Studying is for the Birds

I do everything but study for the LCSW exam. Tonight, I pulled the clarinet from the back of the closet and am trying to play it. It’s been silent for the better part of the last decade. What once was so easy is now difficult.

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Three things are easier: staying in tune, my ambiture, and my lung capacity. What’s worse for wear is the fingering. Some of it is muscle memory, and I typically fall prey to overthinking.

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Rush

I’m feeling the rush of the season, but I haven’t bothered to set up my tiny fake tree or the Nativity scene yet. There’s a push to meet productivity numbers, always, but more so during the holidays. Every week I aim to bill the state 26 hours regardless of my case load which can be as light as 10 or as high as 21. As an employee, I rely on my supervisor to keep my case load up; she’s to “court” the referral sources. This year with Christmas and New Year’s being on Thursfay, I’m working most of next week. It’ll be the first time in 4 years that I haven’t taken a day off for the winter holidays.

Yet I’m dragging. I’m chilling (literally) on a client’s front stoop, waiting for him/her to arrive. The appointment was at 4pm, it’s now 4:13pm. I need to get this case cleared up, too many loose ends, too many missed appointments. I’m the one waiting on them; I thought they needed therapy. I know one of the reasons our low SES clients are our clients is because they have difficulty functioning in society; their dis-ease impairs their ability to take perspective, to empathize, to realize others effort and know the way to respond to it.  Everyone else has made them wait hours for medical visits, weeks for funds/checks, and years for the American dream.

That said, it’s hard to wake up in the mornings because it’s a damp cold, and the last 4.5 months on a starvation budget have hit their mark. Thankfully, I received a 10% raise, considering the fact I was already functioning 6% below COLA, it’s the extra 4% which makes the difference. I continue to look for work at other agencies though.

I need to hit the hay. I have a client at school at 8am, another at 11am, 1pm and ~4pm. I suppose it sounds nice, but each client is accompanied with at least 30 minutes of street traffic, dealing with school personnel, looking for kids who are tardy/truant/absent. At least tomorrow is Friday. My plans for Saturday: sleep. Because I’m dragging. I want to put things on pause, slow things down a bit.

<rant>I saw a meme on Fb this morning that showed some people guffawing at the idea of single people being tired, compared to people with kids. You could say I don’t have kids. But I work with your kids when your family system has messed them up, when society has messed them up. You might deal with the bedwetting, but I’m the one who listens to the incest, rape, abuse, bullying, loneliness, panic attacks, flashbacks, the bingeing and purging. </rant>

Sunshine

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I was hoping to sit by the bank of windows, their light murky and scattered by years of grime. Ceiling tiles overhead have been removed to reveal years of dry, and maybe, wet rot. A spare classroom. Used for students who need extra testing time, the afterschool program’s space to complete homework, or on Wednesdays where I unglamorously provide mental health services to kids. Here I sit across the room next to the electrical outlet to charge the phone.

The sound of students reaches me: running in the halls, shoving each other in the cafeteria line, the dull thud of soccer balls.  I try not to think about who sits alone at lunch or who is bullying to the point of being sent to the principle’s office.

I want to sit against the window pane. Instead, I stare at the little table at which I do all my work covered by my lunch bag and coffee mug, the EBP model booklet, coloring pencils, collage materials &c. The vestiges of last cling to me: dry eyes and a headache, perhaps a resurgence of a pinched nerve; more likely holiday dread. My own, but also the kids whose heads swim with financial dreams their parents can’t meet; dreams of hover boards, happiness, fully attentive parents, family trips.

I’ll hold them, but Jesus, are you holding them too?