14/52 – Drained

Weekends are meant – by and large – to be for recreation, recharging, and relaxation.

Yesterday morning, my SO and I woke up, went for a drive, tried breakfast somewhere new, and then went to browse a flea market. Later, I stayed home and finished a stack of assignments for school that needed to be done during break, and he went to work on his car at a friend’s house. I had three small anxiety attacks.

Today, we went to Wal-Mart first thing this morning, came home and watched TV for a few. I started working on more school assignments and he went back over to work on his car. I started laundry while he was gone. He came home, five hours later, in a bad mood after not making much progress and having lost track of the time. Went out to eat – well, he ate and I sipped a water. Got home, finished laundry – even folded it and put it away. Did the dishes. Figured out how I’m going to juggle money for the next week.

Both of us, rather than feeling recharged and relaxed, are heading into the work week feeling even more drained. I’m so tired right now that I’m basically just rambling and he’s sitting out at the computer, trying to figure out why the wires in his car didn’t do what he needed them to. Tomorrow, the alarm will go off at 6:00 AM and it’ll be work for the next several days.

Sometimes, being a grown-up sucks.

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8/52 – Anxiety v. Panic

I’m sure that a lot people – particularly people who write, it would seem – feel anxiety or panic on a fairly routine basis. Something about those “emotions” seems to drive people to write . . . either to reflect or as a distraction or whatever. I use the quotes there, around emotions, because I’ve never really considered my anxiety an emotion.

I tend to see it more as a conglomeration of things – feelings, thoughts, ambiguous fears.

Panic, on the other hand, I do think of as an emotion – the specific feeling of being both frantic and worried. It’s unpleasant, sure, but I have attacks of anxiety and not of panic, so I don’t take panic to be something complex or harmful, in itself.

This morning, for instance, I’m panicking a little. I realized as I wrote down my assignments for the next two weeks that I’ve made an error. We had to do two community education group projects this quarter – one for Pharmacology and one for Fundamentals. In my brain’s usual way, it blurred those two projects together and I thought they were one in the same. They’re not. I did the one for Pharmacology, but the one for Fundamentals isn’t actually due to be presented until this upcoming Wednesday.

Okay. Not awful. There’s time . . . but . . .

Now I’m at the mercy of my classmates, who apparently formed groups and picked out topics without my realizing they’d done it. I understand how this happened. One of my group members from the Pharmacology project was absent on the day the groups were formed. She was the leader of the group and the only one I know personally, so I just assumed that she knew what was going on. I didn’t worry about, because I thought we’d done. I’m an idiot, sometimes, but that’s part of being human.

I’m not anxious about this. But I’m slightly panicked, because if some group doesn’t take pity on me, this could fail me for this class. Not because my grade can’t take the hit of 30 points – it actually could do that comfortably, based on how it’s weighted – but because the actual presentation is part of our required clinical hours. *gulp*

I’ve sent out an S.O.S. on my class’s FaceBook page. And now I’m waiting and passing the time by blogging and obsessively checking my notifications.

To contrast this panic that I’m currently feeling, I did actually have an anxiety attack both yesterday and two days before. They both started at about 1:00 P.M. and they both lasted about an hour. Sometimes the anxiety is like clockwork, sometimes it’s not. It’s always a surprise. On Wednesday, it was during my afternoon lecture; on Friday, it was at work.

Both of the attacks were quiet, because I’ve learned how to utterly fall apart without making a single sound. Twinlee (not her real name, obviously) noticed that something was wrong, because I wasn’t taking notes and was starring off into space. She uses aroma therapy oils and insisted I use one she calls “Chillaxin’.” I did and was amazed, because five minutes later I felt better. Way better. I’ll have to find out what’s in it.

Unfortunately, at work, I did not have the benefit of aroma therapy. Instead, I just forced myself to work through it. It let up gradually, realizing, maybe, that I wasn’t going to feed into it. I was fine the rest of the day.

Anxiety and I have a strange relationship. I used to medicate with Xanax, but I haven’t had a Xanax in almost six years – not since I was twenty. I’m proud of that, because at one point I was taking triple my prescribed dose, just to try to take the edge off enough for me to go grocery shopping. Now, I still have attacks, but I’ve gotten to the point that they only truly get the better of me once in a blue moon.

Sometimes, I go weeks between attacks and that’s lovely.

Other times, I have them every couple of days . . . not so lovely.

(Also, side note, why is “sometimes” one word, but “other times” is two?)

My SO has awoken. Coffee is poured. The game plan for today is laundry and – hopefully – working on this group project that I went brain-missing for. Also, sex, if my SO has his way. It’s not that I’m not interested in having sex – I like sex, honestly – but there are other things that I would rather be doing, usually. Like watching Let’s Play videos on YouTube, or eating mac n’ cheese, or going for a walk.

Is that odd of me? Maybe.

But really good mac n’ cheese is practically sex on a fork anyway.

6/52 – Clear Credit Cards

I waited longer than some people I know to get a credit card. In fact, I didn’t get my first until the beginning of last year, when I was twenty-four. I didn’t exactly do it through a conventional route, either. I opened a second bank account in order to get a secured card through that bank (which is a national chain, versus my usual state credit union that I use as my primary account and that I’ve banked with since I was seventeen).

That card has a limit of $300. Since it’s secured, I can raise it pretty much at will – up to $1,000 – but I haven’t felt the need to do so. My other card, I got just four months ago and it also has a $300 limit. This past Christmas, I nearly maxed both of those cards out, for the first time. It made me nervous, having them both full, so the first thing I did with my tax return was pay both of them off again.

The other money went straight to my SO, to make up for my portion of the bills, since I’ve been so slammed with school that I’m down to working just 20 hours a week.

I expected to feel relieved once the cards were paid off, and I do. I also feel somewhat accomplished, even though one of the cards has a regular bill paid with it every month and will get hit another $50 within the next couple of weeks.

I did not expect to feel so much temptation.

For instance, I badly want to purchase a new desk. A “big girl desk” that will replace the one that I’ve had for six years. The age of my current desk isn’t really my problem (even though it’s showing in some chipped and peeling paint). My problem is that the desk is simply too small to accommodate all of the stuff that has come with nursing school. At present, the binders I use on a daily basis live on the ottoman, along with my two clipboards, drug guide, backpack, and various office supplies.

My desk is at capacity with just my computer monitor, a lamp, and two letter trays on it.

It’s more of a writing desk that I have forced to be a computer desk, really.

The desk I have my eye on is currently on sale for $289 at Staples. It’s an L-shaped desk which is an instant upgrade, but it also has a hutch built in with ample storage for all of my office supplies, my school books, and even my SO’s desk clutter – bills, keys, ect.

I didn’t expect to want to put something on the credit card that would max it out right away and I’m struggling with the urge to get the desk now. The dilemma of it being on sale versus the fact that I just paid off the card is making me go in circles, trying to decide the smart course of action. Really, I know what that is . . . keep what I’ve got and don’t use what’s meant to be an emergency card on what is clearly not an emergency situation.

Adulting is hard, sometimes. Trying to balance wants and needs.

The desk is a want, clearly. Having the card available for emergencies is a need, clearly.

In eight more months, I will graduate and I will hopefully get a job that will pay me almost double what I make now. And then I will be able to afford to get a new desk, if I still want/need a new desk. Patience. It’s a virtue, apparently.

5/52 – Keep Calm and Make Dean’s List

The grading scale that the college uses for nursing students means that a 94% – 100% is an A, 85% – 93% is a B, 78% – 84% is a C, and anything less than 78% is a fail.

In order to make honor roll, one would have to get A’s and B’s in all the classes taken in a quarter. I’m three quarters in (and seven weeks into my fourth). During my first two quarters, I made honor roll. In the mail the other day, I received a large envelope and was happy, because I hadn’t really paid attention to my final grades last quarter and thought I was getting a third honor roll certificate. Wrong. It was a certificate for Dean’s List.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t do a happy dance around the living room and rush to post the news on my FaceBook page. Making Dean’s List is something I wasn’t expecting and I’m glad that my work is paying off. That said, I’m on track to get Dean’s List for a second time in a row. Part of why this is such a big deal is that there’s a saying people use when discussing grades at my college. “C’s get degrees.”

The mentality being that you can still pass college, pass the NCLEX exam, and start practicing as a nurse, even if you never made a grade higher than a C. Lots of people do that, but I don’t know how to be one of those people. I was student of the month three times in kindergarten. I set my academic performance standards at a young age.

Now that I’ve made Dean’s List, I feel that I can relax a bit more. I’ve reached the highest goal I set for myself and when I graduate – as long as things don’t go awry – it should be magna cum laude. The thought of that is crazy.

Just less than a year ago, I wasn’t even really thinking about going to college.

Things can change pretty quickly, I guess.

3/52

Sometimes you have to rip off the band-aid.

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For the majority of the past ten months, I have spent a lot of time worrying about my job security. I started school in April and I’m set to graduate as an RN this December (on the 17th, to be specific). At first, it was just leaving work an hour early on Friday. Then it was leaving work five hours early on Thursday. And then it was being at the campus for a total of what would have been about eight work hours. Now . . . it’s more like the equivalent of 20 work hours. And they’re unpredictable.

The joys of clinical hours . . . not.

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My boss of almost three years had me fill out a calendar on Wednesday and she firmly told me that she won’t approve any time that’s not on the calendar. I reiterated that I don’t know what days I might have clinical or when exams will be, but she shrugged.

I understand. I really do. She is trying to manage an office full of people that have unique needs regarding scheduling, she’s dealing with a demanding supervisor, and she’s got personal issues of her own. I can’t expect her to continue to accommodate my life.

In that spirit, I just messaged her and explained the situation. I asked, bluntly, if I need to come in tomorrow, or if I should spend the day job hunting. I didn’t mean the question to read sarcastic or rhetorical and it doesn’t. I apologized for the situation, but explained that I can’t just leave the program at this point. I can’t even offer her a proper two week’s notice, because I can only give her information as I get it from the school.

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This is a rambling post. It’s past my bedtime. My SO is already snoring in bed. I’ve also just found out that one of my friends from high-school (who I’ve known for more than ten years) just had to get a medically necessary abortion due to pre-eclampsia. She was given the choice: try to carry to term and die (leaving her three year old daughter motherless), have the baby early and watch it die (she was only eight weeks pregnant), or abort it and donate it to research to try to find a cure (this is her second case of pre-eclampsia).

That puts my problem with work/being fired to shame. Perspective is important.

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As I was channel surfing, looking for something to distract me, I came across the animated version of Anastasia. So much nostalgia. I had two different barbie versions of her (in her “street” wear and her yellow ball gown). My top three favorite movies as a child were Anastasia, My Neighbor Totoro, and Mulan. I’m all about some girl power.

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And she’s sent me six messages. But I don’t want to open them.

I feel like I’m about to have a heart attack over this. I don’t even like this job.

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*Ten minutes later*

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Checked the messages. I’m not fired. How am I not fired? I don’t understand.

 

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.

1/52

There are all kinds of inspirational quotes to be found online regarding staring new and exciting things at the beginning of a new year. Some of them are wise, some of them are trash, most of them are somewhere in between. I, personally, don’t have any.

I feel like I stumbled into the new year, rather than stepped into it.

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I would recap the end of last year – it’s been a month (or two) since my last post – but I really don’t want to. I am so overwhelmed by what’s happening right now that I can’t afford to pause and reflect on the things that have already passed. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, or not, but it is what it is.

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I have just three New Year’s Resolutions, this year.

The first is simple: Write at least one post a week here on this blog. Hence the whole 1/52 title. If I can make it to 52/52 . . . that’s great! If I don’t . . . well, that’s less great.

The second is also simple: Put at least $5.00 a week into savings. This should be doable. In the end, I’ll have $250 in saving . . . . Not a lot, by some standards, but more than I’ve had.

The third is not so simple: Get my associate’s degree in nursing and pass the NCLEX.

I have successfully completed three quarters of school and started the fourth on Monday. I have never felt so terrified in my life. Well, not true. I have felt more terrified numerous times. But! I have never felt more pressure before. This quarter, I am taking just two courses . . . Fundamentals of Professional Nursing and Pharmacology. Each of those courses; however, have three components – Lecture, Lab, and Clinical.

It is – where I am – almost 8:00P.M. on Sunday night. I have managed to complete all of my assignments for the week. I think.This is the first quarter I’ve had that everything is campus based, rather than online. I’m not completing confident that I’ve remembered everything I needed to complete, but I think I have.

Everything that could go wrong this week, has gone wrong.

I didn’t get my official schedule sorted out until the day the quarter started, my SO got sick and now I’m coming down with what he has, the ball python we rescued last month died, my best friend of twelve years said she’s thinking about moving halfway across the country, and my laptop keeps crashing in the middle of my note-taking.

That said . . . I believe in looking for the good in things, too. So here are five things that have gone right or been positive or made me smile within the past week.

  1. My boss at the call center has assured me I won’t be fired due to my schedule.
  2. A Starbucks with a drive-thru opened that’s en route to both campus and work.
  3. The first grade I got of this quarter was a 100%.
  4. My favorite YouTubers both uploaded new content.
  5. I was able to use my new planner for the first time.

Sometimes it’s the little things that are good that make the big things that are bad seem less unmanageable or scary. “Don’t hold your head so low that you can’t see the sky . . .”

“Happy” Birthday to Me.

Birthdays are an interesting part of American culture. You have your first one before you’re even old enough to properly blow out candles and some people say their first birthday is one of their earliest memories. (I don’t personally remember mine, but there’s a picture of me as a baby looking somewhat perturbed by my cake – a two-tiered, white iced thing, with plastic clowns on it . . . I’m not sure what my mother was thinking.)

Birthdays can serve as milestones. Turning thirteen, having a sweet sixteen, getting a license at sixteen. Buying a lotto ticket at 18. Drinking legally at 21. There are all sorts of expectations for birthdays. They’re s meant to be special. A sort of congratulatory party, because you made it through another year of life. Cake, singing, presents . . . and so many cards from so many coworkers who you ordinarily don’t really speak to.

This year – today, actually – I am twenty-five. A quarter of a century old.

I don’t know if I’m supposed to feel mature and responsible, or young and carefree.

Right now I just feel sort of worried.

Last night, I confessed to my boss that I don’t think I’ll be transferred into online courses this semester, which puts me at missing about ten hours of work a week – not counting my exams that also have to be proctored at the campus. I was nervous about telling her and tried to test the waters by noting that my SO had asked, “Will you be fired, if you can’t transfer to online courses?” He didn’t ask that, actually, because he’s not worried.

She immediately assured me, “Oh, no! Little muffin, I wouldn’t do that. We’ll work it out. Life happens sometimes, to all of us.”

I felt like a fifty-pound weight was off my chest . . . but then . . .

I messaged her this morning with the confirmation of the bad news. I can’t transfer to online courses. Essentially, I received a, “Because reasons,” answer from the school on it. I let her know and crossed my fingers that she wouldn’t be angry or upset.

What I get is, “Okay. When you get in, tell me what hours you’ll be out again. I’ll have to let Roger and Jose know. I won’t be able to do anything until after that.”

Wait, what? Last night it was, “Don’t worry, we’ll work through it.”

This morning it’s, “Well, no promises.”

It would be a hell of a birthday present to be fired, I suppose. I’d have the rest of the day off, so I could job hunt. Maybe I’d even get a sympathy hire??? Technically, I do have an in at Dunkin’ Donuts, working the midnight to five shift. I’d be a decorator. And I’d be making $2.00 less and working 15 hours less. Not ideal, no. But better than nothing.

On top of this worry about my job stability (which, ironically, is a worry I’ve had since I first started working when I was nineteen), I’m worried about breaking the bad news to my SO that my tuition costs this semester weren’t properly showing up. Instead of getting back roughly $2,000 next week, I’ll owe $530 by the end of this quarter. On top of still having to pay off the credit card balance of $1,400 from last quarter.

So. This is what student debt feels like.

My birthday is not entirely without bright spots. They’re balancing the negatives (sorta).

Last night, my SO picked up my present, which he’d had on layaway . . . a brand new PS 4, complete with Call of Duty III. I didn’t set it up last night, because a) it wasn’t technically my birthday and b) I had to complete a Health Assessment assignment that took the better part of three hours to finish, because of how detailed it was.

Tonight, my SO and I will hang out at the house, maybe watch the presidential debate, while I study for a quiz tomorrow. I have my fingers crossed that he’ll set up the PS 4 while I’m at work, so that I can play some during study breaks. I also have a birthday dinner with my family on Sunday, so that’s something to look forward to as well.

Falling asleep, last night, I kept telling myself, “This will all be okay. It will all work out.”

My SO – who was really more my Owner, in this context – stroked my hair and “Mmhmm’d” at me, but he didn’t realize that I wasn’t just talking about one thing. I was trying to assure myself that everything will work out . . . school, work, us, me, life.

I don’t know if it will, actually. I feel sometimes that I’ve only stumbled through the past twenty-five years, rather than really living them. But, twenty-five years is more than a lot of people get, which makes me lucky. And here, where I’m at, the weather is great.

So, if I do get fired, at least I’ll be able to walk home while enjoying the day.

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.

Third Quarter Jitters

In the United States, there’s arguably always been a “pioneer” mentality. For all that America is a melting pot of people from different cultures, we’re known collectively as individuals who value foresight, innovation, and the willingness to take a risk . . . or several. Personally, I’ve always been more of a reflector and – while I do appreciate innovation- I tend to take comfort in the familiar.

I’ve never been someone who could be accused of being an adrenaline junkie and “play it safe,” could be my catch phrase. The things I enjoy that some people may consider unnecessarily risky – like riding motorcycles in my “vanilla” life, or breath play in my kinky life – are things that I don’t actually view as dangerous.

I’ve been in only one motorcycle accident, but three car wrecks.

And I’ve never felt my life was at stake during breath play.

Realistically, I can count the number of risks I’ve taken on one hand. And I’m not talking about small scale stuff like eating raw cookie dough or getting an asymmetrical hair cut. I’m talking about the big, life-changing stuff. The stuff that you can’t sleep on, because the opportunity won’t be around come sunrise. The stuff that’s now or never.

I consider one of those risks my decision to go into school for nursing. For someone else, that type of decision might not have been a big deal, or they might have felt that they had plenty of time to consider the option. Hell, they might’ve not even lost any sleep over it.

For me, it was like deciding to jump out of a tree without knowing whether or not I’d fall or fly. I threw myself out into open space and couldn’t consider the possibility that I might not succeed, because the other alternative was splat.

Even now, two quarters (or six months) into school, I still feel like I might just be floating on a thermal. I haven’t looked down for fear of the height I’m at. All I can do is keep my eyes closed and hope that my flailing is actually doing something. I know I’ll have to come back to Earth eventually, but the question of whether or not it’s a graceful landing or one that’s disastrous is yet to be determined. I don’t even have a parachute, or plan b.

So far, I’ve taken some standard prerequisite courses and some career specifics courses. I’ve passed Structure and Function, Human Growth and Development, Dimensions of Nursing Practice,  Anatomy I and II (and the accompanying labs), Algebra, and English. I haven’t gotten anything lower than a B, overall. But I’m still finding myself nervous about this next quarter. And I’m not quite sure why.

This quarter, I’m scheduled to take Conflict Resolution, Introduction to Microbiology (and the lab), Nutritional Principles in Nursing, and Allied Health (and the lab). It’s a total of 13 credit hours – plus the Conflict Resolution course, which is competency based and technically counts as an additional 4 credits. My scrubs came in the mail on Friday and so did my brand new “nursing” shoes. (Sketchers: Slip-Resistant Relaxed Fit women’s shoes in white – AKA: The Most Expensive Shoes I’ve Ever Bought.)

I think the fact that this is the first quarter I’ll have to wear my scrubs is making this “real” to me. Prior to this – despite having taken Dimensions of Nursing Practice – it just felt like school. It didn’t feel directionless necessarily, but it didn’t feel like the end goal of becoming a nurse was something tangible. Now it is and that’s a little terrifying.

Also, in that same fashion, this is the first quarter in which I will have classes at the campus, beyond just my labs for anatomy. I’m not sure why, but having a lab at the campus feels different than having an actual class there. Possibly, that’s because the labs weren’t overseen by an actual teacher, in the stricter sense of the word. They were merely supervised by someone who was there largely just to prevent us from damaging campus property and/or improperly handling the dead cats we used for our dissections.

Another reason I’m more worried about this quarter than the other quarters might have to do with the fact that D – who was the one who largely encouraged me to start school – has intentionally flunked himself out. He couldn’t handle balancing work and school, he got placed on academic probation, and he just didn’t bother showing up for his final exams or last week of classes. He still intends to finish school . . . but he doesn’t plan to start back up until next fall – at which time I’ll (presumably) be just a quarter away from graduating.

The prospect of graduating is an interesting one as well – seeing as I left high school to get my GED at the start of my senior year of high school. And, given that graduating school is only part of what it takes to actually become a nurse, I’m even more nervous.

Overall, I’m not sure what to expect from the next week. I won’t have a campus class until Thursday. I don’t even know which of the two campuses in town I’ll be going to. I’m not sure how my boss will respond when I actually am out for a cumulative day (between Thursday and Friday). I don’t know what the first day of classes will be like. A part of me is hoping that it will be like high school, where day one is just a day to introduce yourself and get the list of what you’ll need for the other weeks of the class. That’s a little nerve wracking too though, because I’m not one that’s ever found making friends to be easier and I never know what to saw during the introduction phase of things.

I’m trying to not over think things.

I don’t want to get so caught up in looking for potential hurdles that I end up tripping over my own shoe-laces.