Entries in Relationships (112)


the friend with the GREAT sense of humor...you know, the funny one

Mrs. G. has always been skeptical of popularity, a bit cagey of it's often shallow, slippery nature. It makes her skittish. Maybe it's because she spent her youth on its periphery. While popularity was her desired bright lights and big city destination, Mrs. G. resided squarely in the suburb of close but no cigar. She wasn't unpopular; she was just there...amiable, no trouble, perfectly fine. She was always invited to the party, but she didn't, you know, own it. She stood in the corner with her friend Karen nursing a Bartles and James wine cooler and smoking a clove cigarette. She was worldly though she lived in teeny Tigard, Oregon.


When she went to high school, Mrs. G. had a decent time. She had plenty of friends—she ran cross country and was on the speech team. She was a brain, but she was also good-natured and approachable. It's true Mrs. G. had sensational hair, but she was short and stocky and wore fairly thick glasses. She tried contacts but she accidentally swallowed them in a movie theater and her mom wouldn't buy her another pair because money doesn't grow on trees you know, or fall from the sky ferchristssake.  Mrs. G.  wasn't deferential. She was cute enough but not hot...as in hot hot if you know what she is saying... and you do. She was luke warm, fair to middling. It didn't take her long to figure out that she needed to be funny. She needed to be charming and share her impeccable biology notes, so that the hot hot people would occasionally invite her out with them...for entertainment purposes. She could make them laugh while they sat around drinking Big Gulps and looking beautiful. She was the nonthreatening friend.


One of the advantages of being a girl with the good personality in high school is that Mrs. G. had no trouble getting dates. She was a guaranteed good time—gracious and grateful, drama free. If there was a dance, Mrs. G. was there with one of her many guy friends. Dancing. Laughing. Her dates were engaging, perfect gentlemen. They gave her frothy pink wrist corsages and helped her fluff up her hair when the humidity of the dance floor made it droop. Her dates were unusually supportive of her commitment to save herself for marriage and often went shopping with her to pick out the perfect dress and matching heels. They were kind and respectful and, Mrs. G. found out a few years later to her genuine, twenty-four carat surprise, gay. Gay gay. She's not sure who was deeper in the closet, likely her since she was genuinely clueless. Mrs. G. slowly came to realize that she might have been the most popular date of the gays in her high school. And to make matters a little more nonsensical, she didn't find out her homecoming and prom dates were gay until she ran into them after college and asked after their girlfriends. Columbo she's not. Mrs. G. often wonders if they took numbers—sorry pal, you had her for the Spring Fling...she's mine for Tolo. And while it's true that she didn't brush up against love until later in college, she also didn't come home disappointed or pregnant. Or with chlymidia. 



Mrs. G. never really felt bad that she wasn't hot hot. She is a genuine believer in the American Dream and making the most of what you've got—she didn't sit around whining or wishing for longer legs or cheekbones...until she got a flat tire in Northeast Portland in 1986. She pulled her car over to the side of the road and hoofed it to a phone booth to call her friend Beth. Beth said she was on her way, so Mrs. G. hoofed it back, leaned against the hood of her car and watched the rush hour traffic go by—car after car after car. Beth showed up a short while later. She had barely pulled her six footed, blue eyed, creamy skinned, down-to-the-waist blonde haired body out of her car and walked six steps toward Mrs. G. before a guy in a red Jeep pulled over and jumped out to offer his assistance.

Mrs. G, who had been standing on the side of the road for over thirty minutes, watched this scene unfold in slow motion and realized that there was only one thing she could do:

be funnier.


Who Knew Imaginary Rats Could Shed Light on Humanity

For the last several weeks, Mrs. G. has had recurring nightmares about rats running around inside her house walls. She hears the scritching and the scratching and wakes up in a full body sweat. For the first few weeks, Mr. G. would calm her down and comfort and reassure her. Now he just pokes her and says, "NO RATS." 

Today, someone was mean to Mrs. G, cruel really. This person, not a particularly close friend -- more of an occasional coffee date, laid out her years of grievances with Mrs. G. Grievances Mrs. G. was legitimately unaware of, which is weird because Mrs. G. is pretty in tune when she's being a jerk. She has been known to apologize for things that other people have completely forgotten. She's certainly no saint but she's not completely detached when she acts like an ass. She's not in a fugue state when she's being mouthy. But the truth in this situation was she was blindsided. Mrs. G. thought she was having a triple latte and a how's life conversation without the heaping side of you are a bitch and have always been a bitch.

Mrs. G. was so exhausted by the end of her friend's list of all the shit she had done wrong, Mrs. G. didn't have the energy to defend herself or disagree, plus she didn't buy the bill of goods this person was selling, and that just took the wind right out of her fishwife, harpy sails. Mrs. G, solid as a rock, heard the imaginary scritch scratch of rats in her walls. "No Rats," as Mr. G. would mumble in his sleep.

So Mrs. G. chose kindness. Does this make any sense to those of you who have not been not diagnosed as off-base by paid medical professionals? There were no rats -- only the nightmarish shadows of ill-natured vermin so many of us fear, so Mrs. G. finished her latte, hugged her friend and wished her the best.

Mrs. G. thinks she just happened to be at the wrong coffee shop at the wrong time, and her friend was loaded for bear.

Since third grade when Philip Wong called her four eyes and heifer, Mrs. G. has built some fairly solid suppositions on bullies.

1) If you are mean, the chances are you know you are mean and are an insecure mess. Get some help.

2) If your parents were mean, Mrs. G. truly feels for you and, again, encourages you to get some help.

3) If you are mean, your kids are likely mean, so don't act so surprised when the school calls.

4) If you are mean, surround yourself with kind people and try to reign your hostility in. Kindness is catching.

5) If you are mean, find the courage to let someone love you, because they will.

Mrs. G. is not a therapist, psychiatrist, a hairdresser or a bartender -- she hasn't been schooled in counseling people, so take everything she says with a grain of salt and the reality that you can't squeeze blood out of her turnip. She's just a human who has been human.

Mrs. G. left the coffee shop satisfied with herself. Kindness is sometimes hard, especially when you are dealing with assholes ( See, Mrs. G. still struggles), but it's light and airy in comparison to the brick-like solidity of hate.

As Mrs. G. slides past middle age, she wants to leave the planet and her people safe and secure in the knowledge she loved them hard during the good times and the dirty dog bullshit. She wants her kindness to prevail in their memories of her crazy ass.

For your information, despite this post being all over the place, Mrs. G. is sober. Tonight she is just feeling defensive for love and light, and she felt the need to fling it on the page before she went to bed.

In summation: Be kind, be kinder even when it hurts, peace to you and yours and sweet dreams.


*Resources to prevent bullying 


Losing Yourself for the Better

Mrs. G. changed his name for privacy purposes but this is really him! Thanks Google.

When Mrs. G. was in college, she was flat out in love with Professor Wright. He didn't know she existed, but how could he when he had at least three hundred students in his Survey of Early American History. Mrs. G. was just a face in the crowd, a face in the crowd that wanted to kiss his at least fifty-year-old cheeks on Monday, Wednesday and Friday when class was in session.

Professor Wright always wore a trench coat and lugged a battered brief case on his way to class. He had unruly salt and pepper hair and was constantly pushing his thick glasses back in place. He read while he was walking around campus, oblivious to those around him. He was a fixture on campus, so most students knew that if Professor Wright was strolling down the sidewalk with his nose in a book, to get the hell out of the way.

If you spoke to Professor Wright out of class or in his office, he came off as a shy, unassuming man who was a little uncomfortable in his skin. It was clear he was most satisfied inside his books. His office was overflowing with them.

But when this shy, unassuming man was lecturing about Agrarianism or the Civil War, he was in his element. He became alive, worked up, nearly beside himself. Every once in a while, when he was really into, say, the battle of Antietam or Shiloh, he would climb up on his desk, swing his arms around and smile, truly stirred by the extraordinary information he was sharing. When Professor Wright climbed up on his desk, the energy shifted in class. Some students, like Mrs. G, were into it, others snickered like he was a wack job, while still others just couldn't wrap their minds around the fact he was standing on university issued furniture. But Professor Wright's goal, Mrs. G thinks, was to bring history to life, fire his students up, and he mostly succeeded. One afternoon, a student had his head down on his desk sleeping, and Professor Wright threw a pencil at his head. Nobody felt bad for the guy because when Professor Wright was standing on his desk, shit was real.

Mrs. G. hasn't seen Professor Wright for over twenty years. She hopes he's still alive walking the streets of Eugene with his face in a book. It's hard not to admire the daring stoutheartedness it takes to climb up on a real or metaphorical desk and share your genuine self, what really makes you tick, even at the risk of being mocked. Professor Wright did that and Mrs. G. thanks him for it. And to this day she has a fervid attachment to personal passions, odd birds and unruly salt and pepper hair.


just a laundry list to get the creative juices flowing

Trust Mrs. G. when she tells you she has continually sat down at this computer over the week and tried to generate something entertaining, suffering for her art, twirling her hair with one hand and swigging a Diet Dr. Pepper with the other. She shall suffer no more, Reader, because it occurred to her she could just tell you what she's been up to, with the faith that more interesting content will follow.

1) Mrs. G. has been running around her town looking for interesting women to photograph and talk to for her new pet project "Dames of the Pacific Northwest."  She has finally reached a point where she doesn't mouth breathe and sweat when she approaches a total stranger to ask personal questions. She loves connecting with fellow women and sees this delightfully rewarding project as one more opportunity to challenge her self-assigned mediocrity. It's exciting to be excited.


2) Mrs. G. has been obsessed with the new HBO show "True Detective." She has watched each episode twice attempting to tease out symbolism, innuendo and, of course, the identity of the Yellow King. She's not going to bore you with her carefully crafted manifesto but she's pretty sure she has the whole damn thing figured out. She'll wait until the conclusion to gloat because that's the good and right thing to do.


3) These bastards have been invading Mrs. G's dreams.



4) Mrs. G's "friend" Aaryn sent her this shirt in the mail. This offering follows on the heels of her I-Put-Your-Cat-Christmas-Card-In-The-Toilet Clash of 2013. Mrs. G. was simultaneously flattered and floored when she opened the package. Mrs. G. tried the shirt on and her shelf-like bosom only made the cat's eyes even more aberrant and narcotizing. Mr. G. was so alarmed and apprehensive about the cat's soul-sucking soulful glare and hallucinatory vibe, he made Mrs. G. put the shirt in the car before they went to sleep for the night.

Mrs. G. plans to wear it with a denim skirt to her next job interview and talk about her love of Sudoku puzzles along with her other job skills, like homeschooling, cutting her own hair and rug hooking.


Mrs. G. was so touched by Aaryn't thoughtfulness she has been doing some browsing of her own.


And then Mrs. G. discovered Aaryn's gift is a man's shirt that can go with Mrs. G's man shoes. Just when you didn't think it could get any worse, Mrs. G's mother. Thanksgiving, here we come.


5) Mrs. G. has been knee deep in the roller coaster ride that is Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital. If you haven't joined the Derf Book Club, it's not too late. You can find the books and info here.


6) Mrs. G. got her first pair of bifocals last week. Hey, they aren't so bad.


What's up on your spot of the planet?



A Mrs. G. Social Inquiry...Let's Discuss

Photo by Star Foreman


Hi, Heather,
I found this article today, and thought it would be an interesting topic of conversation at the Manor:
Full disclosure, the woman is a colleague of mine, I've known her for a couple of years in that capacity. I did not know anything about her personal life.  She's a wonderful colleague, and I think she and her husband are brave to "out" themselves like this. I'm also proud that our common employer is supportive.
Plus, I think that their relationship as depicted in the article, is really sweet!
I think the Derf community could have a very rich and interesting discussion about this.
Mrs. G. is not allowed to reprint the article here, so you really do have to go and read it. She's been thinking about how she would deal with this for the last hour and she's curious what all of you have to say. She knows this group can be honest without insulting. Let's talk!




the answer would be a gentle no, because mrs. g. does understand his appeal

Mrs. G. received four emails (Portland, Tulsa, Charlottesville and Knoxville) from Derfs over the weekend letting her know that they had made Mr. G's pasta sauce and it was indeed as delicious as she said. One sweetheart sent a photo of her bubbling sauce right after, as she said, the "chicken livers had landed." Mr. G. was flattered.

But Mrs. G. received a fifth email today that we are going to have to discuss because, well, because Mrs. G. thinks you will understand why.

Dear Mrs. G,

I just wanted to let you know how lucky you are to have a husband like Mr. G! I made his sauce on Saturday night and it was so good that I can't help but throw out the following proposal. You have mentioned that Mr. G. hasn't cleaned a bathroom in decades and doesn't really do household chores of any kind. I love cleaning bathrooms and I would be willing to assume all household chores if he would cook for me nightly. I know this would mean he has to move to the Northeast, but do you think you could spare him for this fellow Derf? Maybe even just every month? My love for Mr. G. is purely platonic and culinary inspired as I am in a a very serious imaginary relationship with Damian Lewis.

I look foward to hearing from you :) :) :)



Dear V,

I appreciate your straight-forward, forthright approach to possibly acquiring my husband. I'm going to have to decline your offer because I really like him, and, damn woman, I gave you the coveted recipe. Have Damian Lewis make it for you. I kid, because I think you are sweet even though you want to exploit my man in the kitchen. I'm not going to share this exchange with him because, though he loves me, the allure of no chores might cause him to slip out in the night with his chicken livers and never look back. Like I'm going to let that happen -- just to be safe I have tied a bell to our bedroom doorknob in case he gets any ideas. 

All My Best-ish,

Mrs. G.


Balance by Anonymous

I haven't been writing on my blog consistently over the past couple years. The thing that stopped me from writing has been difficult to articulate. It's a thing so big that the thought of stopping to write about it trivializes the magnitude of it's impact on my son's and my life.

I've had time to write, plenty of time. But instead of writing, I've been immersing myself in coping strategies: going to therapy, knitting, reading, walking my dog in the woods, doing countless sudoku puzzles. I've worked my job and volunteered for worthy causes and have tried (and likely failed) to connect with my friends and family.

I've tried.

As I start a new year, I'm finding myself wanting to roar a little bit because the quiet (and not so quiet) battle that's been waged in my home every day for the past 18 mos is the stuff of miracles. I know I can't do it justice, but perhaps I can write a little with the hope that other folks going through this won't feel so alone.

This big Thing I'm trying to write about it mental illness. My only child, a high school senior, experiences symptoms of bipolar disorder every day. Even though we're fairly open about it, the stigma around mental illness manages to slap us in the face constantly. I spend some time with NAMI and other advocacy groups to get support for myself and my family. I know that when I'm no longer in the thick of it, I will move on to advocacy more publicly. But for now, while my son is symptomatic and still in my care, I do what I can in my quiet way.

For the past several years, symptoms have been creeping into our household. They show up as cast of characters, all with personalities of their own - unwelcome in my quiet life - yet they barge into my home with little to no warning. 

Mania usually shows up when the seasons change. Mania is outwardly goofy and silly, has amazingly complex views on the world and is outrageously creative. Mania is pissed off at people who can't think as fast as he can and swears at folk with such brilliance that it would be awesomely funny if it didn't cut so badly. Mania doesn't need to sleep, has to move all the time, and can sometimes walk for 20+ miles before realizing how far he's gone. Mania recently lost over 20 pounds in a month's time (he's not that hungry). Sometimes Mania's mom calls to check in and he finds himself three towns away near no recognizable landmarks. Mania sometimes makes wild and dangerous plans, packs his bags in the middle of the night, and simply disappears. Mania (and his pal Depression below) often turns off his cellphone after he leaves the house so no one will bother him. 

Mania is a jerk, but is sometimes so fluidly brilliant it's like being in the presence of a the most inspiring motivational speaker you've ever seen. Mania has dancing eyes, paces a lot, and talks super fast. He's kind of a rockstar, if he weren't so sick.

But, Mania often self-medicates and sometimes ends up in the ER. Every so often, Mania needs the police to come calm him down, and rarely (but still too often) Mania needs to go hang out in a hospital for a few days to get back on track.

Once, in 2012, Mania brought his friends Paranoia and Psychosis. I can't even type about those guys. They're terrible and frightening. They convinced my boy that the people who loved him were conspiring with the government to control his brain. Angels from places I didn't even know about swooped in and got those symptoms under control. I got my boy back two weeks later, beat up and scarred, but alive.

People who don't see these symptoms everyday really can't comprehend how the staying alive part is such a miracle. Most people who throw around words like psychotic and paranoid truly don't understand the pathology of those words, and they should consider themselves blessed that they don't ever have to see the close up.

When Mania is around, I often pine away for the calmer cold days of winter, until I remember the unwelcome guest in Depression. Depression usually shows up during the shorter darker days. He is also a jerk and sometimes hangs out with Hypomania - who is just chronically pissed off. Many of us think we know Depression, and foolishly encourage him to load up on Family Guy  episodes or a dose of John Stewart. Some people pshaw at the melancholy and don't understand how he can't appreciate all the gifts he has in this world. Depression laughs at this shit. He's a pretty powerful guy and even though it looks like his regular routine is sleeping a lot and sighing heavily, he's often behind the scenes, insidiously convincing my boy that it's too hard, that this planet sucks, and leaving is the best possible choice.

Again, the staying alive part? Miracle.

My child is in there. He beats the shit out of all of these symptoms on a regular basis. He throws a routine at them, a good sleep schedule, medications, solid friendships and family relationships and an amazing school full of folks who get it. He gets up and goes to school every day even when he doesn't want to.  Though my son is brilliant and was on a college prep track years ago, my silent mantra during his high school career has been "alive and graduated...alive and graduated." (psst: he's set to graduate in a few short months - if you're the prayerful type - remember us.)

His will to survive is awe inspiring, even when his mom doesn't feel inspired when a random f-word gets thrown her way. (During symptomatic episodes, a one f-word day is a good day.) I've had to seek my own therapy to stay balanced enough to support my boy, and when I joke and say I have PTSD due to all we've been through, my therapist reminds me that it's no joke. 

Every day in our house we scrape and swear and peer through the fog reaching for rungs on the stability ladder, but it's still a battle. NAMI teaches a course called Family-to-Family that helps family members support their loved ones with mental illness. That class likens the onset of symptoms to a bomb going off and the rest of the family experiencing collateral damage. The shrapnel in my family is everywhere. Cleaning up after an episode is nearly as exhausting as getting my son through a manic or depressive phase. As I begin this new year, I find myself with an almost stable child, cleaning up an excessive (excessive, I tell you) debris field.

I wanted to write here anonymously because, well, I need to protect my son's privacy - it's his decision to disclose his disease. That's a tough call for me because I don't want to contribute to the culture of mental health stigma, but I know I'll be out there one of these days. 

I know many Derfs are on their own journey and even though I don't participate much here, I felt inspired to write in this safe community. 

Be grateful for your mental health and the balanced brains in your family, Derfs, and if you or any of your people need help - get it.



The Spanish Class, Part Dos

Tonight's Fun Facts On The Unfolding Aventura

1) Mr. and Mrs. G. only arrived thirty-five minutes early for class.

1) Mr. and Mrs. G. managed to share one book, though in a moment of frustration, Mrs. G. defaced one page with a blue Sharpie.

3) At one point Mr. G. turned to Mrs. G. and said of the teacher, "It's like she's not even speaking English."

4) The teacher asked each student to take a minute and write a sentence describing something another student was wearing and Mr. G. asked Mrs. G, "What color is your brassiere?"

5) When they were leaving, Mrs. G. told the teacher, "Adios." Mr. G. followed up with "Buenas Nachos!" Mrs. G. told him in the car if he ever said "Buenas Nachos" again, heads were going to roll. He snorted.

In case you hadn't noticed, this is marriage.

Until next week, despedida.