I thought over the title to this post many times, I mean, I do realize that for most people who possess a relative measure of sanity the two just don’t seem to go hand in hand. And maybe they don’t and this post will only inspire you to consider my questionable sanity. Or you will agree and we can all be a little nuts together. Speaking of nuts, this post is not food related, though I have made and eaten lots of food in the past two weeks, I’m just not inclined to write about it right now. And somewhat ironically (with the topic of sanity and all) I am making spiced nuts as we speak. Pecans, to be specific, pics and recipe soon.
But back to me.
This Thanksgiving was the first holiday I have worked in a long, long time. To give you a bit of background, I am a nurse by training and up until two years ago had gradually advanced through the ranks of middle management until I was making a comfortable salary and working a gajillion hours a week. I could spend all I wanted to at Whole Foods but it didn’t seem to balance out the creeping feeling that my soul was being sucked out of my body by an endless time vacuum of meetings and spreadsheets and more meetings and more spreadsheets and agendas and again, more meetings. It’s not that I wasn’t thankful for my job; I worked with great people, I worked for great companies. But I am a doer and a thinker, and my creative juices just weren’t made any juicier sitting in a board room while someone read off a Powerpoint. And I had recently been through a sudden and catastrophic divorce, so I suppose that might have had a bit to do with my jaded outlook.
A few months later, emboldened by a few wine soaked heart to hearts with friends and also desperately and newly in love, I quit my job as a manager and went back to clinical nursing in the ICU. To say I saw the grass as greener is an enormous understatement; I was living in the desert and this new job was an oasis, so much that I overlooked the potential detriment of an over 50% pay cut.
Fast forward to this Thanksgiving, which I spend working 5pm to 5:30 am. Luckily or not my selfish whining is upstaged by the numerous patients attempting to die on Turkey Day, and I can’t sit down long enough to contemplate the family time I am missing. My job now makes me thankful every day; thankful I don’t have a breathing tube down my throat and especially thankful I have chosen not to smoke cigarettes, ever. I am thankful for my sanity, that I am not so sad I take 500 Tylenol and 50 Amitriptyline and turn my liver into a sodden mess, I don’t have terrifying and unexplainable sudden dementia that makes me scream at all hours as I am attacked by my own ghosts. We are so LUCKY and we don’t even know it! We are lucky we can swallow, that we don’t need our liquids thickened into disgusting slurry like consistency, nothing tastes good “nectar-thick”. We are lucky to have family, and love, and the beating of our own good hearts that aren’t limping with ischemia. We are LUCKY.
So why, why do I feel so angry?
I fell into the trap I always do this week when the lottery jackpot gets this big; I convince myself that i am going to win and that the universe has heard my pleadings and knows I will use the money for only good things and in two days I will never have to work again and I swear I won’t buy anything extravagant, I just want a new Volvo for the safety ratings and maybe a little apartment in Montmartre and of course a little cottage for my mother and then I swear I will give the rest away.
Of course, I didn’t win, and I found myself irrationally pissed at the universe for not awarding me my rightfully deserved prize. Then I felt exceptionally foolish for wanting such a ghastly sum, when I really don’t. Which got me thinking about what I really want, what I really need.
I need to write.
I need these books in my head to stop whirling around like an endless spin cycle, I want to stop my musings and daydreams and let those words tumble out onto the page for more than just an hour here and there when I can spare it. I want my bills paid and food on the table and a year off to spend with my chronically ill child who just keeps getting sicker, I want to feed her and love her and always be here at night when she is crying out in pain. I don’t want to be the absent other mother, caring for the sick while my family suffers. But there is no other way to do it, I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward, despite the challenges and the stress and the lack of time, I have to write despite the obstacles and hope that one day writing will help me clear them.
As I write this my daughter is awake clutching her poor sick belly, and all my whining seems futile. I just want her to get better, no matter what the cost. And I want to be there dammit, I want to be there for her always.