U Don’t Get Me

It was Spring, 2010. I was in the basement, doing my typical run/walk workout on my in-home treadmill, and keeping myself company with the nonsensical fluff they air on the E! channel (think anything Kardashian, Top 100 Most Shocking Reality TV Moments, etc.). I can’t watch anything too heavy while I’m working out because  it’s physically painful to exert both my body and my brain simultaneously, so I was kind of half-watching the screen and half-monitoring my “laps” when this commercial grabbed my attention:

“How spot on!” I thought (no pun intended). Kotex understands that the feminine protection industry has for years bombarded the viewing public with ridiculous images of women reveling in the wonder of their monthly “gift.” But here, the brand captured every cliche used throughout the decades and successfully mocked it in a 30-second spot.

The commercial also had people talking (and sharing) via the social networking sites. It was certainly a breakthrough ad. I don’t know how it impacted the company’s business, but it certainly must have increased awareness for what I perceive is a second-tier brand – behind Procter & Gamble’s Always and Tampax.

However, what I’ve learned in the past two days has made me think Kimberly-Clark (the company behind the Kotex brand) really doesn’t understand me too well, after all.

They’re absolutely correct in that women have to find ways to sneak their feminine products into the bathroom when they’re in a public place. We don’t want to boldly announce that we have our periods – usually, the people in our lives can tell just by our uptick in crazy, tearful behavior – because there’s no way to walk around with a tampon or pad in hand and not feel like you’re revealing too much information about yourself.

So, tell me Kotex, how does wrapping a tampon in brightly colored plastic make it easier to hide the fact that we have our periods?

Oh! You’re saying we don’t need to be ashamed anymore because now our tampons are pretty. Also, women are a lot freer and less uptight these days. I get it!

We are a lot freer and less uptight these days. But does that mean we’re any less embarrassed by the fact that we’re on the rag. Some things don’t change, and no matter how bold and free I feel to talk about matters that used to be taboo years ago, I still don’t want the world to know my “friend”  (or my “aunt.” Whatever…) is in town.

So, dressing up your products in bright, dayglo packaging makes it even harder for me to unobtrusively transport my tampon from Point A to Point B, and no matter how funny your commercial and no matter how cool you think you are, I’m not going to buy your product because it’s positioned as the cool, hipster brand.

Of course, it’s possible I’m no longer considered part of the target market. I hate to say it, but it won’t be long now before I won’t need these kinds of products anymore. And perhaps the new generation of women feel comfortable letting the world know when it’s their time of the month. I’d be interested to know if that’s true.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to slip my tampon in my sleeve at dinner parties and let no one be the wiser. Although I do tend to speak my mind, I like to reserve some room for a little mystery in my life.

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Goo Goo Gah Gah!

It’s been a few years since I’ve been surrounded by babies, so I’m a bit out of the loop when it comes to new, gimmicky ways to make the little ones eat.

For example, a couple of months ago I saw a mom pulling a multi-pak of squeezable applesauce out of her bag and then pass around the tubes to other toddler moms at the playground.

“So, there’s an interesting idea,” I thought. “A nice healthy snack for kids-on-the-go!” (Because what kid isn’t going somewhere at all times these days, right?)

I’ll give these moms the benefit of the doubt, and assume that when they’re at home, they make some kind of effort to teach their offspring how to use actual utensils. Because, judging by how the playground kids were consuming these, it looked like they were sucking on a bottle. I wonder what the developmental specialists and occupational therapists would say about this trend. I was roundly criticized by an OT when my son was still drinking from a sippy-cup at age three.

While I can kind of understand the appeal of food from a tube if you’re a small child or a harried mom, can someone please explain why older kids and (gasp!) adults are drawn to what seems to be a growing trend in the confection aisle? 

What would compel a sentient individual to purchase a container of goo? What could possibly be enjoyable about it? I love the Icee (and its better known competitor, the Slurpee), but the appeal of those items is that they’re cool and refreshing. They quench your thirst in a fun way.  Why would anyone think squirting a shot of the Icee’s raw flavor material into her mouth (warm, mind you) is a good idea?

I found a review of the product on a blog, which seemed to make no mention of the fact that this is just weird! (He likes the Cherry and the Blue Raspberry flavors but not green because “green sucks.” Okay. I’ll give  him that.)

But if squirting sickeningly-sweet fruit-flavored gel from a tube that resembles toothpaste is not your thing, why not try squeezable marshmallows? Thank goodness!  They’ve finally come up with a solution to the annoying problem called “chewing”!

Maybe I’m just a purist, but I prefer my candy in solid form. Perhaps they’ll come up with compelling evidence which proves that goo is less harmful for your teeth. If that’s the only benefit, well….it’s a completely lame one!

In fact, I have to stop writing about this now because it’s making me gag.

GAH!

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Why I’m Friendship-Challenged At The Moment

I am self-exiled to a figurative isolation booth right now. There are many reasons why, and I will not delve into all of them.

But there’s one I wish to identify because it’s exasperated me for so long. Here goes:

I can think of few things more irritating than listening to parents who cannot shut up about their gifted kids. You know who I’m talking about…the folks who are convinced you’re interested to know that their little angel was only three years old when she started reading or those who complain that the school district doesn’t provide their son with challenging enough homework. “What’s a child prodigy to do?” they moan.

I suppose if you can somehow empathize with them (i.e. your child is also a genius), these kinds of announcements serve as your opportunity to bond with your pals, and to kiss their asses as you tell them what amazing parents they are!

But if you’re the mom or dad of a special needs child, you’re likely not to be so empathetic. In fact these innocent interactions can bring on a full panic episode! While listening, you’re thinking about the likelihood that your little one is not going to be able to keep up with the rest of his or her Kindergarten classmates. And that of course leads you to fear that your child is never going to learn to read, will eventually fail out of high school, and thus have to live with you in your house for the rest of your life while you continue to make his bed, do his laundry and prepare customized meals that he will undoubtedly refuse to eat.

So, you learn it’s best to drift away from the braggarts and instead fall in with the parents whom you believe will get where you’re coming from.

But then something strange happens.

These relatable people start to depress the fuck out of you. And the stress continues.

While it’s somewhat comforting to know that others share your concerns and can relate to your experiences, I’ve noticed there’s a similar one-upmanship happening within this crowd. Maybe it’s just that they need to vent, or that they want to make a connection. Or it’s possible that they’re simply seeking sympathy. Whatever the reasons for their “boasting”, it  upsets me to hear how Mrs. X’s daughter refuses to get dressed unless she can wear the same (unwashed) shirt every day or how Mrs. Y’s son can’t control his aggressive nature and so hits innocent kids on the playground.

Perhaps I’m just not ready to face what could be even worse episodes down the road for my OCD/ADHD boy. I’m afraid that what I’m doing now to help him is not enough, and that I won’t be able to handle what awaits us in the future. I turn to these friends for support and comfort, but I end up feeling even more hopeless and depressed. The conversations bring my insecurities to the forefront, and then just leave me hanging.

I think every parent is insecure to a certain extent. Correction: I know every parent feels at least a little bit unsure. For many people, talking about these uncertainties is cathartic. I get that. But right now what I’m looking for are tools.

Currently, I’m reading books and consulting websites for practical advice. Some of the online support groups are also rather helpful when the participants outline the strategies they used to overcome their daily struggles with their children.

For me, I’ve found the best resource in the “ocdandparenting” Yahoo group.  While it’s somewhat excruciating to hear others’ stories (but only because of my own fears), the members make a point to tell the readers what has worked for them. What’s also nice is that they go out of their way to say that it does – and will – get better.

So, right now I’m setting up camp in a tiny corner of the Internet, and until I can start to feel more equipped to help my own child, I’ll likely be of little use to my real life friends, especially those whose children have problems of their own.

Forgive me: I’m not ignoring you, and it’s not that I don’t care.  I just want to be able to give as much as I take where my friendships are concerned. I don’t want to be the one who’s doing all the unloading, and I can’t bear to be the catch-all for your complaints right now.

I suppose what they say about love also rings true with friendship; you can’t really love another until you are able to love and appreciate yourself. I don’t want to hurt my friends by being emotionally and mentally unavailable, so until I can strengthen my skill-set and start to feel like a more proactive parent, I can’t be the friend you deserve.

I hope this doesn’t discourage anyone from turning to their friends for comfort and support. Ultimately, a listserv of anonymous users cannot be as fulfilling as real relationships with flesh-and-blood friends. Just be more aware of what those real friends may be going through before you begin to engage.

And please know that nobody but you and your spouse care that your kid is brilliant.

If you’ve learned nothing else from my post, remember that.

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Purty Words? I Could Never Live it Down.

So, lately my life has been a shitstorm. You know Murphy? The guy who created that law about bad things happening. That’s what it’s been like to be me.

I won’t bore with you the personal details, but it seemed like a piling-on of one terrible piece of news after another: family, health, finances.

Now when bad things happen to good people…and keep on happening, you start to doubt whether or not you are (in fact) a good person after all.

You begin to believe that maybe you deserve the crap life is throwing at you.

And nothing good can ever come from that belief.

Because once you feel like you’re  not worthy, you sort of invite the caca into your world. “Come in,” you say. “Please take up residence in my pitiful abode. You’ll fit in just perfectly here!”

Of course, at the time you don’t realize you’re sending out personal invitations. You just believe you’re a victim. “Wah wah,” you cry. “Woe is me” and similar self-talk.

It’s difficult to believe that you (me, in this case) has anything to do with the unfortunate series of events because you’re so busy feeling sorry for yourself.

But all it takes is a single moment of clarity to begin to spin that mindset in another direction.

That moment came for me yesterday, when I reached across my desk to open (and watch) a DVD I had purchased last year. A DVD based on a book I had read years ago. One which had really changed my life at the time, but its lessons were stored away so deep in the recesses of my mind that I simply forgot about its wisdom. 

If you don’t know anything about Louise Hay, I’ll sum up her philosophy very quickly for you: Change your thoughts to heal your life.

I realize it sounds nauseatingly New Age-y, but I’m convinced there’s something to it. Approximately eight years ago, I created a vision of a family. I was suffering from infertility, and the odds were stacked against a 38-year-old woman with rapidly expiring eggs. So I spent at least 20-30 minutes per day creating a realistic scene in my mind.  In the scene, there was a small child laughing and running around in our backyard. I “lived” that scene until I actually believed it was true.

A few months later (and with minimal intervention from fertility drugs), I found out that I was pregnant. Not with one baby, but two.

Skeptics love to rebuff the Law of Attraction. They make jokes about it and the people who swear by it.

Based on everything I’ve written so far in this blog, and the types of cards I create, you would think I was one of those people. But I have no choice but to be a believer, because I won’t let myself bring any more negativity into my world.

There’s just one problem.

How can I reconcile this new way of thinking with the type of material I create for this blog and my Hurty Words products? Can I be cynical and snarky while also adhering to a positive-thinking mindset?

That is the challenge.

Because while “purty” words will likely improve my life, they’re not very funny. Punny, perhaps…but not funny.

And I’ve always believed that humor has great potential in the spirit-lifting department.

So, maybe that’s the key. I’ll laugh at the idiots, but won’t let them get me down.

Maybe that’s the answer for all of you out there, as well.

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Kinda Kraft-y If You Ask Me

Ya ever notice how it’s so much harder to open the lid of the Parmesan cheese on the three-holed side than on the gaping-hole side?  

Think that’s by accident?

The marketing geniuses over at Kraft have figured out a way to make you buy more cheese.

Of course, that’s only a theory.

But one that’s likely backed up by hundreds of market research hours.

We lazy Americans will go to no extreme effort to powder up our heaping plates of noodles.

You don’t even have to research that one.

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Fool Me Twice

Really, Fiber One!

How difficult is it to mimic caramel flavor?

These are not Oats & Caramel bars. These are Oats & Butterscotch bars.

Yes, they are similar

But not the same.

I do not like butterscotch.

I was not expecting butterscotch.

I feel betrayed.

Just like that time when you told me what I had purchased was a brownie.

That was no brownie.

So I guess what I’m saying is, “Shame on me.”

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Bah, Humbug!

I know.

I KNOW!

It’s too early for anything Christmas. You’re just getting used to seeing Halloween candy in the stores.

However, if you’re the type who sends out holiday cards, you’ll probably have to start thinking about this sooner rather than later.

I’ve created a card that you can customize on Zazzle. Just click on the photo above and it will link you to the page where you can write your own text in the talk bubble.

Maybe you don’t feel like doing this today.

Perhaps not even in the next couple of weeks.

But before you know it you’re eating turkey and it’s already December.

Just something to consider…

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