It Gets Better…..But….

Logging into my email the other day, among the Linked-In Board notifications and job search related emails was a request from a member of my graduating class who wanted me to follow her on Schoolfeed.

This surprised me.  We were not friends.  We were not even friendly.

In fact she had made 7th grade a living hell for me. She was a Queen Bee, and I sadly was not even a Wannabe.  Slightly chubby, with my bad haircut, thick glasses and complete lack of knowledge for trendy fashions for 12-year-old girls, I might as well have had a bullseye on my back.  However, it was usually a kick me sign.

I was a friendly girl, and really naive and this was used against me.  I had my home ec projects mocked, and was pushed off the stool in art class.  I was shoved into lockers, tripped, pushed,  and my backpack was tossed into dumpsters.

Now she never laid a french manicured finger on me.  She did not have to.  She had her friends and the people who wanted to either curry favor or more likely, avoid being her next target do her dirty work for her.

Sometimes I was lucky and she and her friends would ignore me.  And more often I was not.  This girl would explain to me in detail how I was a loser, I was ugly, my friends were losers and that my social standing was so off the chart, that I wasn’t even on the chart.

The worst was when the time they pretended to be nice to me, and grateful for the friendship and the break in the teasing, I returned the friendship, only to have the things I told them used against me.

And this went on for a whole year.  I thought I would get a reprieve, after one of my friends told her mother how I was invited to a slumber party for a friend of mine and how my friend blindfolded me and the girl and her friends fed me dog food.  And then the following Monday in English class, she had written about it in her journal and read it aloud to the class.

My mom tried to help.  My parents offered to take me out and buy me the right clothes and get me the right haircut, but I knew that a pair of Guess Jeans from Lonny’s and a Bennetton rugby were not going to save me, (and I couldn’t imagine spending so much money on a pair of jeans) so I bought a Sweet Valley High Book and desperately imagined myself as a Wakefield Twin, even though I knew that I was really Enid Rollins, just without the substance abuse issue.

I don’t blame my teachers for not stopping things,  since the kids were good at hiding their tracks, and  there was not the hypersensitivity about bullying that there is now.

I just told my parents I was fine, and went about my business and never, ever complained. I knew that however bad they treated me, it would be worse if I said another word.  I immersed myself in drama club and stayed in my room, listened to records and read.

And now I am mostly grateful that the internet and Social Media did not exist back then.  I hate to think what cruelty and technology would have produced.

However 7th grade ended, and I was never in a class with that girl again.  Once I got to 8th grade, tormenting me seemed to have lost its fun, and I was left alone to hanging out with my friends at Hot Skates and listening to Madonna and Duran Duran.

I went through High School, and though I was never elected Class President or Homecoming Queen, I had a great time in the drama club, plenty of good friends to hang out with at lunch and on the weekends and usually had a boyfriend.  I went to college, met a wonderful man who after 20 years, two kids and more than one failed attempt at Weight Watchers, still grabs my ass every time it goes past him,  got a master’s degree and even achieved a decent level of success in my field.

I have friends and family who love me, and by any objective standard, I have a pretty good life.

It did get better and it does get better, but does it ever get better enough that you really, truly forget?

Yet when I see that name, I am transported back to the sad 12-year-old who couldn’t understand why people were so mean to her, when she never did anything mean to anyone else.

Her follow request sits unanswered in my mailbox, and while we had been friends on Facebook, I unfriended her, since I did not want to see her name on my wall. This might have been partially due to the fact that she did not end up as a lonely, bitter person with a miserable life, as I had been told by several well-meaning adults.

I debated writing this, because really what could come of it.  If I told her how mean she was to me, what was she going to do?  Apologize for something that happened nearly 30 years ago that she probably has no memory of?  Possibly tell me the compelling reasons she had for her cruelty?

Which also leads me to wonder, did she know what she was doing was wrong?  Did her parents know what kind of things she did?  Did they care?  So many questions, I do and don’t want the answers to.

To be honest, I’m still actually  kind of embarrassed that she still has any kind of power or influence over me.

I can her saying, “Poor widdle Maryrose, with her hurt feelings from things that happened back when Madonna was still relevant.”

After all, what happens in our middle school years is something we are supposed to get over.   I mean, we were kids and being cruel was just something we outgrew like neon socks and spiral perms.

I should just tell myself what I tell my son, when he complains about teasing, which is; “Sometimes people are just assholes and there is nothing you can do about it.  Just ignore them as best you can, and eventually they will move on.”

And that is what I should do.  I should just delete the request.  Or I could block her, but I feel that I have given her enough attention already.

Although I know she has children in or close to middle school, and I can’t help but wonder if the little bees did not fly far from the hive, and I should tell her how her actions affected me, so if her children are treating others the way she treated me, she might understand better what they are doing.

Or perhaps, she wouldn’t care.

Either way I have probably given the matter way more thought than it deserved, until I saw a post from a middle school friend of mine on Facebook complaining how people who made her life miserable are trying to friend her, and she wants nothing to do with them, and I remember that I was not alone then and I am not alone now.

So, to my fellow dorkarinas who spend their Friday nights in Middle School devouring Anne of Green Gables, what do you do now when a former tormenter tries to friend you.  Do you:

A. Friend them back, but feel kind of bad about doing it?

B. Ignore them

C. Block them

D. Block them, but tell them why 1st

E. Friend them, but only if they have miserable lives

Paleo Without Pity-Detox Tea

In additon to breakfast, another issue I have always had with Paleo (or any diet) is the copious amounts of water you are supposed to drink.  I will be really good about the 64oz of water for a few days, but then I fall back into old habits, because I get sick of drinking water.

And when I write that I feel like the whiniest bitch on the planet, since so much of the world can only dream of having an unlimited supply of clean, cool water.  (Note to self-next week gratitude journal).

So I still need to get the water in because it keeps me hydrated, flushes the system, aids weight loss and the other 8 billion reasons a person needs water.  So instead of water, I make myself detox tea.

I have a Mrs. Tea that I use, and for the amount of iced tea that I drink, it was really worth the $15 investment.  However, if you do not have an iced tea maker, just buy tea and follow the directions on the box.

This tea is so simple, its barely a recipe, more like instructions:

1. Prepare decaf green tea according to manufacture’s direction.  (I have used other types of tea- but green tea has some special weight loss property I hear about)

2. When preparing the pitcher of ice, add,
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1 lemon sliced
1 citrus fruit of your choice, sliced. (If using a grapefruit, use 1/2)

And thats it. Its quick and really delicious. I make a 3 qt pitcher and often finish it in a day.  And if you want to skip the detox affect and add some Absolut Limon or Citron, I’m not going to tell on you.

Paleo Without Pity-Breakfast Salad for One

When I started the Paleo diet my biggest challenge was breakfast.  My usual breakfast was usually pancakes, waffles, french toast or oatmeal with fruit.  I would also like regular toast.  These are all not allowed on Paleo, and I tired the subsitiutes and found them seriously lacking.

This means that  I usually alternate between scrambled eggs with veggies or plain greek yogurt with fruit. (I am on the side of Paleo that thinks a little dairy is ok.  With the exception of the plain greek yogurt, I mostly use cheese or butter as a condiment).

That being said, this can get a little old.  So I came up with a yummy breakfast salad.  As made this is quick, easy and vegan.  Also since the hubby and kids don’t enjoy greens, I make this salad for 1.

Breakfast Salad

Kale (I usually fill the bowl I am going to eat out of with kale until its overflowing)
Tablespoon of coconut or olive oil
100 Calorie pack of nuts (I’m using the almond walnut combo)
Small Apple
Tablespoon of dried cranberries (I use the fruit juice ones)

1. Heat oil in pan, add Kale, cook until Kale is wilted (3-5 Min)
2. On last minute of cooking-add nuts.
3. Chop Apple
4. Add Kale and nuts to bowl, top with chopped apple sprinke with dried cranberries

If you wanted to add more protein, you could cook some bacon and saute the kale in the bacon, or after you put the kale in the dish, use the pan to scramble an egg.  Also, this is good with some chopped chicken or sauteed shrimp.

The List

After I registered the children for school in our new town, I received the school supply lists.

7th Grade Supply List
One gallon size zip-lock bag Tissues for personal use Index cards
Paper – lined, notebook Blue, black, and red pens Dividers
TI84 graphing calculator (recommended) Colored pencils Highlighters
Rulers – dual (metric and customary) Number 2 pencils with erasers Three-hole punch
Three-ring binder (1) Pencil case Glue sticks Scissors, student type Graph paper Sheet protectors
Dry erase markers Protractor Compass Folders with brads and pockets (5) Pocket dictionary Pencil sharpener
Post-it notes Tape Stretchy book covers (jumbo)

Supply items may need to be replenished throughout the school year. There may be a few additional individual class needs that will be addressed the first week of school.

First Grade Supply List
1 spiral notebook:5 Star brand 1 hardcover composition book 1 large pencil box 1 box of 8 markers 2 pairs of scissors 2 packs of 24 pencils
6 black dry erase markers 1 pair of child-size black socks 8 large glue sticks 2 highlighters 2 large pink erasers 2 boxes of tissues
1 package of twistable crayons 1 bottle of hand sanitizer 1 package of wipes 1 box of gallon-size Ziploc bags 1 box of quart-size Ziploc bags
ART SUPPLIES – 1 smock/art shirt, 1 spiral or marble notebook, #2 pencils
MUSIC SUPPLIES – 1 folder with pockets and brads/fasteners, any color

These are the school supply lists for my two children. This was a shocker for me. My daughter had gone to a daycare with a kindergarten program so the only things I ever brought in were used paper towel rolls, egg cartons and the containers for clorox wipes.

My son’s school basically required 5 spiral notebooks, 5 folders, and some pencils with erasers. The school supplied everything else.

I have to wonder about all this. I can understand requiring pens, pencils, notebooks (not why I have to get a particular BRAND of notebook), erasers, a box to put these things in, paper, etc. These all seem like normal schools supplies.

But why do I need to bring in tissues, boxes of ziploc bags, wipes, and hand sanitizer. I also do not want my kids to use hand sanitizer since it kills the good bacteria. If their hands are dirty, send them to a sink to wash them or give them a wipe.

What’s scary is that even with all of this, teachers are still spending out of pocket to buy supplies, which is pretty sad.

I also have to ask: How complicated has 7th grade math become that the children need a $100 calculator? Granted I was really bad at math, but I got through high school and a semester of college math and never used a calculator.

I’ve also heard that on the 1st day, you get a list of “requested” supplies from the teacher, and my sweet guy’s list actually hints at that. However, I will be batshit if this is true. How much more crap do I need to get?

We live in a not cheap neighbor hood and pay not low taxes and yet I am being asked to supply tissues and wipes. What’s next, will I asked to bring in toilet paper and paper towels. And of course, since school has not actually started I have not gotten the fundraising catalogs yet.

Since this is new for me, I have to ask, is this typical? Is this a small list and I should be grateful, or is this alot.

However, no matter how crazy the list, I still love this commercial.

Urban Pirate Adventure

For my son Alex, I have two big challenges for his birthday.  The first challenge is that since his birthday is in the middle of the summer, most of his friends are away, so its hard to have a birthday party with no guests.  This challenge was exacerbated by the fact that we moved from Massachusetts to Maryland less than 3 weeks before his birthday.

The second and more recent challenge is little Dude’s age.  Now that he is 12, he is not enticed by a visit to the petting zoo or Chuck E Cheese (I am grateful about the lack of interest in CEC-really I am).  But I still want to do something special for him on his special day.

This leads me to the Urban Pirates.  Urban Pirates is a pirate themed boat experience that goes around the Inner Harbor in down town Baltimore.  For the very, very reasonable price of $20 per person, you get a pirate sash, temporary tattoos, face painting and a 45 minute pirate adventure cruise.

The staff is wonderful, leading the kids through a lesson in pirate vocabulary, dancing, pass the shrunken head, and a chance to defeat the scurvy MadDog Pirate and rescue the treasure.

If you go, the boat is not usually very full.  Our trip had less than 20 people, but the max is 40.  The music can be a little loud, especially if you are sitting near the front of the boat, but its not too bad.  They also do a Bring Your Own Grog boat ride for the adults.

The boat has bathrooms but no food or drink. Food is not important, but in this heat you will want to have some water.  Don’t be me.  Bring the water from home or hit a CVS on the way.  Don’t buy it at the bakery down the street from where you dock and pay $2.00 per bottle.

My children are ages 6 and 12 and they both LOVED the trip.   They are begging to go again.  And since it was so reasonable, (its cheaper than a movie) we will probably go again.  The only other thing to keep in mind is that they sell very attractive bandanas, swords and guns right where you get on the boat.  They are not bad, $3 for a bandana and $5 for the water pistol, but the baubles are highly visible and the staff does mention hitting the gift shop as you are prepping to get off the boat.

But I am an easy mark, and it was his birthday, so I got them each a trinket.  

Happy Birthday to My Handsome Guy

Not my husband- although he is very handsome.  Today is Alex’s birthday, and he is 12.  I can’t believe that my sweet boy is 12, with the occasional bouts of tween ‘tude and the odd man smells that he now produces.

It seems like yesterday that I found out I was pregnant.  It seems like it was a blink of an eye when he looked like this:

Look at that face.  If you don’t feel even the tiniest impulse to pinch those widdle cheeks, than there is something wrong with you and we can’t be friends.

Now I get this handsome face to look at:

I still see traces of baby there, and every once in a while, he lets me pinch those cheeks.

And when I look at him I feel incredibly lucky.  Yes, he has his challenges and can be challenging, but his heart is sweet and pure, his brain is fascinating, and he is a funny kid.

In short, he is the best son ever, and I love him so very much.

Happy Birthday Sweetie!  I hope this is the 1st day of a wonderful year.







Getting Around NYC

I am very excited to be attending BlogHer this year.  Its my first BlogHer and I am looking forward to meeting some wonderful bloggers and learning ways to make my blog better and learn how to be better versed in social media.

I was also excited that the conference is in NYC.  I grew up on Long Island and have always loved visiting the city.

While there are many ways to get around NYC and they all have pros and cons, with the exception of bringing your own car and driving it around.  My only response is to NOT DO IT.  NYC can be challenging to navigate by car and finding legal, inexpensive parking is next to impossible.  If you thought about coming in by car, I suggest you find one of the commuter rail or Amtrak stations near you and park your car there and take the train.

If you are going to take in some sightseeing when you are not in conferences here are the pros and cons to getting around.

Pros and Cons to Traveling in NYC:

1. Walking-

Pros: Its free and its a great way to see the city, there are a lot of cute little stores, and gives you lots of opportunities for people watching.

Cons: You are limited by the speed you can walk, so if you are trying to see lots of the city, walking alone is not the most efficient way.

2. Taxi-

Pros: You will go exactly where you want and you can still see lots of what is going on.  Also, if you have a friendly driver, you can have some great converations.

Cons: Taxi’s are expensive.  I would save a cab for when you are either exhausted, carrying a lot of stuff, or feel that you are hopelessly lost.

3. Subway-

Pros: Efficient, and not very expensive.  You can cover lots of the city, and get to people watch.  Also the subway is very safe and most trains have a map of the stops so you will not miss your stop.  Here is a link for a Subway Map, and you can also download a free app for the Subway.

Cons: You do have to plan a little to make sure you are going to the right place, and be careful to be on a local and not an express train.  Also, since the subway is underground, you do not see a lot of the city.

4. Tour Bus-

On just about every corner you will see people selling tickets for one of the double decker tour buses.  You buy tickets and you can hop on and off for different loops around the city.

Pros: You really get to see a lot of the city, and if you get a good tour guide, you learn a lot of neat facts.  Also, the hop on-hop off nature allows you to target the areas you want to see, and with a bus every 10-20 minutes during the day, you are never stuck in one area for long.

Cons: The tickets are not cheap, but if you google the companies, you can often get coupons.  Also, getting from place to place is faster than walking, but slower than the subway or taxi.

I have never tried the bicycle rickshaws, so I cannot comment on them.

Getting around NYC is also pretty easy as the bulk of the city is on a grid.  Sometimes you might get turned around a little, but you can always find your way.

Also to save yourself a little on a cab, try to catch your cab facing in the direction you want to go it.  That trip around the block, especially in traffic can add to your fare.