Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I Love Those Crazy Bastards

Endangered Coffee recently posted his job history on his blog. He has rocked quite a few jobs throughout the past few years. In comparison, with the exception of side jobs like bouncing, bartending, dishwashing, selling drugs, amongst others, I've only had four "real" jobs since 1981.

This December I will be entering my 19th year in human services. It could be argued that I've been in human services for 26 years. My first "real" job was at Camp Howe in Goshen where I worked for five summers as a cabin counselor, Boy's Unit Head, Boating Director and Recreation Director. The next "real" job I had was working for the Hampshire Regional YMCA from 1986 through 1989. I was a director for their after school programs as well as running their youth sports programs, Y basketball league and summer sports camps.

In November of 1989 I was sitting around with my friend Eric and his Dad, Eric drinking beers. At the time I was attending college at Westfield State, struggling to make ends meet. I was voicing my displeasure about working at the Y, sick of the kids, the parents and the low pay. Eric and I had worked together there for the past few years and as fun as it was playing touch football, "duck, duck, goose" and finger painting each weekday afternoon we were going nowhere fast. His dad was the co-owner of a human service agency in Springfield that specialized in running group homes for the mentally retarded. After we polished off a case of beers and listened to us griping for a couple hours he offered me a job working for him in one of his homes.

"Work with the retards!!" I laughed. "Those fucking dudes freak me out!".

"I have a new program opening up with Traumatic Brain Injury survivors. They aren't retarded. It would be good to have someone like you to work with these guys, take them to Sox games, show them around town; I'll start you at $8.00 an hour"

Not retarded. More money. Sox. Thus the beginning of my career working in residential group homes.

I spent 10 years working for Eric at Brown & Sullivan. Within a month working there I became a manager. In my tenure there I ran various group homes as well as getting my certification as a Drug and Alcohol counselor (stifle your laughter) and counseling mentally retarded people with their addictions (talk about a losing battle). While there I also used my brawn and street smarts working with gang members in Hartford and did outreach with clients with mental health issues. The last three years there I even managed a group home with mentally retarded clients. I learned that some people who look retarded are more intelligent and "with it" than many people walking around the street who "look" normal.

Eric left Brown & Sullivan and soon after I went to another agency who had gotten many of our residential contracts. I am in my ninth year at ServiceNet Inc. I've come full circle and am back directing group homes for brain injury survivors. Sometimes I feel like I am still at summer camp while at work. The staff are called counselors, we have lots of fun activities surrounded by hours of boredom and there is lots of drama (staff and clients alike). Eric had a philosophy that if you find out what makes a person happy and make the effort to help them be happy, then negative behaviors subside. I still adhere to that philosophy. I run my progams as if I were one of the clients. Just short of having keg parties with hookers I try to provide enough fun activities (trips to the Cape, Sox and Pats games,etc..) to give the clients I work with incentive to be better. The better they act the less people will stigmatize them and only then can they make steps toward inclusion. Actually I wouldn't have done this work for nineteen years if it weren't for the trips to the Cape, Sox, Pats etc...its not for the mid-five figure salary.

I often think about doing something else for a living. Opening a bar, managing a golf course, opening a business of some kind. I have over 50 former or current clients and I could see myself hiring one or two of them to work for me. I still keep in some kind of contact with many of them.

A few years back on New Years Eve my phone rang. It was the first client I had ever worked with in Human Services in that Tramatic Brain Injury house Eric pushed me to work in. He told me that he missed me and thanked me for everything I had done for him. I asked him if he was drunk and why was he being so mushy. He said he was sober, but was reflecting on all of the trips and experiences we shared while he was in my care. He was now living at home with his mom and missed doing the fun things we used to do. I wished him a happy new year and he did the same. I lay in bed in the early hours of the new year reflecting on my conversation with Andy, my career choice, perseverating over Matt Dillon's line in "Something About Mary?", "I love those crazy bastards."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

One Word Meme

Plez, the man whose blog ideas I pilfer more than any other, borrowed this meme and posted the answers on his blog. I tried to do this in "word association" style and answer with the first thing that popped into my head.

Welcome inside my head!! (please excuse the mess, I didn't have time to clean up)!

Use ONE WORD for each answer.

Yourself: tired

Your Partner: mommy

Your Hair: graying

Your Mother: sad

Your Father: selfish

Your Favorite Item: Driver

Your Dream Last Night: perseverative

Your Favorite Drink: Guinness

Your Dream Car: Mercedes

Your Dream Home: soon

The Room You Are In: bedroom

Your Fear: failure

Where You Want To Be In Ten Years: alive

Who You Hung Out With Last Night: family

You’re Not: skiddish

One of Your Wish List Items: beach-house

The Last Thing You Did: ate

You Are Wearing: boxers

Your Favorite Weather: autumnal

Your Favorite Book: Bradbury

Last Thing You Ate: Chicken

Your Life: lucky

Your Mood: optimistic

Your Best Friend: wife

What Are You Thinking About Right Now: fuck

Your Car: Grand Cherokee

What Are You Doing At The Moment: relaxing

Relationship Status: happy

What Is On Your TV: MSNBC

What Is The Weather Like: humid

When Is The Last Time You Laughed: A.M.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Picks At The Break

On April 2nd I made my picks for the 2007 MLB season. A little over half of the games have been played in Major League Baseball this season. The trends are being set and the cream is rising to the top. Lets take a look at some of my predictions.

American League:
East: Red Sox
Central: Twins
West: Angels
Wild Card: Toronto

The Sox and Angels are looking good. The Twins aren't dead in the water, but at 45-43 they are going to have to turn it on in order to catch Detroit or Cleveland. Toronto is 8 1/2 games behind Cleveland for the Wild Card and needs to jump over 4 teams to get the nod.

I was right on about the Yankees and if Steinbrenner was the Steinbrenner of 1978 Torre would've been fired in April. Right now he probably wishes Billy Martin's kids froze him, like Teddy Ballgame's kids did, so he could bring him back for the tenth time. Since that's not an option Joe T will be there until the end of their miserable season.

Matsuzaka is still in the running for the Cy Young, but will need a strong, almost flawless second half, in order to beat out teammate Josh Beckett, Dan Haren or Jeremy Bonderman. Big Papi will have to hit a few walk offs to garner any consideration for MVP; it looks more like A-Rod or Ordonez.

National League:
East: Mets
Central: Cubs
West: Dodgers
Wild Card: Diamond Backs

The Mets are eking it out over Atlanta. The Dodgers are in a dogfight with the pitching rich Padres with Arizona right there for the Wild Card. Chicago has been my biggest bust, but is still only 4 1/2 games behind the surprise of the year Brewers for the NL Central crown. LaRussa hasn't been fired or in rehab (yet), but as I predicted the Cards are dead in the water.

Zambrano is not having a bad season, but will not win the Cy Young unless Peavy, Penny and Sheets shit the bed. Soriano will not win the MVP, period. I like Chase Utley and Prince Fielder, but Matt Holiday should win it if he can keep up the torrid pace he set in the first half.

I will stand by my picks. You can't change your cards in the middle of a hand, so the only way to judge my picks is to add them up in October. If I had to grade my picks I'd give myself a B+, but I have an over inflated ego so they are probably really only a B.

I still think the Red Sox will be having a parade in late October.

Go Sox!!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cross Dressing

I went to Fenway Park on Sunday wearing the shirt pictured above.

Now I know what it feels like to have Double D's.

People were staring at my chest all day.

When I got out of my car behind the B.U. bookstore I completely forgot that I had put that particular shirt on that morning. We made our way through Kenmore Square and over the bridge that spans the Mass Pike. That's when the reactions began. Chuckles, snickers, head shakes and full out laughter. At first I thought I might have spilled coffee on myself or that I had a stray booger hanging in the wind. I checked my nose and then my shirt. Bingo! The "Jesus Hates The Yankees" shirt was drawing the same reaction from the crowds at Fenway that I had when I saw it in a record store in Hyannis just days earlier. Shock, hilarity, fun.

Buying that shirt was out of character for me. I usually dress in boring circa 1981 prep school attire, plain jeans, polo shirt, khaki's, oxford shirts and most definitely plain t-shirts. I may occasionally wear a shirt with a Red Sox logo or the name of a vacation spot, but never something so campy. We had Green Monster(standing room) tickets and by the time we made it to Gate E I had become a minor celebrity. Once I realized that the people pointing at me and laughing were doing so because of my shirt (I think) I started having fun with it. Folks from L.A., New York and Chicago asked to have pictures taken with me and my shirt. It wasn't all fun and games. For every ten gut busting laughs was a look of condemnation and disgust. One dad, who was I assume Catholic because of the eight kids he had in tow, looked me up and down as if I were a "puppy who just shat on the rug" (Sean Penn, Mystic River). An elderly woman told me I was going to hell. I nodded in agreement and assured her that my trip to Hades wasn't going to be for wearing the shirt. She looked around at the crowd around us and said "Well, you're not alone!". Frickin' Codger.

Its amazing to me that wearing that shirt was almost more of a Fenway highlight for me that the fact that I was up on the Green Monster for the first time in my life. I don't know if I'll ever wear that shirt again. It was $18.99 well spent, but contrary to my wife's belief I don't like to be the center of attention. If I happen to be the center of attention while spinning a yarn or throwing around some blarney, fine. But being the center of attention for what I am wearing, the staring, the gawking, makes me feel cheap. I'd rather have people like me for my mind, but occasionally I can see myself slipping into my revealing T, just to see the reactions.