One Man's Trash Can

I never wanted to be an actor. I wanted to be the person behind the curtains, moving the set of the play around and altering your reality. I never wanted to be the diner, I wanted to the waiter in the back of the kitchen, watching sauces and meats and vegetables come together to create plated art. I didn't want to own the fancy car; I wanted to work in the garage where they tune the cars up. 

I like knowing how. I like understanding why. I am motivated by motivation. I want to know the story behind the thing, whatever the thing is. I want to know the painter, the foreman, the COO, the scientist. I'm fascinated by the psychology behind creation, the small spark of thought that turns into a movie, a meal, a trash can. 

When I was in my 20's, I lived in an apartment building with a guy who ended up being my kids' godfather, but at the time was just a cute twenty four year old boy in a band who really liked playing XBox with my kids. One day I go to pick the boys' up from Grand Theft Auto Hour and he's got this giant shiny trashcan in his tiny little apartment. He told me how much he paid for it and I was all Trash Can, You are Drunk and he was all Shut Up and I was all WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU PAY THAT MUCH FOR A TRASH CAN and he was all BECAUSE I NEVER WANT TO BUY ANOTHER TRASH CAN AND THIS IS THE BEST ONE. 

So last summer I'm staying with thirty four year old him and his wife in San Francisco for the summer and sure enough, there's his trash can, looking and working exactly like new. EXACTLY. Like, not a fingerprint, not a dent, not a scratch. 

So I bought a simplehuman trash can, duh. Or two. And a plastic grocery bag holder, too. Because. #accessories

And then simplehuman invited me to come to their offices to learn about why and how they make them and we've already established that I am all sorts of into that so I went and now i'm going to be working with them for like the whole next year which is awesome because they're really interesting people AND I might be giving away some products over the next year and that's called a run-on disclosure statement.

I will buy a trash can because I saw one didn't age a second in over 10 years, but I will love that trash can and write about it and tell my friends about it because I know this guy is walking around California looking at the stuff the rest of us ignore and trying to figure out why we ignore it, and how to get us to stop that, because he loves doing little things better. 

I will love a trash can bag because these guys spend their Thursday afternoon swinging bricks around over their heads in trash bags they engineered, just double dog daring them to break. #osha

I love people who love the crap out of what they do. These people love the crap out of what they do. They don't just make trash cans, they make the little things we all have to use every single day of our lives pretty, elegant, easy, and badass. They are scientists and engineers and font-enthusiasts who are making trash sexy. They are also making drinking wine easier, which wasn't even humanly possible. #superpowers

And that dishrack holds more than my entire dishwasher, not kidding. Which is kind of good, because my children are barred from ever so much as looking at my dishwasher again. 

Which was probably his plan all along. Dammit.

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!