July 18, 2017

Companies that (fill in the verb) Women

Nothing says mystery shopper like the man next to me, seemingly pondering over the same selection of feminine hygiene products that I am. Do you want pearls? Do you want wings? Are you feeling fresh and free or sully and shackled?

Today, I want enough money left over to buy a coffee. Unfortunately my dexterous iPhone  isn’t enough to navigate the complex pricing system set up by companies that are    (fill in the verb)    women. I need a mathematical genius, but she’s not around. 

Always, for example, is a brand that's been on shelves since this ‘gift’ appeared in my life 34 years ago. They sell panty liners (for light bleeding) called Dailies, and pads (for moderate-heavy bleeding) called: Ultra, Ultra Night, Ultra Secure Night, Maxi and Sensitive. Not only is the level of protection offered by these products more complicated than my health insurance so is the price per unit.

For 2.20 I can buy:          15 normal Ultra pads or
                                             14 normal Ultra pads with wings 

For 2.60  I can buy:        12 long Sensitive pads that are soft or
                                             16 normal Sensitive pads that are soft 

For 3.10 I can buy:          12 long Ultra pads

For 3.50 I can buy:          42 large Dailies liners with extra protection or
                                             38 long plus Dailies liners with extra protection or
                                             50 normal Dailies liners that are Fresh and Protect or
                                             52 normal Dailies liners that Fresh and Protect with a fresh scent or
                                             74 normal Dailies liners slim multiform with fresh scent 

For 4.75 I can buy:          44 normal Ultra pads or
                                             26 normal Ultra pads with wings or
                                             32 long Ultra pads with wings or
                                             22 long Ultra pads with wings (yes, same as above)

For 5.30 I can buy:         28 night Ultra pads with wings 

For 5.60 I can buy:         54 normal Dailies liners soft like cotton 

For 7.50 I can buy:          18 secure night Ultra pads with wings 

So the question is: what's the most economical purchase? No size comes in the same volume and no volume comes at the same price. Large, long, secure, extra, ultra and normal are making me confused, frustrated, angry, disjointed and litigious. 

How about you, sir? Have you figured what products could save me money? I bet you have. 

July 7, 2017

A Real Runner Never Wears Cotton

Good Luck!

Three medals hang off a six-foot wooden giraffe standing in my hallway. I got the medals from running and it makes me a little sad to see them with no purpose. I'd wear them, daily, if it weren’t for all the envy–the reason people point, stare, and whisper, “Oh my God, look!”

Despite having read only one book on running, the medals make me feel like an expert. I can’t help but scrutinize anything running in my vicinity: over dressed, clutching Gatorade, gasping for breath and sporting cotton. A true runner never wears cotton. But I still get days, especially at the end of training, where I need moral support. I need to talk out the doubts that creep in while training six days a week.

 “You should meet my friend Aleisha,” said my friend Mattie. “She runs every day. She’s a real runner.”

Real?  Oh.

The word real comes up a lot in my life (Where are you really from?) and the adjective is a sticky point for wannabe artists: musicians, painters, and authors. For unpublished writers real is being published. For published writers, real means a book. Real is an award, a best-seller list, a sale of 50,000 copies. But real is also ambiguous: it depends on who is saying it.

For me running is not easy but satisfying, like solving a problem. I do it alone and with no formal coaching,  so I accepted Mattie's suggestion that I was still inadequate and made arrangements to meet Aleisha, excited about advice and inspiration–on the quest to be real.

“Oh, I don’t have a sports watch,” she says as I hold up my Garmin. Then she tells me she's never monitored her speed, tracked her distance or even gotten a blister. “I ran a half marathon once," she concludes, “but I’m not doing that again.” 

Obviously, she wasn’t what I expected, and I was back wondering what it meant to be a real runner and how to get there. Some people have tied the word to a natural inclination­–how young you are when you start–or by longevity, meaning how often you do it. But I've also noticed excellence is not always achieved with passion and putting in the hours does not guarantee talent. Society still might not see you as real, even if you identify yourself that way.

So it was by chance, on a run, that the definition of real came to me. Wet, cold, hobbling and tired, I started asking myself why I was doing this. I didn't have an answer. Real seems to be any activity I’ll continue doing when the enthusiasm has fizzled out. Hey world, I'm a runner. Because I have to do it, even when I don't. 

May 25, 2017

It's Cringy

Go out there and be vulnerable! Lose everything and reap the benefits of working like you have nothing. Failure. It’s this decade’s anecdote to success and in ten years they’ll find out it causes cancer. 

To be fair, I see how a failure can teach an important lesson about effort, especially in this age of entitlement. I just don’t think I need these moments in my life. I’m the exception. I understand hard work (I’m currently missing a toenail, for instance), but Fate’s not so sure.
“Have you worked for it?”
“I have.”
“Do you think you’re ready?”
“I do.”
“Have you thought about how much you really want this?”
“Think again.”
Last Friday I took a French exam that, after one hour, made me want to crawl under the desk and into my skin. My vocabulary became primal, my handwriting illegible and the only thing that could have topped it was a poorly muffled fart.
“Maybe it wasn’t that bad.”
I confused the word poupee with the word poubelle. Playing with garbage is what I said. It was cringy. It still is.
And in spite of that, I’m not dissuaded from trying again. I just don’t know how to get better. I used apps, text books, courses and tutoring. I guess I just didn’t devote enough time. But according to one of the moderators I have plenty of that.
“That’s a very mature answer,” she said encouragingly.
Aging. If I’m destined to fail than thank goodness I’ve been at least luckless at that.