Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The choice that's not really there (this has nothing to do with the abortion issue, I promise:)

Christ is Born! Glorify Him! We had a lovely Christmas with my family. I am now at work (with not a lot to do today) and so I have decided to attempt to write about what it is that I do, exactly (meaning… my work).

I work for a for-profit agency that assists adults with disabilities in finding a job and maintaining that job. We are a privately owned agency with government contracts (this translates into us having to jump through lots of wonderful bureaucratic hoops and red tape…AAAGGGHHH). I work very part time (Mondays and Tuesdays and sometimes write up reports from home) so my responsibilities include doing paperwork/administrative stuff for our office when I am in the office and keeping in touch with my few clients. I focus in on clients who are developmentally disabled; most of which have been with us for 8 or more years and are fairly stable in their jobs. We also try to schedule new client orientations on Mondays or Tuesdays so that I can do this (which means having the new clients sign a bunch of release of information forms, going through our company policies, filling out the “individual profile” form, and beginning to examine what are the clients interests as far as future work. This, finally, is what I want to write about, today.

There are lots of buzz words in this industry (even the term “client” has changed… my favorite was “consumer” as in “they consume all of your time, energy, and patience” just kidding, ha ha). I think the current buzz word is no longer “client” but “individual”. An improvement to “consumer” but I think I still prefer client the best. I don’t know it is sometimes difficult to keep up with all the change. And I really doubt that my “clients/consumers/individuals” really care what they are called.

So… a few weeks ago I began working with a new client who I will call Jane (as in Doe, Jane Doe). She came into our office, begrudgingly (it is our policy to do orientation at our office… we want to see if the client is willing to come to our location because when we do find them a job they are going to have to be able to get to their work site and be prompt, etc.). Jane wanted me to come to her home (which is not our policy). So, Jane comes in, is pleasant to speak with, has some issues with hygiene that we will need to work on, seems to be “with it” and knows and understands what is going on around her. The problem, and in a moment I will introduce another favorite industry buzz word, is that she straight out told me she doesn’t want a job, she doesn’t want to work, it will be too hard for her. And I’m having this meeting with you because…..

And here’s the buzz word… choice. Client choice. Consumer choice. Individual choice. Choice is huge. Everything revolves around the client’s choice. Where do they want to work and what do they want to do and we are supposed to find a job that fits into that choice. The one choice they are not allowed to make (as I am slowly finding out in the last two weeks since meeting with this client) is the choice to not work at all. That’s my problem, currently, with this new client. Do I convince her that she wants to work, that it won’t be hard, and that it might even be fun? I have been trying to schedule another meeting with Jane but she, as it turns out, is kind of a hypochondriac. And she is in the midst of moving. And she doesn’t really want to come out to our office. Oh, and she would like to learn how to read (not a service that we usually provide) but she still doesn’t want to work. I’m being told by that bureaucratic entity with all the hoops and red tape to continue working with her. Where is the choice in that? Mind boggling, isn’t it? Next week I will try to post about some of our success stories…those clients that want to work and have been working for a number of years. Those clients that leave sweet messages on my voicemail. Those clients that are excited about life and enjoy the challenges that face them everyday. I will probably also write more about Jane because there are other issues involved in her life.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night...

So… sorry I haven’t posted in a while. This is our Christmas card picture and here are some updates:

1. We have so far raised $2800 for the family we built a home for through Project Mexico.
2. It was my birthday last Wednesday. We went out to dinner with my family, I got my first non-hand-me-down vacuum cleaner (thanks mom and dad), and Paul gave me a beautiful gold ring to wear on my left ring finger (we wear our wedding rings on our right ring finger).
3. We had our church Christmas program. I sat with the 3-4 year olds, on stage, to try to keep them quiet. They were pretty good… although I started out with five children and by the end of the play, only one was left (they all went to sit with their families).
4. It snowed yesterday and last night! Although it is now 35 and raining and the snow is melting away. But at least we have seen snow this year.
5. Our Basics in Orthodoxy classes are now online. You can listen to them at your leisure. Also, Paul just finished putting Mother Cassiana’s retreat online, too.
6. We saw Chronicles of Narnia. We both enjoyed it. We are hoping to see King Kong with my sister and brother in law while they are in town for the holidays.

That’s about all that has been going on. I will probably be too busy to write anything this week. My sister is in town with her children… we are going to go to the Zoo Lights and downtown to ride the train at Meier and Frank and Paul’s Christmas party is on Thursday night and there are presents to wrap and cookies to make and Artoklassia to bake (my name day is on Christmas Day). Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night:)

UPDATE: Bono and U2 are in Portland today. We are not going to the concert :( We tried to buy tickets back in April or May when they went on sale but the concert was sold out. And then when we did have another opportunity to buy tickets, we were in the process of buying our home and money was a tad tight. So... I guess I will just have to wait until they go on tour again (no fear of the band breaking up and they usually go on tour every 3-5 years). If you are going to the concert... have fun (my god-daughter is going along with a number of young adults from church). And I cannot be too sad about it because I have seen them in concert twice before:)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Project Mexico of the Orthodox Church Request...

Seven years ago I helped organize a group to go down to Project Mexico to build a home for a needy family. This led to me moving down to San Diego and working for Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage for almost 2 1/2 years (and where Paul and I met... we was also working for Project Mexico as a long term volunteer). Anyway, the family that we built the home for seven years ago is not your typical Project Mexico-home-receiving-family. Most families, after receiving their new homes, do not have any other connection with Project Mexico or the orphanage (and none is required of them). But this family is different. They would come to the orphanage for services; not all the time, but every so often. They used their home as a small distribution center for food and clothing to others in their colonia. The husband has done odd jobs around the orphanage, always ready to lend a helping hand. In other words... they have stayed connected to Project Mexico over these seven years and have taken the gift that we gave them and turned it into their own way of giving (and, obviously, the experience of giving them a home had a profound effect on the 25 people from Holy Trinity who built the home... and, obviously it had a profound and lasting impact on my life:).

The request is this... this family, when we built the home for them, had two children. And they are having another baby. The wife is 7 months pregnant. A few weeks ago she started bleeding. That has now turned into hemorrhaging. She has been hospitalized, and will continue to be hospitalized and on bedrest for the next two weeks when they will do a c-section. They baby, so far, is healthy and doing fine. But the family does not have the money to cover these type of medical expenses. So... I don't get many readers to my blog but if any of my faithful readers feel compelled, we (myself and a friend of mine who went on that trip) are collecting money for this family. Our goal is a minimum of $2000. That would really help them out. If you feel like this is something you can do, please either get in touch with me (cdblankenstein[at]hotmail[dot]com) or you can send a check made out to Project Mexico and mail it to them (P.O. Box 120028 Chula Vista, CA 91912-3128) with a memo "for Lalo & Elisa". Thank you.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Funny Quote and WARNING: RANT AHEAD (but just a little one)

My sister shared this "Maria Moment" when they were down for Thanksgiving (I know, I am a little tardy in publishing it). Maria is my three year old niece. She and Pavlos are best buddies. They have so much fun together and they crack each other up. Anyway, when my sister was driving down, my nephew, Pavel (who is five) asked if the smokestacks were on fire (they were passing a paper mill and he saw smoke coming from the stacks). Katherine said no, that is a paper factory... where they make paper. And Maria, with a mischevious gleam in her eye stated, "Not a paper factory, mama, an UNDERWEAR factory." And she cracked herself up:)

Now for the rant... I know, in the past, others have commented on bumperstickers (I just don't remember who and even what context) but here's my problem. I was driving Pavlos to my parent's home on Tuesday (my mom watches Pavlos on Mon. and Tues. while I work). And there was this sportscar next to us with the following bumper sticker. Zero to Bitch in 3.5 Seconds. Ok. So what exactly is this woman trying to tell the world? Is she performing a public service by issuing a warning so that people can keep away from her? Is she proud? I don't get it. I know that my sister and I have had discussions about bumper stickers... especially those that have lots of swear words or are sexually explicit. How do we explain to our children when they ask us what those bumper stickers mean? I remember when I was a kid asking my mom about the "tree" and "beaver" bumper sticker (I really don't want to get into that sticker on my blog but I think that I have mostly an adult audience). Kids ask questions when they don't understand something. And you can't lie to a child... And I know that people who put such bumper stickers on their vehicles feel that it is their right (freedom of speech). But isn't there something about decency? Or shouldn't there be something about decency? We get in trouble with the law if we walk the streets naked... why can't we get into trouble if we put garbage on our cars for the whole world to view?

Ok. Enough of the rant. Go back to the top of this blog entry and read about Maria and the Underwear Factory for a good chuckle:)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Have some time on your hands? try this...

Go to this face recognition website and upload a picture of yourself. It will scan your picture and compare it to celebrity pictures and come up with the best matches. My top two were Jennifer Conelly and Julia Roberts. hmmm... I say HA HA HA HA HA. At least it was a great laugh:)

Friday, December 02, 2005

books and movies

We've been reading. A lot. Paul discovered Paolini's Inheritence series of books (there are two out now) and so he wanted me to get them from the library for him (our library is part of a great big network of libraries but it's actually a really small library that is only open from 10am to 6pm so almost anything that we want, I have to request a hold on it and then pick it up... one great thing about the web... access to the library from home... I love it). So anyway, Paul put in a request for these books (Eragon is the first book and Eldest is the second book and there is a yet to be published third book). Paul is currently reading Eldest and I finished Eragon and am waiting for him to finish:) Yesterday, Paul emailed me because he found out that they are already making a movie based on the first book. He is very excited. Any of you read these books? They are very easy reads and fall under the fantasy fiction genre (for young adults). Harry Potter fans might like these books. So, while I am waiting for Paul to finish reading Eldest, I have been reading all the Jane Austen books and watching the movies (here is a great website for Jane Austen fans). I had already read and seen Emma, Sense and Sensibility (which I own), and Pride and Prejudice (which I also own... the mini-series version). So, I requested from the library the following books and movies: Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park. And I am reading the book before watching the movie:) So, finished Persuasion and its movie, finished Northanger Abbey but the DVD wouldn't play so I returned it and requested the VHS copy, and I have Mansfield Park, the book, but not the movie (yet). And because we started reading these young adult fantasy fiction, I decided to pick up (again, from the library) the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper which I read when I was a "young adult" reader. These are a very easy read and I have finished three of the five books (have to wait for the other two to come in). And to keep up with this fantasy fiction genre... Paul and I are both very excited for the opening of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in theatres next week.

Speaking of movies... this is an actual conversatin between Paul and I:
Paul: There's this new release movie that I really, really want to see... can I go get it?
Christina: Well, what's it called? Will I like it?
Paul: You may have heard of it... and I really want to see it... it's called Stealth.
Christina: Oh, yeah, I have heard of it... it's about fighter planes. Is there anything that I might like to watch that's out now?
Paul: I don't know... I'll go check..

So Paul leaves to go to the videostore and returns with Stealth and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Stealth was, well, exactly what I expected... lots of action with no depth of plot. Sisterhood was alright... I enjoyed it more than Stealth. The filming in Greece was, of course, amazing. And the Greek actors had excellent accents and the yiayia reminded me of a real Greek yiayia (and the whole thing about how they don't talk to a particular family because they are all liars and thieves... so very Greek). I have to say of the three movies I have watched this week, Persuasion was the best:)

That's all from me... sorry for neglecting this blog. Trying to get my life balanced between working two days a week and all the other stuff has been a little hectic. I'm sure that in the next few weeks things will settle down... HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!