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clean
Mar 31st, 2010 by wrekehavoc

it’s official:  i am laundry-challenged.

i grew up in a family where my mom or dad pretty much did the laundry for everyone in the house; so when i got married, i figured that BS and i would just do giant loads of each other’s laundry and move on with life. after all, it doesn’t really bother me to do laundry; it’s not like i have to go down to the river and beat the clothes on rocks.  at the time, i was usually too bothered to separate lights from whites from darks.

this offended his laundry sensibilities; BS told me he would do his own.

for about 30 seconds, my nose was out of joint about this until i realized, hell, i only have to do my own laundry.

and so it went. two kids later, i am the primary laundress around here — though BS still does his own laundry. i wash the kids’ clothes except for certain key moments. like when there’s barf all over them. or, better yet, a bucket of swallowed blood.  then, my beloved spouse steps up to the plate and takes on the worst of the body fluids.

(which i sincerely appreciate, i would add.)

anyway, we have had our laundry-related mishaps. for example, there was the time when preschool aged jools left a red crayon in his pocket… a crayon which melted all over our clothes when it hit the dryer.  BS was not amused. while several articles of clothing simply could not be rehabbed and thus had to go to the giant hamper in the sky, i still needed to clean out the drum of the dryer, which had lots of red streaks splayed around it.

eventually, after researching the issue (and getting at least 15 different dirty looks from my clean-minded spouse), i discovered that i could clean it all out with a substance called goo gone. the only problem, of course, was that the label indicated that if the goo gone ended up in contact with heat, hilarity would not ensue.

oh, how i fretted! i did not want my laundry machine to blow our family to kingdom come. but i also knew that BS needed to do a load of whites, and he was going to be most unhappy should his clothing end up candy-striped. so i said a little prayer, took a little dab and wiped down the drum. and lo and behold, it WORKED! and more importantly, WE DIDN’T END UP RIDING OUR HOUSE THROUGH THE SKIES TO VISIT THE WIZARD OF OZ!

joy!

so now, i’m careful to check pockets, though a stray piece of gum or penny often escapes my search.

but i’m still mystified: somehow, even though i separate whites from lights from darks; even though i measure my detergent and follow instructions — i cannot get hellboy’s socks clean! what do these kids DO in their socks? i have tried bleach. I have tried baking soda. i have tried drinking a glass of shiraz to try and not care about it.

but Jaysus! my kids walk around in the dirtiest, stinkiest  socks on the planet. and short of buying new ones on a monthly basis, i am stumped as to what to do. i have clearly failed the laundry mom experience.

somewhere, my home economics teacher is laughing.

guilty pleasure monday: cool as kim deal (the dandy warhols)
Mar 29th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

Hey.
There’s nothing in my heart.
I’d rather be cool than be smart.

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while i would have been pleased to have hair like jeannie shrimpton back in 1965 and stand just like bill wyman, the guys from dandy warhol had something a little more modern in mind: kim deal.

and kim deal is a big deal.  the bassist and backup singer  for the pixies, mrs. john murphy (as she had herself credited in a wacky little feminist moment) struggled to be heard, occasionally grabbing her moments. frankly, i’m glad she left the pixies so that she could focus on her other band, the breeders.

the breeders, which also included throwing muses guitarist tanya donelly (who would later form another well-loved band, belly), kim’s identical twin sister kelley;  and ultimately a revolving lineup, let deal flex her songwriting wings. she wrote some great stuff:

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and a song i often quote:

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i’m pretty sure i saw both the breeders and belly at various HFStivals in the ’90s. but those concerts are a blur of heat and sweat and rain and wildly varying artists, so i can’t be exactly sure unless i check one of BS’s ancient HFStival t-shirts (some of which still exist, remarkably.)

kim ended up creating a side project, the amps, when her sister had some drug problems, but then ended up ultimately back together, and i’m pretty sure they still play today.

(of course, some of you are probably pissed at me for not addressing the actual guilty pleasure song of the day, cool as kim deal. you know i am prone to tangents. forgive me. just enjoy the song and it’ll all be cool.

and hey —  it’s my beloved cousin stephanie‘s birthday today — she’s as cool as kim deal, too.

happy just to be nominated
Mar 25th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

2009-jp-the-finalists

thanks so much for nominating two of my posts for the just posts of 2009 award!

peace train

and

guilty pleasure monday: millworker (james taylor)

voting is over now, and winners have not yet been announced. but check out the page — there are some really amazing thought-provoking posts up there.

it truly is an honor just to be nominated.

i feel good
Mar 24th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

…and it’s all thanks to you, president obama!

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i am not surprised by the lineup of state attornies general who are preparing to go to war over this law, though i have already called and emailed the attorney general in my state to cease and desist with his efforts. (i’m sure the intern charged with reading those things  is probably laughing his or her a$$ off at my verbage.) i don’t want my tax dollars wasted on a groundless and absurd effort to get rid of a law which frankly benefits me and all americans. but i’m sure these folks want to put on a good show (they are, by and large, mostly elected officials) for the portion of the electorate that brung them. which, in my commonwealth, would not include me.

(incidentally, if you’re in VA and would like to share your views with the attorney general, you can find him here.)

anyway, i want to share why i think this admittedly somewhat imperfect law is still the best freaking thing since sliced bread.

1) eliminating pre-existing conditions for kids immediately and for adults in 2014. unless you have what would be considered a pre-existing condition, you would have no idea what this means to a person, to a family.

i have often joked with BS that i married him for his sugar-daddy health insurance. of course, back then, i didn’t have a pre-existing condition. now, of course, i do.  if for some insane reason he lost his job, i would personally ding my entire family’s ability to get health insurance unless his next employer offered insurance without any sort of pre-existing condition clause.

this idea has hung over my head for four years now like an ominous cloud. when i first came home from the hospital four years ago, when i should have been focusing on getting well, i was instead completely wigged out at the prospect that should i ever need to get my own health insurance, i could not any longer. my family’s health was in potential jeopardy simply by virtue of being related to sickly me. how would i provide for my children’s medical care? it truly made me sad. it truly made me feel helpless, captive to a condition that i didn’t create for myself. it’s just in my genes.  and the only way to have a fighting chance at wellness was a therapy that cost upwards of $10,000 every four weeks. without insurance.

now, there’s a law on my side.

2) lifetime caps on medical coverage goes bye=bye: yes, those of us who have freakish illnesses that don’t simply require us to take an aspirin and call someone in the morning rack up an impressive set of bills, even with health insurance. honestly, no one ever expects to get sick; but when it happens, it happens. and if it happens with a hospital stay or lengthy and expensive treatment options, eventually, one wonders whether one will hit that point when his insurer and he will have to part company. someone i love had a fairly innocuous surgery, only to go into kidney failure, a coma, and infection hell and end up in the ICU for three months. (he’s better now, fret not.) that sort of thing hits the hundreds of thousands of dollars. in a lifetime, stuff happens, and you amass these costs… it’s not pretty.

but what is our choice? let people die? sorry, mrs. jones, but we can’t pay for your cancer treatments anymore. you’ve really fought hard over these past 5 years, and you’ve beaten certain odds impressively. but you’ve hit your cap. you’re done now. good luck and goodbye. GOOD LORD, it must never come to this. but i suspect for some people, it has.

and now, G-d willing, it won’t.

now a lot of people are up in arms over having to have health insurance. honest to G-d, people, you’re required to have home and car insurance by law. yeah, maybe it’s state law, but probably because that’s how it panned out at the time. who the fuck CARES whether it’s federal law? if you need to be prepared to pay somehow when your home is destroyed by fire or your car takes out another person’s car, then why the HELL shouldn’t you be responsible to have insurance about a certainty: you will one day become ill. maybe seriously. i, for one, really hoped for a public option to make things even easier for people who truly cannot afford insurance.

oh, right. it’s socialism, requiring people to buy health insurance.

let me give you a little lesson, john and jane q. teabagger. THIS is what socialism is all about. (i know it has some really big words, and i know because glenn beck isn’t providing his own special narrative that it might be difficult to understand. but i have faith in you: give it a go.) guess what: no one has taken private health insurers out of the loop. you know, health insurers are companies trying to take part in that great concept you know and love called capitalism? barack obama won’t be out there, lining people up and pushing them into some government clinic. it will still be your doctor, your country, your world.

and yes, i know the economy is awful right now. but if i have to hear one more bit about small companies possibly dying on the vine because now they have to provide their employees health insurance? well, maybe it’s that great capitalistic system telling you that you ought not be in business.  i mean, so you should be essentially using other people to make money for yourself — but not take care of them? i’m, sorry, but i don’t think so. this is a new cost of doing business. (and i’m sure a lot of you will find tax lawyers who will, in turn, find loopholes so you can escape this somehow. i’m counting on it.)

there are failings in the law, to be sure. for one thing, as i mentioned, i wished for a public option. while it wouldn’t directly benefit me, it benefits all the people who might not otherwise have the wherewithal to be insured. and i would be smacked upside my head by my BTD if i didn’t mention tort reform.

but hell. it happened. and i’m hoping that we, as a society, have not sunk to the depths of caring only about ourselves.  i’m thrilled beyond words that our elected officials — at least, SOME of them — actually put their necks on the line for something bigger than themselves.

and i feel good — really, really, good — for the first time in a long time.

guilty pleasure monday: girl don’t tell me (beach boys)
Mar 22nd, 2010 by wrekehavoc

i’m still riding high on the T.A.M.I. show from last week, i guess.

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when i was about 9 or so, my oldest brother, BTD, bought the compilation album endless summer, a move which effectively made me a fan of the beach boys lock, stock, and surfboard. i probably played that LP more than he ever did, as i loved the warm sounds the band evoked on countless songs.  my dad, with his ever-discerning ear for melody, eventually pointed me toward some of the more challenging songs not present on that compilation, like god only knows, a product of the famous pet sounds album.  it is well-known how super genius brian wilson was attempting to keep up with the beatles in the mid-1960s; he tired of writing about surf and girls and cars and moved on to significantly complex musical ideas. (and i’m pretty sure that the beatles adored him as well.)

but before brian veered down the road of creative genius/man who laid in bed for years, he composed things that were a little weightier but not as heavy as what would come. one of these songs, girl don’t tell me (a song which wilson claimed in his autobiography that he wrote alone, which resulted in mike love successfully suing him for songwriting credits), i believe, was actually written in 1965 for the beatles to record. the beatles, of course, never recorded the song (who knows if they ever even saw it), though it sounds like a perfect fit for stuff they were doing during that year (i can see it fitting in nicely on the help! soundtrack.)

why do i love this song? well, besides the interesting and moving direction in which the chords take you, i love this song because carl wilson sings it.

can you imagine being carl wilson? living in the shadow of the immense talent that is brian wilson? yet carl was no slouch in the talent department, and i wish more people realized that fact. his lovely alto graces so many classic beach boys songs following this one (yeah, he sang on a few before, but to me, girl don’t tell me is the first song of any significance that his voice graces.) not knocking mike love, of course, but his voice would not fit the bill on songs like this and god only knows and even good vibrations.

sadly, carl wilson lost his cancer battle over 10 years ago; but his stellar guitar work and his evocative singing are still with us. it’s hard to come out from the shadow of a sibling who looms so large; but carl definitely did his best to do so, in a quiet but consistently solid way.

unbelievable
Mar 17th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

i cannot believe this sort of thing still happens. but today, a member of a list to which i’ve belonged for years, DC Web Women, shared this awful tale. i’ll let her tell it in her own words, as mine would add little.

On Tuesday, March 16, 2010 my daughter and I were refused service and
ordered out of McDonald’s by its manager. This McDonald’s
is located at 4803 Leesburg Pike, Alexandria VA (in Fairfax County). We were
ordered out because she was accompanied by her service dog – Grizwald. I
handle him for her because she is too young and her disability is too severe
right now for her to handle him alone. My daughter’s service animal has over
500 hours of agency training as well as specific training to mitigate her
disability.

I am tired of her being treated as a second class citizen. This was the
third McDonald’s that challenged her dog but the first to actually put us
out of the restaurant and refuse service. I did not call the police because
that act would have made my daughter’s anxiety and fear worse than they
already were. I did, however, contact the Fairfax County Police later that
day. The FCPD logged the incident and made a record of it. They told me if
that ever happened again to call them.

On 3-16-10, We were on our way to her weekly occupational therapy
appointment. We managed to get everything ready earlier than usual. So I
decided to go to McDonald’s on our way to her appointment.

We went to the drive thru window. I gave the McDonald’s employee the exact
change and she shut the window. She didn’t come back for what seemed too
long a time so I thought maybe I needed to drive to another window. I drove
around the corner but there was not another window.

I thought about whether to just leave or go inside but decided to go inside
to pick up my order.

I helped my daughter get her shoes and coat on and put on Grizwald’s red
cape. We went into McDonald’s. We waited in line. It didn’t take more than a
minute for one or two of the employees behind the counter to say (rudely),
“You can’t have that dog in here.” I told them I could as he was a service
dog.

Next the Manager yelled at me to get the dog out. I told her he was a
service dog 2 more times. To which she replied she didn’t care ” what kind
of dog it was”, that I would have to get it out of there.

I told them at least 3 times (maybe 4) that my daughter’s dog was a service
dog. I was completely ignored by all employees in my attempt to explain to
them they were violating both federal and state laws. I also said I may call
the police. I decided against that because I knew my daughter was already
upset.

I then asked the manager “Are you refusing service to my
disabled child and me”? She continued to ignore me so I repeated the
question. She continued to ignore me and then told me again to leave. I
asked her to write her name down. She ignored me but I persisted in asking
for her name. After asking at least 3 times she did finally write her name
on a receipt. I couldn’t read it so I asked her name again but she continued
to ignore me. She rudely replied she wrote it on the receipt. I told her I
could not read it. Finally she wrote her name more legibly on another
receipt. She gave me a $5 bill with the receipt. I asked if she was paying
me to leave. I couldn’t understand why she gave me the $5 Dollars when I
only spent $1.69 but she continued to ignore me. I told her I didn’t want
the money but she continued to ignore me. I wasn’t pleasant to her but I
wasn’t ranting or raving either. I tried to remain calm but very direct in a
firm voice. This was a humiliating experience.

My daughter’s service dog is always dressed (vested) and has service dog
tags. I also carry a certification identity card for him. He has more than
500 hours of specialized training and he is specifically task trained to
mitigate my daughter’s disability. He was placed with her in December of
2006. We were required to help the organization (that placed him) fund raise
to offset the training expenses. Our fund raising commitment to them (a
nonprofit charity agency called 4 Paws for Ability) was $10,000. My daughter
and her service dog’s story just recently (December 2009) came out in a book
called “New Lives: Stories of Rescued Dogs, Helping, Healing and Giving
Hope” by Joanne Wannan.

Two years ago I requested help from Adam Ebbin to update and change the
service dog laws in VA. I specifically asked Adam to write the “three unit
teams” definition into the law. My family (including Grizwald) had a photo
taken with Gov. Kaine at the bill signing in April 2008.

I usually try to teach and educate when we are challenged but there was no
teaching or educating [the manager] or any of her employees. I am very tired
of the discrimination my disabled daughter faces daily but this from
McDonald’s is inexcusable. This kind of blatant disregard for the rights of
those who are disabled needs to stop.

This was a humiliating experience for us both and I am out $100 dollars for
missing my daughter’s occupational therapy appointment today unless we can
schedule a make up session and she is out her much needed occupational
therapy for this week. But that isn’t really the point. I think if
McDonald’s is going to place people in their stores who are not properly
trained they should have to pay a price. This was disgusting and despicable
behavior. My daughter has experienced enough degrading and humiliating
neglect and abuse before we adopted her and I am not going to stand for this
any more. I know this is against both state and federal laws. The night of
the incident my daughter did not sleep more than 3 hours. Interactions like
this cause her anxiety level to rise. This response can last several weeks.

I called McDonald’s corporate customer service and asked who owned the
store. They would not give me that information. Someone from a “Bland
Corporation” called the same afternoon admitting this was a violation of the
law. I don’t want to speak to them. Instead I am looking for someone to
speak to them for me. I want this injustice to be made right. I want someone
else to speak to them on my little daughter’s behalf — this is just wrong.

It is just unbelievable for these things to continue to happen 20 years
after the ADA in 1990.

if anyone out there is connected either with mcdonalds or the media, i would be glad to get you in touch with this person who deserves to be heard.

daylight again
Mar 16th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

day two of daylight savings time, and we’re not faring so well.

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somehow, explaining daylight savings time to my two kids makes me feel like i’m trying to sell them sort of evil bill of goods.  i mention how ben franklin was behind this — how bad could it be? i mean, this is mr. $50 bill you know, the inventor of:

lightning rods, glass armonica (a glass instrument, not to be confused with the metal harmonica), Franklin stove, bifocal glasses and the flexible urinary catheter.

(any guy behind the flexible urinary catheter can’t be all bad, right?)

well, old ben also devised the whole pay it forward phenomenon, too. so truly, how evil could this guy be?

according to my two kids, extremely.

two days in a row, getting people out of bed in time for school has been akin to asking them to walk across hot coals to a dinner of raw bear brains. they cannot fall asleep at night; they cannot wake up in the morning. it’s quite simple. and all the sleepytime tea in the world cannot change that.

but we do this for farmers — it gives them more sunlight to get things done, i might cheerfully remind them at some moment when they aren’t contemplating whether one pillow or two thrown directly at my head would get me to stop talking.

i guess farming doesn’t happen in our little exurb of washington, dc. at least, no one plans to plow at our house any time soon.

this seems to be the first time that daylight savings has hit these two kids quite so hard. part of me trembles, thinking how this might be shades of teenaged moments to come in the not-too-distant future. i used to bitch that my kids never slept.

now, i bitch that they won’t wake up.

guilty pleasure monday: out of sight/night train (james brown)
Mar 15th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

warning: you will get exhausted watching his legs move.

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the other night, i had the great pleasure of watching the famous T.A.M.I. Show courtesy of my local PBS station’s beg-a-thon.  for those of you unfamiliar, the T.A.M.I. show is an amazing time capsule of a movie, filmed at a show in Santa Monica, CA in 1964. it was released in theaters, then promptly disappeared for a life in bootleg-dom. it was shown once on cable in 1984, but it remained out of sight (and not in the groovy sense of the phrase) until this year, when dick clark and his merry band of lawyers made things possible for the film’s release onto DVD.

the film is absolutely glorious, and not just because of the amazing hullabaloo-like dancers (including a young toni basil and teri garr) who frug their fannies off. the lineup is incredible: you have a still-innocent marvin gaye, the supremes (riding high at the time on the back of three back-to-back number one hits); you have the miracles; the beach boys; jan and dean; gerry and the pacemakers; the rolling stones (before satisfaction hit the world like a firestorm); and several others.

and of course, you have the godfather of soul: james brown and the flames.

there’s a reason the police call out this performance (which also included prisoner of love/please please please. complete with the king refusing his robe) in their 1980 song when the world is running down [james brown the t.a.m.i. show.] there’s a reason why keith richards is widely quoted as saying that following james brown’s performance in this show was the biggest mistake of [their] lives.

do you see the young lady who is shaking it in the audience during night train? she is losing the curlers in her hair, and yet, she doesn’t care.  brown is screaming; he’s grunting; and something primal is just hitting people in the audience and driving them wild. i’m sure that this has got to be the part that eddie murphy stole for his famous james brown hot tub sketch. of course, eddie’ take on james (NSFW):

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there are only two artists i think i would never, ever want to follow if i were a performer. i could never follow jimi hendrix after he set his guitar ablaze. and wild horses could not make me follow james brown.  his energy; his superfantastical movements; his theatrics… unbelievable. for those kiddies out there who think michael jackson invented moonwalking, think again. michael surely studied at the feet of james brown. (in fact, it appears after this performance that a young mick jagger is attempting some of james brown’s moves.)

anyway, the film is delightful.  there are a few separated-at-birth moments in it, of course:

BEACHBOYStami

and

phil-hellmuth

not to mention the flames member who sports a ‘do much like the three stooges’ beloved moe howard.

but i digress.

james brown is da bomb. if there’s a rock and roll heaven, then i bet james is teaching some of those slackers how to dance.

happy birthday to me
Mar 9th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

I say, “I remember you.
You drive like a PTA mother.”

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yep. today is my birthday. and, as your wildly narcissistic pal, i tend to really love the day because it’s all about me. (well, all about me and everyone else born on the same day… which, among my friends, includes three other people, particularly one high school friend born on the same day in the same year.  i’ve never established who was born first. me, i was born just after lunch, so she has the greater likelihood of being born before, i suppose.) in fact, i love the whole week before and the whole week afterwards as well. life is short. 24 hours is too little time to feel delighted to be on the planet another year.

this year is a somewhat big (though not ending in a zero big) year for me. so, now that i’m 25 (oh, stop it — i’m doing inverse dog years), i thought i’d put some goals together and put them out there. hell, it may keep me honest. and maybe, it will inspire someone else to put their goals on the road, too. sure, it’s over two months since new year’s, but my new year always starts for me on my day of natality.

so, as we celebrate what one of my beloved pals from grad school would refer to as wrekehavoc awareness day (and yes, her tongue would be so firmly in cheek that it would indent), in no particular order, the list of goals:

1) improve my health. well, we all know my health has been a struggle, thanks to a genetic crapshoot i lost. but (and with apologies to those doing the 12-step boogie)  if i can get some of that serenity to change  all the things i can change, then i need to exercise and lose weight. consistently. one of my friends has lost over 30 pounds; she has inspired me to take charge. and while i’m not using any particular diet program, i am watching my calories, using an online tool she steered me to, myfitnesspal.com. (no, this isn’t an endorsement. this is just letting you know what i’m doing.)

another friend — the wife of my husband’s best friend, which sounds scandalous when it’s put like that — has inspired me in the exercise department. i have always attempted the all-or-nothing approach which has yielded me exactly that — nothing. unless all consists of injured, disgusted, and not fit.  anyway, she has used her wii consistently and has lost 30 pounds over the course of a year. while it won’t make me the hottest bod in the land, it is certainly a great first motivational step toward bigger things. it gets me started in a way where i hopefully won’t kill myself in the first week.

as we all know goals don’t mean crap unless you operationalize them (thanks, grad school professors for that knowledge!). so the operationalization:

-work out three times a week

-write your food down at least 5 out of 7 days/week

2) institute a writing schedule. i blather, and i blather in a lot of places. this results in a lot of blather that isn’t really taking me where i want to be. if i make a schedule and stick to it, i might actually finish a new book by year’s end while continuing the quest to get the first book published.

yet i still love to blog; and after 8 years in the bloggy trenches, i am not about to give it up. but i think i ought to stick with a schedule for when i write to make sure that i contribute regularly there but not too much! that will be tough to stick to, i know. i love to blog. maybe i’ll only allow myself short bits on days when i am not scheduled to write…

(can you see me caving already?)

so. operationalization, please…

-work on new novel tuesdays and thursdays.

-blog mondays and wednesdays

-friday – open season! squee!

3) unplug the kids. since the snowpacalypse, my kids, especially my beloved son hellboy, have become much more plugged in. in fact, i fear one day that either the star wars video game or the wii lego batman will one day come alive and pull him into the tv to live forever, shooting at dog-knows-what. while i suspect my kids will not grow up to become serial killers (note to self: which parents think their kids WILL?), i need to make a concerted effort to find ways to occupy them — or, more to the point, get them to occupy themselves!

here’s the challenge. hellboy has no kids his age nearby. zero. zilch. nada. BC has one. of course, it’s easier to get BC out of the house and on her bike, especially since i am not as worried that she’ll be in the street when someone zooms up at 60 mph in a 25 zone. but what to do with hellboy? how do i get him into the backyard to play when he’s all by his lonesome? do i book up his weekends with playdates months in advance (since these kids all seem to have much busier schedules than mine do)? gone are the days when you could just run up to your neighbor’s door and ask him to come out and play. (and, in hellboy’s case, there’s no appropriate neighbor’s doorbell to ring.)

hmm. here goes nothin’.

1) look at the calendar at the beginning of the month and plan at least one playdate for the boy/girl.

2) research fun backyard things that the boy would enjoy doing. the girl is pretty good at occupying herself, but the boy will need more than a few slimy bugs to entice him away from luke skywalker.

okay. so three should be a start, right?

anyone out there have ideas to help me meet my goals? that goal three is a bear for me, and i know there are parents out there who do it all much better than i do. please enlighten me with ideas, websites, and hope.

and heck — share your goals if you have any. maybe new year’s came and went for you. so hell — you can say it’s your birthday today, too.

see, i’m 25 today, so i know how to share.

when we grow up
Mar 8th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

yesterday at girl scouts, the subject was careers.

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BC’s troop sat around several tables while one of the moms graciously volunteered to lead a discussion about opening up young eyes to all the possibilities in the world of work.  each girl made a list of five things they like to do; then each girl made a list of five things they are really great at doing. (often, there was a bit of overlap on the lists.)  then, several moms, including me, spoke about what they wanted to be when they were 10 or 11, followed by the often torturous path our lives took as we attempted to gain meaningful employment (sometimes reflective of our young aspirations) while balancing the rest of our lives.

i think the moms found it more fascinating than the girls did.

each of us, professional women all, had a story. and every story was a winding road. one told of a father who wanted her educated but assumed that a man would take care of her. she ended up going back to school in her 40s as a mother of two children and becoming a nurse.  another told of her lack of direction — though she knew that she loved language and travel — but thanks to the encouragement of some pivotal college professors discovered opportunities she would have otherwise missed, the fork in the road that made all the difference.  and of course, my life has been the ultimate case of the longest path to the most central aspect of my being: i have always loved writing, but when told it would be better as a hobby and not a profession, i avoided it for nearly 40 years before accepting it as a calling.

and yes, i remembered what i wanted to be when i was 11. i wanted to be a writer. or the president of the united states. or a rock star.

anyway, i was astonished at how far we women have come. we moms speak of times when we could not apply, much less hold, certain positions. in my feminist studies at college, i thought that sort of thing was reserved for my mother’s generation and earlier. however, i know full well — at least at the early part of my career — how differently women were still treated. i still sting knowing that with the same masters degree that my BS possesses, i had to take a typing test. i do not believe he had to do the same, though i could be mistaken.

and there is this wonderful ignorance these girls maintain. they don’t know of a world where girls are barred from little league. they haven’t heard about women not running companies, or women not holding positions as government leaders, or women not emerging as leaders in science. it is all assumed. it is as it should be. in fact, the only position the girls could muster when asked if there are any jobs left that women cannot hold was as an NFL player. (i whispered sperm donor to another mom as another entry into that competition.)

the girls went around the room, sharing their ideas for their future professions. there were several cartoonists, an FBI agent, some writers, a psychologist, an oceanographer. my girl announced she would like to be a physical therapist. i’m so glad my history of injuries has been the big influence on my daughter’s career choice. still, i give her props. it combines her interest in medicine with her desire to help people.

in this failing economic climate, it is hard to think about these dreams, wishes that are light-years from materialization. still, i fervently hope that my girl’s dream — and her friends’ dreams — are not hampered by the state of the world.

perhaps in time, i pray that the dreams of our children may buoy our planet into a safe harbor.


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