Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm not crazy, YOU ARE.

To the mentally unhinged woman that left me over 30 voice mails at work over the weekend:

1. Oh. My. God. Get help. Get help right now before you hurt yourself, or worse yet, someone else.

2. You are not a "devout Christian" like you say you are. You are a raving lunatic who needs medicine ASAP.

3. God does not kill people at your request, no matter how much you pray.

4. Nobody has stolen your organs, so they can't be given back to you.

5. I don't think you are even aware that you were leaving that many voice mails, or even that you were speaking into a recording.

6. You scared the crap outta me. Just the sound of your raving sent a chill down my spine and brought me to tears.

7. Accusing innocent and perhaps imaginary people of murdering children is an innapropriate use of government resources.

8. You don't know me at all, and for that I am grateful. But I had to listen to each and every one of your messages to ensure that our staff was not being directly threatened with harm.

9. Who knows if we will even find you, since you didn't say your name and we can only guess.

10. Thank you for ruining my morning. You may be excused.

And for anybody in my life who has ever called me crazy. You are just wrong.

Friday, January 25, 2008

FAQ from the Stacie owner's manual

Some frequently asked questions I would prefer not to have to clarify any more. These are real questions people ask me on such a regular basis, it grates on my nerves.

Do you know you talk a lot?
Um, yeah. You wouldn't believe how mean people can be about it, so I have been told in many rude ways that I talk a lot. It happens a lot more when I am nervous or excited. Otherwise, I am just sort of naturally loquatious.

You say you can't have babies? Can I ask you for all the personal details? Don't you think you will get pregnant now that you are adopting?
I would really rather keep my medical issues and/or those of my husband private. Please take my word for it when I insist that it will never "just happen".

Well, I (questioner) am pregnant. Can I tell you, or will you have a nervous breakdown?
Of course you may tell me. At least give me the chance to tell you how happy I am for you. I love children, that is why I want to add some to my own family. I might feel a little sad sometimes that I won't ever experience pregnancy myself, but I also know that is my problem. I promise I will get over it and dote on your baby when it comes. I'm not going to freak out and toss myself out a window. That being said, if you make a big deal out of it like you are the first woman in history to ever give birth, and go on and on about how I am missing out on the magic, I'm likely to tell you it makes me uncomfortable.

Will you come to my baby shower?
No, I will not. I find that they make me too upset. It is good to know your limits, right?

What happened to your daughter's "real" parents?
We prefer to use the terms bio-parents or birth parents or first parents. In the ways that really matter day to day, I am "A"'s "real" mom. In any case, the details of her family of origin, as well as the specific reasons they are unable to parent her, are a part of her story, and thus hers to tell later on if she so chooses.

Do you accept Jesus as your personal saviour? Do you know you will got to hell if you don't?
No, and no I won't. Next question please.

Can I change your mind about that if I threaten you with violence or harrass you in some other way?
Sorry. No dice.

How does your husband put up with you?
He likes me. That, and I am so good in bed that he's willing to overlook my flaws. Come on, are you serious? Don't you see how insulting that question is?

You write fiction? Is it about me?
It is only about you if you piss me off. Then something very,very bad will happen to your character. You might have to sit on a donut for a while.

You quit being a chef? Why would you ever quit such an awesome job? It looks so cool on TV!
Haven't you figured out yet that life is not just like TV? Being a chef was a wonderfully creative job, and one that other people thought was pretty cool. It is also a profession that is really hard on family time, as well as being back-breaking work that I can't picture doing until I retire.

Will you go back to Alliance, Ohio for your next high school reunion?
No. Really. Fuck no. I'm still friends with the people I need. I'd rather crawl on my belly over broken glass and take an alcohol bath than go back there. Especially to hang out with people who never thought it was important to keep in touch in the first place.

There. That oughtta do it for a while. You may be excused.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oh Crap, here it comes.

I can't avoid it any longer. "Schindler's List" has made it to the top of my Netflix queue.

I don't really want to see such a heavy movie right now, and haven't been in the mood to see this one, but I feel at this point that it is part of the cultural oeuvre, so after a fashion it is time to take my medicine.

I generally have an interest in Holocaust period films. I really got into ragged sobs over "The Pianist". Maybe it is the Spielberg-ness that scares me. He's pretty hit and miss for me.

Anyway, some movies just have to be seen so that one can take part in popular culture. And lord knows I am all about being a pop culture diva.

Other movies that fit into this category, some I like and some not so much. I have seen all of these in the last two years (some certainly not for the first time, some for the last time ever, thank god):

Day of the Jackal
The French Connection
Last Tango in Paris
Life is Beautiful
Fahrenheit 451
A Hard Day's Night
Midnight Cowboy
Slaughterhouse Five
A Clockwork Orange
Pulp Fiction
Reservoir Dogs
On the Waterfront
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harold and Maude
American History X
Fight Club
The Wicker Man (1973 version)
Apocalypse Now

What are yours?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Funny Stacie-isms

Translated for your convenience: Some original slang created by yours truly.

Hitchhiking to the moon: Male masturbation. Mimic the hand gesture and it makes sense.

Shut yer scone hole: Be quiet, please.

Geriatric Speedball: Laxative+Milk

Rebel Role Model: A trend follower who thinks they are edgy and original. See: Hot Topic Shopper

Chef's Manicure: When you cut your thumbnail off with a knife by accident.

Chef's Hair Removal Treatment: When you light your arm hair on fire.

Fossil Fuel: Old man farts. Usually after consuming Geriatric Speedball, above. Don't ask how I know this.

Shiny Object: Anything that distracts a person enough to change the topic of conversation.

Mean Drunk: My little girl after consuming too many Pez. Alternately, my dachshund.

Pinecones, spraypainted gold and covered with Elvis stickers: Any sort of craft project.

Name and Address: As in "her skirt is so short you can see her name and address".

Arrangement: Guy gear. Otherwise known as the package. As in "nice arrangement in that Calvin Klein underwear ad"

Apocalypse Cheerleader: Any radical religious fanatic that wants to bring about the end of the world. See: President Bush and Mike Huckabee

Am I missing any?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hail, Janus!

In Roman mythology, Janus (or Ianus) was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, and endings. He was worshiped (via animal sacrifice, given Roman custom and practice) at the beginning of any new venture, births, deaths, marriages, and as a young person entered adulthood.

Janus is usually depicted as having two faces: one looking forward and one looking back. Sometimes one face is young and the other more mature with a beard. He represents a unification of past and future, and how the present is the gateway to both.

I need to get my head wrapped around that.

In our current "civilized" Western culture, we don't have a god for changes, for big transitions; I think we really need one. Christianity, with its one God, seems totally focused on the next life and chooses to ignore the past, especially the events before one is "saved" as unimportant. It might be easier to embrace change if we accept that part of us will always look back, but that we can look forward at the same time. That is a type of optimism that I might be able to practice. Far easier, anyway, than the relentless cheeriness of only looking forward, as if the past didn't matter. That kind of Pollyanna-ism always seems to fall short for me.

During times of war, the doors to Janus' temple were always left open, only to be ceremoneously closed when peace was declared. This didn't happen very often. Life is change, and conflict seems woven into the fabric of who we are. It would be nice, I guess, if we could have a little peace and shut the door, saving the moment for a little bit longer before we charge ahead into the next cycle of beginnings and endings. But isn't it better to know that even the ancient Romans knew how to celebrate the transition?

While it would be pleasant to have a few still, quiet moments, I'm going to see today as my Janus gate. I may still look back, but that doesn't mean I can't still look forward at the same time. If I keep the gate flung wide, then the new things in my life can come.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Nurses Eat Their Young!

Let's face it. People are cannibals, and nurses are the worst. You would think that taking care of the sick would require a gentle disposition. You would be wrong. You have to be part sadist to want to learn how to start a foley catheter on a man.

I have long heard it said that Nurses eat their young, meaning that as new nurses come up through the academic system, they are placed in the care of more experienced nurses for training. Often, the abuse sets in right there, with the older nurses behaving spitefully towards the new ones. The book in this photo is a real book that Kathleen Bartholomew wrote about it. Nurses joke about it all the time.

What gives? Is it because nursing is a traditionally female profession, and women are just bitches? I have met a lot of nurses over the years who are absolute pit vipers. One of the nurses I work with is so damn mean, we have to warn all the new people about her. She also smokes like a coal factory. Gross.

When I think about this, it makes me a little ill. I have one of those personalities that seems to make me a magnet for hostility. I wonder how much of that crap I am going to have to swallow. I am notoriously snappish if I get picked on, and backing me into a corner makes me come out fighting like a rabid wolverine. I run with scissors, dammit. Don't mess. But that doesn't do wonders for my career. I'm trying to better myself here. Sometimes I think I was better off as a chef, where people just expected me to be tempestuous and cranky.

I mentioned a while back that I have a great interest in Anthropology, and that I was considering a degree in that if the Nursing program I have been killing myself to get into doesn't work out.

Then Minya told me that the UNR Anthropology has more snakes in it than the Well of the Souls. That the atmosphere is very catty, and that the professors gang up on students they don't like. Fucking great luck for me. Now I really don't know what to do. That bothers me. I thought that was a good Plan B. I may still look into it and try my luck with the Anthropology cannibals.

In either case, it appears that I should get out my recipes for "long pork".

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Confessions of a Weirdo

Yes, that would be me. Some people go their whole lives without being called a weirdo. I'm lucky if I can get through a whole day.

I can't even be sure if something I am thinking or about to say is weird. I usually find out when I actually say it and the person I am talking to gives me that look. You know the look; the one where you look at someone like they are from Mars and say something like. "Okay, whatever." At which point I usually flinch inwardly, having once again touched the social hot stove.

Most people never notice me doing this, but if I get the look too much from one person, eventually I leave them alone. In that case, I'll bet that is what they want. I'm not saying that to feel sorry for myself, but it is a fact that my personality is not for everyone. Luckily for me, there are some wonderful people who have been my lifelong friends who embrace my odd little ways.

All I know is that when my parents' DNA scrambled to make me, or under the tutelage of various relatives, my brain got wired...different.

I have an impressive collection of neuroses and tics. They are mostly harmless. Here are some examples:

1. I must listen to "side A" before I can listen to "side B". Putting my iPod on shuffle makes me slightly uneasy.

2. I don't like to tie my shoes too tightly, because I fear getting a bug in my shoe. It happened once and I was totally vindicated in this fear.

3. Sometimes I worry that my house will burn down if I leave. Sometimes I go through periods where I have to be almost forced to leave my house. Most people experience me as a very outgoing and social person and would never believe that I have protracted periods of agoraphobia.

4. I have no filter between my brain and my mouth. This has caused me to have some awkward situations where I have spoken the unvarnished truth to someone who didn't really want to hear it.

I wrote a somewhat autobiographical novel that I completed the first and perhaps only draft on last year. I felt it was disjointed to a degree, so I sought some professional advice in the form of a developmental editor of some renown. To my delight, he agreed to work on it with me. I have never been so happy that someone with such an impressive reputation would be willing to even give my work a cursory read. But to my extreme horror and no small measure of shame, he told me that my protagonist is so very dysfunctional that there is just no way she could have relationships with other people. She couldn't have friends or maintain a marriage. NO way.

Then the light bulb went on in his head, and he said, very quietly, "Oh, is this in any way autobiographical?" I was mortified to admit that it was.

I was so floored that I couldn't even defend the parts of my work that I was very proud of. I have very good, long lasting friendships. I have been married to the same person for 12 1/2 years. I am developing a very close relationship with my new daughter.

But that interaction with the editor crushed me. I have been having a very hard time writing anything ever since.

I have a writer's symposium to go to in February. I have appointments with agents I was hoping to, if not dazzle, at least mildly amuse and interest in my work. I was hoping to come off as, at worst, a charming eccentric that can turn an occasional phrase. I did, after all, have a popular column in the local paper for several years. I had good feedback. I had an editor that knew how to motivate me to write confidently.

I was also hoping to finish a few of my half-completed manuscripts before February. But the moment Little A came into my life, my brain has jellied from sleep deprivation and I haven't had much time to myself for writing in any case.

So I feel less than prepared to engage in the kind of self promotion required to make a good impression on agents and editors. It isn't enough to be artistic anymore; one must also appear functional, which I regrettably find is not my strong suit.

So, I'm a weirdo. Hopefully I am a lovable weirdo. A lovable weirdo with some small measure of talent as an artist. This is the longest thing I have written since October.

Not that I want to be called normal. Normal is for squares. But all things being equal, I just want to make it work for me.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The VA makes Going Postal Obsolete!

I have long suspected this, but a recent survey confirmed it. Veteran's Health Administration employees undergo TWICE AS MUCH verbal abuse and risk of workplace violence than the employees of the Postal Service.

In the six years I have been working for the VA, I have personally experienced or witnessed the following:

1. A male staff member threatening to cut off the ponytail of a female staff member with a giant knife that was brandished in front of more than 20 patients.

2. A patient assault the clinic director with his quad cane.

3. I was backed against an elevator and forcibly told to "get right with Jesus".

4. A patient threatened a physician with a knife in an attempt to get narcotics prescribed to him.

5. The patient in #5 made innapropriate sexual comments about my breasts that same day.

6. I was threatened by a patient who told me he would murder me if I didn't get his doctor to write a precription for morphine for him.

7. A co-worker bragged about his skills as a practioner of black magic that allowed him to get revenge on anyone who crossed him. He also noted how many guns he has, and that people who mess with him always pay.

8. A co-worker beat up his wife in the parking lot by slamming her head against the hood of the car.

9. I have be screamed at, harrassed, gossiped about, and directly threatened by both patients and co-workers.

10. We all deal with hostility from the patients on a daily basis.

None of these patients have been banned from getting care here, although some have been reprimanded.

None of the staff mentioned has ever been fired.

In your face, Post Office.

Why on earth do I stick around? Three words: NURSING SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP

If I don't get accepted to the Nursing program, I am so outta here. Life is just too short.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Heh heh heh

I have no words.

Stoopid Government Crapola.*RANT ALERT*

OMG. I hate the government. I really mean that. The United States is being slowly crushed under the weight of its own bureaucrazy. "Bureaucrazy" is my new word, I just made it up.

I am putting together a training checklist for work, since we hired two new people and I am the defacto trainer in my department. I'm trying to be organized. My boss keeps coming and adding stuff to my list. "Oh, don't forget to tell them to do this in that way or the reports we send to Washington don't come out right."

Eventually I told her I don't give two figs about the reports, but I'll tell them anyway.

We have this lame scheduling program (if I tell you it is DOS-based, does that begin to explain how archaic it is?). It is so full of eccentric glitches and fussy ways to make mistakes, that several people (with no people skills) must be employed to monitor the reports that come off of it and run around with rulers smacking the wrists of those of us who actually have to help the patients.

Offering good customer service to sick people is hard even when you have good functionality of your equipment. Keeping track of, and teaching pedantic rules to the new hires is just an annoying part of the job. Usually I am on autopilot and I don't have to give conscious thought to the lameness of the rules. But preparing to instruct otherwise sane people in the insane ways of government double-speak and ass-coverage has just set me off today. I just got royally pissed and am having trouble choking it down this time. So I am being taciturn at my desk and blogging for a minute instead of working.

What really gets me if I allow myself to think about it this deeply is that my own taxes pay for me to be this annoyed. So I am going to shake my fist at the sky and shout "THE GOVERNMENT!!!!"

Try it sometime. Usually the government really is what is bothering you. Feh.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Oh Noes!

What happens when your toddler has a poopy pull-up diaper, and your husband leaves it someplace where your Labrador retriever can spend the whole day eating it?


I'm gonna find out! :(

My Brain Trust

I mean this: Lucky Me! My friends are all brilliant, artistic, and good looking. I'm feeling awed by it today, as I often am. I don't know how I got so fortunate, but I really know some movers and shakers. I'm going to drop some names and appreciate them out loud. This list is in no way supposed to be comprehensive, and I'll leave the whole names off in case they don't want fan mail from strangers.

Kari and John: Holy smokes. These two are so smart and clever and cool it boggles my mind. They are like from Planet Cool. They have fantastic vacations and buy hip music and know just what alcoholic beverage is needed to cool my head.

John P.: Smart and sexy and super driven, yet always has a compassionate ear for me and my silly troubles. He's always jetting off to some cosmopolitan locale for business. Also a brilliant musician. I used to love to listen to him play the piano; it made me write bad poetry about him for years.

Iceberg.: He'd be mortified to make this list, but he's got business savvy and artistic chops that make him the best at what he does. He's arrogant for a reason, and I love that he includes me in his snobbery. It makes me feel slightly more in the know.

Kathleen: I think Kathleen sweats art. She's so smart and funny and warm. Her art just flows from her in a whimsical stream of talent.

Jen: Fantastic painter and searing wit. I met her in 3rd grade and thought it was funny that her mom didn't let her watch TV. Now I still watch cartoons and she travels the world. Go figure.

Eliz: She's so sassy and driven and always dresses so much better than I do. Without her I would probably still be wearing leg warmers or something equally ghastly.

Will:He puts the "smart" in "smartass". He always makes me laugh, even though half of what he says goes right over my head. I heart him.

Minya: Amazing dancer and kickass sense of humor. She's so busy it makes me look like a slug. She's a wonderful mother and a fierce friend.

Audrey: She's looks so fekkin awesome. How can she be so dang sexy? She's a goddess and I love her, even if she is like a whole head taller than me and makes me look like Jabba the Hut by comparison. She's got a cool head in a crisis, and is an amazing mom.

Lisa: One day if I ever get rich this woman will be my personal tailor. That and she is mom to two amazing kids. And also that I adore how she has never let being a mom put a dent in her coolness.

There are just too many to count. My friends are brilliant, smart, and funny. I thank my lucky stars daily. Sometimes I feel like a squee fangirl among superstars. You guys rock. And if you aren't on this list and I know you, I'll have to do another edition of this later, I'm sure.

Friday, January 4, 2008


Note: for those of you who worry that things I say on this blog will affect our legal standing with regard to parenting "A", please notice that I am giving very few details and certainly nothing inflammatory.

Yesterday we went to our first hearing at the district court, a 12-month permanency hearing to decide the course of "A"'s case plan. I will not really go into the details here, since all sides are now considerably lawyered-up. The overarching outcome is that her case plan is no longer geared for reunification with her parents of origin, but is focused on the TPR, or "termination of parental rights" for said parents. It is my impression that both parents, who each have their own attorney, intend to fight this couse to the fullest extent of their ability.

There are a lot of balls in the air right now, and a lot of unknowns that could still alter the course of her case.

The case worker did get up and told the judge some very complimentary things about us and our efforts to meet A's needs. He noted that she is much loved by us and that we are committed to adopt her should she become legally free. The judge asked us if we had anything to add, so Tony and I both got to get up and express how much we are bonding with A and love having her in our family. We also noted that while in our care we have seen her progress and flourish, and that we are committed to her, no matter what the outcome.

Our heretofore twice-weekly visits with A's father are now dropped down to a more manageable once per month. A had a visit with her father about an hour after the court decision, and he was understandably distraught, although he had not been present at the hearing. Thankfully, A seemed oblivious to his emotional distress, and enjoyed her brief time with him before the visit was cut short at his request.

The next hearing will be in six months. It is expected that a certain amount of legal activity will occur during that time. We are just focusing on being good parents to A and helping her through this turbulent time.

If you choose to comment on this post, please be cognizant that this is still a sensitive legal issue, and that regardless of their shortcomings, these people are A's family. It is sad that she has to come to us under these circumstances, but we are confident that she will continue to be a part of our family as well. She is a wonderful little girl, and deserves all the love in the world.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Don't have a Resolution yet?

Here's two:
1. Donate Rice to the needy
2. Increase your vocabulary.

You can do both by playing this game. It is free, and the advertisers donate rice for every answer you get right!