Friday, November 30, 2012

Made it!

Yeah! I did all 30 days this year, which kind of makes up for last year's screw up.

Today I participated in the monthly Trans Supervision and presented one of my cases for feedback - very helpful. Plus hearing about some of the other cases was very helpful. As I mentioned yesterday, I am really learning so much this year.

Also, in case any of you are interested I am working on helping with this conference in Albany on transgender issues. Friday will be a provider day focusing on attending needs and education for medical providers and mental health workers as well. Hope to see you there!

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

In which our heroine considers her luck

Internships by their nature are difficult, some have a steep learning curve, others move slow as molasses, it can feel like one is doing less than thrilling work for no pay (which often is the case - see the definition of internship). Last year I learned a great deal at my internship, I learned so much about myself, faced fears, and gained a greater appreciation of elders.

This year's is not a lot different, only I am doing actual therapy with clients, have my own caseload, working with a great population, and I am really digging the other interns.

But my clients! Oh my! I cannot believe how much I enjoy them, seriously. This does not mean they are easy, that they do not have massive concerns, and heavy pasts because they do. Even the ones I thought I would never feel connected to, or really invest in, I really find some joy, something fascinating about working with them. They each really challenge me in my skills, they encourage me to research more, to question my assumptions, and to daily wonder if I am doing my best with them. I realize there is no perfect treatment, that the likelihood of doing real harm, but I want to make a difference, in a positive way. 

I am still amazed by this journey.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Technology is weird

Right now I am on Skype for a meeting that is happening less than 90 miles away but between my schedule and gas prices, I'm here in Albany. In order for them to hear me, I am going through the PA system at my friends' house who is hosting. Apparently I am sounding omniscient according to the blessed Tara which I am enjoying the image of. Another person is on the phone in another state but she was having trouble hearing me - so they moved "us" closer. Not sure how but it's all rather amusing.

We are reviewing an event that we did back in October - finally doing our wrap up meeting. So many things to consider in a world where the special snowflakes {TM} do not predominant in terms in numbers but certainly in effort for those of us who work hard to make these things happen. The other problem we face is trying to please everyone, which simply isn't possible. The flip side of that is people, as a whole think of themselves first and foremost so things like food cause problems because they forget their are others needing to eat. Not making sense here, but trust me, in my head, it works.

Bah. Back to the meeting. See y'all tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A "B" gets the degree

Some of you out there, like the 2 who don't personally know but read this blog, may not know this, but I am very competitive. With myself. Really. It's a good thing that I'm not two actual selves, because when I lose, I am mean and bitter. When I don't make the grade I think I should (which, honestly, is always an A), I am not pleasant to be around. I tried to amend this thinking the first time in graduate school by choosing a program that doesn't give letter grades. It worked. A bit. I suppose it helped, maybe.

Before school started a number of people told me not to focus on the grade, not to push so hard, that "B gets the degree", that no one was ever going to ask for my GPA, the initials after my name would be what counted. I really tried to absorb that. My best friend said that if he could change one thing about his graduate school experience it would be to not work so hard on maintaining a 4.0 (as if I could even thing about that!) and enjoy the experience more. Blah, blah. Easy for him to say all these years later.

This time around, I am in a program that gives real grades, not narrative evaluations. I replayed the mantra in my mind, over and over. I tried to cut myself slack because I was also dealing with Lyme disease that fall. The first semester I knew I was barely getting by in Social Welfare Policy. I mean I got the concepts, totally grasped the evaluation tool when I read about it, but putting it all together? Not so much. My final grade was a B, and I sucked it up. But it was hard, seriously hard. Worse was the A- in Macro - what did I mess up on the final? I must have missed something, right? Hadn't I been running a solid A? Maybe I miscalculated. Seriously it kept me up at night. Eventually I got back to sleep because push come to shove I still had 3.68 GPA, not really that bad. (For the record, because I am this crazed on the topic, my spring GPA was 3.93.And again, I lost sleep over the one A-. See, competitive and must have the rest of the world acknowledge that I'm not a loser.) 

Then on Sunday I got my grade for a reflective paper that rocked my world and caused me serious angst - an 80. AN 80! WTF! I don't get 80 on papers. The comments said things like I didn't reference the videos enough, that perhaps if I had done an outline (for a 5 page reflective frigging paper which had five questions that needed to be responded to which  I goddamn covered!), blah, blah. If I really owned up to my reaction, it was not the pissed at the professor I as I was touting. I was peeved at myself for not doing better, for not putting more effort into it. This is always my response - even when I get an 98. Seriously. I might have a tiny problem here. Today in class I found that at least two other students, who also "never" get 80, got exactly that on the paper, which of course made me feel much better. The professor then spoke about her grading methodology and apparently the only A's she gives out is for work far above her expectation for graduate work and a B was for solid, very good work that would be what she would expect from excellent work from a grad student. Sigh. Okay, once again I will work on letting go of my competition with myself (which desperately wants that 4.0 to top the spring semester's GPA). It is an ongoing exercise in all facets of my life - I could have done better, spent more time, done it perfectly, been more compassionate, and on and on and on. Apparently I am still perfectionism's bitch.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tackling those pesky realities

Today I finally wrote letters and made copies of documents to send to the IRS for tax years 2010 and 2011. In a state of confusion, back in October, I opened mail from them regarding 2011 which said they were about to levy my bank account, and the other piece of mail from them for 2011 state I might be eligible for a refund due to Earned Income Credit. UGH. Now to pop them in the mail.

Once I arrived home I called the IRS about the mess of 2008, for which they claim I owe them scads of money, something around 9% of what I earned. Sigh. About a month ago I stopped a levy of my account but put off following up on it. In a panic from yesterday with the boot on my car for unpaid parking tickets (for which I hacked up $440 to get it removed), a terrible grade and blistering comments on a paper, I figured I best contact the IRS before they set out to levy my account again. Last month the fellow I spoke to said  he didn't know why the charge was so high (it should have been about $750 before fees and penalities - I've ignored this for a long time, but started at over a grand). The suggestion was to call their Examination department. Dutifully I called that number, and the woman on the other end of the phone said she could find nothing about this account, that it was closed - meaning they were done with it and gave me another number to call. Okay, 20 minutes gone. Called the next number where that woman said I was in the wrong department, but that she would help me. 

Imagine my surprise when the first thing she found was that, according to them, I never filed my 2007 taxes. Really? Not true, I replied, not only did I  file them on time but in 2009 I sent in an amendment. Sigh. Okay, I need to resend my paperwork from that year now, then wait about two weeks and send the amendment paperwork. Ugh. After we resolved that lovely bit of utter nonsense we moved on to the other years. I told her that I had mailed paperwork about 2010 and 2011, which included a potential refund rather than owing them money. She very nicely put a 60 hold on my accounts to give me time for them to review everything and at that point I could work out a payment plan, should I still owe them money. No doubt I will but hopefully not $1700!

Now I can breathe a little easier since I no longer have to worry about scads of money disappearing. Also on another upside, I had entered a little blog comment contest and won! So now I get to chose an e-booklet of knitting patterns. Since I already have 9 months (made Gramps for the nephew as his first knitted thing from me), I will choose this book

Also last night I did a new manicure and LOVE this color! On my screen the color of the bottle is closer than the nail sample in this photo. I think I will be using this color a lot.

Small things make me happy, which is good, because my budget doesn't leave room for big things.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The home stretch

In more ways than one! It's day 25 of NaBloPoMo and the end of my semester is quickly approaching. Also the IRS will be levying my account any minute because I did not send those blasted letters or call the whatsis center about three different tax years in the past 30 days. Sheesh. The IRS fiasco is just, well, going to be hell. I may be eating nothing but rice shortly.

Not going well was heading out the door to go to the co-op and discovering a boot on my car. Sigh. Unpaid parking tickets, only a few, honest. So much for veggies and my 10% student discount. Paid the tickets online, but when I went to call them police to see about having the boot removed, of course there was no answer. Looks like a lot of walking tomorrow. Having never had this happen before, I have no idea what is entailed in getting the device removed. Really, I could have lived my entire life without ever having this lesson in such things. 

The end of the semester with a maybe two weeks without classes and internship are looking delicious right now, though I know they will fly by far too quickly. However I plan on taking advantage of the ability to sleep in, to not have a paper to write, an article to read, or a modality to research. Perhaps I will be able to spend some time further rearranging and creating storage options out of thin air in my tiny and cute apartment.

Still have four major papers to write and three short ones. Dang. The up side of this is that the only things are outstanding are two of the short pieces. For my field evaluation I do need to write a process recording but I suppose I can do that fairly easily. Really in the scheme of things, much better than the last two semesters. Plus I haven't yet missed a day of NaBloPoMo, last year I missed two days by this point I think. 

Hm, what else is going well? Oh, I've been eating much better this semester than before, almost ever before. Lots and lots of veggies. I still really like my place and neighborhood, which is really good news. There is definitely things to adjust to by living in an apartment again after so many years of not. There are things I miss about living with a wood stove but waking up to a place at 50F degrees is not one of them!

Back to work for me.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nice timing

Sitting alone, eating a bit of oatmeal for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, I turned on the tv (the joy of visiting those that have one!), thinking "Oh, maybe I'll catch a few minutes of the Ma*y*s Thanksgiving parade." I have fond memories from childhood watching this on television but never had much desire to actually stand on the streets and watch it.

Imagine my delight when I tuned in just in time to catch the number from Nice Work If You Can Get it, since my cousin is in that show. This makes at least the second time he has performed during the parade. It really is thrilling to watch someone you know in such a setting, as I have mentioned about Jeff in the past

So that's how my Thursday started, and it was lovely.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Many months ago I heard this, I no longer remember how I had come across it, but I found it so good, so true, so me.

Her concepts about taking that leap, investing without knowing the outcome are things I have been struggling with for some time. In fact it resonates a bit with a conversation my sweetheart and I were having yesterday. We do not really name our relationship, we do not refer to one another with any titles, as well we are both in similar and different places with regards to our fear of defining a future for the "us". 

It also resonates with some of my thinking about my clients, taking a leap with them on their journey. Brown mentions a social work expression of "leaning into the pain", and later reframes in as "leaning into the joy".  This is interesting when I consider the situation of two of my clients where it is hard to find the joy in their worlds. They are so bound by circumstance, isolation, mental illness (we will leave aside the arguments about that expression and its various meanings). With people so entrenched in the social services system the regularly depersonalizes experiences and interactions, where is it safe to explore your vulnerability? When you have been betrayed by family, those who should be a safe haven, where do you find that life raft of compassion? 

I do not have quite the barriers to being vulnerable in that I know there are people who deeply care for me, that ask me to be more exposed - making clear they will help me from leaking over the edges of myself. My jetties are self constructed from fear, disappointment and hurt than from systematic rocks like my clients. My work, as I have dwelled on here just recently (and ad nauseum throughout the history of this blog) is to keep trying to push past these barriers, to install windows and doors in my walls.

This site has some quotes, that while many are trite, convey the direction I am trying to move into, bit by bit, day by day.

Always more to learn about oneself, isn't there? 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

If I had all the time in the world

Things I would knit:

  • a flamingo for Aileen
  • a hippo for Nev
  • a penguin for Timbre and Nomi
  • a mouse for Sunny
  • lots of toys for my nephew, and clothes
  • a llama for Greg
  • gloves for Timbre
  • more socks for Sunny
  • something sweet and perfect for Hannah
  • a great hat for Aileen
  • legwarmers for Nev
  • hiking socks for Greg
  • the hat I've wanted to make for Janet, for YEARS!
  • oh, and some things for me

Things I would cook/bake
  • sweet potato pie
  • gluten free bread
  • lemon curd
  • all the things from Baking with Julia, I did a couple many years ago but never made it very far
  • pesto
  • pad thai
  • artisan breads every week
  • complicated, multi-layered Indian and Thai recipes

Things I would read:
  • this list is so long, seriously there are 489 (and counting) books on my "to read" over on Goodreads, however, in reviewing that list I have found that I have read 4 (Redwall #1, Cunt [which is SO terrible, I haven't been able to make myself finish it!], Stone Butch Blues, and one more that I don't remember now) of them that have been on the list since 2008! Also currently making my way through one that's been on the list for 3 years (Whipping Girl).
  • all the Disc World books
But for now, I will tuck intothe things I can, in the time I have between school, internship, work, volunteer commitments, cooking for sustenance, sleeping, and sometimes being social.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Eve

Well, once again it's the holiday season which brings up a lot of mixed feelings for me. 

Yes, I am seeing someone, but the long term future of that is very unsure (yes, I feel this way despite that the relationship has been going on for two years), so what does it mean for me to spend the holidays with my sweetheart's family again?  No idea. It's not just a matter of it being better than alone, alone is fine with me. I like family occasions, there is something sweet about them for me.

I like my sweetheart's family, I have lucked out a number of times of having affection for my partners' family, but I miss what mine used to look like; and as I'm sure I have mentioned a few times (I am not going to look all the times, because it's a theme) that I long for a familiarity of my own partnership and a self-created, joint-created traditions.  At this age, with my history, it seems unlikely I will have that consistency. Certainly nothing about my life demonstrates anything like of regularity, patterns, long term - well long term anything in many ways. 

I might be getting tired of the roller coaster or some other great metaphor that is my life. On one hand I totally love so many facets of my life, the fluidity, my ease of changing course. Perhaps it's the aging factor that is shifting my perceptions, my longing for something more sedate. However would I be bored if I get, created what I think I am missing? Honestly, I probably would but that doesn't mean I wouldn't love something about a new lifestyle. Every choice means there is something not chosen - another theme that one could find in the banality that is this blog.

Yeah, another bittersweet time for our heroine.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2012 is TDOR. 

Last week I was doing research of transgender people who have been murdered this year to prep for the Pride Center's event. This is not the most uplifting of projects to undertake; in fact it is depressing, sad, and angering.

This year the youngest transperson murdered, that I am aware of, was 16 at the time of their death. 16 years old.

The speakers at the event were passionate, loving, angry, supportive - in short all that they needed to be.

We came together in a circle for a candlelight vigil portion - using little battery operated candles. Someone walked around with little bios of some of the victims of hatred. We went around taking our turn reading these snippets, ringing a Tibetan bowl at the end of each short life story. It was hard not to have sobs rise up.

My reading said: Secil Anne was a young trans woman who lived in Antalya, Turkey. She was brutally murdered in July and is one victim in an onslaught of violence against transgender women in Turkey over the last few years. Dozens of trans people and allies gathered outside her apartment upon hearing of her death. 

It is estimated that 256 trans people have been murdered in 2012.  This is a 20% increase of the prior year. This link provides some more data, that while depressing, is important. In doing the research for this event, and listening to the readings tonight it is clear that more transwomen than transmen are victims in these murders, many of them are transwomen of color in the United States.

Do not let these deaths be in vain. Educate yourself, speak up against bias, mentor, befriend, listen to LGBT people who come your way. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Political Infidelity

Did Patraeus step down because he had an affair, or because it was discovered, or because he may have said things to his beloved that breach confidentiality? 

Was Eliot Spitzer booted out because he had sex with prostitutes? If he didn't "pay" for sex, would he have been hounded out of office?

The attack on Clinton was because of extra-marital affair, really? You think?

There are dozens of other examples, and examples of other countries not caring about monogamy on the part of it's leaders, but here in the United States our puritanical roots are showing no matter how much bleach we use. Often the argument is that if our leaders cannot fidelitious to their spouses then how can they be trusted to run a country. It seems to me that personal values are being confused with the ethos that are need to keep a nation from war, to be culturally wise when dealing with world leaders, to begin to balance a ridiculous budget, and to even begin to understand our tax code. Sex is about intimacy, release, coping with stress, hormones, culture, power, and fun. Jobs of leadership are frequently not fun, stressful, full of surface comradery - seems a perfect recipe to want fun, exciting, nothing to do with your work.

It seems likely that all people slip up in telling state secrets, the larger issue may be whether we can trust their bedmates not to sell them. But why assume the other woman or man, is any more dishonorable then the spouse on this issue? Spouse testify against one another all the time. It's possible that agreements of silence are signed, but that could be done with the lovers as well, couldn't? But no, because these are passionate, because they  need the breath of fresh air of someone who is not connected to the swirling morass of complexity, because OhMyGod they like sex! They need to be condemned.

I would like to be more articulate on this matter and write a lovely diatribe on the anti-sex nation that we live in but it's not going to happen. Consider this an incoherent rant by an exhausted graduate student who has a presentation tomorrow, and a quiz due by tomorrow night, a house to clean, and key problem to solve before leaving town on Wednesday.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In which, the problem grows

Well, it happened. I'm slipping down the rabbit hole. Somehow I came home with 6 bottles of nail polish today, including a glitter {shudder}. This only proves how far the mighty can fall. Sigh. In my tepid defense it seemed the silver glitter would be a nice one coat of the color that I though was black but really be a very, very dark teal green, or something. It's name is "Mystery" and apparently it's because it's hard to know what color it is. 

In the meantime I think I will be painting my nails a peacock shimmery blue tonight. But later this week, I think it will be one of the dark reds I came home with since my sweetheart stated that "dark, sexy, or classic" will produce "swoons". I think dark red qualifies for all that. I intend to take full advantage of the effect.

But in the meantime my nail polish collection has gone from one bottle that has been unopened for over three years, then there were three new bottles a few weeks ago. There is a new bottle waiting for me in my post office box, and went shopping today. 
I fear there will be dotting tools in my future. Oh heavens!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Some days are just a bit blue

It's true, some days I am just fine, others rather happy - like yesterday. Then today, somehow just blah, bordering on sad.

Actually it still amazes me how many emotions I can experience in a day. Maybe when one pays attention, stays present it's easier to notice these thing. Certainly that is a nice, more "evolved" take on my moods. The other option is that I am not very stable, which given various things is a fear that I still harbor. Crazy sort of runs in my family and every once in a while, I wonder if I might succumb. Honestly I wasn't concerned with that today, but in reflecting on the day, and recent times, I realize that it still is underneath, buried, a fear that sometimes flashes itself in the sunlight. 

I'm sure tomorrow will be just fine, the little fuzzy buster of calm will crawl back into the corner.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Drive by posting

Good and long day, doing a SOGI event at the University today. Caitlin Ryan spoke about the Family Acceptance Project

I'm home briefly to take a breath and then a few of us are doing out to dinner with Caitlin.

Mostly I am excited about sleeping in tomorrow, doing laundry (seriously out of thing!) and maybe redoing my nails. Yes, I'm still trying to keep my nails nice and taking care of them. The other night I painted them with China Glaze's On Deck. On one hand (ha!) it seems a silly thing to be investing in given my schedule. Ditto wearing nice make up a bit more. However I am viewing as a bit of self care that feels nice, that even gets complimented sometimes (which is nice, I admit), so mostly I think it's a good thing.

Going to a team meeting for a client on Monday, have a presentation to prep a bit for that happens on Tuesday, have a quiz due Tuesday, and going to the Pride Center's Transgender Day of Remembrance that evening. Whew!

All this might explain why I have no idea what I'm doing on Thanksgiving - other than having totally forgotten about letting a friend stay at my place for part of that weekend! Brain? Memory? Huh? 

Yeah, that's my life right now. Okay, got to get ready to head back out! See ya on the flip side. Or something like that!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Overwhelmed and honored by my clients

I have had some really deep, profound moments with my clients lately. It is leaving me really, well the title says it. The responsibility that comes with the exposure then have given me, is awe-inspiring. There is reading about therapeutic alliance, and then there is experiencing it. 

One client is "a real bad as"s - that's a quote from the psychiatrist that has been working with this person for sixteen years, and it's accurate. Really tough character, very no bullshit (a word that is heard frequently in our sessions), softer emotions do not really appear. Survival is the key word here. Today, I sensed a deeper sadness more at the surface today. Taking a risk I noted it, dropped it, picked it back up a few times, mirrored the client's language. My client really exposed some emotional content. At the end of the session, the client asked if they could hug me. This feels huge for this person, like enormous - a literally and metaphorical reaching out. Blown away.

Another client is a teen but functions several years younger than chronological age - really sweet in a number of ways. The client was asking me some personal questions, which while I answered honestly, I also answered a bit incompletely, to keep boundaries. One question was whether I was married, "no, but I was". This led me to ask the client if they thought they ever wanted to get married - "yes". In asking about what kind of person they would marry - someone who talked a lot, or worked a lot, etc. The response, I want someone to love me, for me. The sweetness, the awareness, of the answer just made my heart burst.

These moments are not ones I expected to have, at least not yet; these moments are the ones I had stored in my hope chest for the day I was a "real therapist". It is amazing to have them now, to already have a client tell me how they were angry at me for "bringing  that stuff up" - which of course is my job. To experience counter-transference and be aware of it, trying face this stuff head on, it almost makes me feel like I might be ready for this work. Well as ready as anyone can be, this is work where some element of it is like starting anew every time you have that initial appointment. I find that as exciting as I find it terrifying - the challenge is so ripe, the hope so big, the possibilities so endless.

I want to remember this feeling of awe, of having my heart touched as I continue this work because I know there will be days, weeks, where the work won't go there, when it will feel more rote, even a bit hopeless. It is wise, I think, to remember that those glistening moments of connection are worth so much more than the days of bleakness.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In which I am still tired

It's true, I lead such an exciting life, that's why.
Ha, if only.

Long day, tomorrow will be long, Friday exceptionally long. The idea that Saturday I can sleep in is exciting to the nth degree right now. Except that if I sleep until 11am I will berate myself for doing so. Argh.

Since I last posted I have given a bit more thought to SWARE and a project for the spring to aid the Ali Forney Center, spoke to my supervisor about it extremely briefly and she's all for it. So if any of you have some brilliant ideas for a fundraiser in Albany, please let me know. We are thinking about a performance or dance, or something!

Okay, gotta finish a paper.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

There simply aren't enough hours in the day

Sitting in the meeting of the Dean's Kitchen Cabinet meeting today that is the thought that I kept coming back to for about an hour straight. Through a cascade of things I am the current president of SWARE (Social Workers Advocating Respect and Equality for LBGT), a very new official student government organization at the School of Social Welfare. There are only three such groups, and I represent one of them! OMG. Dang. 

It's a good thing I'm good at picking up on things and figured out some things to say during this meeting of a whopping 7 people, including the Dean. Really it would be fabulous if I could figure out a way that SWARE could contribute to efforts to help rebuild the Ali Forney Center, as that would be the most logical place for this mostly imaginary student organization to put it's efforts. Perhaps over the winter break I can talk to folks at the Pride Center on ways to do something. Yeah, that sounds like a plan.

In the meantime, go to the Ali Forney website and donate if you can. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cannot shut down

Today my body said, loudly, emphatically, "NAP". So I did, but I should have woken sooner. My brain and I have this habit of having dreams, waking but refusing to actually get up, which leaves me falling back to sleep and having dreams which make me wish I had simply leapt out bed earlier and giving up on more sleep.

In this afternoon's dream I was living in an apartment, dorm type thing. Somehow my apartment turned into some kind open invite place, music blasting into the halls. But I wasn't making the music happen, though it had started on my computer. Or something like that. It was feeling a bit out of control, two men in my apartment, where there was some kind of "this could be an unsafe situation" vibe that I got under control relatively easily in getting them to leave without much effort. My roommate came into the apartment saying the landlord had spoken to her about the music and how I needed to get it under control; to which I said "but I didn't do it, I don't have the equipment to produce this noise". Still and all I went to my laptop and proceeded to try to shut it off, which I sort of did but then the computer kept playing different channels, like a tv, whenever I finally succeeded in shutting off one program there was yet another one playing. It took forever to shut off a given channel and there was always at least another one on.

Upon waking, I thought, the laptop with all the noise and channels is like my brain. I have so much trouble "shutting it down" enough to sleep. How bad is it to have a dream about how hard it is to let go, which is the very thing you fight with every time you try to sleep and hope for restful dreams? Ugh!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


This weekend was a visioning event for my community, my family of choice, my tribe. During the time there I went through a lot of different feelings, felt adrift, alone, frustrated, warmed, light, encouraged, inspired, and did I mention frustrated.

It may seem that my mentioning of frustration twice is a negative, it is not, it is reflective of how when you have a group of 40 people who are committed to an entity, to something key to their being, there is a challenge in remembering how different you each are, how you spin in and out of seeing the similarities, and where you go bump in the night against each other's boundaries, fears, and hopes. Growing is not easy, it is hard, frustrating is a good word for that task, and that is largely what I feel like we did this weekend. There is enormous comfort in what we know, a feeling constrained by what there is, a trust that is needed to go beyond in one direction, and retreat in another because it's not quite time to shift.

Perhaps more vulnerably I noted, and spoke of, how I feel at the end of events of my tribe: bereft. I cannot wait for closing circles to end, the antsy, "is it over yet- think of a child desperately asking, "are we there yet?" and you are close to my about-to-jump-out-of-skin feeling as the leader of the circle speaks lovely words about us, our time together, hope for our next gathering. I was asked if I always felt this way. It was hard to think back to my early days, but after a moment of thought, yes, I always hated this part, the looming sense of loneliness, unmoored, naked skin exposed to icy winds. When I remember this, it's amazing I came back into the fold over a dozen years ago and cannot imagine ever deserting this family again. Every weekend event, every camp holds almost every emotion possible for me, and always closes with this mourning. A sense that I did not get everything I could from the experience, that I will never have that opportunity again, that any moment of our time together when I felt bolstered up will never return.

Writing this out, I wonder at what this really points to, and why I ever return. Is it for the fleeting moments of basking in the love that wafts by like a delightful warm autumn breeze surprising you with its caress, unexpected in mid-October with it's scent of summer? Do I hope that one day I will not need these people, so every ending is a hope to not return? Am I recreating something ancient from my childhood? That all seems possible, perhaps likely. Can I live with that truth, that I will never fully heal, that each time with my tribe is like my personal trip to Lourdes, a pilgrimage of faith that each time I leave a bit bit more whole.

This might be my best interpretation of why I plunge in over and over, recommit my time, my energy, and my heart to this group. It is my antidote to my hermit tendencies, it counteracts my drive to be so independent that I stop connections, it stretches my capacity to trust in others. My community is a mirror of my light and my shadow, and it does its best to reflect back to me all that I can still be, and all that community can be.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Even more tired, today

This weekend is a visioning weekend for an organization that I am very committed to and is my family.

It has been a very exhausting day! 

But wait!

There's more tomorrow.


But I'm still glad that I'm here.

I think.

Friday, November 09, 2012

How to tell you are an overtired intern

Easy for me to know that I am. Today I slept in a just a bit, still plenty of time to make my meeting. Ran out of the apartment to drive, parked my car, dashed over to purchase coffee, briskly walked back and up the stairs....

Only to find no one else there. Looking around the room, I remembered the last words of my supervisor as I left at 7:30pm, "See you next week, Dharma."  Dammit all to hell. Came back home, checked my google calendar. Yep, I was the only one on the group calendar that had the meeting list. Argh.

I finally had a Friday with no burning deadlines, unless I was to head to Western Massachusetts for a visioning meeting and I unnecessarily stressed. I might need a vacation.
The other day, feeling very tired, I said to my sweetheart, "I can sleep when I'm dead, right? Or after I graduate, whichever comes first."  I long for several days of good sleep. Lately I have had very stressed filled dreams, more waking, and simply being tired most of the time. This morning's last dream was me trying to drag myself to class, and debating what was the worst that could happen if I missed just this one time. I was arguing the risks of not going, despite being on top of my work (which in waking like I.AM.NOT!), and that it was likely I wouldn't really miss that much - but what if today was THE day when it would be crucial. See? Even sleeping I can't stop working, worrying, second guessing myself.

I so need some time off.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

In which I'm still not Virginia, but Damn, I'm good!

Yesterday I was bemoaning how I may never be as magical, authentic, and great as Virginia. However today I had a first taste of success as a therapist.

This was the very first client I started with this semester, today was our 5th or 6th session. The client lost their spouse less than six months ago and came to counseling to work on grief issues. Last week we talked about anniversaries, holidays, all the fun triggers; we focused a lot on Thanksgiving and a bit on Christmas. As it happened last week was the X month anniversary of the quick and sudden decline of the spouse, so it was a sad session.

Today my client walked in and said, Last Friday I was really mad at you. I thought about not coming. I cursed you for bringing up all that stuff, like thinking Friday about the service on Sunday. I mean, couldn't I just ignore all that?

Inside I jumped up and down, thinking gleefully - I did it! My client got angry at me, thought about not coming back and came anyway. Blamed me for bringing up all that stuff that's inside there anyway, whether we talk about it or no. Go me!!!!!!

Later I had the client fill out the Two Track Model of Bereavement Questionnaire because I am using this case for my Evaluation of Clinical Practice class. I read it with tears in my eyes. So sad, the loss is so big. 

I feel like I might actually be a good therapist one day. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

In which I failed to be Virginia Satir

Seriously anyone would fail to be her because there was only on Virginia Satir

Backstory: I am taking an Advanced Family Therapy class this semester; I adore systems models and gained a deep appreciation for Satir's work when I was last in graduate school (better known as My Expensive but Amazing Folly). In this class we work in group in class and do a group presentation, which was today. Right off the bad we had decided to not just talk about a model but also do a role play; as my agenda is to queer my classes whenever possible, I suggested a working class family with a gender non-conforming child. I no longer remember the first system we thought about using, but we ruled it out, then we were thinking of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, but when we heard another group was using that modality we dropped it. Someone offered up Experiential/Humanistic Therapy and we all jumped on.

Experiential Family Therapy is very much about recognizing and expressing your emotions by which you form better intimate bonds. Satir, in particular, operated from the position that we all want to be whole, authentic, and sensitive. She looked for healthy intentions no matter what people presented with. Another facet of this model is that the therapist role modeling authenticity, is warm and supportive, and is directive.

Our powerpo*nt part went fine, really great really but then it was time for our role play. I have no idea how this happens to me, but I was one of the co-therapist for this section. My goal, of course, was to model Satir's style more than Carl Whittaker - that was my colleague's role, who was known for being brutishly honest and provocative. Instead, I do not think I came across as warm, and I certainly was not hands on in the way Satir would have been (she would have moved her chair closer to the mom, maybe put her hand on her hands) while I gently suggested that perhaps she wasn't really angry at her child for being "different" but worried and afraid for the child. Unfortunately my colleague did not get all up in the father's face as we had talked about, but perhaps in the end it worked out okay. It will be interesting to see what the grade is for this adventure.

I have a client who bears a few slight similarities to the mother in our role play and I am certain I am more warm and humanistic therapist with her than I was in class today. At least I hope so! Being on display in front of the class, especially after another group did quite an impressive and comprehensive presentation on the Milan Family Therapy model may have dimmed my performance. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Day

Four years ago I got to vote as a birthday event, albeit the day after, but I see it as part of my day anyway. So much was different then, I had a lot of hope about Obama; now I recognize how much Obama has failed to deliver all the promises - of course what president ever has? This year, I fear that he will not will. This is one time I truly hope I am wrong.

Today I voted for the first time in decades in New York, the place I first voted - back in the day of the curtained voting booths. The clunk as you hefted the lever was distinctive as was the swish of the curtain encasing you, promising not to release you until finished your task. Perhaps it's a sign of my mostly non-political leanings but I no longer remember for sure who I voted for in my first election - I just know it wasn't for a president; it may have been for the mayor? Koch, perhaps? Sigh. It's been a long time, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

There have been few years where I was gung ho for the presidential candidate, 2008 I was. This year, I less enamored and there was a touch of voting against Romney, I find this a bit sad, but at least I am not feeling like I am settling for the lesser of two evils which has been the options far more times than I'd like.

Even with all this, leaving the polling station I felt good, happy even to have done the share that I can to participant in this process. It is true I am not exceptionally politically knowledgeable or savvy, but I still take voting seriously. I believe this is my responsibility in being a citizen of this country, not because I am particularly patriotic (I really am not) but because it is a right that many other places do not have. Because in a time when other rights have been stripped away or minimized I do not intend to take the ones I have left lightly.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Help with being a consumer!

Earlier today I had high hopes of writing an entry that at least set out, even if it failed miserably, to pontificate on a weighty topic. But truly I am too tired and have things to research for school, so the thought of doing additional research which would not advance my degree just does not seem a good use of my time. Maybe later this month, certainly after my presentation is over on Wednesday.

Much to my consternation and a touch of delight, I need a new phone. To me, there doesn't seem to be a good reason to replace my Berry simply because it is it is 3.5 years old.  Over time I have started to long for a bigger screen, for better photo ability, for being able to view google calendars in some way that doesn't make me crazy, perhaps some GPS capacity. Being able to look up quick things on the net on the fly would be delightful. As Albany Free Net can be cranky, having a phone that can hotspot would make my life at my internship SO much easier. But really, I could live without all that. 

However the little roller ball doesn't allow me to scroll down any more, and threatens to stop working in other directions as well. This leaves a good 70% of things on the phone unreachable, and other things a pain in the arse. This leaves me shopping for a 3G phone. That's right I said 3 not 4. Why you might ask. Well in an effort to go through money a tad slower I recently switched from Ver*zon to PagePlus which cuts my monthly bill almost in half. Yes, I said in 1/2! The downside is they don't have great phone selection and they don't play nice with 4G. 

Right now I'm looking at the HTC Incredible. Any thoughts? Warning? Please don't tell me I have to go back to the Ver*zon Empire. Basically I don't want to spend more the my imaginary $250 (less would be better), it needs to be reasonably easy to use, decent screen size and clarity, and a place I can access mail and my calendars. Please help a sista out!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

In the nick of time

Sitting here, pondering what to write, pleased that I finished the second part of the paper that I have no clue what I'm writing about before 9pm, I was struck with a flash.

Holy hell, I totally forgot the blackboard posting for Prevention of Youth Risk Behaviors. Totally missed doing it last week, really don't want to repeat that! Even if I am running a A thus far.

So TTFN, off to reading "Risk Factors and Behaviors Associated with Adolescent Violence and Aggression" before I am allowed to sleep. Hope y'all are reading more fluffy things before bed.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Schoolwork continues to haunt me

It has been absolutely awful this semester to get myself to do the work I need to do - reading articles and chapters? Really? I'm supposed to do that to get through my courses? Who knew? Gah. Most frustrating.

However, thus far the few things that have been graded have been in the A range, which is great. I'm sure I just cursed myself as I am waiting on one paper to still be returned. It was the most confusing time I've ever had with a paper- in class when we talked about it, it made total sense. Seemed straight forward, until I tried writing it. Then I just stared at the articles, the assignment, and blank word document, utterly stymied by what I was supposed to do with the information. This is the first time I have felt entirely stumped by a paper since, I don't know, maybe my first semester of undergrad. It was bloody awful, the most terrible feeling in the world. I am expecting a B if I am lucky. The second paper for that same class, which is the second step in the semester long project of assessing our clinical practice based on a client, needs to be finished by Monday morning. Gah. Plus I need to research criticisms of Satir's work for a group presentation on Tuesday afternoon, as well as figure out how I will demonstrate some of the experiential therapy techniques during the role play part of the presentation. 

On the plus side of things for the semester, it's been great fun having all my classes in person rather than 2-3 online. Very different experience and I am enjoying it. It's lovely to walk to the Pride Center two days a week, come home for lunch and then go to class - it feels so luxurious to do this. My Fridays are often low key, though I often have team supervision for about 2 hours and sometimes additional meetings - it still means I can sleep in, the beauty of having a supervisor who doesn't "do" mornings. 

My caseload is challenging and interesting but I will have to think deeply about what I write there because confidentiality is very important. Right now I have five clients who have all stuck; which means they came for the first session and kept coming back. So far, knock on wood. It is fascinating to think about the similarities and differences between some of them. I would like to devote more time to researching various theories and modalities in connections with, well, all of them. 

Another plus this semester is my home is regularly tidy, laundry (even the hand stuff) is being kept up on. I still adore my apartment even with the quirks of apartment living. My neighbor in the front part of our floor went from being dead silent to randomly noisy. He never opens or closes the toilet quietly from what I can tell! He seems to drop the same things every time he showers - at least that's what it sounds like. And yes I can hear the water from said shower if I'm in my closet of a kitchen.

Also I have been eating exceptionally well without being insane (mostly) about. Lots of salads, roasted veggies, homemade soups from the remains of pre-roasted chicken, little sugar, little gluten. I have discovered the lure of Greek yogurt via my favorite brand - Green Mountain Creamery. This is the first yogurt that I can imagine using as a substitute for sour cream; this is a serious statement because I deeply love sour cream and have scoffed at the notion of using yogurt in it's stead for years upon years.

Maybe now that I have publicly announced what a horrid student I have been, it will poke me into actually doing the readings that I know I will largely love if I just committed to reading them!

Friday, November 02, 2012

In which our heroine flails at femininity

Recently I had been toying with trying, yet again, to take better care of my nails. In a fit of new beginnings (moves are good for this) I also cleared out old makeup - beloved lipstick colors that were smelling as old as they actually were. With the help of the sisterhood of the Lazy, Stupid, Godless group (and related offshoots) I stumbled down the rabbit hole and have been spending far too many hours reading about polish, makeup, browsing ebay for deals, and lusting after Sweet Libertine eye shadows.

Last Saturday, for the first time, I went into a Sally's and purchased things with which to do my nails. Despite gathering wisdom from the lovelies over at There's Fiber in My Polish group (one of the delightful offshoots of LSG) I felt like an impostor at the store. Polish has changed a great deal since I last considered a dive into this pool - glitter is every where, there are "gel" polishes  dotting tools, stamping, holos, and plates (I think it has something to do with stamping. But nevertheless I was determined to not walk out empty handed and I did not.

Today I returned because I realized I did need some cuticle remover after all, and well since I was there, I looked and found two more polishes to purchase for some future date when I will brave the iridescent peacock blue and the purply taupe that caught my eye. For now I think I will be working with the pale colors I have purchased because my nails are short and straggly, and my technique is sure to be messy.

A bit earlier tonight, setting down to take off the multiple layers of Nail Magic I've been applying to try to strengthen my uber-flexible nails, I realized that I have no cotton balls, no little pads. Sigh. Out came a q-tip and I probably spent far longer than necessary taking the stuff off because I have lost foresight on these things.

On a related note, the last two days I wore makeup only to realize that perhaps my eyelashes are not as hardy as they once were nor my lids as bulletproof to being tugged upon, which means some makeup remover might need to be another future purchase if I am going to keep up on this track. The painted ladies of TFMP also speak of coloring their hair but I am less interested in doing that, which is one less expense to delve into - I just got a trim for the first time in at least 5 months, hair dye requires far too much maintenance  At the same time as the trim I got my brows done for the first time in years - god I do love that one thing, and will keep that up. Getting my brows done has often been just about the only concession I make to regular upkeep. It's unlikely that anyone really notices my brows, but the amount of happy it brings me is worth it.

I will continue to read these forums and try to glean some more wisdom, until I get bored with upping my gender presentation to high femme mixed with vast amounts of vanity, which no doubt will happen because I am cheap and lazy lipstick lesbian.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Therapizing Oneself

Many years ago a friend said to me, something along the lines of:
You know, I really like you, and I was wondering why I don't consider you a "best friend" type. I think it's because you don't really share yourself in a way, that you don't let people in. I mean you'll talk about anything, and I know I can tell you anything, but I don't feel like I "know" you.
J, if you are reading this, I have replayed that conversation at the Barnes and Noble in Oakland many, many times. You were not the first person to say something like that to me, nor the last but I have held onto that moment all these years as an important talisman in the lesson of living my life. 

I realized quite young that I tell people about me, tell them my life story in snippets or saga length but there is often something missing. It might have been in high school that I realized I was merely reciting, that I was talking about it as if it did not quite happen to me, but around me.  Back then I suppose I thought I was being strong, which granted was something that my life required back then, and since. 

Delving deeper into this habit, I suppose it dates back to being quite young and the lack of skills in my family. It was easier to be quiet, to not call attention to myself. However, don't we all want attention from our parents? That was not something I could count on, which has resulted in me doing a push-pull with attention. This has meant that starting in middle school I would tell my family story - which is a little unusual, with detachment and inwardly feed on the gasps, the raised eyebrows, and "Oh you poor thing!"  However the lack of outward response I think has caused me to seem aloof, to keep people at a distance; which of course if you don't believe people are trustworthy that best thing to do is to hold them at arms length, even as much as I have wanted to be scooped up and let go into someone. 

For the last few years I have been actively working on this "problem". When I was with BC I tried hard to shed the defenses, to be a bit more vulnerable with her - which after the huge betrayal of Her Geekiness was rather ballsy of me to attempt. Yet I did. And in many ways I would say that I succeeded. Given how things went down in a ball of flames, on some level, with BC, not surprisingly I reassessed this plan. It would be easy to blame my openness for the level of hurt I experienced. But on the other hand, the level of hurt I attained was clearly due to older wounds being opened, and could not have happened if I hadn't opened up. So was opening up bad? In retrospect, no I don't think it was. That doesn't mean I now open up willy nilly - just ask my sweetheart, in two years I think actual crying has been witnessed maybe twice. My opening up about my more, well, embarrassing traits, habits have been slow to be verbalized, though I do talk about wanting to be more open, which I suppose is an improvement. 

My ability to reach out to people when I am having a hard has improved, even though recently it resulted in leaving three voicemails. This could sound miserable but for me it's a victory. I called someone, when they were not around I did not curl into a tighter ball on my couch, I did not lose myself in a computer game, I tried another person, and then another. This is huge for someone who has spent at least six months worth of those days, not reaching out to another soul in any form, choosing instead to believe either no one cared, I wouldn't know what to say (as if I had to justify needing support), or some other utter nonsense.

Thank you, J for helping me see how I could take steps to be more myself, and hopefully be a better friend.