Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How Much is a Good Mother Worth?

I cried yesterday while reading The Dallas Morning News.

I was reading an editorial called "Simple Acts, Senseless Deaths" about two recent random acts of violence in Dallas.  The first one killed a new immigrant from Baghdad when he and his wife rushed out to take photos of our recent snowfall.  Mr. al-Jumaili had "survived bombs and the terror of wars, only to be killed a few feet from his apartment" in northeast Dallas.

Tragic, senseless horror.

But the second random act of violence was the one that made me cry.

Irma Martinez was doing what so many good mothers do - she was sitting in her car, waiting to pick up her teenage son from a friend's house, when she was killed for her cellphone.  Ms. Martinez had "cleaned houses for 18 years but found time to be there for her son, who was involved in Dallas Police Explorer, a Boy Scout program for teens and young adults interested in police work".

Tragic, senseless horror.

Ms. Martinez's story just kills me because there are so many kids who don't have a mom like Irma Martinez.  Her life is over because some idiot wanted a phone.  This got me thinking...

How much is a good mother worth?

I'm not talking about the salary Ms. Martinez made cleaning houses -- that was probably not much money compared to the salary that you or I make -- but certainly the time she spent cleaning her employer's house(s) probably allowed her employers to be better employees and parents.

But if we could estimate the value of the time and energy she spent into taking care of her son -- pushing him to succeed in school, making sure he enjoyed relationships with peers, ensuring his safety by picking him up after school, etc. -- we could put a very high value on making a good boy into a good man.

At Community Partners of Dallas we see lots of bad parents, so when Dallas loses a good one, it's a true tragedy.  Ms. Martinez's life was worth more and she deserved so much better.

Every child deserves an Irma Martinez.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What happened on March 11, 2002?

Today is March 11, 2015

Thirteen years ago today...

  • George W. Bush was President of the United States.
  • Rick Perry was the Governor of Texas.
  • Laura Miller was the Mayor of Dallas.

The most popular TV shows were

  • Friends
  • CSI
  • E.R.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond

The most popular films were

  • The Lord of the Rings:  Fellowship of the Rings
  • Black Hawk Down
  • Collateral Damage
  • The Time Machine

The Billboard charts for the month included

  • "Wherever You Will Go" by The Calling
  • "Hey Baby" by No Doubt
  • "Ain't It Funny" by Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule
  • "Can't Get You Out of My Head" by Kylie Minogue

You may be wondering why I care what happened on March 11, 2002, but it was a big day for me -- it was my first day at Community Partners of Dallas!

I was lucky then and am still lucky now.  I love my job!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pakpow Observations

Sorry, but I missed writing the blog last week.  The icy weather kept me inside for 3 days and we are expecting more tonight.

NOTE:  ONCOR, I'M WATCHING YOU.  YOU BETTER KEEP IT ON.


Now, back to regularly scheduled programming...

I had lunch plans with my long-time friend Carol on Monday and we were supposed to meet at Pakpow Thai at 11:50 am.

NOTE:  Yes, this is an odd time to meet, but I'm sneaky like that at a place that takes no reservations and I want to beat the lunch crowd.

Anyway, due to a little confusion in the text-message-only lunch planning, Carol was about 45 minutes late, so I ended up sitting at the table for quite awhile by myself.  And since I didn't think I had my phone with me (I actually did but didn't know it until after Carol arrived), I just sat there and observed the other people in the restaurant.

Observations:

  1. Most people who are sitting alone (waiting for someone else to join them) stay on their cell phones the entire waiting period.  I bet FaceBook gets a big rise in users from 11:50 to 12:45 each day.
  2. Of the 28 people seated (it is a small place and it was almost totally full), I was the third oldest.  This is an estimate and there were a couple of dudes who looked older than me, but I really think they weren't at all -- just balding.
  3. While the tables are super close to one another and conversations were happening on either side of me, I couldn't keep up with either one of them.  Not sure if this is because the music is loud or if I'm losing my hearing (see observation #2).  Obviously, eavesdropping on a conversation or two would have made my waiting super enjoyable, so damn you, Pakpow and your apparently great space planner.
  4. Most of the tables seemed to be occupied with people having business meetings or friends.  I don't think anyone was on a date or with family, except perhaps the only couple older than me. 
  5. Each table of people seemed to be dressed somewhat alike.
Once Carol arrived (and ate the rest of my meal that I had finally ordered since I assumed she wasn't coming), I told her about my observations.

NOTE:  Observation #2 changed the moment Carol walked in.  I went to fourth oldest.  Love my OLD friends!

The observation that really interested me was that people who were together were dressed alike.  I watched people come in and sit alone (and get on their cells, natch) and then their friend or business appointment would enter and I could tell almost immediately who the person arriving was coming to meet.  The guy in the Patagonia puffy vest was waiting for the guy in the puffy jacket (both navy, I might add).  The girl with long blonde hair, leggings, and boots was meeting the table of girls with pony-tails and draped scarves.  Even I had dressed to meet Carol in a slightly more boho outfit than I normally wear since Carol and I were theatre majors together and she is a creative type -- I just hadn't realized it until I saw it happen in front of me.

Of course, this all brings me to think once again about how important what we do here at Community Partners of Dallas is.  The kids we are helping may have never had a new dress or a new pair of shoes.  They go into the world each day feeling worthless (because their parents tell them they are) and then when they arrive at their destination they are shown in living color that they don't fit in. They are wearing old, torn, ill-fitting clothes, while their peers are dressed for success.

We all want to fit in.  The clothes we provide for the abused and neglected kids of Dallas County CPS are truly making a difference.  And if a new outfit makes me feel better, just think what it can do for a kid who's never had one.

Thanks for helping us.

Please take a few minutes and observe your next restaurant patrons.  I'd love to know your thoughts.

On a related note, look what Joanna and I are wearing at work today.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Is Email Dead?

I often answer my own questions on this blog and that is not changing today.

Is email dead?

It's in middle age.

I never thought I'd do it, but I have started keeping almost all of my phone numbers in my iPhone. Yes, I still have a Rolodex on my desk, but I almost never use it -- instead I use my iPhone and the internet to look up numbers almost exclusively.

NOTE:  The Rolodex was my first one from my first "real" job in Washington, DC, so I've had it about 25 years.  When I left the government, the HR person told me I could take it with me.

NOTE to NOTE:  Yes, your tax dollars paid for my Rolodex.


Kids, you may never have seen one of these before.  Is it antique yet?

Now, back to email...

My nieces almost never use their email.  We certainly still use it at Community Partners of Dallas. We send messages to people all the time, both internally and externally.  It is an easy way to send out messages to your tribe, both to inform and to delight.  But, I think FaceBook and Instagram and other social media platforms do it better -- and we are all so visually focused now that even I end up posting photos most of the time and I feel like I'm more of a writer than a photographer.

Loretta Lynn said that in order to become famous, great, etc., that you had to be one of these:

  1. Best
  2. First
  3. Different

Email was once all of these, but if you're like me, you may be wondering what comes next.

I'll have to ask my nieces.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Love Stinks

Valentine's Day is not really my thing.

While I enjoy the cuteness of it, my life pretty much goes on as usual.  I used to make Joe take me out -- I'd call him, plan the night, and make him pay for dinner (natch), etc. -- but now I normally just let it pass.

NOTE:  My brother usually does come through with some flowers for me.  All the sisters in the world are jealous, I know!

Yesterday, the staff at Community Partners of Dallas held our monthly "Terrific Tuesday" event for CPS caseworkers.  Our Terrific Tuesdays give CPS staff members a quick 30 minute respite from their grueling work to do something mindless and fun.  The Program staff here at CPD is in charge of these meetings and they do a great job. Normally I am not crafty, but yesterday I went over to say hi to the caseworkers and ended up actually doing the craft -- photos below.


NOTE:  Wasn't it nice of me to put my decorations in the lobby at CPD so everyone could enjoy them?  I'm sweet like that.

NOTE to NOTE:  My co-worker Allie was our instructor for these crafts and didn't they turn out great?

Valentine's Day is also a good time to eat.  There are fantastic cookies at the office made by staff members and volunteers and my friend Holly made homemade popovers the other day with strawberry butter.  Holly gave it to me in a darling bag with a valentine card.  Glad I'm her valentine for sure!

While Valentine's Day is pretty much just another day for me, it is a day of horror for so many children in Dallas County.

Another day Angel will be beaten.  Another day Claudette will be left alone in a locked room for hours.  Another day Peter will barely escape death.

In the time it will take for you eat your valentine meal with your special someone, another child in our community will be confirmed as abused and neglected.  And all they want for Valentine's Day is someone who loves them.

Good Lord, I'm lucky in love.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 20

It's time for another Four Faves and I'm excited about these, people!

In case you missed part 19 (and all of the 18 before that), click here: http://blog.paigemcdaniel.org/2014/10/four-favorite-things-i-love-right-now.html

Last night I was home watching the tube and realized it was Tuesday (so the next day -- today -- is blog day) and started thinking about what to write. I actually do think about what I'm going to write in advance sometimes, but those of you who know me won't be surprised to learn that sometimes I just sit down without a F-ing clue.


NOTE: Last week's post is an example of no advance prep, and you guys still read and liked it, so why prepare? I try to prepare because it saves me time at my keyboard staring into space. Lauren (our fabulous Program Director at Community Partners of Dallas) once came in my office and said -- "Oh, I'm sorry to bother you, are you writing the blog?" I didn't know I had a tell -- apparently it's staring off out the window with a dumb-ass look on my face. Great.


Anyway, doing a Four Faves post is really my most fun writing, so here goes...
  1. SOOOOOO excited that The Americans is starting back up tonight! It is such exciting television and if you haven't seen the first two seasons, they are available on Amazon Prime, so go to your dvr, tape tonight's Season 3 opener on F/X, and start with Season 1 and 2 -- I promise you won't be disappointed. Warning -- it is not for kids or the faint of heart. Sex and violence galore. Here's the star Keri Russell on this morning's Today Show. Fun Fact: Keri and her co-star are together in real life too -- or at least they were last season.
  2. I love this gift from my wonderful friend Stacey -- it came with the whole Oprah Chai Tea system from Teavana -- called the Teavana Perfectea Maker. It is truly ingenious how it works and I love making myself a cup on the weekend.
  3. While I'm having a cup of tea, this is the current book I can't put down -- I've only read about 100 pages, but it has me on the edge of my seat! Order The Girl on the Train today!
  4. My final fav is my almost everyday read of Jeanne Prejean's My Sweet Charity Blog: http://mysweetcharity.com/ Jeanne's blog is a must-read for everyone in the non-profit world and for everyone who is interested in culture, fashion, and celebs of the local-type. Her writing is spot-on and she is a champion for so many in our community who have no voice. She's a marvel. Dallas is lucky to have her on the job!
What are your faves?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

5 Tips for Getting Back Control of Your Life

I have a big project to work on at Community Partners of Dallas, but I just can't get going. My eternal question is

Why am I too busy to do anything?

If you're like me, this is your problem. Even as I write this post -- and I'm one day late writing it, BTW -- I'm having my hair done at The Dry Bar. 

NOTE:  Yes, The Dry Bar is my secret to great hair. Now you know. 

NOTE to NOTE:  And it's not only my secret. I know someone in the joint every time I darken their door. 

Anyway, I've now rushed to the office for about 45 minutes, then I'm off to a lunch, then back and then and then and then...

Ugh. 

I don't know exactly how to get my life back and my project completed, but I'm starting now. Here's my starting tips for control:
  1. Get your hair done and wear a good looking outfit. If you look like crap, you feel like it too. 
  2. Clean off your desk. Get out the Clorox Wipes and get the dust off. Don't forget to wipe down the phone -- gross!
  3. Go through your piles. File stuff. Sort into like action piles, then attack the ones you must and put the others aside. 
  4. Make a cup of tea or coffee -- I'm having peppermint tea right now and I love it -- drink some. 
  5. Look at your email. Respond to those that need response, then turn off notifications. Don't check again until 4 pm. 
Now, quit farting around and start that project, people!  Or at least I'm going to try to start.

No matter what, I'm looking great while drinking my tea.