Bluebird Down

The pursuit of domestic bliss, one glorious debacle at a time.

Birds, Hamsters, Horses… All in a Day’s Work September 7, 2011

Filed under: Business — Teri @ 7:44 pm

Livin' the dream.

My blog quiets down during the school year because I can’t write about my job. I have to find other topics. The problem is that I’m generally consumed by my job from August to June. I’m quiet because I’m morally and legally obligated to stay quiet. And I’m exhausted — mentally exhausted, the worst kind of exhaustion. I’m just tired enough tonight to throw caution to the wind and speak of the thing that must not be spoken of.

A big part of my job, especially at the beginning of the school year, is about helping parents who just can’t get organized. It’s truly that simple. They let things slide, they don’t think ahead, they just don’t think things through. I find this client to be the most exhausting to work with. I’m not good at hand holding adults. I’m better at telling folks to (wo)man up. Give me a crying 6th grader any day. You have a point to progress from with a crying 6th grader.

I am an ardent believer in the social work principle of self determination. Self determination means that, ultimately, everyone has the right to live their own life. You want to live in constant chaos because planning ahead seems like too much work? Fine by me. Actually, not fine by me, because you are going to end up in my office, daggone it. And when you end up in my office, I’m going to lay out a plan for you. I’ll ask if you are on board. I’ll encourage you. Then I’ll make like a momma bird and kick you out of my office nest to fly free. It gets disheartening when you think you have someone set on the right path and you find out that they didn’t follow a word of your direction. That’s right, direction. I don’t give advice. You want advice, call Dear Abby.

The bad thing about self determination is that it’s like leading a horse to water. You stand back and think, “Well, are you going to drink or not?” When the horse just stands there, you nudge him in the hindquarters whispering, “Drink the water, drink the water!” Sometimes the horse drinks, sometimes the horse wanders off to the pasture and returns a few days later still thirsty. You lead the horse back to the water. This time you say a little more loudly, “I’m not coming back to this stream, DRINK THE WATER.” Sometimes the horse drinks, sometimes you think that you need a drink as you watch them walk away.

I do break the rules sometimes. If I’ve been working with a client for a while (read: years), I take liberty with the familiarity. I will put that client in my car, take them where I think they need to be, put paperwork in front of them, point to the place where they need to sign and then stare at them until they submit to my will. Sometimes you gotta get the hamster off of the wheel.

You are probably imagining me as one of the (poorly represented) social workers on Law & Order. The writers of Law & Order hate social workers. Their social workers are gruff, uncaring, sarcastic. I can lay on the sarcasm with my co-workers, but I try to spare my clients. Being sarcastic with a person in crisis is like farting into the wind. You won’t be heard.

In truth, I’m a nice person. I want my clients to live good lives. And I carry their stories and worries with me. Outwardly, I’m direct. Inside, I agonize over every detail. Every year I’m getting better at separating myself, but I’m not there yet. The blog, the 5Ks, the freelance writing were all purposefully put in place to  build a life outside of social work. I just need to drink the water.


Ay, Caramba! and A Holy Freakin’ Moly July 28, 2011

Apparently today at our house it was Let’s Finally Be Decisive and Change Our Entire Lives Day. Z and I have made three very important leaps forward — leaps into the deep, dark unknown.

Decision #1: It’s time to make some babies in a Petri dish. Hey, there is romance and then there is fertility. Don’t confuse the two. Z’s test results were good: The Time Trials were a success! Z made Dr. M run through the options once again. Insemination was taken off of the table. My eggs get more and more decrepit every single day and, as far as Dr. M is concerned,  it’s best not to chance giving birth to a baby dinosaur. [How is that for gender disparity — Dr. M said Z is working with slightly deformed goods, but mine are just aged, and yet THE WOMAN is the problem. Typical.] So we are inevitably back to working with in vitro fertilization. My fertilized eggs will be monitored in the dish for five days before the best and – hopefully – brightest of the bunch get returned to the mother ship. [If I’m going to all this trouble, this kid better be a daggone rocket scientist.] If the first round doesn’t work with my eggs, we go to donor eggs and the process starts again. I’m going to be buying baby food with my social security checks at this rate.


This is how I imagine a petri dish full of my babies.


Decision #2: Z wants to own a business. We looked into a franchising possibility today and are super excited about it. We’ve been conducting our due diligence. Once things become more concrete, I’ll be less mysterious on the topic. On our way back from the doctor’s office, we are discussing all of the possibilities. Z will manage the business and staff and I will create the marketing plan. I was blurting out ideas when he informed me that he expected me to keep my day job. Say what?! So, wait, you expect me to 1) keep my day job 2) have a kid and 3) also work at the family business? He went into his passive-aggressive happy place trance before he emerged an hour later to declare, “We’ll still need your work health insurance if we have a kid.” That was just rude putting all of the responsibility for our baby dinosaur’s health on my shoulders. I’m going to need Z to work on his daddy and his negotiating skills.


Who needs an MBA?


Decision #3: I was feeling bold the other day and submitted a writing sample to a local community paper. And lo and behold, I am their new contributing writer. It’s a volunteer position, so I have to keep my day job. [Reoccurring theme, anyone?] I worked on my first story today. It’s 500 words about an upcoming event. I was interviewing the event coordinator, when in mid-sentence, my brain screamed out, “Who the heck do you think you are? You aren’t a writer! You can’t submit this story for publication! You don’t know what you are doing!” My subject was too distracted by the thousand details still to be done and the stifling temperature in the venue to notice that I was having a nervous breakdown in front of her. Luckily I have a really poor attention span, even for my own breakdowns, and recovered quickly. Yeah, I can do this. [I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!] When it becomes a reality and I see it in print, I’ll post it here.


I bought these to soothe my apprehension, but they just made me nervous, so I hide them under the bed.


All and all, you can’t really argue with a day filled with a baby dinosaur, a husband with a purpose and 500 words for publication. I’ll be thanking my lucky star tonight.

Stress Reading: On Writing by Stephen King. So far it’s more of an autobiography  than a book on writing advice. Pleasant read though.

Training Log: Oh boy.