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

Posts Tagged "Politics and Rants"

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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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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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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A Long, Strange Day

Posted on Apr 6, 2010 in Silly |

You Are Here

I woke up this morning reading an NDA and a Gigya report, Social is the Next Search. By the time put the T-disc in the coffee maker, things were awry. My bangs sucked (and I even used Bumble & Bumble styling spray); my kids were sick but had to go to school anyway for school testing; my fridge so empty that the lowly apple in the back make an echo. It was a long day by 7:20 a.m.

Somewhere before 10 a.m., I’d done an incoming Kinder tour, pushing the Spanish Immersion program like a crack dealer, and then, busted out of it to take my best friend to get a facelift. I all but peeled-out of the plastic surgeon’s parking lot before heading to a marketing meeting on how to target Latino families in San Jose. Only being half Latino and not at all a part of their community, my marketing efforts were let’s say: malo.  In-between, I fielded calls on selling @la_gringa’s car. I’m not even sure La Gringa wanted to sell her car, but it was an action item and I do action items very well. By 1 p.m. I’d taken four pounds of Whole Foods mac’n’cheese to my mom in the hospital and pretended that seeing her sick doesn’t make me want to chuck her in a wheelchair and bust out of there.

Today I was reminded of who I was before being a mom, when my tasks were the most important tasks. Everything now has to fit between children and family and I like it that way. At 1:35 p.m. exactly I turned into a mommy — hugs and homework and snacks and stories. It was the happiest part of my day. I guess until the three guys showed up from their seven-hour roadtrip to buy the car. And then I did the car thing, working the deal:  yesithasadent, yesithasbeenserviced, noithasntcrashed. I worked the car sale until my Vicodin-induced BFF called post-facelift. She was chatty — how a woman with a face completely wrapped in compression bandages can be chatty is beyond me.

I made the cool Pakistani guys cookies and coffee. I poured wine for one that had gone astray from Islam and got teased relentlessly by their friends about watching porn. I wish I cared. Buy the car, buy the car, buy the fucking car already. Four hours later, they did.  And, just in time to pull out the Hooka pipe. They didn’t have apple flavor so I didn’t partake. Well, I wouldn’t have anyway but that was my excuse. Back to L.A. they went.

The phone rang. PTA needs a tie-vote broken. Um, okay, nevermind dinner.

Oh, and mom. I didn’t go back to the hospital to see mom.

And the pasta broccoli takes like crap with wheat pasta.

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If I… Were Mayor of Willow Glen

Posted on Apr 5, 2010 in Featured, If I... |

If I… Were Mayor of Willow Glen

Oh, to live in Silicon Valley where the people are smart and the wine is good; to live near brainy outdoorsy people with a passion for technology; to be surrounded by people who want everything from their socks to their spouses to be organic and free-range.  To live in a town alive and busteling. Er, scratch that last part. In the past five years, I’ve watched my town, hit hard by recession and overlords, fall to the bare bones of small town business. It’s not that we’re without hope, we’re full of hope, but we’re also full of economic fear, distrust in our landowners and, most of all, frustrated by the very community we love to be a part of.

If I was the mayor of Willow Glen (not that we have one), I’d:

* Create a 3×3 Program. Loyalty is tough when finances are challenged. Everyone wants a deal, and I get that. I shop at Costco for my TP just like everyone else, but we, as a local community, from the leaders to the laypeople can participate in a one-year 3×3 program. The idea is to shop at three Willow Glen businesses three times per week. For me that would mean going to WG Coffee Roasting for my coffee a couple times, picking up a birthday card at Fleurish, getting a birthday gift at Treehouse in the Glen, meeting a friend at The Grapevine for a drink and getting takeout from Juquilita’s taqueria. It’s not hard, right? And how does this happen? People get 3×3 cards, get stamped when you hit each destination. After being a 3x3er 3 times, you get couponed for exclusive 30% off savings at a local store. Incentivize customers with 3×3 promos in town.

* Give the landowners a solid smack on the ass. It is one thing to treat business like business. It’s another to take down an entire community of small businesses owners during a recession and opt for empty store after store in lieu of short-term lease modifications. It’s important to stand your ground, make your money and be a true capitalist. But be an opportunist too. Give worthy businesses one-year lease bridges that allow for them to stay in business while you still can pay your land fees. Call it charity, call it community building, call the press, make your company full of capital and power also the company of the community. Let the retailers and leasers be your evangelists and in return, get more than rent, get loyal customers for life. Why? Because you were with them when the chips were down. Because you are part of Willow Glen. Because Willow Glen is a part of you.

* Get two anchor stores, one on either end of Lincoln Avenue. After my Go Local mantra, you’re wondering why I’d be pitching Big Business in our small town community. It’s the economy, stupid, as LeBush once said. We need to anchor our town with appropriate anchor stores that are designed to weather economic times and have the wiggle room to stand side-by-side with competitors. Los Gatos just added a JCrew. We need something like that here. Anthropologie ? Banana Republic? I’m not talking Target, here, I’m talking highly customizable corporate entities. I’d bet my comfy suburban house that an anchor store would bring more business to our local mom-and-pop shops.

* Fire the WG Business Association. Now this is going to get me in trouble. I don’t mean to be political; truly I don’t even get the politics in Willow Glen. The business association acts as a dysfunctional representative of the businesses in our town and worse, lacks understanding of what the people that shop at said businesses need. The business association should be experts at helping bridge the gaps between the two entities. I’d scratch the whole thing, fire everyone. Then I’d hire my buddy G to run it. G is a small business expert, an honest guy, a community organizer and certainly politically savvy enough to  never write this post. With that, I’d create an organization joint-run by people and businesses, I’d the WG Elist for extremely valuable Community Recommendations  (and only that), and I’d be on the frigging street talking to the community every single day in an endless effort to keep business flowing in our town. I’d create a Business Association that was of distinct and clear value to the community it serves.

There is a place in community building that involves loyalty, two-way communication and mutual respect. If I were Mayor of Willow Glen, I’d work my damnedest to cultivate all three. Bummer, there’s no such thing as Mayor of Willow Glen. We’ll have to leave the community building up to ourselves.

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Bilingualism is Inevitable, So What’s the Problem?

Posted on Mar 30, 2010 in Featured, School |

Bilingualism is Inevitable, So What’s the Problem?

The kids sang and celebrated, paper painted signs hung from the balcony and Colombian music played in the courtyard. From where I stood, this was one heck of a celebration — our teacher had been named the California Bilingual Educator of the Year! I couldn’t stop smiling and watching the Latino children playing and dancing with their white-faced buddies, completely unaware of the minefield around them. Overheard in the hum of the singing and dancing was a parent blurting out, “You’d think we were the minority here,” while another across the yard was heard saying, “It’s not Cinco de Mayo, is it?”

Well, Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Whites are the minority at our San Jose Unified school, just like other awesome schools in the area, including the renowned Cupertino school district where the Asian population far surpasses that of the white community. And, many of these children are learning in two languages like their European counterparts who master at least bilingualism by age 12. Having children who are bilingual statistically leads to all kind of rad stuff — from advanced math skills, music comprehension and higher AP scores. It leads children to be multi-cultural too. You can bet my half-Mexican butt that no parent with children enrolled in Two Way Bilingual Immersion would ever consider saying the derogatory kind of things parents are overheard saying. What is the problem?

I started my children in Spanish Immersion in Kindergarten. I expected a delay in language skills. Instead my children read at over 90 percent comprehension in both English and Spanish on advanced levels. I expected a lack of integration with schoolmates not enrolled in the Spanish Immersion program. Instead I found my children to be playground ambassadors. I expected my children to resent learning in Spanish when neighborhood buddies got off easy and learned in English only. Instead, my children tout their Spanish-language learning as an elite class.

Of all the things I expected, the backlash from parents unhappy with the Spanish Immersion program at their school was not only unexpected, it was shocking. As a parent, I find myself between two worlds: that where my neighborhood mommies drink Starbucks and get their nails done, and, those neighborhood mommies who wipe the floors at night at the same shops in order to make rent. I find myself championing for a culture that seems as much a part of our community as the other. I live in Limbo between these two worlds.

I’m no fool. I understand that socio-economic status and ethnicity go hand-in-hand here in San Jose and that it’s the expendable-income families that truly make the school go-round. They offer intellectual wealth beyond their financial wealth. They are educated and value education. They contribute time, treasure and talent. Those things are the differentiators at our school that make it a great place to be. Here, in a state where public education is suffering exponentially, we rely incredibly heavily on the families that have something to spare. Our children’s futures rely on it.

But the truth is this: California has nearly as many Spanish-speakers as English-speakers. We are becoming a bilingual state. What else is true is that many Latino families in San Jose just can’t give to their schools in the same way we can. There are few gifts that English-learning families can offer to our local schools. They don’t have the time to give (two jobs!) or the treasure to give. But there is talent to give. And one of those things is helping our English-only children learn Spanish fluently. It’s a special and important way these families can give back to their community, their school, their classmates.

I truly do not understand why bilingual education in San Jose isn’t more embraced. What can be the downside? Better educated, more well-rounded, bilingual, biliterate, bicultured children? I’ll take that risk.

Original post to SV Moms Blog.

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