Tuesday, January 15th–I got up around 7:40am, I think. I sent my mom an e-mail about the bills, DARS, and so forth. I had an IM discussion about the Italian trip with J___.
…[I got a phone message that upset me.]
That, along with my intense worry about this trip, which I’m not at all sure I will or even want to go on, plunged me into a depression all day.
After many hours of dealing with computer problems, and dawdling and reformatting articles, I sent my Case Worker the writing samples she’d wanted yesterday afternoon. It took several more hours before I could bring myself to start work on my tutorials. J___ then interrupted with some IM talk, then disappeared for awhile. I had some brief crying sessions, talked to J____ again, and eventually finished the tutorials after I don’t know how many hours.
Wednesday, January 16th–Early on today I thought I’d avoid my bad mood, but it soon fell upon me. I had had an IM conversation with J___ about the trip, and the way he made it sound, they’re not even intending to go to any of the major cities I’d like to visit, thinking there won’t be enough time. And if they did go to any of these cities, they seem to want to avoid a lot of the sort of attractions I would want to see. I think they want to just stick to small towns and just putter around, which makes me wonder why I would even want to bother with going at all.
Then J___ offered to hire me to do some editing work, for a very small amount of money. He said he had to go run errands first, so I had to put off the reading and other activities I had planned for the day and just wait and wait. Then the maintenance men started making a bunch of goddamn noise outside, for several hours on end.
Then I got a notice that there’s to be a property inspection tomorrow and some assholes might want to come into my apartment between 9am and 5pm. I’ve gotten a few of these notices every year for several years now, and it’s been a long time since they ever actually came inside, but the mere idea that this might happen upsets me greatly.
All of these events made me more and more depressed and stressed-out.
Eventually J___ reappeared, and sent me one of the pieces he wanted me to edit. I did a good job on it, but it took almost an hour to fix–much longer than I’d planned–and I only earned about $9 for it. After that I was too tired and sad to do anything else, so I retired around 11pm.
Thursday, January 17th–I had a dream that was a vast, epic-scale 1970s stoner comedy. I think the premise was that a bunch of young men were going to an old hotel or resort in the country, next to a lake, possibly for water-skiing. One of the guys took his own car and arrived later than the rest, bringing along with him some stoner friends/hitch-hikers who helped change the whole course of the weekend.
One of the main characters was played by Ashton Kutcher. He was a big bullshitter, and had this older man convinced he was personal friends with all these famous people, and kept telling stories that supposedly offered secret, personal insights into them. I noticed, but didn’t say anything, that he referred to several of these people, including Neal Cassidy, in the present tense, though some of them were long dead by the time of this dream.
So I came across a friend trying to rip a flimsy, tissue-thin page out of a Bible, intending to use it as a rolling paper. I slapped him across the backs of both hands, and sharply said, “NO!” He looked very disappointed, started pouting, then slunk away with slumped shoulders.
I woke up earlier than I wanted to and got up to piss, then went back to bed. I’m not sure if I went back to sleep or not, and I finally got up close to 8am.
I got into an IM discussion with J__, and he said he’d be by later on. He showed up in late morning, and we took a quick trip to Petsmart, where he bought me two bags of dog food for Belle and a $50 gift card as well. He also gave me a toaster oven and a rice cooker that he and N___ had received as gifts, and a dog poop bag dispenser, as well as the money for that piece I wrote for him last night.
J____ says he has a guy whom he thinks could take care of Belle while I was in Italy. Apparently this is the guy that takes care of J____’s cats, but I’m still not sold on the idea at all.
I got back home, took a shower, and began preparing my Big Ass Soup. I cooked it from 2:30 to 6:30pm and the quality was so-so.
While I was doing the prep, though, that career counselor for DARS called. I actually had the volume of the machine on, so I spoke with him. He wants me to come to four group sessions next week from Monday to Thursday, each lasting from 9am to 1pm. There will also be a fifth one-on-one session, which is really the only thing I want.
I specifically fucking told my Case Worker that I didn’t want to go to one-size-fits-all career training, and that looks like exactly what I’m going to fucking get! I don’t like generic training sessions. I don’t like groups. I don’t like doing things early in the morning. I have very specific problems and issues that will only be fixed–if at all–by custom-designed treatment, and I’m not fucking getting that.
This guy also made it sound like he assumes everybody going to these sessions is hossing to get to work as soon as possible, which is not true in my case–not exactly. I am only looking for work under very special conditions, and even then I’m really not sure I can hold any job outside the home.
I am so goddamn sick of people not listening to me when I speak to them clearly and explicitly, of people just ignoring me and going off and saying and doing towards me what they’ve already fucking decided on with no regard for my wishes.
Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day very upset.
I e-mailed M___ and told him how on the fence I was about Italy, and he said I should go and he’d do whatever I needed doing to help make it happen.
Around the middle of the afternoon I heard loud voices talking and saw what I assumed were those inspectors poking around. Fortunately, they stayed outside and didn’t bother me, and one more crisis passed.
I talked more with J___ when he got home. He said if I didn’t want to go along with his agenda I could just get a train pass and go wherever in Italy I wished, just so long as I came back with stories.
Friday, January 18th–Another day of depression, stress, and sadness.
I spent most of the day brooding and obsessing over this fucking generic job-training bullshit next week, and over how upset I am with DARS failing to help me. I devoted a lot of time thinking how to sabotage all this and say shocking, upsetting things to the guy conducting the meetings and to my Case Worker, to make it clear how displeased I am.
I did some reading in travel guides and in Douglas, puttered around online, and retired about 11pm or so.
Saturday, January 19th–I did some reading, and spent ninety minutes editing and rewriting a new piece from N____.
Sunday, January 20th–I got up around mid-day, did the usual things, ate lunch, then got a message from J____, stating that he was coming to town, and asking if I wanted to go run errands with him and go to lunch, and of course, I agreed, though I showered beforehand. (That was odd for me, since I usually like to shower after going out into the world.)
He gave me some more money from N___, and we ate at the Opal Divine’s by Fry’s.
We discussed the trip. It’s still not a certainty. He’s not told his in-laws. He expects they might be bothered by the idea of him paying to bring me along, and call him an idiot for doing so, but said they won’t make a scene in front of me.
He’s trying to decide what would be the best route to go. Flying from the US directly to Italy, he thinks, might take too much money and time, and he’s considering flying to Madrid and taking the train on to Italy. I perked up like a yappy little dog at the idea of Madrid, and said, “Oh, then we could go to the Prado!…,” but he shot the idea down, saying that touring Madrid is not on the agenda.
He said I should just assume that from now on I will be taken once a year on a vacation to Europe and once a year on a vacation somewhere in the Western Hemisphere. There’s a lot in that statement worth pondering….
We then got into an involved discussion on gun control, and he said that the people who went to the pro-gun rally at the State Capitol the other day were very insistent that they didn’t oppose gun control because they wanted guns for hunting and home protection, but because they expect they’ll one day have to fight the government.
I said, “Do these people really think they’ll be able to hold their own again the largest, best-armed military force in world history?”
He responded, “Well, the US has been in Afghanistan for over a decade and it’s still getting its ass handed to it by a bunch of goat-herders living in the mountains.”
The rest of the discussion continued in similar circles….
While he went to a hardware store, I went nearby to a Half-Price Books–possibly my first visit to one in over a year–and bought four books. We then went to Target, where he got a few art supplies, and bought me three loaves of bread. He revealed that the appliances he gave me recently were not unopened gifts he and N____ had received from other people, but new appliances which they’d purchased at Target for me.
I retired a little after midnight, but tossed and turned due to worry, stress, and anxiety. Finally, around 2:40am, I got up and wrote and e-mailed the following to the Career Trainer:
Dear Mr. B____:
To get right to the point, I am not going to be able to attend your training sessions this week or under the current framework. Ever since we talked, I have been in a state of anxiety, panic, and dread. It is now almost 3am on Monday morning, and I have not been able to get to sleep after trying for several hours.
I suffer from, among other things, social anxiety. Sometimes I have a handle on it, sometimes not. I find the best way to control the panic is to avoid situations that induce it. I don’t like group settings or enforced socialization. I don’t like long meetings or feeling confined. I’m not a people person or a morning person.
I had specifically requested private, custom-made assistance, rather than more general, “one size fits all” training. I only very reluctantly agreed to attend some group settings, but I find now, as I’ve said, that I can’t do it.
I hope this in no way inconveniences you, and that we are able to craft some sort of approach that best suits my unfortunately complicated circumstances.
A Tumbler post I made after e-mailing the Career Trainer:
Well, I hope I didn’t just ruin my chances at ever having a career.
I am in a program that is designed to help people with disabilities find work. It’s not helped me at all thus far, and I’ve been in it for several months.
The thing is, I’m in no mental condition to work outside my home right now. This agency seems unwilling to provide me with the necessary treatment for, among other things, my social anxiety, and I’ve basically been told that if I don’t seem capable of working within a relatively short time, that I’ll be dropped from the program, which makes no sense to me. So I feel pressured to agree to things I am really not willing or ready to do, because I’m afraid that if this agency doesn’t help me, I’ll never have a decent career or be able to break out of the dead-end, low-wage jobs I’ve done all my life.
At my last meeting with my Case Worker I was told she was going to pair me with a career trainer. I said I didn’t want generic, one-size-fits-all training, but training specifically tailored to my needs, as the agency claims it offers. But she and the trainer pressured me to agree to going to some group sessions this week (16 hours worth) followed by only 4 hours of private sessions.
Since talking with the trainer, I have spent the last 72 hours in a state of panic, anxiety, stress, and dread over the prospect of what all could happen at these meetings. I tossed around in bed for three hours, unable to get to sleep, before I finally got up and write the trainer, saying I wouldn’t be attending and that we needed to work out some alternative plan.
I hope I didn’t screw things up just now, but I was just not ready for all of that, plus another ordeal with a different agency Friday.
I retired around 4am and almost immediately went to sleep like a baby.
Monday, January 21st–I woke close to noon after a deep and dreamless sleep. I woke tired, as if I’d just completed some act of great physical exertion. I had a bit of a headache, but also a sense of a burden lifted unlike any I had felt since Election Night and the barbarians were fought back.
I spent a few hours with my usual rituals. The Career Trainer had left a message early in the morning, reminding me of the meeting. Evidently he’d not yet seen my e-mail.
I told J____ about what I’d done, and he described my e-mail as “reasonable and well thought out.” He added that he was impressed I stood up for myself. Well, we’ll see how the Trainer and my Case Worker respond.
Since the bank was closed due to MLK Day, I couldn’t cash the check my mom had sent me to pay for a flu shot, so I went on errands closer to home. I took note of all the detritus left on the street and sidewalk from yesterday’s car wreck. I dropped off some letters at the UPS Store, went to Petsmart and bought some chews and discounted Christmas treats for Belle and a very much discounted Basset Hound calendar for myself, then went to the dollar store to spend the last $10 of this month’s Food Stamp money.
I returned home, took a much-needed shower, and watched a video of President Obama’s second Inauguration ceremonies. I made two observations: 1) The US would be a much better country if we had a lot more pomp and ceremonial, and 2) Inaugurations are rather like the Oscar broadcast–very much in need of fat-trimming. There were too many songs, too many speakers, too many prayers that just went on and on and on. I kept expecting for the accountants from Price-Waterhouse to be introduced to explain how the Electoral College works.