AFSP fundraising update

I sent out my fundraising update email this past weekend. I think it’s a good thing to do, to update your donors to let them know if you met your goal, and by how much. Most people don’t respond, which is fine, but it’s nice to know that the people who do read the updates care.

Two of my colleagues emailed me to let me know how moved they were by my fundraising update. One said that he reached out to a dear friend of his who he knew was struggling with depression. Another said he was struggling himself and found it inspiring that I would “bear your soul.” He said he found it so shocking how brutally honest I was.

I’m just being myself. We spend so much of our time trying to be a certain way around certain groups of people in our lives. When it comes to the way I grew up and my experiences with my brother, I can’t be bothered to mask anything or spend time fabricating stories. I rather just say what I want to say. I’m settled in my thoughts and emotions. If other people can’t handle it, then it’s really their problem to deal with and confront.


Our team is going to unite with our San Francisco counterparts the last week of November for a “glamping” team-bonding retreat. What this means is that we will all be driving about 1.5 hours south of the city to a retreat camp, and sharing bedrooms with about four beds each.

As soon as all three of us learned this in the New York office, we looked over our monitors at each other and grimaced a bit. We’re city people. We like our own spaces, the limited amounts that we have. The idea of sharing a room with anyone not a close friend or Chris makes me a bit uneasy, especially now that I am in my thirties. I embrace my alone time and my time away from “outside people,” as my mother says.

This just means that in my single night hotel stays between the glamping outing, I will be savoring my room even more now.

Body aches

And the day after having our friends over for dinner and too much drinking, I have woken up with massive body aches. This is just a sign I am getting older and cannot recover the way I used to.

Or maybe this is a sign that I should have followed my doctor’s instructions to stay away from alcohol, especially in the evenings, two weeks after I stopped taking antacids and Tums for my laryngopharyngeal reflux. My body is rebelling against all this alcohol, and now it’s making me feel decrepit and achy everywhere.


Serving food that not everyone knows about

I’m a sneaky friend. I will never, ever serve you food that I know you are allergic to. If you are pescatarian, I will never give you food that has chicken broth or pork bits in it. If you are deathly allergic to crustaceans, there’s no way I’d sneak it into the food I serve you because I don’t really want anyone dying or dialing 911 while at my apartment.

But if you claim to dislike something when I know there’s a strong possibility you would like it, especially when it’s made a certain way, I’m probably going to try to serve it to you. Why? Do you know how many people everyday utter statements like “I don’t usually like <lamb or insert some other food they think is gross>, but I had it at <fill in the restaurant name>, and it was soooo good!” Isn’t that a sign that you probably could like it if it was prepared a certain way?

So I made banh cuon, a Vietnamese steamed rice crepe traditionally filled with minced pork, shrimp, wood ear mushrooms, and shiitake mushrooms tonight — a very laborious dish that takes a lot of time and preparation, and I decided, what the hell, I’m going to keep in the shrimp even though my friend coming tonight says she refuses to eat it. When I described all the dishes at the table, I left out the fact that this dish had minced shrimp (she’s probably going to read this blog post now and call me out on my trickery). I felt a little guilty, but I did it anyway.

So she served herself, and she ate it. And she went back for seconds and thirds. And then she raved to me afterwards and even after she left via text how amazing the food was.

She just happily devoured shrimp. I wonder if she had any clue or inkling. I’m wondering if I should tell her this, or if I should just keep it a secret.


In light of Harvey Weinstein

Today, I had a video chat with a new colleague of mine who will be based remotely in Minneapolis to service our customers in the Midwest. We do these random one-on-one sessions with new hires on our team to get them acquainted with the rest of us and to make everyone feel welcome. I actually really like that we do this. The intention is quite good here.

One sad thing I learned about my new colleague is that she is a former opera singer who finally got disillusioned by the industry when she was told she could move forward with the San Diego opera only if she was willing to “give a certain amount of sex” to the director and ultimate decision maker of the opera. “Well, what can you do for me — I mean, sexually?” he propositioned her. “You’re not very good looking, definitely not the prettiest person we could put on stage, so you’ll need to provide for me sexually to get anywhere with us.” She was floored and immediately declined and walked out. And she left California, never to consider opera as a career ever again.

These stories are so prominent everywhere for women. We’re treated and looked at as objects by men who have too much power and are driven by money, power, and the desire to ravage any sexual object they want. And they make excuses they can do this because of their money and power, or because of the “time” that they grew up in as Harvey Weinstein did. Just look — President Dipshit does the same thing and is now commander-in-chief of this incompetent country that willingly and happily elected him. I shouldn’t be surprised, but it only makes me sad because sometimes when I hear these things, I feel as though progress is being halted.


I got so frustrated with my mother the other day that I actually told her that she should make an appointment to see a psychologist. Maybe this doesn’t seem that outlandish in the average family, but in my family… these are the things that get scoffed at. My parents thought Ed was weak when he was 18 for seeing one, that he merely used it as an outlet to “talk bad” about his parents to “some outside person” who gets paid too much money. Chances are that seeing one will never help her because she lies endlessly to “outsiders” not in her immediate, immediate family about everything and anything, but her constantly telling me that, “you know I am suffering from depression?” is driving me crazy.

Well, you know what? So I suggested this to her, and two days later, she says that miraculously, her “depression” has improved and she feels so much better. She has “God’s word” and her two good (and annoying) JW friends to keep her company and comfort her, and I call her a couple times a week, so that’s enough for now. Wasn’t that just so convenient?

She refuses to be helped. She just seeks attention and abuses terms like “depression” and “anxiety” to get what she wants. She gives a bad name to the people who are truly suffering… like her son once did, and she did nothing but make him feel worse.


In our new building at this time of year, they allow units to volunteer and sign up to give out candy to kiddies who will be trick-or-treating on Halloween afternoon or evening. So I decided to volunteer our apartment. I bought two different types of Kit Kats and a bag of variety M&Ms for the kids. And I told Chris that I want us to re-use our his-and-her matching banana costumes from five years ago so that we can greet the kids in our own costumes. He didn’t seem to be a fan of this.

In my adult life, given I have lived in New York City for all of it other than the years in college, I’ve never really had the joy of greeting trick-or-treaters, reveling in their interesting costumes, and handing out candy to them in their enthusiastic states. I feel like this is an “adult” thing to do to participate in our building’s activity. Now, I just need to get Chris to participate, too.

Awkward phone conversations

Sometimes, I really don’t know what to say to my mom. She complains endlessly about suffering from depression, picks fights and disputes with people who cares about her who really aren’t trying to harm her, but she insists they harm her, and she expects me to constantly feel sorry for her and is always asking why I don’t come home more often as though home is the most amazing and lovely experience I could possibly have. Today, she was complaining about missing Ed, and said that my dad didn’t want to hear what she felt and what she had to say. “Your dad is useless to talk to,” she mumbled. “He doesn’t care how I feel. No one cares about me other than you. I have no one other than you.” Then, she went on to tell me that my aunt’s good friend just got diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, but she’s coping well because her husband is so supportive and always comforts her. “She’s so lucky,” my mom comments. “Her husband actually takes care of her and helps her and listens to her. He comforts her with words. I don’t have that.”

I couldn’t say anything. What am I supposed to say to that? Everything she’s saying is true. My dad doesn’t comfort her; he doesn’t know how to. He is so emotionally inept that just the mere thought of him trying to comfort someone makes me want to scratch my nails on a chalk board. And what am I supposed to do — defend him and lie, or agree and risk getting yelled at later for criticizing my dad?


My colleague whose father died from suicide the same year Ed did asked me about my walk this morning when I came into the office. He was originally planning to come and take his three kids and wife, but his mom had some melt down the weekend before and had to come over unexpectedly yesterday. His younger brother recently got married, and part of the agreement is that their mom would live with this younger brother and his new wife. Unfortunately, the adjustment in living with her new daughter-in-law wasn’t going very smoothly, and a lot of drama was ensuing.

“Why does she live with your brother?” I asked my colleague.

“Dude, she can’t live alone,” he said to me seriously, shaking his head. “She’s just not in a mental or emotional state where any of us can trust her living alone. She doesn’t trust herself living alone.” He said that she’s physically capable and moves around on her own, even is a teacher to first-grade children, but when it comes to actually running a house and leading her own life, she’s incapable of doing it, especially in light of being a widow.

I asked him why his younger brother has to live with his mom, and why don’t he and his wife and children? He shot me the look.

Oh, shit, I thought to myself. That sounds like my own mother. If God forbid anything happened to my dad, my mom would be 100 percent incapable of living on her own. Even when my dad was told he needed to get bypass surgery three years ago, she sobbed endlessly and said she wanted to die, too, if he died.

Fourth year walking

Today, I participated in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Out of the Darkness walk here in Manhattan. This year, I raised over $5,000 for the cause. I really didn’t think I was going to surpass my $4,000 goal, but my new colleagues’ levels of generosity have really astounded me.

I was on the stage taking photos with the big fundraiser sign that ranks the top fundraisers in order. This year, I ranked third in Manhattan, which is kind of a big deal considering exactly how big the group of fundraisers is in this borough. Thousands and thousands of people participate in this walk, and it’s only getting bigger each year that we do it. While on stage with Chris taking photos of me, the director of the program found me and asked me if I was Yvonne, and I said, yes. So we talked for a bit given that she’s the new director and is still getting to know everyone, and she said she’d been following my stories the last few years and wanted to meet me, but felt shy about e-mailing me. She asked if I’d be interested in sharing my loss story with other suicide loss survivors, whether it be at events or talks, or even one-on-one with people who reach out to AFSP. I said I’d be happy to do it. I think it would certainly be challenging, to speak publicly about it and not make it all a sob story, but I think it’s a challenge I’d be up for, especially if it can help others cope and get through their loss, or help people who want to understand and be more empathetic be there for their loved ones.

What is the point of going through life with all your tragedies and losses if no good can come out of it? Every day there’s so much suffering in the world. It can be so overwhelmingly depressing unless you want to do something about it yourself.