That Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Since childhood it was instilled into me that achievement was the priority in life. Until high school, I had extra homework given to me by my mother. Summers were also spent with homework and in later years, with SSAT prep. Sophomore year I went away to boarding school, and though I was free of her bounds, I was not free of her expectations. It was there that I excelled. I worked hard and actually enjoyed the majority of my classes. To this day I don’t believe that I’ve had an educational experience that exceeded that of boarding school.

 

In 1997 I headed to college. I wasn’t even close to being an adult. I spent the summer in the bible belt, drinking and having a blast. That blistering August I went to Austin, admitted into Engineering school. There was no doubt in my mind that in 4 years I would graduate with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. By spring I was packing my bags and heading back to the belt. I told myself I was taking a bit of time off, and that soon I would take a couple of classes at a local university before heading back to UT to finish up.

 

I just couldn’t get my shit together. I returned to UT, changed my major a couple of times and eventually just quit. My heart wasn’t in it. I couldn’t achieve.

 

The need to earn some money spurned me on to nursing school, which posed no real problem. The career was chosen not out of passion, but pragmatically. I knew I could do it, not hate it, make decent money, and maybe feel like I was doing something that made a difference. I was right.

 

A few months ago I ended my almost 3 year relationship. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I knew it was the right one. Although it was I that did the leaving, it was no less hard on my heart. In fact, looking back upon my past relationships, I see many have been hard of my heart. I seem to invest a lot of myself and stay in them much too long.

 

Today she wrote me a long email, telling me about all of the problems the Monster has been having since I left. She advised me against being reckless with peoples lives and their hearts, especially if they have children.

 

No fucking shit.

 

As if I need to feel even more guilty than I already do. I never took any of that lightly. I did everything that I could think of to make that relationship work and in the end, it just wasn’t. It’s not my fault. Staying in a toxic relationship for the sake of a kid just isn’t a good idea nor is it the right decision.

 

Then why do I feel so bad?

 

I keep trying to tell myself that I’m just on a different path. That there’s great things ahead for me. Adventures to be had. Fulfillment. That some day this will all make sense. That even the greats experienced this as well. That the failure of my relationships is not my failure alone.

 

Why do I have problems believing it?

 

I spend so much time reading and learning about human emotion. How to build stronger relationships. What it takes. I believe that the more I read that I can solve the puzzle and logic my way into a healthy and satisfying love, and every time it doesn’t work out I wonder what it is that I did wrong.

 

I carry the shame of failure with me, shouldering all the blame. I’ve considered that it may be holding me back, but I have no idea of how to lighten the burden. A few years ago I thought I was on my way, but here I am again, feeling the same way and no closer to knowing what to do.

And what have we learned?

Three years ago I went travel nursing for the first time. It was scary and exciting. I was ready to get out there, to explore, to meet people and have new experiences. I thought that this time it would be the exact same way, that once I left I would feel all those things again. That it would be the beginning of an epic adventure. That everything would just fall into place and great things would start to happen. Instead I feel lonely and empty. Everything doesn’t feel okay. I am plagued by a great sadness. I don’t think that Mursette was the right match for me, but I realize that it’s going to take quite a bit more time to get over all of this. I worry about her and the monster. I want to take care of them in some way, but I know that I can’t and that it’s not my place anyways. I had hopes and dreams, expectations that will never come to fruition now, all things that I mourn for. I guess that I have to give myself time to process all of this and to move on. It’s just difficult. In this time of need, I have successfully left everyone that I know behind, something that you’d think I’d be used to by now, but I’m not.

 

I feel isolated, unsure of what I should be doing and how I should be feeling. I don’t know what the future holds for me. Time has taken on a weight that it never really had before. I feel an increasing urgency to do things, to become something. I worry that if I don’t start accomplishing things soon that my time will run out and I will be old, lonely and upset at a wasted life. The whisper is becoming louder and it says “the time is now, seize the day,” only I have no idea what it is that I’m supposed to be doing nor do I have the monetary means to accomplish much. Once again I try to be responsible, paying my rent here and half of Mursette’s rent back in the snowy north, the majority of the rest I’m trying to save. You never know how long it will be until the next assignment comes along.

 

All that being said, I don’t mind this part of California so much. Exactly where I am doesn’t have much happening, but I’m reasonably close to San Diego, Los Angeles, Palm Springs and even Las Vegas. I’ve been trying to take trips on my days off, to see things. It’s nice, but I find myself wishing I had a companion. I used to think that someday when I had all my shit together that then I’d find someone to journey with me. What if I never get my shit together?

Days Off

Well, I’ve been putting off writing once again. Somewhere inside I always thought that I could be writer of sorts, that my words could move people. For the longest time I used the excuse of not having anything exciting in my life to write about to explain why I wasn’t writing. I don’t have that excuse anymore. Now I’m just afraid that my words will move nobody, which is probably the truth, considering that I generally never even proofread. But I like writing too, so I don’t see why I should stop just because I’m not particularly good at it. I just hope somebody is actually reading.

 

I’ve been in California for about two weeks now. I must say, I’ve been doing quite a bit of exploring. I’m well over my gas budget, but I think I’ll make do.

 

Yesterday I took a drive down to San Diego. It was an overcast day, not the best kind of day to check out beaches and the sort. I work up with a headache. They’ve been plaguing me for over a month now. I was blaming my increasing caffeine intake, but I’m not so sure anymore. I can probably rule out aneurysm, as I’m still alive. That still leaves cancer, super AIDS, and most likely, an ever rotating sleep/wake cycle.

 

So, back to San Diego… The chronic headache coupled with just a general irritable feeling wasn’t a great way to start out my trip. I was planning on stopping along the way to grab a snack, but ended up pushing all the way into the city, heading towards “Luche Libre,” a supposedly delicious burrito spot. As I turned the corner, I could see the line out the door. Things were not off to a good start. Given my state of hunger and aloneness, I decided against standing in line and headed towards Old Town instead, figuring that they’d have some food.

 

Old Town was weird. It felt like a giant period amusement park, and it was packed with people. My irritability was increasing. So I checked yelp for some burrito reviews and headed into the city. I ended up having a lovely Carne Asada burrito (wet style) in a complete hole in the wall spot. The perfect locale for a burrito. Best of all, I was the only person there.

burrito

Not sure what to do next, I headed to Coronado Island with the intent of checking out a beach and maybe Hotel Del Coronado. A quick drive over a bridge and I was on the island. The neighborhoods had a pretty cool vibe, and I imagine that if I had enough money, that it would be a lovely place to live. The business section was hopping though and parking was not pleasant. I just didn’t have the patience to park and walk to the hotel, so I ended up leaving, heading towards La Jolla.

 

I’ve been to La Jolla before. One summer, when I went to UT, I dropped all my classes and quit my job and drove to California for the hell of it. I remember spending a day in La Jolla, checking out the seals and an art museum. Funny because what I remember in my head is quite a bit different that how it actually looks. Still feeling irritable, I decided to take a walk through the park. I ended up on a park bench overlooking the ocean as the sun was setting. I closed my eyes and just listened to the waves for a bit and finally started feeling a little bit better. With the sun finally set I yelped the closest Bahn Mi joint and set my GPS. The Vietnamese place was busy when I arrived, but I managed to snag a table pretty quickly. I ended up getting Pho instead of a sandwich and it was a pretty good choice. Stuffed to the brim, I headed back home.

la jolla

This morning I awoke ready to take a drive that I had been planning for a few days. While playing around on google, I found what appeared to be an excellent driving road that would lead me eventually to Palm Springs. I was actually in Palm Springs last week, but I like the vibe of the place and thought that I’d head back in the direction. Maybe I could even get a haircut while I was there. I hopped in my car and headed off in that direction. When I started up the mountain, I knew immediately that this road was going to live up to my expectations and probably exceed them. In less than 30 minutes I had climbed probably 4000-5000 vertical feet. It was only a two lane road, but there were plenty of spots for slower cars to pull over, and people were good about doing so. I stopped a few times for pictures, but frankly the driving was so fun, pictures weren’t a priority. I saw tons of motorcycles, a pair of GT-R’s, and about 30 Cadillac’s of a body style I didn’t recognize. A press day I suspect. I spent about an hour and a half in the mountains before I dropped back into the desert on the Palm Springs side.

cloudy

twisty

I stopped in a Cafe Europa, a restaurant that I had eaten at about a week earlier, and had an awesome mixed green, fig and goat cheese salad. I still had some time to burn before my haircut so I went off in search of something sweet. Alas, the only things I found were ice cream shops, and I just wasn’t in the mood for ice cream. Oh well.

 

I popped in for my haircut, which was a little expensive for my tastes, but was a good experience. The stylist was friendly and we had a good conversation. I figured that he would probably know where to get a little dessert and I was right. After my cut I headed to Sherman’s Deli to look at their dessert case. It was impressive. I was feeling hungry but not starving. Now I like a good sandwich and I thought about ordering one here before my dessert. I’m glad I didn’t because my piece of cake was huge. For some reason I had been craving coconut cream pie, but at the advice of the waitress I went with the cake. 3 hours later and I’m still stuffed!l of cake I headed back home. All in all, I’d have to say that it was a good day and I still have tomorrow off.

windmills

 

Full of cake I headed back home. All in all, I’d have to say that it was a good day and I still have tomorrow off.

 

What to do… what to do.

The Long Way Down

It’s been a long few weeks filled with needles and endless paperwork. After a few fiasco’s involving TB skin tests, I’m in Southern California. I started the drive down last week, stopping to visit Mom B for a full day. I wish it could have been longer, I needed the relaxation. Alas, I had to be in Albuquerque to have a skin test read, so I had to keep moving. After Albuquerque I was able to slow it down a little bit and took the scenic route into Tuscon. I do enjoy driving through the desert and a couple beautiful days of it was just fine with me.

 

As I headed into Tuscon, I booked a last minute hotel with my phone and totally lucked out with a beautiful spa resort. I was actually laughing as I pulled in because it was so nice. I ended up with a room next to the pool and awoke to stunning views of the surrounding mountains. From Tuscon I made the push into California. In Phoenix I happened upon a Rudy’s BBQ, somewhere I was upset about missing in Texas. I wasn’t even that hungry, but I just had to stop and have a brisket sandwich. It was well worth it.

 

Coming into California was pretty easy. My hotel is right off the interstate and only about 30 minutes away from work.

 

Yesterday was my first day of orientation. There are 6 travelers and of course they had no idea what to do with us for the first half of the day. It was a pretty big cluster fuck, but that doesn’t surprise me anymore. I met a couple that travels together who seem quite nice. We made friends immediately and they told me horror stories about places they’d been and gave me some advice on places to check out. One of which happens to be back in Tuscon, a city I’d like to check out some more.

 

So I’m going back tonight for a night shift orientation, and then I’m done. They’ll release me into the wild. A bold move as I’ve only had about 2 ½ hours of computer training. I hope that my co-workers like to answer my annoying questions.

 

Tomorrow I’m meeting with with a lady who answered my Craigslist ad. I’m going to be renting a room in her house. She lives in a 55+ community, but evidently you just have to be 55+ to buy the house. I think it’s promising. She seems nice. She’s a nurse as well and she used to work night shift. The room has black out shades and she’s letting me have kitchen access.

 

I’m anxious to get moved in and settled and then finally start exploring a little bit. I’m not too far from LA and San Diego as well as some cool stuff to see in the Inland Empire. I’m ready to eat some delicious food and of course, to make some money.

The way I structured my pay doesn’t give me any incentive to work overtime, so I’ve applied at a local staffing agency while I’ m here. They seem to think that I can work at the same hospital under two different agencies, something I’m pretty sure my non-competition agreement prohibits. But I’m sure there’s plenty of places near by to get some work.

 

The adventure has begun. I’m interested to see where it takes me.

Vestiges

Had a terribly annoying patient that decided to leave AMA last night. She wouldn’t listen to reason, wouldn’t really listen at all. She pulled her IV and didn’t pay any attention to the resident who showed up to try and convince her to stay. I explained what leaving AMA meant and how she really needed her Nicardipine drip. She didn’t care. She walked out of the unit after I told her that if she left, she couldn’t just come back.

 

She came back. And they just let her back into her room, completely bent the rules for her.

 

It’s hard sometimes trying to remember that what we do everyday is important. That I have the opportunity to touch lives. It’s hard when the majority of people just don’t care very much about their own health. But I think it’s important to keep in mind.

Slow start for a long journey

Waiting around for an interview is becoming frustrating. My goal of leaving on an assignment before November is becoming fantasy and with winter quickly approaching, I have to address the fact that my car only has summer tires on it. A decent set of all seasons will set be back around $700, money that I don’t exactly have. The jobs that I’m looking at aren’t paying like I thought they would either. Add to the mess that the difficulty I’m having even getting an interview, and you have one anxious Murse.

 

But it’s always easier to give up and become complacent then it is to follow through and go for it. And going for it is what I intend on doing. I just have to make sure that I can make it work. I worry that I’m being too picky and that my recruiter is getting tired of me. I worry that my room mate is tired of me being around. I worry that I’m not going to be able to pay all of my bills. I worry that whatever assignment I end up on will be terrible. So many worries.

 

I’m compelled to go, though. There is something deep inside of me that keeps telling me to go forward. I like to think that I will travel until I find where it is that I should stop and settle in, but I also worry that I will never find that place, that I will feel compelled to keep moving and never feel satisfied anywhere. Perhaps the problem isn’t with the places that I’ve lived, perhaps the problem is with me.
Or is it a problem?

 

Two more nights of work until I have a few days off. I’ve been trying to pick up extra shifts, and it’s hard because I keep getting shifts at Mursette’s hospital. I know that it must be absolutely terrible for her to see me. I have some idea of what she must be going through. Some idea, although she has a tendency for the dramatic, so I’m sure that it’s much worse than I’d like to admit to myself.

 

I have so much to do in the next few weeks. I have to switch bills around, shop for insurance, and figure out what to do with my 403B. It would be nice to be able to retire someday, after all. I’m also planning my own birthday party this year as well. Planning might be a bit of an exaggeration, I’ve given my friends a time and a bar to meet me at. The rest will be winged. I think that this year my present to myself is a hotel room. It’s probably a waste of money, but I think not worrying about driving home will be a treat as will hung over room service. I’m waffling a bit right now though, as I’ve had offers to drive me home after drinking. I quite like the idea of a room to myself though… I think I’m going to go through with it.

 

So, what do the next few weeks hold? I have no idea. I know that I’m worried, but at least I have a good job right now, making the best money I’ve ever made in my life. I’m in a hurry to leave, but I don’t have to be if I don’t want to. I’m trying my best to think this thing through, without passion. To make the best decision I can taking into account the stark reality of my finances and the whisper inside that tells me to pick up and move on.

 

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Long day, slow nights

Went on a day trip to Chicago with a co-worker today. No plans, just a basic idea of what we wanted to do. Stopped off at a wine bar (VOLO) at the recommendation of my recruiter, only to find that it was closed. So we grabbed some Bahn Mi’s instead and headed towards Navy Pier.

 

The Pier was exactly as expected, but it was nice to walk around there and then head over to Michigan Ave to walk some more and people watch. Headed over to the Purple Pig for some roasted marrow and wine, but faced with a long wait we ended up going to an asian seafood buffet that my co-worker wanted to check out. It was lobster night, but even then, I wouldn’t call the food very good.

 

The entire day felt like cheating. I kept thinking about the last trip that I had made to Chicago with Mursette and the Monster. I kept noticing souvenirs that I could get them and kept thinking about what it could be like if they were there.

 

I guess that’s my problem. I keep thinking about all the “what if’s” and not so much about the reality. I have invested so much time working towards a future that I had hoped would be and now have to face the reality of the future that would have been. I know that I wouldn’t have been happy. I know that our problems wouldn’t be solved and the fighting would have continued. I know all of this, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow. I know that when I leave here and take my next assignment and leave my friends behind that I will just be lonelier, and the doubts will become louder.

 

So I’m sad for an impossible future that I wished could be true.

 

I talked to my recruiter today and because the NorCal job is taking so long to get a hold of me, she’s recommending that I apply for one in central California, in a town that I hate. I knew that this was a possibility, but I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this. I’m going to ask her to look into Texas or Arizona, but there’s a certain amount of money that I have to make. I have bills and I promised Mursette that I would pay my portion of rent until the end of the lease.

 

I know everything will work out with the job, but I just wish that it would hurry up and work out now.

 

Now, just to quiet my mind and try to get some sleep tonight.

Rough Month

This September has been a particularly bad month. I’ve been meaning to write about it. At first I was so busy with travel and work that I just didn’t have the time and then apathy took over. I think I just didn’t want to face it. To have to put it all down. To risk writing about it and having it turn out stupid.

 

Things with Mursette had been steadily declining for quite some time. During one of our counseling sessions she said something particularly hurtful that I just couldn’t turn a blind eye to and I made the decision to just end it.

 

Mursette and I are very different, and against better logic, I had thought that we could make things work. Our communication skills were horrible. We want very different things in our lives, and we value very different things. It always annoyed me that she would never meet her problems head on and instead decide to avoid them and hope that they would change. At the same time she would fight with me about the silliest little things, a dichotomy that I just couldn’t accept. So, I ended things and like an amateur told her that I had to stay in the apartment for about a week while I lined up somewhere else to stay. One morning after work I came home. What started off bad turned to worse and I had to pack and leave the apartment in a huge hurry, all the time worried about her safety as well. Through the help of a few good friends I managed to secure a place to stay and did my best to make sure that she was okay. The following weeks were rough. My grandmother went into Hospice and succumbed to cancer a few weeks later, causing me to drive back the Bible belt twice in two weeks.

 

Throughout this time we began to talk. Just a little at first and more later. She was talking about how she had become more active and that she was seeing the counselor alone. I was impressed with the progress that she had made over just a few weeks. I started considering getting back with her on a trial basis while we worked on things. You see, I’m a romantic. There’s something alluring about overcoming a great obstacle to find a great love. This is the dream that I fell for. I discussed the idea with my counselor and against the better advice of close friends, we decided to try and make it work.

 

About a week later I was on a trip to the east coast, a trip that had been supposed to go on. Things started just fine, but a few days before her birthday I could tell something was wrong. It all came to a head on her birthday and she spent the night texting me the most awful, hurtful things that she could think of.

 

Maybe I should thank her for all of that, it made my task much easier. Walking away was much easier and some of my feelings of guilt were gone. At least for a little bit. In the past few days we have spoken a few times, and it has been cordial. I can tell that she’s hurting quite a bit and I now know that she’s never been broken up with before and also claims that she’s hadn’t been in love until now.

 

It’s hard hearing that. I can remember the loss of my first love and how devastated it made me feel. At age 19 I didn’t have many responsibilities, so it was fine that I spent a week on the couch crying. At age 19 my life and hers hadn’t intermingled to any degree. At age 19 I wasn’t really giving much thought to future plans. I have an understanding of how she must feel, but not a full understanding.

 

To know that you’re causing someone that you care about so much pain is a hard thing to know. Even if that person purposely hurt you and you know that your decision is the right one. You want to reach out and try to comfort them, but you know that you’re the last person in the world who can do that. To try and accept that taking care of this person isn’t your responsibility anymore is difficult to relearn. I find myself thinking of offering to do things for her.

I’ve always been one to try and shoulder all of the burden and ask for nothing in return, and strangely it seems that usually that’s what I get.

 

I miss her and I miss the Monster.

 

I’ve been in contact with my recruiter. Everything is ready for me to go traveling. I’m currently waiting on an interview for a job in NorCal, one that despite being 48 hours a week, I’m damn excited about. I’m so scared to travel again. I’m comfortable here. I know the hospitals. I know the people. I have friends and I generally know what to expect at work. To cast off and head west is a scary proposition. Scary, but exciting.

 

A long time ago I was asked if I wanted to start being Charge Nurse. The idea frightened me and I vocalize that fear. My manager at the time just said “Ok” and said that if I didn’t want to start doing it that they would train the next person on the list, someone with less experience that me. Insulted, I immediately started training. Wouldn’t you know it, but I loved being in charge. That moment was a lesson that I’ve carried with me since. Most of the time the things that scare you are the things that you should do. And so I prepare to leave the comfort of a steady job and familiar people for the uncertainties of the road.

 

Wish me luck.

Chaos

It’s been a time of upheaval around here lately. I won’t get into all of the guts of it, but I’ve been driving, moving, and doing lots of paperwork. There are so many things up in the air that it’s hard to keep track of them all, but I’m managing so far. I’m looking at another very busy week and although there may be a funeral in the near future I’m continuing with my plans to attend a friends wedding next week. I’ve been planning this trip for months now and I think I should go.

It will be interesting heading back to the East Coast. I haven’t been there since I graduated high school and I think the trip will do me some good. I’ll be flying into Philly and driving to Maine for the wedding, after which I’ll drive to Rhode Island and stop in at the ol’ high school. I don’t think that will take more than a day. I had originally booked a B&B for Mursette and I, but I’ll be traveling alone, so I guess I’ll just be the weird creepy guy that stays in a B&B alone. After all of that I’ll drive back to Philly and hang with Dal for a few days. I intend to eat some good food and visit the Mutter museum. Other than that I really have no other plans.

When I get back, if everything goes well, I’ll be granted a leave of absence from my current gig and head out on a travel assignment. To where, I have no idea yet. I’m thinking it will be Cali, but you never know. I’m going to be guided by money as there’s a minimum that I have to make. But I’d like it to be somewhere warm and interesting, preferably near a beach.

Life has been rough these past few months and it’s been difficult to write about. Almost everything in my life has been in utter chaos and decisions that I thought were going to be easy have ended up being very hard. Who knew that being an adult was so damn difficult? If I had, maybe I wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to grow up. Who am I kidding, I spent the majority of my 20’s in a state of quasi childhood.

So pretty soon I’ll be facing some more changes and I hope they will be for the better.

Midsummer Nights

It’s a rare night at home that I don’t feel too tired to do anything other than watch TV to pass the time until I can go to bed. I’ve been trying to pick up hours at work to pay for all the things that I would like to do, what with an East Coast trip coming up soon, passports to renew, and car projects that I hope to accomplish. But hours are hard to come by right now and my agency is being pretty retarded, so I can’t rely on them either. I’m sure that things will pick up as fall approaches, but I’d like to get things handled now instead of in a few months.

 

A co-worked talked me into volunteering at the medical tent at a marathon in a few weeks. I’ve been wanting to do some medical related volunteer work, but I kind of thought that it would be international. It sounds like it’s going to be fun, even if it has me a bit nervous. I expect that most of the people at the medical tent will just need IV re-hydration and my IV skills aren’t the best. It’s probably a silly thing to be worried about, but I’d hate to embarrass myself. On the flip side, hopefully everyone will have great veins. We’re picking up the 8pm-Midnight shift, when all the stragglers come in, but my friend wants to go to the event at 8am so that we can walk around and hang out. Sounds like a full day, but hopefully a fulfilling one.

 

Lately I’ve been trying to start planning our trip to the East Coast. Finding a decent but not too expensive place to stay in Boston, renting a car to drive to Maine, figure out where to eat, etc. Should be a good trip, but with lots of travel.

 

Work has been filled with alcoholics lately. Last week I had an alcohol withdrawal patient who kept attempting to remove his Aspen collar. I was lucky enough to be his nurse and sitter. My last night at work I was lucky enough to admit a drunk who attempted to off himself by taking a bottle of Ambien. He was unsuccessful at killing himself, but did earn an ET tube. As for the Ambien, I think he’s going to need to take more because he was the opposite of sleepy. In fact he was still flailing around the bed on 10mg/hr of Ativan.

 

It’s patient’s like these that really try my patience. I know the reality of my work, that most people will never change and the differences I make on a daily basis are small. I decided to become a nurse because I was tired of doing jobs that I felt like were pointless. I know what I do can be important, but at times it’s hard to keep that in mind. I suspect that someday I will change specialties, but not in the near future. I like Critical Care for the most part. However I would like to participate in a medical volunteer mission, preferably non-religious. I can’t imagine how it must feel to take care of people that actually want your help. To do things that will have meaningful and a large impact on their lives.

 

It must feel sublime.