February Celebration

I am not fond of change.  Sometimes it’s exciting, sure.  But mostly for me, it is uncomfortable and scary.

Hence, January is NOT my most favored month.  It’s a new year.  So I have to deal with the frustration of changing the year I write at the end of dates.  I know, ridiculous, right? But really.  It’s kind of annoying.  And then in New York, it’s all winter-y, this year especially so, and there’s no vacation to look forward to, since Christmas and holiday hoopla is as far away as it will ever be.  In recent years, I have found that I already miss my family/parents, which just sucks since I know that it will be a while until I’ll be able to see them again.  Just like the sun.

This year has heaped on an ended relationship (hey, there, change!) as well as a tough work schedule, which has been a blessing as well as a frustration, since I’ve been distracted and had something to focus on.

On the flip side, we got a new roommate who I’ve gotten along with swimmingly (Sam), and I’ve gotten to feel somewhat comfortable with the Tisch alums, a group of which my roommates are a part, and that has been refreshing, as it’s one of the few times in years that I have felt a part of a social group.  So that’s been nice.  Kanye West has kept me upbeat about shit, which is kind of ironic since his lyrics are in some ways so depressing.  But I have appreciated it–some upbeat, fun music for me to work to, and it’s really helped me focus on work.  I. Love. Music.  Sometimes I forget that.

I’ve been making some fun (for me) plans financially, saving money and figuring out how to use that effectively.  Strangely exciting to me.

I’ve decided against the dog sitch, especially considering that a roommate (Jason) will be bringing his dog, Benny Bruce, to live with us in February (one more reason to be excited about this fantastic upcoming month!).  I have no doubt that February will be cold.  And as I say, January has certainly had some benefits, February can only get better.  And I’m planning on going to the Dominican Republic at the end of the month, which just makes everything look sunnier!  I am just psyched to get to February, and through this slush of a month.  Also, the NY weather has just been so unforgiving.  I’m sick of snow, and integrated testing (little work joke, there).  It’s actually been a pretty productive month, and that’s awesome.  I’m ready to move forward.

I am so grateful for all my friends all over the world though.  One thing I’ve realized this month is how many awesome people I have in my life in some capacity.  I’ve had some really wonderful conversations with my parents, despite their being far away, as well as with several other friends who are near and far.  It is amazing how close I can feel to friends so far away.

Much love to you all!

Hop, Skip and a Week

I have just survived one of the top 5 difficult weeks of my life, I’m fairly certain.  Work was insane.  Other things have been challenging.  I had to move my office, in the middle of what would’ve been a crazy week anyway.  So the week felt long, but also flew by.  I was busy all day, every day.  Monday night I got to hang out with my friend, Natacha, and her kids, which was really nice.  We played Dance Party 2 on their Wii (super fun!) and I beat her daughter one time…which was actually saying a lot.  I’ll be heading back up to Queens to visit them and make Christmas Cookies (a little late, we realize) tomorrow.  Pretty excited about that.

I’ve been contemplating this dog thing, and I’m still really thinking about it.  First, I’m getting permission from my landlord, but I’m still not entirely sold.  It’s so much work, and I am not sure the relationship I’d have with the dog would be worth it–am I a dog person??  I think I would really appreciate the companionship, and there’s a dogpark and a park right near my apartment (a couple blocks), and my roommates are cool with it.  But it would be another thing to consider when I’m moving, which sucks.

I’ve been watching a lot of the show, “Bones,” which is awesome.  I’m already through a season and almost a half.  Good stuff.  Also been hanging out with the roommates a lot, which has been awesome.  It’s a total relief to once again live with people I like and who feel like a family.  Very nice.

Long-*ss Day

I was at work for 12.5 hours today. I am exhausted. But one of my co-workers smiled at this homeless guy who was begging, and asked him how he was, and he replied so sweetly, and told us to have a good day, and for some reason, it really made my heart smile. I’ve been reading It Sucked And Then I Cried, which is about having babies, written by Heather B. Armstrong, fantabulous mommy-blogger, and is tragic and lovely all at the same time as it is hilarious. Sometimes I’m annoyed by her writing, but it always pulls me in emotionally.

Today, despite it being long and my being tired, I’m just feeling like life is simply delicious.

The Tragedy of My Job

Today was the first day that I have truly felt sad about the work that I do. We had a patient test positive who is 18, just graduating from high school and going to college, and who (from she reports) contracted it from the first person she was ever with.

For some reason, because of all that, I was just totally pained to hear that she was positive. I was hoping it was a false positive. We have found about 13 positives since I’ve been in my position, and the others were kind of whatever. A lot of them weren’t unknown (they already knew they were positive), all of them were older. But she’s 18. And she’s only been with 2 people. I guess it just slammed in my face that it is NOT about how many people you’re with; it’s about whether or not you sleep with someone without a condom who is positive. You could be with 100 people and never contract it. Or one and you would. I just think it’s so important for people to remember that, to get over the stigma of it that makes people not get tested, think they’re not at risk.

I think it also sucks that HIV hits people who are already down in our society–people of color, men who have sex with men, poor people. So many of my patients had problems that were so much worse than HIV–that truly was the least of their problems. That’s just it, though. When HIV is the least of your problems, you shouldn’t have to deal with it. I guess it just highlights the inequalities in our society and the shit other people go through. Anyway. I don’t have anything further to say right now. Just that it sucks. And that if 80% of new diagnoses of HIV weren’t in black and hispanic people, you bet you ass there’d be more money for research into preventative measures. That’s what I think, anyway.

Monday: Always a Pain

Today was particularly a stupid Monday.  The train was really crowded.  I didn’t get enough done at work.  Though I’m looking forward to a week full of productive-ness, and that’s awesome.  People were not interesting in New York today, only annoying.

So, for your listening and watching pleasure, and in attempt to make this blog a bit more interesting, here’s a song I wrote, begun back in May and finished in September.  Don’t mind my nervous ticks.  Hope you like it:

Happy Monday!

A Much-Needed Life Update

Blog-reading folks, I have not written in forever, and I give you my sincerest of apologies.

I have been way preoccupied with my job and fantastic romantic friend, Alan.

Labor Day weekend, we drove down to NC to visit my family, which was lovely but definitely stressful, and the weekend prior, my mother was up here visiting, which was really just wonderful, but busy-ish. I’m finally settling down for fall, hoping to have a lot more time to just relax and hang out than I have this summer–it has just been nuts! Though it’s beginning to look like the next couple months, too, will be crazy.

I am totally loving my job, more and more each week. I definitely have a lot of work to do, but I am feeling even more like I just need to deal with it step by step, and the more I understand, the more possible it all seems that I can truly make a difference and actually enjoy this. I more or less like the people I work with. And despite some of the craziness of the Center*, it is a place that I have some respect for, in terms of mission and intention. There are some fantastically hard-working people there, and things could certainly be a lot worse. Every day, I feel so incredibly fortunate to have found a job that I like as much as I do this one, and one that I feel fulfilled by, that can tap into all of my skills and abilities. I know that not everyone, and especially not everyone my age, is so lucky.

I’m finally also getting my room straightened out–I bought a lamp (immediately before the overhead bulb went out–what amazing timing!!), and a new Ikea bed base that makes my bed actually feel like a bed instead of a hard slab. I didn’t realize what a different that would make either–I woke up this morning without the body pain I’ve become accustomed to (I didn’t even recognize it as a problem).

So I’m excited. And as the heat is dying down, my room is more and more comfortable. Soon, I will be complaining about the cold. Oh, joy!

I know this is short, but I’ve got some Dexter to watch before sleepy-time. Here’s to another wonderfully stressful (perfect amount of stress) week!

*Names have been changed

Longest Monday in Years

I guess I have a real job now–I’m heading home a bit after 8 (that was my cut-off point for myself, but I wanted to get more done), I got to work at 9am and I only took a 30 minute lunch. So I literally worked 10 and a half hours. I’m exhausted. And really frustrated everyone has a lot on their plate, and I’m not trying to put more. But I am working my ass off and people don’t even call me back to let things start moving so that we can actually get credit for all the work we’ve been doing. If I weren’t so exhausted, I’d scream.

I do get paid my new, big pay check this week. Hopefully that’ll cheer me up a bit. But I’m just so tired!! And I want to talk to my mommy and see her, and she will be here when we’re trying to tie things up with this huge year-end of a grant that is the reason I was at work for 3 extra hours.

Mostly I’m just upset that I am ending up being responsible for cleaning up other peoples messes. And now I’m pissy because seriously, iPhone??? You know your own name, but you won’t let me type a possessive plural of people??! So I look like I don’t know grammar, when it is YOU, my love, who lacks in their knowledge. Am I incorrect about that? Someone let me know. I’m done now, before I say anything too stupid. (hopefully haven’t crossed that line).

Just be glad you’re, my beloved friends, not near me physically right now. I’m simply not in a pleasant mood.


I got in a disagreement with a coworker yesterday. It was really stupid (the disagreement), but it was one more straw on a stack that’s building. And I wanted to lessen that, but instead I added my own stack.

I have been frustrated before about the sociological implications of my job, and my having more social power but not any more technical power in the work place. Maybe not articulated exactly that way, but that’s how I see if now. But this truly takes the cake, AND I think I didn’t realize how unaligned my view of the world is with several of the folks I work with. Now, we have several Case Managers (6?), several of whom I get along quite well with, at least I think. But there are two with whom I have seen more potential for difficulty–I’ll call them R and C. Both of these women fall into the categories of black women who are former drug users, have cleaned up and gotten Bachelor’s degrees, and a great union job. There is one other coworker who fits into this category (we’ll call her B). But for whatever reason, I have seen R and C are much more intimidated?

So I have had not really any difficulty with C (though she can be frustrating to deal with), perhaps because I have skated around her as though I could see the ice cracking already. But I felt more comfortable with R from the beginning, which I think ironically made things more dangerous. Once EMR began and everyone started asking me questions about computers ALL THE TIME (not complaining, just noting), she would call me and I would answer, “What?” because I wanted people to get to the point. Not the most professional, I realize, but actually I think it was an attempt to communicate like my coworkers (in a joking way), just the way I interpreted it. Which was not appreciated. She informed me; I have not since answered any of her phone calls or yelling out from her desk with, “What?”

Then a few months ago, all of our supervisors were gone except for a very high-up supervisor, and I made the mistake? of telling him what I wad doing. R told me that he doesn’t need to be involved in our business, that we do our own thing and keep to ourselves. Which, to me, is bizarre. I come from the assumption that authority is here to protect us, to make sure everything that needs to get done, does. Which really is what all this boils down to. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So yesterday R comes over to me and asks in a very flustered manner what we were supposed to be doing with a particular list. I had created a set of directions to do what needed to be done (which she didn’t actually know), but before I told her that, I did not want her to be mad. I mean, she can be mad, but I didn’t want to be talking to someone who was so flustered, even as it was not directed towards me. So I made a huge mistake. Huge. And also very preventable, had I taken two seconds to think about it, and reacted to her as a person unlike me. But no, I told her to take a breath. Bad move. Did I make that clear yet??

She told me not to talk to her “like that,” to never mind and walked away. Whoops. Now, part of me really wishes I just had never said anything. But I also feel frustrated in not being able to be myself. In not being around people who are self-assured enough to shrug off my telling them to take a breath, or who can take a breath and laugh, or whatever. My intention was not to infer that she did not know how to calm herself down, but that we all need a reminder sometimes. And also that I don’t talk to people who are upset. I won’t. That is my limit. And I was trying to convey that in as inoffensive way as possible. But I guess it backfired.

So what I realized it that there is just a huge incongruence in how I view authority an how R does. Asking our supervisor to mediate a conversation did not help. Why did I think it would? She spent the conversation telling me she thinks I look down on her (I actually believe “us” was the word used), and that she was concerned about her job because I brought our supervisor in (though the supervisor made quite clear that she was not there in a supervisory nor disciplinary manner). Despite being I a union. Despite having done nothing wrong. Certainly nothing punishment-worthy. Despite my actually asking HER for information about what I could do differently that would help. Despite all that, she felt threatened. And like I think I’m better than her. And that I have power that she does not. And you know what? She’s right. Not about my being better than her, but that I have more power. I am affluent, if not in my finances, in my vocabulary, in my demeanor, in my confidence and sense of empowerment. And that all counts for a lot, and goes to show you that poverty is about a hell of a lot more than money. It is disturbing to me that an adult reacted as she did to the entire situation, but I have to remember that she’s coming from such a different world. A world where adults and other figures of authority are not to be trusted, and do not have your best intentions in mind.

I am so lucky to not be from that world. But I’m living in it right now, and talk about culture shock, in truly the most depressing way possible. It is a world of no hope, and distrust of but unavoidable reliance upon authority figures. Fear, uncertainty and doubt. This is America, dystopia-style.

This would be my Facebook status if it weren’t so long

Another New York City story. This one is kind of sad.

This morning was way busy at work (yay!), and I ended up going to the pharmacy with a client to get his medications. Well, we’re in the Rite Aid, and as the pharmacist is explaining that the client will actually have to pay for one of the things, and it will cost maybe $4-6, he is saying he doesn’t have $5, which is pathetic but probably true (at least sort of, like, at least not $5 to spare), and this older woman at the same moment is getting her reciept while picking up her prescription, and notes that the reciept is extremely long and what a waste of paper that is (wait until she looks at the printed information that you get with EVERY REFILL. Talk about wasted paper). But I was just so struck by the contrasted concerns–my patient upset because Medicaid won’t pay $5 for something, and this woman totally distressed that the Rite Aid was wasting so much paper. Perfectly New York.

It’s definitely sad. And also hilariously demonstrative of how effed up our country is. How much we waste and yet, can only help people a small bit. I also should note that today alone I had two patients say they think AIDS is a conspiracy by “them” to kill black people or make money by not using the cure that he was convinced they already have developed.

Sometimes I think I’m really naive. I totally give people the benefit of the doubt; assume they are logical. But actually, most people don’t understand much about the world. Probably myself included. I try and explain to people that no one is actually out to get them. They probably don’t believe me. Or, worse, think I’m “them.” Not that I approve of how the world is or works. But the feeling and effects of dis-empowerment is quite striking.

There’s Always Hope, Even When It’s Hard to See

Today was a fantastically emotionally exhausting day. I accompanied a patient downtown to housing court. I’ll leave out the details, but she lives in NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) and is getting evicted due to not following the rules. She’s had several chances, and this is sort of the last straw. It’s possible she’ll be able to stay, but also possible she’ll be kicked out. And then she would quite literally be homeless. This is a patient who I feel some strange pull towards–there are those people, you know, who you meet and just feel somewhat drawn to. I always (nearly) feel empathy for people, but she I feel more than most. She’s had a hard life–lots of abuse, shit that is just not fair, and despite that she has worked, gotten schooling to do some things, but it just sort of hasn’t worked out. She keeps such a positive-seeming attitude, but is also (I think) pretty depressed. Just that she has quite good reasons to be so.

Anyhow, it felt like a death march to me. And that was just kind of sad. She told me some more about her life, which was sad. And the actual hearing wasn’t so bad–I think she has a shot at keeping the apartment (though I’m really unclear as to how all of these things work). So we were on the train heading back, after she’d been a bit tearful on and off the whole trip, and she says to me, “thank you so much for coming with me, I would have froze up if you hadn’t been there.” And something about it just made me want to burst into tears. This woman has had such a hard time. And lord knows she’s made her own dumb decisions, and I certainly don’t think that deserves any kind of free and clear pass, but I think her biggest fault is letting people walk all over her, because she feels so powerless (and has been) to do anything about it. And I just went with her. Not even representing her in any legal way or anything (obviously, as I am not a lawyer), and she was so appreciative of my coming. By making this simple trip, I made her feel special. It just kind of broke my heart. And reminded me what a difference I can make. That part is nice.

After the trip downtown, I went to a meeting for a project I’ll be volunteering for that I’m actually pretty psyched about. It’s a microfinance consulting company who is doing a research project on illegal Mexican migrants’ remittances and how they might be better spent, particularly on insurance (life, health, lost wages due to illness). So we had a fun little brainstorming meeting about the survey we’ll be using, and I really got to be quite a huge part of the question development, which is kind of cool. I’m a bit disappointed I won’t be able to go to the regular meeting more (since I have to actually “work”), but I’ll be able at least to do the surveys on weekends and be sort of in the loop, and they said they may be able to schedule some meetings at times I could actually come. It was so fun to again be working out phrasing of questions, and talking about research questions and how to turn them into questions to really ask people. I missed that. And I get to be sort of the health care/insurance expert. Which is kind of awesome, and I strangely feel like I can totally do that, especially after paying so much attention to the debate over the past year+. It’s just exciting to be able to put that into a paper (even if it’s just a small part of the background). More later. Sleep now. I am exhausted. Finally I have a weekend to myself–I’m so so so excited to just relax. Just wish it were on my rooftop in Brooklyn….just not yet. But soon!