shift

•31 January 2012 • Leave a Comment

Significant life events have occurred since my last publication. Last Thursday I took the national nursing exam (AKA NCLEX) and, miraculously, passed. NCLEX was easily the most difficult exam I have every taken. I’ll spare the harrowing details of the ordeal and instead share this bizarre twist of fate: Three hours after I leave the testing facility I’m home, trying to unwind and relieve myself of the stress (after all, the three previous years had ostensibly been spent preparing for NCLEX) when my phone rings. I don’t recognize the number and briefly consider not answering, but my brain explodes with this unlikely thought: four days previous I had submitted my application for employment at a local hospital – a facility in which I spent nearly 300 clinical hours as a nursing student; perhaps this is a call inquiring about an interview? I answer. And it is. Before my brain can comprehend the momentousness of the interaction I’ve scheduled a job interview for the following day. The interview goes incredibly well, and, barring a hiccup with regulatory background/criminal history (I’m expecting no issues), I’m all but assured a job offer. I always prepare for the worst and never expect the best, so until I actually receive the offer, I’m reserving exaltation.

“But what about the Pacific Northwest?”

I know, I know. Despite my anxiety about making such a dramatic move, I had the greater Seattle area in my sights, but after researching employment opportunities at several area hospitals, I began having serious doubts about potential employment. I found not a single hospital seeking graduate nurses; every position I found sought a minimum of one year’s experience. By staying here, I can get experience at a nationally recognized hospital; it’s also a facility of which I’m very familiar. By moving to the Pacific Northwest, I risked settling for a less-than-ideal position, which could potentially cost me future opportunities. I will find my home in Seattle – now just isn’t the most opportune time to seek it.

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Two nights ago I created a match.com profile, and last night I dropped $60 for three months access. This is my first foray into online dating, and now that I’m in it, I’m not sure what happens next. I’ve always been socially awkward, if not inept. I’m shy, introverted. And I’m quickly discovering that these shortcomings extend to the world of cyber dating. Paid access allows me to see who views my profile; since being active, four different ladies have viewed me (well, the online version of me, and, when piecing together your profile, which basically amounts to an advertisement, it’s difficult to paint an accurate and relative objective picture of yourself, especially when self-consciousness plagues your perception of yourself). So now what? I now understand my shyness is born from an immense fear of rejection, and it is this fear that cripples me when I simply think about contacting someone. I don’t know. Perhaps I’m being too selective in seeking a potential mate. Maybe I’m fucked either way. Before constructing my profile I’d determined my previous relationships were destined to fail because, out of shear desperation, I had accepted whomever gave me attention.

Enough of these ridiculous and desperate rationalizations. The vodka is wearing thin and the hour is late.

t/c/m

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no constancy

•17 January 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’ve long considered myself a man of logic and reason, but I also recognize I’m a man of contradiction. Logic insists that prophecy, fate, destiny, et al. are purely subjective and therefore can’t be proven as a matter of fact of the human experience. That being stated, a series of events I experienced during the past few months have led me to the belief that now is the time to make the move.  The move is a longtime dream of mine to move to the Pacific Northwest, the greater Seattle area specifically. When someone asks me Why Seattle?, I don’t have much a response, although I could quote author Tom Robbins, whose sentiments regarding Richmond, Virginia, eerily reflect mine here in Indiana as a Hoosier, who gave his reason for moving to Seattle as follows: “I only knew two things about Seattle: one, it was a long way from racist, sexist, homophobic, hide-bound, purse-lipped, gun-toting, church-crazed, flag-saluting, bourbon-swilling, buzz-cut, save your Confederate money, boys! Richmond, Virginia; and two, there was reputed to be something not quite right about its weather.” But as a child and long before I saw the Midwest as the cesspool of ignorance that it is, I’ve had a fascination with Seattle. I used to tell my mother that one day I would live in a high-rise apartment with a view of the Space Needle. To this day I don’t know what sparked the fantasy (and, at this point, I don’t want to know), but it has never left me. Up until a few months ago, my now ex-girlfriend shared my dream of moving there after our respective degrees were achieved, but the facts being as they are, I no longer have to wait for her to complete her education.

Another peculiar event occurred the day after my final, final exam last month. A man I worked with for several years at a previous job passed away. He was a semi-retired man whose life experience far surpassed mine, and I’ll never forget a conversation we had when I first began working with him. I was in my mid-twenties, he in his sixties, and he gave me a subtle kick in the ass when he asked me what I wanted to do with my life. My response was lacking because I lacked direction at the time, but I did tell him of my strange desire for Seattle. He urged me to move sooner rather than later, saying, “If you don’t move while you’re in your twenties, you’ll never do it.” He also urged me to go back to school and make something of myself. “You don’t want to drive a city bus the rest of your life. Your future can’t be this.” I silently resented him for a time because he saw something in me I refused to acknowledge. I was a disillusioned twentysomething going nowhere fast (as disillusioned twentysomethings tend to do), but now I’m a 33-year-old man (who doesn’t feel like a 33-year-old man – I feel much younger, but more on that some other time) who recognizes that now is the time. This move is something I must do. I’m leaving very little. A family disintegrated. An expired three-year relationship with a woman who no longer acknowledges my shadow. Friends consumed by connections that render me an afterthought. I could go off the rails here and write about the hurt of giving another (and another and another and…) more attention than is ever reciprocated, but now, as a 33-year-old, I’ve (more or less) accepted the broken nature of things. Perhaps it is a curse to expect constancy from allies and strangers.

So, yes, in less than two months I will pack what fits in my car and travel 2400 miles to find a new home. I’m putting off research until I pass NCLEX (the national nursing exam), but I’m considering Tacoma. It’s about 40 minutes south of Seattle. Right now it’s difficult for me to conceive the concept of making such a move, but I have to do this. School is over (for the time being) and the relationship is over. Finding a nursing job here will almost certainly trap me, so it’s time to go. Many think it’s reckless to move cross country without first visiting the prospective city, but this is supposed to be an adventure, not a carefully coordinated transfer in which practically every uncertainty is whittled down to a risk-free proposition. Up until this point I’ve lived my life averting risk whenever possible. Play it safe. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. For me, “throwing caution to the wind” has meant nothing but a cliché. It’s time to take a chance. It’s time to open the window knowing a crumpled leaf of failure might float through. It’s time to break from constancy. It’s time.

t/c/m

cemetery baptist

•14 January 2012 • Leave a Comment

fragments of thoughts

•14 January 2012 • Leave a Comment

It happened again. Early this morning around 4AM I was awakened by a torrent of streaming thoughts. I open my eyes and it’s as if I’m –

As the thoughts roll, I’m summarizing and assessing their direction. And this is my conclusion: I’m finished with them. My mother. My father. My step-father. My sister. I’m finished with them. All of them. I’m struggling to grasp how the ill consequences of detrimental behavior can eclipse the fruits of a noble pursuit. I hate uttering such a trite and overused cliché, but it’s true: life is about choices. The seemingly never-ending turmoil my sister finds herself in is a direct result of wrong choices (drugs). My mother’s declining health is largely the result of self-destructive choices (drinking and smoking). My step-father’s bullheaded decision to not seek medical care when he began experiencing chest pains several months is now complicating his treatment for newly diagnosed prostate cancer.

Last month the brilliant comedian Louis C.K. was interviewed by Terry Gross on the NPR program Fresh Air. In it, he expressed sadness and frustration over the death of his friend and fellow comedian Patrice O’Neal. O’Neal died of a diabetic coma – the tragic result of making poor choices. “There’s part of me that’s upset with him for not taking good care of himself, because he took himself away from us,” C.K. reflects. This comment struck me because I’ve seen firsthand the consequences of loved ones –

Last month I became the first person in my family to graduate from college. Considering the difficulties my sister has put our family through over the past six years, one would think this achievement would be met with pageantry and celebration. But it wasn’t. A phone call from mother. Several obligatory “congratulations” comments on Facebook from friends and distant family. Nothing from my father as he is and always has been aloof and out of touch. And that was it.

I’m aware this post is jumbled and probably incomplete, but I’m not changing anything. The fact is I’m so disgusted with the present state of things I can’t properly formulate my thoughts and feelings. When the thoughts awoke me this morning, they seemed so coherent and uncongested. But I’m hurt. Just as my mother, step-father and sister made the wrong choices, I made a proper decision and three years later I have my degree. But we don’t have time to ponder the positive. No, let us lick our self-inflicted wounds. Let us forget the poisonous choices we made and instead focus on these grievous lesions. Fuck all of you. And mother, please don’t trouble me with your complaints of being the primary guardian of your grandson; perhaps the grandson’s mother would have made better choices had you not been such a wretched drunk when she, then being your adolescent daughter, lived under your roof. And sister, please don’t write me with your apologies and declarations of prayer and god and church and bullshit. Perhaps someday your god will elucidate to your son the circumstances behind your constant absence.

I’m not seeking a reward for my accomplishment. I simply want to be recognized for what I have done. Instead, I’m made to feel like a self-centered egomaniac because I wish to commemorate this high mark. The unwise and shortsighted must be pitied and lauded for the sad yet inescapable consequences that have befallen them. And please, I understand one should not expect praise for “doing the right thing”; however, considering my familial disposition, I do not think it is unreasonable to expect a modicum of acknowledgement. What life is it if one accentuates pain and sadness while shorting joy and achievement?

Am I wrong? Is my sentiment unwarranted?

t/c/m

moment of reckoning

•13 January 2012 • Leave a Comment

Well, writing this post will certainly be a daunting task. Exactly 200 days have passed since my last writing, and many things have occurred since 27 June 2011, but my return was prompted not by my extended absence, but by fresh events. Perhaps this post will be spread over a series. Or maybe I’ll step foot into my stream of consciousness and let it rip (I’m hoping this red wine will help get my feet wet).

One month ago I completed my final course and received my Associate’s degree in nursing. I’m happy with my achievement but not satisfied. I hope to get my Bachelor’s degree within five years and my Master’s in ten. Throughout my education journey I’ve encountered a series of obstacles, and with every hurdle came doubt and the fear of failure, yet I cleared all of them. Now, as I wait for my authorization to take the national nursing exam, a new set of doubts has me backpedaling. I feel rather confident in my abilities to pass the exam, but finding a good, educational first job will be difficult. When I began classes three years ago, the economy was beginning to turn south and joblessness was creeping upward. Today, things are much worse, which is quite a statement because the growing panic three years ago was broad and widespread. The fact that it has worsened is ominous indeed. The realities being what they are, hospitals across the country have implemented hiring freezes, and the facilities that are hiring are seeking experienced nurses. Adding to the glut are nurses, who, five years ago would have sought retirement, are still working due to the uncertain financial future they and their families face. The “nursing shortage” widely reported in the media is largely a myth.

But I should stop myself. Two months before graduating my girlfriend of nearly three years decides to end our relationship. Don’t get me wrong: the end of us was almost certainly inevitable; however, the breakup came out of nowhere with no clear, defining moment of reckoning. Initially, I thought the break up would be clean, but about two weeks later I attempt to make small-talk (at this point, I’d come to terms with the break up) and she states matter-of-factly, “Look, I don’t see the need to have a conversation with you every day.” Probably not coincidently, one week later she travels four hours to Chicago to meet a match.com guy. Since that outburst we’ve spoken twice, maybe three times. Oh, and we’re still living together. I guess she’s not one of those make-the-best-out-of-a-bad-situation people.

Now I want to write about the events that pushed me back into this space.  At this point, these troubling events have morphed into one cloud of cancer, a fog that will awaken me during the early morning hours and keep me awake with thoughts of death, a widowed mother, an abandoned nephew and countless questions. Two weeks ago my step-father was diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer, and because he is just 62, the cancer is considered aggressive. All concerned were hoping for a quick prostatectomy and hope for the future; however, before surgery could occur, his complaints of chest pain and shortness of breath had to be investigated. My step-father is one of those stubborn, old school, men-don’t-cry types. Apparently he told my mother his chest pain had been an issue since last summer – there’s a thin line between stubbornness and stupidity. Today he discovers there is indeed something wrong with his heart, and Monday he will learn if stints or cardiac bypass surgery will alleviate his issue. Regardless of the treatment, a prostatectomy – the best response to prostate cancer – is now out of the question (his heart issues will be treated with blood thinners for at least the following year, thereby ruling out a surgical intervention for his cancer), leaving radiation as his only available option.

My mother, who’s been married to my step-father for nearly twenty years, is, of course, struggling to cope with all this. Mother has never been one to adequately manage turmoil; anxiety and a seemingly endless need to worry about something have always troubled her (I unfortunately share those two traits). She herself has been debilitated by diabetes, a compromised liver and an as yet to be identified autoimmune disease. Oh, and she’s practically raising her grandson (my five-year-old nephew) because her daughter is still living in a halfway house on the other side of the state. I hesitate to refer to her as my sister because I’ve done everything possible to distance myself from her and her poisonous affairs. Yes, my “sister” since being released from prison for the second time (both sentences were drug related – she’s an addict through and through and apparently void of genuine remorse) has been living in a halfway house for several months. And she’s there because upon being released she had nowhere to go – my mother and father both refused to give her shelter. Sister has struggled with addiction for… I don’t even know when it all began… at least six years. It’s probably closer to eight.

When a loved one is stolen from you and taken away in the arms of addiction you experience the classic signs of grief. There is anger. There is denial. And bargaining. And depression. And, eventually, acceptance. But unlike a death, the focus of your grief is on a person who still inhabits a living space. She still exists despite the fact you have accepted and processed her passing. But, in light of recent events, I now realize I haven’t accepted her passing because her inability to assume her responsibilities and care for her son – as a thirty-year-old mother should – is adding to my mother’s stress. On more than one occasion mother has confided in me a desire for suicide. Do you know what it’s like to hear the woman who delivered you into this world express a desire to voluntarily leave it? And do you know what it’s like to share (but not divulge) those same feelings, that same inclination to leave behind the blue skies and distant laughter?

The other night I awoke from sleep, and as soon as my eyes opened thoughts began speeding. Among them: if mother would commit suicide, my succeeding suicide would bring the tragic end of our family full circle – a grotesque yet appropriate conclusion.

The perception of logic becomes perversely distorted when your family – the organic unit you are born in to and, for a time, the only familial unit you know – is dissolved through divorce and disintegrated by addiction.

I had anticipated writing more, but the wine is gone and my eyes are heavy.

t/c/m

nrsg 204 & 205

•27 June 2011 • Leave a Comment

Today marked the beginning of my psychiatric nursing course and tomorrow will be my first clinical experience. I’m definitely looking forward to the next five weeks, especially interacting with the patients, but with that anticipation comes some trepidation because, well, these patients are hospitalized for a reason — they’re battling serious mental issues. The potential for an explosive outburst from a patient is very real, and that is obviously a little worrisome. Regardless, I’m hopeful for a unique learning experience.

I’m also looking forward to the theory side of the course. Perhaps I’m expecting a little too much, but it would be great if I could gain some, even just the slightest, insight into my own mental issues. I thought the anxiety and chaos were beginning to settle, but yesterday and today have been tough, and I’m seriously considering seeing someone. I’m practically living paycheck to paycheck, and I’ve no idea how I’d pay to see a doctor and afford the medication(s), but I feel I’m getting closer to the breaking point.  The last time I saw a psychiatrist was over two years ago (I had health insurance then), and the entire experience was a huge disappointment. I thought I’d sit down with the doctor once every two weeks or so and discuss my issues, but no such thing happened. It was more like this: tell me how you’re feeling, and I’ll write you a prescription, then, if the meds aren’t working, call me and we’ll try something else.

So once again I’m in the position of hoping for relief, but I realize my health insurance situation and chaotic school-work schedule will make it incredibly difficult to  find someone. Anyone. Especially a doc who I feel is competent and comforting.

I’ll probably do what I’ve done time and time again: just tough it out and hope for the best.

t/c/m

eternal sigh

•15 June 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’m struggling with exactly what this post will be.  I’ve had much on my mind recently.  Stressing about school.  Dealing with some deep psych issues.  I’ve also been silently raging about recent events concerning our federal government.  I’m not upset about what the government is doing, but the total lack of concern from the “American people.”  I’m specifically speaking about the recent decision by the FBI to extend its powers.  Read this and this if you’re unaware about its broadening reach.

As I’ve said before, I firmly believe that the United States is now a police state.  The government is keenly aware of the growing tide of distrust and anger, hence its investigation of antiwar and Leftist organizations.  The Arab Spring occurring on the other side of the planet is a reminder to every abusive and unlawful regime (including the United States) of what can happen when power shifts from the wealthy and influential to the working class.  A large-scale uprising in the United States is required if its people wish to adhere to the principles that founded this country.  But it won’t happen.  For example, Egypt’s population is approximately 80 million; it’s about 309 million in the States.  Because most Americans get their internet access from a large corporation (the top 5 providers are AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon and AOL), monitoring a user’s activity is easy.  The Arab Spring uprisings were born inside social networks.  The most widely used site is Facebook, a corporation worth $50 billion.  If you don’t think such a valuable reservoir of information and wealth would (they presumably already have) politely comply with a government order to monitor users, then you’re a lost cause.

I believe that the recent government outrage over an underground drug site will be the impetus for even broader internet-monitoring power.  After all, look how the government has used 9/11 to drop bombs in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan.

I’m not sure what happens next.  Probably nothing.  The fact that the government has manipulated and threatened individuals into becoming informants to infiltrate activist organizations practically ensures that any spark of an uprising will be snuffed.  But would a revolution— no, would just the idea of an uprising appeal to most of the populous?  No.  Noam Chomsky: “As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.”

t/c/m