On Clorox, the PTA, and this Life List

So I have this life list that I started keeping after the first BlogHer Pathfinder Day and have been slowly adding to ever since. I've got some fun things on there like owning dyable Payless pumps (thanks to a twitter convo I had with my friend Jessica one day) and I have some very large and serious items on there like speaking to my mother (preferably NOT over her cold, dead body).

I went to Camp Mighty last weekend, which is like a conference for life lists. The beauty of making proactive steps towards that which you most want in life is that once you start that ball rolling, it tends to take itself down the hill quite effectively on its own. 

Case in point: item #8 on my list is "drive west until I run out of gas" which sounds very romantic and slightly tragic and gorgeously angsty until you start driving west to attend the life list conference and run out of gas in the middle of Nothing Whatsoever, Arizona - armed only with some Kashi snack bars, an iced coffee, and a Sephora card. 

So that was fun, but at least no one can say I didn't come to that conference with my best, authentic self. 

None of this has anything to do with this post, by the way. I am just really horrible at getting to the point. Imagine how bad your head would have hurt if I actually made it through NaBloPoMo? Small favours, my friends.

So I have this life list that I started keeping after the first BlogHer Pathfinder Day and have been slowly adding to ever since. Item #29 is "change a child's life for the better." I have gone rounds with myself over this item, because in many ways, I feel like I could already cross that off.

I worked for a company that built the software to help the largest county in the US track their foster children. That alone could justify checking #29 off, but it doesn't feel like enough.  A few nights a week I feed the kid down the street who's parents just seem to have forget he exists and leave him to forage for himself every night, but somehow that doesn't feel like enough, either.

What almost feels like enough is the work that I did with my old PTA in Denver, the amazingly incredible one that took a low income, low test score, failing, under-enrolled school in the heart of DPS which was on the chopping block for closure and turned it into a low income, high scoring, defying crushing everyone's expectations, over-enrolled poster school in DPS for how a community can come together and save a school, help every single kid, and give everyone a chance for a incredibly bright future. I wrote a little bit about that school, that PTA, and that experience here, but it would honestly take me pages and pages and pages to tell all the ways those kids and that school saved me more than I could even have hoped to save them. 

Greeblemonkey can tell it better, anyway. She took over for me when I left, and took a little idea we had for a not-sucky fundraiser and turned it into this. Also, did you know she was my neighbor? *insert internet groan here*

We single-handedly changed the lives of every single child in that school, and they single-handedly changed every single one of ours. Everyone gave what they could - in time, in money, in hugs on the playground, or in simply allowing us the privilege of spending real, quality time with their children and finding out what makes them as individuals learn better and achieve more - because sometimes that is all a parent has to give, and it is worth its weight in gold. 

But it still doesn't feel like enough, and I don't know why. Maybe it's because I can't measure it yet. Maybe when those kids grow up and go to college, or work at jobs they love, or are great mothers and fathers, then it will feel like enough. For now, it just feels like breathing. I did it because it was wrong not to. I did it because they deserved it, because every kid deserves it. I got more out of it than they did, for sure, and I would do it again in a heartbeat, because I know what having someone on your side means to a kid and a school, and I know what far-reaching effects an injection of cash can do for them. 

And so I'm working with Clorox on their Power A Bright Future K-12 school grant program (yes, it's compensated) to help schools win grants of up to $50,000. $50,000 buys a lot of marching band plumes, yo. 

A whole bunch of schools have already applied for the Power A Bright Future grant. They could apply for grants to allow them to better explore, play, or create - like a new playground, or a Shakespeare play, or a science lab, or equipment for the marching band because seriously you would not believe how much those plumes cost.

The applications are all in at www.powerabrightfuture.com and now voting is open, up until December 19th. 

There are a ton of ways to vote...on the site, through text message, and through Instagram. My 14 year old just got an iPhone (different story for a different day) so he and I will both be playing along on Instagram using the hashtag #yolopabf with Bella Thorne (She's that girl from the Disney Channel who keeps giving you Tiffany flashbacks. Your teenage son absolutely knows who she is). He's Bren_Eh on instagram, and so totally Canadian. ::proud:: (I'm heymrlady)

Aside, kids over 13 can vote for the #yolopabf grants, which is kind of excellent, seeings how I'm trying to teach him about this voting stuff anyways to prep him for the next election oh my god.

You can scroll through the nominees and vote for the ones you love the most. It's about the easiest way ever to help make a kids' future a little better, and maybe check a thing or two off your life list while you're at it. And if you see a super-cool one you think everyone should vote for (or you ARE a super cool one) totally share it in the comments so we can all go vote!

Nature vs Nurture

- This post was featured on HuffPo's {Parenthesis} and I couldn't be more blushy about the whole situation -

My daughter has this little friend at school, who's name doesn't matter, and he wants to hug her and squeeze her and keep her forever and call her George. I sympathize with him, I really do. I feel the exact same way about her most days. She's scrumdidilyicious. 

However, I still let her have friends. I don't bully the other little boy who also very much so loves her and wants to be in her company all. the. time. I don't intimidate her with threats if she defies my wishes or talks to other kids, and I don't lie to the teacher if she steps out of line, saying she said a bad word or hit someone so she'll be punished for making me angry. 

She's not afraid of me, is my point, but she sure as hell is afraid of Friend Who's Name Doesn't Matter. 

And it's really just depressing. I mean, she didn't even get to get drunk and meet this clown at some bar and project all her daddy issues onto him like it's her goddamn American right to. Oh no, he picked her out of the crowd like she was waiting prey.

Except she's not waiting prey. 

My mother used to warn me that the bad people could smell me coming. She said that they knew how to find the people like me, people who were weak, broken, vulnerable - that they could find us, and they would, and when they did they'd crush us. She told me to watch out for anyone who took an interest in me, because I was walking around with a target on my back. I wonder why I have trust issues. 

My daughter does not have trust issues. My daughter is the opposite of me in almost every way, because I did the opposite of what my mother did in almost every way. I whisper into my daughter's sleeping ear how amazing she is, how strong she is, how powerful she is. I read her Audre Lorde poems that sing of her strength as a woman and a child of the earth. I sing her my own odes of admiration and love. I tell her every chance I get that she is fiercer than the sun, and stronger than the ocean tides. And still, some little man-person with girl issues and cowboy boots who would certainly refer to her as woman if he only knew how to spell it comes along and tries with all his might to possess her. 

I must admit, it's slightly amusing watching him break himself against the rock that is her. 

But no matter how strong she is, and how secure she is, it is a total mindbleep (because I can't bring myself to say that word in a kid post. I'm losing my edge. I know it.) when someone you are totally emotionally invested in turns the tables over and exploits that investment for their own selfish gain. It's horrifying, watching my seven year old daughter have to navigate this pocket of humanity, watching the little heart I've so carefully guarded from any pain learn the hard lesson that people just ain't no good.

I am cautiously mindful of her reactions to this boy as the situation has progressed. I have tried to guide her decisions without injecting myself into the situation. Letting them have their own experiences, not projection of mine, is the hardest element of parenting I've encountered yet. I worry that she inherited my target along with my crooked toes and blond hair.  I worry that victimization is a recessive gene that you don't realize has passed on until conditions become optimal for it to manifest. I worry that it's instead something acquired through nurture, and that watching me waste the first seven years of her life trying desperately to please and/or appease a controlling, narcissistic alcoholic has told her that is what is normal and good and expected. 

So I watch her closely, I listen for the words I know all too well coming from her mouth that would tell me this boy is winning the battle against her sense of self. I never hear them. I hear honest words like, "I am afraid to tell on him" and "I care about him and don't understand why he cares about me all wrong" and I know that she doesn't have this thing that I have, this curse that keeps the amazing, brillant, powerful women in my family subdued by some man, some religious ideal, some terror of the unknown or the different or that which is difficult and brave. 

Today I was going to go into her classroom to speak to the teacher about Friend Who's Name Doesn't Matter on her behalf. Today, I had found my limit, had enough, decided that she wasn't able to carry this burden any longer. Today I also had a gazillion deadlines, so I didn't go in. Turns out, she did get one thing from me - her line in the sand. Today was her breaking point too. Today he pushed too far, and she pushed back. 

And he backed down. 

He treated her with some goddamn respect. 

He was even kind(ish) to her other little super sensitive man-child-friend. 

And I am so proud of this woman-becoming, who is teaching me more than I will ever in a million years teach her.

God Used Fire, Brimstone, and Floods. I Use Sally Hanson. Same Effect, Really.

I let my middle son watch me wax the 'stache tonight and I think I may have traumatized him more than the kid I let watch me give birth.

Since the Dad 2.013 Movember team STILL hasn't seen far enough passed their stupid patriarchy to invite the 25th sexiest dad blogger of all time* to join their team, I figured I'd better deforest ye old kisser I leave in a few days for a blog trip with Simple Human. You know, best lip forward and all. 

Aside: Apologies in advance if you follow me on twitter, because my Type A and Squirrel! are about to collide in 140-character intervals. Me, two days, SIMPLE HUMAN. Organized, highly functional, and shiny? Organized and orgasm are almost the same word for a reason, my friends. 

So my son comes waltzing into my bathroom like it's Grand Central Station right after I've applied the first glob of wax on my face because Newton proved that children are physically incapable of coming in right when I've squirted the first bit of toilet bowl cleaner in. Instead they are forced, by powers beyond their comprehension, to wait like a lion in the grass for the most idealically uncomfortable moment to strike - the one in which I am totally helpless to avoid scarring them for the rest of their lives.

At least there aren't tampons involved anymore. 

So he comes in singing Peanut Butter Jelly Time with no shirt on, because, and stops cold. Mom, what the H are you doing? he kind of asks, kind of demands. Glass houses, dancing queen. Glass. Houses. I'm waxing, I explain to him, and he says that he thought I was JOKING all this time but I assure him, oh no, if he's lucky, he'll take after his momma in the facial hair department. He asked if it hurt and I said like a bleep-fo, and he said OOOO, CAN I SEE? and I said yes, because. 

I rip the wax off my lip and he jumps five inches backwards. His whole face went into buttchill-spasms. It. Was. Awesome. 

I don't think anything in the whole entire world will create the deep-rooted respect, admiration, and abject fear of women in a man-child that letting him watch a woman give birth does, but I'm pretty sure that letting them watch a woman wax for a business trip comes in a close, and slightly less awkward in their teen years, second. 

He asked why I would do such a thing to myself, and I told him it was partly to look professional and put together on my trip, but mostly so that I could play with all the hairs sticking straight up in the wax, and then we had our Biore Pore Strip on Crack moment together.

Normal Rockwell would have killed to be a fly on my bathroom wall today, I tell you what. 

MIT Also Has An Origami Class. I Want To Go To MIT When I Grow Up.

Last night I dropped the kids off at soon-to-be-ex's and soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law's house, which is the same place, for their weekend sleepover with their dad. I normally just drop them at the door and go, but I knew STBESIL was home because I could smell food that wasn't spaghetti cooking, so I came inside. 

Informational aside: Baby daddy can cook exactly two things. One of them is spaghetti. The other has artichoke hearts in it, so I pretend it doesn't exist.

Anyway, I ended up staying for about two hours, having dinner with them and watching a bit of tv. Before you go judging me for my epic soon-to-be-ex fail, let me point out that A) before all of this divorce nonsense, STBESIL was one of my very best friends on earth B) I, literally, have no friends here at all and the only adult human contact I have at all, ever, is with parents at the bus stop for all of a wave and a shouted good morning, and C) I don't have tv, only netflix. I am a weak woman who needs love, and NBC, so I stayed. 

Apparently there is a game show called Minute To Win It that all the kids these days are into. Have you seen this? People get 60 seconds to perform random stunts and each stunt gets them closer to One Me-eaallion Dollahs. They aren't eating spiders or riding bikes across tightwires like on Fear Factor, instead they're pushing dixie cups off of a table with a blown up balloon or bouncing seven pencils into seven cups off their erasers. It is the greatest stoner game show alive.

We're wathcing this and all I could think was, "Man, someone gets paid caaash money to think up these ridiculous stunts", but the more I watched the more I realized that they aren't ridiculous, there's actually a lot of science behind them. I realized that it can't be just anyone making these stunts up, it's got to be someone who understands physics, trigonometry, human behavior, and rushing a frat. 

And that's when I realized they named this show *entirely* incorrectly. It shouldn't be called Minute to Win It, it should be called "MIT, You Are Drunk." I would watch the shit out of THAT show.

We don't have cable because, you know, single mom/single income and all. I only really ever watch Dexter, Homeland, and The Daily Show, and Everybody Hates Chris anyway. TV kind of gets on my nerves, mostly because soon-to-be-ex is an "every tv in the house all day, every day, even when we're all sleeping" kind of guy. Same reason I don't drink wine anymore. He drank enough for all of us. I'm completely burnt out on TV and I don't really have the money to waste on 200 channels of there's nothing on, so I just didn't get cable when I moved. We watch Netflix or RedBox movies or nothing, and it's worked out really well up until, you know, the electorial season and Shotime season kicked in at the exact same time and I AM MISSING ALL THE GOOD THINGS. 

I am also missing football season so, you know, it balances out. 


I Won't Even Pretend Like There's Point Enough Here to Warrant a Title.

I was prepping myself to point and laugh at all of you suckers who have to set your clocks ahead on Saturday night because neener neener! We don't have to here! but then I realized oh.


I live in Arizona. So.

We really don't set clocks ahead or behind like everyone else does and trying to figure that out is a lot like trying to count to the last number or see all of the stars and it just makes my head hurt. I like to imagine that the Arizona Powers The Be simply said, "You know what? Screw this noise" and opted out of daylight savings but I'm sure there's some much more logical explanation that has to do with the staaaaars and the dessssssert and peyote spiiiiiiritualism or some crap. 

I've never really understood why everyone complains so much about daylight savings. It always happens on a Saturday, so the only people who are actually hurt by daylight savings are the closers at the bar (And cops, and firemen, and nurses). Everyone else can shove it. There is nothing worse than gearing up to yell last call and flip the house lights and turn on The Roots and having your boss remind you that nope, when it's 2 am, it's really 1 am so keep'm pouring, woman.

The only thing that should, could, make up for this cruelty to waiters is Springing Forward. Balance dictates that we *should* get to close shop an hour early when daylight savings ends, but oh no. They had to decide to push the clocks around at the exact same time the bars close, so not only don't you get to close an hour early, you get to stay at work until just about SUNRISE. 

Because none of us have children to go home to, oh no.

There is no justice in the world for servers. Tip well, my friends...especially on Saturday night. 

I sometimes wonder how long it will take me to stop saying "we" when I refer to people in the service industry. I haven't occupationally waited a table since, gosh, the spring of 2008? There was that one night that one of my clients demanded that I wait on a bunch of Chinese Communists in New York City, but that was actually kind of amusing in a "Oh, patriarchy, you so crazy" kind of way, and I drank their Caymus later. 

I do mean all of it. 


It occurs to me that a few people reading this blog now might not even know that I was a lifer-waitress, and quite happy as such. Everyone is good at something, and I am an exquisite cocktail server. I can sling eggs, too, I just like cocktailing better. I can't remember names, but I can tell you exactly what you drink for an embarrassing amount of years later. I think this is why I can never find my keys. My head is stuffed full of his double jack and coke and her gold margarita no salt to ever be able to retain any additional information. I need a restaurant purge of the frontal lobe of my brain, and maybe I'll be a more efficient human being. 

Maybe I will also stop having the dream where I show up to work with no apron and I haven't closed out my drawer from the night before and no one has caught on to either of these facts yet so if I just hack the Aloha system and steal someone's apron while they're out back smoking, everything will be okay. Except we're out of cornbread muffins and remodeling so the front door is now out by the gas pumps and waiting tables dreams are weird. 

But I loved it, I really did. It was fun, I made good money, and I had a lot of time to just be home with my kids. It kept me in amazing shape, I'm realizing now that I have a job at a desk that doesn't keep me in amazing shape. Why the hell have I gained 40 pounds since I turned 30? Oh, maybe because you don't walk 50 miles a day carrying a 20 pound tray of drinks in a skirt, brainy smurf.

I'm great with people in 85 minute increments. I can have deep, meaningful, lasting relationships with people inside the vortex of my section. I was the queen of regular customers. More of my tables were 'my' customers than were not, because I knew them. I knew what they drank, I knew how their kids were wasting their lives, I knew what books they liked and how they preferred their cigars trimmed. I knew their spouses and their employers and their intimate details. I was their best friend, for a little under two hours, and then I vanished. I made them feel cared for and then I went away. I was their mommy and their wife and their daughter and then I was nothing. I was their attachment disorder. 

Maybe that's what I like about blogging, that it call all just vanish, that I can just vanish. I need that in my lilfe, the ability to just *poof* be gone. All I have to do is flip this lid closed and I don't exist. It's wonderfully dysfunctional, social media. It's social in the most anti-social way possible. It's completely on our own weird little self-interested terms.

And it does not keep you in amazing shape. But you don't smell like garlic and hops after, so there's that.