Thursday, December 17, 2009


I've always been good about doing the basic health care thing. I get my annual, I take my vitamins (mostly), I eat my veggies, I wash my hands. I guess I've always figured that there were enough things out there ready to kill me without my assistance, so I should do my part to stave off the preventable.

I turn 40 next month which of course you'd know if you were paying attention. My birthday is a national holiday in 17 countries. I celebrate it for a week at least because- hello- IT'S MY FREAKIN' BIRTHDAY! There are many thing about turning 40 that I'm happy about and some that suck. Today I got to experience another on the ever-shrinking list of rights of passage- the mammogram. Now I had one back in my 20's which was uncomfortable but no big. Maybe it was because I was perkier then- both in flesh and in spirit. Maybe the machines were different. Who knows.

My first clue should have been the smell. The pink flowery waiting room (which, sidenote, I don't get. Just 'cause I have boobs doesn't mean I necessarily love pink or want to ready back issues of Ladies Home Journal. Can I get an amen?) didn't smell flowery or pink. It smelled like a locker room. Actually, like a locker room outside a vet's office. I was surprised but just figured that the person before me must have been one of those New England granola types who eschews bathing in the winter months. I now know the truth: that smell was fear. Those who had waited in that chair before me knew what was lurking behind the pink (no joke) door and their individual fight-or-flight responses were kicked into overdrive. They knew what was coming- the squishing and massive ouch and the totally "whatever" attitude of the chick manhandling the Girls. The knew, but just as I did, They Went Anyway. 'Cause that's what badass chicks do.

I can't help but think it's irresponsible to come right out and say that the mammogram is my newest (and # 1) entry in the "sucky" column on my list of pros and cons about turning 40 because that might inadvertently convince someone *not* to get their mammogram and then, when this random reader succumbed to cancer, her family would sue me and I really don't need that. So let's put it this way- it sucked, but it sucked less than a mastectomy or chemo or radation or, you know, DEATH.

So get out there and get squeezed ladies. Flat is the new badass- hadn't you heard?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Alive & Kicking

Yeah, I've been quiet lately. Bet you wish you knew what I was up to? (Enigmatic smile...)

My Grandma's in the hospital. Now, she's 94 (almost 95) so that's not all that surprising. She's at that age where stuff starts to happen. Actually, she's way beyond that age. She's well into the "wow" age, when people look at her like she's crazy when she tells them how old she is, 'cause she looks 80- trust me, at 94, that's a complement- and she's still the same person inside that she was at 25. (Sidenote: the phrase "sharp as a tack" is just as offensive as "pretty good for a girl" and I refuse to use it. So there.)

Grandma can kill snakes with a hoe, knows how to fire a shotgun, and once stayed in her bed (rather than going to the basement) during a tornado because she didn't figure it would be a bad way to go. In short, Grandma kicks ass.

So, as I said, Grandma's in the hospital. She's doing well and will be home soon so we're not really concerned. She had an uber close call a couple of years ago and we all discovered the ugly reality that is Being Old in America- aka "sign this form so we don't have to take care of you very well because you're old and taking up space and don't you want to not be a burden to your children?"

They came at her with the form again when she got to the hospital. They wanted her to sign the DNR and the Living Will stating that they shouldn't go to extreme measures and they gave her the "don't be a burden" speech and good old Grandma told them in no uncertain terms to go to hell. She draws the line at persistent vegetative, but otherwise she figures that she worked hard taking care of everyone else for most of her life and if she wants to be a burden then she'll damn well be a burden and the people around her should thank her for the chance to serve.

Now that's what I call badass.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I think my dentist has made a pact with the devil. Okay, maybe not the dentist himself, but certainly his hygienist. She's got that syrupy- sweet, chatty personality that you know has to be demon-related and she loves her sonic tooth cleaner, which sounds like a drill and makes me wicked uncomfortable- to no avail. I want very much to keep my visits as short as possible, which means that I brush and floss and gargle like my life (or at least my immortal soul) depend up on it. 'Cause it does.

So last night, I'm bending over to drop the floss in the trash (a skill my children have yet to gain, but that's another story for another day) and suddenly someone jabs an ice pick into my forehead. No, not an ice pick-

The corner of the glass medicine cabinet.

Here's where the badass comes in. As I grab my head and start cursing (that's not new, it's what I would have done anyway), my first thought isn't "that hurts like a mo-fo," (though that came later, trust me) it's "crap. Head wounds bleed like a son of a bitch." Which it proceeds to do.

I have a husband who has a lot of wonderful qualities. Calm in the face of crisis? Not one of them. He's a panicker- which I was surprised to discover 'cause he doesn't seem the type. Trust me, he is. He hears the bang and the cursing and comes running in all prepared for me to need stitches or to have some kind of H1N1 infection in my brain (which isn't totally nuts- baby girl has it right now). In the past, I would have just shut up and let his panic lead me into my own panic. This time? I told him flat out that he's awful in a crisis and that he should calm the helll down and let me deal with it. No, I didn't need to go to the ER. Yes, I was sure. I was also sure that head wounds bleed like an SOB and that he should get out of the bathroom before he passed out (another charming and surprising quality of his). He didn't, but at least he put a sock in the panic and was vaguely of helpful. We decided that we could close it up with butterflies so, while I kept pressure and made sarcastic remarks about his cutting skills, he tried to turn half a band-aid into a butterfly. Cutting the bandaid was easy- getting the paper backing off, not so much. In fact, by the time he got the first one peeled, the bleeding had pretty much stopped- though it threatened to start again any moment.

By the end, we were snorting with ironic glee over the situation- neither of us had slept more than an hour at a time in nearly 48 hours (H1N1 apparently keeps kids from sleeping without a parent standing by- who knew?). We ended up strapping a gauze pad to my head with an ace bandage and some altheletic tape to keep me from bleeding all over my pillowcase- I looked like the mummy. But at least we were laughing. Laughing at a gushing headwound? So badass.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Time to Man Up

Not literally. I have no plans to undergo gender re-assignment surgery anytime soon. I like my chick-hood. I like dresses, when I can find them. I like my red toenails. We've been through all that, though.

Seriously, though, it's time for me to "man up" in the metaphorical sense.

I'm pretty sure that in the next few weeks- months at the outside- things in my work are going to come to a head. Without going into boring details (because really, when you get down to it, the details of anyone's work but your own are deathly dull), I'll sum it up this way:

There is confusion about where I stand, officially, and where people like me stand, unofficially, in the institution. Perhaps I should say Institution, because it's a freakin' nuthouse. In the past, I've been able to depend on those above me to step in and take care of things. It's no coincidence, I think, that those who did so successfully were White Guys of a Certain Age, but I don't think that's all of it. Right now, the WGCA in the role is just not going to step up for me. He's a good guy, a nice guy, but I don't merit the outlay of political capital it would take to defend me. And I'm a little ashamed to discover that I expect him to.

Which is to say, I need to stop being a freakin' damsel in distress, pull up my big girl panties, and stand up for myself.

It's a bit embarrassing to be nearly 40 and just now recognizing this in myself. I like to be defended. I like to stand back while someone else puts his (or her) ass on the line for me, while I sit back and watch- gratefully. Always gratefully. I'm not sure if this is some latent girly tendency or laziness or an old habit from back in the day when a swish of my skirt could get me all the free drinks I wanted, but it needs to stop.

Enough with that. No one is going to save me now- and they shouldn't have to. Help me? Fine. Support me? Absolutely. Stand behind me when the time comes for the showdown? You betcha. But stand in front of me? No more. Because when someone saves your life, you owe them. No thanks.

Don't mess with the dress.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


My powerful desire to wring every last minute of fun out of my trip to the Big Easy has left me exhausted, mute, and bedridden. I'm going to blame at least 50% of my current condition on a wicked virus that waylaid me on the plane. (By the way, thanks so much person sitting in front of me, for refusing to cover your freaking mouth while you hacked from Baltimore to New Orleans. Really. Thanks.) I'll own the other 50% though. I should have gone to bed early, avoided beer, and eaten my Wheaties. I should have taken it easy, gone only to the meetings I had to go to, and not roamed the city.

But I was in New Freakin Orleans. I wasn't going to miss this. Want to know what I did instead? I walked to
Cafe DuMonde for Coffee and Beignets not once, but twice (and looked like I'd been snowed on after eating that powdered sugar slice of heaven). I listened to Cuban Jazz here and danced up and down the Frenchman's Quarter (not to be confused with the French Quarter, which is more "drunk college student.") I bought pralines from Southern Candy Makers and discovered that pralines are freaking gross. And expensive. So not only do they make you gag, but you pay 18.97 a pound for the privilege.

By Saturday morning, I had no voice. I couldn't do my presentation and I was miserable all the way home. Three days after my return I'm still in bed.

And I'm still smiling. Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

Sometimes a good time is more important than being responsible.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Leaving on a Jetplane...

I'm going away this week. I wish I could say I was going away for a long, relaxing vacation with my honey or that I were taking my kids to Disney. The reality is, though, that I'm going to New Orleans for a meeting I've gone to every year since 1994. (I think I may have missed one in there somewhere, but I'm not really sure.) It's usually a good time and I get to see people that I rarely see otherwise, but it's felt...difficult...since the kids were born. I feel tugged between a powerful need to be close to them, to support and take care of my family, to be here, and my equally powerful need to get the hell out of Dodge, to be a professional, to sit at the grown-ups be there. This usually translates into my being neither place very well. I long for home when I'm away and I end up traveling in the dark (leaving home at 3 am instead of going the night before, getting home at 1 instead of staying an extra night) which results in exhaustion both during and after the trip. Not to mention that I rarely enjoy the trip or the city- and sometimes this meeting is in some really cool places.

But that was before. I'm determined that this year- which may be the last year of this specific gathering- this year I won't waste it. I've always wanted to go to New Orleans and I'm going to enjoy the music, the food- all of it. I'm going to let go of this deep belief that my family can't function without me, that enjoying my hotel room (and it's a really good hotel room, right in the French Quarter) makes me somehow unfaithful to my husband and my kids. I'm going to take a deep breath as I step off the plane and I'm going to put down my "wife/ mom" bag and pick up my "professional who knows how to have a good time" bag.

I may update. Or I may not. Depends on my mood.

The Badass is willing to shed her responsibilities and, occasionally, laissez les bon temps roulez!

Friday, October 30, 2009

I Was Told There'd Be No Math

I hate numbers. Ever since 4th grade when I convinced Mrs. B not to make me fool around with multiplication tables, I've hated numbers. In fact, the only thing I hate more than numbers is money. Money- both in its lack and its abundance- can cause my stomach to turn and my hands to shake. It gives me nightmares and taps into my deepest anxieties and doubts. I've actively sought, throughout my life, to not deal with money. Personally, professionally- it's the one piece of my life that I'm happy to pass along to someone else- to anyone else who seemed either remotely competent or remotely interested.

So when I backed into my current position (and it was backing in- I didn't apply or request the job, I was simply the last person left after everyone else quit), I was most nervous about managing the budget. I wasn't just nervous about it- I was afraid of it. For two years, in fact, I managed to avoid dealing with it at all. When forced into conversations, I stammered and blushed and ran away as soon as I could.

Then, last year, the shit hit the fan. I finished the year deeply in the red. I couldn't avoid it anymore. Grudgingly, slowly and with much trepidation, I waded into the books. I made some sense of the crazy accounting practices at work. I created my own systems for keeping track of the status of my accounts. I didn't learn to love it- I doubt I ever will- but I learned enough that one day I discovered that I wasn't afraid of the books anymore.

Today I had a meeting with folks who hold my continued employment in the collective palms of their hands. I had prepped within an inch of my life and I went in hoping only that I wouldn't cry and that they wouldn't discover some blatant, terribly obvious error in my books.

Instead, I kicked ass. I answered every question clearly and without any bullshit. (Bullshit was my friend in previous budget conversations. I just made stuff up to get myself out of the meeting as soon as possible.) When I left, it was with some suggestions for improved communication of what was- not with an admonishment that I magick up some new money out of the ether.

The Badass knows that you have to do the thing that you really don't want to do, if you really want to be the Badass.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Just a Little Runaway

I've written before about how I didn't really run and play much as a kid. In fact, I didn't even run the obligatory mile in 10th grade- I did 3/4 of a mile and got a B and was grateful for it. But one of the things I think a Badass has to be able to do is run away (to live to fight another day, as they say). I figured the mile was a good place to start- but I haven't run more than a few feet (unless I was being chased or there was free food in the staff lounge) since 10th grade. This morning, as I wandered into the gym wondering how I'd spend my mandatory 30 minutes of workout time before I allowed myself to get into the shower, my eyes fell on the treadmill. What if...

So I took it on, somewhat fearlessly, if I do say so myself. I started my iPod FU playlist, cued up "I Hate You (My Friend)" and I started running. 15 minutes later, when the timer ran out, I'd done it. I'd run the effing mile- and I wasn't really even breathing hard and I wasn't really that tired.

Who knew? I'd had that badass thing going all along- I'd just never been brave enough to check it out.

A real Badass isn't afraid to reach beyond her grasp- and isn't all that surprised when she actually gets what she was reaching for.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bringing the Badass to the Office

My work is unusual in that it has an equal ratio of desk time and road time. I've got a week of office time coming up and I'm dreading it. Mostly I'm dreading it because I have to deal with money all week, but I'm also dreading it because it's going to be meeting after meeting after meeting. So here's my plan for dealing with the week:

1) Sleep. I'm braver when I'm well rested.
2) Go to the gym. I'm braver when I'm strong.
3) Let my rested, strong self decide when and where to put my energy.
4) Refuse to let myself be bullied- by others or by the village of crazy people who live in my head.
5) Look forward to the weekend with every single fiber of being. Halloween rocks and I'm going to anticipate it like crazy.

The badass knows the 6 Ps of survival: Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sometimes It's the Little Things

2:45 at the grocery store is a tricky time. You pass the stay at home moms on the way in, 'cause they're rushing to pick up their kiddos. You pass a few work outside the home moms too, but they've usually skipped out of work a little early to do the shopping and run a couple of errands before they pick up their offspring. In any case, it's one of those "be ready because you never know what social complexity might arise" sort of situations. Today, though, I got up at 5:50 to drive 3 hours one-way for a gig. Then I drove home. All before 2:45. And I dropped roughly two grand on my piece of crap beater which has as its only redeeming quality its collection of pre-kid bumper stickers. I wasn't in the mood.

So today I didn't worry that I forgot the list and I didn't deal with the social shit. I turned my iPod to my "F U" mix and I grabbed the stuff I needed. And I left the kids at the sitter for an extra 30 minutes to do it and then to come home and write about it.

Anyone got a problem with that? I didn't think so.

A true badass knows that the badass lies in the small choices to opt in...or opt out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An Open Letter to Any One of 20 People Who've Crossed My Path Today

Dear Jackass,
I hope you don't mind the familiarity, but it seems appropriate to address you by name rather than the more formal To Whom It May Concern. Appropriate because you, dear Jackass, have apparently determined that your personal value as a human being is worth more than mine. Your time, your energy, your worth- all more enduring than anything I might bring to the table. That being said and understood tacitly by all around you, let me clarify the following points.

1) You take up the same amount of space in the world (give or take a few inches and/ or pounds) than the rest of us. Your importance is apportioned in equal measure as well.
2) While you certainly have things to say that matter to you, they do not matter to me as much as to you. This is human nature, I realize. You however do not seem to realize this. You should.
3) You have a certain responsibility to the rest of us with whom you share space. This responsibility, while of course extending to material responsibilities, also includes your responsibility to keep your freaking drama to yourself. Not that I'm not happy to be supportive, but at a certain point either fix it, suck it up, or just shut up about it.
4) You have problems. So do I. So does every frickin' schmoe on the planet. Yours are neither weightier or lighter than the rest of the world, but they become infinitely weightier when you give them your attention. See #3- fix them, suck it up, or shut up.
5) Fixing them? That might require you to make an effort. Be prepared to do so- but don't make me listen to you whine about how hard it is. I have no interest in hearing beyond the bare minimum, so shut your hole.

the Badass

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A virtual cornucopia of badassery

I don't usually do the whole "links" thing, but a bunch of stuff has crossed my radar and they share an interesting theme...

Hungry? How about a Badass Burger?

Loving someone this much- wicked badass.

Delivering 100,000 calls for Health Care Reform in a single day? Oh yeah.

I might be late with this, but this chick who refused to sit in the balcony? Yup.

These Pakistani Girls are bringing it big time by refusing to give up their school, no matter what.

So there you have it. The headlines from the Badass world around us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Football Schmootball

After 3 days of exhaustive study, I call bullshit on the whole "football as art and science" thing. I also call bullshit on the whole "really understanding football takes years of study" thing. Total. Bullshit.

Want to know the rules? Here they are: 4 tries to move the ball 10 yards- failure to do so means the other team gets a turn. 4th down is usually a punt- a kick in the other direction- but "going for it" is a sign that a coach is either an idiot or has balls the size of basketballs. The distinction is largely made by the outcome of the try (and/ or the game). The other stuff like "clipping" and "holding" and "offsides" are technicalities and one can be certain that the officials will call them and be right and wrong an equal number of times- though it's always a bad call when it's on the Home Team. Sounding confident in your assertion that it's a good or bad call is really more important than being right.

Want to be able to talk like you know something about the game? Go here, look up the game about which you want to talk intelligently, and then parrot what you hear. If you are female, just knowing the name of two players makes you seem like a real pro.

I learned all of this by joining a Fantasy Football team. Oy, the sturm and drang that ensued leading up to the draft. I was certain it would be a disaster, that I'd make a fool of myself, that I'd out myself as a total football squib. You know what? I'm kicking ass. I'm leading my division. This has nothing to do with my inherent talent and understanding of the game. It's because the freaking computer does everything for you. It's like taking a test with the instructor standing next to you saying, "Pick A. Now B. Now A again."

Seriously. My squibhood is so behind me.

Badass isn't above making up the rules, taking the short cut, or faking it when necessary. 'Cause just about everyone else is faking it too.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"Spiral" isn't just ham

I'm a squib. If you know Harry Potter at all (and really, are there more than a handful of parents of the non-fundamentalist or non- Amish variety out there who haven't been totally inundated with all things Potter over the last near- decade?), then you know that a squib is a non-magical person born to a magical family.

No, I'm not a wizard- or a witch.

I was, however, born to a sports family. My mother actually went into labor with me at a basketball game. (My dad was coaching. He sent her to the hospital with an assistant coach and stayed to finish the game.) I spent my earliest days on bleachers in gyms and on fields, watching cheerleaders and slurping pop rocks, pixie sticks and sodas (ah, the 70's)...and wishing I could go home. I didn't get it. I didn't get the rules. I didn't get the motivation for all that running around and yelling. I would have much preferred a book or a Hardy Boys rerun.

See, I was what they call a "sickly kid." I had asthma and allergies and I was pretty much always sniffling, wheezing or hacking up a lung. I didn't play like other kids 'cause I was much more likely to be lying on the sofa recuperating. Don't go feeling all sorry for me- I thought all that running around and yelling looked sort of dumb and I was way more interested in what Ma, Pa, Laura and Mary Ingalls were up to. It really didn't bother me.

Except when I was healthy and it was recess. Everyone else looked forward to going outside to run and do the monkey bars...but I didn't know how to do those things very well, if at all. I can't throw a ball, I can't hit a ball, I can't do a layup, and I still don't understand the rules to most organized sports. This is simply...unacceptable. I want to know the rules to at least football and basketball. I want to be able to throw a respectable spiral and a hit a jump shot- and it would be nice if I could pitch and hit, even just a little.

So that's the next step in the Bad Ass project. Obviously I can't do it all at once so right now I'm focusing on football. I'm going to learn to throw a spiral this fall. I'm going to learn the rules of this stupid game. I'm going to shake off my squibness where football is concerned 'cause how freakin' hard can it be? High School boys can learn it.

Badass is being willing to name one's weaknesses and shortcomings- and then taking them on.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Honest Truth

There are a lot of things I can't do. I can't grow peppers. I can't wear leggings. I can't be a redhead. I can't get excited about baseball. I can't stay awake at 1:00 in the afternoon if I'm in class- even if I'm teaching.

But you know what I can do? I can make people have hard conversations and thank me for the privilege. I can say hard things and people listen. I can throw around words like "pedagogy" and "dichotomy" and "differentiation" and I'm using them right. In short, I have mad skills where my work is concerned.

Today, I kicked ass. My client worked me like a rented mule, but I measured up. I knew when to talk, when to pause, and when to just look pensive ("smell the fart" facilitation, as I call it).

For years I felt like I shouldn't talk about what I could do well. I have vivid memories of the childhood taunt, "You think you're so hot but you're not," which later turned into "You think you're all that, don't you?" So I denied that I did anything more than passably well. I was sufficient at best and just fooling folks at worst. That little self-imposed bit of deceit- that I'm nothing special- led to years of feeling not-good-enough. I'm starting to realize that:
1) No one is paying attention anymore, ready to tell me to get over myself, and
B) I'm selling myself short.

I can also drive a stick- and hills don't scare me.

Yup. Mad mad super mad full on skills. That's me

A badass is willing to make an honest assessment of her strengths without shame, fear or embarrassment.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Yes, It's Been Nearly a Week.

I'm busy. What the hell do you want from me?


A true badass knows that things get done when they get done and asking me to get them done sooner won't help.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Two Ways This Could Have Gone

So there are two stories I could tell about the whole hot wiring experiment. The first goes like this:

The guy I found to help me wasn't local. In fact, he isn't even in my timezone- but he's a good friend and I've known him forever and he wasn't even put off by my awkward electronic query- blunt as it was...

Me: Dude- you ever hotwired a car? I need to learn how.

His response was along these lines:

C: I know how but I've never done it. How soon do you need to know? I mean, are you fleeing for your life right now? 'Cause you might want to look for plan B if you are.

Me:'s just a thing I want to learn.

C: It's not hard, but it's not real practical. Most cars aren't hot-wirable anymore and the ones that are probably wouldn't start even if you had a key. If you want to jack a car, you have to be willing to pop the hood...and you really have to know your way around once you get there.

Me: Dude...are you serious?

C: Yeah. Sorry.

And then there's this:

Hotwiring a car is a really, really good way to electrocute yourself. That's something you almost never see, is it? In all my years of movie and TV watching, I've never seen anyone get fried while trying to hotwire a car.

Don't believe me? Look here or here or here or here.

Or watch this:

But this dude is so crazy wrong and drunk. The colors don't matter unless you know every single color coding for every single car in the world.

The true Badass is smart enough to know when she needs a Plan B.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Okay, Enough With the Naval Gazing

I've spent the last several weeks working on my inner BA, but I think that's a cop-out. Time to stop all the introspection (or at least limit it, for pete's sake) and start with the action. This weekend, I begin the BA Project full-on. First stop: hotwiring a car.

Of course, first I have to find someone who knows how to hotwire a car.

Wonder how you start that conversation?

"How are things? So good to see you! Um...have you ever boosted a car by any chance?"

"You know how, when we were kids, we all did those crazy things? Yeah...good times. I wrote for the underground newspaper. Let me jacked cars, didn't you? Come on..."

"You strike me as a former car thief. Am I right?"

I'm going to have to work on my approach, aren't I?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bringing the A Game

As I mentioned before, I'm sick. Not H1N1, put-me-in-quarantine sick, just sick. I've got a cold and nothing brings me to my knees quite like a head cold. I get mean and ugly and demanding. I also get whiny and a million other decidedly not-badass things.

But tomorrow, I have to get up at 0-dark-thirty to get to an all-day meeting two hours away, followed by a two-hour drive home. Then I get to do the whole thing again on Thursday. Now I know that a zillion people around the world do that everyday and many of them are sicker than I am.

So tomorrow, I'm going to dig deep into my Alka-Seltzer-Plus haze and I'm going to bring my A game to the work that's in front of me because it's important and no one else is going to do it if I don't.

Which makes all of us a Badass Collective of people who do what has to be done when there's no one else to do it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rolling out the Welcome Mat

First day on the new site, courtesy of a bad cold that's laid me up for two days. 'Cause staying up and trying to function when you feel like crap, thus spreading germs among the general population? So not badass.

The BA knows world can get along without her for 24, 48, even 72 hours. Seriously. Get over yourself.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Badass Example

You want to know badass? Here's badass:

"Freshman Matt Ziesel scores a touchdown against Maryville. Matt is a special athlete who has Down Syndrome. He loves football and has grown up in an environment surrounded by sports. His father is a coach/ athletic director, and all his siblings play sports. He grew up at athletic events, and has always been a cheerleader. He registered as a freshman at Benton High School -Saint Joseph, MO this year, and told his mother and father he wanted to play football. The team takes good care of looking after Matt, and he is still the cheerleader on the sidelines. He puts his pads and helmet on, stands next to Coach McCamy and waits for his turn to play. Over and over during the course of the game Matt will say, "Coach McCamy, I am ready! I am ready Coach!" On this Monday night coach gave him a chance. The Cardinals were down by a few touchdowns with 15 seconds left. Coach McCamy called a timeout and asked the coach of Maryville High School if they could run their "Matt Play". He agreed and this is where the video begins."

Badass knows that strength is letting someone else get ahead sometimes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I always figured I'd be a PTA mom. I fact, over the years I've given myself no end of grief for not being enthusiastic about PTA/PTO/ PTC (whatever the hell you want to call it) meetings. I've dutifully attended the first one of the year, signed up for a committee and then chastised myself for finding excuses not to go each month.

Yesterday, the little pink flier came home. I recycled it without a second thought.

I'm not abdicating responsibility for an appropriate amount of involvement with the school. Just the opposite. I realize that PTA= Pain in the Ass  and that it is not the way the badass gets involved. My BA self is getting involved by advocating for my own kids, by providing the paper products for parties, and by being really visible in the school as a voice against the looming NCLB-induced test-prep frenzy. I'm not buying wrapping paper, holiday wreaths, bulbs or other useless crap that I don't need. If the school needs money, I'll be happy to write a check but I'm not giving half of my donation to some business that makes money off of schools and PTAs- including the national PTA.

The badass helps where she can, but doesn't let guilt drive her decision to help or not. The badass also stands up for all kids by standing up for her own kids- but doesn't need anyone else telling her how or when to do it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Woman of Mystery

My lovely, infuriating daughter is a dancer. She takes a weekly class that I managed to avoid all summer, but which resumed today. Typically, these classes are a flurry of chatty moms, comparing notes and trying really hard not to seem like the competitive mamas they are. Today, though, we switched to a new class. I imagined this to be just a scheduling thing as I am no longer willing to give up my Saturday mornings to chatter and tutus. I decided to leave work a bit early (a real heart breaker on Mondays) and schlep darling girl over to class. I figured it would be the same sort of thing, just with different faces- and it could have been, except I made the BA decision to just...not.

There were the same people there (except at a more frantic, after-school "get home, get dinner, get homework, get into bed" pace) but the faces were new. The overtired one with the new baby in the front carrier, trying to entertain the 2 older kids while the oldest was in dance. The doting grandma taking responsibility for after school care. There were the SAHMs, the WAHMs, the WOTHMs and even a few nannies, babysitters and dads. It had the same "first day of school" vibe, with folks laying claim to their seats, their social groups and their positions in the pecking order.

But I just...opted out. I pulled my sunglasses down, I leaned my head back against the wall, I handed my older, crazy-making son the iPod, and I. opted. out. When she was all done, I was ready to head home and do the dinner/ homework/ bedtime mambo. I was able to throw down my evening routine with enough heat to drive it, instead of letting it drive me.

You know what I learned?

Nothing screams badass quite like an intentional choice not to engage in whatever little social drama is unfolding. Plus the sunglasses. They didn't hurt.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Standing at the sink this evening, with the sun coming through the window on the giant yellow platter I was washing, I had one of those moments where time just stops for a second. One of my kids has been a little sick today (just a fever, but still enough to change the day) and this is a kid who's put me through the wringer a couple of times with scary not-breathing sort of situations- her sick is scarier for me than regular sick family. I've also been fighting a bug all weekend and now we're collectively feeling a little...fragile. Fragile plays out in different ways for all of us. My daughter looks backwards for comfort in the form of more snuggling and old-school tv choices from her pre-school days. I wash dishes and try to get organized- hence the giant platter. This combination of needs led to that sunny moment with its WonderPets soundtrack and the sudden awareness that my kids aren't babies anymore. That's not exactly a shocker- they haven't been for awhile- but I think I'd been in denial about it. I'm struck now with a sudden desire to really see them for who they are right at this moment- little people who still need me but who don't need me as intensely as they used to. The growing separation between us is both a gift and a punishment. For years I've worried about missing their growing up because of my work and my re-emerging need to have some things of my own, away from them. Now I think that the worry itself was actually the culprit.

So where's the badass in this?

Badass knows that there is no guarantee of tomorrow, that this moment right now is the only thing we can count on. So we'd better enjoy here while we we're here. There's no here there.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Badass vs. Bad Ass

I've spent about...20 years hating my physical self. I have very clear memories of being about 5 or so and looking in my parent's full length mirror and thinking, "Eh, nothing special. Sort of plain. Oh well." I didn't hate the way I looked, I just didn't think I was pretty. Then again, that was in 1970-something. With that hair and those clothes- how could anyone be even remotely attractive? Within 5 years, though, I realized that I was going to be too curvy, too short, too stocky, too...everything. I realized that the Barbie Body Fairy was not going to visit my house and I hated my body and everything that it stood for. My teenage and young adult years were spent in a binge-and-purge-athon that wasn't even effective. (Leave it to me to have an eating disorder that didn't even make me skinny.) Clothes didn't fit- particularly junior sizes- and so I ended up dressing like a housewife. My pervading world view was "I'm too fat for _______________." Didn't matter what it was, my size 10-12 behind was too fat for it. I sentenced myself to a constant stream of internal nattering about how awful I was because I had a Bad Ass.

Not to be confused with my current Badass self. I'm at the gym loving that I can make my muscles shake with exhaustion by doing 6 more reps than last week. I can sweat and grunt and stink to my hearts content because that's me getting really, really strong. My dad (a former coach) used to say that pain is weakness leaving the body. I like to think that this pain- the deep muscle ache, the sharp pull of a stretch, the I-can't-take-one-more-step exhaustion is labor pain. I'm giving birth to a whole new vision of myself- and what numbers end up associated (weight, size, measurements) just. don't. matter. I'm loving my curves and I'm showing them off in whatever makes me think, "Oh...yeah."

Badass recognizes that the physical body is a tool, a means to an end. It needs to be strong and healthy and it needs to function well, but it doesn't need to be beautiful to do any of those things. In fact, fixating on making it beautiful will actually get in the way.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Big Girls Cry- and Laugh

I went to bed a bit grumpy last night. By this morning, the grumpy seed had grown into a cranky plant. I woke up cranky with a side of pissed off. I have no justification for the cranky, I just knew (and sort of still know) that the combination of my professional and personal lives was the equivalent of 2 tons of ammonium nitrate and about 200 gallons of fuel oil- and my kids' whining was the fuse to that was going to cause the whole thing to go up with a big, powerful kaboom. My first instinct was to try to tamp it down, pretend everything was fine, dig deep and let my husband (who is coming down with the first of what will be an unending stream of colds over the next 9 months) sleep. Then I remembered that I was Badass. Badass does not deny feelings. Badass lets them roll, even if they make other people uncomfortable- and that's just what I did. I informed my husband that his son was the engine on my crazy train and that I needed to get off at the next station. I groused and I snarked (though the snark was largely muttered in multi-syllabic words that neither kid would understand) and I felt...better. Oddly enough, the cranky didn't take over, it didn't drive me to open a bottle of scotch before 9:30. It evaporated. Within a couple of hours, I was laughing myself silly (in a vaguely unprofessional way) at the overwhelming amount of work I'm trying to accomplish. Which is also badass. Badass says "Hello stress. It's about damn time you showed up, with your adrenalin-fueled problem solving power and your slightly inappropriate sense of humor. Let's get to work."

The Badass is not one dimensional. She does not default to a single, cranky worldview. She is not universally cynical, angry, hostile or nasty- though one might not be surprised to experience any of these when in orbit around the Badass. She is also not all funny or kind or generous. She is a complete person, with a complete range of emotions and feelings- some comfortable and pleasant and some...less so.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's a Woman Thing

You may have noticed that I added some inks to the blogroll. I Googled "becoming badass" to see if this would come up and was amazed to discover that there were actually hits on the subject! (You can explore for yourself if you'd like.) So I poked around a bit, skimming in places and reading in depth in others, and I was struck by one thing:

All of these sites assumed that I was a man.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It hasn't been that long since, as a woman, I wouldn't have been able to even consider a project like this. I would have been property at worst- and not much more at best. But still, it hadn't occurred to me that this could turn into a gender thing. I don't really consider myself to be a girly-girl, but I wouldn't call myself Pat either. I wear makeup, I like a skirt now and again. I'm glad that I'm a woman. So does that mean that Badass is off limits? Unnatural? Is it a rejection of my feminine self?

Hell no. I managed, pretty much on my own, to turn two little cells into a fully functioning, unique human being. In fact, I did that twice. I accomplish more by 10 am than most people do in a day. I can look at a person and, in seconds, know how that person is feeling- physically and emotionally. I can tell a joke, turn a head, and bring a man to his knees with just a raised eyebrow and an off-color comment.

What's more badass than that?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Badass vs. Jackass

I think it's important to clarify that badass doesn't mean cruel, thoughtless, selfish or rude. Unless, of course, someone is begging for the rude- then it would be totally badass to bring it. That's where I am this morning. I've got to have a tough conversation soon about someone else's selfishness and I'd like to be able to look forward to it. I'd like to be able to view it as a "get your head out of your ass, the world doesn't revolve around you" public service announcement. I don't want to be a jackass- I want to point out that someone *else* is being a jackass. I'll let you know how it goes. Could be fun.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Saying what needs to be said

Where I work, we're fond of telling people to "speak your truth, even if your voice shakes." I have no idea whom to credit with the words, but the sentiment seems really timely today. My virtual and real worlds are filled with angry, confrontational people today. I'm going to blame it on politics because the context for the rages is the twin cyclones of Health Care and Obama Speaking to Children. The why's and how's of their vitriol are less important, though, than the lesson that's emerged for me today.

A badass speaks her mind with reason and respect but without fear.

The things I think- the things I know- are real and right and well-reasoned and I have an absolute right to say them out loud. Others may not agree (as is their absolute right) but they must must must allow me to speak. Anyone who tries to silence a badass does so at his/her own peril. A badass will bring it down hard on those who shut others down. Period.

So furious FaceBook commenters and irrational Tweeters? You said your piece. Now STFU.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What is a Badass?

I've decided that this project is not only about the tangible skills I want to learn to build my BQ (Badass Quotient), but also about the qualities that are inherent in badassery. I think that the internal part of this is going to be key 'cause how often do you really have to take someone down in a fight, outrun a bad guy, fire a weapon or hotwire a car? There's more to the swagger than that. So here's where I'm starting:

A badass does what needs to be done- and to hell with the rest.

We all have crazy busy lives. We've got mountains of stuff to do before we even get started with the day and I'd hazard a guess that we do more in a day than our grandparents did in a week. Most of it is either mandatory (eat, sleep, wash, make sure children are dressed before dropping them at school, make provisions for their eating, etc.), or necessary (show up at work in order to pay for the food, mortgage and health insurance we need, do the actual work at my work that will enable me to have a job tomorrow, etc.). But there's a whole mess of stuff that's just..not. For example, it's necessary that I mow my grass at least periodically- enough to keep the snakes away from the house and to ensure that small children don't disappear between the house and the car- but I don't have to go all crazy with it. I don't have to trim under the bushes. I don't have to give two shits about the fact that most of the yard is more weeds than grass. I don't have to care whether that weird strip between the sidewalk and the street gets mowed every time either. See? Not necessary. If someone wants to complain, then *they* can do it. Same with joining committees that I don't think are important, reading stupid books for book club, and baking when I'm not in the mood (which is most of the time).

So today my badass message to the world is this:

You want it done so bad? Do it yourself.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

So who is badass?

Someone asked me today to do a bit of a character study, asking "Who is badass for you?" I love that question and I've been amazed at what some of my friends have said when I've told them about this project. The most common is "Like Jaimie Sommers? (The Bionic Woman)," but I've also gotten some Marian Ravenwood references.

mary-shannon-imageFor me, though, Badass is Mary Shannon combined with Temperance Brennan (both the tv version and the book version) with just a hint of Dana Scully for flavor. The commonality is the ability to totally take care of oneself (I hate how dependent I am) and a willingness to tell other people to go to hell. Plus a lack of concern about what other people think- which I used to have but seem to have lost.

That being said, I'm facing my first meeting of a committee tonight- something I *never* should have said yes to in the first place and which is a 2 year commitment. So I"m trying to figure out how to either disentangle myself from it or find a way to bring the badass to that.

So what about you? Who's your badass example?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Becoming Badass

When I was a kid, I had a pretty clear picture of who I was going to be when I grew up.  Unlike most of my peers, I was more Nancy Drew than Laura Ingalls Wilder.  (Actually, I was more Goldie GoldGoldie Gold than Strawberry Shortcake, but I don't think most people would get the reference.)  In my teen years, while my peers were dreaming of the prom and living their John Huges- inspired lives, I was dreaming of learning how to hotwire a car and fight.  I never actually did any of those things, but my fantasy life tilted much more in the direction of "spy/ daredevil/ superhero" than it did to "wife/ mother/ teacher."

Then time passed and I went to college and I got pulled into a more traditional view of who I was supposed to be.  I discovered the lure of conformity and the power of accolades.  My kick-ass dreams slowly faded and were replaced by more mundane life choices.  I got married.  I had kids.  I taught and I cooked and I even learned to sew...sort of.  I'm happy with the choices I made, mostly and I'm proud of the life I've built.  But now I'm staring 40 in the face and I'm wondering- is it too late for me to become the badass I'd always planned to be?  Can a 40-ish mom have both- 'cause I'm absolutely not interested in ditching the life I have right now for this other.  I just want both.  I want to be badass mom, badass teacher, badass wife and badass...whatever.

So your welcome to follow along, chime in, add your .02 and even take a bit of the badass challenge yourself.  There are a few rules, though.

1.  Nothing illegal.

2. Nothing immoral.

3.  My badass is my badass- no fair judging.

And that's about it.  I'll keep you posted.