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.