First Night Blues

May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

There’s a new lady at the shelter that I work at. This is a common occurrence. Women filtering in and out of my life as they try to put theirs together.

You can always tell when it’s someone’s first night.  They’re overwhelmed. They can’t sleep. They wonder around all night long looking at everything in the common area. They often cry.

I don’t have an office.

When I was a smoker, I would often go out on breaks and write in the log that I was having a “one on one” with clients. Every once in a while, I will bum a cigarette from a co-worker and light it little by little throughout the night so that I have an excuse to go out and chat with the ladies at the facility.

This was one of those nights. My co-worker and I closed the desk so that she could go out on her smoke break and I could take in the night air. Standing there, staring in the common room window from the patio, we saw our new lady, moving slowly from the book shelf to the magazine rack and the bulletin board.

I opened the door and asked if she would like to join us. Outside, she poured forth the emotion that we expected, wiping the tears from her eyes and sniffling.

My co-worker returned to the desk, but I talked to her for a little while longer as she aired all her concerned, mentally giving up before she even started the work needed to be self-sufficient. I, of course, assured her that we would work with her the best that we could to get her onto steady ground.

That’s when she told me that I reminded her of someone.

I get this a lot.

Casually, I listed off the few places that I have worked, the area of town that I frequent. I know that it’s fruitless, because I know the answer that they are going to give me.

I remind people of their guardian angel.

Yeah.

Apparently, I am busy because I am guardianing for a lot of people. I smiled and simply said that I think I have a common looking face.

She wiped her eyes and told me that I really helped her tonight and I opened the door and let her inside.

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Scheduling = Chicken. Head. Off.

May 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

I am taking my mid-term quiz this evening for an Acohol and Addiction class at my community college. I have already been to school. I have a Bachelors in Arts in a very specialized humanities-style genre that I was pretty proud about and focused on. . . for a very short period of time.

Give or take six years.

Going back to school has been humbling and stressful. Where I once excelled in my studies, I have since found my brain sluggish and resistant to retaining information. It doesn’t help that I went into the two classes that I am taking this quarter with the assumption that they were going to be more psychology based.

We have been focusing on neurochemistry.

I am way out of my league.

On top of that, I have been in the process of moving, as you are all so acutely aware. Finally that is over. Even the cleaning of the apartment has been completed with the assistance of an acquaintance who is quickly becoming a good friend and the beau.

I also head a start-up nonprofit focused on street musicians here in Portland. Recently I was contacted by an arts funding organization that wants to meet with me. I have no idea why. This stirs up all sorts of excitement and anxiety.

Job stress from working the night shift hasn’t been easy on the psyche. Especially with all the other stuff on my plate. Morning meetings. Social engagements. Doctor appointments. Upcoming gigs to practice for. It’s all becoming to pile up and come cascading down on me in little ripped up confetti from my day planner.

I have been a huge fan of this one website called Unclutterer. It provides daily tips to simplifying your life. Every once in a while, I try to take the tattered, unraveled mess I call my life and try to weave it into something concise and easy to deal with.

Yeah. Not really happening.

I know what you’re thinking. I would be a great candidate to participate in some grounding meditation.

But I ask you; where would you fit it into my schedule?

Of Growing Up

May 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

This post should be known of the post where my inner Petara Pan burst from my chest like a face-hugger from Alien and forcibly drags me from my desk into the wilderness.

That title, however, was too long.

I have always adored summer breaks. My family spent most of our July in Leavenworth, WA and August in Pacific City, OR enjoying all things campy, including the small town vibe and formulaic resort-style RV camping complete with maintained chlorinated pools.

Ah yes, those were the halcyon days. Arriving home, all tan and relaxed, we’d be just in time to pick up our school supplies and new outfits before September started.

Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that those days wouldn’t last forever?

I think I would have appreciated them more if I had known.

I feel swindled.

Needless to say, it wasn’t like I actually worked last summer. I was on-call at the shelter I currently work full-time at. I played my harp on weekends at the farmer’s markets to support my habit of living comfortably in a modest-sized apartment. I did a lot of bike activities, camping and far too much imbibing in many, many things.

This summer looks bleak.

The beau and I keep talking enthusiastically about all sorts of plans that we are going to make. Both avid cyclists, we plan to take his custom-built recumbent tandem to the coast, desert, hot springs – all the places that everyone should ride their bikes to. As we are making these plans, I keep ticking off in my head when I am able to take vacation time from work, what conflicts with other commitments I have made, my schedule for going back to school, etc.

This is depressing talk.

So how do I balance work and play? Especially when my play intends to take me out of town for a couple days at a time? It’s difficult, I think, when one partner works from home and relatively sets their own schedule while the other has rigid work routines and Union guidelines on vacation and sick-time to follow.

There are all sorts of articles on the web writing about this. Of course, I don’t feel that any support me in this particular situation. The only thing that I can come up with is. . . careful planning.

Being the freakishly controlling planner that I am, you’d think this would be easier than it is. I seem to have commitments until mid-June that leave me with little room to run out of town for the weekend and enjoy myself naked in near boiling water.

Such is life.

So, I am sitting here, proverbially pulling my hair trying to figure out how I can work, enjoy my life and still be healthy when I realize. . . all this stressing out about things is just going to make the whole situation worse.

Deep breaths.

I’ve decided to take things as they come. It’s my god-damned summer, and if I want to spend my days soaking up some rays and my nights working the graveyard shift without much sleep in between, then that’s my own business.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

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