Wednesday, January 25, 2006

4 Things

This is for my friend Tammy, who has a great blog, The Daily Warrior (check her out!).

4 jobs I’ve had in my life:
Independent Evaluator: This is the only job where my *%&#$@ useless master’s degree was required. As an IE, I conducted diagnostic psychiatric assessments of children and adolescents participating in psychiatric research studies, beginning with the initial evaluation and then doing all regularly scheduled blind diagnostic assessment for the duration of the study, blind meaning I didn’t know what treatment the patients were receiving (either meds alone, therapy alone, or combination meds & therapy). For each assessment, my ratings were compared to the ratings of the treating psychiatrist, who wasn’t blind to treatment, to see if we
agreed as to how well (or not so well) the kids were doing. I loved being an IE ‘cause I love working with kids.
Paralegal: Once upon a time, long, long, ago, in a far off galaxy, I was a paralegal. This was waaaaaaayyy back when being a paralegal was a new concept, and there weren’t any paralegal programs. I was trained by the lawyers for whom I worked to do things like real estate closings, which I hated. This was a job that brought in some much-needed money when I was pregnant with Alex, but I was bored out of my mind most of the time, working as a paralegal.
Sex Ed teacher for at-risk kids in a middle school: I did this for a semester after I completed my undergraduate work. I worked with 6th, 7th & 8th graders, boys and girls, most of whom were gang members and most of whom were also, in spite of their tender ages, sexually active. However, that didn’t stop them from being offended when I used the "v" word: "Ooooooh, Miss Judi, you talkin’ nasty!" The kids were likeable, but it was a good day when I didn’t have a bunch of tolly heads (toluene sniffers) in my group.
Hotline Counselor (Suicide & Crisis Center): I was a volunteer crisis counselor on a suicide and crisis hotline here in Dallas every week for almost three years. I loved this job, because it taught me so much that is applicable to every day life. Many people have asked me who calls a crisis center, and the answer is, anyone whom life blindsides in any number of ways. Most of the callers weren’t suicidal, although of course some were. We didn’t have caller ID, so we had to trace calls when we felt we needed to dispatch the police. I’ve done that a few times, and I’ve talked to my share of people holding a loaded gun to their heads, or whose words are slurred because they’ve already OD’d by the time they made the call. Of course, in addition to those poor souls who are feeling suicidal or homicidal or whom life has otherwise somehow blindsided, there are "regulars" (lonely people who call the crisis center on a regular basis) and yep, sex callers, sickos who call the crisis center because they know that someone will answer the phone and they’ll have a captive audience at other end of the line. We’re trained to deal with that, though. Thanks to my extensive crisis line experience, I can say, "You’re masturbating, I know you’re masturbating, and I’m not gonna talk to you while you’re masturbating" to a stranger on the phone without batting an eye.

4 movies I’d watch over and over:
Sex, Lies & Videotape: This film, by Steven Soderbergh, is one of my favorite movies of all time. Insofar as I can tell, it’s an almost perfect film. Andie MacDowell and Laura San Giocomo are great, as is James Spader, and Peter Gallagher is over the top, but I’m a sucker for handsome guys playing sh*ts (Robert Redford in Downhill Racer, for example). Also, I love all films where part of the plot line involves talking to a shrink (all that psychology training I’ve had).
Parenthood: I love this movie. Ron Howard really knows what parenthood is all about, and Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen are terrific as the frazzled parents trying to do their best. If you’re a parent who hasn’t seen this movie, you should definitely check it out. My favorite scenes include Steve Martin visualizing his son shooting at students from the UT Austin tower, and Dianne Wiest, picking up pics from one-hour photo kiosk only to discover that she’s received her daughter’s (Martha Plimpton’s) nude photoes of her beau (Keanu Reeves). I wish I couldn’t relate to that scene, but hey - I’ve got 4 kids, ranging from 20 to 29, and I can only say, I’ve had variations on that theme...
Office Space: I’ve got a problem with authority figures, so I can completely relate to this film. In fact, I relate so well that I almost got into serious trouble when I was working at the U, because one summer day, when none of us had any clinic patients, I scheduled a movie afternoon for all the overworked, underpaid people I supervised, and on that afternoon we sat around and drank cokes and ate popcorn and watched this film. Six months later someone squealed on me, and, Office Space style, each of us involved was called in separately by a University Authority Figure to give Our Version of Events. Fortunately, paranoid soul that I was (and justifiably so) working for the U, I’d foreseen this possibility, and we all had our stories straight: "Naawwww, it wasn’t DURING work, it was AFTER work, and everyone didn’t sit around and watch it (I’m goin' to hell ‘cause this is a complete lie; we rearranged furniture so we could all watch it!), I was just playing it in my office while I stayed late, catching up on paperwork, and a couple of people stuck their heads in and watched it for a few minutes, yada yada yada..." Have I mentioned that I always got great ratings as a supervisor, and that people loved working for me? :))
Toy Story: I never get tired of watching it, and that’s a good thing, ‘cause it’s one of Xander’s favorites.

4 places I’ve lived:
Minnesota: I grew up in a small college town in southeastern Minnesota, and although it was beautiful, I was bored out of my mind, and left at the first opportunity, moving to Chicago on my own at 17, the day after high school graduation.
Chicago: I lived in the windy city (and that means right in the city, the suburbs don’t count) until 1983. I LOVE Chicago; it’s a vibrant city, and unlike Dallas, which is sort of a giant suburb, Chicago is a REAL city. When I first moved there, I used to walk around the streets and just listen to all the noise and revel in being anonymous.
Aspen: I took my kids to live in Aspen for the first half of 1992. My father-in-law, who’d died the previous May, had bought a house in Aspen in 1948 (a good time to buy) and part of the reason I went was to clean out the house after his death. He had a beautiful old Victorian in the West End, not at all fancy, overlooking Hallam Lake (if you know Aspen). I remember one night, when there was a heavy snowfall, that I sat in the living room long after the kids were all asleep with a fire in the fireplace and all lights out, watching the snow and sipping bourbon by myself late into the night. It was incredibly beautiful. Alex attended Aspen senior high, Kath attended Aspen junior high, and Mike and Chris were in kindergarten while we were there. Mike and Chris had never seen snow before, and we had some good times, but I would have liked to have lived there before it became popular.
Dallas: We moved to Dallas from Chicago in 1983, and immediately experienced major culture shock. In 1983, in spite of Dallas’ propensity to bill itself as a "world-class city", it was extremely difficult to find things like French cheese, or fresh herbs, or, for that matter, wine, as the neighborhood I live in was (and still is) "dry", meaning, you can’t buy liquor here. Nevertheless, when we moved here there were still drive-through liquor stores, where you could legally buy a roadie in an open cup complete with a coozie, so you didn’t have to have the miserable experience of driving on Texas highways without drinking. Go figure.

4 tv shows I love to watch:
Law & Order: I’m addicted to this show, and I also love Law & Order SVU. Dunno why - maybe there are subliminal messages or something.
The Sopranos: Sheesh, I got cable so I could watch The Sopranos after getting hooked by renting the old shows at Blockbuster, and I feel like I’ve been waiting FOREVER for it to come back on, which is supposed to happen in March. The acting and writing is good, but more than anything else, for me, it’s the shrink-aspect that I mentioned that I love in movies, too. Also, I love to read the reviews on Slate the day after each show airs. They’re written by real shrinks who critique Dr. Malfi and her treatment of Tony.
Dr. Phil: I was a skeptic, but Alex got me watching him, and I have to admit, most of the time he’s pretty good.
Rome: It’s over, but I loved this series, and highly recommend it, if you get a chance to see it.

4 places I’ve been on vacation:
Big Bend, Texas:
I LOVE Big Bend, and I’ve been there 4 times and I hope to go back soon. It’s wild, remote, and desolate, and for most folks, a good five hours out of cellphone range (heaven to me). I like to stay at The Gage, in Marathon, Texas, on the way back. I’ve done some interesting things in Big Bend, including: I completed a Desert Survival Skills course with my son Chris, where, among other things, we learned to make fire by rubbing sticks together. Actually, this is done by first constructing something called a bow hearth, and I still have mine. It’s a heady experience, creating fire in your own hands. Makes you feel connected like Jung says we’re all connected, collective unconscious and all that. Also, I’ve done a three day camel trek through part of Big Bend, and that was very cool. And I’ve gone to Big Bend with a sweetheart, and we hiked, and explored, and spent one memorable sunny afternoon off the beaten path in the Davis Mountains, beside a small stream...mmmmmmmmmmmm...I still smile, thinking about that.

River of No Return, Idaho: My son Chris and I did a week-long river rafting trip on the Upper Salmon, on the River of No Return, a couple of years ago. It was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had, beginning with the thrilling trip in the puddle jumper that we took from Boise to Salmon, a 10-seater, Salmon Air, Piper Chieftan. While we were still in the Boise airport, one of our fellow passengers asked the pilot how he’d happened to go to work for Salmon Air. "Got fahred from Amurikan," he drawled, "for DRINKIN’!" :) And people say pilots don’t have a sense of humor.

One of the places we landed, on our way to our destination, was a dirt runway on the top of a plateau, and our little plane slid in the mud, and there were cows standing at the edge of the field, and we came perilously close to hitting one of them. Definitely not a trip for the faint of heart. This was a real outdoorsy trip anyway: we peed in the river, transported solid waste, and had no showers for a week, prompting a friend to say, "I was so thrilled with the tan I got on this trip, until I got to the hotel at the end of the week, and showered, and saw all of my tan running down the shower drain..."

The food, however, was fabulous, and there was lots of white water, and the scenery was spectacular. The rafts were fun, but more than the rubber rafts, I loved being in a dory, the type of wooden boat used in 1869 when John Wesley Powell led the first expedition into the Grand Canyon. A dory takes you high above the waves and then you come crashing down, with the added thrill of knowing your boat could be smashed to bits on the rocks, tempered by the fervent belief that it won’t happen. And prow-riding on a dory - well, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Grand Cayman: I’ve been to Grand Cayman twice, with Anthony and the girls, in 1981 and ‘82. It has some of the clearest water and best snorkeling and diving in the world, and in addition to having an icy beer or two at a place called Welly’s Cool Spot while the mosquito planes flew low with a deafening sound, I especially loved Rum Point - a place that was so beautiful, it took my breath away. Dunno what Caymen’s like now, though.

New York City: I’ve been to New York several times, and I always enjoy it. I especially love going to
MOMA and to the Temple of Dendur in the Met. A few years ago, I had an especially good time going there for spring break with Mike and Chris.

Alex flew in to meet us, and the first night, the four of us stayed at the Pennsylvania hotel, across from Madison Square Garden. I’d reserved one large room, and it wouldn’t have been memorable, except that there were apparently honeymooners in the room next to us...LOUD honeymooners with LOTS of energy. The boys, age 15, thought that was terrific, and were highly entertained, but Alex and I weren’t so pleased. In fact, I was so displeased that the next day I checked out of the Pennsylvania and we moved to a boutique hotel, The Gershwin.

The Gershwin was great, but we needed two rooms there, one for Mike and Chris and one for Alex and me, and we couldn’t get rooms on the same floor. At 15, both boys towered over me, but they were slim and naive and clearly still boys...and I was more than a little nervous about having them stay in a separate room on a different floor. "Do NOT go out by yourselves!" I said sternly. "You must check in with me and Alex to do ANYTHING outside your room, do you understand?" "Sure, sure," Chris said, leaning against the doorway of our room. "But hey, Mom, what if we don’t? I mean, it’s not like you’d KNOW..." "Christopher, I’m serious! I don’t want you walking around outside by yourselves!" He grinned at me. "OK, but maybe Mike and I will slip out later - this is New York, and maybe we’d like to walk around and maybe find ourselves some lenient women..."

WTF?!?!?! Alex and I looked at each other, and simultaneously burst out laughing. "LENIENT WOMEN?!?!?!" Chris looked slightly offended. "Yeah, LENIENT women," he said, then added, "That’s an SAT word, don’t you know what it means?" Alex and I continued to laugh. "That’s a good idea," Alex said then, "You boys go looking for lenient women, and be sure to ask ‘em if they’re lenient...that way they’re gonna know...they’re dealing with a couple of RUBES..."

Alex and I still laugh about that. We call it The Lenient Women story. Mike and Chris still fail to see the humor.

4 of my favorite foods:
Brisket tacos from Mia’s, a hole in the wall restaurant on Lemmon Avenue in Dallas with GREAT Mexican food
A good filet mignon, medium rare
Good lox with cream cheese, tomato, red onion, thinly sliced, and capers on a toasted onion seed bagel
Steak tartare

4 places I’d rather be right now:
Savannah, at the Hamilton-Turner Inn, in any of those beautiful rooms
Chicago, seeing Alex and Chris and lots of old friends
Machu Picchu (I really want to go there!)
Driving to Big Bend (I like road trips)


Celeste said...

EMMMMMA! THANK you SOO much for popping in! So sorry I haven't been by in a while. I have yet to create a new routine for myself with all you guys' new blogs. Get one of those e-mail blog alert thingies...please? ;) C.

TJ said...

Interesting jobs. I spent most my working years in salons. I really miss the relationships you acquire with the women and the community.
I work for my husband underpaid and boring!

Jackie said...

I'm with Celeste!! I depend on those darn alerts, and now that you're over here, I don't get them anymore. I so enjoy reading your journal, Judi, and if you hadn't stopped by and left a comment, heaven knows when I would have gotten over here! :( Why don't you do what Chris, Jodi and some of the others do. They somehow manage to send me an alert when they leave an entry. Do you think you could find out from one of them how they do it? I'm serious here, lady! :/ I miss you and really do want to keep up with whats going on with you!

Tammy said...

Judi, Judi, Judi, I'm thrilled you did this because it confirmed what I've suspected all along. You are a supportive, courageous, fun and adventurous woman. Wow!

I have a blog buddy named Tara Dawn, you need to check out her latest entry.

I loved reading all about you! I got a message from Jess, but we keep playing phone tag :)

Andy Hunter said...

I've been a crisis center phone person too, and yes, I too can tell a person that "You're masturbating right now. I know it. I'm hanging up." What an odd thing to have in common with someone.

Lily said...

Hmm... I've know a few "lenient" women before... lol


Celeste said...

YAY! THANK YOU! You've just made my hectic, computer challenged life LOADS easier. ;) C.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful B & W photo. Gorgeous little girls.

I worked a suicide hotline in Vegas . . . I know, . . . one of the busier one in the nation! Really sad, but I learned much, also. I later had a paying job doing social service work. It is rewarding tho very demanding. I'm so glad that I had those opportunities to learn, to possibly help, AND to grow!

BTW, I LOVED the movie Office Space. I am always imitating Milton (since I'm female, hopefully it's not a GREAT imitation) . . . gotta get your FLAIR ON, GIRL!!! Didn't you want to smack that restaurant manager right there in the thinly veiled TGI Friday's . . . LOL!!!

erarein63 said...

Judi-- been a while since I dropped by. I've become self-absorbed of late and been remiss in visiting my fav journals. (my fault entirely). Thank you for reminding me what an amazing and interesting person you are. De ;)

Paul said...

Loves them lien-yent women
Dems da ones for me
I makes an improper suggestion
But dey never do disagree.

emmapeelDallas said...

LOL! Yep, I'm pretty sure that's the song the boys were thinking of!


ChasingMoksha said...

I may be wrong but I think you like a psych theme. LOL Just kidding...

I do think Law and Order is a black hole that just sucks and sucks everyone who see or hear it in. One night, and I never watch t.v. I ended up watching three back to back episodes.---That is three hours! Good grief. I think both lead guys are sort of hot too. That one on criminal intent is so tall and intense...Yummy.

About the cheese and wine. Has Trader Joe's made it to Dallas yet? I feel your pain, Dallas is a big suburb.