The Last Battle
(16-25 May 2005)

25 May 2005
-The meeting today couldn't have been a lot more awkward, unless of course it had been the meeting a week ago.  It seems so few of my co-workers understand why this is as big a deal as it is.  Then again, no one else was there & we're all used to horror stories about this job.  Stacey (my boss) seemed on the verge of giving me an ultimatum to come back to my regular house or leave forever, but instead scheduled a meeting with he, the program director, & myself for tomorrow.  Where there could be an ultimatum.  So I hang in the balance, waiting for another day...

24 May 2005
-I got a call from work today asking me to come back... actually telling me that it was expected that I be working.  It totally derailed & upended me.  It's not like I wasn't aware of the idea that I'd be asked to go back soon... maybe even sooner than it's actually happened.  Maybe it was my boss' tone on the phone, or something, but it made me sound like I'd been playing hooky or just was being lazy.  The funny thing is that if I'd done any worse job of keeping myself safe, or if the kids had've been able to break into the office, I would've been injured enough that I could not work (with pay, unlike the time off I've had this week) for months.  But because I do my job well (keeping everyone safe), & because it's only emotional trauma I've experienced, it's this gruff back-to-work attitude.  It's not like I work for people who don't believe in emotional trauma.  Sheesh.  Well I know one thing, I draw the line at going back to my regular house.  I'm not setting foot in there again.

23 May 2005
-Harry Potter withdrawal... might have to start watching all the movies or something... at least Fish owns them all!

22 May 2005
-Saw Charles for the first time in a long time, then spent a good bit of the day postering for Em's work with Fish & Em.  Life is ever-changing, & often about embracing pain & what one can learn from it.  As much as I'm having trouble these days, Charles actually had the more painful story today.  Yikes.
-Saw Star Wars again, this time at the Grand Lake!  They have a model Yoda hanging out in one of the balcony boxes in the big theater.  I liked it a lot more the second time, because my expectations were more reasonable & I was able to focus on more of the details.  Fun!  Starting to notice a ton of similarities between Star Wars & Harry Potter as well.  I don't know what I'm going to do when I finish these books!  At least I'm only waiting a little for the next one... just till July!

21 May 2005
[from Clovis, California]
Happy Birthday to Lauren Cusick
-A meandering but pleasant day with Em's fam... there were lots of leftovers (more cheesy potatoes!), board games, & even some Lego Star Wars on the computer, which the kids were highly enthralled by.  We sent off the Harpers to their Mexico honeymoon & returned to more board games.  It's been a nicely timed break from everything, & returning to a non-work Sunday is going to be beautiful.  I just hope I can transition to that desk job soon!

20 May 2005
[from Clovis, California]
Happy Birthday to Stina Robison
-Congratulations to Aaron & Holly Harper!  The ceremony wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but that's why everyone gets to pick their own celebrant & their own language for the ceremony.  I really don't understand the trend of late to discuss divorce during a wedding ceremony.  Yes, it's a big social problem & yes, marriage is a statistical coin flip for working out these days.  But does it help as an omen to hear a lengthy discussion of divorce during the moment of getting married?!  So much negativity in the sermon.  Also, the phrase "there is no I in team" appeared in the sermon, without a hint of irony or jest.  Regardless, the location of the ceremony was beautiful & the reception was fun, even if they made Em sit at the head table while I was off to the side.  & while a lot of the food was meat-centric, there were some cheesy potatoes that were out of this world!  I think I got fourths... & when was the last time you ever heard of me having fourths on something?  The DJ for the reception was actually quite good as well.  & now I've been to 5 weddings overall, including my own... 4 of them in the last 3 years.  I have a feeling there are going to be a few more to come...

19 May 2005
[from Clovis, California]
Happy Birthday to Guen Mesco
-Star Wars was great, though it did leave me with some disappointments here & there.  The conversion of Anakin to Darth Vader could've used a lot more embellishing.  I would've loved to have seen a scene where he suddenly sees his light saber emerge as red & is horrified by what he's become.  The Emperor was well-played, but never really trained Vader in the dark side.  Some explanation for the naming of Luke & Leia also wouldn't have hurt.  But overall, I really enjoyed it & little beats the thrill of a 12:01 showing.  Em also liked it... a lot more than she expected, actually.
-Lots of wedding festivities today, culminating in the rehearsal dinner.  Not a ton of people who I relate to amongst the guests, but I have my niche in the family I suppose.  The backdrop of llamas & a camel makes everything more special at least.

18 May 2005
[from Clovis, California]
-Things got a lot worse for a while, but are now looking way up.  I ended up bursting into tears in the middle of the house meeting today, after a brief back-&-forth with my boss about the incident.  Suffice it to say that he was not handling the issue very sensitively.  In our 1-on-1 meeting that followed (after I was able to return after a good 15-20 minutes of crying outside), he was much more understanding & able to say that I had a good shot at getting a desk job in the agency & transitioning out of direct care work.  I'm going to take things one day at a time, but I'm very relieved to know that my credibility isn't totally shot with the agency & that I might be able to be doing something safe soon.
-I'm still so shaken up by everything that it's even hard to be that excited about Star Wars!  Who would've thought anything could derail my excitement about that?  But it'll be nice to be in this different environment for awhile & have something to focus on other than the disaster that is work.  At least as much as I can.

17 May 2005
-I can't believe what happened yesterday after the post I made.  What I do know is that I'm lucky to be in one piece, maybe even lucky to be alive.  The whole situation is way too convoluted & extensive to describe here, but I'll try to cover the basics.  Last night, coming home from the school a little late, I was alone in the house van with two of our kids.  As soon as I got to the house, one of them started being totally non-compliant & making threats, while the other was a little shaky.  Within minutes, the one (who has about 50 pounds on me & is nearly my height), starts trying to attack me.  I was able to lock him out of the house & start calling other houses for support.  But then the second kid starts trying to help the first & ultimately lets him in the house, & says he's coming after me too.  I had to lock myself in the office & when I heard glass breaking, call 911.  The trouble is that our office isn't exactly secure.  There's a locked door at the top of one end of it, but two rather thin sliding glass doors at the bottom of the other end.  So I waited for just shy of half an hour of my life, with the sounds of things breaking & threats coming at me, wondering how long it would take for them to figure out to break through the sliding glass door, which they easily could've thrown a chair through.  I was making minute-to-minute contingency plans in my mind, trying to figure out what to do if one of them posted up at the main door while the other broke in through the glass doors.  Would I be able to get past one of them & run away?  It was one of the most traumatic half-hours of my life, & took me right back to all the previous ones... to Broadway, to Star, to all the times before that young teenage boys have targeted me.  Well ultimately they were picking up the phone every time it rang & the on-call administrator was able to talk to them a bit.  When they heard the police had been called, they shifted their focus from trying to get me to trying to run away & take stuff with them for the road, including some of the other kids' stuff.  They took off when one of the other Seneca staff showed up, somehow eluding them.  I was able to emerge from the office when they confirmed that the kids were gone, & I was more than a little shaken up.  Both the front & back windshields of the Saturn had been smashed, & the house torn up a bit.  I somehow ended up finishing the shift, with the caveat that I would leave if one of the kids returned, as I really couldn't face them.  One of the kids ended up calling to turn himself in just after his bedtime.  I left shortly thereafter.  Seneca's going to pay for the windshields.  I don't know if I can ever go back, especially to face those kids.  I will never again have credibility with them in giving any directions... they know that they scared me & that they can take me 1-on-1, or certainly 2-on-1.  & I feel like after so much putting it off, this really might be the last straw.  I've said so many times before that I've just gotten lucky.  Last night, my number very nearly came up.  I really don't like thinking about what would've happened if they had've gotten to me.  I think my favorite part was that the police showed up about 100 minutes after I called, well after the other staff coming by.  I had only called them because I needed someone to show up before the staff could.  Also, because I wasn't sure that they hadn't broken glass with their hand(s) & accordingly may have been bleeding everywhere.  So it goes.
-Spent most of the day dealing with my windshields, waiting & reading Order of the Phoenix, which I've just started.  A couple people talked to me about what happened & were extremely sympathetic, which I really appreciated.  Finally got the windshields replaced, which cost a lot less at the fifth place we called than at the first few... $457 was cheap compared to the $1000+ estimates we got initially.  I don't know if my mind will be as easy to repair as a couple of windshields though.
-Turns out they found the other kid very early this morning, too, so no lasting harm done.

16 May 2005
-Well last night, edging 44 minutes into this morning, was pretty rough.  We continue to be horrendously short-staffed, not to mention that my workload is increasing as those around me are less experienced with these kids &/or overall.  While expectations continue to verge on unreasonable.  But none of this is as frustrating as having to break a certain streak that I'd been rather proud of.  But such streaks never really last in this work.
-I have few illusions about the State Quiz being a flop, especially as compared to what I had expected/hoped for from it.  But it's nice to see things like this reference floating around these days.  Speaking of quizzes, I really mustn't forget to get back to that contact about them...
-Whoa!  These books aren't supposed to get that intense!
-In reflecting on my job these days, it's interesting to see what an anomalous presence I seem to be in peoples' lives, for something that doesn't seem as odd to me as perhaps it should.  The kids have a hard time accepting a nurturing presence from a male, & often don't really know how to process it.  They accept stereotypical nurtury females & stereotypical muscle-bound males who fulfill opposite roles in what they seek, but I tend to baffle them... & probably many of the staff too.  I even recall my boss being baffled by how I was more sympathetic to the kids than most of the female staff, while not engaging in the pecking-order & restrainty sort of attitudes of the "male" perspective.  While I have to accept sex as a characteristic, I do & will likely always hate gender.  I had concerns as early as my August '03 training about this job really dredging up these issues for me & somehow nights like last night really bring it into focus.  & despite my apparently "female" presence in a male body presenting conundrums for the kids, I must say that it also works for them really well a lot of the time... I'm often able to calm someone down in a way that would require restraint by any other male staff.  Yet they can still talk to me about guy things, though it sometimes seems to confuse them.  & when they're being negative, the easy out is to focus on homosexual slurs, even though they talk to me about being married almost every day.  Someone in almost every case has taught them to equate the breaking of gender stereotypes with being gay & this lights up personal issues relating to abuse for many of them as well.  I think I'm mostly interested in these dichotomies when they're raised by the kids, but somewhat horrified by them when raised by staff or even administration.  There's no getting around me being labeled as a "male staff" & factoring in assumptions about intimidation that don't hold true with me.  The same is true of the few female staff who might play a more intimidating role in the staffing.  & it's obnoxious.  It's obnoxious that the job forces pragmatic arguments of safety to override basic elements of dignity & identity sometimes.  I see how it's necessary in a world, as it always is, of limited resources, but that doesn't keep it from thorning my side.  Sometimes, almost incessantly.

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