Now it's September, again. This is my 29th September. I'm fairly accustomed to them by now, although I can't remember one ever being so hot.
It's 90 degrees during the day, and I sit in biology lab and watch through the window as steam rises from the pavement outside. At the front of the class, someone is flipping through slides of the endocrine system, pointing out thyroid from parathyroid, squamous and simple cuboidal, the two lobes of the pituitary. I'm trying so hard to focus, to dredge up some interest from somewhere inside of my brain, but I'm coming up dry. The words, the cells, the slides, seem to just glimmer away before I've absorbed them, like those first light snow flurries in Vermont where the tiny points of snow melt the very second they hit the ground.
I like school. I've always liked school. I love the way it forces me to hyper-organize my things and my time, notebooks stacked by color, coffee cup cleaned and waiting on the counter for the next morning. I love how it neatly dissects my day into blocks, and I always know where I should be- now class, now lab, now driving to the tutor, now opening my books on the kitchen table for the evening.
But this time around, my attention is waning.
I've heard that the golden gate bridge is so long that the people hired to paint it never get to stop. They start at one end and by the time they get to the end, about a year later, the first part needs to be painted again. And so on and so on and so on for as long as there is a golden gate bridge. This is what it feels like when I'm doing one of those long dimensional analysis problems with a hundred different steps. I start out so strong and confident and then I lose it it, little by little; the numbers collect but I forget why they are there or how I got them, and by the time I'm near the end I have to go right back to the beginning.
This happens on a macro scale as well, which often disturbs me. I'll be plugging along just fine, feeling satisfied with myself as I solve little puzzles, or get to class on time, or a row of numbers marches across the page in a particularly neat fashion, and suddenly I'll look up and wonder where I am. Why am I back in school? To become a nurse? Who decided that? When did I ever, ever express interest in being a nurse?
Not when I was a kid, certainly. I wanted to be an author when I was a kid, even when I was in preschool. Not when I was in high school or college. (If I'd had the vaguest idea in college I would have taken one math class and made this whole thing inordinately easier.) In college I wanted to be a novelist and after college I wanted to be a sitcom writer in New York City.
Out of the blue it will hit me that I've given up on all that and I'm living out a plan B. I'm not an introvert, writing is brutal, fiction is terrifying, print is dying, competition is soaring, other people are making it and I'm not and I have thrown in the towel at 29 with absolutely no excuse other than I don't want to work as hard as I know I would have to work.
Those are the bad days. On the good days, I remember how completely enamored I was with my EMT course, how I felt useful in a way I'd never felt before. And I do love people and interacting with them. I think about how nice it will be to make a good salary and how many, many options will be available to me if I just keep going.
Am I a failure or am I being sensible? Will I grow to love it and what happens if I don't?
When I read a book I'm constantly analyzing the writing. I never would have written that sentence. That joke was perfect, what made it so subtle? That word was unnecessary, where did she come up with that, that's overkill, why didn't I think of that first?
But that engagement, it doesn't seem to cross over into other mediums.
One of my jobs on the ship was to be a naturalist, and I was surely the worst naturalist that's ever been. My boss told us during one crew meeting that the key to being a good naturalist was to be constantly questioning the world around you.
But I look at birds and I think: "Oh. Birds." And I actually think ferns are really boring.
Once I saw a grizzly bear and my first thought was, "That looks like a man wearing a grizzly bear suit."
Oh, a pancreas. So that's how it works. Oh.
Look, I'm trying. I have this lemon essential oil and this peppermint stuff, it's supposed to wake up your brain. I'm mixing all these Super Food powders and hellaciously expensive gogi berries into smoothies to stay alert. I have a daily regiment of little logic puzzles that are supposed to boost your concentration or something. I try and see each class as a game that I am going to win, and that's all I can do for now.
Which is ok. It's ok to be ambivalent. Life is many things.