The Big Cock Debacle 2013 {and why I’m actually making a New Year’s res this year.}

6 Jan

I have a pretty keen eye for many things. But clearly I have some gaps in my ability to grasp certain details. Like how some links are created on good old Facebook.

Let me explain.

A few days before Christmas this year I was taking a zone out/Facebook surfing break in between a slew of obligations I had to attend to.

I avoid posting, sharing or responding to anything that is strongly political or religious, which often have political overtones. I’m not offended that people post such things. Freedom of speech and all. Just like they have the right to post I have the right to ignore and keep my views private or for more personal conversations.

I like funny stuff. Who doesn’t. I like edgy and sometimes inappropriate stuff too. Again, I’m not alone.

One of the of the page feeds that I have “Liked” is the Onion’s Facebook page. The Onion is delightfully sarcastic, satirical, irreverent, comical and funny. Definitely edgy and often times inappropriate.

Among other posts to FB, they had posted an article (more of a photo collection) titled “The Big Cocks Of 2013”. How could I ignore an invitation like that? Click.

A collection of about 11 photos, a very impressive body of work. Call me immature for scrolling through photos of dude junk. It was hard to look away. A little bit shocking (they weren’t joking) I think because while women’s breasts and asses are plastered all over the place, whether you are looking for it or not, male genitalia is kept tucked away. Unless, of course, you are deliberately looking for it. I certainly wasn’t offended. Entertained really.

What was most entertaining though weren’t the photos themselves (I never knew their was so much landscaping done in the land of Man Gardens) but rather the text underneath the photos. Things along the line of “Hey, you sicko perv! We told you what you would be looking at. Clearly you’re here to see some dick!” and “Oh by the way, this cock belongs to the guy who but this photo gallery together.” and “This is an illustration of a dick. From a photo of a dick.” I guess it tickled my funny bone that they didn’t even try and deliver something other than what the title was and then made fun of the fact. Which made the comments in the FB thread funny as well; “I was not expecting that.” and “I thought I was going to see a giant chicken stomping on New York city.” and “Where’s Foghorn Leghorn?”

I show my love and appreciation to the posting site by clicking “Like”. It is my way of showing that I have seen their efforts and I applaud them. A slap on the back between me, the site and other “Likers”. Or so I had always  thought.

Later that evening my husband and I went to a friend’s Holiday cocktail party. Their house was filled with people we were delighted to see and share time, drinks and conversations with. At one point my husband and I were around the outside fire pit with a few other couples. I brought up the Onion’s post. Describing it and creating gales of laughter among everyone was pretty easy. Selfies of penises + irreverent written content=giggles.

The next morning my husband came into our master bathroom area while I was getting dressed.

Hubby: “I checked out that post you were talking about last night. I’m the size of most of those guys”. To qualify his statement he dropped trou. As if there was any doubt. Except for the elephant’s penis. Thankfully.

Me: “Oh, so you hunted down the post on the Book Face?”

Hubby: “You made a link to it on my Facebook feed.”

Me: “What? No I didn’t. I didn’t do the whole ‘Share’ thing. I had just clicked ‘Like’.”

Hubby: “What do you think that does? It makes a link. Here, look.” Okay, that hurt a bit because he knows very little about settings and navigating on FB. Or so I had thought.

Me: “Really?” Ohmygodohmygodohmygod…OH MY GOD! “really…”

Hubby: “Yeah. Now your Grandma and your twelve year old son know you like big cocks.” And my employer, maybe some older teen dance students, their moms, other parents who my kids go to school with…F*CK!

Have you ever been in that brain space where you are waiting for the bomb to drop? You aren’t quite sure if the drop will even happen, or how exactly it will play out,  but you start to create your new reality anyway. That was my brain space. Would I get onto Facebook and find that I have been un-friended by a mass offended and disgusted friends? Will I have messages from angry mothers? Will my boss ( who I’m sure likes big cocks, just not posts about them) be wanting to have strong words with me? Erg.

I mean, they were just photos of penises. Photos that should best be left off of FB. Shit.

So, amazingly, at least to me, there was no fall out. I didn’t want to post an apology or anything because that would surely bring attention to it. “Hey, just in case you missed my exercise in stupidity and carelessness, here it is! Check out these cocks! Yeah baby! Um, sorry.”

My husband had a good laugh telling some friends and my mother.

I felt, still feel, embarrassed and foolish for not realizing that hitting “Like” creates a pretty clear link on a news feed. Yeah sure, I know it pops up in that little side feed in the right column. It’s column everyone pretty much ignores. Like a harmless and tiny gnat; it’s constantly buzzing but not enough to smack the shit out of it. When I went onto my news feed and really looked I clearly saw how links like my “Like” clicking are created. “So and so Likes this”. Bold as brass. How could I have been so blind. Der der der.

I rarely, if ever, make New Years resolutions. I have always felt that if something is worth doing or changing then the new habit or change should be implemented ASAP.

I feel that I have been given a wonderful opportunity to change my ways. Or at least to be more discerning and discreet about what I allow to link up on my feed. How many other crazy things have I made links to with “Liked” posts such as this one; The 5 Parts Sex Porn Doesn’t Prepare You For. via cracked.com. I will just have to send my love and appreciation for this kind of hilarity through the ether. Or just email it to people that I know for sure will get a kick out of it.

Oh, and if you’re wondering where the link for the post from The Onion that inspired this post…well, I’ve done enough. You want some dick pics, find ’em yourself.

I will stick with clicking “Like” and “Share” for site like these:

upworthy.com; A Brave Fan Asks Patrick Stewart…

Dance related articles, video and pictures.

Crazy, cool stuff I want to talk my husband into doing with me…

Hilarity without photos of genitalia…

And just about anything from wimp.com

Overprotective Kitten

…or Earth Porn…

With all of those choices, who needs pics of big dicks? (Of course I will still look with a title like “Big Cocks Of 2013.”)

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Image source.

Thanks for hanging out. Have a great 2014!

Got any  FB or other social media tales of folly?

December 26th. My Favorite Day Of The Year.

30 Dec

 

 

Apparently I came flying out of the Christmas closet this year as a raging Grinch. Both barrels ba-lazing with cynicism and grumpiness. For most of my adult life the Christmas holiday season has brought with it stress. I know I’m not alone in that. Everybody feels it. I’ve had Christmases in the past that I have fond memories, when we had only two kids and they were really little. No trying to keep up with school events. Grandparents were still working, thus too busy too obsess about ridiculous shit.

It always seems the same each year; not enough time to get everything done and worries about money. One finds themselves rushing around to holiday functions (business holiday parties, their kids’ Christmas performances, etc) all the way up till “break time” which offers no break once you have kids because that’s when you can finally get stuff done for your own family. I have a handful of friends in college right now and I really felt for them having to wrangle their kids and finals!

I was lamenting to a friend a month or so ago that it seems ridiculous to me that we all get wrapped up into an event only once a year that embraces the concept of loving your fellow man and spreading reverence and good cheer when really those should be aspects of our everyday lives. Instead of going bat-shit crazy with all the planning for a one or two day event, pretending to just love the reason for the season while dreading the thought of being forced to spend time with people that you try really hard to avoid the rest of the year. I know this isn’t everyone’s predicament, but I also know that it is so for many. Good cheer, good will towards man should be part of our everyday lives and not just dragged out during the same part of the year that we mentally strategize how to avoid starting that one special relative on a bigoted triad.

I’m sure my attitude will change once I have grandchildren of my own, or my own children start moving out. I hope my attitude does change. I also hope that I remember all the things that relatives do that really drive me berzerk and that I make better choices myself.

The only thing I dislike more than all the commercialism and chasing of one’s tail at Christmas is complaining about it without coming up with ideas to counter all the bullshit.

So, I’ve put together an inventory of  things that I do like and some ideas to have good cheer all year.

I love getting Christmas cards and letters. Mine are usually thrown together in a haphazard collage form as I desperately try to pull together something representing our family’s year. This year I didn’t even get it started till after the “big day”, and instead am opting for a Happy New Year’s version. But I am always excited to get them in the mail from others. Hell, I like them from people I don’t even know (usually business associates of my husband). I enjoy reading the Christmas letters that they have constructed, updating everyone on their family’s goings on. I save them. Year to year.

Sappy and/or silly Christmas movies. We stumbled upon this little gem; Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger. I love how Brits beautifully balance tradition and irreverence.

In trying to make sure that I got the right amount of stocking stuffers for the kids and grandparents I completely shorted my wonderful hubby. My lover, my friend and co-parent for the last twenty years, and he got just a bag of beef jerky from me. Mainly because it was convenient to grab one for him when grabbing some for other male folk in our family. I felt like shit. Aside from pointing out that I had taken care of food and organizing a lot of the stuff for the kids, he also pointed out that its been like that for the last two decades. He gets me all kinds of goodies and I get him…some. I couldn’t tell if that fact bothered him or having to point it out while I was having a mini-hissy fit at midnight on Christmas Eve. So do I fix it by making sure to knock his socks off with a stocking full of new socks next Christmas morning? No. Remember, I’m sort of done with the crazy hustle bustle of the 12 days of insanity. No, I am going to go with the good cheer all year. Once a week I’m going to try and treat him to something that will just make him smile and feel a little giddy. Maybe a couple of Charleston Chews or a bottle of top shelf tequila. Perhaps even a late night strip tease now and again (Ladies, if you haven’t gone on that adventure with your husband I highly recommend you do. It’s awesome for both parties!).

Over the years we have hosted many events at our house. BBQs, holiday feasts. pool parties. Mostly family events. I want to have more parties and get togethers with those that I don’t always get to spend time with, but would love to do so. I’m thinking a “Good Cheer, All Year” get together cocktail party. We will be moving into a rental house in the near future, but my ass needs to cash the check that my mouth is making on this one. I want to pick a time of year that not much in the way of obligatory holidays are going on.

Perhaps in embracing my year round ideas and remembering about the things I do love about the yuletide season will get me off the Grinch track.

December 26th is still my favorite day of the season, if not the year. It ensures that I have over 300 days to not give a crap about Christmas. Now I can focus on the glory of everyday.

A Smart Phone In A Sauna? {Is that really smart?}

11 Dec

About 2 or 3 times a week I try to spend some time in the dry sauna at my gym. I will usually do this after I have taught a morning Zumba class and have done some resistance exercises for myself, and right before I take my shower and get on with the rest of my day. While in the sauna I do a few yoga stretches, focusing on my lower back, hamstrings, pirifomis, shoulders and quads. I have an addition towel to the one that I sit or lay on so that I can drape my goodies depending on the type of stretch I’m doing. It’s all ladies in the looker room and the sauna is very small and never heavily populated, but I feel it’s the polite thing to do. If they have a problem with toplessness, well, then they are outta luck.

I started visiting the sauna on a recommendation from my husband. He knows an orthopedic surgeon who swears by a hot sauna’s effectiveness, combined with some gentle stretching specific to a trouble spot, or spots,  to help alleviate soreness. Since I have constant tightness in my lower back and pirifomis I thought what do I have to lose. Prior to starting this routine I had never been inside a dry sauna.

The first thing I noticed was the heat. The heat combined with the smallness of the little room. About the size of a walk-in closet and completely lined with wood (red cedar?), its usually heated up to somewhere in the high 160’s degrees wise. Benches lined two of the four walls. Fortunately the door is mainly made of glass, sparing me from a complete claustrophobic break down. Once I was able to wrap my head around how freaking hot it was (I felt like my lungs had to adapt to a new atmosphere), I quickly melted into a mode of relaxation. I don’t time myself, but rather let my own heat tolerance determine when to cry uncle. Sometimes I don’t get through all the stretches that I want to do. Opting instead to bail lest I risk passing out or getting felled by heat induced nausea.

So, I’ve continued the routine. My visits had to go on hiatus for a month or so while repairs were being done to the wet sauna. Since they are right next to each other in my gym both had to be sectioned off for the repairmen to work, undisturbed by the constant stream of naked ladies (all ages, mind you. I’d love to know their take on ladies’ locker room talk). Both have once again become accessible. I can once again feel the benefits in my muscles. My dry sauna visits don’t completely eliminate my trouble spots, but the visits do help me to maintain a large range of movement while cutting down on the pain. Then there is also the mind calming aspect. Didn’t realize how much I missed that until I got it back.

Most of the time I am in the sauna all by my lonesome. Sometimes someone is in there when I go in. Sometimes someone will join me during my sit. There’s plenty of room. Conversations are at a mellow and relaxed pace. Heat will calm everything you do down. No need to get into any heavy topics since we intuitively know that our individual time is short in the little room of devouring heat. Once it’s time to leave, it is time to leave. Some women come with just their towels on, others will have their workout clothes still on (I would go insane, like bat-shit panic level insane) or a bathing suit. Once I noticed that a young lady in the spa just outside the sauna was drying her sweat soaked tank top and yoga pants in the dry sauna. Can’t fault that kind of ingenuity.

A number of months ago a young lady was sitting in the sauna, wearing workout clothes and shoes (personal panic moment) and vigorously texting on her smartphone. It struck me as odd to have an electrical device in such a hot environment. It also made me feel a little of what I can only describe as sympathetic anxiety that she couldn’t just tune the world out and be separated from her cell phone for the short time while in the sauna. Why even go into the sauna if those texts are so damn important. But, not my problem.

A couple of weeks ago I was doing my routine time in the sauna with some gentle yoga poses and stretches. A lady joined me (super cute purple bikini). She commented on how she missed the clock that used to be on a wall close by the hot water spa, visible from the sauna door as well. It helped her keep track of the time so she could make a yoga class (I wonder if she appreciated my variations on Gomukhasana and Janu Sirsana poses). I’ve felt the burn of my earrings in the sauna the times I have forgotten to remove them, so wearing a watch wouldn’t work out much better. I mentioned that I saw a gal bring her smartphone in once and how it seemed kind of crazy to me, but I’m sure she could keep track of time. She replied with, “Coming in here is a way to escape from all that stuff (being electronically connected to everything). I wouldn’t want to bring all that in here with me. That would feel miserable.” So true. Interestingly, I was having similar thoughts minutes earlier as I was settling in.

Sitting in the sauna, enveloped in the heat, provides me with not just a physical restoration of sorts, but a psychological and emotional one as well. The extreme heat and the snugness of the room cause my mind to slow down and relax. I don’t know if it’s my own version of mentally surviving the onslaught of heat and my body’s physical response to it, or if it is just plain old relaxation. Because anxiety would get in the way of coping with the heat and smallness of the room, my thoughts tend to gravitate towards neutral, calming positive thoughts. The complexities of the world, in my mind, become as stripped down as myself. My breath becomes the atmospheric sound. I think the sauna must butt up against the men’s locker room, because I can often hear muffled male voices. I like the timbre of the male voice, and since I can’t make out their words the sound is kind of soothing.

There is a dimly lit light in the small wood lined room. It throws an almost candlelit hue of soft light. My skin looks beautiful and luminescent in it. Not because my skin is particularly beautiful in color or tone, it’s not. Anyone’s skin would look beautiful under the lighting, but I can stare at my own, thus sparing another some extreme awkwardness.

Thoughts and feelings gently roll through my brain as I listen to my body during my various stretches. Sometimes I will find an especially tight spot. My mind will conjure scenes of serene fields of tall grass and wild flowers blowing gently in a breeze as I inhale and exhale through the tightness in my muscles.

Image source.

As sweat starts to bead  on my heated skin and my muscles melt my mind drifts to seas of rolling burgundy velvet. Sensual and rich like handfuls of damp, nutrient rich earth.

Hey! Wait a minute! (Image source)

That’s more like it.

As my anxieties are overridden by my relaxation and pleasure center, the world becomes a little clearer. My tasks and directions for the day line up like obedient sentries. Things appear a little brighter, crisper, cleaner.

Image source.

There is absolutely nothing on my smartphone that can compete with all of that.

I think a basic understanding of electronics will lead most to realize that high heat is not good for batteries, of any kind. Or motors. Have you ever noticed that most appliances and electronics that generate a  lot of heat have built in fans? I have a Belkin Laptop Cooling Pad for my laptop, and I bought one for my daughter (oh, that reminds me; a great gift for my other daughter who got a laptop earlier this year. Woo Hoo!). Jump into a wet sauna and you are adding moisture with the heat. Lame. Don’t do it. Learn to decipher the buzzing in your head. Do not reject it as boredom. Boredom is too elevated of a state for most humans to actually be in. It means that you have absolutely nothing to do or think about. That is not the case for most anyone with a pulse and at least a couple brainwaves.

Image source. Tumblerone.

Be smart and stow away that smartphone before venturing into the sauna (wet or dry). Become the interesting thing on the mobile web.

Thoughts? Do you do the sauna sit’n’sweat? Wet or Dry? Terrifed to be parted from your mobile device? Or looking for a good escape? 

Forget Hump Day. Try WTF Wednesdays…

6 Nov

Image source.

 

The last week of October was a pretty funky one. Monday started off with a tearful “talk it out” session with one of my closest friends. Our husbands are childhood friends, and as couples we have been friends for over twenty years. Our friendship has changed a bit over the last couple of years due to a situation in their marriage that has since been resolved, leaving them in a better place as a couple. In talking to my longtime friend about where I stand (I still love them both, they will always be a part of me, and we will continue to grow our friendship. Bumps happen in any relationship), I realized things about myself and how I manage the balance between my relationship with my husband and my relationships with friends.

While it is very important to keep things in my home peaceful and sane, I also need to make sure to invest in my friendships and not take for granted that my friends know how much they mean to me. This is something that I can divert more energy into as my kids are getting older and more independent.

I don’t regret sharing tears with one of my oldest and closest friends. I do regret not making sure she knows how much she means to me. Lives get busy, what with kids and activities and work. Staying connected with friends, especially family friends, is important.

Although tears were shed, reminders of how special we are to each other  as well as our families to one another were shared. Not a bad way to start the week.

Wednesday went from Hump Day to “WTF!” day.

My 16 year old daughter, a junior in high school, normally picks up her younger brother, a 7th grader, from junior high on her way home. The junior high where our 12 year old son goes houses the swimming pool that the high school swims team uses for practices.

This is basically the report I got from my daughter when she got home that day.

“I’m so mad! When I picked up Neil from school I parked over by the pool so he and I could get an ice cream from the ice cream truck that parks in front of the school. You know how my car is really dusty? Yeah, well, my friend “So-N-So” (a fellow high school junior and on the high school swim team) was teasing me about it. He started rubbing his butt on my car.”

(Dialog in my mind; “High school boys can be so goofy and immature. Although I think I have rubbed my butt on friends’ cars for similar reasons.”)

“Then, a bunch of freshmen from the swim team, that I don’t even know, came over and started rubbing their butts on my car.”

(Most kids in high school are goofy and immature. So silly.)

“One of the kids started climbing up on my hood.”

(Whoa! While the car my daughter drives is a Volvo station wagon and pretty damn sturdy, climbing on the hood of any car can cause damage. Not cool, man.)

“Then this group of, like, eight kids starts shaking my car back and forth and drawing penises on the hood. I started the car and yelled that I was going to back up. One of the kids reached in on Neil’s side and unlocked the door. They finally moved when I started to back up.”

(At this point all I can see is red while I envision my daughter and my son surrounded by an aggressive gang of teens engaging in basic mob mentality. And what the hell is it with drawing penises on things? My best guess is that it is a way to humiliate and demean someone. Nice.

My blood was ready to boil over out of my ears. “You need to tell “So-N-So” that he is about to have a very angry 6’4″ man explain the ways of the world to him.” I am fuming at this point.)

The group of kids, who had clearly crossed a line, were a mix of boys and girls. I find it ironic that while the girls were clearly smitten with the idea of drawing penises on a stranger’s car are probably at some point going to be on the ass end of a humiliating and demeaning act perpetrated on them.

The situation was explained to her dad. While able to remain calmer than myself, he was pretty disturbed by the incident.

So, with a belly full of rage and adrenaline, I headed off to go teach dance classes for 4 hours. Little did I know that I was not done with adrenaline spikes.

While teaching my ballet class filled with a bunch of painfully adorable 6-8 year olds I noticed that a man was standing just outside one of the windows of the studio I was in. Classes were going on in the other studio situated closer to the entrance of the building, while the studio I occupied was towards the back of the building, and has a door that leads to a small parking lot that surrounding businesses all share. I didn’t think much of him standing there. There are other businesses, and perhaps he was waiting for a child from the studio to finish up their class. He wasn’t looking in and besides, there’s a shade covering the window the pretty much blocks the view from the outside in.

An hour and a half later I noticed that he was still there. By this time my studio room had a bunch of teen age girls in it. I also noticed that said man was talking to an invisible person and making very sharp and agitated movements with his arms. Shit. Not good.

The other instructors and some of the parents from the other room had noticed the guy. So our dance school’s secretary put a call into the police, as well as the dance school’s owner. While the owner was unable to get to the studio, she was going to send her father and boyfriend over. At about this time one of my students informed me that she needed to walk a couple of blocks after class to a local public radio station to do a radio show she hosts. With the sun rapidly going down and a strong reminder that our quaint downtown is being overrun by the homeless and pan-handlers there was no effing way she was going to walk alone. I ended the class 15 minutes early so I could walk her and get back in time for my final class of the evening. Not much could be done in the class I was teaching at the time. No one could concentrate with the phantom of the parking lot lurking right outside the window.

The owner’s dad and boyfriend arrived. Her dad was able to get the guy to move along, several plastic bags in tow. Her boyfriend joined me in walking the teen student the couple of blocks she needed to travel. Ironically, the guy outside the window was settling into the city’s downtown plaza, which was on our route, and which has become completely overrun with the homeless and panhandling community. When events aren’t being held almost every bench has one or two indigent individuals camped out on them. The outdoor stage has become a permanent host to the group for overnight stays.

Once we got back to the studio’s lobby, filled with parents who’s kids were in the front studio’s classes, I noticed that there was a rather tall man at the front counter talking to the secretary. What little I could hear of the conversation sounded like he was interested in dance classes for adult students. I heard Hip-Hop. The class I was preparing to teach was a teen/adult dance class for contemporary and lyrical dance. The city I live in has the population of roughly 100,000. Outside of ballroom, what’s offered as dance classes for adults is fairly limited.

Just as I was getting ready to teach class the guy was standing just outside the door. He inquired as to what kind of class it was. I gave him a quick description of the dance style. Was it just for women? Nope. Could he watch to see if it was something he was interested in? Sure. I grabbed him a chair. While it felt a bit awkward, him being the only guy and a stranger, the room had four or five other people in it, most of whom were grown women. The guy seemed very chill and well spoken. Dressed very causal, he didn’t seem grubby. He had an empty postal mailing box and a backpack. I would put him somewhere in his twenties.

I started the warm up. At this point he walked over to a half wall topped by a wooden counter just on the inside of the room from the door. He proceeded to fiddle around with the empty mailing box that looked like it had perhaps already been used. It didn’t look like he was even putting anything into it. Regardless, he was futzing around with this thing and paying no mind to the class. I don’t know if he lost track of the fact that he was in a dance studio and was suddenly at the post office. Was he in the habit of bamboozling his way to countertops? This bizarre bullshit went on for about 60 seconds. I went over to him, “Hey, David (I had introduced myself earlier). Actually tonight is not a good night to observe the class. Thanks for stopping in though. Okay bye.” He gave me no push back and calmly made his way to the front entrance. For good measure I lagged behind him to make sure he found his way out the door. I slipped into the dance studio’s front office, that looks out over the parent filled lobby and the front door (there is a really bitchin counter there too!). The guy quietly exited the building as I quietly started a quick breakdown to the secretary of what had just happened. Our conversation quickly got intercepted by an irate mom on the lobby side of the (bitchin) counter.

Irate mom- “I’m out! I’m done here. I don’t like the idea that anyone can come and watch my kid.” Her child was in the front studio class.

Me- “He was actually interested in another class. The one in the back that has both teens and adults in it.”

Irate mom- “He was clearly on something. He was touching everything and acting all weird. I’m really mad.”

Me- “Well, I’m sorry and thank you for your input.”

I know of no ruckus that this guy caused in the lobby. Outside of being weird, he didn’t cause much of a ruckus in the back either.

Could the real crux of her problem be that he was a young, tall black man? Mind you he didn’t give off any red flags when he talked to the secretary or myself in that he was well spoken and very calm. If that was at the core of Irate mom’s ire then I have a question for her. Just how the fuck, in 2013 am I to tell a young black man that he has no business inquiring about dance classes during operational hours?  Why should he not have the right of anyone else? Is he breaking some law or code of decency by being black and male at a dance studio? And why should I have to question his motives anyway? Regardless of his age or race? A middle-aged white man inquiring for himself would be a far creepier situation.

Her statement, “I don’t want just anyone to be able to come and watch my kid” was an interesting one. As far as I know he showed zero interest in watching any kids. He barely showed any interest in a room with like five fit and attractive grown women. He really wanted that counter top. On my way home I call the dance school’s owner to give her a full run down of the events with downtown nut job number two of the evening. Even though I handled it the best anyone could have (the way he made it all the way back to the back studio without the escort of the secretary was because she had gone to check in with a neighboring business about the guy from earlier and one of our teen dancers in the lobby had answered his inquiry about where to find a trash can), I still felt like I had screwed the pooch on the whole thing. She scoffed at the level of vitriol that the irate mom had at the thought of someone looking at her child. Just looking can not harm a child. It’s not like their soul is going to get sucked out by the observing stranger. More is to be feared from people she and her child already know. If a stranger is looking and behaving in an inappropriate manner, well, duh, that’s a different story. That simply wasn’t the case in last Wednesday’s situation. He just seemed to be not all together there mentally.

One would be surprised to find out who is capable of getting out of control at a place involving children. Try a mom and a grandmother getting into fisticuffs over visitation and custody of a child. During said child’s dance class. Yike’s!

I don’t know for certain that the race of the young man was the Irate mom’s (herself a white woman) biggest objection. I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not he “was touching everything”. No other parent in the parent filled lobby seemed bothered. It does bring up another issue about the community that I share with her. Our demographics are changing. My little NorCal city/town has, up till the last decade or so, been a predominately white community with the next biggest population being Hispanic. We have a large community of Laos and Hmong peoples. It seemed that when I was growing up there was only one black child at any school I went to. It was far more common to come across mixed race families, one black parent and one white. Two such families lived in my childhood neighborhood. All of us kids played together. I never really thought much about it. The boys from the families were just as annoying as any other boys on my street. I would feel sad if this woman’s anger and fear where about the guy’s race. Fear, especially fear seeped in ignorance brings with it stumbling blocks to truth and a community’s ability to evolve.

Which loops me back to the issue of the homeless and pan-handling community within the city in which I live. Being homeless does not immediately mean you are a criminal seeking to do harm and mischief, and taking to stealing children in the thick of night. Although I still stand behind not wanting one of my teen students walking past the plaza.  A great many of the homeless are people who suffer from various forms of mental illness. Many drug addictions are desperate attempts to self-medicate the torturous buzzing of these mental afflictions. Many states have no funds for addressing these individuals in a way that would prevent them from becoming homeless. This coupled with county and city services that make it pretty doable to survive living as a homeless person. It’s not the best of lives, but it is survivable. The beast stays feed and remains a beast. The little shits that decide pan-handling is a viable career and feel entitled to the monies from the working class just piss me off. My compassion goes out to the veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, or the kid, now a penniless 40 something, who fell through the cracks of the system and whose demons were never properly diagnosed. But the economy of a community can not solely function on compassion and tough decisions need to made about how to make a community feel safe visiting businesses so that those businesses can, well, stay in business. For lack of a better way to say it, the inmates can not be the ones running the asylum.

I know one thing though; racism won’t help anything.

So why go into all this bitching about teen mobs who like to draw penises on cars, homeless people wandering into dance studios and irate and potentially racist moms? Uh, because I can? No. These are issues that affect communities. There needs to be a paradigm shift from “kids just being kids”, because they are not just acting like kids. They are acting like insensitive, uncaring, violent thugs with no sense of common sense or compassion. But they get the privilege of being on a school sports team. Reward them for their performance, yet ignore the gaps in the process of them becoming fully realized adults. The last thing this world needs is more adults that are under cooked in the “fully realized” department. That is not who the future should be handed to. I know sports have a tradition of helping to form  fine individuals. I also firmly believe that as a society we have started to lose sight of how important raising good people vs. good performers is.

About the homeless thing. It is an issue that affects communities across the country. It will be interesting to how my community deals with it.

But for now, my husband and daughter went to my daughter’s high school and filed a formal complaint. We are not litigious people by nature and that is not the direction we want to pursue. Rather, we want the school and the coach to be aware of the inappropriateness of the behavior of this group of teens. teens who are complete strangers (except for the one) to my daughter and her younger brother. My husband asked that he be informed of how they intended to address the manner, basically stating that blowing him off was not in their best interest. We shall see.

We shall see.

Hey, go hug a friend and let them know how much they mean to you!

 

Cross-Blogenation Monday; What went on at Miss Erin’s DanceFit in October.

4 Nov

I have not cross-blogged in a very long time. Really, I haven’t been doing much blogging in general. I hope to change that over time. Baby steps, baby steps.

The first blog I started was in January of 2012. I thought it would be a great way to communicate with people from various parts of my dancing life; ballet, Zumba, then eventually Balletone and Pilates. I have students of various ages, and I have friendships with some of my teen dancers parents. I tend to post on Face Book about new posts on misserindancefit.blogspot.com. Like many others, my FB friend group includes family as well as friends and people I may work with professionally. In the blogoshpere I need a place shielded from parts of my family (not my immediate. We have a strong tradition of over sharing ’round these parts) and some people that, while I don’t feel the need to be someone I am not, may need a more personal introduction to the “off the clock” me. Hence, welcome2mycave.

Before I go into what went on in October I’m going to back it up a bit to September.

Last year was the first year that I participated in the annual Thrill The World event. It was a blast!

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I swore I would never wear that ridiculous long gray wig again! I kept choking on strands of it and it kept getting my eyes. Not to mention it was hotter than Hell under it.

Well, we did it again this year. By we I mean members of my Zumba group that I teach 3 times a week and myself. This year’s event happened around the world on Saturday October 26th. But preparation began a over a month prior. All the work was worth it. All ready looking forward to next year’s.

Here’s what went on in October.

Hunting down holiday music.

Around this time of year I need to find music for holiday themed dances to set on my ballet students. In years past I have bristled and groused about this annual task. Last year I rolled up my sleeves and found as much as I could. I’m still feeding off it this year. Bonus- I have a great list to play at home over the holidays.

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Pilates tips.

Over the last few months I have picked up some Mat Pilates classes that I instruct each week. I’ve been geeking out on Pilates technique on a pretty regular basis lately.

Dancehall; I’m gonna fake it till I make.

I love the Dancehall style of music and dancing. Hey, I may be a little rough around the edges, but I won’t let that stop me from lovin it up. Or from setting choreo for fun dance fitness routines for my Zumba classes.

So, that’s what went on over at Miss Erin’s DFit in October.

Hello November.

Thanks for hanging out and reading!

Guns And Quads; A Sweet Sixteen’s Dream Party Theme!

23 Sep

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Image credit.

Okay, this post isn’t exactly about dream party themes for teen girls hitting the sweet sixteen milestone. Although guns, quads and a sixteen year old girl’s birthday party are involved. This tale is more along the lines of helping one’s teen understand that even seemingly nice people, even the parents of friends, can not always exercise the best judgement. If a situation sounds strange then chances are there is a reason. It’s a strange situation.

Also, this is not a post about issues surrounding  gun laws. As an American I have the right to my opinions about guns, gun ownership and guns laws in this country. I, however, do not have all the insights, information or knowledge to go at such a critical and multi-faceted subject in the depth would be required to argue about gun laws. I’m just sticking with some of the more important issues of gun safety in a situation where guns probably shouldn’t have even been present. Although I will throw this opinion out; mental health care should not be more difficult to get than a gun.

Additionally, this isn’t necessarily a post about my husband and I being better parents than somebody else’s parents.  Everybody makes mistakes and bad calls. Even really nice people who happen to be good parents as well. I’m sharing my daughter and husband’s experience (I didn’t go on the excursion. But I did get a very detailed account from both of them) because the other adults involved are seemingly nice, normal, intelligent, well-adjusted, community minded parents. That leads to me to believe that a scenario like the one my loved ones found themselves in could easily happen to a lot of other people. A cautionary tale to remind us all to just take a second, maybe third look when making plans, especially when they involve minors, guns and ATVs.

Here we go.

Our sixteen year old daughter, Caitlyn, has a pretty darn good group of girls in her friend group. Actually they are great. While Daddy-Man and I don’t know some of the parents very well, the brief meetings we have had with some of them haven’t given us any reasons to see red flags wave about.

Last week Caitlyn informed us that a floating campsite trip at a nearby lake that had been planned in celebration of her friend’s sixteenth birthday was off. During the summer our daughter had gone on one of these overnighters at the same lake with the same family. It was the parents, about 5 teenage girls, including our daughter and about 4 or 5 teenage boys. Quite a lot to account for, and with a boat involved. Everything went fine. Caitlyn had been on day trip boating excursions with them before. According to our daughter they were very rules and safety oriented with boating safety; no bodies in the water till the motor was shut off, unless a person was being pulled on water skis or a tube. All equipment had to be used only as intended by the manufacturer. So on and so on.

So when our daughter informed us of what the new party plans were, we were somewhat perplexed and a little curious as to what was really going on.

Here is what our daughter told us the new plans would be:

The birthday girl’s dad (and maybe mom) were going to take her and her group of girlfriends out to his father’s 100+ acre ranch to shoot guns.

Um. What? This particular group of girls, including our daughter, are not really into the hunting, fishing, gun-toting lifestyle. Both my husband and I were raised around guns. I was 12 when I shoot my first firearm and my husband was probably around the same age. He did some hunting growing up. Hunting really wasn’t my family’s lifestyle. My dad’s desire to have guns around was a little more along the lines of be armed, ready and paranoid. At all times. He is still that way. In my childhood home, before my parents split apart, there were loaded guns stored everywhere. I think there was even one deep in my closet, hiding among forgotten stuffed animals and hideous 5-piece outfits given to me at Christmas by my grandma. Certainly being an only child, and a girl at that, kept my liability low. Still, it’s cra-cra to have all that fire power laying around. Fortunately it was drilled into me that every gun you come across is presumed loaded. Never play with a gun. If you point a gun at someone it is because you have already accepted the fact that you plan to pull the trigger. There is no horse-play. There are no second chances. I was 8 months pregnant with our first child and in my early twenties when I purchased my first firearm. Lawfully, I might add. While I have enjoyed target shooting in the past, I haven’t done so in a very long time. Often we have talked about the importance of our children, at appropriate ages, becoming acquainted with gun safety. A group of teenage girls, none of which are into the hunting/fishing lifestyle, with one dad that we know nothing of his firearms knowledge, is not our ideal setting.

“Well, at least there won’t be any boys.” We’ll get to that in a bit.

Our daughter had sweat out explaining the loosely laid plans to our WTF faces.

First responses were “Oh Hell No!”, “Are you sure you heard the plans right?” and “Okay, this sounds jenkie as all get out.”

While it was clear that Caitlyn suspected that we were taking all of this waaaaayyyy to seriously (“Yes, okay. Guns can be dangerous. I get it.”), I think she was also suspecting we knew a little something of which we spoke.

It was decided that Daddy-Man would go with our daughter to this crazy sounding birthday celebration. Still no clarity on if there would be other father-daughter couples. But at least we knew our daughter’s dad would be there. Plus, she had been excited for us to meet her friend’s parents for awhile.

Caitlyn would be getting her first experience shooting guns. Daddy-Man packed up our two handguns and a rifle inherited from his own father. We’ve been holding my husband’s uncle’s ammo since June. This because of a crazy stalker ex-girlfriend who’s prone to breaking in, stealing stuff, and vandalizing our uncle’s car. Repeatedly. We all saw the crazy, he was warned. Sometimes stupid needs to be painful. My hubby asked his uncle if we could use some of his ammo. So, with his permission, they now had some fire power.

On a Saturday morning Daddy-Man and Cait-a-pillar loaded up guns, ammo, water bottles and an uncertainty as to how it was all going to play out, and headed out.

After meeting up at the birthday girl’s house, carpooling arrangements were made with her mother to transport the group of 5 teenage girls out to the grandparent’s ranch where the father was already stationed. So far just three adults/parents were in the equation; the sweet sixteen’s parents and my husband. Three adults are more than adequate for a group of 5 teenage girls for just about any activity. Unless something extraordinary is going on like a group exorcism. Teen girls are vicious when possessed by evil demons. I’ve seen the movies.

Off they all went.

Perhaps the best way to liven up any activity, especially one involving loaded firearms (all firearms are loaded!) is to throw in some teenage boys. Let’s say four of them. Why stop there? Jazz everything up a little more with some ATV 4-wheelers and Go Kart action.

That is what my husband pulled up to. I can only imagine that as he got out of his vehicle he could hear the distant tattooing of tribal drums accompanied by a steady chant of “Clusterfuck, clusterfuck, clusterfuck.” 

Shortly after unloading his cargo, my husband got to meet the friend’s father. Nice enough guy and nothing of note out of the ordinary. The birthday girl’s father then proceeded to lay out an arsenal of firearms onto a picnic table nestled under a movable canopy. Just laid them out like one would set out chips and cookies. No group talk about safety or rules. Who shoots when or in what direction. This was not a group of International Biathlon Champions, mind you. I’m pretty sure that none of the girls, including our own, had spent any time around real firearms (even the girl with the cop dad). And don’t get me started on the ridiculous thinking that young teenage boys and guns don’t require close, and I mean kah-lOOse supervision. Oh, and while we are at it, some damn supervision for kids on quads is a good idea too!

Let’s start with the guns.

So as a father rolling up on this with your child in tow do you grab said child, yell “Have a nice life!” and hightail it out of there? Drama and fall out drop where they may. Or do you step up and try to get a set of limits and standards set up for everyone’s safety? One of my husband’s nicknames is Mr. Big Dick (6’4″, first name Richard)At the risk of being considered an asshole, my husband loudly called for some rules to be clearly understood. He received no opposition.

All guns on the table point in the same direction. Fortunately the gun table was the farthest set table from the main hub. You know, where the cookies and chips are. The direction they point; away from people and towards the “shooting range”.

Nobody walks on the side of table that the gun barrels are pointed. Right after my husband said this one of the teenage boys started to wander exactly where he was told nobody goes. He bristled at being scolded by his mom, who I’m sure became enlightened to the fact that those with fore brains yet fully closed, i.e. teenagers, sometimes don’t effing listen or understand the severity of a situation.

Every gun is a loaded gun. Period.

My husband helped to coach the girls about kickback and how to safely handle a firearm, especially when others are around. With the first girl up, “Right after you shoot you are going to feel really excited. You are probably going to immediately want to turn around. If you do, you will most likely be pointing the guns at us. Right after you shoot you need to take a breath and keep the gun pointed towards where you just shot or point the barrel towards the sky.” I’m sure you can picture all of the girl’s friends hollering at her as she started to do exactly what she wasn’t supposed to do. She was excited, but now she, and all the others were informed about a safety protocol.

A couple of the boys were holding rifles a la Call Of Duty style. “Hey guys, I know that looks cool on the video games, but you will probably shoot yourself or your friend next to you in the foot.” Barrels to the sky.

Food on food table, guns on gun table.

Yeah! Nobody got shot!

Those damn quads!

There was an incident with two of the boys and one of the ATVs, commonly known as a quad. Without surveying the surrounding area, two of the boys jumped on one of the quads and took off pell mell. To be honest, I’m not sure that I would have had the foresight to take note of the area before unleashing kids or anyone else on a recreation vehicle. Anytime my kids have driven Go-Karts around, it was on a piece of land that we were all familiar with. Additionally, my kids were always told that as soon as you get reckless you are done. Party over. So now I will lock it into my memory to add surveying terrain as part of a safety protocol.

Anyways, the boys were unaware of a 5 foot drop into a sort of crater in the area that they were driving very fast in. They were thrown a good 20-25 feet from the the crashed quad, that itself had flipped over a few times and had some pretty significant damage to its metal frame. The one boy that wasn’t wearing a helmet (areyouevenfuckingkiddingmerightnow) was surprisingly not hurt very bad. Some abrasions on his side, although its not unheard of for more internal,  and potentially fatal, injuries to present themselves hours later. Fortunately he was fine. The other boy, who was wearing a helmet (the full face shield kind) got more banged up. His elbow looked like raw, shredded meat. Worse, and far more frightening, he was very confused about what had just happened. Without going into detail about the hemming and hawing that went on about whether or not he should get checked out by a professional (i.e. emergency room. And again, the loudest voice of being safe rather than sorry was my husband), after the weekend word got around that he did not suffer a concussion. He did however break his collarbone and seriously jacked up his shoulder. This made worse by the fact that he was the starting quarterback for the high school freshman football team. Bummer. So glad no concussion though.

So what was Caitlyn’s take about everything that occurred? Well, she was pretty amazed at how accurately we called it. I think she was fairly stunned that our seemingly over the top predictions that her friend’s parents just were not thinking the situation through adequately could be so accurate. Call it we did.

Interestingly enough though, she did say that she was glad for the experience, even though she was very uncomfortable during most of it, and at times more than a little scared. She felt that she now had a greater understanding of the concept that if something sounds sort of off, or that if it just seems that there is no way someone could have such little forethought, that yes, yes they can have so little forethought. And that the situation is as jenkie as it sounds. And yes, even really nice parents of a good friend can use poor judgement. Perhaps we, as her parents garnered a little street cred.

Here’s the thing though; as I mentioned at the beginning, we all are capable of making mistakes. We all are capable of lapses in judgement, even when we have the best of intentions at heart. Out of no where terrible things can happen. We have had a friend’s teenage son slip on the concrete of our back patio and smack the back of his head hard enough that he blacked out. We immediately called for an ambulance. We should have set up better precautions on our back patio given that we have a pool and there would be sopping wet people. Even though this particular part of the patio was set away from the pool area, it is covered and thus unable to dry quickly and/or sufficiently. No, he shouldn’t have been running on wet cement, but we could have taken better precautions to make a safer surface for everyone. Perhaps we measure every situation differently since our oldest daughter’s best friend suffered fatal brain trauma while staying the night at our house two years ago (a serious and unforeseeable complication relating to her Type One diabetes). Bad stuff happens. Some of it, upon reflection could perhaps have been prevented. Or at least lessened. Some things, terrible things, roll in like a perfect storm. Where do you, as a parent, strike the balance between ensuring that you take as many precautions and safety measures as possible without wrapping your kids in bubble wrap and escorting them through life as if they are wet tissue paper, thus denying them the opportunities to learn valuable lessons and build self confidence and competence. Brain. On. Fire.

Going back to the guns and quads birthday bash, upon packing it in, the birthday girl’s dad did express a wish to chat with my husband, maybe sit and have a beer once they all got back to the house. It didn’t happen due to the expected melee of trying to sort a group of teens to their respective spots. My husband suspects that the dad was a little embarrassed about the over sights in judgement about planning such an excursion. A kid did get seriously hurt, and there clearly was the potential for far worse to happen.

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Life is hard and unpredictable. This is compounded when raising kids.

I do think that if you are a gun owner, around 37% of Americans are, it is important to teach gun safety to your children. At appropriate ages and under appropriate circumstances. As far as a girl celebrating her sweet sixteen? Movie marathons and makeovers are pretty cool.

A Story That Brought Tears To My Eyes {and why I’m really uncomfortable with a Facebook game}.

29 Aug

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A few weeks ago my husband, two sons and I went over to another family’s house for  a BBQ, a jump in the pool and to drink Mojitos (for the grown-ups, of course). The host family and one of the other families are long time friends of ours. The other family was one that we had only met one other time at a child’s birthday party. The birthday party had had way more guests, so it was nice that we had the opportunity to get to know them better.

I learned that the wife/mom, we will call her K, was a breast cancer survivor. I would put her age close to mine, 43. So young.

Our beautiful host wife/mom, Super J., had recently competed in her third Women’s Figure Competition, (Erg, not so sure about those things). Since I had gone to see Super J. compete, K was helping me to remember one of the other competitors who happened to be a close friend of hers and a fellow cancer survivor. K described her as the one that was a lot curvy than the other competitors in her division. K’s friend knew she wasn’t going to place, but it wasn’t about winning the competition for her. She had already won her battle against cancer. She wanted to do something that put her back into control of her body. They had similar surgical techniques used for their reconstructive surgeries, breast reconstruction with flap surgery.

Our conversation went from surgery recovery to K’s experience with chemo and the loss of her hair.  When she started pulling out clumps of hair, K told me that she had decided it was time to just shave it all off. Her friend, who had already gone through chemo and was getting her locks back stepped up to the task. K’s husband came home to find his wife and their friend in the backyard with the kids and the electric clippers. Once K’s hair was buzzed her friend inquired as to who was going to do her head next. Despite K’s insistence that that was absolutely not necessary, “Your beautiful hair has already come back in!”, her friend insisted. She got her way when she ran the clippers from the middle of her hairline to the crown of her head. No turning back. K’s husband pitched in to do the rest. It was at this point in K’s story that the tears started running down my face.

Even though I had only recently gotten to know K, it was clear to me that she was not one to feel sorry for herself or stew in troubling memories. She told me her experience in a very upbeat tone. I felt a little foolish for getting so emotional at hearing her story. But when I think of all the fears of confronting an illness like cancer, and especially when one has to wonder if they will lose the opportunity to watch their children grow up, I can’t help but get emotional. I’ve never confronted cancer myself and can only go off of accounts I have heard or read about. Accounts of bravery and patience and optimism in the face of the unknown.

As K hugged me in comfort she reassured me that she was in great health now. The cancer that attacked her breasts got its ass kicked. She also had tons of support. Every step of the way she had friends and family helping her. Shoulders to cry on, rides for her kids, meals prepared. It was her husband who she felt went without the same kind of support. He was scared and overwhelmed. Was he going to lose his beloved wife? Were his children going to lose their mother? As the man it was his job to demolish anything that threatened his family. How do you get something you can’t even see into a choke hold? There is no threat that you can hurl, no posture that you can adopt. Cancer doesn’t care.

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K’s concern for the lack of support her husband had during her battle brings to the game I just can’t get behind.

A FB friend sent me this message as part of a group message;

“Fun game for Breast Cancer Awareness! It’s that time of year again…support of breast cancer awareness! Last year’s game was writing your bra color as your status…or the way we like to have our handbag handy. Last year, so many people took part that it made national news… and the constant updating of status reminded everyone why we’re doing this and helped raise awareness! Do NOT tell any males what the status means…keep them guessing!! And please copy and paste this in a message to all your female friends. The idea is to choose the month you were born and the day you were born. Pass this on to GIRLS ONLY and let’s see how far it reaches. The last one about the bra went all over the world. YOUR STATUS SHOULD SAY: “I am going to Mexico for 21 months.” Instructions: The month you were born is the Place you are going, and the day you were born should be how many months you are gone…. January – Mexico; February – London; March – Miami; April – Dominican Republic; May – Paris; June – Rome; July – Hawaii; August – California; September – New York; October – Puerto Rico; November – Las Vegas; December – Australia.”

Now, this FB friend is more of an acquaintance, but what I know of her is that she is a very nice lady who loves her hubby and kiddos. Over the last couple of years I’ve seen similar posts on other friend’s pages, including some cousins. All lovely ladies. I’m not much for FB games or “…If you feel the same I dare you to post as your status for an hour” type posts. I’m more for hitting  the “share” button on an article  from a reputable source when I want to bring attention to a particular issue.

I’m all for awareness of diseases. So doing something that reminds us of the existence, danger and treatment options for something like breast cancer is an endeavor I can get behind. What I struggle with, in this particular situation with the FB thing, is the intentional shutting out of men. Yes, breast cancer occurs more frequently in women, but it does occur in men. For me though, it’s not even that. Women who suffer from breast cancer are usually surrounded by men. Men who love them. Fathers, husbands, sons, brothers. I just don’t see how doing a sort of “Na na na nana” type of game will help anyone. And trust me on this, we, as women may have fun with the idea of games and feel that it will tickle the funny bone of interest. But men? When they realize that they are on the joke end, if they even pay attention to it to that point, they won’t suddenly sit up and think “How could I not have been aware all this time?”. They will tune the silliness of it out. Not because they are incapable of caring, because nothing could be further from the truth. But, in my opinion and experience, the male brain just doesn’t respond to such antics.  And let’s face it, the feeling of exclusion doesn’t feel good regardless of one’s gender. Perhaps I have yet again over thought the subject. Doesn’t change how I feel at my core though.

My opinions of the differences between the male brain and the female brain aside, this is what really rubs me the wrong way about this seemingly harmless FB game. For years I have know women who have battled breast cancer, as well as women who have lost loved ones to breast cancer. But as I have gotten older, so have my peers. So has the incidence of breast cancer in my sphere of interactions. A couple of years ago a family at my sons’ school was confronted with the issue. At the time my sons were in grades 2nd and 5th. Two of the sons of  the mother who was yet another woman to receive the terrifying diagnosis of breast cancer were classmates of my boys. While I wasn’t terribly close to the family, our children tracked many grades together, my daughter had babysat a few times for them.

It is so hard to know what to say when you find out someone that someone you know, but not really well, has cancer. Or what to say to their loved ones. Have they already been bombarded with comments from others? Offers of help? Which offers are hollow, which are rock solid?  How many times have they had to patiently bide time while someone (we all know this someone) exhibits the worst case of foot in mouth, the likes of which haven’t been witnessed in decades.

Sure, husbands and fathers, they put on a strong face. Almost overnight I have seen a man’s personality go from fun, jaunty and in control to one of a man walking through a mine field. Where once his beautiful wife was the parent chatting outside of a classroom waiting for the day’s final bell to release her offspring, he instead stands. And waits. If you know anything about the male brain then you know that action is an important next step to accessing a situation. Something or someone comes at his wife or children, he will beat it down. Access level of danger, then seek to destroy. At least that has been my experience of the men in my life that are in full possession of their faculties. Action is their comfort. How does one wrap their hands around something one can not see. What verbal warnings can you deliver to cancer? You can’t negotiate with cancer. There is only waiting and praying and trusting in the doctors and treatments offered.

I can’t imagine the terror of receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer or having a loved one receive the dire news. The closest I have ever come to it is a few years back my now 20 year old daughter found a lump in one of her breasts. She was 16. While changing clothes her wrist bumped against the exact spot that a hard lump was lurking in her breast tissue. After meeting with her pediatrician, he referred us to a surgeon that specialized in breast cancer. It wasn’t that our pediatrician was overly concerned about breast cancer in our teenager, but the lump was sizable enough and hard enough that it was out of his realm of expertise. Upon examination the surgeon felt confident in what it was. A fibroadenoma. A solid, noncancerous mass that most often develop in adolescent girls and women under 30. Even though fibroadenomas are benign, and the doctor was almost 100% sure in her diagnosis, there is always the fear that there is something much more malevolent going on. Surgery was the recommended course of action. The choice to just leave it alone was an option, but removing it now would potentially avoid other problems in the future; having to go through multiple diagnoses as my daughter traveled through life and different doctors, the potential for it becoming cancerous in a few decades, as well as the impending reality that my daughter would be becoming romantically intimate in the coming years, and a hard lump might be a bit of a mood dampener. We, my daughter, her father and I, opted for surgical removal of the lump. At first my daughter was reluctant to go with the surgical option. It’s a benign lump, can’t it just be left alone? I reminded her of the reasons the doctor gave for its removal. Besides, why not put it on our tab while you can? Dammit, I wanted that thing out of her and gone.

It was a simple, same-day surgical procedure. The surgery was successful, the results from the biopsy came back just as the doctor predicted, benign. Each stone along the path was frightening nonetheless. Something had embedded itself inside our child that neither I nor her father could get at. Our daughter had to face the reality of being cut into so that something could be cut out of her. What if the doctor’s first diagnosis was wrong? What if the lump wasn’t benign? What if something went wrong with the surgery? Why was my daughter’s body betraying her? Betraying us?

I know that our small scale experience with our daughter’s fibroadenoma is a mere blip in comparison to the terror that a diagnosis of breast cancer carries. It is frightening and exhausting for the women that must fight against the cancer. To face the uncertainty, the impending onslaught of treatments designed to kill the cancer and hopefully not the host. Exhaustion, fear, anger, sickness. Facing the realty that in order to save the whole body, part of her must be cut away. Jumping from one stone to the other, each floating precariously upon a path in murky unpredictable waters. Yes, she needs support. She needs a shoulder to cry on, words of inspiration, meals prepared, the needs of her children met, a cool rag on her forehead during raging bouts of nausea. And then there are the men who would give up anything to have the women they love and rely upon be spared the fight of cancer. The husbands who must now muddle through the tasks that their wives and the mothers of their children have always made look effortless, all the while being in a near constant state of helplessness. The father who has always played the role of Superman must now wait to see if their daughter will survive the betrayal of her body. It is not a time for games. But it is a time for awareness.

So do I go onto Facebook and blurt out my opinions? To what end? To make my friends become “aware”? They are aware, and like I stated earlier, they love and care about the men in their lives. I would wind up looking self-righteous, because, frankly, I would feel that way if I were on the other side of all this. Hurting feelings or leaving even a twinge of self-doubt and embarrassment is not my intentional M.O.  Besides, I don’t know every detail of their lives, so who am I to judge.

I will follow what I feel to be right for me, with an eye towards compassion to my neighbor. Perhaps it is time to explore outlets and organizations that are designed to meet the needs of men who need support while they are supporting a beloved woman who is battling cancer. Share that information on Facebook. Add to the kitty of knowledge as opposed to claiming that there is something missing from it.

Here is a really good article about what not to say to a cancer sufferer, their caregivers or loved ones.

For two years in a row I organized an annual Party In Pink Zumbathon at the gym where I am a Zumba and group ex. instructor. I missed doing one last year. Perhaps it is time to start organizing one for this year. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I best get crack’in!

 

Image credit.

Perhaps the next time I come across the husband of a sort of know them couple, who’s wife has just been diagnosed with breast cancer, I will get in the game and let sincerity be my guide.

Thoughts? Have you or someone you know been a caregiver for a loved one battling cancer? Are you a cancer survivor? Advice for the rest of us?

Thanks for hanging out and reading.

Erin.

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