Thursday, April 28, 2011

Maybe I should try stimulants?

I was just told I didn't get the internship I applied for because I came across as "too reserved" for a fast-paced hospital setting. The faculty liaison noted that I came across the same way to her, and that I must try to be "higher energy" at my next interview (also at a fast-paced hospital setting). Apparently my efforts to appear calm rather than frantic with interview jitters backfired.

It frustrates me that peppiness is considered necessary for so many jobs that don't actually need it. After the first week of one of my cooking jobs, my boss took me aside and asked if I was all right. She thought I seemed sad, and she really wanted me to be happy. So although I was already happy in the job, I now had the burden of acting happier so as not to worry my boss.

My mother, a veteran preschool teacher, has noted that people judge her the same way. People who work with children, it seems, must have wide eyes and high-pitched voices. Children don't flock to her in the first minute, the way they do to some people. But in the long term she's an excellent teacher - patient, inventive, and affectionate.

If I were a patient in a psychiatric hospital, I'm not sure I would want my social workers to be so very peppy. But now I have to figure out how to act like it for my next interview. I feel like freakin' Jane Fairfax.

"Jane Fairfax has feeling," said Mr. Knightley -- "I do not accuse her of want of feeling. Her sensibilities, I suspect, are strong -- and her temper excellent in its power of forbearance, patience, self-control; but it wants openness. She is reserved, more reserved, I think, than she used to be -- And I love an open temper."

- Jane Austen, Emma

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Adventures in millinery

Thanks to Goodwill, my housemate's hat block, silk flowers from the Carlisle dump, and fabric scraps from the neighbor's trash . . .

I am ready for any and all Easter services, graduations, and summer weddings.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dig for victory

During the World Wars, governments encouraged civilians to . . . garden. And be thrifty. When was the last time you heard our government advocating either of those things?

Now, preoccupied with GDP, we are told to consume more. After 9/11, President Bush advised us to continue taking vacations at Disneyworld.

I'm not sure I love the idea of my garden as a "munition plant". And that last woman looks a little crazed (botulism, maybe?) But I love the idea of a national ethos of production and conservation rather than consumption. And I'm pleased the Obamas have followed in Eleanor Roosevelt's footsteps with a White House vegetable garden.

It's spring - time to start growing your own food! Depending on the space and interest, you may not grow every tomato you eat this summer. But it's worth it for things you want really fresh, like salad greens or herbs. Seed is so cheap! Try it!

Internet instructions like to make gardening sound easy-peasy, which it kind of is. But be realistic: your plants need good soil, good light, and enough water. Container gardens are a good place to start if you have trepidations or limited space. Better yet, make your own sub-irrigated planters. The internet will tell you most of what you need to know, and the rest you'll learn from experience.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The way things should be

I used to think that social work was mostly about fixing people's problems. Or if I couldn't fix things, at least I could listen.

Working with children, I'm realizing that it's not just that. It's also teaching them how things should be. Children don't have a lot of information about the world yet, so each time they have an experience, it shapes their view of what is normal. A lot of my job is telling them when things are wrong.

They should not have called you that name.
Your father should not choke you. I know you're used to it, but you should not be used to it.
Your mother should not have told you she wanted to give you away.
Friends do not spit on each other.
Those boys should not write things about you on the bathroom wall.
I'm sorry that happened to you. You deserve better than that. You deserve to be safe. You deserve to be loved. It will not always be like this. Right now you are eleven, but someday things will be better.