Day 10: 210 Hours Remaining PLUS FIVE

I was put on laundry duty.

The transgender individual who normally does the laundry wasn’t in today, so I was next in line. One of the dryers broke, so I did about 15 loads of wash with one dryer. It’s good to have a change of scenery. With my attention span I need a change of perspective regularly to keep me engaged.

I was being trained by Charlie, a Coast Guard vet. He had moved to California from New Orleans a couple years ago. When I asked him why, he said he just needed to get out after Katrina.

“There’s a tree branch done come straight through our windaw. Whole downstairs was a’flooded deep with wata. We done fixed it up, shor as kin be. But I’s done wid dat place. So I left. My kids is grown. My step son’s gots a job washin dishes at a countra club. I tol him I’s proud a’im. Him workin a job. Is a good job too.”

I asked him how he likes California.

“I love it, I sho do love it! I love the diversity here. All kindsa colors an foods. Back in N’awlins, I thought there be jes black an white!”

He works here at the shelter and lives up the street at a hotel. And he’s happy as can be. He makes me wonder if my standards for happiness are set too high. When I compare my life with the rest of the world, I’m a pretty blessed woman. Like Wendy and her “Praise Jesus!” all day long, Charlie’s joy puts me to shame.

I’m in the front office when Greg, the supervisor tells me, “You’ve been leavin at two. You know, you supposed ta stay til 2:30.”

“I haven’t been taking a lunch and have just been working straight through. I have kids that walk home from school at two and I don’t want to leave them waiting too long. The night shift told me that was ok…”

“Well it’s not ok. I can’t let ya do that.” Greg looks irritated.

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“When it come time to count up yo hours, I gotta take the lunch into account. I gotta minus a half hour for lunch.”

“So all my days are seven and a half hours, not eight?”

“Thas right! You a smart one!” He smiles at the fact I know my math. I am not smiling. I’m adding five more hours to my total. Like Joseph and seven more years for Rachel, what can you say?

A stone faced female staff member I haven’t met yet, pokes her head around the corner. “Thas an honest worka you got there, Greg!”

Greg looks at me, sizing me up. “Well, she bettah! She’s needin to reform herself!”

“Reform? What fo? She do somethin bad?” And then she looks at me. “How many hours you got, honey?”

“280.” I feel like I did when the jury was checking me out on the first day of trial. Looking for some visible clue of my innocence or guilt. If anyone ever tells someone they are “judging them” again, I swear. Most people don’t know the first thing about judgement.

“Woooweee! She sho’ DID. She sho’ did do something BAD!” And the verdict is reached. No more questions. No more interest. Just judgement. And she walks away. As does the supervisor. Satisfied that I have had my corners sufficiently folded in. That I have been neatly placed on the shelf I belong.

I go back to folding sheets. The tears are right in the back of my throat again. Stuck chi, in that same spot. It burns. My throat desperate to keep those tears in subjection. Occasionally I clear my throat to let out some of the tension. My brain races to find something else to think about.

“Praise Jesus!” I hear her coming across the courtyard. Wendy is smiling like a beam of light, right at me. She stops at the laundry room. “That laundry is sompin else, ain’t it? Whas wrong, honey?”

“Nothing. Wow. It’s been a day.” I lie.

“Don’t be lettin nobody steal yo joy, y’hear me?” How does this lady know so much?

“I know. Ain’t nobody can do that but me.” I’m not going to lie, my speech has started to take on the color of it’s surroundings by now. Just like my appearance.

“I’m glad to hear you understan that. Joy is right here whenever you want it. Ain’t nobody can steal it but you given it up all on your own.”

And she walks away, still smiling. The ex-crack addict, or whatever she was. Beaming.

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About supportmidwifekatiemccall

Katie McCall was born at Pomona Valley Hospital in Southern California by scheduled c-section as a frank breech due to the current medical system insistence that breeches should always be delivered that way. Katie's father's family was filled with teachers, her mother's family was filled with healers. It is no surprise then, that she went on to have her own two children and spend her adult life involved in a combination of teaching and healing through midwifery, childbirth education, doula work and serving families in Southern California. Katie attended USC for her general education and then went on to study with the American Academy of Husband Coached Childbirth to become a certified childbirth educator. Shortly thereafter, she certified as a birth doula (labor assistant) with the Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators. Katie was also mentored through a pregnancy and birth support business called The Birth Connection in Glendale, CA, which Katie later purchased and expanded to include a 1500 square foot education facility, retail store and birthing center. She enrolled in midwifery school and apprenticed with the midwives who ran the birth center as well as with midwives who attended homebirths. She sold her business to pursue her midwifery education full time in 2006 and passed her midwifery (NARM) exam to become a Certified Professional Midwife in 2008. She went on to gain her Midwifery License from the State of CA Medical Board in 2010. Katie has received supplementary education in lactation to become a lactation educator, vaginal birth after cesarean support, support of sexual abuse survivors, aromatherapy and is neonatal and CPR certified. She assisted over 500 couples through childbirth education and attended over 550 births as of 2011. As a Southern California native, she has a wide range of experience, serving mothers from diverse backgrounds. She believes her job is one of empowering women to develop their own trust and connection with their bodies and their babies during their own unique journey into motherhood. If she has learned anything through her experience with birth, it is that every birth is as different as the women who are laboring. On August 17th, 2011 Katharine “Katie” McCall, a licensed midwife, was convicted of practicing medicine with out a license for a 2007 birth she assisted as a student. The charge arose from a home birth where Katie's supervising midwife could not arrive because she was at another birth. Instead of leaving the family to birth unassisted, Katie stayed. She recommended that the family transfer to the hospital and the family refused. They were aware that she was only a student midwife and that she was unable to secure an overseeing mid View all posts by supportmidwifekatiemccall

4 responses to “Day 10: 210 Hours Remaining PLUS FIVE

  • Emily

    So sorry about the hours, Katie, and the judgement. But it is good to hear that you have joy-filled people around you as well. Wendy sounds like a gift straight from the Lord.

    • supportmidwifekatiemccall

      More than that. She’s a warrior on an amazingly intense battlefield. I’ve never seen a stronger woman. And the strength comes from her knowledge of her own weakness. One of the male staff members was saying “I cleaned myself up, so now I ain’t on the streets no more.” And she hollars at him “You ain’t had nothin to do with. Lord God done it ALL.” Self emptiness brings God fullness. And there lies strength. It’s the same strength that’s gotten me here, SANE STILL, and joyful. 🙂

  • Ardele

    Sorry to hear you have to make up that time. Shame the night shift told you incorrectly. Question, though, if you’ve been working thru lunch only since you went to day shift, how is it 5 hours to make up already? Didnt you switch to days on day 8 or 9?
    Still praying for you and thankful that God has sent fellow Christians into your service.

    • supportmidwifekatiemccall

      Thanks, Ardelle. I didn’t switch on day 8 or 9. On my first day on graveyard, they told me I could take a lunch and I said I wouldn’t be hungry in the middle of the night. The supervisor on night shift said that if I didn’t take lunch I could just leave a half an hour early. I did take one lunch at night, when my friend came for a visit. Greg is still letting me leave at 2 to get my kids, though. I just am getting 7.5 hours per day. In the end, it just means I’ll have two more days to do… two more blog entries too. 😉

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