Tuesday, September 30, 2003

UJ: fatherhood conference

I went to a day long fatherhood conference in Indy yesterday. I went with 2 other co-workers and it was an interesting day. In many ways...I learned a lot and in many ways...it wasn't what I expected.

The greatest thing though....was I got to see a friend who I worked with when I did outreach. I hadn't seen him in a couple years and wasn't even sure what he was up to, even though I think of him often. He was one of my favorite people when I did outreach. I would love just talking to him when we went out in a team together. I mean...we had our up and down times, but who remembers those bad times anytimes? We exchanged our new emails and phone numbers and I am hoping we keep in touch. The conference was worth it....if it was just for that.

And secondly...one of the sessions was taught by one of my professors when I was in grad school. She taught my family practice class. She was talking about how to welcome dads into the process in the field.... This prof and I...let's just say we didn't see eye to eye when I was her student. I felt like in many ways...she didn't show social work values with the way she taught and how she dealt with students. She also doesn't set the best tone for students to question things. You know...one of those instructors...where she is either right...or she is right. Her topic was interesting and I thought she covered it well...and i am probably biased, but I still see all those things there. The thing is...I can't question nor contradict that the things she knows well...she knows. Sometimes I think her attitude is so unfortunate because she has such knowledge...and I think often people don't get a chance to really get all of it.

And the final thing....was a panel of young fathers coming to talk to the group. These young men ranged in age from 17 to 28. It was really wonderful hearing them speak....and seeing how this one organization just made such a difference in their lives...and by making a difference in their lives...made a difference in their childrens' lives. I think in social services...we focus so much on the moms....but it is important not to forget the fathers in the picture. It was a great ending to the day...really cemented what the whole conference was about.

So...it was a good day. I learned a good deal and hope to be able to bring it back to what I do.


Sunday, September 28, 2003

UJ: school of rock

I went to see a sneak preview of 'School of Rock' last night....and since it was a sneak preview, I also got to see 'Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star; after it.

I loved 'School of Rock'...it is completely Jack Black and him at his finest. It is a movie about this guy who is kicked out of his band because he is too eccentric and out of control...and goes to substitute teach to make the rent...and teaches the kids to ROCK!

It was a great movie....not mind altering, but very funny. I often think of Jack Black much like people think of Jim Carrey...you know his craziness is part of the package and sometimes, it is just the thing the movie needs. Black just makes me laugh...and that is what this movie is...a laugh factory.

And if I am forced to see any kind of message in this film...which I always at least try to do....I think it is there. One, it is a movie about these kids at the best prep school in the country....and what is their music education before the introduction of the wacky Jack Black? They go once a week to music class where they only play classical. The kids have parents who consider rock music to be DANGEROUS and yell at their kids for being interested in rock 'n roll. Yes, Jack Black and him teaching the kids to ROCK is over the top, but I think the perception of the attitude about rock music in the 'pre ivy league' environment...I think is right on. When schools face budget cuts these days...what do they cut? They cut the arts and music program...because many people don't consider it necessary to a in depth education. I could not agree more. And if music is taught...it is contemporary music...it is classical. I love classical, but I also think that music of today is something to be learned. I remember getting the chance to take a class in High School on the evolution of rock and roll...and it was one of the best courses I took. I am not saying that students should sacrifice math or social studies or even physical education, but I am just saying that music and art should not be sacrificed either.

And secondly....there is this constant pressure by the teachers and principal that Jack Black teach the kids by the curriculum and nothing else. And if you know Jack Black...you know that isn't possible. And in the end...he connects with those kids in a way that no other teacher in the school is. He uses a method that works...but it is almost considered a threat to the school. (and yes...he isn't a teacher and is just pretending...which is of course....very wrong). But he teaches these kids....about music and in a very after school special way...makes a difference in their lives. I just think it brings about the point that there are so many ways to teach and to learn....

Anyways...enough deep thoughts about 'School of Rock'...how embarrassing, eh?

And I don't have much to say about 'Dickie Roberts.' I think it is one of the worst movies I have seen in a while. One, I think it was just a interesting twist and remake of Billy Madison, but not done nearly as well. And two...the jokes weren't funny and it tried to hard to be emotional and it just ended up being over the top. The only thing I found mildly entertaining was the presence of actual child stars...my fav being Leif Garrett. I was too young to know him as a child star, but sadly...Behind the Music made me quite a fan! *winks*

So...my recommendation...go see 'School of Rock' and skip...'Dickie Roberts'



Friday, September 26, 2003

UJ: outreach memories

Before I start, I wanted to give Michael Moore's website just in case anyone wanted to read more about what he has to say. He's controversial...that is an understatement, but I do believe we need his kind of controversy if we have any hope of changing our country.


And on to the topic of this entry. I have been reminded often of my days of outreach this week. And for those of you who don't know....my first social service job in Indiana was working as an Americorps Homeless Street Outreach Worker. We went out on the streets in groups and talked to those who were homeless. We tried to focus on those who textbooks would call the "chronic homeless." They are the ones which have made a life on the streets and over time, many have gotten quite used to it. We would go into alleys, parks, by train tracks and along underpasses. Our job was first to engage with these people and hopefully get a trusting relationship with them. You see, most people who are chronically homeless (btw- I hate this term) don't trust many people and agencies...and can you blame them? They in many instances have been treated like animals or worse....and only helped if they were deamed worthy of some sort of help. They don't have much reason to trust or put hope into agencies....those same agencies that have let them down over and over again.

And that in many ways is where we came in. We would go to them...on their turf in many ways. And we didn't go there spouting requirements. We would just talk with them and see if there were ways, if any, that we could help. We also carried some basic care items with us...like soap, shampoo and some food. In many ways the items were our "in" into the conversation, but they also really served a need. Just because someone doesn't want to go to an agency's door, doesn't mean that they don't deserve some food and some cleanliness items. It is amazing to me...how many people think some of the basic items are not a basic human right.

And the agency I worked for...I considered one of the good guys. Their mission is to treat all people...especially those experiencing homelessness as human being....with the right to make decisions on their own life. They didn't call the people we served homeless people or "bums", but instead we chose to call them "homeless neighbors" because they are just as much our neighbor as the person who lives next door. And through time...of these individuals seeing us coming to them and really trying to understand their situation and their frustrations and helping them in any way that we could....many of these people really began to trust us and work with us. We were able to be the bridge between the street and the agency.

I have such fond memories of that work. And by that, I mean of the work with the people, not necessary the work inside the office. There was agency politics just like everywhere else. But, I know that when I left the office and our group began our outreach...we were doing good work.

Now what made me have these memories this week? Umm...a few things.

The first was on Wednesday they did a Homeless Count here in Bloomington. We were trying to get accurate information for grant and service purposes about the amount of homeless people in Bloomington. So, to count people in essence we broke up into teams and did outreach of the area. It was different in many ways...in scope...in purpose, but it felt very similar. It also reminded me of what I loved about it. Our group didn't come across and people to count, but I remember the sense of team work that goes along with going out with only those people. YOu have conversations that you woudln't have in any other setting. I really missed my outreach days while walking through our area of town.

And then today....it was kind of sprinkling when I came into work and continues through most of the morning. And I went to a local place to get lunch. It started to really rain on my walk over and then continued on my walk back. I ended up having to go back (they got my soup wrong...) and it continued to rain. It wasn't a hard rain, so I just walked through it. That reminded me of outreach too...because we were out in almost every kind of element. We talked for hours through the rain, the ice, the snow, the wind, the hot sun, etc... You name it...we walked through it. So, for those 5 or 10 minutes at most when I was out today and walking through the rain....letting the drops hit my shoulders over and over again, I was once again reminded of my work.

I think I had forgotten how much I loved that job. I enjoy the work I am doing now, but not on the same level. The work there was not only satifiying, but also incredibly challenging. And the challenges were about the people we were helping and nothing else. I think in my work today, the things that challenge me are not client related, but about the system and administration. My challenges....they are about then budget and making sure the program meets the need of the grant. The challenges of outreach were difficult, but life affirming and energizing...and the challenges of work here...sometimes are just so draining.

In the end...I enjoy my work enough with the families that I will keep with it, but if a job came along that encompassed those things in outreach, I would be there in a second. That is the work that dramatically satisfies me.

And...for anyone who wanst to check out where I worked when I did outreach, here is their website. Check out what they do...since outreach is just one small piece. And if you are so motivated, they accept donations and gifts of all kinds.


And those are my final words on this rainy friday afternoon....


Thursday, September 25, 2003

UJ: inspired to act

I finally saw all of Bowling for Columbine a few days ago. I had seen parts of it, but not the whole thing. I had mad respect for Michael Moore before seeing it all, but now...I am in such great debt and gratitude to him. He is willing to stand up and say what is right...even if he knows it may cause boos or unpopular opinions.

And the core message of Bowling is so true....we, as Americans, live our lives out of fear, in conventional and unconventional ways. We are constantly worrying about 'what if' and it keeps us from being active. I have been an activist in my time and at other times, I have let fear win. We live in a world where the people with power can make decisions that change our lives. And yes, sometimes standing up to those powers that be...it is scary and can have some pretty devastating consequences.

But...what hits me harder than anything in this movie is that not only does action have the possibility to have negative consequences, but it also can have wonderfully positive ones. It takes bravery and guts...to stand up against powerful and at times omnious opposition and say what you KNOW to be right, but without that....nothing will ever change.

Without standing up...and challenging the world, it isn't going to change. We live in a nation that proclaims loudly about it being a place where all voices can be heard and where people can make a difference. They say we live in a nation by the people FOR the people... Well, if we don't use our voices....then, in many ways it is our own fault. We need to be loud and heard so that there is no question about what the people want.

George Bush is not my president.

I did not vote for him and yes, neither did most of the country. I have moved on from this because at this point...festering on it will do no good. But, I am focused on making sure that the next election is not the same. My vote will be clear and I hope the nation follows. If the will of the people elect George Bush, so be it. But, I will stand and say that I do not support him, his administration, his policies and his war. And...I also have faith that this election can be taken from Bush. I have faith that he can be unseated. I often remember Bush Sr during his re-election campaign. Everyone said that he could not be defeated. If we all gave up then and didn't try....the magic of Bill Clinton never would have happened. We have to speak our mind and our support of whatever candidate we feel will do the best job...and have some faith and hope.

I do not support this war.

I have said it before and I will say it again. This is not my war...and not only do I find this war misguided and inhumane, but I am saddened to see that it will single handedly continue to hurt this country. How can we live in a time of economic disaster and still in all conscience accept to spend 87 billion dollars on a war, any war...especially not this war. Our country is falling apart in front of our eyes....and we need all the resources we have right now, but instead they are being sent to bomb a nation, while calling it Operation Iraqi Freedom. I find it ironic that no matter who and what we bomb...it is in the name of humanitarianism, but any sort of reaction from Iraq or its people is considered terrorism. How can the people who spin that sleep at night? You wonder why the world thinks we are the bullies of the nation...because we are. My heart is saddened when I hear of this war and this effort....

On the backs of the poor...

This nation...and its overflowing problems are the burden of the poor. How is it that we can have a huge deficit, but at the same time be giving tax breaks? Who does that make sense to? It makes sense to those who seem to sing it praises because it doesn't effect them. Where is this money coming from? We know that the US doesn't have a money tree to go to when they need a few extra bucks here and there, so where will that money come from? It will come from the programs which help the people with the least amount of power and the softest voice...the poor. TANF will be restricted and cut.....access to public housing will be cut...funds for medicaid and medicare will be cut....the americorps program has already been and will continue to be cut. This is how tax breaks will be paid for and justified. They will be funded by slashing the budgets of anything that resembles a social service. I am not just offended by this because I work in social services....I am offended because I see what it does to the people I work with. I have seen how desperate the times are out there. It hurts my heart to know that soon I will be unable to help because of an administration that does not see the GREAT need out there. Cuts will continue to be made....on the back of the poor. And until we stand up and make enough noise, it will continue to happen.

There is the sentiment out there that the poor and oppressed don't have any power...that they do not have a voice. And well this may be true right now, it is not because it is actually true. It is true because we believe it to be true. Every person has a voice...and those who are oppressed....if they battle together and make a stand, their voices can be very powerful. The issue comes back to fear. The poor and oppressed...we know and they know...that these powerful people hold the key to their jobs, their money and their services. So...sometimes staying silent becomes a necessity for survival.

I think the biggest lesson I got out of watching Bowling...and anything else Michael Moore is involved in was really just a reminder. It is a reminder of the power of a single voice. It reminds me that even when it is scary....the value of standing up and speaking one's mind. It reminded me that there are battles right now that need to be fought and that if stay silent and afraid...then our silence speaks as support.

I am encouraged....and know that there is work out there to be done.

Alright...that is enough for now. Enjoy the day and all that it brings...


Thursday, September 18, 2003

UJ: celebrate or not celebrate? That is the question...

In my daily recount of yesterday, I forgot to mention that it was one of our intern's birthday yesterday. I quite enjoyed making her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY sign, getting her a card, bringing in birthday goodies for everyone to eat, and getting everyone at work to sing her happy birthday.

So, I started to ponder....why do I like making a deal out of other people's birthdays, but never my own. I have had a long standing philosophy of not celebrating my birthday. I try as hard as I can to just make it like any other day....and not have it be a big deal. Cause in the end...why is it a big deal? It is just a day. I also think I have had some amazing birthdays and some down right horrible ones. I think I decided that celebrating my birthday just isn't worth it for me...

But, on the flip side...I enjoy celebrating other people's birthdays. I enjoy sharing that day with them...and celebrating them. I enjoy throwing a little party for someone....it brings me a lot of joy.

Anyways....was pondering the thought, so I thought I would share it.


UJ: daily unwind

I had an interesting day yesterday....very eb and flow for me. Work was on the more stressful side since a lot of things that should have been done months ago within the organization still haven't been done. But, it was also a really good day at work. I got to take two of the SWK students with me to a meeting and it started a great discussion about a topic that they were talking about in class. It is reasons like that....that I am so glad to have students. I also really like these women....they just seem to get it...get what it means to do social work and for that I am quite grateful.

And then I had an really interesting conversation at work....that kind of poured over from the one with the interns. I like that I have a work environment where people can disagree....where people can talk about an issue intelligently and not treat a difference of opinion like people are fighting. That was a real pick me up from me day...

And then I went running from work...and hopped in the car and drove to Indy for a board meeting. I am on the School of Social Work Board and we had one of our bimonthy meetings tonight. It usually is a pretty dry and boring meeting...just hearing a lot of committee reports and overviews of programs, but I was quite happy to be there. The reason is that one of my dear friends from grad school is also on the board. I haven't seen her in probably a year since she lives in Indy and I live in Bloomington, but I still consider her a great and close friend. She is one of those people that just inspire me. She has such an honest and positive outlook on life...and she truly sees the goodness that is out there to find in the world. It was great being able to swap stories and catch up with her. It reminded me of what I loved so much about being in grad school.

And my friend who I have been having difficulty with....she is on this board too, but she didn't show up to the meeting. I am in many ways relieved not to see her there since I don't think I could be professional with her at this point. The interesting twist...when I got home and checked my mail, I had a card from her. She said something about hoping we could work on our friendship and missing me. I am giving myself a little time to listen and read the card and see what I want to do. I have to say...my gut reaction was to say, if she missed me so much....how come she still hasn't called me back after a month? To me...that shows how much she cares for the friendship. Hmm...I have no decision what I am doing about that, but well...I'll just have to play it by ear. Right now...I am putting it on the back burner.

When I got home from the meeting...I was just exhausted. I played on the computer for a few minutes and then just lied down, watched some TV and went to bed. It was a day with its high and low points...and so draining, but all in alll...not a bad day. I do feel though..that I am starting to feel the drain of not having had my vacation a few months back.

And now...back to work for me....



Tuesday, September 16, 2003

My world is conflicted....as soon as I think I make the decision that the east coast is where I should head...that I would be much happier and probably more successful if I was back on the east coast...surrounded by family and friends and probably where I belong. As soon as I think I have made that decision....something changes my mind. And then it is changed right back.

I am just unsure what I want to do....I have a really nice professional reputation here, but I am not sure this is where I need to be. But, I also know that if I stay here...who knows, maybe I could be teaching a class or two in a few years. The community knows me...the university knows me.

But then I think of not getting to see my parents more than once or twice a year. I think about that I haven't seen one of my dearest friends from college in almost 3 years. I think about all the times I have to only connect through email with some of the most important people in my life....and at the same time, my formerly closest friend here in Indiana hasn't returned my phone call in a MONTH.

So...I am still conflicted, but I know that if I saw a job posting on the east coast and it looked promising...I think I would be set to get on a plane and check it out.

Hmm...who knows...


Monday, September 15, 2003


Sunday, September 14, 2003

UJ: Some Girls

I just got back from an AWESOME show. it was to see Some Girls. It is a band made up of Heidi Gluck, Juliana Hatfield and Freda Love. Juliana has a pretty well known solo career...and Juliana and Freda were in the Blake Babies together in the 80s and then a reunion tour a year or so ago. Heidi is in a local Indy band, The Pieces.

I have loved The Blake Babies since I was a kid. My brother had little to nothing in common when we were kids. But, we had the Blake Babies in common. It is a band I loved since the first time I heard it. It's the hard rock...maybe a little punky. It just has a great vibe and beat. At first I didn't want to like the Blake Babies just because my brother did...but I couldn't help it, I loved them.

I remember going to college...and my brother sending me a mix tape of tunes and being so happy there was a Blake Babies tune on it. I played that tape constantly...hmm, I wonder if I still have it...and where it is. I'm gonna have to track that down.

And then my freshman year...I went to see a Juliana Hatfield show in Vermont. I went with 4 girls on my floor...they were all pretty alternative and thought I was preppy and wouldn't like Juliana. I rocked out at the show...sang along with almost every line...and had the time of my life. It was an amazing show...in this tiny little venue. I have the fondest memories of standing there...and just being washed over by the music.

Since then...Juliana has had a semi-successful solo career. I own most of her album....Beautiful Creature is my absolute favorite. It is soft and vulnerable....and just speaks to me. I often listen to it when I am driving in the car...since it is quite calming. It's upbeat and has a great rock edge, but also this soulful side....

And then the Blake Babies put out a new album in 2001...and i could not be happier. I listen to parts of that CD at least once a day. It was like a revisit to my realization of how amazing music could be as a kid..... And it is one kick ass album. It's called God Bless The Blake Babies.

I don't think I can quite capture in words what this band means to me....their music is so raw and real....it just really speaks to me, it always has. I couldn't feel any more lucky to be able to see and hear the set tonight. Some Girls released an album...it's called 'Feel It.'

You can download a free song on their site, so check them out:


Off to listen to their CD...again!

rock on!


Saturday, September 13, 2003

Farewell O'Bannon

This morning...at about 10am this morning, the Governor of Indiana, Frank O'Bannon passed away. He had a massive stroke 5 days ago....things looked pretty grim. Things got a tad better, but then reports said that last night things took a turn for the worse. His family decided there was no more reason for hope...and decided not to continue using life support. He died peacefully and naturally...

O'Bannon was a good man....and one of the few politicians out there who didn't seem corrupt in his actions, etc. He stood up for the people and had a real vision for Indiana. I hope his Lt. Gov. continues to do things as O'Bannon would have...



Thursday, September 11, 2003

UJ: news articles

I was reading some things online tonight and I came across these two articles. They, for sure, are controversial...and I am not sure I support nor condemn what they are saying...but one thing I am sure of, they are an interesting read. If you chose to read them, enjoy!

Don't Commemorate Sept. 11
Fewer flags, please, and more grit.
By Christopher Hitchens


87 Billion Apologies
Take your money, Mr. President, but at least say you're sorry.
By Michael Kinsley


UJ: 9/11

It seems bizarre and unreal that it has been two years. How could two years have passed since the terrorist attacks? I can remember clear as day...riding into school with two classmates and hearing what was happening on the radio. It's so bizarre that we were listening to the radio that day, since we usually just chit chat or listen to CDs. We heard about the first plane on the radio and thought it was just some bizarre accident.

And then we heard the reports that the second plane hit the other tower....and as soon as that happened, we all knew this wasn't any accident. It was the strangest thing to sit there and realize this all...and since the US is so media focused, it was strange to just hear it on the radio. We get so used to watching things happen...and instead we just had to listen very clearly on the radio. I feel very grateful that I was not the one driving in that day...since I am not sure how well I would have handled listening to the news and driving into campus.

Once we got to campus....we found a monitor around the corner from our class....and by that time, the Pentagon had been hit as well. I was watching on the monitor and listening to the reports...surrounded by a whole group of students. We were all just sitting there...staring at the TV screen and all of us were thinking, "This can't be real." I think it took me a while...a few days to truly believe it was real. My friends and I all left campus that day and spent the afternoon at one of our friend's house watching the coverage on TV. We unfortunately got to witness the towers falling...and those horrific images over and over again.

It's one of those times when you never forget where you were....what it felt like. And part of me is very happy that my day at work today is going to be very busy. I don't want to be at home and watching the coverage all over again. I want to remember and honor those connected to the attacks, but I also don't want to sit and experience it all over again. In many ways, I really find comfort in that most of the day is going to just feel like a normal day for me.

I hope everyone is able to find peace on this day...it's a sad day and a nerve racking day, but also a day to celebrate our nation and our strength. I don't celebrate our reaction, mainly militarily...I celebrate how people came together and supported one another. I celebrate how NY went from being the state with attitude...to the state with an undying heart. I celebrate how people truly took this tragedy and from it...were brought to help others in a way they hadn't before. To me...that is the gift of all this. This nation....for what seemed like only a brief time...pulled together, instead of the constant pulling apart. That is what I plan on remembering and celebrating on each and every anniversary of September 11th.



Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Hi Bob!
Hi Stan!
How's the go going?



Tuesday, September 09, 2003

umm...i just gotta say, I LOVE JON STEWART!

He is so political....and so funny. And it probably helps that I am a democrat (I imagine the republicans don't laugh as much), but oh lord...I almost fall off my chair every night while watching him on the Daily Show.

You know what is funny.....I read quite a few online journals pretty much on a daily basis. And well...if I check them and they haven't been updated daily...I get cranky and wish they would, but the kicker is...do I update mine daily? Oh never!

Oops....guess I should stop acting like the hypocrite of the year, eh?

Other than that....I am stocked since I bought the 24 Season Two DVD today. I am starting to go through all the extra stuff. I love DVDs...just cause of all that extra stuff. I love being able to see how a movie or show was made and the whole process. It's just awesome...

So, I am off to watch....



Wednesday, September 03, 2003

UJ: orientation

today we had the interns at work for the first time. I am their direct supervisor, so I spent the whole day doing an orientation with them and it was really great.

I think I would love being a professor. I love the idea of helping someone in their learning. Not feeding them info, but helping them with their process of learning. I remember what it was like being in an agency and trying to learn how to be the best social worker that I could be. I hope I can help these students in the same way I was helped...in some ways I wasn't helped.

It's also awesome...on a personal level. I was just in school two years ago and in that time...I have become the field instructor with the most students. That feels pretty great. It's something I love doing...and last semester, I was pretty good at it. I would love...down the line...to have a job that worked full time with students in either placement or teaching. I think it would be something I would throughly enjoy. I love direct practice, but I think even more I love helping others become the workers. I always loved the idea...even when I was in college....in being able to spark someone's interest about something. So...I think probably my dream job for me...would be teaching social work and maybe being able to see those bright eyes idealist social workers continue to go out there in the world.

So...today was a good day. It was busy...it flew right by, but I really enjoyed it. I hope for many more like it.

Right now I am STARVING...so I am gonna go make something for dinner!



Monday, September 01, 2003