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Some random facts about me, in case you (never) wondered:

myself

Some random facts about me, in case you (never) wondered:

Some are silly musings, some are a bit deeper in nature.  Maybe if one is interesting I’ll blog about it later.

I talk to myself in the car, Every. Single. Day.  It’s where I work out my problems, get out my frustrations, and narrate my life to myself.  If you’re driving along side me, you’ll probably see me having a full on convo with myself.  Ain’t no shame in my game.

When I was little, I trained with olympic coaches for figure skating.  I was ambidextrous, which was desirable.  I quit after my skin split from the cold and started bleeding one night, and my babysitter at the time freaked out.  Her fear scared me, and I decided I didn’t want to skate again after that.  My parents were sad, but never pushed me into anything I wasn’t comfortable with.

Little dogs make me anxious, probably because they seem more delicate.

I lost my English accent when I was a kid, but it comes back when I am in England or talking to my family from there.  I wish I had it all the time. My brain just switches and I don’t have any thought into it.

When I was a toddler, I had imaginary friends that I would talk to every night.  I always wanted my door shut and the lights off, and if my mom came in the room I would cry she had frightened them away.  One day, I saw a picture of a couple in a book and asked my mom how she had gotten a picture of them….it was a couple who had lived nearby who died long before I was born.

I have had several experiences that lead me to believe in spirits, however I’m not religious and struggle with the concept of God. The two seem to go hand in hand but for me, I can’t reconcile it all.

I believe that the more someone tells you how real they are, the more full of shit and deceptive they probably are.  Real people don’t need to advertise it.  They just live their lives.

One of my favorite quotes is “you are never to old to be what you might have been”-George Eliot.

Self esteem is the root of many of our problems, in my opinion.  If we all believed in ourselves more, loved ourselves more, we’d make MUCH better decisions and put up with a lot less nonsense.

Ice cream is one of my favorite things.  The texture, the temperature, the multitude of flavors….just everything about it makes me happy. I rarely say no to it, and I’ll sometimes allow my kids to have it as a treat before dinner.

Someone told me today my dad was one of his heroes.  My eyes teared up and I welled up with pride.  My dad is such a quiet guy who doesn’t really share all the amazing things he does.  I wish I knew more, but he’s humble and doesn’t think to really share such things.  I’m so proud to be his daughter.

I like silence.

I have about 16 tattoos.  Most people think I have 4, (small ones).  A former coworker once sat and told me how they hated tattooed women and how they thought it was horrible.  They became very uncomfortable when I explained my husband tattoos and I have quite a lot of them.  They responded “well, at least you can’t see them”, as if that made their comments any better.  I just laughed and walked away, knowing they felt really uncomfortable.

I have a stalker. She checks my blog on the regular and created fake accounts to get notifications of when I post, to harass me with on other platforms, and to stalk others. I almost moved the blog and changed the name, but I decided for now to keep it as is.  I know her IRL.  Awkward.  On the bright side, things seemed to have calmed down, so I’m hopeful it will end.

An ex of mine was black.  I’m about as fair as it gets.  When people tell you that racism doesn’t exist, when they tell you that black people and minorities are “exaggerating” how bad racism is, they are lying or they are ignorant of what really goes on.  I never really experienced racism growing up, but I learned quickly during that relationship just how deep it goes.  Racism isn’t always in your face.  Sometimes it flows like a silent, underlying current, or it’s whispers.  Going to an event with my ex and someone white sidled up to me and whispered asked who invited the “N*****” to the party with a laugh.  I was horrified, first at the racist comment, and then at the fact the person felt just so comfortable in saying it to me, clearly because I was white.  I guess they thought that they were talking to someone in the “white club” who would share their views. Their laugh quieted very quickly when I called over to my ex and asked him to come over to introduce himself.  We then politely turned to mingle elsewhere, while that person sat looking inherently uncomfortable.  Yes, it was the classier thing to do, but looking back now I wish I had told the person off.  Then again, I think they learned at least a small lesson.  Sadly, they are probably the same ignorant racist but perhaps they will be less likely to spread their thoughts to others.  While that relationship with my ex eventually ended (on good terms as well) it opened my eyes and ears to an issue. Which leads me to:

When we know others are suffering, but we say “well, it doesn’t impact me so it’s probably not my business”, we are ignoring a basic truth that we are all people, and that kindness matters.  One day, that hurt may come our way, and we would hope someone would stand for us.  It’s not easy to stand for others sometimes, but it is necessary if we wish to raise empathetic children.

I am sometimes really awkward. I’m also generally self aware enough to know when I am being awkward, which makes me feel even more awkward.  Ah well.

When I was a little girl, a neighborhood kid tricked me into sitting in dog shit so the other kids would laugh.  That humiliation was DEEP and it stayed with me.  I’d probably punch her in the neck now if I had my chance.  Her name was Cindy.  That’s all I remember.

My best friend growing up has a dad who is a hoarder.  I’m to this day one of the few people he is comfortable letting in the house, because he knows I don’t judge.  I have a bit of a fascination with hoarding.  I believe it’s way more common than people think it is, and I’ve had several friends who have relatives who hoard. My house is messy. (I’m sure you figured that out by the blog title) but not at hoarder standards. I think the combination of working full time, limited free time, 2 kids, and a lack of organizational skills in the home is the root.  It bothers me a lot because my mom was a neat freak and I wish I had inherited at least a little bit of that.

I love comedies.  Laughing is one of my favorite things.

I often try to see both sides of a situation.  Sometimes this drives people nuts.

Being born British has its perks. For example, nobody expects me to be a very good cook.  Usually they ask me to bring plates or soda to events.  Luckily nobody expects any highly complicated dishes from me.   I’ll admit I’m not a fancy cook.  I have a few things I make pretty well, or at least well that people will go for seconds for.  That being said, I love British food, but then again, most British people probably do. 🙂

Speaking of British food, fish and chips is my comfort food.  It is hard, though, in the US to find a place who can make it JUST like it is in England.  It’s often close, but never quite right.  A Salt and Battery in NYC has it to a science. If you’re in the area, GO.  Then go next door to Tea and Sympathy for hot rhubarb crumble with custard.  You’ll thank me later, even though you’ll have to roll yourself to your final destination because you’ll feel like a fatty after.  It’s utterly delish!

I love getting comments on my blog.  Drop a line sometime.

 

 

 

 

 

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Awkward

I have a big heart, but man can I get socially awkward.

Sometimes, I’m sure I don’t even realize I’ve been awkward, but sometimes, after the fact, it becomes abundantly clear to me, and then I want to crawl into a hole.  I think the issue has a few sides to it.  First, I’m British, and am not lovey dovey by nature (except with my kids and husband).  I’m not one to run around hugging everyone.  That being said, I have family members who are very huggy, and I’m getting better at doing the whole hug thing. Second, I’m not great at small talk.  I think I need a class or something, because I typically find small talk to be rather disingenuous and uncomfortable.  It feels like wasted air a lot of time, and it often can come to an awkward end.  Third, I’m fairly shy when I don’t know people.  I won’t have any urge to go seek out someone to chat with, but would rather find a task or job that needs doing and will help out that way instead.  That way, at least I’m not a lump but can keep myself efficiently busy and away from making awkward social mistakes.

It’s not easy to admit you’re awkward, especially to the internet, but here I am.

Today we had a big customer seminar.  I bumped into a lovely customer that I chatted with at length yesterday.  We both put our hands out, but I suddenly realized I had no idea what he was doing.  Was it a fist bump? a handshake?  I didn’t immediately recognize his hand movement as it begun and frankly, he clearly didn’t recognize mine either (I think he was going for a fist bump and I was going for a handshake…typically British).  What ended up happening was a weird entanglement of fingers trying to meet common ground.

AWKWARD.

I felt so awkward, I did the most awkward thing I could do, and sort of pulled him in for a “bro hug” when one hand goes behind the back and pats.

I’m so awkward I wanted to climb into a hole and have someone shovel dirt on top of me to hide my awkwardness. I realized how amazingly awkward I had made it, and I did exactly what you would expect me to do at that moment, based on what I told you above.

I. Ran. Away. CRINGE!

I have since spent a good couple of hours trying not to think about it, but being unsuccessful, leaving me cringing.

Are there classes to make one less awkward? If so, I need to sign up for those suckers pronto!

 

 

Rose and Thorn

A friend introduced me to a game called Rose and Thorn, which is where you basically lost the best and worst parts of your day. I always liked it because it allows you to vent your bad part while happily reminding yourself of the good part of your day. Sometimes, you have an awful day, and the universe seems to drop something great down as a consolation prize. Other times, your day is wonderful but then there’s something to take you down a peg or two. Feel free to post yours in the comments! Today, I’ll share mine.

Roses: my daughter attended a birthday party and while that was taking place, I got to relax and enjoy good coffee and a donut with some of the moms whose company I enjoy. I came home and managed to accomplish some yard work. My husband also offered to do a tattoo for me on his day off. Woohoo! I topped off the day with an invite from the neighbor to go have dinner at her house. She makes the most amazing empanadas! Good company, many laughs were had, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Thorn: before I get into this, note that when your day is going fabulous, sometimes the universe will drop a tiny turd on the day to keep things balanced. Today, I learned what hell is. I stepped in dog shit while wearing FLIP FLOPS. This prompted me to recoil, shriek in horror loudly while pointing at my now surely diseased foot and scream “kill it with fire!”. I bleached my own foot while wretching. Even now, hours later as I lay in my bed, I feel like one foot has shitcooties on it.

Balance. It’s all about balance.

Update on burning bridges

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I ended up resigning from the PTA shortly after joining, and that some of the frustrations I had boiled to a head last week.   I was MAD.  Like wicked, ragey mad.  And, if I’m honest, I was hurt and sad too.   I had to step away from it all, and I didn’t end up going to the drive.  Do I wish I had gone a bit?  Perhaps.  But sometimes, you just have to step away and cool off a bit, so that’s what I did.  We had my niece’s birthday that day anyway, so I was busy with her.

The problem I was left with, aside from conflicted feelings about what had happened, was that I now had a stack of money I had collected all summer.  It wasn’t a huge stack, but I had a couple of hundred dollars.  The money had to go to the school or the PTA, but I was struggling with the decision on what to do with it.  Part of me felt I should give it to the PTA, but part of me also recognized that I was in a unique position to help kids without being tied to any PTA rules.

You have to understand that the reason I signed up for the PTA in the first place was because our school got redistricted (I’ll use that instead of what is probably the more appropriate word, segregated.  Needless to say, I have a great amount of frustration with a town who moves backwards instead of forewards).  At the end of the day, our school would have several lower income families joining, and I wanted to do the drive to include them.  Hell, even I am short on cash the first month of school, so anything that allows me to contribute without pouring money I don’t have in is a help.  I joined because honestly, I like fundraising, I’m decent at it, and I wanted to help kids and teachers who didn’t have the funds they needed.  I’d hate to have a child miss out on a field trip because the family just doesn’t have the funds.  Things like that REALLY bother me  If I can raise money so that child can have a learning experience like their classmates, I’m willing to do it. Sometimes the PTA doesn’t have the ability to help those kids financially.

I put the money in the car this morning while I did school drop off, and was mulling over how best to donate it.  Do I give it to the PTA? Do I find another way to help the kids like I had first set out to do?  I drove around the block after drop off, debating the issue back and forth in my head.  Part of me felt I should just give it to the PTA.  I wasn’t really angry anymore, just sad at how things had all gone down. That being said, I knew that I might have a unique opportunity I could use purely because I had raised the money while NOT part of the PTA, and had done all the work for it myself (one of the benefits of not getting help from anyone meant I had earned it myself).

Just then, I saw the principal standing by the crosswalk, greeting students walking in and wishing them a wonderful day.  It felt a little like a sign.  I asked if I could speak to her, parked the car, and followed her inside.

I explained a little of my reasoning for raising the money, that I had joined to help kids that really needed help, and my dilemma.  I ended up donating the money to the “principle’s fund.”  This fund, run by the principle of the school, usually gets funds from a soda machine, school pictures, and other small items.  While there’s not a lot of money there, the principle uses it for the very reasons I wanted to donate….to help a kid attend a trip if the parents can’t afford it, if a teacher needs supplies for something for their class and can’t afford them, etc.

It seemed a perfect match.   It lined up with everything I set out to do, and I immediately felt at peace with my decision.

I did message one of the lovely ladies on the PTA, and explained what I had done, and my reasons for it.  I explained that at the end of the day, my goal was and always had been to help those who needed it most. I wanted to make sure any funds raised went directly to kids.  The PTA has to fund a lot of things, but doing things this way had given me a great sense of comfort and peace.

Now that I know about the fund, I may try to contribute again in the future.  Who knows, maybe more personal bottle drives are in my future. If I can help one child step up and get an experience, then I have done my job.

Fearing the Reaper

reaper

Once death hits really close to home, it feels like it never quite leaves.  It’s like a booty call that leaves an item behind to have an excuse to collect it later. I’m not talking about the elderly who have lived long, full lives and it’s not entirely unexpected when the pass.  I’m talking about the under 60 set, like our parents, friends, siblings or even kids. When people are still crafting dreams and are in the middle of their lives, it seems like death swoops them away and their living loved ones are left floundering, stunned from the loss.

I lost my mother 12 years ago.  I was 32, she was 57.  She died of cancer, and while her death at that point was expected due to her illness, her illness itself was a shock to my system.  I never really expected her to die that young, to leave a life not yet fully realized and lived.  If I’m really honest, she told me in a dark moment “I’m not ready to die!” and I believe that she wasn’t.  She had plans, dammit, lots of plans!  While life for the living goes on, a piece of me stayed with her when she died. Like the Jewel song says “there’s a hole in my heart in the shape of you”.  Life continues in its twists and turns, but a little piece of me is held there in time with her. I started to also wonder, would death come after me like it had my mom?

A couple of years ago, and I’ve blogged about it, one of my oldest and dearest friends fell asleep one night and didn’t wake up. His heater malfunctioned and pumped carbon monoxide into his room.  He just never woke up.   His death was a shock to the core, completely unexpected, no sense to it, and heartbreaking for everyone who knew him. At the time we hadn’t spoken for a little while, simply because life had kept us busy and we lived in different parts of the country.  He was my age, and it seemed ridiculous to me that I was headed to a memorial for someone so young.  Death isn’t supposed to come for the young, or at least, the sorta young.

Last month, a friend of mine died. She was just a little older than me.  Her story is a different one.  We had been good friends until she made some life decisions I just couldn’t hang with.  She became a different person, and I think she was tired of some of the baggage I had myself, and we parted ways as friends. She didn’t come for me or do anything horrible to me, she just made detrimental choices for her own life, and I couldn’t have those choices around my kids.  See, here’s the funny thing.  I’m not really a grudge holder.  I also have a relatively piss poor memory, which means I let a lot of stuff go that perhaps I shouldn’t.  (Let me be clear, if someone comes for me or my husband or kids, I will become a beast like no other, and I will stop at nothing until that person stops their shit.) For the most part though, I don’t hold on to ill will.  I don’t stay angry, I just remove myself from the person.  When she died, we hadn’t spoken in years, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t miss the friendship, miss our hours of laughter, and giggle at old jokes.  I miss all of those things.  I’m sad things worked out the way they did, but I can’t have toxic people in my life, so I’ve removed them all.   Honestly, I looked at her facebook today, wishing their were more clues as to what happened to her, and I just felt inherently sad.

Sometimes, you don’t just grieve the person, there are more layers to it than that.  Sometimes you miss the old stories, the laughter.  Sometimes you grieve the hopes and dreams.  Sometimes, you simply grieve the fact that the person will never have a chance to get their shit together.

See, that’s the thing.  Once these people started dying, I became very interested in death.  From the actual science of some of it, to the grief process.  I belong to fb groups for funeral directors and other people in the death business.  I don’t think it’s something I could ever do….it freaks me out on one hand, but on the other I have a fascination with it.  Perhaps the study and conversation about death takes some of the mystery and pain out of it.  Sometimes it’s easier to look at something that saddens you in a way that removes all the emotion and just looks at the science of it all.  It’s not a popular conversation.  I’m that person who is honestly curious how people died.  It’s not polite to ask, of course, but I truly want to know what happened to the person who died most recently.  Do I have a couple of guesses?  Sure.  But the cause haunts me a little.

Maybe it’s because deep down, most of us fear the reaper.  We don’t want life to go before we have seen our life play out.  Even on it’s most boring days, our lives still have the hope of adventure and the unexpected.  One thing I have always told people struggling in life is that “you are only just one small decision from living an entirely different life.”  Nothing is permanent, and we can make different choices to have a different life if we choose.  Some choice are easy, some are devastatingly hard, but the choice remains.  Life is like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book.  We hope we make good choices.  Sometimes the choices don’t line up he way we hope.  Sometimes the choices aren’t good or bad, they just are.  Sometimes a simple, innocent choice leads the whole story to end.

 

Burning Bridges, One by One.

bridge

Today, I crossed a hypothetical bridge, lit a match, and poured some gasoline on it.

Let me preface the story I am about to tell by saying that I am a boots on the ground kind of helper.  There are a few things in life that touch my cold little heart and make it all melty.  In a world where everyone wants to talk politics, where everyone believes they are always right, and never wrong, and nobody wants to meet in the middle, I cringe.  I hate that people drop casual racism without either knowing how racist the comments are or even caring.  I hate the refusal to hear other sides, to meet in the middle, and I hate the hypocrisy of it all.  The world gets me down a lot these days.  I am an idealist at heart, and optimist.  I am a defender of the little guy, the underdog, or those who need a voice to be heard on their behalf.  I put up with horrible people far longer than I should, and I make excuses for them, always wanting to believe people are inherently good and not the jerks they really are. Kids though, I hate to see a kid go without.  I hate to see a child suffer because their parents can’t provide something.  We all have our own struggles, but kids struggles shape who they will become.  I hate seeing a child go without. Kids, elderly, people struggling, I just want to make the world a bit better for them.

The past two years, I helped provide Christmas for a family in need when both parents lost their jobs.  I did so by organizing, reaching out to family and friends, and making do with what I had, and I’ll tell you I was proud of what I had accomplished in a very short time with limited resources.   A few years ago, when Hurricane Sandy hit, I took clothes, supplies and medicine to a family stuck on LBI.  I was one of the only people allowed on the island.  If you ever wanted to know what it looks like if the human race disappeared, that was it.  The streets were empty, traffic lights swaying in the wind, and boats littering the roads where cars should have been.  I have given food to the homeless (only to have them tell me the food didn’t suit their dietary needs) and toured town looking for a homeless man my son met and who he wanted to donate stuff to.  After ages of hunting for said man armed with socks I had bought for someone for Christmas and gift cards I had received as gifts, we were unsuccessful.  I am the one that will mow my single mom friend’s yard which is HUUUUUGE with a push mower because her mower broke and I know she had a bad week.  Look, I’m not an asshole (all the time) and I’ll jump in when I see someone struggling.  I have learned through these deeds, that sometimes things go amazingly right, sometimes just ok, and sometimes, no good deed goes unpunished.  Sometimes, you give to someone who doesn’t appreciate it, really need it, and sometimes you try to assist a blind person across an incredibly busy parking lot only to almost get hit by two cars.  Life doesn’t go as planned, sometimes it throws a wrench, and sometimes, people turn out to be kind of shitty.  My husband grew up helping the homeless, and he often gives them money.  I asked him one day how he reconciled giving money to panhandlers or people begging when the fact is that many aren’t really homeless.  He summed it up for me “I give with my heart.  What they do with what I gave them is on them.”  For him, it is about the intent of giving. I liked that, and it’s how I try to reconcile when giving goes wrong.

For those of you who follow my blog, you know for a hot minute I joined the PTA.  I joined after the BOE redistricted our town, ripped our school apart, and stripped all of the current families out save a few.  We had a strong community at our school, and we were all devastated.  We also lost all of our PTA members except one.  Somehow, my name got thrown in the hat, and surprisingly, I got voted in.  I saw the PTA as a way to do a good deed, help kids, and make a positive difference in our school.  My husband, who is the cynic of the family, told me it’s often a place where people who just want to be in charge of something congregate. I shushed his negativity and jumped in with both feet.  We had an economic shift in our school, and fundraising, which I am usually pretty good at, seemed like a challenge I could excel at.  I started brainstorming ways to fundraise but also ways to make lower income families feel included and welcome in the process.  A lot of my ideas got shot down, and it felt honestly like they just wanted to do what they had done before.  I explained that with all of the changes in the district, I truly felt that we needed to change tactics and bring families together in new ways, rather than make people feel guilty when they couldn’t donate cash.  I came up with the idea of a bottle drive.  It’s not like it’s a new idea, or was never done before, but I wanted to incorporate it.  They didn’t seem excited, but let me move forward.  I took it on as a project over the summer.

Over the summer months, I started looking for bottles and cans from friends, family, and coworkers.  I arranged pick ups and started returning the cans and bottles.  I found the most accurate method was to do them by hand, so I did all except for two bags or so by hand, those two were done in bulk at the recycling center.  It became a second job.  I coordinated pick ups, drop offs and all the redemptions were done by me or me and the kids.  They soon grew bored of it.

As I was working on this after a few weeks, one of the other members started putting hands on the project.  Not the physical work or effort, mind you, but she changed the hours of the actual drive in the fall.  She created a flyer and posted in online.  She offered me up to do pick ups.  Now, here’s my thing.  I hate being micromanaged.  My rule of thumb with volunteerism is, if you’re not doing the work keep your hands off it.  Either contribute or let the workers lead the plan.  Volunteering my time over the summer should come from ME, not her.  This irked me to no end.  It felt disrespectful.  The feeling of disrespect lingered, and it bothered me.  Excuses were made, shoulders were shrugged, but it bothered the hell out of me.  Combined with that was the realization that this whole pta thing seemed micromanaged at the top, but completely unorganized at the bottom started me thinking it wasn’t for me.  My grandfather wasn’t doing well, I was busy with work, the kids, and keeping all the proverbial balls in the air…it was suffocating.  I took stock of things, and made a choice….I needed to quit the PTA.  I just wasn’t happy.  Every idea I gave was almost immediately shot down, I was getting texts from 7 am to 11 pm, holidays, weekends, and it was CHAOS.  It felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I have a full time job and I am a full time mom.  PTA was another 12 hour onslaught of messages and demands I couldn’t handle. Also, I looked at the other member’s personal FB pages, and not one message was done about the bottle drive.  Not one bottle collected.  not one bottle dropped to me.  They were ok volunteering my hard work but wouldn’t contribute to the fundraising they so desperately needed.  That was the final nail in the coffin for me. I left.

Quitting left me feeling horribly guilty.  I don’t like to set the tone of being a quitter for the kids.  I believe in being a team player, and helping your teammates out.  I just couldn’t stomach the constant barrage of texts, demands, questions, and people making changes to an event they weren’t even involved with.  Pretty soon though, the guilt quickly faded one day while I was driving 2 towns over to pick up a shopping bag of about 10 cans.  The miles, the hard work, the sweat, the stickiness….this can stuff was dirty business and a lot of work.  Nobody had offered to help me or spoke to me about it.

They asked if I would go, I said yes.  I was told the president (time change/flyer poster) was now in charge of the event.  Ok.  Strangely, I never heard anything about it, but assumed I would show up.  I had concerns.  Did they have sorters? redeemers? volunteers to transport?  What was the plan?  I asked and was told nobody knew except the president.   Huh.

Today, my friend on the board, the one who brought me on to begin with, messaged and asked me when I would be at the drive.  I said “Morning” and she wanted something more specific.  This puzzled me because she had been adamant the day before she had NOTHING to do with the drive.  She said the board had been talking and wanted to know if I was going to be there, and when.  When I pressed her on this she denied any knowledge of the event and said the president was in charge and pointed me to her. At this point, I was pretty pissed.  Why should I be chasing down someone to ask them I how I could further volunteer when I had already spent an entire summer busting me ass while the rest of the board was vacationing?  I made this clear, and word travels fast because I got a message from the president.

Apparently, for all their posting on facebook with flyers etc, nobody is in charge of the event.  Apparently, they think I am in charge.  Me, who has no access to the PTSA mailers, emails, flyers, volunteer sign up sheets….nothing.  I’m not a member, but apparently I am supposed to Skywalker it and use the Force to pull together a fundraising event for 700 students. They had 1, count them, 1 volunteer parent who nobody had bothered to call.

Let that sink in.

Hours upon hours, miles upon hours, bottles upon cans and my car smelling like a bar at closing time….and they couldn’t look at a sign up sheet and make a call. Hell, two on the board weren’t even going to be there AT ALL.  When I asked what their plan was, they had none, aside from the three remaining people were each going to work it for 2 hours.  What?

Not one post on their own pages.  Not one bottle handed over. Not a plan, not a phone call to volunteers, hell, not even GETTING volunteers. They had done…..NOTHING.  Everything was “not their problem, not their event, not their wheelhouse”.

And now they expected me to pull it all together and make magic.

In all my anger, I paused for just a second to ponder if I could pull it off.  After all, that’s what I do.  I take the undoable, and I make it done.  I help people.  I knew some basic concepts that needed doing to make the fundraiser work.  It would be a great lesson to my kids.  Take lemons and make lemonade. I work well under pressure, although I’ll collapse after.  My husband told me to drop the cans and money and bail after what had been done.  He knows horseshit when he sees it.

But there was one sentence that was said that handed me the match.

The president reminded me how she had so kindly said she would work the morning shift, (a whopping 2 hours!) she wouldn’t be there after all, she said she had someone else filling in for her to “fulfill her obligation” and “I feel content with that”.

Strike.

When I asked what the plan was she said there was none.  They had done fuck all and expected me to show up and run a PTA event with little to no PTA assistance, effort or work, just to earn them money.

Grab the gas.

And if I didn’t show, they’d just figure it out on the day.

Burn.

I have redeemed over 5000 cans and bottles.  Put miles on my car, sweated it out in hot grocery store bottle rooms, dealt with drunks harassing me while doing it.  My new car smells like an old bar at closing time.  I gave up valuable time of my own.  $250 may not seem like a lot of work, but it sure is when it’s earned at $.05 at a time.  That’s a lot of nickels. They wanted me to do every ounce of work and step back and earn the credit for it.  I did it so that hopefully no child would miss out on a learning experience because their parents couldn’t afford it.  I did it so that a kid who might not have a shot at doing something because of funds would get some help so they could participate.  I did it so a teacher could have supplies without having to dig further into pockets that we as a society don’t fill enough.

Let me blow on those flames.

Tomorrow, I will deliver those funds, because I promised every person who donated that every penny would go to the school.  I will first try to donate them directly to the principal, if they can accept them.  Because I left the PTA, the office drive is in two days, and I did all the work, not to mention all the bottles came from my family, friends and coworkers, I’d like to hand the money directly to the school.  If I can’t the funds will then go to a member of the PTA.  But make no mistake, the envelope will say:

“$250.  Raised by myself, family, friends and coworkers.  To be used for students.  I will not be at the bottle drive. The pres will have a plan.  Oh, and I am content with that.”

 

 

 

 

 

Lockdown

Yesterday I got a notification my son’s school was in a lock down situation due to police activity.  Apparently a woman called police and said her partner was incoherent, armed, and had barricaded himself in the home near two schools.  Police descended on the residence and was eventually able to remove the man safely.  The school communicated well, and at no point were the kids in danger.  That being said, no mama wants to hear her kid is locked in a building because of crazy nearby, especially armed crazy.  I felt anxious for much of the day.  What’s worse is that this wasn’t the first time the kids have been in lockdown.

Last year my kids ended up in lockdowns in two school districts in one week.  One was at their school, and the other one occurred when they accompanied my SIL to pick up my nephew from school.  A man had grabbed a gun and run into the woods at a park near the school.  Police descended on the area and eventually used a drone to determine the man had committed suicide.  During this time, my sister in law and my kids were yanked into the building and had to stay there for a few hours until the situation was resolved. Also last year, I was on a break at work, glanced at Facebook, and saw there was a shooting down the street from my kids’ schools.  I took off running went to go get the kids from the afterschool program at the schools.  I called the after school program to advise the director to lock the doors and not let anyone they didn’t know in.  She knew nothing about the shooting and told me she’d probably know before I would.  I saw RED and told her that she could debate that with me the next day, but at that moment I would EXPECT her to err on the side of caution and safety for the kids and lock the damned doors.  I arrived to find my children’s schools (the two buildings are next to each other) surrounded by police in bulletproof vests and canines.  They fortunately allowed me to collect my children and head home.  We actually saw them arrest the shooter while we drove home.  For the record, I live in a pretty decent suburb, filled with children and families. I don’t live in a high crime area or a major city.  Nobody is really safe these days.

When I grew up, my parents dropped me at school and considered me safe for the rest of the day.  I never concerned myself with anything except doing my schoolwork, hanging with my friends, and playing outside at recess.  I certainly never worried about being gunned down in my classroom.  I practiced fire drills.  I didn’t not practice drills in case a gunman entered the school.  The fact my children have to do this breaks me.   My step-aunt is a teacher and she explained her fears about her classroom location.  It’s the first one when you enter the school, and she has to have certain features in her classroom such as black out curtains and doors that lock from the inside.  She said she is at the ground zero of the school, the first place that would likely have a problem, and she has to constantly have a plan for her students in case the unthinkable happens.

We are failing our children. I don’t purport to know the answers, and I have friends on all sides of the gun debate. Regardless of whatever side you fall on, know that kids are dying and we are failing them as a society.  Other counties aren’t suffering these tragedies.  What are they doing better than us?

When Sandy Hook happened, I sat and my desk shaking and crying the second I heard the news.  The proximity to me (I live within about 20 minutes of there), the fact I had a first grader, it was all too close to home, too easily could have been our school.  I knew what a first grader sounded like, smelled like, giggled like.  I knew what a first grader’s fears and dreams were.  I knew that brussel sprouts worry some first graders, but that they don’t normally fear getting blown apart. Even thinking about that day now brings me to a flood of tears.  I struggle seeing the road signs for Sandy Hook.  I can’t imagine the pain of every family at that school, especially of the children who were killed.

Somehow, some way, we need to all come together to find a solution.  If we can’t come together to save our own children, we have bigger issues than we think.