Common Questions

I’ve been asked two questions more than any others since becoming a nurse and being hired at the hospital. The first question actually started when I announced my decision to go to school for nursing and it is, “Why do you want to become a nurse?” The second question started only after I started at the hospital and it is, honestly two questions itself. They are, “Is working only 12 hour shifts hard or do you like having more days off?”

Now, most of my family and friends don’t know that I blog. I tell them I journal and I do tend to keep this blog rather like a journal. I try to consider things from a content perspective, but I do also write about things that are predominantly on my mind or that I feel are personally beneficial to me or that I need to work through.

The above questions fall into all those categories rather nicely and I felt that now was a good time for me to craft this post, because I’m also having something of a “quiet” day . . . I work tonight (a 12, no less), but I couldn’t force myself to sleep any later this morning. As a compromise, I’m at least spending my time awake relaxing with light activities, rather than bustling around cleaning and such. Blogging counts as light, in my book.

So, the first question. Why did I become a nurse? It’s not a simple answer and I’m the type of person that can’t justify making a big life change without having mounds of reasons to back it up. I first thought about becoming a nurse just a few months before starting school for it and it was the result of some light peer pressure . . . one of my friends was about to start school and he essentially wanted my company. In listening to him talk about the benefits of it, I started to recognize that it was something I was interested in and may be a good fit for me.

The benefits that I saw included a flexible schedule, the option to work nights, the pay, the short degree completion time, job security for the foreseeable future, a variety of possible specialties, the ability to get advanced degrees, and the focus on helping people.

You’ll notice that most of those things are practical and that the last is, perhaps, the most commonly anticipated answer. Answering the question, “Why did you become a nurse?” with, “To help people,” is – for lack of a better word – conventional. People expect people who become nurses to have a drive and a desire to help people. They also expect that to be their primary reason for having become a nurse and they tend to be put off when it isn’t the first reason that’s brought up.

I knew that on an instinctual level and I think it’s related to the issue of quality of care. If a nurse become a nurse to help people, she is then more likely to provide high quality care. If a nurse become a nurse for the money, she is more likely just to go through the motions. . . . Now, I don’t personally believe that. Not at all. But some people do and I can see where they’re coming from, too.

Those things said, I do also have a strong desire to help people. Since becoming a nurse, I’ve caught myself talking of my patients and saying, “My people had a good day today,” or “I’m sad that I couldn’t do x,y,z for my people.” While my patients are under my care, I do think of them as my responsibility. They are unwell, stuck in their rooms, going through an emotional roller-coaster, sometimes on the verge of dying . . . and if I can get them a juice cup or a pain pill or an extra pillow, then I feel a moral obligation to do so. If I’m not able to, I feel what I’ve been told in an inordinate amount of guilt over it.

I am naturally submissive and helping others is what I do without thinking, no matter where I’m at or what time of day it is. It’s not the only reason I became a nurse, but I don’t think I would have chosen nursing, if I didn’t care about helping people.

As for the more practical reasons, those are kinda more self-explanatory. The hospital I’m at functions on a bi-weekly pay schedule and I work three 12-hour shifts a week, including two mandatory weekend days. I was able to get my A.S. degree in 18 months. I live in Florida and our aging population means that care-takers/nurses will continue to be very in demand. If I get bored of the oncology/med-surg unit I’m with now, I can transfer to one of the dozen other units in the hospital or go into a private practice or teach at a college. I can go as far as getting a PhD in nursing.

Essentially, I became a nurse, because the pros outweighed the cons.

(There are cons, but this post is already getting a little lengthy, so I’ll save those.)

The second question(s) also happen to relate to my reasons for becoming a nurse. Not all nurses actually work three 12-hour shifts a week. Not even all nurses who work in hospitals do – though my hospital does require at least 3/12’s a week for full-time nurses.

Personally, I really like working three days a week . . . even though I work 12 hours on those days. I enjoy having near constant “long weekends.” It’s good for my peace of mind to know that I only have to make it through two shifts before I get at least one day off. For example, I worked yesterday and will work tonight . . . and will then get four days off. This schedule has allowed me to get caught  my apartment in order and renew my work on my novel and spend more time with family.

I do feel that, from the perspective of a day shift nurse, I don’t think I’d be able to be as productive during an eight hour shift. Most mornings, I arrive at 6:30 AM to review my patient group (including their labs, medications, and histories). I take report from the night nurse from about 7:00 – 7:30 AM. In the half hour between 7:30 and 8:00 AM, I look up any medications I’m unfamiliar with or any conditions I don’t know about. 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM is dedicated to passing medications . . . and that time can easily extend to almost 11:00 AM, depending on my patient load and their medications.

After the medication pass and until I take lunch (usually around 1:00 PM), I am placing calls to physicians, working with PT/OT to get my patients up and moving, talking with my patients and their families, orchestrating discharges with case management, and asking my coworkers a dozen different questions as I try to learn more.

In the two or three hours after lunch, until about 4:00 PM, I am doing more of the same. This time is also usually when admissions arrive, assessments get charted, and patients need to be transported for procedures or testing. At 4:00 PM, afternoon med passes start and they generally take about an hour and a half. Evening charting can begin at 5:30 and includes documenting the patient’s intake/output, reviewing recommendations from their specialists, and putting in last minute orders.

At 6:30, I go around to all of my patients and let them know shift change will occur in about half an hour. I check to see if they need any pain or nausea medications, make sure that they have full water pitchers and snacks, check their IV fluids to make sure they won’t run out during the night nurse’s first hour or two, and let any family know that visiting hours will end at eight (they can stay later, but won’t be allowed back in until the following morning, if they leave the facility).

From 7:00 PM to around 7:30, I give report to the night nurse, wrap up any charting I didn’t finish, and make sure that the night nurse has a fully stocked cart for their shift. Thankfully, I live only five minutes from work and am usually camped out on the couch by 8:00 PM at the latest.

It makes for a very full and busy day, but it would be hard to accomplish as much in four fewer hours. Passing medications literally accounts for up to four hours in a 12 hour shift. Prep time, for me, equals another hour. Charting takes up to two or three hours. The other hours in the day are dedicated to other patient care tasks. It’s daunting, no lie, but I do like the concept of having a full 12 hours to work on things. Sometimes, it feels like all of that is spent with just one or two patients who are critical or mentally unstable. A lot of the time, a problem that happened at ten or eleven in the morning is forgotten by shift change and I don’t think of it until I’m already home.

And, so, I’ve answered the questions and now must seek out some brunch. Hopefully, I will be sleepy enough to rest for another couple of hours, so that I’m fully functional for my shift tonight. And, hopefully, it will go well and tomorrow morning, I’ll come home and be able to post something insightful about the differences between nights and days.

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Confidence v. Competence

Confidence: A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s own appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. Competence: The ability to do something successfully or efficiently.

One can have either of those, without having the other. I’ve seen high levels of confidence accompany a mediocre performance. I’ve also seen experts who still harbor self- doubts. Generally speaking; however, it’s expected that increased competence leads to increased confidence. That’s the theory, anyway.

As a new nurse, my confidence in my ability to perform skills competently is somewhat . . . . shall I say, lacking? It’s not non-existent, but it’s certainly shaky. I question myself almost constantly, because I’m worried about the potential of making a mistake. I even hesitate when performing skills that I’m fairly comfortable with – like taking medications out of the system, reconstituting antibiotics, and documenting things on the computer.

I may be competent at those things, but confidence hasn’t come along, yet.

Other things, that I feel less comfortable doing or have only done with the supervision of my preceptor, are enough to make me doubt my decision to become a nurse. Those same things, once done, also make me feel positively elated.

My last two shifts were very good ones, all things considered. I got to try some new skills and I succeeded at some others without help for the first time. I hung an IV antibiotic entirely on my own. I called a doctor’s office to pass on a patient’s request. I gave report on my two patients at the end of the day and the oncoming nurse didn’t have to hunt me down for additional information. My preceptor guided me through de-accessing a port, drawing blood from a PICC line, and documenting the phone call to the doctor’s office.

I did well enough that she’s declared that I’ll have three patients during my next shift, which happens to be tomorrow. I only had two for a total of three days. That’s a good thing, because I’ve only got another seven weeks of orientation to go through before I’ll be expected to be able to handle six patients more or less on my own.

I say more or less, because even the nurses who have been on the floor for months or years still ask each other and even more experienced nurses for help. During one shift, I saw a nurse ask another whether or not it was appropriate to give a patient all three blood pressure meds that were ordered. On another, I saw two nurses reach out to a third for help starting an IV that they didn’t feel comfortable trying. Another day, a nurse on the floor asked for help starting a Foley catheter, because it’d been months since her last and she was worried that she didn’t remember all the steps.

The patient that needed blood drawn from her PICC line was also the patient I hung the IV antibiotic for. The blood draw came first and my preceptor talked me through it. I have to admit that it wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined it would be. The steps are fairly simple, really, and I could write them out now just from memory. Hanging the IV antibiotic was actually harder for me, because I’m intimidated by the pumps and the tubing. It doesn’t feel simple to me, for some reason. Yet, it’s essential that I figure out how to work the pumps competently.

After I did get it hung and her connected and was cleaning up my mess from the process (alcohol wipes, tubing wrappers, and empty flushes), she said, “You know, you did that quite well. You’ll be a very good nurse, once your confidence goes up. You know how to do the things, you just need that confidence in yourself.”

I thanked her, sincerely, and told her I’d be back to check on her in a while. She’d been a nurse for thirty years (half of that time spent in Ireland, where she’s from) and we’d been having micro-conversations throughout the shift. She’s a fan of medical texts, wants her master’s degree in alternative medicine, and likes cats.

She thinks that, one day, I’ll be just as good a nurse as any other.

I hope she’s right. I really, really do. I’d hate to disappoint.

Words, of course, can have multiple meanings. Context and intent are important. Another definition of confidence is actually, the feeling or belief that one can rely upon something; firm trust. It’s similar to the other definition, but somehow strikes a stronger chord in me. I don’t merely want confidence insofar as it means to feel self-assured . . . I want it insofar as I want to feel that I can trust myself, rely upon myself.

Of course, trust takes time to build between people. Why should I think that it won’t take time to build with myself? I’ve already come a long way.

I haven’t been brought to tears by anything that’s happened at the hospital. I’ve learned a ton and I’m still learning a ton. I’ve made a few small “mistakes” – quotes, because my preceptor says they’re not actually mistakes – but I keep trying and am getting better.

Ah, but now this feels like one of those cheesy 60-second commercials for Building-a-Better-You in just five minutes a day. Get the handbook for just $9,99 plus shipping and handling! Guaranteed to boost your confidence, improve your mood, and brighten your outlook, or your money back!

Presented to you by the fabulous Billy Mays. Duh.

Selfish

Resolution has a couple of predominant meanings and associations. To be resolute is to have made a firm decision about something. To resolve something is to settle it. Interestingly enough, being resolute does not automatically resolve things.

My decision to accept the oncology nursing position is resolute.

The conflict that creates with my acquaintance is not resolved.

Per my last,  I was torn between accepting the oncology position and holding off in order to appease an acquaintance who was trying to get me a job at the hospital he works for. The real conflict was between career practicality and loyalty to someone I know.

In the end, the career practicality won out and I’ve decided that’s also being loyal to myself and what I want. It took a while to come to terms with that; however, because what I want is usually to do what other people want me to do. I am a go-with-the-flow person a large majority of the time. It’s hard for me to admit when I want to do something that isn’t in keeping with that aspect of my personality. Being “selfish” – or even just being viewed as being “selfish” – is something that I strive against, normally.

After all, I’m going into nursing, because I like to help others. It’s what I’ve always done. I know I will make a good nurse, because of that. But . . . my nursing school instructors all stressed the value of being a little selfish. If you only think of others, if you only act with their interests in mind, you’re limiting yourself to their ambitions for you.

For example, my acquaintance wants me to get hired at the hospital he works for, because he believes I can help to improve their image. He literally said, “When you get an interview, make sure to present yourself as energetic and excited to learn. We’re all so beat down every day that we thrive off of new  enthusiasm.”

I get that and I would love to be responsible for revitalizing an entire hospital system single-handedly, but . . . I’m not a cheerleader or mascot or a PR representative. By accepting that role, I would feel committed to it. I would burn out in trying to spark others. Or, even if I thrived, it would be at the expense of my other goals and wants.

In contrast, by being “selfish” through accepting the position I’m actually excited about, I am starting on a path of my own choosing. First, oncology nursing while I complete my bachelors and my master’s degrees. Say, three to five years there. In the meantime, my other half and I are saving like mad to buy land and build a house. Once those balls are rolling and I have my master’s, I go into teaching nursing while still working PRN at the hospital. Or, I decide to do travel nursing for a while to pay off everything rapidly. Eventually, when I’m done with working in the hospital, I switch to working at Hospice while I teach. Some day, I’ll be able to comfortably retire.

That’s the story I want to write. It’s why I can say that I’m resolute regarding my choice, even though the conflict regarding it isn’t resolved. Even if things change completely, because life is unpredictable like that, I’ll at least be comfortable with my reasoning. I’ll know I did make a choice that was good for me – selfish, maybe, but not in a bad way.

And, even though I’m still sick with a combination of the flu and a cold, I’m happy right now and looking forward to the future with a real sense of curiosity.

If that’s not a good way to live, then I don’t know what is.

Tacos are Simpler

Conflict . . . a struggle between two opposing forces.

Or, the thing that drives the plot.

An individual life, much like an individual story, is built upon conflict and the reaction to it. Page turners are those books that build up the suspense surrounding a conflict. Most of us are familiar with the concept of “binge watching” a TV show for the same reason.

Conflicts create questions. So. Many. Questions.

Who will get what they want? What will they do to get it? How will things be affected?

A couple days ago, I posted about how I got an amazing job offer after my very first interview in the field. It’s the hours I want, more money than I’d hoped for, and on an oncology unit of a well-respected hospital. The elation was tangible.

Enter, conflict.

I have a friend – an acquaintance, really – who works at a competing hospital that is literally right across the street from the one I was offered a job at.

I did also, in fact, apply at this other hospital, at the same time. But, two weeks later, I still have not gotten so much as a, “Thank you for your application,” memo.  That’s okay.

But . . . I posted on a certain social media site that the interview went well and the aforementioned acquaintance responded that he hoped he’d be called for a reference. Wanting to be tactful, I sent him a private message explaining that the position was at the other hospital, but that I appreciated his congratulations nonetheless.

He replied and asked me to hold off on accepting the position until he could get me an interview. He asked my top three unit choices. He wanted to know how much I was offered. He said he could get me what I wanted, no problem.

I gave him the information. As my other half put it, I didn’t really need to give the other hospital my answer right away. A bid war could be a good thing, for me. And there is a certain appeal in the thought of working at a somewhat lesser hospital, because maybe I could make a positive change there. Plus, it’s the one I was literally born at! And he is a friend . . . in a manner of speaking . . . I can hold off . . .

Well. I did. But –

Enter, more conflict.

I received an email this morning from the oncology unit’s HR rep. Asking me to please respond to the offer letter that I was sent to verify that I do, in fact, accept it. I need to do this by then end of the business day in order to reserve my slot for the upcoming orientation cycle and set the ball rolling with the other paper work.

Alrighty, then. A bird in hand is better than two in the bush, as my mother says.

Still, as a courtesy, I let the acquaintance know. I messaged him and explained that they needed my response. The call he assured me I’d get yesterday never came. The neurology position he told me about isn’t listed in the application portal. Still no word from the application I did submit. I let him know I truly do appreciate his efforts and told him I’d still consider the hospital in the future or if something caused this offer to fall through.

He sent back, “Hold off for a second.”

Commence nail biting.

I sent back that I will. I also pointed out – politely – that none of my other classmates who applied for the same hospital have heard back either. I noted that his own wife, who became a nurse two years ago, ended up getting a job elsewhere due to the same issues. I admitted that it concerns me, because I’m worried it indicates a company-wide problem that hasn’t been corrected in the two years since she had the problem herself.

He hasn’t seen the message, yet. It’s been about forty-five minutes . . . .

Stay tuned, for what happens next!

… … …

And, now, back from the break!

Nothing. Still no word.

There are different things that different people do when confronted with a conflict. Some people take a “hero’s” approach and confront the problem head-on. Others, take the “coward’s” path and avoid the issue in hopes it will in turn avoid them or disappear.

A lot of people, if not most people, do a bit of both.

The point is, there are options.

In fact, for some, this particular situation may not even constitute a conflict. There may be no struggle in choosing a path to follow. Their motives or values may be such that the way forward is clear to them.

One person may go, “I’ve given this person a chance to follow-through with getting me in at Hospital B, but they haven’t, so I’ll go with Hospital A.” This is a practical choice.

A different person may go, “I know this person, so I’ll trust their judgement and pass on the offer from Hospital A.” This is more of a loyalist choice.

Some other person may go, “I think I’ll have a taco while I wait a while longer for something to happen, one way or another.” This is a hungry procrastinator’s choice.

Currently, my conflict is that I’m torn between option one and option two. If I’m being perfectly honest, I would love to just accept the original offer. I want to make it official on that social media site everyone shares too much on. I’m ready to make it real. On the other hand, I don’t want to ignore the effort that the acquaintance is making on my behalf. As some people who have maybe read my other posts know, I’m a submissive individual in about every sense. It kinda ups the ante when it comes to the loyalty I feel towards people I know . . . even when they’re people I don’t like particularly well.

No matter how I look at it, personally, I feel the right choice is to thank him again for his effort and then sign my name to the acceptance letter. Despite my feelings of owing him for his time and help – neither of which I actually asked for.

The conclusion.

If this were a movie, you’d get a close up of me typing my name in the “sign here” field. You’d see me take a deep, bracing breath. And then you’d see me hit the “submit” button and collapse backwards onto the couch as if I’d just run a mile.

If this were a book, the chapter might end with a cheeky little, “Well, now that’s done . . . but how will I avoid Mr. M for the next few decades worth of fourth of July barbecues?”

This is neither; however, and I’m going to go ahead and have some tacos.

Epilogue.

Technically, I’m giving him until lunch.

So he’s got another hour and twenty minutes to reply to me.

I’ll post the exciting conclusion in a sequel post, so look forward to that, ya’ll.

Motivational Monday Marsupial

I grew up mostly shopping at Wal-Mart, but every so often my dad – never my mom – would take my sister and I into K-Mart. I distinctly remember Saturday afternoons spent eating greasy cheese pizza and drinking cokes while shopping K-Mart’s limited food selection and miscellaneous other goods. Like a lot of things from my childhood, K-Mart is now coming to an end. The one in my town will be closed within a couple of months and this means that they are having massive sales.

With this in mind, my SO and I went to K-Mart last weekend with one intention.

We needed to pick out and purchase a new comforter for our bed.

This was long overdue, because we’ve lived together for three years and never done this one thing. We were successful in finding one – thought it took a bit of compromising.

I did; however, find something far more important. You see, K-Mart still has 50-cent machines that sell stickers. On a whim, I shuffled stuff around in my back-pack until I found two quarters, which I then fed to the machine, whilst giggling like a five year old.

In exchange for a mere fifty cents, I got . . . this.

psm1_large

It now lives on my desk, at work.

I’ve named him Alfred.

Starting Over, Once Again

I love blank pages.

I love hitting the “new game” button.

I love the pause before the next song starts.

______________________

Except, you know . . . when I don’t.

Mornings when getting out of bed takes an act of congress.

Times when I’m too afraid to begin typing, because I can’t follow my own plot.

______________________

Last year was an uphill climb. I thought that New Year’s Day was the summit. I was wrong. Now, nine days later, I understand that I actually just made it to the mountain.

That said . . . it was still a pretty long year. I did accomplish something major, too – even though I abandoned my new year’s resolutions less than halfway through the year.

I graduated from college with an Associates Degree in Nursing. In – hopefully – just a month or so, I’ll be taking the state board exam (NCLEX) and getting a grown-up job in an actual career field. In six months (or less), I’ll start my bachelor’s program. In a year and a half, I’ll graduate from that and add teaching clinical part-time to my income. By the time I’m thirty (three and a half years), I’ll have my masters and be doing I-don’t-know-what. It all seems so structured and so easy.

But, right now, I’m still wearing my pajamas. I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee. I haven’t washed my breakfast dishes. I’m watching Buzz Feed videos on YouTube in a never-ending loop of 30-day workout challenges, decorating hacks, and food porn.

I have to leave for work in about fifteen minutes. In a couple of months, I’ll be a Registered Nurse. Right now, I’m still working in a call center and asking people to please rate their experience on a scale of 1-10. I’m keeping my typing speed up and skills up, not by writing research papers or a best-selling novel, but by typing out customer complaints and proof-reading my newest co-worker’s interviews.

Lah-dee-freakin’-dah!

 

15/52 – Pulse Check

“You know, the downward spiral is essentially a chain reaction.” – Jacob, from Ink

I can’t really grasp that it’s been three months since the last time I posted, but somehow or other that’s the amount of time that has slipped past. School, work, sleep, repeat.

It’s the first week of my two week break from college, but all that means is that I actually get to work 40 hours for the next two weeks. Which is great, really, though I’m daydreaming of a proper vacation. Disney, the Bahamas, New York City . . . away.

Things are more or less the same as they have been. Same friends, same anxieties, same dysfunctional family dynamic that always seems to work out in the end. I ended last quarter with an A and two B’s, which I’m okay with. I’m a little more nervous about this upcoming quarter. Nursing II and Maternal/Newborn are my only classes, but they each also have a clinical and lab component. I’ll be at the campus two full, eight-hour days during the first week. I’m fine with that, as long as it gives me a chance to get organized.

I’ve been thinking more about six months from now, when I graduate, but I need to remember that I still have a million and one little steps to take before I reach that point.

One of my many goals for these two weeks off include getting a schedule nailed down for this, my sadly neglected blog. I enjoy writing, as much as I enjoy reading, but I’ve gotten so caught up in school that the only of either I manage is related to . . . . well, school.

I also want to finish my competency Humanities course (which consists of three papers).

And it would be great if I could get around to deep cleaning the apartment . . .

4/52 – WAD and lots of Coffee

I don’t quite know what’s worse . . . mentally prepping yourself to jump out of a moving vehicle, or actually doing it. I was all prepared to jump out of the car going 80 on the interstate . . . but then I didn’t have to and I was almost disappointed.

Okay. Not “almost.” I was disappointed.

I managed to convince myself that being fired wasn’t bad . . . and even that it would be a positive thing, like an adventure. I’d be forced to change again, to learn something new.

(Granted I’m in college and learn new things literally every day, but you get the gist.)

Instead, I am still working at the call center. There is; however, a plus side.

Now, having been so wrung out and then excited at the prospect of being fired, I’ve lost my sense of WAD – Work Associated Dread. I no longer walk into the office each morning feeling like I’m lugging around a ball and chain of obligations and responsibilities.

Interesting, this has resulted in an marked increase in my productivity. I’m no longer so freaked out over the thought of making mistakes and getting fired that I now complete work more quickly. And it’s actually higher quality work, because part of what can be considered a “mistake” at my office is taking more than five minutes on any one call. Now that I don’t pay attention to the clock, I’m finding that I finish calls in that window, but I check them over more thoroughly before I send them off.

It’s odd, but I’m not unhappy about it.

This week at the office has been long and I’m glad that it’s Friday. I’ve been at the campus for a total of 12 hours, at a clinical site for another 8 1/2, and at work for 21 1/4 hours.So, it’s Friday morning and I’ve put in 41.75 hours between school and work. Today will be another 7.50, which means I’ve had a fifty hour “work week.”

It’s not as bad as it could be and I keep reminding myself of that.

Still, it takes lots of coffee.

*Also, that owl is the front of my coffee cup. It’s quirky.

3/52

Sometimes you have to rip off the band-aid.

________________________________________________________________

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.

_________________________________________________________________

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.

_________________________________________________________________

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.

_________________________________________________________________

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.

_________________________________________________________________

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.

_________________________________________________________________

*Ten minutes later*

_________________________________________________________________

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

 

“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.