Anyone who has ever sat down at a computer to write something is familiar with the blinking cursor that awaits, as you think of something – something interesting – to write.
And so it is today with me. But I want to/need to write, as it is good discipline for me and (I think) makes me a better writer for it. More practice than anything, as I know there are few who read this blog anyway.
It’s gray and chilly here in central PA today, this day before Christmas. I like snow but I know my friend Nancy has to drive in it, so I am not wishing too hard for a white Christmas. Still, it seems less festive somehow to not have any snow at all.
Likewise, much of the news today is gray. “Gray” as in “depressing”. That will be noted in the news section of the blog, the historical part for the future readers (I will try to be as objective as I can). I would be lying if I said this didn’t affect my mood. I am surprised, though, how bad my mood is today.
I was going to spend Christmas with one of my adult children, but had to decline because of the medical issues. I still think it was a wise decision, because no one wants a houseguest who is sick much of the time.
But I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to spend Christmas alone. I don’t usually ever have issues being alone, in general, so it’s kind of surprising to me how sad it makes me. It probably has to do with a couple of things – the natural inclination to miss one’s family, and the unfulfilled expectations of how family life was supposed to be at this time of life.
Everyone has a vision, usually, of how they expect their life to be at different stages. Mine started out as “stay-at-home mother of large family”, which didn’t exactly pan out that way when I got divorced.
I had never really thought much beyond that, even when I got my degree. I couldn’t see myself as a university professor (even though I love to teach, actually), yet I had no idea about what it was I was supposed to do, or who I was supposed to be.
My health issues interfered with my work on my degree in Dublin, as did the restrictions on recruiting participants.
Side note: In universities in Ireland, it is considered to be coercive to recruit university students for experiments, even if offering credit for participating. Had I known this, I would not have taken the position. Ever try to recruit total strangers on your local city street, with no incentives to give them? It’s impossible. This is perhaps why you see very little psychological research involving human subjects coming out of Ireland.
When I returned, degree-less, to the US, I then had to find work. I naturally tried to get a job running subjects for various medical companies…but to my surprise, they don’t want people trained in experimental protocol, they want nurses. That still baffles me to this day, and having never even gotten an interview for anyplace I applied to, I was never able to ask the companies “why only nurses”?
So then I turned my attention to counseling jobs. Easy, I thought. And it kinda was. Not particularly easy to get a job, but easy enough to do it when the caseload wasn’t large. But that’s seldom the situation – counselors are overworked, and carry caseloads that are pretty much impossible to do on a 40 hour work week.
In addition to that, counseling jobs usually involve attending seminars for credit (some kind of requirement at every job I have had), going to meetings at least weekly to discuss your clients with the rest of the “treatment team”, and then there’s the social crap that every workplace wants their people to attend.
This is all in addition to a caseload of, say, 30 people. 30 people that Medicaid and other insurance companies require you see twice a week. Plus at least one family session. And all in a timeframe set by Medicaid and the state (treatment plan done and signed by patient within 48 hours of admission, etc).
It is a massive amount of paperwork that is being required to be completed and filed by impossible deadlines. And by “filed”, I mean input into a computer program that records the date and time of your submission. This, in my opinion, contributes to fraud by the counselor in order to make deadlines.
I have already seen the back-dating and forging signatures the counselors did at my last job, and I can only imagine what creative ways they have found to get around the computer system. I will bet it often involves writing up counseling sessions that never happened.
Side note #2: Some places, like Delta Medical in Memphis (the place I left to come to PA for, ever to my regret), actually hire enough people to do these tasks. It is the ONLY place, however, that I have found that does this.
Everyone, in order to save money, works their counselors to death. The last place I worked, it was routine for counselors to camp out over the weekend at the workplace, in order to get their paperwork done. Unpaid, of course.
But again, I digress into a complaint about the mental health system, about which I have many.
The point is, I went from self-defined “housewife/mother” to “university student” to “therapist”, and still cannot seem to find my place in the world.
About the only things that have remained a part of my identity – or in some cases just resurfaced after an attempt to ‘fit in’ – are a quick temper in response to unfairness of any kind to anyone, a bohemian way of dressing/decorating my living space, vegetarianism, and a tendency to daydream…perhaps too much.
I had planned to have children early in life so that, at the age I am now, I would have time to do things like travel more, enjoy my kids as adults, and spend time with a lot of grandchildren. The dream always included a set space, a home, some kind of house in the country that was “Grandma’s house”.
I know, it’s very Norman Rockwell, isn’t it? I even imagined having a front porch with a swing, a couple of dogs, and possibly a horse or two.
The only thing resembling that life is that I have a porch. In a town that is Norman Rockwell-like in its architecture.
I am not blaming anyone but myself for the fact that I do not have the kind of life I had imagined. And I am spending this time on disability pondering what steps I need to take to revise my plans and work on a creating a new life.
In 2 years, my student loans will be gone. I would dearly love to go back to academia and get a PhD in something that would allow me to work with very few restrictions (you know, like the kind that get me fired). Very vague, I know.
And I do not intend to get more student loans, or even pay for a PhD program – in psychology, the experimental branch at least, one often gets tuition reimbursement and a stipend in exchange for working for one’s professor.
To me, that’s the best bargain going.
It would require that I find a professor willing to take on a “non-traditional” student. It would also require I find something interesting in a field of research, have a well-thought-out hypothesis I want to test, and find a professor who is working on the same kind of thing. In a country that allows the participation of college students in experiments, or has a subject pool of some kind at the ready.
It would require that I switch back to experimental psychology.
Not that the thought of getting a PhD in clinical psychology doesn’t interest me – it does. I could hang out my own shingle somewhere, possibly work with some folks I like who are in practice in the Memphis area, and get back in touch with a few people in community organizations there who are doing some really good things.
That, however, does require money. As far as I know, professors in clinical psychology do not generally have assistants that they pay a stipend to and tuition for. And there is no way in hell I am going to take out student loans. No. way. ever.
I have time to figure it all out. Heck, these days just about the only thing I have in abundance is time (I hope…).
So, this is what I try to focus on now. Because anything regarding the past – and certainly anything regarding the holidays in the present – is a bit too painful to dwell on. This is where my penchant for daydreaming comes in handy, and, now that I think about it, probably the reason I am so good at it is because it is a defense mechanism left over from childhood.
Alice, escaping through the looking glass, or down the rabbit hole.
Have a good holiday and wait! The obligatory weirdness…
Both of these come from Cosmos Magazine:
“Is Gravity the Force Driving Time Forwards?” (Cosmos Magazine website, 12/22/2014)
Interesting article, it really is.
“Descent into Siberia’s Mystery Crater” (Ibid)
One, then two, massive square-shaped craters have formed in Siberia, and some scientists decided to go down and take a look. They took pics, too. The reason for the craters? They are thinking “earth farts”. Ok, they don’t think that, it’s my name for the phenomenon.
Recommendations this week? Even if you don’t subscribe to Hulu Plus, you can still see this on the regular Hulu…
“Deadbeat”, starring Tyler Labine as a stoner and ghost hunter/medium. It’s really funny!