Archives for the month of: December, 2011

When your first post-Christmas purchase is a pocket guide DSM-IV. (For those of you who don’t know, it’s the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, basically our diagnostic handbook.) Yeah, I’m a therapist. There are a whole list of books that I want to get, mostly about family art therapy.

I saw my first kid/family yesterday. I have another one coming today at 2pm. I’m starting to get a sense of how acute these kids are. I’ve got two with autism spectrum disorders, which I haven’t really worked with much, and an older teen girl with some distinct Axis 2 issues. Whoo boy. I have to keep telling myself  “I am an experienced therapist, I am an experienced therapist, I am an experienced therapist. ” Moving from “keep you in one piece until you go to court” to “long term therapy to try to fix you” is going to be an interesting transition. Good, but interesting, and certainly challenging.

 

Apartment search continues. We looked at one last night which was instantly vetoed because of a galley kitchen. I could barely cook dinner in there, let alone brew beer.  Trying to find an inexpensive two bedroom place that takes cats, is in a decent neighborhood, and isn’t more than a 1/2 hour drive for either of us is turning into a challenge. I was hoping for a shorter commute, so was The Boy, but our jobs are 15 miles away from each other, and the middle ground apartments are too expensive and/or don’t take cats. Grrr…

The Monday after I moved I started my new job. It was a half day of orientation, so not much else happened that day. Tuesday I  met with my supervisor and started Learning All The Things. It’s a new system, and a new state, but I’m realizing that when you’ve been a therapist for a while, notes are notes, intakes are intakes, and kids are kids. The details may change in how I have to write stuff up, but it’s still the same basic set of information. The agency is moving to an electronic records system, so I get to start using that as soon as I have kids. Learning curve will go straight up for a week or so, and then I’ll get it. They’re being nice and easing me into having a caseload. The fact that I started the week before Christmas, and then the kids are on break for a week means no clients until after Jan 3. I’m doing lots of reading, and lots of recertifications for things that I need to prove that I can do what I need to do.

I’ve been walking around amazed at all the perks I get with this job. Lets do some compare and contrast between this job and the last job.

Last job: shared an office with a woman that I didn’t really get along with. Finding space to do sessions was tricky.

This job: I have not one but 3 offices, all to myself! I have offices at both of the high schools where I will be working, and one at the clinic.

Last Job: Jail, where anything sharp/breakable/pointy or remotely dangerous was banned. No glass or ceramic containers, no metal flatware, no candles, etc.

This job: Outpatient clinic and high schools, where I can bring glass containers with my lunch in, and have ceramic coffee mugs on my desk. We had a yankee swap the second day I was here and there were multiple candles given, and multiple ceramic mugs. Lots of breakable things. So strange.

Last job: I had to fight with IT to get me an email address, and was using my own email for the first 8 months or so. I didn’t get a state email until about 4 months before I left. I had one computer. I couldn’t get onto any of the state computers until about a month before I left. IT was consistenly a problem.

This job: I got an email address, access to my computer and access to almost all of the online programs I need within the first 3 days of working here. I have access to all but one now that I’ve been here for a week. IT is upstairs and they’re made of awesome. I also get a laptop and cell phone because I work at a remote site. No having to use my NH cell phone to call clients when they don’t show up! And I’m 100% encouraged to turn it off when I go home for the night.

Last job:  I was one of 2 caucasian people on the unit, and the other woman was the program director. Most of my coworkers were lovely people, but I had very little in common with them, and having a sense of community was tough. Even after 2.5 years I didn’t feel very connected to them.

This job: Many more caucasian staff, and many people who are in similar situations as I am. (long term boyfriend, planning to move in/living together, not quite getting around to getting married yet though.) I had instant community when I got here. I got invited out with one of them for a NYE shindig. It’s awesome.

Last job: Barbed wire, locked doors, electronic controls, handcuffs. Squirrels and stray cats outside the windows.

This job: Therapy Dogs. There are 2 on the floor, and maybe more once they get certified. An adorable little pit named Nia and an older golden/water dog mix named Bocce. They are so cute, and make me happy!

On a slightly unrelated note: The Boy needs a new nickname. As do I. Mr. Moustache is in the running for him. I’m completely at a loss for myself. Help?

I’m all moved. I have no idea where most of my stuff is, but I’m all moved. Thanks so much to Kels, my Mom and The Boy for helping me. This is the first move I’ve had that I didn’t completely freak out about during the move. When I started to get whiney late in the day my mom told me go eat something. And lo and behold it worked. The Boy kept me miraculously sane, and even calmed Mystique down as well. He makes me better, I think I’ll keep him.

 

The process was much less emotional than I thought it would be. I think all of my tears and freaking out earlier in the week made it possible for me to focus on moving and doing what I had to do. I’ve left my old life behind, and I’m ok with that. I start my new job on Monday. I got a call mid-move from my new job reminding me of orientation Monday morning at 9am. It was kind of an interesting reminder of why I’m doing all of this. The real reason I’m doing all of this is to be closer to The Boy, but this let me know that I have new things to look forward too as well.

 

Mystique is grumpy and hiding under the bed. She comes out occasionally when the door is closed and the dogs aren’t around. She’ll figure it out eventually.

 

We start the apartment search in ernest now. And now that we’re both here it’ll be easier. I love my adopted family, but this is definitely a temporary situation. I’m staying in the Collegiate Best Friend’s old room, which is kind of a circular thing.

 

Christmas presents need to be bought, and then Christmas in PA with The Boy’s extended family. More food than I can eat, and red beet eggs. Pennsylvania Dutch food is awesome.

 

Right, less blogging, more doing.

Yesterday was my last day of work at my old job, and my last night of Fight Club for a while. I only teared up twice. I think working through all of my sadness and complicated feelings earlier in the week helped.

My boss, my officemate and one of the senior clinicians in the building and I all went out to lunch. My program director and assist. program director weren’t able to make it. So it was just the four of us. It felt very strange. It also felt like every other time I’ve gone out to eat with my boss and my officemate: they talk about Boston and kids etc, and my officemate is always the expert about things. I will not miss her. I learned a lot, but I won’t miss her. The day got crazy, lots of kids coming in all at once, my program director almost left without saying goodbye to me, (I caught her and made her give me a hug.) It was just wackadoo. And in some ways that was good. The realization that it’s not going to fall apart without me, and that life will still go on. I had a couple of kids who were really upset that I was leaving, so I took the time to work with them and really say goodbye. I left voicemails for them on my boss’ machine so in a couple days they can listen to them and know that I’m thinking about them.  I should call the unit Sunday or Monday to say goodbye to one of my favorite staff who doesn’t work on Wednesdays.

Fight club was good. It was a smallish group, of mostly regulars this week, which was nice. I’ve got some good bruises from working with B and accidentally running into his nerveless knee with my shin. (He kicked things a lot when he was younger.) I thought I would cry, but I didn’t. There were lots of comments about “oh, we’ll have to do this thing or that thing when she leaves.” and then giggles. I love my friends. I keep picking up brothers as I go along. As if I didn’t have enough. And amusingly I realized that people who I thought were older than me, are actually my age and younger, but still consider me a “little sister”. I can live with that.  We stood around talking for a very, very long time, and I didn’t get home until almost midnight. I’ve started to make plans for coming back in the spring. I’ll definitely be back for NERAX in March and ACBF in June. I have a generous vacation package, so I may be able to take a half day on a Wednesday, come out for fight club, and then hang out here Thurs-Sun and go back to work Monday. Having plans to come back helps with the transition.

I woke up early this morning to move my car, thinking my roommate needed to leave at 7am to go to work. On my way down the stairs, I slipped and fell. Socks and hardwood don’t mix.I haven’t done that in a long time, but I was sleepy and not paying attention. And it turns out he’s off today, so I didn’t need to do it.  Now I’m all bruised up. Ow. Add that to the bruises on my shins and I’ve accumulated more black and blue in 2 days than in the last 6 months.

Today my friend Kels is coming to help me pack. The Boy is on his way with the Element. I’m doing laundry and marveling at how much of a disaster my house looks in the midst of packing. My mom comes down tomorrow AM and will take my bed, which means I don’t have to freecycle it. Anyone in the Boston area looking for an old 21″ TV or a 2 shelf bookshelf? Free to a good home.

To prevent this blog from becoming too maudlin this week, I’m posting videos from Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers.

This is my current favorite. It’s bouncy and fun and makes me happy. The lyrics are awesome too.

 

And the video that got me into this band, featuring the UMass Amherst Marching Band. Yay Massachusetts!

So in reading all of your awesome comments on my last post, I realized that there are some things that are unclear. The following that may help shed some light as to why I’m such a spaz about this whole moving thing.

It takes me a very long time to make strong connections. I’ve finally made strong connections in Boston, and the idea of leaving them is really hard, and makes me sad.

I’m really bad at uncertainty. I’m moving into uncertainty. I’m living with The Boy’s parents for 2-3 weeks until we can get our own apartment. Where that apartment will be or how much it will cost is not at all certain right now. I also don’t know exactly what my paychecks will look like, so my financial situation is precarious at best.

I need to have my own space. I hate feeling like I’m intruding. These are linked. Yes, I have been invited into this house, and I’m there fairly often, but it’s not “mine.” I do poorly when I don’t have a place that is my own. This will be akin to living out of a suitcase for 3 weeks. (Yes, I know I was a camp counselor for 9 weeks one summer and had a bed and 2 sets of shelves, but that was different, and I was 21. And my parents’ house was still “home” then. )

The house I grew up in no longer feels like home. I moved out officially when I came down here to grad school. Having my own bed and my own dresser in an apartment is a far cry from dorm living. I’ve lived in the same apartment for 4 years. This is my home. Moving out of this into The Boy’s family’s house renders me homeless for a time. When we have our own apartment it will be our home, and it will be awesome.

I have a hard time with change. I cried at my high school boyfriend’s graduation, I cried at my graduation, I was a sobby mess the evening of my college graduation because everyone was gone from campus and I was all alone. (I had to stay for an extra 2 weeks for track.) It took me forever to come to terms with my parents’ divorce. And while all of those things were natural endings, or endings that I had no control over, this is an ending that is my own doing. I made the decision to leave Boston for a new life. To me this is like having to bite down on the tool that forced the bands over my back teeth when I got braces. I know the outcome will eventually be good, but the process hurts like crazy.  I know that I can always come back to visit, but I’ll be here as a visitor, not as a resident. I’ll be coming in in the middle of my friends’ lives, instead of being a part of them on a daily or weekly basis. I can best sum it up as the little kid whining that something just is ” not the saaaaaame!”  This whole adventure gets to my small-child, change-hating inner self.

On the other hand, this feels a lot like a breakup. Not the kind of breakup where you hate the other person and know that your life is better off without them, or where you get dumped, but the “we’re moving in different directions and this isn’t working anymore” kind of breakup. The kind where you still love each other, and have fond memories of each other and you cry for weeks because the relationship was really good and you’re sad it’s over.  Where it’s really kind of awkward when you see them in 6 months and everything is the same, but it’s different at the same time.

I always knew I wanted to spend my 20s in Boston. I also knew there was no way I was going to be able to raise a family here, and that I really want to live in the woods.  It was always kind of time-limited. I did a lot of growing up here. I really became my own person here, on my own terms (mostly). I know the city, I know how it works and all the idiosyncrasies. Hell I can drive in Boston and get myself un-lost fairly quickly, if I manage to get myself lost. I  will never be “from” here, and I never wanted to be, but Boston is a huge part of my life, and I’m mourning the loss of the city, and more importantly my grown-up friends I’ve made while I’ve been here.  Thinking about this as ending a relationship actually helps me give myself permission to cry about it. I’m not only changing my relationships with my friends here, but my relationship to the area itself, and my relationship to myself as a resident of Greater Boston.

And oh goodness have there been tears. I finally let myself cry last night, I mean really cry. I felt a little better when  woke up this morning, but then I had to go to therapy and have my last session with my awesome therapist that I’ve been working with for 6 years. Other than my family, I haven’t been that close to someone for that long ever. It’s kind of a Big Deal. I cried so much today that I managed to coat my contact lenses with salt and they were foggy all day.

This process is like sslloooooooooowwwwlly pulling off a bandaid, where the scab has become part of the bandage. If there were a way to just rip the bandaid off , to cut and run without saying any solid goodbyes, I would, but I’m afraid that that would hurt me more in the long run.

Some of you who read this have taken off to other countries for extended periods of time, not once but multiple times. Some of you make cross-country moves and think it’s awesome. Some of you are perfectly happy living out of a suitcase for weeks at a time. I can’t do that. For all that I’m calling this a Blog of Adventure, I’m feeling very unadventurous right now. I know it will get better when I get there and settle in, but  right now this is the long goodbye and it hurts.

I officially got the job offer for my new job the middle of November. I had to give my job 1 month, and I had to give my apartment 1 month notice as well. So I looked at the calendar and realized that one month was the 15th or so of December. I decided that I needed as much fight club as I could get, and The Boy’s days off from work are Thursday and Friday, so I decided that my last day at work would be December 14th and then I’d move the 15th and 16th.
December has a way of sneaking up on me. I didn’t even consider the fact that I’m moving a week before Christmas. I didn’t consider that it starts getting dark around 3:30pm this time of year, which inevitably makes me lethargic and cranky. Now that I’m in the throes of packing, I’m realizing that this was poorly considered. I have too much to cram into too small an amount of time!

The stress is getting to me. I’ve been eating very little, and what I have been eating is all carbohydrates. That’s how I know I’m stressed. Chocolate and clementines and coffee seem to be my go-tos right now. I forced myself to eat some bread and cheese (more carbs, but at least it was homemade oatmeal bread) around 2pm today. I hope I can force myself to eat something real at my goodbye shindig tonight. If I don’t, I’ll be very drunk, very quickly. My stomach is in knots right now, which is quite uncomfortable.

*EDIT* I found a solution to the ‘nothing seems tasty’ dilemma. Marinated mussel salad from the grocery store. Salty, vinegary and high in protein. It’s junk food that’s mostly healthy. 

I keep warning The Boy about how I am when I move. I invariably forget to eat or am too stressed to eat, I get over tired and overwhelmed quickly and there are inevitably tears. And that’s just when it’s a regular move, not when there’s lots of emotional stuff to deal with in addition to it. I despise moving. At least this time I’ll be moving when it’s cold out, instead of in June or August, which is when I’ve moved in the past. The heat always makes me more of a head case. I just have to remember to keep talking to him and asking for help when I need it.

What about you guys? Do you have any ideas for staying sane during a big emotional move?

I break the first rule of Fight Club. I talk about it a lot.

I’ve been doing martial arts for about 12 years. I started when I was 16 by joining a very informal daito ryru class that my friends went to. Over the next 2 years, and then through college I became very close with the class and with my instructors, who also happened to be parents of friends of mine. They’re family. Many of the blackbelts have a tattoo of a tiger somewhere on their left arm/shoulder. When I finally get my blackbelt, I will also get that tattoo.

I didn’t get to do much martial arts in college, and none in graduate school. After grad school I joined Meetup.com and found the a martial arts meetup group, which happened to meet near my house. That was in June of 2007. This is a very loose class, and we train in whatever we feel like, jujitsu, boxing, krav maga, grappling, this insane Vietnamese style that’s all elbows and knees, whatever.  I became friends with B and E, two of the founders. Both were late 30s and married. E runs a nonprofit self-defense program which is amazing, and that I’ll talk about more at a later date. At first I was more E’s friend and he wanted my feedback and help on the self defense stuff, but as time went on B and I became close. I had just gotten out of an awful relationship, and he got me, like really understood where I was coming from. I told him some of my history, why I wanted to be part of the self-defense stuff, everything. Emailing with him got me through a really, really tough time in my life. I didn’t spend as much time with him outside class as I would have liked, because I was afraid of stepping on his wife’s toes (I had had a huge crush on him before I found out he was married. He knows this. And his wife is made of awesome. ) I basically became like the class’ little sister. I was the youngest and the only girl. I made a couple of other friends in the group, and then we sort of lost momentum, people stopped showing up and we disbanded for a while.

Fast forward 2.5 years, and we decide to get the band back together. We started a weekly meetup instead of monthly, and got a bunch of people to join up. New transplants to Boston, and people who hadn’t been on meetup before. Sometimes we work on actual learning to fight, sometimes we stand around and talk about everything from politics to families, to book and movie recommendations. There quickly became a core group of about 6 of us, B, E, J (a return from the old group and a very good friend of mine) X and Bsquared. Two of the new guys routinely take pleasure in busting on me. A memorable moment was when I was trying to explain that I know far too many people named John/Jon and I blurted out that “I have too many John’s in my life.” Which promptly resulted in X mocking the ever loving hell out of me. He met The Boy two weeks ago and asked him how someone so great as him (The Boy) would date someone like me. I almost hit him, which is par for the course with us.

I have discovered with this amazing group of men, friendships that will last for years. And they really do not want me to leave.  Every time I mentioned that I had a job interview they all threatened to sabotage it, or sabotage my relationship with The Boy, because it would mean that I was leaving them.  They told me I would have to find another girl to replace me before I left. And then J said that they “broke the mold with” me. I have never had people want me around that badly. I have never felt more loved and supported by a group of people outside my family than my boys at fight club. Every time I think about leaving them I start to cry. I talk more in therapy about saying goodbye to them than about terminating with my therapist.  I worry that I will never find a comparable group of people to spend time with in New York.

B surprised me with a cake and a card signed by the guys tonight at class and I promptly burst into tears. X took a picture of me teary, holding my card and flipping him off. Going to class next week, and then going home is going to be one of the hardest things I have to do about this whole process, and I really, really don’t want to do it.

So if you guys are reading this, I hope you know how important you are to me. You have taught me so much.  I will definitely come back, and if I can’t make class, at least for drinks. I love you guys.

I’m in crunch mode now… less than 2 weeks to the move. Saturday was the last time I have to drive back from Albany without The Boy. Crazy.

In the next two weeks I have to:

-schedule time to see my elusive Little Sister to say our goodbyes. She’s impossible to get a hold of.

-take a load of stuff from the studio up to my dad’s house because it won’t fit if we try to take it all on moving day. The same trip to NH I’m supposed to see Nowell Sing We Clear with my mother.

-figure out what to do with all of the furniture in the apartment that I won’t be taking with me. Most of it is not mine.

-terminate with my therapist of 6 years. We have two more sessions. I pretty sad about this.

– throw myself a going-away party at my favorite pub from grad school and hope people actually show up.

-announce to my clients and the staff that don’t know that I’m leaving. My last day at work is Dec 14.

-schedule a haircut at my favorite place.

-take the cat to the vet to get updated shots/checkup so that we have few issues when we move into a new place.

-finish my friends’ wedding present and mail it. 2 months late… arg.

– remember that the most important thing is to communicate with The Boy and to not steamroll him when I want something and he doesn’t, or vice versa. I have a nasty habit of doing that recently. I’m trying to be very mindful and remember to apologize and back down when I don’t really need to be right about something. It’s a process.

11 days is so not enough time…

Hey all!

I’m A. I’m embarking on a new adventure in the next two weeks. I may come up with a new/different/more awesome nickname for myself and The Boy, but for right now, I’m just going to be A.

Why a single initial? I am an art therapist who works with teens, and as such, I like to keep my private life private, at least from the kids and families that I work with.  Nothing is entirely private on the interwebs, but I’m going to make an attempt. There are a number of other art therapists I know who blog as well.

What is my new adventure? I’m moving 200 miles west from Boston, MA to Albany, NY.  I moved to Boston in 2005 to start graduate school, and stayed here to start my career. In June of 2009 I re-met and unsuccessfully tried to hide my infatuation with the older brother of my best friend from college. We fell madly in love with each other, and for the past 2.5 years have been in a long-distance relationship, he in Albany and me in  Boston.

We knew fairly soon into the relationship that this was Serious Business, and that one of us would have to move. Without a whole lot of discussion I decided that I would move to NY. Partly because he has a small business that he runs, and also because although I love Boston, I really only wanted to live here for my 20s.

So I started looking for jobs about a year after we got together. I decided that I would start after I had passed the licensing exam. That was August 2010. Shortly after passing the exam I applied for my clinical license in Massachusetts and in New York.  It took almost a year to get my New York license, it took less than 6 months for Mass.  Prior to getting my license I got one job offer for something I didn’t really want to do, and for less money than they had promised me, so I turned it down. In late October I interviewed for a position as a therapist at a high school. I aced the interview, and they offered me a job.

So my adventure is this: I am moving 200 miles away from the place that I have grown into an adult. I am moving into an apartment with the love of my life, and my cat. We are going from two households to one, and from long-distance to seeing each other daily.  After spending 4 years learning about the human services infrastructure in the Greater Boston area, I get to start from scratch in not only a new city, but a new state. At some point on the horizon may be something sparkly on my left hand, and a big party with all of our friends and relations, but we will have that adventure when we come to it. This is the first big step. I hope you will join me.

~~A