26 April 2011

Green Monster

I've always had a jealousy problem. Never about material things. I was lucky to grow up in an upper middle class family where I never wanted for material things that I needed but there were always intangibles that I wanted and never got like a sibling.

Now I'm feeling jealous as my grad program winds down about people who are settling into relationships, jobs, futures and I'm stagnant sitting on my bed in the house I've lived in for the last 12 years. I know that things will work out but I'm jealous of the people who its working out for sooner.

Yesterday was one of the first nice days in a really long time in DC so I decided to eat my lunch outside instead in the Dining Facility. The perimeter of the hospital doubles as a walking/running track for physical therapy as well as any employees who are more motivated then me and go running on their break. As I was sitting eating my wrap a couple walked by. They weren't much older then I was if they were as old at all. They seemed to just be taking a break from appointments and the hustle and bustle of the hospital. They walked for awhile and then as they walked past me I watched the husband reach for his wife's hand and give it a gentle squeeze. It was incredibly sweet. He glanced over at here every once and awhile and though said nothing I could see how much he loved, wanted and desired his wife.

I want that. Its not that I think they deserve it any less or I deserve it any more. But I feel like I deserve it also. That want of another person, to spend time with, to touch, to reach over and grab their hand because in that moment I can't and they can't imagine not touching even a little bit. Its been exactly a year since I've been with someone who has wanted that. Perhaps thats what has set off this bit of jealousy.

The other thing that has set this off is that a girl who will be graduating alongside me this spring just announced that she'd accepted a full time job as a therapist. I looked up the organization and I'm not even remotely jealous of what she'll be doing but I'm jealous that her life is settled. That she knows where she'll be working. I've sent out hundreds of resumes and thus far had 1 offer (that I had to turn down) and 2 phone interviews and thats it. I'm still waiting for the Army fellowship I've been told about and asked to apply for to figure out their damn application process. Its what I really want and what I hope that the fates are pushing me towards by not giving me other opportunities.

The Green Monster is a terrible beast

20 April 2011


Tim Hetherington, 41, Killed in Libya

I am absolutely devastated at the death of Tim Hetherington. Most people don't even know his name. I never met him personally but we emailed back and forth in October when he was donating an item to our silent auction. He was a sweet man who went to really dangerous places to graphically tell stories that nobody else would. The picture at right is part of his project on Tattoo's that he shot during his work on Restrepo in the Kongrel Valley which he donated to my organization.

His work on Restrepo  about Battle Company (of which I know 2 of the soldiers mentioned) was moving, ground breaking, awe-inspiring and amazing. I have seen the movie a number of times (and really need to remember to buy it) I love it so much that I have a poster of the movie hanging in my bedroom. I met Sebastian Junger the other filmmaker who worked on the project a couple of times through work and those two men. Well, they just inspire me.

I am often someone who wells up at something moving/adorable (read this and if you don't cry you have no soul) but I don't often audibly show my emotion. But when I read the CNN breaking news alert today about Tim I literally gasped so loud the woman across the hall from my office at work asked if I was okay. I am so devastated at the loss of him, his creative genus and his kind soul. 

I pray that there is a heaven and that the PFC Juan Restrepo was there to welcome him in. May his memory be a blessing. 

19 April 2011


Barfy. Its what I feel about 75% of the time. Which all things consider isn't to bad considering until recently its about about 95% of the time. I wish this barfy feeling came from being pregnant, even though I'm not even sure I want kids, let alone actually have the kid. Because at least pregnant goes away eventually. Which my Barfy does not.

Why the Barfy feeling? I have gastroparesis. Which unlike this blog from Dr. Oz is not actually a Lazy Stomach. Its a Broken Stomach. Most people digest 90% of their food in 4 hours. I digest roughly 65% of my food. Which means the food sits there rotting and making me feel gross. I have to eat a super low fat/fiber diet (under 5 grams of fat and 3 grams of fiber per "meal") and avoid pretty much anything fun or healthy. The more processed the better as far as my GI tract is concerned. I have trouble meeting my calorie load in any given day which although great for my figure (down 25 pounds since Nov) is actually fairly terrible for functioning. I've gotten to the point where I'm no longer constantly queasy, dizzy or weak but I'm not 100%.

There isn't much medical research or time devoted to Gastroparesis, especially not my variety, idiopathic rather than cause by surgery or diabetes. The most effective treatment for it is Reglan, which causes irreversible twitches and has a severe black box warning on it. I refused to take it. There is another medication domperidone which is not legal in the US except by being in enrolled in a study which I took for a month and it did....nothing...Well it did something, it made my boobs hurt (side effect lactation! what fun), made me super depressed and dizzy. Not the intended effect in the least.

I treat my gastroparesis through a combo of sticking to my VERY no fun diet and acupuncture. My acupuncturist is AMAZING. She has gotten me to the point where I can think about food with flavor and down from taking Zofran 2-3 times a day to 2-3 times a week. I actually recently went 3 weeks without taking a Zofran which is amazing. Though this week has been a little rough and queasy and I've needed one each evening.

I give you all this background because it really monopolized a chunk of my life and its been interesting to learn to navigate with it. From finding food at a restaurant that I can eat--I do a lot of modifying which makes me feel horrible because I hated it as a server in college--to figuring out what I can eat at work to not barf on my clients (turkey sandwich every day except Friday which is pasta Friday in the DFAC). I haven't tried to date yet with it but I imagine having that conversation with a date is going to be awkward. The 4 weddings I have to go to this spring/summer will also be a challenge. So far I've made it through one by picking at the chicken and did manage to eat a piece of cake with regretting it which was a BIG step.

I do however refuse to be limited by my GP. I will continue to work, date, go out to eat etc. I may have to only eat out at Asian, Greek or Italian restaurants but I will make it work. I may not ever be able to have a milkshake, eat a burger or run a marathon but I will get married and make a family.

I own my GP, it doesn't own me!

16 April 2011

Finding Employment

Before detailing my woes of finding employment lets pause a minute for some background. Unlike a lot of professional masters level programs like teaching or business, social workers don't walk off the stage on graduation day allowed to do everything we've been educated to be able to do.  There are two tracks in social work one (the one I am doing) that is clinical work doing the things that you assume social workers do--therapy, case management, foster care work etc. and a second track that does more macro things like policy, advocacy, program management etc.

In order to clinical work you have to get a license. When you graduate you can sit for the Graduate exam and become an LGSW aka Licensed Graduate Social Worker. But the license you really want is the LICSW--Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. And herein lies the problem, In order to get that license you need a job (for at least 2 years with a supervisor who is registered with the state). But most places want licensed social workers (in my cause read: the army). Its the same dilemma most of us had after undergrad where in order to get a job you had to have had a job but you need someone to take a chance on you.

I have the job experience to land a job in the policy/advocacy/management world. I don't however have that clinical work experience that everyone wants other than my 2 field placements for school (year long internships required in order to graduate). Most of the jobs I'm attracted to want that dang LICSW. Its frustrating to say the least.

My other struggle is I don't know where I want to live. I fell in love with Seattle when I was out there in the summer of 2009 but I am not sure I want to be that far away from family--My grandparents and an Aunt and Uncle are in the Bay Area but I'm not super close to them and everyone else is on the east coast. But its been all I've been dreaming about for the last 2 years. However, I am not committed enough to move across the country with no job to do it. But most of the jobs I've applied to out there don't want to hire me since I'm not local.

Other places I've been thinking about are Austin/San Antonio/Killeen, TX; Jacksonville/Fayetteville, NC; Colorado Springs, CO;  and Boston, MA.

I want to live somewhere with a decent cost of living, minimal traffic, temperate winters and summers and in a military community. Any ideas?

15 April 2011

Getting Started

Well, here we go again, Blogger. We had a torrid love affair 2 years ago at the beginning of my grad program which lead to a nastygram from the Army and subsequently them shutting us down. But now with just 5 weeks left of grad school and 4 weeks left at our internship it feels like a good time to start up the ol' blog wheels again. That, and one of my best friends, has started a blog about her life's journey and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so I'm blogging my journey too.  We're just not going to talk any sort of specifics about our internship because we don't want another nastygram.

So when you're on a journey or at least just starting out its best to start at the beginning. I'm Sarah. I'm 25 (oh look a girl telling her real age!). I am about to graduate from a Masters of Social Work program in mere 32 days (cue panic at finishing my thesis, 2 final papers, 8 journals, 1 process recording and 1 presentation). I graduated in 2007 from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa with a BA in Religion and Social Change. Remind me to tell you about Juniata some day and why my major doesn't look like yours did. After graduation I spent time working for congress, a union, and finally landed a dream job using that strange undergraduate degree for a Christian organization (despite being Jewish) that did hunger and poverty advocacy and lobbying. And there I remained for 18 months before leaving to head to graduate school.

When not working for money, I spent (and still do) a lot of time as a volunteer (and eventually as a paid employee) with a civilian organization that provides fun things like massage nights, brunches, picnics, dvds etc at a military hospital here in the DC area. Its through this volunteer opportunity I learned about the issues facing our wounded warriors and fell in love with the military. This was all very strange for a pacifist who has more peace signs in her wardrobe then any other symbol. Eventually I'll tell you why I can be a pacifist and do the work that I do but regardless I soon realized that I needed to figure out how to do this for money. Enter MSW program.

The program itself has been a challenge, not academically, but just major lessons in time management, frustration tolerance and dealing with "the man." I have also dealt with personal struggles regarding my health during this which have been trying. The program in the end I hope will get me where I want to be in life--as a social worker for the US Army either civilian or uniformed.

I am happy school is coming to an end (I want my weekends back!) but I'm a little scared about the future. So far I am not employed and have no real prospects which is a little scary. I'm grateful to have lived at home the last two years (for better or worse) and that my parents won't be kicking me out anytime soon but I'm ready to be a grown up.

So this is where the journey begins, 5 weeks before graduation, looking for employment, preparing for the future me!