2/52

As someone who usually likes to keep things neat – if not, precisely, organized – I was alarmed to realize that it’s somehow already the 22nd of January. I’ve been marking off days in my planner, but I’m only writing down my assignments the Sunday of the week they’re due and it’s created a strange sense of time being on a standstill. I’m literally looking at my days as a series of tasks, rather than a compilation of hours, and it seems surreal that it’s already just a few days before February.

(Speaking of which, I am one of those strange people who doesn’t mind seeing all the Valentine’s day stuff already in stock at my local Wal-Mart. Why? Because I absolutely adore giant stuffed animals. Seeing them always cheers me up and I have high hopes of getting one from Him this year. Plus, I like chocolate. And Valentine’s day is second only to Hall-o-Ween in terms of yummy chocolate goodness being available in bulk.)

I digress . . .

I’d intended to write weekly, this year, but I’m slightly behind on that. Still, I’m considering this 2/52 and as long as I make it to 52/52 posts by the end of the year, I’ll consider myself successful. I also have managed to stick $5 into my saving account from each paycheck. Granted, this only brings me to a measly $30 in savings (literally), but it’s still progress. My bills are all paid or on track to be paid on time as well . . . which I’m impressed by, because I’ve only worked a total of about 40 hours so far this month.

Ah. The demands of nursing school. I am a part of my graduating class’s Facebook group. It’s a convenient way to keep in touch with my classmates about what assignments we’re working on, who’s in which group for projects, and the occasional bit of humor.

Two things on the page made me laugh, this week.

The first was one of the e-cards that keep popping up. It showed a cartoon nurse and read, “I don’t post on Facebook when I eat dessert, because it didn’t happen, if it’s not documented.” The second was a picture of some male celebrity (Ryan Reynolds, maybe?) looked both skeptical and uncomfortable. It was captioned, “When people ask my why I chose nursing . . . It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

The first one made me laugh, because all of the instructors are stressing the importance of documenting – our actions, our findings, our plans. We’re told to keep in mind that not documenting can lead to medical errors and patient endangerment and the loss of our licence. Which, ten months and several thousand dollars into the program, is one of our biggest fears, because it makes it all for naught, in the end.

The second one made me laugh, because it’s so brutally true. I can think back and remember all of my reasons for deciding to choose nursing. The money, flexible hours, having a friend in the program, the money, the job prospects, the benefits, the money . . . and, of course, getting to help people in a tangible way. Now, after three quarters and a lot of stress, it’s easy to lose track of why it is I’m actually putting myself through this madness and mayhem. As others noted on the post . . . it feels like we’re drowning and we’ve lost sight of the island paradise we were initially swimming towards.

There’s a few reasons for that. The stress of having two lectures, two labs, and two clinical portions . . . and all the associated homework, exams, and hands on experiences. Trying to still find time to work enough hours to make ends meet. Needing to also arrange time for all the “other” stuff – sleep, meals, family, blogging. Twenty-four hours doesn’t seem like enough time to fit in everything.

Even now, as I type, it’s ten in the morning and I’ve already finished two online quizzes, written in my assignments for the week, and had “breakfast” (a can of Vienna sausages and half a tube of Principles – don’t judge me). I still need to get a lot of other stuff done though. Which means . . . it’s time for . . . a list!

To Do List for 1.22.17

  • Write a two page paper about patient safety using three peer reviewed articles, an approved organization, and APA formatting.
  • Clean the apartment – at least do dishes, take out trash, and tidy up in general.
  • Make lunch for he and I . . . probably pasta salad.
  • Return our latest Redbox rental movie.
  • Print out flashcards for my Pharmacology exam.
  • Make flashcards for my Fundamentals exam.
  • Study both sets of said flashcards.
  • Make sure my school uniform is clean and pressed, and pack for clinical.

It doesn’t seem so daunting, like that. Which is good. Inaccurate, but good.

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Lone Wolf + Teamwork = Disaster?

For most people, our first involvement in peer group activities occurs in preschool or kindergarten. We learn how to work together to clean up the classroom or we sing a song about the months of the year as a group. Maybe we even participate in junior versions of sports where teams are formed or work on mini-projects with each other. From early on, we’re encouraged by society to be able to “play nice” with each other.

And it makes sense, really. Groups frequently get more done than individuals can. Groups are more efficient, oftentimes. They can provide safety and security. We can sometimes learn more about ourselves by looking at the groups we associate ourselves with.

That said, much like definitions, groups can also be confining. If you don’t want to go with the majority, it can lead to strife or even chaos. You can become the outcast, black sheep, or lone wolf of the group. Or, conversely, you might realistically be able to accomplish more as an individual, because you’re not trying to deal with a committee or democracy.

Now, in some instances we – as people – may have the ability to choose who we want to work with or what group we’re a part of. But by and large, I’ve found that the groups we’re in tend to be determined by default characteristics or happenstance, rather than deliberate action or inaction. Your family, for instance. Or your coworkers. Or the people of the religion you were born to. You may have minimal things in common, but you share the sense of belonging to a certain mini-culture. And it does have an effect on most people.

This is something that’s on my mind, because this is the second week of my third quarter in nursing school. And the thing that I was informed of – or warned of, you could say – during the nursing orientation session way back in April  has come to pass.

“You will have to collaborate. Nursing is not a one-woman or a one-man show. It’s a circus in which even the bit-players do have their importance.” The dean of nursing said that and I winced on the inside, because even in kindergarten, I would have preferred to spend two hours picking up blocks and books and crayons by myself, rather than spend fifteen minutes doing it with a group. Because (horror of horrors) what if one of the other kids didn’t realize that all the red crayons should go together? What if they tried to but the picture books with the story-time books? What if they didn’t stack the blocks in the box so that the lid would go on right? My five-year-old heart couldn’t handle the stress.

Eventually – after my second or third time out for disrupting the “tidy time” by throwing tantrums over these sorts of things – I realized that I would not always be able to convince the other five-year-old kids to clean up properly. Sometimes they wouldn’t put the red crayons with the red crayons, no matter how much more sense it made. It took me even longer – maybe the second or third grade – to realize that it wasn’t because they didn’t know any better . . . they just didn’t care about the same things I did. Once in a while, sure, I’d find another odd-ball kid who realized that it made sense to be organized and neat, but by and large the other kids just didn’t give a damn about making sure the vocab cards got sorted alphabetically.

I’d hoped that things would change as I got older. I imagined that groups were something that would settle down as we all got older. I was very wrong about that, of course.

When I entered high-school after being home-schooled for years, I quickly came to dread group projects. Inevitably, there was someone (or multiple someones) who didn’t care about the group, who didn’t want to work together, or who simply didn’t understand what we were meant to do and instead just sat there and doodled. I couldn’t stand the thought of getting bad grades and I still can’t. Part of my submissive nature makes me want to please authority figures and teachers definitively fall into that category for me. I want to get good grades, because it makes people happy.

Well, not my peers so much, but other people.

And a big thing about me is that I’ve never really cared for the majority of my peers.

Which is why, when two classes this week forced me into a group with others, I instantly started trying to think of an out. It was a reflexive thing. I’m going to end up paying $40,000 over the course of eighteen months or so to get my associates in nursing from this school. I decided on that, because it’s the best school in my area for this thing. But I don’t want to waste a single instant in my classes, because I’m paying an enormous amount of money (for me anyway), to be in them.

In Health Assessment – which is a class with an accompanying lab, where we learn some “basics” of the nursing process – I am going to be working with two other girls on a project that’s due in week 9. It’s a fifteen minute Power Point presentation on a specific culture and how their believes may be influential within the health care setting. We ended up grouping together, because we sit at the same table and it was simple. I’m the oldest of the three of us, even though I’m only twenty-four. I’m also the only one without any experience in the medical field. 21 is an LPN in a pediatric unit and 22 is a med-tech in an out-patient cardiology office. That worries me, somewhat.

I am normally the quiet one, the follower, the one that goes with the flow.

I can’t be that in this group. We’d never get anything done.

I had to prompt them to select a culture. And then had to make them specify, because “Native American culture” is a very broad thing. After some more prodding, we ended up with “Cherokee culture,” because all three of us have Cherokee blood. We’ll see how they do with the sections they’re supposed to be working on.

In Microbiology – which also has both a lecture and a lab component – we work in groups of four. Myself and another member of my group (we’ll call her Fish) were together last semester in A&P II and I thought of her as something of a go-getter in that class, but I already know that won’t be the case this time. The first thing she said was, “I don’t care about all these little microbes. It’s like Chinese to me.I don’t understand any of this.” Another woman in our group agreed wholeheartedly and spent the instruction’s introductory lecture eye-rolling and giggling. Then, the fourth member of our group came in, ten minutes late . . . and it was 21, from my other group.

After the introductory lecture and the instructions on the board for that lesson had been gone over, the instructor told us to get to it. We were meant to make a wet mount slide using L. acidophilus and a drop of water, to substitute for the fresh yogurt sample we were meant to compare to the prepared yogurt sample, because we didn’t actually have fresh yogurt. It wasn’t going to be a difficult thing – there was a capsule of L. acidophilus in our lab box in the center of the table and slides and slipcovers on the counter.

“So, what are we supposed to do?” – Fish

“I don’t know. Look at the fresh yogurt?” – 21

“Well, where is it? I don’t see any yogurt. . . ” The Eye-Roller

I looked from one of them to another, hoping they really hadn’t been that oblivious.

“Hang on, I’ll ask, ” 21 stood up and summoned the instructor over as I’m going, “Guys, there’s no fresh yogurt. We make the substitute with the L. aciophilus powder.”

The instructor comes over. My lab partners explain that there’s no yogurt. The lab instructor waits for the punchline. Asks them, “Did you read the board?”

They say, yeah. But then they say it doesn’t say anything about the yogurt.

But it does. On the second bullet point.

We made it through the lab, but just barely. And by the end of it, they were all saying, “Well it’s not like we need to pass with more than a D in this class. And it’s all easy.”

Yeah. Okay. Whatever you say.

*facepalm*

The Concept of a Definition

Concept [noun]: An idea of what something is or how it works.

Definition [noun]: A statement that describes what something is. OR The quality that makes it possible to clearly see the shape, outline, and details of something.

In a sentence: Most people have a positive concept of definitions, but I’m not most people.

I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by the idea of defining something. As a result, I spent a lot of time driving my parents and teachers crazy when I was little. “What color is that?” I’d ask, pointing at a balloon. “Red,” my dad would say. “Why is it called red?” “Because that’s what color it is.” “Why is that color called red?” “Because that’s what it’s called.” Before I could get out another, “But why is it called that?” my dad (or mom, or teacher, or stranger in line at the supermarket) would steer the conversation away.

By the time I was ten I became caught up in learning about ancient languages and ancient civilizations. Etymology was my favorite thing to talk about – with Greek gods, tribes in the Amazon, and Star Trek being the runners-up.

Now, at almost twenty-five (I will be twenty-five in ten days, I’ve just realized), I’ve never really lost my desire to know how definitions form and come to be applied. In fact, with being in college to become a nurse, I now find myself inundated with definitions. I am at the end of my first week of the third quarter and already have five pages filled with vocabulary terms. And I’ve noticed something both frustrating and interesting about them. Even within the same curriculum – that is, the associate’s nursing program at my college – the same word is ascribed slightly different meanings depending on which class I’m actually defining it for.

A good example of this is the word digestion. Fairly simple, right? We digest the food we eat. We break it down. When that process doesn’t go well, we can get gas or throw-up.

Well, according to my Nutritional Principles in Nursing class, digestion is more correctly defined as: The process of breaking down food to release nutrients.

But, according to my Anatomy and Physiology II course (which I passed with an A last quarter), digestion is: A mechanical and chemical process involving multiple steps that occur throughout the alimentary canal.

Now, that is only one example from a few that I’ve come across, but I think it does a fair job of highlighting my childhood frustrations with definitions. Of course the shiny, pretty balloon is red, but how is the ugly, scratchy sweater that I have to wear on picture day also red? Of course, in the course of growing up, I came to understand that context – while important – doesn’t always influence a person’s perception . . . or how they define things.

A person can understand that there’s a difference between the nice red of an apple and the often unsettling red of blood, but can still use the term red to describe them both. In the case of my vocab words for school, I can understand that, from the point of view of my nutrition class, the important thing about digestion is that it releases nutrients. And I can also acknowledge that, from the point of view of my A&PII class, the important thing about digestion is that it’s a mechanical and chemical process that takes place in an individual’s alimentary canal.

What’s actually more interesting to me is the way that people use words – or definitions, because words are chosen based on how we define them as individuals or societies – to describe themselves or others. For instance, my mother will happily describe both my sister and I as good. In my case, she’s referring to my tendency toward generosity, diplomacy, and compassion. In my sister’s case, she’s speaking of her cheerfulness, her dislike of violence, and her willingness to help others. The same word, used by the same person to describe people she’s close to,  yet used with different intentions and nuance.

Or, more personally, I would describe myself as submissive. I don’t like conflict, I tend to be more comfortable following orders, and I am naturally inclined to recognize authority. That said, I don’t consider my sister to be submissive, even though all of those statements are also true of her. The difference? I’m not even sure. I just know that, if someone asked me if my sister was also submissive, I would laugh and ask them if they’re crazy. She won’t hesitate to stand up for herself and she’s perfectly capable of saying, “No.

Actually, now that I’m thinking on it, I guess that’s why I don’t think of her as submissive.

Another good, if personal, example of this strange use of words and applications of definitions is my anxiety. I say I have anxiety. I know I have anxiety. My definition of anxiety is not the same definition of anxiety that my co-workers use so liberally. I don’t say, “I’m anxious,” unless I’m huddled on the floor, sobbing, because I think I’m going to spontaneously die of a brain aneurysm and the chemicals in my body are going haywire. My co-workers will say, “I’m anxious,” if they have to call back a customer known to be a jerk to us. It’s a matter of degrees, I suppose, in that case. All of us use the word anxiety to describe an unpleasant state, but our idea of the level of unpleasantness covered by the word varies greatly.

I get accused of arguing semantics, when I bring things like this up during the few conflicts I have. I’ll tell my owner, for example, that I would like to leave early for work. He’ll say okay. We’ll leave just five minutes earlier than we usually do – technically, he’s right and it is earlier . . . but it doesn’t adhere to my concept of the definition of earlier.

(For the record, that’s at least fifteen minutes.)

With so much room for error, as it were, it’s actually impressive that us humans communicate as well as we do, isn’t it? The image in this post is actually of something I stumbled across the other day and I made the decision within seconds of seeing it that it would be my next tattoo. It includes all the letters and numbers of the English alphabet. Every book, every song, every phone number. It’s all in that one image.

And if that’s not a mind-expanding concept, then I don’t know what is.

What It’s All About

Another pin in my Map to ELSEWHERE has been added. This one is centered over a little place called College Orientation (Nursing Edition). It’s small, but not so small as the Nursing Information Session was. And it came with its own realizations and quirks.

I felt kinda like a kid being dropped off at my first day or school, because of the fact that my mother gave me a ride to the campus for the orientation – and even provided me with snacks (a bottle of water and a little bag of pistachios). I met up with D at the entrance and he exchanged pleasantries with her before we had to run to sign-in.

There was a pot-hole, right away, for me. D signed in, was assigned to Room 204, and immediately took off down the hall. I signed in and was told to go to Room 205.

Wait, what? Don’t we do this together? Why are we in different places???

I didn’t question the smiling receptionist. I took off down the hall after D. But Room 205 was on my right within a few steps and he was standing at the VERY END of the hall. There were so many people there to be orientated that we had been divided into three groups. And he and I were – by virtue of the alphabet – in different rooms. I had not anticipated getting separated from him, but I was somehow standing in Room 205. I put on the little name-tag sticker that was already filled out with my name and signed another roster sheet. And then found my way to a seat in the second row from the front.

Orientation itself went well. I think. I’m fairly sure that it was standard – though I have no experience in these things.

The Dean of Nursing gave a small speech about how we (those of us in the room who were coming in as freshmen) are embarking on a journey. I understood this, because I’m using a similar analogy in my use of the Map to Elsewhere. She also showed us a list that was created by a class of senior nursing students during their very last class. It was a list of things that they felt had helped them through the most difficult challenges on their journey. The words that struck me the most were Determination and Dedication.

You can be determined to do something. But you should also be dedicated to doing it.

She then asked us all what we thought we were going to school to do. Most of us answered that we were there to learn. When prompted to be more specific, we said we wanted to learn to help people – to make them better, or at least less bad. She then asked us what we thought we needed to be taught. Again, she got a few different answers – how to give medications, how to respond in an emergency, how to think critically. She was satisfied with all of those responses, but she pointed out that the last one was the one she was really looking for.

Thinking critically, she said, is one of the hardest things to teach. And it is one of the most essential things for a nurse. The NCLEX exam – which is the final step in becoming an R.N. – has questions that are intentionally phrased in such a way that every answer is right . . . but only one is technically correct, based on a full and proper evaluation of the information presented in the question. We all got what she meant, because some of the questions on the TEAS exam (our entrance exam at the school) were formed that way.

But then she went on to a topic that I knew right away I’d want to put down on paper (or into cyber-space), because it’s something that I had on my mind, though not so well-worded as she presented it. She started talking about how we’ll learn attitudes, too.

Some of them, she said, will be things we already have – hopefully.

Thinking compassionately, acting with integrity, being professional.

But some of them, she noted, we might have to work to acquire. Like teamwork.

Ick. Teamwork.Working with a team. And not one that I carefully selected in order to ensure comparability and  a positive outcome . . . one that will be arranged by my instructors and (later) my employers with little to no regard to my own preferences.

That’s one of only a few things that have made me hesitant about choosing this career. I tend to be a loner. I prefer to work on my own for reasons of convenience and comfort. I don’t like the potential for conflict that seems inherent in teamwork situation (except in some situations and circumstances). I don’t like unknown variables or sudden changes.

I’d been ignoring this – both my dislike of teamwork and my dislike of unpredictability. I didn’t want to consider anything that would be an obstacle in my following this map that I found. When there’s  treasure at the end and who cares about quicksand and pirates?

But the Dean introduced a new concept to me. And it was another light-bulb moment.

Working well in a team and handling sudden changes are both attitudes and attitudes can be learned. Just because someone is like me and doesn’t do well with those two things, doesn’t preclude that person from ever becoming someone who is able to do well with them. Not at all. A person can learn to adopt a different attitude.

The professional slacker turning into the business professional.

The awkward loaner turning to the motivational speaker.

Me turning into a registered nurse.

As long as there is a true desire for change, change can be enacted. As long as I am willing to make an effort to move beyond my comfort zone. As long as I am willing to learn something new. As long as I’m willing to ask questions to answers I don’t know.

It’s ironic, a bit, because this blog is called Chaotic Metanoia.

I knew there’d be change. I just didn’t expect to be doing so much of it – even though it feels like getting the answer to a question that I’ve been asking myself since I was twelve.

What Ails You?

My mother is sort of uncomplicated in a lot of ways. She has her routines and her opinions and nothing ever truly causes her to alter them. Her outfits are mostly ones that she’s had since I was young and she often says the same things in the same situations.

These last are what I think of as her persistent phrases. A lot of people have a few of them and go through phases of them, but my mother has had the same ones for as long as I can remember. She seldom deviates from her own internal script.

For instance, if she sees something surprising, she will say, “Holy cow, Batman!” (My mother is a child at heart and her favorite super hero is Batman.)

If she’s upset with you, you’ll be called a “son-of-a-gun.” If she loves you, you are her “precious darling.” When it’s raining really hard, it is “pouring like piss out of a boot” – I’m not exactly sure where she got that one.

Understand, these are not sometimes expressions. These are her defaults and have been for basically the entirety of her adult life.

Among these phrases is the question, “What ails you?”

In my case, it is usually, “What ails you, my precious darling daughter?” The question is asked in any number of contexts. It can be concerned or mischievous or even exasperated. Most of the time – though not always – it is said with love and patience.

Today, and for the past few days, I’ve been impatient with myself, because I’m ill and being unproductive and generally lackluster. I haven’t been slacking off, necessarily, but there’s no pep in my step. It’s much more of a shuffle.

This morning I woke up and looked in the mirror and had to ask myself, “What ails you?” Even though I am physically unwell – I have an infection and there is water in my ears – I am feeling almost inordinately passive, with regards to being unwell.

It’s not bothering me that I’m missing work and lounging around the house and going to bed at eight.

I know what is physically ailing me. But what is ailing me mentally?

I am in a state of change, but the changes are of my own design and I’m being the author of my own future rather than just the narrator – an important distinction. A lot is going on, because of my choice to start school, but a lot of the process is simply waiting around for papers to be stamped and filed.

I’m not one of those people who get into the car and ask, “Are we there yet?” . . . but I also don’t like to make pit stops once I’m on the road. And right now it feels like I’m on a bus that stops at every gas station and rest stop. For valid reasons, of course, but I really wish this route was a non-stop line.

So, I suppose that my mental ailment is impatience. I am sitting on the bus, straining forward, but being forced to endure a mandatory stop to smell the flowers.

And the flowers are great and all, but I’m craving the sense of arrival.

Terminal Velocity

Just last night, I heard something on TV that made me pause. I actually pointed it out to my Significant Other, because I was so impressed by it and it seemed so brutally true.

I think it was on the FoodNetwork. Pretty sure it was. One of the competition shows that they seem to always play reruns of. A contestant on the show was talking about how his father was his inspiration for trying out for the show, because he’d told him, “Leap, and the net will appear.”

                        Leap, and the net will appear.

I’ve looked the quote up – for the purposes of this post. The man who said it was John Burroughs. And, by and large, the people who seem to have latched onto this quote are in agreement that it doesn’t encourage recklessness, but foresight and imagination.

I don’t know if it’s a sign of my current mental state that this quote struck me as being so poignant, or if I would have noticed it last year, or the year before. I’m sure that it wouldn’t have meant so much to me, six months ago; however, because six months ago I had not really thought about leaping without first seeing the net.

It was only about five months ago that I started to consider that option. And it was only two months ago that I was making a post about my worries related to taking the first step toward that option. The Nursing Information Session at Rasmussen College was the metaphorical Point A on my internal Map to Elsewhere.

It went well, by the way, in case that was something you wondered about. It was not terribly scary or nerve-wracking. And, in retrospect, I was positively silly to have been so concerned about that one small thing, but in retrospect a lot of things seem that way, I suppose.

—*—

Everyone knows the quote about having the best intentions go awry . . . well I’d intended to regularly post throughout my journey. And I still do. But I was waylaid. It occurs to me, now, that such things invariably happen during adventures and along quests, but it still felt like I was blind-sided . . . which, I suppose, is also common.

I posted, two months ago, that my dog was dying. Well, she did die. That thought is still enough to make me cringe and tear-up and feel like my heart is sinking. She died the day after I made that post. It happened without me being there and I didn’t really get the chance to say good-bye to her properly, but I’ve got a picture of her on my desk and I’ve reached the point where I can smile at how goofy it is. She’s got her head half-way in a giant McDonald’s bag – getting high on the smell of fresh french-fries, I guess.

Anyway, that shook me up. And so I didn’t post again, after that, and didn’t really come onto this site very much, because it reminded me that she’d been alive when I last posted. Which made me sad, because I missed her so strongly, still.

But enough time has passed that I no longer feel quite so awful about it. And enough other things have been happening that I haven’t been able to continue to dwell on death and mortality and some of the injustices of those general subjects.

—*—

Now, I guess you could say, I am traveling from Point A to Point B.

The Nursing Information Session is behind me and the Nursing Orientation is ahead of me . . . but there are a few required stops along the way – again, as there often are.

Before I can actually say with any sort of true certainty that I am enrolled in school to earn an associate’s degree in Professional Nursing (basically, before I can say that I am going to school to become an RN), I must first complete Rasmussen’s enrollment requirements – the last of which is actually attending the Nursing Orientation.

I’m fairly sure that all of the requirements are actually pretty standard for any nursing program. I’ve had to upload proof that I am fully immunized (which has included having to get a Flu Shot and a TDP booster), proof that I am physically and mentally capable of meeting the demands of the nursing program (more or less a standard physical with a few questions about my motivation and state of mind), proof that I am CPR certified through the American Heart Association (which was its own adventure and which deserves its own post, actually) . . .  oh! And also proof that I have no criminal history and am not wanted by the FBI or some such.

The only things that I have yet to complete on the handy check-list that they gave me at the Nursing information session are things that I am – mostly – sure I will be able to finish by the end of this next week.

I still need to upload proof that I did actually get the Flu Shot and TDP booster, I need to get my high-school transcripts from the appropriate government office building (which is conveniently on my way to work), I have to complete my second back-ground check (in case the first one missed something?), and I still have to complete my TB skin test.

The TB skin test has actually been the most interesting part of the process, but that’s mainly because it was the thing that I’ve never had before and I did not look it up in advance, and thus did not have any idea what to expect. I will go to have the results of the first portion read tomorrow morning, before work. And then I will return to to the Health Department on Friday of next week to have the second one started.

—*—

I do feel as though I have made the leap. And I made the comment to my Significant Other that I feel as though I’ve reached terminal velocity. I am traveling as fast as I am able to . . . and it feels as though I am now suspended in relative comfort.

There’s still this feeling of breathless anticipation that’s sort of scary . . . but  . . . it’s liberating, too. I’ve made the jump and now gravity is doing what it will. It doesn’t seem reckless to believe there’s a net somewhere just past the edge of my vision.

It feels like it makes perfect sense, actually.

 

Map to Elsewhere

The first sentence is always the hardest.

I’m more familiar with endings than I am with beginnings. All questions are answered within an ending . . . even if the lack of an answer is all that’s left. I can take comfort in the finality of the last line of a story, or the end notes of  a melody. Closure.

But the question of how to begin is – in itself – overwhelmingly open. I wrote approximately a dozen different sentences before I more or less gave up and wrote the above sentence out of sheer creative desperation. It’s the truth, at least, if nothing else.

It doesn’t actually help that this isn’t technically the first post I’ve made under this blog name. I actually had several posts that I wrote a few months ago. But I deleted them all and took a sort of twisted pleasure in that – it was kind of like finally clipping off a stray thread that’d been tickling me all day.

The posts weren’t bad. But they weren’t really anything else, either. At the least, if this attempt isn’t good, it will have been honest. And I believe that there’s always some goodness to be found in utter honesty – even if it’s cloaked in awful discomfort.

*—–*

I actually meant to begin again with this particular blog earlier in the month. I wasn’t aiming for the first, exactly, but I didn’t mean to put it off until the fifteenth, either.

Tomorrow is, actually, a pretty important day for me. It’s the day that I take my first step toward something new . . . which, for me, also means that it feels like the first step off a cliff. I’ve been told the fall isn’t that bad and that there’s enough water at the bottom to make for a safe landing, but . . . it’s still a little nerve wracking.

Okay. It’s a lot nerve wracking.

Tomorrow morning, I will wake up at 8:00 A.M. – even though it’s Saturday which is my only day off with the other that is significant in my life. I usually reserve Saturday morning for lounging around in bed watching HGTV re-runs and listening to him snore, but this is a pretty important morning, so I’ll sacrifice that.

I’ll spend fifteen minutes in the shower and then another ten trying to decide what one should wear when taking a leap of faith. I’ll probably settle on a pair of jeans and a nice shirt – even though I’ve already worn the jeans once this week and don’t particularly like any of my nice shirts. I’ll wear sneakers, because it’s them or what my other refers to as my “stripper heels.” Probably, I’ll wear mis-matched socks, because it’s a comfort thing, for me.

D – my friend of eight years – will pick me up from the apartment at 8:30 . . . which will probably turn into 8:45. He’s jumping off the cliff with me, but we’ll have breakfast first. Probably at a little place downtown called the Lunchbox. He’ll flirt with the waitresses and I’ll chew my nails and drink coffee like a mad-woman.

We’ll kill an hour – him with the flirting, me with the coffee. And then we’ll travel to Point A on my map to . . . ELSEWHERE . . . (If there was a cheesy t-shirt sold in the souvenir shop of ELSEWHERE it would say, “Where things are better than over there!“)

And then I will trust that he knows where the hell we’re going, because he’s very good with directions and I’m pretty bad with them. We’ll get there and I will have drunk so much coffee that I’ll either be sick to my stomach or bouncing off the walls.

And where is there place? Point A on the map to ELSEWHERE? It’s actually something that sounds rather boring, rather mundane, rather . . . simple . . .

It’s the 10:00 A.M. Nursing Information Session being held by Rasmussen College.

See? A long boring name, but . . . I’m pretty fucking nervous.

Never did I ever expect that I would be attending such a thing. At least not with the intent to actually get information about nursing. I mean . . . I never even considered being a nurse until . . . October? I think it was in October.

D had decided – after one of his friends graduated from Rasmussen with a BS in Nursing – that he wanted to do a 180 from being an engineer to a nurse. And I decided – after listening to him go on about it for three months – that it sounded like a good idea.

Or at least like a chance at a good idea.

So. I’ve spent the past three and a half months thinking about this whole concept of me as a nurse. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it really is a potentially good idea – maybe even a potentially great one. It’s not ideal (there is a very disappointed five-year-old me still pouting over the fact that I’m probably never gonna be a ballerina), but it’s actually a lot better than some of the alternatives I can think up.

In a lot of ways I’m scoffing at my fear over this first step. But it really is Point A of an itinerary  that will – hopefully – take me on a journey that lasts at least 18 months – the time that it takes to earn an Associates Degree in Nursing from Rasmussen.

I can’t really think that far ahead, just now. I’m taking this one move at a time.

But . . . this feels like a good thing. Risky and impulsive and terrifying, too, but . . . sometimes change requires that . . . even when it’s change for the better. Maybe especially when it’s change for the better!