So, here am I back after a near 13 month hiatus, wondering why the hell I didn’t write at all during the previous number of months. Writing for Cultura is slow, but steady; the Lay of Seidenbard is still slowly (read: very slowly) progressing. Further, I’m no longer a bureaucrat. I departed from the steady progress I’d been doing for a number of reasons, all of which I hope to express and discuss further. I also intend to write a music review a week, offer an update on Cultura/the Lay once per week. I won’t have much more time than that as I’m moving to start a scientific job within the next week to the east coast.
Like previously, I hope to feature songs and/or a inspirational piece of art once per day (some of Paimona’s newer pieces, if possible).
The section in which I make excuses:
So… why didn’t I write for a damn year and month? Simple: I was exhausted. Being more prone to quiet introspection and carrying a generally introverted disposition, my position within the monolithic pyramid could either be performed coldly or spun in a more humanistic way. Being a metal fan, I decided to rebel against the standard order of business and applied far more supportive techniques; the end result being that I was available and open to my subordinates and their clients as often as I could allow. The structure does not like this, I noticed, but it won me high praise from my direct managers. However, the interpersonal interaction that faced the typical day’s work left my nerves and mind to an absolute frazzle (as my very Southern forebears would say).
In the interest of full disclosure as I still maintain a level of anonymity here, my position was as a specialist and later a supervisor at a Department of Human Services (in some states, Social Services) in a small, southern flyover state. The overall state’s population is unimportant, but suffice to say that it is a poor, historically so, state with poor access to education and a history of segregation. This office is located in one of the larger counties in the state, exhibiting both very urban (for the state) and rural populations with a far higher degree of diversity than the flyover states are often considered as having. In the local area, there is a major state run university, a private fundamentalist Christian university, several community colleges, and a number of vo-technical schools. Major companies in the area are dominated by a global, multibillion US Dollar per year company and its satellite vendor companies, agribusinesses of all types, and transportation. In other words, there are a lot of people (and goods) coming in and out of the area for a variety of reasons.
The agency itself evokes a snapshot of feudalistic grandeur both (a testament to medieval law and administration). Many hours travel from the capital city of the flyover state, the county office sits tucked into a curious hinterland – one that is very much part of the state and the other that is very much independent of it at the same time. This dissonance was astounding. Previous to the October 2013 threshold (see the link for further information), the role of the specialist within the agency was to interview, document, and dispose (official term for completing) of applications for SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps), TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families – formerly welfare), and Medicaid (services ranging from children’s programs to medicare assistance). After ACA began in October 2013 and after the policy writers and managers returned to their jobs, Medicaid became a mostly automated system with applications occurring through the Federal Healthcare Marketplace or the State Healthcare Marketplace. Hospitals hired specialists away from the agency and governmental contractors did as well, because the positions paid better, offered better hours, and better benefits. All these are valid reasons for leaving employment, especially after the threshold of fear ramped up due to the governmental shut down.
Returning to the new marketplaces, it became evident early that were a number of issues with the new web-based data hub driven system. This was explained effectively by a high ranking member as “attempting to build the airplane after we’d all ready taken off.” Due to the new income thresholds, the number of new available categories for Medicaid eligibility, and a relaxation in some policies, more people than ever were eligible for Medicaid services, ranging from full coverage (very few) to assistance in paying private premiums. The hiccups in the system and the delay in training made serving the valid questions of these individuals difficult, time consuming, and heart wrenching for both parties involved.
Having become a supervisor a earlier in the same year this unfurled, I came to realize my role as defined by the agency was to review cases of all types for accuracy, ensure timeliness, and to maintain some semblance of order/discipline. In actuality, the role needed to be redefined. Accountability needed to be shared to all points of the team, transparency needed to rule (where it could, obviously one need not violate the places where it was not allowed), and the staff needed a leader that was available, open, and honest. The clients needed this more than anything, because the emphasis returned to focus on the barest fact – the currency of the agency’s work is generally the people that we serve and not the statistics that they become when their application is approved or denied.
Personally, 2014 opened with a heartbreak. Paimona and I had discovered that we were pregnant (we’d been trying for nearly 4 years to have another child). We miscarried to start the year and I had to center myself to her grief to help her heal from it (you never do, I don’t think… there are times when I still think on it and cry). Fortunately, we have an awesome, wonderful, scientifically minded big kid with a great attitude, a beautiful smile, and a penchant to give the best hugs for which a dad could ever ask (her team went undefeated in softball! in the Spring) This, though she was just as heartbroken, was the only way we were able to pull ourselves from it. My role as a bureaucrat began taking between 45-60 hours per week, my second job began taking 10-20 hours a week, and the rest of it was devoted to family. This is why it’s such a BIG DEAL that I got a single job, performing science for one company, earning as much as I would working both currently.
These facts combined resulted in the loss of my “ear” as it were for music. I was too tired, emotionally and mentally, to fully devote my time and energy to that when I had so many other projects going. Therefore, I had to abandon this dream here, which is something I appreciate when it works well to keep my nose to the grindstone and continue writing. It makes me think of creativity and the process of it all.
Given that this period has now ended, I intend to return to writing a review per week and featuring some of the new promos and other information that I still get as result of my previous writing. I’m not going to catch up what I missed in 2014, I can’t, but I can continue from where I left. To heal from my job with DHS, I will be writing a section regarding a particular facet of what the position entailed either each day or three times a week, depending on how much time allows.
Ultimately, I’m left with the question: “Is it such a crime to go apart and be alone?”