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

Rants

A Shy Extrovert

Posted on Jul 12, 2010 in Featured, Rants |

A Shy Extrovert

You will call bullshit on me before you finish this sentence. You’ll roll your eyes. I know you will. But bullshit you not, it’s true: I’m the shiest extrovert you’ve ever known. Maybe you get it; probably you don’t.

I am a shy extrovert.

“You should meet so-and-so, she is extroverted and bubbly just like you!” Huh? Or one from this week, “You’re not afraid of anything!” And to my face once, “You’re such a people person!”

You don’t know one.single.thing.about.me.

I am a shy extrovert. I’m not sure how I came about it, but if you know me well enough, you know that I am deathly afraid of crowds, am wildly over-sensitive in social situations and can’t stand to be without @la_gringa at events. I can see myself sometimes, removed from the Me that is chatting away to a stranger whose name I will never remember. I know that I can hold a good conversation and tell a great story of this-or-that. I know that I say too many potty words in public. I can tell a dirty joke. I get hugs when I leave an event — probably from the busboy. Busboys aren’t selling themselves, they’re just working. I like busboys: they are human to me. I’m way to shy to connect to anyone else.

God only knows how many years of cotillion, etiquette class and social scenarios I’ve been presented with. I’ve conversed with Paul McCartney and the cook from Bill’s Cafe. I have interviewed celebrities from here to kingdom-come and had heart-to-hearts with some of the foremost brains I could ever imagine. But that’s work. I’m not my work, as most of you are not.

I’m tired of being called an extrovert. I try to not be offended by the title. You want to know what? I am deathly afraid of people and even more, animals (I am terrified by animals).  They both freak me out. I never can figure out what people are thinking. More importantly, I don’t know what they are thinking of me.  Extroverted people scare the crap out of me. They come right at me, full of bouncy eyes, electric handshake, calling me by name. I can never compete. I don’t do names, my eyes cross easily and I’m not certain at all of why someone wants to speak with me. People are just not my thing.

Engaging people is work. And, unless you are my spouse or one of my dearest friends, you’ll find me super bubbly! bright! conversational! Jesus, how annoying. Want to know what I’m thinking?  I am counting the seconds to sitting at a quiet barstool with my pals, not one of which finds me bubbly.

I’m a quiet extrovert. I don’t like chit chatting any more than you do.

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Is Boyscouts Morally Wrong for Us?

Posted on Mar 23, 2010 in Family and Friends, Featured, Rants |

Is Boyscouts Morally Wrong for Us?

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found out that my kid would not be welcome as a Boy Scout.

I knew that there would be places and people along the way that could pose issues for my child from having been born to same-sex parents. I had done my homework. It was only after a lot of research, thought, prayer, self-torture that I decided to have children by an anonymous sperm donor. As my children began growing up,  I prepared myself and them for the day that we might be ostracized.  And now, at the ripe age of 6 1/2, the day is here: My son wants to be a BoyScout.

I knew before I had children that being in the Boy Scouts was a likely no-go because of their (shockingly legal) stand on gay people.  What I didn’t account for was that my son would want to be a Boy Scout so badly that I’d have to consider foregoing my own moral standards, and consider my son’s desire to be part of an organization that discriminates against his parents.

If you don’t know the back-story, here’s the brief recap: In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled (Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale) that The Boy Scouts of America was a private organization and could set whatever criteria they wanted for their membership. Today, the organization legally prohibits Atheists, Agnostics and Gay people. The organization fought to uphold the right to ban and refuse membership to any of the above. The ruling stands today.

My son is the grandchild of two Eagle Scouts who, by all accounts with the exception of faith,  follow the Boy Scout creed and, indeed, are two of the most moral people I have ever known. To follow in their footsteps would be a great honor and my son believes with all of his heart that he will grow up to be like his granddads and obtain the very special honor of Eagle Scout. My first question was to my step dad who told me that the national organization had little to do with the local troops — it was all about the scout master and not about the politics. He might be right.

When I contacted our local troop leader, she replied with the following:

” Pack *** is a family centered group, our focus and concern is with the child and welcome any boy wanting to participate in scouting.  Our Pack does not discriminates against anyone due to their color, race, or religious practices.  We encourage active participation of all  family members regardless of what makes up a scouts family.  We do not address private, personal, or political issues at the pack level.  That is not our focus, again, the scout is our focus and concern.  I hope to see your son there and look forward to meeting you.”

This gave me great hope, and I planned a date to take my son to his first meeting. That was until I was sent the 2010 Boy Scouts of America Bylaws, which states:

“We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirement in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed and homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts.”

With that creed in-tow, a two-mom family’s son was kicked out of boy scouts in Vermont in 2009. It was followed by a deep decline in membership and loss of sponsorship including the United Way, director and Eagle Scout Steven Spielberg, Levi Strauss, Chase Bank and CVS. Entire states withdrew annual contributions. Religious organizations including the United Church of Christ, the Secular Coalition of America, and the Unitarian Universalists all issued statements indicating that any form of discrimination was against the teachings of Christ.

Despite all of this support, I remain confused about our decision about whether or not to allow our son to participate in Boy Scouts. I never want my child deprived of anything because of my personal choices. My partner and I talked about what to do. Do we want to roll the dice and allow him to participate, knowing that he could get kicked out? Should we  try and divert efforts to something like Adventure Guides, the YMCA version of Boy Scouts? I have friends who have refused to be a part of Boy Scouts because it discriminates openly; are we hypocritical if we don’t follow suit?

Last week we sat down with our boy and explained to him the basic facts as cleanly and with as little opinion as we could muster.  After he told us that he would karate chop anybody that didn’t like his two moms, he told us simply, “I want to go for it anyway. I know they could kick me out.”

The decision is here, yet  I’m unable to make it without reservation. The Boy Scout law states that: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”  Oh, the hypocrisy — if only the Boy Scout organization acted with the same vigor of their Law, then my son could have the chance to follow in the footsteps of their granddads and be an Eagle.

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Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater

Posted on Dec 30, 2009 in Featured, Rants |

Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater

t was a purple and gold dangling earring stuck between the back seats of my Saab convertible. It was cheap. And it wasn’t mine. In retrospect, it doesn’t matter at all whose earring it was, but during those dark days of being cheated on, I wish I’d had a manual — something like “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Cheating Bastards.”

I’ve been watching the Elin Nordegren/Tiger Woods nightmare in the latest saga of public figures cheating on their partners. Poor things just aren’t as abnormal as we think they are. I’d argue, in fact, that this is the most average Tiger has ever been. According to the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, over 50 percent of married men and 60 percent of married women are cheaters.

Everyone from bookies to old bitties are waging on whether or not Elin will leave Tiger; how much Jon and Kate will settle for; whether or not the Governor of South Carolina is political toast; if NY Governor Elliot Spitzer’s Escort #9 will ever find love. Magazines swoon over extramarital sex scandal cover stories like David Letterman, Madonna, Reese Witherspoon and our dear world leaders Prince Charles, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and beloved Blue Gap Dress fan:  President Bill Clinton. But extramarital infidelity is  <<gasp>> average behavior for married couples in the United States.  The tabloids aren’t writing about the fact that over half of us married folks are cheaters. It could be you, it could happen to you. Or both. I hate to say it, but the statistics (which have doubled in the past decade) don’t lie.

Celebrity or not, those first bleak days of discovering infidelity suck. My first actions were irrational ones: I went shopping for a wardrobe that was sexier, thinking it must have been my fault that my spouse cheated. I kept my children with a nanny a few extra hours so I could be available if my ex should be interested in seeing me instead of the hooch I’d been left for. In a panic, I subscribed to a handful of Save-My-Marriage websites, touting seminars and workshops to bring back my life. I bought books ranging from “He’s Just Not that Into You,” to “Infidelity: A Survivor’s Guide.”  I joined the Surviving Infidelityonline forum (which was depressing as all getout).

Truth-be-told, I never found comfort in any self-help guides or any words of wisdom from friends who’d lived through cheating. I know many good, moral, kind, intelligent friends who have stepped-out of their marriages. I know just as many who are victims of a cheater. I spent months hating my friends that stayed with their cheating spouses, but loathed more the ones that had the courage to leave. I began to learn that cheating is simply a dirty little secret that only 40 percent of us married women haven’t indulged in (yet).  Don’t shake your head at me. It’s ugly, but true.

I wish there had been some step-by-step guide for staying the course in an unraveling world. I worried about my children, about the stigmas ahead of me. I worried about losing money and my house and my seat at couples-only dinner parties.  In the end, it was a cheating friend who gave me the only advice that inspired me: Desperate isn’t attractive.

I took those words and applied them to every part of the recovery process. I didn’t want to be desperate, appear desperate or feel desperate. I wanted to be attractive again. And for me, it was getting past the desperation and onto the business of living again. Eventually the chaos for me settled down, as it will for Elin and Tiger who have found themselves just a little more average than ever before.  And life will go on, just like it does for the rest of us whose spouses found themselves on the bland, destructive side of infidelity.

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The Mall Police

Posted on Dec 30, 2009 in Family and Friends, Rants |

The Mall Police

My mom was in a wheelchair when I was a kid. She’s all good now, but a few childhood things remain. One, having a mom in a wheelchair gets you to the front of every line at Disneyland. Two, wheelchair races are not for sissies;  and three, the closer you get to the holidays, the harder it is to navigate stores. As you know, wheelchair-bound or not, shopping displays. life-size Santas and hoards of merchandise racks are a bitch to work around.

My Mall Police badge of honor started in 2003 when my twins were born. I’d gone to the mall and realized in horror that I couldn’t get through aisles in stores I normally could navigate with my double-wide Twin Savvy Stroller (or any of the other six strollers I had at the time). I walked into a store in San Jose and literally could not get to the items I wanted to see. As I pulled my stroller backwards to wiggle my way in, I noticed a wheelchair-bound woman trying to shop in the aisle. Eventually she gave up and left the store. In a rage, so did I.

That night I looked up the size of double-wide strollers online. It just happens to be the same width size as the American with Disabilities Act standards. So, in essence, my stroller was exactly the same size as a wheelchair. The wheels were turning. In theory, I thought, I could stalk every store in the mall and report the ones that were not compliant with wheelchair regulations. The more I thought about it, the more ticked-off I got: if it were my mother in a wheelchair and she couldn’t go Christmas shopping because she literally could not get down the aisle… the image outraged me. I decided that I would become the self-proclaimed Mall Police.

The next morning I headed out to Wesfield’s Valley Fair Mall in San Jose. I was armed with a notepad, a digital camera and my stroller (yes, the kids were in the stroller). I went up and down, traipsing myself through the mall, only stopping at Nordstrom (mild violations only) to breastfeed the kidlets. At every store where I could not get my stroller down the aisle, I would ask for a manager. I would tell them that my stroller was the exact width of a wheelchair and that they were in violation of the law (and of potentially buyers). Then I marched myself down to customer service where I reported each store. To Westfield’s credit, the mall management called me the following day. He had spoken to each store and warned them he’d call the County if they did not comply immediately. Got to give the guy credit for listening to a mom-on-the-warpath.

The following year, I noticed the same thing. And again, the Mall Police put on her badge and hit the mall with an agenda. This time I noticed retailers were more sensitive to the problem and more engaged in finding solutions. Leaving one store, I overheard the store manager tell a worker, “Move the rack, she’s right.” I smiled. Eat my stroller dust.

I am right. There are 2.1 million wheelchair users in the US and my mama was one of them. And every single one of them deserves 36 inches to get their chair around a store. In fact, there’s more. Many of our cute stores in San Jose are massive issues for people in a chair. Campbell, cute as can be, has multiple stores that are losing revenue every day from people who can’t get through the front door, muchless shop inside the stores.

Six years later, I’m still the Mall Police during the holidays. My children, long out of strollers, help me each year, pointing out the clearance violations. Indeed, it’s such a random, strange way to give to my community, but for me, it’s a passion. It’s a need. The holiday season is here and I plan to hit the stores tomorrow. Look out.

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New SV Moms Post

Posted on Dec 13, 2009 in Rants |

Read it here! Newest SV MOMS POST: The Mall Police

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What’s on Your Mind?

Posted on Dec 8, 2009 in Rants |

Facebook

Facebook

Facebook, the modern necessity of communicating with family and friends, is about the only thing in the world that always wants to know what’s on your mind. It’s like the perfect guy: always wants to know what you’re up to, will tolerate stories and girlfriends chiming in to support your blabber. It appeases our need for attention and curbs lonliness. Afterall, at least Facebook always wants to know what’s on your mind.

But do I want Facebook on my mind? I’m not so sure the feeling is mutual.

Facebook to me is a necessary evil. Its mass reach potential gets the word out to my family (yes, even my mom, my brother, my aunts and cousins) and friends about life events. It keeps me up with theirs. It put the daily happenings of others in the forefront of my narcissistic mind. Facebook fills the need for me to communicate in a 1>many environment.  But is Facebook a place to tell the world what’s on my mind? Not so much.

My Facebook friends include high school friends who tormented the shit out of me, whom, with few exceptions, I don’t really give a good-gosh-darn what’s on their minds. My little Fbook gives me access to work colleagues too. And quite frankly, I’m not really into what’s on their minds unless it has something to do with our industry. And if I care enough, I’m already pulling in the RSS on their blog, follow them on Twitter and likely see them in person. So why do I care what’s on their mind?

As for what’s on my mind, that’s another story all-together. If you ask @la_gringa, there is always a laundry list of things on my mind. I’m not sure that Facebook will ever be my personal place to share what I’m thinking about. Facebook friends are people I already know, have known or wish I didn’t know anymore. Messages on Facebook are crafted. Groups to join are intentional. Interests are deliberate. That, I would argue, isn’t what’s on my mind, it’s rather what I want to communicate. What I want the world to know, to see, to believe.

If you want to know what’s really on my mind, you can find it about 15 times per day when I spout it off on Twitter . A state of mind is fleeting, a Facebook status is face time. Totally different in my mind. Twitter is truly a microblog for me. It’s my place to be naughty, silly, angry, funny. It’s a place to be real. Want to know what’s on my mind? Follow me in 140.

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