Saturday, June 30, 2007

Baked goods

Hi darling Pea,

Please enjoy this SPECIAL VIDEO.

My favorite line: "time is moving really really really really slow."



Thursday, June 28, 2007

A communication lesson

Dear P,

Passive Agression is a favorite topic of mine (and a favorite strategy), given my upbringing. I think we all, however, can learn new strategies from wise and seasoned communicators.

Exhibit A: A Sweet Potato Incident

Love and love,


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Passive Aggressive

Just when I think I've seen the height of passive aggressive behavior, it comes blasting back at me in a new, more elegant form. As you know, PA behavior is my favorite thing to point out (especially to the passive aggressor, who always loves when I open my big mouth about it). It's especially fun to call people on it who don't really know what it means, just that it's jerky. A thing that I have been raging about lately is Dell, Inc., a company that should have a slogan involving their beautiful talent for passive aggressive customer service. Today I will share a bit of Dell's wisdom. I'll preface this gem by saying that, for WEEKS, TD and I have been gently, kindly, fairly pushing Dell to fix crap they've screwed up and then asking them to please reimburse us for our time and hassle. Not only have we received no apology for things like, say, sending me a computer without a working hard drive, but at least one Dell representative told TD that he couldn't possibly understand how "these things work" because he's from Utah. You can imagine the head explosion that happened after that. Subsequently, I sent a little note to Dell (one in a series of about ten little notes):

I'm not particularly pleased that my husband was contacted to get information about when I'd be available by phone. According to him, the person who spoke to him was rude and unaccommodating. Please just resolve this situation with me and I will stop bothering you. Dell is a big company that really should be able to be more pleasant and efficient than this. I can't imagine that, if Dell's computers are such good machines, that a warranty would cost the company much of anything. Warranties are expensive to the customer, but not to the company-- that's elementary.
Please keep all communication on this matter directed to me and not my husband.
Thank you,


Miss Rosenberg I apologize that your husband thought I was being rude. I was stern in my decision on this issue but ,I was not rude. Again I do apologize if he felt I was rude. As I told your husband Dell is not going to extend your warranty. We have made an offer for a 100.00 coupon which is more the adequate for this issue. If you would like to speak to me in person please just let me know when you will be available and I will make arrangements to explain this issue in detail.

Hmmmm... Nothing warms my heart more than a sincere apology. And it's even more precious that though I've been the one communicating w/ Dell, they decided to call TD. Women are scary and irrational. I filed a complaint with the BBB which will probably be trashed, but whatever. It's EVERYTHING I can do not to correct the grammar, spelling and format of all the letters I've gotten and send them back.

Okay, so maybe Dell sucks, but I suck too. This week my friend, Amanda, passed her Social Worker's licensing exam (which I would love to do but would requite a million more years of grad school). I was so happy for her until I realized that Pat was also so thrilled-- thrilled enough to have a bunch of quiet conversations about her moving into a therapist position with our company. And so, because I am who I am, I had to lock myself into an empty office to cry and pout and stomp around. None of my friends are allowed to like each other as much as they like me (sound familiar???). AND how dare they accomplish something fancy? Damn them! I practice the classic passive aggressive maneuver with them: no eye contact and "what's wrong kate?" "nothing" "Are you sure?" "yes, I'm sure. I'm just trying to do 15 things at once" (which = why the fuck are you standing around basking in your wonderfulness, bitch?)

I fixed it by fessing up and apologizing. Dell could do the same, no?

revelling/fuming in the thick stench of rude,
your p.

p.s. I love you. Would you care to rewrite some of Dell's notes? It's reeeeeeally satisfying.
p.p.s. Thank you so so much for my new friend. He lives in my tote bag now for photo ops.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

play along!

(click on it to read more easily)

Speaking of watching my sugar intake...


Monday, June 18, 2007

like that game from a few weeks ago...

from McSweeney's Internet Tendencies #2 (Lists):

No. 82:Movie Spoofs—Sample Dialogue (Nonporn Category).
From "Comedy by the Numbers" by Eric Hoffman and Gary Rudoren
- - - -
"The first rule of Polite Club: Don't talk about Polite Club. Please."

"I'm bald as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!"

"You talkin' to pee?"

"Forget it, Jake—it's Funkytown."

"Ron Livingston, I presume."

"I'm out of quarters? You're out of quarters! This entire courtroom is out of quarters!"

"Gattaca! Gattaca! Gattaca!"

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a fuck."

Enjoy, my sweet pea. I only wish I had written them myself. I love you like mad and miss hearing from you. Please see flickr for pics of the new member of our family who arrived from NYC today...

love you love you,

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Replacement Diet

It's a BACON PLACEMAT. It also seems to be a suitable way for me to get over the loss of refined sugar. Maybe my insulin levels are more stable, but I think my cholesterol would enjoy a little jolt-- you think?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

the other conspiracy(s)

P and S,
  1. A half bottle of wine is a bad way to cope. WRONG. Such a big lie. Of course, drowning things all the time may not be helpful in the end, but really, I'd rather be hammered than hammering someone. Also, I'm just not going to buy that a nice little, reasonable, completely unnecessary purchase is a bad way to fix things. Whatever works, I'll do it and screw you, credit card companies. Oh, no wait, credit card debt sucks. Damn.
  2. I think it's perfectly normal and reasonable for one to be furious and then not all in the space of an hour. Wide range of feelings can't be wrong. I'll take that before I'll be robotic. And, if you want to get all feminist about it, it's always women who are crazed when they express a range or a fluctuation, even.

I know that a giant pregnant therapist may not be amusing to you, p, but the image is hilarious to me (I'm not laughing at the other stuff). All I can see is a sort of New York-ified Buddha. What an interesting dynamic. There's not two people in your sessions, there's three! Weird.

So much love and stabilized blood sugar,



I'm a hypocrite. When my mom is pissed at me, I always tell her that anger isn't a primary emotion. "What are you really feeeeeeeling, mom?" Nothing makes her more angry than that and man, is that satisfying.

my little issue.

In social work land, we have this stupid mantra about anger being a "secondary emotion." I am officially calling a halt to this bullshit:
Primary vs. Secondary Feelings
Perhaps the most helpful thing to remember about anger is that it is a secondary emotion. A primary feeling is what is felt immediately before we feel angry. We always feel something else first before we get angry.
We might first feel afraid, attacked, offended, disrespected, forced, trapped, or pressured. If any of these feelings are intense enough, we think of the emotion as anger.
Generally speaking, secondary feelings do not identify the unmet emotional need (UEN). When all I can say is "I feel angry," neither I nor any one else knows what would help me feel better. A helpful technique, then, is to always identify the primary emotion

Guess what? I am so pissed off I can't see straight and right now I have no, none, zero, indications that there is anything underlying it except rage. My theory right now is that people are just so turned off by real anger that they need to change it into something softer, more acceptable feeling. I say, fuck off assholes. I care about being so short-fused insofar as I may hurt someone unintentionally. Other than that, I am trying to allow myself to quit searching for the elusive Primary Emotion. It's probably crammed up some customer service guy at Dell who is jerking me around.
p.s. What do you do with your anger to keep yourself from hurting people (emotionally, or I guess, otherwise)? Seriously, I need a tip or two. Anyone? Anyone?

Answers: I've got some.

You are so mysterious. You leave me no choice but to answer my own PROBING question:
  • You were kidnapped by WW and forced to sit in a small room and calculate all of the points you've ever consumed in your entire life. And then your toenails were pulled off one by one.
  • When you went to WW, they insisted that to be a part of the "WW Family" you needed to tattoo their logo on your breasts.
  • Fergie (she's WW right?) visited you at home and asked if you and your man would be interested in taking her as your wife. In exchange, she'd give you a few free points a day.
  • Anal invasion.

That's all I've got. One's gotta be close.

Love you p,


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

burning question.

What happened between you and Weight Watchers that you can't post on our blog (that everybody cares about)? This is titillating. Does it involve nudity? Anal invasion? Fraud? Celebrity nudity and/or anal invasion? Fraud? Orgies?
Dying to know,
p.s. If it's not one of the above, please just make something up. Thanks.

Monday, June 11, 2007

watching and waiting

Dear P,

Never content to be left out, I'd like to join you on your journey toward health and patience and the sane, sustainable kind of beauty. As you know, I recently tried Weight Watchers, which did not work for me very well, for reasons I'll not post in a (barely) public forum. Maybe Weight Watchers BACK IN THE DAY would be a different story, but for now I'm on my own.

As you know, however, I'm going to need some ACTION ITEMS. I'm going to need a SYSTEM, and some THINGS TO DO. I like the idea of facing down one eating behavior at a time with infinite patience and curiosity, though usually I run hiding from them (right into a bag of chips). The scariest ones (nervous eating alone at night while watching TV), I'll save for last. Let's start with something simple.

PROJECT 1: Eat One Raw or Steamed Vegetable Every Day (EORSVED) (catchy acronym, no?).

This is great, because I happen to love veggies. I also happen to have a friend named RIZO (You'll remember Rizo from a previous post), who can help me with the steaming part. This project doesn't involve taking anything away from myself, but rather adding things. This is psychologically useful. And for some reason, it's harder to do than it should be, and yet not so difficult as to make it impossible.

Here are some friends, offering moral support.

I confess to liking that last one due to its euphemistic possibilities.

Love you, my little sweetest of peas,


shedding the cocoon: an Oprah-esque post

Dear P,
If we've talked about it once, we've talked about it 3.7 trillion times. And I'd say that's true about most of my other girlfriends too. It's about the body. The endlessly disappointing body. I've spent all of my post elementary school years worrying about my body and whether or not it's acceptable looking. One year, when I was 21, it was great-- for about 3 months. Why? Because I was really fucking sick. Not because I was healthy, or even better, just happy with the way I was. And so, as I age, I hope that I will evolve into a person who values health, but also values varieties of beauty, including my own. To that end, I've tried to name this extra weight that I've been dragging around for 5 or so years and understand who and what it's about. The more I understand the deep-rooted reasons for the way my body looks and feels, the more I want to fight it. I believe that the fat that's wrapped around me and even nestling in my chin, is a marker of a period in my life when I felt hopeless/helpless/worthless/unimportant. And so, I treated myself that way. But that's not my life anymore and I still have the marks all over me. I want it out! But this is far more complex than a diet or a gym routine. It's about living the life I really do deserve to live-- one that's full of action and energy and exploration and nourishment (one of my least favorite words, but it's way too applicable). Make sense? I'm living in a body that's uncomfortable not only because it doesn't like my old jeans, but because it doesn't move as well or bend as far or feel as electric as it used to. And so, I'm researching. I'm taking my time. I'm refusing to punish myself for what my body is. I will, however, take a new look at pleasure and what it really can be. Maybe some things will be a challenge (when I deal with sugar, I'm afraid I'll implode) but, in the end, I believe that what makes our bodies run well MUST be pleasurable. And so, that's where I am. The ideas are all so thoughtful and healthy, but there is a way big part of me that wants to be hot too. I'll admit it.
Love you, my beautiful,
p.s. In case you were worried, I will most certainly be sharing the minutae of my journey of self-discovery, right after I hand you a barf bag.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Interior design


When I'm at a loss to contribute anything meaningful to an impossibly sad conversation, sometimes I stay right on the surface. To that end, I'm trying out some new colors on the blog, with an eye to the colors I'll likely use in my new apt...

Love you like crazy,


vicarious traumatization

...also known as "secondary trauma." It's the name of that thing that happens to rescue workers, social workers, disaster relief, doctors, anyone who's witnessed (witness= any kind of feeling/seeing) someone else's "primary trauma." It's maybe a new kind of term that was probably attached to PTSD especially given the close association of PTSD to war veterans (I can't think of any more traumatic experience):

PTSD in and of itself is a relatively recent diagnosis in psychiatric nosology, first appearing in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1980. It has been said that development of the PTSD concept has, in part, socio-economic and political implications (Mezey & Robbins 2001). War veterans are the most publicly-recognized victims of PTSD; long-term psychiatric illness was formally observed in World War I veterans. The syndrome entered wide public consciousness after the Vietnam War. PTSD patients had difficulties receiving veterans' disability benefits because there was no psychiatric diagnosis available by which veterans could claim indemnity. This situation has changed during the last two decades and PTSD is now one of several psychiatric diagnoses for which a veteran can receive compensation, such as a war veteran indemnity pension, in the U.S. (see below: Mezey & Robbins 2001)

Google searches of "vicarious traumatization" yield pretty simplistic evaluations: social workers (etc.) sometimes suffer from a bit of PTSD. They should find ways to alleviate stress. Seriously, it was almost an Oprah-esque thing: take a soothing bath, get plenty of rest, light a scented candle. Fuck off.

After over a week of, frankly, feeling like a giant pussy for having such a severe reaction to a situation that is not entirely foreign to me, I feel the need to figure it out. Really, until yesterday, I thought that my fear/anger/sadness was a sign of weakness that indicates my inability to be professional and keep work separate from my own urges for drama. BUT, I also found that I couldn't talk myself out of it, that I was having floods of feelings that I have learned to keep at bay very well. The day of the final showdown, I was a complete wreck. I couldn't stop it. I simply could not pull myself together-- what a scary place for me! I have been there before and never wanted to be there again. The moment I realized that it wasn't just a self-serving drama surge was when I opened our office door, saw my co-worker holding the baby, burst into tears and grabbed him. I sat and sobbed into his neck-- like a giant pussy, yes, but right at that second, I knew it wasn't about ME (even in my own mind). It really was about him.

And so, since that day, I've thought about secondary trauma and how pervasive it is-- and also how our minds are so terrifically tangled and complex that some of us can shut off for some things-- others for other things, but in the end, I wonder if we don't all have a little PTSD. It took me weeks after Sept 11 to figure out why I was so uncomfortable, why I cried so much and was so inexplicably scared-- the scared that's in one's bones--terror, I guess. And I don't say all of this without knowing the enormity of the world and the billions of people who have faced or currently face far uglier things than I have seen. I want to write about this, but I drop the ball when I look at the story I have to tell and the million and one other bigger, maybe more important ones that need to be told.

The urge to share such a profoundly shattering experience is consuming. And yet it's the story that's told over and over. The Super Sleuth and I are now tracking down another child abuse case that's coming through an old client of mine. This time, mom was found passed out on her bed and the baby was on the floor between the bed and the wall. The girl who found the baby fed her and changed her and left. She didn't want to be busted for drugs if she reported the incident. It goes on and on and on.

See the picture at the top. It's the baby who was found between the bed and the wall.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Now I can get back to what matters...

Dude, I totally need to get real famous and go to jail for a few seconds and then come home and be on house arrest. That's way better than being rich and living a crime-free life; I'd be expected to travel and leave my home and crap. No way. PH has it way better:

While Hilton napped, goodies arrived. Earlier in the day, a representative of Mrs. Beasley's delivered three dozen cupcakes. "These are the flavors that she orders from us: strawberry and mocha. A dozen of each and a dozen assorted," said Anthony Crisafulli, a manager for one of the retail stores. "She's a customer of ours. She comes to our Beverly Hills store, and we decided it would be nice since she's had so much problems the last couple of days." Around noon, a large fruit basket from Edible Arrangements that included chocolate-covered strawberries, grapes and melons was delivered, along with six cases of Party Animal organic gourmet dog food. And later in the afternoon, two assistants carried in nine plastic grocery bags of food including cereal, Nature's Own breakfast bars, ice cream and frozen pizza.

It's my dream life. No mention of TV, but I guess that's obvious.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

a resolution

Dear P,
Finally. After a whole lot of (ridiculous) tugging, pulling, pushing, and threatening, Child Protective Services took the baby into custody. The baby's mom went (voluntarily) to the psych hospital. Now at least I know that she'll have to do a lot of work to get the baby back. This is a huge relief.

I found out yesterday that I was not the only one at work who was really struggling. There were lots of tears behind closed doors, which doesn't happen much, believe it or not. And so. I only wish I had more time with him.

Love you,

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

a non-update

Dearest P,
I'll first paste into this post a condensed version of the e-mail I sent to our staff updating them on the situation w/ the wee, sweet baby:

"After staffing (mom's) situation, A.L. made a referral to CPS. D. DOES NOT KNOW THIS—we’re waiting for more medical information to be made available. PLEASE BE EXTREMELY DISCREET ABOUT THIS (the walls have ears!) CPS essentially told A.L. that they could offer services to D. on a voluntary basis (!?) but we don’t have anything concrete enough to warrant an investigation. This may change as other information (hopefully) comes to light. In the meantime, we are very very worried about (the baby's) safety and tonight’s staff had him in the office most of the night, making sure he was being fed, changed, and cuddled. At this point, his safety is #1 priority and we need to be aware of where he is and what D. is doing at all times.

p.s. I forgot to mention that (2 clients) came storming downstairs about 9:45 telling us to go up to the dorm ASAP. When we got up there, (another client) pointed to the baby's bassinet and said “she’s bottle propping.” Sure enough, he was crammed in there with way too many blankets rolled up around him (they were around his head—suffocation risk) and a bottle jammed in there. I held him and fed him the bottle and Amanda (staff and friend) brought D. up from downstairs. As I was feeding him, she said various (sometimes contradictory) things about him throwing up all the time when he eats a lot (I fed him all the formula he wanted this afternoon and tonight and he was ravenous and didn’t spit up once). She also stated that she doesn’t want him to get obese—she feels like he’ll eat when he’s not hungry and get fat. AAAAACK! We told her that he needs to eat as much as he wants right now. "

Now, here's the letter I sent to my boss who is also a very close friend (this was extremely hard to do):

"Okay, here goes: I am feeling very strongly that we cannot sit on this situation for a minute longer. In fact, I am distressed that it took until this afternoon with a table full of staff to decide to call CPS. I feel that CFTC (our tx center) has dropped the ball big time and we are actively keeping the baby in harm’s way by not pursuing this with vigor. I am terrified, terrified, that he will die here. I do not believe that I’m being ridiculous with this concern.

Inefficiency with clients and kids happens here, but it’s not life-threatening. In this case, so many people with so many e-mails and so little time could and might cost this kid his health or life. I am not in a position to tackle this myself—it’s way, way beyond me. But I am starting to feel an ethical obligation to deal with this situation at any cost and I really don’t want to be backed into a corner because we can’t pull it together to:

a) GET HIS MEDICAL INFORMATION! We have NOTHING on him. NOTHING. How can it be 5 days since he was taken by paramedics and none of us is sure if he has a diagnosis and what it might be? (p.s. Amanda got a release of info for the hospital tonight, but the doc wasn’t in)

b) Recognizing that he’s being neglected and probably harmed and DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT. For example, the baby should be monitored constantly by staff. I know it’s “not our job,” but not if a baby is at such serious risk. D. is not feeding him, she says, because she doesn’t want him to be obese (he is so hungry; he couldn’t get enough to eat all night). She is propping bottles and leaving the room, he’s “slipped” and gone underwater in the baby bath, he has sustained head trauma from something (“I dropped a toy on his head”). Etc. etc. etc. We all have a million and one “red flag” moments with her but we can’t seem to combine them effectively.

c) Be relentless with CPS until they have enough information from us.

I hate to be so blunt, but I’m angry and scared. Really, just very very scared. And frustrated. I don’t want to be the Lone Ranger, but I can’t let it go until this baby is safe. "

This is maybe the most frustrating case of stalled bureaucracy I have ever waded through. I do not understand how this happens. Don't think for one second that I haven't considered stealing him. Obviously, the cops would be on that right away. Oh, the irony. I want to kick someone. One thing I can say is that it is such a deep pleasure to be able to hold, snuggle, and feed this baby. A swaddled infant who is sucking away with eyes closed in satisfaction= a terrifically satisfying experience. Sarah, if you're reading this, I remember at the Teen Home the first time I watched a mom swaddle her baby and stop his crying-- it amazed me and still does. Also, remember Miu? This girl reminds me of an amplified Miu. Total crazy train. Okay, I shall sleep now. I have an impenetrable headache and hope that a long, long sleep will help. Tomorrow I may be planning a kidnapping; I need my rest.

Much love and thank you for the thoughts. Send love and goodness to the baby,

Monday, June 4, 2007

It's true.

Intercourse, PA
Blue Ball, PA
Paradise, PA

= all towns in Lancaster County, PA--where I was born.

So proud,

retail therapy didn't even help...

P and friends,
To answer/address all your thoughts, here goes... I've been lucky enough never to have to call CPS outside of work because I simply haven't ever seen anything reportable. I also know how the shitty system works: CPS won't do anything without specifics which is often difficult. There are two reasons why I haven't moved on this situation yet. 1) I think the most legit reporters are hospital staff and my guess is they've reported. My super secret info passer will be letting me know ASAP tomorrow morning if there's a case open yet. 2) I didn't see anything. I have a lot of extraneous, damning evidence which comes straight from highly confidential files and incidents seen by others. I can report this anonymously, but for many good reasons, that information can't ever be leaked (unless by court order which is next to impossible). So that information can't be used against her-- it can only be used to steer the investigators in a particular way. Her psych records are rightly protected. However...

Much as I didn't want to go to work tonight I did. And I held the baby and fed him and spent as much time as I could trying to assess him. The child is just not okay. He is not crying when he should and he is not being fed properly. We are, of course, doing what we can to educate his mom, but she is so manipulative that nobody's even sure what she knows or doesn't know. She has a history of fabricated "injuries" and has been in inpatient treatment 7 times with wildly varying diagnoses every time. She's 19. She's smart.

I sent a letter to all the therapists in our building advocating that she be moved somewhere where her baby can be safe. Which is probably prison, but by that time it'll be way late. So, I'll be in touch with Super Sleuth (super super illegal sleuth) and will make my report tomorrow. In the meantime I'm not sure if it was best for *me* to hold the baby so long tonight. He has lots of fair, soft hair and his head is so warm, but bumpy. He moves his mouth a lot, into wonderful, improbable shapes, but makes very little noise. He responds to touch, but not to sounds. He is light, but long, and his limbs dangle in a strange way. When he's hungry, he doesn't cry much, but kicks his legs. When I held him and fed him, he fell asleep while sucking and made sweet little ticking noises when I took the bottle out of his mouth. At least everyone I know who has been around him has snuggled and loved him. Whatever happens, there's that.

Why is this so rough when I've seen and heard so much? I honestly don't know. Maybe it's because I've never seen a baby so small with blood running out of his nose who didn't respond to stimuli. Maybe it's because I'm scared, for good reason, that he will die. And gut feelings can't save a baby, I guess.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

when it gets too real

It's been a sad 24 hours here. Last night one of our babies was rushed to the ER after having a seizure and sudden bloody nose. He's 7 weeks old. It was scary and shocking enough, until all three staff on shift (one of whom is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who worked in infant ICU for awhile), independently of one another, started to suspect that the baby had been shaken. One of us overheard the paramedics guess that, but the other two of us hadn't. When I got home, I looked up everything I could about Shaken Baby Syndrome and all of it fit. All of it. I was sure when I woke up this morning, I'd find out that the baby's mom had been arrested and the child put in the custody of the state. Instead I learned he'd be released this afternoon. No diagnosis. He had a second seizure in the hospital. His mother is diagnosed as antisocial with a psychiatric chart what would wrap around the moon. Earlier in the day she said to me (laughing), "Sometimes I could just throw him against the wall." I've heard lots of new moms say things about wanting to hurt their kids-- exhaustion, depression, fear, can make one feel that way. But they don't laugh. Usually they cry. And their kids are healthy, not limp and unresponsive with blood crusted around their noses.

So the only choice I have is to call Child Protective Services and make an anonymous referral. I've never done that independently of a job I'm doing and it's scary. What do I say? If I were ever to be identified, I'd lose my job. But really? Right now I'd give up a whole lot to have that baby safe. Not that a call to CPS will do anything. If the baby's been released, that means the doctors were unable to find proof of a non accidental injury.

Or maybe someone's building a case. Maybe the baby will die before someone gets around to him (babies this messed up don't often live). This shit's awful.