psyching myself out

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Remember when I used to write interesting things in this tumblr?  Now it’s mostly .gifs of Liz Lemon or Louis CK with occasional bitching to no one in particular.

I have met a lot of interesting people at my job.  A majority of our participants are either on disability/government assistance or homeless (bummer, as you can imagine).  One man, a few weeks ago, was educated, homeless, and a very bad alcoholic.  He told us that he drinks 2 and a half pints of vodka every day, until his money runs out around the middle of the month, at which point he starts begging people to buy booze for him and eventually goes into withdrawal and enters a detox program.  It was the 19th of the month, and after his session I felt so much sadness and confusion about handing him his cash payment for participating.  

My research is about alcohol use and HIV.  There are people out there who are drinking heavily on top of multiple contraindicating health problems, and there’s nothing in my position that lets me help them.  We actually get excited when we find someone with HIV who’s a heavy drinker.  Clinical work burned me out, but research is disappointing.  Heartbreaking at times.

My last participant this week has just moved to America from a large African country. At the beginning of our session he repeatedly said that he didn’t like living in the US, and was surprised at how unfriendly Americans are.  I reminded him that he’s in the Northeast, and that the States are very diverse in terms of culture and education.  As we went on with our neuropsychological testing, he began remarking that the schooling that he’s received in America leaves his African college experience in the dust.  As we went on and the tests became more difficult, for some reason, he warmed up to America more and more.  After we did the Stroop test, he said, “I ought to shake the hand of any college graduate in America.  You people must work so hard to get what you have and learn what you know.”  It was the first time that a person from a foreign country has made me feel good about being American.  For his sake, I didn’t mention that many college graduates in America deserve a gesture much less friendly than a handshake.

Monday is my first day alone at this job.  The research assistant I’ve been shadowing for the summer is finally gone, and I’m just a bundle of nerves.  I don’t want to fail at this, I don’t want to burn out again.  I keep thinking that, the more experience I accumulate, the closer I will come to figuring out what to do with my life.  The choices ares staggering.  You have no idea how often I fantasize about saying a big “fuck you” to my education and ambitions, and just going to beauty school.  At this point it’s really a toss-up.