Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Return To Life

It's a chilly late April night here in Chicago. We pretty much had all four seasons today. Just a typical Spring day here in Chicago.

I got most of the stuff I wanted done today-- didn't find the travel mug I looked for so that my wife doesn't steal mine-- getting her a pink one so that she can distinguish it from the earth brown one I use.

I even got a little schoolwork done. Very little. I have one last small project to turn in for my clincals, a "medications interview." I'm going to Skype my father tomorrow to do it. I had to get the interview questions ready, using the meds list my mother sent me.

Sitting here, with the Allman Brothers' "Dreams" playing over my shuffle, through the little battery powered speaker, sipping a glass of red wine, I had a lot of thoughts running through my head.

One thought was of disbelief. The obstacles I ran across through this journey were considerable. First off, I started out with the idea of going to pharmacy school. And with the idea that I'd work at a particular fancy downtown restaurant while I was in school. As my old friend Michael says, "You want to see God laugh? Show him your plans." First off, I was fired from the downtown restaurant after walking in on the manager doing cocaine in a washroom. He was apparently afraid I'd tell the owner, who thought he'd recovered from a bad addiction (his previous addiction-- not so previous apparently-- was public knowledge there). As I plugged away at the prerequisites, I took classes with my friend Leslie, who was also a co-worker in my other restaurant job, one I'd kept just in case. The place we worked at is a family place, and a pretty nice place to work. Nobody ever leaves. But just when I needed to go to full time there, two people left-- one finished college and moved back to his home country to run the family business, and the other moved to Vegas. This was serendipitous for me. And Leslie convinced me to consider nursing, a degree I could get in two years, rather than the 4 (plus two more years of prerequisites than I'd already done).

Last night I was waiting on one of my long-time regulars. I discovered for the first time that she's a nurse who works at a hospital that's on my short list of hospitals I'd like to work at. She asked where I was going to school and when I told her, she asked how many times I had applied. Once. She told me-- and I've heard this from others-- that there's a long waiting list to get in there. Many people apply three times before they get in, if at all. Again, a little disbelief that I was that lucky.

I was also lucky in having a fine bunch of classmates who have made this journey wonderful, even as grueling as it was. I can say the same about my instructors. I know that I will have lifelong friends among both groups.

In the midst of it all, my wife got laid off twice due to the recession. She managed to find jobs in a tough, tough job market; I considered dropping out of the program so I could work another job, but thanks to her persistence in finding a job, we didn't have to go that route.

And then there are my kids. I tried as hard as I could to make sure they got enough of me, both in terms of quantity and quality of time, but I know that they sacrificed. They are mature enough to understand how important this is to me-- that it will enable me to make sure they have the resources to go to college, and to follow their dreams in general.

This last week and a half, I started doing something I had mostly put off for ages: reading for pleasure. I'll write about both of the books I finished in the last week. And there will also be one other thing I'll be continuing-- blogging, and reading blogs.

In June, it will be five years since the worst week of my life. In the space of a week, I got laid off of a teaching job I loved and planned to work until I retired, discovered my dad had cancer, and discovered that one of my oldest, closest friends was murdered. I remember the weeks and months after that week-- mostly through a haze. I felt numb, dead even. Five years down the line, I feel good-- alive. I feel like my decisions-- to think outside the box, and to stick with my plan to change careers-- have paid off.

In the last five or six months or so, I've developed the habit of keeping a little notebook of blog post ideas. I'll be utilizing that soon. And I've been running some ideas about what I'll be doing besides working. I've got at least two book ideas. I'm also really hankering to travel-- there are some old friendships on the west coast that have had to wait because of school. I'm looking forward to getting out to bicycle more. To take my kids out to movies and plays. To having a glass of wine with an old friend. To watching movies. To return to life.


SkylersDad said...

I look forward to seeing your post JY, and I want to congratulate you again on nearing the end of this journey.

Mnmom said...

Can't believe it's near the end. Feels like you started just last month! It will be fun to hear about your first year as a bona-fide medical professional.

Welcome back to blogging!

Pat Tillett said...

As if going to school wasn't enough! You've had to deal with more than your share of other things. Reading will be a great way to forget about all but what is in front of you...