Thursday, January 29, 2009

And now it gets ugly

We lost half of our four-person office today - not because of the economy, but because our previous two executive directors had their heads up their asses and there was no fundraising plan.

You see how much difference one person can make...

I was spared the ax because I am, among other things, a fundraiser. I have a devotion to my job because of the cause we work for - mental health funding and awareness - and I think that didn't hurt, either.

So I was asked to come in late this a.m. by my boss, who was really unhappy that he had to do this. He said he was hoping to write some grants and bring people back once there was funding.

One coworker, M, was just fine - even changed her e-mail tagline to "X Program Coordinator." She said she'll be fine financially and is helping us figure out where to go from here...

C, who in my opinion had a much smaller role (and liked to take about a dozen cell phone calls a day and 2 hour lunches on occasion, and plain didn't get back to me about stuff when she didn't feel like it) came in late, so I was already there when she got the news.

She came out of the meeting with my boss and made some nasty comments about him "protecting his own" (e.g. me) and spent the afternoon slamming and banging things around, refusing to talk to me.

I just cried - I couldn't help it. I mean, I feel gutted about them both losing their jobs. I considered them both friends.

I felt like going up to her and shaking her and saying, "Hey! Cut it out! It's not my fault!"

This is a person I have driven home when her mental health issues prevented her from doing so, safely, on her own.

This is a person I intervened for and stuck up for when a volunteer got in her face and threatened her, and she wouldn't stick up for herself.

It's all so ugly. I sort of feel betrayed, on top of the catatonic ugliness I felt when I found out about the layoffs.

I'm just glad that both of their partners are employed and they'll be OK. I hope she doesn't stay mad at me.

And honestly I'm still confused.

My boss said, "Don't take it know, when we're upset, we want to strike out at someone."

I don't get it. I don't do that. Plenty of people have pissed me off, but with REASON!

The only funny thing about today - I had brought in hazelnut soy creamer for coffee, and near the little plastic screw-on cap, it said, "Unscrew and get nutty!"

Words to live by...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ravioli blog

This is a true story, told by a coworker who wouldn't - and couldn't - lie if her life depended on it.

Or if her husband's family's pasta depended on it...

As many of you know, we had a nasty snowstorm here a month ago. As in, two feet of snow and ice.

My coworker, who we'll call C, has what she describes as a "stubborn Italian husband," whom we'll call M.

M is one of 12 kids - yes, enough to have a strike, or a jury (thank you for pointing that out, Mr. RK) - and they take their food very seriously, according to C.

So every year, one of their family Christmas traditions is to make ravioli.

This is no simple procedure; like every other dish, they make it as a famiglia (Italian for family. Mr. RK is reading over my shoulder and said, "Hey! Family is a little misspelled.")

One person makes the filling.
One person makes the dough.
You get the picture.

So two days before Christmas, P, M's brother who made the ravioli filling, says, "It's horrible weather outside. I am not going to partake in this year's ravioli making until the snow melts."

M says, "No problem, P. I'll come pick up the ravioli filling.'

P replies, "No! I'm not taking it to you, and you can't come get it, either."

What happened next...well, start humming "Smooth Criminal" to yourself before you read it.

M tells C that P's apartment has an extra hallway door that he leaves open. M says, "I'm going over there, and I'm going to sneak in and take the filling."

Never mind that M is 15 miles from P, there are two feet of ice and snow, an P keeps A BASEBALL BAT on hand in case of intruders.

It takes M two hours to get there. He leaves at midnight. P's extra door is locked.

M debates crawling in through the window, but decides against it.

(I am not making this up. At this point in the story, when it was told to us at work, I had to put down my lunch so I would not choke, because I was laughing so hard.)

So a few days later, the family gets together. M confesses to P.

One of their sisters gets in M's face.

"You had no right to try to steal that ravioli filling! It was HIS! Not YOURS!"

M says, "I really don't think this involves you."

M's sister says, "OH YES IT DOES!" And the whole family gets involved. The argument only ended when M hit a pyrex dish of parmesan cheese with a spoon a little too hard and it exploded into tiny pieces.

That became known as "the ravioli incident."

There are other incidents as well, all named after food...C assures me that "they're all very serious about their food."

PS Everyone I shared this story with practically doubled over with laughter...except my friend K, who dated a guy from a large Italian family when she was in high school.

"Yeah, I can totally see that," she said. "They're very serious about their food!"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obsessed with sex, lying, or both?

I live just outside of the Portland, Oregon city limits. We've gotten national news coverage because Portland's first openly gay mayor, Sam Adams, lied about his relationship with a much younger intern. Sound familiar?

For those of you who don't know the story, Adams and the man had a brief relationship before Adams ran for mayor. Another openly gay opponent dropped some hints that Adams had "had an inappropriate relationship" - isn't this political and personal blackmail? And when asked about it, Adams lied.

Tip for the uninitiated politician who lies about sex: it is sure to bite you in the ass (no pun intended here.)

Some people in Portland and the surrounding area feel that Adams' sex life is his own business - and I agree. On the other hand, others are outraged about the lying - and I understand that, also.

Many people in the GLBT community have said he is a bad role model and that he makes them all look bad.

I think it's sad that:

1. We're a society so obsessed with sex that Adams was even questioned in the first place;
2. We're such a homophobic society that even while progress happens - e.g. we elect an openly gay mayor with little issue about his sexual orientation - GLBT citizens worry about how they are judged because of his behavior.

I have to wonder aloud, why is anyone naive enough to be shocked that a politician would lie? On the other hand, why has that come to be accepted?

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The best sentence I've read in quite some time

Occasionally I read something I just have to share with the rest of you...this is from Mr. Riot Kitty's woodworking blog:

"I suspect that someone saw debbie gibson at the mall and in a fit of sexless rage he came home and started sanding and painting his big brother's bass."

Yes, he really is that funny and clever all the time ;)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Can I just say...


The headline I have DREAMED about for the past eight years:

Former President Bush, Wife Depart for Texas

Yes, he and the rest of his administration of criminals should be departing for JAIL, but this is adequate for now.

And it seems as though we have actually elected a leader - someone who cares about the disadvantaged, about our country and our liberties. Amen to that.

It's refreshing to have an attorney general nominee who thinks torture is inhumane! Holy shit, did you ever think you'd have to appreciate that line of thought?

Upward, onward...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fish stories

I promised Joey that I would share this fish story - which is a TRUE story - after his hilarious post about underwear and fish food.

When the older of my younger brothers was in college in Connecticut, he drove across the country to stay with my family on winter and summer breaks in California, rather than fly.

This is an important detail because three fish might not have met their untimely deaths had he flown instead...ok, just kidding about that part. What is a "timely" death for a fish anyway?

So my bro, N, is in line at the grocery store, probably buying snacks, on the day before he drives back to Connecticut. He makes a last-minute impulse buy of a package of three live fish.

No, I am not making this up. Why, you may ask, is a grocery store selling live fish in the checkout aisle? I don't know.

Somehow, said fish - whom he named Gunther, Hans and - hell, I have forgotten the third fish's name, so let's call him fish # 3 - survived the cross-country road trip in a bag of water, and back to my brother's dorm.

N is often forgetful. Guess who quickly forgot to feed the fish?

He didn't realize how forgetful he had been until one day, upon returning to his room, he noticed that Gunther had gone missing.

He looked outside of the tank, to see if it had jumped out; he looked in the tank (obviously), and couldn't find a body.

The remaining two fish were bigger than Gunther. N felt bad, but he realized that they had gone without food for so long, they had eaten him. Not a gill remained.

Of course for the next week or two, N felt really bad and actually fed Hans and fish # 3.

Then, being forgetful, well, he forgot to feed them again.

One day, he came back to his room and Hans was missing.

He searched all of the places he had searched before, but he came to the conclusion that, as fish # 3 was bigger than Hans, he had eaten him.

(I swear that I am not making this up. Strange things tend to happen in my family.)

Predictably, N felt bad again, and resumed remembering to feed his remaining fish, fish # 3.

And equally predictably, N forgot to feed him, and one day he came home to fish # 3 floating belly-up in his tank.

Amazingly enough, N is now the part-time caretaker of my little brother and sister. He does much better with people, I guess.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Life's too short

Well, that statement is obvious...but really, life's too short not to laugh.

I was born a bit serious and the older I get, the less serious I am. I love the quote from Kurt Vonnegut:

And somebody now might want to ask me, "Can't you ever be serious?" The
answer is, "No."

Two things happened today that made me stop and think.

The first one: I talked to my dad this afternoon and found out that my grandmother (the one I like) had a stroke. I spent most of the afternoon pacing around, waiting for details that didn't come. Don't let Grammy's nickname fool you; she is soft as a marshmallow on the outside, but made of steel. She is sharp as a tack and has cheated death several times (people in my family tend to live forever), and I hate the thought that she might end up with dementia. I'm sitting here waiting for a phone call from my dad.

The second thing: tonight was the first night of the new volunteer ESL term, and I dragged myself out of shock and went to class. One of my students, who was a student when I taught the beginner class last time (this time I'm teaching the next level up), asked me, "Are you always smiling?"

"Ask my husband - he'll tell you no!"

Really, though, I thought it was so sweet. Yes, I can be a little stick of dynamite, and it drives me crazy having to deal with Oregon drivers, lazy coworkers, and bicyclists that run red lights and have "share the road" stickers on their helmets. Lots of things, in fact, do piss me off.

But I suppose I should credit myself for being more positive, because while I do vent, I think smiling and laughing are the most important things of all.

I try to make my ESL class laugh to help them past their nervousness. I think I just like making people laugh in general - though not always on purpose :)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Smacked around by Mighty Mouse

Several months back I posted about an odd thing happening at the same week, I got chewed out over the phone (for things done by my predecessor) by a person whose last name was Leach, and got sexually harassed by a guy named John Holmes. (I would not, could not make this up! And it gets weirder...I found out later that the person who fucked things up and pissed off Ms. Leach also slept with John Holmes, who apparently didn't know what to do with his equipment.)

But anyhow...

Fast forward eight months, and I finally have a meeting with the infamous Ms. Leach - who was not only sweet as fucking pie, but TINY! I am a small person (5'3" and little) and she was even smaller than me. Even in her high-heeled boots.

So yes...the woman who brought out the can of whoop ass (as we'd say in Texas)was probably 95 pounds soaking wet.

Mr. Riot Kitty said this proves that women can also have a Napoleon complex. :)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Welcome to the hen house

You wouldn't believe my morning - for once I wasn't the one being inappropriate.

Our new boss (only male in the office) started Friday unofficially, and most of us were off, so today was his first real day with all of us.

I brought a cake.

One of my coworkers (let's call her coworker A) came in with a urinary tract infection after an anniversary weekend getaway.

Coworker B: "It must have been a GREAT anniversary weekend!"

Coworker A (with big grin): "Yes, it was!"

He just looked like a deer in the headlights, I was like the female equivalent of a fraternity. He either didn't get it or was smart enough to pretend that he didn't get it.

I just said, "Welcome to the hen house!"

Friday, January 02, 2009

Sugar and spice

One of the few really cool things my ex once said to me was that I was "the best of both worlds," or something like that. "You talk like a truck driver," he said, "but you also love stuffed animals."

Soooooooo, the point being, lest all of you think because of the recent "f" posts I'm sitting here swilling beer in a trucking hat, I *do* like sweet stories as well.

So consider this:

My mother-in-law (L) retired from the post office on New Year's Eve. On Christmas, she mentioned that she helped out in responding to kids' letters to Santa this year.

My ears perked up and I said, "If I were still a reporter, I'd do a story about you!"

Then later, I thought, why not write it up for the blog? Good deeds deserve to be shared...

Apparently this is a nifty service that postal employees do all over the country.

"We get thousands (of letters), just in Portland alone," L told me. "I had 100 on my list this year."

The people who reply "try to pick out something in the letter to personalize it," she tells me. "But we try to be kind of vague, and NEVER focus on their behavior."

E.g., if the kids are naughty or nice, postal Santas don't judge. They just take the time to write back.

Although she says "probably 99.5 percent are just letters," the others have requests.

"You can tell the kids that are from lower income backgrounds, because they don't ask for hardly anything," she says.

The ones with more money tend to ask for the moon!

"Some families get their kids so much stuff during the year, now, Christmas isn't as big of a deal anymore."

I heard some funny stories - a girl scout who wrote Santa in the springtime, offering to sell him cookies - and some touching stories.

And then I heard one that Mr. Riot Kitty didn't know about - and I almost cried.

Mr. Riot Kitty's mom got a letter one year - and, well, this is what she did:

"This was years ago," she says, "and it was a real heart-rending letter.

"You could tell there was nothing expected for Christmas. The little girl asked for a coat for her dad because he didn't have one; earrings for her mom. For herself - I think she just asked for pencils.

"I called the carrier out in their town, because I used to work out there. And He said they were a nice family, and lived in county housing, and didn't have much.

"I called the county and talked to a caseworker. She gave me the ages of the children.

*OK, people, here's the fantastic, angelic, almost-unreal part!!*

"I got everything on the list. I probably spent $250. It was my one big, random act of kindness.

"I took the box with everything in it to their door and said, 'Merry Christmas,' and I had left the little girl's letter in the bottom, so they would know where it came from."

Apparently there are other volunteers who get together each year and write letters - the stamps, paper and envelopes are provided by the post office - and, "if there's enough informaiton, they'll bring things to the families."

Now go get a box of kleenex :)