Friday, May 22, 2015

I Failed At Keeping Sweet This Morning

It happens.  And when it does, I usually figure it out sometime around the five minute mark after everything is over. I was in my driveway, dressed in borderline hilarious mismatched layers over pajamas in a mad dash to get the trash to the road in  case the garbage men.  I got everything bagged and situated and was walking over to pick up the free bi-weekly paper when I saw my neighbor across the street.

"Morning!" I said, cheerfully and at the same time edging back up to my front door because pajamas, being an introvert, Niklas Lidstrom might wake up and start barking...pick one, any reason would do.

As I picked up my paper, he reached down and got his in his driveway and held it out to me.

"Oh, no thanks," I said, "Got my own right here.  (Polite refusal number one.)

"Do you want a paper?" he asked.

"Thanks, but I've got this one." (Polite refusal number two, while really starting to wonder if he's kidding.)

"Here's the paper," he said as he crossed the street to hand it to me.

"Thank you. No. I have the paper from my own driveway." I started to walk back to my house. (Still counting? That polite, but firm refusal number three.)

"You don't want this paper?"

"No. Thank you. I have a paper." (Refusal number four.)

"Well, he said, you could throw it away, then."

He walked to the end of my driveway and held out the paper. At that point, I just looked at him. He started to drop it into my trash bin. We have a rule in my burb that all trash has to be bagged or it will be refused. I know that paper would end up a sodden mess in the bottom of my almost too tall for me bin or it would b e thrown down in my driveway.

"My bags are already closed."

He didn't seem to want to open up my garbage bag to add his paper and turned and walked back to his house.

I went into the house, confused and a little irritated by the exchange. One of my close guyfriends, Dale was waiting to chat online. I told him what happened.

"That's why you're single," he was kidding. I hope.

"I thought it was because all of male friends are gay."

As we discussed the situation, it started to make sense. He knew I had a paper and he really wasn't trying to give me reading matter. I was supposed to pick up his nonverbal cue that it was my place to dispose of his paper. And my repeated refusals?  They didn't count because keeping sweet meant I was supposed to do as he asked. In the way of the world in Nashville, Tennessee, he was entitled. Moving in a world that is almost completely peopled by artists and writers, I had forgotten how the rest of society thinks.

I didn't say this to Dale, but it also gave me an idea of what pretty women go through. No matter how many times I said no, my neighbor felt entitled to me knowing what he wanted and giving it to him. Who hasn't heard an attractive friend -of either gender, really- talk about encounter with people who behaved like they were owed attention? While this situation was nowhere as intense as the demands for romantic connection that some of my friends have dealt with, I have to say I now understand it beyond the level of abstract concept.

So I failed at keeping sweet and throwing away his paper for him, not out of cussedness, but because I missed the cues. Even if I had understood what was going on, I still would have done to the same thing.  To steal a turn of phrase from The Georgia Satellites:

Don't hand me no trash and keep your cues to yourself! 

copyright 2015 Jas Faulkner and Zen Dixie

Monday, April 20, 2015

My 4:20 Story

Stick taps to George Scoville, who reminded me of the date. George abides.

I loved working in clinical psych, but I have to admit that once in a while the learning curve really threw me. This was especially true when I started accepting rotations in dual diagnosis and chemical dependency intervention programs. I really love that kind of work, but here's the thing: aside from Communion wine and the occasional contact high that happens when one majors in theatre, art, and yes, anthropology, my experience with chemically assisted fun was pretty much nil.

So I went from learning the alphabet soup of the DSM-V and arcana of psycohtropic drugs with their various side effects and projects timetables of maximum efficacy to completely new concepts like The Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions and New Playgrounds and, and, and, the slang. There was so much slang. I mean, I dabble in dead languages for fun and the sheer volume of street names and jargon for every blessed thing, not to mention completely new concepts that would have made Bill W. swear and break things

So I guess it should come as no surprise that I had no clue about 4:20.

A quick sidebar here:  4:20 is kid code for "Let's go out behind the vo-tech building and smoke pot." As in:
"What time do you want to go get the thing?"
"Nootch to the scootch" (Or whatever kids say. I'm not even going to pretend I know.)

Now my kids, who were usually fairly well behaved, found out that I did not know about 4:20, and being kids, they ran with it. For almost three weeks.

Kid: Miss Jas, I have an appointment with my psych and then my MD.
Me: No problem. What time do you need to leave?
Kid: 4:20 (The class stifles giggles)
Me: Sure. ::sighing:: We really need a clock in this room.
Kid: And Other Kid needs to see his social worker.
Me: What time does he need to leave?
Kid: 4:20.  (At this point, some of the students probably needed Depends.)

The hospital classroom had no clock and I am brutal to watches, so at around four, I would stop people as they passed by the classroom door and ask them how close it was to 4:20. This went on for some time to the amusement of, well, I guess everyone. Finally one of the psychiatrists pulled me aside during lunch and explained 4:20 to me within hearing of the kids.

This probably makes me a terrible clinician, but I couldn't be mad. I thought it was funny and they frankly had my admiration. I have a terrible poker face and they were going into week three of sending Miss Jas into the hallway of the Chemical Dependency/Dual Diagnosis program to ask various employees, social workers, doctors, and parents if it was 4:20 yet.

So that's my 4:20 story.  Happy 4:20 if that's your inclination. For me and everyone else, Happy 43rd anniversary of the Apollo 16 Moon landing.

copyright 2015 Jas Faulkner/Zen Dixie

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sometimes Comedy Isn't Pretty, But It Doesn't Have to Be Cruel

After giving it some serious thought, I removed "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" from my Netflix lineup. It is a great show and I was pretty excited about it. However, the cruel lampooning of a real person nags at me. I know it wasn't THE thing that precipitated Dr. Brandt's suicide. It shouldn't have happened, period. The showrunners didn't need to ridicule someone to make "Kimmy" funny.

In some ways, this casts the same kind of pall that the shtick about bullying Gary/Jerry/etc. did over Parks and Rec.The inevitable pile-on on Jerry always made me wonder if the creators of the show really thought it was funny..

The only conclusion I can come to is that the people who write this kind of material have never been bullied or maybe they've never been bullied enough to understand the impact it can have. I can speak from personal experience, having been and still being the "Jerry" in many situations and having a costume director actually create character's look based on my appearance for a mainstage show while I was an undergraduate at Memphis State in the late 80s.

What happened this week brought back a lot of bad stuff I thought I'd left behind. No matter how good or bad your life is going, there is no way that public ridicule can not affect you. It hurts. It makes you feel that you are less than a person and if you aren't particularly outgoing, it makes you fearful, sad, and feeling that the only safe place is alone. Worse, there is no way to fight back because you are not in a position of power.

I think for me the worst part is that these are women-driven, women-centered shows that are marked by dick moves. I expected better.