Sunday, August 28, 2016

Neighbors

Time and again I find myself standing in my window staring across the street at a cat.  The cat lives one floor down from me and he spends hour upon hour looking down from his window at things I can't see.  When I was unemployed I wondered which was doing more with our life.  Eventually we had the same schedule.  Up early, no real reason why, then a while spent staring at things, a while indoors doing nothing much, a lot of laying around, and generally trapped in the house.

That was a long time ago.  These days I have reasons to get up early.  I have reasons and plans and obligations for most every hour of every day.  Some days I look at the cat as I get dressed for work and think that he lives a better life.  Some days my life is clearly better.  But every day I see that cat, and wonder what he sees.

Monday, June 20, 2016

You don't write any more

I don't write this blog any more.  Every now and then one of my parents reminds me of this, and they're right.  I don't, I'm probably not going to, but at least now I know why.

This blog started as a way to update my parents to what I was doing. This was back in the long long ago, in the far off year of two thousand and five, so the person who did that is almost unrelated to the person writing now, but I'm still using his name and social security number so why not take over his blog.

I stopped writing because somewhere around the age of 21 I started to develop a personal life, and that was, well, personal.  I didn't want people meddling, and I didn't want to spend my time telling my backstory to strangers so I just stopped writing.   Kinda.

I stopped writing in public.  I've had a half dozen physical journals that never quite became habits.  I bought a copy of scrivener and I've written most of an RPG setting while trying and failing to write a fantasy novel.   I have a lot of scratchy notes about two other novel franchises.  And of course I have all of the RPG stories I've 'written' with the help of friends and dice. 

These things were what they were, but what broke me from writing was grad school.  Grad school is a very expensive version of the thunderdome which left me unable to read or write for fun. After so many hours hammering words into my skull and vomiting them back onto the screen I was done with the entire practice. 

Only months later I finally picked up a book for fun.  I'm still re-learning how to read casually.  I don't know if I'll ever get back to writing.  I'm certainly not committing to it.  But I have these moments where I dream of being an author.  The cliche slacker dreaming of a magicpal far off world where they possess follow through.  And my dreams have always been a bit of a compulsion.  I know enough now to know that living the dream is a lot like living life, and that getting what you've said you wanted is a bit like a dog who catches a car, but who knows.  Maybe this goes somewhere.  No promises.

Monday

I think Monday is harder because the routine doesn't have momentum.  For a day, maybe just a morning, you get to see everything clearly again.  It breaks my heart to say goodbye to my wife knowing that our jobs will keep us from seeing each other for days.  Tomorrow it will be the same shit on a different day.  Today it hurts.

This is the heartbreak that society runs on.  Every Monday I hear the latest tragedy, the latest failure of our leaders, and I pass by the ever growing number of homeless people huddling against the elements.  It's normal.  We're all used to walking past the sick beggar without making eye contact right?  We get used to not thinking about it, used to denial, because we couldn't live with the reality if we had to look at it.

I work with the kind of people society denies, and I keep a very firm division between my work and my life.  Tomorrow it will be routine and I will be unphased by the horror.  Yesterday it was outside of my world and I genuinely didn't care.  But today is hard.  Because today I have to make the choice to look, to see the pain and heartbreak that exists around us all, and choose to wade into it and push back.  I don't want to, I never want to, but it is a calling not a choice, and it is the only thing that keeps me from being one more among the suffering masses that other people don't think about, the people I work with.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Re-spec

Respecverb 1) To Re-specialize, 2) To reallocate one's resources in order to change one's tactic, particularly in the context on a role playing video game.

When I was 16 I think I was drinking about two liters of diet coke a day.   This continued into my early twenties and didn't really lay off until I was 24 or so.  It's interesting to me because I used to live off of caffeine.  In a story that is surprisingly common when I talk to my peers I was living a nocturnal life fueled by ubiquitous minor stimulants.  I remember being a teenager and my father asking me if I would be able to sleep as I drank a diet coke at seven or eight at night, and honestly back then it wasn't an issue.

It's interesting for the same reason I find a lot of things interesting these days.  I've been alive long enough now that I can measure an arc.  There is a version of myself that was very very different from who I am now, and it wasn't simply a matter of the growth that occurs all through childhood and adolescence.  It's a point where I can look at my record as an adult and really consider what I'm doing as an adult.

When I was sixteen my English teacher told me that your life doesn't really start until you're eighteen.  My knee jerk response was that if everything I had done already was nothing than I didn't think I could handle the actual thing, but these days I completely agree with him.  The rest was all just a big loading screen.  An opening cut scene.

Looking back on my adulthood now it really feels like a respec.  And not just because the way 26 year old me lives his life is so radically different from 20 year old me, but because the events of 18 and 19 year old me are now used differently.  The 20 year old build used them as the built up lifestyle of an obsessive video game player.  The weird kind of cred that comes from being a gametester and vague undefined college ambitions.  The 26 year old build uses them to understand what it means to really work in an academic setting . The value and necessity of a sense of drive and purpose.  The struggle and torment of living on minimum wage.  The consequences of stimulant addiction.  It's a completely different spec.

It's not all changed though.  Those experiences still echo with what they once were.  And I know that because it's past midnight, and I'm awake, because I had a diet coke at around 8, in what I always assured my father wouldn't be a big deal.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Adult

Neil Stephenson once wrote something.  The exact quote escapes me, but it was something like "Babies cry loudly because they think someone will come and fix everything for them, adults cry to themselves because they know no one will."

Tomorrow I'm going to pick up my TCSPP ID card, and talk to financial aid and career services and do all the things that I will have to do to start this process, and it terrifies me.  I don't know if I'll be able to pay for it and I have no idea what I'll do if I can't and I am absolutely resolutely going forward.  Sometimes I still think it was a mistake to move to Chicago, and having just got back from a trip to Washington I can feel all the things I'm missing. The foundation, the memories, the social ties and networks are gone, and sometimes I don't know what I'm doing and I am always certain that I'm going to do it.

I am going to become a therapist.  It is not a matter of if I can do it, the only question I ever have is how.  The task is daunting and I am exhausted and afraid and I am still going to do it.  I don't always know how, but I know that I will, and I know that in the end I'm the one who has do this, because I'm the only one who really can.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Work

The night starts with an irregularity and I find out I'm doing night meds for the first time.  The client takes my arrival as the cue to attempt sleep so he refuses his meds.  This is an effort to maintain independence not an institution so I just note that his choice was to refuse the mood stabilizers/sleep aids.  I am concerned about this, but not allowed to force him.  He can't talk, but agitated shouts make it clear that meds are not happening.

I sit down on the couch, listening to the clients breathing as he tries to direct himself toward sleep.  I have my doubts, but with a fervor I rarely feel I hope he will sleep the night. 

I sit on the couch and I wonder what this night will be like.  It will probably be mundane.  My job will probably be to monitor and feed him as he spends another in the endless series of restless nights that makes up his life.  Putting any real thought into the client's nature is depressing.  So much of what I believe in is rooted in pursuit, aspiration and hard work.  The philosophies that make up the most important parts of my life offer nothing to him.  The greater mysteries are denied to him, his consciousness is embodied in a broken form.  It would be nice to believe in cosmic justice, but I look at this and I know that sometimes the wheel of Samsara comes up double zeros.  It was once humbling to know that intellect and vigor are gifts and that I am lucky to have them.  I have since been humbled, now he's just depressing.  It's still better than thinking about what another bad night would be like.  They come without warning.  I have to stop thinking about that, I can feel my heart racing as the anxiety builds.

I sit on the couch and try to think about something else.  I try not to think about how bad this night could be.  I try not to think about how pointless this entire exercise is.  I carefully do not wonder if I will ever break the associations between this job and jazz music.  I do wonder if I'll ever like jazz again, the way I used to, and it's nice to hope. 

I sit here and I think about her 2,000 miles away, safe and sound and asleep like a person should be at night.  It warms my heart to know that she will be spared this.  It is an ancient male experience, to take comfort in the safety and well being of your woman.  I think about the future.  About the life I may build.  It seems so far away, but I know that a decade from now it will seem to have gone so fast.

I think a lot of things in the tense moments on this couch, but mostly I think about one thing.  I think that there are only 10 shifts left after this one.  Three more weeks.

The time is 11 p.m.  11 hours left tonight, 131 hours left total.  I take solace in knowing that this too will pass.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Burnout

I think I may be able to see the point where I genuinely can't do this job any more.  And it's a shame, because I need a job, but part of this has become too much to bear.

The specific issue is this.  The client has a lot of responses to agitation, but among the most common are self hitting and aggressively picking at scabs.  As a result of this he has a large number of slowly migrating scabs and bruises that move around but never go away.  The problem is that when he spends 12 hours hurting himself there's nothing I can do to stop him.  I can't really communicate with him, I can't restrain or tranquilize him, and most of his sources of agitation can't be helped either.  What it amounts to is a lot of time watching someone hurt themselves and being powerless to stop it. 

And it's too much.  It hurts me, because I care about him, I'm trying to help him, and he only gets worse and will never get better.  I know this, and I know that it's only a few months, maybe a few weeks, before I just stop caring.  I don't know how long it is between that and active resent, but I know that's where it leads.

Right now I'm really not sure what to do about this.  I just know that this job's days are numbered.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Absurd

Every now and then I get weird moments of sudden lucidity.  Sometimes this is experienced as a sudden awareness that I am in the middle of real life.  I attribute this to the amount of time I spend with video games and table top role playing games where the feeling is expansive and immersive but not real.  Sometimes it's the reverse.  Sometimes I have the feeling of looking up and seeing that the things being put forward as though they had meaning have none.  Other times these sensations come in the form of the sudden revelation of absurdity.

I hadn't realized it before but my job is absurd.  Right now I'm on a couch listening to the client trying to get to sleep.  If it wasn't my job this would be really weird.  The fact that this is a job is also kind of weird.  It seems like one of those things that should be be resolved either by a family or a tiger.  What I'm saying is that this is not the way the weakest among us are usually managed.

It's absurd, and it's specifically absurd, not crazy or stupid, because I genuinely do serve a roll, and in the absence of family/tiger based solutions the government funded nonprofit is probably the best way to handle it.  Society has just gotten really big while at the same time teaching us all to be independent.   It seems like it's destined to break down when we run out of room to be solitary individuals in.  I'm going to mark that as "not my problem," for now though.  After all I have a job to do.