Don’t call us, we’ll call you

April 21, 2014

March: Work

I organized; I cooked. Two months in a row sticking to my plan isn’t too shabby! Alas, no research happened in March. But lots of work nonetheless. If I had known at the start of this year that I would be taking on another job, I probably would have changed 2014’s theme from Do ALL THE THINGS! to Just Stay Alive. I know working Monday through Wednesday from 8:30-3:15 doesn’t sound like a ton, but oh goodness, this has been a hard change!

I managed it pretty well in March, but April has been another story. I’ve been sick almost every day in April, even missing a whole week of work. I think I have taken for granted my relative good health these last couple of years and forgotten how grinding more intense chronic pain, sickness, and insomnia gets.  It has been a struggle to not slip into a depression after the last two and a half weeks. (I should probably reread this post.) Working out of my house, which I haven’t done in a rigid way since probably 2005, certainly adds an extra layer of stress when I’m feeling ill. At 4:30 am it really doesn’t help to keep telling myself, “You have to sleep. You have to get up in 3 hours . . . 2 hours . . . 1 hour.”

Despite all that, my new job is a good combination of great coworkers (I think that has all but solved my need for a social outlet in our town), direct service, and repetitive paperwork. I know some people hate paperwork, but for me, the paperwork is essential. I love the precision element of it — my paperwork can be nearly perfect with effort, even if the lives of my clients (and all humans, obviously) are always messy. And I love the space it offers to decompress after those difficult meetings. But even in those difficult meetings — like the one with someone whose husband had abandoned her after a particularly messy fight several days before, in which I had to find a way to gently express that breaking things throughout the house is in fact a sign of domestic violence even if he didn’t break her — there is something refreshing in comparison to prison work. Because I can always help them, somehow. Even if it’s just a bag of food from our Food Pantry or a pack of diapers or a small gift card to the local market, I know I can always send them away with a tangible thing that will make them feel a little more hopeful about the future. Not to mention a hug or supportive touch on the arm. Human touch is valuable; it’s only in replaying all these meetings, first with my incarcerated men and now with these men and women, that I see how different a meeting is in which we often could not even shake hands.

I need to go back to work tomorrow despite still not being in the best shape physically. Writing this out made that prospect feel just a little bit easier.



  1. I have so so so much from-the-heart empathy for you right now. I didn’t realize just quite how debilitating chronic pain and fatigue were until I had my own little mini bouts of them and the thought of you going through that just makes me hurt inside. I read the account of the woman who wrote the Seabiscuit novel and how bad it got for her which made me feel even more hurt for everyone who suffers from those symptoms. If you haven’t read her story (it’s like 2 pages online) I’ll send it to you.

    That said, I TOTALLY 100% agree with you about paperwork!! I love it too! I thought I was the only one but there must be dozens of us! Dozens!

    Comment by kei02003 — April 21, 2014 @ 4:49 pm

  2. Man, I am WAY behind on blog reading, so I don’t really know what’s going on with you guys. Sounds like your hands are full, though! Your second job sounds great for you — very meaningful. I assume you are still teaching? Really hope your health improves soon!

    Comment by Jenn — April 23, 2014 @ 9:35 pm

    • Well, you’ve been busy — GIVING BIRTH TO A NEW HUMAN BEING. All’s forgiven 🙂 But yes, still teaching; in fact, this semester is my biggest load yet. It’s gonna be a long haul to August.

      Comment by llcall — April 27, 2014 @ 11:41 pm

  3. Sounds like you are having a very productive year so far– way to go! I can only identify in the tiniest way with insomnia. It comes and goes for me. I find it SO SO stressful when I can’t fall asleep. I called my mom at every sleepover party and had her come pick me up because I was too stressed by the thought of not being able to get to sleep!!! It’s the worst! I hope you’re able to find some time to decompress in between work and life at home and do a little something that makes you feel happy! Not that work and mothering don’t make us happy… 😉 Hope you pick up soon!

    Comment by Jessica — April 25, 2014 @ 4:26 am

    • The sleep stakes are definitely high at a slumber! I always do so much worse at sleeping when I have to wake up at a certain time the next morning.

      Comment by llcall — April 27, 2014 @ 11:42 pm

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