Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Was a Dark Teen

I wasn't into Halloween this year.

I just came off an epic road trip - into a ton of catch-up work. The last thing I wanted to think about was finding a costume and a party to go to celebrate a holiday I'm frankly not all that into. I felt angsty about the entire thing. I wanted to just lock myself up in my apartment and watch a marathon of Law & Order Special Victims Unit and call it a night.

And that's when it came to me: angsty + wanna-be loner = Teenage Sue Funke

I decided to dress up as a grunge kid. Not just because of the attitude was easy to slip into, but it's also a damn comfortable costume. And even bigger bonus - it's a reason for me to buy jeans.

Halloween is supposed to be a night where you dress up as something you're not normally. Well, I haven't worn jeans in a year.

(I'll pause for your disbelief on my ability to live in such a way as an American.)

It's true. I stopped wearing jeans for a while, in an effort to be more feminine, wearing skirts and such
... and because when I had bed bugs I put my jeans in the dryer on high so many times they shrunk.

I meant to buy jeans, but it was honestly easier, and somewhat cheaper, to invest in tights and warm dresses.

I informed my pal Blythe of my genius costume. She laughed, due to a memory of teenage Sue.

"I remember you came into school one Monday and were head-to-toe in black. It was the first time you did that*. I asked you why you were all in black and you replied, 'It's Monday, Blythe. John Lennon died on a Monday.' "

I was a pretty ridiculous Beatles fan back than, so this did not surprise me. It did, however, make me laugh my ass off.

What an over dramatic little teen I was.

Getting ready tonight for the grunge costume was frighteningly familiar. Straightening my hair, putting on a bunch of eyeliner, listening to Nirvana a little too loudly. It was nice to go back, and absurdly comfortable as well.

I'm now starting to wonder, is this my costume, or my attempt to bring this style back?
Mmmm flannel...

*I subsequently did that a ton... I totally loved NIN.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trip to Meet My Nephew: Trip Home

So, on Monday morning Jen and I hit the road. We were both sad to say goodbye and the giant hugs I gave and received from Matt and Jeannette made me feel a rush of sadness I haven't felt for a long time.

It was reminiscent of when I was younger and Jen, Matt and Mike would leave for college. Because of the age gap, their college years were during my kindergarten to grammar school years and when they would go I would often run up to my room and cry into my teddy bear for a while. I would also listen to Billy Joel, because Long Islanders do that no matter what mood we're in.

As we pulled away, embarking once again on our 13 hour journey, Jen and I felt like road warriors. We could do this, heck we already knew the way to I-95 from our brother's place, this was easy peasy. The trip gave us time to look at all the road signs.

My favorite part of the road trip was probably talking to Jen, but second to that had to be Pedro and the ridiculous signs for South of the Border. If you are not familiar with these signs, well you obviously haven't driven north on 95 through the state that does not end, South Carolina- or from North Carolina to the South Carolina border.
South of the Border is the most obvious tourist trap you've ever seen. You get the hint by, oh the 20th sign you see for it. When we were driving back my reporter sister, who had just learned how to use my iPhone decided to research the place. The following are my favorite facts about South of the Border:
  • It claims to have the largest sign IN THE WORLD. (Coming from NYC, I'm pretty sure that's false.)
  • It has a large variety of shops, from antiques to adult pleasure store that boasts anything you'd need from a sex shop.
  • It started as a beer stand - the perfect roadside stop.
  • It has a large tower that is 200 feet high with a spectacular view of, absolutely nothing.
  • DOZENS of people get married there ever summer.
The marriage thing still cracks me up. I am the only Funke child currently not married. Naturally this gave way to my sister and I speculating that surely, the only man good enough for me would understand the need for us to exchange nuptials in a road side tourist trap because of the hilarity factor.

The day after we returned from our road trip to Jen's in Virgina we were both exhausted. I spent most of the day playing with my adorable niece and dreading going back to New York. As much as I worried about the crazy, whirlwind, exhausting nature of this trip on paper, the actual execution of it was quite wonderful. Going back on an 8 hour luxury bus (SO glad I thought ahead and realized I wouldn't want to do another Greyhound transfer) seemed horrible on so many levels.
  1. I didn't want to sit anymore.
  2. I didn't want to see the open road for a while.
  3. I didn't want to return to New York City where my family was so far, far away from me.
There was hope though.
I mean, I do love New York City. I love living alone with my adorable fat cat (that I am allergic to). And I love my friends, my comedy and my job - which are all in New York.
The other thing is-
While I was away I booked tickets for my next big trip: To go to my brother Mike's house for Thanksgiving.

When it comes to vacations, mine can be put to the tune of Billy Joel's New York State of Mind:
Some folks like to get away take a holiday from the neighborhood
Hop a flight to Miami Beach or Hollywood
I'm navigating a Greyhound, and then takin' I-95
I'm going to go see that Funke family of mine.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trip to Meet My Nephew: Zachary

My nephew is a month old today. His name is Zachary, and as easy as it would be to say that he's just like any newborn: a wrinkley tiny human that does little more than eat, sleep, and poop- I can't say that.
Zachary looks so much like a part of my family that when I saw him it was as if my mind was piecing together all the old baby photos of my father and brothers at once. Then he opened his eyes and had pretty piercing blue eyes like my step sister. He was not just another sack of baby, he is Zachary, my new nephew.
I wasn't running to hold him though.

There were other things clamouring for my attention. My brother owns 3 mid-sized dogs that are all eager to sniff you and make you their new bff. Figment is the one they had the longest, and while he's no part cocker spaniel it's as if he was the dog Lady, from disney's "Lady and the Tramp" was drawn from. Then they got Taz, which was the dogs given name. This dog seems fated to have been with Matt. When we were younger Matt loved the Tazmanian Devil and even decorated his Jeep Wrangler with Taz accessories. Taz the dog is a mutt with a tail that is slightly curved as if he too were coming out if a whirl wind.
Last, but not least there is the leader of the pack, Tinker Bell. Tink found my brother and sister in law. She was running around their neighborhood aimlessly as a crazy puggel and came up to them. They searched for her owners an by the time they realized she had no home, she had made theirs hers.
This Motley pack of dogs were all so cuddley that I almost didn't realize I hadn't held my nephew at the end of that first night.
The next morning that was corrected when I cautiously took Zachary in my arms. There's something about me and my nieces and nephews that makes me not want to sing baby songs to them. Each of the wee ones I've held I've softly sang to them in cooing tones horribly inappropriate songs. Nothing that resembles a lullabye lyrically, but in tone and level, very sweet. It's not on purpose, it just happens.
So, as I held this adorable baby I started singing softly to him a little diddy from comedic songwriter Stephen Lynch. And he cooed and closed his eyes for sweet slumber.
The rest of the time in Florida was spent catching up with matt and his wife, Jeannette. It was so great to reconnect face to face after all these years. It was also nice to be around Matt because we are quite a bit alike. In fact we even look alike and to hear us be told we look and sound similar again felt oddly homey and sweet after all these years.
And that was my time in Florida.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Trip to Meet My Nephew: VA to FL

As I navigated the greyhound bus through Virginia we chatted sporadically, to keep him awake. Mostly because when I took the navigation over he confessed to me, "I've been on 15 hours now."
I told Curtis of this family adventure I was taking. "this is my first greyhound ride," I confessed.
"You picked the wrong day to start," he said in a tone that sounded like he thought we might die that night.
We didn't.
I got us to 3 out of 4 stops with only a few illegal u- turns. By the time I got us to Charlottesville it was 10:30, an hour and half late, but just in time for the people to make their transfer. Everyone got off the bus, and I was hugged and thanked by passengers. Which was nice but I barely said goodbyes as I ran to my sister and told her I really needed a drink.
"you kinda look like you've been to 'nam," she said. I dunno if it was that harsh, but it definite wasn't the restful ride I hoped for before our estimated 13 hour drive to Florida we were embarking on the next morning.
That night after a drink and some wings, I passed out on jen's couch. I was awoken the next morning to my 7 year old nephew's "whispering" my name, followed by my 3 year old niece also attempting to whisper, "Aunt Sue!"
I hugged them both hello and then shortly after was getting ready to hit the road.
It took jen and I 14 hours to get to Florida, with multiple stops for peeing and a long one for a big Mexican lunch. Uneventful on the road, but fun conversations and a good time was had by both of us.
More tomorrow on the reason for the excursion, my newest nephew.

Trip to meet my nephew: the bus ride

So, my last blog got cut off because I was writing it on the bus. It was going to go into how there was no eta for the bus but she was positive that the bus would be there by ten and I said something like she was missing a variable in her equation and she told me that I could get my money back and not go at all.
That story was interrupted from my blog because of our bus driver, Curtis.
"Hello, ladies and gentleman and welcome to the greyhound bus to Charlottesville, VA. I am your bus driver Curtis. I a NYC line driver and never done this route before. We will be making stops at x, and x and x along the way* if I miss your stop just holler at me. Again, my name is Curtis."
As Curtis walked back up the bus to take the wheel I looked around to the other wide-eyed passengers, my new friends from the past hour. We had fought to esure peoples transfers together, gone through the drunk dude pissing himself together. We had all foolishly thought that once we were on this bus we'd be on our ways. We collectively decided to just ignore this news by shaking our heads and shrugging.
We drove about dc for about ten minutes before Curtis pulled the bus over and once again walked back to address us. He was sheepishly holding four pieces of paper, "um, would anyone be able to help me with the directions?"
No one said anything. A few people shifted awkwardly in their seats.
"Look, I'm lost already so if someone can just come sit up there and help me with these directions -"
I looked around and saw that no one was volunteering. Mostly because most of them were in the state of shock.
"I'll do it," I said, and I grabbed my iPhone and carry on bag and walked to the front of the bus.
I looked at the paper directions and realized we had two block too far.
" ok, so we need to make a u turn."
"lady, I'm driving a bus, we don't just make u turns."
"ok, um go ahead to the light and make a left into that parking lot and turn around."
"ok you watch for cops cause I'm not really supposed to go in a lot that small."
We sucessfully turn the bus around and I got us headed to what I thought was the right way from the map and direction sheet combo.
As I poured over my gps map on my iPhone and tried to get through a city that I've only had brief relations with when my sister lived there, 15 years ago, I heard a woman's digital voice.
"go straight, at light make left on 3rd street."
"Um, Curtis, do you have a gps navigator your holding out on me?" I asked.
"are you crazy? Hell no!" he said as he tried to mannuevere the bus through traffic.
I turn to the bus and shout, who has a gps?
A Spanish woman holds up her phone, " I do on my phone, but I have to stay with my daughter, here you take."
Now using two gps devices and paper directions I get us on track with what had been written for Curtis to do.
20 minutes later we're out of dc but lost again. The paper directions are written by someone who didn't so much know street names but food chains: at the 2nd right side mcdonalds make a left
As we were about to do our second turn around on this lef of the trip it dawned on me to ask if anyone was getting out at this stop.
"speak now or forever miss your stop!"
No one spoke. I called out the other stops and got at least one or two yeses or hands raised so I made the executive decision that we weren't making the first stop. Now, I know you might be thinkin, but Sue, what of the peolple that might be waiting at that stop. In my mind, I had four people on my bus trying to catch a transfer and those people at the other station were saved from this crazy bus.
...more later

*I don't remember the other three towns names so i'm leaving them out, Curtis did read them off his paper directions.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Trip to Meet My Nephew: 2nd email to jen

-----Original Message-----
From: Sue Funke
Still not on bus, they forgot to call a replacement driver when ours
called out sick. I'll possibly be closer to 10, and I'll definitely
need alcohol.
Not three bottles of scotch like the drunk hippie though. He's laying
on the floor now.
Woo hoo greyhound!

-----Original Message-----
From: Jen
I admit, I really did just LOL! Sorry you're running so late.

... About 30 min after this message, after the drunk hippie got escorted out, I went to find out more about the missing driver.
In my mind I tried to think of what card I could play.
"I know travel writers! I work for!"
I even, for a quick minute considered pulling out my NY Times ID, but then considered the massive ethics issues that could cause and decided to just go with being a fiesty white woman.
"ok, its bern 30 minutes without an update, I really need to speak with your manager now," I said in my serious reporter voice.
"mmhmm, I know but she's in a meetin'"
"This is a pull-her- out-of-the-meeting situation," I said in my don't- f- with me voice.
She then went into the back for like 1 minute and came back with the following story:
Well, see here, the bus driver, we got a new bus driver, is up on the hill making sure the bus is working ok, because - and now this is my fault, I'll take responsibility for this part - I didn't realize you didn't have a bus.
I can refund your money, my manager authorized me to do that or get you another ticket.

"What am I supposed to do? Wait here for the bus that leaves tomorrow? Is there no bus? Am I just gonna stay here? Or are you gonna give us a place to stay? I wanna know should we all just come to your place for dinner?"

She replied, "No the bus should be here and will definitely be in Charlottsville no later than 10."

"ok so is there an eta of when

Trip to Meet My Nephew: email to Jen

Jen emailed me telling me she had a bad dream that I had arrived last night and she has forgotten me. While this was amusing, it didn't beat the entertainment at the greyhound station. Below is the email I sent her-

Ha you know I wouldn't come without constant updates.
I'm still not on the greyhound that was supposed to leave at 5:05. There is however entertainment from the drunk hippie ahead of me online. He was telling this cute 20 something black dude about how the planets crashed together and made Alaska, and how he should be proud to be an American, and then dropped his ticket and hit his head against the wall while bending down to grab it- it was then he sheepishly admitted that he had "a lil scotch".
Oh wait I think he's going to start complaining- I gotta watch this.
I'm also not sure if the drunk old dude is farting bad or if it's just that this entire place smells like shit.
(turns out he soiled his pants)
Yay! Adventure travel.
The drunk old man got distracted by a bird and has decided not to complain.
I'm totally blogging this.
Your little sister, Sue
Sent from my iPhone, because I'm a lady on the go.

Trip to Meet my Nephew Day 1

So, I guess I should start this travel blog with an explanation as to what this trip is all about.
It's pretty much the making of an indie film:
I'm taking two buses down to semi rural Virginia from New York to my sister's home where she resides with a husband and two children. We are then leaving her family behind and driving about 13 hours south to reunite with our brother and his wife whom we haven't seen in over two years, and meet his newborn son.
Can you hear the folk music play yet?
Driving down was my idea. As a New Yorker Ive had to ditch my passion for driving and learn to settle for the thrill of finding the fastest subway route.
My sister and I have also taken a road trip before that was quite memorable, though at the time I was too young to help drive. I was 13 and jen, my mother and I went to Baltimore, charlottseville, and I think perhaps Pennsylvania as well. It was a fun trip, and my sister found her now home on that trip.
I highly doubt I'll find a new place to live along 95 in one of the Carolinas. In fact, as I watched the skyline on the N today I thought, "I'm gonna miss you New York."
And then some dude's back pack nailed me on the head and I thought, "maybe it is time for a vacation. I could use some personal space."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Why You Should See a Shrink

Lately, I've had a lot of friends tell me stories about loved ones who need therapy but refuse to seek out help. This is probably one of the most frustrating things in the world for me to hear.

I've been going to see a therapist on and off since I was 16 and I've been to psychologists, psychiatrists, and even group therapy. I fully believe that I'm a better person for it. In fact, I'm so well adjusted that I am quite often a person friends go to for advice.

I love being there for my friends, I really do, but there's one draw back. I don't get paid for it, and shrinks do. Psychologists will also give you much better attention and advice than my freebies any day.

I would love for everyone in the world to go to therapy at some point to gain a better understanding and control of their emotions. But what I really want is for all the people that need therapy to go, and frankly, the reasons people give for not going are just not cutting the mustard -

Reasons People Give to Not Go To Therapy
  1. "Going to therapy makes me seem weak, like I can't handle my problems."
-When I heard someone give me this reason, my immediate unfiltered response was, "You're a f**kin' pussy. You're not going to therapy because you are afraid of what you might find." It actually takes a strong person to face their issues and work through them. So, don't wuss out, go get help, toughie.

2. "I already know how to help myself, I don't need help."

-If you think you know how to help yourself, and don't need any help - you're basically like a three year old struggling with shoe laces and shouting, "I can do it myself!" We all need help sometimes. If you're having a hard time dealing with an issue in your life, even if you think you know the solution - a shrink can sometimes point out an easier way to get there that can make life a lot better.

3. "It's not like I'm the only one suffering."

-Of course you're not. There are tons of stubborn fools just like you that don't want to get help. Instead of being one of the miserable people, why not try to be someone in control of your emotions? The people that go to shrinks, let out the sadness and suffering and find ways to cut the suffering.

4. "I can't afford a shrink."

-If you have healthcare, work it out with your provider. It's worth fighting for the right to mental health. If you don't- look up places in your community where you can get free help. There are tons of free groups that can give you support online and in person.

You honestly can't afford not to see a shrink if you're really depressed, or having a tough time dealing with issues your life. These issues can spiral out of control, and it could ultimately impact your physical health.

5. "They are just going to put me on meds, and I don't want to be medicated."

-Psychiatrists will put you on medicine, that's their job- to medicate emotional issues as they see fit. Psychologists will help you talk out your problems as much as possible. They are not there to medicate, they are there to mediate. Unless you have a present chemical imbalance, a psychologist will not put you on any medication.

6. "It's not like a doctor can solve all my problems."

-You're right, a doctor can't solve all your problems. In fact, nothing can solve all your problems. But, a psychologist can help you deal with your problems more efficiently so they don't overwhelm and consume you. Doesn't that sound nice?

7. "I'm not going to spend every day laying on my couch telling some stranger my problems."

-Most therapists actually don't want you in therapy forever. Talk therapy is meant to help you work out specific problems and get you on your feet. You might be saying, "Yeah, but, Sue, you said you were in therapy since you were 16. That's kind like forever." Nope, I don't go every week, I'm pretty much on a check-in bases with my shrink and I'm still working out a few issues, but for the most part - I go as much as I need to go.

Also, I've never laid on a couch. Never, not once. I've sat on couches. I've sat on comfy reclining chairs. I've crossed my legs and sat on the ground- because that's how I felt comfortable.

And finally, the stranger aspect - that is the best part! When you go to a shrink you can tell them anything, and I mean anything, about anything...or anybody.

Psychologists are wonderful third parties that you can bitch to with pretty much no repercussion. So, if you feel like your family/friend/loved one is suffocating you, but can't tell anyone because everyone you know knows the people involved in your situation, or could talk and it could get back to them - Voila! The stranger that actually wants to hear you bitch, and won't say nothing to no one about what you say.

8. "People might find out. It goes into your medical records that you see a shrink."

-Unless you're planning on joining the CIA, no one is really looking into your medical records when hiring you. If you are going into a job where they look at your medical records it might make you look better if you have gone to therapy, because it shows you learned how to coupe with and handle your emotions.
And, if you're worried about how your friends/family might think you should let them know you're doing it for your health.

Mental health is a huge part of your well being. If you are stressed, depressed, anxious, or feeling at all unbalanced the repercussions can impact just about any part of your physical health.

So, my crazy friends, and friends of friends - man up! Get some help if you are feeling despondent. There's no reason to suffer in silence, or depend only on your friends and family when you're feeling super blue. Shrinks are good and can be good for you.

Take it from someone who's been really down, and is currently out and about, and happy with where she is in her life.

Best of luck!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Down with Allergies!

This blog could also be called, "A Birthday Present For Colin Dempsey: My Blog's Biggest Fan"
I've been meaning to blog. I really have, but instead, I've slept.

I was sick for about three weeks. Turns out I'm severely allergic to something.
I'm really hoping that something isn't this:
That you see sitting there blending into my floor is Mimosa. She's an eight year old cat that kinda looks like Wilford Brimley and Garfield if they had offspring. I got her via a friend of a friend of a friend.
I wasn't looking for a cat, but when I saw her adorable face I was sold.
I really don't want to talk too much about her. Mostly, because I already feel ridiculously single, with a cat conversation on the tip of my tongue I feel like I'm online for a ticket to spinster central.
Also, it appears she may be one of the things that has made me deathly ill for the past three weeks.

Other possible allergen culprits are:

  1. A new form of grass : This seems ironic for those of you who know of some of my recreational habits, but I'm actually really allergic to grass. I find this kinda weird that a new strain of grass got to me seeing as I live in the concrete jungle that is NYC, but perhaps I've been walking through fields during one of my many "vacations". (Since I'm poor this year, vacations are basically me getting black out drunk.)
  2. Dust: It's already known that I'm allergic to dust, but it's odd that I'd be getting more dust than usual. Especially since I've actually started cleaning my apartment on a regular bases. (Growing up is weird- priorities shift. Instead of brunching the weekend mornings away I sweep/mop and listen to NPR)
  3. Dairy: I've been told that this might be a problem in the past. I am in total denial of this being a possible truth. I really don't want a life without cheese.
So, I'm basically waiting until the blood tests come back to see what allergen is sucking my will to live.

Luckily, I can still drink- and we're doing an Octoberfest theme at Convergence tonight.