26 September 2008

My quarter century love affair

From The New York Times Op-Ed. Oh, Statler and Waldorf. Be still my heart.

24 September 2008

Sob stories.

In the continuing saga of my miserable existence, this day has been particularly harried. Sometimes I think of bad days as if they were chapter titles to the novel of my life. Today's chapter is called, "The Day I asked for a kitty and ended up with Lexapro."

I also had my other meds doubled. So, even though I technically was given 2 things when I asked for just one, I am pissed. Pills do not purr when you scratch them behind their ears. Pills do not even have ears.

To be fair, the discussion about kitty is merely tabled, not abandoned. But I am not sure how much more of this bullshit I can take. The week I spent in anticipation of today's appointment was not particularly fun. Now I have to steel myself against one more week of feeling drained and exhausted.

The day started out shitty, too. Prior to my 9:45 appointment, I stepped in dog shit on my way to the car. I didn't have a chance to eat breakfast and I got stuck on the Broadway bridge just as it was being drawn. Then I get the the appointment only to find out that my doctor has not read the email I SPENT 3 DAYS WRITING which outlined a very clear thesis on why he should help me get a cat.

To recuperate, I thought I'd check out the Humane Society over in the black hole people often refer to as Vancouver, Washington. I generally find the burbs to be depressing, but their animal shelter was particularly sad. It wasn't just gloomy in comparison to the ray of sunshine that is the Oregon Humane Society. It was basically dreadful in every way.

The saddest part was the phone conversation I overheard on my way out the door. A staff member was on the phone with a woman whose kitty went missing while she was away on a business trip. From my end of the conversation I learned that her cat had in fact been at the shelter but it had been euthanized because it had gone unclaimed for 3 days. The shelter pays for mass cremations of their deceased animals and this woman could pay the shelter $90 for some remains which may or may not contain carbon matter from her kitty.

I think a lot of tears are shed in the parking lot of Humane Societies. Hearing that story after the events of the morning made me shed a few more. The most redeeming part of the visit was the fact that there were 10 cats being shipped over to the Oregon Humane Society where they'd have a better chance at being adopted.

Anyway, I think I'm going to bed for the night.

19 September 2008

(Getting a) Kitty's a Bitch.

If it has been a little silent around here, it's for a good reason. I've been working my tail feathers off in an effort to get a kitty into my life. It has been difficult and eye opening work.

To get everyone up to speed, I live in an apartment with a no pets clause in my lease. I tried to go about the easy way and ask for an amendment to this policy, offering up what little monies I have as a fee or deposit. Unfortunately, the building's owners are kitty haters. They are really opposed to pet ownership because they think it will lower the value of their property and damage the hardwood floors that they have neglected for decades.

I did learn, however, that the building manager (different than the owner/landlord) thinks I am a "great tenant" and "one of the best, most easy-going and reliable residents" in my building. Furthermore, he respects my commitment to going at this kitty ownership all legal-shmegal. It's nice to know that someone is (sort of) on my side.

Even with this resounding "No!" from the management, I wasn't deterred from the idea of bringing a cat into my home. I started to research my rights as a tenant and I discovered that I could probably get a reasonable accommodation to my lease in order to keep a cat as an Emotional Support Animal. In other words, I could own a cat if it was part of my treatment for my mental health woes and this benefit would be federally protected under the Fair Housing Act of 1988 (among other important statutes that protect the rights of the disabled). To begin the process of making an accommodation, I need a letter stating my case accompanied by a supporting document from my mental health care professional.

I spent a lot of time wrestling with the idea of whether or not I should make claim to the benefits of the disabled. As witness to my cousin Matt's experience with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, I am particularly sensitive to the misuse of disabled privileges. My attempts to recover from severe (and recurrant) depression seemed to occupy a sort of gray area in the scheme of disability. Admitting to myself that I was disabled by mental illness was a difficult process, even though I certainly had proof that I have been unable to work and that my social functioning is impaired as a result of my mental health situation.

I decided that advocating for this specific benefit in the treatment of my mental wellness would be a just cause. It was a conclusion I came to after wondering what Matt's reaction would be were I able to ask him for his opinion on the subject. I'm not one to talk to God or to dead loved ones, so I sort of just ruminated on the topic for awhile. Eventually, I was reminded of Matt's relationship with his cat, Sox. This cat was probably one of the best things in my cousin's life. Not only did Sox bring Matt companionship, she provided him with an outlet to relate to other people. I know that I loved to talk to Matt about cats and about adventures Sox was up to rather than his other passion (and Sox's namesake)-- major league baseball.

Working on this project has made me realize that I am still very sick. It took me three days of arduous labor to write a 2 page email to my psychiatrist requesting his support, a letter to my landlord requesting reasonable accommodation to my lease, and a list of 17 terms I was willing to bring to the table as a part of my negotiation with my landlord. Had I been healthy (and had this subject been about something not tied to my emotions), I think this sort of work would have taken me an hour or two tops. I've spent a majority of my time since working on this project feeling drained and exhausted. I've shed more tears than I care to count. The only thing that seems to lift my spirits is a trip to the Cattery at the Humane Society.

Today marked the 48 hour point from when I first sent the request to my doctor. Expecting at least a response of, "let's talk this over at your appointment," by now, I have decided that I need to take more drastic measures. Ordinarily I would follow up with another email at this point, but I've seen red flags aloft. I don't want to get too into the nitty gritty of things, but my doctor is always a little sensitive that he is doing something wrong and he probably thinks that I might try to replace social interactions with people for the attention of my cat. I call bullshit on both counts.

I have decided to create an informational packet for my psychiatrist in time for my next appointment. It will be half dramaturgesque research, half sales pitch. I am including case studies of emotional support animals, a sample letter from a physician in support of my cause, and one of my world famous kitty collages. I plan to create a research study in support of my cause, surveying people outside the coffee shops around the corner. If anyone is interested in writing a statement in support of my cause (approx. 500 words), I will provide you with a color copy of my collage.

This request has put me in a difficult position. I'm going to think that my doctor is a total shithead if he says no. I'm also deep enough into the muck of this therapy thing that I can't willingly give up on my course of treatment.

In the past, I've been willing to concede to opposition in order to keep peace. This is different. This is not a negotiation. This is a fight I am going to win. My talons are sharpened. My teeth are bared. I am getting a god damn kitty.

Edit: After reading this entry in my Google Reader Feed, I can sort of see that this entry is dripping with exhaustion (example: 3rd paragraph from the end=my cause my cause my cause). But I'd like to let everyone know that I am totally serious about the statement writing.

09 September 2008

Adoptions Pending

If I haven't talked about Mad Men yet, it's because I am working too hard to get adopted by someone that has access to AMC on Sunday nights at 10pm/9 central.

I only know a handful of people that actually own TVs and even fewer with cable or satellite, so this is proving to be difficult. One basic cable patron is convinced that she wants nothing to do with a show with a script that I accidentally described as astute. Most people I ask crack open their front door a tad and shout, "Get off my front lawn, Crow!" This is too bad. I probably brought homemade cookies.

I love this show, and not just because Peggy Olson is a dead ringer for my cousin Janelle. Each episode seems to trump the last in its scintillating critique of juicy topics like office politics, sexism, and family dynamics. I watch this show and I wonder which character I relate to the most.

Imagine my delight when this Flickr set Mad Men Illustrated by Dyna Moe made its way to my Inbox while I was (finally!) downloading last Sunday's episode. Holy frijoles is it good. Here's an example of Joan and her new Xerox.

So, I am still available for adoption on Sundays. I promise that I'm all caught up (after this evening) and that I can scoot out the door post episode, leaving only fresh baked cookies in my wake.

Speaking of adoptions, I am trying to muster the courage to ask for permission to keep a kitty. I've looked into getting my lease amended to include pets and I am pretty sure I qualify for a waiver to keep an emotional support animal. This depression thing has kept me from working for a long while, and I can probably wrangle documentation that this is both an acute and a chronic issue for me. I have mixed feelings about using the system this way, and I really don't want to ask my doctor for a note. But I think a feline friend might just be the right medicine for sad, sad, sad Madame Kim.

05 September 2008

Pick apart the PICA pamphlet

Portland's TBA Festival (Time Based Art) is always sort of an enigma to me. Not one of those juicy, colorful, let's bite into it and see how tasty it might be enigmas, either. It feels sort of gray and convoluted. It's the sort of enigma that you kick gently like a tire to see if it's alive then go about your business.

The thing is, Time Based Art should theoretically be something that's right up my alley. Yet in all the years that I've lived here "working" in the arts, I've never bothered to go to any of the events. This year, I decided to give it a go. But I've got three problems:

One. Lil ol' me, Miss Calendar's Clear Til The Nuclear Winter, has got some plans. Like weddings and visitors and stuff.

Two. I'm feeling too broke for even the (many) free events. I can only cough up $10 to see one of the performances. If I wanted to go to a stage performance that both fits my schedule and my budget, my choices are narrowed down to NIL.

Three. Most of what I've read about the events has me asking, "WHO CARES?" What is worthy of my 100 thin dimes? Because I will be paying in change, FYI box office representatives.

I can put aside the difficulties posed by the first two problems. But the third creates a some fundamental difficulties. Here I am ready to be shaken, stirred and moved by an exploration of what human creativity has to offer, and I look over the materials that will help me explore the festival and I'm asking why I should even bother to attend.

In order to examine the reasons why I am feeling so curmudgeonly about the whole thing, I have decided to pick apart the letter from the outgoing artistic director (as found on page 9 of the festival guidebook). I would ordinarily feel bad about nit picking this sort of letter, but the Artistic Director dude makes some self-disparaging comments towards the end. Also I used to write these letters in my days as an Intern. I know what you're supposed to put in them and that it is possible to bang one out in 15 minutes or less before it is picked apart in a similar way by a committee. The content of the letter is in bold, my reaction follows.

This is a festival that takes its shirt off.
Yawn. Seen it before.

This is a festival that features dance, theater, visual art, film, video and things that we cannot easly categorize.
Okay. This intrigues me.

This is a festival about joy.
You had me fooled. That photo of Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) on the front of your almost 200 page guide booklet had me ready to Anna Karenina myself.

This is an international festival.
Go on... I'm listening.

This is an international festival with local flavor.
Yes, there did seem to be an enormous amount of hipster pics in the guidebook.

This is a festival that could only happen in the city it happens in.
Unlike what, the 2008 DNC/RNC? SxSW?

This festival wakes up early.
I don't think there are any events for folks to go to on their way to the office at 8am.

This festival goes to bed late.
Are you saying that there's after hours parties that aren't advertised outright? Because 11pm is not late. Even if the band is playing a 90 minute set (which nobody does anymore).

This festival is about hope. This festival is about beauty.
In theory, so is America's Next Top Model.

This festival is awkward.
So are many of the contestants on America's Next Top Model.

This festival is a bawdy nasty festival that your mom told you to stay away from.
Mama Crow, while puritanical in her own right, also possesses sort of a naughty sense of humor. This means that she probably would trust me to exercise my own judgment on this one. And reading the brochure, I'd probably take her to even the most explicit content were she in town.

This is a festival that owns its mistakes.
But is it a festival that dwells on these mistakes? If so, I'm outta here.

This is a festival that likes a good laugh.
With you or at you? Is this an attempt to say that funny things happen in your line up?

This is a festival that could really be something if you gave it a chance.
This makes me think that the people in charge think that they've got a lot of little somethings to apologize for in their line up. Not cool.

This is a festival that wants your vote. Well, I might be tempted with an empty promise of a coke machine in the cafeteria...

This is a festival that has a gorgeous voice.
I have a gorgeous voice. Why is this incentive for me to leave the comforts of the shower at Chateau Crow?

This is a festival that likes football: figure out which kind.
I'm going out on a limb to say the shirtless kind. This is a festival that likes to take its shirt off, after all.

This is a festival that is happening at a very critical time in our life as a nation and though it does not have a specific political agenda its existence is part of the answer.
Whoa, there. I don't see how any sort of arts organization-- particularly one supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts-- can legitimately claim to have no specific political agenda. Wow. I'm incredulous.

This is a festival that likes to rock out.
With your cock out? Or just your shirt off?

This is a festival that investigates the nature of the performance.
How? Under what scope? Tell me more, I'm interested.

This is a festival that starts with a parade and ends with one as well.
Insert rain on parade joke here. This is Portland, after all.

This festival has a lot of work from France. This is a festival with work from France but you don't have to know French to get it-- you don't even have to wear a beret.
This is redundant. You've already mentioned that this is an international festival. I'll take the note about the beret. I typically don't wear hats to performances.

This is a festival that can lip synch.
Then where's Lypsinka? I'd totally be excited if she was coming.

This is a festival with a really cool night club for everyone called THE WORKS.
Any place that's ever been described to me as "really cool" and a "night club" at the same time has been terribly disappointing. Plus, a $10 cover charge? That's too much for what you have to offer. I'm not saying this because I'm a cheap bastard. I'm saying this because I have good taste.

This is a festival that won't sit still. This is a festival that won't shut up.
I've heard Adderall helps and is readily available in secondary markets.

This is a festival that really knows how to dance.
Quit your bragging.

This is a festival based on meetings between people, between cultures, one to one.
Call my secretary. Have him pencil you in.

This is a festival that embraces the cheap and tawdry.
I can see that from some of your promotional pictures.

This festival sleeps with the beautiful.
Quit your bragging.

This festival is sublime.
Prove it.

This is the third and final festival by a guest artistic director who really lies in New York City but feels he has gained a new home town.
If you're going to keep talking about yourself in the third person, then good riddance. New York can have you.

This festival is bittersweet.
But not as tasty as bittersweet chocolate.

This is a festival you can take your kids to (well some of it, depends on the kid).
Great. I didn't want to cough up for a sitter.

This is a festival with maps on top of maps.
Okay. This was the one event that actually looked interesting to me.

This festival will lead you astray.
As if I need to go any further afield...

This festival is funny.
Once again redundant.

This festival could change your life.
I feel the earth move under my feet. I feel the sky tumbling down...

This festival could teach you a lesson.
Yeah, but am I grounded?

This festival has stories to tell.
Telling stories is what got me in trouble in the first place.

This festival will have moments of quiet contemplation. This festival is knocking at heaven's door.
Mama, take this badge off of me, I can't use it anymore.

This is a festival put together with love and thought.
I see a lot of thought. Lots and lots of thought. None of it stirs me in the special place, or plays upon my heart strings.

This festival is a gift.
So you're expecting a thank you note?

This festival has always relied on the kindness of strangers.
Call me back when you're big enough to ask for a hand up and not a hand out.

This festival asks a lot of questions.
Yeah but what else would I expect at a 11 day arts festival?

This festival asks a lot of its audiences, but gives it back.
Well, too bad its marketing materials are putting me to sleep.

This festival takes artistic risks. But why should I care about those risks?

This festival knows what it is doing.
I'm not so sure it does.

This festival is programmed by a guy who hates writing introductory letters to festivals.

This festival was put together by a lot of dedicated people and supported by foundations, and individual contributions and a lot of sweat equity.
Just like every other arts event I've been to this year.

This festival thanks everyone who got through to the end of this "letter."
You're welcome. It was a chore.

This festival makes a statement.
I'm just not convinced I want to hear it.

02 September 2008

This Kitty Needs a Catty

In honor of Labor Day, I went up to the Humane Society to get some kitty lovin'. No offense to the dogs, I just like cats better since they have yet to bite my eyelid off. I went up there because I thought it might help me beat the blues, and because the activity is something I might remember. I needed something to remember Labor Day by so it didn't blur into the mass of inactivity that is my life (as Memorial Day and Independence Day sadly had).

Something I did not think about before I got up there was that the Oregon Humane Society was closed for the holiday. I was a little sad about this, so I had to come back to visit today. Which is when I fell a little bit in love.

Enter Catty, stage left. He is the silent, observant type. Alert, independent but not aloof. Curious, but not one to pry. Enjoys a good scratch between the ears, but maybe prefers sitting beside you to on your lap. A big round face to match his big, saucer-like eyes.

Unfortunately, Catty's been at the shelter far too long due to a handful of seizures he's had. This only makes me think that it is a sign from above. I am so meant to welcome this kitty into my home because of my experience popping phenobarbitol pills into a kitty in my mansion-sitting days. Or my experience splicing pills into marshmallows for an epileptic daschund. These things count on more than just the karmic scale, right?

I might have to have a chat with my building manager about this... maybe I can get a doctor's note to amend my lease?

In any case, I really hope he can find a good home.