Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Same Old Story

At the end of the story, everything is not OK; no flowery declarations or speeches, no parades, weddings or celebrations. There are no toasts, dancing, or gift exchanges. There is no food, wine or drunken stupor “I love yous”. There is nothing. All is the same as it was before the end of the story, nothing has changed at all. The same characters are there, the same problems, joys, triumphs, disappointments and setbacks. What’s with the same old story?

Which begs the question, why go through the process at all? Why tell the story if it doesn’t have a happy ending. If change is not brought about and problems aren’t solved, why go to all the trouble? Why waste the time and the money of putting the story together, piecing together the transcript, submitting it to editorial scrutiny, marketing, advertising, critique and then release? It has served no real purpose. It’s slick and attractive on the cover. It’s polished, charming and seductive. It tells tales of courage, hope and cunning. It promises surprises, lots of surprises. It even serves up a scandal or two. It’s dicey, racy and sometimes foolish. Sometimes, the story stumbles over itself, and many times the story is just repetitive and boorish. When the story is lagging, we just skip and skim it…seeking out the page where the story starts up and tells us what we want to hear, just how we like to hear it. The pace of the story is like a marriage that at first seems like a ball that was hit out of the park, only to land in the foul zone, time and again in the same old mundane Saturday afternoon routine of blah.

The story is played out on television, on radio talk shows, books of the week and internet blogs. It’s the rants and raves, the scores and the misses, the “who bought what where” and the “who said what when.” The story loves to paint pictures where illustrations are needed. The story makes a lot of promises it will never be able to keep. The story associates with utopian principles without understanding the meaning of what is true and beautiful. Most importantly the story gives rise to bitterness and ill will, when good humor and patience would suffice. The story slings about accusations and ridicule and insinuates itself between friends and family. The story points a finger and wages indifference. The story loves to hear itself every day, debated and discussed. It will participate in activities that reduce the story to a mockery and a joke. In the past the story has performed for the amusement of others only to score points but the story is not as funny as it desires to be. By this time the story is getting tired and old hat. The story has been repeated so many times, the story hardly knows itself because in the end it changes nothing because it only seeks power. "This is the most important story!" Even that is getting a little redundant. Because no matter how the story ends, there will be four judges somewhere that will burn the story or toss it away. There will be a lawyer somewhere that will disagree with the story and how it ends and want to change or rewrite it.

I thought this story was important when I first picked it up, but as Gordon Sumner once wrote, "You could say I lost my belief in politicians, they all seem like game show hosts to me"

Next Tuesday the story will be told once again. Wake me up when it’s over.

Tammy Maher is a biweekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat. You can reach her on the web at http://www.familyfare.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Trudy, my sister from another mother

I have a friend that I go to school with that is much like a sister. I can say this with all reliability because I have two sisters. I say it confidently because of the sheer amount of time we spend together. Law students and medical students know where I am going on this. Nursing ‘wannabes’ have certain tenaciousness in their drive to do well, because failure is simply not an option when you are competing against the brilliant minds of straight ‘A’ students in subjects such as, microbiology, anatomy & physiology, pharmacology, and pathophysiology (these are meat and potato subjects, hardly fluff & bluff.) It’s within this context, that I sort of fell into Trudy’s world. She didn’t push me out, so I stayed; much like a stray dog.

I met Trudy in Anatomy and Physiology, and I doubt there’s been a week over the last two years, that I haven’t had a cram session, taken a test, had a conversation, or meal without her. Yeah, we spend a lot of time together. She’s simply part of the ‘day-to-day’ in Tammy world.

Studying with this kind of intensity breeds bonding that isn’t present in other types of work. The bonding is cultivated in a trust shared by common goals. You realize that the scope and sequence of success in a profession like nursing, requires that one sacrifice a little or much to support those who are taking the walk with you, and that support ends up being the paramount training ground as to the kind of nurse one will be when the finish line is crossed. I know the military cultivates bonds like these; I think I know why some people cry when they finish long roads like medical school, law school, seminary, or a marathon for that matter. It’s hard to contemplate the journey you’ve taken, the stumbles, the triumphs, a mini crises. At the end of the nursing journey, there is something called a capping and pinning ceremony, in addition to graduation. But like lawyers, there’s not much time to celebrate, because we’ll be taking licensing boards. In the stress of going through the process of completing pre-requisites, there’s been the agony of waiting…waiting for notification, an end to signal another beginning; usually just a form letter that says “Thanks for applying, you didn’t make the cut this time, but try again next time-Good luck!” We shared a few of those wait periods. They are stressful. But we always seem to pull each other out of the trenches. Frozen yogurt helps with that, so do cosmopolitans (depending on the class we just finished.)

My experience having a relationship with Trudy over these last two years, has taught me a lot about myself, about what I can accomplish if I set my mind to it and also what limitations I have, because like a spouse, a study buddy gets to see the worst and best parts of you.

We’ve applied to programs, taken the same classes and been a resource to each other when needed. I have to say this friendship has been the wisest investment I’ve made in going back to school, and despite any philosophical, or religious differences we may have, I consider our shared experience stronger than anything that separates us. I’ve made a good friend for life and the reason I know this to be true is because she has given more than I could ever reciprocate in being a study partner who cares about the success of others. These seemingly endless hours of study partnering also involve sharing food, news, joys, cares and concerns.

So, in the spirit of Trudy, I want to wish her a happy birthday. I am planning on cooking dinner for her family, because I think we’ve eaten at every restaurant worth going to and a home cooked meal is something we both miss. In short order, it’s the least I can do to thank her for her friendship. Some friends are always like family, so on your birthday Trude, I wish you joy, happiness, success in all things. Mr. Johnson, our hypothetical patient would also like to wish you a very happy day, hence his contribution to this tribute. Most especially, I pray I get into the same program you’re accepted to, because I don’t know anyone else who can put up with me, your sister from another mother.

Tammy Maher is a resident of El Dorado Hills and bi-weekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat.