Friday, December 1, 2017

Women be Wise: What the Husbands Can Do. #nursingschool

This reminds me, I really need to get the sheet music for this. I first heard it more than 20 years ago, so I'm sure I'll get around to it eventually.

I'm now fully 6 months into my express nursing program, and I have to say, my husband has I mean, REALLY, stepped up to the task.

I can't believe how much he has supported me through this! And although he is usually motivated by money, it is not like I'm coming out of this with a six figure salary or anything. I think he is just enjoying the changes that are to come, and altruistically, excited to see me put my energies into something that will [hopefully] be a successful career.

Cuz, Lord knows, I have been putting my energy into career paths that, let's just say, never really gave me that energy back. It doesn't mean I didn't enjoy every minute - I really did - I'm just ready for a new challenge that will also give me some stability and self-respect.

And I honestly want to help people. I've always felt that way, and I even saw performing as a way to bring people joy, and that is who I am, at the core of me. I know that now.

But the other day, I was in the mood disorders unit at the psych hospital [my current rotation], and I was sitting in group therapy. I was listening to patients speak, and the heat was blasting in the room. And it had been a busy weekend with the kids, and I was up late the night before, and I was getting tired. And I was tired of listening to people whom I didn't think I could really help. I was getting mad. I have been coming home and saying to my husband, "those people weren't sick today. I couldn't help them." And on this day, I did not have that spark in me, that inner being that was screaming "give your heart and soul right now!" And I realized why.

I had already given my heart and soul to something. Twice.

First - of course - it was performing. I've been through many times throughout that journey where my SOUL was crying. It was heart-wrenching. It was the most frustrating time of my life. I don't want to go back.

Second - being a mom. I am done. I have chosen my path. My children are my everything - I've given them two halves of my heart and it no longer resides in my body, only in theirs. I want everything for them in life, and I want to watch them use all that energy for good in their lives.

So I no longer have that heart and soul to give. Love and care, yes, but not heart and soul.

Which brings me back to my husband. Who, let's be honest, I've given a little piece of my heart to as well. But this was supposed to be a funny post.

Stuff that comes out of his mouth, like:
 "I'm at your disposal this evening"
"I had this kitchen under control earlier!"
"Ugh, you mean the dishwasher didn't run? This sets my whole process back."

And my new favorite, when kids are screaming/crying/homeworking/dressing/eating:

"I got this."

He even arranged the fruit in the basket, y'all! FRUIT THAT HE SHOPPED FOR. CUZ THE KIDS NEEDED IT FOR THEIR LUNCHES. Cuz, oh yeah, HE DOES THEIR LUNCHES. ERRYDAY!

I'm not going to even begin to describe to you the construction project he has taken on during this time. We'll just call it, "The Wall Project", and I will admit to you that, he is basically carpenter/designer/architecting this whole damn thing himself.

And in the middle of all of this, we hit the teacher conferences. And he does all the damn talking.

Because what the f*&# do I know about what my kids are currently learning?!?!

Ok, ok, I have been paying attention to some of that. But not all of it! And certainly wasn't going to be the one to say what he did, which was:

"So what should we be doing at home to support that?" 

SAY WHA???! 

He is rocking this whole 'primary parent' role. Our roles have reversed, we keep joking, because I am the one who is losing track of the calendar, what day it is, and what shows are on which night. I don't even have time to watch TV right now!

I love him. I hope I get to keep him after all of this. 

Although he says there is an expiration date. It's called GRADUATION! So you'll help remind me of this beautiful time, won't you readers? When he was primary parent. And it was good. So so good.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

What I tell people about myself #nursingschool #puttylike

As you know, I started nursing school.

It's only been nine weeks, y'all, this is crazy. I feel like my brain is full already.

This month we started 'clinicals', which is where we do 12-hour shifts in the hospital and practice our clinical skills like real nursey-nurses.

And here I go again...trying to encapsulate my life in a pretty bubble for people. Not just my fellow classmates, whom I've been getting to know, but also patients, who frequently like to turn the conversation back to you [yeah but I'm trying to ascertain your family history of heart disease, lady...]

Well, my life does not work that way. It no-go-straight-line.

And do I use the word "crazy"? Say, "oh yeah, I'm a mess", or "all over the place" turn of phrase, make people feel comfortable putting me in the "other" category of the bubbles in their mind?

Not usually.

Here's where I find myself going:

First off, I'll say I was "in music" or, "a musician." I've always defined myself this way. Even when I got my Actor's Equity Card my husband/then boyfriend would say, "can I tell people NOW that you are an actress?" and I would say "NO WAY, people think actresses are CRAZY and have no skills." I guess old habits die hard. If I get a chance to elaborate, I'll say that I performed musical theatre, wrote musical theatre, and also worked arts administration jobs. And then if I get a chance to go further from there, I'll say that the last full-time job I had in music was recruiting music majors for the University of Maryland. All of which, I loved, of course, so what brought me here?

From there, I'll say the NICU. [Now I feel like this post is sounding like If you give a mouse a cookie...he'll want some milk to go with it...and if you give him some milk....he'll want...] Well, it's true. This is how I've been threading the pieces of my adult life together for others. And I can imagine it is difficult for a 22-year-old classmate of mine to understand how I got here now, but they might as well get a 3-D illustration of what "letting life happen" can do. I'm happy. Get into it.

So I'll say I had twins, and they were born super early [oh, how early?] 29 weeks, and we spent two months in the NICU, and I found myself chatting with 60 different nurses, and the seed was planted to go into nursing.

Oh that's cute, they think, mommy wants to work with babies. That makes sense in my mind.

But then, if I have a third conversation with a person, it might be revealed that my parents work in Hospice Care. And the other day in our lecture for "transitional care" I mentioned Hospice, so now all my classmates think I want to go into Hospice, which would be totally fine for me, I grew up with it and feel very comfortable talking about death and end-of-life care. I can imagine this is the most real that it gets, and it kind of screwed up my mother's way of interacting with people so hence the reason I say what I mean ALL THE TIME and IT'S TOTALLY ANNOYING I GET IT BUT I CAN'T HELP MYSELF.

Here's the fourth conversation. You've now learned that I'm a mom, and most of the time, I truly love it. I wouldn't mind being a professional mom for a living. But since my husband didn't want to foster 20 children in our house, I thought I could get paid to take care of people in other settings. Boom. Nursing.

Here's another tangent I might get into: I love school. Remember that time, at band camp, when I got a Master's degree in French from Columbia? That was funny. That throws THE WHOLE thread off. You have to expand your bubble. Or put me in multiple bubbles inside your head. It takes a lot of love to do that.

A quicker tangent: college admissions. When I recruited those music majors at the University of Maryland, I did a lot of higher ed administration and actually managed people. I was best at working with people. I tried to get back into college administration, but I cried and cried when I thought I might actually get offered one of the jobs. I didn't want to travel away from the family, and I didn't really care about where the state of our university system is going. Ohhhhh it's baaaaaaad. Probably coulda mada lotta moula tho. How ironic that I interviewed where I am going to nursing school now, though. Ironic, I tell ya!

Another tangent: I was trying to make it on Broadway. If you want the quickest way to put me in a bubble, I will likely say this. Oh, did you perform in anything I would know? No, no I didn't. I did experimental theatre [bubble], but we did a European tour [bubble] and I also performed Grease regionally [bubble] and was in Motherhood, the Musical here in Philly [bubble] but you didn't see any of those so just imagine me standing in line to audition for Rent [original production] six times in the 90's and you'll get a nice picture in your mind. Or read this post. 

I pop. ALL. the bubbles.

Thanks, Emilie Wapnick, for making me feel ok with all of that.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Thoughts on the First Month #nursingschool

Hi guys, been awhile, what's new?

[that is not news, Twynmawrmom, you are always beginning SOMETHING new...]

This TIME I MEAN IT! I'm excited to be in Nursing School and to begin what will hopefully be the career that sustains me into my old age. 
[you are already of 'old age', Twynmawrmom, according to your classmates...]

Yes, yes, tis true, I have thoughts about these youngin's in my cohort...

The Milennials Will Save Us
We here at Generation X have been long reporting that the Milennials are whiny babies who can't take care of themselves, whose childhood lasts to 30 years of age at a minimum, and who are glued to their phones and social media to the point where "socially alone" is now a thing. 
[google it.]

We are taught to think less of the Milennials and to shudder at the thought of all these gorgeous structures we have built to house Academia, Health Care, Government, Social Relationships, and International Relations will come tumbling down if left in the hands of these hipsters and vintage-loving pansexuals. 

WE ARE WRONG. I'm so in awe of my classmates! The majority of which, of course, are in their 20s. There's a sharing. There's a caring. There's a different level of understanding that we Gen-Xers don't have: 

We're screwed, and we're all in this together. 

Having come of age in the era of social media, they are fully aware that their every move is going to be found out. There is no hiding the fact that you were a cheerleader, there is no need to fake that you are not smart because someone somewhere has seen your Valedictory speech on YouTube, and you certainly don't need to delete that post about you drinking on a Friday night. Guess what? 

Everybody is still kinda normal. 

And even if you have a little edge to you, that's kinda normal now, too. 

So why hide your true self and true feelings? Why stand on ceremony? We may as well share in person our feelings, our emotions, and communicate honestly with one another because our true selves are in everyone else's pocket. 

This is amazing! This is revelatory! This is also, the society for which I have been looking for so long. Because I am an over-sharer, and I'm a terrible terrible AWFUL liar, I should have basically been a milennial in my youth. Or I was. But not a lot of other people were. Oh gosh, now I think I shouldn't have my 20s out on Facebook, but then again, even my darkest secrets probably look like everyone else's. 
[no Twynmawrmom, we didn't travel Europe with an experimental theatre group and see THINGS.] 

Yes, yes you did. Be honest. 

Along with the emotional sharing, goes a 'thing' sharing. And by thing, I mean technology, notes, money, carrides, best practices on how to get cheaper materials, etc. I think my generation shared some of these things, but we mostly felt a mandate to be as independent as possible as soon as we left the comfort of our parents' homes. We would not have doled out information or strategies for living readily. When meeting each other for the first time and gathering 'digits', we would DEFINITELY not have just handed the other person our phone so that they could enter them more expeditiously. True story: when I asked my classmate what website we needed to access to order our badges, she just grabbed my computer and began to enter the info. This, was definitely generational. This is definitely a sign that 'what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine and if you need something I can get that for you in my way of doing it more quickly and easily' is actually going to save the universe. 

I have faith in these millennials. I'm impressed.  Now granted, these are all nursing students, so there is a hive mind that's implied from the beginning, but overall I think they see life differently. 

They grew up, also, post 9/11, which was the greatest terrorist act, of my lifetime, on our soil. Now I have shared before that I was in NYC on 9/11, but I don't think it actually changed my way of thinking about the world. I became scared, but not that things could change for me at any moment anywhere in the world. I think there have been enough stories from that day, and subsequent terrorist acts, in these millennials' lives that they are, at the core, much more nihilist. But in a good way? They see their needs at the moment, and their career goals at the moment, as the most important things. They are not living for tomorrow and twenty years from now. And that's not just a twenty-something thing, that's their generation. They have no hope that a traditional life pattern would work for them, or that it even exists anymore. 

Very interesting. 

More to come! 

Oh, and if you thought this blog post was going to be about how much work I have done over the last four-six weeks, I'm just gonna report: A LOT. This is the most challenging bit of academia/training I have ever encountered in my 41 years here on Earth. I like fast, I like challenging, but I believe my brain is being rewired. I feel like opening up the skull, manually reworking the system and putting it back together so as to make it not hurt so much. 

And vaginas. Fake vaginas everywhere. 

More to come on that, as well, I'm sure. 

For me, that's code for happy studying without lecture/lab hours. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Legoland Discovery Center Philadelphia

I was SO excited to be invited to yesterday's press opening of the Legoland Discovery Center outside of Philadelphia! As you know, we are crazy about Legos, and I'm a very important member of the press, so this was a no brainer. My twyns were at school so obviously I rented a child for the day (my bestie's four-year-old, because all things are better with a four-year-old in tow.)  

It is located at the Plymouth Meeting Mall and we had no trouble finding the entrance: 

This is technically "mall entrance #5", between Boscov's and the food court
We wasted no time enjoying the little touches, including the poles filled with lego bricks. If you are a lego fan, you will not be disappointed.

Upon entering, you can take a photo with a green screen background they fill in later, as with most amusement parks, available for purchase upon exiting [through the gift shop, of course.] The difference with Legoland Discovery Centers, however, is that it is not an amusement park, but rather, an indoor, interactive play zone and movie theater. You can start your visit out with an actual RIDE, though! It's a little train (with easy seating for children of all ages, and I imagine you could even hold a newborn), and you shoot at screens with your Lego "wand" to gain points. Great start to the visit! 
This four-year-old was screaming with glee! And older children would definitely enjoy beating their high scores.
You "pop" the bubbles with your star laster pointer and the points rack up on your seat counter.
Next we hit the Pirate Ship/Playzone. Kids take off their shoes and put them in the bins outside of it. It is a closed crawl space with slides and other features. A typical experience at many birthday party places, the four-year-old had no hesitation heading in and staying in for a while. It reminded me of hanging at the Please Touch Museum with my little ones and wishing there was a Starbucks barista directly adjacent :).

There is a cafe inside the Discovery Center, and at the press event they offered their refridgerated items like yogurts, cheese sticks, carrots, and many drinks. This included a smaller water bottle for kids (perfect!) and an unsweetened iced tea for me! Yay! It looked like they also had the ability to grill/cook different items such as hot dogs and pretzels, but I don't think those were available yet. It would be hard for them to compete with the food court directly outside of the LegoLand, so I don't think you would necessarily eat lunch inside the center. 

Next we hit the 4-D Movie Theater! This was a smaller version of the one we enjoyed at LegoLand Florida. It's called "4-D" because it has 3-D visuals, and adds in a spray of water and mist whenever it correlates to the story happening on screen. We watched a 15 minute showing of "Chima" and she was squealing! She and her neighbors were trying to grab at the images, and laughing whenever they sprayed water. She yelled, "THIS MOVIE IS WETTING US!" Hahaha hee hee hee. Thanks for the magic girlie. 

Other fun features included an Earthquake zone where you can try to build an Earthquake-proof building before turning on the Earthquake rotating plate underneath your creation to test it out. 

Photo credit: LegoLand

A Lego Friends building area: 

Larger than Life Characters: 

The Duplo building area/Bubble Zone: 

In fact, almost every bit of the Discovery Center is a building zone!:

This includes a race car building zone, and a slide down which you can slide next to your creation! : 

I thought the Birthday Party Rooms looked AWESOME, too. This is totally going on my list: 

complete with Lego Birthday Cake

Last, but not least, you will likely see better photos of Philadelphia's own MiniLand, which is just amazing and apparently took 20 Master Builders six months to create the 50 iconic landmarks including: 
You can move Rocky up the steps of the Art Museum with the push of a button! 
You can race your buddy on the Schuykill with the crew boats at the Riverfront!
Ultimate sky scrapers!
This visit helped remind me, among other things, how much fun the mall can be, with its classic carousel and soft playzone for toddlers. Or maybe, how much fun a four-year-old can be! 

I get an award for not throwing up trying to take this photo.
So go have a bricktastic time at Legoland Discovery Center, Philadelphia. It is honestly the best part of the Florida amusement park, especially for Lego Lovers! Here are the details: 

The age ranges they advertise are 3 to 10 and they offer online pricing specials, including a limited number of "first to play" annual memberships at $54 per person (adult or child.)  They will be $59 per person after the official opening on April 6, 2017. A day pass starts at $19 per person online, and $24 at the door. 

Children under 2 are free!  

Minifigures can be traded with team members. 

They estimate 3 to 4 hours for the visit to the 10 play zones. This four-year-old lasted about 2 hours. 

Although I didn't take any pics of the Ninjago play zones, it is very prominent and includes a Ninjago training area that she was able to go in by herself! She said it was fun, but I'm sure my twyns would have been more the target age for the skills it "tested." 

See their site here for further details and to buy tickets. 

Let me know if you enjoyed it, or if you have any questions! 

Saturday, March 25, 2017


I was once part of a coup and I lived to tell the tale. If you follow my Twitter feed you would think I'm all bravado and no action. But I've seen my share of battles. I was a soldier in the field, and I was pretty sure I was going to lose my head. It was very intense and highly political, and it all took place inside the seemingly bright and cheery halls of a sleepy little university school of music. 

After having performed my twenties away and gotten a masters degree no one cares about, I found my way into the auspicious duty of higher education employment. About a year into my blissfully routine new position in administration our fearless leader (the Director of the School) had been called to another post...a bigger, badder school of music with a higher bounty. This set the waves of change in motion. 

He was both a conductor and highly respected performer in a well known early music ensemble. If you are not a musician, this means nothing to you. But if you are, you will understand the divisions in this world: performers, conductors, "academics", composers...even more gradations from there. Don't get me started on the Russians...But I digress...needless to say he came from the showman's side of the camp, but in a very academic way. This made the performing faculty quite happy, the music historians somewhat pleased, and the rest of the academics quiet. Certainly with his stature (and ego), the most important people in the school, the donors, were impressed. In short, he was highly respected. It was going to be tough to fill his shoes. 

Respected. By the faculty. However, on the administrative side, that is.. the lowly staff...well, we had a bit of a different perspective. He was nice, but hardly ever there (now we know why), quite snobby, and just a tiny bit misogynist. Just a teensy bit.

Most directorial appointments are for five years, and the first thing you do is go about spending ungodly amounts of money trying to woo other leaders from other institutions to jump ship and lead your army (have I mixed enough metaphors yet?) We in the administration hosted several candidates and quickly realized we would not likely end up any better than we currently had it. Not to mention,  with budgets being what they were, it was looking more and more likely that an internal candidate was going to be appointed for at least a year while we- I mean the university-got their heads out of their asses and ponied up some more dough and some more creative thinking to get us someone who actually thought about educating students. 

Oh yeah...remember education? Our business? 

This is the moment that we had to act fast. Although I had no IDEA that I was part of the we acting fast, thankfully another woman on the staff was five steps ahead of everyone and could drag me along into her little scheme. 

I say little, but lord, it was actually QUITE A BIG SCHEME. A coup.  And I love this woman. I wish she would run for president; you would all vote for her. I'm serious. Even the middle of the country. Her husband hunts. She loves the Lord. But she's also about as sassafras East Coast edgy as you can get. 

She pulled me aside in the middle of all this and asked me what I thought of a certain professor already in the school. I mentioned I enjoyed working with him. She told me he was our guy, we were going to fight for him. She told me that my immediate boss, the associate director, was otherwise likely to be the temporary appointee otherwise, and that was my alternative. 

My boss? You mean, the man who hired me? The man who met with me every morning and gave me the majority of my advice and instruction for my livelihood? I mean, I agreed, he was even more misogynistic than the Director, and actually, come to think of it, was a complete ten rungs down on the "respect from the faculty" ladder, which would hamper his ability to get things done, and actually, he's a horrible public speaker, and, come to think of it, is married to a Russian and has therefore been in the Russian piano faculty encampment ever since he got here so has their best interests only in mind in regards to admissions and scholarships and...WHOAH I'M COMPLETELY CONVINCED THIS IS THE ABSOLUTE WRONG GUY FOR THE JOB AND THIS WOMAN IS RIGHT. 

So she quietly asked me, if I agreed with her, to write a letter to the Dean with my recommendation. And please don't tell my boss. 

Meanwhile, my boss was getting the idea that a temporary appointment was likely to be made, and naturally it would be to him, so he had a plan of his own. 

"Twynmom," he said. 

(Now of course this was before I had children but you think that's my name don't you)

"Twynmom...there's going to be a succession and I'm so excited! I've been working towards this for a long time. We'll be working together more closely and you'll get a promotion! You'll have my corner office and I'll take the directors! It's going to be great for the whole school..."

"Uh huh."  I said...

"A lot of the faculty are on my side!"

[Russians, I think]

 "Wow." I said...

"Now about these stats..."

I tried to change the subject. Everyday. For two weeks. 

He'd ask me if I heard anything. I'd always say no. I felt bad for him. He didn't know there was a coup to overthrow him. Oh, he'd still be around on the faculty, he would just get bumped from his administrative position. But still, it was going to be a blow. 

I tried to keep my mouth shut when I saw my lady. She hardly knew me yet, and I wondered why she thought she could trust me with this information! How could she think I was safe? Or maybe she didn't, but she didn't have much other choice! She was desperate to rid Herself of the biased and corrupt assholes she'd been saddled with for YEARS who had no sense of what really ran the school: US. 

And she thought: maybe there is an ally in me. 
When she DID have a chance to chat with me she'd tell me how great this other guy was going to be. He even came into my office with her once and kind of nodded like, "are you cool?" 

I'd be like, "yeah, I'm cool." Like we could smoke a joint together.

I mean, he really was a Beetle on the dung heap. It did not take me three rounds of interviews to discover how much ass kissing was going to be involved in my new job. Not the kissing of asses of students and parents, mind you, but of faculty. The illustrious faculty, who were all Yo-Yo Ma and Leontyne Price in their minds but somehow needed to subjugate the back end of their careers to "give back" and impart their knowledge onto the next generation. 

But the Beetle...he was kind. He was Obama before we knew who Obama was. He was just like everyone else...a musician, an artist, a creator...and could do some paperwork too. I mean, I'm talking about the staff too. Did the rest of the faculty think we weren't ALSO musicians? Why else would we take half the pay of any other administrative job unless we also enjoyed the music aspect of it? He recognized that side of us. He spoke with a gentle tone to everyone, and defended women in the department whenever he had the chance. He and I partnered up to recruit an undergraduate female composition major...a unicorn! An amazing feat in and of itself. He could somehow roll up all the piles of dung around him into a neat pile of rolled up dung balls. 

Still dung... but organized.

So finally, the day had come. The Dean was there. The outgoing Director was there. My boss was there. My lady, and the Beetle were there. It was an internal press event, and the announcement was going to be made. No one told my boss what was about to happen, and he was excited. And for awhile there, I had a fleeting sense that I was on the outside of the information train and I might not know what was about to happen. But it did. And my boss had to make a speech with his throat half closing up due to the shock. I think he blinked twice for every second he was up there. I felt so bad for him. But I knew in my heart, it was the right decision. Even the outgoing Director, who had worked with him for years, didn't warn him. No one really respected him. He was the Director's lackey, all this time. And the Director just left him there, squirming on his own. 

But then, the Beetle spoke. And it was good. Everyone laughed. Everyone smiled at his humble acceptance, and declaration of a "come together" type attitude that could heal our divisions. He wasn't going to cost the price tag of an outsider, nor the time to train someone new. He wanted us to focus on education and academics once again, not just performance training. And he wanted to meet with the staff more than ever, and have an open door policy. It was a moment. 

A very good moment. 

A moment...that lasted ten years. 

And my lady...she got promoted. 

And myself...I got promoted too. 

And I got my boss's corner office anyway. 

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