Sunday, August 27, 2017

Wanna Be a Tiger Shark?


If you're looking for a low-key, fun, small swim team for your kid(s) ages 5-18, come to the Tiger Sharks. I had E on a bigger, more "competitive", more prestigious team, for a year. Guess what? It sucked. I had to drive to other pools, far away from home from practice. It sucked up all our time just driving to practice. I'm not going to even talk about what went on with the meets but suffice to say, we lasted one, very LONG swim season.

Then E joined the Tiger Sharks last September and it was a completely different experience. The coaches care about the kids. They know the kids. The team is smaller and newer, so of course there were some growing pains, but they overcame. At least I can say, with this team, I know who exactly who his coaches were/are and they know E. At best, he made friends, learned a lot, improved his swim times, and it was just an all around better experience. We didn't spend more time in the car than in the pool!

All the practices are at the pools in the Ridgewood YM/YWCA. The meets are dual meets with other Y/JCC teams. They have convenient monthly payment plans- just call and ask. 

Try-outs are this week and next. All you have to do is register online and then go. It's THAT easy. Go for it. It's a great team.

http://www.ywcabergencounty.org/tiger-shark-swim-team/



video

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sorting it Out


I woke up, super angry, after an extremely frustrating dream, having to do with pants (my favorite Abercrombie & Fitch white capri cargo pants from the early 2000's). In my nightmare, a person cut in line ahead of me at the store. And she didn't give a crap that she was cutting. So I got hostile. Picture Frances McDormand in Friends With Money. It wasn't about pants though- the frustration, anger and anxiety I was feeling though. It was about waking up every day feeling unsettled and nervous.

Frances McDormand, Friends With Money

I go back and forth whether to put anything out there on my blog, on my Facebook page, or anywhere. Silence is dangerous and deadly. On the other hand, I just don't want to talk about what's going on in the world. I don't want to talk about racism, antisemitism, Charlottesville. I've just been quietly soldiering on, trying to keep my head down, eye on the prize of turning over elections to get people into office who are against all the hate.

I feel like I've done all my talking. I have been feeling like a lot of my talking fell on deaf ears. You know I'm at a loss when I don't even really jump into a debate about this on B's page. It felt pointless with the people's statements they felt bizarrely comfortable putting out there. I KNOW there's no WAY they would've felt okay putting those thoughts out publicly without the general feeling Trump has put out there as acceptable behavior. Now pussy grabbing, ridiculing everyone including the disabled, mocking people's looks, etc are all acceptable or easily explained away.

The guy on B's page said- "I voted for him. I don't see how he is any different than any other president when it comes to support.. you say what you have to in order to get their votes. But to blame him for one wacko's actions is a bit far reaching bro. 

 We needed a change here in the US. Trump was it. I would vote for him again for that reason alone. The sludge that we call Washington needs to go. The "Free" press is a one sided reporting agency. Never in my life have I seen such an outright war against one person as this president. If he farts wrong, they are on it. Also, I don't care about pussy talk - Sorry to tell you ladies, I am sure that every man has at some point thrown out a little locker room talk..."   

This- THIS, is the perfect illustration of what we're dealing with. When you believe that the "sludge" is everyone else but the devil with the orange face & that there's "one wacko" to contend with, that's where you have lost your humanity, credibility, and my respect. You know what- I'll give you- maybe locker room talk does seem to pale in comparison to: kill the blacks (using the N word), Jews, gays, Muslims, brown people of any kind, illegals, Mexicans, etc. Did I miss anyone? But if you have daughters or women in your life you care about in any way, maybe you should prioritize how men think and speak about women a little higher than pushing it off as "locker room talk".

I feel disappointed in a lot of people I thought were better humans than what they're putting out into the world. I have felt hurt & betrayed deeply by people who pretended to be something they're not. Made it out like they're on the side of love, understanding, openness, empathy & compassion, only to be on the train of hate, giving every excuse in the book as to why the vote and/or the hate should be overlooked. To my face seemed one way, behind my back, out of earshot, quite the opposite. I don't know that I've ever felt so duped & sad in my entire life. And for the first time ever, scared.

It *IS* comforting to see the quotes and memes about love, resisting, peace, so I can feel like I'm not living in a world just filled with selfies, navel gazing, and what the Kardashians are doing. I want to feel like people care, so it's nice to see all the people who aren't FOR the KKK, Nazis, white supremacy, and whatever other hate groups and feelings are being put out there. Posting quotes and memes though isn't enough. It's not actually DOING anything. The people that need to read, see, and comprehend, aren't interested or reading. They're like putting their fingers in their ears, saying "lalalalalalalala" and hiding behind faux religion, scripture interpretation, rogue sermons, and skewed history.

I know they aren't interested or reading because I specifically went to Facebook pages of some people I know I saw vocally supporting Trump before, during and after the election. I wanted to see if they changed their tune. Radio silence would've been better than what I saw on some pages. I saw what basically amounted to - "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater". That none of...THIS...is his fault. Or just #fakenews! Regurgitated Fox News rhetoric. Some were radio silence and that was a tiny silver lining, but certainly doesn't inspire hope, peace, or love.

There was a very nice article written about our peaceful vigil and this blind hatred was the ONE comment. This just illustrates the complete lack of any kind of reality or common sense. #ThanksObama

Credit: http://www.northjersey.com/story/news/bergen/glen-rock/2017/08/15/glen-rock-vigil-charlottesville-we-wont-stand-hate/571436001/

I had actually forgotten about the vigil last night. I'd seen the event on Facebook and I knew I wanted to go, but it slipped my mind. At 7:23pm I saw a friend post she was there, so B, E and I quickly put shoes on and ran out of the house to walk downtown. It started at 7:30 and we made it by 7:35. I was encouraged by the approximately two hundred person crowd. After some emotional speeches, B pointed out someone, with her small children, that we thought was on the other side. I went over to her and found out she's a huge progressive and even though her children were tired, she made them attend anyway- because it was important for them to be part of a vigil against hate.

I immediately teared up. I couldn't help myself. It was just really nice to find an ally where you didn't know you had one. We're both white women but we come from different backgrounds, different religious backgrounds. To describe her on paper- white, practicing Irish Catholic, middle to upper middle class, she has the same characteristics of others I know who are Trumpettes. Finding out she isn't just made me verklempt. Relieved. I've had to lose, get rid of or been dumped by so many along the way, after having to find out via social media or conversation, that they agree with racism, alternative facts, antisemitism, xenophobia, homophobia. Or voted because of their own monetary agenda, not caring about what else they were taking with it. Or just through deafening silence to atrocities committed in the name of this new republican party.

My friend Arati Kreibich, who I want to see as one of the the next leaders on our town council, made a beautiful, moving speech. It needs to be heard.


The only thing I can come up with, for this passive acceptance of hate, is that people are so far removed from WWII that they don't really know what the Nazis did? That it's all just words in history books? I'm not sure- but lest anyone forgot, here are some photos- some from Charlottesville this past weekend, and some from the Holocaust. All those photos could be from the same time period.



I got emotional again, watching Jimmy Kimmel do his monologue about Trump's....speech. That speech, yesterday, when Trump said- "There were fine people on both sides". Jimmy said it best when he said something like- "if you find yourself in a group with nazis and white supremacists, there is no one there is that a very fine person". That he has to say that, and that I actually know people, real people, not just randoms in article comments or on Twitter, who will disagree with him, is soul crushing.



Someone I've known for 20+ years posted that "this" (what happened in Charlottesville) all happened because people want to rewrite history by taking down a statue. Please. Just be quiet. I don't have the energy to argue. I don't care how many articles you cite from so-called conservative, and/or openly alt-right websites, you're extremely privileged. You don't have any idea "how this all happened" if you think it's about feeling oppressed by statues. Until you really understand what empathy is, stop talking about who should or shouldn't feel oppressed by what.

I feel like I'm on a constant emotional rollercoaster. I've been on the edge of tears, filled with anxiety, and then consumed with anger at the flip of a switch. I felt a glimmer of hope and support when I got a message from someone that I grew up with. Someone I know who feels the same kind of fear I do- she's not Jewish, but has biracial children. It was helpful to feel the solidarity. But within minutes I was just reminded of all the people we both had to cut out that have turned out to be PROUD deplorables, burying their head in the sand, hiding behind alternative facts, and what they insist is fake news.

Seeing all the swastikas, hearing the chants, reading the signs, seeing all this hate alive, well, and proudly attributed to our current president and administration is surreal. Not fully denouncing AND blaming a new made up "alt-left" certainly doesn't make me feel confident that another Holocaust couldn't happen. Germany didn't think it could happen there either. We know how that went down.

As I've written before, I'm an atheist. Yet, I'm still a Jew. How does that work? Well, according to ancestry.com and 23andMe, I don't even get a specific country. I'm just "European Jewish". It's in my DNA. Even if I choose to be Saved tomorrow, I'm still a Jew. *How insane is it that I had to think after I posted this that maybe I shouldn't put that I'm a Jew out on the internet? That if it stuff goes down here, I just branded myself and my family...

I still get antisemitic remarks made in my own store. I had to explain to my son in age appropriate language when he was in Jewish preschool, what antisemitism is and means when Molotov Cocktails were being thrown into synagogues in my county. I had to engage in arguments with people in my own town who feel that "the obnoxious people", i.e., the Jews, had to ruin Christmas here because "things were fine the way they were when people were allowed to say Merry Christmas (last I checked they still are allowed), and we just had Santa and a Christmas tree". My husband was called "that Jew in the lamp store" when spoken about to other shop owners for not supporting a program monetarily detrimental to the small business owners. Both B and I get told we don't "look Jewish" all the time- like it's a compliment. I've consistently heard judgment commentary about how crazy it is to have to PAY to go to temple. I remember being asked if I was Jewish if and if that made me a "JAP" (Jewish American Princess). Those are just off the top of my head.

I don't need to practice religion to still feel discrimination just for being born of Jewish heritage. I don't have to practice Judaism to feel unwelcome or unsafe because by blood I'm a Jew. That's why religion and ethnicity are complicated when it comes to being Jewish. I'm not going to magically believe in God, but my blood is my blood. I can appreciate my heritage and quite frankly, since I've always been very "Damn the Man", I'm happy to be a minority. I like that little bit of difference I get to own. If anything, all this hate has made me feel closer to my heritage (not faith) because I like being the underdog. Nothing better than when the underdog comes out on top. I also think that we have to find a way to pluck something good out of such horrifying adversity. We're tough. We've managed to thrive no matter how many people or group want to extinguish us as a whole.
http://www.kveller.com/pinks-jewish-awakening-gives-me-hope-after-charlottesville/

What I won't accept is people feeling like they are owed "the country". That they should get to walk the streets of a country that is supposed to represent equality for all, saying "Jews will not replace us", whatever that means, with tiki torches and swastikas. Considering we're still a minority, there aren't enough of us to replace anyone, and I don't know how we're trying to replace anyone, that's a bizarre chant. And turning citronella into a hate vessel is just lunacy. We won't "replace" you? No, we won't. We will coexist whether you like it or not.

I never cared much what people think about anything. Call it the Leo in me. Positive or negative- as far back as middle school- I was never a social climber, did my own thing, and never asked for opinions. I'm still the same today. It would've never occurred to me to hide being Jewish. It doesn't occur to me to hide anything. But a Facebook friend posted an article last night that reminded me of people like my husband, who was made to feel different, like an outsider, by his own friends, in high school just by being Jewish. How, when I met him, he didn't even tell people he's Jewish. For anyone to feel they have to do that is heartbreaking.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/opinion/jewish-charlottesville-anti-semitism.html

A police officer friend said to me last night- well, even if we were all the same color, or the same religion, hate would still go on- it would be the blue eyes against the brown eyes or the blondes vs the redheads. My answer was- "Well, we still have to try to be the change for the positive. We can't just do nothing". 

By the way- I'm often asked why I feel the need to go to rallies, vigils, and protests. Someone I knew as a kid saw pictures from a transgender support rally B, E and I went to in the winter. He assumed my kid is transgender- because why else would I be there? Well, that's exactly it. I believe we need to stand up for everyone, whether we are part of that marginalized group or not. It's called empathy. If only everyone would try it.

I'm just so sickened today so I don't know what else to do but write. It's not even really what I wanted to write, but it's the most cohesive thing I could put together at the moment. It's how I've felt for what feels like far too long. I don't want to fight alone. I guess I'm trying to appeal to those who have always felt like they just don't want to get involved in politics. It's time. Activism isn't a dirty word. We have children who have to grow up in this world. They need to know that we're taking a stand for a better future. We certainly have to do better than "There are very fine people in that group" in regard to Nazis and White Nationalists/White Supremacists.

These are not my words but this sums up how I feel:
Credit: https://www.motherwiselife.org/to-my-friends-who-are-sick-of-politics/

Here's what you can do:
http://www.upworthy.com/feeling-hopeless-after-charlottesville-16-ways-you-can-make-a-big-difference?c=ufb1

Something else to watch:
https://news.vice.com/story/vice-news-tonight-full-episode-charlottesville-race-and-terror

Just for your reading pleasure:
For the umpteenth time, having a black friend doesn't mean you aren't racist

One last, really important analogy:
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2016/11/10/the-cinemax-theory-of-racism/

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Not Complimented


After my fourth very random email in the past week asking me to consider joining an MLM (multi-level marketing) business, and being told in two of those email that I should take it as a compliment to be asked, I really wanted to think about why I felt extremely annoyed instead of complimented.

It's not brain surgery, of course, to figure out. But I hadn't heard or paid attention before if I was told I should feel complimented. I really wanted to be able to give a well thought out answer as to why I don't feel that way.

I also want to say- I'm not writing this to offend people. If you're offended, I can't help that. I'm not writing this out of the blue, just to put down people's careers or companies they work for. I'm writing this, trying to explain, again, my sincere point of view, as I'm bombarded with requests to become part of a "team". No teams for me. I've never even played any sporting.

I don't know how to just ignore the requests because I feel like I'm forcefully having the ball put in my court, so to speak, of having to awkwardly say no and sometimes give reasons why. I don't like the feeling of being put in this position, as often as I am. I need to voice my thoughts on it so that maybe it will happen less. 

I realize that my issue, at least as I'm thinking about it today, is at the root of it, I feel like I'm being treated like I'm stupid. Like I'm stupid for either not joining or as if I must live under a rock and never heard of these businesses. Some I haven't, like the one my friend asked me about the other day (and I still love you NM). I'd legit never heard of it. I've never heard of it probably because after checking it out, I'm not interested in one product they sell so it wasn't on my radar. That's the nature of these businesses though. They start, get people in, market starts to get saturated, they get out, and jump to another new one. So if I never heard of one, chances are it's because it hasn't hit here yet or it's come and gone.

Then there's the piggyback of the really nasty/aggressive pitch of "I'm sitting on the beach while you're punching a clock. Wouldn't you rather be spending time with your family? You don't get a second chance to soak up your kids" that really chaps my behind. As if to flat out say- you're not a good mom if you work outside your home and aren't with your kids 24/7. Or there must be something wrong with you if don't see direct sales as the ticket to being home with your kids, i.e. what should be your happiness and contentment. One- that's just a play on mommy guilt. Good thing I was born without guilt and never warmed up to it. Two- not everyone wants or is cut out to work from home. When I worked from home for a tanning lotion company (not in direct sales, just by fact that the company was in Arizona and I live in NJ), I just got fat and stayed up way too late. Showering felt like a chore.

Work is also still work. Home or out of the house, when you're really "working" from home, you can't also be paying attention to your kids. If you say you can do both simultaneously, you're lying. Or you're the total exception and are a superhero. Your power is extreme multitasking. Good for you.

At any rate- I'm one of those who just doesn't believe it's so much better- at least for ME. You don't have a commute, but you have to be responsible for your work. You need time, energy and quiet for it. In my estimation, it's probably harder to work from home with kids because you're there. Your kids expect you to be able to give them all your attention. If you're at the office, your kids aren't there to make you feel guilty for doing your work or just there yelling "Mommy! Mommy!".  FYI- I work outside the house but I don't have a commute. So the commute thing isn't even a thought for me.

Back to why I find myself so pissed when asked to be part of this at-home work phenomenon. Even if I haven't heard of a particular one, do you really think I don't know what these businesses are or that they're out there? Or that I couldn't walk outside my store and spit, hitting someone selling one of them? I feel like when I get that email asking me to join, I feel like screaming- Do you think you're the first person or even the twentieth who has asked me?? And for all the major ones, at least in this area- Rodan & Fields, Lularoe, Isagenix, Beach Body, Thrive, Beauty Counter, Younique- even the old school Mary Kay & Avon- the market is pretty saturated. If I haven't started selling one of these by now, what would make you think I would start NOW?

Lastly- the emails about changing my life, the aggressive marketing about working poolside & spending more time with my kid(s), imply that my current life isn't fulfilling or that it's impossible for me to already love what I do. I have to say I'm insulted. It's totally discounting that I do actually love my career and am happy to go to work every day. Selling face cream, leggings or make up isn't going to push me over the edge to some kind of life's bliss explosion.

I don't care if you don't like the term "pyramid scheme" but the fact is- when you look at the structure of most of these companies, that's what the structure looks like. A pyramid. The word scheme just usually goes along with it. Some MLMs are, some aren't. Don't know which is which- but not the point. What pyramid means in relation to what I'm talking about is that the top is where the real earning potential is at. When I went down the rabbit hole years ago reading about what went down with MonaVie juice, I read all about how the structure works, how the people at the top are millionaires, etc. They ARE real millionaires. I get that. It makes sense. There would be no pyramids if it didn't work for someone. I certainly know though that it wouldn't behoove me to get in on the bottom, which is exactly where I'd be getting into any of the above companies.

Here's the thing, which is sort of the catch-22 or I don't know what to call it. I have real-life friends & acquaintances I see all the time, who sell MLM products. I don't have a problem with them. They know me- they know I'm not interested and they've never once even brought it up in conversation. (Thank you NH, KM, ML, LM, ST, TM, EC, JL, and anyone else I've forgotten because you've never brought it up). They know how I feel because they pay attention. They check in every now and again just about regular life, or they read my blog.

The people who DO send me the canned email and ask me to be on their team are people I know, consider acquaintances am friended to on social media because we have some common denominator- kids, an old job, same town, college, high school, or something. Maybe I met them at Newcomers when I moved here, drinking at the Progressive Dinner. I don't need to be BFFs to accept/request you on Facebook. However- These are people who never interact with me and I assume don't check my Facebook page or read my blog. Totally cool with that. I don't have an issue continuing to be be friended to people I don't have much interaction with in the past or currently because who knows how things will go. Paths often cross again.

Except that because we don't ever have interaction, it feels even more disingenuous to get that (clearly) mass email, which seems like it's supposed to have a tone of sharing and closeness- that they just think I'd be PERFECT for this opportunity, when they really have no idea. You don't REALLY know me if you think I'm going to be all in, happy and excited to be asked to make you money. And that's what it is- you're throwing something out there to someone for the purpose of them making you money.

I know someone who sells R&F, who truthfully, rarely posts on social media about it. She doesn't really solicit people to join, that I know about. She didn't do it to me. She got in closer to the top, years ago. She makes a decent dollar from it without really doing anything because I guess she has a good number of good team members under her. She explained the whole structure to me and that the money is in having a strong selling team below you. She's not comfortable making videos, posting incessantly about it, and she doesn't really try to recruit people. She's the exception.

I never felt like she had an agenda to sell me in talking to me or hanging out. I actually didn't even know she sold R&F until it came up organically in a conversation after knowing her a decent amount of time. Selling without drinking & sharing the Kool-Aid works for her and it didn't impact our time together. How it should be. 

I feel like it's common sense to know that if every time I posted on social media, or spoke to someone, I was really trying to sell them lighting, people would be hiding me or hiding from me. Yet, with these businesses, it seems like they're told that it should be your entire existence. And they basically tell you to be sneaky- to get together with old friends to discuss the business. Is it not hurtful to contact someone under the guise of catching up only to really have the agenda to either sell to them or get them as a team member. Honestly, I've been hurt by it. I think you want to break (or steal) bread with me because you miss me and all you really wanted was a pitch meeting. No. Just no.

Someone tagged me in a recent piece by Alden Wicker- https://qz.com/1039331/mlms-like-avon-and-lularoe-are-sending-people-into-debt-and-psychological-crisis/ so I posted it on my Facebook page with no commentary. Most people who did comment, some former MLM sellers, so not just biased folk who never did it, agreed with the article. Of course, there was a seller who did exactly what the article said- blamed lack of success on the consultants, not the company. Just totally refused to hear anything bad about the company. She also said something like- it's a slippery slope when women start judging other women for how they make their money. 

Now, yes, people did openly judge and comment sarcastically. I did not- I only gave an opinion when pushed by what I felt was victim-shaming (those who ended up in debt from selling Lularoe). I will say for the umpteenth time, I don't CARE how someone decides to make their money. I do judge the marketing strategies of many of the companies, the lack of real training, the act of implying that the sales should be easy and that it's not like really working. In the end though- not my problem. Until I'm asked over and over and over not only to be part of it, which is egregious enough since if they ever checked in with me, they should know at this point that I'm not interested.

They also ask "if I know anyone else who would be interested". I'm also supposed to do the work for them. I'm supposed to just be a vessel to endless contacts or something. How do I not feel used with that question? You don't even hit like on a photo of my kid in nine years, join in my interesting debates or conversations, or whatever, but you're going to ask me if I want to sell products under you making you money or send you my friends to do it. No one sees anything odd or problematic about this practice?

Don't get me wrong- if someone asked me for a favor, or if I thought I could match two people up with a great situation, especially a job, I'd be all about it. Again though- if I haven't sent you anyone thus far to sell MLM products, and you ask me now, am I all of a sudden going to hit my head, and be like, "you know, I DO know someone looking to sell xyz". How would I even pick which consultant I should be sending people? Make it like the Hunger Games? The first? The hundredth? Whoever has the longest lashes but least red eyes from using Lash Boost?

So no, I can't take being asked to join an MLM as a compliment. The way it's been done to me has put me in awkward situations. People I have to see every day. People whose kids go to school with mine. I can't even go to what's touted as a "mom's night out" for moms from school because it's become a giant sales pitch vs just hanging out, blowing off steam, and bonding. You don't call that a "mom's night out"- you call it what it is- a vendor event. Moms Night Out used to be meeting at the local Mexican restaurant, drinking margaritas and possibly having to coordinate getting moms home in the Margarita Mobile or Tequila Taxi? (I forget what their drunk shuttle is actually called). No one was trying to sell each other anything and it was just a good time had by all. Now, I don't even open emails about Moms Night Out because I feel like there's going to be some kind of sales agenda.

I can't take it as a compliment because I feel like I'm being used. Why am I being asked so much? Most of the people asking don't know me that well. They have no idea whether I'd be good at sales or not. I don't even use half the things these companies sell. The only logical conclusion to come to is that I'm being used for my contacts. People know that I know a lot of people. Lest I remind you all, AGAIN, that I had to hide my friends list on Facebook because an R&F consultant was going through my friend list, then started friending all my friends in order to pitch them.

For the record: I don't wear make-up often. No lotions or potions. I used lash stuff for a short spell that made me look like I'd been on a week's coke bender. I don't care what my cleaning products are made from as long as they work. I don't believe leggings are pants, don't want pics of Doritos on my camel toe- The few pair of leggings I've purchased were Jockey brand, and 12.99 at TJ Maxx or Marshalls. I'm happy with them. They don't rip like wet toilet paper. I don't take supplements and the only work out I do or ever plan on doing is going on my treadmill. Going on my treadmill only as fast as I can still hear the TV. I don't fast- I eat jellybeans daily. I'm not buying third-party green energy. I don't cook so no kitchen utensils for me. I don't wear mass produced jewelry- I don't even wear my wedding rings because I "feel" them on me.

I'M NOT SAYING THE PRODUCTS AREN'T GOOD OR DON'T WORK. I have no idea if they work. I'm saying- I am not interested in them. I don't want them. I don't use them. There is nothing about them that makes me want to know more about them. The same way most of you are not interested in the kind of lighting we make. Where no amount of posting pictures of before & afters makes you more interested.

I know where to find you if I want to sell something besides lighting. And hell, if you want to sell something without a pyramid structure, come to me and you can sell chandeliers for a commission if/when you ever sell any. That's what I can offer you. Not my contact list.