HOW TO SURVIVE THE PTA

HOW TO SURVIVE THE PTA

By Tania Baker

I walk into the teacher’s lounge, ten minutes late, on purpose, and sit behind that really tall dad and keep my head down. No, I’m not a teacher who’s late to the principal’s meeting and no, I am not in trouble for telling my kid she’ll never multiply fraction by decimals in real life. No, I am a bad PTA mom.

Joining the PTA is an exciting endeavor, at first. It’s not until you commit a cardinal sin, that things go south. You see, if you have different ideas, you are an outcast. I made the mistake of suggesting we sell t-shirts that are usually given away to pay for a field trip that we had lost our grant for the previous year. Now, I’m the mom who sneaks in and avoids taking the reins on projects. But, my shortcomings can be your education. Here I give you HOW TO SURVIVE THE PTA.

  • VOLUNTEER

Volunteer for something you have the TIME to do without losing sleep or sanity. If you work full time and have three kids and your spouse has the organization and mentality of a ten year old, don’t volunteer to run the fall carnival. Instead, volunteer to run a booth on the day of. You’ll be there with the kids anyway and it will just be a few hours of your day.

  • HAVE RESTRAINT

Don’t volunteer for every project. Your child won’t think ‘ugh, my mom sucks because she isn’t constantly at my school and in every project.’ In fact, the older your kids get, the less they want you at school. Don’t get me wrong, they want you to help out but they don’t want you around all the time.

  • POSITIVITY IS CONTAGIOUS

Go in with a positive attitude. I can’t tell you how many parents come in dreading the meeting and I think ‘why did you come?’ Well obviously, it’s because they’re gluttons for punishment. Of course, I’m kidding. They just want to be involved. If you go in like a Debby or Donald Downer, people are going to treat you like that. Also, be aware, these volunteers have been doing this for a while and some tend to be on the controlling side. Know that it is all about helping the school, which helps your kid too!

Lastly, just do what you enjoy! Life is too short and goes too fast to worry about what other people think. Help your child, help your school but also help yourself. No parent is perfect! Remember that! Embrace it! Repeat it until you feel comfortable enough to walk into that PTA room with your head held high, you can sit in front of me.

Yet Another Post About Resolutions

I read recently that you should live your life how you’d want people to remember you. How do you want people to remember you? I want people to remember me as funny, smarty, kind and caring. Is that how people view me now? I don’t know. I hope people think that but I know it’s inevitable to have everyone think that. Like that mom on the PTA, she loathes me and there is no changing that. That one parent at Girl Scouts, she thinks I’m Satan, the Dark Lord. I try to be funny, smart, kind, etcetera, but sometimes I just can’t be perfect. Sometimes, when I first wake up, I’m cranky or say something stupid. Sometimes I can’t control telling people when they are being ridiculous.
What happens if how I want to be remembered infers with my happiness? Well, since I don’t have to live with other people in my brain 24/7, I guess I choose me.
But that’s not how I want to be remembered. So my 2015 resolutions: live how I want to be remembered, live in a way that will make me happy.
What are yours?

Magic Pen

When I decided to be a writer, not just write as a hobby, I went to Barnes and Noble. I was now a real writer and therefore needed real writer’s supplies.
I remember dreamily searching the supplies for the perfect notebook and perfect pens, the supplies that will make me a fabulous writer. I found a pack of multicolored gel pens and a several large spiral notebooks (I was going to be like James Patterson, just writing constantly). I bought the supplies, ran home and sat down, ready for the magic of the pens to begin. And I sat. And sat. There was something wrong. These pens were broken! Nothing was happening. I thought about returning the pens but they did write and they were so pretty…
Time went on and I did write things. The magic pens were working! I wrote whole stories without outlines, because I had once read a favorite author did not “waste time” writing outlines. I wrote and then gave it to friends to read, expecting them to come back and tell me how awesome it was.
Guess what? It was not awesome. It was confused and incomplete. Could it be that my pens were still missing the magical pixie dust that I assumed they had (disclaimer: the pens never claimed to have pixie dust, but what was I supposed to think? They were multicolored and had glitter. Didn’t I mention the sparkle?)?
I, annoyed, betrayed by the pens and the author, who, ten years later I’m sure lied about the not outlining, went back to Barnes and Noble. This time I avoid the pens (multicolored sparkle pens are liars) and go to the Writing and Reference.
There, finally, I find the magic. It’s the words, the tips, the help in the book that changes everything for me. I now know that writing is a process and is a learning experience and that outlines keep order and flow.
Now the pens might be magic or it might just be me.

The Writers Group

I’ve gotten some questions about writing groups. Ah the writers group, the place where you go and expect to meet like-minded people who are sane and passionate, honest and thoughtful. Many, if not all, know this is not true.
My very first writing group was here in L.A. I had scoured the internet for a free, local writing group and found just down the street. I went every week and shared my writing and learned about what others were doing. The range of writing experience was vast, varying from people with very little skill to people who had produced shorts and indie films.
One night, so many writers showed up that we had to put names in a hat. The moderator picked a few and then it happened. A woman started crying. Everyone stopped and stared as she spouted off about how ‘it’s not fair’ and she’s been ‘coming longer’ than some. She ended up leaving that night, sobbing on the phone as she left “they didn’t pick my script, Daddy.”
The night rolls on and we are reading a new draft of a very good script, however, the author has decided he’s George Lucas and writes pages of scrolling words on the screen. A couple people remark that the audience will not only not be able to read all that but will quickly lose interest. The guy starts being snarky and downright rude and my friend, Bob, calmly tells him “if you don’t want the truth, then why come?” Then the writer flips his chair and we adjourn for the night. Insanity!
Second writing group, a few of the writers that passed the Rorschach Test from the old group split off to form a new one. It was about ten sane people who were committed to writing. The group started out great. We showed up, we were honest, we led each other to grow as writers. Then the numbers started to dwindle. People got night jobs, we’re working on projects with other people. It fell apart when Bob moved to Vermont. Bye Bob, bye writing group.
Third group: I meet this cool lady at a writers social group. She’s looking for a group. I’m looking for a group. She has a connection to a private room for free with free parking. Sweet! A free room with free parking in L.A. is like winning the lottery. I set up the meetup and then crickets. I don’t hear back from this cool lady with connections. She blew off the meeting we set up to make rules and such. And when the first meeting comes, she shows up ten minutes late (which is like ten minutes early in L.A.) and then leaves ten minutes later. To make a long, painful story short, she never came again and the free room was rarely available. I cancelled the group last month.
So I guess the moral of the story is make connections, try new things and new groups but do whatever you have to in order to grow your craft without becoming the crazy person in the room. Good luck and stay sane.

The Breakdown: Cristela

The Breakdown

 

“Cristela”

 

ABC welcomes stand-up comedian, Cristela Alonzo, on the scene with her hip sitcom about living as a Hispanic woman in Texas who is just trying to finish law school and live the American dream, even if her family and co-workers aren’t always supportive.

 

Cristela is hi-lar-i-ous! Her take on life is viewed through those googly-eye glasses with the funny mustache instead of rose tint. I did an analysis of the most recent episode, Equal Pay, which aired 11/14/14, and there are never any fewer 8-10 laughs per scene with many scenes running up 20+ laughs! It’s great to see a minority woman who isn’t a size 2 who has a dream that has nothing to do with a man (unless you take her love of Tony Roma seriously).

 

Don’t miss the next episode, Enter Singing, which airs 11/21/14 on ABC

The Best Fall Lineup Ever!

The Best Fall Lineup Ever!

 

Fall 2014. The fall here in L.A. stayed hot so the only way we knew it was autumn was the return of pumpkin lattes at just about every fast food and coffee shop known to man and the new fall shows.

 

I’m always skeptical about new things: new food, new people, new TV shows. This is for two reasons, one, you never know what is really in the food, who the people really are and if the networks really have decent taste in entertainment. I think we all remember shows like Charlie’s Angels 2013, The Playboy Club or Kath and Kim, or maybe you don’t, and for good reason.

 

Networks are lead by rich, out of touch people who, *shocker*, don’t relate to everyday people who actually watch TV. For example, they greenlit Selfie, with two of my favorite actors, Karen Gillan and John Cho, which has been cancelled after a mere eight episodes. Meanwhile, Cristela, which features pee my pants hilarious Cristela Alonzo, almost didn’t make it to air and is now killing it in the time slot it airs in.

 

I have to say, fall 2014 will go down in history (in my version of history) as one of the best fall TV seasons ever. With strong continuing shows like Scandal (I love you, Shonda!), Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy (I love you, Shonda!), The Goldbergs and several others, there are several shows to keep my butt on the couch and my eyes glued to the —inch TV in my living room.

 

The newest, most exciting shows this fall, Cristela, How to Get Away With Murder (I love you, Shonda!), Blackish, The Flash and a handful of others. If you haven’t already, check them out on Hulu Plus.

 

For a breakdown of each new show listed above, look for tomorrow’s article, The Breakdown.

 

 

I Wear Red Lipstick

When I was a teenager, I was a model in Chicago. 5’10 and 115lbs of blond hair, blue-eyed beauty. The agency I worked for taught us how to apply make-up and how to walk and dress and one thing that stuck with me was that models should never wear red lipstick because that meant you were the trampy kind of model.

Since then I’ve always downplayed the make-up, wearing neutral colors and going light on the lipstick and eye make-up.

 

Then, last month, I was having a particularly bad day and I went to run errands at the local drug store (pharmacy, not dispensary :P). I walked down the aisles aimlessly until I saw it, the tube of red lipstick staring me down, saying things like ‘why don’t you like me? I’m not just for whores anymore’.

I picked it up and felt like a tramp in church on Sunday. I grabbed a magazine, lotion, vitamins and the red lipstick hidden in the middle so no one would see me carrying it.

 

I took the lipstick home and hide in my bathroom. Turning it over and over in my hand, I contemplated the reactions people would have.

 

“Slutty, nice,” was what I imagined my husband would say.

 

“Weird,” is what my daughter would say.

 

“Tramp” is what my grandmother would say.

 

I looked at myself in the mirror. I saw a woman that rarely took risks and then thought, to hell with it, I’m gonna be a rebel!

 

The color slid across my tiny lips. I looked at myself again. I don’t actually know if it was the color of the lipstick or how it made me feel but suddenly, for the first time in a long time, I liked what I saw. I didn’t just see a mom and wife, overworked caregiver, part-time writer and Girl Scout leader who worried about bills and grades and cleaning the bunny cage. I saw a woman. A beautiful woman with a twinkle in her eye and a rebellious streak.

 

I cut my hair, curled it, put on black eyeliner (a no no for my skin tone according to the modeling agency), mascara and a little blush and walked out of the bathroom.

 

My husband’s eyes popped and I waited for the words.

“Wow, you look pretty.”

 

“I like how your eyes look,” my ten year old said.

 

“You look pretty, Ms. Tania,” every one of my Girl Scouts said.

 

I saw that people were seeing me differently too, not just as the wife, mother, etc., they were seeing me as a person and all because of the red lipstick. I learned that lipstick doesn’t define me. I define the lipstick. Nothing gets to define me. I define me.