"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day


Meeting My Inner Child.

She wants to be a cheerleader and a ballerina and a concert pianist and a veternarian and a writer and a doctor and a judge and an astronomer and a teacher and the President of the United States. She has read all of the Wizard of Oz books, eventhough they're a little bit scary and the other girls in her grade read Sweet Valley High. She knows that she is different, but doesn't care. She is a Girl Scout, but hates to sell the cookies and thinks the calendars are stupid. She sings you Disney songs at camp-outs and sleep-overs. She loves Smurfs, Snorks and Fraggles. She will tell on you if she thinks what you're doing is dangerous. Her favorite movie is The Muppets Take Manhattan. She knows she will go to college and that's what she's striving for when she studies for her spelling tests. She likes macoroni & cheese with hot dogs. She's taller than all the boys in her class and this greatly amuses her. She refuses to eat lunch at school. She has really big hair (which the boys blame for her height). She has a full family of Pound Puppies and My Little Ponies, but would never stoop to owning a Barbie. She only wears sneakers. She's allergic to cats, but will still pick one up. She refuses to wear pink, though it was once her favorite color, and will not wear a dress unless she can wear shorts underneath. All of her stuffed animals have names and she writes their birthdays on her calendar, giving each of them a little party after her mother turns out the lights for the night. She worries and frets and wears clothes that are much too big for her.

It's amazing how things change (or actually...don't).


Make It Mean.

I was having dinner with a fellow NYC-transplant last night and we got to discussing how living in NYC has changed us. In the end we agreed that it has made us more aggressive, less passive, and maybe more proned to violence. This morning a woman stopped in front of me to put winter clothing on her child, causing a back-up at the stairs. I went around her, and then she proceeded to jump in front of me on the stairs and go very slowly. My first instinct was to kick her in the back of the knee. I didn't do it, but I really wanted to. Who have I become!?!?

Before moving here, waitstaff ignored me, cashiers over-charged me, people cut in front of me, all without me saying a word. I may have mumbled, or sighed, or cleared my throat agressively, but never, ever would I have spoken out. But now, I have become known for my aggressiveness at rental car counters and with customer service representatives. My daily commute requires me to take a stance I would've formerly used only for protecting myself from mosh-pits (feet planted firmly shoulder-width apart, arms up and parallel to the body) so that I will not be pushed over by someone ginormous bag or lose my standing space to an aggressive middle-aged commuter. It's sadly part of survival in NYC. In the three years I've lived here I've been kicked, hit, peed in front of, breathed on aggressively, had someone expose themselves to me, and called a whore, all in the course of my morning commute. If that doesn't change a person, I don't know what will.


The Valentine-Industrial Complex.

I used to be a fan of Valentine's Day. In elementary school, I was the "V" in the classic song "Will you be my V-A-L-E-N-T-I-N-E?" I won a contest for the best decorated Valentine's mail box. In junior high, before I become angsty, I used to buy my friends the cards that came with lollipops. In high school, the aforementioned angsty years, I wore all black. But I probably did that on Wednesdays too, so it wasn't so significant a happening. But now I find no joy in it.

I was given a reprieve from being forced to recognize this day for the time I was in college because it was my friend Kevin's birthday (Happy Birthday Kevin!), but now Kevin and I live a thousand or so miles apart, so I have no excuse. I do believe that this holiday was created by the greeting card and pharmaceutical companies--one benefitting from the so-called love, and one from the lack there of. The only good thing to ever come from Valentine's Day was the Conversation Heart, but even they are beginning to taste bitter, tainted by the corruption and commercialism. Shame on you Hallmark and American Greetings! A pox on both your houses!

Hopefully everyone knows that I'm only kidding. Happy Evil-Satan day/Valentine's Day.


For Love or Money.

So, as many of you know, I’ve been looking for new job (to those of you who didn’t know, I apologize for not keeping in touch). I really like the work I’m doing but many political/bureaucratic/evil things have begun to plague me. I’ve tried going through all the proper channels and tried all the official stuff, to no avail. And so I’ve started applying for jobs, in part to find a possible new job and in part to give myself some options, so I won’t feel so trapped. I’ve had a few interviews, one of which was today. It was wonderful. I spent an hour and a half talking to the person who would be my supervisor and learning about the position and organization and the staff. All wonderful. I was offered a second interview next week to talk to the executive director and the staff I would be overseeing. Me...Overseeing something. I do like to oversee. So I left there feeling euphoric. Yea, I love this job! And then it hit me…the practicality of it all.

I’m making decent money. I, for the first time, have health insurance and paid vacations. I’ve found a great doctor, who is on my insurance plan. And taking a new job would change all of this. With the job I interviewed for today, I would be making a significantly less money. I would be uninsured for 90 days and then it would a different insurance that I’m not sure my doctor takes. I would have to wait for months and months for another vacation. And I would not be working with people I set out to work with when I became a social worker. I just don’t know which way to go.

I like to think of myself as someone who is driven by passion and love for my work. Someone who doesn’t think of the money, but only of the good that can be done. But now that I’ve had a taste of it, I don’t know that I can let it go. I like being insured and able to pay my bills. Maybe that's enough to make me stay for a while. And yet, along with all of that comes all of the aforementioned problems that will not go away. It’s a vicious, vicious cycle. Will someone please tell me what to do? Please…..

UPDATE: So I had the second interview today. I decided to just let what happens happens. I tend to count my chickens before they hatch and to put all my eggs in one basket, and all the other poultry metaphors. I make great plans and worry great worries over things that might or might not ever happen. The second interview went well today. I met my would-be supervisor on the street when I was coming in and he was happy to see me there. Then I met with the director of the program I would be working for and he conveyed the great things the other guy had said about me, and in the end alluded to wanting to hire me. Then I met with all the staff I would be working with. They a bit of a tough crowd but I feel like I held my own for the most part. But the questions still remain. Can I live on less money? Am I okay with being uninsured for three months? Will the super-long commute destoy me?

UPDATED UPDATE: So I was offered the job and I took it. The Pros seriously outweigh the Cons, in my eyes and in the eyes of those I have consulted. I'll be at my current job until the beginning of April, which is probably just enough time for me to not be able to stand it any, any more. Thank you for your words of wisdom.


The Thing I Don't Talk About.

Those of you who know me (really all of you, since like three people read this thing) know that there are few things that I will not talk about. I speak out about most anything that I feel is important and that I feel needs to be addressed. I am mostly polite and mostly thoughtful, but when the gloves come off...watch out. But today, I discovered the one thing I am uncomfortable talking about. Racism. I am actually uncomfortable about this whole post, but here it goes.

I feel at this moment like I have 20 or so generations of injustice resting squarely on my shoulders. You see, my family came over on the Mayflower. We lived up North and were well to-do. Then we went out West during the Westward Expansion. I know that my family had slaves. I know that my family drove Native Americans from their land. And in the less distant past, I have heard disparaging remarks made about people of color by probably 90% of my family. And this, more than anything in my family history, disturbs me.

Today I went to a conference at NYU about health disparities resulting from the African Diaspora. There were talks on diabetes, heart disease, asthma and breast cancer, and three very empassioned speakers who are all loud voices at the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS. These people are why I came to the conference. As I've been working with people living with AIDS for several years now, I am interested in any information I can get about what is available to my patients in this community. But I got a bit more than I bargained for. I got a frank discussion on racism, on the terrible injustices that have been and are being put upon the African American community, on the things that my people have done to these people, that have contributed to the AIDS epidemic. And I don't know that I have ever been so ill-at-ease. I was one of very few Caucasian people there and I was surround by people who obviously agreed with everything the speakers were saying. I agree with them too, but am saddened to be a part of the "them" that has hurt so many.

I struggle with this alot. I am the only white person in my department at work. I am constantly hearing the reasons why African American patients are hesitant to be tested for HIV and to participate in the clinic trials that are used to test new medications. I try to believe that all of the bad things are over and done with, and that because I am who I am and have tried so hard to move away from my roots and to speak against the inequities that I grew up surrounded by, that I am not one of "them." But in the end I am.

I went to elementary school, junior high and high school in a relatively affluent area and was thus given the opportunity to pursue my education further. I daily deny that I was privileged, because my family was working class, but by the color of my skin, the European origin of my last name, my religion, and the longevity of my family's presence in this country, I am privileged. There's no way to erase that.


The Talk Shows in My Head.

I, because of six years spent in pursuit of higher education and two years of intermittent employment, have a vast knowledge and great love/hate for talk shows. Morning, noon and night--I've been sucked into them all. Because I am employed now, I only get to watch Good Morning America and it is frequently the reason I'm running late. Yesterday, it was the fact that the middle sister on Full House was being treated for meth addiction. Today, it was Pat Robertson. Oh, Pat Robertson.

Because of my vast talk show knowledge, I do believe I could have one of my own. I oftentimes have a talk show going on in my head. I have my favorite authors on so they can know how much I enjoyed and was moved by their latest work. I have Vince Vaughn, Adrien Brody and Angelina Jolie on weekly, just to hang out. But one of my most frequent guests is Pat Robertson. I ask him, "Pat, why is it that you believe a person's sexuality can affect the weather? Hurricanes are no one's fault." "Pat, do you really think it appropriate to call for the assassination of a world leader? Sure he's got different ideas than you, but come on." As I mentioned before, Pat was on Good Morning America today. Robin Roberts (in for Charlie Gibson) asked him about his often inflammatory comments. His excuse was that on his show, his producers give him topics and he is asked to editorialize. And as he's a passionate guy, he sometimes says things that he shouldn't. He was apparently kept from inappropriateness this morning by a GMA producer whispering in his ear.

I understand passionate debate. I, myself, have probably said many things that I should not have in the middle of a heated conversation. But I, no matter how much I may want it, do not have a talk show. Millions of people, however misguided, do not tune in weekly to hear what I have to say. I am not representing a religion. I do not have an influence on millions of people, however misguided.

And don't worry. Pat's not the only controversial figure I have on my show. Kanye West is also there alot.