Couldn't think of a cool title…

December 4, 2008

And what will become of the NonProfits?

Filed under: Business, Causes Worth Supporting, Poverty, Rants — me @ 4:22 am

I am in my last “official” real weeks of being an employee of our favorite NonProfit, and the talk of the day is the economic mess. To be broke in a nonprofit isn’t really news, but what’s different is that the places out there– the For Profits and the Foundations– are all freaking out at once with financial woes of their own. Big news in our little circle is always whose gala had who at it and what auction items sold. Nonprofit groups host gala fundraisers with fancy food for exorbitantly priced tickets and then entertain their guests with silent auctions, live auctions, and (usually) a cash bar. Except who’s going to pay for $125-$200+ tickets these days? And no one can afford to spend money on an auction after they’ve put all that money down for a ticket, which basically just covers the chicken and the rented sound equipment.There are, of course, individuals who will pay exorbitant amounts of money out of loyalty to a particular cause, or in my observation, a particular individual who cares about a particular cause. Somehow spending money on an event seems to be a more personal way of supporting a friend than a straight donation to their organization. For instance, I have a friend who is Artistic Director of a theatre around here. They recently had a gala. It is unlikely, were I to receive an annual appeal letter in the mail, that I would write a couple hundred dollar check for this theatre (or honestly, any organization). But my buddy came to OUR gala last spring, and he’s really freaking awesome, and I actually do believe in the work he does– so I bought a ticket and attended, unable to bid much at all on auction items for fear I’d never make rent this month. It meant something to him, and I wanted to “help”– but I don’t think ultimately my type of loyal attendance-ship is what these type of events are really supposed to target. It would be better for me to send the $150 check directly and let them save the money on my pasta dinner…

These kinds of events are traditionally held together by corporate sponsors, who buy up tables and fill them with their employees and friends who happily consider getting drunk for a cause as a perk of their employment and bid up signed photographs of ball players “for the kids,” in many cases for organizations they have had little to no personal contact with themselves. But when times are tight– and scary– as they are now, the corporations don’t want to spend money on a party. They don’t have the ability to budget for additional charitable giving when they’re contemplating layoffs. So the funding stream runs dry here, as it already has in earned income categories as well as other kinds of foundation support.

So the question is, if the NonProfits’ business plans are all driven on the assumption that they will just get by (as many of them could only “just” do when times were supposedly good) through these types of funding that simply won’t be there now: what happens to all the social services they provide? What happens to the PEOPLE who depend on those services for support, enrichment, and basic livelihood?

But really, what can be done then?


October 16, 2008

Let’s Take a Break from My Usual Whining

Filed under: Poverty, Rants — me @ 5:23 am

And talk about poverty. It’s Blog Action Day. (Well, it was when I started writing this post.)

First, some numbers to think about (plagiarized from Half in Ten):

  • More than thirty-seven million Americans live below the official poverty line (less than $21,203 for a family of four), and more than 18 million children are poor in this country.
  • Most poor families live on far less than the poverty level – the annual income of the average poor family is more than $8,500 below the poverty line. Even worse, more than 15 million people live below half the poverty line, and more than one-third of them are children.

One of the (clearly many) things about my current job that I actually have liked and will miss is the tangible connection it has given me in doing a (very) small thing for some children from (very) low income households in my (very) economically stratified little city. The city I now work in, the city I lived in and went to school in for 10 years, the city that my father and grandfather were born in– is, in my estimation, a microcosm of the economic (and other) stratification of these United States. It is my experiences in this state, that have made me understand how urgent, pervasive, and society-killing poverty is. My job allowed me to care for and know families in significant poverty these past few years, and their friendship has meant a great deal. Getting to know them made poverty real to me, and it made it more urgent in my sense of priorities in evaluating political candidates. I was a big John Edwards supporter this past year and also in 2004, primarily because he spoke about poverty– well and often. I pray for more with national platforms on which to speak will follow his lead in speaking out and initiating action on this crisis.

There is a particular street on my ride into work every day I always cite when ranting and worrying about this topic. If you live on one side of Pathetic Street, your children will go to the best school system in the state. If you live on the other side of the street, your children will go to the most desperate mess of a school system I have ever had the pleasure of personally encountering. Driving along, it has been striking to many visiting friends of mine just how quickly the housing in that area goes from Exorbitant Sheik to Serious Ghetto. But for those of us who live here, it really isn’t something that is talked about. In this crazy state I live in, its normal to be on food stamps a block away from a mansion.

In my work as a drama teacher I have worked with students from urban, rural, and suburban areas and from every imaginable income level. In the wealthier districts I work I often find myself complaining about the parents. Stage Moms come out of the woodwork in wealthy schools when you announce you’re putting on a play. Fathers show up to build the set and help with the car wash fundraiser and the mothers squabble amongst themselves about perceived unfair distribution of costumes. Fights break out over which kid gets to wear the expensive lapel microphones. And lo, pity the poor volunteer who neglects to misspell something in the “Break a Leg!” section of the program. It is a generalization, but overall in most put-on-a-play experiences in those areas, parents seem to be breathing over my shoulder throughout the production process, sometimes to the point that I often wish they weren’t there at all. It’s different in the poorer areas that I work. In those areas most of the few parents I encounter are younger (sometimes significantly younger) than me. It always catches me off guard when I say I’m 30 and senior in high school tells me so is their mom. In these areas I have to beg for parents to come to performances. Attendance at rehearsals is often spotty– someone has been suspended, someone was kicked out of their house this week, someone’s grandmother’s car broke down. When I first started working with students facing this level of poverty, I was overwhelmed and depressed by the challenges of putting on a play with them. It felt futile, as Nijala Sun’s NO CHILD details better than I could. (P.S. If that show comes to your neighborhood I highly recommend it, it’s sort of my life onstage.) But then I started dealing with the grant paperwork that made those programs possible. I had to process the forms which detailed the number of members in my students’ households, as compared to the household’s annual income. Foundation reports would come out and I would see our little organization listed among housing projects, food banks, and literacy training, and it occurred to me– individually our work is at times microscopic in impact. But all of these nonprofits have come together, supported by funders and volunteers and sheer will, to save the lives of an entire community of young people.

I’m not making soup for these kids, or building houses for them– but I have felt a great deal of gratification in the past couple years being able to do this one small thing in their lives that would not be there otherwise. Grants allow programs like the one I work in to provide enrichment activities for kids whose schools “leave behind” children every day. It is not much, but it saves lives. I’m not a cook– as I often say, I not what you’d call ‘domestic’ so I barely manage to feed myself. There are other people who have found themselves called to feed the stomachs of the poor in their areas. I feel blessed that my time and talents have given me the honor of helping to feed some hungry children’s souls. I want to call out to the world– Feed them! And while, we’re at it, let’s feed the hearts of those children on the other side of the street, who’ve never had the gift of a friend who didn’t have a closet-full of toys, and who don’t know to find it odd that that quick Exorbitant Shiek to Serious Ghetto walk is anything other than as it should be.

Poverty should be a crime in a nation this wealthy, but I wonder if there is an even greater crime in the invisible separators amongst the classes, played out so absurdly in my particular state.  It boggles my mind how deep we’re-not-having-food- this-weekend poverty can exist, literally, a stone’s throw from such intense wealth, and how the members of each can have so little contact with each other. As my former minister once said, the more time I spend with the poor, the more convinced I become that they have more to teach the rest of us than we to them. May we all have and seek access to their gifts, and may the gifts we share ourselves make a difference.

A family member of mine with whom I often argue about political matters told me once, “There will always be poor people.” Will there? Maybe. But does it have to be? Where is the morality in accepting that statement as a given? What have I done today to make a difference for those a stone’s throw from my door? What have you?

November 6, 2007

This post should have been about my so-exciting cruise

Filed under: Business, Melancholy, Rants, Workaholism — me @ 8:54 am

And I will have to remember to fill you in on all those details because really. It.Was.Wonderful. — but instead it’s 20 of 4 on the morning I have to return to work and I just found out something this past evening that is going to make tomorrow, er, today– even more depressing than I was kind of already anticipating it would be. Phooey.

Suffice it to say I think I’ve finally come around to truly question the viability of the NonProfit I work for. Economic viability, programmatic viability, everything. Things have always been rocky here, and I often say the great miracle is the fact that we’re still here. I have tried so hard to fix so much, and certainly it’s fair to say that my identity has gotten quite mixed up in my place here. And for the first time I think I will be truly in a place where I can will myself to consider whether I should stay. It makes me ill to even think of leaving. But until tonight people would say “How can you stay there? Don’t you know there are places where you could be paid more? Appreciated more?” Maybe I haven’t known. Maybe I still don’t. But tonight’s the first night that I haven’t been able to brush those questions off easily with a “well maybe someday I’ll come to my senses…” or a “it’s working as a job for me for the moment” or a “there’s a lot of benefits in this job that I couldn’t get somewhere else.” Tonight’s the first night that I’ve hesitated at all, even let myself grapple with the question for real.

Damn it. And I was so rested.

October 24, 2007

How to Re-Member – OR – I’ll put money down my day sucked worse than yours

Filed under: Business, Melancholy, Rants — me @ 5:17 am

One of the causes worth supporting that I’ve linked on this site is a place called Re-Member. It’s an organization that serves the Lakota Indians on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I volunteered there a couple years back, building bunk beds for families living a dozen to a trailer. I am glad to have done it and would love to go back, it is a wonderful spiritual place that is making a difference in a community that sorely in need of healing. They host volunteer education and “mission” trips (though not of an evangelical variety in any sense of the word) providing service to Remember and Re-Member the Lakota people. That is, first, to Remember what has been done to the Lakota in the past and what continues to afflict them now. But, perhaps even more urgently, Re-Member seeks to Re-Member, that is to do the opposite of dismember– to take something that has been broken and put it back together somehow.

That image has resonated with me ever since that trip. I’ve been thinking about it a lot today, which was, to put it mildly, a very sad day from beginning to end. I wouldn’t even know how to begin to explain. Suffice it to say that children are often extremely cruel to one another and I would like nothing more than to take away some of the pain they so carelessly inflict sometimes. In my position at work I take responsibility for the well-being of hundreds of children a year, and it is a heavy responsibility I take extremely seriously. I care desperately for the kids I work with. Sometimes that isn’t enough. They fuck up. They hurt each other. They disappoint me. And today I spent literally the whole day– from 8:30AM to well-after 10:30PM, sorting through a mess of crazy proportions that included all of this, all in the name of protecting a victim. I made kids cry. I made parents cry. I blamed myself. I’m angry and sad and exhausted and disgusted. But mostly it’s just sad. And I look at all that has been broken in my organization, and these kids lives, and in my trust in certain people and I wonder How could any of this possibly be Re-Membered?

September 27, 2007

Since lives don’t seem to wake people up I wonder if the answer is talking money

Filed under: Causes Worth Supporting, Rants — me @ 6:02 pm

Pray for peace. And then act. Please.

July 22, 2007

Lessons Learned while protecting kids from stalkers and tornados– you know, the usual

Filed under: Business, Personal, Rants, Workaholism — me @ 2:35 am

So I feel the need to be even more careful than usual with certain specifics in this blog– my paranoia has increased with my boss’ resignation and the insanity of this past week has certainly not helped. One of the important jobs I have at my little Nonprofit, with the many kids I work with, is writing little reports of the ways they get hurt and any unusual incidents that come up during the day. Let’s just say that there were far too many reports written this week regarding a wide array of problems at my job and the kids I work with, and my vote is for all the kids to be in small plastic bubbles for a little while. I guess the most interesting was a freak accident involving a sportsdrink bottle. (You had to be there– trust me, we’ve now proven that even the most innocuous of objects can turn into items of outrageous and unnecessary trauma.)

The report that has shattered me a little though is the one I am still working on writing, about a situation that involved a lock-down of the building the kids were in this week. I determined that there was someone in the building who could be a threat to the kids, or at least someone who was clearly should not be allowed to hang around them much. So I called the police. I have never had to enact emergency procedures on that scale before and I felt a tremendous amount of responsibility on my shoulders in making the decision, which was then complicated (because God has a sense of humor?) by a Tornado Watch suggesting that the students move to other areas after we secured them in rooms with several windows. Some things I’ve learned…

1. It’s really hard to get a restraining order against someone, even if you have really good evidence that they’ve been basically stalking multiple children.

2. Calling 9-1-1 and asking for a police officer doesn’t always mean they arrive within a reasonable amount of time. I felt, given the circumstances, that the TWO AND A HALF HOURS I had to wait for an officer to arrive was, at the least, excessive.

3. Never underestimate the potential of politics to enter into a situation. Even a situation where providing for a child’s safety seems like the obvious first priority, there may always be others who see other objectives as at least as important, and sometimes even more important.

4. Parents who drop off their kids and complain about your program all the time will suddenly love you when you demonstrate that you’re willing to go above and beyond to keep their children out of harm’s way. My most annoying parent is suddenly full of praise for me and it’s a little weird.

5. When it comes right down to it, hiring staff you can completely trust is everything. I never would have been able to make the decisions I did if I hadn’t had at least a few people I could rely on to take care of things in the background while I awaited help in the foreground.  I think of times in the past when I’ve taken a real leap of faith in hiring– sometimes it’s just necessary, being a Nonprofit, offering a lot of positions with no benefits and sometimes pretty low renumeration– it’s difficult to find and retain high quality people who both know their job AND are willing to let me steer when necessary. I rely on the people I work with on so many levels every day– they are so often my eyes and ears to the needs of the programs and the clients we serve, and they are the hands that make the things happen that I can’t be everywhere for. I think I’m improving in my ability to delegate, but my struggles in that area will always be increased depending on how the people I supervise have proven their worth. I obsess over finding people who will use a hole-punch to my liking (no I’m not kidding) but maybe its rooted in a more fundamental fear– will this person be able to avert catastrophe when necessary? If they can’t file papers competently, how can I entrust them with the lives of children my heart has wrapped itself around?

6. One of my greatest struggles emotionally, since I discovered having a point of view and the ability to defend my opinions– comes when I share my fears or anger with someone and it is trivialized. I think this is a common theme for a lot of women– understandable in a world that developed the term hysteria in the first place. I encounter this kind of reaction, to greater and lesser degrees,  in a lot of places– in talking about politics with my family at times, in discussing the future of the organization at work, and in trying to explain my dating struggles to my happily married friends. It always gets under my skin, but there are times when I can’t hold my frustration at bay.  And just as parents still push their adult children into adolescent arguments that justify their idea that their children are still just that– my reaction in these times is generally of little help in my argument, but merely seems to reinforce the idea that I am misguided, emotional, or unprofessional. I tell myself I need to pick and choose whose opinions matter and whose do not– but that is often easier said than done.

7. Trying to save dozens of children from potential stalkers takes a lot out of you. I’ve been pretty much useless ever since. Hopefully I will rediscover some energy since there’s another well-over-fifty-hour week in my future…

8. There are people in the world who are mentally ill. Some of these people are undiagnosed due to lack of education, health insurance, support, etc.– and some of them pose a threat Obviously I knew that before last week.  But knowing something is a major challenge and experiencing the results of not helping these people and supporting treatment for them.. the notion is simply miles apart from the impact of that kind of experience.

March 28, 2007

Things That Have Disturbed Me This Past Week

Filed under: Best Niece Ever, Rants, Sister — me @ 1:23 am

My first week of Aunthood was enormously pleasant in between all its emotional/physical/mental exhaustion. Since Sister has been able to recover a bit (when BestNieceEver isn’t crying for four hours straight as she apparently did last night), I’ve been able to catch up with her on some of the details of the end of her pregnancy and birth. If you are squeamish about these things, feel free to ignore this post– but Ucellina and I had a good initial conversation about it the day BestNieceEver was born and I’ve learned more since and I’ve been digesting it all for several days now.

Like a lot of people, I guess I have some discomfort with the topic of labor and childbirth– which kind of surprises me because there are so many topics that make other people uncomfortable that don’t phase me a bit. My sister’s impending labor the past few months got a lot of people around me talking, including my mother– and I was sort of… disappointed in myself for finding myself unsettled in certain conversations. Sister has scared me with her behavior in several crisis situations, and maybe part of my anxiety about the whole thing is not feeling, since I have never borne a child myself, that I really knew what it was that was coming in the deepest sense. I was nervous about the pain, about Sister’s fears, about the baby’s health, about things going wrong– what didn’t I worry about?

Anyhow, now that all of that is over I feel a tremendous sense of relief. But I have pieced together some of the narrative of Sister’s experiences and there is a lot about them that disappoint me. In a personal way, of course, but in a larger political way I guess too. As I’ve said before I am acutely aware of how easily I take on others’ anxieties, especially those of my family members. And there are ways Sister was treated that I feel hurt rather than helped her in a time of great need. Finding out these things was, for me, its own trauma as well. Those stages of Grief everyone talks about– well maybe this is the Anger stage I’m in, suddenly wanting to write to Congress to demand reforms to maternity care in this country, to asuage the pain I felt to think of Sister ill-treated in any way.

So… some things in the long story that bothered me…

1. My Sister described most of her prenatal experience in this way “I just don’t think they knew what to do with me!” She underwent more Ultrasounds and Non-Stress Tests than anyone else I have encountered. This of course, was of great interest to my family because pretty much every time they did an Ultrasound, they declared BestNieceEver to be a different gender, all the way up to a week or two before delivery. (Apparently she likes to hold her legs up close to her body and didn’t approve of being re-photographed over and over again. She modest.)

BestNieceEver-to-Be was measured at 5lbs early in March. Supposedly babies-to-be are expected at Sister’s particular hospital to gain a pound a week or the Doctors determine the baby to be “better off outside than inside.” So after several weeks of insinuating to my Sister in rather emotionally manipulative ways that there must be something wrong with her Baby, the Doctors determined 13 days before the Due Date that they were probably going to “need” to induce labor. (It seems to me, not that I have a medical license or anything, that if the baby is on the smallish side but all tests that can be devised indicate it is perfectly healthy– wouldn’t it make more sense to hope and pray that the mother doesn’t go into labor before her “due date” rather than coaxing the kid out before she’s ready? )

2. Having made the determination that she should be induced, these Doctors, in their wisdom, decided WITHOUT INFORMING SISTER to do something called “stripping the membranes,” which, as I understand it, is a rather painful and dubious procedure that “hurries things along” as they say and, I’ve discovered, manages to increase risk of infection as well. Now on the particular day when the Doctors did this without Sister’s informed consent, it happened to be snowing. At the rate of about an inch an hour. While mixing with sleet. Did I mention Sister and Brother-in-Law live FOUR MILES UP ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN? Not exactly an ideal day to make a run to SmallTown hospital FORTY-FIVE MINUTES AWAY. Sister apparently asked, in her cool-simmer-before-violent-explosion way, “Did any of you look out the window?” and none of the doctor’s staff seemed to understand what her concern was. Apparently one of the nurses said, “Well do you know anyone in SmallTown? Maybe you can go stay with them…” Even if this procedure WAS medically necessary, which I am in no way convinced that it was, couldn’t they have sent her to the hospital to do it THERE? Needless to say, Sister freaked out. THANK GOD my father’s cousin is a Big City Maternity Nurse so she could actually talk to someone she trusts who had a clue. Her response was that it was outrageous they didn’t tell her what they were going to do, and that they were idiots for not factoring in the obvious challenge of trying to drive without being killed or deliver the baby in the snow. She, very practically said that if anything were to happen they should get in their car but know that they would not be going to the SmallTown hospital they had wasted all that time touring and taking childbirth classes at, but to the CloserTown hospital half an hour away. She also said that in most cases when this is done, IF it works it works in a couple hours, so by the time Sister called, Dad’s Goddess of a Cousin was pretty reassuring that odds were good they’d be fine. And they were.

3. Sister’s water broke about 48 hours later on Sunday night. They were admitted to the hospital a few hours later and she was pretty much immediately strapped down to a bed with several IV’s coming out of her. SmallTown hospital gets a lot of recognition for having a nice “birthing facility” but I guess my Sister didn’t really get to take advantage of it. Again, I don’t have a medical degree, but what little I know about gravity tells me that lying down has got to be one of the least advantageous (or comfortable) positions to be in when one is giving birth. My limited experience with limbs falling asleep and trying to find a comfortable position in my own bed tell me that rarely does staying immobile work out as a pleasant long-term option in most normal cases, and I can only imagine everything is doubly true in a high stress situation such as this.

4. One of the drugs Sister was given almost immediately is called pitocin. It is intended to make labor happen faster. Sister and Brother-in-Law’s reaction when told that this would happen was “Um… we just got here. We don’t really think that’s necessary or a good idea.” They were not given an alternative in the matter and were told UPON BEING ADMITTED that if the baby did not arrive within 24 hours that she would have to have a Cesarean. I can’t think of anything more defeating than to be told, at the moment, “Oh and by the way, I know this sucks right now but if it continues to suck for the next 23 hours you’ll have major surgery.” How is that helpful? Pitocin is, I am told, like being kicked in the stomach by a horse over and over again and it doesn’t stop. It is supposed to speed up labor, increases the pain of contractions, not to mention fetal stress. Meanwhile, it works against the other drugs she was given so it becomes a game of a little of this vs. a little of that. Sister has been told that in the end of it all they had to give her twice as much anesthesia as is normally given in these circumstances as a response to the issues presented by the Pitocin.

5. My Sister got a 2nd degree laceration during childbirth that required stitches (all sorts of questions as to whether that would have happened if not for everything that had happened prior…). So my first hour with her after she woke up from a deep (medically induced?) sleep after she gave birth, involved watching Brother in Law carry her so she could go to the bathroom, with an enormous bruise on her back (from the Epidural), bleeding all over the floor, in a complete state of shock. There is a sign on the wall in the hospital room that says when “discharge” time is at the hospital, and all I could think at the time was– she can’t walk! are they going to throw her out of here in two days when she can barely function?

6. When asked if she wanted to feed or diaper the baby, Sister said, “I don’t know how.” Let’s be clear. My sister is not breastfeeding. She was saying that she didn’t feel competent to put a bottle in her child’s mouth. The hospital had charged my my Sister and Brother-in-Law for weeks of classes to learn how to breathe during labor and what kind of plastic outlet covers will prevent a toddler from inserting keys into electric sockets. In none of that time did the curriculum include the basics that would have empowered her to take care of her child or feel that she had a clue what she was doing. The whole first day she hardly touched the baby, making me worry madly about how the medication was affecting her and whether she was suffering from Post Partum Depression, when ultimately, I think, it was just that nothing in her experience to this point had given her any confidence that she could do what mothers have done since the beginning of time. Even the response of the nurses at the time was at best unhelpful– they agreed to feed or diaper the baby themselves and then did so where Sister was unable to watch.

7. SmallTown Hospital has a rule, which I’m told is very common, that all babies are to ride in little rolling baby carriers rather than be carried in the hallway. They cite safety reasons, which is fair I suppose– but it means that the nurses were yelling at my Brother-in-Law for carrying his own daughter.

8. One much-odder rule at SmallTown hospital is that all of the “public” paperwork lists the Mother’s Maiden Name rather than the Child’s Last Name. My guess is that this is an attempt to prevent baby snatching, but PLEASE. The nurses tried turned away each member of our family who asked to be buzzed in to see Sister WithBrotherinLaw’sLastName, saying that no such person was there, even when the child’s and husband’s names were both mentioned, and even when it was literally 2 hours after the birth and during normal visiting hours. Brother-in-Law liked to tell people that he and Sister were “under cover,” but this just ventures into completely ridiculous territory when the baby’s GreatAunt out-of-state has her flowers returned because she listed the family’s actual last name on the card.

9. The nurses came and went all day long while Sister was in the hospital, placing a great emphasis on charting every minute detail of what the child had been up to, to the point that Sister and Brother-in-Law started to get nervous that somehow there was something wrong if BestNieceEver drank half an ounce of formula one time and three-quarters of an ounce the next, or if the nurse said it’s 4PM she needs to eat and baby happened to be more interested in sleep at 4PM (I mean the kid doesn’t even have a watch!). No one spent anytime reassuring them that things were progressing normally or that the baby was quite capable of determing when she wanted to eat until their pediatrician finally came along and discovered that all of their questions were about the details the nurses kept pressing them about.

10. Now it was my 29th birthday the day BestNieceEver was born and yet I have the distinction of having been carded while ordering an alcoholic beverage as soon as last month. Well, Sister is going to be 27 next month but safe to say she will be carded well into her daughter’s teens. She easily looks like she could be 15 in a lot of the pictures I took of her at the hospital. And Brother-in-Law looks young too. They don’t dispute that they are new at the entire Baby Thing. But Sister says she strongly felt that a lot of the medical staff they encountered before, during, and after labor were unnecessarily patronizing and that that had a lot to do with it.

I don’t think Sister’s case is a horror story– I’m sure there are long lines of others who can lay claim to having a true childbirth nightmare. I don’t even think it is atypical. I just think there was a lot about it that was unnecessarily unpleasant. And that’s what bothers me about it. In many ways my Sister and her daughter received good quality health care, it is just that so many of the decisions made on their behalf seemed to take little consideration of their individual needs. Sister considers herself lucky to have delivered when she did at fairly small hospital with only one other infant on-site her first night– it could have been worse, she says. She feels she got more consideration and support than she would have if she’d had the baby even a day later. I don’t pretend to know everything, particularly on this subject, but I have very strong instincts that there is a lot about all of this that shouldn’t have been so difficult.

March 1, 2007


Filed under: Bad Patient, Boys, Personal, Rants, Talks with the Doc — me @ 1:11 am

it’s official, i have bronchitis. my doctor prescribed antibiotics, which have come in the form of the largest pills i have ever seen. i miss healthiness.

In the meantime my recent Crush, who i’ve been referring to as Michael Douglas for purposes of protecting the guilty, has been ignoring me. Or at least that’s what he appears to be doing. As the Doctor says, I date something like a 12 year old, so it is his lack of response to myspace comments and text messages that has me all melancholy.   In my defense, however, I actually have tried to CALL him twice in the past two weeks and he has not called back.

For a great period of my life I would have told that story with the disclaimer that it isn’t a big deal or that it’s a silly complaint. But what I’m really mourning these days, honestly, is that this lack of an Other in my life really IS a big deal. My singleness is my biggest hate in my life, the thing I find the most overwhelming, hopeless, and yes, shameful. Whatever accomplishments I have that I am proud of, the place I am in my life right now just takes me back, over and over again, to the fact that I will be 29 in 3 weeks and I have never had a boyfriend. I can’t fully articulate the pain this situation carries into my everyday life.  But it is so much hurt that denying and minimizing it seemed the only way to survive. And now I guess I am facing a crossroads in which I actually acknowledge how deeply this has driven into me but face a harsher question– what if I jump into this grief this way and still, nothing changes?

So, my Crushes. Be gentle with me.

February 14, 2007


Filed under: Rants — me @ 8:14 pm

To: People of the World

From: Me

If you are unhappy with me, my company, or the services I represent, please do not leave long-winded voicemails over and over again decrying your sorrow. It will not increase my empathy and in fact has the opposite effect.  Thank you.

February 8, 2007

Bad Parenting of the Day

Filed under: Business, Rants — me @ 2:20 am

One of the unpleasant parts of working with children being an accidental witness to lousy parenting. Being a parent is beyond challenging, and I only get a glimpse of many of our clients’ family lives– so my assessment sometimes is unfair, and I remind myself of that whenever I feel ready to judge. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Today’s is an unremarkable story. Once a week I work with a group of students that include three boys that are fully incapable of getting along together. They are all very sweet and well-meaning, they just have a complete lack of attention span or frustration-coping  skills, and while I endeavor my best to be Super Teacher there are times like today when it’s basically a hostage situation. I try to get them excited about an activity, they get distracted, someone annoys someone, and then I’m coaxing a crying child out from under a table. I’m frustrated with myself at the moment since I’m supposed to be the voice of evaluating classroom management skills at my office and mine seem to dissolve with this particular group pretty quickly. At any rate, this one little boy was embarrassed about something and someone upset him so he sat in a corner and began to cry, saying (rather articulately actually) that he needed time to be left alone. Well, the mother came along to chew him out for crying because she’s “not raising a crier” and that “next time he better remember that.” Hearing this my tongue gets tied up inside my mouth while all that is maternal in me writhes, and the images of the swallowing of his tears burn at my heart. This sort of thing happens all the time in my line of work.  I can’t ignore it, and yet I can’t entirely address it either. So what do I do?

Maybe it is this problem of taking on everyone else’s anxiety that I have– but there are times when I see kids get a raw deal and it tears me up.

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