Drowning in clipart

By Mir
August 28, 2006

So I think that I may have mentioned in passing that I have the dubious honor of being a PTA chair this year. I think that usually, women with a lot of time on their hands and/or who really are concerned about the welfare of their children volunteer for these sorts of things. I don’t have much time and I’m guessing that if I REALLY cared about the welfare of my children, I probably wouldn’t be sending them to public school. Also, I’m quite clear that I never actually volunteered for anything.

Yet here I am. Hi, I’m in charge the monthly newsletter. Please send your fascinating PTA news items to me.

This is, apparently, what happens when you’re a writer and friends with the PTA president. More accurately, this is what happens:

Her: Do you want to be co-president with me next year?
Me: Are you on crack? No.
Her: Oh, come on. It’ll be fun. We’ll do it together. Please?
Me: No.
Her: But—

[one month later]

Her: So, come on, don’t you want to be co-pres of the PTA with me?
Me: Let me think. Hmmm. NO.
Her: Oh come ON.
Me: Bite me.
Her: Geez. You don’t have to get hostile.
Me: Oh, I’m sorry. Bite me, MRS. PRESIDENT.

[two months later]

Her: I still need a co-president for the PTA.
Me: I need a million dollars. We learn to adapt.
Her: You would have fun. We would have fun, together.
Me: You know I love you, right? But I don’t have time. And I don’t have the people skills. And I DON’T WANT TO.
Her: Okay.

[three months later]

Her: You know, the PTA—
Her: You don’t even know what I was going to say.
Her: See? I wasn’t going to ask you that.
Me: Really?
Her: Really. I have a co-president now.
Me: Oh! That’s great!
Her: Yeah, it’s gonna be great.
Me: Wonderful!
Her: Yeah. So don’t get all hostile.
Me: I am not hostile. Except when you ask me the same question OVER AND OVER. Also when it comes to the PTA.
Her: Wasn’t part of working at home so that you could also be involved at school? Hmmmmm?
Me: Yeah, yeah.
Her:I was thinking maybe I could get you to just do a VERY SMALL JOB for us. A little something you’d have time for. That you’d LIKE, even.
Me: Yeah? What’s that?
Her: We need someone to work on the newsletter.
Me: Oh. Well. I could probably help with that. What do you need? An article each month?
Her: Not even that! We just need someone to do editing and layout. It’ll be easy. I bet it won’t take more than an hour each month.
Me: Ummmmm okay, sure, I can do that I guess.
Her: Great! Thank you!

[this year]

Her: Hey, you made it! Everyone, this is Mir. She’s chairing the newsletter committee.
Me: I’m WHAT, now??
Her: Here’s your folder!
Me: I hate you.
Her: No you don’t. You love me.
Me: Bite me.

And so I became a committee chair, and everyone should be VERY AFRAID for our youth.

Anyway, I tried to keep an open mind. Layout and editing. Simple! Easy! No time at all!

First I had to get the actual template files and logos from the people who handled this stuff last year. That only took about a dozen phone calls and emails and several years off of my life. I still don’t have the main logo, but really, how important could THAT be?

Next I received a batch of “articles” from the woman who is responsible for collecting everything for me. I have no complaints with her; so far, she’s the only person who actually did what she said she was gong to do, when she said she was going to do it. Her job is… actually, I don’t know what her job is. She gives me stuff and then I give stuff back to her and she sends it where it needs to go. But she’s not the committee chair, I am. Huh. Remind me to make her some cookies.

Okay, so tonight I sat down to crank out the newsletter. Because it was only going to take me an hour. HAHAHAHA.

Aside from the obvious—which is that how many articles can you write for a single issue, exactly, about how exciting the PTA is and how we need more volunteers (answer: at least three, it seems!)—I’m convinced that some of these pieces were written by people who are blind and were therefore unable to reread their words before submitting them. I swear to you that I received something like the following. I have changed the event name/details, to protect the repetitive:

We need a chairperson for the Juggling Day event. Juggling Day happens every year and is about Juggling. The Juggling Day Chair helps organize the juggling. As Juggling Day draws closer, the chair will organize all associated juggling activities. Juggling Day cannot happen if we are unable to appoint a chair. Juggling Day is always a popular event and we want it to continue. If you think you could be our Juggling Day Chair for the Juggling Day event, please contact Soandso at 123-4567.

My eyeballs began to bleed around the fourth “Juggling Day.”

I had also been encouraged to “jazz things up” when doing layout. Okay. My idea of jazzing up these articles was to correct the spelling errors and maybe use some cutting-edge syntax (woo!), but fine. I will add graphics. Because that little picture of a pile of school supplies is going to make all the difference in our circulation and readership.

What’s that? This goes home with all of the kids no matter what? Sure, NOW you tell me. After I spent an hour looking for the perfect cartoon of a piece of pizza. Sheesh.


  1. Lisa

    Oh Mir – run for your life! You might still have a chance of escaping the swirling vortex that is school volunteering. I just recently escaped myself – after NINE years and only because I no longer have children at the school and I decided to rejoin the workforce. Now I work less hours and actually get paid for it. What a concept!

  2. Lady M

    Ouch. I composed and compiled articles for an arts newsletter once a quarter for a year before we convinced someone that it really didn’t need to exist.

    Loved your manners article on the BlogHer site too!

  3. Amy-Go

    I too have been sucked in to the PTA…I’m taking over a job from the most boring woman on the planet. No, seriously. And I have to MEET with her to learn about my job. And I’d rather…with all due respect to Weird Al, who said it first…clean all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with my tongue? Than to spend one more minute with this person. God help us all.

  4. Juliness

    Oh wow. I don’t even know where to begin. But I loved the attitude of “it’s not a regret, it’s an experience…” Hold that thought close.

    And fantastic BlogHer bit on manners! Very nifty technique, my friend. Can I just commence note-taking on these aspects of your life so I can apply them to mine later?

  5. EverydaySuperGoddess

    Oh, no… the dreaded “jazz it up” request. Nothing like vague expectations to keep life interesting. My condolences.

  6. Cele

    Mir, I think if you edit while inserting comments like, Twist her head off and eat it every few paragraphs you’ll be out of the job soon. You will also create a lasting impression. Everyone will laugh, we’ll except that one wadded, tidy, whitey, granny panties lady who is friends with AFS. I think an article about Juggling Day would be enlivened by that one little insert.

  7. rachel

    I got suckered into editing the church newsletter for years.


    oops, I mean, have fun with it!

  8. Jenn2

    Oh my…you got sucked into the PTA vortex. I’ll miss you, sweet, pretty Mir.

    And BTW, I have NEVER propostioned Otto. I reserve the right to, should this whole happily married thing head south. Yes, Mir, I KNOW that was many, many posts ago, but I have a toddler and a newborn and a middle schooler and our school year started last week AND I got sucked into the PTA thing too. sigh.

  9. Mom101

    If you are anything like me (and I think you are, so for that I am sorry) you will end up entirely rewriting every single piece. Maybe that’s what your friend meant? That it will take one hour EACH ARTICLE? Oh Mir…

  10. Bob

    while you’re volunteering, I have this paper due…….

  11. Fold My Laundry Please

    I’ve got the honor of being in charge of the monthly newsletter and weekly announcement page for our church’s Relief Society. This calling came to me shortly after I had made a comment about how badly our newletter sucked. I guess that teaches me to speak out loud where Heavenly Father can hear me!

  12. Fold My Laundry Please

    By the way, I too know the pain of searching endlessly on the internet for the perfect clipart. Darn you Google and your endless resources!!

  13. Janis

    Hey! Something I can really relate to! Substitue “Elks Lodge” for PTA and you will totally understand how I became co-editer of their newsletter. Except my assignment is going to involve a hostile takeover from the current editor who, I suspect, wrote the Juggling Day article. Wish me luck and please send clipart!

  14. InterstellarLass

    Considering that I have been tempted on MANY an occasion to send a school newsletter back to the school with spelling, grammar, and punctuation corrected, well, I’m glad that you’re doing the newsletter. Sadly, no one will notice that they can actually make sense of the writing.

  15. Jenn

    I once made the mistake of agreeing to be a Girl Scout leader when my oldest was in 4th grade.

    I’m still recovering, one day at a time.

  16. Ei

    I got sucked into doing the Neighborhood Association newsletter, once upon a time. The worst is yet to come, I’m sorry to tell you. They are excited right now and still giving you stuff…wait until you have two three senctance announcements for your entire newsletter.

    So sorry for you.

  17. Betsy

    It could be worse, you know.
    They could ask that you do an e-version. Or the newsletter webpage. Or the whole freakin’ website.

  18. Kristie

    Oh, yeah. The abyss that is volunteering for the PTO; I feel your pain. I just finished a two-year stint as secretary …. now I’m back to just doing the “normal” volunteer work at the school, like making giant sugar cookies for my daughter’s 4th grade class in the shape of the United States, with green icing for the forests and blue icing for the rivers and chocolate chips for the mountain ranges. Someone shoot me. Please.

  19. Susan

    Well, thank GOD you are the one editing the newsletter and not Ms. Juggling Day herself! Lord, how do these people ever pass an English class, let alone graduate high school? Get a job? Raise children? (Explains a lot about today’s kids, really…)

    Honestly–don’t answer that. I really don’t want to know.


  20. Kym

    (insert rolling on the ground laughing icon here)

  21. GetSheila

    I once volunteered to design, edit, and write articles for a tax department newsletter. VOLUNTEERED. Stupid is as stupid does.

    I feel your pain.

  22. Daisy

    Hmmm…this is the reverse of how it happened to me. You are a professional writer, tagged to handle the newsletter. I submitted my best Head Start Newsletter as one of my samples the first time I applied for a writing job. One caveat — don’t make it too good, or it’ll be your job until the kids graduate!

  23. Kris

    Mir, I was Corresponding Secretary for the PTA and had the same job. It was HORRIBLE trying to get people to send me articles. I basically wrote the whole thing myself, created it in Microsoft Publisher and went to school to print out 400 copies to stuff in teacher’s mailboxes.

    No one ever REALLY reads them, so why bother scouting for perfection? Most kids left them in the backpacks and then parents got to complain about how they were uninformed. (I even added in fun stuff for the kids to do, etc. Bleugh).

    What a waste of time, energy and brain cells.

  24. Mary Tsao

    Take a deep breath. (I’m speaking to myself here.)

    Mir, I do the monthly newsletter for my mothers club and let me tell you, it takes HOURS. And that little article you recapped for us up there? Ya, take that and make every period an exclamation point, and you’ve got the stuff I see.

    What are you doing it in? Microsoft Publisher? hahahahah!

    Me, too.

    Anyway, I’m sorry and let me know if you want to use our template or something. Also, clip art rules.


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