Monday, July 9, 2012

I refuse to rename my blog

I remember a time, a long time ago, evidently about 28 months ago, when I used to blog. Back in the day I thought I had some pretty profound things to say, but then as I learned more, I felt less and less profound, and then decided I had nothing worth saying. I no longer think that is true, just realize I don't have to feel profound in order to share something. The advantage to not blogging in over two years is that I doubt many will even notice that I am posting things, and I can forget about the imagined audience I need to wow with my pseudoinsights.

 My favorite attending from residency suggested I rename my blog "Motorpsychle" being a baby-biker in addition to a shrink. It earned a groaning acceptance, but loosened associations are what blogging *is* to me, and I am rather fond of the name as it is. Plus "psychle" looks weird.

 I suppose a lot has changed since I was last around here. I somehow became a forensic psychiatrist with only partial permission on my part. I do not enjoy it, though a colleague told me today that if I keep talking about how much I don't enjoy it, it is only going to make things worse. Maybe that's true, but reminding myself this is not my passion at least reminds me that I do have a passion, and that in time I can return to it. My passion is in helping people who need help and are seeking help but don't know how to get there on their own. It is not in weeding through liars and fakers, orchestrating conversations to try to catch people in their deceit. There is a certain intellectual satisfaction in that, I can see that, but it does not fulfill my desires to help nor does it use my gifts that led me to psychiatry. That is not true--I have a pretty good gift for BS-detection, which *is* used, but then I have to be able to back up my gut sense that it is BS with facts under interrogation by attorneys. *shudder* And it is not the gift that makes me feel as though deep aspects of me are being realized and utilized.

I am, as aforementioned, learning to ride a motorcycle. I realize the inherent dangers, and sometimes wonder if I have lost my mind, but it is also a long-held dream of mine. I enjoy the sport, the striving to perfect cornering and shifting, as well as the freedom.

 When I last wrote, I had just returned from trip #2 from Africa, in which I felt a strong feeling I would be returning. Trip #3 was in June 2011, and God confirmed to me that I would be coming back to stay for a bit. It is a little weird, because I currently have very little sense of what that means for me. I know it means mental health. I know that my work at the prison, as much as I rail against it, is teaching me something useful for my time there. But at the same time, I feel I am getting further away from clinical practice in my day to day work. I long to go back and wonder if being on African soil would clarify my vision for my time there, but I also have not felt I am to go this year.

 There we have it. No amazing brilliance to pat myself on the back for, but an honest appraisal, I think. Something to build upon....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jiggity Jog

I am home again. After 26 hours of traveling with minimal sleep, I woke up at 5:30 this morning wide awake after about 10 hours of sleep (wondering where all the roosters and barking dogs are), so am embarking on my day. Unfortunately, my brain is really not working, so I'm not going to attempt to tell any stories at this moment, but when I'm function above basic consciousness, I will post more. Glad to be home!

Ok. I lied. Quick story :) One morning I awoke to the usual roosters. The dogs next door had been barking and howling since about 3 am. There were the sounds of small children playing and walking on the road outside our walls. As I lay listening to the sounds, another joined the ranks. A car rolled by blasting Cyndi Lauper's "Time after Time." It's a fascinating world sometimes...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Still a liar

Glenda's adventures were far shorter than planned dso she is already back and I am leaving my internet haven. I at least have an adapter that will work at the centre, but no excuse to stay and use the internet. Will check in later!
Someone is still playing games with my internet access. I had no access over the weekend, but planned to come to the church to work on my presentation (Read: check my email while working on my presentation) today, so I was being patient. Today I arrive and the office where the magical adapter for my plug (none of the 4 adapters I purchased actually fit the flipping swazi outlets)resided was locked. So we plan to save my powerpoint on a memory stick and let me use a computer here. But no one had a memory stick. So they found me another adapter. Success!!! Except it is broken. Really, who is toying with me?!? But they just found one that worked. I am hooked up for the next few hours. Weeee!!!!! Must make sure to get to that presentation, though....

Things continue to go well here. This past week, I had an opportunity to visit Mawelawela, the only women's prison in the country. Were it not for the razor wire and gray tunics, I would have mistaken the place for a lovely retreat center located in a green valley and filled with quaint little cottages. I didn't have an opportunity to speak to the women individually, but did share a brief word with them (since when do I stand in front of 60 people and talk without wetting myself and running away?). Yeah. God is good. I will visit the men's prison at Matsapha on Tuesday and have more of an opportunity to walk through the prison and speak with the men. They have asked me to ask for a transfer to come work in the prisons here. :P

Life continues to go well. We have had maybe 2 sunny days since I last wrote. They were hot, but nice. Last night I was getting ready for bed and saw something large and moving on my wall and was momentarily disturbed, but was relieved to find it to be a little tiny lizard and not a bug. I also stepped on a lizard the size of a squirrel in the yard this week. I think we were mutually disturbed by that one.

I had the great honor of being told I had a "swazi stomach" after consuming corn on the cob from the garden with no ill effects. It has been a great relief not to have to pay too close of attention to what water I am utilizing, ice, etc. It is also strange to note that despite eating an average of 4 meals a day (breakfast, tea break, lunch, and dinner), frequently with fried chicken, I seem to be losing weight. I guess it is the lack of wine, soda (though I do procure the occasional coke), and candy.

Every Sunday, we have to walk the trash up to the dump site. I would estimate it is about a mile's walk each way. Nokwanda (15), Celiwe (14), and I lug the wheelbarrow up there. I recently have been getting a lot of "Hey white girl!" One man told me to get into his truck but my ignorance of Siswati allowed me to walk on unalarmed. We also get a lot of amusement and comments when we walk back, because I always push the empty wheelbarrow back, which seems to amuse the locals. I keep meaning to take my camera, because it is a beautiful walk, even with the rubbish in tow.

Glenda continues to whisk me away for some weekend time. She is really quite lovely and has been very kind to me while I have been here. She lives on the side of a mountain, and I love sitting out on her veranda and staring at the mountains across the valley. I can feel so at peace just looking out there. The ladies at the centre have started making fun of me for the pictures Im taking of the sky.

Ok. Im going to work on my presentation some more. May add more later.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Proof of life!

Still here. Barely. There seems to be a fun phenomenon whereby when it rains for 6 days straight as it did this week (thank God for the sun that finally made it's first appearance today since last Sunday), something electrical gets flooded such that you get shocked every time you grab a faucet. It started while I was in the shower, and I couldnt turn off the water until I got out of the shower and used a toothbrush to do so. The girls at the centre are all like "this happens all the time, we just go on as usual." So maybe I appeared a bit hypochondriacal when I forbade them all to take showers this morning until everything could be sorted out. Eeish.

Also, I am not sure I'd ever cry over the internet, but yesterday, after a 5 minute stent on Wednesday where I was simultaneously required to be polite to the people letting me use their internet, I ventured to the internet cafe yesterday. Super fast at first, and Glenda had left me for 2 hours, so I had plenty of time to catch up with everything. Woot!!! Except...after 12 minutes the connection was lost. So after waiting another 30 in hopes it would be restored, I wandered around the little mall (where the superspar, the pizza place, and "Ackerman's" were) for the remainder of the time. I was warding off grumpiness, thinking of all I had to be thankful for, and kept an eye out for Lindiwe (just in case she wandered through..right). But when I got home, all of the homesickness which was covered over by the novelty of being in this lovely place broke through, and I cried. Then I took a shower, got nearly electrocuted and took a nap. Luckily when I awoke, Thobile had returned from Mbabane with a coke and a sandwich for me. Coke makes everything better. We watched Mamma Mia for the second time this weekend, then watched a Hillsong DVD to which her two boys danced like maniacs, and by the end of the evening, I was feeling much less depressed.

Church is at the Potter's Wheel church, which is fabulous. Their worship band is great, and it is all pretty simple and straight forward. They were complaining that it was not finished yet, but the lack of carpet or other trappings really makes things feel more raw and human to me. I love it.

What else? I am counseling counselors this week. Should be great fun, then a two day workshop for various members of society that deal with different aspects of abuse. I love public speaking, so filling 8 hours should be a blast! Uhh.... Hmmm...

Ok, well I know this is brief, but Glenda is letting me use her computer again despite having used all her bytes (as she put it "i will open my cold, mean heart") so I dont want to abuse. I miss you folks (the coke was a bandaid, but I recongnize the lingering homesickness). But despite my dreams I keep having that I come home too early and then realize Im supposed to still be in Africa and am trying desperately to get back quickly, I also want to enjoy every minute that I am here. But I hope it will not be so long between posts for the whole month. Over and out.

p.s. I realize there was a lot of negative above. that was mostly yesterday. overall, things are still quite wonderful!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Im still alive!!!

Dont let the silence fool you. I am still alive and well! Internet has just been tricky. I took a kombi to Mbabane on Thursday (details omited here for the peace of certain potential readers) to use the internet, but because it was so overcast, I was able to check only 3 emails in my 50 minutes in html mode, and facebook and blogging were right out.

As of yesterday I felt truly settled in. As I sat in my PJs watching a horrid movie (called Tribulation, with Gary Busey) with Make Thobile, her two sons, Samu (9), and Aki (5) and the 4 girls who are currently in the program, eating popcorn and peanuts, I had to stop and ponder the fact that I was in a a foreign country half way around the world. It all felt too normal.

Of course much is not normal. We leave the windows and doors open all day, which I love. A breeze blows through, which is good, seeing as how it was 35 C the first day I got here. The food is good, though I think Thobile is trying to fatten me up, as I seem to be eating 4 meals a day instead of 3. Meat and boiled vegetables, but they have all been good. Praise God for galvanizing my GI tract, as I have had no "runny tummy" despite having some ice and fresh fruits. We wash the dishes with bar soap and the flies are expertly swatted with a kitchen towel. My bathroom has no light so at night I shower in the dark in a stall shower that only has only a half a wall, so it is an art to shower without soaking the entire bathroom. And these are only the differences inside the walls of the centre.

The centre strikes me as a cross between a summer church camp and an inpatient adolescent psych unit. There are 4 girls there now, ranging from 14 to 21. They stay for 8 months to complete the program, and some stay on for safety reasons. They have very hard stories, but they are beautiful and gifted girls. I feel priveledged to be able to hear their stories and lend some help. I have been surprised how open they have been with me, me being a complete stranger and foreigner and whatnot. I live in the small 2 bedroom staff house in the centre, inside a security wall. I am going to ask Glenda if I can venture out to walk in the neighborhoods during the day. The land is so beautiful. The contrast of the poverty in the midst of paradise is so strange. It is hard to put myself in the shoes of the people here, to think that this is their world, the only one they know.

I love that the center is a Christian-oriented facility. We start and end each day with chapel (though I have gone to evening chapel only once), and there is much praying together. I have freedom to make faith a part of my counseling sessions as seems appropriate, and that is very refreshing, but a whole new learning curve as well. Luckily Glenda, the director of the centre, is a great supervisor and I am able to discuss cases and experiences with her in ways that seem to be mutually beneficial. She will have me going to talk to a few other local organizations that help abuse victims, and we may also visit a prison, an orphan organization, and possibly talk with some politicians. Crazy!

I have been here 4 days, and I am already feeling my time here may be too short to accomplish all I would like to. At the same time I feel I have been here a long time. And certainly I will be anxious to get back home as well. Strange paradoxes. Paradoces? Hmm....

K. That is enough for the moment I suppose. I miss you guys!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

i lied

i evidently am also limited by fatigue, dehydration, and a caffeine-craving headache. turning the computer off to go forage for food. hope to be back in touch soon.