Posted by Mihal Levy
After weeks and weeks parading around my living room with a spoon in hand as a microphone and singing at the television set every Tuesday night, I don’t know what to do now that Glee has ended…until next season. What do I do now that Glee is gone?
I know I probably like Glee a little more than a mom should or someone at my age (over the age of thirteen, in general). I had no choice other than to watch it, since I am not a fan of blood, vampires, or watching people stranded on an island (by the way - hasn’t that already been done - Gilligan? Professor?). I am also not interested in watching overweight adults belittle themselves for camera time with a not so overweight woman in spandex talking down to them, nor am I interested in seeing has-been stars who can not dance but do so for a boost in PR. Glee was the only thing left on television. Ok, and it reminded me of my high school days in musical theatre.
I know Glee will be back, but just not soon enough. How am I supposed to relive my uncomfortable high school days now without Facebook (see one of my previous posts about why I quit Facebook; The Status Update That Pushed Me Over The Edge) and Glee? I could pull out my yearbooks, but that just wouldn’t be the same.
I will miss you, Glee; the auto-tuned remixes and mash-ups of old faves and new, the great singers and non-singers and dance numbers that remind me of my days in community theatre. Now all that is left is a memory and anticipation for the next season. I guess my Tuesday nights will involve making dinner now. (No more take-out.) I am sure my son will be happy as well; more DVD watching time for him - Tuesday night viewings of Disney/Pixar’s “Cars.” But then again, there are always reruns on Thursday nights until next season.
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June 14, 2010 | 11:29 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
There are not many things that are fun to do alone. But one thing I know I can usually enjoy on my own: go to a movie. And so I did and headed to see Sex and the City 2 alone.
I was not exactly alone, since there were a total of ten other people in the theater with me. (I should have known from the crowded theater not to expect an Oscar winner, but then again, I knew that going in). All eleven of us were clustered in the middle section of the theater. There were two mothers with three young girls all probably under the age of seven (note to moms, if “sex” is in the title, it is probably safe to assume it is in the film as well). A few rows up from the moms was a man in his early twenties who probably was not there to see Sarah Jessica Parker’s latest fashion getups. Two seats over to my right was a young couple. And why in an uncrowded theater must someone sit right next to someone else? Leaving a single seat vacant in between me and them does not matter. She probably dragged her boyfriend over after having seen some of his testosterone-filled flicks and he owed her one. And finally, directly behind me, three BFFs who I am certain lived vicariously through the Sex and the City girls. Then there was me. I was there for pure research alone. No, seriously. I was interested in a mindless chick flick-filled afternoon. It was definitely mindless and I would not have minded missing out on it.
I am a fan of cinema in general for the whole package; from watching someone’s imagination and vision come to life on the big screen to escaping for two hours from reality and a sink full of dishes. I should have chosen the dishes, however, which were waiting for me two and a half hours later anyway.
I knew I had not picked an Oscar winner to watch, but when my mind kept wandering back to the sink full of dishes at home, I knew I picked the wrong movie. It was worse that I had low expectations to begin with. I probably would have been better off seeing something with vampires in it, or at least Miley Cyrus.
I could easier suspend reality for boys that turn into wolves, women falling in love with bloodsuckers and Miley Cyrus as an actress than I could during the Sex and the City getaway to the Middle East. Far different than the experiences I have ever had on my trips out there. Granted, I have only ever been to Israel and Egypt, but still. I did learn a lot about Abu Dhabi, however. For one, I did not know that the dress code in Muslim countries for women were either burkas, Aladdin-esque costumes or those that resemble Indiana Jones. Looks that belonged in an Aladdin/Indiana Jones musical revue in Las Vegas or a cruise ship. And the girls’ camel ride in the desert and visit to a Bedouin tent were nothing like I remembered on my camel ride from Israel to Taba, Egypt, but maybe Abu Dhabi is just that much more over the top. There was no camel spit blowing in the wind or sand storms in the movie. Perhaps my experience was less glamorous because I hadn’t been wearing heels on my journey. I will know for next time. I did learn, however, that if I ever ended up in Abu Dhabi (was thinking about making it my next vacation), my iPhone would have perfect reception in the most secluded desert areas. I have to say this made me jealous that they were just a little more tech savvy than good old Los Angeles, where I can not even get reception in my own home.
Another great thing to know about Abu Dhabi is that while all women have to cover themselves with burkas by law lest they be punished by public hanging, I believe, the Sex and the City girls were somehow excused and able to parade around in their barely there Aladdin/Indiana Jones-esque musical revue costumes. Didn’t they truly want to experience Abu Dhabi at its finest? (Even I wore a burka once in the blistering sun for hours, not because I was a Muslim woman in a past life, but because I was trying to earn my SAG vouchers while on the TV series JAG. Same difference. A burka in the sun is a burka in the sun. Sarah Jessica Parker should try it some time. Seriously.)
My ADHD thoroughly kicked in when one of the girls said she was going to have to have an “inter-friend-tion” and was upped by another one of the girls who said, “I will turn this inter-friend-tion into an inter-fun-tion.” I truly wanted to leave, but did not want to wake the sleeping couple on my side when I left the aisle. I was also hoping to stay and cover the little girls’ eyes and ears every time there was something inappropriate on the screen, which was quite often, as you can imagine…for a seven year old.
The movie finally ended (not soon enough), but no before the girls sang a karaoke version of “I Am Woman” in a country full of feminists, I am sure. The young pre-pubescent girls clapped and hollered as the credits rolled. I am sure they were just as happy as their moms that for the price of a movie ticket they learned more in two hours than they would have learned in their college years. (Saving their moms lots of money and hours of uncomfortable conversations.) They were happy, as was the man that sat alone, who apparently WAS there for the fashion. In the end, Sexfor one was not fun.
June 7, 2010 | 11:44 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
After much contemplation, I have come to a conclusion as to why I hate parks, playgrounds or anything that has a slide, a sandbox, kids and mothers with Bluetooth headsets permanently attached to their ears. I thought it might have had something to do with a traumatic childhood playground experience that for the life of me I can not remember or have chosen to block out of my life. I was fearing that I may even need hypnotherapy, so that I could regress into toddlerhood and relive that traumatic experience just to figure out why I avoid parks and play dates at the park like the plague. But luckily I figured it out on my own. (That Masters degree in psychology does come in handy every so often). The realization hit me after a park day last week.
My son and I headed to our neighborhood park to meet our play group (most of whom I don’t know, might I add). On the drive over I already began cringing and it was not just from the extremely hot bright sun that could’ve burnt a hole in my windshield. I dreaded going to the park (as I normally do), but couldn’t really figure out why. Ok, some of the moms really annoy me. (As you may know from previous stories I have shared.) I also am not a fan of “One Park Stands.” (An earlier story I wrote about meeting the perfect mom and child duo, hanging out and never seeing them again.) But other than that, I could not really think of a reason I dreaded park days.
With dread aside, I arrived at the park with my son in one hand and a huge basket of sand toys in the other. “Are you sure you need ALL of these sand toys?” I asked my son, since we looked like we were headed to an archaelogical dig with all of our equipment. Yes, he was sure. If I wanted to, I could put back the smaller orange shovel I was told. But as if that would really lighten the load. We headed to the sandbox and met our group.
As usual, the moms were too busy chatting to notice we had arrived or to notice one of their daughters pulling another girl’s pony tails because she “stole” her pail. I pointed this out to the busy moms, for which I received a nod and a wave in the midst of pony-tail-pulling-girl’s mom shout out to her daughter, “Honey, don’t do that. Thanks,” before she returned to her conversation with the other ladies. It was an important topic at her circle, however, I am certain. Why else would she not be able to leave the conversation to physically walk over to her daughter?
Since I was not invited into the “Circle o’ Secrets,” nor did I try to make the effort to join in, I decided to do what I normally do at the park with my son, which is to play with him. So, I grabbed the archaelogical dig equipment, a.k.a. sand toys, dumped them in the sand and began our work. As soon as we began, other children came around and grabbed our shovels and pails. Some asked if they could join us, others just did. And much to my dismay, little pony-tail-pulling girl joined in and grabbed one of our shovels. I included the children in our process and made sure all was fair in the pail and shovel sharing world. I realized I had started a trend and a babysitting club. I became “default mom.” One mom even took it as a cue to get up off the park bench she had warmed up and step away even further to make a call, since I had it under control. This was a mom I didn’t even know. Then what took the cake was when a nanny who was playing with the kids nearby told the kids to come join our castle building area and she went to join in some conversation with the other mothers. I am all for nannies taking breaks, of course, especially when they are there with the kid’s mother (which I always think is odd to begin with. But that is a whole other blog…)
Then things got out of hand. Kids were fighting over pails, shovels, dry sand, wet sand, space in the sand box and whatever else they could think of and I was there to referee the derby dig. Where were the mothers? On the park bench, where else? Just when I thought things were bad enough, they got worse. Pony-tail-pulling girl smashed my son’s castle, grabbed the shovel out of his hand and started running with my son close behind her. My son finally stopped her and pulled his shovel back out of her hand and said, “Next time you need to ask if you can borrow my shovel before you grab it out of my hand.” Timed just perfectly, the girl began to cry as her mom finally walked over. With her iPhone in on one year, she told the person “Can you hang on for a minute?” And knelt to her daughter and said, “Let’s go Sam, some kids don’t know how to play nice,” she said while glancing at me. I wanted to say, “Like mother and daughter.” But all that came out instead was, “You’re welcome.” The least she could have done is thanked me for babysitting for the last forty-five minutes so she could take her call.
We gathered up our things as the nanny came over to pick up the children
I was watching as well. And so officially ending my mommy duties to all the other kids in the group. Once again, I was default mom.
Maybe with all the money I saved on therapy trying to figure it all out, I could pay off my student loans wasted on psychobabble or better yet build my very own secluded park where I can be the default mom for my son alone…or maybe I will just bring one shovel and one pail for our next dig.
May 31, 2010 | 11:00 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
It is official, May 31st marks the “Quit Facebook Day.” Along with alcoholism, drug abuse and apparently the now trendy good excuse to cheat on a spouse sex addiction (according to Charlie Sheen and Jesse James), there is also Facebook addiction. Has FA (Facebook Anonymous) been established yet? I am the first to admit that I was once a Facebook addict and have been sober from Facebook for over a week and have never felt better. (And I didn’t even have to supplement my addiction with coffee and cigarettes).
Many users have threatened to leave and others have already done so (like myself). Facebook claims to be a social networking site, but I found it more like a social-hindering site. SInce I quit, I actually have spoken to and seen more friends and family members than almost the whole time I have been on Facebook, my husband included (well, maybe I stretched the truth about my husband a bit, but the rest is true).
If I left Facebook, you can too. I feel like I should have a sponsor or something or at least a ring on my keychain commemorating my “sober” days. And the good news is that it did not even take twelve steps, but one; hitting the “Submit deletion” button.
I remember joining Facebook and thinking how exciting it would be to reconnect with old friends. And it was. Then there was the constant updating of statuses and reading of others’ statuses. Eventually the statuses got a little overwhelming, i.e.: Getting in the shower. Out of the shower. Getting dressed. Eating breakfast. Sometimes I just did not care what others had to say and I am sure they felt the same way about me, except of course when I just had to post something brilliant that my four-year-old said.
I honestly thought it would be difficult to be different, go against the grain and leave a world that everyone else was a part of. But I feel thankful that I have reconnected with old friends and connected with new ones and will be keeping them around. Now my friends actually call, instead of writing on my wall. Ok, so they still text message as well, but at least it is not posted for the world to see or for Facebook to sell to third parties.
I would like to think that I have started a trend to leave Facebook and truly begin social networking, the way it was meant to be: socially interacting with people (in person). I know that I did not start the Facebook exodus, but glad that I have contributed to it.
I listened to a podcast by tech guru Leo Laporte, who also left Facebook for the mere reason of privacy issues on Facebook. He also stated how difficult it is to leave a site that “everybody else is on.” So if everyone were to jump off a bridge, would you?
Facebook is probably just another passing trend like Frogurt, bell bottoms and Myspace. I just decided to move on a little quicker than others. Leaving Facebook has been extremely beneficial for. of all things: my social life. I have actually found in the last week that I have picked up the phone more often than not to actually talk to someone. I found not worrying about what a “friend” ate for dinner or was missing from Farmville was actually comforting. I found that it is actually more important to be living one’s life than updating a status about it. I found that I did not stop the activity I was enjoying to write about how much I was enjoying it. And all the times I could have been checking Facebook, I spent playing with my son, spending time with my husband, writing, sleeping, cleaning, thinking, exercising, and thinking about how much time I saved not running to facebook.
If you are still on the fence about leaving Facebook, check this out on Wiki-How : http://www.wikihow.com/Quit-Facebook
And if you have come to the conclusion that you are ready to delete your profile then here’s how: http://www.wikihow.com/Permanently-Delete-a-Facebook-Account
Whatever you decide, enjoy “Quit Facebook Day” and celebrate with a barbeque or day at the beach and maybe even think twice about updating your status about it…I’m just sayin’.
May 20, 2010 | 12:00 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
Facebook and I have had a love/hate relationship. Recently it has turned into a hate/hate relationship with the addition of many violation of privacy tactics. And although I do know that one can not expect privacy when they put themselves on the Internet, there is still a limit to how much information should be spread around to third parties without my permission. For this reason alone I have been debating saying goodbye to Facebook, but now the privacy issues have been coupled with a status update that pushed me over the edge. I have started “packing up.”
Having been on Facebook for a couple of years now makes it difficult to say goodbye. It has been a bittersweet experience. Reconnecting with old friends, colleagues and family members has been great, but Facebook has also stifled many friendships as well. Facebook offers just enough information about what friends are doing to keep each other updated without the need to actually ever meet up in person. Facebook may be leaving everyone virtually fulfilled, but realistically void of true friendships.
Have we all gotten used to one-sided conversations? (Hello, is anyone listening?) Along with one-sided conversations, Facebook has also taught us how to “stay in touch” from a distance, has become a place to air one’s grievances, search for validitation and try to impress others with one’s goings on. And sometimes it gets a little out of hand.
One of my “friends” posted an interesting status update the other day on her profile (I copied and pasted her update, since nothing is sacred on Facebook; I left the spelling/grammatical errors for authenticity): “Home..its weird going from performing infront of a couple of thousand people and being asked for photo opts to not being anything but a typical girl.” Really? Even if she did perform in front of thousands of people (move over Lady Gaga), does she seek validation from her peers or a “Hooray for you?” I am not sure what exactly was the point of this update, but I still found it a tad bit narcissistic. Facebook seems to have become a race of who is doing more than the next person. Funny thing is that my “friends” who are “successful” (and that is subjective) never post anything about their “business” at all.
This, coupled with the fact that Facebook privacy issues have gone too far, linking me to outside sources and using my information; and the fact that we have lost a sense of what it is like to share non-virtual relationships, I am deleting my profile. I guess I will not be like everyone else. I will not have hundreds of people to validate me or my sense of self-fulfillment or even be in touch with that person in my sixth grade class, who added me simply because all of our other classmates added me, not because he remembered me. I may not remember my friends’ birthdays without an electronic notification days before (is that genuine anyway?). I may not know how much kitchenware my friend sold to get a free hostess gift, what tier my friend is on in her pyramid scheme business, who’s ahead of who in Bejeweled Blitz, or what farm animal someone is missing in Farmville. But I do know that I can actually ask a friend these things in person over a cup of coffee…and know that I will not be just another “typical girl” on Facebook.
May 5, 2010 | 11:30 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
To: Playground Monsters (aka Mommy Monsters and you know who you are).
Date: May 5, 2010
Subject: Park Etiquette Made Simple:
The time has come for some playground/park rules and I am going to set them. So, please put down your diet cokes, smart phones and gossip magazines for a brief moment, just long enough to read this. (Or read this on your smart phone before heading out to the park.) Please save all us other Mommies at the playground by following these simple rules. It is much appreciated. (And perhaps I will stop avoiding the park and actually take my son there again.)
(Please note that park rules do not exclude father, nannies, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, caregivers, babysitters, partners or others.)
1) Please do not text or talk on your cell phone while you are “watching” your child/children at the park. I am sure you have urgent matters to handle, but please hold off for the twenty minutes you are actually at the park with your child. This would make it easier on me so that I don’t have to watch your child for you.
2) It would be nice to actually acknowledge the mother standing next to you with her child (me) and not talk to me through your child. “Jimmy, will you please ask the Mommy if we can play with her son’s shovel? Now, tell the lady thank you.”
3) Bring your child’s own sand toys. I am all for sharing, but always and with everyone? I draw the line. (Especially for the kid with the runny nose and runny diaper.)
4) Speaking of diapers: If your child is still in diapers at the age that he/she is old enough to tell you, “I pooped my pants,” and just did, please change him immediately so that your poor child is not sitting in it all day and sharing the scent with the rest of us. Also if your child’s diaper is sagging, chances are it has been on too long, even though you have got the super absorbent diapers. (I know, how inconvenient for you…but it is not about you. You don’t have time to potty train. I"m not even going to touch that one…in this blog.)
5) It wouldn’t hurt you to put down that copy of “Happiest Baby on the Block” and get off the park bench once in a while and follow your son in the sandbox to make sure that he is not terrorizing other children, because he/she usually is. (Note that you will get sand in your shoes. I know this is shocking. So wear sand appropriate shoes.)
6) Please don’t send your child over to mine to ask if he could have some pretzels and cheerios as well. Bring your own along with the diet coke you are drinking.
7) There are no steadfast rules that the stairs on the slide are for climbing and the slide is for sliding down. Think outside of the sand box, would you?
8) When your sweet little Petunia decides to kick off her shoes in the sand box, it wouldn’t hurt you to move her shoes out of the way of the five other children that have since tripped over them.
9) Even though you want to show off that new thousand dollar stroller your husband’s latest promotion got you, please park it away from the park bench, so that others can sit down who were not brought over in a thousand dollar stroller.
10) Lastly, a manicure is great, I understand. But please make sure your nails (both toes and fingers) are dry before you head to the park, put your mani-pedied self down on the park bench and let the rest of us moms cater to your every need. Just because we are not freshly mani-pedied doesn’t mean we owe you anything.
*Now you can’t say that you didn’t receive the memo.
May 3, 2010 | 11:30 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
From the creators of the Oy Baby (Jewish songs) and That Baby DVD/CDs (secular songs) comes a new CD. With CDs and DVDs usually geared toward your young child, now there is one with the parent in mind: We Sang That At Camp; Songs Remembered From Jewish Camp.
The CD may or may not have you running to roast marshmallows while singing along, but may in fact remind you of those days when you were eyeing the camp counselor playing his acoustic guitar as you sat around the fire, or maybe it is just me.
We Sang That At Camp includes a mix of Hebrew and English songs including “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “Ba Shana Haba’a,” “Ma Tovu” and more. However, only a few of the songs took me back to my camp days (or BBYO days); either I went to a different summer camp or I just don’t remember most of these songs - again, maybe because I paid attention to the camp counselor and not the music he played.
Both my son and I have been fans of the Oy Baby CDs and DVDs since he was an infant. We received the first one as a gift and bought the next two. We often sang along in the car or at home while watching the DVDs. Now you can sing some of the old camp “standards” and less Lady (What’s Her Name) Gaga and Jonas Brothers with your children. And hopefully they like the songs that you once did. Why wouldn’t they?
April 22, 2010 | 10:05 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
It’s Earth Day and what better way to celebrate than by green cleaning your home. (Ok, I can think of a few, but that’s not the point.)
With the help of Green Clean; The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home by Linda Mason Hunter and Mikki Halpin, you can learn how to clean your home with products safe for the environment and your family. What can be better than this? Besides having someone else clean your home, of course.
The book is waterproof and stain resistant, so you can read along while you are cleaning your shower. Green cleaning is simply broken down according to areas in your home with the tools you need, daily,weekly and monthly checklists, as well as easy do it yourself cleaning solution recipes from dishwashing liquid to stain removers.
Green cleaning is not only better for the environment, but safer for you and your family and often less expensive than using toxic, regular store-bought cleaners. According to Green Clean, “Scientists at the National Tocicology Program found five to ten percent of all chemicals in production could be carcinogenic in humans.” The book further states that, “We’ve become dependent on these chemicals. The average American household uses forty pounds of them each year.”
So, why not start to make a difference in your own home. Here are some quick tips and recipes taken from Green Clean to get started:
-Use a half of cup of ground coffee in a bowl on a center shelf to absorb smells in your fridge for a few days
-Repel ants with cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle along their path of entry.
-Easy carpet spill absorber:
Cornstarch or Cornmeal
Pour cornstarch onto spill, leave on for fifteen minutes, sweep up and vacuum the excess.
You can even read Green Clean in the bath while relaxing. Or maybe read it while cleaning and save relaxing for relaxing, unless reading books on cleaning helps you relax like it does for me, go figure.