Full-Time Job? All Its Cracked Up To Be

May 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Working night shift has been wearing on me for a while. This is not new information. Every evening when I wake up, I am heard to announce; “I don’t want to go to work!” Every morning when I return from work it’s the old broken record of: “I am going to quit my job!” This has been going on for about the last eight month. Approximately the length of time that I have been working this shift.

The weather has been turning lately. While during the wintertime I wasn’t missing out on adventures due to rain, I am now facing 70 degree days where I will be curled up nestled in my blankets during the most gorgeous of weather. Ugh. I should be out bicycling and having adventures when instead, I am cooped up inside both night and day.

This is miserable.

I should be working on harp music and paintings. Focusing on school work and that new business that I wanted to start makinag woman’s bicycle clothing and accessories. Yeah. Those things are never going to happen. I am going to continue to get mediocre grades and blisters because I can’t find the time to do the things that make me happy and content in life.

This is beginning to turn into a rant.

In 2009, I quit my job during the beginning of June to focus on more bicycle-based endeavors. I then played harp and did odd jobs until that winter when I began working at the winter shelter on the weekends. All that next year, I was only working on-call, picking up a shift or two every couple of weeks and supporting myself mainly by harp performance.

So, here I am in 2011. I just got on insurance a month ago. I have a steady job. I am a contributing member of society. I am in a field where I am doing something that I absolutely love. So, why am I not happy?

If I were a hippie, I would say that my spirit is like that of a bird’s, and this convention is pinning my wings and caging my heart. I’m not a hippie. I’m seriously considering letting my flying ribcage rodent free, though.

So the question remains; will I continue working this night shift or will I move into an on-call position so that I can pursue my passions?

Only time will tell.


The Art of Destroying Someone’s Identity

May 11, 2011 § 2 Comments

An infrequent part of my job is called processing property.” It’s a really sterile term, but sometimes you need something like that to keep it from getting too personal. You see, what happens is that if a client leaves shelter and is unable to bring all their belongings with them at that time, we will hold their property for three days. If they are unable to collect it within that time frame, then it’s my job to – you guessed it. Process it.

This involves vinyl gloves.

It’s pretty straight forward. I go through the bagged up property and put anything that can be donated; clothing, shoes, jewelry, etc – into another bag that will go to the Salvation Army thrift store. I throw away any trash or things that can’t be donated. I dump the contents of any pill bottles into a sharps container and I shred any and all paper work.

Shredding is what kills me.

Of course, if it is a birth certificate or social security card, I will put it in the case manager’s inbox so that they can keep it on file in case the client ever turns up for it. This is not an act of compassion, but rather because our agency pays for clients to get their birth certificates and IDs and we want to protect our investments. Everything else? Shredded. Housing applications, personal photos, diary pages. Everything.

You really learn a lot about a person in the few minutes that you’re looking at their papers before they’re thin little strips of fluff in a basket. Were they applying for benefits? Did they have any leads on apartments? Did they have any children or loved ones that wrote them letters from prison?

All gone.

I mean, realistically, what else are you supposed to do? We can’t just have a giant storeroom housing every client’s stuff that ever disappeared on us. We barely have a closet as it is to store the property that ends up there anyway.

Sterile, yes. I try not to let it get to me too much.

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.


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.

The Late Night Binge

May 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

I don’t think I can say this enough.

Working graveyard shift kind of sucks.

Besides all the obvious reasons like the zombiefied, fried, glassy-eyed stare that you get when you have to be awake during any part of the day, there’s the eating.

I get the irresistible urge to eat at 4am.

I’m not even hungry. Seriously. As I am typing this, I am chowing down on some deliciously buttery microwave popcorn.  Furthermore, I am vehemently opposed to microwaves during the day. What a hypocrite!

Easily, I can admit that I have an unhealthy relationship with food. That’s the first step, right? Pretty soon I will have to make amends to everyone that I ever hurt or stood up because I had to stop at Burgerville to get yet another smoothie and large fries.

I even hide it. That’s a classic sign of an eating disorder, isn’t it? Sneaking snacks at the bike rack after a long shopping trip because you don’t want to be noticed grazing at home? Hiding in the storage room at work wolfing down a handful of potato chips rather than sit at the desk and let your co-worker note the crumbs all over the front of your shirt?

There seriously could be a problem.

I’m not even dieting. I don’t have any sort of fitness plan that I am adhering to. There’s absolutely no reason to hide my scrunching and munching from anyone.

There’s some serious guilt at play here.

I don’t drink enough water, either. I used to drink like a fish – water that is. Other liquids are a completely different guilt-ridden entry. Somewhere down the line, I just decided unconsciously that I would get my water from other sources – like jelly beans and coffee. This is something I definitely need to undo consciously. Even the act of typing that makes me want to lick the fake, processed butter from my fingers and start anew.

Tomorrow is another day, after all.

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.

Pedaling a Move-In

May 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Finally,  the day that I had been agonizing over for the last few weeks has happened. Stress finally dissipated? You’d think so, right? Yeah, not so much. Now there’s nails to remove from walls, carpets to vacuum, floors to mop, stoves and refrigerators to clean – you get the point. Luckily, I gave myself a few days to do this before the final move-out inspection. Also lucky for me, I am going to be receiving help in cleaning.

When it comes to friends, my cup runneth over. This Sunday, May 1st, seventeen people showed up with their bicycles and trailers to assist me with moving my entire apartment contents; furniture and everything to my new home about five miles away. After a late breakfast of doughnuts, bagels, orange juice and coffee, they helped carry stuff down from my third floor apartment, through narrow doors and loaded onto trailers all huddled along a sidewalk across the street.

Flexing for solidarity and sustainability!

The route couldn’t have gone smoother. The boyfriend had planned it out a couple weeks ago on my request and we both had been traveling by it to ensure that we wouldn’t run into any issues regardless of the scenarios. I had several “corkers” who were all very enthusiastic about assisting us get our trailers through the intersection safely.

After arriving to my new home, we unloaded all of my possessions into the basement and living room, feasted on chili and PBR and just basically enjoyed the sun and the job well done. All this was accomplished in less than 2.5 hours! For a very short afternoon, it was fantastically fun. I have been on the other end of bike moves before, but after having all that help from friends and strangers has been an amazingly uplifting experience.

So here I am.

Sitting in my new house. Trying to make it my new home, and realizing that it is no longer just my cat and I, like it has been for the last two and a half years. This is really where my life has reached a new season of adventure, self-discovery and all that sort of crap.

I guess it’s time to just sit back and watch this train wreck of my psyche unpack.