When I grow up…

Ever since I was a child I had 2 dreams that have accompanied me into my young adulthood.  The first was the dream of becoming a nurse.  There is a picture of me on my 10th Halloween dressed up in a white dress, starched hat and a medic kit decorated with a red cross.  I even got sterile gloves from my aunt (an actual nurse) to complete the ensemble.  I felt like I could save the world in that uniform.  I imagined running around sterile smelling hallways  with ugly orthopedic shoes popping into various rooms to help strangers.  Blood doesn’t bother me, panic is something I find easy to diffuse, plus I am used to needles after years of type I diabetes.  I was raised for this profession.  Give me a paranoid, bloody patient who needs an update on their tetanus shot because they stepped on rusty metal filings; I can handle it.  Whenever the question what do you want to be when you grow up, I automatically replied “a nurse.”  I took this with me all the way through high school and applied at NIU with hopes of being accepted into their nursing program.

Everything seemed to be moving into place.  I applied and was accepted to NIU; I’d complete the pre-requisites and go through the motions to become an R.N. and then specialize in Endocrinology and Diabetes Education.  After my first chem class in my first week of college, a bomb dropped on me when I realized that despite my best intentions, I would need to pass many science and math classes to make this dream a reality.  I am a simpleton when it comes to this side of my brain.  I retain multiplication, addition, subtraction, and even some fraction knowledge, but I don’t stretch much farther from these points.  As far as science goes, it’s a miracle that I even passed in high school.  I am confident that my brown nosing, and extra credit attempts forced my physics teacher to pity me with a C so that I could in fact graduate.  The creative side of my brain was always more alert and active.  Writing was easy and literature was something I liked to dissect and understand.  Far easier than the frogs we ripped apart or the geometry problems we were given to solve.

All through high school writing was something you had to do in a specific format or about a chosen subject.  I don’t remember writing creatively, so naturally I assumed that all writing was this dry and rigid.  5 paragraph essays and book reports lacked fiction, unless you count my reportage on books I never finished.  I had a natural talent to bullshit teachers, and any other audience that was grading me.  Writing was never a challenge during this time, in fact my last 2 years of high school I never brought homework home.  I did it the class period before it was due, or in one of my study-halls or lunch periods.  I knew I could push through and complete something and I never wanted to spend more than 20 minutes completing it.  This left me enough time to copy my Spanish homework and create excuses for not completing my math assignments.

I started journal writing quite a bit after I knew that there was no way I’d be able to bullshit my chem teachers into a passing grade.  Mostly as a sort of self-therapy but it made me remember how much I really enjoyed writing and reading in my early childhood.  It all started coming back to me when my mother gave me a binder full of old assignments from elementary school one weekend I was home from NIU.  One of my papers had a short paragraph with my rigid 4th grade printing testifying “When I grow up I want to be an author like Roald Dahl.”  I remember James and the Giant Peach and dreaming of living inside fruit with talking bugs and flying about on an absurd magical journey.  Digging deeper into this stack of papers I found another assignment; a short story we were assigned to write for the first graders.  I was the only student who wrote for my audience.  I remember my teacher praising me for not writing gory, violent details about heads being severed and keeping my audience in mind.

Instead, my story was about a little old witch who had gathered ingredients for her cauldron, lizard tails, dead marsh grass, and pigs feet.  She had set all the ingredients out on the counter to spoil and went out for a leisurely flight on her broom.  When she returned her ingredients were just ripe enough for her recipe to be concocted.  She lit the fire and tossed strange and slimy bits into the black pot, humming a tune and tapping her toes.  When she was done she served the bubbly stew to her family and they laughed and giggled over the steamy pots.

It was very short but I’ll never forget the pride I felt as my teacher read it to the class.  She didn’t announce my name until she finished reading.  That was the moment I realized my story was interesting.  My teacher’s pride was enough for me to feel good, but it was the look on my classmates faces that made me feel like I could bust.  They never thought that shy little girl was clever enough to dream something up like that.

It made me hungry for peaches, and often I find myself salivating during my day job, unable to satisfy the hunger.  I try to eat and drink things that will make the taste in my mouth go away, and then I realize that the only way I can stop it, is by writing it down.  Getting messy and putting it out there without shame that I’m sticky and rivers of nectar are trickling down my wrists.  Eating a peach is like writing a first draft: messy, sticky, sweet, juicy, fragrant and eventually needs to be cleaned up and sometimes all you’re left with is a fibrous pit.  But that first taste will leave you wanting more.

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Published in: on August 23, 2011 at 9:37 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Holy cow, why are we not hanging out?! I’m not a literary critic, nor an expert on words, but dang girl, your creative adjectives, and how they flow, make me drooling for more. We should share writings. where are you these days? I’ll call soon. About time we grabbed that beer. -peter


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