In The Streets
“All the street lights, glowing, happen to be
Just like moments, passing, in front of me
So I hopped in the cab and I paid my fare
See I know my destination, but I’m just not there…”
It’s been so long since I’ve updated this site that I don’t even know what to say, looks like the last time I updated the site was in late March. In that time, I’ve changed jobs, I changed schools, and things are happening.
After leaving AT&T and drifting aimlessly for a while, I got hired at Spectrum. At first, I treated Spectrum like a bullshit job that I didn’t care about. I think it was mostly because of the entry pay. But after a decent raise and then a shift differential, I had found a place that I wanted to stay until I graduated from nursing school. However, they changed my schedule to a point where going to school during the day wasn’t going to be feasible.
At the same time that they announced the scheduling changes for the whole center, I had just completed my healthcare basics coursework, lab time, and clinical rotations. I sat for the written and skills test and earned my CNA, or as Kentucky calls it – State Registered Nurse Aide.
With that in mind, it seemed like a sign that if nursing was my focus and I wanted to be about that life, there was no better time than the present to jump in head first. Don’t talk about it, be about it. So I started applying. I went to an open interview event at Norton Healthcare and sat down with a nurse manager. I went on to have an interview at Audubon Hospital and then another at Norton Hospital. I had also applied at Jewish and Kindred. I accepted an interview at Jewish and was offered the job the next day. I accepted and proceeded to do the onboarding requirements. Before orientation could begin, I got a call back from Norton offering me a job at the downtown hospital. Because it had been my goal to work at Norton, I accepted this job and backed out of the position at Jewish with as much poise and grace as possible.
During this same time period, I ran afoul of the chair of the nursing program at JCTC, after calling out the school on Twitter. An issue had arisen when our teacher allowed people to leave early. Because the course had federal requirements for logged hours, this was a big no-no. On this fateful night, my teacher’s boss walked in at 7:30 pm. I was there, along with two other students, but the other 20 or so students were long gone. So, they forced all of us to make up those hours. Even the three of us who were still there.
It was implied that I had broken the school’s social media policy. However, when I asked what section of the policy, knowing full well that the policy only applied to staff and faculty, they pivoted to possibly not accepting me into the ADN program due to my posts. In my mind, they’d already decided not to accept me, so I told them there were plenty of nursing schools in this town and someone would take my money.
And so, that’s the story of how I ended up at Galen, basically a year further away from graduating than I would have been if I’d just started there from the beginning. But it’s been good. I think it’s a good, albeit expensive, program and the degree carries name recognition for being a quality school.
Since starting at Norton as a PCA — Patient Care Associate — I’ve learned a ton of things and I feel like I’m already ahead of many of my classmates, many of them who are decades younger and have never worked in healthcare. In only a couple months, I know how to do things that they may not learn for months or even years. In January, we’ll begin our clinical rotations for school, doing hands-on work, most likely in long-term care facilities or nursing homes.
At the same time, I’ll be shifting gears at Norton, hanging up my grey scrubs for green, as a Nurse Apprentice, having been accepted into SNAP, which is the Student Nurse Apprenticeship Program. The first federally recognized program of it’s type, it gives me the ability to continue to build my clinical skills, often working nearly at scope along side a registered nurse. Being already familiar with Norton’s Systems, policies, and operating standards, I’m excited to be able to do more hands-on work than I’m legally allowed to do currently. My participation will run parallel to school, wrapping up at graduation time, just in time to take the NCLEX.
School and work has become my personality, largely because I have time for nothing else. I think everyone gets this false impression that because I “only” work 3 days a week that I’ve got so much time, but I’m working 12 hour shifts, from 7pm to 7am, and then often going straight to campus. On days when I don’t work and don’t have school, I often sleep 12-18 hours just trying to get back to baseline.
I say all this as a way of getting to the point, I’ve been missing everything. Family events, my kid’s sporting events, spending time with my girlfriend, and generally being a living breathing human being. If you ask me when we’re going to hang out, I’m likely to reply, “When you show up at the hospital, at Galen, or in my bedroom.”
Beyond all that, nothing else has changed. I wish I could say that I was becoming a better version of myself, less obsessed, more focused on the future than the past, and all that — but I don’t want to lie to you. I’m still carrying all my torches and they’re lit like the beacons of Minas Tirith.
In June, in the gap between Spectrum and Norton, Nicole and I took a trip to Washington D.C. for an event put on by American Nurses Association to lobby legislators on Capitol Hill. I had never been to the district and it was a fairly exciting proposition. There was a certain level of anxiety in it though, as Laurel lives in the area. I didn’t have any intention of seeking her out or really making contact with her, but she remains in my thoughts even now.
Nicole, knowing my feelings and being Nicole, had tried to contact Laurel a couple times. These were ostensibly friendly and Nicole’s way of letting Laurel know I still had feelings for her. I’ll never know what actually happened there, because neither party would share the contents of those interactions, but suffice to say, they were received poorly by Laurel. Never the less, Nicole was adamant that I needed to see her while we were in town. I was vehemently opposed to this idea and we debated it through most of West and Non-West Virginia.
No matter my protests, we ended up at the bar where Laurel spends most of her time that night. Earlier in the day, she had posted on Facebook a sort of open invitation to area trans folk to come out for drinks. As we, at the time, were Facebook friends — I would assume this would apply to me. This ties into the concept of assumptions. And, if we’re being honest, I knew there was a 90% chance she’d not want to see me.
So, there we are, standing on the sidewalk out front. I can actually see Laurel through the windows and I start to hyperventilate, replete with tachycardia. A full fledged anxiety attack. I plead with Nicole to leave, like let’s not do this, this is going to end poorly, etc, etc, etc. She declines.
We end up going into the upstairs portion of the bar and we have a few drinks. With a bit of liquid courage and social lubrication flowing, I send Laurel a message telling her that I’m upstairs, asking if she’d like to come up and say hi. This way I don’t crash her gathering, and she can save face in front of her friends.
So we wait, and we wait, and wait some more. Drinking more and more as we go, having befriended the bartender. A nice guy that had moved from Texas to D.C., a previous EMS technician and Army medic. Nicole and him both had the same role and rank in the military. We chatted about this and that, until finally I had waited long enough and was going to be so bold as to venture downstairs. I’ll never forget what happened next, because in 39 years on this rock, I’ve never seen someone react so poorly to seeing me. Not even the transphobe at AT&T who turned on her heel out of the women’s room having seen me…
At the bottom of the steps, I came around the corner and basically ran right into Laurel. We were maybe three feet apart. The closest we’d been since she drove away from our home in April of 2017. You always hear that trope about the blood running out of someone’s face, but I’d never seen it in reality, until now. Paler than pale. So white she was nearly transparent.
We have just lost cabin pressure.
The whole exchange lasted less than two minutes. Aside from asking me what I was doing there, she really couldn’t seem to get words past her teeth. Which, if you’ve met Laurel, you’d know is a pretty impressive feat. I finally said that I would make it easy and just go.
I spent the rest of the night and the trip in a state wavering between sadness and disbelief. I wasn’t shocked and if anything, I expected worse. I knew that there was nothing there, that the well had run dry long ago, but I still had to lean over the edge and peer into the void. By morning, she had blocked me on every social media platform.
In the afternoon, her bestie was messaging me accusing me of ill intent that I didn’t have. I told her basically that I could put my feelings in a bottle on a shelf, but they never seem to stay there for long. Even now, five months later, I’m still thinking about that fateful night. Running it through my head, replaying the horrible look she gave me. Of course, with Thanksgiving upon us, the memory of my mistakes weigh upon me heavily.
I’m working on erasing you,
I just don’t have the proper tools.
I get hammered, forget that you exist
There’s no way that I’m forgetting this.
You’re the shit and I’m knee-deep in it.
Other than that, everything is great!