Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday Night Lights

I'm not going to go into the whole "here's why I haven't been around" meme.  It's tired and played and really you can probably guess why I haven't been around.  Kids, TMOTH, parents, work, blah blah blah.

I know- call the Waaah-mbulance.  That's not what I'm here to write about tonight.  Tonight's all about my boy.

I've written before about the unique set of challenges and joys my oldest kiddo brings.  One of the toughest challenges for him has always been around sports.  Kiddo loves to move (which isn't typical for kids with dypsraxia/ dcd) and he has an abiding love for sports- mostly soccer.  We made a choice this fall to let him try out for a travel team and boy oh boy it was a risk.  This is a team that cuts, that competes, that doesn't freaking mess around.  H knew what the risks were and he tried out.  I aged 10 years waiting for the coach to call. He made it. (Hoooray!)  He practiced his guts out and did his OT/ PT and conditioning with TMOTH (and he whined and complained that he didn't want to do his OT/PT and that TMOTH could take his conditioning and suck it) and he worked his little butt off all season long.

And right now? I'm exhausted and wind burned and just a little too happy about the fact that his team lost tonight.  It's not the loss per se- it's that they lost in the first round of the freaking playoffs.  Playoffs that were played 2 hours from home, under the lights on field turf.  Big boy playoffs.

Most importantly, playoffs where my kiddo didn't stick out as different, where he had a really close kick on goal, where the ran with the other kids and sometimes outpaced them.

After the whistle blew and the parents crossed the field to congratulate the not-quite-victors, lots of the kids on the team were crying or at least visibly upset.  Not H.  H was happy and tired and just...proud.  He was freaking glowing.  He'd taken a risk that even TMOTH and I thought might be too much and he'd succeeded. (Note to you, my friends:  next time I start to tell my kids they can't do something because I think it might be too hard, kindly offer me a nice cold glass of STFU, okay?)

We celebrated with Arby's and Blizzards at the Mall on the way home and we all passed out about 10 minutes after we got in the car (well, except for TMOTH obviously- someone had to drive you know).

I'll admit, as a football coach's kid, I always assumed that someday I'd watch my son play under the lights.  I never realized how much I wanted that- for me and for him- until tonight.

It was seriously badass.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tough

In the last week I've gone from "My mom is wicked healthy" to "My mom is having chest pains?" to "My mom is having a triple bypass?!". Suffice to say that in the last 24 hours I have experienced more terror, joy, tenderness and frustration than ever before. I've also learned that real badass steps up when things are more awful than I ever imagined possible. I told TMOTH yesterday that I'm not strong enough to be this strong.

Today I learned just how strong I can be. For the record, it sucked ass.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stop Spinning

http://www.mommaspearls.com/2011/10/out-of-hands.html
The world can get crazy, you know?  Not just the Great Big World, but also the little (but sometimes equally big) worlds we each inhabit.  It's not hard to get overwhelmed when we're trying to spin 10- or 100- plates at once.  Is it any wonder that things fall apart from time to time, leaving us standing, confused and dismayed in a pile of china shards?  I've spent years trying to keep them all spinning at an equal rate- kids, house, PTA, work, garden, vanity- and here's the thing I'm thinking:

Once you know what plates really matter, the rest of them can go to hell.

So instead of spinning all 1,000 plates, I'm going to spin one really well.  My kids and my darling TMOTH are the ones that matter most.  My work is a second, but only insofar as it lets me take care of them.  The rest of it?  I'm not spinning them anymore.  I'm going to sit them gently on the counter where I can get to them if I need them.  I'm going to let them serve me instead of the other way around.

But I'm done with all the spinning.  It makes me nauseous.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shit Just Got Real

Middle School meet and greet today. (Who thinks *that* sounds even less fun than the "Buy 1 get 1 root-canal and colonoscopy with your Mother in Law" special at the Jiffy Lube?)

There were Lots of 6th graders.  Lots of their moms and dads.  Lots of sibs.  The girls were mostly shrieking and hugging each other.  The boys looked either totally cool or like deer in the headlights.  Or both, depending on the moment.

It was...

Overwhelming.  Awkward.  Stressful.  Overwhelmingly awkward and uber-stressful.

Let me pull something from the A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words file to illustrate my point.  Here's what the inside of my head looked like:


My internal monologue went something like this:

"Oh, this is great!  Look how bright and clean it all is! That teacher seems so nice, but of course he's nice cause all the parents are standing right here.  When it's just him and the kids he'll probably call them names and throw chalk.  Holy Hell what have I done?  My kid will get eaten alive in here!  Must save child.  We'll head for the woods behind the school and subsist on leaf mold and water we filter through my sweater.   That's it!  We'll...oh look!  They have a new auditorium!  Pretty...."

If we (okay, I) survive this whole "parenting through the least favorite years of my own life" thing, I'm totally taking the "Becoming" out of the title of this blog.  I will have achieved Badassity- or I will have become a valium addict.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

VagueBlogging

TMOTH talks about VagueBooking as that thing that people do on Facebook where they update their status with cryptic messages referencing doom, gloom, mayhem and general crankiness.  This is VagueBlogging- a cousin of VagueBooking, marked by the same crypticness but with a serious extra does of the cranky pants.

Ready?

Here we go.

Hello?  People who work with kids? You know, those of you who volunteer (paid or unpaid) to work with kids as they develop new ideas, interests, hobbies and passions?  You might want to keep in mind that kids are, you know, KIDS, not just cogs in your machine.  Thinking of their whole selves-  their hearts and minds, not just their hands and feet- would seem to be the bare minimum requirement for doing your job.

So Do. Your. Fucking. Job. All of it.  Not just the part where you have the best of the best in your group.

Asshats.

(PS- I know that there are many, many wonderful folks out their who do their best for all kinds of kids everyday.  Thank you and blessings on you for your hard work.  I wish we could clone you and install those copies in every playground, studio, field and gym worldwide.  You're absolute gems.)

/EndVagueBlogging

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pants

I dare you to come up with something more terrifying than the task I have ahead of me today. Daunting, difficult, guaranteed to draw on every reserve strength and tenacity I have within me- this task is not for the faint of heart.

Today, I take an 11-year-old boy to buy pants.

Back-to-school shopping is always a thing, but this year it's tougher. Because there isn't anything that an 11-year-old boy wants to do less than buy. Pants. But I'm not letting go to school in his underwear. So I'm going to take this lovely Saturday, I'm going to put him in the car with his sister and his cousin, I'm going to drive an hour away to Pants Palace (aka Target) and we're not leaving until we. Buy. Pants.

And if that doesn't mean I'm totally badass, I don't know what does.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Climbing Trees

I took my daughter to an amusement park this week.  Not a Six Flags/ Disney/ MegaWorld park, a smaller, local amusement park that she's loved since she was little.  The target audience is the under-7 set, but she begged and begged and I ultimately caved because we had unfinished business up there- specifically, a big old talking tree that we needed to visit.

See, last time we were there (about 2 years ago), we rushed her out of the park at the end of the day for some reason that I can't recall at this point- probably something very adult like Traffic or Bedtime or Mama's just had enough of this place.  Whatever.  In our rushing out, though, it never occurred to us that she really wanted to visit with Grandfather Tree, one of those animatronic trees that tells jokes and stories and says "I love you" and "I'm so glad to see you."  She wanted to see it one more time before we left and honestly, it would have taken 5 additional minutes but I just didn't listen.  I didn't get it until we were gone and she was upset and it hit me:

She's only going to be little for awhile. She's only going to want to see that tree for a little while longer. Soon she'll think it's stupid and lame and she'll want to go to Disney or Six Flags or (for the love of God) the American Girl Doll store.  Why not give her one last chance to stand in front of a talking tree while it says "I'm so glad to see you!  Will you climb up my branches today?"  She can see adolescence from where she's standing and it doesn't look good to her, so who am I to begrudge her a few more minutes of little-kid-hood?

We went.  We rode every single ride.  We ate junk and we took our time and we snuggled and giggled for 8 hours.  And at the end, just as she was noticing that the park wasn't as amazing as she remembered, we spent our last 30 minutes with Grandfather Tree.

It was a really good day.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fighting weight

As we head into back to school, I can't help but feel like I'm getting ready for a battle. Like I need to set up an army of backpacks, composition books, sharpened pencils, and glue sticks in preparation for the war ahead. It's a never ending struggle between work, homework, activities, and housework. Luckily every year so far we've managed to battle to a stalemate, sliding into summer in a gasping exhausted collapse, leaving the both sides six weeks for recovery. But now – now– it's almost time to head back into the fray. I wish I had a St. Crispin's day speech to share with you, but I don't. Instead, I'm heading back to the gym. I've gotten soft and lazy this summer, on a diet of corn on the cob, tomatoes, ice cream, and beer. Time to get back to my fighting weight. The back-to-school battle is won by those who are most prepared. And this year? I shall prevail.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vacay

So I'm going on vacation.  It's never actually been my strong suit, the whole "relax" thing.  It's not that I don't like the idea of lying on a beach with a Corona and a book, it's just that once I get there...the monkeys in my brain start chattering and then I start wanting to make plans and decisions and suddenly it's not so much "relaxing" as it is "getting something done," which I think is the exact opposite of vacation.  I think it has to do with either the Protestant work ethic I was raised with or it might be an avoidance technique, but the net result is the same:  non relaxation.  All I can think about is how much I'd like to be at home in my routine, doing the stuff I know how to do, for better or worse, 'cause the stuff you can predict- even if it sucks- is so much better than the stuff you can't- even if it's good.

But TMOTH and the kids insist that we go on vacation so I go 'cause NOT going seems like a recipe for divorce and/or Bad Mama of the Year Award nomination.  Plus, deep down, I'd like to be a person who wants to go on vacation.  Someone who "recreates."  (Is that the verb form of recreation?  'Cause it seems like it should be.)

So this year, I think I'm going to take a different approach.  I'm going to try to do more reflection- on the best parts of the year, on the things that will make me strongest in the year ahead- and less focusing on the stuff I think I should be doing. No thinking about how I should be doing vacation differently (More chasing kids and building fairy houses!  More vegetables and fewer Pringles!) or work or house stuff, or the zillion and 2 projects that need doing...I'm going to think about my books and I'm going to watch my kids play on the beach and I'm going to toast marshmallows every freaking night if I want to.  I'm going to eat ice cream and sleep late and maybe do Yoga where I can see the water even though it means that people will see my 42-year-old Down Dog, which is not pretty by any means.

I'm going to have the most badass Vacay I can put together.  I'm thinking there will be many, many Coronas involved.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ugly Cry

My oldest graduates today.  Okay, actually, he's graduating from 5th grade which I realize lacks the academic gravitas of, say, a PhD or a certificate from Northern Louisiana Beauty College.  Still, it's a milestone.  For some reason, milestones have been sort of a bitch lately.  I hypothesize that it's either ego ("If he's getting older then I'm getting older!  WHAAAA!") or nostalgia ("Ah, the good old days."), but in either case it's death by 1,000 kleenexes.

I've been choking back tears for about a week, but yesterday when my Grandma when back into the hospital, I gave it up.  I succumbed to the full-on ugly cry.  I cried for a good 45 minutes once I finally gave in and this morning I feel hungover and puffy and...better.

Getting old is a bitch.  Nostalgia sucks.  But jumping in and doing the full range of human emotions?

Pretty badass.

Friday, May 25, 2012

True 'dat

I woke up mad.  Actually, I went to sleep mad and the rotten night's rest I got (thank you hotel patrons who don't to shut. the. f. up. in the hall after midnight) only made it worse.  The "why" of the mad is immaterial but the reality of the situation was this:

I was mad.

Then the...person...who instigated my righteous anger called.  Wanted to talk it out and apologize.  My typical instinct is to let folks off the hook, but today...

No.

The hook was firmly set and I was so not interested in letting anyone off it.

So I spoke my truth.  Respectful but clear.  "Dude, you messed up.  Don't get cranky with me for not falling all over myself to accept your apology."

I've never ever in my life told someone that I needed time before I could accept an apology because I just wasn't sure I wanted to forgive.

You know what?

It felt damn good.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Faith

Sometimes the most badass thing I can do is just...wait, because it takes the strength of 10 linebackers to not *do* anything except watch.  And wait.  And have faith.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Farm Girl

I grew up on a farm.  Well, I sort of grew up on a farm.  I spent enough time on the farm (and made enough mistakes) that I think I qualify as having "grown up" there even if I didn't always officially live there.

But I digress.

One of the things I remember about the farm (besides the food.  Holy Cats, did we eat.) is that it was hard.  Wicked freaking hard work.  I didn't really have to do the big stuff but I watched a lot of people working their assess off day in and day out.  There was always work to be done, and not the kind of work I do- the e-mail, reading, house work, driving, talking kind of work.  This was serious work.  Digging, carrying, dirty, smelly, always too hot or too cold, back-breaking work. Think of your worst back ache ever and multiply it by 100 and then imagine having it every. Single. Day.

Yeah.  That kind of work.

As I got older, I did about 1% of the hard work that the grown ups did, and I came to appreciate one very specific moment in the day.  Usually around 7:45 (because they worked with the light, dinner be damned), there would be some kind of unspoken agreement that It Was Time To Quit.  The folks who'd worked hardest would sit on these giant rocks around this crazy Japanese Elm that everyone hated (they drop sticks like dogs drop poop), but no one hated enough to try to take down, and we'd "enjoy the evening" for a few minutes.  That meant listening to birds (and then peepers as the darkness fell), enjoying the breeze and talking about small things like the snake my grandmother took a hoe to in the front yard and which fences were going to need attention and where those damn locust trees had sprouted again and the new litter of kittens we'd discovered in the front seat of the old truck.  They would tell stories about past snakes or litters or plantings or harvests or whatever, comparing this year- this day- to those that had come before.  I was always aware that I was the fourth generation to sit around those rocks and listen to some variation on those stories and it was like being surrounded by loving ghosts.

The farm is empty now- I wouldn't be surprised if it were sold soon, to cover debts and medical bills- but in my mind, as I sit here after a long-ass, hard-work day (which was still only 10% of the hard work they did), drinking a beer ('cause that was always part of the ritual too) and enjoying the evening, I can't help but go back to those rocks.

So, to all  those hard-working, never-say-die, badass (did I mention my Grandma killed snakes in the yard with a hoe?) folks who all came together in one combination after another to create...me?

Thanks. I'll try to do you proud.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Things That Make Me Stabby

stabby-copy.jpg
I'm in a mood today.  Want to know why?


1.  Effect vs. Affect. Who really gives a rat's ass?  I tell you who- stupid academics.
2.  People who need constant validation.
3.  People who don't understand that their jobs are to give ME constant validation.
4.  My jeans.  Someone has replaced them all with pairs that are a size too small.  Jackasses.
5.  The weather.  Rain is all well and good but damn would it kill us to get just a little sun in between?
6.  My kids' schedules.  (And don't go all "Over- Scheduler! Children need more time to just play!  Last Child In the Woods!" on me.  I. Will. Cut. You.)
7.  Dyspraxia.  I hate it almost as much as mean kids.
8.  Mean kids.  (See?)
9.  Technology.  Not THIS technology. The technology I need for a long ass meeting on Saturday and which I am CERTAIN will fail me.
10.  Long ass meetings on Saturdays.

I'm going to crab about these things all day.  You got a problem with that?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's Getting Hot in Here

I've never had a guest blogger on the site.  Mostly that's because I don't like people very much- a lot of them are stupid and the rest of them generally suck.


One of the few exceptions  to my "People are stupid and/or suck" rule sent me this today:


Perhaps you could write a post about how it is NOT badass to show your bad ass - cheeks AND crack - just because the weather seems to suggest short shorts. Furthermore, if you are David Beckham, feel free to take off your shirt and walk around downtown. Otherwise, KEEP IT ON! 



See, it's gotten unseasonably warm, unreasonably early and that has brought our lumpy, pasty  New England bodies out of the fleece-and-wool cocoon in which we usually encase ourselves until at least May or June.  This is the time of year where most of us go "Oh hell.  I'd better start going to the gym or cutting back on the damn Girl Scout cookies 'cause I'm going to have to put on shorts in 6 weeks."  


Except we didn't get the 6 weeks we were hoping for and that we so desperately needed.


So, some of us have chosen to squeeze our March bodies (flabby, pasty, not-ready-to-see-the-sun) into our June clothing.  As a result, some of us need to rethink our June clothing choices, 'cause this look:





only works if you're young/hot enough to actually be in a music video. And it only works DURING the video.  Not down at the Piggly-Wiggly.  Not at the drugstore.  Not (for the love of god) in the pick-up line at school.  


Look, I'm not one to get too tied up in the body-image thing.  I think PhotoShop should be freaking outlawed and I've worked long and hard to love my body just the way it is.  But part of that lovin' is about knowing what I really look like and how to show it off to its best advantage.  So unless your highest aspiration is to end up on People of Wal-Mart?  Put some damn clothes on.





Sunday, March 18, 2012

Putting the Words to Bed

Recently someone (okay, my shrink if you have to know) asked me "What I do" when I write.

I sort of thought the verb was, you know, self-explanatory but...she just sat there and waited.  And waited.  Seriously- I think this chick would sit in silence for the whole 50 minutes if I let her.  So I felt like I had to answer.

"I...um...I write.  You know.  I sit at my desk and I throw words on the screen until something sticks."

And she just sat there.  Like she was waiting for more.


Remind me again why I pay for this?

I tried to default to the old "I open up a vein," but she wasn't having it.  Still sat there, like my dog waiting to see if I'm really going to finish that cookie.  So...

Okay.  Here's what happens.  For whatever reason- the blog needs updating, I get a request for a piece, I have an idea that just wot stop nagging- I make the choice to Write.  (This is different from writing, which includes everything from letters to the editor to grocery lists- small, mundane things that take nothing from me) Naively, I start with a sentence or a word and before I know it, there they are- a gaggle of them-  and I have to sort them, one from the other, to see which ones are this piece and which ones are some other piece for some other day.  It's like trying to put toddlers to bed- all the voices and the words and the phrases all clamoring for a spot right next to me.  So I herd them.  One onto this page, another onto a different page, moving them around from place to place on the page, figuring out who can sit with whom and who just won't play nicely no matter how hard I try and who will have to go back into the crib if I really want them to stay put.

There's no place for some of them, which is sad because they really, really want in but...they're not ready yet.  Or maybe they are, but I'm not ready to write the story that they're a part of.  So I nudge them back, tuck them back in, and I go back to sorting the ones that belong here.

I guess it's mostly like trying to run a really, really crazy orphanage.  Or maybe it's like bedtime at the Duggars.  I don't know, but it's exhausting.

So I can't do it every day.  I'm not one of those disciplined 'write for an hour every day no matter what' writers because it's too damn hard.  I wouldn't be functional.  I can't manage all those loud, needy word orphans and also manage my loud, needy family.  It's not about commitment  or discipline or passion.  It's about getting just a little too close to the edge of the dock and finding myself plunging into deep water, floundering to find my way back to the surface before I drown.  I'm over my head but the only way out is through so...I...keep going.  I wrestle and I bitch and I look like I've gone 20 rounds with Buffy and I ask myself why in the hell I ever thought this writing thing was a good idea.  I'm miserable and mean and distracted.  I let dishes and e-mail pile up.  The dog moans from her spot by the door, begging to go out, but she's out of luck.  I'm up to my neck in unruly literary children and I cannot stop until everyone is bedded down or they'll overrun my mind, turning over the furniture in my brain until the mess is too big to clean up and I'm forced to move us all to Australia or Nova Scotia before DCFS comes to take them away.

Then, suddenly, it's done. It's "like silk off a spool," all smooth and pretty and it says just what I want it to say.  The right words in the right spots, creating just the right...everything.  I take a deep breath. They're calm and in their beds and sleeping and I look in on them, angelic in the glow of the post-copy-editing nightlight, and I love them.  I want more of them.  I forget the flailing and the herding and I just want to do it again.

 So, badass or not...that's what I do when I write.  I put all the hyperactive, badly behaved, out of control words to bed.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dear Insane Clown Posse Lady


Dear Insane Clown Posse lady:
You took over the lobby of the soccer club meeting last week with your rant on how the kids we see hanging around in parks are all devotees of the Insane Clown Possee and how they’re all going to kill us in our beds. I’d like you to know that 1)  I’m pretty sure that everyone in the room under the age of 7 (and boy were there a lot of them) didn’t need to hear your rant, and B) Your call to action isn’t really going to go anyway and 3) Yeah...you’re crazy.

I’ve sort of suspected this for awhile- it’s a small town and I recognize that I’m going to run into you a lot.  That’s okay.  I like to think of you in capital letters- the way I think of Dude Who Wears a Dress Downtown and Isn’t Fooling Anyone or That Mom with the Wig or Scary Nature Lady.  For a long time I’d dubbed you In Charge of Everything Mom- but now I’ve renamed you- Insane Clown Possee Lady. 

So today when I ran into you again in the lobby at the Music Hut (waiting for our kids to come out of choir), I sort of wondered where you’d go with it.  Would you continue on the ICP rant or would you pick up a different thread?  Would it be antibiotics in the milk?  Slutty Halloweed Costumes -you touched on that one briefly last week so maybe you were testing the waters?  Trying out new material ? 
Nope.  You really topped yourself this time.   And you did it in front of my 10 year old.  So let me take just a moment to thank you for teaching my kid about the following words and ideas:

1.     Adultery:  Calling the mother of one of his friends “a slut” by name, as in  “Max’s mom is such slut, which is the only reason she still has that job”- nice touch by the way.  Now not only do I have to define the word for him, but I also have to unpack the idea that successful women are assumed to have slept their way to their success (“But mama, you’re successful, right?  That’s what dad always tells people.  So who did you sleep with?  And why does sleeping with someone matter?”)  and that “sleeping with” is a euphamism for sex (“Do you have to sleep?  I don’t remember that part, Mama.  Where did the sleeping come in again?”)  Add also the words “Whore” and “Manwhore.”
2.     “Pot head” “Doobie” “Druggie” and “Wasted”:  Yes, I know you were trying to share your anger and frustration over what you perceive as a lack of consequences for a public official who made a bad choice.  We, on the other hand, used that whole story as a way to teach about compassion and second chances and about how people are more than their last bad choice.  Now I get to teach all about hypocrisy and bigotry and narrow mindedness.  By the way- that official?  Kind of a hero for my kid.  A big hero.  A person we sort of love and respect.  So yeah...thanks for that.
3.     White Trash:  Talking about one school in town as the “White Trash” school, even when your kid is one of the students there, is not really useful.  Yes, the schools have different populations but your need to define them by the lowest common denominators of race, class and affluence sort of sucks ass.  Actually, not sort of.  It sucks ass. My kid was sort of clueless about his school’s identity as “The Rich School” which it isn’t- we give away coats and meals and subsidize field trips for about half the students through the PTA. 

So...thanks for all of that.  I’ll get a week’s worth of bedtime conversations out of your 20 minute rant (thank God I took him to get his hair cut first.  I hate to think about what would have happened if we’d been there the whole time).  I’m still trying to explain why those clowns are crazy and why they felt the need to form a possee.  And why they’d want to kill us in our beds in the first place.  


So not badass.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dear Popular Kid

Dear "Popular" Kid-
You think you're too cool for my kid. Your mom probably tells you that, because my kid is a little different and not terribly athletic, that it's okay not to be friendly towards him- that it's okay not to respond when he speaks to you or invites you to hang out on a Saturday.  Maybe it's because my family hasn't lived here for a generation or because we don't belong to the right clubs or maybe it's because I work full time and don't volunteer at school all that much.  Or hell, maybe it's because of the political sticker that was on my old car.  You probably think you have enough friends- that you don't need anymore.  Maybe your mom thinks the same thing- that she doesn't need any more people in her life so there's no payoff in trying to accept a new friend in your world.

But you're both wrong.

'Cause there's no payoff for being mean.  None.  Kindness is the most important thing, always and always.  See, before you got all "too cool," I didn't have an opinion about you.  Not one way or the other- you were just another kid on the playground.  Now, though, I know you.  I know who you are and what kind of person you are and, should you ever need something from me, I'll...

Help you. Of course I'll help you.  Because you may not be kind, but I. Am.

And that makes me way more Badass than you'll ever be.

(But your mom? She can totally suck it.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Boobs- Pt 2

For the record, during a mammogram, snarling at the person handling your boobs to "Stop shoving me around like a piece of meat," is not a good idea.

Nor is asking her how often people tell her she sucks.

She gets vengeful.

Ouch.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Jesus Bugs

Jesus Bugs (aka water striders) are those little bugs that skim across the tops of ponds and streams.  You've seen them, I'm sure. I sort of love 'cause the idea of Jesus as this little bug, about to get eaten by a fish...I don't know.  I'm pretty sure there's a joke there somewhere.  

Anyway, I've always wanted to be like a water skater- metaphorically speaking. Skimming across the top of life, not making a dent in anyone's life.  Zero impact- except for the positive.  That meant always being agreeable, always smiling, always saying yes, sure, I'd be happy to...

That got me nowhere, but it took me almost 40 years to figure it out.

This week we got some news of the "mixed blessings" variety.  My darling TMOTH needs surgery. It's good news because 1) it's possible to fix this thing we've been dealing with for 2  year and B) it's not what they categorize as "major."  The mixed part comes with the words "Six Weeks of Recovery" and "Two weeks of absolutely no weight on one leg."  We're a busy family- the kids are totally over involved and my work is going crazy (I know-  "Just be happy you have a  job, just be happy you have a job...") and having TMOTH totally out of commission for 6 weeks is going to be, um, tough.

Really tough.

One the one hand, I want to call out the cavalry.  Casserole brigade, please?  someone to schlepp my kid hither and yon?  Yes, thanks! On the other hand, though, my internal Jesus Bug still lurks.  Zero impact, remember?

Put all of those things together and they come out in this weird cocktail of mad and sad and scared which, to the naked eye, look like Cranky.  Grumpy.  Crabby.  MEAN.  That's how I spent yesterday and I think I scared TMOTH and the kids and my folks and the dog.  (I'm most worried about the dog, to tell you the truth, 'cause she's usually pretty fearless.)  But today, in the bright sunshine with a fresh cup of coffee and a fully night's sleep behind me, I'm feeling...better.

Now part of me wants to go around apologizing for my mood yesterday- and I probably should at least check in with folks to let them know it was a passing thing, not my new outlook on life.  But there's this other part of me that looks at the big dent that I left yesterday and say...yeah.  Those were feelings, you know?  Big as they come and damn inconvenient at times, but hey-

it beats getting eaten by a fish, right?


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Remember the name...

My friend K asked me a really good question the other day. 


"Why are you so terrified that someone might remember you?"


It's a good question.  Without meaning to, I work very hard to be nondescript- to be on non-memorable- because it's safer.  "Keep your head down and no one will shoot it off," you know?  (Granted, that might be better advice if I lived in a war zone (as opposed to Groovy Land), but I've always taken it as a basically Good Idea.  Well, at least since high school.  I think I was wicked memorable then.  The stakes were lower somehow.


I don't think it's in my best interest to stay hidden in the weeds anymore. I think the badass is about making sure that people always remember me for better or for worse and not being so afraid that they won't like me. Because you because really what's the worst thing that could happen? They remember me? They think I'm fabulous? They think I'm horrible? 


More likely, I won't even be in their heads at half an hour after. I maybe I will. So today, I will strive to be memorable. I will not censor myself. 


I will be afraid to be remembered.







Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Win

http://tinyurl.com/6lh2k9y
Somedays, I think the most Badass thing I can do is get out of bed, let the dog out, and smile at my family before I've hooked up the coffee i.v.   If I can manage to get through the ensuing 10-14 hours of drop-offs, pick-ups, technology snarls and bad frozen lunches without snarling at strangers, throwing things at my co-workers or bursting into tears at an inappropriate moment, I consider it a win.  If I can do all that and everyone I'm responsible for is still alive when I go to bed, it's a giant win.

A mega-win.

And if, on one of those mega-win days, I also manage to blog something? After months and months of life-and-stress-related non-blogging?  Then I'm freaking QUEEN of the Win.


You'll notice I said nothing at all here about quality.  Quality is the enemy of Win- and Win is the essence of the Badass.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

So I'm not Marion Ravenwood

Remember this?



This is what you'd think I'd done last night based on this morning's headache. In reality, I just went to book club and had a glass of wine. Okay, maybe two.

 Though, now that I think about it, maybe it was more like this:

 

Hungover on a Tuesday after two glasses of Chardonnay? SO not badass.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Secret Identity

Back to school has commenced, with all that entails, and I've found myself pulled in a couple of new and fairly uncomfortable directions.  In spite of my swearing I'd never do it, I've gotten involved with the PTA and, unfortunately, they turned out to be very nice people which sort of sucks 'cause I'd mentally written this whole post about how crazy they all were.  (Trust me- it was pee-in-your-pants funny.)  Too bad they were't.  Crazy, I mean. I don't know about the pee-in-your-pants funny part yet.

So that happened.  The other thing that happened didn't actually happen to me per se.  It sort of happened to everyone but, like all moms, I mostly only care about my kids- or at least I care more about my kids- so that means it happened to us.  The "it" was testing and, it's bastard mutant offspring, "loss of recess."

Yeah.  It's like something out of a morality play or a Dr. Seuss book or a Dickens novel or, at the very least, a Very Special Episode of Phineas and Ferb.

I spend a big chunk of my professional life causing trouble of just this variety.  I like to imagine that I'm sort of stealth bomber in pearls and a sweater set.  They hire me to do a simple job and I open up a Pandora's Box of questions.  I love it and I'm pretty good at it, I think.  I help people push back against stupid ideas like these.  Thing is, like all superheroes, I keep my professional and personal lives very separate.  I'm rocking this whole secret identity thing (some days Nice Lady with Cookies and Monkey Bread!  Next day Crazy Chick Asking Snarky Questions at Inappropriate Times!)  and it's starting to jam up the Badass.  

So let's say I come out of the closet, so to speak.  Let's say I drop the whole secret identity thing and just let it all roll out.  What if I do for my own kids just what I do for other people's kids?  Will my worst fears actually come to pass?  Will I suddenly lose all my friends?  Will my children suddenly be ostracized ?  Will strangers point and giggle when I walk down the street?  Will unemployment, homelessness and a bad haircut follow almost immediately?

I used to teach debate and my students would play this game- ThermoNuclear War- where they would take any decision and try to see how it could lead to Armageddon.  The person who could do it in the fewest steps was the winner and you didn't get points for the most likely or even possible sequence of events.  So now I have to ask myself, is this my own little game of Personal Annihilation?  Are all of these imagined consequences really just a way for the Dr. Evil Doofenschmirtz in my head to keep the Badass quiet?

Hell if I know.  But it's a question worth pondering, don't you think?


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Thought This Would Be Sexier

You know that scene from the 90's flick Ghost?  The one with the potter's wheel?  This may job your memory:


Yeah.  So I'm old.  Get over it.

See, here's the thing.  I've been using this whole "potter at a wheel" metaphor a lot lately.  Not 'cause I'm teaching classes in pottery or anything, but because I'm trying to step back from this need to MAKE things happen.  I mean, I can spout buddho-mindful flarn all day long, just so long as I'm spouting to other people.  But when it comes to me?

Yeah.  Not so much.

So imagine my shock when my choice to say "Yeah, do what you want" to not one but two important people actually worked this morning.

I know.  Crazy.

I didn't force them, just put the idea out there and...wow.

It's not nearly as sexy as I'd imagined, but dammed if it didn't work.

Huh.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Looking for Mama

Here's the thing:  Sometimes the badass rises up all on it's own.  I see stuff like this stupid T-shirt from JC Penny (not the one you may have heard all about last week, but this one's just as bad) and it just springs forth like Athena from the head of Zeus.  (Can you tell we've been reading some Percy and the Olympians in my house lately?

But you know what squashes the badass like a pea under a 300 lb princess?  Tears.  Specifically, little girl tears.  More specifically, *my* little girl's tears.  In the face of that, I've got nothing.  No badass.  No snark.  No force-to-be-reckoned with.  Nothing.  I crumble.  I waffle.  I fold like a crappy tent or a really good map.  In the moment when I most need to model my badass self for my girl, I'm not doing it.

And it pisses me the hell off.

She doesn't need loving, huggy, kum ba ya Mama.  She needs "get your ass through that door and don't let those feelings get in your way" Mama.

Um...has anyone seen that one? That kickass Mama? 'Cause I'm sure she's around here someplace...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saying No

I've been on a media black out for about a week now, at least where coverage of 9/11 is concerned.  I've avoided the articles in the paper, the Truther's letters to the editors, the specials on TV.  I've stayed of NPR and limited my web time to the most mindless and entertaining sites I can find.

So this morning, I was oddly surprised to find that even the comic pages weren't safe.  I was surprised to fin that, unlike every other media outlet in the country this morning, they were filled with tasteful, carefully designed tributes to the losses suffered.

But here's the thing:  on 9/11/01, I was cocooned in a world of work and baby and family.  I lost nothing that day.  No one I know was killed, no one was injured.  A couple of friends were part of the numb parade across the bridges, but other than that I had no personal connection to anything that day.  And watching the days and weeks and years unfold, I've had this strange sense that I'm eavesdropping on a stranger's funeral.  I don't belong here and, quite frankly, the masturbatory need of some to co-opt this tragedy confuses and saddens me as much as the tragedy itself.  It reminds me of the years when I worked with adolescents, when every tragedy took on a "what if that were me?" or a "I once sat two rows behind her cousin in biology!" hysteria.  I didn't deny that they really experienced the world that way, but it reeked of narcissism and immaturity and made me want to shake some collective sense into them.

I think it takes strength to step back from the peer pressure of "never forget" and "Proud to be an American" today.  It's not popular to day, "This grief belongs to someone else and I won't cheapen it by pretending it belongs to me."  So I'm going to work in my yard and get ready for the week ahead without the Sponsored by WorldMegaCorp tributes and the flag waving ceremonies with all of their oddly jingoistic undertones.

I'm going to leave this day to the folks who deserve it- who earned it through 10 years of wishing they could forget, but never managing to figure out how.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Once More Into the Breach

I did my Shakespearean time back in the day.  Took the classes and all that but I wasn't a scholar of the Bard by any means.  But today, this is all over my brain.

Back to school much?

Yes.  And it feels more than ever like a return to the front lines.  I'm a seasoned, grisly veteran of this war, but it's a war nonetheless.  Like all good soldiers, my only goal is to survive and to achieve my mission.

Wish me luck.  It's going to be a long, hard slog towards June.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Neighborhood Watch- Fairy Division

I just got home from our annual pilgrimage to the beach.  Trust me- anyone who willingly camps at the beach with children (let alone a husband) is, by definition, badass.  'Cause between the sand (oy the SAND!) and the trying to find things people will eat and the sleeping on the ground and the bug spray and the sunscreen which only attract more sand? That's a whole mess of work.

This year we had an added wrinkle in that my darling girl- the budding artist- wanted to Make Art this summer.  So we schlepped sketch books and colored pencils and markers down to the water every day and then we schlepped them back.  She wasn't that committed to the work, though.  Instead, she was all about the sculpture.  Mainly, she was about Fairy Houses.  You've seen them, right?  Teeny tiny little homes for Fairies?  They're sweet and charming and they're hell to build out of shells and drift wood and sand and kelp.  Especially when every. single. piece. has to be placed Just So.  We built about 10- complete with teeny tiny plates and teeny tiny chairs and teeny tiny itsy bitsy food on the plates.

As we were working on House Number 8 of our little Fairy Subdivision, crouching behind some rocks in Just The Right Spot, I hear a voice.  An 8 year old boy (aka juvenile delinquent).  Want to know how I know?  "Look!  Little tiny houses!  Let's stomp on them!  Look!" stomp stomp stomp.

Now, at this point I'd given over at least 3 days of quality beach time to crouching in the sand tucking little bits of sea gnarl into cracks that housed god-only-knows-what, so I was not so much the mellow groovy chick I usually try to be.  I popped my head up over the rock, eyes narrowed and ready to kill- especially when I saw this punk-ass kid in board shorts bouncing a ball into #2 and #4 of Fairy Acres.  His buddy kept yelling "Hey C!  C!  Over here!" I assume he'd selected the next victim.  Maybe they'd found a baby seal to club or a puppy to kick.

When I started towards them, the buddy took off (C needs to make better better sidekick choices, doesn't he?).  C starts to take off too but it's either a testament to my teacher voice or to his lack of intelligence, that C stops running when I call his name.

"The little girl who built those worked for hours on them.  You just ruined her work for fun. FOR FUN!  Do you think it's fun when someone ruins something you made?  I don't think it's fun.  I think it's mean.  That was a mean mean thing you just did. Go find something else to break and stop being mean, you hear?  Now git."  (Yes, I said "Git."  Like some Ozark grandma.  Apparently I channel the Beverly Hillbillies when I'm cranky.)  And I waved him away and watched him run.

Don't mess with the Fairies. They'll kick your ass.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

This is Your Brain...

Long holiday weekends like this one just past are a mixed blessing for me.  I love the days off- I'm not an idiot- but they're hell on my unreasonably high expectations (a kissing cousin of my Impossibly High Standards).  I imagine bar-b-q and family board games, all governed by the calm competence I recall infusing the adults of my childhood.  Now, we did pretty well this weekend- there were fireworks and a baseball game and friends over for the aforementioned charbroiled goodness and a lovely spread of food under my apple tree- but I'm up this morning with a little bit of an emotional hangover.

Here's the thing- I think the RealSimpleMarthaStewartNaturalLiving thing is a gateway dream.  It's not real but imagining it feels so good and it seems so possible...but it's an illusion.  It's a mirage that leads us further into the desert, away from the oasis of real connections with people who are imperfect and funny and interesting and definitely Not Martha.

Not badass, maybe,  but perhaps a step along the way?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blinding Flash of the Obvious

I had a Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO) today.  Actually several of them. 

1) I cannot sew.  
2)  I am a terrible gardener 
3)  I cannot cook (though I sort of suspected that) and 
4) I am neither an educational visionary nor a powerful force for change.  

I have no doubt that I could learn to do any of those things, if I really wanted to.  I also realized, however, that I lack a work ethic of any kind.  And developing a work ethic?  That actually requires a work ethic.

I am, however, decorative and occasionally entertaining.  



Living La Vida...um, What's Spanish For "Working too damn hard?"

It's summer. I'm sitting in a basement meeting room, engaged in relatively interesting conversation around educational legislation and policy. With people I don't know. And there's no booze and thus far no one has laughed at any of my jokes.

This? So not badass.

But when I get home I'm going to sit on my deck with a beer and ponder the world-gone-mad in which people ask *me* for input on educational legislation and policy.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Calling me out

"You know, I still have yet to see signs of bad-assery..."

Thanks to my friend Katie and these words, shared in a recent exchange over why she needed to write me a giant grant to fund this project, I'm do a teeny bit of soul searching today.

She makes a good point. I haven't done that much, outwardly, to merit the title "Badass." A little shooting, a little shouting, a whole lot of thinking...

Then again, there's a reason this whole thing is called "Becoming Badass" you know.

It's a process.

So get the hell off my back and write me the damn grant already.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Badass Poultry

I rarely make posts out of other blogger's stuff. It feels vaguely ooky and just a little dishonest. But then, I rarely come across something this perfectly, beautifully badass in just exactly the way I one day hope to be badass.

Behold. The Chicken.


This is golden. It is perfect. It is all I aspire to be in life. I need this chicken. I need it with the most powerful force known to man or woman. I need it more than sex or chocolate or a cabana boy named Pedro. Where can I find this chicken?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bang

I have lots of things on my Becoming Badass list of skills. Some of them are internal- I want to be able to carry my Screw You internal attitude into the world at large. I want to stop caring so much about what people think of me. I want to let go of my impossibly high standards. I want to say what I'm thinking- even if it's not the nicest thing to say. Some of them are what we call "hard skills"- stuff that I want to be able to do. I wanted to learn to hotwire a car (though I learned better), to throw knives, to fight, maybe to ride a motorcycle, to shoot...

So that last one was proving to be tougher than I'd imagined. I never occurred to me that the guys who wanted to teach me to shoot might also want to teach me other stuff- like how to manage their zippers. As a result, it took me awhile to find some one with both the appropriate skill set, but also appropriate expectations. Turns out, the guy I needed was a guy I'd known for years. Never in a thousand years would I have known that this mild-mannered teacher with an amazing wit and a great brain would also be a guy with an arms stockpile to rival a small-time militia. Other people, however, were hip to his real passion (besides teaching and his wife)- small arms.

We made arrangements to meet at the local "Rod and Gun Club" (which was really just a firing range). The local police department was re-certifying so it was like walking onto the set of a John Woo movie: lots of pop-pop-pop, lots of yelling, lots of stinky gun powder. I'll admit, I was surprised to see picnic tables- this didn't really seem like my first choice for a Family Friendly outing, but R assured me that the community of folks who frequent the place were harmless. I took him at his word but I also kept my eyes peeled. He opened his trunk and pulled out a duffle full of stuff. And by "stuff," I mean guns. Big ones and little ones. Being a teacher, he started me off with a bit of history and a quick overview of how they were the same (they all have safeties, they all go boom, they're all wicked helpful in the zombie apocalypse), their differences, and then- just to scare the crap out of me- the skinny on what exactly happens when a bullet enters a person- er, a zombie.

Suffice to say I had a healthy respect for the thing going into this. After his little lecture, I was scared shitless.

Then we went down to the range. And, without further ado, my results:



See those red arrows? Those were my first three shots.

Yeah. Pretty badass.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Soccer Mom My Ass

It's soccer night. That means I get to schlepp my kid, his best buddy, my other kid and a butt load of stuff out to sit in the middle of a field to stand by as two teams of 9 year olds race around after a ball for an hour. Then I'll schlepp them all home. The badass possibilities are limited, so I'm choosing to stake my claim in a more subtle fashion: I'm actually going to watch. I'm not going to talk on my cell phone, catch up on my reading (or texting). I'm going to watch my budding David Beckham as he runs, trips, dives and falls. Then I'm not going to holler that he should be more aggressive, pass the ball to Danny or "Go! Go! Go!" He'll get a pat on the back and a question about whether he had fun, but that's it.

Then we'll come home. 'Cause soccer may be something we do- but it's not who we are.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tough Enough

I've heard lots of people make the joke about birth being the easy part of parenting. You know, like this. I sort of assumed, though, that this hellish childrearing experience would come with adolescence. I imagined screaming fits, tattoos, poor clothing choices and Libya-level engagements around curfews and cellphones. Maybe that stuff is coming, but I've already seen the worst I can imagine.

My daughter has always been chipper, easy going, free-thinking and adventurous. Not much throws her and she's got a natural badassity that does my heart good She's my idol in a lot of ways. But in the last three weeks she's become a different kid. A kid I recognize because I was that kid. The timid, "Mama don't leave me," cling, terrified kid. The one with the red eyes and the constant tremor. My darling girl has somehow inherited the anxiety I tried so hard to hide from her. Not just inherited it, but been attacked by it. It's crept out from under her emotional bed and has her cowering under the covers- and she's missing out on big chunks of her life as a result. Brownies? Nope. Sunday School? No way. Play date? Uh-uh.

I've done everything I know to do. Therapy, mindfulness, sitting with the feeling until it passes (it never does so this is fairly fruitless), keeping her so busy she can't think, more rest, less rest, changing diet, changing bedtime stories...nothing's getting us closer to the goal of a return to my brave, happy girl. A few good friends have pointed out to me that all of my efforts may be convincing her of just the opposite- that it may be reinforcing her belief that there's something to be scared of because otherwise why would mama be giving this so much attention?

Damned if I do, damned if I don't right?

So now I've taken to what my friend Katie calls Bored Indifference. When the worry starts to well up, when the panic sets in, I'm trying to respond with "Oh, that? Yeah, we're used to that. We've seen that before. No big thing girlfriend. Just keep moving and it'll pass."

But that means that I have to not show how much it kills me to see her quiver. How I have to feign nonchalance when the tears well and her hand tightens in mine. It means peeling her off me at school and bedtimes with a cheerful kiss and a reassurance that she'll be okay and that she's safe. I'm not sure I'm tough enough to do it. I'm not sure anyone is- but I'm doing it. Just like I did childbirth when I was sure I couldn't (right around hour 20). That was the second hardest thing I've ever done. Coincidence?

Essentially, it means doing every single thing I don't want to do and I hate every single moment.

I think that's the bad side of badass. Incidentally? It sucks ass as well. Just in case you were wondering.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Free to Be...

I've been thinking a lot lately about a little girl named Lisa. Lisa was in my 2nd grade class (about a thousand years ago) and I invited her to my Super Amazing Sleepover Birthday Party, along with 7 other girls. We did all the usual birthday things- ate cake and pizza and slept in sleeping bags on the floor of my room. It was a typical 8 year-old good time.

The morning after that party was not so much a good time. I was suddenly persona non grata in my small town. A 2nd grade (and 3rd grade and 4th grade) pariah. I was invisible.

See, Lisa was (and, I assume, still is) black. She was the only black girl in my class, in fact, but I had been living in a Free to Be You and Me world for the first 7 years of my life. It never occurred to me that her skin and hair should be factors in my party planning. Plus she wore her hair in 4 braids sometimes and she had white knee boots and I thought that made her the epitome of cool.

Since I had no idea that I'd violated some social contract with my birthday party guest list, I attributed my new social leprosy to something I'd done. I assumed there was something wrong with me- that I was inherently broken. It took me years to put together that I wasn't about me, that it was about the ignorance and fear of a bunch of small town parents who taught their own kids to take that fear out on another kid.

Later on, I learned that my parents saw this coming. When the party invitations went out, other moms and dads (including my dad's boss and the school principal) contacted my folks to tell them that this was a Bad Idea. That Lisa had to be dis-invited asap. While I wish someone had explained all this to me then (I could have lived with a little more righteous indignation and a little less self-loathing), I understand that it was complicated. (1977 wasn't exactly the most enlightened time in the Midwest, you know?)

My mom admits she had a moment when she considered it. She thought of calling Lisa's grandma and making excuses- the party had been canceled or we'd had to postpone because I was sick. Then she realized that she wanted more for me. She wanted my life to be bigger than that single, stupid small town. She wanted me to be a part of creating that Free to Be You and Me world. She was brave enough to stand by what she knew was right and to bring me along to stand beside her.

I think that's pretty badass.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Testify

You know what's really freakin' brave? Standing up and saying "Hell No" when something's just wrong.

Visit my darling friend Katie to see the latest in Badasssity.

Then go here and tell NH Legislators to keep their damn hands off Katie's Marriage.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tearing Down My IHS

I have a confession. It's a hard one to make and I hate to admit it because it feels like a terrible, awful thing to admit- like the sort of thing I need to whisper with my head down, not making eye contact.

I'm L and I have Impossibly High Standards.

There. It's out. That's like 50% of the battle right? Or 90%? I can never remember.

I'm not sure when it happened because my youth was filled with "screw you" on the standards-front. I did what I did as well as I saw fit because I wanted to do it that well. Or not well. Period.

But somehow, the Talbots- Inspired acid trip that was my 20's and 30's brought me here. Here, to this crazy place where I obsess over how clean the grout is and how well behaved my dog is and whether my roots are showing. I have somehow landed in a world in which I must be beautiful and cheerful and totally organized and mistake free all the time- in spite of my perpetual clinging to the Big Fat Lie that this isn't the case.

I'm no Tiger Mother. I don't hold anyone else to those same standards. My kids, TMOTH, my friends, my family- they all get a pass. They get to be human. I guess because they are sub-me. Not as strong, not as smart, not as able.

Whatevs.

But over the weekend, I had a Blinding Flash of the Obvious. I don't have to do anything other than be kind, fair and loving to the people around me. That's it. I actually don't have to DO anything. And just being, well, that can't be measured against any standard- high or low.

So that's that. Starting now I'm pointing my feral badass self at those Impossibly High Standards- and I'm totally bringing them down.

What about you?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Feral Mindfulness

I've been dabbling for a few years with the idea of mindfulness as a way of climbing out from under the giant, ever-growing tsunami that is my life. The whole idea- that I can better manage by focusing myself on the present moment, not yesterday or next week or 5 years ago- seems lovely, in a polished wood, watercolor, home-canned jars of peaches sort of way . I imagine that, in my totally mindful life, I'll be patient and smiling and very Caroline Ingalls. My world will be filled will candlelight and moonlight and I'll be lovely. It will all be lovely.

I've had a couple of good friends with me on this exploration. One of them I pay. The other I don't. The one I pay asked me a really good question which, after a little thought, came down to this:

What if the whole mindful-acceptance- be in the moment thing is intrinsically at odds with my deep need to have something to push against? What if the "battle against" is the only thing moving me forward? What if the only way I can be in the moment is if I'm fighting hard against the present in an effort to bring about a new future? What if the feral, refuse to accept the boundaries me is the me that the world needs?

I have to say, I really like the idea. My need to fight back isn't in the way of my acceptance of the present- it's how I accept the present. I think that's sort of Badass- in a sort of feral way.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tired

I can't sleep. Technically I suppose that's not true- I can sleep. I can close my eyes and doze off. I snore a little, drool a little, have a little dream- and then I wake up. (It's the waking up that clues in me in to the fact that I was actually asleep. I'm pretty clever you know.) So actually, what I can't do is stay asleep past about 3. Or go to sleep before 11. I can go to bed before 11, but rarely does sleep actually occur before 11.

Get your mind out of the gutter. I'm not doing anything interesting- I'm just lying there. I'm just Not Sleeping. In a really big way.

I'm coming up on day 5 of this and it's wearing thin. I'm not cute when I'm this tired. I'm not bitchy either- bitchy takes effort. I mean, bitchy done well takes effort because it requires wit. Wit requires west- I mean rest. Which I'm not getting. Because of the whole "not sleeping" thing.

Someone told me today that I'm not sleeping because I'm worried about something. Well of course I'm worried. If you're not worried, you're living in a cave. Things are sort of a disaster in general and my particular corner of it isn't any great shakes right now either.

See, my darling TMOTH is sick. Not ManFlu sick, really sick. Chronic, life-changing, bad medicine sick. Thankfully, though, not life-threatening sick. Certainly sleep-threatening sick. And Wit-Killing sick. So yeah- I worry. I worry about everything from the time I was mean to that guy in high school (sorry!) to what I'll do if TMOTH gets sicker and can't work. I worry about the house, which seems too small and too messy and too rundown to represent the pinnacle of my income potential. I worry about my kids and how they're coping with the New Normal.

Mostly, though, right now I worry about being able to sleep. "Not sleeping because you're worried about not being able to sleep" feels ironic. Is it ironic? I"m too tired to know. What I want is to be mad- to fight back against something. There's no Zombie Apocalypse to deal with, no contagion or Super Villian! to foil. In the movies, there'd be something powerful for me to do. Something meaningful and IMPORTANT. Something that would require a clipboard and a purposeful stride. And maybe a microphone. Or a megaphone. So that everyone could hear me make big important updates about the situation. Don't panic. Our best researchers are on the job. A solution is coming!

But I fear that the people who would listen are also tired of hearing about it. I worry that there is no solution, no research, no important updates. I'm starting to suspect that this just...is. And that is unacceptable.

There's no way to be Badass in this, nothing Badass about managing a chronic autoimmune disease.

Maybe the Badass is in getting out of bed in the morning, but I wouldn't know. I'm too tired to tell.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Disruptive Joy

Earlier this month, the good folks over at Blogher suggested we make vision boards filled with "the images that are reminiscent of your list of things that fill you with joy and grace, or things that you want for yourself in the coming year, or images that typify the kinds of creative activities that you'd like to try, or just words or passages that you find especially stirring."

This is a little touchy-feely for me, but I figure since not doing this sort of stuff for the last 42 years hasn't helped much, I might as well give it a shot for 2011. Not a list of resolutions so much as general idea of what I'd like 2011 to include for me. The only thing that's not here is this: I'd like 2011 to be the year where I stop worrying- about what other people think, whether they like me, if my kids will become serial killers or I'll end up living in a cardboard box. That sort of stuff. I'd like to put my anxiety in a box and bury it in the yard. But not my yard- someone else's yard. A long, long way away from here.


The thing I like best about this is the idea of Disruptive Joy. I don't know if I read that idea or if I made it up, but it's simple: use laughter, joy and fun to give the metaphorical finger to the crankypants people in my life. It might just make them madder- and that's sort of fun- but it's one way to not let myself get sucked into their black pit of despair and doom.

So yeah. Disruptive Joy. Your first Badass idea for 2011.

You're welcome.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Raise Your Glass

So it's been a hell of a year. Without sharing the details (which I will share, eventually. Trust me. They're just not quite funny yet.), suffice to say that it's been...a hell of a year. Have no fear, though, my journey to Badass isn't over. Detoured? Maybe. Canceled? No way in hell.

But it's almost New Year's and I'm not going to navel gaze or ponder or meditate on the lessons learned/ lessons yet to learn. I am going to take a moment to acknowledge that, while it may not be pretty, I'm still here- and that little part of me that I used to be ashamed of because it didn't quite fit, didn't get me dates, embarrassed my family and made my sorority sisters look at me in horror- that little part is leading the way.

So let's raise a glass to it, shall we?




Damn Straight.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Living the Dream

The pie's in the oven (that and the cranberries are my sole contribution to this year's meal), the kids are hooked into screens and The Man of the House is headed to Sears to buy his big Man Machine (snowblower). I'm still in my jammies, enjoying my second cup of coffee and I'm pondering the journey thus far.

When I was a kid, living in a series of apartments and rental houses, I used to imagine my life the way I wanted it to be when I "grew up." When it didn't involve red carpets and long walks on the beach, it looked like this:

A little house in a nice-but-not-fancy neighborhood with neighbors we knew and liked. A tall, handsome husband who could Fix Things and who thought I was wonderful. A blond girl who looked like me and a little boy who was just a little too smart for his own good. And a dog who'd chase a ball in the yard for hours without ever running away and needing to be hauled home by the collar.

This morning, I'm looking around and thinking...yeah. Things may not be perfect. We're dealing with some major health/ work/ financial decisions and there are nights I lay awake wondering how we'll get through the next week or month or 24 hours, but mostly...yeah. This gig is pretty Badass.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I do more before 10 am than you do all day.

Here's my morning so far:

5:45- wake up from a nightmare about a friend telling me she quit going to our church because I said something mean about her kid
6:00- give up trying to go back to sleep and get up
6:10- step in dog poo
6:20- realize I forgot to take the monkey bread out of the fridge last night.
6:50- put monkey bread in the oven, hoping it will still work
7:00- realize that my kid's parent conference is at 7:45. Peer anxiously at Monkey Bread
7:10- scramble to get kids out of bed and rushed through morning routine
7:30- kids announce that today is "dress like your hero day" at school. Tell them that's fine, but they're on their own costumes-wise and we're out the door in 10 minutes
7:32- reminder call from radiology- Harry has an x-ray at 8:10
7:40- Monkey bread isn't done. Curse. DH and I yell at each other and the monkey bread goes back in the oven (now turned off) with a prayer that it will somehow finish.
7:50- Kid's teacher arrives for the conference. Proceeds to tell us he's the cleverest child she's ever taught in 30 years (yeah!) and that he's going to be a juvenile delinquent if we don't teach him some self discipline and organizational skills (boo!)
8:15- Can't find kid to get him to the clinic for the X-ray
8:20- Locate kid in the library, frantically call X-ray. They promise to squeeze us in.
8:20- Call from pediatrics- why didn't we come to our appointment? We had an appointment? I had no idea. Reschedule appointment
8:30- Call from husband's doctors reminded me that he has an appointment today. Remember that I need to be sure to go with him.
8:35- Waiting in waiting room at x-ray.
8:45- Still waiting
9:00- Still waiting
9:10- X-ray! All appears well, to my untrained eye. The mass is gone! Mostly! Hooray!
9:15- PTA chair calls asking about the monkey bread. I improvise a cover story.
9:20- Scramble home. Monkey bread is done enough. Dump it on the tray, slap some foil over the top, and scramble back to the car.
9:30- Kid and I struggle into the school with the monkey bread, his trombone, his backpack and music folder. I nearly dump the monkey bread in the parking lot. Twice.
9:35- Monkey bread accomplished! Kid's at school! The x-ray is complete! I prepare to stop for celebratory coffee! Alas, I arrive at the drive up window and realize I've left my wallet somewhere. The Barista takes pity and gives me the coffee anyway.

You know what? That's a pretty badass morning, if I do say so myself.