Tag Archives: My Glamorous Life

Shake it up

Of course we all know that liberals tend to congregate in cities, in all of their self-reinforcing bubbles. Which is not to say that conservatives don’t live in cities, because obviously they do, but a large majority of small towns and small cities across the country are populated by conservatives.

I’ve been thinking about a strategy lately though, for liberals to truly take over America. Everyone that fled their small, conservative hometowns for the big cities should move back! Think of the revolution. Maybe I’m being dumb and idealistic, but the idea is a little bit appealing to me, to be honest with you. But maybe only appealing in a hypothetical sense.

But there is a part of me that’s wondering why I would leave Portland, with all of my new experience and training, and then move to another big city where I’m not really needed? What if I moved back to Arkansas and started a chapter of SMYRC there, where one doesn’t exist? And what if I also started doing community education on GLBT issues? And helped elect liberal senators?

It’s definitely a trade off, but if one truly feels that one has something exciting and necessary to offer, wouldn’t one want to go where that product is most needed?

It’s just a thought. It doesn’t mean I would have to stay there forever….

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That’s all, I don’t think of you that often

While it might be really lame and cliche to write a “year end retrospective” post on this ole here bloggy thing, I’m going to do it anyway. Now that my time in Portland is being counted down (somewhat eagerly, I must admit), I can reflect back upon a few revelations I’ve had this year.

Despite a brief period of desperately wanting to go back to Austin, my wandering days are decidedly not over. Tom is applying to, I believe, 14 graduate programs, and about half of the places he’s applying, I’m pretty excited to potentially live in. We sort of made a tentative decision that if, for some reason, he doesn’t get into any of them, we will hightail it back to where our hearts lie, to our beloved Texas. And while I do want to end up in Austin, I’m not sure I’m totally ready to go back just yet. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

I hope he doesn’t mind my telling people this, but one of the schools where Tom is applying is University of Memphis. We both desperately hope that’s where we end up. I keep researching Memphis, and it sounds amazing. And a good high school friend of mine lives there. I went there a lot growing up, but I haven’t been as an adult. The idea of living someplace cheap is also very exciting.

Most of the schools where Tom is applying also have PhD programs I can apply to for the fall of 2011, which I’ve decided I want to do. I know a lot of people in doctorate programs right now, and I’m, like, a thousand times smarter than most of them are.

Inspired by this person, I have completed my first novel, and I’m working on the second draft right now. I have 2 more books in the pipeline as well that I want to write. One of which I’ll probably start on very soon.

Portland has, in my opinion, an unearned reputation. I am disillusioned. People here are mean. I’ve overheard more offensive conversations here than anyplace I’ve ever lived. I’ve had more shit (like “faggot” and “fucking idiot”) shouted at me from cars while I’m walking around than anyplace I’ve ever lived. People here speed up when you’re walking across the street. People are rude on the trains (and everywhere else). The weather is ungodly. It’s crime-ridden and drug use is completely out of control. Even nice people are flakes and non-committal. It has its positives too, though, I guess. It does have great public transit, even if it’s true that most people in the city hate it and complain about it and think it’s a waste of tax dollars and it’s annoying when it holds up traffic, and most people here are actually quite anti-density. Despite that, the density is nice. Even beyond the transit, I love that I can walk to almost everything I need from where I live: myriad bars, restaurants, coffee shops, 4 grocery stores, 2 movie theaters, a post office, 2 video stores. And that’s just in my immediate vicinity. There’s much more I can walk to in neighboring neighborhoods, within about 15 minutes. It’s a beautiful city, the prettiest I’ve ever seen, surrounded by the most awe-inspiring country that exists on this continent, I’m convinced. But I’m over it. Everytime I meet a new person here (at a party, say, or at work) and they learn I’m from Texas, I end up spending 20 minutes defending it, and usually they’ve never even been there, or they were in the Houston airport once. Which I both love and hate doing.

Now that I’m doing it, I’m no longer convinced counseling is something I want to do for a living. At least not full-time. I know, I’m never happy. Seriously.

I think I still want to move to Europe or Mexico. Maybe Tom and I can both become paid writers eventually and do that. In many ways I’m very grateful to be alive at this point in time, but there’s definitely a part of me that wishes I lived in the 1940’s or something. At least as it’s idealized in my head and through literature.

I kind of like having no idea where I’m going to be in 9 months, or even what part of the country I’ll be in. It’s exciting.

Happy New Year!! May 2010 be two thousand times better than 2009.

SMYRC Fundraiser

Some pictures from the SMYRC “naked Santa” party fundraiser tonight. More here (naturally).

I guess I’ve been feeling pretty homesick lately…

…because today I went and got a big tattoo of Texas on my back…

Maybe next to it I should have tattooed “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” but that seems like the kind of thing I would regret later (especially since yes, this tattoo was covering a previous tattoo that I’ve hated and been embarrassed by for years, so now it’s gone).

On my way home from getting that tattoo as I was driving over the Burnside Bridge, all the traffic suddenly stopped. My first thought was that the bridge was raised, but the lights and stuff weren’t flashing. Then I noticed people up in front of me were starting to get out of their cars. My stomach flipped. My next thought was that someone had been hit and was laying in the road dying, or had jumped into the river, or something like that. As I sat there, internally panicking a little bit, suddenly a tiny little black puppy, about 6 inches high, went darting out of the line of traffic next to my car, followed by a teenage boy running after it. It then occurred to me that that’s why everyone was stopped: they were all trying to catch this runaway puppy!!

Then traffic going the opposite direction stopped, and I looked in my rearview mirror and saw the dog continuing to lead the boy on a wild chase all over both lanes of traffic on the bridge, which were now stopped. Finally he caught it and swooped it up in his arms, and ran back to the safety of the sidewalk. I drove home with a little smile on my face.

Frustration!!!

frustration

Overall, things are going really well at my practicum site, except for one minor hitch: MY CLIENTS NEVER SHOW UP!!! I try not to take it personally, or to get too jaded about it, but I’m starting to. Which sucks for a variety of reasons, not least because I have to get a certain amount of client contact hours to graduate from school….

But with the clients that do come regularly, I feel like I’m doing really good work with them. Which helps me to not make it personal. I’m especially bummed today because I got a new client last week that I was super excited about. Just the type of client I’ve been wanting. So I did all kinds of research throughout the week about what I think their diagnosis is, then did research on diagnostic tools and tests to use when they come in to help solidify my hypothesis, and then I researched solutions and ways we can work together to get the best results. Of course they didn’t show up today. Which is not to say they won’t show up next week, but they’re not here now, which is a serious bummer. (Of course, I’m supposed to do all those things with every client, but this is the first time I’ve really done all that stuff independently, sans my supervisor helping me.

I did, however, have a really great appointment with a 9th grader this morning at their school. Awhile back, I wrote about not feeling especially “grown up,” and what that even meant. Well, I’ll tell you, walking into a high school under the guise of being a mental health “expert,” meeting with a kid in the nurse’s office, then talking briefly with the nurse will make one feel “grown up.” (Honestly, even walking the halls of a high school wearing my Cascadia badge made me feel miles from that world, in a good way; it was kind of surreal.)

So I’ll take the good with the bad, and hope my other client shows up next week, and doesn’t become just another in a long line of clients that are notoriously unreliable. I guess that’s just community health care.

Compassion Fatigue

Everyone in the “helping professions” feels it from time to time. They warn us about it in school and make sure we take time for “self care.” People who don’t take time for themselves are the ones that burn out. I didn’t think I would start feeling it quite so soon, but I think my particular case has more to do with my job with the imprisoned children than with anything else. My reservoir of compassion for dealing with constant disrespect and violence (and getting bloodied in the line of duty) is running dry.

Or maybe I’m just feeling fatigued. Been having an extremely difficult time getting out of bed in the mornings. Maybe sleeping too much. Fighting off allergies so bad that I’m having sinus headaches for days that make me nauseous. I’m resisting the idea that maybe it’s a low-grade depression setting in. The days are already so short. It’s raining more. The sky has been gray, and the days chilly and windy. I love fall; I’m looking forward to the crisp air and leaves changing, but dreading the gray skies and rain. Conversations with long-time Portlanders has again started to turn to UV lamps installed in living rooms and above headboards. I’m so worried about healthcare reform that my stomach is in knots and it keeps me awake. Before there was the potential for anything to be better, it was tolerable (barely). But now that we’ve gotten so close to such a better world, having it slip away will be devastating.

But the internship is going really well. I’m loving some of my clients, and doing really good work, which is pleasing me a great deal. There are some other organizations in town I’m super excited to maybe start getting involved with (like this one that I totally have a crush on, and that SMYRC is going to start working with in some capacity, and that thrills me) in all of my free time (*snort*). This city has such incredible social service agencies. It’s so inspiring. Too bad it’s totally fucked in almost every other capacity. The city can’t even pay schoolteachers anymore, so they’re just firing them all. During the last legislative session, the governor warned (perhaps somewhat hyperbolically) that if teachers want to keep schools open, they should start working for free. It’s incredibly depressing. Oregon is officially broke and jobless.

But I’m happy overall. With my internship. My clients. School. My little nest with my boyfriend and my kitten and my warm books. Leonard Cohen at the Isle of Wight in 1970 on the TV right now.

The myth of solid ground

I guess on Sunday I’ll be participating in a “Pride” celebration for the first time ever when I march with Pacific University in their annual representation in Portland’s Pride parade. I was pretty indifferent about it, but my friend Caryn, who doesn’t even go to school with me, wanted to volunteer at the festival anyway, so I suggested she march with us and she was all about it. Several of my classmates and professors are also attending to represent, so it should be fun. My classmate Carrie asked her 7-year-old son if he wanted to march in the parade and he got real excited, then the next morning at breakfast he was more ambivalent about it, and asked her, “What does gay mean?” So she told him in terms he could understand, he pondered it for a moment, then replied, “That makes sense.” And then got excited about being in the parade again. She’s raising a great boy.

It’s funny how all of the existential philosophers I’ve read any of over the past few months (Nietzsche, Sartre, and Ernest Becker) never talk about how to achieve happiness, but they do seem to talk a great deal about unhappiness, which seems to stem largely from a lack of meaning in one’s life. And of course unhappiness leads to all kinds of undesirable outcomes, especially when it’s wrapped up in an effort to deny one’s mortality in order to become infinite. From henceforth all the world’s evil and injustice flows, according to Becker.

It’s hard to be unhappy in a neighborhood as lovely as mine. Or maybe I’ve just finally achieved the meaning I’ve sought. People who go around harping about how happy they are all the time are some of the most insufferable people that exist, mostly because I don’t believe them. Or maybe it’s because I do believe them. Or maybe it’s just because they’re annoying. I don’t think “being happy” (an idea I actually find very distasteful) implies a lack of unhappiness in one’s life, it just implies balance, a dedication to reality, the maintaining of perspective, and the feeling of being useful.

I don’t think that’s so unreasonable. But damn, it sure is difficult most of the time. And naturally, as soon as one declares oneself “happy,” something hideous will happen to them. Life is nothing if not humbling.

But today I am happy, and I am fulfilled, and I have wine and ice cream in my belly, even if my shoulder has been aching all day from doing restraints on children at work yesterday. Back to work at 7am tomorrow. I can’t wait.