Tag Archives: work

I’m Still Me Under All This (Part 1)

What do you do when the fuzzy mess that has been your memory breaks open and things you thought you had put behind you years ago come rushing back to hit you in a tangled mass, bringing with them emotional chaos and feelings that suddenly your medications can’t deal with adequately? When you feel like you’ve been reincarnated but you haven’t died, and you have to live through the mistakes, circumstances, events from your childhood all over again in your adult life in an attempt to find some clue, some hint, anything that will link when your brain broke to the present moment. All to find out why you are making the same mistakes in this second half of your life. How do we go from being innocent, guileless, guiltless children to the insecure, self-doubting adult we are today, punishing ourselves for unknown crimes by attempting to be perfect, do everything just right, so things will be okay? The fear of not doing a good job, the fear of letting people down who are depending on you, like the ones waiting for you to edit their manuscripts.

The manuscripts. This was the job you wanted to do, for a long time, and now I can’t even begin to work on them. I look and the words make no sense. What used to be my natural ability to sense their flow is gone. It all sounds wrong, yet I can’t find the words through the void in my brain to give the advice on how to make it better. Take out this word. Replace this. Awkward. I can manage those. Deadlines loom. I’ve been working for months and I’m destitute, completely dependent on someone else to take care of me. Maybe it’s not a surprise I’m having a hard time finding the motivation, when I have to ask for everything I need, just like a child. There’s that child again. She keeps coming back.

I had a dream I was drowning yesterday. There was another person there. I don’t remember who. I didn’t drown. I was fine. Buoyancy, I suppose you could call it. In my dream I had it. Where is it now? Resiliency? I don’t know where that went, either. It’s lurking in my sometimes inappropriately gallows sense of humor, I suppose.

So many things are happening right now I’m spinning. I hate spinning, it makes me dizzy and I don’t like feeling dizzy. I’m clumsy enough as it is, always running into walls and doorjambs. I’ve perfected a maneuver for avoiding the doorjambs, most of the time. I’ve done a better job at avoiding them than my beloved cat, who just slides into them head first at full tilt, then sits there looking stunned before shaking his head and walking away. That’s resiliency. With the wall, it’s my arms that take the brunt of the force, to at least keep me from walking completely into them. My arm stops me before the rest of me follows. At least I’m not a zombie—I would have disintegrated into bits by now from all of my architectural collisions.

But why, then, after living forty one years, am I falling apart? First my accidentally self-inflicted editing injury, pulverizing my left ulnar nerve into neuropathy and my left hand into atrophy before surgery. My first surgery since childhood when I had tubes put in my ears. My parents thought I was ignoring them. I just couldn’t hear. Then my gallbladder decided it was ready to part ways and take its polyps with it. Next was a kidney stone, blasted into bits by laser like an asteroid. That one had to be done twice because of sneaky fragments that hid away, deciding my kidney was more inviting than wherever biohazardous medical detritus goes (probably an incinerator—I won’t tell it that). Between those were white blood cells in samples where they shouldn’t be, and a round of antibiotics. Finally, I thought, done with those things.

My kidneys have decided otherwise, determined to keep my life interesting. I learned about nerves with my elbow. Now I’m learning about creatinine levels, glomerular filtration rate (GFR), and stages of chronic kidney disease. My GFR last time, after a 24-hour sample, was 53. That puts me in Stage 3. It’s a very clever thing, this disease. It has a silent phase that can last for as long as 20 or more years. But it may not be CKD—I don’t know exactly what is causing this. Neither does my PCP or one of the other doctors at my clinic, so I’m going to see a Nephrologist. That sounds very scary and like something to do with death. Or Egyptology. It just means someone who specializes in kidneys. They’re actually fascinating organs, and do amazing things for the body. They filter your blood and keep it clean, basically. The lower your GFR, the more damage your kidneys have, so mine come in at, “kidney damage with moderately low GFR,” (taken from WebMD, which has a lot of good information on kidneys). It’s a figure out what’s going on and watch and wait stage. You can go down to a GFR of 30 and stay at Stage 3.

Whatever the case, I need to change my lifestyle. That means exercise. If I were a heroine in a novel, that would be my fatal flaw, my Achilles heel, the area I need to grow. I need to eat better. I’ll learn more about that—I’m learning now, but it’s a little tricky for a vegetarian to find protein that isn’t high in  phosphorus, who isn’t my friend.

My mind and my kidneys are unraveling comorbidly then. All the things I don’t want coming back are, and what I want to be healthy isn’t. My therapy for Self-Defeating Behaviors suddenly turned into my life cracking open over determining how perfection interferes with my life. A smaller thing, I thought. I have been in therapy for years and years, many different therapists. This one, though, she is a little like me. She’s the first therapist I felt actually could empathize with me, and wasn’t just nodding her head to encourage me to keep talking. She listens, and she asks hard questions. She made me start to think, and now I can’t stop. The timing isn’t very good—it’s like a one-two punch, but considering how much my thinking is bringing up, revealing, hooking together with little claws like Velcro, the events in my childhood to the events of my adult life—it had to be done. It’s similar to pulling off a band-aid, only it feels more like duct tape.

My search for perfection didn’t just start with the difficulties I was having at work for the past couple of years. Or, as I reflected, quite a few of the jobs I’ve had, once I stopped to think about it. My reincarnated adult self started making connections, and then couldn’t stop. The overused cliché that hindsight is 20/20 isn’t always right. For one thing, I wear progressives, and even then my eyesight can’t be corrected to 20/20, so things are still a little fuzzy. Maybe that’s all right, though, because things don’t repeat themselves in exactly the same way. The way we do things as children and the way we do them as adults changes, which is why, when you first look back, similarities might not seem obvious. It’s not precisely the way we do them that’s always the important thing, though, it’s our motivations behind what we do that are the penultimate answer. Why do I try to do things perfectly? And why do I keep trying, when I never get the result I want? I’m still working on that. “Why,” as my counselor asked, “do I feel the need to keep that level of stress in my life?”

My boyfriend believes strongly in the healing powers and properties of stones and crystals. I want to. When things are already set in motion, can belief in something stop them? I believe some people are so closely attuned to things they do react immediately—a little boy I worked with who had autism loved being outside, so I started showing him different stones. I’d bring a new one every day. He would put them, unerringly, exactly on the chakra they aligned with. I asked my boyfriend about it afterward, out of curiosity because I don’t know much about chakras, and he confirmed it. This little nonverbal eight year old boy innately knew about the stones from the metaphysical level. One day he took one and wouldn’t give it back. I thought, if he feels that strongly about it, he can keep it. It was a stone listed as being very good for people with autism.

Blatant Self-Marketing

I realized I could add a link for my book to the side of the page, which doesn’t blend in very nicely.

Now, I linked to the Kindle version because I think the price for the paperback is outrageous ($18.50). I wrote it and if I hadn’t and was looking at it to check it out, I don’t know if I’d buy the paperback. The Kindle version I’d chance. (As I have been chancing way too many Kindle books considering the fact I’m not working and shouldn’t be buying any).

I do have to admit that I am torn right now. I am in the process of revising the current edition (slowly, it’s not happening at the speed of lightning or anything). I’m having trouble with the second book because the first one doesn’t fit right in some places (I had never intended to write a sequel, then there were several, and now Aithin is sort of a precarious foundation). I have people telling me they like the first edition (because, really, I have hundreds and hundreds of people swamping me about this. Not.)

I’ve taken a side step into another project for a bit, since I finished the story for the other project. I used to think that once you’d finished something, it was set in stone. In this age of electronic publishing, it isn’t. I still don’t think that should be taken advantage of unless absolutely necessary, simply for ethical reasons–I don’t think it’s fair to readers. I think I would still offer the first one (the original) for free, and allow the new one for free for a while as well–I would definitely want anyone who had bought the first one to have a copy without having to pay for it. That seems fair, doesn’t it?

OK, very sorry, Edith (Piaf) I need to change you off from iTunes. Now it’s Mozart. I simply can’t settle on anything today. Maybe I should just play the sound machine. Mozart isn’t doing it either. Sound machine it is. Better.

I can’t even remember if I’m supposed to sell anything from my page. Officially, I’m not. I’m have to link to amazon so they can sell it. Or lend it. Anyway, nothing is anywhere near being done on that front yet. so no need to worry for a long time yet. That would be the last edit for that one, though, unless I miraculously picked up a publisher, in which case I imagine it would be subjected ruthlessly to the delete key. I’m reading the in-house rules for editing and finding out I’ve been formatting some things wrong all this time. I’m glad I at least know that now!

Sorry for such a boring post. It’s been an odd day. This morning the internet, my mail, everything was completely messed up. I was tired so took a nap. Woke up, and it was like the Elves and the Shoemaker–everything worked. Except for my ‘My Y!’ page, which I’m a little afraid to mess around with, with the though it might have been part of the problem, and maybe I should find an interesting page somewhere and make that my homepage. Hmmm.

Do you ever wonder…

If you have some sort of creature, be it a guardian angel or a little devil type creature, or anything else you care to put in that position of “looking out for you?” If so, what is its real intent? I am beginning to wonder. In the past few days I have lost several posts I was making on other sites, one quite a long one, just by accidentally hitting the wrong button, or, in this case, a login incident. I thought they were somewhat clever posts, so was this a result of my own hubris, the fact they were deleted accidentally? Or was it an accident? If you’re of the viewpoint that everything in life is pre-determined, then I was supposed to delete those posts.

It also means I was supposed to have that creepy dream about working in a toy shop with strange puzzles with pieces missing. Am I the strange puzzle with the pieces missing? It could be because of the whole looking for a job thing and taking these classes about being positive, etc. It’s hard to keep positive when you’re trying to get up to 60 wpm on a typing test so you can get a certificate and you can’t. I used to be a very good typist, until I hurt my elbow and my left ring finger and pinky don’t work properly anymore. I’m content, two years later, with how fast I type for myself. To be a transcriptionist, however, you need to be able to type at a minimum of 60 wpm, which used to be a piece of cake for me. My average was 75-80 wpm, sometimes faster.

Truthfully, I never thought it would matter, a typing certificate. The only reason I’m so annoyed about it is because I can’t do it at the moment. I practice and I get worse. I worked my hand some with the theraputty I have. If I try again today it won’t be until this evening. Is it destined that I get one, or not? Is there a fork quivering in the path of my destiny, anticipating whether or not I can produce a piece of paper with the number 60 or higher on it? Yes, you should quake in fear, you implement of gluttony, and for those of us who can’t use chop sticks! I’ll show you!

OK, that was a little childish. But I had fun.

Speaking of destiny, I think I may be forced to go Pro soon on WordPress. I have no idea what exactly that means, but I am under the vague impression that it gives me more space. I can’t imagine that I’m running out of space, but it looked sort of like it. I’ve never actually hit the button. Oh, it says “Go Premium,” not pro. I haven’t gotten any warnings yet. “Resistance is futile! If you wish to continue to inhabit this domicile, you must Go Premium!” My car doesn’t even get premium.

I’m not even sure what I wanted to post, other than frustration at having accidentally deleted two posts elsewhere and not being able to get my typing speed up to speed. Ha ha ha. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to type at all with any amount of speed, so for myself, I’m happy I can type as fast as I can, which seems to fall in the 45-55 wpm range. Considering my left hand’s unwillingness to follow, that’s not too bad. Actually, what it is, I think, is that I’m so used to using a computer, when I make a mistake, I automatically go back and fix it, which you’re not supposed to do on typing tests. I know that, but I also know when I’ve made a mistake, so there’s this second long battle that goes on in my brain–“go back and fix the mistake” and “keep going, the computer will still count it as an error.” I think they should modernize typing tests to reflect that. How many people just do that automatically when  they make a mistake? But meanwhile, that little second-long argument has gotten my rhythm off, and I’m not typing smoothly anymore, so if it happens in the first line, I’m sunk.

Not literally. I have a very strong suspicion the rest of my life is not based on whether or not I can manage to get a typing certificate. If that were true, I really might try going out and joining the sloths in the wild. But I’d have nowhere to plug in my Kindle. Bummer.

Getting Arrested

At the end of the day on Tuesday at work, one of my students, a very short little guy with more energy than you could imagine packed into his little body, walked up to me. I had my student ready to go on the other side of the room and was getting my things together. The student who walked up to me put his hand on my arm and said (he’s a little hard to understand so you really have to concentrate and sometimes repeat back to him to make sure you have things right). He was wearing a Pilot’s cap most likely belonging to a dress-up set we didn’t have all the pieces to.

Him: You’re under arrest.
Me: I’m under arrest?
Him: Yes.
Me: You can’t put me under arrest. Pilots can’t put people under arrest. Unless maybe you’re an Air Marshall. But I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t wear the hat. That’s what that means, the little wings on the hat, that you’re a pilot.
Him: (something I couldn’t understand) under arrest.
Me: (Note that through this whole conversation it never occurs to me to ask what I’m actually supposedly ‘under arrest’ for. I thought of that afterward). (As he starts to put me in “Jail.”) You can’t put me in jail. I’m just getting some things over here. I need to be with my student over there. I can’t leave him by himself for very long.

I thought he would just give up and go away at this point. He didn’t. He took my hand and led me (he’s a strong little guy) through the classroom and put me next to my student, who started to watch what was going on.

Him: There.
Me: What? Now we’re both under arrest? What did he do? Are we under martial law now? He does have to go to his bus. So do you, by the way.
Him: (Very imaginatively drawing bars of a jail cell, locking the imaginary lock and throwing away the key, then walking away quite satisfied while my student was laughing hysterically.)

So that was Monday. Also the longest interaction I think I’ve had with that student that he actually sought me out for. Interesting that it was to arrest me. Not sure I want to think about the implications of that.

Tuesday and Wednesday were fairly normal. Well, our normal. I think that differs from other people’s normal. Our Disneyfied student changed my name to Alice from Alice in Wonderland on Tuesday. I tried to get her to clarify (although I pretty much already knew it was the animated version) if it was the new one so I could fight the Jabberwocky, because I thought that would be sort of cool. She just gave me a funny, sort of pointed look. I was pushing it. In her mind, princesses do not fight. They are just princesses. So I stopped. I didn’t want to invoke a scene ending in her throwing herself to the ground (she tends toward melodrama–example, watching an animation short on groundhog day, when it talked about the groundhog crawling into a hole and sleeping all Winter, she climbed under a table, took off her glasses, and pretended to be asleep. She was promptly told by one of the other IAs she wasn’t a groundhog and given the choice of coming out from under the table by herself or with help. She did come out on the count of three on her own. When the count got to three).

We did have a fashion show on Tuesday, courtesy of an activity put together by our Speech Language Pathologist and Occupational Therapist, who work as a team and are awesome together. I’ve been in a class they’ve worked in the first three years in elementary classrooms, but not last year, so I was happy they were going to be in the classroom I’m in now. The teacher filmed it on the iPad, and it is soo funny and awesome to watch. One little guy pops in and out–I said like Beaker, but she said like the little squirrel in Ice Age, which I haven’t seen but I do remember the clips with him in it, and that does seem more appropriate. All of a sudden, he’ll just run across the screen with his long satin gloves and mardi gras necklaces on. And sunglasses. It’s pretty awesome.

And then came Groundhog Day. Personally, I’ve never taken it seriously before and never really cared much about it. Cute little rodent (except for this year, as the Mayor of that town in New York found out when it bit his finger–“Wake me up, will you?”). I finally saw one for real when I visited my sister in Maryland a few years ago near the side of the road. They’re bigger than I thought. We did all kinds of Groundhog Day activities in our class. One was to make a groundhog on a popsicle stick that popped up out of a paper cup. It was very cute. We watched the aforementioned groundhog video. Then at lunch I fell off a lunch table bench with another student (trying to keep him from falling and he took me with him, and we both went over, him lying on my arm–one of the stranger and more bizarre things that’s happened to me at work–lying on the floor after landing on my butt on the lunchroom floor and laughing because it’s so ridiculous–sort of how I would imagine Humpty Dumpty). Did tweak my back. Neck tweaked earlier in the day because another student unexpectedly lunged at me and grabbed my clothes and necklace (that I finally started to wear because all our kids are so mild-mannered) and pulled me over sideways and tweaked my neck. He was honestly just playing–I’ve known him since before this class. Then had to deal with mostly non-verbal student student getting very angry with me because she’s a slow eater (I have to make her eat slow otherwise she eats too fast and is at risk of choking so have to tell her to put food or fork down after every bite) basically yelling at me in the middle of the cafeteria and me trying to remember enough ASL to sign to her (works best when she’s angry) that the other students have gone back to the classroom and that we can go back as soon as she dumps her tray. Lots of waving arms around and chest thumping with one hand (means me or I to her) and she hit my hands once when I was signing (so I stayed out of her range after that). We finally got back to classroom after I tried to remember the rhyme/song one of the other IA’s uses with her about her (student) working in a cupcake factory that I don’t know all the words to and was getting pretty creative with as she walks slowly and it’s a ways back to the classroom from the cafeteria–a couple of minutes. I was talking about putting Marshmallow Peeps on top of cupcakes by the time we got back. I was getting desperate. If this is the way Groundhog Day is going to go every year, I may call in sick next year!!

Today (Friday–I am taking a preplanned) personal day because I made an appointment that had to be rescheduled one time already while I wasn’t working that is at noon. I think I need the recovery day.

Unexpected Venting Due to a News Story

I don’t know why, but my home page is set up for different news feeds. It’s a love/hate thing. I want to know what’s going on, but most of the time it just makes me angry and or frustrated. This one just hit close to home for me because it concerns the population I work with. I wrote a letter to Goodwill of America’s main headquarters, which will probably not accomplish anything, but it made me feel better. I thought I might as well put it here as well, just so a few more people might know about it.

Dear Goodwill Industries of America,

I work with children with disabilities, but I have worked with all age groups in several different settings for individuals with disabilities. I am a strong believer in supporting individuals who are able to work in doing so. I had heard of Goodwill as being an employer of individuals with disabilities, and thought that was really wonderful. I didn’t know all the details about it. This story was in the news today (12/16/12):

EUGENE, Ore. – Jeremy Zerger goes to his job at Goodwill four hours a day.

“I like helping the co-workers,” Zerger said.

The 27-year-old Goodwill employee is autistic and works through the long-term services program.

“I’m doing my best like everyone else because I work pretty hard,” Zerger said.

Zerger’s grandmother said she became frustrated when her grandson wasn’t brining home as much in pay.

“Employees are not treated like they should be,” said Debbie Jensen, Zerger’s grandmother.

Jensen said her grandson started out making minimum wage.

After 7 years, the disabled employee is currently making $5.59 an hour after he failed a productivity test that goodwill gives twice a year to their employees.

“You can’t survive on $5.59 an hour,” Jensen said.

According to Fair Labor Standards Act Section 14 (c), workers with disabilities can make less than minimum wage.

“We conduct time studies to determine their wage,” said Rufina Saiz, assistant to the President at Goodwill.

Disabled employees at Goodwill are tested on 5 tasks. Then the workers are paid a weighted average of their productivity.

Thus disabled employees wages can fluctuate every six months.

Goodwill said they provide great opportunities for disabled folks through their Long Term Services Program.

“That gives them pride in who they are and allows them to earn a pay check,” Saiz said.

Jensen feels her grandson’s paycheck is being cut short.

“These people are disabled and that’s the reason why they’re working there and they shouldn’t be punished for not being able to pass a test,” Jensen said.

Goodwill employs 126 individuals with disabilities in Lane and South Coast Counties.


This is absolutely pathetic. People can’t even survive on minimum wage, much less $5.59 an hour. You are an organization that is supposed to be helping, not taking advantage of people because they happened to be born with a disability to you can take advantage of them. You probably get a tax write-off as well. What about accommodations? That’s a law as well.

And don’t feel like you’re safe and secure because you don’t have a disability. Thousands of people receive traumatic brain injuries every year, or have strokes, or are involved in something that suddenly makes them dependent on others. I’ve been off of work for a year because of an Ulnar nerve injury. Who would think that something so small could effect your whole life so profoundly? I don’t like throwing this statement around, because I’m not a particularly religious person, but there for the grace of God go I. I’ve thought about that a lot since I started working in this field.

I am extremely disappointed in Goodwill as an organization. My boyfriend had already had a bad experience with our local Goodwill in terms of finding a job for one of his transition students (students with developmental disabilities aged 18-21) a few years ago, where they offered the student the job, then suddenly, out of nowhere, expected reimbursement for paying him. What the hell? Personally, I think I’ll shop at other thrift stores (because working with individuals with disabilities, you don’t make enough to shop anywhere else for clothes, etc.) and work with the children I do, when I am finally off disability, to try to make my difference in how individuals with disabilities are treated by working with them myself. Just because you have a disability does NOT mean you don’t have the right to try to make some money to try to help provide yourself with food, clothing, and shelter.

Wendy Clements