Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Politics and Rants

Polar Opposites

Posted on Jan 12, 2011 in Featured, Politics and Rants |

Polar Opposites

I didn’t go to the rally to Restore Sanity, nor any Tea Party Express shindig. I don’t do politics outside my little world where I know I won’t get shot, yelled at or eyes rolled. I’m just not that much of a glutton for conflict.

I have more friends who are not Democrats than I do ones who are; and I like it that way. I have hard-core Republican friends (as in lawn signs and cocktail party fundraisers) for the likes of the most serious right-wing conservatives in our political circle today. I have several very close friends who are die-hard Libertarians. They are the gun-wielding, don’t tread on me type folks. I like my people. I like my world of scale and scope and perspective.

I like my world because we live in a mutually respectful environment of variety, opinion, banter and belief. I have a dear friend who met me on a street corner with a cup of coffee while I was holding a sign to protest Prop 8. He kept me company, chatted about our weekend with our respective twins and then left. He voted in favor of Prop 8. We had dinner the next weekend.

Another family — serious Palin fans — went to rally after rally in support of the first female vice-president. We had one thing in common: the advancement of women in politics. What we didn’t have in common was just whom should fill that tall order. When it didn’t pan out for them, I understood their disappointment. I was thrilled (dear goodness, don’t get me wrong), but respected their passion.

I have a Republican friend who voted for Obama in the past election (and contributed to his campaign). I watched him on election night as he cried in my livingroom watching history happen. Some things, I thought, are bigger than politics.

Polarizing politics are just that: polarizing. It takes a strong will, a stronger belief in the Good of people to really try our hand at civilized debate. Without polar opposites there is no middle ground — a sacred place where we can meet peacefully.

Take a clue, Washington. Most of us are out here living civilly, living together within the boundaries of passion, belief and over-riding respect.

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House of Blues

Posted on Jan 10, 2011 in Featured, Rants |

House of Blues

I went on Twitter and DMed @la_gringa with capitalized swear words describing the latest in a fitful rage from our house upon us, it’s lowly unsuspecting dwellers.

This time, it’s the dishwasher that went from silent rinse cycle to Jabba-the-Hutt moans within minutes. And then it wouldn’t turn off. At all. I went to go outside to the power box, but I couldn’t. Why, you might ask? Because the side door is broken. Not the lock, the door. An expensive door, no less. An expensive door whose company (obviously for building shitty doors) went out of businesses. So now we need a new side door and a dishwasher/Jabba-the-Hutt killer.

Of course this is barely on the heels of the window this morning where my daughter exclaimed, “Oh look mommy, it rained in the kitchen.” Frigging million-year-old uninsulated windows just were no match for a winter’s night and a heating duct right next to it. No worries, the window (and most of them now in our home) are non-functional. The quaint 100-year-old house look isn’t so quaint when it all falls apart. Today I counted: only five of the 22 windows in our downstairs can actually open. The others are all broken, sealed shut or have busted pulleys (yes, that old). Oh, and the five that work? Four of them are poorly replaced windows with missing screens on most, the other one I jammed unlocked for safety.

I’d escape it all to my upstairs abode for a good marathon of Dog, the Bounty Hunter, but the TV there suddenly no longer has sound. I guess the LG is sick of the political rhetoric too and finally cut off the volume to save me from myself. Ah, maybe I’ll take a warm shower to relieve the stress of a falling apart house — oh wait, that won’t work, the (relatively new) grout is all dissolved away and new mold creeps in daily. I think I’ll pass on the cozy shower and go for a bath — nope. The drain stopper is broken and the towel rack fell down because the old lathen plaster can’t hold a screw. I’d use the downstairs shower, but it was constructed improperly and will flood the floor. I am convinced that a blind Bob-the-Builder and his estranged lover, Handy Manny built this house.

I feel like running away before I’m reminded that this house is more than most will ever have, with neighbors and friends surrounding me that I couldn’t dream of having. I hate my house until I remember that my children live one block from their grandparents and can walk to school. I loathe being here until I realize that if it weren’t for this home, we’d have never had all the fun that caused all this ruckus to start with.

Today though, I wish I had a little shack on the beach reading novels and watching the sunset while Mr. Roper fixed the leaky faucets.

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Don’t Blame the Palin Right

Posted on Jan 8, 2011 in Featured, Rants |

Don’t Blame the Palin Right

It’s not political craziness that makes someone kill; it’s craziness that makes crazies kill.

I’ve been watching the unfolding of the shooting spree in Arizona targeting Gabby Giffords, for hours on-end. I’ve listened as one expert after the next releases statements about the “wakeup call for America,” to conduct politics without violence. I’ve watched politician after politician speaking on-air about how the media needs to stop positioning polarizing politics. I even watched the Tea Party Express defend themselves as victims before blame had ever been cast. All of what they are saying about the scary state of politics and unbecoming banter is true, but it’s not what caused 19 people to be shot today.

Mental illness is to blame today. Mental distress is to blame today;  not politics, not guns, not even Sarah Palin’s stupid chart.

If it was cancer, Jared Lee Loughner would have gotten help. If he had blindess he’d have been offered help. If it was fear, he would have been helped. Somehow, this schizophrenic 22-year-old unstable man in deep mental distress wasn’t given help. Blame the lack of psychiatric intervention. Blame his inability to seek mental help. Hell, blame his family. But don’t blame politics and media for this man’s clear mental illness.

Strange rants on YouTube, odd postings to MySpace and, according to classmates, frequent nonsensical outbursts somehow went under reported and written-off as creepy or weird. This man —  this assassin — murdered from  a place of mental illness, not a place on the Palin altar.

The first report I heard today was that a Palin right-winged freak killed a Democratic Congresswoman point-blank in the face. Gifford’s father, when asked if his daughter had any enemies said, “Yes, the whole Tea Party.” Well sure, but that’s politics. This crazed man did not act on behalf of the Tea Party; he acted on behalf of a part of his mind that is non-functional.

Mental illness goes often undetected, pushed off as depression or weirdness or a loner.

Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be Mein Kampf freaks.

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Girl, You Got it All Wrong

Posted on Oct 22, 2010 in Featured, Politics and Rants |

Girl, You Got it All Wrong

I sat staring at the TV in complete shock last week as Deleware  Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell made a wicked, sad fool of herself. I wanted to leap through the television and shut her up — not for her clear lack of knowledge of law and current events or even for her politics — but moreover, for her gross embarrassment to me as a woman. For that dishonor alone,  I’m sure my high school Women’s Studies professor is cringing with distain.

I am a woman with a bias. I vote for women if I can. It’s just the way I roll. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s my history attending an extraordinarily feminist school; maybe it is me in the footsteps of my entrepreneur mother; maybe for my love of the underdog or the passion I have to raise my daughter with an equal balance of femininity and balls-out strength. My first inclination during election season is to seek out the female candidates and support them if I can. It might not be right, but it’s what I do. The only problem is, it’s hard to stand behind female candidates that are neither feminine nor brilliant. Christine, Meg, Carly, even you, Barbara: you are letting me down.

Somehow I expect that women will conduct themselves better in business and politics than men. I expect to see issues discussed cleanly, clearly and honestly. I expect a strong debate, filled with valid inflammatory topics and solid political banter. I want a good battle, an honest fight and die-hard representation of the things that make each candidate passionate about their role in the political theater. With the exception of being pro choice, I am willing to accept almost every political view, but I am not willing to accept unladylike conduct.

Meg Whitman, one of our local female CEOs has a wildly different position on politics than I do, but that’s not why I’m disappointed. It’s the wretched thievery of content, the nasty, dirty advertising smears, the red-faced head-shaking fury of a woman on the brink of leadership.  A leader doesn’t mistreat employees, whether they are execs at eBay or illegal house keepers. Leadership for women is the opposite of that — using the cortisol in our brains to our distinct advantage, not disadvantage to others. I don’t want PollyAnna for a politician, but at the same I’ve known insiders who say Whitman is a true witch — and not the good corporate kind that all of us female entrepreneurs secretly want to be. Oh Meg, you leave me no choice but to vote for the liberal, bald-headed Jerry Garcia wanna be. You let me down.

The national political stage for women has been set for this year’s election and it’s ugly. Our women in leadership seem to have lost their ability to woo an audience as women. Even Sarah Palin has lost her ladylike manner, replacing it with texting lingo “Pls” for “please”, making up words like ‘refudiate’ and finishing everything with an exclamation point or two!! Fading to the background are ladies in politics including the formidable Condoleezza Rice  whose grace never, ever tarnished, despite the trepidatious environment of international unrest, war and the endless hinting at being gay. I am not a fan of Rice’s politics, but female politicians can take note: Dress appropriately, behave like a lady, speak intelligently or do not speak, fight like hell for what you believe in.

What is a woman wanting to support women in politics to do? I will not spend my vote or even so much as slow down my Tivo fastforward on women who play dirty politics. I expect more from women. I expect civility, respect and, most of all, I expect you to represent me as both a woman, an executive and a voter with dignity.

I am left, sadly, candidateless this election term, reminded again of the great importance of The WhiteHouse Project and Girls Rock the House.

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Mama Bear Pounces on Unsuspecting Teacher

Posted on Sep 23, 2010 in Featured, Rants, School |

Mama Bear Pounces on Unsuspecting Teacher

I can see the headline now, “Mama Bear Pounces on Unsuspecting Teacher” with a horrific tale of a mother at wits-end with her child’s teacher. It’s not pretty. Trust me, because you’re looking at Mama Bear. Rowr.

I’ve been wondering what’s going on with my Thing 1, a normally fun-loving, silly, smart, smartass, school-loving kid. About a week after school started he began to refer to himself as “bad,” started lying, getting in trouble at school almost every day and yelling at his friends. At home, his regular excitement for school was replaced with silence. Something was wrong. I asked the doctor, talked to friends and to my Thing. Why the seismic shift? Somehow for all my investigation into what could be bothering my child, it never occurred to me that it was his new teacher that would be the cause.  And when it hit me — it hit me. Hard.

In a fit of frustration, I pounced on the poor woman. I screamed and pointed and cried. I smashed my hand into my fist and went off on her, “YOU are the reason my child is unhappy. You know what’s wrong with him? YOU! YOU!” Oh, that was just the beginning. I went completely off-the-deep-end. After 10 minutes, I left, exhausted and frustrated. She had said nothing.

Somehow, the mystery had clicked for me and I was mad as hell. I — who writes strategic marketing plans for school programs for fun, who worships my kids’ teachers and promotes their school and their programs like it’s a full-time job — completely let-loose. Never mind that this woman is a  seasoned, highly regarded teacher with a stellar reputation.  I was the mama bear protecting her baby and there was nothing that was going to stop me from letting this woman know how I felt.

I went home and was sorry. Not sorry that I’d finally gotten to the bottom of what was going on with my kid, but sorry that I’d spoken to someone with such passion. I wrote an apology note immediately, but you and I both know, an apology at that point is worthless, I caused more damage than she could have ever done to my kid. I am now going to be known as the crazy mom that went off on her kid’s teacher.

The next day I read about the father who had boarded a school bus to defend his daughter being bullied. The normally upstanding guy with a nice family and good home simply lost it. He told CNN the next day: “She finally opened up and told me what was going on,” Jones said. “And from there, you know, being a dad just loving my daughter … and just loving all my kids, you know. … [At] that point, my heart broke when I [saw] her standing there … [she] wasn’t going to get on the bus crying. And a dad is a dad. And I was going to be her protector that day.”

I can relate. Truly. My feelings as a mom overruled any logical, reasonable behavior I could have mustered. I truly feel for James Jones as a parent and as a dad who was overcome by the need to protect his child. I feel for him as a parent who must apologize, like I did, for behavior unbecoming to any upstanding person. I feel for him as a man who made a bad situation worse, because that’s just what I did. I made it about me, not about the issue.

There is something carnal about parents and their children. Maybe it’s instinct to protect or an overwhelming sense of responsibility to make their lives as happy and peaceful as they can possibly be. Maybe it’s a chemical reaction that bears have to their cubs — keeping danger at bay with all the ferociousness they can muster. Maybe I’m just a mom.

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Five Phrases To Kill in Communication

Posted on Sep 13, 2010 in Featured, Rants |

Five Phrases To Kill in Communication

They all have their time — groovy, neato, smooth, rad, gag me with [anything]. But coined phrases can move to cliches quickly. Clean up your chatter by nixing these five passe communication terms:

“In my wheelhouse”

What it means: What you are describing is what I have experience in.

Previous passe synonyms: “in my arsenal;” “right up my alley”

Why: Are you a train engineer? Do you ride choo-choos? Unless you are working on the chain gang, you have no business using this wildly over-used phrase.

Possible replacement: I have strong experience in this area.

Not possible replacement: I rock that shit.

“Social media guru”

What it means: I work in social media.

Previous passe synonyms: “community ninja;” “online whiz” or “social media expert”

Why: No one, but no one is a social media guru. Guru is reserved for spiritual leaders and maybe your yoga instrutor, not to self-describe your work online.

Possible replacement: “online marketer;” “social public relations”

Not possible replacement: “Hopeless online addict”

“Under the hood”

What it means: Investigate this topic further.

Previous passe synonyms: “into the nitty gritty;” “deep dive”

Why: Are you a mechanic? Mechanics are hot and greasy and work for near-minimum wage.

Possible replacement: “I’d like to research this topic further;” “understand the details”

Not possible replacement: “Under your hoodie”

“Signal to Noise”

What it means: Putting the highest quality to the forefront

Previous passe synonyms: “Cream of the crop;” “Streamline”

Why: Because you are not a radio. And if you are a marketer, you should assume that balancing communication directives are part of the job.

Possible replacement: “Clean communication;” “high quality coverage”

Not possible replacement: “Cut the crap”

“Close the loop”

What it means: Check with other people relavent to the subject to ensure you have completed the task and its needs

Previous passe synonyms: “circle back around;” “touch base with”

Why: Because you are a not a knitter.

Possible replacement: “Complete the process”

Not possible replacement: “Cover my ass”

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