29 September 2006

they're coming to america

pilar (not her real name) has been here in the united states for about a year. she doesn't speak any english, and supports herself as a dishwasher at a restaurant in town. for several months now the pain and numbness that starts in her fingertips and continues almost to her shoulders has been getting progressively worse, and she came in to see the orthopedic specialist who sees patients at the people's health clinic once a week. the doctor recommended she have a fairly expensive test to see if she has carpal tunnel syndrome, so he asked the assistant to set up an appointment at a neurology clinic. the clinics she called didn't mind that she'll need an interpreter, but the conversation ended when they found that she doesn't have a social security number (like many of the patients at people's health, and which can be an indicator of whether or not an immigrant is legal). so we didn't make the appoiintment for pilar and will try either another clinic or applying a bit of pressure to those clinics we've already called.

sometimes i think about what it would be like to be an immigrant here in the united states. i usually just imagine not knowing the language and think "that'd be hard". but at the clinic i see a mother with her crying, sick 3 month old and in her eyes i see fear and weariness and something like desperation. in this new place she has few options and nearly no support system. the baby has had trouble breathing since birth, she says, and i think about my brother and sister-in-law and how alarming the slightest new development of their newborn was at first, and how scary were the endless possibilities of death that that new life had brought them, and i try to imagine that uncertainty combined with this family's reality, their poverty, their isolation, their displacement. this isn't merely a difficult undertaking, it's monumental, with incredibly high stakes.

needless to say, it's been an interesting first week at the clinic.

20 September 2006

the one where he laments forsaking his blog

you know that scene in wayne's world where everything's going wrong for wayne, and he starts complaining about what's got him down, and then the camera starts to walk off, and he apologizes and says "whoa! come back! i'm sorry for dumping on you!" and convinces the camera to come back? probably there's a mountain of life lessons to learn from wayne's world, but that moment seems particularly pertinent for my career as the world's best-loved and most successful blogger. accordingly, i thought of spicing up things in my life with a sitcom-style love triangle just for the sake of content and drama for the blog, but those affairs can be kind of expensive, and i remain unemployed. so instead, i have decided to turn to what has always been my employment strong suit: working for free. today i signed my confidentiality agreement papers at the people's health clinic (so i can't tell you who was in with a rare skin rash, but you probably don't know her anyway. and if you do, you'd probably rather not know. and for the record, i didn't actually see anyone with a rare skin rash...i am making up a story (my mom says they're "lies"...whatever.).) to be an interpreter over there. which is part of a bigger decision to actually be here while i'm here instead of constantly wondering when my job over yonder will start and so on. so be sure to check back soon for more made-up stories of rare skin rashes!

12 September 2006

in between

what is between? how can one be "in" it? how do you get "in"? more importantly (or saliently, for me), how do you get out? i am definitely ready to be "out between" instead of "in between", which is where i currently reside, closer to chicago than south america, smack in lincoln, but also somehow nowhere at all. when are you leaving, why are you still here, what's the latest on chicago? these are all very good questions. i don't know, but what's even stranger is really i could leave at any second. like right now. or...now.

training for my job in chicago has been delayed due to some strange "extreme circumstances" involving the people who do the training, which i figured meant death by extreme sport injury until my hiring guy told me they got very sick, so i guess it's safe to assume they've been bitten by zombies out there--this could be awhile. instead of waiting for the rogue hero to save everyone by shooting off the zombies' heads with the last few shotgun shells (or beating them to death with a cricket bat, if you're a fan of the BEST zombie movie), i think i'm just going to go out there and find a second job. much like my quest for buying a new pair of sunglasses, though, the overwhelming number of options and possibilities has me a bit paralyzed. any second now i'll probably just close my eyes and point at the calendar. and then i'll leave. which is to say, this update is to say i don't know. but when i do, and i have things to say, this will probably be one place where i do say them. so stay tuned!

01 September 2006

the next chapter

i may have intimated in my last post that being unemployed was great fun, especially when airlines send you checks for things they broke. but i was mostly trying to be funny--in reality, being unemployed and not knowing when or if you'll get a job is stressful, depressing, annoying, and just downright unsettling. which is why i am happy (elated, ecstatic, overjoyed) to report that today i got a call from cross-cultural interpreting services in chicago, wherein i was informed that my test scores (from the test i was pretty sure i failed) came in and i not only passed, but performed really quite well. so i have a job in chicago! (!!!) i start training on wednesday and will hopefully also find an apartment while i'm out there (i'll come back next weekend to play worship music for church) and then i'll begin the next adventure.

i took this picture after i took the test at the beginning of august. when i took it i was really discouraged because i didn't think i'd get in, and that added to other things to make me feel pretty uncertain about where my life would take me next. (i should point out my mom never really bought that i didn't do well on the test, and even managed not to say i told you so when i got the good news today.) but now, it's sort of a hooray picture--i get to visit another new city, i get to live in a new city (even if it's still in the united states, it's definitely something new and exciting and maybe just a little daunting), i got the job i most wanted to do (which pays well and will allow me to get hands-on medical experience AND is a job that will benefit people and help them be healthy)...it's a new set of challenges, a new opportunity to serve, a new opportunity to learn. it's another way to be alive!