Tuesday, February 21, 2012

one bag

Today at work I helped my Cuban clients move into their new apartment. It was 3 weeks coming, but we finished it today (except for some chairs for their kitchen table). We went to pick up a bunch of their stuff from their host home. There were about 12 bags full of random stuff; clothes, shoes, coats, sheets, curtains, and stuff. The father of the family said, "We came to America with one bag...." as he looked at the piles of stuff. It was a thoughtful and reflective comment. I have really enjoyed working with the Cuban family. I was a little worried when we had a week to prepare for them, but it has turned out quite well. They are educated and curious and eager and capable. The father is even handy around the house. I enjoy being able to communicate with them, since I can't with most of my clients. They're generally really, really wonderful people. I'm privileged to help guide them through their first few months in America.

On another note, I get to go to Michigan this week. I'm really excited to meet my new niece! I also have plans to hang out with my old pool league team. I miss pool league a lot, so I'm very happy that I can be in town for a Thursday night. I'm very much looking forward to this trip.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


As a follow up to my last venting post, I felt so sick the next day with uncontrollable coughing and feeling winded when I stood up and walked 5 steps from a chair, I went to urgent care. The doctor took a chest x-ray because he was concerned with how my lungs sounded. The x-ray turned out okay, so after a flu test and a nebulizer, he just told me it was a bad virus, and told me he'd give me a note so that I wouldn't have to work for the rest of the week (which was Thursday night and all of Friday, but that was going to be a lot of hours for me). I went back to the office quickly, and ran one other quick errand, but then I went home to rest for a few days. It was pretty great. I got a lot of cleaning and organizing done around the house over the next few days. When I went back to work on Monday, I felt relaxed and way less stressed out.  Today, Tuesday, I started to feel stressed out again, but not nearly as bad as last week. Also, I don't have to go to the airport at all this week, which always makes me feel better.

Today was Valentine's Day, which is not something I really care about. Me & Kurt were going to make fajitas (more Kurt than me, probably), but he had a terrible day at work, so he wasn't feeling up to it, so we went to Waverly's Trackside Bar & Grill. It was pretty fun. We played keno. He made a pattern of a heart on his keno sheet, then we had ice cream sandwiches. Then we went back to my place and watched King of the Hill.
He didn't win anything with his quarter games, but I won $7 with my $1 game!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about job burnout lately. I know it is something completely common in the social work field. You'd think people would figure out a way to fix it, and if someone has figured it out, they haven't told my place of work. I read somewhere that the biggest source of burnout in the social work field is having too much to do and not enough time to do it in. That describes my life for the past few weeks. And you know what makes me frustrated? I never wanted to be a social worker, and here I am, being a social worker.

This week is outrageous. I worked 12 hours today. It will likely be 12 hours tomorrow, as well. The thing that bugs me is that these are all things about which I have no choice. Everyone likes to tell us to have boundaries to keep ourselves sane and destressed, but then work puts us in a situation where if we don't do the work, we'll get in trouble. So, in essence, we don't have a choice. This week, I don't have a choice that I have to work late 2 nights, in fact, cancelling plans I had made in my personal life, plans that I had been looking forward to for a long time. Just thinking about that gets me more angry and upset. If I don't do what I have on my work calendar this week, no one else will do it, and I'll get in trouble.

They also like to tell us to communicate and ask for help when we need it. I did that this week. I voiced my concerns and I have been completely ignored. If anyone cares at all that this job is ruining my week and making me bitter and burnt out, they are not sending me an email or taking a minute to encourage me and try to work with me and see if I can get a day off next week or something like that. Instead, I got an email that said, "Hey, it won't be that bad!" But the reason the person in email said it wouldn't be that bad was because they forgot about a client, and all the hours of work I would have to be putting into that client for this week. So, there was both a lack of awareness about the demands of the week and my job, and I felt like it was an insulting attempt to placate me.

Because I've been working very hard for long hours recently (I rarely get a lunch or breaks), I feel like I am becoming my job. I like a lot of parts about my job; the diversity, teaching refugees about America, reuniting families, and so much more. But I want that to be just one part of me. I don't want to be "senior case manager". I want to be Renae. And so often lately, I am just "senior case manager". I feel like I am disappearing, and I don't know how to get me back. Even if I knew, I wouldn't have the time. And so I fade away...

My sister will be giving birth hopefully in the next day or two. Two years ago today I had a friend who died. I have a boyfriend and a social life. I was sick this past weekend, and I was not able to take the time to fully recover, and so my cough is getting worse, but I don't know when I'll have time to go to the doctor. I've postponed medical appointments several times recently because of pressure at work to complete tasks that I couldn't reschedule. Because I'm sick, I'm missing out on my training for the Lincoln Half-Marathon. All these things...I have no time to think about, no time to reflect, no time to remember, no time to be thankful, no time to heal, no time to rest...this is not how it's supposed to be. Social work is not the type of work I want to do, but I could handle it if it weren't so demanding, if it didn't cost so much. I could handle it a little better if I didn't feel like I was the sacrifice my agency was making to improve their program and reputation in the community. I think I could handle it better if they realized that they were sacrificing me.

All this...ramblings of a clearly overworked and burned out social worker. Ugh. How typical. And since I got home at 10:30, and took some time to check my Facebook and write this, I will go to bed late, and I have to get up early tomorrow and do it all over again...

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I'm sick. I've been sick for a few days now. It's probably what one calls "the common cold". My nose is majorly stuffed and runny, I have a dry cough, and my ears are crackly. Last night, I searched "sinus pressure points" online, and I found this massage you can do that is supposed to open up your sinuses, so I tried it, and it really helped! After I do the sinus massage, a ton of snot drains out and I feel much better (TMI? sorry). Everyone should try it.

This past week was a very stressful and exhausting week at work. I had a late night airport arrival, which I dislike doing. There was cultural orientation, which always takes a lot of energy. We had a site visit and were audited, which was also stressful and draining. It was a very successful audit and meant a lot to our program, as it was the first one since the big meltdown. The recommendations were minor compared to previous audits, so it has been deemed a success by most everyone. I consider a professional success that things went so well, too. It's a good feeling, I guess, which I'm still not quite used to having in relation to my job.

We're still waiting for the arrival of my niece. I'm excited to see pictures and I'm even more excited to visit at the end of this month!