Thursday, August 28, 2014

Spank in Vancouver

I knew that title would pique your interest. As it happens (unfortunately), we only saw this store as we were driving out of Vancouver, BC.

Anyhow! We had a great, short trip. I would have liked to stay another day or two, but I suppose it's better to go home while you are still having a good time. Here is the view from our room.The hotel itself has - and I swear I didn't know this when we booked! - a cat story. And given the bullshit cat stories that seem to be floating around the interwebs this week, I was happy to find a real one.
I got to see my cousin, who is working on a doctoral thesis on Shakespeare (!) She has been living there for several years, and I'm kind of envious.

Speaking of envious, no matter what kind of sophisticated camera equipment Mr. RK has, I still take better flower pics than he does.

And speaking of spankings, we went to a Dr. Who-themed pub in Portland the night before we left, to watch the new Dr. Who. Fantastic! No humans or aliens were spanked in this picture, although it may appear that way.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Kitty goes to Canada

I'll be offline for a few days, as we're going to Vancouver, BC to celebrate 10 years of RK and Mr. RK. Plus it's my birthday while we're gone.

This lolcat is the favorite of my lovely friend Claire, who just got married! Congratulations, darling! You can head to her blog to check out pictures.

Meanwhile, I'm sure I'll have plenty of bumper sticker ideas for you all after two five-hour drives...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Shortcuts

In previous posts, we developed the response, "Are you a grownup?" for un-grownup behavior. (Yes, I just made up a word.) In this post, we create shortcuts.

Who doesn't like a shortcut? Shortcuts save time, which we never seem to have enough of.

Case in point: I am crawling through my drive home. The truck two cars ahead of me is plastered in hateful stickers, and then one that from a distance looks like this:
Which puzzled the hell out of me. Up close, however, it actually looked like this:
Shortcut: Get one bumper sticker that says "I AM AN ASSHOLE." That'll save space, and get your point across much faster.

Case in point #2: The woman who has three kids receiving state insurance, and only gets a renewal letter for one of them. Instead of calling and inquiring about the other two, she calls us and makes an appointment to discuss it. Then she is a no call, no show. A week later she calls again.

Shortcut: Fess up that you are a crappy parent who probably shouldn't have reproduced in the first place! I may be progressive, but I'm not an idiot. I believe in personal responsibility.

Case in point #3: The car repair place calls, trying to reach my boss, who is on vacation, at least a week after his vehicle has been in for transmission repair. They tell us to please let him know that they forgot to replace a gasket, so things could, uh, leak.

Shortcut: Call and say (MUCH EARLIER), "We fucked up! Get your car the fuck over here or there will be big trouble!"

Because come on, people. You don't need to waste my time.

Monday, August 11, 2014

"There is always hope"

I felt a bit foolish for being so crushed by the death of Robin Williams - then, texting some friends who are part of the special club (the 1 in 17 of us who live with mental illness that is enough of a pain in the ass that it "interferes with our daily lives"), I realized I wasn't alone.

Because we have been there, gazing over the edge into the abyss, and so far, we haven't been pushed over it - or jumped. To lose one of our own - one who seemed to be able to accomplish anything - well, it stings beyond belief.

A friend who lives with bipolar disorder summed it up well.

"Sometimes," she said, "it takes constant, pure will not to give in."
Robins lived with bipolar disorder, and he was vocal about destigmatizing - ending the discrimination that surrounds - mental illness. He joined a movement called "Mad Pride" (e.g., pride in being "mad"), and got involved with fellow actor Joe Pantoliano's nonprofit, NKM2, which seeks to "stomp the stigma" of mental illness.

We saw him perform in a small venue a few years ago in San Francisco. He was amazing, and amazingly human.

My younger brother N took my even younger brother B to see him a bit after that - B was 15 or 16 - and Williams looked out into the crowd and joked that he had better watch it with the language, "Because there's a little boy in the crowd!" (He didn't watch the language. But he did meet B, and was very gracious.)

I have been in that place, as have some of you. That place where you think nothing, nothing, can be worse or more painful than being alive. Picture your worst despair, multiply it by 1,000, and feel in your gut that nothing will ever get better, and you may get a glimpse of what it's like.

Chances are, someone you know has told you they live with a chronic illness. Now picture them telling you they live with a chronic mental illness. Does that change how you feel?

Despite public discourse, despite public awareness campaigns, the fear of having the discussion is there. And it is very real, and very lonely. If Williams, with all of his courage and all of his resources, was taken by mental illness, what chance to many of the rest of us have? If we don't make this an accepted topic of public discussion...not much of one.

I wish I could tell everyone who ends up in that place that, as Williams once said in an interview, there is hope.

That there is always hope.

If you worry about a friend, check on them. If you worry about yourself, call and get help.

No matter how dark it is, it gets better. I promise.

In the meantime, let's talk. Let's start the conversation. Let's come out of the darkness.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Five minute Friday: encouragement

The theme, if you're not familiar with it, is one I borrowed from my lovely friend Claire. Five minutes, one word prompt: go!

A volunteer who later became a friend once told me, "RK, you have the gift of encouragement - and that's a very good gift to have."

I never thought of encouragement as a gift before that; it was just something I did, part of being honest; part of being nice. Not fake nice, but why not share the good?
I work for a person and with another person who are both mum on encouragement and positive feedback. As a result, I find I am the one cheering on my volunteers; thanking the people who literally make our organization possible.

Why not share? Why not encourage? I've told my boss, "It doesn't cost anything."

But it can make a world of difference.

Years ago, when I was in transition and my dad was basically rescuing me, we were on a road trip and he bought me a clock in a restaurant gift shop.

"For you to put on your desk when you're a newspaper reporter," he said.

I said something negative to the effect of, "Yeah, right, that's not going to happen."

And less than a year later, it did. Things improved. My life went on in the direction I had wanted it to, before being detoured by depression and other circumstances. (By the way, I still have that clock on my desk. If it ever stops working, it will still stay on my desk.)

Had I not had encouragement, would I have gone on the same path? Perhaps so, perhaps not. But it would have been so much harder. Self-doubt could have - or would have - taken over.

So I encourage all of you to share the good where you find it. Letting someone know they have done something meaningful, helpful, or just plain nice may be more important to them than you know.

There's my mushy post for 2014. Time's up.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Meme theme: annoyance

Well, what else?

I thought of this on the way home. There are far too many annoyances to write about in just one post (or even one blog, although I'm working on it), so why not make it a meme theme?

1. Mail: Even my cat is getting better mail than me. I get soft core porn from Victoria's Secret and offers to trade in the car I just got a couple of years ago; he gets turkey-flavored Xanax. With the package addressed to HIM!
2. Cars plastered with bumper stickers that are ads for hobbies that other people have, and it's not enough that they have them, but they want you to have them too! I don't give a fuck if you'd rather be playing the accordion or doing an ultra marathon. (Side note: I saw a sticker that I loved the other day. It said: "28.4: I got lost.")

3. While we're on the subject of traffic, people with stickers/icons/charms that would make you think they're kind or mellow or socially aware - e.g. a cross, or love mother Earth stuff - who then proceed to drive like assholes. (Yes, lady in the Toyota with a Rosary dangling from your mirror who sped up and tried to cut me off this afternoon, I mean YOU.)

4. People who DON'T READ THEIR FUCKING EMAIL. Specifically ones who you reply to, and then they ask the question you just answered in the reply. I think there are hamsters who would do better than that.

5. People who, when asked to look out for individuals or businesses who may want to buy tickets or tables at a FUNDRAISER, proceed to give you lists of all of the highly-paid professionals they want you to invite to come for free. (Yes. Really. Refer to hamsters.)
6. Heat. When I moved to the Northwest, I was told, "80 degrees is a REALLY hot day!" Apparently that's true if you live in Alaska. We're currently under 90 and I'm fucking grateful, because the AC in our old building at work can't keep up.

7. Slumlords. The prick who owns our building won't return calls about getting the light fixtures replaced so my volunteers aren't typing in the dim, but he comes in and installs a lockbox on the thermostat downstairs.

8. Ass kissers. Particularly those who have been harassing you recently, and then get called on it, and suddenly act like you're the best thing since lubricated condoms.

9. Corporate schmucks. Is that redundant? Why not tell your staff that they may get a whole extra week's pay (taxed, of course) as a bonus at the end of the year, while you hand out six figure bonuses to your executives? This is why I work at a nonprofit. I can deal with the slumlord, as long as I'm not making money for him.
10. Cheese. I ask you, why do you have to tempt and beckon and taste SO FUCKING GOOD when I am trying to be a vegan, and also have a mild allergy?

So how about you? Is there a meme in your future?

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.)