Note: this was written on yesterday on a break between shifts, but I didn’t post it because I didn’t get a chance to review it and tighten it up. So it’s being posted today, on my off day. Just read yesterday as the post date.
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Well, it’s one of those days.
Being a little short on cash, I’ve been picking up extra hours. Now, this is one of the nicest things about working in a nursing home: there are almost always extra hours to pick up!
While I can do them, I’m not fond of working 16 hours; they’re pretty exhausting and the day after, I’m pretty much a zombie. Unless I’m working and then I rather resemble Frankenstein. But, I need the money…so lately I’ve been picking up the back half of second shift as often as I can, usually once a week or so. While I’m still getting off around 11 pm, I at least get 4 hours off between shifts. On the one hand, four hours isn’t much…on the other, it’s four hours. Enough time to catch a movie, or visit Bass Pro, or wander around the mall. Or write a blog post…hello!
It’s amazing how much things can change, depending solely on your attitude…the old “glass half empty or half full” question. I know people think of me as the eternal optimist, but don’t let the outside fool you. Inside, there’s also the girl who’s waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the next thing to go wrong, the next person to judge her. Who can get caught up circling the fan as the sh…well, you get the picture. Having to work for everything I have is frustrating at times…sometimes extremely so. I’m not rich, I don’t come from a wealthy family. Sometimes to make ends meet, I have to siphon more of my time into my job; time I would have otherwise used to write or just be. I’m hardly alone in this, I know. Hell, I’m one of the lucky ones: I am able to make ends meet. I even get to put a little back. Not everyone can. Not everyone has a steady job with a steady income.
There are times I wish I could just write and ditch the full time jig. Work part-time or PRN. But that’s not life; not my life, anyway. Being a CNA isn’t just hard on your body; it is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. And because I write from a place of emotion, some days I get home, pull out my iPad and keyboard…only to discover the well is empty. That place of emotion has been drained by the events at the nursing home and I just can’t write. I need to feel, think, reflect, recharge. I need to wait; the words will come when they are ready. If I try to hunt them, they’ll just run and hide. I have to wait for them to come to me…because I’ve been told it’s painfully obvious when I’ve forced the words.
Sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes I think: “Maybe if I had a less stressful and less emotionally-involved job, maybe I could have more energy for writing.”
But today the glass is half full. I have a good, steady job and I’m lucky. I’m extra lucky because I can pick up when I need to…there are people who couldn’t, or who have to work two jobs just to make ends meet. But I get to work one job, at a place I like, and get the extra hours if I need them. I can put in two days’ worth of hours for a single day’s worth of gas. More time might equal more words, but my time spent with the elderly and infirm is time well spent. It gets me out of my own head, reminds me that a writer is only a conduit. The words may come from within, but the stories come from beyond us. My job might be stressful and emotionally draining, but I’m constantly surrounded by stories; I’m smack up against the bits of life that American society in general has stuffed in the corner. Well, I work in that corner–and my experience in it has definitely improved my writing style. “Write what you know”, they say and being a CNA, I know more than I did before.
My parents didn’t raise a hothouse flower. Working for a living and being an aspiring author is tough to balance, but it’s an adventure in balance. More time might equal more words…but for better or worse, I’m not a writer or a CNA. I’m both. And, not either/or.
And both are important.