Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A day for bubble wrap

It has been, as I just texted my friend, a day for bubble wrap. A few days, come to think of it. I am neck deep in idiocy, and it isn't even Wednesday!

These are situations where I think it is OK to ask (and would if I wasn't worried about being employed), "Are you a grownup?"
Once again, all of this really happened.

1. I remind everyone two months after our event that we are closing the books now, so please send in your final donations. Someone comes in from a company team and brings more than $2,000 in cash - and $20 of it in coins.

Him: "I didn't know what to do."
Me: "We did send out emails and put on our website to please turn cash into checks."
Him: "The emails were sent to the wrong person."
Me: "Oh, you weren't registered?"
Him: "Um. I actually didn't read them."

2. We get an email from someone inquiring if our mental health advocacy organization "has classes where a parent can learn when it's unsafe for the kid to be around the other parent." Because you know, us crazy people beat the shit out of everyone and everything. My volunteer had a very diplomatic version of "no, we fucking don't," and I sat there, popping bubble wrap.

3. I did ask the ghost from high school how she found me. "Coming across your name" was actually getting in touch with my former stepsister, who lives halfway across the country, who would only have gotten information from her mother, who would have gotten it from my biological mother, who would have gotten it from my brother. And then, she said, "I did a little research." Right. And then...nothing! She tells me she now lives in Las Vegas. I gave her a brief summary of the past 20 years and nothing, nada, ZIP from her. Fuck this shit.

For those of you who may be dealing with similar people and don't have any bubble wrap handy, here's some virtual bubble wrap. (It's fun.)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It's not you, it's me.

Dear former high school friend,

It creeped me out to get an email from you at work. It was a bit stalkerish, however you found me, since the last time we talked, I hadn't changed my name or moved to another state. Saying you "came across my name" wasn't a very convincing or clever lie, since there is only one person we have both known that I connected with from and after that era.

I won't be telling you this, but that time period was very traumatic for me. There was no one incident. I wasn't bullied. Nothing terrible happened. But when I got a postcard at this address with my old name from our alumni association a few years ago, I almost had a panic attack.

I thought about ignoring your email. I even thought about being a complete coward and saying I was the wrong person with the same name. But I decided to answer you, and ask you how you found me, and ask, honestly: how do you summarize 20 years?

You see, I finally confronted the knots in my gut and stopped forcing myself not to think about that period of time this week, and ask, why? And I realized that was the time that the depression hit me the hardest.

You knew me with another name. You knew me while I was still angry, still drinking, still bewildered.  But I didn't know then what I know now. I didn't know I wasn't a freak. I didn't know there was help available. I didn't know there was hope, and that one day, I wouldn't want to self-destruct.

So you see, you don't know me. So there's really nothing to say.

It's not you, it's me.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The nemesis

Pollen has been an enemy of mine ever since I can remember. But more so since I have lived in the Northwest.

This week, I have either flu or hayfever, which have the same symptoms. I'm betting pollen has something to do with the aggravation, however.

Mr. RK brought home a picture where they viewed pollen under one of the uber incredible microscopes at work. It looks like the spiky monkey ball things that fall off of trees in California. In other words, this stuff is MEAN.
I'm tired of supporting the kleenex industry. I'm annoyed about missing work, as well as sounding like Zsa Zsa Gabor. I'll spare you the details, but it has been a very long visit from Mr. Yuck.
I tell you, pollen, this means war.

Right now I am struggling with a section of another fiction project I'm working on - another children's book - where the characters meet what the believe is a nemesis. (Actually, it's a baby octopus, but they're on a quest to be detectives, and have decided they need a nemesis.)

And so, as life imitates art, I have found mine!

Pollen won't give up, and neither will I. At this point, it looks like a draw, but the fight continues. In the meantime, I am saving special hugs for Mr. RK. He decided I wasn't writing enough fiction, so he bought me a laptop. He also went out and got one of my favorite dinners tonight, as it was one of the only things that I felt like eating, as pollen has affected my sense of taste.

Yes, he really is that good.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Idiocy begins here

There are some days when I feel like I should attach a sign like that to my phone. How about you?
And is it just me, or are there cycles of complete dumbfuckery?

Bad things supposedly happen in threes. Based on yesterday, I'd say stupid things (and people) do, too. I resent this not only because it takes time away from us helping people who legitimately need it, but also because I can't fix stupid.
Again - all of this is completely true! I'm not creative enough to make this shit up.

Call A  - From someone wanting an internship. Call this one "three minutes and three strikes and you're an idiot." He 1) didn't go to the right website when he researched "our" organization, 2) insulted another nonprofit while he was on the phone with me, and 3) then said he wasn't sure if he had made the deadline to even *do* an internship for school.

Me: "Then why are we on the phone?"
Him: "I called a week and a half ago."
Me: "No, you called Friday."
Him: "Oh, really?"

Yes, really.
Call B - From someone who just found out that they have a long-lost relative in our area who happens to have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Did we have a database or registry of people with mental illness so I could look her up, and give this person her contact information?

I'm not kidding!!!

It was all I could do not to spit into the phone. Instead, I said, "Not going into the vast civil rights implications that might have, no, there is not a database of people living with mental health diagnoses. Just like there's no database of people living with diabetes, or cancer."

Call C - From someone who wanted to know if we could explain HIPAA law for her. I told her we didn't have anyone on staff with legal training.

Her: "Well they're just basic questions. Such as..." (Not basic questions.)

I gave her a webpage with frequently asked questions about HIPAA law, and links to more legalese.

Her: "Isn't there a hotline?"
Me: "For the US Department of Health & Human Services?"
Her: "Isn't there a department like that in Oregon?"
Me: "Yes, but this is a federal law, so the offices are in Washington, DC."
Her: "There should be a federal office here in Oregon, and a hotline to answer my questions!"

Honestly, I don't know how the hell I got her off the phone.

How do you handle stupid?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Don't hike in sandals

Just saying. When your little brother is visiting and you take him to the Columbia River Gorge, dress appropriately.

DO NOT under any circumstances hike more than a mile up to the top of a waterfall in sandals and a skirt so short it barely covers your ass.

So, can you guess what I did yesterday?

We hiked all the way to the top! Yes, that bit.
My bro was very patient as I kept trying to remember which bend we were turning around to reveal an amazing view. So we had several. Who the hell knows how we had signal up there.
I really, really, REALLY wanted to turn back, wearing less-than-appropriate gear. But I kept seeing people much older than me, and some really out of shape people, coming down, so we kept going. Mind you, they probably all died right after they passed us, but we made it to the top.
Not exactly a Kardashian selfie, because I don't feel the need to show my boobs with my family present. Call me particular.

One more reminder of why it's helpful to have a red car. You can spot it even from 2,000 feet up!

I have to ask all of the parents out there - I'm not a parent myself, but I'm thinking it wasn't the brightest idea for some hikers to drag their three- and four-year-olds with them? You'd think you'd be save from screaming children at 5,000 feet, but...nope.

Again, I suppose, this was why velcro was invented. I should have checked the shoes.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dear friend~

Dear Mark,

I've thought several times about posting funny stuff or things to take my mind off of what was going on with you and my uncle, and then you realized it was OK to stop fighting the last of the cancer battle. You said you couldn't have made it the rest of the year. We knew this day was coming, but I still can't believe you won't be coming over for pasta, or that we won't be going out for coffee.

I remember meeting you my first week of work, more than six years ago. You spilled ice water at our luncheon - you talk about a (literal) icebreaker. We became friends, you and Mr. RK and your wife and me, almost instantly.
You told me that years before that, you had lost your son to bipolar disorder. You could have curled up and hidden away with your pain, and the world would have understood that - but you didn't. Instead, you spent thousands of hours educating people about this cause. You trained police officers and first responders. You spoke at events. You volunteered for organizations that seek to educate and de-stigmatize the judgement that surrounds mental illness. As a pastor, you brought in communities of faith to work with the nonprofits to do education.

You said, "God is too big to fit into one religion." You thought ice cream was the most important part of our biggest event!

I told you the last time I saw you that you had made a huge difference in the lives of many. I can only imagine what it was like recounting your family's story. You probably relived the pain every time you shared - but you did it in hopes that other people wouldn't have to go through the same pain.

Your son's picture was your phone's screen saver, 10 years after he died. A life unfinished.

I feel the same way about yours. You were only a couple of years older than my dad.

You were so funny. You never lost your sense of humor, despite the hard and terrible things you and your family had gone through. When you saw the Muppets movie with your granddaughter, you said it was "far-fetched." It took me a minute to get that.

You said you'd be a vegan, too, if animals weren't made out of meat.

You said you weren't afraid of dying, that you were looking forward to being reunited with your wife and son. You faced this terminal illness head on, wearing a button and a bracelet that said, "Pancreatic cancer sucks."

Indeed it does. It was hard to watch you at times when you were on the verge of giving up. It was harder to watch when the cancer took over.

I'm thankful that you aren't in pain anymore, but when this sinks in, I'll start to miss you.

I'm thankful that I had the privilege of being your friend. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Odds and ends

Things are still rough for loved ones (yes, plural) - let's just say cancer sucks. Thank you for all of your kind wishes. Now, in attempt to cheer myself up, and any others who may just want to laugh, this post is for us.

Last night I went to a small event that was a fundraiser for an organization where I am on the board. Its mission overlaps with that of my organization, and I dragged 16 people I know through work to this event. It was nice to be informal and joke around (some helped by wine), and I found out two things I had in common with someone I know because of legislative stuff: 1. he is a preacher's kid like me, and 2. fuck is also his favorite word.

Don't ask me how this came up. But I got to show everyone pictures of a shirt that my dad designed and sent just for me!

Yes, I do have the coolest dad ever. My friend asked me to let him know that she's up for adoption.

I'm thinking about things that pop into my head that I would like to make standardized, socially appropriate questions. Last night one of the guests emailed me two hours before the dinner, asking what to wear. I suggested business casual. OK, fine. Then she texts me twenty minutes after the event started. "Where do I park?"

To which I wanted to reply, "Are you a grownup?"
Wouldn't that be cool as a socially acceptable, standardized question/reply to asinine requests?

I got into it once again with our national organization today. Never mind the fact that the big event in May was the biggest one we've ever had, and is on track to raise more than we've ever raised. Here's the conversation, shorthand:

Him: You have XX number of participants who haven't raised any money.
Me: Actually most of them have. But the website is difficult sometimes, so they send in checks rather than raise money online.
Him: Why aren't they posting the information about check donations on their own web pages?
Me: Refer to my earlier response.
Him: Why don't you do it for them? (Background: around 1,800 people register for the event online. He's asking me to manually enter every fucking check for them on their individual web pages so they can show their friends. There are about $26,000 in checks so far.)
Me: Seriously?
Him: Other sites do it. (I'm sure a similar argument has been made for putting firecrackers up your ass, would you do that?)
Me: I don't have time to hold the hands of 1,800 people who can't figure out your (shitty) website.
Him: Don't you have volunteers?
Me: Yeah - and here are the 100 more valuable things they do for us, like help people get resources when they're in crisis. You know, we have a lot more going on than this event.
Him: I hear that a lot.
Me: And you know why? Because it's true!

And then I said this, verbatim:

"Frankly, I don't give a flying fuck what other sites do. I'm grumpy and I don't appreciate you chewing on me, and I'm not talking about this anymore!"
I followed this with an email full of stats - how many resource request calls we've gotten last year (almost 2,000), how many people we directly served with our staff of three (more than 8,300), how we've added an entire new program this year than I am managing.

But being able to use the words "flying fuck" at work was rather satisfying, as was the fact that I knew my boss would approve. In fact, I think that should be a socially acceptable standardized reply to asinine requests as well.

Wouldn't you agree?