Thursday, October 28, 2010

Out of context

Sometimes I wonder about the way my brain works (or doesn't.) When I am half-watching or half-listening to something, or see something out of the corner of my eye, I often misperceive it as something perverse.

Case in point: on a trip to London years ago, I was soaking in a bubble bath while my friend was watching TV. Through the bathroom door, I thought I heard, "And he has a medium-sized penis and likes chocolate." I very nearly jumped out of the bath and yelled, "WHAT?!"

It turns out my friend was watching a BBC special about people who were in a pudding club (and no, they weren't talking about spotted dick.) Nothing said had anything to do with what I thought it had.

Tonight out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a sign that said, "Buy, use - retard!" It actually said, "Buy, use - reload!"

Another time Mr. RK was going over to his friend's house to jam - they both play guitar - and I said, "So when are you going to go over and play with Dave?" and dove into a fit of giggling.

And yesterday when I went to hear my boss speak on a panel about mental illness and the corrections system, I *did* hear, loud and clear, a mental health professional describing what I think he meant as "I just grabbed this guy as soon as I saw him and got him into services."

But he said, "I just shagged this guy immediately and..."

But no one laughed! Maybe I'm just a pervert.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

On the other side

Because of the nature of the work I do, I have come across countless people whose loved ones are struggling with mental illness - and there is nothing their families can do for them.

It is a broken system - even moreso than the rest of the healthcare system because the families are not included in support, treatment, or decision-making once their loved one is legally adult.

I have written here before about my struggles with depression and anxiety. And now I find myself on the other side of this coin.

When I get upset, I hide out. I don't e-mail or call friends or ask them to make plans, because I don't want to be a burden. That's essentially what I've been doing the last few weeks because some major family shit is going down.

In a nutshell, my grandmother, who has struggled with untreated depression (read: depression she won't treat) is now having some kind of psychosis. Because my grandfather won't admit that there is a problem, he won't get her to any kind of treatment or evaluation. We are not sure, miles and miles away, if it is dementia, psychosis, or a combination thereof.

My dad gets disturbing phone messages. This normally sweet, formal lady has run around the neighborhood with paranoid delusions and threatened my grandfather and threatened to harm herself.

But because of super strict state laws, we can't hospitalize her. Why? Even though she has made threats, there is no specific "plan." Or if there is, she won't tell staff at the one hospital she has been taken to.

One of my coworkers told me it sounded like Monty Python. Doesn't it?

It is terribly upsetting to my dad, to whom I am hardwired. I have been distracted and anxious and unable to wrap my mind around accepting that the other shoe will eventually drop.

Are we control freaks? It is so frustrating to be unable to help, to sit by and be unable to intervene as my grandparents' lives slowly go to pieces.

I am sad and I am angry - angry because my grandfather is so worried about what people think that he is neglecting my grandmother's care. Angry because my grandmother also seems to be able to turn this behavior on and off. The one time she was taken to a hospital by law enforcement she started acting normal and they let her go home.

I feel powerless, depressed, and pissed off all at the same time. Although my grandparents have never been terribly interested in their grandchildren, I do have some nice memories and it is horrifying to imagine what is happening now.

My dad has been too upset to even talk about it. So it hit me the other day - so many families that come to us at work must be on their very last nerve, having avoided the issue for quite a long time. Although my impulse is always to try to get help for something and fix it right away, the stigma of mental illness in my grandparents' generation is very, very real.

And even with all of the resources of my professional life, we are unable to help my grandparents because of that stigma.

So, please - we are all affected by this issue. Talk about it. That's the only way to change things.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cougars and bad pickup lines

Everyone seemed happy with the dinner, despite the fact that I was in my own personal hell that evening (nuff said), but of all of the unexpected things...

As those of you who do event planning know all too well, at least one unexpected thing will happen at every event. The most surprising thing at the dinner? Apparently, some people come to cruise.

I kid you not!

Mr. RK, saint that he is, took the pictures at the dinner (my boss asked if he would because he is very good at it) and told me this story.

An older gentleman approached a woman during the reception, and their conversation went something like this:

Him: "Hi, are you here with your husband tonight?"
Her: "No, I'm here with my partner."
Him: "Well, have a nice evening!"

He directly approaches another woman nearby.

Him: "Hi, are you here with your husband tonight?"

Mr. RK didn't hear the rest of that conversation because he turned around to laugh as inconspicuously as possible.

I've heard of picking up people at parties, but at a nonprofit fundraising dinner?!

And that's not all...

Mr. RK's friend D played music during the reception. They rode together and D's wife said, remarking on how he and Mr. RK looked nice all dressed up, "Don't let anyone pick you up...unless it's a rich old lady!"

Mr. RK and his friend are both 39. Apparently there were two very well-dressed women in their 60s hovering around them for quite a bit of the evening!

And last, but not least...I did not have any garment malfunctions. I did accidentally drop a piece of bread down my cleavage during one of the speeches, so we were all choking in our laughter, but that was better than having to go commando all night, right?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cross your fingers

Our gala dinner at work is coming up this week.

Long story short, last year I had a "wardrobe malfunction" and had to go commando that night in a room full of Republicans...and was dumb enough to tell a colleague about it...and haven't lived it down since.

So we're on the phone today and event dress code comes up.

She asks, "Will you be wearing underwear this year?"

Just cross your fingers that everything - garments included - goes smoothly for us, won't you?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is there innuendo everywhere?

Mr. RK was snacking and watching a show today that featured this dialogue:

Woman #1: "I like it to be 12 inches."

Woman #2: "Some people's 12 inches are different than others."

Woman #1: "Ooooh, I can see all the nuts!"

OK perverts, he was watching a vegetarian cooking show. They were making biscotti.

The hilarious part: Mr. RK said neither of the two women even stifled a grin.

I'd think this was a pretty obvious opportunity to laugh. Or am I just a pervert?

It reminded me of a time when I went on an exchange in Oaxaca, Mexico. My host family had explained the expression "doble sentido," or "double meaning." A couple of days later we were peeling plantains to fry.

"Watch out for some of the bananas, they can get really big!" my host mother said. I didn't get it until everyone roared.

At work a few weeks ago, I didn't aim quite as high but I still flopped. My boss wanted to know if the curriculum for one of our education classes would fit into a standard 1 1/2" binder.

"I think it needs a bigger one," he said.

"Size matters," I replied.

Dead. Silence.

As a business reporter, covering retail sales one year, my lead sentence for a story was this: "When it comes to holiday shopping, size matters." The point of the story was that big chain stores seemed to be doing OK, but smaller stores weren't doing as well.

I got away with it that one time, but the next time I had to do a retail story, my (male) editor said, "And by the way - this time, don't write about how size matters!"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

...just go away!

You remember that Motley Crue song that had the refrain, "Girl, don't go away mad...just go away"?

If I wasn't sick and didn't have the voice of Kermit the Frog, I'd be standing on street corners singing the "just go away!" part of that song to all of the designers who thought it would be a good idea to reintroduce sweater dresses this year. Yes! Those piece-of-shit looking things from the late 70s/early 80s have made their way back into stores.

And I saw someone crossing the street in Portland today wearing leg warmers.


Neither of these ideas were good back in the day, so why resurrect them now? Are people actually purchasing these? If so, are designers having a serious laugh, as this whole thing was a big fucking joke?

I'm not a fashionista, but I draw the line at looking like a sock monkey.

And doesn't a dress made of sweater sound, um, hot and itchy?

What's next in the retro wave? The return of woolen underwear?

With options like these, it's hard not to protest and walk around naked.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

My great grandmother used to say...

"It takes all kinds of people to make a world."

Mr. RK revised that for me a couple of weeks ago.

"No," he said, "we're just stuck with all of the kinds there are."

I think he's right.

Today, I think most of those kinds of people helped volunteer at my friend's fundraiser. I went to help out and couldn't believe the kind of shit she had to put up with. Granted, she just started this job (she is a volunteer coordinator) in August and she inherited volunteers from the previous person, who assured her they were all fantastic.

I do events for work and you never know who is going to do well or totally fail until you see them in action. I swear events bring out the worst in some people.

Most of the volunteers were great; one is going to be photoshopped in a Satan costume by Mr. RK for my friend.

Some notable personalities from the event, who were theoretically supposed to be helping (read: not hindering):

Person #1 (picture a female Satan, but less endearing): Approaches Mr. RK, whom she has never met before, and says, "The big people shouldn't sit at the ends of the table! They get in the way!" She was so rude to one of the attendees that I looked right at her and said, "You must be nice to the guests."

She also asked over and over again why everyone wasn't eating at the same time. Um, because they arrived at different times, and it's a spaghetti feed. Not formal.

She told us there was no more spaghetti, causing everyone minor panic, when in truth the next batch was cooking.

She made a big fuss about someone who hadn't gotten their food. I rushed over with a plate of pasta. Turns out the person had eaten already.

Then some poor schmuck brought her spaghetti and she barked, "Not now! I'm eating my salad first."

Never have I been so tempted to shove a noodle up someone's nose.

Person #2: Whom I have never met before, asks, "Are you pissed at me or something?" Huh? Should I be? But when I left she acted like I was her best friend. Go figure. Perhaps because I did not shove a noodle up her nose, either.

Person #3: Thinking it was remiss that we did not have flowers on the tables, she broke off some small tree branches and brought them in and tried to put them in the donation cups on the tables. We said no. She said why not? We said no again. And again and again and again.

Person #4: Kept standing in front of me looking at the auction items before we were finished setting them up. I said, "Excuse me," literally four times before his wife said, "You're in her way! Let's move." Brilliant idea.

The guests, for the most part, were better behaved, if some were a little clueless.

I behaved. I did not say the things I really wanted to say, such as...

Guest #1: "Why didn't we get salads?"
Me: "Because we don't like you."

Guest #2: "Why can't we open up the (new, wrapped) garden set? Everything else is open and you can touch things."
Me: "Why don't you try the pants of that gentleman over there? I'm sure he's taking bids."

My poor friend has had one of the worst weeks of her life (before having to do her first big event) and I told her, "Don't worry, it's always so much easier the next time around. You do one event, and another...and then you start a blog."

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Am I in the wrong generation, or???

I was chatting on the drive into work this morning with a friend who volunteers in my office.

She: "I have go to tell you something, even if it's TMI."
Me: "OK, what?"

Now I wish I wouldn't have asked...but I had to hear it, and now so do you. Apparently my friend S has a friend who wants to be more than her friend.

His way of telling her was to text her asking if he could send her a "naughty picture."

I'm thinking...what kind of naughty?

S knew exactly what naughty meant (naked) and replied, "OK, but don't expect one back." Apparently expecting one back is naked text picture etiquette.


Anyhow, he sent her the photo and she told me way too many details about the bits of someone I don't know.

"I think he's trying to get me to think of him as more than a friend," she said.

I personally don't know how any male could think this would be a successful technique for getting a date (or getting into a friend's pants.) Tip for the uninitiated: don't offer!

But more confusing to me was the fact that this was apparently commonplace.

Mind you, I've been off the market for more than six years, but I still have my share of rude come-ons. However...I've never had a guy text/email/snail mail me a naked picture. Or ask to.

I asked my friend L, who is the same age as me: "Is this a generational thing, (because S is 23 and we are 34), or are we just in the wrong social texting group?"

L replied, "It's a generational thing. Our generation's big thing was people getting on the internet."

Huh. I don't know if I should feel spared or ripped off!

Saturday, October 02, 2010


For the writing group I facilitate, our "assignment" this time around was to write anything we liked, in any genre, with the theme of "seasons." Since we discussed this writing assignment I've had these lyrics from sometime in the mid to late 80s rolling around in my head:

Seasons change, people change.

I thought it was The Bangles but it turned out to be Exposé.

Fall has always been my favorite season. I can see everything in my head that I want to say to describe why, but can't quite find the right words because everything seems to be stored in a succession of images.

Most of my favorite fall images and memories and scenes are from a place I used to live - New York.

Leaves in brilliant fiery colors in Central Park, children running through a field laughing. A palette of primary color pastels invoked in a drawing of trees bought from a vendor near the steps of the Met. Eating soup in a cafe with my dad when I went to check out my future school. A cafe that would later turn into a gray, soulless computer store. Watching a cute guy make on a pay phone in that cafe slowly turn around until he was totally facing me. (This was in the days when cell
phones cost $1,000 and weighed a couple of pounds.)

Buying a pea coat at Bloomingdales and wearing a rust colored shirt and thinking how free I would feel if I were to come and live here. Thinking how happy I would be.