“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”

Welcome! My friends! To my new journal! Ahhh this is bringing me back… back to my livejournal days. You guys remember livejournal? Well.. it’s good to be back blogging. Thank you to all my loving friends that where there for me during my Monoblog and have been encouraging me to continue writing. I’d like to start off with some shameless self-praise. Doesn’t this blog look pretty?! I love that anyone can learn how to use photoshop these days by just searching youtube. Some interesting facts about the graphics on this page: I used photoshop to extend the length of my background beach image. It was 4:3 aspect ratio and I used a bunch of tricks such as blending two images to make it 16:9 ratio. Can I just say, I LOVE 16:9 ratio! I’m sick of this 4:3 crap. What’s up APPLE!!! Why couldn’t you have made your iPad 16:9?? (not that that would have been enough for me to want to buy one at this point) … other neat photoshop things that I learned: How to outline text. It seems like doing that should be easy but apparently it was not so straightforward.

Today was my first day back to work -and I must say: I picked a good day to come back. (That was not sarcastic). Today we had a cultural competency training… at first I was skeptical but the training actually turned out to be really really good. Appropriately (and I know that shesh!! I’m already discriminating (does that mean that the training was good that I can recognize)..ehem. Appropriately, the class was run by this butch ethnically vague woman (it took till I heard her name that it was clear that she was a woman). She was so smart, knowledgeable, and confident -I was so impressed by her! I wish I could just have her in my pocket so that I could channel her confidence when working with certain clients. So… we did this exercise where she wrote all these different cultural classifications on the wall -all sorts of categories like race, sexual orientation, gender, physical ability, even home placement status (e.g., group home kid, foster kid, adopted kid, vs family kid). Then she had all 20 of us clinicians and therapists go around and write the first word that came to mind for each of the different culture classification. (e.g., For Asian people would put “rice” for example… or “good at math,” or “bad driver” etc.. Some sort of stereotype or word that would pop in your head). An interesting thing happened: The white, heterosexual, male categories got the most bashed by negative stereotypes! (Sucks for me because I am all 3 of those categories.) (Please note the image… Why they gotta put whitey all the way in the back? Where it’s most blurry? AND HIS FACE IS CUT OFF!! MAN! They keepin’ us down!) The cultural break down of the group was 80% White, 10% Black, 5% Latina, and 5% Asian -all were therapists or clinicians working at Edgewood. It was interesting that people were most comfortable bashing the cultures that they, themselves were -or at least -the dominating “privileged” culture. It was almost as if the therapists were trying to counterbalance society’s imbalance of discrimination towards “minorities.”

Another interesting thing unique to myself that I noticed was how freely and easily I was able to fill out some pretty offensive (but arguably funny) stereotypes for everyone. Example… for “mentally retarded” I put “entertaining.” For “black” I put “fried chicken.” I had very little reservation about being completely offensive which I found quietly amusing. I guess being around theatre folk who tend to be pretty diverse and I guess being around comedy where it is the norm to exploit and draw upon stereotypes for the sake of humor (granted, usually it is only acceptable for a comedian to make fun of his own race -or a race in a position of equal or greater socio-economic status (assuming that every group gets their fair share of capping)). It was funny being torn between my silly, unoffensible theater side and my proper interpersonal sensitive and appropriate psychology side. (side note: I guess those two “sides” don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I have heard stories about very offensive (but still affective) therapists and I’ve heard stories of non-silly, offendable theatre folks.)

Lastly… I waited after the training to talk to the instructor to let her know how much I liked her training but also ask her about a difficult experience that I ran into in the past. There had been this one African American woman that I was trying real hard to get along with… I made myself (or so I felt) completely open and accepting of whatever cultural differences that there may have been between each other… And what confused me and caught me off guard was that the very act of my trying to respect and accept cultural differences between me and this woman led to her disapproving and not accepting me. This was such a shock to me! I thought that I was a person who would be able to meet anyone where they are at. I never thought that the fact that that was true could, in fact, alienate me from someone… so I asked our trainer lady what I could have done better and her response was… I should have just been myself and asserted myself without trying to bend to accept or understand this woman’s ways. What an interesting concept. I tried so hard to please this African American woman that I was willing to abandon any part of myself and that.. that was why (in part, at least) I lost her respect. This is something that I would like to improve in my work with people: be more assertive, and stand up for my own wealth of knowledge and experience -not always bow to peoples perceptions of what I know or not know. I want to be like Caeser Milan, dog whisperer. He is so confident! He just walks into the room with his energy and faith that what he is going to do will work… every time. (granted, with humans -we’re more complex and can’t always be healed every time -certainly not as immediately as dogs can -since dogs live in the moment. Ahh I can hear Caeser now: “That is the beauty of ‘dog.’ They don’t live with baggage. They live in the moment.” Ha! Maybe this is also something that we can learn from dogs! (…Didn’t I say something similar like this in my Monoblog? Oh well… It can bear repetition)

How about that Lost today, eh? I won’t give anything away (so don’t worry about spoilers… well maybe there will be minor spoilers but I will keep them very vague). But I will say -isn’t it refreshing to have spend 6 years getting to know these characters -to come to care about them so much WHEN THEY AREN’T EVEN “REAL” PEOPLE. I love that. To us, in a way, they do become real people. For example, I feel like I could hang out with Hurley or Desmond and it wouldn’t even be strange at all. How lovely that we can care about these fictional characters -come to feel like we know them -even have a relationship with them. I cried during Lost today. I cried twice. Once when something sad happened… and once when we saw some of the characters cry about the sad thing that happened. Hurley, is like the everybody character -the one that is happy go lucky that we all love. The heart of the group. When we saw Hurley cry today… how could anyone not cry with him and for him. AHH! I was just such a great moment for us to realize how much we’ve grown to know and love the characters in the show. Lost did so well with really pulling my heartstrings -it was such a joy. I hope we have more of this sort of thing to look forward to as the show closes in the next 3 final episodes.

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