I'm planning a stay-cation in New York City, from Monday, August 18 to Sunday, August 24. I know it sounds ridiculous to say I need a vacation, when I'm on disability, and theoretically I "don't work," but the fact is I'm doing some kind of mental health advocacy work on a daily basis, and I'm "on call" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
On Mondays, I write the events article for the following week for NAMI NYC Staten Island, for the local paper, the Staten Island Advance. Then I have to make sure it gets into the paper (sometimes despite my best efforts, it doesn't, which is always disappointing). I also plan and arrange the monthly information meetings for NAMI NYC Staten Island, so on Mondays I try to make my initial contacts for the upcoming month's information meeting, and then the rest of the week I follow through on that with phone calls and e-mails, and personal meetings, if necessary (which are rare).
I also do outreaches with my friend Patty and other volunteers, where we go to different events in the community, set up a table with our literature, and talk to the public. We also refer people to different resources in the community, and other tables at the event which can help them with their particular concern. Patty's really good at what she does, and I learn a great deal from watching her in action. We also meet with elected officials at these events, which is why I try to dress neatly and respectably, even though they are usually casual outdoor events.
My friend Dwight and I also run a support group every other Tuesday at a partial hospital program. Partial hospital is a day program for people who have just been discharged from the psychiatric inpatient units of the local hospitals, and it runs from 10 AM to 2:30 PM. It gives people structure to their day, and helps with support and education after being in the hospital, while transitioning back into their role in the community, whatever that may be.
Then I sometimes get calls from people who are in crisis, or just want to talk to someone, and that can happen anytime of the day or night. So ... yeah, I have my hands full, even though it's not a full-time paying job.
But! For one week I'm going to be on vacation - no calls, no articles to write, I will not e-mail anyone, I will not run any support groups - I will be free, free, free!!! I will also be poor, poor, poor for the first two days of my vacation, so I won't be going very far. I hope to do the following things, though, when I do get some money:
- Visit the Fashion Institute of Technology's Museum exhibit, Exposed: A History of Lingerie
- Visit the National Museum of the American Indian
- Visit the Staten Island Botanical Gardens at Sailors' Snug Harbor Cultural Center
- Visit The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
- I'd also like to visit some friends, too, if they'll have me.
I think I'll need a vacation to recover from my stay-cation! As you can tell, those sneakers and sandals will come in handy. As will the hat, to keep the sun from baking my head.