Sunday, February 14, 2016


I didn't plan to watch the Republican debate last night. But Time Warner Cable screwed up again and failed to record what turned out to be a thrilling basketball game, which Duke won at the buzzer by Grayson Allen's tip-in. I was mightily miffed and needed some light entertainment.  It was as expected,  a raucous slur-fest in which each debater reviled the others, a comedic display bordering on childish ranting.
But enough of my misspent evening. I have a load of impressions longing to be released about my whirlwind week in New Orleans.
Travel to and from the Big Easy via Charlotte was, like all travel these days, partly a struggle to manage maneuvering of wheel chair, walker, luggage, and airplane sardine-like seating. My intrepid wife did her usual heroic juggling of documents, carry-on of medical baggage, and equipment managing, all the while fighting a cold (as an employee of Durham public schools she is always fighting a cold).
My wife was thrilled to catch the Mardi Gras parades up close, while I was content to catch an occasional glance from our 9th floor room. The excesses of Fat Tuesday, with the drunken audiences crowded into a dangerous mix of pickpockets and wildly exuberant onlookers held little interest, except for her safety. But she managed well by engaging helpful Stewart, a bell hop whom she charmed into showing her the safer spots to view the mayhem.
On the following days she was occupied with workshops to bolster her required CEUs for her job as School Psychologist. I spent a lot of free time people-watching in the large lobby, always jammed with conventioneers and their laptops, seeking respite from their workshops before once more leaping into the fray (not actually crying "Once more for King Harry and our English dead.")
One example out of that mix was one day when I finally found an empty table for three, all else being filled up. So I sat for quite some time, until I got bored and listened to Dietrich-Fischer Dieskau lieder on my cell phone. Finishing that after an hour or so, I suddenly had a couple who asked if they could be seated at the two empty chairs at my table. Of course!
For some time they conversed as if I wasn't there, and I had no choice but to hear their conversation.  The older man was the former supervisor of the younger woman when she was a graduate student. They met for the first time in many years. He was asking her about her work now. She was telling him how easy it was to use the computerized automated report tool for the BASC ( popular Behavior assessment scale for children). He was very animated, saying, "A monkey could do that! The only thing you should focus on is being a change agent; doing something positive to enhance their lives,"and so forth.
I stood up ready to leave, extended my hand and introduced myself. "OMG! She says," and then asks if she could have a picture with me, I was flattered as always to be recognized as the old guy widely known in her field, and presumed to have passed away years ago. I told the supervisor I agreed wholeheartedly with his sentiments about the BASC. I wished them well and remarked that it was good they could still talk to each other after all the years. Laughter.
My encounters with school psychologists continued the next day when I was scheduled to sit at my publisher MHS's booth for a Q & A session by passers by.  Most of the people who stopped seemed to be young females just starting out as school psychologists.
I usually asked about their work and heard their mixture of pleasure at the variety of roles they filled, as well as the drudgery they experienced  a lot of the time, filling out reports, attending unproductive meetings, and sadness at the overwhelming disabilities among their clients and families.
I was usually positive, telling them they had a unique chance to observe the amazing variety of psychopathology that passes by them every day in their job. They had a chance to accumulate valuable insight based on their intuitive capacity to synthesize their impressions over time. I allowed that one of my great regrets was not recording those impressions in a daily journal, something whose significance I I only discovered recently in my own life.
The response to that mini-seminar was rewarding. They suddenly recognized how valuable their brain was, beyond the numbing drudgery required by the great bureaucracy they are part of. Collecting their impressions over time could elevate their profession to a higher level, seeing patterns beyond the artificial tools psychologists often become wedded to and which actually can obscure the unique qualities they see from direct impressions.
Perhaps I will give that sermon at the next NASP convention!