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

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


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.