Social Workers

Despite the fact that I'm not sure how the credits will transfer to different majors I'm now considering, I'm really glad I took this intro to social work course. I say this because I absolutely hate the course, I cannot stand my instructor, and the students drive me nuts.
It has reaffirmed everything about working in human services that bothered me before, when I was an actual employee for almost nine years, and has encouraged me not to get a minor in social work.
I showed up in class at nine this morning prepared to give a presentation on an interview I had to have for class, then take the second of four tests we'll have in class. I had no idea going in how I did on the first test because the instructor has never bothered to return those exams to us. I was as prepared as I was going to be.
The first thing that happened when I walked in was a girl who has shown up three times all semester was furiously scribbling things on the study guide. She looked up and barked at me “What's the difference between the AFD-whatever thingy, and the other one?” I knew she meant she was looking at the question about a possible essay we'd have to write comparing an older system of aid to families with depedent children, and the current government aid, called TANF.
The second time this girl came to class she was filling out the answers to a study guide for a computer science class she was taking. The test was apparently going to be on Microsoft Word and, as she sighed to me, “I don't know shit about computers.” So she kept trying to pick my brain and ask me what different toolbars and shortcuts were. I helped out at the point until I discovered that she had only bothered showing up to that class one time in the past, which is why she was not prepared for the test.
The fact that I hadn't seen her in social work in a month and now she was pulling the same crap irritated me. Once you get labelled as “a good student,” there's always at least one student who tries to take advantage of you and tries to convince you to do their work for them.
So I spent the remaining twenty minutes before class started attempting to study without letting her know I'd already filled out my study guide. If I had let on, she would have asked to borrow it, copied down my answers, and spent the rest of the time outside smoking. I had no intention of giving up my cram session so this chick could just memorize my answers. Besides, the fact that she was sitting a seat behind me and to my left meant the instructor would think we were cheating. I don't want to risk flunking a test in a class where I have no idea where I stand.

The rest of the two and a half hours before we were actually given the exam (it's a three hour course) were spent listening to the instructor talk about her adopted son from Russia. At first, it was kinda-sorta related to the class because she linked it to the possible abuse he suffered in an orphanage. Then it was just other students encouraging her to go on with her stories so they wouldn't have to take the test. This happens everytime something is scheduled in that class. Every. Freaking. Time.
Everyone knows she loves to hear herself talk so they keep saying “No way! Did that really happen? What did you do about it!?” And she goes into a twenty-minute diatribe about how hard it's been for her with this special needs orphan (he's dyslexic, from what I can tell) and we're all supposed to Oooh and Aaah and agree that she's a martyr.

She also uses incredibly disgusting terms to refer to her children or others. I've made a habit of writing them down in my notebook because I have no reason to take notes since we're not really discussing anything pertaining to class. They are: “kidlets,” “munchkins,” “little guys,” “chickadees,” “critters,” and “little monsters,” in no particular order.

She also has a habit of constantly clearing her throat, smacking her lips after every sentence, and giggling after she says inappropriate things. I don't even know how to explain it.

What I do know is that today was a classic example of the social services profession at work. One person wanted to dominate the conversation by telling stories attesting to her incredible patience and personal virtues. This led other people to share very personal, somewhat embarrassing stories that were hardly related to what she was talking about. Two hours into class it had turned into group therapy, where I learned exactly how many people in the social work program are former drug abusers, alcoholics; had been abused, molested, or raped; had been incarcerated; were on temporary government assistance.
We even had one person break down crying because she believes in corporal punishment and someone else told her that was wrong.

All in all, it was like reliving a social services conference where nothing gets done and everyone just wants to tell stories to make other people feel sorry for them.

English department, here I come!

Rosemary is for Remembrance

I had a dream last night that I was trying to trick my ex-boyfriend into going back out with me.

He was the first guy I ever really dated, and the first person I ever really loved. But I was sixteen and a total mess. I idolized him for a long time, until I recently had an epiphany. I realized that I'd been moping over screwing up this relationship with this Really Great Guy for too many years, but this Really Great Guy had actually pressured and pressured and pressured me to have sex. He'd make mix tapes for me and sneak it “Let's Get it On” by Marvin Gaye on each side of every tape that he made for me.

After we broke up, which, incidentally, was because I knew I was completely messed up and was no good for him, he started dating this other girl. Who, incidentally, he is still apparently dating over twelve years later. This was the first of a succession of about three of my former boyfriends who dated girls after me that were accepted to SCAD (the Savannah College of Art and Design) and moved down there with them.

The boyfriend is back in town and has been for several years. I was working with two people who'd known him and, apparently, knew of me as a result, from high school. They told me isn't “allowed” to hang out with other girls anymore, that his current and long-term girlfriend doesn't like him associating with females, so he pretty much doesn't go out at all.

Coincidentally, said ex-boyfriend was also at a friend's Halloween party a couple of years ago. Thankfully, I didn't go, or I'd have really freaked out. After not seeing him in something like six years, I wouldn't have taken kindly to being shocked into seeing him.

God knows his memories of me are probably horrifying. I wrote him about four or five years ago, asking his blessing to get married. He wrote back and said he thought it was funny that I was marrying a Navy man, after my dad having been in the Navy. I asked how things were going, and several other silly things I was curious about. His response was completely lifeless. It was disappointing.

All these years I had made myself into the dumb kid who had screwed things up and ruined a good friendship and/or relationship. In my mind I put him up on a pedestal. I still felt so guilty for the late-night hangups and crying fits and nasty fifteen year-old things I'd said to him.

Then the whole thing dawned on me: this guy was angry, irritable, depressed, and apparently only interested in being in a relationship. He'd only dated maybe four girls in his life and, at seventeen, was asking me to get married (he gave me a “promise ring” which is what led to our breakup because I wasn't ready for such a committment). The next girl he dated he's been with since. He was clever and funny and a good artist. Oh, and good looking, too. But he wasn't all that great.
I recalled all the pressure to have sex and the total lack of attention to my own feelings.

I dunno. I don't know what it was I thought was so great about him, or why I felt so bad about being an immature teenager. I'd never had a boyfriend, for christ's sakes. How could anyone expect me to understand what was going on in my crazy little adolescent brain?

Screw that dude.

Follow Directions

Why is it important to follow directions?

1.) If you had read the directions carefully, you'll notice that it says you only had to write that eight-page, annotated, AP-sourced paper if you were a Criminal Justice major. Since you're not, you wasted all that time over the weekend.

2.) Had you looked over the syllabus, you'd have taken note that your math homework is not due until next Tuesday. Rather than spending most of Sunday evening working on that, perhaps you could have written the correct paper for the Criminal Justice class. Which you may now have to write anyway, unless your professor decides to be really generous and grade you on the critical analysis, rather than the research.

I also gave the speech today, something else I was slaving over this past weekend. I was supposed to give it on Monday, but instead of letting us just get the speeches out of the way, our jet-lagged instructor, just having returned from an English language-immersion conference in Spain, decided it was better to just sit in a chair and talk for an hour and a half about his trip to Madrid.
Don't get me wrong – the stories were funny and interesting. I just wish I had known this in advance so that I could stay home and veg out or something.

Working at 6am may leave “the whole day ahead of you,” but it makes me want to go to bed some time around 4 or 5pm.

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I got home from work only to be reminded by an automatic email from my speech class that I have to give a five minute presentation on Monday. Shit!

I also have a five page paper due in criminal justice, a critical analysis of the Patriot Act. I immediately sat down and started banging away. I got about 7 pages today on the critical analysis, and basically finished my PowerPoint presentation on Constantine. My biggest issue right now is how I'm going to remember all the crap for my speech.

I admit I sort of half-assed the paper. It's a little disjointed, my political opinions are pretty clear in it, if you read between the lines. But it's okay. I'm going to assume that I gave about 15% more than most of the students will, and I'll be turning it in on Tuesday, a couple days early. This will give me time to then start (and hopefully finish) my research paper on jury selection for the class.

This also reminds me that I have at least four pages of math homework I need to start on. On top of that my schedule keeps averaging out at or above 30 hours per week. I have to talk with my manager about that. I kept waiting for someone new to be hired, then for him to finish being trained so I wouldn't have to cover so many shifts. It hasn't happened yet. Next week is his third week here and the following two I'm scheduled 30 or 32 hours.

I guess my whole weekend is pretty freaking shot. No time to chit chat! Gotta get back to work!

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Maybe it's just like this every where, but people in Indiana seem to be incredibly nosy.
This guy came in to the coffee shop this morning with his dog. He spent about an hour sitting outside drinking his coffee and chilling with the chocolate lab, then came in for about another hour surfing the web.
I asked at one point if he wanted to give his doggie some water and took him a cup to give to her. I swear to god, every single person that came inside for the hour he was on his laptop asked “Whose dog is that?” or “What's that dog doing outside?” or “Where'd that dog come from?” or “Why's that dog sitting outside?”

The pooch was very well-behaved and rarely even got up to sniff people. Granted, I felt like she needed some companionship and went out to pet her whenever it got slow, but jesus. You'd think no one in this town had ever seen a dog before. And believe me, it wasn't out of concern for the dog's well-being or anything – it came across as strictly nosy curiosity. You could just hear it in people's tones, especially when they would say “What's that dog doing outside?”

My mom told me once about this free dinner for war vets on Veterans' Day at some mom and pop-type restaurant up near where my grandparents live. She was supposed to meet them there and she said that, for a building out in the middle of BFE in northwestern Indiana, the place was packed. People were parked on the street, in the roads, every which way in the parking lot. I guess there was a sign on the marquee (or whatever it's called) that said “VETS: FREE MEAL” and people came from far and wide to check it out. The kicker was that apparently hardly any of these people were actually former service members, let alone actual war veterans. They just wanted to know if they could get a free dinner, too, and how they might go about doing so.
And apparently all of these people were jam-packed inside the restaurant, pushing one another to get ahead in line, and generally being really ill-mannered.

The point to all of this is that I think people in Indiana are nosy AND cheap, I guess.

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I set my alarm for 8am this morning so I could get up, shower, piddle around and get whatever done before 9:30, when I had a chat scheduled to replace a cancelled class.
Lo and behold, I was the only person who bothered to show up — including the instructor. Luckily, the class I normally have at this time was also cancelled, so I didn't have to cut just to log in to a chat room and stare at the empty screen.

I finally own a laptop but it has two major drawbacks: the battery holds hardly any charge, so having it on a wireless network is kind of useless right now. I don't know when they will release a new battery for it that holds more than one hour and fifteen minutes. The second drawback is that they also haven't released more RAM for it, so I can't update that, either. I figured I could save some money by putting in another 256 since it costs around $30 to have it installed, plus the difference in price between 256M and 512 was about two hundred bucks. Yipes!

I'm so thrilled that I have this now, though. It is pretty convenient. I hooked up the printer and installed the software but I have the printer downstairs now. The desktop used to be in my bedroom, which was really annoying – all those blinking lights and humming noises didn't help me fall asleep. Now that it's broken down and hiding until we find a good home for it, it sounds eerily quiet in the bedroom.

One other thing I'm excited about is an appointment I made for another tattoo. Technically, it's finishing one that I've had for about 5 years. I have those two Chinese characters for compassion and patience on my right wrist and I just went in to the tattoo place yesterday and asked for an appointment with the guy who did one of my other tattoos. I'm going to have him do some bamboo and leaves all around my wrist to sort of dress things up. I think it'll look pretty good. I also don't want to walk around with a tattoo that looks almost exactly like someone else we know, who will remain nameless.

It's kind of freaky to realize that you were so close with someone at one point that you both got pierced and tattooed at the same time a lot, so your work ends up being really similar and is done by the same guy. She has one that is exactly like one on my neck, but hers is on her chest, then she got the Chinese characters for her name on her left wrist after I told her about my idea for this one. Of course, I'm the one who wrote and requested a translation from a company that does such things. I also sketched a few that I thought she might like. She hasn't had any of those done yet, as far as I know.

I imagine her sitting at home, crying, and scraping at it with a dull knife because it reminds her of a part of her life she wants to “put behind” her. That's just the way she is. I'm sure she could come up with a really great lie to tell her parents about me so that they'd trip over themselves in an effort to pay for her to have those two tattoos removed.

I don't know if this is weird or not, but it gives me a certain sense of peace and satisfaction to know she has at least two things permanently etched on to her body that she has to remember as getting with me. Instead of it actually creeping me out, I feel as though she has to face something about herself every day when she sees them. She probably doesn't face it full-on, but there's still the fact that she has to at least acknowledge it that makes me giggle a little bit.

You Gotta Borrow Money to Spend Money

You haven’t heard much from me lately because I’ve been working an extra few hours a week, trying to get some classwork taken care of, and switching my computer over from an outdated Dell desktop PC to a Toshiba laptop. I’m really happy with the purchase and am especially glad that Circuit City, where I bought it, had a mail-in rebate.

I’ve been managing the student loans relatively well. Other than some larger purchases, like the laptop and a new bed, I haven’t gone crazy buying myself Jimmy Choos or anything. If I did that, the money would be gone pretty fast. Instead I’ve paid off Alvy’s vet bill from the last time he got really sick, paid rent and the car payment, gotten caught up on taxes and insurance, and even paid off two credit cards with really high interest that had been hanging over my head for a few years.

It sucks to have to borrow money to make money and to pay off other bills, but in the long run, student loans don’t count against you the way a Lowe’s card with a $300 credit limit and 22% interest rate would.

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It's incredible the difference a little bit of money can make in your life when you generally have none. It's like exercise or a vacation or a hot shower. All of the sudden you feel lighter, more carefree, a bit more relaxed.

For people who say money doesn't solve problems or create happiness – I don't believe this applies to those of us dangling on the edge of poverty for most of our adult lives. It certainly can create a sense of security when you can breathe a sigh of relief watching your credit card bills wiped out.

All I can say is, for the first time in over eight years I'm going to own and sleep on something besides a futon mattress on the floor, or a shitty $199 mattress I bought at an outlet store that doesn't even have a brand name on it. Having a good mattress is essential and I wouldn't be surprised to find out I feel tons better after sleeping on one for a few nights.

It doesn't help me get more time for school, though. I have so much homework this week I don't even know where to start. I have about 40 minutes (including time to change, get ready for work, and get there on time) to pound out as much as I can on Constantine for a biographical speech, eat something, finish an outline for my paper on jury selection, log on to see the result of a speech quiz and determine if I need to turn anything in before Wednesday or not, let the dogs out, start and/or finish about 12 pages of math problems, think about starting a paper for social work on “my personal experiences in the human services field as a client” (I've never been a client and I don't think social work classes should encourage people to talk about their reasons for needing to use said services) . . . and some other things I can't remember.

What I really want to do is lie down for a minute.

Slip

Had a bit of a slip this morning. Forgot to put the patch back on after getting up and taking a shower. Someone at work noticed I was on edge and tried to help out the best way he could – by bumming me a cigarette. Without it I may have started crying and/or screaming at customers, but I'm angry at myself.

I'm going to try not to beat myself up too much about it and get back on the wagon tomorrow. I think I prefer myself as a nonsmoker. It's just going to take some work.

I will say that I'm happy because my student loans finally arrived. I have a bunch of money saved from this week because I haven't been buying cigarettes. In tips alone I probably have about eighty bucks. Then with the money in the bank I think I'm going to get a new mattress. FINALLY. And, to be totally honest, blow a bit on a little shopping spree for myself. I switched out my winter and summer clothes (I trade them when the weather changes and keep the previous season's in a suitcase to leave space in the closet and dresser) and I noticed that I own about three sweaters. That's it. So I may splurge and treat myself and Charlie to a couple of new cold-weather items.

Of course, splurging, to me, is like fifty bucks.

This is not one of my dogs, but he has a winter coat on.

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For some reason all my dreams last night centered around “Sex and the City.” Either I was watching an episode, or I was right there with Carrie and Big, or I was Carrie, myself. It seemed like the dreams woke me up every hour or so all night because my brain was asking “WTF are you dreaming about a television show for?”

Oh, yeah, I just figured out why — Sarah Jessica Parker was on Oprah yesterday. I happened to be flipping stations and came across it.

I also watched the episode of “Home Team” that I was on last night. It was on a local station, WGN, and the production was bad. Also, the music was bad, the quality was bad, and I wasn't in hardly any of it. Wah, wah, wah, right?
I know that the woman who won the house got a DVD with hours and hours of film on it, so at least she knows how much wallpaper I scraped, how many doors I removed from the house after taking all the pins out of the hinges, how many pounds of crap and insulation I removed from the house, and how sick the mold in the bathroom made me. But I feel bad that anyone may have watched it to see me and caught only a few glances. This, I'm assuming, is because I'm not very photogenic, I left after 8 hours to go to work, I kept moving away from the video cameras, and I didn't say much. They probably decided just to cut me out of most of the scenes. That's fine. I just hope Carlette knows how much the rest of us did who didn't get our faces plastered, crying, all over every scene.