Reminders Of What Never Was.

In order for me to Get Less Anxious, I’ve been doing a lot of purging. Getting rid of what’s not important. There’s a lot of noise and crap (literal and figurative) out there and if you’re not careful, it can take over your life.

This week, I braved the Salvation Army drop center, where I swear to you, Pranksters, they judge my stuff before begrudgingly giving me a tax receipt. I did end up holding onto a few things. Maybe I will hold an Internet Garage Sale to raise some money to try and turn Band Back Together into a Non-Profit (I’m guessing it takes more than just batting my eyelashes and swinging the word “bullshit” around).

I came across something in my garage, buried under the piles of stuff to be donated; something I’ve never quite known what to do with.

elmhurst-college-nursing-school

Let me back up a second.

In 2002, a freshly single mother living at home with my parents, I’d realized that I needed to figure out What Next. Since toddlerhood, I’d planned to be a diamond-encrusted, world-saving doctor. Newborn on my hip, I realized this was probably going to have to be put on hold until said infant got a little, well, bigger.

Half a degree in bio/chem meant that I could handily enroll in nursing school, which was, at the very least on a similar plan, and wouldn’t make med school too far a distant chipmunk on the horizon.

So I did.

The first year, I spent doing the typical freshman pre-reqs, falling in with a motley crew as I commuted by train to the closest school that I could get my bachelor’s degree in nursing. I earned the nickname Super Becky Overachiever, acing all the exams (a degree in bio/chem is far more rigorous), becoming a TA for inorganic, organic and biochem as well as picking up some tutoring gigs for Anatomy and Physiology I and II.

Sweet ASS, I thought, as I patted myself on the back. I loved being busy, feeling useful, and doing something with myself back then just as I do now.

The first year of nursing school dawned and I parted ways with my homies from my pre-req days. They had another year before nursing school, so I’d be meeting a whole new set of people. No bother, I figured. I tended to get along with just about everyone.

When I walked in that first day, thirty pairs of eyes glared at me. To this day, I don’t know why I was met with so much hostility, but there it was, and there I was. I slurped my coffee, smiled a big ole fake smile, walked to the back of the class and took a seat.

The instructors bounded in applauding, “AREN’T YOU JUST SO HAPPY TO BE HERE?”

No, no I was not. In fact, this was not at all where I wanted to be, but I grinned uneasily as I looked around at my classmates; the ones I’d be stuck with for the next two years of my life.

Everyone else beamed, nodded, and started applauding back.

Okay then.

I tried to make nice. Really, I did. As a (former) waitress, I can bullshit with the best of them, but man, these people, I couldn’t crack ’em. For the next four (four!) hours, I sat there, alone in the back row, listening to a discussion about wiping butts, properly changing sheets, and bedpans. Each point the instructor made, punctuated by a question or comment from my classmate about something inane.

“One time, my grandma had the bed made wrong at the hospital.”

“I like cheese.”

“Our bedpans at the hospital I work at look different.”

Four hours a week of this, four days a week.

I walked back to the train, alone, and I wept. Not the kind of cry that leaves tears dribbling out of the corners of your eyes, oh no. I sobbed. I sobbed so hard that cars passing by stopped and asked if I was okay. No. But I would be.

My heart was broken.

I did what I always do: I made the best of it. I befriended the other outcasts. I zoomed to the top of my class, got invited into the prestigious nursing honor society, while slouching in the back, playing Bejeweled on my phone. Every time I got discouraged, I reminded myself that this was temporary.

I developed an incredible respect for nurses. Still have it.

Nurses = awesome.

I wouldn’t be where I am without where I’ve been or what I learned.

A couple of weeks before graduation, there’s a big thing for nurses called a “Pinning Ceremony.” It has nothing, I learned, to do with wrestling or sex. First, you get your picture taken, something I didn’t want to have done (I’m a rebel like that, and really, who the hell wants a snapshot of a twenty-five year old?), but my friends all insisted.

nursing-school-picture

I love the surly face.

Anyway, there’s a big ceremony, a bunch of yapping, and we get pins.

totally-retouched-nursing-school-picture

That’s a nursing school pin. (also, like my retouching job?)

The night of the pinning ceremony, it was unveiled that some of the class had made each of us a gift from money leftover from something or another.

I don’t remember precisely what the ceremony involved, only that I spent most of it thinking about a) how hungry I was and b) listing the periodic table of elements (Hydrogen, Helium...) in my head. I probably played Bejeweled on my phone. Afterward, I went to the alter to collect my gift, the flowerpot I still own.

As I was looking for my name-flower pot (what the fuck was I going to do with that?) two nearly identical very short, very round woman with matching tight perms and haircuts so short they like tattoos waddled angrily up to me.

One of them shook their finger accusingly in my face: “WHERE IS NADIA’S?”

“Huh?” I replied. Nadia was a classmate who, well past the normal age of the graduating class, spent most of her time bitterly gossiping with her friend Melissa about everyone else. She especially hated me because, knowing I didn’t want to be a nurse – her life’s ambition – and beating her test scores seemed to mean that I was an asshole. (I am an asshole, but not for that)

“EVERYONE ELSE HAS A FLOWERPOT. WHERE IS NADIA’S?” the woman spat at me. Clearly, sparkling personality ran in the family.

I shrugged. I hadn’t been in charge of the flowerpots. Didn’t care about Nadia or her flowerpot. She could have mine if it meant so much to her.

The two woman stood there, on the alter of a church, no less, firing insults and complaints at me. I walked away.

It was a perfect end, really.

pinning-ceremony-nursing-school

I graduated some variation of cum laude and ended my illustrious career as a hospice case manager (nurse) at the age of twenty-six. I’d been a nurse for under a year. Longer than I’d expected.

college-graduation-aunt-becky

And now I have this completely useless flowerpot in my garage. Generally, I hate useless things. But I feel as though I should want to keep it. Or smash the shit out of it. Or something. Yet, I don’t. Which is why I’ve held onto it for so long. I just don’t quite know what to do with it, so I do nothing. It sits there, quietly haunting me, reminding me gently of where I’ve come from.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s a good thing.

Forever Yours, Randomly

I wanted to say thank you to all of you who read my post yesterday about anxiety and commented and emailed and stuff. It’s a weird thing for me to be dealing with, and I’m not sure how exactly to handle it. Anxiety, that is, not blogging, because, hell, I’ve been blogging so long that dust comes out of my fingers when I type.

I’m fortunate enough to have a doctor who is quite possibly the World’s Greatest Person. Like, I know I’m constantly giving the Nobel Prize for Awesome out to random things, like the guy who invented the bacon cheeseburger, and the person who made this picture:

Best-Picture-on-the-internet

If you don’t think that’s the greatest picture ever, I will fight you.

My doctor deserves the medal for Awesomest Doctor Ever.

Getting help made me I realize how long I’ve been pretending that everything was okay when it was not. Problems are bullshit. Denial is a bigger pile of bullshit.

The first order of business is to start thinking like an editor. I’m cutting out any excess [words] noise. Getting rid of everything I no longer require (I wrote about that on Curvy Girls). Literally and figuratively (when in doubt, throw around big words and hope you’re using them properly).

Then? Organization, Pranksters. After, of course, many hours of snow cone eating and dancing cactus videos.

CLEARLY.

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I realized I’d forgotten to announce The Winner for the Shut Your Whore Mouth Shirt Contest yesterday, but by the time I realized it, I’d already put up my post about being all anxious. It seemed so vastly incongruent to be all After School Special, “Pranksters, I’m struggling and anxious,” then, OHMYGOD, WINNER! #UNICORNBLOOD trumps #TIGERBLOOD!

shut-your-whore-mouth

But today, in a completely random post, I can announce it.

QCMAMA, come on down! You just won a Shut Your Whore Mouth Shirt! (soon to be available in PURPLE)

shut-your-whore-mouth-shirts

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This seems like an excellent time to tell you about Robert, the Worst Date of My Life.

Remember when coffee shops were like the new black and suddenly, they sprung up every-fucking-where? This was after that. One of my good friends worked at a coffee shop attached to a small, local video store, in one of those combinations that seemed like a good idea, but really wasn’t. One of his coworkers was a guy named Robert, and I should have known by his foppy haircut that he was Bad News for someone Like Me.

But, I was between boyfriends and when he asked me on an actual date, (I had boyfriends, not actual “dates,”) I accepted. What’s the worst that could possibly happen? I reasoned, even after uncomfortably noting his extremely well-manicured fingernails and soft palms.

Robert, it seemed, was the worst that could happen.

The night of Our Date, I met him at the coffee shop and he chivalrously offered to drive to the multi-theater complex located a good 45 minutes away. Okay, I thought, anyone with hands like that was probably not a rapist or axe-murderer.

And he wasn’t.

Robert was of a completely different ilk.

Robert was Mr. Sensitive Pony-Tail Man, sans pony-tail.

Now, I’m all for a guy who likes to talk about His Feelings without the use of hand-puppets and other props, but Robert took things to a whole new level. A whole new level that made me so uncomfortable that, had we not been in a car on the highway, I might have had him pull over so that I could show my own feelings. Vomity-type feelings.

In that 45 minutes, I learned this: Robert was 22 (I was 18) and lived at home with his mother. He’d had a long-term girlfriend who he’d recently broken up with because she’d moved away to be a part of some traveling Renaissance Faire and he couldn’t handle the distance. They’d tried, he informed me, and his mom was pretty mad at him because they’d racked up massive phone bills.

Apparently, Robert’s answer to being so far apart was to spend each night on the phone, sleeping together.

Yes.

You read that right.

They “slept” together. On the phone. Listening to each other snore.

I’ll wait while you vomit.

….

….

….

….

I appreciate romance as much as the next person, but that’s just plain old creepy.

He waxed on and on about his ex for the entire car ride. Clearly, he was not only co-dependent, but also still not over her. Ugh. By the time we arrived at the movie theater, I was ready to go see a movie – any movie – by myself. But, no. Cell phones were still relatively new, weighed about 6 pounds, and cost hundreds of dollars to own. I had a snazzy gold beeper instead.

Snazzy wasn’t about to get me away from Creepy Robert.

Oh well.

So, before we went into the movie of his choosing, I insisted he buy me the biggest vat of popcorn they had and a bucket of Diet Coke and some Junior Mints, because, well, then the date wasn’t a total loss. I wasn’t normally the kind of girl who did such things, but I’d just spent 45 minutes listening to the virtues of Megan, The Most Wonderful Renaissance Princess Ever Who Also Played Dungeons and Dragons And blah, blah, fucking BLAH.

I considered this my tasty and delicious therapist’s fee.

I’d been too busy craning my neck around to see if I knew anyone who I could bum a ride home from to notice what movie Robert had chosen for us to see, but it was no surprise that he’d chosen the lamest movie ever: Ever After: A Cinderella Story.

I dry-heaved.

Instead of focusing on the riveting plot (I’d have chosen a movie like Die Hard), I listed the Periodic Table of Elements in order my head: “Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Beryllium, Boron, Carbon…” Then, claiming “bathroom break,” I went into the lobby and played air-hockey with a couple of twelve-year olds.

When I came back, Robert was openly weeping.

Not at my absence or anything, but at the movie. Apparently, it was very touching and I had missed it! O! the humanity! O! the emoting! O! the beauty!

O! the vomitus!

I took my seat next to him and he sobbed so loudly that people began to turn around in their seats to stare at him. Not a single other person in the theater was tearful, so I guess it hadn’t been that emotional.

I was mortified. I was with That Guy. I had no idea how to handle it.

So I patted his leg reassuringly and said, “There, There.”

He wept louder.

The ushers came.

They asked us to leave.

The entire ride home, he babbled about how “beautiful” and “true” that movie was. I just stared out the window, willing the ride to go by faster, wishing I’d worn a mask.

When we got back to my car, he professed his love to me. I suggested that he “rescue” his “true love” from the Ren Faire.

He agreed.

Then he called me so often that I had to block his number.

The Moral of This Story: Never, ever date a guy with soft palms.

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

The rumors are indeed true. We are moving back to civilization.

Fed up with the blatant snobbery of Oak Park coupled with living in the ‘hood, Daver and I have decided it will be in our best interests to move right back where I started from, oh do-dah-day. Call us ‘sell-outs’ or ‘suburbanites’ til you turn electric blue in your face, it will be lost on us.

Sure, the city is a whirlwind place, teeming with new people and exhilarating experiences but how can you enjoy it with a small child? And why, pray tell, would one want to pay MORE for goods and services, common variety of course, as we all know that I’d pay through the nose for a wax replica of the vagina of Katherine the Great, but hey, this is Chicago, not France. I guess that I can still find Chicago a neato place from the suburbs, which may be impossible for most of you to understand.

I like wide open spaces, devoid entirely of homeless men showing me their penises and scabs. I appreciate not being panhandled on every street corner, each sob story more impressive than the last, all, apparently involving missing train fare. I like being able to park in places that I would like to shop (or rob, but who’s counting?) and not have to beat off all of the eco-friendly vehicles with my behemoth of a truck.

I love that traveling from one point to another for such goods and services as ‘groceries’ and ‘gasoline’ isn’t such an arduous journey taking upwards of 30 minutes in the car.

Each way. I like that said grocery stores DO NOT HIRE SECURITY GUARDS. ESPECIALLY AT THE GROCERY STORE. THAT IS SO FUCKING CREEPY.

What I adore most of all is that there is only one valuable color for currency in St. Charles. It is not, miraculously, hemp, nor is it a muted earth tone procured ONLY at Whole Foods, it is green and it is great.

So we’re off to the land of gas-guzzling monster Hum-Vee’s; off to the land of wide open spaces, off to wherever the hell is far, far away from Oak Park.

Fuck you Oak Park, I don’t want you back.