Monday, April 21, 2008

meat in a petri dish

Call it: meatri, maybe. I'm listening to a radio program on the BBC about meat. They're interviewing a woman from PETA who is explaining that PETA is offering a one-million dollar prize to the first scientific team who can come up with a way to grow edible meat from animal stem cells. Gag. Sorry.

I didn't intend to write about that, but as my little lappy booted up and spent ten minutes "thinking" about opening up the blogger dashboard, I kept listening to that absurd show and had to mention it.

I wanted to write about something equally absurd: I am the on-call administrator at my work this week. This is one of those strange hallmarks of upward career movement. I have to keep my cell phone on high volume, twenty-four hours a day from 8am this morning until 8am next Monday just in case anyone at any of four residential sites has any questions, problems or meltdowns. Fabulous. And maybe, when they call me, I'll know what to tell them...

In other news, I went to a meeting at a mental hospital today to talk to several very angry people about why we aren't accepting one of their patients into our program. Wow. I can't give many details, but it certainly appears that working for long stretches in a mental hospital makes you just about as "mental" as your patients. I know, I'm one to talk considering where I work, but really. Those folks were just plain loony. More than loony. They also appeared to lack integrity. It would be generous to say they were out of touch with reality and probably more accurate to say they were lying. I think they would've said about anything to get us to accept this particularly inappropriate referral.

I mean... ok, I'll give a few details... I mean, come on. The dude threw something heavy out of a window awhile back trying to hit someone he was mad at. He narrowly missed. Not only did we have to pull this information bit by bit from a very reluctant nurse, she actually had the audacity to say, once the facts were on the table, "yeah, but that person moved out of the way, they were never in any danger." Um... bullshit.

It's moments like those when I'm glad I'm a lawyer in disguise. Because I've been trained to track details, to parse arguments and to focus on the things that are important when the opposition is throwing up dramatic smokescreens. Above all, I was trained to keep a clear head and think on my feet. These guys were so transparent today, it made my work easy. My work was easy anyway because, no matter how sharp my mind was today, I was the representative from my company with the least authority in that meeting, so I had to hold my tongue most of the time. But when I talked I said good stuff, I promise. And it felt good to leave knowing that not only were we right, but that we were behaving with integrity. Because -- I'm gonna drop a moral on you -- it doesn't matter if it turns out you were wrong or right, what really matters is that you did your best and you did it with integrity. Because everybody makes mistakes or bad judgment calls here and there, it's when you start lying and doing shit you *know* you shouldn't do that you get yourself into trouble. And that's the end of my little tale.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

not even making excuses anymore

I guess I'll be doing good anymore to post once every 7 to 10 days. But you know, that's better than nothing.

I love my new job. I had a minor breakdown last week when I'd basically convinced myself that I was going to be laid off. I'm not completely insane, I mean, my company is about to lay a bunch of people off and I had my reasons for suspecting that I have the least essential job in our program... but I guess that's not how they're going to decide who gets canned, and according to my boss (who got to see me actually cry at work, that's how freaked out I was) they're taking performance, education and longevity into consideration. So... the worst I could expect would be to be transfered to some different job in some other part of the agency... which I guess is better than being laid off... I guess.

So then I decided to buy a car. But I haven't done it yet. I just decided. A Subaru Forester. Blue.

Among other things, I stayed late one night last week calming down an irate client and heard one of the most interesting stories ever. First I should say that I'm in a big "Oz" phase right now. I'm currently on season three and am not ashamed to admit that I'm totally in it for the prison sex. It's hot. Guy on guy action couldn't be hotter than guy on guy prison action.

Anyway, this client is old and cranky and more or less demented. If you've ever worked with demented people, you know they get confused, they mix stuff up, they can be a little paranoid, and they're prone to hissy fits and belligerence. So this guy was having one of those sort of moments and I went down to take him aside and hear him out, mostly just to get him out of everyone else's hair. That's why they pay me the bucks. (And now, finally, when I say that it's not just a sad joke...)

So I took him off to an empty office and for about 40 minutes I let him rant and ramble about every awful thing that's been perpetrated against him since he moved into our building, ninety-percent of which was embellished or utterly fabricated. I've heard all this before from him, and I knew that if I could just wait him out without saying anything, he'd be fine. So I sat there. I went through the motions of "active listening" -- I nodded, encouraged him to continue, maintained an open posture. And I kept my mouth shut.

Finally, after 40 minutes, after following tangent after tangent, he got himself so off track he ended up reminescing about a date he had in 1977 with a woman who brought him into her house after their movie and dinner (for coffee) and then lifted her sweater ever so slowly, to which he replied "Well will you look at that." After that (and many other choice details I will not repeat), he told me she was bisexual and he recounted a conversation they had about going both ways.

Turns out, after fifteen years in San Quentin, this guy thought he was bisexual. Queer theory wasn't so sophisticated I guess, back in the day, and because he'd spent fifteen years having relations with men in prison, he assumed he had to be bi. So he asked this truly bisexual woman "Tell me, do you really like eating all that pussy?" And she answered, "You tell me? Did you really like eating all those peters?" And that's how he realized he wasn't bi. Because if he was really bi, he would've enjoyed it the way she enjoyed it.

There was a bit of a pause in the story, and then he explained it. He said, "You fall in love with parts of a person's personality. You care about them, and you want to comfort them. Well... in prison, there's only one way to comfort someone..." And he looked at me a long time and, of course, I knew exactly what he was talking about.

That was the most interesting conversation I have ever had at work and if you knew my workplace you'd know that's saying something. I swear to god, I love my job.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

the other kind of paddle

I went kayaking today and boy was it awesome! First sunny paddle of the season and now I'm red as a lobster, but I don't care. It was gorgeous. I'm only sorry Mahavira wasn't able to join me. Sadly, she had to write a paper and then work in the afternoon. Leaving her precious little self there in the bed this morning was hard, but the second I put my boat in the water I knew it was all worthwhile.

This was a stellar paddle for wildlife. We saw tons of turtles, red-tail hawks, herons, egrets, deer and a beaver. The beaver was by far the coolest -- it swam along in front of us for awhile then doubled back as we passed and swam back in the direction of a beaver lodge on the bank of the river. It was really cute. Seeing wildlife is one of the perks of paddling. So is the upper-body workout. My arms are sore and my shoulders are all knotty. Can't wait for Mahavira to get off work tonight and give me a rub down. :-) *That's* another perk of paddling. . . ;-)

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Last night Mahavira and I had some culinary adventures of the herbal variety. These adventures involved simmering a particular green herb in margarine, straining out said green herb, and then using the now quite green margarine to make some, you guessed it, brownies. Medicinal brownies. Strong, medicinal brownies.

A smart person would have learned from her first experience with medicinal brownies last summer on the Waldo Lake camping trip (the trip where all my journal entries start out "OH MY GOD I'M SO HIGH, STOP EATING THOSE FUCKING BROWNIES!!!!") -- A smart person would have, for example, DECLINED to lick the batter. Or, if licking the batter was irresistable (and it was), then a smart person would have declined to eat a brownie once they were done. Because a smart person would have known that no good can come from double dosing on medicinal brownies.

No good at all.

Anyway, nearly 24 hours have passed since Mahavira dubiously handed me the bowl to lick and I think my feet are finally back on the ground. Whew. It's nice to be back.