Saturday, May 23, 2009

Emma is hard at work + a job search update

Emma's standing next to me making a laptop out of paper. One flat page is a keyboard and another piece of paper taped to the top and curved in a way that the "screen" tilts up. She keeps moving my fingers so that she can see what keys go where on a keyboard. So I'm correcting many a typo. I said "Hey! I'm typing here!" and she said, "What?! I'm making a computer here!" Well, pardon me!

Yesterday I took a tour through River Oaks Mental Hospital. Despite popular belief, no, I'm not having Chris commited. One of my Al-anon buddies is a nurse there and she called yesterday afternoon to say that they needed counselors. Like NOW.

"All you need is a degree," she said. "We do the training."
"But my degree is in Enlgish."
"Oh so you have a history of mental illness!" she said, excitedly.

She said that the pay isn't glamorous but the benefits are good, even for part-timers. I told her that I've registered to get my teacher's certification, and that I guessed being a counselor wouldn't be a bad idea in the meantime. Especially if I get to work with kids.

She laughed. When I went to River Oaks yesterday so that I could pick up an application and take a tour, she took me through all the different units (the eating disorder unit, the chemical dependency unit, ect.) and whenever she introduced me to different staff members she'd say, "This is Genevieve. She wants to be a psychiatric counselor. And she wants to work with kids." And then they would laugh. Even the ones who worked in the unit with bordeline people and people with multiple personalities, even THEY laughed.

"I hope you've got a lot of energy," one of them said.

When we got to the children's unit I saw what she meant. The kids were pretty hyper. What was sad was that they reminded me exactly of some of the public school kids I've been substitute teaching. The kids who other teachers would warn me about. "I saw Gerald get off the bus," one of them cautioned, looking grim. "I'll bet he hasn't had his medication. Good luck."

The only River Oaks employee who didn't laugh at me was the lady who was in charge of the children's unit. She was an older, stout black woman with bags under her eyes that sagged like full purses.

"You can start today," she said. She beckoned me with her hands. "Come on."
"I haven't been interviewed yet," I told her.
Her eyes widened. "COME ON."

I'm going to turn in my application on Monday, along with a resume. I really need a full-time gig and this is the first place I've been to where I've heard the words "you can start today." It would be challenging, but I've been looking for a job that will exercise my care-taker personality in a constructive, detatched way. The challenge will be to be constructive and detatched. On the upside, I'd have tons to write about. On the other hand, there was all that laughing. When I expressed concern about this my Al-anon buddy tried to reassure me.

"It's hard, but the good thing is everyone loves this job. The woman [whose name I've forgotten] in the children's unit has been here for 35 years."

She mentioned other staff members that have been there for 20 years and over because they find their job fulfilling. I am looking for something like that.

We'll see. My friend Amanda worked there, so I thought I'd get her opinion. I wonder if she'll laugh.


melissa bastian. said...

Woah. Be careful about River Oaks. My dad was there for three weeks... we can talk about that. Can't really explain here. Very, very condensed version: he had a complete nervous breakdown and was committed, but they sent him home long before he stopped being a danger to himself and others because the facility was so full of violent homeless people that had nowhere else to be that they couldn't keep someone who was (mostly) well behaved and not starting fistfights.

Of course, that was pre-Katrina, and it's also only the story that I could patch together mostly from my mom - least reliable source ever. Things could be totally different there now. And all of that could be bullshit (about why he was sent home, at least).

In happier news, you so totally get to come to my wedding. See blog for details.

Tom said...

Glad to hear you have come across something that has you fired up for a challenge. I spent some time with my niece and nephew this weekend, and when I'm extremely tired, it takes no effort on the part of small children to grind my patience into the dust. You have my support in your new endeavor!