Wednesday, November 28, 2007


So some of you may already know I'm taking a test next week, a licensure exam that involves diagnosing mental illness and treatment plans... they start with a little story about a person with issues and then ask questions such as : pick all the good choices below (and list 12 options) and then when you select your answers, choose-your-own-adventure-style, they will uncover clues of where to go next, so that as the pieces unfold for 10 little case studies, you've taken your test, and either passed or failed. That would be Thursday.

Well, it's such a weird test format (and such and expensive test to take!) I ordered a pricey study guide from the makers of the test- and they sent it to me. Problem: it did not include the promised, and necessary latent-image pen. What is a latent image pen? I'm so glad you asked! See, I'm not quite clear on it either, except that where the answers turn up there are little hash marks, kind of like something you need to have 3-d glasses to see through, and I tried scratching at them with a quarter to reveal the answer beneath, but I guess that isn't sufficient. So my practice test is useless without this little tool.

Well, I emailed the helpful folks in the testing business (they ask you to contact in writing as they get several hundred calls a day) and heard nothing. So I sent them a vaguely threatening email saying if I didn't hear back soon I would be forced to return the test and stop payment on my credit card and I got back a very sweet phone call, apparently they had sent out a pen already at my first request and she was calling to check the address.

The address was right. Hmmm. I went home, and checked the mailbox. Nope. I investigated my front step. The front step of my apartment building tends to be a piling place for junk mail- like grocery store ads and coupons. No latent-image pen. However, buried in the pile, I did find a credit card statement for the guy at the address next door. Hmmm. Went over and checked that apartment front step. (Left him his bill, hopefully not too late.) The step was a little neater than mine, but no latent-image pen. Where did it go? Lost in USPS limbo? I suppose I'll call the sweet lady back tomorrow and ask them to try one more time. I think it will get here soon enough that all will be well.

I'm very curious to, at last, see this elusive latent-image pen. Until then, this mystery remains unsolved...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream...

I dreamed of a beautiful, towering tree- strong and leafy-green. On closer inspection, I saw that someone had carved away a ring of bark around the circumference of the trunk. I was sad because I knew disease and parasites would enter, and I knew the tree would die. I was sad.

Why would someone do this? And how little it took to topple the mighty oak.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Help from a Stranger

I had a thought-provoking conversation with Anne M. and Tanya the other day, about helping strangers who approach for money, bus tickets, etc. I’m not trying to raise the question here of what/whether to give. But Anne said, “If it were me asking, I would want someone to give.” Simple, but to the point. I think sometimes my work, that is so “giving,” can make me hardened. I see the needs over and over, I know the background stories, which are real, and sometimes I know the scams. It’s easy to become distrustful and to assume the worst. Especially because I know some of the resources available, I become skeptical of people who don’t appear to be using them. That’s kind of sad because I, of all people, should know that sometimes the resources are complicated to access. I don’t know why we go that way, but I know I’m not the only person at my workplace who fights that mentality at times.

I wanted to think about times I have been helped by a stranger. There have been many, many, to the extent that my hope and expectation when asking for help, is that a stranger will be kind and will not abuse or take advantage of my vulnerability.

One time that stands out in my mind, was back in Texas. It was a flash flood, and I was stranded in the car with my mom and a friend. The road ahead of us was covered in a deluge of water, and a car that had tried to pass through the intersection ahead was stalled in water up to the side mirrors. Flashing lights of a police blockade were ahead, and cars boxed us in, front and behind. So we waited in traffic, stranded, as the rain continued to pound around us. After waiting an hour or so, we needed to use the bathroom and my mom decided to knock on a door in the neighborhood to ask if we could park the car on their lawn and walk to her friend Ruby’s house, who lived less than a mile away. The woman was so kind. She said, “Certainly park the car! But don’t walk in this rain! Come in!” She gave us warm blankets and gingersnaps and we waited out the rain in her cozy home. I always think of that time when I eat gingersnaps, even now.

I wonder if anyone else has a story of a stranger helping them, that they are willing to share?

Monday, November 05, 2007


This morning I awoke at 4:30 am. Call it aftereffects of daylight savings (though I never get up this early). I drifted in and out of consciousness until six, and decided to get up, and get in an early morning run. I couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful morning. By 6:30 it was already in the mid-fifties outside. The trees hung with red leaves against a crystal, blue sky. The air was still and humid.

I ran, surrounded by misty, morning air and sunbeams. By 10 am, it all crashed down around me in shards. I was sooooo tired all day. “That’s why I don’t do this everyday,” I reminded myself, even though my tri-athlete friend was “proud of me.” She was also supportive, walking for a mid-afternoon break down to the local bread company from work, to get a spot of coffee. To spare the environment, I always bring my mug for a refill. The worker couldn’t find the “refill” button on the cash-register, and gave me my drink for free. Was it my lucky day?

By mid afternoon, a cold-front had swept in with northwesterly winds, and my clients arrived. I met with them, focused my energies, and as soon as they left, departed. I took an hour of sick time to leave early at the end of the day- drove home, exhausted, only to find an email that my early meeting for tomorrow morning has been postponed. Is it my lucky day?

I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store so I ate frozen pizza, freshly sliced mango and some garden tomatoes in olive oil. (Thanks mom!) I watched t.v. till I could stomach it no longer. I imagined myself working on a painting and dawdled and made a couple phone calls instead. It’s ok. I think life is so much better when I’m not compelled to “earn my keep” by doing enough or being enough. I am accepted by God, as is, frozen pizza and all. Is it my lucky day? Nah. Everyday is. Thank you, God.