Sunday, December 28, 2014

The brain cannot function without coffee.

That's a line we heard in a BBC murder mystery last night (have you seen David Suchet as Agatha Christie's Poirot? OCD people everywhere, unite!) And I find it to be true.

I mean, espresso is a reason for living.

Since this spot is a vehicle for grumping, I thought I'd mention a few things that make me happy.

Not that there are any surprises here...

Kitties! Life is so much better with furry little guys.

Cheesecake. And the friend who made me a vegan, sugar-free version so I could actually eat some.
Painting. I can't draw to save my life, but I have a decent eye for color. Here is an ornament I painted for my BFF.
Laughing. I saw this in an antique/junk shop in Portland yesterday and it reminded me of a lewd joke my dad told us years ago. Let's just say, "I sold your thermos for $100" was the punchline.

All of you in blogland! You always cheer me up. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

More grumps

I appreciate that in this part of the world, we all need a little pick-me-up to get through the dark-early, often gray and rainy days that seem to last forever.

I don't dislike Christmas. I do, however, hate how the entire month has turned into a retail free-for-all.
If I wanted an excuse to hit someone, I could find plenty. I don't need to go to Wal-Mart and fight over something on Thanksgiving evening.
So, I typically avoid 1. shopping for anything that isn't absolutely necessary and 2. being social any more than I have to be during this month.

That said, there is plenty more to annoy me. Such as:
  • People who ask, "Sooooo, finish your Christmas shopping yet?" and don't like it when I answer that we only get presents for people under the age of 18. Everything else we donate to charity. More often than not, people give me a frown and say, "Ah, that's nice of you," and change the subject. Next time, I'll stand up and yell, "Fuck you! I'm Jewish!" Some of my family is also Lutheran, but how the hell would they know?
  • People in the Portland metro area basically don't do any fucking work between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.  I know they're not all on sabbatical. What gives? Why do I get a flood of emails Jan. 2? I kid you not, it happens every year. Apparently thumb-twiddling is very popular this time of year. 
  •  People who I barely know asking, "So, what are you doing for the holidays?" I want to reply, "Having a sex toy party. Would you like to come shop?" 
And we all know that winter is a hard time for those of us who either have seasonal depression or flat-out fucked up depression like mine. Being in a workplace where we are trying to let people know it's OK to ask for help, I am tired of people saying they're depressed/anxious/etc. "but it's not a mental illness, it's different."

Tip for the unitiated: NO IT FUCKING ISN'T.  Your brain doesn't compartmentalize like that. It doesn't say, "Hey, sexy! You're going to be anxious today, but it's really coming from your liver. It's not a mental illness."

It's not all bad, though. I do make homemade gifts during this season (see above and below. I'll happily make one for you!)

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Social graces (where I get my grump on)

I suppose nothing ruffles my feathers as frequently as bad manners - or no manners.

And in the hierarchy of offending gestures, there is nothing more obnoxious to me than being interrupted in my own home by people purporting to save my soul. (A tip for the uninitiated: I'd rather be in whatever kind of hell your religion espouses than get saved, if I have to do it with you.)

This evening, I was expecting a friend to drop by, hence I actually answered the door during dinner.

Complete stranger, standing by another complete stranger, bundled up like they are walking door to door to spew cultish crap: "We'd like to talk to you for a couple of minutes."

Note: if you are not invited, or flashing a badge, this tactic will fail in the House of RK.

Me: "We're eating dinner." Closes door.

That is pretty good restraint, no?

Then I realized what I was wearing.

(If you want to know about this shirt, read more here.)

Other things that are annoying me this week include the fact that I have to work with mustache man on our upcoming lobby day again. I'm sure he remembers me, because I all but flustered the Yosemite Sam mustaches off of his annoying little face two years ago.

And then there is Vasil, who has recently discovered how to meow up the stairs. Yes, you read that right. He has mastered the power of the echo - at midnight, and at 5 a.m. However, he is so unbearably fucking cute that I literally can't throttle him.

You'd never know he could be such a little asshole, would you?

Lastly, the lady - scratch that, the female - who blew through a stop sign and nearly bought me a new car, or a new me. Luckily for both of us, I have really good brakes, and so does the person who was behind me. I really and truly hope that when I laid on the horn like nobody's business you shit your pants.

Monday, December 01, 2014

My house during the holidays

Once again, I will reiterate here (and to anyone who will listen) that one of the lovely things about being an adult (not to say a grownup) is that I don't have to spend time on holidays with people I don't want to see.
To wit:
  •  We don't wait to eat dessert until the powers that be say so, because we *are* the powers that be! Hooray!
  •  I don't have to eat anything I don't like "to be polite," because Mr. RK and I fucking cook it. It's impolite, methinks, to force someone to eat something they don't care for. Period. End of story.
  •  Friends are so much better than extended family. One of mine made me a vegan, sugar-free cheesecake, so I actually got to eat dessert!
  •  I don't get bored because it's my fucking house, and the people who are there were all invited by me
Mr. RK scared the shit out of me, though. He said, "My (insert relative here) texted to say Happy Thanksgiving. So I invited her over."

Dead silence.

"Just kidding!"

Because he wants to stay married, that's why.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fighting the oobleck

I didn't plan this long of an absence from blogs - I've been under the weather. Where the fuck does that expression come from, anyway? It feels more like being under the oobleck - as in this:

Dr. Seuss made up a lot of words, but I think that one may be my favorite, because it so accurately describes that very special feeling of being sick. Monday afternoon, my boss said he was "going home to rest" after traveling for business this past weekend. Tuesday morning, the oobleck (his? Mine? Who knows?) attacked us both.

Then, to add insult to injury, once you finally outrun the oobleck, you get hit by the tired stick.

Then, back at work, everything makes you grumpy.
My poor coworker and I had this conversation.

Me: "I thought you went through the mail when I was gone! But it's in a pile on my desk!"
Coworker (with blank stare): "I didn't have a chance."

Me later that day: "Sorry, I'm sick and grumpy."

Which, at least, is one more excuse than normal!

What makes you get your grump on?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Things I would like to know

And I bet you would, too, you just haven't written about it yet.

1. Why the phone system at work got fried by a storm on the SAME day I ran out of cell phone minutes, which has never happened before, AND the heater decided to start spitting icy air out, and my computer decided to keep crashing - all at the same time. (I actually put this lolcat on our Facebook page at work with an explanatory message about the phones. Pretty cool, no?)
2. Why the internet is buzzing about a certain person's ass. An ass makes headlines! Shit, I'm in the wrong line of work.

3. What exactly do the models and actors do in the group Models and Actors for Christ? (I'm not making this up. I see this billboard on the way home from work every day, and it bugs me not knowing.)

4. Why the person who couldn't remember when his appointment was just showed up at my office this morning. Like you do.

5. Why his mother said she doesn't like stairs, so there should be an elevator (in a two-floor building), but continued to take the stairs rather than wait for him in the lobby.

6. We saw Birdman this week, which is a really good movie. So my question's referred to as an "art film." Who decides a film is art? Does that mean other films are not art? Inquiring minds want to know.

7. Speaking of that movie, it turns out that Michael Keaton and Courtney Cox dated for several years back in the 90s?? Um. WAT?

8. Why does Alaska only send shitty things down to the mainland? We have premature winter this week, thanks to a storm from that state. Their politicians are just as bad, and they seem to last longer.

9. I know...why ask why...but I must. Why do I live in a state where more people voted on the legalizing marijuana measure (which passed) than voted for Governor? I mean these people filled out their answer to that ballot question, but didn't vote for either guy who wanted to run the entire state.
10. What can the conversations be like between our current governor and his fiancee? Oooh, what I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall in that house!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Plenty of Material

Last weekend, I went with several friends to watch a performance of comics who had taken the Stand Up for Mental Health comedy class. One of our friends was getting up on stage, and I wanted to support her...and I had no expectations.

Silly me! The show was fucking hilarious. In fact, I started thinking about how moments from my own life might make good punchlines. I imagine a psychiatrist asking if my family has problems with mental illness...and myself responding, "No, actually they enjoy it."

Food for thought
Once, on Halloween when I was a kid, we made caramel apples. I was so tired by the time the apples were done that I went to bed, planning to eat it the next day. In the morning, however, my mother informed me that the apple was gone, "because a roach had eaten a hole through it." It wasn't for a few years that I realized the "roach" was my mother. Come to think of it, that wasn't a bad comparison.

Food for cats
Things that are perfectly acceptable in the feline world are gauche for humans. Why, may I ask? For instance, a couple of days ago, Mandrake hoovered his breakfast and then started on Vasil's. Mr. RK asked me, "Would it be ok if we went to a restaurant and I inhaled my food, and then snatched your plate?" Come to think of it, there are a few people I'd also like to bite on the rump in meetings when they get out of hand...
Food for your brain
It's not entirely bad living with OCD*. Although I'd really prefer it was spelled CDO. You know, in order.

*Yes, I really have OCD. So I can make fun of myself. 

Then there are the weird dreams. Last week, I had one that was entirely in Spanish in which I was involved in a fender bender, and spent most of the time explaining that the person in the car with me had gone to seminary. The night after that, I had a dream I was making out with Alice Cooper. (A younger Alice Cooper.) I texted a friend about it and he wrote back, "I thought you weren't into girls?"

So what makes you laugh?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tips for the uninitiated

I don't remember this time of year ever being so busy. In addition to the usual events and day-to-day stuff at work and at the place where I volunteer, I have (stupidly) agreed to take on some volunteer marketing work for said place.

Which puts me in the frame of mind where I look at everything from a branding/marketing lens. I have worked in PR and marketing before, and hated it, but I did learn some good takeaways. Namely, don't write like you are an idiot.
Sadly to say, someone has managed to do this for a federal training we have to take at work. I'm sure they're laughing all the way to the bank. The training is an online thing required for us to keep signing people up for Medicaid and other insurance post Nov. 15, when our state, which has fucked up beyond belief, is moving to the federal website. (Do an internet search for "Cover Oregon" and you'll start to feel my pain.)

Anyhow. Along with the typical mind-numbing slides and endless pop-ups and dialogue boxes, there are sample conversations from theoretical appointments.

To whit:

"Hi, Casey, I'm 29 and my husband and I have a two-year-old daughter, and neither of our workplaces offers affordable health insurance. I'm looking for a plan that has low deductibles because we make frequent visits to the pediatrician."

It is at this point that I begin to laugh, because clearly the author of this script has never done an actual appointment signing anyone up.

It's more like this: "Um. I need to get an insurance card."
Assister: "Do you mean you need to apply for insurance? Do you currently have insurance?"
Caller: "I have insurance in Connecticut but it won't cover me in Oregon."
Assister: "Are you just visiting or did you move here?"
Caller: "I moved here. And I have to go get surgery this week and they won't cover it because it's out of network."

Well no shit, Sherlock!
Also amusing were the online "exams" at the end of each segment. Some of the questions were like trick questions, because the answers were close enough together to be indistinguishable, and some of them were made for four-year-olds.

A real sample: "Wendy calls about getting affordable health insurance. She is unsure if she qualifies for Medicaid. Do you A) Tell Wendy you can't help her." .....

Yes, really.

Another scenario involved a customer who thought they qualified for something they didn't qualify for. In the sample dialogue, she said, "I feel much better now that you have explained it to me. It makes sense."

HA! We have had people accuse the state (and us, even though we have nothing to do with the state's healthcare system) of everything from discrimination to incompetence even when THEY are the cause of the fuck up. Case in point: the guy who moved and didn't tell anyone, and then didn't get his insurance card, and then freaked out when he couldn't get a prescription.

There are a lot of people out there in need of velcro.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Five minute Friday: blood

Five minutes to write from a single word prompt...go!

Blood as in family. As in DNA.

From the minute I met him, I fell in love with my little brother B. Who is now my brother B who is going to college next year. Who is taller and bigger than me. Mr. RK calls me B's "little sister."

I don't have children, other than furry ones with tails, but I am told the fierce and protective bond I have for him is like that. Momma Bear. Don't mess with my brother. If you ruin his day, you ruin mine, and God fucking help you.
I want him to be happy, and dread the day he is too cool to hang out with me any longer.

Blood, frankly, means nothing to me. Family are the people you love, who love you, who you surround yourself with my choice. DNA is a matter of coincidence.

And next week, B is going to have a very special kind of celebration (psst, I'll let you know when it's done) that proves exactly my point.

Blood isn't what matters. Blood, frankly, would have let me down a long time ago.

Family is different.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

I am not your mommy!

I think I need to make a shirt with those words and wear it - you know, at events, in the office.

We had our gala dinner Tuesday (and I am obviously old because I'm still tired, hence the lack of blogging) and I kid you not, that day at 3:30 pm I get an email:

"RK, what is the dress code for dinner?"

I'm heading out the door in FIVE MINUTES to go start setting up at the hotel. I AM NOT YOUR MOMMY!
On the phone with someone I referred to a clinic. "Do you know how long the wait time is?"


What I am, apparently, is the provider of strawberries for the resident squirrels. I had no idea that they enjoyed fruit. Little bites are appearing in the berries as soon as they ripen.

Apparently I am also the resident safety officer. Reading before bed last night, we heard a big crash...then Vasil scurried off somewhere.

Mr. RK later discovered that Vasil was attempting to get up into the guest bedroom closet - or rather, onto the top shelf - and didn't quite make it, falling into a box of Legos.

Yes, Legos. Mr. RK said I could tell you that he is secure enough to own up to Legos.

I am going to sound like a horrible person but I find it easier to deal with wildlife and tamed wildlife than people these days. No matter how easy we try to make it for people to get services, for instance, some shitheads want everything done for them. However...

These are interesting times. We had an appointment a couple of weeks ago for someone who needed to sign up for Medicaid. His mom came with him and although her son was the one with the diagnosis, this woman was just this side of bonkers. Or maybe just bonkers. She was getting so self-righteously worked up about something, and I thought I was going to have to ask her to leave - and then she spied the candy dish on our conference table.
"OOOOOHHHHH, CANDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" She ate half of the bowl by herself in twenty minutes flat.

Then she said, "You know? If I had known I was going to have to wait, I would have brought my ukelele."

And yes, I know, these are terribly politically incorrect, but I take happy pills myself, so I know crazy when I see it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It started with a small pile of poop.

Mr. RK said that would be a good post title, but really, that is how the day started - at least right before I walked out of the door.

Before that, I woke up after having scary dreams about my boss naked. Wait, that was redundant.

Anyhow, Vasil, who is normally a good litter-box trained, if otherwise naughty, kitty, graced the downstairs bathroom with his displeasure (you talk about bad aim - he was an entire floor off target), and the day just went on from there. My friend Mike D and I were texting, and luckily he said, "Feel free to vent with your thumbs!" My thumb in someone's eye would have been more satisfying.
Although I had volunteers covering the phones all day, the one hour where a volunteer was busy with an appointment was the hour I had four (COUNT THEM FOUR) calls from people wanting resources. Which is normally no big deal, except...

Caller #1: Starts the  call with, "I have a question for you..." (Note to self: next time, say, "Oh no, you fucking don't!")

And he can't explain what he wants and goes on and on and on. Until I politely ask, "And what is the question?"

Him: "Well! Okaaaaay..." And goes on. And on. And keeps changing the request and after I counter with resources for every request, says, "Well you've been pretty helpful. Now I have one more question. When is the next training for your organization's Tell Your Life Story program?"

His words, not mine. Note: we don't have a program of that type. Now you know why.
Another caller just moved here, is living in a motel, has no insurance, and says, "I want to meet with a social worker." Um, right. I politely explain that here in my state, at least, you need to get signed up for Medicaid or have some kind of insurance before you can become a client at an agency. In fact, we can sign him up for this.

"I'd rather talk to a social worker first and see what my options are."

Needless to say, the organizations I gave him phone numbers for will say, "Call them back and sign up for insurance first..."

And as it is event week (next Tuesday about midnight I should be a much happier camper, or if not happier, the damn thing will be over), I of course have to have raging PMS.

Lastly, I ask you. If someone tells you politely two or three times that they MUST HAVE THE FUCKING HEADCOUNT FOR THE HOTEL by a certain date, wouldn't you get back to that person?

Thank you, Grumpy Cat. You have expressed me ever so much better than I could have expressed myself.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Does this make me a grownup?

The good news: we have internet, as of, I think, Friday, thanks to Mr. RK. An open note to the Frontier Communications company: You can all suck it. It's no thanks to you that we're up and running (and we are no longer a customer, so there.)

On my recent birthday, I told my dad I didn't feel grown up enough to be the age I am now. When my parents were my age, they seemed to be more grown up (not older. Hey, he might be reading this.) But this week, oh, how times have changed.
My to-do list is entirely made up of things relating to 1. our new place, 2. my younger brother, 3. my job and 4. our new place.

I had to double up on the decaf last week. Then I realized we had packed, moved, unpacked, cleaned, etc. every day for two weeks. (Did this stop my new insurance agent, who is all of 22, from emailing me THE MORNING AFTER the weekend I moved asking if I needed more time to proceed? No.)

I work with her mom and she said, "Oh, younger people, they move and it's no big deal." Ouch! Then again, I don't remember a move ever being this much of a pain because I wasn't moving anyone's shit except my own. I am not a packrat. I don't know how I ended up with enough stuff to fill a space twice the size of the one we were in previously.

My dad is talking about my 40th birthday trip which is two years down the road! 

Note to self: I can't possibly be heading for that number. Right?

And a meeting of the board I'm on got rescheduled for the night before I'm supposed to leave to set up one of our events. It's only two hours away, but I am thinking, "Damn, I'll be up too late! And tired! I must skip it!" Maybe I just don't like meetings all that much. Or maybe I'm a grownup.

And lastly, I am posting pics of a teenager on social media, which I believe is something old people do. The kid in question is not mine (mine have four paws and a lot of fur), but my brother B, above, whose time has been consumed as of late by AP chemistry.

Mr. RK just wandered in, looked at this picture, and asked, "What the FUCK is that? B is surely going to kill us all."

He'd probably like that. Except there wouldn't be anyone left to pay for coffee.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Too tired to meow

We moved this past weekend. There is no internet at my house. Don't get me started, but I will visit all of your blogs as soon as I can.
Things I have learned:

1. The house was previously populated by stoners who were just out of college. I know this because when Mr. RK went to see the place, the master bedroom was locked, there were tapestries everywhere, and I keep getting their unpaid bills in the mail. How do people go through life like this and manage to tie their shoes? Oh, right - that's what velcro is for.

2. I have muscles I didn't know existed before last week.
3. Every new cupboard is a new place for a cat to explore - hence, Bang! Bang! Bang! That would be the cupboard doors.

4. Stairs mean my cat Vasil wants to chase his little cat soccer balls up and down them at midnight. And yeowl up the stairs, just to hear his own echo.

5. One mocha is not enough today.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Consider yourself tagged

If you are reading this. I got tagged by my friend GB Miller in this writing meme. And as you all blog, that means you all write, which means you can all participate.

1) What are you currently working on?
This post. Just kidding. I blog once or twice a week depending on my schedule and fancy, and I'm also working on another children's book.

2) How does your work  differ from others in the same genre?
I think everyone would like to think they're unique, so I really can't say. I think I have fewer filters than other people when writing for myself. With the children's books, I make a point of not talking down to the audience. Not unique, but maybe unusual these days.
 3) Why do you write what you write?
Blogging is therapeutic, and it ranges from essay writing to humor writing to social justice writing. I literally have to write - it's a necessity. Words have been bubbling in my brain since before I could talk, which was, incidentally, early in life!

With the children's fiction, I am trying to create a happy place. Kind of like that feeling you get when you read Winne-the-Pooh. That's what I'm aiming for. A sweet, happy place with some humor.

4) Describe your writing process. 
For any kind of writing I'm working on, the longest process is the thought process behind it - the ideas rolling around in my head. After those are ironed out, it's a matter of sitting and typing it out. That part is usually rather fast.

How about you?


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Coffee, coffee, everywhere, and some of it I drink.

We're moving soon, and it's very sadly nowhere near my favorite coffee place.

Mochas are my weakness. My decaf, iced, soy, sugar-free weakness. It's the only thing I spend money on, but I'm not willing to spend an extra half hour in the car, so I broke down and bought an espresso machine.

Enter trial and error.

You see, I had not thought this through, having worked at a coffee shop right after college. Not thought it through meaning that I have been experimenting making drinks, which have turned out everywhere from very good to mostly terrible. Trial and error with fake milks, fake syrups, even fake coffee!
Of course, I was too proud to say, "This shit is terrible!" So I drank all of them.

Mr. RK pointed out that the only sugar-free syrup I could get at the store was probably not cutting it, so I found a barista supply store online (go, me!) and am having some shipped. I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile my boss said, "No caffeine, right?" Because we don't want Speedy Gonzales on crack in the office.

And speaking of the office, no matter how much I enjoy time off, I enjoy work much more than I ever enjoyed school. My younger sibs have started school and my brother B's report went like this:

Me: "Did you have homework?"
Him: "About three hours."
Me: "Why so much?"
Him: "The pre-calculus book doesn't come with any instructions. So I spent a lot of time looking stuff up. And the science teacher wants us to color code our notes."

Color code their notes?

Me: "My God. Does she have OCD, like me? What if any of the students are colorblind?"
Him: "Then they are fucked."

He has always been pragmatic, that one. Meanwhile, my stepmom is on a business trip this week, and he has the run of the place to himself. I just hope none of it involves a goat. 

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


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 mental illness, and he was vocal about destigmatizing - ending the discrimination that surrounds - it. 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.)