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.