The Happening Part I: The Move

It’s happened—I’ve moved to my new home! It took four trips total – 2 between my friend and I, and 2 in which my dad so kindly brought up loads of furniture, camping gear, tea, and various other items we’ve had in storage since he sold his house in May. Over the past few days I’ve carried heavy couches, desks, beds, bookshelf components, coffee tables, etc. up kinda sketchy stairs in unrelenting heat and humidity (the heat index here has consistently been reaching 110° by around 11:00 am; today it was 112° by 10:00). I’ve spent too much money on basic necessities I did not have and a couple of luxuries that will make life easier (blackout curtains! I’ll be working night shift again soon). I could not be more grateful to my dad or friend for helping me, and I’m quite thankful to be done.

And so far, Nala and I quite enjoy it here. The complex has a fitness center, pool, and a little dog park about 20 feet from our door, which Nala loves. She still gets to roam free and have a yard of sorts. She’s also keen on a couple of the obstacles and happily jumps through hoops and over bars if, on the other side, a treat awaits her. We have a view of the bluffs and a balcony from which to enjoy it (though, it’s been too hot to really enjoy much of anything outside), and a short walk away the complex has a cute little deck with a bench and a bistro table with chairs just back from the levee. From the deck, we can walk down to get a closer view and have a bit more secluded a walk on the riverbank. To top it all off, there’s a gorgeous and delicious smelling jungle of mint growing in front of the little unit we live in. Each unit has a little patch of vegetation; some flowers, some a tree. Ours has mint!

The dog park!
Nala loves the view/her new vantage point.
View from the little observation deck.

My favorite aspect of our new home, though, is the fact that we live right on a rail trail that spans about 21 miles, running on each side of the river, and includes North America’s largest pedestrian-only bridge. I’m a bit out of shape,1 so the most I’ve managed thus far is a two-mile out and back run along the trail, but I cannot properly express how stoked I am to be able to run twenty-one miles of trail protected from cars straight from my door. Running has been a force in my life that has saved me over and over, so to practically live on top of a trail that stretches that distance and is dedicated to pedestrians is kind of a dream.2 It gives me no excuse not to start training for a marathon after building back up to a decent base of mileage.3

But other than running, I haven’t done much, and nothing I have done has been by myself. But I’m giving myself time. I’ve only been here a few days. I’ve been busy organizing the apartment so that I feel together once I start my job on Monday. The aforementioned heat puts a damper on pretty much any outdoor activities, which are the main activities I like.  I don’t have much money because of the move and being between jobs. I’m giving myself today off from doing any of the things because I feel cruddy. And I feel like everything will be different once I do start my job. It is an incentive. I will meet people. I will belong to a community. I fully believe it will give me a bit of confidence to do the other things I would like to do, like join a kickball league, meet some runner and hiking friends, etc. So, I think it’s okay that I haven’t done much for now, and that I am using this week to get my money’s worth out of my apartment and just hang out with Nala. There is no shame in this, I think.

In other news, I just received an email this morning that informed that that somebody in South Africa downloaded my thesis. Which means someone might actually read that damn thing. I also found that if you google my full name or part of the title, it will pop up in a search! (I tried this several times when it was first posted to a database, but to no avail.) So, since there is a link readily available and accessible, I’ve added it in the sidebar! I’m afraid to reread it, because I am afraid I will no longer like it or be ashamed of it, but I’m posting it anyway. There might be some good ideas in there. Who knows.

1 A lot out of shape.

2 The ultimate dream would be to live on top of an unpaved trail covering this sort of distance in the mountains, or by the sea (especially by the sea), or in some sort of natural landscape, but still, this is pretty damn good.

3 I didn’t mention running/exercise/the outdoors in my first post and I won’t talk about it extensively here because I’m saving it for it’s own post that I haven’t found proper words for yet. But I credit running with everything, and am disappointed in myself for not making time for it during my final semester of nursing school.

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But perhaps something will.

Introduction

Hello, and welcome to a blog written by a woman to which and by which very little seems to happen, and much of what does happen she’d rather not talk about. If you’re wondering, then, what on earth this blog will be about, so am I.

I’ve recently graduated from a two-year nursing program, passed the NCLEX-RN, quit my job as a CNA at an LTC facility, and moved from one town to temporarily stay with a friend in another. All of this, of course, seems exciting, but has led into a rather dismal month-long waiting period preceding what I refer to as The Happening: moving to a new city (my state’s capital and most populous city) to live all on my own (a very prominent life goal) with my Dog, Nala, to begin my new fancy adult job where I get to take care of patients with fairly to deadly serious cardiac problems. Again, while this may seem exciting, it is primarily petrifying.

Then again, everything was once terrifying.

I am not particularly interesting, so to give you the short of it:
In the seventh grade, an English teacher told me that I had literature in my bones. I received little other adulation during my adolescence and spent most of my time avoiding life rather than putting any real effort in towards it. So, when it came time to either go to college or get a job (I was too anxiety-ridden to hold down a job, and what could I even do anyway?) I decided to and did earn a Bachelor’s degree in English as well as Creative Writing. That done, I found myself in the same position as when I graduated high school (home school, rather), so I decided to and did earn a Master of Liberal Arts degree. That done, and in the same position as when I graduated from college the first go-round, I decided to and did earn an Associate’s degree in Nursing.

Some individuals may be able to establish some chain of consequential events that led to the blossoming of said individualism, but I am not one of them. The person I was and the concomitant actions I took during my first four years of university, I do not like to reflect on.1 All I care to remember is that one day during that time, I decided to and did change. Despite my inability to retrospectively understand the present, I have identified two events that enabled me to change: 1) Precipitously but rightly estranging myself from my mother before my last semester of my first undergraduate degrees, and 2) the fear of never doing anything finally overwhelming the general fear of ever doing anything that accompanies generalized and social anxiety. I consider both of these, but particularly the latter an essential task in my personal development and in allowing me to be where I am today.

While pursuing my BA and BFA degrees, I often missed class due to anxiety. After that singular day in which I decided that I was more afraid of my fear than what my fear told me to be afraid of, I never missed another day of class. During graduate school, I did something I never imagined possible for me: I worked as a GA teaching English to freshmen students. I stood in front of 20 individuals at a time and engaged with them. Sometimes, I even enjoyed it. I even came out as gay sometime during all of this.2 But throughout graduate school I grew incredibly restless. Every bit of information I learned was precious to me, sacred even. I still reference, whether to myself or to others, what I learned during that time daily. But academia is largely inert; nestled away within pages and buildings (sometimes without even windows, as in the building I spent much of my academic career) which it will never leave. It builds upon itself, but it enacts nothing outside of itself.3 It describes and reflects more than it influences or acts. It is important, and yet, masses of individuals who have never once been exposed to the theories and ideas I had during college have done more to effect change than anything I have been taught or read. And anyway, I had just grown so tired of sitting. Of reading what had become, to me, ineffectual. Of writing what nobody would ever read.4

On my very first day of graduate school, I felt dreadfully disappointed. I attended my first class eagerly awaiting what the two years held in store, and by the end of the first class, had the abysmal realization it was essentially no different than the last four. In that moment, instantaneously, I decided to be a nurse. Though I did not see it as a decision then, retrospectively (perhaps I’m developing a knack for retrospection) I realize there’s no other path I could have taken after that moment.

Nursing, the medical field as a whole, really, epitomizes action. It is quintessential cause and effect. Somebody presents with a too high blood pressure, you administer hydralazine. You administer hydralazine, their blood pressure lowers. You watch for orthostatic hypotension, make sure they sit up slowly, stand slowly, don’t get dizzy or fall. If it’s too low, you lay them down, put their legs up to encourage blood return. Everything requires an action. It’s beautiful. You are always reacting or preventing, always assessing, and with that assessment, taking action. The rest of my academic life was purely assessment; an abysmal report on the state of things–of society, gender relations, race relations, academia, the goal of objectivity, subjectivity, identity, how all of these things influenced, informed, or undermined each other. Nursing encourages you to act, to do everything you can. And the results are palpable. Academia says, “proceed with caution,” or “act how?” The results, if any, aren’t even distinguishable.

I have only, thus far, written about my academic life because that is all that has happened. Selfishly, this was part of the appeal of nursing; the overabundance of opportunities to make things happen, personal things as well as professional. The pay is substantially more than I’ve ever considered making. The different fields within nursing are vast and diverse; you could try a new area or specialty every single year, if you liked. Nurses can find work just about everywhere, so anywhere you want move, you can. There is a field of nursing devoted to traveling, to working short assignments (generally 13 weeks) here and there with the opportunity to take 6 months between contracts to explore wherever the hell you want to explore. Volunteer opportunities are endless. All opportunities are endless. And I am thrilled to see what all I can make happen.

For more, I have also written a BIO, which also explains why this blog exists.

1 I understand that reflection is crucial to learning to and growing from past mistakes and poor decisions, but I am sufficiently ashamed, and at the first hint of acting similarly to that person, reevaluate my present actions.
2 I say this nonchalantly, because it doesn’t really matter to me. I am gay, I love being gay and being around gay people, but I find the fact that I like women about as relevant as the fact that I like tea. It was, nonetheless, a feat, and I do still struggle with it sometimes.
3 I realize that this is a simplification, but I hold it to be mostly true within the fields I studied. History excepted; the “objective” truth decided by former historians who believed in objectivity and thought the one and only truth was the one that best served their motives has been and still is taught in schools to the detriment of all. This is also a reflection of how I felt in my experience with academia, and perhaps not, as nothing is, objectively or even subjectively true.
4 I wrote my thesis on climate change, the death of the earth, mind uploading, and literature. It’s not very good, but I may post it here, anyway, so that maybe somebody will read it, even if they hate it. It reflects how little I believe in humans, even though caring for humans makes me love them whenever I logically do not.
5 I really LOVE footnotes.

Up Next: The Happening.