Nurse, writer. Somehow, that combination would not have entered my mind when I was most often being asked that unanswerable question "what do you want to be?" I wanted to be an actress, with my own show, like That Girl. or the Brady Bunch, or the Waltons, or Nanny and the Professor. I was going to be very funny. I watched way too much TV, as many of my generation did. I took my examples of what I could be from there. And the people in my life that I liked.
Uncle Walt was a private pilot, or he had his license I should say. He was building a small plane in a garage in his back yard. I was young, and prone to carsickness, so I was promised a flight "later." Later never came, so I wanted to be a pilot. I'd have been awful, for a very short time. Not good with distances and three dimensional space, nor did I develop an eye for detail or thoroughness until I was in my 30s. I might be a decent pilot now, but I've lost the urgency for that. And a lovely man I dated at a short but critical moment of my life who took me up in his small plane, redeemed the promise.
I wanted to be a ballet dancer, of course. Those inexpensive classes at Patton Park were more my mother's dream, but I am glad of them. Even if my hip is a bit screwy for it. My feet were already twisted, makes no difference. Never good with choreography, not quite flexible enough, nor anywhere near determined enough. I enjoyed the rhythmic movement, the sense of ease and accomplishment, the exactitude of ballet. We even had an elderly gentleman who came in to play piano for our 20 or so eight-year-old little girls plie-ing. ("Colored Gentleman" my mother would say, intended as respectful and polite. And it was, then.) Those huge mirrors in the dance room are probably why I still love gazing into a mirror. And now so enjoy these "photobooth" images.
I loved art history, and a high school art teacher put me in for a scholarship for that major. I shied away from college, a 3.8GPA, Merit Scholarship, and I didn't feel smart enough for it. I did a radio broacast course, and got a job in Northwest Lower Michigan, hated the work, isolated and wretched. I was no good at all at patter. I had no small talk, then. Still a skill I have to put a lot of energy into, and I tend to get very offensive with anyone trite, if I drop my reticence. (Chatting to comfort a patient is another set of skills, entirely. Which also took me practice. )
No, when I went to college, it was for acting. I didn't quite realize that acting and Theater are distinct. Theater programs are for plays and memorizing dialogue, and musical theater. Acting, for me, was about TV and movies, telling stories, voice acting, characters. There is certainly overlap, but not for me. It was good therapy, I needed it. But as an actor, auditioning and singin' and dancin'... I was going to starve. Not to mention I am not photogenic. Not pretty by Hollywood standards. Not interested in NY nor LA. I'd never quite realized it was a business.
I wanted to be a massage therapist. Everyone told me I should, I have a talent, what I call pain magnets on my fingers. I was most of the way through an apprenticeship (Massage colleges were just starting to be available.) Finishing my clinical hours, I was propositioned. I backpedaled furiously, and really looked at it for the business that it is. I have no talent at all for business. I was too far from the only places that would have hired me, and I was not about to go alone and start up a storefront shop.
About that time, I joined the National Guard, and decided to quit mucking about, buckle down, and do whatever was necessary to have a marketable skill, that still allowed me to touch people. I set my sights on a BSN. Army style, until I came to my senses.
Nursing seemed the perfect choice for a generalist like myself. A pragmatic decision, nothing romantic at all. I'd done a lot of the jobs that my patients would have. I could talk about anything. I could learn the rest. I'd enjoyed hearing stories, and random people always told me intimate stories. I explained concepts well, and I had good touch, I was calm in the midst of crisis. I found I liked the hard sciences I'd feared before, or was too lazy to apply my mind to after high school.
And surgery? One patient at a time, protocols so I didn't have to not only do my work, but also figure out what my work was. No ironing uniforms, work in PJs. At least two doctors responsible in the room, cool stuff to watch, toys and tech galore, very little math. No patient or family lying to me, no pile of pills to give out three times a day, no underlings who I have to supervise, I'm no more a supervisor than an entrepreneur. And when I went home at the end of the day, there was nothing left hanging over my head for the next day. When I passed off my room, I would not see that case again, and usually not see that patient again. Very freeing.
Perfect? Hardly. But a pretty good match for my abilities and deficits. I've learned more than I could have imagined.
And writer? Well, actually I always assumed I would write a book someday, when I'd lived a bit, had some stories to tell, had some perspective. When I imagined myself in my sitcom, I thought about how it hung together, motivation, consistency, continuity, retelling it over and over in my head. Not bad practice. The problem I'm still wrestling with is the heart of writing, conflict. I like boring, means nothing is going wrong. Life is quite hard enough with out badguys. I don't want to write about the nasty people in my life. They are not funny. Not yet.
I have learned to organize, streamline, listen acutely, perservere, keep working. I'm not lazy anymore. Not about the hard stuff, anyway. I know if I get the tedious and difficult done, I can sit and dither. Enlightened laziness.
Oo. There's a self help book in that phrase alone.
Labels: childhood, school, work, writing