Social Work was my 5th and final major. When I found it I felt like I'd come home. I found other people who wanted to change this world for the better, and they were trying to do it in an organized way. My Undergraduate majors were, Interior Design (HG TV was just a few shows on Bravo and rocketing forward when I was 19), Theater (I LOVE musical theater, a little too much, and that's why I belonged in the theater geeks crowd and still do), English (I didn't really know what to do after Theater and I love reading, so this seemed logical at the time), Nursing (turns out I do not want to touch people or their bodily fluids) then briefly back to English, and finally Social Work (you mean I can get paid to talk to people? Oh, I'm in).
I was taking a study-abroad class for British-Literature and was on the bus to Stonehenge from our dorm in London and ended up sitting next to a red-headed older woman (65-ish), who I got chatty with. She was with her practice partner at a seminar on Sex Therapy in London but taught at a University and had a private practice in Miami. Y'all...she handed me her card, now mind you she was a Sex Therapist, and a red-head, and it read in bold, GINGER BUSH...I am not making this up! You can probably google her. She looked at me with anticipation and of course I gasped and covered my mouth sharply and giggle-apologized under my hand. She smiled slyly and giggled herself. She said "I just love to see the reactions on people's faces. You'd be surprised how many people don't even notice," as she chuckled. I said "Uh, what! How can they not!? This is too good, a red-headed sex therapist named Ginger Bush, this is priceless." She thanked me and we talked a little about her work-shop and she was magical. I loved everything about what she was saying, and then she said to me "You'd make a great Social Worker." And y'all, I almost cried because I did not know wtf I was going to do with a degree in English (yes, I see the humor, now that I'm writing a blog...). Also, I don't think anyone had ever said they thought I'd be great at any career at this point in my life. I mean my own mother's response to me looking over college brochures was "you know sweetie, not EVERYONE goes to college," and she walked away. Subtle, I know. So anyhow, this wonderful, walking punchline, was like my Social Work fairy Godmother and I still think about how bad-ass she is to this day. I changed my major when I got home and my mother didn't talk to me for about 3 days.
I still love Social Work and I hope to return to doing some form of it someday. I loved my Undergrad internship as a Victim-Witness Counselor for violent crime for the county I lived in in Austin. My mentor there was so freaking cool. This man was ex-military and no effing nonsense and I was terrified of him. He called me "shadow" as in "Come on shadow, follow me and don't make me say it again." And I did. He taught me to be tough and how to mentally prepare for some of the gruesome stories I was going to hear. Eventually I got to know him better and we became good friends and I still laugh when I think about the day he came in first thing in the morning and said, "You know what, you are fucked up," with the straightest face you've ever seen. And I was like, "What? Uh, are you talking to me?" As I craned behind me to make sure." Several seconds of intense silence followed my question as he stared. Then someone else, was like "Hey! Good morning guys," and he was all, "Morning!" in a sing-song tone. Then just looks at me and laughs and says "But I'm fucked up too! We all are ha ha! No one does this kind of work who isn't a little fucked up," and then just starts laughing and it was so strange, but true, and up to that point I was pretty sure he hated me, so I started laughing out of shock, and relief, and sheer fear of this man, but after that I started to see the little cracks in his armor. He deeply loved people, no matter how messed up they could be. And if you know me long enough, I can just wiggle in there, and then all of a sudden, you're like, "damn, she's really weird, but kind of lovable. I really wish she'd stop talking, but also, I kind of want her to keep going." It's confusing, I know...Manny passed away and one of the other counselors (Stacy), who is also my friend, reached out to me to let me know. And I was instantly angry at God for taking him. He is one of the best humans ever made and this world is not as good without him in it. He (and Stacy) made me believe I could do this job, that I could be a Light in Hell for others, that if evil was the yin, then I could be part of the yang. They gave so much, and I can only hope to be half as good as them.