Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Coffee, Case Notes, and Lies

January 12, 2010

It’s coffee time. At last, I reckon. My brain is not happy.

I’m trying to get some case note stuff up to date.

Oh yeah, before I forget. The coffee is wonderful stuff, New Guinea Kongi Gold. It’s from our favourite coffee roaster who has coffees from all over, this one is lovely. We get him to grind it in the store. I figure that his $2,000 (or $5,000, whatever it cost) coffee mill is going to do a better job than one of those spinning blade things we might get for home use. And when it’s being ground the aroma explodes into the air. It’s like standing in a rain forest and having the whole aromatic under-storey cascade over your head.

So, time-out time. With a mug of coffee in one hand I can mouse over to WordPress and blog for ten minutes – anything to get my mind off whatever it was on. Now, where was I? That’s it, case notes. Blerch!

Case notes and me? We’re not the best of friends. It’s not as if we’ve ever done anything to annoy each other. It’s just that we don’t get on very well. Most of my case notes are short and sharp. That’s good. But I only ever write them in my appointment diary. I see a client, I write up a sentence or two about what we discussed etc, that’s it. The rest is kept in my head. I can often remember ‘the rest’ with a client a year or more later. It’s how some people’s heads work.

Touble is, those people up there, the higher ups I mean, they want more. They want real notes. On a computer. They don’t really like my head notes. Well, OK, that’s not fair. It’s just that they can’t read them. So whose fault is that?

I’ve been two years in my current work.  That’s two thirds of the way through our pilot project. It’s time to make a formal report so we can extend the funding. That means I have to write stuff that other people can read. You have no idea how I wish I had a scanner that would just read my head notes and download them into some software application, all neat and tidy.

So here I am, sitting at my computer with my diaries for 2008 and 2009. It’s a start. All I have to do is read every page and type it up. But this is where it get’s all odd.

Case note software has all these boxes and slots and little areas for different bits of information. Sometimes I can’t read them. I’ve got this reading problem, a dylsexia kind of thing. Reading text is OK for me, but reading stuff in little boxes is a different story. I look at the format and my head goes blank. The page doesn’t mean anything. The same thing happens when people do Powerpoint with too much litter.

On one occasion last year I was in a planning meeting and the ‘King of Powerpoint’ in my organisation was suggesting a format for work procedures with lots of boxes and charts and arrows pointing to circles etc. – ‘the full catastrophe’ as a friend of mine would call it. One of the other managers looked at me and smiled, saying, ‘It’s OK Kim, you don’t have to look at this.’

The funny thing is I have no trouble just writing. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. When I’m on a keyboard there is some part of my mind that gets bypassed and the words appear as I think them. Writing stuff that I make up as I go is no problem.

Reading is the same. It’s only when the format of columns and rows etc gets me that my head won’t follow along.

And the stuff I write? The books and stories? It’s fiction. It’s all lies. I make it up as I go along. None of it is not true.

Can you see how this case note stuff is going to end up? I wonder if I should just invent  a case-load of clients, fabricate a diary full of appointments, construct a series of interviews, posit a range of outcomes, cobble together some recommendations, and send it off to the higher ups. Yep, that should do.

This coffee is good stuff. It’s really sharpened my mind and I can now see the way forward. Thanks for listening.

Now, I’d better get back to work.


November 15, 2007

Sometimes it takes longer to get into prison. It’s where I work and I do it every day, so I should know by now. I’ve been doing it for nine years now. Getting into prison, I mean. I just knock on the gate and I’m in. It’s not like that for everybody.

Maybe I should post a pic of the gate, it’s very impressive. Built in 1896, the gate is of yellow striated sandstone and very ornate. It’s got a lion’s head up there. The lion is holding a big brass key in his mouth. It’s a symbol of Royalty, that lion. The story is that if any inmate can get the key from the lion’s mouth he gets a pardon from the Queen. Pity the lion is on the outside of the gate.

This morning I am waiting to get in. There is some delay inside and other staff members arrive. One of the clinic nurses says to me, “I’m enjoying reading your book.”
“Really?” I say. “Which one?”
“The Insiders one. Short stories. With the red cover.”
“Oh, yeah. Glad you like it. Where did you get it from?” A few places around town stock it and I like the idea that they are moving them out.
“Down at the methadone centre. I work there some days.”
“What was it doing down there?” I’m a bit sideways at this point.
“Somebody must have left it there,” she says. “It was in the staff room.”

A thought runs quickly through my mind. I take an inner look to check it. “That means no royalties.” The thought is quick to appear. “Must work on that one day,” I say to myself. I get back to the conversation.

“And where are you up to?” I ask.
“I’m sitting in the café with Alice,” she says. A big smile crosses her face.

Another thought, just as quick. “Fantastic. She’s identified with the character. Wants to be there.”

“That was a fun story to write,” I say. “I hope you like where it takes you when all the stuff about coffee turns to what happens with the absinthe.”

The gate opens and an escort truck drives out. It’s full of inmates, insiders themselves, going elsewhere. None of them can see the lion above the gate. Or the key. Perhaps some of them think about it. Probably not.

Royalty. Royalties. Some people don’t get it.