Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Hug Restriction

Therapists are the real power brokers at Brooklawn. Their signatures rule the day, placing kids under our more stringent restrictions and going as far as the dismissal of staff.

One restriction is known as "The Hug Restriction." Should a therapist determine that a boy doesn't recognize appropriate physical boundaries (and let's be honest, most of ours don't), and that he can't learn them via our routine redirections and reductions, the therapist can restrict all of his physical contact...basically, he's not allowed to touch anyone, and no one's allowed to touch him, even, say, to give him a hug.

Ms. Emma, a good friend and fellow intern, had a boy on her unit on hug restrictions. They'd grown close over the summer, and she wanted to give him a hug goodbye. She figured that his therapist wouldn't object if she asked. It would be an example of appropriate physical contact, and after all, it was farewell forever.

The therapist said no. No physical contact, no exceptions.

This situation pretty much sums up one of my frustration with Brooklawn: the therapists seem out-of-touch with the boys and the staff, and yet have most of the regulatory power. Yes, they're trained professionals, and I do respect them and their education, and of course they care about their boys.

That being said, they aren't on the front line. They don't see these boys 40 hours a week. They don't work with them when their interacting with their peers and staff. For the most part, they see their boys one-on-one once or twice a week for about 30 minutes or an hour. One-on-one, our boys are usually on their best behavior; the personal attention makes the difference, but it's not a difference that can be consistently replicated in the units, where the staff-to-resident ratio is about five-to-one (at least, is one in mine; some of the more critical cases are in units with a three-to-one ratio). Yes, there are group therapy sessions for This problem and That issue, and therapists could see some peer interaction there, but those sessions are once a week, if not two weeks, for about one hour. Plus, those sessions are very much controlled, and the boys are not themselves.

In short, I'm a bit jaded about the whole child services shindig. On top of the administrative frustrations, the boys really fried me, and I'm damn glad to be done.

That being said, I have nothing but the highest respect and love for my unit and school staff. They love their boys, and they work shitty hours at a thankless, difficult job with little pay for them. Mad props.

And I love my boys. I'd adopt any of them in an instant...maybe with reservations... They really are good kids. They're just angry that Mom was too busy snorting crack to love them, or Dad was too busy drinking to know that hitting his son wouldn't make all his problems disappear. My boys just need some personal attention and love, and I hope they can find it.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Going home

Well, here I am, sitting at my dining room table in Chicago. It's been a fun summer, and a great time exploring Louisville and regaling all of our imagined readers with tales of our adventures. I'm not sure how often we'll post in the future-- I guess if you have us on an RSS feed it doesn't matter... I, for one, have enjoyed blogging and hope it's been entertaining for you too!
I finished up my job on Thursday, and we all went out for an early dinner at the Bluegrass Brewing Company. One of my co-workers left the same day I did, so it was a big affair-- our whole (5 person) office, plus the two departing) sharing some laughs and some fried things after work. I went in for an hour on Friday, mostly to pass out caffeine to my co-workers. Diet Coke for half the office, coffee for the other half. What can I say, I love being an enabler!
And all of our 'lasts', at least for the summer: last Mark's Feed Store, last Graeters, last Waffle House this morning... (I am so hooked on Waffle House-- I wish we had them anywhere I'm likely to live ever again... sad!) I know I'm going to miss sweet tea, though I will not miss living on an absurd hill or not air conditioned gyms....


Steve and Katie just left for the airport. Chris is leaving this afternoon. I'm taking off tomorrow morning on a week-long road trip through the South with me mum. The dorm sure is getting quiet. All in all, it's been a good summer, but I'm ready to go home. My job and my boss has ground me down so much. I've just felt unappreciated all summer, and this feeling only intensified yesterday. The Bulldogs put together a scrapbook for Rowan, my boss and founder of Bulldogs in the Bluegrass, (we were basically told we had to but it turned out to be kind of fun). At our closing dinner last night I tried to give it to him and he told me to "just wait a while to give it to me. I'm gonna call up a gathering first and then you can give it to me." Steve and Kathryn were watching this occur from across the room and said I made quite a pissed off face although I tried to hide it. We made this scrapbook for you to remember us by, not for you to self-congratulate yourself in front of a lot of important people. But, my job is done now. Mostly. Except for when he called me this morning. Actually, I probably won't be done until I hit the road. Well, that's the last time I'll complain about Rowan here. But if you talk to me in person it's probable I'll have more to say.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Falls of the Ohio

Yesterday, Yale Alum and UofL professor John Hale took us to the Falls of the Ohio. Though some people were expecting a gorgeous waterfall like Niagra Falls, the Falls of the Ohio are rather less scenic, rather less touristy, and rather more important. The falls are the only point on the entire length of the Ohio that isn't navigable, and so ships had to portage around it (before they built a big canal there in the 19th century). So three towns grew up on each side of the river (on above, one at, and one below the falls themselves). The three in Indiana stayed three cities, while Louisville grew together after the canal was built to become the major city it is today.
Geologically, archaeologically, and anthropologically speaking, the Falls are pretty darn cool. The rock is all young limestone, which was a coral bed in the shallow, equatorial sea that most of the heartland was before continental drift went into high gear. So, we found a lot of neat coral and other marine fossils there, and a ton of species have been identified from those rocks.
It was a cool perspective; the geological and ancient history of the land we've been living on. As we're all looking back on the Louisville experience, it was a nice (if slightly corny) way to look way, way, way back into the Jurassic.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008



Cop Brutality
Kill the calf and eat it all

A composition by Andy Blieden,"adult" mentor


A Reflection on Louisville

If you see an out-of-service bus in NYC, the implication is "Out of Service, Screw You".
If you see an out-of-service bus in Chicago, the implication is "Out of Serivice. Oh Well."
And when you see an out-of-service bus in Louisville, it says "Out of Service. Sorry!"

Monday, July 28, 2008

How To Rediscover My Southern Accent

Drink three glasses of white wine, add a southern man or two with a thick accent, and stir. I was laying it on pretty thick tonight, buddy.