second of all, this documentary solidifies the idea for me that we as a country need to start worrying about ourselves. we need to stop going oversees and butting into other folks business. are we telling them to do things like us???? what a crock. if the aftermath of hurricane katrina isn't a perfect manifestation of racism, classism and pure ignorance, i don't know what is.
oh. and third, thanks to my brother for another great movie recommendation.
i just returned from two "home visits". i do a lot of driving for my job as i work with folks living in three different counties. i don't mind the driving; especially on days like today.
i find that the drive helps me to clear my head. often when leaving visits with folks i am overwhelmed with the amount of information gathered, or the staggering barriers to improving outcomes. i spend my time with clients being centered and focused; not revealing the internal chaos of my brain trying to formulate a realistic plan. these folks have more than enough chaos and don't need to worry about mine.
being that it's the holiday season, there's a lot of extra effort and coordination. there are donated gifts from local churches. there are bags of toiletries. our volunteers go out of their way to bring a little festivity to folks who would otherwise be alone and without celebration. we also have food baskets that are put together by the local salvation army.
this is all fantastic, but there is also the logistics of getting these things to the people they were intended for. spread out over three counties and most without their own transportation, this becomes a major headache. an additional paradox is the fact that activities not linked to medical outcomes (i.e. delivering holiday gifts or food baskets) are not approved ways for a medical case manager to spend her time. in other words, it's not something i am supposed to be doing (per the omnipotent folks who run MEDICAID). so i have to "hide" these "deliveries" inside other "true" case management activities.
all of this brings an air of dread to something that should be a heart-warming and humbling activity.
but then you actually meet with your client....
and all of that apprehension goes away.
my first visit was with a gentleman who is currently homeless. he is substance addicted and has been "banned" from the local shelter. he is being sanctioned by the local DSS and cannot receive cash grants, food stamps or emergency housing. he currently has no health insurance. he is completely without. i brought him a new winter jacket and a basket of food and toiletries. he has nowhere to keep these things so i brought him to his sister's home. his sister lives in public housing. this particular public housing development is in a city known for it's rich folks and posh summer sport, Thoroughbred horse racing. the public housing apartments are old and run down. the parking lot is not plowed and there is over a foot of old snow. the concrete steps are all covered in thick ice. it's a hazard, but my client would be eternally grateful to live in a government funded dump like this. it's sure better than the streets.
my second visit was with a woman who is the best example of a survivor i have ever seen. she has been chronically homeless and substance addicted all of her adult life. she has been beaten to near death many times. she's been in and out of multiple rehabs and psychiatric hospitals since being a teenager. she is currently recovering from yet another assault from a former "lover". for the holidays she will have a drain in her scalp from the contusion which is abscessed. she is unstable on her feet and couldn't help me carry her food and gifts because of the concussion she suffered when her head was slammed multiple times against a tile floor.
these are people who are grateful for any shred they are given. they are completely overlooked by most of society; if not discriminated against (did i happen to mention that all of my clients have HIV/AIDS?).
so on my drive back to the office i have a head full of things...
i think how sad it is that there are people who feel they have nothing to celebrate. they are so demoralized they cannot see a way out. i think about the contrast of this richy-rich town and how they treat their poor. i think about how nice it would be if my folks could just have a "day off" from their lives-to just be able to relax and not worry about their next meal.
but most of all i think of the explosion of pure joy that happens when i get to be the one to bring these folks the only gifts they may receive all season (if not all year).
i get the privilege of showing them that not everyone has forgotten about them.
it kind of makes me want to get back to work...
not that i am upset about this. it's more of an observation than a critical judgement.
i was born a woman, identify as a woman and have all the working parts of a woman. but i don't ever and never did want children. i truely knew that i didn't want kids very early on. probably about the same time that most other girls were naming their unborn children and planning their family tree. i can't tell you exactly why i don't want children, i just know that i am not interested. the idea of infants and toddlers doesn't make me long for anything. i get creeped out by the idea of anyone calling me 'mommy' (except maybe my pets, which now that i think about it, is kind of creepy too).
the first thing i get asked when people learn about my aversion to having children is, "why don't you like kids?". this comment is insulting and makes me want to punch people. i ought to think of something witty and cynical to retort, but these folks already think that i am a mean, satanic, child-eating soul so i wouldn't want to reinforce their stereotype of me.
the next thing people usually say is, "oh...you'll change your mind". no. i won't. i am 32 and haven't changed it yet. i'm not saying it's IMPOSSIBLE that my mind won't change. meteors could destroy earth too. which has better odds? i am not sure.
i don't hate children. i really like them. grated, the little, fragile, newborn types scare the shit out of me. they are just too intimidating. it's like walking through the crystal and china section of a nice store...just too stressful. i certainly can't afford to break anything...
i think that it is a very important job to be a parent. i don't think it's a job that all people are cut out for. parenting is a job that you need to love to do and be completely committed to. i am fully committed to helping other parents raise their children...as an external support. i have clients with small children and will extend extra effort to set them up with the resources they need.
here's the other thing. i think of not having children as an environmental choice. isn't it time to stop having a mindless explosion of humans on this planet? maybe if i don't want kids...i shouldn't have them and save some space for the kids of committed and insightful parents. i am not saying that having kids makes people environmentally unfriendly (that would be like folks calling me a kid-hater). i just think it's something to ponder.
the worst part is how differently people interpret my not wanting children and my partner's not wanting children. when a man announces he doesn't want children people smile and think it's pretty normal. certainly this is a sterotype too. but why do people (especially women) judge me as a woman so harshly? who knows. i have resigned myself to not understanding folks that want 4+ kids, maybe they should do the same for me.
oh yeah...and i don't like clothes shopping either. i actually don't like shopping much at all (with the solid exception of food related shopping). malls and department stores make me want to run away chris mccandless-style. i may be having an anxiety attack right now thinking about spending a whole day in a shopping mall and trying on clothes.
so maybe i'm wired wrong, but i don't care.
"black truffles are relatively subtle and earthy, with a mix of a dozen or so alcohols and aldehydes, and some dimethyl sulfide. (they also contain small amounts of androstenone, a steroid compound also found in men's underarm sweat and secreted in the saliva of the male pig, where it prompts mating behavior in the sow. some people are unable to smell androstenone, while others can and may find it unappetizing.)"