Yesterday I was up in my box, minding my own business, happily munching down some nice cream of chicken soup with bread pieces from the Hippie Kitchen, when I heard, "Hi Rick," from the direction of my open door.
I turned around and found my lovely case manager, Erin, standing in my hallway with little strips of paper in her hands. "I was going to tape this to your door, but I can just give it to you." She handed me one of the pieces of paper.
"Hi Erin," I said. "What's this?"
"It's just a reminder to come and see me so we can update your case management files."
"Oh, okay. When do you want to see me?"
"Anytime. I won't be doing anything for the rest of the day."
"Alright, when will you be in your office?"
"In about five minutes."
"I'll be right down."
"See ya then." Then she went merrily on her way.
It was two fifteen. I figured that I could see Erin quickly, then make my way to the downtown VA clinic in time for the Monday Depression Group at three. I hastily munched a little more bread and soup, got my stuff together, and left my box for Erin's office downstairs.
I knocked on her door, and heard her say, "Come in," from deep inside. Accordingly, I opened the door only to find John already in deep consultation with Erin.
"He beat you to it," Erin said.
"He beat me to it?"
"Yes. Can you wait for five minutes?"
"Uh, yeah... sure."
So I sat outside her office on the windowsill they have out there, next to a two inch tall cactus plant. "How ya doing little cactus plant?"
It did not reply.
I waited patiently, forgetting about the injustice Erin had perpetrated upon me.
Ten minutes later I was still sitting there, when a young woman I did not know came up and knocked on Erin's door. I heard Erin say, "Come in," from deep inside. The young lady opened the door, and told Erin that she was in a hurry, and that she was okay, everything was fine, and that she had to go. Erin said that she needed to ask her some specific questions, and could she just wait five minutes to see her.
"Five minutes?" the young lady asked.
"Yes, just five minutes."
Apparently I had been forgotten, which did loads for my fragile ego.
See what abuse I am constantly subjected to dear readers.
I got tired of sitting there and returned to my box. It was too late to go to my Depression Group by then, besides I had just become depressed, so the trip wasn't necessary anymore. I called Erin's office with the intent of informing her that I was in my box and she should just call me when she was free, but she didn't answer her phone. Now I knew that she was in there, ignoring my phone call. I left a message on her answering machine.
After about twenty minutes I returned to her office and looked through her little window, through the blinds, to find my case manager talking to the young woman. I sat down again with my cactus pal, and waited.
In about five minutes the young woman came out and I went in.
"Sorry about that Rick. I thought when I said next, you would have came in."
"No, I heard you give up my slot to the lady."
"That was bad of me, but I really needed to talk to her, she hardly ever comes in, and she really opened up this time."
"Apparently. That's alright. I understand how busy you can get," I told her.
There was a young man I didn't know sitting in Paul's chair, working on Paul's computer. He would continue to sit through our brief conversation silently, making me feel exceedingly odd. Erin offered no introduction.
"I just have to ask you two questions," Erin said.
"Really? The last time I was here for a case management session you told me that my case was always managed," (due no doubt to my consistent participation in her and Paul's group activities, and the fact that I see her almost everyday).
"It pretty much is... I just need to ask these questions that I can't really answer myself."
She looked at her computer screen, and asked me, "What progress have you made in the last six months?"
Naturally I answered, "None whatsoever."
She smiled, familiar with my nonsense. "Rick, I'm not going to put that down."
"No. I know you've made some progress, tell me..."
I relented, and between the two of us we came up with a sufficient answer for her notes, something like my blog is going well, and crap like that.
"... and your story in the newsletter..." Erin added.
"Oh yeah, that." I turned around to look at the silent young man in Paul's chair, still silent and looking intently at Paul's computer screen. I turned back to Erin.
"Good, now the last question... how do you hope to progress for the next six months?"
"Well my plans for world domination are progressing nicely..."
Now, sitting in my lonely box and thinking about these simple questions, I deem them to be profound in consequence. What progress have I made, and in which direction? What does making progress even mean?
I'll tell you this dear readers, everyday that we live we hopefully learn how to live in the world we find ourselves in a little better. We learn to adapt to changing conditions (unless of course, you're a Republican). We learn a little bit more about ourselves, consciously or unconsciously, how we cope in certain situations, how to attain goals a bit better, if we have goals, how to exist within ourselves and without. For me with every word I write I gain experience and confidence in my ability to communicate, to get ideas across in a clear, understandable manner. How to improve my craft. How to deal with compliments and criticism. I learn how to deal with people a little better. With every book, story, or Email I read I learn. I had no idea of what Christian Nationalism was, and its imminent threat, a month ago, not until I read Michelle Goldberg's first book, and now I'm learning the shocking facts behind the worldwide suppression of women's rights and freedoms, by reading her second. With every Email I send to my senators, my governor, my president, and to a host of organizations, I hope it aids in some small way to make this country, a gender, an underdog, this world, a little better. For everyday I understand my disease and do not give in to it I live a little better. Everyday I meditate, do yoga, and exercise, I feel a little better. By keeping up on my research on those things that interest me, politics, history, and science to mention a few, I understand the world around us and how it works a little better, I understand the universe we live in a little better. On and on.
That is progress on a small, and a grand scale.
This is certainly a work in progress.
Now if I can only understand why my case manager abuses me so. That will be real progress.
I'm just kidding, lovely Erin (in case she reads this). You're wonderful!
So dear case manager, the next time time you need to make current my progress, and my goals for future progress for your case management files, you have my answer.
Just copy and paste.