Changing leaves, changing life

Well, so much for my original intention of this being the way for everyone to keep up with my life! Apparently even I can't keep up with my life sometimes, but I'm going to give this another go and promise (again) to stay more current.

As I announced in my last post, I accepted a new position and made a career change, and it is now just over a month and I couldn't be more happy with my decision.
It was incredibly hard to say good-bye to my last position - my last two weeks were spent mostly doing closure with the men that I worked with, and it was extremely emotionally tolling. I wanted to be able to sit with them and talk about their futures and give them whatever parting words I felt I could. It was also an opportunity for them to say good-bye to me and allow them to explain the impact that I had on their lives. This was probably the most emotional process; I knew that I was making a difference in their lives, but I had no idea what a huge impact I personally made on them. For many, they said, it wasn't as though I was just another therapist, but that they really felt a lot of care and compassion from me and the work that I did with them. I have never heard the word "compassionate" uttered so many times as I did during those couple of weeks, and it will never be a word that I take lightly again. One of the men who I was very close to, an former Catholic Priest, painted me this beautiful Japanese-inspired painting which he entitled, simply, "Compassion". As I listened to these men, some rapists, some murders, tell me what a huge impact I had on their lives, I couldn't help but notice what a huge impact they too had on my own life. While I could write books about what I learned in my time with them (and who knows, someday I might), the most important thing for me was the capacity for human beings to change. Everything I had hoped was true about people was solidified - that no one's life is disposable, and that although people can do the most terrible things one can imagine, they also have the capacity to completely turn themselves around. It was a challenging, stressful and eye-opening thing for me to do, and I feel incredibly thankful that I was given the chance. I know that the things that I learned and witnessed behind those walls will carry with me and help me to be successful in my own quest for prison and system reform. It has also proved invaluable to me in my new position, which is quite different yet just as challenging as my former position.
I am currently a Case Manager at the Coolidge House, which is a residential re-entry facility run by the non-profit Community Resources for Justice. We hold a contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to provide a halfway house setting for men who are transitioning from prison to life back in the community. My duties include helping the "residents" find employment, get drug/alcohol/mental health counseling, finding housing, re-establishing ties with their friends and families, and helping them re-learn how to make responsible decisions and have accountability to themselves and their communities. I am still in the learning phase, but I currently have a case load of about 15 residents, ranging in age from 22 to 60 with charges from bank robbery, drugs and gang-related activities. Some of them are great to work with, some of them make me want to run screaming, but I am enjoying it and am excited to see where I can go with this company and these new experiences.
On top of that, I am looking into finding an adjunct teaching position - just one class maybe a couple nights a week, either at my Alma-mater (Suffolk) or one of the inner-city community colleges. I think that it would be a fun and challenging experience, and I have found that I really like lecturing and sharing what I have learned both in and out of school. As with a lot of things, I have been procrastinating on getting my resume out, but I hope to get something going by the time the Spring semester rolls around.
Of honorable mention with the career change is also the fact that I am no longer a commuter, and have spent maybe a total of an hour behind the wheel in the past month. Even when the T is ridiculously full and people are all sorts of pissy - I can't help but be so thankful that I just have to stand there, listen to my iPod and read one of the many books I finally have time to read!

Along with the career change, other things in life seemed to have followed suite. I think it should be expected that when one major thing changes in life, you seem to make other changes, conscious or not, and priorities and goals begin to shift and change as well.

I have taken a huge liking to coming home after work and sitting down at the table with Matty, enjoying dinner and conversation with each other, not just coming home and getting on the Internet or turning the TV on or going straight to the bar. It also helps that Matty is an amazing cook and makes me elaborate dinners pretty much every night that he isn't working. It's gotten to the point that I don't even bother cooking for myself the nights that he is at work, and everyone at work knows the nights that he was working when I bring in my leftover Kraft mac and cheese for lunch the next day. Aside from the cooking, everything continues to be absolutely wonderful with Matty, and I feel like each decision we make together and each goal we set for our lives is a blessing. I feel more and more in love everyday and I still have to pinch myself at times when I think about how things turned out for me. I never knew that relationships were allowed to be so much fun and so peaceful, while at the same time being so intense and exciting. Matty truly is my best friend and better half all in one; we consistently challenge each other to be better and reach farther while remaining supportive of each other and our goals. On top of that, we just have so much fun together and make each other laugh like we've still just begun dating. Bliss.

There have been some changes in my other relationships too. With friends, some have gone back to school and some have reappeared after some time passed, and we are finding ways to spend time together and have fun while being just as supportive and available as always. I think that we are doing an awesome job, and the fact that one of my favorite things I did this last weekend was sit on Emily's couch with her and Amy and watch bad television is a testament to the kind of value and love we have for our friendships.
Unfortunately, there have also been some relationships that have changed in other ways, that may prove to be the end of the road, but I can only be thankful for the experiences and knowledge I gained from them and hope that everyone can do what is best and most positive for them. I continue to remain incredibly thankful for the people that I have in my life, whether I see them everyday or once a month.

I have also been deepening my relationship with my spirituality and have finally (again with the procrastination) begun to take Catechism classes with the priest at my Church. I will take my first Communion, be confirmed, and be baptized all at once in the Spring, making me an official Catholic girl. I have been attending Catholic churches of my own accord since around the age of 11, having been brought up in a liberal, non-denominational setting, so this is something that is very exciting and special to me. Growing up in the punk-rock community, and keeping close ties to counterculture in my everyday life, this is a decision and part of my life that many of even my closest friends do not understand, and I am not prone to talk about. But it is something that is very close to my heart and I feel a great sense of peace with myself as I go through these classes and learn more about myself. Perhaps I will spend a blog talking about this as the time grows nearer to my finishing.

Aside from all of the change and growth I am enjoying the fall weather, pumpkin beers, reading Vonnegut, listening to MF Doom (and friends), grieving my baseball season, and planning me and Matty's trip to Reno for Christmas.

With Halloween just a few days away I can safely say that I have pretty much everything I need for my costume (Jem, with my fabulous Holograms played by Emily and Amy) and I have successfully spent a shit ton of money on decorations for the party that Matty and I are hosting.

I hope all is well with everyone and that you get more treats than trick on Friday...and that you're all amped up to go vote on the 4th. Matty and I are making a date out of going to vote together and then watch the I said, we're a match made in nerd heaven!



Emily said…
I love you...that is all :)

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