I am physically and emotionally exhausted. This front page and everything on it is why.
And now I seriously have to go to bed since I need to get up in just over five hours. Bloody hell.
I am physically and emotionally exhausted. This front page and everything on it is why.
And now I seriously have to go to bed since I need to get up in just over five hours. Bloody hell.
Two work-update quickies:
1. RH Reality Check is now — as of today — syndicating my advice columns at Scarleteen twice a month. I love them big bunches, and really appreciated their asking in the interest of getting more youth involved in reproductive and sexual health education and activism, so that’s exciting. I’m also hoping my having some content there might help get some of our users at Scarleteen feeling more confident about getting involved in some of the discussions there.
2. I’m also the sexual health consultant for the upcoming orb28, a site I am SO thrilled is near to launch. It’s from New Moon Media, the fantastic organization which publishes the magnificent New Moon magazine for and by girls, and orb28 will be an interactive site gearing to a slightly older audience than New Moon targets. Feminist outlets for girls and teen women are so few and far between, and I think this is going to be a great one.
The woman here in Ballard who runs the local apothecary has always been awesome (and is also a fellow member of the women-going-grey-in-dire-need-of-a-haircut-with-big-glasses-who-live-in-blue-jeans club), and while my practice with herbalism and the lot goes back around 20 years now, even when I’ve been stumped with things before, she’s had a creative answer. Today I went in considering, for the second time this week, buying a nice teapot for my office at the clinic, since being unable to offer women a cup of tea when they come in strikes me as rude. I still wasn’t all the way there, just because of money issues, but she overheard me moping to Audra about the fact that I couldn’t burn aromatherapy candles in there, either, due to fire codes. I just feel like the leftover scent of Lysol is way too medical for a counseling office and not at all comforting, especially when clients are upset or distressed. My office should be their place of peace.
But voila! She comes out with a very nice electric diffuser and a bunch of pads for me, and only charged me for one set of the pads: she knows what I do for my living and is on board. After I nabbed a bottle of clary sage to use with it (it’s an excellent antidepressant, tends to be very calming and also promotes healing — it’s also heaven if you’ve got a migraine), I picked up a bottle of rosemary, wishing I could use it, but felt like it was a little too stimulating for clients. She offers up myrtle as an alternative, which indeed, is very similar to rosemary in scent, just not quite as strong, and says myrtle always makes her feel cared for. I’ve never really worked with myrtle before, and when I get home and look it up, turns out it’s of great help with anger issues and anxiety. Perfect!
It’s not the answer to world hunger or anything, but I’m very excited to be able to go back to the clinic tomorrow with this small improvement to the space.
I am filing my survival of this last week under M for total freaking miracle. I slept until 10:00 this morning, after going to sleep before midnight, which is legendary sleeping-in for me, and I still woke up with achy feet and a very exhausted mind.
It’s tough to be unable to really write about work here. For as long as I have been keeping a public journal — nine years now — I have been self-employed, with only the occasional freelance gig where I had non-disclosures. Of course, I have never discussed every single case with Scarleteen, everything that goes on with managing the volunteers, nor did I do the same with Scarlet Letters or with photo clients, but I have always had an awful lot of room to discuss the ins and outs of my day being my own boss and having a setup where client privacy was not a big issue.
It’s weird to have a million big things I could write about and to be unable to write about them. Every day at the end of the day I come home with at least one client stuck in my heart or my head which I need to process, and writing things out is one of my primary means of expression and process. I have still sometimes written things out just for myself, but this is a large part of how much more infrequently I’ve posted here of late: time constraints notwithstanding, I just literally cannot write about my clients in-depth at the clinic or most of the goings-on there. I’m trying to feel out the ways that I can while protecting privacy, but it’s tricky.
In an extra training for options counseling yesterday — counseling for clients who are pregnant and don’t know what they want, so need someone to just sit for an hour or so and talk through their unique situation and walk through how all of their choices look and feel to them to help them find the best one — my trainer asked what we do to take care of ourselves when we’re feeling emotionally spent or upset. And I do still write it out sometimes, but given privacy issues and that writing is so much more work for me than leisure, I’ve been diversifying how I process lately. Obviously, talking it out with friends is massive, but on really tough days, I also have this thing going I really like where I load up the woodstove with wood and get a really hot fire going, sit in front of it and start sweating, and then let myself have a really good cry. The heat and sweat mixed in with the tears is my little sweatlodge: it’s seriously cleansing, and usually does the trick. I leave feeling warmed and relaxed by the whole process rather than feeling isolated or wrecked.
I also brought up the issue of how with any kind of job like this, you have to be able to recognize that there is only so much you can do, especially since by the time someone comes to you for help or counseling, they are coming as a result of situations and background that you can’t influence. In other words, the stage was set long before you. So, you have to invest yourself in doing what you can to help them right now — be that in giving them education they want/need or negotiating in relationships such as at Scarleteen, or in providing abortions or counseling to help them make reproductive decisions at the clinic. Any or all of that will, hopefully, help them, and be positives, but you can’t even get invested in those positives having legs: they may or may not. And by the time they leave your office or your websites or your email, you’ve done what you can do most of the time for them. You had your moments, and they have passed, and afterwards, it’s out of your hands. In other words, when you’re there, to do your best by them, I think you really need to fully commit and invest, but for you, after you’ve done that, then you need to be able to detach and let go. Obviously, that’s not always easy, and it’s also not always comfortable to fully invest when you’re in it.
The cases that keep leaving me hit the most hard are the genetics cases and the women you have to tell are too late to have a termination. With the genetics ones, even though I’m personally not one of those people who has ever seen the import of having biological kids vs. adopting (or to be more clear, creating family in any number of ways) — likely in part because I’ve never found that being actually related to someone automatically creates a stronger bond and because I also hate how many kids live their whole lives in foster care — it still is just so heartbreaking when a woman has planned a pregnancy or really wanted a happy surprise with one that was unplanned, made room in their lives and hearts for kids, saved money, etc., gotten all excited about it and then has to terminate when that is the last thing in the world she wants to do. Conversely, with the too-lates (which often happens because someone just didn’t know — lots of women have very irregular periods, especially young women — saving money for a procedure just took that long, they had to travel long distances, etc.) when an abortion is THE thing a woman wants, and she absolutely doesn’t want to parent or stay pregnant, telling her she’s without that choice is often an awful thing to have to do. When that happens with teens or very young women, I get extra sad, and when it’s with women, for instance, who are heavy drug users and you know that beyond their turmoil, they’re not even likely to deliver healthy kids (and lord knows that this is one of those instances where these folks are unlikely to be good parents, and those kids are unlikely to find adoptive families either, if they’re born special-needs), it’s another huge weight.
Of course, even outside of those situations, the stories women tell you about how they came to be in the spot they’re in are often maddening, upsetting, or just really sad. I’m not just talking rape or domestic abuse cases but also serious interpersonal betrayals or sudden abandonments with partners, the way they lose jobs or homes, how many doctors are just lax in telling people how to use birth control properly or just choose methods for patients that are not likely to work for them, how many partners don’t comply with birth control use, and so on. A couple times now, I’ve had women for whom the two-week period where you cannot have vaginal sex in order to prevent infection afterwards was a very real problem, not because of abusive partners (had those too), but because sex was how they paid the rent: making clear that they may have to choose between paying their bills and putting their health or lives on the line just stinks. And as a sexuality activist, how many women are thrilled when you say they can’t have sex for two weeks — some of whom will even ask if we can’t tell their partners it’s longer than that — is endlessly depressing.
I keep threatening to wear a button that says “Just keep it in your pants, man” for the men in the waiting room given how frequently I hear the story that’s that some guy doesn’t want any more kids because he has so many with other partners. Yet, Mr. Thing, knowing full well he no longer wants any children and being firm on that point, isn’t willing to get a vasectomy or even back up BC methods with condom use. Instead, he sees it as totally workable that he can just pressure partners into abortions they may not even want to serve his own ends. These same guys will usually pitch a fit when I say that no, they can’t come into the counseling session, because they usually really, very clearly, do not like the idea that their partner can say something about them uninfluenced or uncontrolled. Suffice it to say, if and when I find they’ve pressured a partner who doesn’t want an abortion and I discharge those partners with resources to have the kid they want, these guys are NOT happy. (Apparently, we’re not doing our job if we don’t push abortion on people, as clearly, we’re expected to do that.) I have, however, developed a hairy-eyeball just for them that has limited the number of times they’ll ask to go back with us, to the point that though I do usually say I can come get them when they are done if they have questions or want to talk to me, many of them are starting to get the message that they probably do not want to give me private time with them, because I am not the women they’re used to dealing with.
Too, sometimes you meet women who have just been through these unbelievably challenging lives are are flat-out amazons. I had one of them the week before last who had to be discharged due to having such collapsed veins from years of heroin use — she’d kicked the habit amazingly for the last handful of years — but got to come back last week. She had a kid she loved dearly, but because of a severe reproductive health problem likely due to her years as a user, found out she was not going to be able to carry another. I adored her, but there was something bittersweet about it, beyond her having to make a choice she would have preferred not to. With how she looked and what her social mannerisms were, with what she told me about her life and her recent medical history, it was clear she was one of those people that most tended to treat like shit on sight and without seeing who she really was. If I could have scheduled someone to give her a foot massage during her procedure and a week on some beach afterwards, I would have. I didn’t leave those days feeling sorry for her, like I said, she was incredibly strong and really amazing in my book, but there was something I carried home: this sadness that she deserved a life she was probably not going to be able to ever have, no matter how hard she worked at it and how much she survived.
This last week, not only did I work more than twice as many hours as usual, and have some other work issues on my plate to deal with, I had all of these kinds of cases and more when I was counseling. This weekend, I’d planned to be at Scarleteen pretty much 24/7 to make up for last week, but today that is so not going to happen. I think I need that heat and those tears today, and then some time to deal with no one’s crises.
This is shaping up to be a seriously crazy week: I’ve already done two days of clinic time, and on Monday, we had new protocols, new paperwork, and one counselor out with the flu on one of the busiest days I’ve seen there so far. My first chart showed up at 8:15 and the last one I pulled was just before 5:00, with only a half hour break for a quick lunch in there. It also included a client to whom I had to break the news that she was too late for a termination, which always seriously sucks, to say the least. Yesterday, I went downtown (a MUCH better commute: I’m only a 20-minute bus ride away, tops) and did some BDI logic model training for the sex ed outreach arm of the clinic which was awesome, but that meant last night and continuing through today, I’m racing to finish a piece past a deadline for something else, and then have to do a bunch of work for extra training in Options Counseling for Friday. Tomorrow I’m probably going to want to just take my coffee in an IV since I have to counsel all day then jet over to a public health clinic at night to do some sex ed work. Then, over the weekend, I need to do some prepping for our bi-monthly all-clinic staff meeting Monday because I’m teaching a self-defense piece to staff, and I’m a bit rusty when it comes to teaching self-defense. Somewhere amidst all of that I have to try and at least do some of the usual Scarleteen work.
So, yeah: still exhausted. It’s old news, I know.
When a little bit of time shows up, I’ll write more about this is depth because I have a lot to say, but over the past couple of months, I’ve reconnected very strongly with an ex, and it’s been tremendously powerful. This is someone who I had hurt, made amends with over ten years ago after a five-year-period where we didn’t speak, then the amends and what all happened in the one-week-period of time around sent me into a massive tailspin which had legs for years of my life. We only started talking again after this recent reconnection, and we seem to finally have found a place that really works for us, and that’s just incredibly fortifying and restorative for both of us. We had a very intense and highly charged relationship — and it was one of the rare one for me where I was with someone very similar to me; I tend more often to get involved with people who are a contrast to me — and while we loved each other immensely, and knew one another very deeply, I don’t think we ever really had a real friendship in all of that. A lot of that had to do with both of us being so young for something so big, and also both being so post-traumatic in various respects, but I also think we just weren’t in the space in our lives yet to manifest what we had as a friendship. Being able to forge one now feels like the rightest thing ever, and it’s been amazing to really feel that, especially getting close to almost 20 years after we first met.
On the other hand, last week someone I went to Jr. High with managed to track me down, and the group of friends from back then have apparently all reconnected and been looking for us stragglers. While it was awesome to hear from that person, that reconnection — especially with everyone from then — isn’t something I want to pursue. That spanned a period of my life which was easily the most traumatic I have ever had, where for those years, I had to invest energy every day in outwardly projecting a person who…well, wasn’t me. I had so many horrendous things happen to me during that period of time, my home life was so awful, and having no history with those kids since I had only moved to that area once the bad got started, there wasn’t a single friend then who really had any idea of what I was really grappling with or trying to survive. Meeting up with them again, even just via email or the phone, would be so surreal for me; seeing people who felt like they knew you and feel warmly about the shell they knew, but who you knew didn’t know you at all, on top of a 24 year-lapse of any contact just strikes me as sad and strange. So, I’ve had a few bittersweet moments around that over the last couple of days: it stinks to be reminded of a childhood you were robbed of, and it’s not something I choose to reflect on often, to say the least.
Mark got home from Austin late Monday night, and last night we got to reunite in the somewhat ritual fashion we seem to have: we crack a bottle of wine, take turns sharing everything the other one missed while we were apart, start collectively cooking while blaring some music so we can dance in the kitchen at the same time, enjoy a meal, gab some more, then head upstairs to get all sweaty, juicy and melty. Paired with the fact that I could sleep until 8 this morning, it was a bonafide luxury, one I very, very much needed. I even got to wake up with some serious bedlocks from a lot of happy thrashing, which Mark would have had himself if he had any hair.
And with that, back to the grindstone go I.
Addendum: Piece finished. Man, I love writing manifestos. That was tough but supremely gratifying. Now on to a quick bath, homework for the training Friday, and if I get really lucky, to bed.
I finked out on the photoblogging, primarily because since I said I’d do it, I haven’t had a minute to take a single new photo. I haven’t even had time to edit more of my backlog then 50 photos or so. Mind, I would have finked on writing, too, so either way, no one would have seen or heard much of me.
I’m having a tough time managing my schedule these days, and getting all the work in I need to, which has left me pretty much without any semblance of a personal life. I did know this was probably going to happen, and did what I could to prepare for it, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this tough. Now and then, I forget I’m not 19 anymore. Back in the day, working so much was easier. When I began college, I did work-study several days a week as well as teaching special ed Friday nights, all day Saturday and most of Sunday, and carried 27 credit hours, which at the school I attended — our classes were small and discussion-based, not lecture — meant a huge pile of texts to read on top of showing up for class. I was crazy busy, for sure, but somehow I also had time and energy a few times a week to chill out, get laid, have lunch or dinner with friends, throw parties, take walks, what have you. I remember feeling tired, but both energized and relaxed enough most of the time.
My weekly schedule right now is looking something like this:
Monday/Thursday/sometimes one more day: Up at 5, an hour or so of Scarleteen work/checking, then to the showers, then to the clinic. Out of there anywhere from 4 - 5:30, usually home anywhere from 6 - 7:30, with often at least one leg of the three-bus, two-hour commute tango. When I get home, I’ll tend to the pets, assemble some sort of meal, zone out for an hour or so with a DVD or a book, try to maybe make one call or email to a friend or family member, chat with Mark, but by then — and sometimes before plenty of that — I’m usually face down on some sort of soft surface pretty early. After clinic days, I cannot counsel at Scarleteen: I’m just too wiped to handle more of anyone’s crisis.
Tuesday/Wednesday/sometimes only one of those days: Wake up around 7, an hour or two of Scarleteen work/checking, then a solid hour or two where I sit in the bath or stare at a wall, feeling overwhelmed before trying to fit in some housework then getting back to Scarleteen, email, all the other home-work stuff. These are the days I’ll also do in-person or phone meetings, run errands, squeeze in some kind of exercise, call my Dad (there is no such thing as a phone conversation with him that lasts less than two hours: he’s very socially isolated and often in a bad emotional space), deal with finances, etc. At least one of these nights Mark and I will usually get some time together, even if it’s just snuggling while watching a movie.
Friday/Saturday/Sunday: Solid Scarleteen. The pattern lately has been that I wake up at 7 or 8, start working and just work into the night until I drop. Last weekend I didn’t stop working any of those three nights until 10 or so.
Around twice a month, I can swing most of a real day off, but I usually have to prepare for those days in advance.
I’ve realized one critical difference between now and almost 20 years ago is the amount of sleep I need. Plenty of times, three or four hours a night, even if that went on for weeks, was just fine in college, and somehow I was still pretty darn alert all day. Now, even one night of only three or four hours of sleep fucks me up for a week. On days I have to go into the clinic, anything less than seven hours is just not an option.
Another biggie is that I cannot be halfway-there for any of my gigs. In other words, I can’t just float through days sometimes, present enough to be counted, but not much more than that. That was me often enough in college: I’m one of those folks who had to push a bit to get an A, but I could get a B half-asleep. At the clinic, I have to be seriously on, every minute of that day. Working at home, I am multi-tasking like a spastic chicken: since I started the new gig, I have less time in a week to do the website work, but unfortunately, the amount of work I have to do with Scarleteen has increased. Less time + more work = not good. With either job, when I’m counseling someone, they need my complete attention and investment: how tired or overwhelmed I am isn’t something I can talk about or let them see. And looking at our traffic patterns, while summer is always a bear with Scarleteen, we’ve got higher traffic so far this year at this point than we have for a few years, so chances are good it may be our busiest summer ever, with less help than usual, besides. Can I get an ugh?
Obviously, another big difference is the gravity of what I’m doing, and how in the spotlight I do some of it (and, when not at clinic, how much of it I have to do almost single-handedly). With Scarleteen, I’ll admit that it’s gotten to the point where I deeply resent the expectations people have of me sometimes, because they seem so much higher than anyone having them has for themselves. All my work at this point involves such heavy stuff so much of the time, and so much tending to the toughest parts of people’s lives, and that means that I’m more emotionally wiped from work, more stressed about being sure I’m doing it to the best of my ability. When I have a wee bit of time to myself, most of my energy goes into just refueling my physical and emotional reserves, which tend to be way past empty.
What’s had to be shelved for now? My visual art, as well as any possible photo clients. (Plus, my replacement camera I got a year ago is now currently and inexplicably broken: that leaves me with two broken cameras in need of repair, but with other bills that need to be paid before I can fix either.) Giving up one of those home-work days for photo work at this point means that the next day I work, the workload will be even more unmanageable than it is otherwise. Too, with how my schedule is, I probably couldn’t deliver edited photos to a client for at least six months, if not a year: as it is I have a good ten different sets of photos I need to edit, and thank christ those aren’t paying clients. The All Girl Army, as well as the idea I have had for reprising Scarlet Letters. My bike: I got out once last month, and that is SO not enough. Just ask my ass. Seeing friends. My social circle here is still fairly small, but even with that, months will go by before I’m able to see people I miss; weeks before I can even chat with a long-distance friend on the phone. Often, friends have to come over to see me, and even then, I’ll be doing some work while they hang out, or I’ll feel like such a basket case that I spend the whole time we’re hanging out trying not to endlessly vent. I also used to be that friend you could call in a crisis, or when you needed to cry, and I’m not that friend at all lately. My brain has also been largely MIA when I’m not working: my level of spacing things out lately has been humiliating. I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to appearances, nor would I say vanity is ever a big issue for me, but even by my own relaxed standards, I look like shit these days, too. It’s been a bumper-crop of wrinkles and greys over the last few months: I feel like I age in double-time lately.
I’m not sure what the solution is. In all honesty, I think it just has to be like this for a little while, and maybe I’ll adjust. I need/am committed to do both jobs, and truth be told, there still aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the work and not enough payment for it to really get me up to snuff financially. I’m hoping for some sort of miracle this year per funds with Scarleteen like I have been for the last couple years, not only the kind that can pay the basic bills and some reasonable salary for me, but the kind that could result in me being able to hire someone else qualified to take care of it even just ten hours a week or so. Alas, not sure what to do to make that happen that I haven’t tried already: we’re looking at a possible in-person fundraiser in the fall, but that’s a damn long time from now. But once or twice, decent funding has shown up, so it’s not like small miracles haven’t happened before and can’t happen again.
(And yes, I have considered just saying goodbye to it — people keep asking me that, so I’m answering — but via my one grant, I am committed to do it for another couple years, and too, given all the traffic I just can’t accept that there is no way to get it solvent, and make it manageable per my workload. As well, I’m a longtime activist, reared to be one: I know the drill. There are often very long periods of time where the work is a beast, where pay is infrequent to nonexistent, but when you’re making forward movement in terms of the goals of your activism, you do what you can to just keep pushing through. And until there really was something else like Scarleteen when it comes to its inclusivity, particular approach and real one-on-one service, I know that I would not feel okay leaving it. Too, my current option if I did that would be to shift to full-time at the clinic, which is not something I think I could handle at this point emotionally or practically — even that much of a commute every day would total me. Plus, I don’t think they even have that many hours for me available.)
Some of this stuff is nothing new, and also a bit of a family legacy on my Mom’s side. I was telling Mark the other day that I have this copy of a county newspaper clipping about my mother’s grandfather. The small headline simply reads: Man Dies After Stint of Shucking Corn. The story is that my great-grandfather, in his seventies, was at a farm gig that day where the job was to clean a truckful of corn. About halfway through, he had said to a couple people that he wasn’t feeling so well, but so help him gawd, he was going to finish the job at hand. When he finished the very last ear, he dropped dead.
We don’t tend to die gracefully on either side of my family, but going belly-up in a truck of corn and having it be the basis of your eulogy sets records even for us.
I have a love-hate relationship with this workaholic tradition in my family. I hate it because it has more to do with being dirt poor despite working nonstop than anything else. It’s always so irksome that so many of us just can’t seem to be anything but overworked and still barely getting by, though my version of poor at this point is obviously a far cry from my great-grandfathers: I’m typing this on a laptop, after all, I did eat decently last night, and the shirt I’m wearing at the moment has not been repaired 385 times. Too, with all of us, I think — and some of that is just immigrant inheritance — we feel like we are only redeemed or of any use to anyone by working ourselves to death. I love it because part of me is a closet protestant: I do value hard work, especially when it’s about helping your family or helping others through your work. I value dedication, and leisure/slacker culture, and how entitled so many people feel to work so little or do such unchallenging work, does gross me out. I do think work has a spiritual value for me, and I do like being busy and productive. I don’t feel like myself when I’m not working hard.
I know, I’m whining. I have been a bit down lately in the moments I don’t have to be on or taking care of people: the pressures just feel so immense at the moment, and I don’t always feel up to them. I was doing a bit of life-goaling in my head the other day: some of it may seem pathetic or silly to someone who isn’t me. Like, before I turn 40, I want to just once have an actual sofa to sit on, not a futon, and preferably have it only have butt-grooves from my own bottom, and I’d also really like to have health insurance and to be able to get my teeth cleaned twice a year. Before I turn 50, I’d love to have a house or even just a little bit of land of my own. Before I turn 60, I would like just once to only have to work those elusive 40-hour-weeks I keep hearing so much about. Before I die, I want to be able to take a full month off of everything that is everything, either by going somewhere I’ve never been, working in a garden that I know I can keep, finding the last vineyard where I can help make wine by dancing in a vat of grapes, building something with my hands or by being able to paint a wall mural, every day for that month. And I’d really like to be the first person in my mother’s family that gets to die while sitting down in something resembling a relaxed, off-duty, position. I’m almost positive it won’t happen with my mother or her eight siblings — my mother is never off work and one of her brothers, at 55, still moves furniture full-time — so the next person in line (I’m the eldest of a gazillion cousins) for that is probably me.
If I really want to make any of that happen, something has got to give at some point, man. I just, for the life of me, don’t know what.
(I’m closing comments for this one because comments just always feel weird when you’re whining.)
(So sorry I haven’t kept up with the photo blogging or, in absence of such, any writing here over the last couple of weeks. The short answer — which is also the long answer — is that I am simply working too many jobs. That’s not going to change any time even remotely soon, nor is my workload going to decrease anywhere, but I am hoping at my body and mind will at least start adjusting better soon so I have some time and brainpower back to get back here. As it stands now, on clinic days I come home, shove food in my face, stare at a wall or a screen for just a little bit and pass out. When it’s not a clinic day, I either work in a frenzy on everything known to man until I just can’t stay awake anymore, or, I zone out for hours processing something tough that happened at the clinic.
I did spend the whole of last week and every minute of Friday — after I got back from some extra training at the clinic for something else — through Monday night finishing this monstrously large piece, which was one thing keeping me way too overcommitted, but it is off my desk now. I also put a call out on Scarleteen’s facebook for more volunteers, and am saying a little prayer that will be in some way fruitful. The way things have been going there, there has been more work to do since I started the other job with even less time to do it in, which is not manageable. And don’t even get me started on my photo backlog.
But did just want y’all to know I am alive. Barely, but sometimes life is like that. This, too, shall pass. And with that, I’m off to the clinic commute.)
Today at the protester corner outside the day job there sat a couple signs. One was an illustration of a baby seal, holding a sign itself that said “Save the Humans.” I’m so not kidding.
I looked once, then again, then turned to Mark (who was driving me in) to express that I had strong doubts that seals would want more people around just so we can continue to club them to death, poison their environment or, on a good day, take them far away from home and lock them up in claustrophobic living spaces at no pay for our own amusement.
I mean, if a seal was going to hold up a protest sign that had anything to do with human beings in front of an abortion clinic, I’m inclined it’d read something like “YOU.S. OFF MY BODY!” or “At least they won’t skin THEIR babies alive,” or “Good Choice! Less People = More Seals.” (Or maybe they’d be protesting the protesters, with a sign that said, “I’M the seal of God, not you!”) And they’d probably be clapping.
I started today with the best of intentions, doing a bunch of Scarleteen grunt work and then answering some posts. But within a few hours, I got whacked upside the head with a migraine, then also realized I was just flat-out wiped.
Taking a glance at the calendar, the why of that became obvious. Not counting the span of time I had bronchitis — because being horribly ill really doesn’t count as time off — it’s been around 20 days since I have been able to take a whole day off. A whole day off, all by myself, without having to take care of anyone? Over a month. Criminy.
I suppose today doesn’t really count either, but at least I got 3/4s of a day to just tidy up the living room, lay on the couch, read a bit, watch a movie, steam my face and cuddle with the dog. I also got to sleep in until 8, I’m heading for a bath shortly, and Mark is going to swing by the market for me on his way home and pick me up the goods to make myself a well-deserved (if I do say so myself) hot fudge undae. I have to run some errands on Friday, but I think it’s pretty imperative that after work tomorrow, I get everything set for those errands so that I can do them in the midst of a nice walk and give myself that whole day to really mentally vacate. Maybe I’ll get lucky and catch some weather just warm and dry enough to fit in a bike ride, too.
I did know that it wasn’t going to be super-easy to add another job in, but I wasn’t prepared for how tired it’d all make me. Sometimes I manage to forget that I’m nothing close to 21 anymore, when it was easy as pie for me to work a zillion jobs, get home and take care of other business, grab a couple hours of sleep, and still be full of energy. I don’t need my 21-year-old ass back, but bloody hell, it’d sure be nice to have that stamina again.
Tomorrow I do some more observations in the morning, but I finished the last of my reading and competency tools earlier this week, so by afternoon, I get started with doing the actual counseling myself. It’d hard not to be nervous. One thing I’m lucky with when it comes to Scarleteen is that if I forget something, I can always go right back and add it in, and the chances of a user returning to read more are very high. Too, even when I’m talking someone through a crisis or a difficult time , they’re rarely RIGHT in the middle of that crisis, literally. Mind, it is a comfort to be able to actually see the person I’m counseling, get a read for their body language, and even hold their hand when that’s what they need. The other day, there was a woman who was in desperate need of a freaking hug. We gets users like that at Scarleteen, too, obviously, but all I can do is advise them to go find someone to hug, I can’t just say that it’s okay to blow snot in my hair and give them the hug myself.
But it’s just one of those things you want to be sure you do right as rain. I clearly remember the support staff I had for my abortion way back when, and while I was not in any way conflicted about my choice, and in fact felt very good about it, the way they did their jobs turned a good thing for me into something even better, and in many ways, very watershed. Obviously, I want to do the same for everyone I counsel, and obviously, I’m worried about the times that I can’t help as much as I’d like to, or just don’t do my best.
Mind, this is me we’re talking about, and I do hold myself to very high — often impossibly high, I know — standards. I know in my guts that I’ll do just fine when I’m completely on my own. I also know that I have the benefit of a really amazing staff around me who I can ask for any extra help I need: I remain just so impressed and awed by the other women there. I was also a bit worried at first that I would have a hard time not being distracted about other work while I was there, but that’s not been an issue at all. In fact, it’s been really quite nice to have a few days a week without even having any access to Scarleteen, even though it does mean that that on the other days I do that work, there’s a bigger backup to deal with. I tried to do a little work on the boards when I came home from the clinic Monday, but since the first thread I opened was some creep talking about how his 14-year-old daughter was filling out and how he had to get into her pants and the next was a rape survivor I have counseled on and off for some time who just cannot seem to move forward, and who tends to direct her anger about her rape unto me? Had to just lock the creep’s thread and then just back the hell away from the computer, verifying that as I suspected, two venues in a day for counseling work is one venue way too many.
And I just heard Mark’s car door slam, which means that we need not ask for whom the Tofutti tolls: it tolls for me! If you can’t get a whole day off, you can certainly make up for lost time with chocolaty goodness, and I intend to do so immediately.
P.S. The Storm are staying here. YIPPEE! This makes me very, very happy. My apologies to the five lesbians who live in Oklahoma (for so very many reasons), but really, y’all, not only was that location just not going to work, this is one of the few big perks I’ve found of living here, and taking them away from me would have broken my wee little heart.
Being able to take twenty minutes this morning to snuggle with my sweetie (have I mentioned, ever, that that boy has got the softest skin on the planet?), and get out of bed at 8, not 5 — with some glimmer of light, not total darkness — makes today a winner right out of the gate.
I don’t care what else happens today: that alone made me very, very happy.
I am reluctantly getting used to this wake-up-in-pitch-black, get-home-in-pitch-black thing. And it’s not like I haven’t dealt with worse. I had a teaching gig many years ago which meant getting up at 4:30 five days a week, and where the working conditions were so horrendous that the alarm going off filled me with dread. For the eight or nine summers I did the Chicago farmer’s markets, I had to drag my ass out of bed at 5 on the good days, for the nearby markets, and as early as 2 for the ones that were a long haul, and go from bed to clothes to driving to manual labor to cheerful, overalled sprout-selling. When I ran the school, I usually had to start working around 6:30 and be done at the same time, often with no breaks at all. So, this is hardly some new form of torture, especially since I am a morning person, but I have gotten spoiled by being able to work from home for all these years. It’s a lot easier to wake up at 6 when starting work at 7 just means putting a sweater on over your jammies, plopping your dog in your lap, and starting a morning fire as you leisurely enjoy your coffee. When I’ve had people ask how on earth I can work for as many hours as I do in a week, I usually remind them that even a 60-hour-week in your house, in your pajamas, even with difficult work, is a very different beastie that 60 hours out and about.
Making this work with everything else is also proving the challenge I thought it would probably be. With Scarleteen in particular, I’ve been there full-time for so long now that the rhythm of the thing isn’t so great when there isn’t at least one person basically always around every day and night to keep the question queues from becoming unmanageable. We’re so behind with questions and answers right now, I just don’t know what on earth to do about it. As I expected, the days I work at the clinic, I have to come home and do something else, or just do nothing: I’m just way too wiped to do more counseling at night. I’m pretty much having to kiss the days off I usually gave myself at least in part goodbye for now. Again, I knew I probably would, but that doesn’t mean it’s pleasant to have it verified.
Morning misery and workflow issues notwithstanding, all is still awesome with the new gig. Once I’m there, not getting back and forth, it feels like home (sans dog, disarray and a toasty fire). I am going to add one extra day there to my workweek for a while: I can do it, I like it a lot, it’ll move me faster into where I need to be, plus, I seriously need the cash. I’d decided that before the bill from the ER came, and once I opened it up and had a very satisfying primal scream, I was all the more glad I’d asked for the extra day the day before. Jaysis.
Had a very enjoyable night out with Ben, Mark and tequila last night (the middleman of whom, though I gave him a very close, fair fight, kicked my tucas at darts at the evening’s end), and today I’m shuttling off to get a couple graphics done for new Scarleteen piece, work on another unfinished piece there, and keep slogging through the backed-up photo processing that remains formidable. This weekend will be more of same, and some much-needed housekeeping. I still have little trails of toys and the lot all over the house from The Baby Liam’s visit that really need picking up. However tempting it may be for me to leave out my Playmobil collection to play with it myself, I do have other things that need doing, and finding the right place for the little plastic sheep to sleep in the little plastic house isn’t a priority I can particularly justify.
Things I love about the new gig:
• The fact that this is a no-argument feminist job. Mind, at this point, I feel the same way about the sex education I do, and the art that I do, and I have for a while. Way back when, I was feeling it out, not sure if it was or it wasn’t for myself, and then, of course, I spent far too long listening to and engaging debates with others about if it was or it wasn’t. And I am still privy to plenty of those arguments daily, be it about my work specifically, or about the kinds of work I do in a more general way. But this? Feminist, women-centered organization, literally doing every woman who walks in there’s bidding, and providing unilateral support, when it comes to what she wants for her own body and life and being there for that express purpose; doing so in an overall environment which is massively hostile to it, even right outside the gates sometimes. I don’t even need to ask the question because “Is it feminist work?” about this sounds as seriously stupid as “Is the sky blue?” It sure makes getting up before 5 AM a whole lot easier than it would be otherwise, I’ll tell you that much.
• When I come home at the end of the day I am completely wiped. I’m often wiped out intellectually or emotionally from the work I do here at home, but rarely am I physically exhausted as well. The kind of worn out I have when I come home is one part commute, one part standing all day, one part tons of information coming in at all times, and one part mind-blow. Even for the bits derived from tiresome things that aren’t pleasant (read: this damn commute in a city without a damn subway), it’s a good thing because this insomniac has been sleeping like the dead without any trouble.
• The women who work there just freaking rock. SO diverse (unlike most of Seattle, honestly: this is NOT a lily-white workplace by any stretch), so good-spirited, so warm and so dedicated. I nearly spit up half my lunch today listening to one of the two abortion providers there going on about how Daisy Sour Cream has been found to have more lactobacillus than even yogurt, and how she tells women — putting on a faux southern accent — who ask her about yeast infection preventatives how inserting that weekly will leave them “fresh as a daisy.” It’s just really great to be in a community of women who are my kind of people, and who I don’t have to explain things to about my and our work because they already get it completely, some of them for a whole generation before I even came to it. I have yet to meet one woman there who I don’t like immensely.
• Can I just say that abortion freaking rocks? I know, one isn’t supposed to, of course, but I’m saying it anyway. I’m not just talking about the ability to make the reproductive choice best for you, and that being an option and a reality. That’s long been an inarguable given for me, and this job has only cemented that further. There’s this moment in counseling where you inform the women there, after explaining the whole of the procedure, that they will no longer be pregnant when they leave and you don’t see a single woman at that part of the process who doesn’t noticeably exhale with relief. You can literally watch the burden sail away. But I’m talking about the actual procedure here. This last week, I got to watch procedures with one of the doctor where her clients and under general, so it’s not as invasive to really get in there and watch close up as it is for those using a local. Not only is it just outrageous how deft this doctors hands were, and how fast and sure she is — and let me tell you, there was indeed a bit of envy there, missing the deftness I might have had with my own disabled hand, which often fails these days at even writing a legible word on a bad day, even when I try very hard — it’s just a revelatory procedure when you’re all up and in it. Plus, I got to look through the products after a few procedures in a glass tray over a light, and I SO wished I was comfortable asking if I could come in there one day with my camera for this stuff. Ultrasounds and illustrations don’t do fetal development any justice. Not only do embryonic or fetal products (up until a certain point, obviously) not look like baby, it doesn’t even look human or mammalian. When you can identify something at all it is like looking at some sort of prehistoric, translucent sea creature and it is fascinating. Makes sense, of course, we grow in a liquid environment, but I was totally unprepared for the utter coolness of it all. So incredible and amazing.
Things I loathe about the new gig:
• The hour and a half to two hour commute each way when I don’t have a carpool setup, especially days like today when I get to do that both ways. The other morning was particularly special, as the bus passed me by at my stop and I got to run like the freaking wind for four blocks (a jogger I am not), nearly losing my scrub bottoms, at the glorious hour of 6:30 in the morning. I completed that day by standing in the freezing rain for twenty minutes waiting for the first of the three buses back home, and the commute on the way home took just over two hours.
Did get a bit of perspective, at least: one of the women who just started working there commutes all the way from one of the islands, giving her a ferry and a bus, for a swell three hour trip each way. And she’s full-time, with kids (rather than just a crabby little pug like some people) at home. Jaysis.
• It’s not especially comforting that there are printouts of what to do per a bomb threat at pretty much every desk. Mind, I knew the deal going in, but still. When you’re zoning out from doing training reading and look up to rest your eyes, and see that — and also hear someone in the next room calling about someone who has been sitting in a creepy truck eyeballing the clinic all day at the same time — that’s not exactly restful. Walking past the protestors first thing in the morning when you’d prefer to be in your cozy bed is also not fun, and I confess that yesterday morning, I was so too tired to deal with it that I jutted through a shrub and stuck my tongue out at the protester staring down “God will strike you down dead with the power of my eyeballs” daggers at me while I flew by. I figure things like sticking-out-tongues or the ever-classic “Phooey on youie,” are perfectly peaceful, nonengaging responses. If you’re six years old, sure, but before enough coffee and deprived of sleep, I effectively am six.
• My shins have been KILLING me after these days. I’ve really never had a job that’s about standing all day. Lifting all day, sure; standing, walking, squatting and running around liek a chicken with your head cut off, you betcha (welcome to ECE and Kindergarten teaching). But this thing where most of the day you are simply standing, without really moving much? Good gawd. I’ll be trying every pair of shoes I can think of for a while. I thought clogs were the ticket, but clearly not. Next week, I think it’s sneakers one day, and maybe my gardening shoes the next. (Mind, I don’t like wearing shoes, period, but going barefoot isn’t an option.) Nice thing about already looking like a dork in scrubs already is that no footwear can really make it worse.
(Just bumping this up as a reminder: print sale is still going on!)
I’m getting ready to roll out a print club subscription service, so I’ve been prepping a good deal of my work for printing. In advance of doing that, I’m having a sale on a handful of pieces of mine which have been people’s Flickr and general favorites for a little while. I’ve also created one special print version of a piece that I will only offer up to the general public for the next month.
My print prices will also be going up in January, so I’m doing a last-ditch deal with these, both to do my appreciators a favor and to try and do myself one in terms of trying to raise funds to sustain my own arse and Scarleteen’s tucas as well.
Print prices for these five, for December only, are as follows:
• $35 for one print
• $60 for two prints ($30 ea.)
• $80 for three prints ($27 ea.)
• $125 for all five ($25 ea.)
Shipping for any amount is five bucks, unless you’re out of the US, and then additional charges will apply. All prints are unframed and unmatted. Too, if you’d like to buy more than one and any are gifts, I can send prints you’ve bought as a group to different places. Prints are signed, and it’s up to you if you’d like me to sign on the margin or on the back.
I print on Ilford Galerie Pearl paper with a laser printer, the combination of which creates very rich colors with some lovely light and great staying power. I ship prints via FedEx Ground these days, because UPS irritates the holy hell out of me and I’ve had them wreck things way too often in the past.
If you want to see any of these a little larger, take a look (listed clockwise from the top right corner): • Split 8.5×11″ sheet, actual print size 8×10.5″
• Floral Cradle (special edition) 8.5×11″ sheet, actual print size 7.25×9.25″
• Speculate 8.5×11″ sheet, actual print size 8×10.5″
• Eliza Doolittle’s Blues* 8.5×11″ sheet, actual print size 8×10″
• at home in her hands* 8.5×11″ sheet, actual print size 8×10″
Want in? Here’s the scoop:
1) You just need to email me with the titles and quantities of prints you’d like, and where you’d like them shipped at heatherATheathercorinnaDOTcom.
2) I will invoice you via Paypal, where you may pay me via your Paypal balance or by credit card. Once your payment clears, I’ll prep your print and ship it out to you within a week’s time, so you should have your prints within a week and a half in most cases.
* Both of these are print versions of collage or multimedia pieces.
Just so’s ya know, I wasn’t being vague about the new job, what it was, and where it was, just because. I just wanted to have a talk with the development director first about it before I said anything to be sure they were okay with it, and make sure we the same parameters I’d apply myself to talking publicly about work.
Truth is, I love, love this organization SO much — and that love has been mutual for some time, which has been such a compliment — and am so excited about working with them that I was aching to say something.
I had that conversation today, and it’s all good.
So, I’m now working for the Cedar River Clinics/ Feminist Women’s Health Center as an abortion and birth control counselor two days a week. Possibly more over time, I just need to feel out how this all works with everything else I do. It’s one of the last remaining independent feminist women’s clinics which provides abortions — I’ve talked about them before, so you likely already know this — it has an amazing history, is full of amazing women running an organization by a completely feminist model (The one big rule there? No stupid rules. Welcome home, me!). I’m really still quite beside myself that I get to do this work: it’s a position in which you’re there helping women who are giving you their trust in something so huge and so important. I’ve done a lot of feminist work over the years, but I feel like this really is such a peak. Being a pro-choice activist for so long, getting to be right in the thick of it all is such a gift. I’m nervous as hell — suffice it to say, one doesn’t want to fuck this up, ever — but for as nervous as I am, I’m even more elated.
Today I spent the day in some meetings with the women working in my clinic and one of the others, and it was very good news. That this is a new work community for me is heaven: as I said during orientation last week — and right after saying so, realized my lingo could perhaps use a makeover from all the time I spend talking to teens — these women are seriously badass. A drink afterwards with an instant pal from training last week was also just the thing. I’m tired as hell and will likely go to bed crazy early, but that’s largely because, of course, I had to get my period yesterday. I think my body figured out it was going to be in a room full of estrogen, so considered it my duty to not contribute further. I disagree, but I don’t really get a vote.
So y’all know the parameters, I likely won’t talk that much about this job when it comes to specifics. Patient confidentiality is obviously the mot central issue, but I’ve also been writing online longer than most and know better than to get anything even resembling in-detail with an employer of any stripe. So, that’s not going to happen, here or elsewhere.
But, that’s where I work, and I remain psyched-beyond-psyched. And today, very tired. I need some supper, a few Advil, a bath and my warm bed, big time.
Phew! It took me months, and a whole weekend spent doing nothing (save one book promo event down the street) but this including pulling most of my hair out to edit it down to something resembling a manageable length, but sparing a graphic for it and maybe a few more final adjustments, it is finally freaking done. Writing that piece was harder for me in many ways than writing my whole book: it’s just such a broad topic, and it is so, so hard to approach men with it and walk the fine line between accountability and nonproductive blaming. I also went back and forth a thousand times about detailing my own rapes, but it just felt like disclosing them was important (even if it means, as it usually does when I disclose without being a weepy mess, that I’m likely to get at least a few emails telling me I deserved to be assaulted) when it comes to making readers who might feel vulnerable know that I’m vulnerable, too.
We do have substantial male traffic, so I’m hoping it does some good, and to boot, I can at the very least know plenty of female readers will see it and will get to have the rare experience of reading rape prevention materials that are about someone besides rape victims.
(FYI, I had a sidebar in there originally explaining that some couples like and both consent to dominance and submission play and that doesn’t mean we’re talking about rape since that activity is wanted and negotiated, and then gave a little airtime to talking about that it needs to be negotiated like anything else, not assumed, etc. I took it out just because it seemed obvious given the talk about consent before it, but for any peeking over at it who do D/S, can you let me know if you think it really needs be mentioned? Thanks!)
Hell, even if it does no good whatsoever, I am pleased as punch to have that stinker OFF of my to-do list at long last. Know how it is when any given thing just goes on and on, never finished, and how it becomes the most important thing to do in the whole world — even if it really isn’t — just because it’s so hard to finish or get started on anything else with whatever albatross it is putting it’s butt in the way of your brain fully focusing on anything else? That’s what I’m talking about. Now, would that it were the ONLY thing on my to-do, or rather to-finish list like that, but it was certainly the biggest and least pleasant, so that’s something.
Tomorrow — hooray! — I start two days of training and orientation for my new second (third? I have so many jobs, I don’t know which it is) job, which will likely also include a new Hep B vaccination, redoing/updating my very antiquated first aid/CPR and HIPAA schtuff, and, given what it’s like here right now, being very wet and cold coming and going. I also need to not make my workwear my pajamas, which means I must, as ever, face the terrifying laundry piles which I’ve become convinced must somehow be viral. I did give myself a splurge last week as a reward for getting this gig, and grabbed a new kata as well as this awesomely wonderful, toasty sweater (in black) here which just came today, so that at least covers the top of me. It’s the “no jeans” bit that’s going to be a tough order, as that’d be 95% of the pants I own and live in which are not pajamas. I’ll work it out, but the spoiled work-at-homer in me is a wee pissy at the moment, especially since there’s laundry involved.
I also had the first day with my new, fantastic weekly in-house volunteer last week, who got started on a Facebook page for Scarleteen (I can live with Facebook: I cannot and will not have anything to do with myspace) as well as a new call for writers. It’s so nice to have someone to help a little bit sometimes right here in the home office, who I can talk things out with rather than just typing them out, and cooler still, she was a once-upon-a-time Scarleteen user when she was younger, so she gets all of the import of what we do, which is a very happymaking thing.
Oh, and my editor wrote last week to let me know that the book is going into it’s second printing. Yay! But… she only got told after the fact, which means that it’s going into that second printing with the two very irksome art department typos. Boo.
Maybe I’ll name my next pet “Urethea” in honor of those typos, and with the wishful thinking that someday I won’t have to see them anymore save on met vet bills.
Just two quickies:
1) I had gotten a little behind with shipping out books to folks who ordered them through me, got a book via making a donation, or asked for a review copy over the last two months. But I just shipped out more than twenty books and took all morning going through all my email and records as meticulously as possible, so everyone waiting should have their copy/copies within the week. If you have been waiting, are in the U.S. (Canada folks will likely have a few extra days wait), and do NOT have a copy by the middle of next week, please do email me so we can be sure you didn’t get lost in the shuffle. Thanks!
2) I got the job! I do my orientation and all my HIPPA/HIV/First Aid re-certifications next week, and then start on my two-day-a-week regular schedule. Now I must go Snoopydance about it some more.
The short story is that my interview this morning went incredibly well — it was really more of a great to meet you/ what days and hours work for you/ what do you want to do most, than it was a capital I-interview, since not only were my resume and cover letter very complete, but apparently anyone who got told about me interviewing there got very excited and had great things to say about me. The clinic and everyone working in it is as fantastic as I’d figured being aware of them for some years now, I got some pretty amazing rock star treatment (which I didn’t see coming, nor did I realize that all their teen materials link to Scarleteen on the back: nice surprise, that!), and was told that if the usual procedure was at all optional per extra security screening, it’d be waived in my case to hire me and get me started on the spot.
(Though, I was told part of that screening was to call my references so HR could be sure I wasn’t some crazy person off the street. I suggested that I might then want to give differerent references than I did since anyone who knows me at all well would only assure anyone asking that I AM in fact a crazy person off the street, just a very harmless one who uses her crazy for noble purposes. But alas.)
Given the coming holiday, I was told I’d hear back per an offer and such no later than the end of next week. I never like to count my chicks before they hatch, or invest too much in something in advance, since I tend to take having my hopes dashed pretty hard these days, but the impression I was clearly given was that barring something very strange happening, I could count on a part-time job doing something I really want to be doing, for a clinic I’d really like to be doing it with.
It’s really a pity when you have a really nice weekend with friends (Mark and I drove down to Portland with Ben and Joriel yesterday), a great treatment from your acupuncturist (even better when she’s just a doll and treats you gratis), several phenomenal vegan meals, and then a mellow night back home and end it all with a night full of troubling dreams.
All night last night I had a series of what were clearly anxiety dreams about this job interview tomorrow. Most were based around perceptions of me as not likeable, which has got to be about the interview, because I pretty much stopped caring overmuch if people liked me in high school. There was also a lost-on-the-bus dream, which I know is also about this, as I’m having to take four busses to get to the location they want to interview me at and potentially have me work at. (I know four busses would suck, but again, I really want this gig quite specifically, and I really need a second job, so.) Then I had a revisitation dream about the very ill-fated second job I tried to have in Minneapolis in 2002, where I was doing home-care for a developmentally disabled woman who physically attacked me, including ripping a handful of my hair out in her hand, on the first (and thereafter, only) weekend I was there for an overnight. Joy.
It’s been a while since I had a bonafide job interview, and a while since I had a second out-of-the-home job. Since 2002, actually, with that disastrous homecare gig (if I don’t count co-teaching kickboxing, which I would save that it was a barter-work situation, rather than something I was paid for with the green stuff). This is something I very much want, work that I think is critically important with aspects I have been wanting to learn to do for some time, so that’s part of why this is clearly very loaded for me. Too, I think the anxiety is piling up because while my conscious mind can work out how I can do most of what I already do full-time and an additional job, out of my own office and at a considerable distance, my subconscious mind is all “SAY WHAT?!? We want a vacation, dammit, not more work!”
I’m also a bit nervous, since they decided to interview me at a different clinic than I initially applied to — the first was for a part-time spot — that at this one, the position may be full-time, and if they offer me a full-time spot, I’m not sure what I would do. While I can figure how I could work something else part-time and still run Scarleteen and keep up to some degree with my art and other writing, I don’t know how I would do two full-time jobs and everything else. Horse before the cart, chickens being hatched before eggs…I know. I’m just sorting my crap out, okay? I stopped teaching in ‘98, and even just substitute-teaching in ‘99 because it wasn’t workable to do that and everything else at the time, and that was when there was far LESS work involved, and when I was almost ten years younger than I am now, and when I needed a lot less sleep. My kingdom to have all that energy back, man: if I remember back ten or twenty years when I could work 18 hours or more in a day, grab three hours of sleep and be a bit low-energy, but otherwise fine, and bounce right back to normal in a day, I find I am stewing with jealousy towards the me I once was.
I think I’m also worried I’ll find myself having to make a hard choice again between two things I very much want to do, and it’s making me nervous for no good reason, since I don’t even know if that’s a realistic possibility at this point.
Gah. Just need to get to tomorrow, I guess. For all I know, I may be being just plain silly. Even though he’s worse at babbling for hours than I am, so a call would eat up a good amount of my day, I should probably call my Dad for some support: it’d make me feel better.
That involves doing an awful lot today, including prepping some artwork for an anthology, trying one last time to get a written piece done for the same anthology. I tried several times to write Friday and yesterday, only to find that when it comes to the topic at hand, I’m all style and little substance right now. It’s all fine, well and good to write beautiful sentences and gorgeous phrases, but one doesn’t want to go all Macbeth and be full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, especially when you’re talking about the future of feminism. One more try this morning, and if the writing just doesn’t happen, I accept that I do, indeed, have limitations and not only cannot always be brilliant, but can often enough not be anything even within the same zip code.
Also on the agenda, finishing a batch of photos I did of Robert and Carol a couple years ago, a phone meeting with the c-chair of the western region of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality about them flying me in to do a talk for their conference in April, sending out a pile of books, meeting Cheryl for our Monday early evening cocktail hour, ringing up Northwest to try and work out transferring my miles to Bri so that she and The Baby Liam (who is not really a baby anymore, but who is likely stuck with that nickname from me well into adulthood) can be here for a bit in December, doing some laundry, and evaluating my cupboards.
The one unfortunate part of seeing my acupuncturist — who moved from Minneapolis to Portland — is that she suggested that she thinks it’s a strong possibility that I have developed a gluten allergy. I’m used to making dietary changes, so it wouldn’t normally be that huge of a deal, save that at this point, I eliminate so much for health and/or ethical reasons (and out of habit and necessity: even if I was suddenly okay with eating meat, the last time I ate it was in ‘81, and I ate it pretty infreqiently even before that, so it’d likely make me sick as a dog), that if you also pull wheat, rye and barely out, I’m not left with very much. For someone who routinely forgets to eat, the less available food there is, the harder it gets when I DO remember TO eat. Not good. On the other hand, if getting rid of gluten even makes a dent in some of the health issues I’ve been having, it’d be well worth the loss.
Lately, too, I’ve been having some not-so-great reactions to soy, which is a pretty intense vegan conundrum, to the point that I’ve figured I may soon have to add back fish or eggs on a quasi-regular basis, because without any soy, I’ll find myself with a pretty huge protein problem, especially when I can’t eat at home. Regardless, for the next two weeks, we’ve agreed I’ll go gluten-free to see what happens and how I feel.
Oh, how I will miss you, sweet, beautiful cupcakes: I loved you well. Here’s hoping that either Jelena is wrong, or that you’ll be able to make some adaptations yourself and accept some other kinds of flour through which to express yourself.