Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Time for another blog

Health update: My neck contiuned to hurt and the pain was worsening. I made my first trip to the campus health center last week. They weren't sure what was wrong with me, so they just gave me some muscle relaxers and pain killers. I was a little skeptical of this treatment. After that trip I made a wonderful decision to not go into practicum that day and slept a lot and it was wonderful. The muscle relaxers really helped with this (I had been having problems sleeping due to the neck pain). The next morning I got up early for work and my neck was not feeling better, but worse. As I was in the shower, I started feeling around on my neck for knots which caused everything to go black. So yeah I passed out in the shower, that was fun. I felt very horrible for a few minutes but decided to go to work anyways (well really I do not have much of an option on this one when I am the one that opens). I amazingly made it through 4 p.m. that day, however I was supposed to stay until 8 p.m. But I decided I had enough and went to the doctor again just as they were closing. Hmm...maybe it is a viral thing they said...again, I was very skeptical. So they gave me some stronger painkillers and told me to get some rest. But just to be safe, to get x-rays the next morning at the U of L hospital. So I got my x-rays and guess what they revealed - there is a reason why my neck is hurting! Anyways I don't know the technical terms, but things aren't lined up right and my muscles have experienced a lot of strain because of this. They asked if I had been in some sort of accident because it looked like whiplash - the only thing I can connect this problem to is that damn basketball hitting me in the head this past June! The doctor reccommended a physical therapist but I decided to go with a chiropractor instead. I had never been to one, but have heard good things and of course Abby Mo is becoming one, so I trust her opinion. Someone from church recommended a place and I made my first visit on Monday morning. Everyone in the office is really nice and I felt very comfortable (I think this is really important....I have very opposite feeling about the campus health center). Luckily I was able to get x-rays for free through my student health insurance so I do not have to worry about that cost. Unfortunately, with chiropractic I have a $250 deductible before I get any help (which still isn't that much) But they are giving me a cheaper rate since I am a student, which is nice of them. So the chiropractor said a lot of "oh that is not good" while looking at my x-rays. I got 4 adjustments and some "therapy" which involved ice and electrical something or others. Unfortunately right after the treatment I was feeling worse. This concerned me a little. But this morning I was feeling better, the best I have felt for a couple weeks. I even went back to riding my bike today (yeah another cost I have had to endure is parking garage fees since my neck prevented me from walking or riding a bike, or even walking to bus stops). I go back to the chiropractor tomorrow. I guess they will want to see me pretty often at first. It is going to be a little difficult to fit this into my schedule, but I guess I will have to manage.

So yeah that was a little detailed, but that has been my life the past couple of weeks. I am so glad I am finally starting to feel better. I guess this all goes back to that basketball incident. My neck never felt quite right after that, and I am not sure what caused it to hurt so bad all the sudden (stress?, heavy backpacks? bike riding? sleeping wrong?) I have lots of theories. I tried to explain to Juma how the consequences of his carelessness are still effecting me and his reply was "man Ms. Maria, you're weak!" ha

Americana update: Missing two days of practicum last week was a nice escape from the craziness there. So they are having interviews this week so there should be new people very soon. Praise the Lord. Oh and the other intern who works with me in the youth programs is going to be out for a couple of weeks now too (her father passed away). It seems like every week I learn of someone else who will be out for awhile or permanently. We barely have any staff as it is and they keep leaving! (this is not meant to be insensitve at all, just an observation)
This morning in my practice class we were asked to split into small groups and share with eachother how are practicum placements are going. This was helpful for me to realize how much I am struggling and upset by the fact that I cannot really do my social work duties because I am doing the jobs of everyone else who has yet to be hired. It really is frustrating. I can deal with the daily craziness, I am used to it. But what is hardest for me is I am not really getting the true practicum experience. I do not feel like I am really learning anything new at all, which is rather unfortunate. I have kept telling myself things will get better, and they still haven't, and now the semester is almost halfway over! I am trying my best to have a positive attitude about it, but I have raised my concerns with some people outside of Americana, which I think was important to do. During the youth programs I am doing the duties of a regular staff person (or how about five at the same time) and not what a social work intern should be doing.

On a positive note, this past Saturday I took three middle school boys to a college workshop at U of L called College 101. It was designed for middle school students and their parents to get them to start thinking about college. My supervisor asked for me to take some of our kids that don't get a lot of opportunities like this. Another group of kids went with one of my coworkers while I was responsible for three eigth grade boys. It was rather amusing (Juma was one of these by the way). Despite having to get up very early on a Saturday morning, it was a great day. I was really impressed by their behavior and I think they got some valuable information out of it. Plus we got free donuts and pizza. The funniest part of the day was Juma decided to call me mommy. Pretty much everyone was there with their parents. I really did feel like their mom. At one point we split up and then they said, ok go find your parents in the next room. All the sudden I hear Juma yelling "mommy" through the crowd until he finds me. I definitely got some odd looks. One kid actually asked if I was their mom. Yes, I have three 14 year old sons from Africa. I think he was just very confused.

Other random updates: School is still going well. I enjoy my classes. More assignments are starting to be due, but I am not overwhelmed yet. My first big paper is due next week though. And guess what is the topic? Assessing Americana Community Center. I do not think I will have many problems with that. Actually, I might even have trouble not going over 10 pages!

Our good friend Moses is joining the peace corps and leaving for Turkminestan this Saturday. We are having one last celebratory event for him tomorrow night. It will be sad to say goodbye to another great person. No more goodbyes please!

I realized how much I miss my Sundays from last year. They were always the go to church, take a nice nap, relax, then watch Extreme Home Makeover and Desparate Housewives days. Now it is go to church, go out to eat (which I like), then clean, cook and study all day. Which isn't all that bad, but not relaxing. I managed to watch the premiere of DH, while doing homework during the commercial breaks, but no extreme makeover :( Those days are gone. I will probably have to tape my shows and watch them when I have time (whenever that is...) Lost starts next week! I know Abby is excited. I'll definitely make time to watch the premiere.

I'll stop now. I should start blogging more frequently so my posts are shorter.

Monday, September 18, 2006

World Festival Fun

The highlight of my weekend was the Americana World Festival, simply because this was really all I did. I haven't been feeling my best lately (what a surprise huh?) so I decided to take it easy this weekend. Instead of going to parties and concerts, I stayed at home, ate some queso, and watched some Buffy, which worked for me. My main issue is that my neck has been hurting so much lately, as in it hurts to move it - actually it just hurts, no matter what position I am in. I am not quite sure what has caused this. Abby Mo will be happy to hear I plan on going to a chiropractor. But my first step is visiting the campus health center tomorrow so I can be referred to one. Along with neck pain, it is simply that time of year when having seasonal allergies is not fun. I still drink Benadryl straight from the bottle, in case you were wondering.

Back to the World Festival. Louisville had a World Fest downtown a couple week ago, but this past Saturday was Americana Community Center's version and it was a good time. I was there for about nine hours, part of the time working, part of the time just hanging out and enjoying the festivities. The festival was located at a shopping center close to the community center. As of the day after Labor Day, I have officially been working at Americana for a year. So last year, I was very new at the time of the festival. I enjoyed it much more this year as a "seasoned" employee. My first duty of the day was to ride the trolley and show the driver the route and encourage people to hop on and come to the festival. This was the first year we had a planned route and stops. The trolley went through the two apartment complexes most of the kids live in, so that was fun. I posted a picture of Beha on the trolley. The kids really enjoyed this form of transportation and were amazed that it was free. Later in the afternoon I sat at the Americana booth for a couple of hours, where I mainly entertained kids who wanted to sit with me in the shade. It was a very hot day. I also enjoyed the various entertainment (Spanish dancers, African dancers, belly dancers with snakes, salsa bands, etc.) I was going to post more pictures, but Blogger does not want to right now. Maybe later. I danced to salsa music with the kids for about an hour which was a lot of fun. It was a great opportunity to simply have fun with the kids. My housemates came to the festival in the evening. Dan and I enjoyed some Bosnian food. Alisa did not join us for food because she was catching up with an old friend. Ok if you are skimming, read this following story because it is one of those insane, wow what a small world things. So Alisa spent three months in Cuba while she was attending Goshen College and made some really good friends there. One of them told her he loved her the night before she left and she assumed she would never see him again. Guess who taps her on the shoulder at the world festival and says, "hey don't I know you?" Yep. This guy. His family won the Visa lottery in Cuba two months ago (which does not have good odds). And where is he placed? Louisville, Kentucky. In Americana Apartments to be exact. So naturally he attended the Americana World Festival. As does Alisa since her housemate works there. She is orginally from Goshen, IN so he was obviously not expecting to see her there. Isn't that one of the craziest things you have heard?? So yeah, he is going to hang out with us Wednesday night at the BBC (where we gather weekly) and I am looking forward to getting to know him. After spending about nine hours at the festival, I went home exhausted.

Other than not feeling my best, things are going well. I have settled into a routine and am used to the new schedule. I do not feel too overwhelmed with school work yet, that will come later. Work is still stressful - so not much has changed there. As I have said, we really need to hire some new people. Guess who was put in charge of writing the job descriptions and posting job ads? Me. Something a manager would normally do, but I do everything now :) Actually I felt quite powerful deciding what skills and responsibilities these new people will have. Oh, and this just tops everything off - so we did have one position filled - basically the coordinator between all the different aspects of the youth programs (and we pretty much built the structure around her - she is awesome) and guess what - she's quitting! I'm not sure when yet. I don't even know if she'll be here this week. Guess I'll find out tomorrow! And that's not all, the associate director of the Center will also be out for three weeks (which is one reason I am writing job descriptions). It is due to family issues, so I completely understand why she will be gone - but it will make things even harder for awhile. This person is also my practicum superivsor (who I meet with weekly and go to for advice) She has been very helpful. While she is out, Edgardo is going to be my supervisor. I know they have completely different styles so I will have to get used to this. So those are the updates at Americana. Wow, I can't wait to go into work tomorrow!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Not Much Has Changed...

So yeah not much has changed since my last entry, but of course I can still come up with things to say. I thought I would liven up the post with some recent pictures. Over Labor Day weekend I enjoyed having three days off and did a whole lot of nothing (and studying), but we did paint the “conquistador” room “colonial yellow” which can be seen in the pic. This was the first time I have ever painted a room, well helped with one at least. I painted a wall maybe, and then had to write a paper. But I did help! I love our new bright room.

My housemate Dan's birthday was on Thursday and we celebrated last night. We had some people over and tried out the new Italian restaurant a block away. It was delicious. The we went back to the apartment to have cake. I believe the pic is when we were singing to Dan. My foot is in the picture (I was laying on the lovely fainting couch). After cake we headed to the Mag Bar for some pool (where I actually made a couple decent shots). You can also see my new haircut via a crappy picture I took of myself on my cell phone. I went to the hair design school again where you can get a haircut for $10 and an eyebrow wax for $6 which fits my budget much better. I like my hair. So when I told the lady that was cutting my hair that I am getting my master's in social work she said "oh, so you just graduated high school?" Hmmm.....enough said.

School is still going well. Practicum could be better though. The youth programs started up this past week and it wasn't the best week. My main issue is that they have yet to hire the needed staff for the program (soon we should have 3 additional staff), so I was doing several people's jobs at once (the first day you could have refered to me as the one woman show). So since I was busy helping people with homework, orienting new volunteers, making sure they have something to do, making snack, monitoring the halls, making sure kids were where they were supposed to be, etc., I was not able to the things I should be doing in my social work practicum. I know this is just temporary though. But if those people aren't hired soon, I am not going to be happy. The most frustrating moment was when my "client" Juma needed my help with something that was related to my practicum, but I could not do it because I had to pass out snack. Ugh. But to look on the bright side of things, I guess I am getting some management experience. Things will be good once we have all the staff and our activities schedule is started up (because right now we have nothing to offer the kids other than ESL and homework help, which they need, but then they have nothing else to do which does not make them happy let me tell you. Of course I was the one who had to hear all the complaints this week) But like I said, things will improve soon so it is alright.

Yeah so in general I am still having a good time here and life is busy, but good. That's all for now.