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.