Mar 22

My army packs chocolate, what does yours pack?

Yesterday was the kind of day that had me texting my friend and former coworker, Joanna, and saying, “I’m working until 7. Please come, and bring chocolate.”

Bring chocolate she did, and sat with me as I staffed our weekly HIV testing clinic, venting in between clients coming and going.

It was only a 4 day week for me, but holy god was it ever long. I was off all last week and this Monday, and when I woke up on Tuesday morning I thought I actually felt at least somewhat refreshed with regards to work, and was ready to go back. By 10:30 that morning, I was feeling as though I needed another vacation, and that feeling has stuck with me ever since.

“What’s going on?” Joanna asked yesterday as she unpacked a shopping bag full of snacks onto the reception desk where I was sitting. “Is it that bad?”

“Listen…” I unwrapped a chocolate bar. “Yesterday when I left here at 7:30, I was so disheartened that I called my mom and asked if I could go over. And you know that if I’m calling my mom–”

“Oh that’s bad,” Joanna finished for me.

“Yeah.” I laughed. “Exactly.”

I’m the kind of person who usually needs to verbalize stress and upset. I can let a lot of things roll off my back, but if there’s something really wrong, I can’t just swallow it – I need to talk about it in order to process it, even if it means vomiting all of my feelings all over the place. I sometimes get comically worked up, but I usually feel a lot better once I do.

So tonight I sat across from Dana in the food court at the mall, where we were grabbing something to eat before going to the movies, and when she asked how work was going, I took a deep breath with the intention of telling her what was going on.

But before I could speak, I felt all of the energy seep out of me. I let out my breath, a little deflated.

“I… you know what, I don’t want to talk about it.”

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

I gave a tired laugh. “Honestly, I don’t have the energy for it. I can’t talk about it right now,” I told her.

It says something about the week if I don’t even have the words to talk about it. Thankfully it’s over, and I have some fun stuff to look forward to this weekend. Starting hopefully with a little bit of sleep – I got 2 hours last night, so I’ll consider anything more than that tonight a success.

Life isn’t all bad. It’s not like there isn’t anything good going on right now. I think it’s just that some days, the things that I’m struggling with seem way bigger than they really should.

And those are the days you call in the troops. The ones that bring chocolate, Doritos and a listening ear. After all, is there any better army?

Mar 21

Totally normal workplace conversations

(Skip this post, and particularly the photos at the end of it if you are easily offended.)

I don’t know if I ever mentioned that the new job I started last September is with an organization that offers services and support to people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as education and awareness initiatives for the broader community. As such, we are for the most part an extremely liberal bunch, which is a great fit for me, and we have all kinds of fun things around the office, including but not limited to an unreal supply of condoms, sex toys for safe sex demonstrations, and the most ridiculous printed resources you will ever see in your life. I love it.

We also have terrific and outrageous conversations every day:

“Hey, is there still any porn around here?” I overheard one of my volunteers say this afternoon as I walked through the office. Naturally, I paused to hear my coworker’s response.

“What?!” she asked.

“There used to be porn. On the shelves somewhere. Wow. Look at the looks you both just gave me.”

“It actually sounds likely to me,” I said, thinking of the cards we have that say one one side, “If You Like To Fuck…” and offer safe sex tips on the other side. “It sounds exactly like something we would have around here.”

“Ohh, do you mean those old printed things?” my coworker asked. “We don’t have those anymore.”

“Oh, okay. Hey…” He pointed to another one of our volunteers, and motioned to a plastic shopping bag he had with him. “Do you want any of these old softcore magazines?”

“I don’t see the point of softcore porn,” I told them.

They both turned, surprised. My placement student, working nearby, started to laugh.

“What? I don’t.”

“That’s an unusual statement for a woman to make,” the first volunteer commented.

“Maybe so. But honestly, tell me what the point is?”

There was silence as the two volunteers and my student looked at each other and then back at me without saying anything.

I shrugged my shoulders and turned toward my office. “I rest my case.”