Monday, July 23, 2007

Not Teasing

I'm now free to reveal Girlchild's Plan, which has changed radically in the last few weeks, culminating in a screeching Bat-Turn in a new direction - maybe the one she should have had all along, but it took a while to identify it.

Girlchild had planned to move to Baltimore and pursue a grad degree in behavioral analysis. But the more she thought about it, the more she realized that she really enjoys hands-on patient care, and the prospect of sitting in an office seeing her people for an hour an appointment didn't thrill her.

So she is staying in Orlando. And going back to UCF, to do the accelerated BSN program. She's going into nursing.

I am thrilled and proud of her. I think she has identified the thing that makes her tick. And I envy her so much.

I remember when her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she had just graduated (like, days earlier) from high school, and it was the summer before she was to leave for FSU. And he was hospitalized on the cancer floor, which is, for the uninitiated, rather horrific. Because these days, if you can almost stand up they give you a walker and the insurance company insists that you go home, so the people on the cancer floor are the sickest of the sick, post-major-surgical, doing heavy chemo, so if they are there for more than a few days, they are truly in rough shape. I will never forget the tall gorgeous young woman, as lovely as my daughter, shuffling the hallway dragging her IV. Or the funny young man, smart-alecking around after removal of a brain tumor - he couldn't wait to go back to work and announce "Yes, it VAS a toomah!" He was pale and emaciated and his head was bandaged, but he was so damn determined to get back to LIVING. Or the mom with the two adorable little girls, maybe 4 and 6 years old, riding up with me in the elevator, and one asked, "Are we going to see daddy?" and my heart just fell to the soles of my shoes, because bad as it was for us, at least my husband got to see his kids grow up before this hit him, and they weren't visiting him carrying coloring books. As hard as it was for me, I felt horrible for her, because she had it infinitely worse.

So, it was a rough place to be, and my son didn't want to visit. I think he made one hospital visit, and after that he would spend time with his father at home, or call him in the hospital and amuse him on the phone, but he couldn't take that place. His sister, OTOH, walked onto that floor like a visiting beauty queen, flashing her expensive orthodontically corrected smile at anyone who caught her eye, as if we were doing something normal, instead of trapped in a little shop of medical horrors. She hated it too, she misses nothing, but she had such poise and she was so damn tough and cool and strong, at 18. She never let 'em see her sweat. I know it wasn't easy, I know how much it sucked, but she did it with grace. She has that mix of compassion and toughness and humor to do that work.

And then in February she got to go through it all over again, this time on the neuro floor, with her mother lying in a bed with a half-shaved head and an array of monitors behind her. And she was funny and calm and pragmatic and took care of me, and just dealt with it.

And she works every day in a residential program with people with severe disabilities and behavioral issues, it is very challenging work, she gets scratched and bruised, she ducks poo-flinging, she can wipe a butt and resume eating her Power Bar without a second thought, and she genuinely gets a kick out of those kids. But she's making less money now than she did waiting tables at a theme park while she was getting her degree. That is insane, and we could discuss at length how f-ed up this is.

But we won't, because it is what it is, and it is a good experience that helped her clarify what makes her tick. She will make one hell of a nurse, and will even be able to afford a place to live. Eventually.

Me, I'm still working on the thing that makes me tick. But I know what I must get rid of. This house. Sooner rather than later, then I'll figure out where to go and what to do.

Those of you who followed from the old blog remember the Cupcakes? The two high-strung prima-donnas who controlled the atmosphere of the office? They are gone, and now we have testosterone wars - two guys strutting around peeing on everything to mark their territory. WTF is wrong with this place, that we can't get sane people to save our lives?

Oh, and our wonderful new paralegal had to quit for family reasons. Her family is out of the country, so it wasn't like she could just pop over on a weekend to check on grandma. So I'm back to a crazy workload and interviewing for a new paralegal. And the stress is building again, and I'm thinking that this house has to go between now and December, and then I'll figure out where I am going. But this working for the mortgage payment on a house I don't need is for the effin' birds. I want an apartment, and money in the bank, instead of the endless upkeep on this place. I feel so liberated - I'm not as thrilled for me as I am for Girlchild, but the idea of getting out of the house to save myself now feels like the right thing to do. I'm ready to take off with my dog, my camera and my laptop, in my little used Subaru.


Ginnie said...

I am happy for your girl. I have always wished that I could figure out what I should do, and I envy those that do.

I received my St Joseph statue in the mail today and he is going into the ground in just a few minutes. Of course, if this works, I am going to have to do a bit of crow eating, but It will be worth it.

sallyjo said...

Good for your daughter!
A part of me is thinking, "VW van, violin, long flouncy skirts, and low-cut blouses." It isn't high and noble, but somebody has to say spooky-sounding things at night on the carnival grounds.

Sue Woo said...

I know Girlchild's feeling. I had thought about studying behavioral analysis til I found out it's watching rats do stuff and taking copious notes. Puke. I want the real work too-that's why I became a Social Worker. It's the real work that has nothing to do with taking away people's kids. Good for her. Give her my best.

My friend, the mega-real estate agent says don't pait your house to sell it. The new people will come in and paint it on their own. So try not to work too hard. "As is" is good enough, I think.

ikate said...

I'm envious of your Girlchild...It's been in the back of my mind that nursing is for me for several years now. I have a BA in communications with a minor in Bio...I work in fundraising, which is eh - okay. The problem is the only accelerated BSN program around here is freakin' FULL time with daytime courses! They even advertise the program as a "great second career!" but it's not so great if you have to work, too. Now with my own Girlchild, there is no way I can afford to take a year and a half off to pursue a new career. Maybe in a few years I can start taking some night courses and get on the long-road to nursing. Good for her for figuring it out before all the other life commitments come rolling in.

Jane said...

I've said (or at least thought) this before: you two make quite a powerful team. Brava!

Bess said...

What? Not fashion modeling? Nursing? Ha! I used to wonder how my soft fluffy girly mom could do all that bloody cutting stuff till one day I heard her talking to another nuse about the OR - where they both worked. That clinical, science brain overrode the Glenda the Good Witch personality and I just stared - open mouthed - thinkig "It really takes all kinds to make up a world!"

And thank goodness. I don't do blood, but I am eternally glad there are people like Mom, and Girlchild, who do.

Chanting Happy House Buyers for you with a nice small apartment as a Christmas Gift.

Catherine said...

There were no rats in the program she had chosen, just more autistics. But that behind the desk help by appointment stuff isn't what she wants, and I'm glad she figured it out now and changed focus and not after another degree that still didn't get her there.

Bess, I know, I'm flipping! She looks like the perfect pharmaceutical sales rep yet she'd rather do the hard stuff.

Now I feel challenged to find my own thing that makes me tick - well, scratch that, I know what makes me tick, I need to figure out how to make a living at it!

Ginnie said...

If you could do whatever your heart desires and know you could make a living, what would that be?

Catherine said...

Write and take pictures. Neither offers a regular salary or medical insurance.