Monday, September 29, 2008

Getting Up to Speed ~ Saddle Up!

As I mentioned earlier, head hunters from all over the country started calling Neil left and right as soon as he posted his resume on

He had job offers from Springfield, Massachusetts (which none of us were too crazy about), St. Louis, Missouri (too high a crime rate), and Anchorage, Alaska (too cold and too much snow).

Last week, he was in both Lubbock and Dallas, Texas taking interviews.

While Neil was not too crazy about Dallas, he really liked Lubbock ~ the area, the company that he interviewed at, and the people.

And even though he already had offers from other companies, Neil's heart was set on working in Lubbock.

So I am very happy to announce that today Neil received ~ and accepted ~ a job offer from Lubbock.

The company in Lubbock wants him to be there in 2 weeks!

While Neil will be going ahead to Lubbock, Ariana and I will be staying behind for the time being.

I would like for Ariana to finish her semester at Bristol Community College. And in the meantime, I will be having to prepare the house to be put on the market. Considering the size of the house and all the crap that had accumulated there over the years, this is not going to be an easy task.

I told Neil that when he leaves, he will have to bring with him all the stuff that he does not want me to throw out, because once I get into purging mode, nothing will be spared.

In the meantime, I am looking at this as an opportunity for great adventure. Once Ariana, the critters, and I get on the road, we'll be living like gypsies.

Just think ~ next year I'll be writing this blog from the other side of this country.

Getting Up to Speed ~ Night-Night, Bird

Now that both Neil and I were out of work, the order of business was for both of us to start looking for work.

While it was doubtful that I would be able to get a job right away, past experience has showed us that whenever Neil had to look for work, he was able to find a new job right away.

So shortly after Neil lost his job, I suggested that he post his resume on And sure enough, the day after he posted his resume, he started getting phone calls from head hunters all over the country.

As such, especially since Neil was not willing to work in the Boston area, we had to start seriously considering the possibility of Neil getting a job in another part of the country, and thus having to relocate.

Relocating is never a minor undertaking. And when you have as many critters as we have, it could be a major challenge.

Relocating with dogs and cats is difficult enough. But what about when you have exotic animals?

In anticipation, we had to start thinking about what we would have to do with our double yellow Amazon parrot, Jerry.

Come to find out, things worked out quite well as far as Jerry was concerned.

Ariana had a friend visiting the area on Labor Day weekend. When he was at our house and saw Jerry, he commented on how much he liked him.

When he said that, I flippantly asked, "How would you like to have him?"

"Are you serious?"

As things go, this friend was a fellow who was passionate about birds. He raised and bred exotic birds. And he was very excited that we were offering Jerry to him.

On Labor Day, when Barito was due to return home, Ariana got Jerry into his travelling cage, and we brought him to New Bedford, where Barito was waiting to return home.

When we got there, it was quite the experience. Taking Jerry's cage out of the car resulted in a small sidewalk party with passersby stopping to gawk and admire Jerry.

That same day, Jerry was on his way to his new home in the Bronx.

Ariana and I were concerned how Jerry was going to make out with Barito. After all, Jerry was an ornery cuss who only showed affection towards Ariana. Towards the rest of us, he looked for opportunities to bite us and for us to depart from parts of our flesh.

I am happy to announce that Jerry is happy and doing well in the Bronx.

Barito called to tell Ariana that not only was Jerry sitting on his hand without inflicting any harm, he was also taking seeds from Barito's lips without taking the rest of Barito's face with him.

Getting Up to Speed ~ 9 Lives Minus 1 (or Dead Girl Walking)

18 August 2008 is Ariana's new birthday.

That is when she escaped death after a serious car accident.

That summer afternoon, Ariana was leaving her job at T.J. Maxx in Wareham. She was looking forward to meeting up with her friend, Gavin, who was going to be in the area for only a couple more days.

While travelling west and staying in the lane that she needed to get onto Route 6, a car that was in the left lane entered her lane with the intention of going right to get onto Route 28.

The car struck Ariana's car.

She lost control of her car.

The car went airborne and flipped several times, rolling down an embankment, taking out a large wooden sign, nearly hitting a building, and finally taking rest on the driver's side with the passenger's side pointing skyward.

Ariana awoke to consciousness to the sound of the paramedics talking to her through the open sun roof, which, by the way, was closed when she was driving.

She was lucky. Ariana was not wearing her seat belt, which really came to a shock to me because she ALWAYS wore her seat belt when she was riding with me. But I guess like a lot of young people, who found seat belts both uncomfortable and uncool, she would not wear one while she was driving.

She should have been ejected from her car when it was rolling down the embankment. But as fate would have it, only her cell phone was ejected. Ariana remained stay put in the driver's seat, with her left arm pinned under the car.

All who had attended the accident ~ the police, the paramedics, the tow truck guys, and even the boyfriend of an acquaintance who happened to be a witness ~ said that with the severity of the accident, Ariana should have been dead.

But God must have had other plans for her. Not only did she survive the accident, she survived it with just a minor concussion and a couple of scrapes, scratches, and bruises.

It is a miracle that Ariana survived and was not seriously injured. And we are still celebrating this miracle to this very day.

Not only was Ariana's survival a sign that God has other plans for her, it was also a sign of hope for the whole family. If Ariana could survive and walk away from an accident that should have killed her, then surely there was hope that our life circumstances would turn around for the better.

Ariana's survival gave us hope that a better life was waiting for us.

Getting Up to Speed ~ A Month Later . . .

. . . after I lost my job, Neil lost his job.

Neil had been working at a staffing agency and had been assigned to work at an engineering company in Foxboro, MA.

Work had slowed down. As such, Neil was out of work.

That Wednesday he came home and said that work had slowed down and that he was no longer to go into work. I didn't take it too seriously because I was simply thinking that he would be called into work once things picked up.

However, when that Friday rolled around, and Neil went to work to collect his belongings and bring them home, it really hit me. Oh my God! My husband was actually out of work.

Both of us were out of work!

Getting Up to Speed ~ Bite Me!

This has been a time of many changes ~ most of them coming faster than expected.

But first let me bring you up to speed.

I lost my job in early July. Actually it was a blessing. I did not like working where I was working. It was a great challenge working with mentally and physically disabled adults.

When I first started the job, I was working at a group home that had 5 young adult women. While it wasn't what I would have considered my idea of a great job, it wasn't all that bad.

Sure, I hated working second shift. But the girls were nice. And that was the first job that I had where I got fed, where I could watch TV (that's if TV really mattered much to me), and where I could work on my craft projects when all the girls were in bed.

However, there were some challenging moments with one girl in particular. There would be times when she would go off, become violent, throw furniture around, and generally trash the house.

One night, during such an episode, she bit me after an attempt to restrain her failed.

And it was quite the bite.

The bruise was so black that people thought, at first, it was a tattoo.

While I was doing well at that house, it was becoming very obvious that the biter girl was targeting me. As such, the agency transferred me to another house at another location.

That house had 5 young adult males. There was one guy in particular that I was assigned to as his "one-on-one." The fellow had a multiple seizure disorder, severe brain damage, autism, mental retardation, and other related issues. Whenever he was awake, he had to wear a soft helmet for protection.

We always had to be prepared for head drop seizures. They could occur at any time. And there could be more than one.

Whenever I was with this young man, I had to carry a strong magnet with me. The fellow had a vagus nerve stimulator implanted in his chest. And whenever he had a head drop seizure, I had to swipe that magnet over the left side of his chest until his body relaxed from the seizure.

Dealing with that wasn't a problem. What was a problem with me was bathing the male residents and dealing with their many and very frequent toilet accidents.

Toilet accidents were not an issue that I had to deal with much when working with the girls. However, it was a different story with the guys.

Anyhow working with the guys had made the job so much more unpleasant for me. In addition to that, the commute was much longer. And it was stressing me out SO much that I was actually getting scared of driving.

I became so scared of driving that I was afraid that when taking an exit or getting onto an on-ramp, I was going to lose control, the wheels were going to snap off the pavement, and my car was going to flip over. Ariana was afraid to ride with me because my new fear of driving was affecting how I drove.

Anyhow, just as there was a biter (or two) at the girls' house, there were a couple of biters at this new house. Fortunately they did not act out anywhere as often as the biter girl did.

Still there was one fellow who bit me twice. At least this time I was in a better position to defend myself. As such, the bites were minor and inconsequential.

It was ultimately this fellow who had cost me my job.

One day in particular he was very agitated and was displaying antecedent behavior.

I had come in that afternoon. My one-on-one fellow was taking a nap in bed. That was good for me for it meant that I would not have to stick to him like Velcro, especially since he liked to wander around.

The biter fellow went into his room and woke him up. Then the fellow tried to attack me. And as he was poised to bite me, I said, "Don't you dare bite me!" His mother was right behind him. And she did not like the way I spoke to him.

Honestly, how was I supposed to speak to someone in the midst of attacking me?

Anyhow, the mother proceeded to dress me down. However, while that was going on, I was getting very concerned about my one-on-one fellow.

Because biter boy had woken him up, my fellow was going to be getting out of bed. And because my fellow did not like to wear his helmet, I had to hurry and make sure he did. After all, if he had a head drop seizure without wearing his helmet and had gotten injured, my ass would have been on the line.

Biter boy's mother did not like it one bit when I had to excuse myself from her dressing me down.

And after safely fetching my guy from his room, I saw that my supervisor was in biter boy's room, talking to his parents. She was there easily for an hour, most of that time being spent telling the parents that I was actually a good worker who took great interest in their son.

(I would like to add at this point that biter boy's parents were wealthy people who sunk a lot of money into the house. They were also people who felt entitled to have the rules bent for them. When I first started working at that house, both my supervisor and the rest of the staff warned me about these people.)

Later that night, biter boy's father snuck into the house without announcing himself. (Because this house did not have the elopement issues that the girls' house did, the staff did not generally keep the door locked until late at night.)

After visiting with his son and just before leaving the house, the father stopped by the living room and said to me three times, "You will not yell at my son."

(For the record, I did not yell at him and did not talk to him any louder than any other staff member would have in the same situation. In fact, there was one staff member ~ who was "employee of the month" ~ who actually did yell at biter boy when he acted up.)

Then the father proceeded to threaten to report me and file a complaint.

And that he did.

It wasn't too long before I found out that the parents filed a complaint against me with the Disabled Persons Protection Commission, accusing me of verbal abuse against their son.

(Did I remember to say that biter boy was spoiled by his parents?)

And right on the heels of that complaint, I was informed by the agency that I was put on a 10-day administrative leave. Basically, I was suspended for 10 days with pay. And I was subjected to an investigation by DPPC.

After the 10 days was up, my suspension went into a no-pay suspension.

And after 30 days, when DPPC still had not rendered a decision, the agency exercised its policy by terminating me so that it could fill my position in order to maintain continuity of the service it provided its "consumers." (That's what they called the group home residents.)

It was unfortunate that I lost my job. As much as I disliked it, and as much as it stressed me out considerably, I still gave it my best shot. I honestly did care for the people I served. Also, the job provided my family with the health insurance that we needed.

However, I was rather happy to be rid of that job. At least this time it was the company ditching me instead of me ditching the company.

In no time whatsoever, my fear of driving disappeared. My stress level diminished greatly.

I was able to reclaim my life.

And it's going to be a loooooong time before I work in the human service field again.