Thursday, November 28, 2013

Don't let the turkeys get you down

I haven't posted a good rant in awhile, but in the spirit of the holiday, I'm going to tell you, albeit in the bitchiest way possible, why I am thankful for being an adult, especially around the holidays. (Oh, and for the record, although I am a vegan, there's no fucking Tofurky here. No fucking way.)
I am thankful that I am an adult because:

1. I don't have to spend the holidays with people I don't like. Why the hell should I? I'm a grownup and it's my damn day off. Tomorrow we are seeing the kiddo and one of my friends who has the paradox of having shitty relatives within driving distance, but great relatives out of state.

2. No one can tell me when it's time to eat. Did you remember this shit from when you were a kid? You had to wait FOREVER, until Uncle Joe or Auntie Margaret put the finishing touches on God knows what, or Cousin Phil took forever to show up and we all had to fucking starve because he was always late, but somehow, we still had to be polite. Then, they'd make you wait for dessert until all of the adults wanted it. Fuck that shit.

3. When I cook, I will cook exactly the way I fucking want to. This means mashed potatoes peeled before they are boiled. I can't tell you home many times I heard from people (not my dad, of course, he's awesome and I don't know that he ventured into the potato area), "You have to leave the skins on! That's where the vitamins are!" I don't have to do anything. That's also where the dirt is.

That also means no one can harass me about why I don't eat cooked birds, and I don't have to think the responses I'd like to say out loud. Mind you, I'm not telling anyone else not to. So why harass me?

"Why are you a vegan again?" Because you're not.
"Don't you like the taste of meat?" Yes, I love it, I'm just into self-punishment. I dream about McNuggets.
"How do you get any protein?" I grow soybeans illegally on my front porch.

4. I don't have to go back to school next week, thus, I have no homework. What was up with that? Then you'd go back to school and your teachers would say, "Oh, we are so behind!" We? Who is this "we"? My little brother and sister have three hours of homework each night. I'd rather have three hours of work work each night.

5.  I am now at the age where saying, "Because I said so!" actually works. Really. I got a phone call from the staff on duty at the kiddo's group home tonight because he refused to give up his phone and go to bed. I got on the phone and he started to whinge and give me all kinds of bullshit reasons why they shouldn't take his phone away. I told him, among other things, that I didn't want to hear it and the main reason he had to give up his phone was "Because I said so, that's why!" Jesus. Add a couple of personality disorders and some bleach and I could be turning into my biological mother.

Just kidding. She's totally not that reasonable.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Smart humanity, where art thou?

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The perfect gift(s)

Never underestimate the potential of the perfect gift.

As a preface to this post, one of our friends died unexpectedly last night. I found out via text. What the fuck is up with that? There should be a limit to technology.

This was not a young person, but it was not an old person either - it was and is still a shock.

This followed a  couple of other non-starters from the weekend, including an argument with the kid and a front-page incident involving the police and one of our donors, in which everyone and their grandmother emailed/texted/phoned me and said, "Did you know about this?" To which I wanted to reply, "No, I've been living under a rock."

So how therapeutic was it to arrive home today, and find in the mail a custom office stamp from my friend Granny Annie

And I am now not sure if she was putting me on, but to think that earlier today she wrote,
"It won't really seem like a gift.  It will be more like an office supply and you might not even think it is a gift."

In my daze I was wondering if I was going to receive a package of post-its, but I should have known better.

And it has INK!!! It is going right onto my desk, ASAP, tomorrow morning. 

That is exactly what I needed today.

Never underestimate the power of laughter and thoughtfulness. And for me, that can sometimes be when the word "fuck" is involved.

Tonight, we went to see Nine Inch Nails as an early Christmas present from my dad. Also lots of saying (singing) "fuck!" 

You remember the days where they said no flash cameras (was there any other kind?) allowed, right? Did all of that just go right out the window with smart phones? Well, cheers to that.

So you see? My needs are simple. Give me rubber stamps and Trent Reznor, and everyone is safe.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Oh fudge.

Some random observations from this past week:

1. The farther I get from Portlandia, the more things start to scare me. We held an event for work about 2 1/2 hours away from Portland last weekend, and I saw these signs on the freeway (not making this up):

Sign A (Picture of a guy jumping in the air, fist-pumping, like the old Toyota ads): "Jesus came to free us from slavery! End your porn addiction today!"

Sign B (No picture but it didn't really need one): "Saturday is the TRUE Sabbath. It was hijacked by the AntiChrist!"

Sign C: "If you die tonight...Heaven? (Picture of sun and clouds.) Or Hell? (Picture of flames.)"

Toto...I suddenly found myself in Kansas.

I emailed my dad, who replied, regarding sign C, "You mean we get to choose?" (This is funnier when you consider that he was once a clergyman.)

2. I don't know if I like being old enough to give advice to a teenager. The kiddo had an overnight at our place this week (a sort of impromptu slumber party, really), and he said, "I need to talk to you later. Just us. About SERIOUS TEENAGE STUFF!" (Yes, he really said that.)

And the serious teenage stuff was .... drum roll ... sex! Or the proposition of. The kiddo and his girlfriend have been on one date - her first date ever - and already she wants to jump his bones. He wanted my thoughts on this. I thought to myself, "Well done! You're thinking this through instead of being a purely horny teenage guy." Also thinking, has this girl got issues neither one of us know about?

So I asked him if he was hesitating, and he said kinda, so I said, Always go with your gut. If it's not right it's not right, there's always time. And then, being me, I blurted out, "Where would you go, anyway?"

He interrupted in true millennial fashion, "I have condoms by the way! Don't worry! I will be safe!"

So here I am talking about condoms at work AND at home. Sometimes, I think it's rather silly to be me.

Oh - and speaking of silly, you know the applications we are helping people fill out to sign up for Medicaid and private insurance on our state's health insurance exchange? There is a part where you think it's the end, because you sign, signifying that the application is complete, and then it says, "Congratulations! You're done!" This is the text verbatim.

On the back of that page there are more required questions. Needless to say, a lot of people have missed these and their applications will be deemed "incomplete."

A fucked up website is one thing; complete DIPSHITS writing the applications is another thing altogether.  I suppose I know where to go interview if I decide that I need a job I can sleep through and still be employed.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Would you like your answer loud or soft?

When we were little, and exasperating, my dad, instead of losing his temper or throwing up his hands (or pulling our his hair or our own), would say, "Would you like your answer loud or soft?"

So we'd giggle and choose.

If we said soft, he'd whisper, "No!" and then tiptoe away, all in a hush. More giggling..."LOUD!"

He'd roar in this big, pseudo-monster voice, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

And then we'd collapse with laughter and, I just realized, as I am typing away, that this was a very good way of distracting us with humor. (The apple doesn't fall that far from the tree, does it?) I don't remember ever nagging him for whatever we wanted after that.

I had to work again this weekend, and what sucks is that when I work on a Saturday, we don't take a day off during the previous or following week. Yes, I know, poor me, I'm not out digging ditches, but PEOPLE WEAR ME THE FUCK OUT, and when I have to put on an event on a Saturday, I haven't decompressed by Monday.

Anyhow. I thought I'd surprise the kiddo by calling him up and inviting him to come out to coffee with me. I thought that would be decompressing enough. (I can hear all of you parents of teenagers laughing.)

As soon as I call, he starts ranting and telling me he doesn't want to eat if he can't have exactly what he wants...he had thrown a tantrum with staff again because he couldn't have his way. So with any other kid you'd say, "Fine, don't eat," and then wait for them to cave. But with a teen who has eating disorders, who pulls this stunt often enough that I don't know how I have any hair left, that just won't fly.

I got into it with him on the phone (basically saying, "Go eat RIGHT. FUCKING. NOW! Or I won't take you anywhere!" And he did.) And unfortunately, I realized that I am going to have to be parental in some more ways because the carrot-stick method is the only thing that seems to work. Someone I know through work has a son the same age and she said, "It's not his right to have the phone. It's a privilege. And right now, he's not earning it."

So we had a meeting with his program person and agreed that if he throws tantrums like these, he loses phone privileges for a bit. He agreed to this but I still feel like a jerk. I'm trying to do this as a reward and a motivation, not a punishment, but it's a defacto punishment, isn't it?

Speaking of punishment, he thinks it's totally unfair that his group home supervisor has to meet his girlfriend's parents.

"Why?!" he asked. "That is sooooooo embarrassing!"

I replied, "They have to make sure she doesn't live in a crack house."

And apparently, life imitates sarcasm, because the program guy explained that in a previous home, they didn't have the "meet the parents" requirement. One day he inadvertently gave one of the teens in his charge a ride to a ... wait for it ... crack house!

The kid told him he was going to a friend's house. The supervisor said he'd come in with him and introduce himself. There were people milling around outside who were obviously completely out of their heads on drugs. A guy who was completely high answered the door: "You don't have to knock! Come in!" (They didn't.)

So the moral of the story is...every smart alec comment must have some basis in reality? If that's the case, I'm wiser than I thought.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Soap operas, short vikings, and ordering condoms for work

So as you know, we're helping people sign up for Medicaid and other insurance at work. It has been an exercise in patience, and not just with the paperwork.

My intern, for instance, took this call today:

Caller: "I want to make an appointment. I am open all day tomorrow."
Intern:  "How about 12:30?"
Caller: "No, I'll be watching a soap opera."
Intern: "How many people in your household?"
Caller (in all seriousness): "Just me. I've never been married. I watch soap operas, and I know how that goes!"

Then, there's the condoms I have to order for work. Long story short, every winter, we work with a volunteer's place of business to put together gift bags of toiletries, a warm item of clothing, and a small gift (e.g. a journal or cards) and distribute them to shelters and drop-in centers that serve people who are homeless and have severe mental illness. The health department heard about this and offered to give us about 2,000 condoms, since people living on the streets are much more likely to have Hep C and HIV.

So there is a sequence of emails for work where we are all giggling like eighth grade girls, and then it comes to the condom request form.

Me, in an email to the project coordinator: Please see the attached form and let me know what kind of condoms you want, and how many.
Her reply: Seriously?
Me: Yes. I've been married forever. I have no clue about these things.
Her: OK! 5300.
Me: I think they can only get us 2,000?
Her: That was the item number! O.M.G.

She chose ... drumroll please ... red, yellow and green ones. At first I thought she chose "extra snug fit" (yes, that is on the form) but I was one digit off.

Then, filling out the form (and I kid you not), it asks, "Who will be using the condoms?" and lists different categories of populations.

Um. We don't exactly have a signout sheet, do we?  So I just checked all of the boxes.

Meanwhile, my DNA spit kit arrived but it will take 6-8 weeks to process the spit. In the meantime, I told my dad that the newly discovered Scandinavian on his mom's side means we are clearly descendant from, among other groups, vikings! This makes perfect sense to me.

Him: "You're too short to be a viking."
Me: "There are short vikings!"

I believe this to be true, anyhow. It would explain a lot.

Friday, November 01, 2013

I have no patience with adults

A few days ago, I had a meeting with someone who was talking about patience, and people who tried ours.

"I have all kinds of patience for kids, and for teenagers," she told me, "But I have no patience with adults. They should know better."

THANK YOU! This basically sums up how I feel about life in general. The kiddo tries my patience, but not on purpose. Adults do it deliberately, or so it seems.

Take today, for instance. I worked from home and so I wasn't there to let the door kick this woman in the ass on her way out. One of my volunteers made an appointment for someone to help them sign up for insurance. Like all of our services, we don't charge for this.

First off, she's over an hour late. That alone would make me say, "I'm sorry, but we have other people coming in, and you need to reschedule." This volunteer is super nice and maybe too accommodating. But I am not there, so he keeps the appointment and stays late.

She proceeds takes forever to go through the application, because she didn't bring the information she was asked to bring. Then at the end she changed all of her answers! Um, hello. I am unsure of the details of this - I was at the dentist when it happened - but I wrote the volunteer and told him, "Just because you are a volunteer doesn't mean people have carte blanche to waste your time!"

Another example, also from work. A colleague in another office emailed me and asked a question that I didn't have the answer to, as it had to do with something another agency does. I copied a contact at the other agency and said, "I'm copying so-and-so to find out."

A day goes by. Maybe not even an entire day. Then the colleague emails one of my employees the exact same question. We discuss this, SINCE WE WORK IN THE SAME OFFICE, and it turns out she emailed the contact at the other agency as well. So we both look like idiots.

So without a hint of sarcasm, I email the colleague and copy my employee and say, "If you have a question about Project X, and one of us does not get back to you immediately, it's because we are still waiting for the answer. We both emailed so-and-so because you emailed us both separately. So please just email one of us when you have questions."

And without a hint of irony she wrote back, "Great! Thanks!"

I tell you, velcro was invented for a reason. I do not know how some people get up and tie their shoes in the morning.

I have no patience with adults.