again this year. The weather is never great for it, but it's still always a fun day. This time though- we were IN the parade!

My friend Monica is the manager at Petsmart in West Long Branch. Her store was marching and she asked if E wanted to hold the banner or throw stuff out to the crowd. It took him about a half a second to answer a resounding "YES!". E was made to be in a parade. Especially one with dance music and flying candy.

I wasn't sure if just E was going to be in it or what. Next thing I know, all three of us were the head of the Petsmart crew holding their banner, walking in the parade. We were behind a pick up truck with two dancing half-dressed guys whipping candy and sunglasses at the crowd. They had music though so E danced right along with (behind) them.

The end of the parade route is where the most people are, so you're like a rockstar by the time you get there. At this point, E had two small rainbow flags, one in each hand, and was dancing up a storm to Can't Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake.

The sky was on the verge of opening the whole parade, but it seemed okay once we got into the festival. My cousin, her husband and their four month old baby met us there too. We barely got to hang with them because the sky did open and we were poured on. We ran to the convention hall on the boardwalk but by then we were drenched and freezing. It was time to call it a day.

We accomplished what we came down there for though! E got to be in the parade. So thanks to Monica and her employees at Petsmart in West Long Branch for letting us be part of their group. E already asked if he can do it again next year.


I just wanted to address a few things. First, none of us are LGBTQ. Not me, B or E. I'm saying this not because I need to distance myself from the LGBTQ community, but to shed light on something I would've thought would be common sense. You don't need to BE something to support or advocate. I don't need to be black to understand the concept behind "Black Lives Matter" and support. As a family, we've decided to support the LGBTQ community with our actions, without having to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc.

We went to a transgender rights rally in Jersey City a year or so ago. I had posted pictures on Facebook of us while we were there. Someone said- "Oh, I didn't know your son was transgender". I said- "He's not". It was just so beyond the realm of understanding that we could just be there in support, as allies.

Someone else asked me yesterday, "Why gay rights? Why did you pick this to be an advocate for". The simple answer, besides it being the most fun of all causes to support, is that I'm just not okay with people being discriminated against for who they were born to be. As a Jewish person, I know what it's like to be hated just because I happen to be born a Jew. Jews have historically always been persecuted due to other people's religious beliefs. Well....so has the LGBTQ community. So there are a few parallels there.

Further- while the Bible may prohibit certain sexual behaviors (from what I've been told- I don't know what's in the Bible), it's not like straight people who claim to be so religious are all refraining from participating in said sexual behaviors. Or other sins, for that matter. It's the whole hypocritical thing I'm really against also. You have zealots screaming about this or that being against what the Bible teaches, but unless they're living the exact letter of the Bible themselves, their points aren't even valid. I'm super triggered by anyone trying to put their religious beliefs on others, for any reason.

Of course, there is the superficial fun aspect. How do you even watch another kind of parade after watching or participating in a PRIDE parade?? The music, the costumes, the dancing! What's not to love? And everyone is celebrating LOVE. As in, Love Wins. You're surrounded by people fighting for equality just to be able to live like anyone else. To be able to exist amongst the rest of humanity without fear of being ridiculed, attacked and/or discriminated against. I think that's a damn good cause to get behind. It sure beats fighting for the first world problem to get organic treats in our elementary school!

I also like that this encompasses so many different kind of people. It's not just about one gender, one race, one color. It's a huge mix of different kinds of people. We feel like our child needs to be exposed to that. The same way he's exposed to and assists me in distributing toiletries, clothing and food to the incredibly growing amount of homeless people in NYC where he takes a class. We don't live in a very diverse town. It's gotten more diverse over the years but by statistic, most people are virtually the same. So it's up to us to make sure he has diversity infused into his life. I'm not interested in just giving money or going to charity dinners. Not to mention that I don't have the money to do those things. We want E to see how action can help so that's what we do.

If I can help someone else take a moment to make someone else think about taking some action out of their natural comfort zone with their kids, I'm happy with that too. The other night, when I was unloading my car after the grocery store, a mom & daughter stopped me outside. I'd met the woman once before, but I didn't recognize her. She expressed how she always stops to look at my house because she really liked how colorful it looks. That's because of our PRIDE flag, our purple stone Buddha, a rainbow sign with our "beliefs" about equality, and some other stuff (like my ginormous Beyonce chicken). I told her how we went to and were in the parade and she said- "We really have to start doing stuff like that. It's important". If walking her dog by my house just reminds her daily that she wants to teach her kids about diversity, then I feel like putting myself out there is all worth it.

Oh, and all three of us were wearing shirts I had made for any PRIDE events. You can get them too or a version of them here:
https://www.cafepress.com/taraspride