Monday, April 16, 2012

April is Autism Awareness Month

This one hits close to home for me, as two of my three children are 'on the spectrum'. Not that I would change a thing if I could; I have three of the most extraordinary, intelligent, amazing human beings in my life one could imagine. Still, for those who can appreciate the following, keep strong. It does get better and it is our job to make this a world where understanding and compassion conquers all.  What follows is a poem I wrote years ago, when my oldest son (now 13) first began to verbalize that he knew he was different than his peers.

"My brain is not work",
You said, as you knocked
Your small hand, fisted,
To your head, and looked
Up at me with the sincerity
Of pain.

Nine years old, and still
You can only speak
In quotes and even then,
You often misplace the
Grammer; Finding dialogue
From the world to insert in any
Conversation you might 
Ever encounter.

How creative.
How disastrous,
Your brain is work,
For the rest of us-
Trying to mold 
Your big soul,
To fit our small view,
The doctors don't know 
What to make of you, 
And I can only make
Mistakes, it seems.

I want to scream.
To take your suffering,
And inflict it on all those
I deem more worthy.
Like the kids who laugh
At you and their parents,
Raising putrid animals.

I want to curse.
A god that would give you
Life and not equip you with
The light to stumble through it.
You're the reason 
I hate Rand, and I can't 
Stand the phrase:
"Survival of the fittest",
Because who the hell 
Is anyonetell me
You have no value?

You're valuable to me.
My precious baby,
I would kill and die 
And burn for eternity
Just to secure 
That you are happy.

But I can't make you talk.
Or understand, 
Or even hold your hand
Forever and protect you
From this unforgiving world,
This horrid pool,
Of stinking egos,
Content on determining
That you do not fit in.

You're brain does not work,
That's true; it does not conform
To this pre-determined perfection,
Presumptuous, and arrogant
Definition of
How to think-
Of how to do.

I'll stay with you.
We'll try to find 
Our own way,
We'll count each day
As you do dates, with precision,
And we'll recite entire scenes
From Star Wars, like we did
When you were three and I 
Would wonder why you never
Did say 'momma'.

We'll eat ice cream,
And we'll find a dream
For you to chase,
And I'll do everything I can
To aide you in this 
Ridiculous race the
Species has with itself.
And we, won't tell any 
Of them that we already won.

If you can't beat 'em, join em...(but don't tell anyone)

Holy depression, that last blog was pure courtneylove/marilynmanson/garybusey.  Sorry about that. While I usually enjoy being an OG, sometimes I get a little OE (original emo). If you don't know what OG stands for, get off my blog and find the part of you that missed out on 1990's popular culture.

Now, on to more important matters: hypocrisy among social workers. During my recent trips to crazytown, there were many instances in which I found myself questioning weather or not I had the right to feign an air of moral  superiority over clients.  For those of you who will take issue with the concept of feigning an air of moral superiority (I know you idealists are out there) then please let me know what you call it when you attempt to make the advice you give believable and from a source that must know better than the client?  In any case, I have played many roles in my lifetime but hypocrite  has not often been a part well suited to me, until recently apparently. 

As it turns out, my hypocrisy knew some bounds : )  I gave up social work for a year and am very likely a better person for it. Due to the fact that 9.00 an hour as a work from home customer service rep does not pay the bills, and the fact that it is nowhere near as rewarding as oh, say, saving someone's life...I am BACK. So watch your back, yall. I'm out to kill with optimism and flowers and such again : )

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Long time, no blog

I just realized that I have not posted an entry in nearly a month and am quite embarrassed considering my vow approximately one month ago to post at least one entry every other day.  Apologies to anyone who actually gives a rat's behind, but I have been swamped with many unfunny events recently.

While going to check on a client the other day I was held up on the highway by what I thought was a car accident.  As it turns out, it was the suicide of a woman who had decided that the best way to depart this life was to jump from a very high overpass onto the middle of that highway. What's worse, is that she apparently did not pick a high enough departure point, because she did not die right away but rather several hours later, according to the evening news.

This brush with suicide made me very sad, and I realized that it is likely because I am no longer desensitized to this type of action. In a previous job I dealth with clients who attempted to take their own lives on a daily basis.  Cutting, hanging, ingesting, you name it-they did it and I dealt with it every day.  I learned to get used to the fact that I was trying to help people that not only didn't want help, but didn't want to even supply their brains with the oxygen needed to develop the desire.  Somehow, I learned to work in this environment but having now been removed from it for a while it was a mild shock to my system to be reminded that people still think this way.

That made me wonder about the situations I deal with right now and how I might be desensitized to them.  Have I become complacent about not having water or electricity? Have I gotten used to the fact that some people would rather have their meth than their children safe?  I like to think not, but it is worth contemplating, and important for all of us in this insane field to think about in order to avoid that possible complacency turning into apathy and acceptance. It would be pretty difficult (although interesting) to be an apathetic agent of change.

I haven't been able to locate the amusing aspects lately in any of my work related experiences, or at least enough of the amusing to make an entire blog entry.  I promise I will try harder.  Perhaps I will go hang out with the attorneys for a while.  I hear that they don't do anything but joke all day.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ten Tactics to Amuse Yourself at Redundant and Boring Workplace Trainings/Meeting

I'm not sure who first decided that it is beneficial to train employees over and over with the same subject matter year after year, but I'm pretty sure that I'd like to punch them in the face, whomever they may be.  I get the fact that repetition increases retention, but I found this theory most useful when I was learning my colors and numbers at age three.  You would think that today's modern workforce supervisors would treat their professional employees slightly more maturely than toddlers, but apparently they have not yet found the value in treating adults like adults. 

Although these types  of training meet and often exceed my job irritant quota, there are also many meetings, both weekly and monthly that I have to sit through in which my relevant portion accounts for approximately one one thousandth of the meeting.  In these times of necessity I have found ways through the years to occupy my mind in a way that keeps me from falling asleep and depositing unsanitary drool all over the table.  I like to think of this as a courtesy to my co-workers who might not appreciate the delicate glisten of my saliva.

Most of these tactics require a certain amount of discretion, the degree of which depends on your superiors’ ‘give a shit’ level.  Please use wisely.  If you find the desire to use any of the below tactics while talking to clients, go to your desk and immediately apply for some vacation time. 

My own personal top ten tactics to amuse myself during boring trainings/meetings are as follows: 

10.  Do other work. .Do your real work in a manner that the facilitator of the meeting/training assumes you are fastidiously taking notes.

9. Doodle.   Draw pictures to amuse yourself in the same manner you would do real work in number 10.  If you have a kindred spirit sitting next to you, you can even exchange knowing glances and silently grin at the others creative efforts. 

8. Count things.  If you want a tactic that requires little creative effort, number 9 is for you.  Ceiling tiles, carpet stains, the number of times your co-worker’s head wobbles as they fall asleep before they jolt awake again, and the number of times the facilitator says ‘um’ are all good fodder for counting.  

7. Write notes.  If you are so fortunate as to be sitting next to the kindred spirit referenced in number 8, you can discretely write notes back and forth to them about how dumb and/or boring the training is.  One of my favorite note conversations took place during a training at a corrections facility in which the normally very serious director of clinical services sitting next to me slid his notepad over to my space after writing “This is the most useless training in the history of ever.”  Thanks to his initial outreach, we amused ourselves thoroughly for the rest of the day utilizing this tactic as well as number 9.   

6. High School Who’s Who.  Look around the room and choose the people for the categories in your head.  Who would get best dressed?  Most talented?  Most likely to get a promotion? Most likely to have an affair with a co-worker?  Most likely to think you are a slacker for not paying attention right now?  Most proficient at kissing the boss’s ass? (the last two are usually the same person).  

5. Twilight Zone Entrapment. This game is in reference to an old Twilight Zone episode in which a group of people are trapped in a moment of time, in this case your meeting.  Time has moved on with the real you, and this old you is stuck in a moment with only the people in that room.  You can move out of the room to the empty earth, but no one else will be there.  Where do you go and what do you do? What would the others choose to do with their lonely existence?  

4. Lord of the Flies.  Imagine that the lot of you in that room have crash landed on an island and have no hope of being rescued.  Who forms in what groups and who emerges as leaders? Who is in the evil group and who is among the good?  Who will work harder than everyone else to build huts, and who will be the first poor soul eaten if cannibalism rears its ugly head? Warning: this fantasy can evoke sadistic thoughts and should not be utilized by anyone who was over sympathetic to Jeffery Dahmer. 

3. Desert Island.  You can pick one other person in the room to be with you forever on a desert island.  Obviously you want to choose someone to be your love interest because eternal celibacy would not be interesting or fun.  If you are a heterosexual man or lesbian in the social work field, this should be an easier one for you because there are usually lots of  females to choose from   If you are a woman or gay man, this fantasy will be a good opportunity to ponder your sexuality in case your hand were ever so forced. This will also be the case if there are other people in the room that are of the gender you prefer but they are all extraordinarily unattractive.  

2. Boredom Texting.  Boredom Texting as it pertains to redundant trainings consists of texting your colleagues within the same room secretly with humorous anecdotes, being careful not to be caught and offending the typically well-meaning trainer.  Under no circumstances should boredom texting ever be allowed to turn into workplace sexting.  Not only is it inappropriate for the workplace, but there are really no sanitary places to sneak off to should you both become hot and bothered.  If you just said to yourself 'the bathroom', get off my blog you dirty, dirty harlot. 

Number,  hmm. I said get off, you.  Only the cleanliness conscientious may proceed to number one. 

1.Play-Dough.  This is the best tactic I have found, because it allows me to amuse myself and still listen somewhat for important (unlikely) information.  It requires that you be prepared with the play dough on your person, and a short prepared excuse about having ADHD and needing to occupy your hands during such situations.  I used this tactic recently during an exceptionally boring all day training. Pictured below are the fruits (and vegetables and flowers and heart and gecko) of my labor.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thank goodness for cool supervisors...

When I was still a teenage slave working a fast food drive- through, I used to dream about the day when I had a job with a real office, an executive desk, an 8-5 workday, informative training days and very important meetings. Of all these, I have managed to realize only the dream of the office, and mine I'm quite sure was actually meant to be a broom closet.

There is no 8-5 workday, my desk isn't even real wood, and I can't remember the last time I had a truly informative training day or really important meeting. I do learn things sometimes and I do think that the work I do is very important,  but most of the time meetings are formalities with all of the major work being done prior to or after the fact and trainings are a long, boring rehash of something someone has told you a hundred times already.

Since I am new to the particular agency I currently work for, I have literally been in training for months.  Although I actually appreciate that fact and did not prefer to be thrown to the wolves upon hire, I have done similar work for years and most of the training is about things that I could teach to the instructors in my sleep. Not that I haven't learned anything at all.  For example, today I learned that the ceiling in the training room has 246 tiles and that the two air conditioning vents have been severely neglected by the cleaning service.

I was joined in training today by several other social workers from my office, since it was a training on 'Brand New Material'.  Apparently in our agency, brand new means that they changed one sentence of a 2000 page policy and we must all be re-trained on the whole thing. Since they had been trained on the material (except for the one sentence of course) many more times than I had, they were even more bored than me.  This caused among them a phenomenon known as boredom texting.

Boredom texting as it pertains to redundant trainings consists of texting your colleagues within the same room secretly with humorous anecdotes, being careful not to be caught for fear of offending the usually well-meaning trainers.  I have no objections to boredom texting as long as the training is truly ridiculous, the trainers never get upset or offended, and the texters and textees maintain their composure and do not disrupt the rest of the trainees who are perhaps new to the planet and have a need to actually listen to the material.

Unfortunately, my co-workers and I eventually received a text that was so funny we were all forced to lose our composure and laugh loudly or else urinate on ourselves trying to hold it in.  We chose to laugh loudly, which then resulted in a domino effect of breaking all the bordom texting rules mentioned previously.  Our loud laughter caused us to lose our composure, disrupt the rest of the trainees and was obviously noted by more than one of the trainers, who were likely disgruntled by our outbursts. Thank goodness for us, the offending texter turned out to be our supervisor, who apparently has an amazing sense of comedy.  She was also one of the trainers, and  being careful to save the feelings of her comrade trainers she appeared to chastise us appropriately for our immature behavior.

Now, I can't tell you what was so funny, but I can tell you that I have a whole new respect for my supervisor and her ability to sympathize with our pain and relieve it adequately to the best of her ability during our very boring day.

I can tell you about the last boredom text I received at my previous job from the psychologist sitting across from me at an administrative meeting.  He wanted to inform me that the clerk sitting next to him was sexting with the attorney sitting next to me.  Now those two were just out of line.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Because I have been writing, just not here....

I have been having the hardest time keeping up with this blog.  I just commented on another social work site that I appreciated funny blogs and had trouble finding any before starting my own that also pertained to social work.  However, now that I have committed myself to such an endeavor, it is very difficult to keep up on a daily basis and I have had the pleasure of watching my visit count go from several hundred to one or two a day. If you have ever sat and refreshed the view counter over and over instead of focusing on new material, you know exactly what I mean.  In any case, I have been writing, just slightly more seriously due to an upset by a recent issue in our US media with radio talk show host Dr. Laura.  You can read my rant on the issue of racism and of my dissatisfaction with Dr. Laura in general here.  Of course I have been writing other things as well, but if anyone at work ever knew about all of the nerd-love erotica I write I might be out of a job.  Wow, I couldn't help myself just now and googled that to see if such a thing actually existed and all I can say is don't search that term at work or in your home if you don't want your tech guy to think you have a pornography addiction. Now, if your tech guy is really nerdy and you are actually into that sort of thing, by all means, search away.

UPDATE:  Apparently I need to learn to close out my browser before I abandon my laptop to go to work.  My spouse apparently uses my laptop occasionally (no idea why the three other computers in the house aren't sufficient for him) and thinks that I have a nerd-love erotica fetish, whatever that is.  I mean, I guess its true that I am attracted to nerds, and he is aware that I have always found The Professor Jeff Goldblum and John Stewart extremely attractive, but now he thinks I have a 'problem'. I'll let you know if he becomes jealous and starts reciting physics equations in the bedroom.  Actually, that might be kinda hot...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Some social support for Eminem

I have a confession to make: I am a closet gangsta rap fan.  I know that it probably seems that this is one of those instances where I am making an attempt at humor, but I really am a rap fan and at the top of my list of favorites (which includes Immortal Technique and Tupac) is the infamous Eminem.  Not only does he have enough gangsta flavor on some songs to make me pretend I’m a badass behind the wheel of my minivan after I drop the kids off, he is just plain hysterical sometimes.  Its like getting two flavors for one, a hip-hop, comedy Reeses if you will.  I am aware that all of the above named artists would likely be ashamed to include me in their fan base, and I also realize that I frequently look ridiculous behind the wheel when indulging my musical tastes, but the social commentary provided in almost all music makes this particular genre hard to resist. 

Recently, Eminem has gotten a lot of press over his song with Rihanna “Love the Way You Lie”, and its portrayal of the cycle of domestic violence.  Some have said that it is a brilliant and accurate depiction of the cycle, some have praised him for sparking a conversation about the dangers among young people, and some have just been downright nasty about attacking him for glorifying the subject.   The latter are those who I believe need to go sit on a tack, not because I would like to eat M&M’s off of Eminem’s rock hard, now drug-free abs, but because in my opinion their views of domestic violence are sexist.

In fact, I think that the way most of us in the social work field treat domestic violence is extremely sexist and it bothers me so much that this attitude is so prevalent that I can only express my true opinion within the anonymity of an internet blog.  

As a result of this controversy,  it was stated by prominent women’s advocates that only 2 year olds and violent men use violence to get what they want.  Apparently, these people never met half of my female clients.  Now, before all of you social workers get your panties and one pair of briefs in a bunch, let me say that I do believe there is a good deal of domestic violence that is reflective of the classic sort we learn about.  Man controls woman, woman is abused, woman is too weak/poor/scared to leave.  However, I also believe that brand of domestic violence is a species in danger of extinction. 

Women are now in a position in our society to be the abusers, and more and more it is so.  Many women who would not have had the resources in place 20 years ago to successfully leave their husbands can do so now, and be fully supported in doing so.  In many of the cases I have seen, the violence has indeed been mutual contrary to popular and widely held assumptions.  In many other cases, the woman has been just as emotionally abusive as the man in the relationship, and although it is taboo to ever say that a woman ‘incites’ domestic violence, we all know that it does happen frequently. I know there is no excuse for physical violence; I do realize the danger in this attitude, and am well versed in not blaming the victim in any situation.  I just think that in something as complicated as domestic violence, it is also just as dangerous to not consider each member a victim of their own environment and circumstances.

The only thing we are accomplishing in demonizing men for things such as domestic violence is an eventual backlash from men and women who recognize the unfairness of this attitude. We are also excusing and removing any role that women may play in the process, and therefore not actually finding effective solutions.