Monday, October 29, 2012

My little brothers and the mail man

So tonight I'm talking with my littler little brother (16), B, and he says, "I got a membership offer from the NRA."


I kid you not. The kid's first solicitation letter, and it's from the NRA. (I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. My late godfather's cat got a piece of mail once, and the cat's name was Oreo. You'd think they'd check these things. Who sold his name? The groomer?)

Me: "What, did they tell you that because it's so close to the election that they need your money to protect you from the liberals who want to pull the guns out of their cold, dead hands?"
Him: "Pretty much."

Don't you have to be legally adult to get solicitations from membership organizations? More to the point, how the hell did they get his name? The only organizations he has belonged to so far in his life are Cub Scouts and a comic book store.

He has a funny history with the mail, though. Every time he visits, BOOM! Victoria's Secret soft core porn comes in the mail. Perversely, getting the mail is one of the small chores we ask him to do when he visits, in between episodes of massive spoiling.
Did I mention that B and my bigger little brother, N (33) both have experiences with Playboy?

Apparently my parents' neighbor get Playboy, and on at least one occasion, their mail man brought it to the wrong house. Without looking at the name on the plastic cover, my dad put it in my stepmom's pile of mail. Without looking at the same name just referenced, she opened it. B lamented, "I didn't even get to see it!"

To paraphrase the Beastie Boys, his mom threw away his best porno mag.

Which reminded me of another story about Playboy and the mail. When N was in high school, somehow he and his best friend got it into their heads that they were going to win the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. They thought it would be hilarious to have Playboy delivered on national television (you know how the winner gets the first magazine of the subscription delivered with their prize?) Not thinking they'd actually get a bill and perhaps NOT win, guess which high school senior started receiving the magazine? Guess whose mother got the bill? (Hint: she's my mother also.)

How about you? Anything good in the mail lately (or previously)?

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Sorry for the absence - a friend of ours got some horrible news and it has just interfered with my day-to-day functioning for the past few days.

No one wants to read depressing stuff, and I don't particularly want to write about it. I've tried to think of funny stuff to write, but am in and out of this funk at the moment and it's just not possible today.

I have to say that our friend is pretty amazing. Faced with what is likely a terminal illness, he wrote, "I never knew we had so many friends! The support has been overwhelming...and I am trying to keep a sense of humor throughout this." I know I wouldn't be that graceful. I'd be mad, sad, terrified - all of the things I felt when I had already survived a life-threatening illness. During the time it was life-threatening, I was too out of it to feel any of those things. I feel terrible that Mr. RK and my family and friends did. I can't imagine any of us going through what my friend and his family are going through now.

I don't care if you are religious, spiritual, or neither, would you please say prayers for him and his family or just keep them in your thoughts? Because I'm at a loss for what to do or say in a situation like this. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I can very easily believe it's not butter

Well, I haven't tried the product in question, but I couldn't resist this as the title for a post about trying a vegan diet. As most of you know, I've been a vegetarian on and off since fourth grade, and completely vegetarian for the past decade. What is the difference, some people have asked? Vegan means you eat no animal products at all, including things that have milk, eggs or cheese.

I decided to try this because multiple studies have shown that many people with an illness I was recently diagnosed with who are on this diet have been able to completely stop taking medications, or at least severely reduce the medications, after a few months.

Yes, I love cheese enchiladas, but I figured this was worth a shot. I was already not drinking milk. Results so far have been great, but I have learned a few things...

1. Avocados and peanut butter are your best friends. Well hell, you've got to have something a little fattening once in awhile. Though the diet calls for not much of them.

2. No substitute will taste like butter. Believe it.

3. Most vegan veggie burgers taste like...well, it's debatable if you'd rather lick the floor, before or after wiping it down with bleach.

4.  Be prepared, even if you live near a city that closely resembles Berkeley, to have a hard time finding things to eat out if you're in a traditional "American" place, e.g. for a work meeting. "Vegan? We have a fruit plate." I'm a vegan, not a rabbit (although Mr. RK would find that statement debatable.)

5. Five words: Extra. Virgin. Olive. Oil. Popcorn. NOM!

6. Veggie broth sometimes has animals in it (WHY?!)

7. Likewise, fake cheese often contains lactose. Inquiring minds want to know: Why the hell would you buy fake cheese if you could eat the real thing? Masochism, maybe?

8. I have gotten funnier looks checking out at the grocery store lately. You try shopping for one vegan, one meat-eater who is not on a restricted diet, and two cats, and your shopping list looks a little like this: dry black beans, vegan chicken burgers, chocolate, Cosmo bad girl Kama Sutra edition, litter. (Yes, I bought that magazine. Throw everything at me.)

9. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, who finds out you are doing this diet (and you're not sure how, because you're not trumpeting it everywhere), says things like, "Well, I COULD NEVER DO THAT!" (tip for the uninitiated: I don't really give a flying fuck), and "Well what do you eat?" To which I'd like to reply, "You know - salsa with napkins. That kind of thing."

10. I don't have a number 10. Insert your own funny comment here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


A huge part of my job at work is outreach, and lately we have been doing some of this at events - inviting groups that we haven't previously partnered with to our events, going to theirs, etc. It sounds simple but it seems to be making a big impact.

We went to an event this morning and had an entire table to fill, and I invited all sorts of people. One of them is a therapist at a local hospital system who also has a private practice. She and I have more in common, I learn, as I get to know her better, than I'd think at first glance - among other things, identity issues.

The breakfast was a fundraiser/get-together for a culturally-specific health care center. My colleague, who is African American but was adopted by white parents, then married a man from Ghana.

She e-mailed me afterward the event today and said, "I know some of those people, but they never invite me to anything like this. I felt like I was out of place, like I didn't belong, like somehow I was a fake."

I told her she fit in perfectly and that I was proud to know her - this is a woman who has conquered all kinds of obstacles, personally and professionally, to devote her career to helping other people. We ended up having a very interesting e-mail conversation about identity.

My family, shall we say, is the product of people hopping the fence everywhere. We are derived from Apaches, Swiss Jews, Irish Protestants, German Lutherans, and the like. (What do they all have in common? Just about all of us are nuts...but that's another story.) We have one side that swears up and down that they're 100% WASP, when in fact I have looked at the family tree going back to about the year 1500 and that is blatantly untrue; we have another side that's as admittedly mixed as the day is long.

Who am I and where do I fit in? I have Native American genes but people mistake me for being white - but I'm not white enough for some relatives who don't like to talk about those lines. I have enough Jewish roots to disturb the WASP relatives, but I'm not Jewish enough for some of the more religious people I know.

I've thought about this for years tried to be more this and more that. But at some point I finally arrived at the conclusion that I'm just me. I have my own ideas about faith, roots, and family. It's all significant in its own way. I have come to the realization that blood is not thicker than water, and that Mr. RK, my close friends and stepbrother are more family than some of the people I allegedly share DNA with. (My dad thinks I have more DNA in common with a banana than one side of the family anyhow.)

In sum, a friend asked a few months back, "Well, how do you identify?"

And I replied, "I'm just me."

PS Just so you don't think I've gone all batshit serious on you, I've included a couple of lolcats - and this gem.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What? You want human?!

I may be watching too much Dr. Who, but a relative really did e-mail me this picture from London.

I think I would shudder to see the actual exhibit...

Any guesses as to what this is? I e-mailed him back try to find out...

My questions are: Who is Nando? How did he acquire a man-eating chicken? (And if Nando lived to tell the tale, does that mean he is also alien?) And does the fact that this refers to his man-eating chicken mean there are more than one? What the fuck is going on over there? Maybe all of the Dr. Who episodes about aliens coming to London are real after all...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

No, you cannot has cheezburger, you stupid man.

Sorry for the delay in posting - our most recent big event at work is over, and now I am back in the land of the living.

It seemed to go over very well - no one noticed the typical behind-the-scenes funny business, such as...

- The legislator who showed up at the wrong dinner, but decided to stay (why don't we ever charge these people?)

- The person who e-mailed me when I was already at the hotel and the tables were already set up, wanting a seat...

- The board member who was arranging and rearranging tables up until a couple of hours before the event.

- The volunteer who demanded to talk to me about next month's event because "the dinner's going on now, so what's the problem?" (I am in charge of it from start to finish, including seating absent-minded legislators.)

- The honored guest who forgot he was supposed to ask people to give us money (my boss reminded him.)

And there are ALWAYS the people who know they are being a big pain in the ass - such as the person who wanted to buy a ticket 15 minutes before we left to set things up - but begin their e-mails with, "I am really sorry to ask, but..." Or, "I know this is at the last minute, but..."

You're not sorry, you know it's last minute. I'd much rather you tell me, "I'm being a pain in the ass, but I have cash and you work for a nonprofit, and you will feed me!" You know, kind of like the Sleveen, in a weird kind of way. (That didn't work for you? Oh never mind.)
Despite some circumstances out of our control (the biggest dinner in town scheduled for the same night, after we had picked ours), we filled the room. Our emcee, a local news guy, was hilarious - even more hilarious was the steady stream of middle-aged women hitting on him, when he clearly didn't shop on their side of the street! Well, wine will do that.

Funny enough, despite all kinds of accommodations (vegan, allergies, diets, etc.), enough wasn't enough for one of my sponsor's guests. Given the choice between salmon and risotto, he said, "Can't I just get a hamburger?" (At a $125-a-ticket fundraiser.)

And she replied, "No! NO, YOU CANNOT HAVE A HAMBURGER!"

But we all know it would have been better if she said something like the title, don't you think?

One person who did come through was Mr. RK, my tireless volunteer. He can has cheezburger. 

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Is everything recycled?

Is it me, or has it become 1983 again?

Women are wearing tight, bright pants and sweater dresses.

Movies are the same ones from the 1980s, as are many of the toys and dolls. Even Pac Man is coming back!

Political candidates blame poor people for being poor, and are outraged that people who have no insurance might have to go to the doctor, that people without enough money for groceries might have to eat, or people without enough to make their house payment might need a place to live. PBS is a bad guy once again.

(Yes, Oscar, he really is a heartless bastard. He likes Big Bird, but probably only for sexual reasons.)

Change is supposed to be the only constant, but some things just seem to get regurgitated. It seems like we're back in the 1980s with a few more bones thrown to civil rights, and a few reality shows added in.

I'd like some new stuff, please.

How about candidates who really discuss the issues? How about some movies that haven't been made once (badly) already?

How about the men wear the sweater dresses and tight, bright pants? (No, Mr. RK, bicycle pants don't count.) How about some ideas from you?