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.

-cy

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....

Done

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

Haiku

coughcough

Cop Brutality
Kill the calf and eat it all
BUTTERMILK RANCH LAUGH

A composition by Andy Blieden, my...um..."adult" mentor

-cy

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.

48 Hours

Friday, July 25th
4:30 - duck out of work early (Shhhhh!!!)
5:45 - leave for camping trip
6:45 - REALLY leave for camping trip
8:00 (now in Central Time) - arrive at campsite
9:00 - finish pitching tents (and a tarp lean-to for Nick, Becca, and myself because there weren't enough tents for everyone)
9:01-1:00 am - (s'mores + ghost stories + bonding) x a helluva lot of booze

Saturday, July 26th
1:01 - bedtime underneath tarp because it's starting to rain
1:02 - Me: "I feel the rain hitting the bottom of my sleeping bag."
Becca: "Curl up in the fetal position."
1:04 - Nick: "I can feel some drops on my face."
*Commence HEAVY downpour*
1:05 - Becca: "OH MY GOD! THERE'S A HUGE HOLE IN THE TARP! ABANDON SHIP - GO GO GO!!"
*Commence scrambling out of the tarp - Nick without pants on - and running through the mud field to other tents*
1:07 - scrambled into tent with Becca, Ben, and Heather.
1:08 - Me: "Where's Nick?"
Becca: "He's gone - forget him."
1:10 - Me: "Wait...is this tent waterproof?"
*Commence freaking out because water is seeping into the tent from all sides, pooling on the ground. Nick can be heard in the distance pleading to be let into tents that have no more room*
1:11-1:40 - wait in the doomed tent, waiting for the rain to subside
1:41 - GO GO GO! Sprint out of the tent, through muddied fields and to the parked cars
1:45 - 8:00 - "sleep" in uncomfortable (but dry) backseat. Becca is in another car. Nick's whereabouts are unknown.
8:01 - awake to light rain and absolutely soaked camping ground. All tents (borrowed) are soaked through, sleeping bags saturated, people drenched to the bone. Cleaning up the mess is fun. Nick is found in another car (alone), but the windows are all steamed up...
9:30 - 12:30 pm - 3-hour Mammoth Cave tour with only handheld lanterns for light (read: complete awesomeness)
1:00 - stop at Big Mike's Rock Shop (note: the road leading up to Mammoth Cave has the most impressive collection of absolutely crappy tourist shops ever known to man. Sadly, we didn't get a chance to stop by Knife & Gift Shop or The Haunted Maze)
4:30 - 6:00 - arrive home, spread everything out on grass to dry, shower
6:01 - 8:00 - dinner
8:01 - leave restaurant
8:20 - pull over to discover a flat tire
8:21 - 9:15 - hilarious attempt to fix a flat tire with Nick, Emma, and Katie trying to find a car jack (the fifth house down the street had one). We discover that Diane Sawyer from Good Morning America lives on the street.
10:00-11:15 - drinking and beer pong with the Teach Kentucky peeps
11:30 - dress-up at the dorm for the midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show
Note: Chris in a form-fitting dress and pink dog collar is an image I do not wish upon my worse enemies.

Sunday, July 27th
12:00 am - discover that the showing is sold out. People decide to go rent a movie (which apparently was unsuccessful). I decide to stay with Becca, KB, and Matt (none in drag) to watch Reservoir Dogs.
1:45- movie ends, lights turn on, everyone sees that I am in a tiny miniskirt. Leave very, very awkwardly.
2:00-3:30 - poker in my underwear. Chris still has his eye makeup on.
10:30-12 pm - fix Chris' flat tire with "SLIME." Don't ask.
2:00-5:00 - Louisville Zoo!!! I got to see penguins. Becca got attacked by a bird.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Girl?

I was on the phone with dear old Dad, and he asked about my girlfriend...from Chicago...yeah, oops. I told him that Katie was a good friend and not really my type...I left out details.

-cy

Friday, July 25, 2008

Life Decisions

I've been meaning to write this post for a couple days but got caught up in the madness of planning the Bulldogs in the Bluegrass closing luncheon. But now that that is over I can write about some of the plans I've begun to make for the rest of my life.

At the beginning of this summer, I had no idea what I wanted to do long-term with my life. I was pretty sure I wanted to do Teach For America, truthfully in part because then I could delay for another two years finding a career for myself. However, as I've come to the realization that I am a senior and don't have a lot more time left before I have to enter the "real world," I knew that I would have to come up with a plan for at least the next couple years after graduation. I'm not exactly a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal, and I just can't allow myself to leave my future up to the hands of fate. So basically this has been a summer of introspection for me in trying to determine where I want the path of my life to take me.

Then I checked out a John Grisham book from the library. Stupid me, I had forgotten that every time I read Grisham it always makes me want to be a lawyer, and here I find myself reading him just at the time when I'm trying to figure out my future. So a few days later when I drove my friend Matt to the bookstore to buy a GRE prep book, and I tried to determine whether I should buy an LSAT or GRE book or neither, I couldn't stop myself from buying Kaplan's LSAT prep book. I still hadn't decided whether or not I would take the test or if I even wanted to go to law school, but I figured it couldn't hurt to do a little preparation just in case. Plus many days I didn't have anything to do at work, so this was just as good a way to spend a day as any other.

I began to do a little studying during work. Read a chapter here, do some sample problems there. Then last Saturday I took a full length practice test for the first time. I absconded to the Bellarmine library and made myself do the whole damn thing. When I calculated my scores, I pleasantly discovered that I had done pretty well, especially considering that it was my first time taking the full length test.

Armed with the knowledge that I could do well on this test and several experiences from this summer confirming my hunch that the legal profession could be the one for me (meeting with judges, etc.), I registered on Tuesday to take the LSAT in February. Here follows my tentative life plan for the next five years:

Right after graduation: do TFA, Mississippi Teacher Corps, or Yale Admissions Office for two years. This plan is still hazy, and depends quite a bit on whether I'd be hired by any of these entities. Also, after working for Teach Kentucky I have my doubts as to how effective two-year teaching programs like TFA and MTC are, so I'm going to have to talk to some people about that.

After two-year hiatus from higher education: go to law school. Where? For what? I don't quite know yet. TBD.

After law school: who knows? But I am starting to consider JAG - the military's law branch. This is definitely still in the tentative phase, but I do come from a fairly military family (sister graduates from pilot training in three weeks!), so it wouldn't be unheard of for me to join the service. I just have to decide whether or not that's the path would be right for me.

Obviously, I don't quite have all the stops on my life journey completely mapped out yet, but I do have an outline, and for that reason I consider this summer a success. And now I can have a semblance of an answer when people ask me what I want to do after graduation, which makes me breathe a lot easier.

Whew, that was a long post.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Saying goodbye, a bit early

Our big closing luncheon was yesterday. Poor Becca got pretty stressed out about it, but it all went quite well! It's just sort of strange to think that a) we're 9/10 weeks done, and b) we still have a week left, even after our closing luncheon.
Our skits and such went over pretty well, and they found our sarcastic humor at least amusing. Joe dressed up as Rowan, and Becca presented Ann with flowers and Rowan with a watermelon.
Recently, I've realized how much of a support network I have, both here in Louisville as well as more generally. (Thanks to all of you-- it helps a lot more than you might suspect.) And between the closing luncheon and the sudden need for (and now, reflection on) my support network, I really appreciate how many people were willing to step up for me personally, professionally, and socially. Everyone in the Bulldogs world puts so much effort into making us feel at home here, and giving us meaningful (well, sometimes) work. And for all of you who sent me encouraging messages when I needed them, please know that I really appreciate them. I thank my lucky stars that I have such good friends, family, mentors, etc.

Frickled Pickles

The food at Genny's Diner isn't what you could call, say, 'life-prolonging,' but the burgers are pretty damn good, and the fried pickle chips ("Frickled Pickles") are a true Southern experience.

-cy

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another fun quote

Sister: Now that Batman is out, everyone is getting excited for Clone Wars.
Mom: Colon Wars? What's that?
Me: Oh, god, I don't think anyone would want to see "Colon Wars"! Either the body part or the punctuation!
Sister: Well, Brian might... he can fart on command.

Such sophisticated humor. Heehee.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Moment of Silence

For the over 400 innocent victims of pollution, global warming, and commercial fishing. May you rest in peace, noble creatures.

Amen.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Campout at Blackacre

Saturday night the group went on a "full moon hike and campout" at Blackacre Nature Conservancy. Although it turned out to be a lot of fun, the official events were a bit lamer than they sounded in the description. The "full moon hike" took place at about 9:30, so it was barely dark, and we sure didn't see the moon. We also walked the "mile-long trail" in about 20 minutes on this path that had little to no change in elevation, so it wasn't quite what we were expecting out of this hike. As for the campout part - well, let's just say we weren't roughing it. We slept on the floor of the educational building out there, and we even had clean composting toilets! So no peeing in the bushes for us.

However, despite the lameness of the hike and our "camping" situation, it turned out to be a really fun night. This was one of the first times that a significant number of the Bulldogs could spend a lot of time together without any adults being around to pester us, and it turned into a great bonding experience. A poetry reading may or may not have occurred, and it led to general merriment and much storytelling. I really wish that we could have had this or some other sort of group bonding activity earlier in the summer and that everyone could have been there (Chris and Katie had to miss along with many others, sadly). For me, I really wanted this summer to be more about expanding my friend group rather than staying exclusively within my YPMB bubble, and this provided the perfect outlet for me to get to know some other Bulldogs. I'm really glad I had such a good weekend.

In other news: Batman was amazing, and only 9 more days of work!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Triple-A All Star Game

The Triple-A All Star Game was held in Louisville this year. Like the MLB All Star Game, it pits the "all stars" of Triple-A's Pacific Coast League with those of the International League. Unlike the MLB All Star Game, it didn't go on for fifteen innings. We watched the game on TV the night before, starting around the 7th inning. By the time it ended, it was past 1:30 in the morning - but we were too invested to turn it off before that. Dara and I represented the AL (and Yankees) fans while another lame dozen or so people rooted for the NL. The game was exciting (it would've been more exciting if we didn't have to worry about work the next morning), with both sides nearly winning in extra innings (so many bases-loaded jams!) and the AL running out of pitchers (with talk of J.D. Drew and Evan Longoria volunteering to pitch in the later innings). The Triple-A game was a little less thrilling, with the game scoreless (and actionless) until the bottom of the seventh inning when the IL scored twice. The PCL managed to put 6 (!) runs in the top of the ninth and managed to stop the three run comeback of the IL in the bottom of the ninth to win 6-5.

Jon's co-worker had four tickets she wasn't going to use and gave them to Jon...who wasn't going to use them and gave them to us! And to think, Katie wanted to actually buy tickets for this game weeks ago in advance. Don't let it ever be said that winging it never got anyone anywhere in life.

More interestingly, the crowd was entertained by the antics of the "Famous San Diego Chicken,"a crowd-pleasing (though violent - he injured the PCL shortstop doing back flips, among other staged fights) mascot.

\m/
Steve

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What I like about work

As I sit in the office today, I am inspired to make a list of a few of the things that I really like about working at the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. (Check us out on facebook or on myspace!) This is not meant to be exhaustive, or in any particular order.
1. The people. All the people I work with are very intelligent, very interesting, very dedicated people. And they're good to talk to, which makes the day go by a whole lot faster when they're here.
2. The environment. I don't mean the physical environment, because at least at our soon-to-be old office, there isn't much light, and the ceiling occasionally leaks gross stuff, etc. But the psychological environment is really open and relaxed, yet professional. Everyone's opinion is considered, though not all opinions are equally valid. That to me is a mark of excellence. I never have to worry about being 'combat ready' as I am when I am, for example, with my department.
3. The flexibility. People aren't so locked into their job descriptions that they won't do something because of it. Work gets spread around pretty well, and everyone pitches in, does their part, and genuinely wants to help other people.
4. Staff meetings. Wednesday, we had a brunch staff meeting (with bagels!) to celebrate the completion of a training we'd done last week. It was a new project, and it was pretty stressful to prepare everything for it. But it went really well, and at the staff meeting, we got to talk about what was good, what was bad, what was learned and how we can all apply it to work her, or anywhere. And staff meetings are usually like that, very open and productive and shockingly helpful.
5. The coffee. Enough said.

Quote of the Day

Woman: I need more boy-toys.
Man: I've got all you need.

Place: McDonalds. Unfortunately, I believe they were discussing happy meal toys but it took me a second to figure that out.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tales from Tennessee

So, I don't want to write a long we-did-this kind of entry. But a few things:

1) We went horseback riding. Including Chris, who is ironically highly allergic to horses.













2) After riding, this exchange happened:
Becca: That horse was so fat! My hamstrings hurt.
Steve: You just have to learn to spread your legs wider.
3) Mr. Young has a nice fishing boat, and we went down to the Tennessee River/Kentucky Lake and had a great day in the sun and water. This was awesome, and I haven't had that much fun in a rather long time.
4) Upon returning home, we discovered large areas of extremely impressive sunburn. My knees, Becca's ears, and Steve's entire front above the waist, which is now an impressive color. Somewhere between salmon and magenta. And the best part of that: the tan line, where his shorts blocked the sun. It looks like it was ruled on with scientific precision.
5) Old photo albums! With pictures of Chris as a really young'un. Hehehe.

More pictures can be found on facebook!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Equus" is happening


For the past two months, I've been negotiating with Samuel French, Inc., to secure the rights to produce Peter Shaffer's "Equus" as a Sudler Fund production at Yale in mid-February. I was originally denied the rights, because there will be a first-class production in New York (i.e. on Broadway) for 22 weeks in 2008/2009 (starring Daniel Radcliffe), meaning that access to the play is not currently available to the general public and probably won't be until mid-2009.

But somehow I talked to the right person (i.e. Peter Shaffer's lawyer...I wasn't supposed to get his number, but I did...oops...), and he's helped me get special permission to produce the play.

It's happening.

If you're interested in working on the production, please contact me (christopher.m.young@yale.edu) AND my producer, Steve Lao (steven.lao@yale.edu). The production is planned for Friday, February 13, and Saturday, February 14, 2009.

Christopher Young, Director
Steven Lao, Producer

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New York Times

Because of nytimes.com and lack of stuff to do at work, Steve and I have realized that we can no longer tell each other anything that we didn't already know because we have both already read it. Case in point: dancing video, chocolate chip cookies cookies, and really quite a few other things that I can't remember right now. We really should diversify our news sources so that we can talk about new topics.

Tidbits

~My office has a lease! That's pretty exciting, since we're moving on Friday.
~Moving on Friday means lots of work at the office, but unfortunately, pretty boring office-moving type work.
~I got a hair cut! Pictures to follow some time when I'm feeling more photogenic.
~We're going to Tennessee for the weekend! We're going to visit Chris' dad down there, and it's going to be crazy! Expect some new "Tales from the South" next week.

Hat

I love hats. It's a thing. I'm not sure when it started, or why, but it did, and so it is.

I've been on the hunt for a new hat for months. I retired my oldest and most beloved hat in 2007, and since then, there's been a gaping hole in my heart and an empty nob in my dresser. This was not OK.

But hats are not something to be purchased too rashly. A hat and its bearer have to connect on an emotional and spiritual level. In many respects, the hat chooses the head. Suffice it to say, it's a complicated process.

However, my search is over. Today, in an U.S. Army surplus store, I found a camo cap, made to military standard. I tried it on, and it was good, and now, it is mine.

-cy

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Kitchen Duty

I have a confession to make. Last night I had kitchen duty, and I didn't do it. It was perhaps the grossest kitchen I have ever seen - black chunky stuff in the sink, food on the floor, dishes everywhere. I did not see it as reasonable to expect me to clean that up, so I didn't. I should also point out that I don't use the kitchen, don't cook, and generally try to stay as far away from it as possible. But today, somebody stormed into my room, and in not so many words demanded that I go clean it up, and I refused. Then another person sent out a bitchy email to the panlist complaining about the disgusting state of the kitchen, and named me as one of the people who should have cleaned it.

At this point, I kind of snapped and sent out a bitchy email of my own, and basically told people that they need to clean their own damn messes. Grr, I hate being angry at people, but I also hate being blamed for problems that really aren't my fault.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Stuck

I'm at home again tonight after American cancelled my flight to Louisville. It's going to be awesome when I have 6 hours of flying and layovers to get somewhere I could drive too in less than 6 hours (not counting the time today in the airport or the time tonight at home). I got routed through Raleigh-Durham tomorrow, and from there to Louisville.
And if you're interested, I've got all the details of the weekend that won't end and the awkwardness of seeing people again. Woo. On the other hand, I have some lovely new dresses, a nice hair cut, and a great family. And I don't have to/get to go to work tomorrow.

The Little Guys

There's been a bit of a shuffle at Brooklawn, and now I'm working with the group collectively known as "The Little Guys." For the most part, they're ages 6-9, stereotypically cute kids who happen to be...um, let's use disruptive. I have 10 guys in the unit (Daubert Cottage) and 9 in the classroom.

Overall, they were pretty damn good today, though one had to go into seclusion for a bit this morning and several took a time-out at some point during the day. All this happened either this morning or after school when we were in the unit, where they usually make a lot more trouble than in class; when they're in a very rigid and structured environment, they're good about staying on task, but give 'em a little leeway, and it all goes to Hell.

The most exciting moment for me was when one of the boys (who had just gotten out of time-out) decided he was pissed at another resident and started pressuring him to fight. I picked him up kicking, screaming, biting, scratching, punching, and everything in between, and basically dragged him to the time-out room. My shirt, legs, and balls took a slight beating. It was fun times.

But seriously, today was pretty fun. The Little Guys are definitely a handle. They go into crisis situations a lot more frequently and are just much more difficult to control in general, but it's really a blast. They keep you on your toes, and the day goes by so much faster. Plus, when they're on task, they're great kids, and I loved working with them.

-cy

Frustration

So tonight the plan is to have the Bulldogs watch two films made by independent local movie director Stu Pollard in the common room of our dorm, and then we'll have a Q and A session with him afterwards. Unfortunately for me, however, Mr. Pollard is being all finicky and movie director like. Screening the movies off a laptop onto a projector isn't good enough - the laptop might crash during the middle of the movie. Ok, I say to myself, why don't we hook up a dvd player to the projector, that would work, right? I talked to the IT desk at Bellarmine on Thursday, and they told me yes, that would work. I called today to set things up, and they informed me that sure, they could screen the movie with a dvd player and projector, but it wouldn't have any sound. At this point I'm beginning to panic. Luckily, the nice man at the IT desk is very helpful and friendly and recommended some classrooms on campus that would be good for a movie screening. Hopefully this will work, and my stress level can go down a little bit.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

home is where the heart is...

...but that's not chicago any more. I'm just really glad this weekend is over. It's been absurdly stressful, and I'm happy to be headed back to Louisville, back to work, and I cannot wait for school to start again. The wedding is over, but I am not done freaking out about the fact that she's married. And I think I may have achieved some closure about my exes here (read: they're kind of jerks).
I did get my hair cut, and I do now own an amazingly hot dress that I'll be inventing occasions to wear for some time. Pictures to follow at some point.

Mom's Mexicana


So, I visited Mother this past weekend. All was well and good, except maybe our kitchen and dining room...um, yeah, my mom thought it would be a good idea to get more in touch with her Mexican heritage. Now, I'm not really an expert on what constitutes "Mexican heritage," but I'm pretty sure it's not limited to the peppers that now hang over that entire section of the house. Red peppers. Green peppers. Chili peppers. On the walls. On the table. On the counter and in the china cabinet...and then there's the piñata that's hanging in the our kitchen...oh Mom...

-cy

Happy Fourth!

Hope everyone had a happy Fourth of July! This was kind of a different weekend for all of us - Katie went to Chicago and Chris went to mom's in Muncie and basically no one from the Bulldogs program was in town. My parents, however, came to Louisville! They decided to drive, which my dad was pretty bummed about until he realized the drive to Louisville from Jefferson, at about 11 hours, was shorter than the drive to the other end of Texas.

I took them to do all the touristy things you have to do when you come to Louisville - we went to the Louisville Slugger Museum, checked out the bathrooms at 21C, lost money at Churchill Downs while sipping a mint julep, and watched the Louisville Bats play. We ate lots and lots of delicious foods at Lynn's Paradise Cafe, Mark's Feed Store, Fat Jimmy's, and the Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen. I don't think I've eaten so much food since I got here.

We also went blueberry picking in Indiana with my mentor family, which brings me to my next point - mentor families. Each Bulldog is assigned a mentor whose job is basically to just be our friend throughout the summer, and let me tell you, I won the mentor jackpot. The Pauw family is perfect. They are incredibly nice and friendly, and they have three smiling, well-behaved blond-haired and blue-eyed daughters that are absolutely gorgeous. They've been having me over to dinner once a week since we got here, and I've even been invited to the middle daughter's piano recital in two weeks. It's been really great to have a Louisville family that takes care of me while I'm here and helps me feel integrated into the community, so even when my parents aren't in town I can still feel loved.

Yay Bulldogs! Yay parents! Yay mentors! Yay Louisville! Now I just wish Katie and Chris would hurry back home...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

from the mouths of babes

I'm home!! Hurray! It's great to be not-in-Louisville this weekend, woo.

Anyway, we went to see some fireworks with my young cousins. They're going into first grade in the fall! They were so excited to see me... I haven't seen them in a long time, and I can't even remember the last time I felt that popular.

Anyway, I fielded a number of interesting questions. Some were for the "genius": how do fireworks work, what is the smoke made of, etc. But two were particularly scary.

1) I was explaining that I'm almost done with college. One says, "After that, what will you do?" Another girl (not related to me) suggests that I should go to High School. But then my cousin says, "No, silly! Then she's going to get married! Right?"

2) "Are you a single mom?" I said "...no..." "Is your sister a single mom?" "...No..."
I have no idea where that one came from. But it freaks me out a little bit that 5 year old girls are asking me these questions.

Three Day Weekend! And Penguins.

Except for Chris.

I haven't been this excited since middle school. Stupid Catholic high schools with no holidays.

On an unrelated note, owners who dress dogs in sweaters should be shot. I'm conflicted about penguin owners, though. I mean, it's pretty cold in the Antarctic, right? And if you knit them yourself, it's not buying into commercialism...right?

Also, my dear friend Rita is a sweetheart that has offered to knit me something before graduation. After not being able to make up my mind and switching back and forth between banana hammocks and hobo gloves, I've finally made up my mind:

Penguin.

\m/
Steve

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

no address

So, my office is moving. Our move date: July 11. That is one week, two days from today. We do not have a lease yet. And much more amusingly... we no longer have an address. We'd been working on the assumption that our address was going to be 321 W. Broadway. Unfortunately, the U.S. Post Office informed us today that 321 W. Broadway does not exist, and the Metro Government of Louisville (to be posted on at some point) had changed our address. Awesome. ADDITION: Thursday, July 3, noon We almost had to scrap $300 worth of printing and $315 worth of postage because of the wrong address thing, and we almost had to start over on this horrendous mailing which has our (wrong) address at the bottom. Ye gods!

Transit

I specifically got a request from Julia to blog today, and I've been meaning to post for a few days anyway. I think I'm going to give a vent to a little frustration I have with Louisville, which is a great city in general.
However, it is a terrible city not to have a car in.
I do not have a car, and I do not want a car. I don't want to live somewhere I need to have a car, and frankly, Louisville is a terribly hard city to live in without one. Especially living where we do, on a very isolated college campus, it's incredibly hard to get to even the most basic necessities on foot, though it's much better on a bike. I don't have a bike either, though, so that doesn't help me much.
Everyone here is very dependent on their cars and reluctant to use any other way to get around. Nick has some horror stories about the general unfriendliness towards cyclists when he's riding downtown, and the roads are not built for sharing. The transit system is old, and while the routes seem quite comprehensive, they don't run very often. For example, the bus I take to work every day comes about once an hour. That's fine for getting to and from work, when you can easily leave at a scheduled time every day. It's much harder if you were relying on the bus to, for example, go to the post office or go grocery shopping.
And while it might seem corny, the car-only mentality here (and most places, really) is exactly the start of the floating blobs of fat that humans have become in Wall-e. (If you haven't seen it, go! Right now! It's amazingly good, and makes you want to hold someone's hand. And walk places so you don't turn into a floating fat blob.)

Moral of the story: cities have to change their patterns, and get smaller in terms of land area so public transit (and really all public infrastructure) is more efficient. People need to invest in that by not driving everywhere. And until then, I'm going to need to live somewhere I can get around by foot/bike/public transit.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I once was lost...

This post really has two themes, both related to the title, but less related to each other.

1. I found a church! I like it, I really like it! St. Andrew's Episcopal Church is a little over a mile from our dorm, and I walked up there both this Sunday and last Sunday. Last Sunday, the bishop gave one of the most stirring sermons I've ever heard. He had a whole bunch of really powerful stuff in there, from the holocaust to modern missionary work in some of the poorest places in the world. After the service was over, we talked and I was all weepy (as I am prone to get), and he started asking me if I'd ever considered going to seminary. It shook me up, actually... I'd never seriously thought about it, and when thinking about it, I think it's something I could see happening in my life... but not now. It's the sort of thing that pops up on a few select branches of my enormous future tree, at least ten years from now, when a life plan or two haven't gone exactly the way I planned.
In any case, I went back today, and still love the church. I'd definitely become a member if I were going to be able to go more than twice more while here; as it is, I'll be gone for the next two weekends and only have two more real weekends after that. But I am looking forward to going back in a few weeks.

2. On the way to/from church this morning, I got pretty horribly lost. I tried to take a shortcut... and we all know how that goes. Bellarmine is putting up a huge fence across the one access road I use all the time (there are only three ways onto the entire campus as it is...). That damn fence is going to add almost a half mile to my walk up to the main business district (i.e., coffee shop, ice cream, grocery store, church, everything except the gym). Hence my interest in finding a shortcut!
But of course, as always, I turned the wrong way once I thought I'd managed the hard part, and went a pretty long way out of my way this morning. And coming back, trying to find the "shortcut" back onto campus, I added at least an extra mile. All told, I walked for about two hours, a large part of that unintentional... Anyway, the next time I take my "shortcut", I'm going to take note of the address of the house whose yard I have to cut through to get to the street I wanted to get to.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ponies, Pigs, Robots and Us

OK, I'm way too hyped up to go to bed, so why not, I guess I'll blog. This was our day:

1) Ponies, or more accurately, horses. Race horses. Today, we Bulldogs conquered Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby and mecca for horse-racing enthusiasts. Yale alum David Jones, Sr., facilitated our gambling addictions, stuffing each of our pockets with a few of his own dollars so that we wouldn't feel bad spending our own. Suffice it to say, whether we came out in the black or the red, we all had a good time and owe Mr. Jones a HUGE and heartfelt thanks.

2) Pigs, or better, pulled pork. Ten of us went to Mark's Feed Store for dinner. Between the onion straws, honey-coated chicken wings, sweet corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, potato salad, spicy fries, pulled pork sandwiches, and barbecued ribs, it was a feast and filled us right up.

3) Robots. (*warning: this is a shameless plug*) WALL-E!! See it. Seriously. Humans have trashed Earth, and the WALL-E robot series was left behind to clean up the mess. After 700 years, one still worked. This is his story of finding love and fighting to keep it. It was absolutely heart-wrenching and one of the most well-done films I've ever seen. The first 40 minutes have barely any dialogue, and it works damn well. Again, you must see it.

4) Us. After WALL-E, a few of us were bouncing off the wall. Literally, we were trying, so it was decided that we needed to get out of the dorm and burn off some fuel. And we ventured. We ventured far, and ventured wide, until we arrived in the magical downtown Louisville, at the mystical waterfront, on the shore of the somewhat biologically hazardous Ohio. We sat on the shore, and it was good. Then we played frisbee on the shore, and it was better. Finally, as we left our merry time to Memory, we came across a ground fountain. We ran through it. We played ninja in it. We got soaked, and it was the perfect end to our night.

-cy

Friday, June 27, 2008

Still On Our To-Eat At List: Eggroll Machine

My co-workers and I went out to lunch today at a place called Thai Smile 5, which I assume is the fifth in a chain of Thai restaurants. I just think it's really funny that our (male) waiter (most decidedly not from anywhere remotely Asian) had a long ponytail, wore a trucker's hat, and did not have any chopsticks on hand when I asked for them.

Adventures with Miniature Louisville Sluggers

As Steve wrote about earlier, on Tuesday we visited the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory where we were all graced with the gift of our very own miniature Louisville Slugger bats, which are pretty much the coolest things ever. We've found two very good uses for them thus far, but are looking for ways to expand our repertoire.

Use #1: Sword fighting. Perhaps a little obvious, but quite fun with the theme music from Pirates of the Caribbean playing in the background. Until, that is, Chris tries to wallop off my finger. Then we desist.

Use #2: Brainball! Perhaps the most awesome thing to ever have been created in Chris's room. Basically, it's baseball with Chris's brain-shaped stress ball that just happens to be the perfect weight, size, and bounciness to hit indoors with our foot and a half long bats. Right now we are just taking turns at batting practice, but I do foresee this becoming a full-blown game with rules and bases and scoring and all that jazz.

Who knew miniature bats could be so much fun?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bored in the Bluegrass

So, things have been a little slow for me the last few days. I've managed to keep myself moderately entertained though, and I thought I'd pass on a few of the things I've been reading to cope.
First off: Wondermark! A comic mentioned by Ben at some point, and I, having nothing better to do, read all 419 of them in a day or two. It's a fun little comic, no recurring characters or storyline to follow. Feel free to jump around. My favorites seem to be between 200 and 400. :-)
Second: Today, while there was no work to be done at the office, I read all 75 strips of Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life. It's a bit philosophical, and amusing. And though not the best webcomic out there, I enjoyed it.
Also, if you're a reader of books as well as blogs, you might like Goodreads.com. You can find books you've read and review then, and keep your running list of books you'd like to read. Of course, you can also find reviews from other people, find new books, chat with authors, and compare books with friends. If you join up, feel free to look for and friend me. I can make lots of good suggestions about books about Egypt or sci-fi/fantasy. :-)
And, if you have myspace, make me feel good about myself and friend the Center for Nonprofit Excellence?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An Incredible Urinal Experience

The 21C Museum Hotel in downtown Louisville features the Modern Art's unusual and awesome, and clearly, if you host awesome art, you need awesome bathrooms. The men's restroom off the lobby was nominated as America's Best Restroom 2008. It features one trough-like urinal in which patrons release themselves into a waterfall flowing down a one-way mirror. While I peed, I watched hotel and museum patrons watch me. They smiled, they waved, they clawed at the glass...it's pretty extreme. Also, the mirror above the sinks has little video screens built into it, each showing a pair of eyes. And they just watch you. Forever.

And the 21C's mascot: a red emperor penguin. This made Steve a very happy man.

Red Sox Suck

Yesterday was "City View" day, an (mandatory) opportunity to take a tour of Louisville because it's easy to be in a city for a month (or to live here) and never really see the sights. It was also a day off work (woot!), but a very long and tiring day, nonetheless. We got up for a 7:30 breakfast and carpooled downtown to Actors Theatre of Louisville where we received a tour of the theatre, which has hosted a respectable list of future Hollywood stars (the only one that comes to mind right now, though, is Kevin Bacon). We walked through the stages, toured the backstage areas, the dressing rooms, the workshop, and the restaurant. What was most impressive was learning how involved the community volunteers were in the theatre, with over 900 active volunteers. Unlike larger cities like New York, where actors could audition and seek further employment during the daytime and perform their current gig at night, Louisville doesn't really have much opportunity for aspiring actors. Instead, the theatre attracts actors by offering second-to-none hospitality. The volunteers cook meals for the actors for every show, organize dinners and parties, and even take them around the city to run mundane errands if needed.

After a (sorta) quick (but necessary) stop for coffee, we walked to the Louisville Slugger Museum. There, we took a grand tour of the factory and watched as famous "Louisville Sluggers" were made. A process that used to take 30 minutes, carving a bat out of a cylinder of wood now took a mere 30 seconds (50 seconds for MLB bats). According to the tour guide, Louisville Slugger has had over 8,500 contracts with MLB players over the years (creating bats specific to their specifications on wood type, length, weight, etc. along with their signature engraved into the bat) and accounts for 60% of the current market (both minor and major league). As a baseball lover, this tour was especially awesome (minus the tour guide passing around a Manny Ramirez bat for show). I love baseball.

Next was a stop at the future site of Museum Plaza, an ambitious project to create a hotel, office space, retail space, and residential space all in one massive building that will tower the Louisville skyline. A two-bedroom condo on some lower-numbered floor is set to sell for $250,000 - and it only climbs from there to $2.5 million condos that take up the entire floor. And don't forget the $5 million two-story penthouses at the very top of the 61-floor building. Personally, I'm a little skeptical of the project. On one hand, I don't know if there is enough interest to fill x-hundred lofts in this building just because of the limiting factor of Louisville's location. With Lexington and Cincinnati as the only two cities nearby, it doesn't seem like the well-off will be flocking to Louisville in droves to live. On the other hand, even if they do, there isn't much of downtown in terms of residential living (which is probably part of why they want to build this building in the first place). Although downtown has many business areas, along with museums, government centers, etc. because there isn't an existing downtown residential district, there aren't in place the necessities that go with it - such as a grocery store, dry cleaners, retail stores, etc. So while people may move downtown...there doesn't seem to be much to do downtown (and you can only go to museums so many times). But who knows, maybe this project will help stimulate the downtown economy?

The afternoon was spent at the Muhammad Ali Center, an entire building dedicated to the great fighter not only for his actions inside the ring, but for his presence in society - a successful boxer during the civil rights movement, his conversion to the Nation of Islam, his refusal to fight in the Vietnam war, his humanitarian trips to spread peace, and his life with Parkinson's. It was a very impressive center, using his life as inspiration and motivation for others to have the same dedication, conviction, and spirituality in achieving peace and success in their own lives.
Lastly, we stopped by the courtroom of Judge (and Bulldog mentor) Mitch Perry, who spoke to us about the Kentucky legal system as well as answered questions about his personal life, how he became a lawyer, then judge, and what life was like for a circuit judge for the state. It was a good way to end the day, learning about the realities of the legal system and the people that go through it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

good karma

There is so much good karma in this city! I'm sitting at the coffee shop working/being on the internet, and a small group of people walk in carrying ice cream and an enormous cake. It seems that someone in the local bipolar support group is having a birthday, so the rest of the group brought enough sweets to feed the entire (not small) population of the coffee shop. It's homemade carrot cake and good ice cream, and some people definitely get major good-karma-points for sharing with strangers.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Roomies

Steve and I are so domestic. Today, we cleaned our tub after it clogged up and regurgitated. We bonded much.

Also, after numerous reports from the female contingent that our room smelled like dirty boy, we bought ourselves Super Odor Killer. Then, our room had the faint scent of deodorant, so we invested in After the Rain and ended up with a smell reminiscent of fabric softener. Recently, decided to try some Citrus Sunburst, and now everyone is happy.

-cy

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tall Man

Today at mass, I met a tall man. He was sitting in the pew behind me and Nick Krug. He was at least 7 1/2 ft tall, perhaps more in the 8 ft range. He may be the tallest person I've seen. Ever.

-cy

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Chris=Katamari

Just in case you missed this brilliant bit of acting. I just got this today.

We are Champions 4 Her

This morning Katie, Chris, and I woke up far earlier than we would have liked to participate in the Champions 4 Her 5k walk and run. The event was held to raise money for ten area organizations that support women and women's issues, so it was pretty cool. Chris proved to the world today that he is, in fact, a BAMF coming in with a time just over 20 minutes. Katie and I like to the think that we won the walking part of the 5k, with our time of 50 minutes. Not bad considering we walked all the way to Indiana and back (my first time there!). Afterwards, we went to a Waffle House in Indiana (Katie's first time at that fine establishment), and then I went to sleep until 2pm. All in all, a pretty good morning.

Update! Chris is more badass than originally thought. He won first in his age group! Go Chris go!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Heine Brothers

So, I thought I'd write a little bit about the coffee shop near Bellarmine where I hang out. It's about 15-20 minutes walking from our dorm. Down a hill, up a hill, and then mostly flat through a pretty neighborhood. I like to come up here to a) get off campus a little bit, and b) get work done. Yep, work. I've been working a lot on fellowship applications, GRE math, and tonight, I finally started to teach myself Coptic!

On the walk over here, there are two sweet pieces of sculpture, which really make the walk a lot more enjoyable. It's part of the mood of Louisville that I really appreciate: open, kind of weird, and totally non-judgmental. While that's certainly not universal, who of my Northern readers expected me to meet all kinds of activists, work with a the queer captain of a roller derby team, go to an enormous gay club with the nation's #1 drag show, etc, etc? I certainly didn't expect it!
Heine Brothers itself is a local coffee chain. There are now seven branches of Heine Brothers Coffee throughout Louisville. They sell all organic, fair trade coffee and tea, and a lot of it is shade grown. They're extremely green: my favorite green feature is the coreless toilet paper in the bathroom. They're also pretty particular about coffee and tea. As a tea drinker before a coffee drinker, I appreciate the care they take in making tea. They use loose leaf tea, properly hot (not just HOT!) water, and they steep the tea for you, calling you when the tea is ready and taking out the leaves. This means you can't just get distracted and way over steep your tea (something I do basically every time). I'm a big fan.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chris is writhing in pain

Chris got off early from work today. Being the smart boy he is, he decided to lay out in the sun to get a tan. However, he fell asleep out in the hot burning Louisville sun. Now his back looks like a lobster. Painful for him, but hilarious as hell for all the rest of us. I'd put up a picture, but I'm afraid it make break my camera. Ben, Chris's roommate, said his back reminded him of reptile skin, and it's kind of true. Poor Chris, have you learned your lesson about tanning without sunscreen now?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sometimes I Just Feel Confused

Today, my boss Rowan and I traveled to Frankfort, Kentucky's capital, to meet with some of the people at the Educational Professional Standards Board. He's trying to start a new initiative with Teach Kentucky that aims to attract highly qualified candidates to teach in Kentucky by providing them with $5000 scholarships towards their Master's degree in teaching if they score in the top 25th percentile nationally on the Praxis exam, the teacher certification exam. Pretty sweet idea, right? I think so, Rowan thinks so, and the people at EPSB said they though it was an excellent idea as well if he can find funding for it. So why then does Rowan come out of the meeting with the impression that these people are completely against him and are pushing back against what he's trying to do? It oftentimes seems that he thinks that people are attacking him, but I am either entirely missing these social cues or he's being a bit paranoid. Either way, it makes for a stressful environment for me where I'm afraid to criticize any of his ideas (many of which could use a little constructive criticism) for fear of being labeled as someone who is "against" him. Alas, a least it is just a summer job.

Where Kids Get Help...FAST

This summer, I'm working with National Safe Place. NSP is a national, non-profit organization aimed at creating a national network of 'safe places' where kids can readily go to in a crisis situation. These situations can be anything from being lost or separated from a parent, being a runaway, getting kicked out of the house, escaping an abusive (physical, sexual, emotional) household, etc. These sites, which range from fire departments to libraries to fast food places, are marked by the black and yellow Safe Place sign. There, the personnel contact the local agency (or 911 depending on the immediate severity of the situation), who sends a volunteer or staff to meet with the kid and, if they want, bring them back to the agency (usually an organization with youth-orientated services and programs - like a runaway shelter or YMCA - that was recruited to double as a Safe Place agency/shelter). Through Project Safe Place, kids can receive immediate shelter and protection, counseling if they just someone to talk to, and services to help mend situations in the home. Project Safe Place is currently in 41 states with 144 agencies with their share of 17,000 safe place sites.

Safe Place was originally a program started by the local YMCA of Louisville, but has become its own non-profit organization that still has ties to the YMCA of Greater Louisville. Within Louisville in particular, Safe Place (i.e. the YMCA shelter house) is an alternative to the detention center to bring kids for non-violent offenses. NSP, where I work, is located next to a YMCA shelter house that serves as the agency for Louisville. I've been around the facilities (I don't think any of its current residents - kids - are there for Safe Place specifically, but by other means - voluntarily/through the state system - for family counseling, etc.), but I mostly work in the NSP building where the program itself (on a national scale) is monitored rather than at an actual Safe Place agency. I did sit in on the weekly case meeting at the YMCA, where they go over the case files of all dozen kids that are living in the shelter. It was very interesting to listen to the problems a lot of these kids have in their homes, especially how the case managers (out of public ear) talk so frankly about the problems of these kids, their parents, and the system.

While social work in particular isn't what I see myself doing (or, at this point, dream of doing), being involved in this type of organization is good exposure to youths whose development are affected by a multitude of factors and what kind of work is being done to prevent and address these issues. Though my principle interests lie in the realm of developmental psychology and developmental disorders, society is hardly a sterile, controlled laboratory setting, but rather a dynamic entity whose components and problems cannot possibly be teased apart from one another.

And yes, Chris worked this job the last time he was down here. And yes, they've stopped talking all about him all the time. But he should come visit so they can stop asking me when he's gonna stop by and say hi to his former employers. Ok, Chris? Good.

\m/
Steve

Addendum

"As we were leaving, Chris said to me, "God, Katie! Why do you have to be such a vice?" It summed up the message of the sermon pretty well.... "

My two cents: I disagree. I do not believe the principle message of the sermon was to reinforce traditional gender role or to promote an image of women as being temptresses, vices, or sluts. Nor was it to say that women should be in the kitchen or at home raising the kids. That is not to say that there weren't gender roles promoted in the sermon (after all, it is a conservative, evangelical movement - but no more so than other non-mega churches out there, in my opinion). The message was skewed by the fact that it was for Father's Day and thus, directed to fathers. And in that sermon, fidelity was preached for men: to stay loyal to your wife and true love and not to succumb to the temptations of lust. Hell, if anything, the sermon was blaming men for being weak-willed. Nothing was said about women being temptresses out there with the goal of seducing and corrupting good-hearted Christian men. What was said was to avoid temptation (which was a bit much when he said to avoid cable TV for fear of sex - but then again, I'm not a member of this church for a reason). The ministers did not say anything that could not be applied to women as well. To stay loyal and avoid temptation? Pretty universal - even if they emphasized different topics for men and women. So yes, the topic targeted men specifically and a Mother's Day sermon would've focused around nurturing and care giving. But is that so grossly unjust considering the unique position and role that women have in an infant/child's development - or that rates of extramarital affairs are significantly higher among married men than married women? If you want to talk about why such differences exist, then that's an entirely different conversation. Or, in another issue targeted toward men, that the vast majority of people that watch porn are men (like this actually has to get justified by a statistic)? Personally, I don't think so, but then again, I have a penis, which is already a strike against me.

Also, there was a ride at Six Flags called 'Chang.' It had a yellow track.

\m/
Steve

Monday, June 16, 2008

Better know a district

Today we met with John Yarmuth, representative from Kentucky's "Fightin' 3rd". He's Yale '70, and he spent over two hours taking questions from a room full of college students who can't even vote in his district. Awesome! And instead of talking about policy or something, I'll just share with you his segment from Better Know a District.

Kung Fu Fighting

Art class was just awesome. Two of my boys had been continually provoking each other all morning, and one finally snapped just before noon. I'd kept on them with verbal redirections, but it didn't really work. Yeah.

One boy started throwing the punches halfway through 4th period. I jumped between them and got a nice fist to my left temple. I pushed the two apart and restrained the boy who had let out the first punch in a standing upper torso restraint until more staff arrived and helped me remove him from the class.

I love my job.

-cy

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Six Flags... over Jesus


So, I thought that pairing a weekend visit to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom (which features six flags that have flown over Louisville... can you name them?) with a visit to Six Flags Over Jesus. Of course, the members of Southeast Christian Church don't identify it that way, but it is widely known in Louisville that way, as well as derisively called that on liberal blogs. (Like this one.)
According to Wikipedia, SCC is the 6th largest church in the country, and the only part of that I find hard to swallow is that there could be 5 churches larger. It has a very extensive campus, complete with Worship Center and fitness center. We entered through vast parking lots, and then into the church though the Atrium, which looked like an airport terminal, or a convention center, or a casino/hotel. From there, we proceeded up a few escalators up to our balcony seats in the Worship Center. The sanctuary was enormous; more like a basketball arena than any church I've ever been to. The program we were given (which contained no program notes for the service; there was nothing to follow along with. The words to songs were given on the jumbotrons...) gave attendace and donation statistics for last week.
Worship attendance, June 2-8: 15,355.
General Offering, June 2-8: $645,177.
I couldn't wait; I pulled out my cell phone calculator right there in the sanctuary to do a little bit of division... it comes out to more than $42 per person. And when you consider that counts children, families, and people who don't give, like visitors... that's absurd. And when you further consider that it doesn't count $11,000 for "Making Room for More" and $27,000 for the building fund... wow. Just wow.
The service felt very much like a Christian rock concert; it was not formal or ritualized in any way. It was a notable change from most churches; there's no procession, no prayer book, no liturgy, no symbols or pictures. In a way, the lack of ritual or tradition is kind of refreshing; it's nothing but someone offering a moral perspective and a fairly direct access to scripture and Jesus. So I can certainly understand the appeal of the church, as well as the huge community and the vast resources available to members. (And, in a side note, the more restraints placed on a religious community, the better it seems to do. See this article in the Economist on the science and economics of religion. Maybe that explains some of the success of SCC?)
The whole service was a bit over an hour. That included a few modern Christian songs that I hesitate to call hymns, a few informal and even improvised prayers (but nothing standard, even the Our Father). There was also a baptism; they have a full swimming pool in the sanctuary for immersions. I liked the way they did it-- not flashy at all, but just with the words advocated in Matthew 28:19. "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
The sermon was long, and took up most of the service time. They did a Sportscenter-themed sermon for Father's Day, so I suppose it wasn't exactly typical. A lot of the material was randomly plucked from Proverbs, with few enough references to the New Testament. Most of it was pretty generally agreeable family-type stuff, but I cannot let the opportunity pass without remarking on the advice that fathers should give encouraging words to their children. "Tell your sons that they can achieve anything. Tell your daughters that they are beautiful." And so on... the idea of gender roles, in very traditional patterns, was quite prevalent, oppressive to me at least. And from their newspaper, Chris found a session to help him "recover from homosexuality" run by the lovely people at Crossover Ministries.
As we were leaving, Chris said to me, "God, Katie! Why do you have to be such a vice?" It summed up the message of the sermon pretty well....



Six Flags over Louisville: Louisville, Lousville Metro/Jefferson County, Kentucky, Virginia, USA, UK.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Men Triumphant


Tonight, we decided to switch up traditional gender roles and reinforce our profound masculinity: we men cooked for our ladies. Steve, Nick Krug and I grilled bacon cheeseburgers and corn-on-the-cob for a few of the gals here in the Bluegrass. Dessert included seedless watermelon and lemon strawberry cake. It was yummy.

Go us.

-cy

Six Flags!

Wee! Today we went to Six Flags, and it was quite teh fun. We went on roller coasters, some of us splashed around in the water park, and ate overpriced amusement park food. Good times were had by all, and I must say that I am getting quite a bit browner from all this time in the sun. Best part of the day - when we were leaving the park and I saw Bugs Bunny! I ran up to him and gave him a big hug and told him he was my favorite. I know underneath the suit it's probably just some sketchy guy who hates his job, but my suspension of belief allowed me to live in the moment and derive great joy from the occasion. Tonight - bacon cheeseburgers! Tomorrow - Six Flags Over Jesus, the Louisville mega-church!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Connection

Tonight, we went to a gay bar, gay bar, gay bar! Connection is Louisville's Premier Gay Club, and saw the Nation's #1 drag show, LaBoy LeFemme. At some point, when I'm not about to fall over from exhaustion, I think I will write more about it. But suffice it to say that the bathrooms were as...flexible... as the rest of the club.

UPDATE: June 14, 2008 10:30 pm
A little more about Connection... It was a pretty huge club, but very sparsely populated. Basically, all the action in the whole place was in the theater, which held the drag show. There was really no one dancing, despite the amazing raised x-shaped platform in the middle of the floor. When we decided to dance, we got the whole Bulldogs crew, all 12 of us, up on the x getting the party started! I've been told it's much more entertaining on Saturday nights.
The drag show was pretty worth it, though. Between my $5 cover and $5 beer, it was a good deal for the dancing and singing drag queens. In what was far-and-away the most priceless moment of the evening Chris and another Bulldog went up to the front with singles for Mokha, and Chris sort of beckoned her* down and playfully put the dollar in her bra. Many of the performers left very very little, if anything, to the imagination. Rebecca was able to do some field research on nipple clips also. They are better women than I will ever be, but granted, they do work much much harder at it than I do.


*A note on pronouns: while I can only guess at the sex of the people on stage, since they chose to take women's names and dress, I think that they opted, at least for the evening, for the female gender.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer School

It's been a pretty rough week thus far at Brooklawn. The boys are restless. None of them want to be in summer school, and, really, who can blame 'em? Summer's warmth and sunshine stares them in the face. It taunts them and reminds them that their lives aren't normal. They can't take summer off, sleep in and play around all day, every day. They can't have that luxury, and ya know, it must really suck. Also, most of them are morally opposed to the concept of school. Yeah, generally, it's not really their thing.

One kid in my class has been particularly bitter, and let's the entire staff know it. His attention span isn't exactly in the realm of the positive, and any respect for his teachers and classmates went down the toilet last Thursday. On Monday, he took his frustrations out on another boy in the class, taunting him more incessantly as the periods came and went. Finally, in Art around noon, the boy snapped and picked up a chair, ready to toss it at his aggressor. I convinced him to put the chair down and leave the room to take a Time Out, but it was scary. These boys don't mess, and I have to learn not to mess either.

The next day, a fight nearly broke out in my unit just after lunch. I and a couple other staffers intervened, and prevented an outbreak, but the afternoon was not pleasant. The atmosphere in the unit was tense. Rumors were flying right and left about this and that. Allegations were made here and there by everyone about everyone. It was fun times.

And today...oh today... Today, I had to ground a kid for extreme defiance, meaning put him on restrictions for two days. More than ground him, though, I had to have him removed from class. Suffice it to say, it was not fun. I had to get three other staffers to help me convince him to leave peacefully, but eventually he did. So, I experienced my first crisis situation and gave out my first grounding. I'm still trying to process the whole situation. I did some things right, and I did a lot more wrong. Overall, though, I learned a lot, and I think my backbone got a little thicker.

-cy

This Is What I've Learned

From very wise men with very wise advice.

So please. Perform self-examinations monthly.

Rock on (with a healthy grundle).

\m/
Steve

On Life Lessons

Bulldogs in the Bluegrass is a pretty well developed program. Which isn't really surprising when you consider that it's been fine-tuned over ten years, and is still very actively led by the same visionary guy who founded the whole shebang. And the way the program is constructed, there is a big focus here on life lessons.
That might sound kind of patronizing, which isn't how I mean it. It does strike me as something I would have been more gung-ho about had I been a Bulldog the summer after freshman year, but it also seems to me that I'm more ready to listen to the lessons right now. For the last few months, I've been thinking a lot about the Future. Those thought processes have been active enough, thinking about who I am, who I want to be, etc, that the explicit advice given to the group by old guys wanting to pass on the things they've learned in their 60+ years in business make sense to me, in so far as they can.
I bring this up because the weekly Wednesday lunch for Bulldogs, employers, and mentors featured the founder of Humana. David Jones, Sr. is an absurdly wealthy man; he built Humana from scratch and essentially by accident, starting with no experience and making a long series of shrewd investments, eventually making his fortune as well as his Fortune 500 company. So, when today he diverged from the proscribed topic of pensions (actually, rather more interesting than it sounds), he decided to impart his wisdom to us. Considering his record, not only of building a successful business, but also a philanthropic track record to be admired and emulated and raising what is by all accounts an incredibly functional family (even leaving aside the issues of wealth, privilege, and inheritance). So his lessons of integrity first, followed by a focus on the family, really rang true. You can't lead without integrity, and you really can't do much of anything without some kind of grounding force. What better, says Mr. Jones, than family for that? After that, establish clarity in your goals, make sure everyone knows what side they're on and what position they play, and then thank people for helping you. Education means learning how to communicate, so use that well.
These life lessons are in essence, the same ones that have been given to us over and over again since we arrived in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Serve others, treat them with respect, know who you are and what you want. A man is only as good as his word, develop the relationships with people. It's all about the people. Don't get so caught up in what you do so as to lose who you are, or who the people who matter to you are.
We've gotten this speech, in one form or another, from Rowan, from David Jones, Sr, from mentors and employers, from alums who graduated before anyone thought to admit women to Yale. And as is always the case with advice, no one listens until they want to hear it. So I guess the message is, listen up. People want to give you advice, and it's probably good stuff. I respect David Jones, Sr, and so his giving us his attention, his time, and his advice, which seems like uncommonly good common sense, seems like a good deal. Now, throw in some serendipity and a good chance to practice those new skills, and bam! Instant life success.
Or maybe just better perspective.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

No Comment

Um, I did a bad, bad thing tonight. I put the child safety locks on in Chris' car so that when we got back home a certain two ladies happened to be in the back seat.

Then we ran.

And locked our doors.

And hid under the covers.

\m/
Steve

Seeing the sights, mommy and mommy

That is to say, your mommy (me) and my mommy.
My mom drove down from Chicago on Friday after work and spent the weekend hanging out with me here in Louisville. It was a very nice weekend, and gave me a really good chance/excuse to go out and see the sights.
Friday: Every first Friday of the month, there is a free "trolley hop". It took us a while to figure out what they meant, but it turned out to be the same trolleys that run like busses downtown are free, and run a special route that connects a lot of art galleries, shops, and restaurants.
Most of the galleries were having openings or other events, and Rowan had a table at a neat restaurant and kept ordering us all food. I met an artist from around here who packed up with her husband and moved to Pakistan. She paints (well, it's kind of mixed media... acrylics and collage and textiles) and her husband teaches at a university in Islamabad. I got to talk to him for a few minutes; he studies gender theory in the military, and as he pointed out, Pakistan seems to be an excellent place to study both of those things. Other galleries had more paintings, or sound art, or video installations. It was very contemporary and cool. Anyway, we saw a lot of art, and all of it was pretty good. I was very impressed.
Saturday: Absurdly early in the morning, we got up and went for a "backside tour" of Churchill Downs. (No, not like that... "backside" refers to the behind the scenes area, where the stables are, training areas, etc. It's the opposite of "frontside", which is where all the visitors go to watch, drink, and gamble.)

Over 1,000 horses are stabled there, and the ratio of staff to horse is about 1:1 on the backside. That doesn't count people on the frontside, in PR, marketing, serving customers, tellers, ushers, etc. So that means about 1,000 people, "mostly Hispanics" take care of 1,000 horses. The part that I thought was the most interesting (and offensive) was the human side of the operation. The workers make about $500 a month, and often live in barracks on the grounds which are small, though they looked new and clean. They often move from track to track with horses, and work only 11 months out of the year. Yep, that's an annual salary of less than $6,000, and often, both husband and wife work on the backside. Our tour guide was boasting about all the recent improvements for life on the backside: a brand new Christian center and church, an ESL/GED classroom, and new barracks. Mostly, the improvements he described just made it seem a whole lot worse, and made the whole thing kind of odious. (Well, more than horse racing already seemed to me...) People spend so much money on horses, including paying these workers so much to care for the horses and no one pays much attention to the people involved. When you consider the vast sums spent on trainers, jockeys, breeding, boarding, etc, the human costs are very much left behind.

After that, I met up with my mom for a late lunch and some shopping. We went to the Bluegrass Brewing Company for lunch, where mom had a hot brown. It's a local specialty, and a very unique meal. I'm glad I got to try it, but it's enough cholesterol for instadeath. We poked around downtown, went to Glassworks and 4th Street Live (not very exciting during the day) and came back to watch the very disappointing Belmont Stakes with the rest of the YPMB crew. After that, we went to another local institution, the Homemade Ice Cream & Pie Kitchen. Their homemade ice cream and pie is amazingly good... most of my most accurate comparisons are not rated G. Kentucky sure is filled with great food!

Sunday: Mom and I went to Highland Presbyterian Church this morning to hear my mentor, Rev. Dr. Fairfax Fair, preach, and then headed over to Lynn's Paradise Café for brunch. So delicious! And from there, I discovered a game store, and then Chris, Rebecca, mom and I went to Churchill Downs (again) to play the ponies! I won a whopping $1.30 but then again, I am pretty risk-averse... Mom just left a little while ago (though she had to backtrack about an hour to return my cell phone, which I thoughtlessly left in her car) and in a little while, we're all going over to Steve's mentor's house for dinner. Yum!

Praise Jesus

We went to St. Paul United Methodist Church today for 11 AM services. I'd never been a Methodist service and didn't know what to expect. When we got there, we entered the chapel, greeted by the sounds of the seven member University of Louisville Trumpet Ensemble doing one helluva jazzy opening to services. The only other tidbit of note is that when services ended, I was greeted by a woman asking me who I was, if I was new to the area, how I'd come to pick their church, etc. which was fine...except she was asking only me and not Chris or Becca who were standing behind me in the pew. Then, as we leave, I get stopped by another elderly woman asking the same questions. And when I do leave, the pastor shakes my hand as he does everyone else, but then stops me to ask me name and tell me that he hopes that I join them again, etc. Outside, we get lemonade and cookies and I'm greeted (accosted) by yet another woman! Chris and Becca found this hysterical.

Can you guess who was the only non-white in the 200-ish congregation today? You get a cookie if you can.

As Becca says: "The eleven o'clock hour on Sunday is the most segregated hour in the U.S."

Amen.

\m/
Steve

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Summer Reading

So I just got my Louisville Free Public Library card today, and what I need from you, dear mystery reader, are book recommendations. What's your favorite book? What should I be reading this summer? Help is needed!

Friday, June 6, 2008

New Friends

WOOT bonding with non-YPMB Bulldogs! In the 25 or so minutes it took us to drive from downtown to the dorm, we discussed such topics as sex on pogo sticks and urinary tract infections. It was fun times.

-cy

Not a High School Musical

Summer school for the Brooklawn boys started Thursday (and I started going in at 7 am...blah). I'm assigned to High School 4, a group of 9 guys in the 9th grade. My job is to supervise their classes and try to keep the horseplay down...um, yeah, the whole "having authority" thing is a work in progress, but it's getting there. They actually do listen to me for the most part, so life's not too bad. Their schedule includes Gym, Science, Social Science, and Art. Overall, it's a fun time.

I have a couple frustrations, though. Forgive the ranting.
1) The Social Science class is very poorly taught. The teacher is a sub for the summer, and I feel like he's really got these kids wrong. Yeah, fine, a lot of them do have lower-than-average IQs, but that doesn't mean they can't learn. He doesn't even seem to be trying to teach them anything. Classes have included useless crossword puzzles and piss-poor movies that put everyone to sleep. TEACH THEM! Don't give up on them. Enough people in their lives already have.
2) I have a boy who's regressing. He's in my unit and my class. Before school started, I thought he was a model kid. That's far from the case now. He's very disruptive in class, and what's worse, he's a leader and a person many other boys look up to as a role model. He's also on track to go to public school off-campus in the fall, but if he can't pull it together in summer school, if he can't focus and stay on task, it's not going to happen. I know he's really frustrated right now (the only reason he's still at Brooklawn and in state custody is because his father can't pull himself together), but he's needs to pull himself together or all the progress he's made will have been for naught. I'm going to talk to him Monday morning before school. I hope he'll listen.

-cy

TGIF

So ends Week 2 of work here in Louisville. Main thing I've learned: I like establishment. I'm working for the founder of the Bulldogs Across America program and Teach Kentucky, a two-year teaching program that puts recent college grads into Kentucky schools, mostly in the Louisville area. They're both cool programs, although it has taken a while for me to warm up to Teach Kentucky.

The problem for me is how tenuous everything seems. Bulldogs and Teach Kentucky are basically run by two people (plus me) out of their homes. As much as I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of working out of the dorm and coffee shops and being able to wear whatever I want to work in, sometimes I wish it were a little more professional and I had an office to go to and come home from every day. Bulldogs is definitely going in a good direction and is adding new cities next summer, but I have serious doubts as to the long-term viability of Teach Kentucky. Actually seeing how these ventures work from the backside is rather ugly and stresses me out. I guess I've been at Yale too long. There, everything is sleek, there's enough money to bribe God for good weather on Bulldog Days, and you never have to see the ugly side of the business of Yale. It has definitely given me unrealistic expectations of what it is actually like to run something.

Well, I guess there goes my entrepreneurial dream if I ever had one. Sorry for the rambling; I guess it's just been a long week.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Nom nom indeed

Y'all have too much time on your hands. But thus, Nom nom needs to be shared.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Whacking what?

Steve: You put your hand there just as I was whacking!
Rebecca: Yeah, because you were whacking it!

Chris Young-isms #1

On our road trip down from the 'Have, we stopped at a McDonald's for lunch. Ahem:

Chris: And can I get a cheeseburger from the dollar menu?
Cashier: Do you want a double cheeseburger instead? It's the same price.
Chris: Um, what's the difference?
Cashier: Well, a double cheeseburger has two patties instead of one.
Chris [thinking]: Uh, I'll just take the cheeseburger.

And then we go to get ice cream immediately afterwards:

[woman hands Chris an ice cream cone with two scoops of sherbet]
Chris: Excuse me, ma'am. I don't think this one is mine.
Waitress [looking at receipt]: I think so - you ordered a double scoop of sherbet, right?
Chris: Oh, I didn't know it came with two scoops.

And [though sadly unrelated] then on Sunday night in the dorm:

Chris [walking into the populated common room]: I need a teabag.
Brittany [looking at Chris quizzically and then with realization]: Oh! That kind of teabag. Yea, I have one in my room.

Keep on rockin' it [with a new penguin hat!].

\m/
Steve


Monday, June 2, 2008

Success! The certification exam has been conquered (HUZZAH!!), and I have my assignment: Wagner unit and its 14 teenage boys.

Wagner boys range in age from 12 or 13 up to 17. Most seem pretty chill. From what the staff tells me, their last restraint was about two weeks ago, and before then, they'd had a two-month stretch with no holds necessary. This past academic year, there were only 4 incidents where SCM had to be used on them in the school. Impressive. Most impressive.

That being said, the boys definitely have their issues and aggressive tendencies, and most come from really disturbing family situations. Like most it seems, one guy in my unit comes from a background of sexual abuse and drug-addicted parents. He is also a father. He's in his mid-teens. His goal is get out of Brooklawn soon and get a job to support his family. He's battled with behavioral and emotional issues, mostly anger management...and if I were him, I probably would, too. I honestly don't know how someone could deal with what he's been through in his life, and I don't really understand how anyone could do what they did to him. He's one story.

I didn't see much in terms of anger this afternoon...actually, the boys mostly just stayed in their rooms or played X-Box in the common room...but that doesn't mean it's not there. They're angry boys. They've had hard lifes, and they're learning to deal with a world that hasn't been very good to them.

I'm looking forward to Day 2.

-cy

Steve's Misconceptions

Today, we found out that Steve thinks that chickens make milk. That's right, Steve thought that chickens had nipples. Hopefully, there will be further updates of misconceptions from the Y chromosome contingent as the summer progresses.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Boys: Week 1

'sup Reader,

Tomorrow's a big day. Tomorrow at noon, I meet my boys.

Since last Tuesday, I've been counselor-in-training Chris at Brooklawn Child and Family Services, a residential counseling facility that hosts boys ages 6-171 with behavioral, emotional, and social difficulties, due mostly (but not entirely) to shitty parenting. After completing a short written exam in the morning, I'll receive my assignment to one of Brooklawn's 10 cottages. I'm not gonna lie to you, I'm kinda terrified, but it's a good kinda terrified...I think...

The majority of my training has involved learning verbal and non-verbal anti-aggression tactics. Ideally, I'll be able to calm down any youth without having to resort to restraint or seclusion, but that probably won't be the case...yeah... Hence, part of training included Safe Crisis Management (SCM), handy and safe restraint techniques I can use on the boys. I passed my SCM skill set on Friday, so in theory I'm totally set, but I'm me, so that's an automatic negative. Also, it they find out I'm ticklish, I'm just screwed.

I haven't had a chance to really meet the kids yet, but I've spent my 30-minute lunch breaks talking with some of them. The ones that stick out most in my mind are a teen with schizophrenia; a boy who wants to be a zoologist specializing in reptiles (he was really keen on the crocs); and a young tyke who doesn't say much (I actually don't think I've ever heard him say anything), but who without fail will take my tray at the end of lunch. He doesn't have to help me. The senior staff thinks he's doing it for extra points towards completing his STEPS2 requirement for the day. Regardless, I appreciate it.

By far, the highlight of the week was lunch Friday. I was getting up to leave, and I noticed a boy in a "Soulja Boy" t-shirt. I don't really contain excitement, so I exclaimed, "Ah! 'Soulja Boy'! YOUUU!!!!" He yelled back "YOUUU!!!" and broke out in a perfect rendition of the dance smack in the middle of the cafeteria. It was epic.

Alright, it's study time. Catch y'all later!

-cy

1 Rarely, a teen chooses to extend his time as a ward of the state until his 21st birthday, meaning Brooklawn can serve him for an additional 3 years.

2 STEPS stands for Strategies Toward Effective Problem Solving. It's a program designed to help our boys modify their behavior so as to be more socially appropriate (i.e. it teaches them to better control their emotions, predominantly anger).