Block 528: November 23, 2014


The skies are a kind of blue-grey here in Portland, and the weather actually feels warm today.

There are moments when it seems really great here.

I guess I just need to be patient.

Date: November 23, 2014

Crane: 528

Days Spent on Project: 643

Location: NW Portland, OR

Person I would have sent it to: I’ve been thinking about high school again.

In the evenings, before bed, I’ve been watching The Wonder Years on Netflix, so it’s got me pondering how complex and simple and dynamic those years are in anyone’s life. I did the math, and I think the main protagonist (Kevin Arnold) was born in 1956, which means when the show aired on television, the Narrator Kevin was MY AGE NOW. Basically, this means, I could be narrating a TV show about life in middle and high school in the mid-90s. That seems so close! That much time hasn’t passed, has it?

When my parents watched that show, did THEY think that same thought? (“Jeez, the late 60s/early 70s weren’t that long ago, were they?”)

So, high school.

At Brebeuf, since it was a Jesuit High School, we were expected to do community service in order to graduate. It was a number of hours- maybe 50 total over two years- which isn’t a huge commitment (in hindsight), but seemed like a task at the age of 16. I didn’t want to work at a hospice. I didn’t want to work with children. I elected to work for a new company, that was reaching out to high schoolers for volunteers.

I believe, and I could be wrong, that it was called Teen Chat. It was started by a group of adult counsellors who thought that teens needed an outlet where they could talk anonymously to their peers about problems and issues and fears. I thought the challenge was interesting; I signed up quickly.

With my friend Elizabeth, I went to the required training where I listened to counsellors and therapists talk about the kind of conversations we’d be having: they could range from not getting a locker open during a break and being late to class to eating disorders or thoughts of suicide.

Looking back, that’s awfully heavy material to be addressing with 16 year olds who would be acting as outreach to other students. I guess, in theory, the idea is interesting: anonymously talking to someone over the phone about your thoughts, and working with them to solve (we were always trained to get THEM to make the realization- never offer advice) their crises, and/or giving them to resources to reach out to someone for more specialized help.

Once a week, for a two hour period, I’d sit at a call center with a group of 17-18 year olds, waiting for the calls to arrive. Sometimes, the calls did come; other times, the phone sat silently.

I’m not sure if the program lasted, or if we helped anyone, but the lessons I learned during that training stick with me still. How important it is to ask open-ended questions. The need to listen and let other people talk. How to recognize the clues when someone WANTS you to respond or take the conversation over. How sometimes a person won’t want you to join the conversation; how they just need to talk and how much of that won’t be the important stuff to latch onto.

How Yes or No questions aren’t helpful. How most people know the answer they need already, they just need someone to walk along with them as they come to the acceptance/realization on their own.

When to ask for help. When to turn certain things over to others.

Again, I’m not sure if I helped others, but the experience taught me a lot.

Music I listened to while sewing: I’ve got “Lounge Soft House” this morning, courtesy of Spotify.

It was the better option of the “Cool Jazz” or “Upbeat Sunday” that it initially recommended.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: I don’t have to be at the theater until 3 today, and I’m so relieved. I may just hang out there for two hours and then come back for notes at 9pm.

I’m feeling like I’m a bit more on track this morning. I’m almost done with this tech process for the next two shows; they should be up and running and under control after today. I feel like I’ve figured out more of what needs to happen to keep everything running smoothly.

I have to remind myself of the coda I repeated to myself and the (few) employees of the costume shop when the season started: It’s going to be a year of change here in Portland.

Because it will; not only am I going to try (and I’m already producing results) to make the shop run more efficiently and get a better product on stage, but I guess Portland is going to try and adapt me to its environment and way of living.

Yes, I don’t want to lose my standards. I want to up the game here as much as I can.

But, at the same time, I need to re-wire my circuitry to accept with this place is and what it’s got going on.

That is; if there’s a reason to stay for a long period of time. I’m still, when faced with decisions about the next season, wondering if there’s a need for me to be here.

That’s all kinds of enigmatic and vague, but this morning things are feeling okay and I’m looking forward to the work week ahead. The show I’m designing will start soon and things feel under control for now.

I guess I’m still waiting for the magic spell of Portland to charm and seduce me into loving it here, sure. I guess I’m still up in the air about how long of a commitment this is going to be.

I’m still such a Freelancer at heart; I’m still looking and thinking another opportunity is right around the corner for me to grab hands with…


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