At a local market, Portlanders pay a pretty penny for balsamic vinegar.
Can anyone else explain the mysterious workings of the twin mind? 
Of course, I don't believe that we are who the stars say we are.  Most days.

Shoes and I are grappling with some Very Big Decisions right now.  Decisions and choices I am aching to tell you about, but can't.  At least for several more days.  The past month has left us quizzical, exhilarated, dumbfounded, frustrated, joyful.

It has left me cursing the Stars that made my Shoes a Gemini.

I'm a planner.  I hate the not knowing - the time directly before a big decision is made.  The change, the transition, the upheaval that comes right after the decision is made ... I'm completely ok with that.  

I'm good at that.

Shoes, however, doesn't mind the time right before the decision is made.  He is careful and analytic.  But o, the careful weighing and measuring of every option we have is agonizing.  And the yes, no, yes, no, yes, no.

Stars, a pox upon your household.  (Or, as Shakespeare originally wrote, and it seems to fit this twin mind phenomenon perfectly, a plague o' both your households...)

I'm sure getting some good use out of this year's resolution to just be and concentrate on who I can be during times of crazy.
Arizona (of Grey's Anatomy): "This is not general surgery on a miniature scale. These are tiny humans. These are children. They believe in magic. They play pretend. There is fairy dust in their IV bags. They hope, and they cross their fingers, and they make wishes, and that makes them more resilient than adults. They recover faster, survive worse. They believe."

My current clients are tiny.  They are victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect.  They come from families with multiple stressors:  poverty, racism, violence.  They have PTSD.   Many of them do not come from homes where they are told how wonderful they are or how much they are loved.  They soil their pants and we call it "sneaky poo"* .  They have severe separation anxiety and we spy on the "scary feelings."  Their stuffed animals talk to them and give them strength and magical powers to overcome fear.

Sometimes they play in weird ways with dollhouses.

Something always comes out of dollhouse play.

And little bit by little bit, we work on the things that are big and scary and bad.  Because those things, it turns out, aren't really a match for the fierceness of my shortest clientele.

And we end sessions like this:

My 6 year old client:  "Lisa!  The big hand is on the 11 and you said when it got on the 11 it was time to put away our toys!  Can we play with the paint next time?  I got goldfish crackers today for snack.  I love goldfish crackers.  I love cheddar!  I'm so glad I'm not allergic to cheddar 'cause then I couldn't eat CHEESE!!  And next time, can we talk about our feelings some more, too? AND play Connect Four?"

My friend, I also love cheese and Connect Four.
But I do  kind of dread dollhouse play ...

(*  Freeman, J., Epston, D. & Lobovits, D. (1997).  Playful Approaches To Serious Problems.  Norton & Company:  New York.)

Portland Aerial Tram, mentioned last week.
Coming up.
... a girl, like me, who walks by herself across campus at 9:30 pm several times a week, starts to get a little concerned about her safety.  And a girl, like me, who is a social worker, knows what kind of crazy trouble people find themselves in.  And a girl, like me, has no, NONE, excuse not to safety plan a little.  And a girl, like me, who has a deputy prosecuting attorney for a partner, hears irritated words from partner because partner is genuinely concerned for my safety.  And a girl, like me, who has many good social work student friends, hears many admonishments about safety every time we have class.

So this week, I swallowed my pride and called Campus Safety when I got off the bus for an escort across campus. These nasty little nagging voices kept saying, "Soft!  You're soft!  You know how to hurt people and take people down using a side arm bar takedown and now you're all city soft!"  And to make things worse?

The security officer was female.

But the true icing on the cake?

Apparently, it's common practice for PSU Public Safety (oooh, I hope that shows up in a search engine now) to put a girl like me, who  just needs an escort, in the back of the Campus PD car and drive alllll the way around campus to where I need to be.

A little mini parade!  For all to see!  In the BACK of the PD CAR  Behind the gate.  On the plastic seat.  With no handle inside because you can't get out until they let you out.

 And then maybe it's common practice (or maybe it was just my lucky day) for the driver of the car (2 officers!) to go as fast as possible around corners.  Turns out they're a little bored at night.    I can hear you say it now:  "Isn't a little humiliation worth your safety?"


I'm going to the running supply store tomorrow to buy pepper spray, and if I can't find any, I'll buy the bear mace at REI the employee did his best to persuade me NOT to buy.  I don't need to be the central figure in any more Campus PD parades.

(Shoes isn't pleased with my re-found independence.)
When I have my uncomplicated little camera with me, I tend to look at things differently.  Hence, my new Monday posts.   {In the land of diagnosing mental illness and treating very hurt children, it is right and fitting and good to look at something different.  And.  I love this city, for all of its strange, idiosyncratic, hipster-as-religion quirks.}

From the Tram.
A usual part of my Saturday commute.
... and all of the detainees had come out of their cells and were waiting by their doors for rec to begin, i looked around in the early morning stillness and saw each of them for their vulnerability and their potential.   all of the past offenses (the whining, the misbehaving, the arguing) melted away and it was a sacred time of being able to see their genuine selves.  i wondered if they knew how beautiful they were.

then rec started and the whining resumed.

they were still beautiful,

this week i started leading my first parent group and it was a big group  - 16 parents in all.   their backgrounds were remarkably different, their goals were different, their perspectives were different.  some parents had elected to be there; some had been ordered by child welfare to be there.  in those two hours of group, however, they were vulnerable and scared and optimistic and looking for things to change.  it was a sacred time of being able to see their genuine selves.

i wondered if they knew how beautiful they were.
I have been taking pictures for the past few days in hopes of constructing some sort of semblance of a 10 on 10 post.  
Notice it's the 11th.
Do I get an "E" for "Effort?"

Difficult to take hourly pictures when I switch from client to client.
Or class to class.
Or bus to bus.
Or class to bus.
Or ...
Well ...
You get the picture.

But here are the first few images I have.
A working, graduate student's Portland life.

Sunny days in Portland are happy days.
First thing, it's out the door to run.
(I had to laugh [like, snort water out out my nose laughing and choking] at the last episode of Portlandia.
The SUN ... is BLINDING me!!)

And then this therapist gets ready to work with families.
Jeans are my general rule when providing kid therapy.
No more court dress and high heels for this social worker.
(At least for right now.)

I get to prepare food for the day!
The entire day.
The entire 15 hour day.

And like any good worker, this therapist has her reading material good to go.

"Intern area" is code speak for "dump anything you don't know what to do with here."
We also randomly had dog poop on the carpet near our desks a few days ago.
No idea where that came from.

And a quick reminder how therapy sometimes works ..
... because it's easy to forget that it does ...

I have more images.
Research hospital images.
Waiting for Shoes at the South Waterfront images.
They'll come.
They might bore you to tears,
but it's my own personal project.

Gives me something else to think about than Bowenian Theory.
And there will be a lot of Bowenian Theory ...

It's Sunday.  It's Sunday and I'm sitting here in my little kitchen.  I've just cleaned my tiny apartment and I'm about ready to get my things ready for school tomorrow.

I'm sulking, I think. After what was a very lovely lunch with my amazing goddaughter and her amazing parents, Shoes left early because he has legitimate, serious things to take care of at home.  After three years, I would think that the leaving and the distance and the schedules would get easier.  It's never gotten easier.  But what am I complaining about?   That I have an amazing, loving partner who's entirely supportive of my graduate school endeavors, despite the fact that I moved four hours away?

Some complaint.

Shoes and I spent the weekend working on wedding things.  Finalizing attendant lists, working on the website, looking for invitations.  Doing some precursory thinking about our registry.  (Shoes would like to register for a house.  And a puppy.)

Tomorrow marks day 1 of my last Winter term.  In total, there are 20 weeks left of school for me.  Tomorrow, the chaos that is school, research, my job and my internship starts over again.  I'm determined, however, to not let it own me like it owned me last time.  With a term of this "final year" business under my belt, maybe I'll succeed in taking back control and Occupy Graduate School.

The year looms large, and although I can't see it's actual form, it's shadow precedes it everywhere....

I hope it's a friendly sort of giant.

Welcome, 2012!

To usher this year of amazing in, I dealt with a lot of the above.  It's a mighty odd thing when the Garmin shows no other roads.

And I passed by a lot of this.
But then I got to my destination.
And it was time to celebrate.

Our dear friend Chris is the most marvelous head chef at his new restaurant in the Vineyard Town.
And this is the cutest quail I've ever seen.
Cute ... and delicious.

It is stinking cold in the Vineyard Town on New Years Eve.
But the street was so prettily dressed up in its Christmas Best.
Tiffany, middle, my old roommate.
Lacey, right, a true co-partner in crime.
I miss these girls like you wouldn't believe.
Would.  Not. Believe.

New Years Glee increases exponentially with every noisemaker.
In case you were curious.

I am attempting to show how tough I am in Chris' kitchen.
But I think I'll leave the cooking to the professional.
(See who's really holding the knife?)

Shoes was not really smiling when I asked him to don his party hat for this photo.
He has had to listen to me describe how epic this year is going to be no less than 50, 217 times.

I'm still celebrating.

With noisemakers.