Friday, July 21, 2006

Addictions Institute.

This past week has been strange and exciting.

I've written here before that I've been getting kind of down on my intended career path. Social Work isn't really all about having a good time on its best day, and lately I've been drowning in negativity. The kids in my cohort all hate their jobs and spend most of our free time in class complaining about it. My professor this quarter has spent most of his time focusing on de-stressing techniques and warning us about how bad it really can be.

I was beginning to think that maybe I chose the wrong field. I'm sure it isn't immediately obvious to everyone I meet, but I've really been working this past year on being more positive. I don't want to be unhappy. I think that life is worth more than a general malaise and knee-jerk cynicism. So finding out that Social Worker seems to automatically imply being pissed off, burnt out and underpaid has been a little overwhelming and more than a little disconcerting.

This is completely off-topic, but I just learned that I can type just as fast with a popsicle in my hand as without it. It's amazing how the human body compensates.

Anyway, back to Social Work. I've been so anxious and discouraged that I kind of set up an ultimatum. I was going to go to this three day seminar in Columbus about drug addiction. I figured it would be a non-OSU, non-Mansfield way to look at my future profession. If I liked it, I would continue in my program. If I hated it, I would be done after this quarter. So my anxious factor has been pretty much through the roof these past few weeks, waiting on this silly conference to come around.

I wanted to make an honest go of it, so I actually got my haircut and bought like, dress clothes. Normal looking ones that fit like clothes are supposed to and make me look business-like. I wanted to try to pass. I figured, if I can fit in at the conference, I can fit in in the future. If not, I may have a problem.

So Monday night I skipped class mostly because I didn't want to be pissed off when the conference started on Wednesday. I wanted as fresh an outlook as I could possibly have and residual depression from a Monday class seemed self-defeating. I went and worked on Jasmin's new house instead. It was actually happily therapeutic. My job was to beat the hell out of the walls and knock all the plaster off. This was good for my bad nerves.

Tuesday night I went to Jasmin's house again. I decided to stay there until late because I knew I wouldn't be sleeping all night, so it would be good to have something to do. I stayed until well after midnight and expelled much of my nervousness on the walls. I didn't sleep more than an hour Tuesday night and was, therefore miserably tired on Wednesday morning when it came time to leave.

This was actually a blessing. Being so tired I could hardly see straight meant I was miserable about things that weren't my new clothes or the fact that I was going to have to socialize with strangers.

The upshot of the day was: I really loved the conference.

My first workshop was on the use of stories in counseling. My teacher asked me to tell three stories about my life: one from childhood; one from my teenage years; and one from the present day. They didn't have to be about anything in particular, just the first three stories that came to mind. When I was done, he looked at me and said: "This is the theme of your life right now..."

And damn! He was right. The more I think about what he said, the more I'm certain that he was correct. He taught us his technique, and other techniques, and I'm just amazed at how well it works. He joked and told us that his technique wasn't really anything special. It's the same technique they use to train operators at psychic hotlines. He told us: "Hey, if this social work thing doesn't work out for you, you're now qualified to work for Miss Cleo."

My other workshops have been equally good. I made a lot of friends, even networked a little, embarassed as I am to admit that. I was complemented non-facetiously on my appearance. I actually learned a lot and met a lot of people who were excited about, and very proud of, their jobs. It was exactly what I needed.

I now feel refreshed and ready to head back into the trenches. This is a very good thing.

Monday, July 10, 2006

When Worlds Collide.

On Sunday, I went to our town's fourth of July festival.

My dad and I were walking around looking for the rest of my extended family, who are invariably present for such events. When we found them, I also happened upon a group of people from church who were all walking around together.

My sister came over and introduced herself to my church friends. She started complaining about my nephew Robbie. "I told him, you have to hold that girl's hand! It's important to be physical when you're just starting a relationship."

My church friends looked confused and laughed, and the mother of a fourteen year-old girl told her daughter: "M., don't hold hands with boys!"

My sister looked perplexed.

"These are my church friends." I said.

My sister's eyes got big. "Ohhh, well that explains it."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Contextual Understanding.

There are hundreds of perfectly legitimate reasons that I don't blog very much anymore. I don't have internet access at home, for one. For another, it seems that my entire extended family drops by for visits from time to time, and gets irritable about what they see. And, of course, there's the fact that, by profession and vocation, I seem to have a lot of access to personal information and it's hardly right for me to go blogging about my day when so much of it is really someone else's day.

I miss blogging sometimes. More often, I miss reading old blogs. Reading my own archives helps me answer the old question: Would you like yourself if you happened to run into yourself on the street? The answer is yes, and no, depending on which era of me I happened to meet on the street, and which me happened to do the meeting.

Lately I've been missing my undergrad years. At the time, I hardly imagined they would be some of the happier days of my life. But I think that they might have been. Life was very open then. And I was willing to try new things out. I was convinced that I had something to contribute and that someone was there to be contributed to.

I am not loving grad school. In a few weeks, I'm going to attend this seminar for Social Workers that may help me make some decisions about my future. Social Workers do not seem to be very happy people. I am tired of living life as an unhappy person. I've been refusing to live that way for a while now and it seems poor sense to turn back on it now.

I'm seriously considering taking a trip at the end of this summer. To where, I'm not yet certain. Far away, I hope. Somewhere that forces me entirely out of my own context.