Thursday, September 22, 2005

Today was quite a day.

I got up early to take care of Mystery Baby because my mother’s been sick. I had to take them to the hospital in Ashland, so mom could get x-rays. The doctor thinks it’s pneumonia again. Mom’s pneumonia actually never shows up on x-rays, so it was probably a waste of time. But, whatever.

X-rays went well. The trip and the wait for the technician just killed a lot of time. Afterward, we went to get lunch. Mom bought, so that rocked. Mystery Baby is very cute when we take her out. She knows how to work a crowd. She flirts with everyone with her eyes until they coo at her. If they fail to do so, she gets really disappointed. You can tell she thinks those people are jerks. She’s probably right.

After that, I went to pick up The Boy. Matto didn’t have to work today, so he was home. But yesterday was one of the neighborhood kids’ birthdays, and I was too busy to pick him up a present. So The Boy and I went to get him something.

We decided on one of those video game systems where the games are built into the controller. They’re not as slick as a Gamecube or anything, but Aunt Sarie isn’t rich, so that’s what it is. I hope he’ll like it. He loves video games, and last month his family’s cable got turned off, so at least the tv will be getting some use now.

After that I went to school. Tonight was actually sort of fun. Partly, I’m certain, because I was a half hour late to class. That I meant that I missed the boring stuff where all you do is go over the syllabus. I arrived just in time to start this drawing exercise. It was sort of like the game “telephone” that you play when you’re a kid.

Basically, one person has to draw a picture based on information that’s been passed down through a line of people. So, imagine there are eight people playing. One person is the artist, one person an observer, one person is a reader, and the remaining five pass down the information.

So the reader tells info guy 1: “Draw a house in the lower left-hand corner of the paper. The house should have two windows; one on each side of the door, which should be drawn in the middle of the house. Color the door red.” Guy 1 tells Guy 2 who tells Guy 3, etc. and in the end the artist gets the message and draws it. Usually, of course, the message is insanely garbled by the end, and you end up with a red house on the right side of page, with four windows and no door.

It was actually sort of a fun learning experience. I usually hate stuff like that because it’s usually intended to be an “ice breaker” or whatever. Not being particularly social, I don’t enjoy those overmuch. But today was fun.

What struck me is how shy I still am. One of the points of the exercise was to show us how vulnerable our clients are. They’re introduced to this new setting, flooded with information, complete with distractions and scary authority figures who take notes on their most personal thoughts and feelings; it’s a pretty intimidating process. I can relate. I didn’t like the observers, who stood around taking notes on all of the steps that I, as Girl 3 in line, misheard or misreported.

I was actually sort of our example person in a lot of ways. I was visibly nervous about the observers; I don’t like messing up in front of an audience. So the first two steps of the drawing, I totally garbled out of nervousness. But the third one, I stepped back from the observers, stopped making eye contact with everybody and concentrated on the message. I got everything right after that.

Social Work will not be the easiest profession for me to pursue. My shyness and social awkwardness are not really conducive to my building trusting relationships with my clients. These past few years that I’ve spent with Jasmin have helped me a lot. I’m much more confident than I used to be when interacting with people; I certainly do much more of it now than I used to, and I’m much less nervous doing it. But people can still sense my anxiety.

It will be difficult for me to suppress my trademark nervous body language. I’m supposed to project a sort of friendly and empathetic authority; usually I come across more like a freaked out geek suffering from severe computer withdrawal. And I usually am a freaked out geek suffering from severe computer withdrawal, too.

Ahh, damn it, it’s late and I need to sleep because tomorrow’s going to be crazy. Every day is crazy. But I’m not complaining. I love what I do, and all of the people I see. Life is good.