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.

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

47 Responses to Reminders Of What Never Was.

  • I am super-impressed that you made it through school with such sour sports in class. Would’ve been boring as hell.
    As for the flower pot, keep it if you’re attached to it. I’m pretty good at trashing my junk when it builds up, but I still have my badass 6th Grade Spelling Bee trophy (Im 30.) It stands for pissing off the kid who I beat and then had to sit next to for the next 6 years of school.

  • denise says:

    you could let your kids plant something in it, watch them get obnoxious and then they will break it for you :D problem solved!! thats the way it works in my house, anyway :D
    or you could put sponges and dish scrubbers in it.

    but i really think its a great reminder of how kick ass you are. graduate and irritator = AWESOME!!!!!!!!

    btw:SWWET pic of you and the boy!!

  • Suzali says:

    You are just awesome as usual! You inspire me so much and make my days more bearable ;) I want to be you when I grow up ( well, I am 6 years older then you but you know what I mean ;)OK enough of ass kissing… if you ever need a place to stay in Munich, Germany – I am your gal…xxx

  • Amazing! I love all the nurses that have helped me throughout all my dramas – except when they weren’t allowed to give me Milk of Magnesia w/o a doctor’s consent – Bullshit! They need more power :)

  • Sandra says:

    In my (never to be) humble opinion, purging things that don’t matter doesn’t equate to purging ALL. A reminder here and there of how hard you’ve worked (and how far you’ve come) doesn’t need to get tossed with the ripped Slip ‘n Slide and left gardening glove. Stick some loose change or pens in there, and keep on truckin’. You’re kicking ass, and it’s inspiring.

  • Squatlo says:

    Congrats on surviving with the dregs of society for classmates… and yet, I can’t help but wonder, “Where’s Nadia’s?” !!!

  • PBPDesigns says:

    You could toss your loose change in it and save for a college fund for your kids… That’s what I did with one. When it gets full I dump it in the ginormous water jug and start over. Hoping that by the time Thing2 needs it there’ll be enough in it to pay for her ed-u-ma-cation.
    P

  • Kizz
    Twitter: Kizzbeth
    says:

    I feel like you should do both. You should smash it then use the pieces to decorate something else. Smash the bad part of it (people suck, you didn’t want to be a nurse, people really suck, hospice is HARD [but motherfucking important] yo) and use the pieces to prettify the goodness that’s coming next. Book! Orchids! Revised body! Band Back Together Bloggie Win! Sounds cheesy but maybe stick the shards onto a new, bigger pot you can use for one of your orchids or stick them onto a slate you can put in your yard and walk on every single day. If you’re feeling ridiculously ambitious you could use them to make a mosaic representation of the wolf t-shirt but that wouldn’t be plain crazy, that would be fancy crazy with the cherries on top so maybe don’t do that one.

    • katrina says:

      I love this…..SMASH it! (feels good!)… and then make a mosaic out of it, or decorate slate to walk on. Double Win!!

  • Kelly says:

    I’m not one for keeping a bunch of stuff laying around either. I’m also not someone who gets stuck emotionally on “stuff,” but sometimes there are reasons for not letting go of some things from our past. A few things. Not like Hoarders, but a pot to remind you of what you did for you and Ben, and where you’ve come from can be important. Keep it, plant something in it, or hide it back in the garage. You may want to go back and look at it at some point.

  • I have some things like that. I look at them periodically. Wipe off the inch of dust and instead of throwing them out, put them back down on the shelf. I really should just throw them out.

  • Pam says:

    Well, it’s official. Whether humor is involved or not, your posts are always, ALWAYS worth the read. When faced with an item like your flower pot, I hang on until I understand the why of the holding on. You’ve come a long way baby-and look at you now! I am so glad you share with us!

  • Maria says:

    Say goodbye to that thing.

    You will never forget nursing school, at least not the important bits. This pot? Just say goodbye. It might never do anything good for you, just make you remember the Nadia accusations (My dog was called Nadja – completely off topic).

    You are where you are, and you are growing daily. You don’t have to keep things that bring you down.

    <3

  • I think the fact that you don’t quite know what to do with the flower pot is an indication that you should probably keep it. But do something cool with it! The flower pot represents who you WERE…let whatever you do with it represent who you ARE.

    Also? Wtf do flower pots have to do with becoming a nurse? Jus sayin.

  • big fan of objects, songs, THINGS that evoke memories like this. big fan of this post. (big fan of you in general).

  • I believe only another nurse and/or someone who also realized they were meant to do something different only after finishing school can relate. I am both, and though I like what I do now, all the pairs of scrub pants and hideous looking crocs humble me when I thinkof how far I’ve come and how many lives I helped.

  • Jolie says:

    I don’t think that the pot should bring you down. I see the pot showing you that even when faced with snarky people, doing something that is NOT your life long passion, you freaking ROCK! I’d fill it with coffee beans and use it to hold my pens on my desk. Maybe even print a pic of you and Ben and put it on there. That pot is your trophy! Proof of what you can do when you put your mind to it! Put a pic of you with your cords and all that graduation glory on it too! (naturally you got PURPLE cords!)
    Or put the pix on it and plant an orchid in it to show that life comes from the past, no matter.
    I’d say the pot deserves more than a spot in the garage or goodwill pile.

  • Debra says:

    If it were mine, I’d paint over the “Becky”, and re-paint it with “Nadia”. At least it’ll make you smile every time you see it.

  • This is exactly how I feel about my sharps container full of used needles from my fertility meds that cycle my twins were conceived. I don’t know what to do with it? Only one twin survived and I have this need to keep that sharps container but I have no idea why. It sits in a cabinet and I only see it every few months (at the most).

    Some times we have to keep things because of the memories attached to them. Just taking a photo of the container and keeping that just wouldn’t be the same.

  • Chris in PHX says:

    dig a whole in the yard and burry it, plant another rose bush on top of it and smile

  • I totally understand keeping somthing that serves as nothing more than a reminer of where you have been. I think it’s important to remember those things…even though it wasn’t your most joyful time. Just stick in pens in it or plant something in it and watch it grow into something amazing.

    I am very impressed that you went to and completed nursing school while feeling marginally apathetic about your journey to nursing life.

    I’ve tried to go back to grad school twice, these damn kids keep getting in the way, but maybe someday! :)

  • This is so great. And I love you for it. And so true. I have stupid shit I can’t get rid of cause it reminds me of where I was and where I am now. And I son’t want to let go but I don’t want to hold on. So it sits in limbo. Maybe there is a limbo place we can put it.

  • Send that bitch to Nadia’s mother!

  • JLK says:

    I get the sense that you and I are in the same position.

    STUCK.

    Having done some kick-ass stuff in the past to get where we wanted to be, only to have life throw us some curveballs, causing us to find ourselves in a position where we still know what we want, but circumstances make it damn near impossible to actually DO it.

    It has consistently sounded to me that you still really want to be a doctor. But with 3 kids at home, medical school wouldn’t just be goddamn HARD, it would be pretty fucking-near impossible. Or at least really, Really, feel that way.

    Your MD is my PhD.

    You know what I think you should do with the flowerpot?

    Put an orchid in it.

    Then tend to it as a reminder to keep tending to your ambitions. It’s not over yet, Becky.

    • Emily says:

      “Having done some kick-ass stuff in the past to get where we wanted to be, only to have life throw us some curveballs, causing us to find ourselves in a position where we still know what we want, but circumstances make it damn near impossible to actually DO it.”

      Beautifully put. I’m in the same boat as you. Curveballs seem to be the story of my life. Becky, sometimes I feel like that empty flowerpot. I finally got the dirt (my Master’s degree), but I am in no position to get the seed (my PhD). One day I will. I’m not giving up hope. But, let the flowerpot do what it was meant to do – grow something lovely – and let it be a reminder that you should grow along with it.

  • Kana says:

    I’m with the ‘destroy it somehow’ group – you have a little boy — take him out for a just-this-once smashing fest. Give him a baseball bat or a hammer and some safety goggles and just let him get in touch with his inner BamBam.

  • Alexandra says:

    I would keep it. It’s good memories that will be triggered. Use it to hold sunglasses.

  • Amelia says:

    Put an orchid in it.

  • monica says:

    my husband kept his shaved beard in a small round container for 15 years. i was really worried when i found it. but it reminded him of a period in his life… he also kept his 40th birthday cake [i won't speak about this] and the soap dish he stole from the house we stayed in when we met.

    keep it. it won’t rot. rodents/insects are not attracted to it. and it is sanitary and reminds you of how fun it is to be a bitch. i like alexandra’s idea – sunglass holder. maybe for the array of tacky cheap sunglasses you can buy once your house is purged.

  • mom-mom-mom says:

    Let me know if you want a ratty pair of Elmhurst College sweats — my husband still has his from 1988. (Small world! We ended up moving to the ‘hurst aka Mayberry.)

  • Ari says:

    Dearest Aunt Becky,

    I apologize about being totally off topic, but I found you from the Bloggie nominations (Congrats on the Band Back Together Win!), and decided to read through your archives. Did you know that you have over 400 pages of archives? It’s a true story. I am also an insomniac so I have lots of free time between 2 and 6 am. Still, I felt from the first post I read, that I didn’t want to miss anything, thus, reading your archives.

    I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more, I cried some more. I love you hard. Just wanted to let you know. Also, I totally want to be a Prankster now.

  • Kristin
    Twitter: dragondream
    says:

    I think you should bedazzle it and turn it into a sparkly pot to put on your desk and keep shit in.

  • Amanda says:

    Some people just plain suck. Seriously, stealing a flower pot? That would take away from your bejeweled game.

    You need to keep the flower pot. It’s part of your personal compass. What you can get through, overcome, adapt to, move ahead after. you could do it again if you needed and the flower pot reminds you.

    I kind of wish you’d stole Nadia’s.

  • Sarah P says:

    You should plant something really lush and beautiful in it. It would be a nice symbol.

  • steph gas says:

    aunt motherfucking becky, you never told me you were a hospice nurse! (which saddens me because in my mind, you and i are totes bff) i’m like a quarter of the way to my associate’s degree with a focus in psychology (IRONY) and was thinking about going into social work. and maybe working with a hospice because my mom received such good care at one. and we had great social workers who seems surprised by my calm and lack of rageful crying, but comfortable with my cursing. which was very comforting.

    and that’s what i think i might might MIGHT want to do. is help people with that rageful crying and let them curse at me. and i might curse with them. because it feels good sometimes. i’ll only do it if the pills keep working as good as they do, because i kind of hate most people so i’m not sure if working outside of the home is a ‘good’ idea.

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      Hospice was awesome. I actually loved working hospice. I quit when I got really sick when Alex was born and never went back (obviously). Maybe you should do that. THAT is a calling!

  • Kristen says:

    You are a doctor in theory. You bring laughter and emotion to all your readers. It a therapy no schooling would teach you. You are a natural born blogger. I am so glad I found you. :)

  • Dawn says:

    I was in a class like that once. But it was in grade 10 when you expect people to be jerks. And it was my only class like it. It still depressed the hell out of me. But then, it WAS grade 10, so I probably would have been depressed anyway.

    My theory is that they recognized superior intelligence when they saw it and were immediately crazy jealous.

    Now, I know you say nurses = awesome and you are right. About some of them. Some of the dimmest girls I went to school with became nurses, which is a terrifying thought and one of the reasons moving back to my hometown is a frightening concept that I refuse to entertain. Some of the most stubborn, pig-headed and STUPID people I have ever met have been nurses.

    True experience #1:

    ME: “I’m sorry I’m not wearing an innoculation-friendly top. I didn’t realize they were going to open up the H1N1 vaccinations to the general public today, but wanted to get here before the massive line-ups started. But that’s okay. I have a cape on, so I can just slip that arm out of my turtleneck, underneath the cape and you can stick the needle in that arm without me revealing anything REVEALING.”

    NURSE: in a ‘I’m MUCH smarter than you, oh, stupid member of the public without a nursing diploma’ tone of voice:

    “Oh, no. I can push your sleeve up high enough.”

    ME: “No, you won’t be able to. The sleeves are too tight. I can just slip that arm out and… ”

    NURSE: “Sure I can. Take off your cape and blazer, please.”

    ME: *complies, knowing we’re wasting time while people are standing in line, but not wanting to rile the lady with the sharp needle*

    NURSE: *makes futile attempt to push sleeve up my arm… it goes up to my elbow and stalls…*

    *tone of contempt that would have suited my having made the opposite arguement *

    “Well, I can’t push that up far enough. I know what we can do. You’re going to have to put your cape back on and take your arm out of the sleeve… etc.” word for word what I proposed.

    I just barely restrained myself from facepalm and a Homer Simpson-style, “D’oh!”

    True experience #2:

    NURSE: *in a voice of total amazement and not a little critical, whilst preparing to remove my stitches after a Caesarian*

    “Your chart says you’re 28? Why did you wait SO LONG to have a baby?”

    ME: *blinking in disbelief – 28 is old???* “Um. I thought I’d get married first?”

    NURSE: “Oh my gosh. I’m only 34 and my daughter is 14. HOW OLD will you be when this baby is 14? Tsk, tsk, etc..”

    And she proceeded to a spectacularly unsuccessful attempt to add 28 and 14.

    Again, the lady had the ability to cause me pain, so I shut up, but shouldn’t someone who handles medication have basic arithmetic mastered?

    I could go on. I seem to have a bad nurse magnet. Except for the angel in the OR with me during the birth of the 2nd baby when I woke up too soon – THAT woman is a saint.

  • Dawn says:

    YOUR superior intelligence was what they were jealous of.

    Me superior in chemistry? Not so much.

  • Valerie says:

    Hey – love the crazy nursing school stories – they are supposed to be terrible and then you get out and it can’t get worse. Oh no, wait – it does!
    I’ve been reading for a while and totally think you’re an ER nurse but in denial. I mean, seriously, you can get away w/ being straight-forward, bitchy, bossy, loony, sadistic and stick people w/ needles. It doesn’t get better than that!! Yes, I’m a nurse – right now at a stupid job charge nurse at a seniors home…but dreaming of ER days which is totally who I am. Including the bitchy, sadistic part – with a sweet smile.
    Do it. I think it’s the ONLY Nursing job – although same can be said for each nurse’s passion. :)

  • Neeroc says:

    Why the hell haven’t you bedazzled the hell out of that fucker? It would make a rockin’, sparkle-y, um, whatever.

    Or. Send it out to your pranksters. It could be the Aunt Becky version of Flat Stanley. And it might just get smashed in the process. Think about it, the first few pictures are the Becky flowerpot having a great time at Mt. Rushmore, and by the end your pranksters are holding up handfuls of shards in front of Big Ben.

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