21 September 2012

30 Years Later

This weekend is my 30-year class reunion.

It seems like it's been longer than that, yet the teen angst is still fresh when I think about my fellow classmates.

The reunion committee created a Facebook group. I see the faces and the names and can only associate those with the kids I knew 30 years ago.

I'm not the same person I was 30 years ago - I think it's reasonable to conclude that most of them aren't either - but I just can't seem to get there.

Filling in that gap is the one reason I wanted to go. I wanted to see what kind of adults those kids turned out to be, and I wanted those kids to see what kind of adult I had become ... flaws and all.

Would they still be cliquey? So many of them went off to college together and have kept in touch over these past 30 years. Would I still feel excluded? Like an outsider? I know I've felt that way just being a part of the Facebook group, but I'm certain that has more to do with my own insecurities than anything they are actually doing.

This is me - graduation day - 30 years ago.

I had very few friends my senior year - my closest friends were a year ahead of me in school and had graduated the year previously.

I don't have many memories of this time. I see this photo and cannot recollect having it taken. My graduation ceremony itself? Not a single memory. 

When I think back to high school I remember feelings, not events, and most of those feelings are pretty dark.

I was so angst-y about the reunion that I was a little bit grateful when I learned it wasn't happening until late September. It made the logistics of attending impossible.

Airfare to Seattle was $450 per person and flying in for a short weekend would be frivolous.

If I flew into Seattle, my family (a 5-hour drive across the Cascades) would expect me to visit them too.

I'd have to pull Cam out of school for a few days.

There was just no way to make it work.

As the reunion has gotten closer, my angst has turned into longing - longing to fill in those missing memories with good stuff instead of bad stuff - longing to feel a connection of some sort to my past.

I'm looking forward to the photos that I have no doubt will land on Facebook.

I really wish I could have set aside my angst and been a part of the event.

Maybe I'll make the 40th.

Have you attended any of your class reunions? Were you disappointed or enlightened after being a part of them?

19 September 2012

Out Of The Frying Pan

Photo Credit
When I resigned from my previous volunteer position, I knew that I'd be seeking a leadership position within the High School Band Boosters organization. Although I was interested in a front-facing position, I figured I'd wind up with the treasurer position because of my skill set.

It turned out the "incumbent" treasurer wanted to keep her position.

That left openings for Secretary (UGH!), Vice-President (a title with little responsibility), and President.


Being President would be a stretch for me - an opportunity to learn some new skills that would (hopefully) increase my effectiveness in group settings, something I struggled with in my last volunteer position.

As it turned out, there were three of us interested in the President position. 

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate to lose?

That I tend to be a little bit competitive?

Fortunately for my competitors, the booster organization decided CO-Presidents would be ideal, and one of the other interested parents decided she would be better suited for the Vice-President position.


Crisis averted!

We are ALL winners and we ALL got a trophy!!

Photo Credit
In the two weeks since taking on this opportunity, I've been to an executive board meeting, I've designed a program template for the concerts, I've set up a music booster facebook page and email account, and I've addressed numerous issues in person (cornered at a football game) and via email.

Tonight I'll be attending an orchestra concert.

And you know what??

I am thoroughly enjoying it!

I am passionate about arts programs in our public schools.

I am excited about expanding my comfort zone.

I am seeing real change and results in person.

Now all I need is my tiara ... seriously ... the Vice-President works in the corporate offices of claire's and she has promised me a tiara before year end.

After all, I am a fragile flower of femininity ...

10 September 2012

SSOC (Monday Edition): I Am Not Everyone's Cup Of Tea

I'm a little late with Sunday's 5 minute Stream of Consciousness post, but I'm guessing there won't be any significant penalty ... or at least I hope not!

Jana's prompt this week? I am … {fill in the blank}

Do you want to play? The guidelines are at the bottom of this post.


I am NOT everyone's cup of tea.

Nor should I be, but that doesn't keep me from feeling a little disappointed when it becomes clear that I'm not.

I think, at some level, we all want to be appreciated for who we are. We want people to take the time to understand us and celebrate who we are.

We don't want to think we are unlikable.

Yet it's beyond unreasonable to think that everyone will like us all of the time.

I don't have the "I don't care if you like me" mentality. There are times when I wish I did. I do have the strength of character to stand firm in my opinions and convictions without allowing those who feel differently silence my thoughts.

I also am far more open minded than many choose to believe.

My opinions are sometimes wrong, and I am open to hearing and considering the other side(s). In fact, I often play Devil's Advocate to attempt to change my own mind.

I am Not everyone's cup of tea.

And what a boring, Lipton world it would be if I were.

*Photo shamelessly stolen from Another Suburban Mom*


Want to try Sunday Stream Of Consciousness? Here are the rules guidelines …
  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post (in the sidebar).
  • Link up your post on Jana's blog.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

08 September 2012

Saturday Overshare

I had a few things rattling around in my brain and decided to toss them out here before they colided into each other and caused damage.


I am now Co-President of the High School Music Parents Group. Now before anyone accuses me of flaunting my perceived superiority, there were three of us who decided we wanted to be president. There were two (President and Vice-President) positions. The group decided three positions were better, because they didn't want anyone to have to be a loser.

That's how real life works, right?

I've spent the last year pissing off people that I don't know. I'm now looking forward to spending the next two years pissing off people that I have to look at every day!


I decided it was time to add an About Me page to the blog. That little blogger profile on the side bar just doesn't do me justice. And since it's all about me ... me ... ME!!! 

Well, you know ...

Besides, I needed to make it easier for people to send hate mail!


Mike and I were supposed to go to a wedding in Wisconsin (his friend's) this weekend, but I just couldn't leave Cam here, by himself, with unlimited access to a car.

Actually, if I'm honest, I just didn't have the extra cash laying around to cover Cam's legal defense if I did leave him here by himself. And since I just ranted about Needy? Or Greedy?, I figured I had better stay at home and be responsible.

So Thursday night, I sent Mike on his way north.

This is a split screen of Mike right before he went to the wedding ... 

And the morning after.

I think it might have been a really, really good thing that I played responsible parent this weekend.

06 September 2012

6 Things I've Learned About Volunteering


For the past year, I've been volunteering with Band Back Together - a group weblog dedicated to helping remove the stigmas associated with mental illness and other "dark" topics by offering a safe, moderated, supportive environment to share stories and provide educational resources.

Although I have volunteered for many other projects throughout my life, I have never volunteered for a long-term project that required a daily time commitment.

To say it was exhausting would be an understatement.

I didn't realize just how exhausting until I "resigned" this past weekend.

Similarly, I had no idea how much of my time was spent working on this project 
(anywhere from 2-5 hours/day), and how much I would appreciate getting that time back.

I've also learned a few very valuable lessons about volunteering.


1.  Always consider the common denominator in any volunteer pool

If an organization targets females, 18-35, who are looking to remove the stigmas associated with mental illness and other "dark" topics, chances are, those who volunteer will be females, 18-35, who identify with the stigmas associated with mental illness and other "dark" topics ... because they are in the throes of have experience with mental illness and other "dark" topics.
I'm not implying this is a terrible thing, but it certainly makes working as a healthy, functional group a little more challenging.
2.  If you want validation, choose a front-facing volunteer opportunity
If there is one thing I know, it's that I don't play well with others. Those social etiquette things? Yeah ... not going to be bothered with that nonsense.
So I chose behind-the-scenes positions (board member, editor, tumblr team lead, and imaging team lead) that would require I work with only a small group of people rather than having to interact with bunches of people.
The problem? There was little validation for the work I did, and what validation there was, was at the group level (generic) rather than at the individual or public level. Credit for good work most often went to those volunteering in a front-facing capacity even when they weren't the ones doing the work.
3.  10% of the people in an all volunteer organization will do 90% of the work
Due to lifestyles, personal time constraints, other responsibilities, etc., most volunteers will not be able to offer a 2-5 hour/day commitment for a long period of time. This means that many tasks will fall to a small core of volunteers who are in it for the long haul. Yes, all volunteers are important and every little bit helps, but if you are in that 10%, burnout is a probability.
4.  Even when you think you've chosen an opportunity that doesn't require interaction with people, you will still have to interact with people
This was an online project. Most of the communication and interaction was via text, chat and email (with a few google hangouts thrown in for good measure). Procedures and group email lists were put together to aid with communication, but the loss of tone, the anonymity of sitting behind a computer screen, and the generally superficial (most had never met in person) relationships of the volunteers often resulted in faux drama.
As much as I find face-to-face encounters stressful, I prefer them over communications that are exclusively online. 
5.  Consider how your position within an organization might impact you outside of that organization
I didn't consider how having a presence on a more public, high-profile space on the internet might impact my space on the internet. I felt there was a standard I had to meet - certain things I shouldn't talk about - and I began self-censoring. I felt that anything I did online could be tracked back to the organization and might impact its success
I now realize that I am not even close to being that important, but it was a self-imposed burden that weighed heavily on me at times.
6.  Volunteering for a specific task, doesn't guarantee knowledge of, and success in, that task
There are many people who overestimate their skill set, and some who just want the "glamour" of a specific volunteer title within an organization. These people are not only frustrating, they are detrimental to the efficacy of the organization. Strong leadership to address these deficiencies is critical.  

My next volunteer project will be as a high school band parent. 

The first meeting is tonight. 

I'm hoping to take what I've learned over the past year and make this next opportunity more enjoyable and personally successful.

Got any tips for me?


04 September 2012

Here's To Free Speech - Unless You Are Being Mean

There has been a lot of discussion in my internet neighborhood recently regarding websites like Get Of My Internets that are dedicated to focusing on:

In case you are not familiar with this type of website, it basically offers a forum where people can be judgmental, critical and nasty about "high profile" bloggers and what they write. These forums are a haven for internet gossip.

It seems some (most?) people believe "it's simply impolite to make judgmental comments about someone within their presence – especially without being invited to do so." And they never fail to use the "B" word ... BULLY!

There are also bloggers out there who have written open letters to their internet trolls stating (in part):

I get it. 

Trolls suck. 

I've certainly had my challenges with trolls (DoggyBloggy, snugs, the petty, vindictive asshole acquaintance who attempted to get me fired by sending my URL to my employer, etc.). I do believe bloggers are entitled to choose to delete attacking comments and to block offenders' URLs, without question. A blog is the personal space of the blogger - their internet house if you will. The author of the blog has some control over that space.

But to claim no one should ever say anything "bad" (bad as defined by the blogger, not by the people who are writing outside of that blogger's space) or disparaging about any blogger anywhere? To call that bullying?

Ridiculous I say ... absolutely ridiculous!

I don't shy away from controversy and confrontation, although I prefer to do it in public. In some people's opinions, I don't deal with it in the most mature way (i.e. calling people out in this space). 

I'm good with that.

I've written posts on this blog that have pissed people off (this one will likely be no exception) and I intend to continue doing that. My opinion is mine to share. You decide if it is of any value to you.

I don't believe in the "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all ... at least not to my face or where I, or my adoring readers, might find it" mentality.

I think Lancelle from Paris says it best in Mommy Bloggers Wish You Would Keep Your Comments To Yourselves (and I don't think this AGREE WITH ME OR YOU ARE A MEAN BULLY phenomena is specific to Mommy Bloggers - it seems to be wide spread):

What do you think? 

Should sites such as Get Of My Internets be shut down because they are encouraging "bullying"?

Or is it actually more respectful to the blogger - for readers who find them irritating, whiny, ignorant, whatever - to keep their nastiness of the blogger's space, using these forums instead?

02 September 2012

SSOC: Reading People


It's time for Sunday's 5 minute Stream of Consciousness, oh my goodness I cannot use spell check or proofread post.

Jana's prompt this week? Wouldn’t it be awesome if… {fill in the blank}?

I've got a post in my head for Tuesday. This week I'm using Jana's prompt to get those thoughts out there where they'll be easier to sort.


Wouldn’t it be awesome if… 

You could read people and know what they were really thinking, no matter what words come out of their mouth?

I've always been an "actions speak louder than words" kind of person, which works well for me in my personal relationships that are in my physical world (physical world equals the internet's reference to IRL).

It's more difficult with online relationships. All one really has are words to go by, and there are quite a few people out there who are amazing wordsmiths.

There's been a lot of talk this week about internet forums - those places where you can toss your opinion - anonymously - without repercussion. Where words can be said that you'd likely never say if your name was attached to them.

Honestly? I'd rather know. Can't stand me? I'd prefer you not appease me with your insincere words.

It's better that way. 

Then I don't waste too much energy on you.