Saturday, October 30, 2004

Ride Along Debriefing Part One

The Littlest Officer

So how was the ride-along, Abby?

I got to the North Precinct a little before 5pm. At the beginning of the shift is role call. There is a literal role call in a room with school desks. All the officers are chatting and laughing and telling stories. The lieutenant and another guy (a sergeant?) came in and did a literal role call like in a school room. After that, he made a few announcements, then there was a prayer for safety or all the officers on that shift.

Next, there was a presentation about gangs in Memphis. This wasn’t general. It was really specific. The guy who did the presentation knew a LOT about gangs in Memphis. He told us about the origins of each gang and showed us pictures of what each gang member’s symbols were, how to tell one from the other. He showed us mug shots of the leaders of the local gangs and told us where they lived (“Leader X lives in such and such apartments at such and such intersection with his mother.”) What was really interesting was how he knew what each gang considered a “dis.” I don’t remember the specific words, but if you were in doubt about a certain person, you could accuse them of being a “Lilly Mae” or whatever. If they got really riled up, you’d know you had the right gang.

After dismissal, all of the officers wandered around checking out shotguns and cars (they aren’t in the same car every time). The car keys were on hooks on the wall like at a valet. We went out to the parking lot, talking to others as we went. I was with a African-American female officer. She was 41 and really pretty, with full makeup, and on the short side. She and I spend a really long time setting up the car, getting things out of her car, getting all the right paperwork together, putting Skin So Soft all over us to protect ourselves from mosquitos, then she loaded the shotgun and put it in the locked holder inside the car. The car was really dirty, and she had wet wipes that she had us use to clean it up. It wasn’t as tricked out inside as I would have thought. The windows weren’t bullet-proof, and when you got in and out of the car, the doors didn’t lock in any special way. There was a radio but no special computer on board, no GPS devises, nothing like that.

We rode with the windows down so we could hear outside the car more easily. She drove without a seatbelt because she said that it was too hard to get out quickly on a moment’s notice. In the car, the car radio was on, the police radio was on, her individual radio was on, and her phone kept ringing (it had this funny Jamaican steel drum song on it… she’d been to Jamaica a few weeks ago on vacation). It went off all night. Sometimes it was her son, sometimes it was her boyfriend, sometimes friends, sometimes other police officers.

The officers were all very social with one another. Because I was with one of only two women from the precinct on the shift, and because she was so pretty, lots of officers liked talking to her. There was low-level flirting going on all night. That was kind of funny to me. We were supposed to meet several other officers on duty for dinner, but that never happened. We were too busy to get there. Instead of dinner at 7pm, we got dinner at 11pm!

The first call we got was to a “hit and run with no injuries.” When we got there, it was a little different than we’d first thought. A woman in a small car hit the side of an 18-wheeler. It seems either one or the other of them had run the red light, but it was unclear exactly who was at fault. The 18-wheeler had not noticed that he’d been hit because he had a full load and didn’t feel the impact because it was so far at the back of his loaded trailer. A car waved him down a block or two down the road to tell him what had happened, so he pulled over and walked back to the scene. When we got there, his wife and child had met him there. The woman in the car said she was injured. We called an ambulance. No one reported clearly what had happened. Both parties were concerned about being blamed. Both parties got a citation and were going to have to fight it out in traffic court. The woman in the car had a license that had been expired for 6 years and no insurance. We had to go to the emergency room and give her the citation for everything which sucked. The officer I was with was really angry at the woman because she felt the woman had lied to her. It was stressful being there in the emergency room giving this woman the ticket when she really did seem to be injured. I mean, she hit a semi with the front of her car, and the front end was all smashed up. I’m sure she’s going to have back issues as a result.

The other call we went on (there were only two since both took so long) was supposed to be a CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) call. We were told that there was a “violent mental consumer” at a certain address. They don’t call people perpetrators. They call them consumers, which I found bizarre. “Mental patients” or “mental consumers” require that a CIT-trained officer be there, and they usually show up with three cars. We ended up at this call with 6 officers and me. Before we went to the house, we all met in a nearby parking lot. I so wanted to take a picture of this (goofy me). The cars were all pulled up, some facing one way, some facing another. The windows were all lined up, and everyone’s windows were open, so all the officers could talk to each other and figure out how to approach this situation. There was one other CIT-trained officer there besides the one I was riding with. My officer said she was there “for training purposes” (i.e., for me) and was pissed when they expected her to be the lead car because she didn’t have much information about the situation. The other CIT officer kept saying, “I’m not really here,” which didn’t make sense to me or to my officer. So the point is that it wasn’t the most clear call, and no one knew that much. My officer was really annoyed about that. I’ll write more later on. This is plenty to sink your teeth into for now.

Friday, October 29, 2004


I'm on my way out the door for the ride-along. I'll be with a female CIT-trained cop out of the North Memphis precinct who's supposed to be excellent. Fingers crossed that there isn't too much action. Yikes!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Guess I'll Blog

I haven't been blogging as much. Life has gotten hella busy. I still don't have a phone or a computer, but they are now saying I will get a phone. I was scheduled to be in 6 schools during the 2.5-3 days of this week that I'm in the schools. That seemed like too much, so I spoke to my supervisor, and she pulled me out of a few schools. I'm pretty pleased about that. I'm working hard to enforce staying in only three schools each week.

What makes me sad is this: The schools with the most dire need for services are the same schools that are the most disorganized, and where the parents are the least involved. Of course, if parents aren't involved, and the school is disorganized, it's hard to get anything going. Parents don't call back to sign the proper paperwork, so I can't start providing services. Oftentimes, kids aren't in school, or the school is referring kids that shouldn't be getting testing because they've recently have testing, but the files are such a mess that noone noticed. Oftentimes among populations in poverty, the family is moving all the time, so I show up, and turns out the kid isn't even there anymore. The school system has reorganized several times in the last few years, so files are often a mess. The mental health and special ed files are supposed to be merged, but they often are still separated. No telling what you'll get when you request a file. It's messy. Still, with all of this frustration, I love the people I'm working with, and I'm amazed how most parents know so much about their kids no matter what the financial situation.

So all that said, I am now focusing on three schools that are not the worst of the worst. These are schools with more kids not in poverty, but there is still financial diversity and there are still a variety of issues going on. I think I'll like this better, and I'm working hard to get really involved so I'll be making a difference.

Next week, I have an appointment with a mom and a dad who are divorced and who don't get along at all. We're going to talk about how they can make the best decisions for their child without using him as a way to get at each other. I wanted excitement, and this is excitement!

My minor is going really well. I actually love that place because not only are the cases interesting, but I have a phone and a computer I can use, and they have testing materials there. Hooray! It's a cool placement because I'm like a detective. I gather together all this information and present it to a multidisciplinary team. It's really fun. The cases are heartbreaking though. Just heartbreaking. But that's what I signed up for, I guess. I love talking with parents about their kids and helping them make decisions. It's cool!

One more thing. The other day, I made a list of stuff in my field that I love, so I can figure out where to work next year (and beyond). I called it "What I Want." Here's the list:
  • Family Therapy
  • Multiculturalism
  • Consultation with parents and teachers
  • Parent Training (individual and in groups)
  • AD/HD Assessment and Treatment
  • Behavior Disorders
  • Behavior Modification
  • Functional Behavior Assessment
  • Day Treatment Programs
  • Making explicit things that are implicit for most kids: Teaching/Facilitating Social Skills, Organizational Skills, Study Skills (Teaching a kid how to organize a backpack, a skill that is obvious for most kids, but not for some)
  • Career Guidance
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Problem Solving (and helping facilitate problem solving by adults for kids through consultation)
  • Supervision
  • Working with K-12 Teachers
  • Teaching College
  • Presentations/Inservices (in classrooms, to teachers, at conferences, to anyone working with children)
  • Providing resources to and translating information for marginalized people (In a nutshell, advocacy and providing education so people can advocate for themselves)
  • Anything ecological and relating to systems
  • Community involvement
  • School involvement
OK, I realize this list is overly long, but I thought it would be better to start with EVERYTHING and keep my options broad. Mostly, I want to work in a place where I have the resources I need to get the job done and where I have competent people to work with. Oh, and where we're actually making a difference.

See, not lots of fun here. Mostly serious stuff and work stuff. Shit, I need to see a movie or something!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Mom's Reunion Weekend

I'm just exhausted! Mom was here for her 40th college reunion. I spent a good amount of time touring around and seeing places she used to live, where they lived when I was born and when they conceived (Eeeuw! Thanks, Mom!). I stopped by the reunion last night to see a few people I hadn't seen in a while and ended up getting invited to the whole dinner. One man walked up to me and said, "Well, you've aged well!" A very amusing time was had by all!

I actually got mom to the M.A.C. counter! She was here for her 40th college reunion, and the weekend wore me out!

Mom and her college roommate, Nan.

Mom whooping it up with some friends from back in the day. And that's suede she's wearing. Go mom!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I've been blamed!

It wasn't me. I didn't do it. Hell, I never even told her she should. The secret is, I think she wanted to! Bwahahaha! Another one sucked into the free soapbox that is blogging.


The two-hour Office Special is on tomorrow night. Ohboyohboyohboy! I'm so very excited. Ricky Gervais created what David Letterman called "possibly the best television show ever" (or something to that effect) the other night, and I totally agree. If you have BBC America, or if you have a friend who has it, make a point to watch it.


Well, Jeep is just fine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her. I think the tootache hypothesis wasn't far from wrong, though. This past weekend, I found a nearly whole vomited-up toy kitty ball on the sofa. I, of course, assumed it was Maggie's doing, as Maggie is prone to eat inedible things, then throw them up later. There was yet another portion (the rest?) of the ball vomited on to the sofa yesterday. I think this is what was causing Jeep grief. Her appetite is completely normal, as is her blood test. But in order to take her blood, they shaved her neck, so she looks just a little bit stupid!

Baldy, or "Garibaldi," as I've been calling her.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Jeep's Trials

So recently Maggie seems to have been getting fatter, and Jeepers seems to have been getting thinner and feeling a bit under the weather. As as result, I started really watching the girls when they eat, and Jeep has been eating very slowly. She picks up pieces of food with her paw and throws them on the floor, then after a lot of time has passed, it ends up with Jeep's blowl surrounded by wet tiny pieces of food. She's also been doing this thing where she opens her mouth when she's sitting around, like there's something in there. I assumed it was hairballs, since I now have hardwood floors instead of carpet, and keeping the hair collection in the corners of the rooms is a real challenge. When I fed her some of the hairball remedy from the tube a few nights ago, she ate it up in seconds flat, like she'd been starving.

Night before last I sat and guarded Jeep as she ate, protecting her from her Hungry Hungry Hippo of a sister. It just seemed she was having a lot of trouble. Aaron had the genius idea that perhaps Jeep had a toothache. Yesterday, we went and got her some wet food, and she gobbled it up lickety split. Now that she's had a few meals, she's back to her old self, although I can tell the tooth is still bothering her. Poor baby wasn't getting any food and was feeling weak and puny because of it. Reading cat behavior is tricky business. I think it's time for a trip to the vet.

Jeepers in a Sunbeam

Jeepers in a Sunbeam again

Thursday, October 14, 2004


It's hard to help kids when I don't have a phone or a computer in my cubicle. When I need to test kids, a test kit would be nice, too. So many of these kids start out at such a disadvantage to begin with, then the person in charge of their case is scrambling to find a place to make a call to their parents or a places to type a report so they will get what they need.

I'm paid very little, and then I am expected to look professional, which costs money. I used to dress up two days a week to teach. Now it's 5 days a week, and I don't have the wardrobe, yet I don't make enough to cover the cost of buying new duds. I bought a new bag, too, which sounds frivolous, but there's something about wearing a backpack in a high school that makes me blend in just a little too easily.

Computers are a problem, too. Aaron has loaned me his laptop, since I don't have a computer in the schools, but there isn't a way to transfer files to the computers there, so yesterday, I bought a new jump drive (my old one was stolen this summer). More money gone that I don't have.

I'm almost 35, and I tell you, I just can't wait to make a salary, so I don't have to beg, borrow, and steal to cover the basic costs of things I require to do my job properly.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Rat Bastards!

OMG! One company both created spyware that infected computers AND created and charged for the software to disinfect infected computers! That is just all kinds of evil. Ugh!

The Politics Post

I took a survey about issues related to the election, and here are my results:
  1. Your ideal theoretical candidate. (100%)
  2. Cobb, David - Green Party (90%)
  3. Brown, Walt - Socialist Party (87%)
  4. Nader, Ralph - Independent (84%)
  5. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (72%)
  6. Badnarik, Michael - Libertarian (37%)
  7. Peroutka, Michael - Constitution Party (17%)
  8. Bush, President George W. - Republican (7%)
I was actually a little surprised at how uninformed about certain issues I am. I have no opinion on trade because I just don't know anything about it. Most of my strong preferences related to education and health care. Hardly surprising.

It's also hardly surprising that my top matches were green/socialist candidates. Still, I'd never vote for any candidate who had no real chance of winning. That's idealism taken too far, in my book. I know a two-party system isn't ideal, but it's what we have to work with right now. My vote will go to Kerry. As for Nader? I wouldn't vote for that egomaniac if you bought me all the fun gadgets in the world! I love his politics, but I'm still really mad at him for paving the way for Bush to win the last election. Yes, I blame him. How could I not?

OK. That's about as political as it's going to ever get around here. I hope you enjoyed it. :D

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Real Life Cutie #2

Real Life Cutie #1

Real Life Cutie Gear #2

Real Life Cutie Gear #1

Friday, October 08, 2004

Identity Issues

Indie GirlProgressive Girl

Oh good grief. I checked Jen's blog and pretty much had to take this stupid online quiz. I have now learned that I am a hybrid of Indie Girl and Progressive Girl. Tell me something I don't know. The funny thing is that the reason I allowed myself to take such a thing is I got some decent work done today on my dissertation, and yet, I'm not even a little bit Academic Girl. I'm also a little confused as to how I'm not Gourmet Girl. What do you MEAN, "Online quizzes don't hold the answers to life? I don't get it!"

Take the quiz yourself

Pixies at the Ryman in Nashville

Charles/Black Francis/Frank Black

Well, even though it seems as half my blog readership hasn't heard of the Pixies, which, to me, is about on par with not having heard of mushrooms. ANYWAY, I still feel like posting a review. It will entertain me, and that's fun... you know... for me.

The gig was on Wednesday night at the Ryman Auditorium, which is the old home of the Grand Old Opry. It's an excellent space. I'd been into the lobby yet hadn't ever seen anyone play there.

This was a reunion tour. The big fear I had was that they'd be doing it for the money, hating every minute of it, and that it would be obvious in their performance. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. They sounded really excellent. The crowd was so grateful just to see them all together. I think age has mellowed them all a bit. Kim Deal is still chain smoking. Frank Black (or are we calling him Black Francis again?) alluded to the fact that Kim had a sore throat, but to me, she sounded like she always did. She still had that freakish happy expression on her face the whole time like she always did. They played lots of their "hits" (although they never really got much radio play outside of college stations). They also played a lot of songs that I used to skip past on the CDs!

They sounded excellent. They aren't the most dynamic performers ever, but I saw them back in the day, and they weren't dynamic back then either. At the end of the main set, instead of
leaving the stage, they came to the front of the stage to accept a long standing o, and they had the lights turned on to the crowd, and they accepted the adulation, and they waved and smiled and seemed happy. Throughout the show, FB (BF?) and KD had good rapport, seemed to get along fine. Like I said, I was worried they'd have the doing-it-for-the-money feel, but I think they were truly enjoying themselves. Man, I didn't remember how excellent the drumming was.

The Thrills opened. They were just as dull last night as they were when I saw them open for Gomez. A seriously yawner of an opening act. Seems they could have done better.

If only I could jet to NYC for the final night of the tour. The midnight gig has 50 Foot Wave opening. That would be a total DREAM!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

I'm a Real Left Winger

Does anyone get the reference in the title? Anyone at all? Bueller... Bueller...

So that's a line from an old Pixies song. The Pixies broke up around 1990. Kim Deal and Black Francis just couldn't deal with each other anymore. She grabbed her twin sister and a Throwing Muse and created The Breeders. Black Francis switched his name inside-out and became Frank Black. They made some good albums. Now the Pixies have reunited, and I'm holding tickets to the Nashville gig tomorrow night. I'm very skeptical. I hope they don't suck.

Oh, and regarding work... They actually kept me very busy today at my minor. I'm very pleased about that. I don't do bored well. Tonight, I was going to relax and take a bath, but the loudest location for listening to rave boy's music is the bathroom, so I may just wait until the morning. Somehow a rushed shower in the morning with rave music isn't as bad as when I'm supposed to be relaxing. I love my options. They are so very... REASONABLE... or not!

Sunday, October 03, 2004

My Neighbor is Driving Me NUTS!

You know what I think? I think the guy downstairs thinks I made up that I had a headache as an attempt to make him feel guilty. If he'd known how my head really felt, he never would have glared at me when I went downstairs and said, "Take an Advil." I had the most excruciating migraine one day this week. I was already in agony. When he got home, he turned on his music so loudly, and I could feel every beat in my temples. I was on the sofa, wearing not all that much, and trying to chill. When the music started, ugh... it was awful. I decided to bang on the floor. Not the best choice, but I was in so much pain and I wasn't dressed. I banged on the floor and heard him yell up through the floor, then the music went UP in volume. Anyway, just writing the details again causes me to get irate, so I won't go into it...

Anyway, last night, he had a loud party. I had planned to go to bed at around 9pm. Y'all know I'm a 1am+ girl most of the time, but this job is really taking a lot out of me, and I've been overtired and forgetful and generally not feeling all that well, and I knew I needed the sleep. There was music blasting through the floor, and people in the courtyard talking very loudly. Their smoke came through my closed windows and honestly filled my apartment with cigarette smoke. I didn't fall asleep until after midnight... and then, only with a fan, an air cleaner, and a white noise machine running. I shut the door to my room, too, because the smoke was so bad that I was actually coughing in my own apartment from it.

I feel like I'm in No Exit by Sartre... Hell is other people. And his hostility makes compromise impossible... OH!!!! I forgot to mention that when I went down and asked him to be quiet that night, he actually told me I walked too loudly. WTF?! If he knew that I never play my stereo except when he's not home, he'd probably think I was telling him to be a martyr, so I will never tell him. The truth is that I don't want to get into a volume war, nor do I wish to do anything that will make me at all at fault in this, so that I always have a leg to stand on.

I'm so worn out from the last hostile encounter that I don't have the energy to confront him again. I have a dissertation to write, a future to design, a job to find for next year, not to mention psych reports to write this year. I am in the middle of the busiest year of my life, and I'd do just about anything to make this problem go away. Hehe... I sound like Tony Soprano.

I read this week that of the 331 cities rated in the latest Best Places book, Memphis is ranked 330th for Crime. It is tied with San Antonio as having the highest crime rate in the country, which is handy when looking for a hitman... KIDDING!!!

Ugh... as I was writing this, the room I am in started filling up with smoke. I got up to close the window, and he's standing below my window smoking. Man, the one thing I asked about when I moved in was the noise. THE ONE THING!!! But I guess they can't predict. I'm not anti-confrontation, but I'm sort of anti-confrontation when I don't think it will get me anywhere, and this guy just isn't reasonable. He's hostile, and he couldn't care less about the quality of my life.

Friday, October 01, 2004

The Lamest Tribe

If you know me, you know I am an avid user and have been for over a year. I now have about 150 Tribe friends, and I could tell you a lot about all of them. I have met many of them IRL (that's "in real life" for you non-triber, non-Internet-junkies), maybe as many as half. I'd like to introduce you to the lamest tribe on all of Yes, it's my Memphis tribe. I tried to get that tribe going before I moved here in hopes of making a few acquaintences. It was a total failure. What's amusing is that Aaron was moving to Nashville at the same time I was moving here, and he copied all of the text I wrote for my Memphis tribe to start the Nashville one, and the Nashville people really took to it. Memphians? Not so much. I know there are Memphians who read this blog, and if you read blogs, then you are at least somewhat of a computer user. Maybe, if you're so inclined, you'll help breathe some life into my little sad tribe!

Learning Lots and Lots

I can't believe how great this internship is. It's a helluva lot of work, but I really feel like they do an excellent job of lining up great people who can provide us with exactly the kind of opportunities we're looking for. I like all of my fellow co-interns, too. Not a bad one in the bunch. The other interns are all interesting people who seem to really have their heads on straight and know what they're doing. This morning, I was in a lecture where I was actually a little behind everyone else, and honestly, I loved it. If I could choose, I'd prefer to be in a place where there are other people who are a little bit smarter than me. Now I'm not saying they are all smarter (heh heh), but they have had more training in the MMPI-2 than I have. That's a really common personality measure that I learned a little bit about years ago in my personality assessment class but haven't used much in practice. Anyhoo, I'm just feeling really lucky to be a part of it, even though I come home utterly exhausted most nights.

This weekend is pretty unplanned, which is actually a great thing. I'm going to try and sleep lots and clean. This place needs it... and I need it. I don't really remember being this tired and overloaded in a long, long time. I think this is a year I will look back at as being highly significant in my life... Wait, didn't I just have a few of those? Heh. Power living, people. Power living!