Friday, March 31, 2006

The wheels on the bus...

Yes, more bus issues. Damn, I'm beginning to dread the bus. Today I get to the stop first and am waiting for the bus. Two colleagues come shortly after and we talk about our day. The bus comes and they get on the side door and I go in the front. The bus is crowded today, true, but there was space near me where they could have stood. They probably didn't see it, but they didn't look. So they stayed together for the trip and I read my book. Finally one of them gets off, and the other stays on past her usual stop. She makes her way over to me and asks me which stop she should get off to get to such and such a street. I was really pissed off. And I'm sure it showed. I felt really pissed off that she came to speak to me when the other woman was gone, but didn't bother to make her way until then. Especially since all 3 of us were waiting at the stop together. I know I shouldn't expect people to stay with me, but I just feel it's thoughtless not to. Especially if you're going to come up to me after to ask me a question. I really feel separated in situations like that. I feel saying something is pointless, but people don't understand how isolating it is sometimes to be disabled and have to do things differently than others. Of course my obsessive personality doesn't help situations like this :). Blah!

Mommy Dearest

I remember a few years back having a conversation with 2 disabled friends of mine. We ended up talking about our mothers and realized that we all had something in common. Our mothers were crazy. Overbearing, dominant, guilt-giving, unrealistic crazy. It started me wondering about how many other people with disabilities had crazy mothers. And of course the question that comes from that is.. which came first, the disabled child or the crazy mother? Now, in defense of our mothers, I must say that a) I am certain it's not easy bringing up a disabled child, b) everybody has a bit of craziness in them. Lord knows I do! But my 2 friends and I noticed that our mothers were very similar in this regard.

I think this would make a very interesting study. I love my mother, but I can't be around her for too long before she starts driving me crazy. Bang your head on a brick wall crazy. My mother feels that in order to make friends, I have to be extraordinary. She always said she had hoped I would be an artist because everyone would be in awe of that talent and just naturally want to be around me. That is wrong on just so many levels. First of all, that is naturally coming from her own biased viewpoint. She values art. I do draw. Sometimes quite well. I have a glimmer of talent which my procrastinating nature never really nurtured. But it doesn't matter to me. It's a hobby I dabble in sometimes. Whatever. When I chose social work, she wasn't happy with that. she felt life was hard enough for me, why would I want to listen to other people's problems. It's funny, I see her point to an extent, but it is still narrow-minded. I don't have the patience in my personal life to listen to people who only talk about problems or heck, even only talk about themselves. I used to be able to deal with that, not anymore. However in my professional life, I quite enjoy it. I can separate it because it is my role to listen to them. I am in control as I chose to do this. In your personal life, when you have friends who are too needy (and for a while those were the only type of friends I was attracting), it feels beyond your control. That doesn't mean that I don't want to listen to my friends talk about their problems. Of course I have patience for that, but to a point. I am there for my good friends as they are there for me. But I will also challenge them. If they are whining about the same crap, I will tell them that they are not doing anything to change their situation and I won't be as patient. If they are trying to change their situation and it's just not working, I'll be very compassionate. But, that was a tangent. Back to mothers...

What my mother really didn't and doesn't get is that all her talk about having a great talent to draw people to you affected me negatively. It made me afraid to be who I am, whoever that is, for fear it's not good enough for "normal" folk to like. I was always told to cover up my legs and feet because they are deformed so I'll "look pretty". Same with my weight. "You'd be so pretty if you were thinner". I had to hide as much of my disability as possible and overcompensate for it by doing extraordinary things. I wasn't allowed to be just a normal girl with a disability. I feel like I'm repeating myself as I think I talked about some of this in an early post. But, I am wondering how many of us have mothers who had trouble dealing with our disability. I'm sure most have trouble, but how many have mothers like I describe, who put the onus on us to do 90% of the work to draw others to us and make fulfilling relationships? If someone runs out of their way to open a door for me (which I hate) my mom replies with "I'd love to have someone do that for me, you should just accept it." I find that funny. I'm supposed to be as independent as I can, and possibly more, yet not complain when others help when they think I need it. Her response when I was in high school and had no friends was "keep busy, act like you're too busy to spend time with them."

Then there's the discussions about my brother that comes up a couple times a year. My parents have been divorced for 30 years. My mother still blames my father for not helping my brother more financially. My brother is 3 years older than me and lives with my mother. I take my father's side. He's not perfect by any means. And yes, he and my brother have issues. They are not close. They dont' fight, have no animosity toward each other, but they are not close. I've always been helped financially by my father. I lived with him from mid-teens to mid-twenties. I got more, it's true. But on the flip side, my brother has always been very irresponsible with money, whereas I haven't. My brother worked with my mother. Long story short, he doesn't anymore, but hasn't found a job for himself. He is living under her roof, spending her money. And she likes it. She needs that. She would never admit it though. It's a self-serving relationship, however if my mother were to die tomorrow, my brother would be lost. She doesn't think so. She thinks she's helped him get his self-esteem. I disagree. Whatever the situation, it is wrong to blame my father. My father was harsh with my brother, but he had to be. My brother had his deviant phase and needed to prove he could be trusted again. Anyways, there's lots more to it, but all this to say that when we talk about it my mother always said "the doctors told us when you were born that you'd be fine, that it was your brother we'd have to worry about, being the sibling of a disabled child. He will get less attention and it will be harder for him." I'm sure it was very hard for him at times. And I used to spend nights awake worrying about him and what I needed to do to fix it. I won't do that anymore. I won't go there with my mother. But I really resented her telling me that. I'm a 35 year old woman with major problems to my self-esteem. I have trouble connecting with people. I have few close friends, none male. All male friends I've had have not lasted long, with the exception of one. I have dated one person for a period so short he doesn't even qualify as a boyfriend. I'm insecure, have issues with my weight. Low self-confidence. I yearn for approval. Even with friends I do have, I am never secure they consider me as good a friend as I consider them. I don't say this to get a collective "awww" out of you. I say this to explain. When my mother told me the doctor said I'd be fine, I'm wondering what freaking planet she's on if she thinks that I'm so much better off than my brother. My brother still lives with my mom and has no job of his own, yes. But he has friends. And he is well liked. He hasn't had a lot of girlfriends, as far as we know (he doesn't talk about it... but it's been about 12 years since we've met one), but it's not for lack of interest from them.

Any of this sounding familiar to anyone?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Condo or go home... wait.. I am home!!

I've been living for the past 2 years in a basement apartment. It is not an "accessible" apartment, per se, but it suits my needs for the most part. Having said that, it is by no means perfect. For one thing, I live over the boiler room. Nice and toasty, you might say? Totally overrated, I say. I have had my air conditioner on throughout most of the winter. Otherwise, it would be 32 degrees (90ish for you Fahrenheit folk). When I moved here, I had to find a place to live rather quickly. There were no lists, no services that really were able to help me. I made a gazillion phone calls all with dead ends. I ended up pounding the pavement. Going up and down the streets of the area I wanted to live in and seeing apartments that were in buildings that had no steps. Long and labourious. And utterly frustrating, as 95% of the apartments had components that would not work. 95% of that 95% being problems with bathrooms being too small and bathroom doors being too narrow. So, I thought recently that maybe it's time to go condo. There are some newer condo buildings around. They have a better (cough, cough) chance of being accessible, but even if they are not, I would be able to do renovations as I pleased. So the hunt will start soon. We'll see what kind of concrete jungle it is.

And the winner is...

That list thing really helped. It made me realize what was really important to me. To the uninvolved reader, the lists may seem rather equal on both sides, but after looking at each item, one really stuck out. Stimulating. That was the single, most important factor for me. I think I'd get bored quicker at the smaller job. Permanency isn't everything and I was really focussed on 'can I really turn down a permanent job?'. Well, yes, of course I can. So, I believe (for the moment, at least), that I will go with the non-permanent job in the bigger place.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Add it all up.

Well, I've been thinking. A lot. Last week I started my 6 month (actually 5+) position at my original place of work. I'm really, really enjoying it. It's really made me aware of how much I enjoy this environment more than the other. I was talking to my brother about it last night and he suggested the old pros and cons list of working at either place. So, here goes:

Pros of taking the permanent job:

1. Well, duh.. it's permanent! Benefits! Vacation! Sick days!
2. The staff is great. I get along with them and feel part of the team (well, as much as I can in a group setting, where I'm never really very comfortable).
3. I feel wanted and appreciated. Last week was social work week and, even though I've only been there 2 months, Everyone signed a card for me. It was really nice!
4. I get a lot of support as a new staff member.
5. My boss is pretty lenient.
6. You are always free to apply to other jobs within the hospital.

Cons of taking the permanent job:

1. My foot would be out of the door of the other place.
2. The floor smells really bad sometimes.
3. It's a smaller place and less anonymous. (yes, I put that as a con :))
4. The organization has been in a lot of flux lately. They are in the middle of a downsizing and reorganization phase, which I've heard happens every few years. A lot of instability. Since I've been there, 2 of our 3 doctors have changed, our physio has changed, the social worker will (obviously) change. As well, the amount of time of each job has changed. The physio is reduced from 3 to 2 days. Social work from 1 1/2 positions to 1 full time position. Chances are though that it won't change again in the near future.
5. The cafeteria is awful.
6. The environment isn't as stimulating.
7. There are less opportunities if I ever want to change positions within the hospital.

Pros of staying at the other place:

1. It's bigger, more anonymous.
2. There are more opportunities for permanent jobs.
3. It's a more stimulating environment.
4. They have recently started a supervision program to give more support to newer staff.
5. The cafeteria is great.
6. They have more social work specific learning opportunities

Cons of staying at the other place:

1. The whole bus issue from a previous post... I can now take the bus, but I still feel awkward about it... it causes a lot of anxiety.
2. I'm not permanent yet.
3. My foot would be out of the door of the other place.
4. My boss is pretty tough.
5. Once you take a contract or a permanent position, you cannot apply for another position for the first 6 months of being in that position. Well, actually, technically you can apply, but they don't have to consider you and my boss has never considered anyone who has applied within the first 6 months of being in another position so chances are pretty much nil. This makes it harder to become permanent.

That's all I can think of for the moment. I might add pros and cons as I think of them. Let me mull over it for a bit.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

So indecisive...

I've got a little conundrum to ponder. When I moved here, I was employed by a large organization and have really enjoyed it. The problem is, I have been on contract, covering people on vacation, on mat leave, on sabbatical... which means no benefits... no vacation pay, no holiday pay, no sick day pay. No dental coverage, etc. However, I do get pay in lieu of so the cash flow is pretty good actually. I've worked there about 2 years. I have interviewed for 5 permanent positions with no luck. The person who was awarded the last job I interviewed for is on maternity leave. She is switching jobs internally. She has 6 months left of mat leave. I was 2nd choice and therefore asked to sit in for her for that remaining time. When you take a covering position like that, you are stuck in it for at least 6 months. I cannot apply to other positions within the organization while in that position.

During the fall, work had been slow. I went 2 1/2 months with nothing. As a result I applied elsewhere and got a job as a contract worker at another place. It turns out the position I have been covering there is becoming permanent and I have a very good chance of getting it, but of course it is not certain. Long story short, I accepted the first 6 month position, but am applying for the permanent job at the 2nd place and told my boss there that I would take that job if given it. I'm having a bit of anxiety over this decision! Here's why:

Basically, if I get the 2nd job, I'll have to leave the first job, which is one of the largest employers for my field in the city. Once I leave, which will probably be only a couple weeks after I start the first job, I will not be in the good books with my first employer. Getting back in there should things not go well with the permanent job will be difficult as I'm sure my boss will not be too happy with my leaving right after I start a position. I really enjoy the present position at the second place, but for some reason I am hesitant about giving up the first employer. I worry about burning bridges I may later need.

The place with the permanent position has a great staff, colleagues I get along with. But it is going through a lot of changes and restructuring. There have been lay offs. My field is sorted out so I am not worried that will affect me, but there have been so many new staff lately it's been quite radical. And it affects the environment. There are office politics at both places and I believe it's pointless to hash those out here. No place is perfect. But it is a smaller place and in my introverted nature, I like the anonymity that you can choose to have with a bigger place.

Oh, did I mention the cafeteria sucks at the permanent place? ;)

I am trying not to worry about it now, as I have some time before the interview and I find out what is what. But, as you know, I'm a worrier :).

And a rambler.

Have I made sense at all? I'm so confused!!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Back off, Sister, I've got metal and I'm not afraid to use it!!!

Oh my god I can't believe today's only Thursday. This has been an incredibly long, stressful week at work. Plus, I have this weird damn cold that can't make up its mind whether it's coming or going. This week has been bad, but today has been the busiest day at work since I started this job. I had a meeting with a family and I kept getting interrupted for other "emergencies". I had apple juice spilled on me. Adapted Transport has been late all week so I figured, with my luck, today would be the day it was on time because I got down 5 minutes late. I was right. Luckily, it was still there though. It took me 10 minutes to take the elevator down 4 floors. I was intercepted by a group of nuns. They were taking patients in wheelchairs up a floor and got on the elevator heading down instead of up so I couldn't get off on my floor without all of them getting off, which they didn't, so I had to go back up again and then down finally. One of the nuns asked me "who is pushing you, dear?" I mustered up all the patience and politeness I had left and said "nobody". She then grabbed my name tag to see who I was. I growled "I work here" and she left me alone. Just as the door was about to close after all the nuns exited the elevator, another nun blocked the door from closing and asked me where I was going and who was pushing me. I just smiled and nodded at her and hit the "close door" button. She looked worried.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Today I experienced one of those experiences where you want to totally blame other people, but you know you can't. I had a doctor's appointment today. It was with a specialist. I had waited 6 months for it. My doctor's office made the appointment for me. I didn't think twice about it. I marked it in my calendar. I took time off from work, took the bus far out to it. I get there and it's in one of those "house" type doctor's offices. 6 steps to enter, and then some more inside. A passerby asks if I need them to go inside and get someone. I say please. The doctor comes out and apologizes and says he'll have to make an appointment for me at his clinic at the hospital. Doh! I assumed because my doctor's office knew I was in a wheelchair, that the place would be accessible. They should have been a bit brighter, yes. But I should not have assumed myself and therefore should have checked beforehand. Luckily they were able to reschedule me at the hospital for next week so I don't have to wait another 6 months. But... doh! Doh! Doh! Doh!