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January 9, 2024 41 mins

Meet Julie Demarest. Julie has worked in social/human services for 20 years predominately in emergency shelters, homeless services, drop-in centers, and supportive/transitional housing programs. She spent 10 of those 20 years being on-call for any emergencies and due to no real work/life separation experienced severe work “burn out”. She has recently switched careers to massage therapy. To say the least, Julie has an interesting story to tell. Do not miss. EnJOY! 

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
My name is Craig Ferguson. The name of this podcast
is joy. I talked to interesting people about what brings
them happiness. Meet Julie Demarist. Julie is an interesting person.
She's worked with disadvantaged, mentally ill, homeless and marginalized people

for a long time. She's a social worker, but has
a very interesting story to tell. Let's start it when
you stopped doing right well? When you when you stepped
away from working in the do we what do we

call it? What do we describe it as social services?
Do we call it?

Speaker 2 (00:48):
There's a social work. So I just say I was
a social worker to make it easy for people.

Speaker 1 (00:52):
All right, So you like to make things easy for people.
So you stopped doing it last year because of the
machety attack.

Speaker 2 (01:01):
So I was already very very burnt out, and I
had put myself through massage school two years earlier because
I knew I needed like a long term out. I
didn't think I would quit when I did. But the
nonprofit I also worked for screwed me over pretty hard
as well at the same time as the machete attack,
and the executive leadership handled it poorly. Like the machete attack, happened.

They called me and I had to go in and
handle everything.

Speaker 1 (01:26):
Talk to me about the machete of attack briefly, just
just because it's such a dramatic sounding thing.

Speaker 2 (01:31):
I know, I feel like I talked sometimes about my
jobs and I'm like, oh, yeah, you know.

Speaker 1 (01:34):
Yeah, Well to those of us who have been lucky
enough to avoid machete attacks so far, it's kind of
so talk to me a little bit about what happened,
and then I want to talk to you a little
bit about barn out, and then we'll go back and
we'll kind of look at your journey through that through
this time.

Speaker 2 (01:51):
So we I used to oversee a drop in center
in Auberdy, New York.

Speaker 1 (01:55):
So that's homeless people dropping.

Speaker 2 (01:57):
Yes, well the drop in center, anybody could come. We
would ask no question. So if you just needed to
stretch your budget, like if you were on you know,
assistance or anything like that. We had free laundry, We
had free showers, We served two hot meals a day,
run your kids. We had mailboxes because if you're homeless,
you don't have an address, but you need to get
your paperwork. We just wanted the community to be able
to kind of utilize this building and who finances this

is this a So the state in the county would
not touch that program because it was so low barrier, right,
So that was all funded through in kind like donations
and grants.

Speaker 1 (02:30):
Okay, so what happens with did you have someone who
came in with a machete attacked the colleague of viewers
or yeah, So he was.

Speaker 2 (02:37):
A client that we've known very well. I've known him
for years the whole time I worked there, very mentally ill,
so I can see both sides of what kind of happened.
And he was just having a not good mental health day.
He had a machete in his locker, but we didn't
know about so the manager there had he'd had an altercation,
just like a verbal altercation. So they kind of told him,

why don't you take the day, you know, taken food
to go and just call it in and we'll try
again tomorrow. And he said, well, I want to get
some stuff out of my locker, and that's when he
pulled out the machete and went to go attack a
different staff member. Another guy stepped in the way and
almost lost both his hands and his foot.

Speaker 1 (03:15):
So it was dramatic and it was bloody, and it
was violent and scary, and you were right there when
it happened.

Speaker 2 (03:21):
I wasn't there when it happened. The executive director called
me afterwards and I had to have all the staff leave.

Speaker 3 (03:26):
I stayed with the police.

Speaker 2 (03:28):
I brought the crime scene cleaners in the next day,
stuff like that.

Speaker 1 (03:31):
And that was you said, Okay, I'm done. Now this
is it, this is the this is the final stroke.

Speaker 2 (03:35):
And it was a little like ironic because when I
was nineteen and my very first shelter, a girl pulled
machety on me.

Speaker 3 (03:40):
So I was like, all right, full sech, all.

Speaker 1 (03:41):
Right, so okay, so it has a dramatic So let's
go back to them. And you're nineteen. The more you're
striking looking person. You have a lot of tattoos. You
clearly have made a journey in your life. You made
some decisions, like I have tattoos. I made decisions to
get them. There reasons I have. So you have this

appearance and you have this story, So can you talk
to me a little bit about what gets you to
your nineteen years old and you decide I want to
do this, So.

Speaker 2 (04:16):
I don't even really know my childhood and my teens,
have you know, some nice childhood trauma thrown in there?
And I think so when I was like going to college,
I had no idea what I wanted to do, just
kind of went to a community college for liberal arts
and I ended up taking a juvenile delinquency class and
there were a couple women in there.

Speaker 1 (04:34):
So that's when you study juvenile delinquents then that Yeah.

Speaker 3 (04:38):
They probably renamed it by no es.

Speaker 1 (04:40):
I feel like.

Speaker 3 (04:42):
It's probably not PC anymore.

Speaker 2 (04:43):
But two of the women in the class were human
service majors, and so I got to talking to them
and I was like, what is that? And I think
given the childhood that I had, you know, there was
you know, addiction and different traumas in there.

Speaker 1 (04:55):
So did you think I was your parents were addicts
or right? Okay?

Speaker 2 (04:59):
I I think I knew that, like I knew that life.
I knew how to handle that life. I knew how
to handle I was more comfortable in chaos. This is
before I actually knew all this, you know, like subconsciously. Yeah,
So I was like more comfortable in chaos. I was
more comfortable focusing on other people to take care of them, right,
And so I think that's why I was so drawn
to human services. I didn't know at that time I

wanted to do homeless services. It wasn't until that internship
that was randomly picked for me.

Speaker 1 (05:26):
I think that that's interesting that you said you were
more comfortable in chaos, because I very much identified with that.
I remember going to a twelve step meeting in Caribbean
Island once years ago and a fight broke out during
the meeting and people were yelling and screaming at each other,
and I remember thinking at the time I should not

feel as comfortable as I do here. Yeah, it's a
strange thing that.

Speaker 2 (05:51):
Yeah, like I've broken up grown men with knives fighting,
but like I'm nervous to come to this.

Speaker 1 (05:57):
Like it's that's interesting because this is I mean, you're
totally safe here night. Ye, but maybe that maybe it
doesn't feel that way. I don't know. I mean it
is because we're talking about you.

Speaker 3 (06:07):
Yeah, that makes me comfort.

Speaker 1 (06:08):
Yeah, that's kind of interesting because you don't get to
control the narrative, you know. I mean it's like I
made a decision to stand up on stage and I
do stand up comedy, and people talk about how nervous
it would make them to be public speaking. I'm like, no,
I would totally sleep on a stage if I could.

I get it. You know. It's so I understand the
idea of being comfortable in chaos and coming from a
chaotic childhood. So did you ever get attracted to that
kind of thing yourself? I became very you know, I
was hoping. I was always drunk for years.

Speaker 3 (06:46):
I drink a lot right up to my mid thirties.

Speaker 1 (06:49):
And did you did you feel like it was an
addiction iss for you? Was it a coping mechanism for you?

Speaker 2 (06:53):
Or so looking back, it was definitely coping. Like I
would have a quote unquote normal day, you know, at
work doing Narcan on people, suicide attempts and just the regular,
the regular, and then I would just be like, man,
I can't wait to go have a drink later with
my friends, and I would. I was more of a
binge drinker, like I wouldn't drink like every day, so
to speak. But when I would go out, I love whiskey,

and I would just pound my whiskey.

Speaker 1 (07:18):
I understand the love of whiskey. I also, unfortunately whiskey
hates my guts.

Speaker 3 (07:23):
I decided in my forties I'm done with whiskey.

Speaker 1 (07:26):
Right, Okay? Can I just as a sidebar, I asked
you what whiskey you drink?

Speaker 3 (07:30):
I'm a Jamison girl.

Speaker 1 (07:31):
Okay, I understand that's fine.

Speaker 3 (07:33):
If I want to be fancy, I do kill bagging.

Speaker 1 (07:35):
Okay. I feel you missed out because the whiskey I
always like most was a whiskey hold Highland Park. Did
you ever have that?

Speaker 3 (07:42):
I don't think so.

Speaker 1 (07:43):
It's an Orkney whiskey, okay. So it's from the northern night,
the islands off the north coast of Scotland. It's very smooth.

Speaker 2 (07:50):
I mean, I still I'll have a little here and there.
I'm not I used to literally have a glass because
I love to drink it.

Speaker 1 (07:57):

Speaker 2 (07:57):
And then in my town where I'm from, an Albany,
like we say high with shots, we say by with shots.
We like shots in between everything. So I would just
chase whiskey with whiskey, and we're not going to do that.

Speaker 1 (08:06):
Right, Okay, that's fair enough. No, I'm self. So you're
nineteen years old and you start getting interested in because
you've had a life which so far childhood, which has
been chaos, has been involved, right, and you've been around
the unpredictable nature of addicted people, so you get interested

in being around it professionally. Yeah, you stayed on at
college and you did your masters in So.

Speaker 3 (08:33):
I never got my master's.

Speaker 2 (08:34):
At twenty three, I was promoted to a manager, So
I just rode the management route right up to a director.

Speaker 1 (08:40):
So what happens when you become a manager of something
like that? Then what do you do?

Speaker 3 (08:44):
I'm in charge of everything in the staff.

Speaker 1 (08:46):
Right, So you're dealing you know, it's not only ah,
it's not only hr dealing with people who are but
you're also dealing with unpredictable, scary Yeah. Who are the
easier people to deal with?

Speaker 3 (08:56):
The clients?

Speaker 1 (08:57):
Clients? Is that what we call?

Speaker 3 (08:59):

Speaker 1 (09:00):
Clients? Okay, yeah, so clients are staff. Who's the easiest
to deal with clients?

Speaker 2 (09:05):
Oh my god? I hate managing people. I hate it,
Like you're just like managing personalities. Like right before I quit,
I was a director and I was overseeing this like
sixty year old man that was just so set in
his and he would just drive me up a wall.

Speaker 3 (09:18):
Yeah, I just I hate managing personalities.

Speaker 2 (09:21):
Just go and do your job, do a good job,
and like that's drama.

Speaker 1 (09:25):
I know, but I think that that's that's quite interesting
because you're dealing with people who are by the very
nature they're a lot of them are mentally ill. Right, yep,
they could be dangerous. They could, but you find that
easier to deal with than the interaction with supposed normal
I'm also.

Speaker 2 (09:46):
Not the most professional in my manner and speaking, so
that professionalism, to me is a little silly sometimes, So
I would cross the line a little bit sometimes, like
the way I would speak to staff and just be like,
let's just be real like this, Like when I had
to fire people in stuff, like I was just like, listen,
you did this. This is what it's that I'm the consequence, like,
just stop lying to me, dude.

Speaker 1 (10:06):
Won't get you fired. If you're working in a drop
and shower.

Speaker 2 (10:10):
Sleeping with clients, doing drugs with clients, and then just
your basic like absenteeism calling out.

Speaker 1 (10:17):
Is there a lot of that kind of thing? Is
there a lot of like crossover.

Speaker 2 (10:20):
Like people, Yes, a lot, especially with like direct care,
like when you're working the frontlines in the shelter and stuff.
We liked to hire people that have lived experience.

Speaker 1 (10:29):
So a lot of the people are former clients, if
you like, yeah, so, how do you transition someone from
a client and someone who's working for you? How does that?

Speaker 3 (10:38):
How do they need a lot of training?

Speaker 2 (10:40):
And I think that's where quite a few of the
agencies I worked for lacked that They kind of had
this expectation of the staff to just be like, well,
they have lived experience, they'll get it, and it's like, no,
they still need to work on boundaries. And the boundary
piece wasn't really there.

Speaker 1 (10:55):
What do you say, because you've worked in Albany and
then you worked you worked in the South, you work
in South Carolina.

Speaker 2 (11:01):
Yeah, but nobody would hire me because I quote unquote
ruined God's temple with my tattoos.

Speaker 3 (11:05):
Literally, two jobs turn me down?

Speaker 1 (11:06):
Really because you ruined God's temple with your tattoos?

Speaker 2 (11:09):

Speaker 1 (11:10):

Speaker 2 (11:10):
So I got hired at a in patient drug and
alcohol rehab, which was ironic because I was twenty four
or five alcohol Yeah.

Speaker 3 (11:19):
I was like, oh my.

Speaker 1 (11:20):
God, what did you ever like when you were dealing
without inpatient alcoholics where you're like, this is kind of
I feel like this is getting a little close to Yeah.

Speaker 3 (11:29):
I didn't care.

Speaker 2 (11:30):
I didn't care for addiction, just specifically I didn't like
that setting. I'm also I'm a harm reduction type of person, so,
like so harm reduction is kind of the new quote
unquote thing. So instead of cold turkey, which a lot
of people can't and then they fail. They try to
do cold turkey, they fail, so then they just like
you know, go all in, right, So harm reduction, Like

if my client smokes crack and he comes to me
and he says, I only smoke crack three times today,
not five, that's awesome. Let's celebrate that, Like do you
sing and like, so you used to smoke crack and
you're only smoking weed. That's awesome. Let's like focus on that.
And it works for a lot of people because then
there's not the expectation that if you slip up, yeah
you fucked it all up.

Speaker 1 (12:12):
Yeah. It's funny though, because.

Speaker 2 (12:14):
Some people need cold turkey. My ex stepmother needed just
you don't touch alcohol.

Speaker 1 (12:20):
Yeah, that's that's my story for sure.

Speaker 3 (12:22):
I mean, I some people need that.

Speaker 1 (12:23):
I used to love saying that people when I was
lying to people saying that was getting sober and I wasn't. Yeah,
I would say, yeah, they told me that I need
to taper off. Yes, they need to taper off. But
I think that, you know, in the treatment of addiction.
I mean, I'm no way, I'm the only I'm only
an expert in my own, no anyone else's. I'm not.

I'm not involved in it. But I I wonder if
you hold with the notion of the or if you've
seen it, you know, the allergic reaction notion that like
one drink is the one that gets you drunk. I
mean for me that that is a profound thing. I mean,
if I have one drink, it's like it goes crazy. Yeah,

it's a it's a light switch flip. Have you seen that?
Do you think that's is that something that you Oh.

Speaker 2 (13:13):
Absolutely, I've seen that. I think too for me working
with this client tele with addiction, like I'd probably be
using something too if I'm sleeping on the streets and
the things that are happening. So like, if we can
kind of work with Okay, you're not doing fentanyl, you know,
they're just doing well fentanyl.

Speaker 1 (13:30):
It seems to me that people doing fenyl just die.

Speaker 3 (13:32):
I mean it felt weirdly. You can build a tolerance.

Speaker 2 (13:35):
I had many clients that just that I had no
idea that no, yeah, it's wild.

Speaker 1 (13:39):
So you didn't mention it there, but if they were
living on the streets, or if you were living on
the streets, you would do it as well. When I
get that, yeah, it's a kind of chicken in an
egg thing for me. Like, what do you think comes first?
Or is it in a case by case basis? Do
you start doing drugs and you end up on the street,
or you're on the street and you end up doing drugs.

Speaker 2 (13:56):
So the childhood comes first. I would say ninety eight
percent my clients have extreme trauma in their childhoods or well,
which is still trauma, but like your parents used you
were in a crappy upbringing, and like I, ninety eight
percent of my clients had just horrific, horrific like childhoods

that just kind of led them, you know, in a direction.

Speaker 1 (14:19):
How do you get that information about your clients when
you're dealing with them. Does it come out naturally in
conversation you?

Speaker 2 (14:25):
Yeah, especially when I was just a caseworker, like when
I was a director and things of that nature. I
didn't always have a caseload, right, but when I was
a caseworker and things like we'd have to talk about
those things to kind of focus on a right if
you want housing, like, these are the things we have
to work on. So we'd work on like daily living skills,
symptom management, substance abuse services and kind of link them
to different providers and things. But we'd have to talk

through like, you know, what's your history?

Speaker 3 (14:49):
How'd we get here?

Speaker 1 (14:50):
Did you find that difficult to deal with when people
were telling you stuff that was.

Speaker 3 (14:55):
Clearly I didn't think I did?

Speaker 2 (14:58):
And then I learned about secondary PTSD and how just
listening to those things over and over and over again,
Like there's no way it doesn't have an impact on
the person that you might not be living it, but
you're the one that has to sit with the person
who did and hear those things over and over again.

Speaker 1 (15:15):
I think that that makes sense to me, the idea
of that. I mean, but if you're taking that, and
I'm kind of interested in how you survived that because
you're still like if I'm thinking, like you doing this,
if you o caase you're still a young woman and
you've had a pretty hard time yourself coming up, So
how do you cope?

Speaker 2 (15:38):
So, I mean, for my twenties and stuff, I partied
a lot, right that was kind of my outlet. It
was hard for me, like I have I would have
a guilty conscience knowing how some people live and how
my clients were living. If I traveled or went somewhere
nice or did something nice for myself, I just kind
of always had this weird like even now we're t
I have guilt that.

Speaker 1 (15:57):
I stopped right, so don't deserve ability.

Speaker 2 (16:00):
Yeah, Like, I just like it's still happening. I think
Tomas knows this story. But twice I have just like
burst out crying, blackout, drunk that I've not saved all
the homeless people.

Speaker 3 (16:12):
Yeah, like, I just it's it.

Speaker 2 (16:15):
I don't understand our society how we just can look,
especially La. Like when people are in LA, they're shocked about,
oh my god, there's homeless people ever And I'm like, yes,
like this is kind of the epicenter, and but nobody
really does anything. And I don't like it's a weird
collective just acceptance that that's just well, let's.

Speaker 1 (16:32):
Talk about that. Let's talk about LA, because that's kind
of what led us to this conversation. Anyway, I lived
in LA for twenty three years, and the time that
I lived there, homelessness went from being something that I
didn't see often. It was definitely that oh yeah, I mean,
but it was I understood that schedule was downtown. Yeah,

and people you know, talked about I didn't go there.
I didn't see it. It's seems to me that Skiedrow
has exploded all over Los Angeles. The town itself, skid.

Speaker 3 (17:05):
Row has a mayor and they have like rules.

Speaker 1 (17:08):
That's kind of that's kind of interesting, but that fascinates
me because this is clearly people who are outsider society
and yet they're looking for structure. Yeah, do they have
like a hierarchy? Is there a way of skid.

Speaker 3 (17:24):
Row has a little bit of it. One that sticks
out to me is on.

Speaker 2 (17:27):
A wahu, there's actually yeah, right, there's so much homelessness.
There's actually on so if you are in native to Hawaii, mm,
they cannot remove you from any beach okay. So that's
why you'll see like a lot of encampments on beaches
in Hawaii. And there's actually like a little town that
homeless people put together. There's like little roads you can't
use in town. People that have jobs and kids and

everything that just can't afford to live. And so skid
row is kind of its own chaos. But there are
like the people that have been there a long time
and this is my spot and you don't go here,
and this person is that person, Like there is a
little bit, but the use is the drug use is
so active there that it's just kind of a free
for all.

Speaker 1 (18:08):
And has that changed and we were talking about LA
in particular, Yeah, right, has that changed because of the
new drugs?

Speaker 2 (18:18):
So I will say, like when I was nineteen in
the shelter and people would come home like high on
crack or heroin or something, I knew how to handle it.

Speaker 3 (18:25):
It didn't bother, it didn't like make me.

Speaker 2 (18:27):
Nervous, right, These new drugs just some of them just
caused straight psychosis and it's it's terrifying, like you don't
quite know how you can even like handle somebody.

Speaker 1 (18:37):
So what I'm fascinated by the idea that because when
I was taking drugs and alcohol, I was looking for relief.
I was looking for relief for who I was or
how my brain wore. I didn't know I was doing that.
I thought I was just having a drink. Yeah, But
if you have someone who is I mean taking drugs
that go straight to psychosis and presumably, man, these people

are in psychosis anyway, so you're just like you're changing
deck chairs on the Titanic basically, right, how did it
get them and how does it come in? Are you
aware of how that happens? Did you notice the change
in the and how the drugs came in? Was there
a noticeable I'm not.

Speaker 3 (19:18):
I don't really know that part.

Speaker 2 (19:19):
Well, I just watched the shift over like the twenty
years so more synthetic which is just wild, like K
two synthetic weed, which just caused straight psychosis.

Speaker 3 (19:29):
It's like, why don't you just smoke weed?

Speaker 1 (19:31):
Yeah? Do we think to me weed I went to
like right at the beginning, I'm talking thirty years ago,
thirty five years ago when I smoked weed, just old
fashioned weed. Yeah, I went straight to psychosis and never
agreed with me. Yeah, you know, I think there's a
bit of a myth about weed. Like I've had this

conversation with people about.

Speaker 3 (19:54):
I mean, I smoke every day, Yeah, you do every night.
I don't. I'm not awaken Baker, I can't function.

Speaker 1 (19:58):
Well, that's interesting because I hate weed. I mean I
hate it.

Speaker 3 (20:04):
Like if I had to choose, I would choose weed
over alcohol.

Speaker 1 (20:06):
Oh no, no, no, girl, you're so not We're not safe
face here. I hate weed and I hated it when
I was drinking, and it wasn't it wasn't anything other
than it didn't work. Yeah, right, I think that's what
I'm saying. It didn't do what alcohol did. And so

when we're looking at the people, your clients, the people
what you're dealing with, they clearly aren't finding drugs that work.

Speaker 2 (20:37):
Well, no, but the whole point is to just not
be present with where they're at in life.

Speaker 1 (20:42):
Is there a demographic breakdown that you're aware of?

Speaker 3 (20:46):
Honestly, it's across the map.

Speaker 2 (20:48):
Like people used to ask, you know, if it was
more men than women, if it was more African American
than white. But to everything that I've seen pretty much
was like right down the middle, a little bit more
men because for women, if they have children, they can
go into family shelters and they get a little bit
more services. There's a little bit more funding in that
kind of pool. So that's why you might see more

men in that in that way because the family, the
women with their children might not necessarily end up on
the streets.

Speaker 1 (21:14):
Right. I want to talk to you a bit about
abhorrent behavior, because obviously, if you're dealing with people who
are in psychosis or mentally, there's going to be behavior

which you just are going to be very uncomfortable with,
like criminal behavior, machetty attack.

Speaker 3 (21:42):
I guess a lot of sex offenders.

Speaker 1 (21:44):
That's what I was going to say, you dealt with? Now, yeah,
you were you dealt with? Was it level five four?
Level four? No? I don't know what that means.

Speaker 2 (21:55):
Can you explain the courageous? So that is a violent rape?

Speaker 1 (21:59):
Violent and you're dealing with them. I'm kind of shocked
and fascinated how you ended up there. Were you comfortable
dealing with these guys? Yes? And no.

Speaker 2 (22:09):
I was alone giving them group counseling every day. The
program interested me because it was run by a psychiatrist.
All five of the sex offenders had traumatic brain injuries
frontal lobe damage, so it was kind of this weird
little project almost to see if they committed their rapes
due to their TBIs or if they were just like

straight sociopathic.

Speaker 3 (22:32):
Because the one guy.

Speaker 1 (22:34):
What's the TBI, then that's a traumatic brain injury.

Speaker 2 (22:39):
And because the one guy committed thirty rapes prior and
then the one woman ran him over with her car
causing his TBI, and he always had to be on
suicide watch because he was just like disgusted in who
he had been.

Speaker 3 (22:50):
Like it completely reversed him. It was very weird.

Speaker 1 (22:54):
I had got to say the woman that ran him over,
I'm kind of right. I was like this, So there's
the ass get them all and run them all along.

Speaker 2 (23:02):
Yeah, and then there's a small part of me as
a social worker. All five of them had incredibly traumatic
sexual abuse history in their childhoods, So I can see.
I don't condone obviously anything, but I can understand why
they may have turned out the way that well.

Speaker 1 (23:20):
I think that's the thing. I mean. The argument is also,
so many people have trauma and their child You have
trauma and your childhood. I have trauma in my childhood.
And you know we didn't go that way. You know,
you went and fight the completely the opposite direction. You
You ended up being in a situation where you were nurturing.
I guess, And it seems to me that your drive

is that right that you because you even now as
you walk away from from that way.

Speaker 3 (23:50):
I'm still in a career I'm helping people in a
different ways.

Speaker 1 (23:54):
Right, So now you're doing massage there, right, Yeah, So
what do you think is in you that causes you
makes you want to do that? Put it right? Is
it the childhood thing you think?

Speaker 3 (24:08):
I don't know.

Speaker 2 (24:09):
I think like, for as long as I can remember,
I just don't understand how as fellow human beings we
just don't take care of each other.

Speaker 3 (24:18):
It's just a weird I don't know, it's weird to me.

Speaker 2 (24:21):
So I feel like like I have selfless tattooed on
the inside of my hands to kind of remind myself
that my hands are here to serve other people, if
that's what you know they want. And I just think
that while I'm here, I should be helping other people. Otherwise,
what's kind of I don't know, what's kind of point.

Speaker 1 (24:37):
Well, that's kind of interesting. So what is the point?
Are you a religious person?

Speaker 3 (24:41):
Oh no, No, I don't think there's any point to life.

Speaker 1 (24:43):
There's no point to live. But yeah, really, like, but
that's interesting because you fight so hard to make it,
to make it better.

Speaker 2 (24:49):
Yeah, well, while we're here, like, life sucks. Life sucks basically,
like you know, most of the time for a lot
of people, and so like if I can, as long
as my presence doesn't cause.

Speaker 3 (24:59):
Any like.

Speaker 2 (25:00):
More pain for somebody or cause your day to be
any worse, like I want to like help that for
people like I don't want to like I don't want my.

Speaker 1 (25:08):
Exist to make like an informal Buddhist to me, I
do forced to do no harm.

Speaker 3 (25:14):
I study zaza and meditation.

Speaker 2 (25:16):
That was one of the things that I started to
do at like thirty five to kind of work on
my mental health because I knew I was really burnt out.

Speaker 1 (25:23):
So I grit burn up for me. Because burnout is
a kind of casual term. You get your actors saying
I'm burnout from all the pretending. I mean, it's like,
so what's burnout for somebody that's on the frontline of
a very difficult career.

Speaker 2 (25:37):
Like, my patience was much shorter with clients, which I
did not like it was a disservice to them. I
wasn't sleeping. I was also on call for ten years
of less ten years of my.

Speaker 1 (25:47):
Career, so that's just like the phone goes, you gotta go.

Speaker 2 (25:49):
Yeah, So I wasn't sleeping.

Speaker 3 (25:53):
I was, you know, drinking a lot.

Speaker 2 (25:55):
My patience was you know thin, I just didn't want
to be at work, like yeah, things like that I have.
I have depression and so I would just kind of
pummel sometimes like down in some bad, bad areas.

Speaker 1 (26:08):
But how how is how is your life with you know,
outside of work? Are you? Are you in a committed
a relationship or are you Do you find it's difficult
to do that? Do you?

Speaker 3 (26:19):
I used to?

Speaker 2 (26:20):
So I'm engaged now, congratulations, thank you. And he's he's great.
He's like the kindest person. We just met not even
two years ago before him. I love to be alone.
I always kind of dated people that I knew I
hadn't out because I didn't want to stick around very long.

Speaker 1 (26:39):
Right. So yeah, so you're not in any way religious?

Speaker 3 (26:45):
No, So I am? I hate this term. I guess
you would say spiritual.

Speaker 2 (26:50):
So my mom died when I was one, so I
kind of learned right off the rip that like tomorrow's
not promised and like there's something something happens.

Speaker 1 (26:58):
Wait wait, wait, So your your mom died when you one?
So you do you don't remember your mom? Right? I don't?

Speaker 2 (27:03):
And she was like erased from me, so I didn't
know her name or see a picture of her, know what?
She died until I was sixteen because I snooped through
my dad's stuff.

Speaker 1 (27:12):
You did you ever experience any guilt about that?

Speaker 3 (27:15):
No, because I didn't know anything.

Speaker 1 (27:17):
Right. I've heard people who, you know, their parents died
when they were young, and they've talked about a weird
sense of guilt.

Speaker 2 (27:24):
No, I had no guilt. I was, I think because
she was hidden from me. I just had like anger.

Speaker 1 (27:29):
Yeah, I feel with that.

Speaker 3 (27:30):
Her side is irish, So don't we don't ask questions?

Speaker 1 (27:35):
Yeah, I'm very familiar with it.

Speaker 3 (27:36):
We don't talk about it. We don't.

Speaker 1 (27:37):
Oh my god, that's Everything's fine. Yeah, oh it's great.
I fine, evidence fine, Uh huh, that's great. You'll have
a drink. Yeah, what about So were you mad at
your dad then? So?

Speaker 3 (27:49):
I actually I was just in therapy a few years ago.

Speaker 2 (27:52):
I thought I was going to talk about my mom's
stuff because also, my best friend died when I was
twenty nine.

Speaker 3 (27:57):
I was with her.

Speaker 2 (27:58):
She had sistic fibrosis, and so with her death I
was able to grieve it properly. And I think I
started grieving my mom at thirty because I had never
gotten a chance to do that. So when I was
thirty seven ish, I think I went to therapy, thought
I was going to talk about my mom, and she
kind of skewed it to my dad, who I adore.

Speaker 3 (28:20):
My dad is my best friend.

Speaker 2 (28:21):
I like, I moved back from LA for him, like
I want to make sure that he is very happy,
because I've seen him in very not happy situations, which
was really tough as a kid, and so I would
do anything for him. And she helped me like understand
that I can be angry about decisions he made and
still adore him.

Speaker 1 (28:39):
Sure, yeah, you can be angry at people you love. Yeah,
that's an interest in situation, isn't it though, when you're
mad at people, Because I was. I had kind of
that relationship with my mother that I was really mad
at her for some things. But she's my mom. What
am I going to do that? Right? You know? Yeah,
it's an odd thing. It seems to me that, Look,
I'm not a therapist in anyway, and I wouldn't dare to

try and psychoanalygic, but it seems fairly obvious that you
know the trauma of that and seeing your dad in
difficulty as you're growing up, that the idea of helping
people becomes innate in you, like I saw.

Speaker 2 (29:14):
Him in some very vulnerable situations, and I just I
don't want people to.

Speaker 1 (29:18):
I don't want to have that. So what do you
what's your take on, man? When there are religious organizations
that do that the any help? I mean for example
that I don't know the Little Sisters of the Poor,
I don't know. I made that up.

Speaker 3 (29:32):
But if I did work for the Salvation Army, that
was my first shelter, right.

Speaker 2 (29:38):
I have a hard time with them because they have
they have like stipulations like there was a rescue mission
in Albany and if you don't go to the Christian
service on Sundays, you will only get a bag lunch
that day.

Speaker 3 (29:49):
You don't get the hot meal.

Speaker 1 (29:53):
Like I don't.

Speaker 3 (29:54):
That's not okay to me.

Speaker 1 (29:56):
I think conditional charity is a little trick. Yeah, yeah,
but it's still charing, you know. I mean, and maybe
look just to play Devil's advocate with them then just
saying well, what I want to do is encourage people
to get salvation.

Speaker 3 (30:11):
Right, yeah, And it works for some people.

Speaker 1 (30:14):
For some people, it does. I know people that have
gotten sober through religion. It wasn't possible for me to
do that, but I do find as I get older
and become more interested in it. And I think because
as I get older, I you know, it's the thing. C. S.
Lewis said, it's when death is a horseman three hills away,
it's easy to ignore him, but when you hear the

hoof beats, it's a little more interesting. Do you think
you've clearly seen quite a lot of death and quite
a lot of trauma. Do you think about your own mortality?
Has it changed your view of it? Oh?

Speaker 3 (30:48):
Yeah, I'm like fascinated of what's next.

Speaker 1 (30:50):
Though you think there is a next? Do you know?

Speaker 3 (30:53):
I don't know.

Speaker 2 (30:53):
I am very I'm incredibly open to the concept that
there might be something I can't even comprehend that fascinates me,
or it could be just absolutely nothing and I'll never know.

Speaker 1 (31:05):
Well, so that I mean, and I kind of nobody does. Yeah,
you know, and I think that that's the that's the fascinating.
Has that changed over over time?

Speaker 2 (31:16):
So the only thing that makes me a little curious
is since my best friend died, so she had sissy fibrosis,
and it was myself, her mom, and her fiance in
the room when she passed and you just you drowning
your lungs.

Speaker 3 (31:28):
So for three days she's just drowning in her lungs.

Speaker 2 (31:30):
So she finally passes away, and there had been this
whole she'd been arguing with her fiance. She was a
crazy little Italian that he broke the like censored paper
towel dispenser in her room, right, So it was like
she just could not let it go, and I was like,
can we just get along? So it was like this
kind of running joke. And then when she passed, we
were all sitting around her bed, you know, we're crying

and everything, and her fiance had kind of made the
call of like we just we need to up the
morphine more like this is this isn't okay, you know.
So he was a little nervous that her mom would
be up set that he was the one that made
the call and it caused her to pass. So he said,
you know, he's like, are you mad at me? And
like it still gives me chills from like across the room,
the censored paper towel spencer just pit spit out a

bunch of paper towels and like nobody was near it.
It was the weirdest experience, and I've had like a
couple weird things with her like since you passed. So
it just makes me, It just makes me question and
I'm fascinated by it.

Speaker 1 (32:24):
Does it make you feel more hopeful about the universe
because you, I mean, you said in this conversation you
know life sucks and there's no point. Yeah, but I
don't think you really believe that.

Speaker 2 (32:36):
No, I think life can be beautiful. I think I'm
very jaded because of my career and have seen it where.

Speaker 1 (32:42):
Still the worst I mean through you through I mean
that's an improvate reaction. Yeah, thing, Yeah, but do you
find yourself now you've been out of it for by
eighteen months.

Speaker 3 (32:54):
Less than a year, less than a year October last year.

Speaker 1 (32:57):
Do you feel a change in your in yours? Psyche?
Do you feel a change?

Speaker 2 (33:01):
I sleep about five hours a night solidly. I I
don't have to take a bunch of stuff to sleep, right, Yeah,
I mean my whole point is, and I moved out
to the country. I'm with my fiance. He's great, we
have our two dogs. Like, life's really beautiful right now.
And so I've been working on like recalibrating my central
nervous system out of fight or flight, because that's all

I've known, literally for forty years. Yeah, and so I've
told myself, I don't want the next forty years to
be just in this state of fight and flight.

Speaker 1 (33:30):
So what do you want it to be? What do
you want to I want.

Speaker 3 (33:33):
To be able to enjoy life, Like I want to
be a happy person.

Speaker 1 (33:36):
I seem like a happy person.

Speaker 2 (33:37):
I know everyone says that I just have I always
have this underlying current of just I mean, I have depression.
So I'm always treading water to just keep my head
above the depression. You know, There's things I have to
do every day and like mentally just kind of to
just make sure I don't dip, right, And it's just
kind of who I am.

Speaker 1 (33:54):
And yeah, so what would you like to have happened
in the future? You just want to keep going the
way you are.

Speaker 2 (34:00):
I want a peaceful life, like the forty years event
not come and I chose part of it, you know,
with my career. But right, I just yeah, I just
I just want to be peaceful. I wake up in
the morning, I make coffee, I can hear birds. We
have a creak in the backyard, like it's like, that's great.

Speaker 3 (34:15):
Yeah, it's kind of like simple. I want simple.

Speaker 1 (34:17):
It feels like the you know, the movie True Romance.
It feels like you're the end of the movie, like
you made it to the beach.

Speaker 3 (34:26):
Yeah, yeah, we're good. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (34:28):
But when you when you think back on your time
doing it, do you think that you were better equipped
for dealing with that life because of your difficult star?
Oh yeah, I'll tell you where I'm going with this.
I'm trying to kind of cover moment tracks, but there's
no point. So here's what I think. Sometimes when I
see a drunk, I think, there, but for the grace

of God or the universe or whatever you want to say,
go why. And sometimes when I see a drunk, I think,
get your fucking act together. If I can get sober,
you can get sober. And both of these things can
coexist within me and I I don't like when I
I don't like when I feel angry, but I do
sometimes does that happen with you?

Speaker 2 (35:13):
I don't know that I'm like ever angry, because I
think I just know I feel bad. I like, there's
a reason nobody would choose to live a life of homelessness,
like it's not great, you know, I have long term
Like sometimes I would have young clients that thought it
was cool and they were just like, you know, they
left their parents and they were you know, they were

just doing whatever. But I just so whenever I see
somebody still like my stomach still turns, like I still
feel I feel bad for them, like there's a reason
they got there.

Speaker 3 (35:45):
So I'm never really angry.

Speaker 2 (35:47):
And I would have clients come through the shelter all
the time, you know, just kind of recycling, and it's like,
let's just keep trying.

Speaker 3 (35:54):
I don't know, and it would never get really angry.

Speaker 1 (35:55):
What does success look like for a client?

Speaker 3 (35:58):
It's totally different.

Speaker 2 (35:59):
And that was something that I had to learn right
off the rip, was that my idea of success and
my priorities I cannot put on anybody else. So if
I had a client and he was I got him
an apartment and he was housed for three months, that's awesome,
Like let's celebrate that, and then if you end up
back on the street, we'll just try again.

Speaker 1 (36:19):
What do you say, Because you hear a lot of
politicians are not my favorite people, but you hear a
lot of talk about you know, the causes of homelessness,
the causes of people living on the street. But it
seems to me, obviously that is as individual as the
person who's on the stoe. Yeah, pretty much. Right. Do

you think that there is a huge contributory fact or
is there one thing more than anything else that puts
people there?

Speaker 3 (36:46):
I mean cost of living?

Speaker 1 (36:48):
You think so? Really? Yeah, yeah, there's.

Speaker 2 (36:51):
I mean when I would try I worked with veterans
specifically in LA and like trying to find them apartments
with the VA, like housing voucher was impossible. There's there's
literally nothing we could afford. And it's like, that's federal funding. Like,
what are you guys doing. You're not even giving us
enough money to house anybody?

Speaker 1 (37:10):
And these are the veterans that you're dealing with.

Speaker 3 (37:12):
Yes, well yeah, and then the VA shut my shelter down.

Speaker 1 (37:15):
Why that they.

Speaker 3 (37:16):
Didn't want to re up the grant after five years?
So I hate the VA. They are awful. They were
awful to work with.

Speaker 1 (37:24):
Really what why.

Speaker 2 (37:26):
So they brought us in as a nonprofit to open
the shelter. I don't know if you know about the
whole lawsuit with the VA campus in Brentwood. I don't
know so there was a huge lawsuit that was going
on for years because they were literally renting out the
campus to like UCLA and other things and not writing
services to veterans.

Speaker 1 (37:44):
Were making money.

Speaker 2 (37:46):
Yeah, and so it was Obama during his when he
was president, shut it down, and so it was called
a great plan or something ridiculous. And our shelter and
drop in center was kind of the first program to
come out of it. So I had to work with
a lot of VA people who did not care for
how I looked, which was awesome, but they also didn't

pay my paycheck, so you know, I could kind of
be a little bit more free in how I spoke
and like the things that they needed. But then once
the once the grant was up after five years of
the VA just was like, Nope, we're not funding it.
And so what they put in this place, there's nothing
in there right now.

Speaker 1 (38:27):
So veterans have nowhere to love.

Speaker 2 (38:28):
They built some housing, so there are some other like
programs that came out of kind of the lawsuit, but
they shut the shelter down.

Speaker 1 (38:35):
Are you ever drawn into because I can see even
just talking to you right now, that you're a human
being of some passion and there's certainly I've sat close
enough to I wish women before to know when it's dangerous. Yeah,
you are not afraid of a fight, that's clear.

Speaker 3 (38:53):
Oh no, No, do you ever for other people?

Speaker 1 (38:56):
Yeah, but that's what I was going to say. Do
you ever think that there may be a when you
may be drawn into not frontline you know, client care,
but taken on the politicians?

Speaker 3 (39:10):
Absolutely not. I would. I would lose it.

Speaker 1 (39:12):
I think what I'm saying is I really think you
should run for office. I really do. I really do.
And I'll tell you why. Because you don't want to.
And that's and that's who we need. We need people
that don't want to be politicians but don't see a
way out of it. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (39:30):
And that was like one of like the client everyday stuff.
That stuff would sort of burn me out obviously. But
the system and like the federal funding, the state funding,
and like all the stipulations, like even when we would
get state funding, it would very specifically would map out,
you can pay your case managers this much, this much
can go to this, this much can go to this,
and that's it. We'd have to prove every year that

that's how we're spending the money, like it's so tightly
kind of wound. And then even when you're in the systems.

Speaker 1 (39:56):
So they basically they don't let you do your job.

Speaker 2 (39:58):
No, No, they give us like knots of money. So
every nonprofit I've worked for, we'd get state funding or
county funding, and then also have to beg for donations.
And then if you're a client and you're in the system,
like say you're getting your Social Security check which is
like maybe seven hundred bucks a month if you want
to work, if you start working over twenty hours or
make a certain amount, they will start to dock your

SS check. So like there's really no way out of
the system. Like I remember very vividly in college, we
read a book called Amazing Grace about when Lovely Giuliani
shut down cleaned up Manhattan and shut down the shelters
and it kind of pushed everybody into the Bronx and
other boroughs. And this caseworker was talking about how she
was helping people in the Bronx and things like that,

and she realized that she was just teaching people how
to live in the system and how to like it
because there's no way out.

Speaker 1 (40:48):
Right, So that's it's always stuck in your right. Is
there any way you can break it? We need money,
need money, We.

Speaker 2 (40:57):
Need money, we need housing, we need like jobs at pay,
we need like Yeah.

Speaker 1 (41:03):
I can't make that happen. Julia. It's been an absolute
joy speaking to you. You're a fascinating human being. I
wish you well, I wish you peace.

Speaker 3 (41:14):
Thank you.

Speaker 1 (41:15):
And it seems to me that, look, I don't know
you very well. I don't think you're done, but I
think you need a rest.

Speaker 2 (41:24):
I need a rest, I need a break. Yeah, that's
been in the back of my head though. I don't
know how long I can stay away.

Speaker 1 (41:31):
No, that's okay, stay away for a while and get
get a little a little me time maybe. Yeah, all right,
thanks Palm, thank you for coming on.
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