Attention Deficit

Listening to a book on CD as I drive to school, I think about all the things I am going to do when I’m a nurse. Wear rubber gloves. Wear scrubs. I will put my hands on icky things. Help people. Maybe I could volunteer somewhere now since I have to wait for the rescue squad to get my background check and it could take weeks. I don’t know why I’m bored. I’m very busy.

I pass a cop as I order my iced coffee and think would it be interesting to work in a jail. Maybe I could volunteer to help women prisoners who can’t read learn. But I have my own little women to help. Maybe I should just focus on them and school for now.

School is hard. I am working fast in math busting through problems about copper alloy concentrations and freight train speeds. It’s really difficult but I’m learning it. Will I remember it?

Psychology, something that you would think would come easy to me, does not. I got a D on my second test. This one was multiple choice and much harder than the open book written one I took prior. I don’t think I studied enough. I didn’t realize the date was approaching so quickly. I have to be practically perfect on everything from here out.

Philosophy is mind numbingly dull and I wonder what I was thinking when I chose it. I wish I’d taken Spanish instead. The professor drones on, pauses for questions, but what is there to ask? Plato’s theory of forms makes no sense to me. An apple is only an apple because we recognize its “appleness” makes not a lick of sense to me. An apple is a fucking apple because it’s an apple.

I’m taking a “student development” course that was called study skills 20 years ago. I remember because I took it back in ’95. Now it’s modernized and online instead of in a classroom. Critical thinking, goal setting and time management. If I haven’t figured these out in 39 years, am I going to now?

Maybe I should apply at Kroger and work a couple of nights a week. They’re hiring. Trapped in a grocery store for hours with no view of the skyline sounds like torture. Nevermind. I’d probably just eat my profits anyway.

I’ll think of something. Found a Lilly Pulitzer sweater at the Goodwill the other day. I really need an online store of my own. Got to ask my friend how I set that up again. It was like this blog thing but for selling. I could sell shit with witty little descriptions and the proceeds could feed into my checking account. Hmm, something to think about.

For now it’s back to ratios, increases, and decreases. The guy next to me reeks of cigarette smoke. I should move but I won’t.

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Building the New

socrates focusOnce upon a time my wishes happened every day at 11:11. Sitting in a cubical doing mind-numbingly dull work for 12 bucks an hour, I desperately wished to escape that boring existence and trade it for something more meaningful. Year after year, my wish was for a baby and then that happened times three and I have won the wish lottery. Wishes change and these days I’m wishing for success and a challenging career that never bores. As I blow out the pumpkin spice candles, I wish. Call it what you want – prayer, meditation, focus, wishes – it’s all the same. You’re focusing your energy on what you want and bringing it towards you.

In philosophy I’m learning about metaphysicians, monism, and pluralism. We discuss the theory of love and strife and how everything is in a constant state of flux. I get it. Years ago, I connected with a friend who talked metaphysics at length and drew me into his ideas and now here they are once again and yet I have changed and stayed the same. Chopped my hair, lost a job, started back to school and everything has done a 180 but I’m still that girl. I’ve been brought back together by love and suffered strife that tore me apart and tried to destroy.

My own strife hit two years ago when my world shattered as my mind saw and heard things that weren’t there. The shards from that explosion still penetrate even now and irk like a piece of glass in my foot I can’t get out. But love saved me as my friends comforted and my children returned home.

I drive by the white house with the big front porch and more windows than I can quickly count. Ferns move gently and patterned stripes emerge over the verdant meadow behind it. In my mind, my family is living there: family dinners around a huge table, pretty bedrooms for my daughters, a bathroom for each of them. It’s 10:10 and my wish is all of that.

Then my brain does a flip and I think of how by the time I can realistically obtain it I’ll likely be five years from 50. Will there be any sense in even a 15 year mortgage on a dream house at that age? Would my children even care? They’re blooming where they’ve been planted and I’m making lemonade out of lemons as the cliches go. Things are not a good enough reason to do what I am doing.

“Study well, study swell, study, study, study,” my aunt chanted when I was 16, “if you want nice things.” I didn’t listen. Learning came easily to me and so I didn’t work very hard. Instead, I sat down at the table with the “cool kids” and in doing so changed the projection of my entire life without realizing it. I later took classes to become an office worker not attending the college I really wanted.

If you’re not making plans, you’re planning to fail is the mantra for people losing weight and adopting a healthier lifestyle. I’m not much of a planner. The wheels in my head don’t gravitate to making to do lists and keeping schedules. Taking four classes, I rotate through them like I’m on a hamster wheel. Math today, Psych tomorrow.

Kindness, compassion, empathy, intelligence, and common sense are all things I think would be essential for a nurse. I remember the nurse giving me my meds in the hospital. She took my mind off my situation telling me how she designed clothes as a hobby.

“Why don’t you just quit and do that?” I asked naively through my haze.

“Because it doesn’t pay $35 an hour with benefits,” she answered too fast as she sorted the pills.

Sitting in the day area with schizophrenics, dementia patients, and drug addicts, I calculated what she makes a year and thought about how so many creative people put their aspirations aside for practicality. I watched the TV as if I were staring at a burning light as my wheels spun.

I wish I were able to tell those people leaving the hospital every day how it does get a little easier. The voices fade and you will stop crying so much. You will walk through the places that terrorize you with memories, I’d say to them. Add to that flashbacks so vivid it will recreate scenes as awful as A Clockwork Orange but it won’t hurt so much the more you do it. Considering a career in psychiatric nursing, I wonder if it’s possible to put myself back there on the other side.

A journey of a thousand miles beginning with just one step. I conquer things I once learned easily one assignment, one lecture, one test at a time by focusing on what I want. I won’t stop wishing on clocks and candles until I arrive.

 

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First Day Jitters

schoolinsanity Today was my first day back to (community) college. I’m hoping to get accepted to the nursing program and it starts with baby steps, aka prerequisites. I have a friend keeping my preschooler for me. I’ve got my books already purchased. Little did I know this wasn’t the brightest move. I’ve got my schedule printed and on my phone so I know where I’m going.

I get there around 10ish and find there are no parking spots except for the one where you have to walk 100 miles uphill both ways with steps to get to your class. I thought it would be prudent to park behind where my second class was so I could get there faster since I have barely an hour until I have to be home. 

My first class is an intro philosophy course taught by a good looking man probably around my age. He’s got a Spanish accent. (Oh, hello there, sexy!) I couldn’t tell if the class was already in session or not as there was a crowd of kids sitting in there already. I found a seat in the back and felt my confidence fade. Everyone is so young! I feel like I could be their mother and I probably could. As Sr. Suave drones on about the syllabus, I take in how many people are surrounding me. Turns out there are 26 people and 15 of them are boys. 

Señor begins by asking us to introduce ourselves. A few of the kids dream of careers like “criminal profiling” and “film”. Several are fresh out of high school. The guy with his laptop beside me stands up and tells everyone he’s dreamed of a career in law enforcement ever since Die Hard. One girl admits her ultimate goal is to be a drug dealer (i.e. pharmacist). No, she actually says “drug dealer”. She has beautiful skin but is wearing acid washed jeans and I keep flashing back to ’85. Another very pretty girl announces she is a model but also waitresses. No less than 8″ of her flat, tanned bare abdomen is revealed to the class as she giggles while also revealing her hip bones. I haven’t seen my hip bones in forever! Do they exist? This is something I philosophize about.

One guy is a paralegal, he’s cute, and he’s changing careers to physical therapy I think. There is a boy who is very feminine who has his eyes set on a career in advertising. He is wearing thick foundation. It looks strange. There’s a masculine chick who already has her bachelors and wants to know if she really needs a textbook. One guy worked on a farm all summer. He wants to be a vet. He’s probably 18. The girl in front of me pumps her fist at another who is also going to be a physical therapy assistant. There is one other girl who is doing the same thing I am.

What do I say? I’m planning to get into the nursing program. My hobbies? Oh, I have three children. *Laughs* I am usually not nervous. I’m very outgoing but I’m sweating. No, I didn’t admit to all of that.

It’s over. I can’t figure out how to connect to the wifi. Oh, well. I don’t really need it. But where is that next class? 237? I rush across the campus, it feels like miles away as I’m conscious of everything: the people behind me, how humid it is, I’m really sweating. This is the most exertion I’ve had in weeks. Pathetic. 

I’m at the other side. I can’t find the room. I’m walking in circles. Why did I use my laptop bag instead of one of the kid’s old backpacks? This is heavy and not ergonomic in the least. My shoulder kills.

I stop and look at the schedule. The room is 235! I look and remember taking Ethics in the same room almost 20 years ago when I was going to be a legal assistant. Ha! That didn’t quite turn out. What a waste all of that was.

Remedial math is a room full of computers now and tiny little CPUs. Not mammoth boxes like back in ’94. The room is filled with a diverse group and I’m 20 minutes late so all eyes are on me when I sit down.

You have to work on the math at your own pace. You can finish the five sections early in the semester and then you don’t have to come back at all. My brain clicks at the sound of that. I’m going to do just that. Then I won’t have to rush anymore. 

There’s a guy who is obvious ex-military on my right and a young black kid who is completely silent for the whole class on my left. Across from me is a girl who I swear is on some kind of drug. She is in neon green with an extreme ponytail. It’s pulling her forehead up. She is wired. She runs from the room with her hand clasped over her mouth. Comes back five minutes later and announces she got sick and hopes she’s not pregnant. Her grammar is awful but she’s very friendly. She offers assistance as she’s been in the class before. She calls the ex-military guy “honey”. 

Finally, it’s over! I walk 10 miles to my minivan noticing there are an abundance of vehicles that are not minivans in the parking lot. Can I really do this? I can’t work minimum wage jobs forever. When I finish and I’ve got the career I want I’m going to buy a vehicle that doesn’t have stow & go or seat seven comfortably and isn’t all banged up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for transportation but someday I’m going to be living the dream and I plan to help three little girls get theirs, too. Yes, I can do this. 

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Like a Fat Kid Loves Cake

retro grocery listYesterday Cutie Pie and I went to the grocery store. My mind was full of worries. Will I spend too much? I just dropped almost $50 on gas and what do I have left? Will the kids eat beans and rice in a stuffed pepper? My little girl’s happily skipping along beside me begging for goldfish crackers and elf cookies. I caved and instantly regretted it. I thought about how nice it would be to shop alone at my own pace without distractions and then I felt guilty about that.

I’m going to start shopping three times a month instead of four or a dozen. Let’s see if I can save $100 or more. It should work, right? I met a mom of three who only goes every 10 days. Can I stretch things and clean out our pantry? Sure I can. Many times I think I just want what I want and don’t want to be thrifty. We’re going to have to tighten our budget if I’m going to lose $500 a month while spending $100 a month on childcare. 

As it happened, we’re in the middle of the damn store when Cutie Pie hears the call of nature and the restrooms are all the way by the pharmacy at the other end. I breathed a deep sigh and strolled over there with a quickness conscious of the fact that I had exactly 20 minutes before we needed to haul ass home and get there for the bus. School started yesterday! Yes, in the middle of August.

So I’m frustrated and stressed as I stood outside the potty peeking in every few minutes to check on her when a large young man with, not just a muffin top, but a five tier wedding cake busting out of his pants is nearly blocking the door. I wondered why he didn’t buy bigger pants but then I remember visible asscrack. I notice an old lady wrangling who appears to be his toddler as he instructs her on diaper cream, and how much he will wiggle, and inquires, “Can you handle it, Nana?”

I turned around and asked him if she is his grandmother. He told me she was and that was all she wrote as the saying goes. He continued as I wished I’d kept my mouth shut.

“Yeah, so my grandma helps me when I have him because I’m all alone. My ex left me for another woman!” he confessed and I notice his teeth are seriously damaged by decay. Diabetic, I wondered. I try to focus on anything else and remember a woman with teeth like that whose breath was horrendous. I found myself thinking that I’m glad I’m a foot shorter than this guy. 

“Oh, my,” I respond not knowing quite what to say to his confession.

“Yeah, it’s not the first time. Actually two or three of my exes have gone that way.”

switch teams

“Really?” I responded.

“Yeah, the first time was my very first girlfriend in high school. So yep, she has help on the weekends and I’m all by myself trying to take care of him,” he ranted. “There’s two of them!”

“You just have the one son?” I inquired thinking he’s pretty damn whiny. Suck it up, buttercup. Should’ve wrapped it before you tapped. My brain works in rhymes.

“Yep,” he affirmed.

“Well, you can do it,” I said trying to be encouraging. “It’s good you’re involved in his life. Dads are really important.” 

Grandma was taking an eternity to slather that diaper cream on the kid’s bum and my girl was in there building a goddamn house so I was left to stand there awkwardly. In retrospect, I guess I could have gone in but it seemed pointless and perhaps more unpleasant than staying put.

“Don’t forget to watch your hands, honey!” I advised into the stench.

“OK, Mommy!” she hollered.

“So are you with anyone?” Mr. Large and In Charge asked casually breaking me out of mom mode.

“Oh, yeah. I’ve been with my husband for over 20 years,” I answered a little too quickly.

“Wow,” he said perhaps befuddled how anyone could stay with someone of the opposite sex for that long or maybe – let’s just pretend here – he thought I must have been a child bride. In any case, my little girl conveniently interrupted as she bopped out of the bathroom her head full of curls bouncing cheerfully.

“Let’s go, Mommy!” she chanted.

“Nice talking to you!” he called.

“You, too,” I lied as I silently blessed his heart and made a beeline to the ice cream section because it’s right there. Screw it. Life is short and all my pants are stretchy.

mother lace

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Cold (for August) & Rainy Day

Color of the sky as far as I can see is coal grey.
Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again.
Shiver in my bones, just thinking about the weather.
Quiver in my lip as if I might cry.

Another day of rain ahead of us. It’s hard to wake up when the sky is gray. My youngest was snuggling against me, my older two happily playing their game, and I was dreaming crazy dreams induced by the cookie I ate last night I’m sure.

My job is ending with the froyo shop. I don’t even know when or if I work again. I’m looking forward to starting school but it’s going to be rough. I keep wondering if I should find another part-time job or just let it be.

Yesterday I worked and it seemed like 8 out of 10 customers wanted to tell me their life story. I met a woman with long, thick hair and a huge belly who was in a wheelchair. She just wanted a little low-fat, sugar free vanilla. I helped her because she couldn’t reach the cups or the lever. She told me how she needs to have an operation to alleviate the pressure on her intestines. (Too much information?) She went on to tell me that just four years ago she was in excellent health and weighed only 115 pounds when she was driving her little Hyundai and was hit by a drunk driver. Her life changed in an instant and now she’s bound to a chair and indebted to those who help her. She told me about her husband who divorced her but still helped her fix up her trailer and how now he is pulling away because he finds it difficult to maintain relationships with other women when he’s still helping her so much.

This could happen to any of us I realized as she went on. How lucky I am to be propelled by my own legs! I asked her how she doesn’t become consumed with anger and she said, “I cry a lot… and I pray.” I told her I was sorry and she soon left. Her nurse friend was waiting outside. I held the door for her as she rolled away breaking my heart.

A teenage girl came to ask if we were hiring and I told her we’re closing. She went on to tell me how her family owned a little restaurant but it too is closing and she is looking for some part-time work to help her save for college. She seemed so earnest and I wanted to help her so I suggested she babysit and that a lot of people pay sitters up to $10 an hour if they’re responsible. Now I don’t because I can’t but I know there are others who do.

She asked me if I knew her mother because I told her I live in the same area as she does. She said her mom is about my age. She said she’s 38. Ha! This 17 year old’s mother is my age. I could have a 17 year old. Of course I could. I’ve been married nearly two decades. How is it possible I only feel 25?

A mother came through my line with a haircut just like mine and a daughter who looked in between the ages of mine. I guessed correctly that she was nine. Coincidentally, she goes to their school. The mother asked me about my lip gloss. How funny, I’d just reapplied.

Raisin rage by Revlon,” I told her.

“I don’t usually wear dark colors but I love it!” she admitted.

“Oh, this is one of my most neutral shades. Often I wear red,” I laughed.

She had the same coloring as me. She could’ve been my sister. We got to talking about how she works in banking but has wanted to become a teacher for years and how it has taken her a long time to complete her degree but now she doesn’t believe she could get certified. She has an older daughter in a private college and the expense is stressful.

I wonder what it is about me that makes people spill like that. It baffles me. I wonder if they sense my boredom and that I care. People interest me where most strangers seem involved in their own struggles and don’t even make eye contact. I think that’s it. If I shut down and walk through stores or wherever with a one track mind no one approaches me either. It’s only when I’m in the mood to hear it. You either have your sign on or you don’t. It certainly changes your perspective when you hear someone else’s plight.

 

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Nurses, Doctors, and Fits – Oh, My!

spaghettiosIt feels as though fate is putting the medical career in my face. On Monday, we took the girls to a local waterpark and I was happily engrossed in my book when somehow I got into a conversation with the woman two chairs away. I don’t even remember how it began but it turns out she’s a nurse who works in the NICU at the local hospital. What followed was a fascinating conversation about how she went from being a repo driver to nurse at the age of 43. She’s a grandmother who sky dives and rides motorcycles. In other words, a true bad ass. 

She told me how she went back to school after having a 9mm pushed in her face when she tried to repo an angry man’s vehicle. She actually ran the repo business but also was willing to do whatever the guy’s did. Her husband was worried about her and she ultimately made a huge career switch.

She told me how she feeds the babies who come fresh from a drug addicted womb. She even fostered one whom no one wanted! Then I discovered she lives near me and her sister lives on the same road as the woman who will be babysitting my youngest twice a week when I start school. Small world!

Last night at the froyo shop, we were busier than usual. Everyone has found out that they’re closing in a couple of weeks and is coming in to get their fill of deliciousness. This man was very upset about it and we got to talking about finding another job and I told him how I’m trying to get into nursing school and he brightened and said, “Oh that’s a great idea!”

He went on to tell me he’s a doctor, actually an anesthesiologist, and his wife is a nurse. He began as an EMT with the rescue squad, later transitioned to a CNA, and then went to med school. Amazing, right? 

He suggested that’s the way to go because you get some fast training and experience that is better than a CNA. So, I’m going to research this. It looks like there are some courses that you can finish but they are each an hour away. I will have to do some more investigating.

I met with the advisor over the nursing program at the college yesterday and she told me I can’t apply until 2016 due to some prerequisites I need first. I guess I’ll have more time to learn other things while I wait. Maybe I’ll have time to take Spanish after all. It’s frustrating though because the sooner I can get a real job and make an actual salary the sooner our lifestyle will improve. I’m envisioning a new vehicle, vacations, extracurricular activities for the girls. OK, maybe those priorities are out of order but you haven’t seen my van and I really need a vacation! 

Today, once again, I have to drag three children to an appointment across town. It’s exhausting. Yesterday they had to come with me to the advisor appointment and to get my books. In the bookstore, my four-year-old flipped out because she wanted these Nutella stick things that were $2 a pop. I’d have to buy three and I was annoyed with the whining so I said no and it was an all out fit right there in the store as I tried to pay for my books and inquire about the other two I need that they didn’t have yet.

I had another migraine by the time I got home. And then I had to be at work and bring them all there because their dad wasn’t home yet. I love people who say they can’t function with a migraine. I laugh! Sometimes you have no choice. I fed them a dinner of spaghetti-os with all natural applesauce to cancel it out. Ha! Mother of the year. They loved it of course. 

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And Another Phase Ends

closedSaturday afternoon found me toiling away at the froyo shop with Sweet Pea in tow when I saw the owner and his wife at the door. (He always forgets his keys.) I didn’t know it but I was opening the door to bad news. They are closing the store in two weeks because it’s just not turning a profit.

They’ve only been open for about a year and a half. I wish they would add fancy coffees like the high end java shops and give it another go. That part of town doesn’t have a coffee shop.

But the owners have a lot on their plates with two daughters who need their attention. I get it. Sometimes you realize you’re just spread too thin and things are costing you too much and you have to make a decision.

So I offered to stay through the end and help them clean out the store completely. Hey, maybe I’ll get some free stuff! (I’m not counting on it.) In the meantime, my daughters are about to start fifth grade, third grade, and another year of preschool. The last will cost us $300 a month given we have to pay a sitter while I’m taking classes and the church preschool she attends. It’s not much if you’re both working and making a nice income but for us it is a strain. I had hoped to get her into the state funded preschool at the elementary school with her sisters which would be free but, unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, we don’t have enough “risk factors” to qualify. Grandma was babysitting but when she passive aggressively made some hurtful comments in front of my children that had to come to an abrupt halt.

I am wondering if I should take some courses to become a nurse’s aide in addition to my schedule I have currently registered for at the community college. I think it might be overwhelming but being able to work in a medical environment seems like a good idea for someone trying to get into the nursing program to be a registered nurse.

Another part of me thinks I could think of an alternative solution to my dilemma. I’m great at finding bargains. What if I tried selling them on a website? Or would the investment be a hardship in addition to what I have? I could try harder to budget and cut back on groceries. I’m fairly resourceful.

Surely something could be subtracted to make up for the loss of pay. I know I’d rather have more time to devote to studies and my children anyway. Working even part-time is stressful and makes me sad when I have to miss dinner with them or leave them on a beautiful Saturday that could be spent doing fun things. After being a stay at home mom for almost a decade, it was a huge adjustment. Hmm, what about yard sales? That’s a thought.

I’m excited about learning at school and using my brain for something real. I’m taking psychology, philosophy, CPR, “developmental math” (remedial for someone who hasn’t had it in over 20 years), and a college success course. Two of the classes are online, two are lecture and one is just one Saturday in October. I can do this!

What if I cleaned houses or offices? I mean, I don’t really *enjoy* cleaning but I bet the money would motivate me. I actually didn’t mind cleaning the froyo shop after hours. I went all Snow White with the mop and bucket and the music playing after all the dwarfs entered and dirtied everything like little piglets. I liked having a routine for running the place. It really was a fun little job that would have eased the financial strain a bit in the coming school year.

I will think of something. I almost always do.

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