Strangely, I’m almost as nervous writing this as I was as it was happening.

I had a date last night.  Well, anyway, I think I had a date last night.  It kind of felt like a date, not that I can be counted on, reliably, to say what a date feels like.  I don’t know if he felt like it was a date.  Maybe I just met a friend for dinner…  I think it was a date… A nice date.

There is a gentleman, Gene,  that I have been acquainted with through various forms of social media for close to two years, I would say.  We became acquainted on Twitter and struck up a friendly banter.  He started reading my blog and responding to what he saw directly on twitter and eventually we began e-mailing each other.

Gene is a very kind man and he made a great impression on me.  About 18 months ago, I had a dream in which he played a prominent (though relatively innocent role) and I tweeted about dreaming about my “twitter crush”.  This resulted in a series of e-mails between us in which it was clear that we were both interested in knowing the other better.  The problem is, we are “geographically undesirable” (He lives in San Diego, I live in Oakland, approximately 500 miles apart) and, both of us being practically minded people, a long distance relationship is simply not in the cards.    But we made it clear that if ever and whenever we were in each others back yards we should get together for dinner or coffee or something.

This week-end his nephew is participating in a debate tournament at UC Berkeley and Gene made a point of being here early enough to spend some time with me before getting wrapped up in his family stuff.  When he told me he was coming this way, I was really excited.  I wanted to see him.  I wanted to spend some time with him and get to know him better.  Our relationship has been a little one-sided in that he reads my blog, but he doesn’t write one and he’s very private with the stuff he posts on Twitter and Facebook.  I was excited about the prospect of getting his undivided attention and grilling him on all the things I didn’t know about him.

But as the weeks passed and the time drew nearer, I became more and more nervous.  I wanted to meet him, but what if he wasn’t what I was expecting?  What if I wasn’t what he was expecting?  What if I had misjudged him?  What if he wanted something from me that I wasn’t ready to give?  Was I ready?  Did I want to be ready?  Would we?  Wouldn’t we?  What would I do if it…  ahem, came up?  I went back and forth on that and to be honest, I never really arrived at a conclusion.  I don’t know what I would have done if I was faced with that decision last night.  Fortunately, I wasn’t, and I think it’s for the best.

The truth is, Gene was a perfect gentleman.  He was almost everything I thought he would be, and in the ways that he was different, he was better.

We were both nervous.  We decided to meet for a drink before dinner and to be perfectly honest, I was shaking like a leaf (whatever that means.)  Stupidly, I wondered if I would recognize him when I saw him, but the minute I walked in the door, I knew him.  It was comforting to know that he had been as nervous as I was–  well, maybe not as nervous, but he was nervous.  We had a glass of wine at the bar and talked comfortably for a little while.  And then were seated and had dinner.  It was a fascinating experience to be able to talk so comfortably and freely with someone you’ve never been face to face with, but I realized we really already knew each other.  Certainly more than I thought we did.

After dinner, we shared a piece of cheesecake (really the one inevitable outcome of the evening) and then we walked along the boardwalk for a little while as we talked.

It was oddly hard to say good-bye, though it was time and had to be done.  I can’t speak for Gene, but for me, it was that much more disappointing, knowing that while we’ll continue to be friends and hopefully grow closer now that we’re “real” and not just words in a box, there’s still so much distance between us.

Wish Me Luck

By the way, tonight is the night.  In two and a half hours I’ll be at my writing workshop thingamajig and I’ll be getting my first, formal critique/feedback on my manuscript.

The tension mounts by the minute.  I’ll be taking some Ativan later (yes the anxiety is that real).  I want to take it now, but I’m afraid if I take it too early, it’ll wear off too early and that would be bad.

In the end it will all be fine, but that doesn’t really help me much right now, so…

Wish me luck!

Lazy Saturday

It’s been a very lazy Saturday here in the Riggledo household.  I haven’t been to bed before midnight (and usually much later) in more than a month and sitting here at the end of my second week back at work since my most recent vacation, the late nights have taken their toll.

I’m sitting in my living room, in my recliner with my feet up.  I’m wearing sweat pants, a t-shirt and a fleece, Old Navy pull over.  There’s a throw blanket covering me from just below my chest all the way to my feet and it is an electric blanket which is plugged in and turned to high.  My laptop is– well, on my lap and my geriatric cat is curled up in a ball on my shins, sleeping and probably dreaming that the laptop will go away and free his preferred spot for him.  For the first time in weeks it is actually 70 degrees in my apartment and, just to be clear, that’s the warmest it’s been.  (On a couple of occasions in the last two weeks I’ve actually had to break out the space heater which I never use because it draw so much energy that my electric bills triple when I do, it’s been that cold.)

I am cozy and I do not want to move.  I’ve actually fought off sleep a couple of times already today.

It’s been a pretty good week, personally, filled with fun, social interactions, and personal accomplishments.  Dinner with Lil’B on Monday; Lunch with K on Tuesday; finally made it to the Library to pick up that book they’ve been holding, on Wednesday; Thursday I had my weekly noontime meeting with the little advisory council for my Emergency Response Team program; and yesterday I had a lovely, long lunch with my friend Chantelé to celebrate her birthday.

It has also been a week of completions. One of the reasons I’ve been up so late and getting so little sleep is because I’ve been working on a baby blanket for a friend of a friend.  Michelle asked me if I would make the blanket for someone she knows, and I’m always happy to do it as long as the requester supplies the yarn (that sh-stuffs expensive, yo!)  I finished the blanket earlier this week.

Baby Blanket, hand crocheted by yours truly.


I’ve also been at the office late every day this week because I’ve been working on the first round of edits on my manuscript, hereafter called by its name, “The Teacher”.  I guess if I’m serious about getting this thing published, I should start treating it like it’s real, and that means, among other things, calling it by its name.  I found it easier to do this stage of the editing process, red pen on print out copy, sitting at a proper desk and not stretched out in my recliner.  As of about 7:15 last night, I have finished that process and now I have to go through and translate those edits to the soft copy.  And I need to get on it because I have eleven days until the first meeting of the writing group I’ve been talking about.

I’m super excited about the group, and also a bit nervous.  I won’t know anyone going in and that’s never a pleasant experience for me.  Plus many of the people involved are already published authors while I’m just a little blogger/writer with a small audience, a dream, and a not particularly mainstream manuscript.  I know it’ll be an excellent, educational experience, if nothing else; it’s just the buildup that I dread.

Tomorrow, I spend the afternoon with Lil’B and I really have no idea what we’re going to do.  I think it’s supposed to rain so we’ll be looking for something indoors.  Normally, that means movies, but I’m not sure there’s anything for us to see.  I’ll figure that out in the morning though.  For now, I’m just going to sit back, relax, and watch my Dotor Who (original series, season 21) DVD from Netflix followed by the Rock Hudson movie in my Netflix instant queue that’s about to expire, and then call it a night.

It’ll be lovely.  I’m already yawning and it’s only 6:45.

Is There A Certain Kind of Store For That?

On the television show Glee, there is a gay character by the name of Kurt.  Kurt has known all along that he was gay and never tried to hide the fact from anyone.  After a year and half of being terrorized by one of the jocks in the school (a self hating, closeted homosexual, in denial) he transferred to another school, a private school with a zero tolerance policy for bullying.  He met Blaine who is also gay and they have become friends, though it seems apparent that the relationship is budding into something more.

Each week I watch as Kurt grows and learns from his experiences and gradually becomes a more secure, self-confident person, able to accept himself as he is and surviving the adversity he experiences.  The relationship between Kurt and Blaine is very special to me to watch because it mirrors something I very much wish that I had.


On the television show 90210, there is a gay character by the name of Teddy.  Teddy is just coming to terms with being gay.  He was an All American Athlete, professional tennis player until he injured his knee.  Blond hair, blue eyes, and a body that goes on for days (what does that even mean?)  Teddy had a reputation as a ladies man, which stood in the way of him having a relationship with, Silver, his girlfriend last season before she finally got over the hype and gave him a chance.

This season has been about Teddy coming to terms with his sexuality and coming out to his friends.  It’s a story that is still being told, but aside from what I see as an accelerated time line, has been very believable and satisfying.

While drunk, Teddy hooked up with a guy name Ian at the beginning of the season and then tried to pretend it never happened, denying any confusion about his sexuality, even to Ian.  Right before the winter hiatus Teddy admitted to Ian that he was gay and that he wanted to be with Ian but needed time, before telling anybody about it.  Of course, Ian agreed, they kissed and one of Teddy’s friends saw them.

A couple of weeks ago, Teddy finally came out publicly, letting all his friends know that he was gay and was with Ian, only to have something come between them and he ended his relationship with Ian.  Last week’s episode saw Teddy sulking and having his ex-girlfriend, now friend-friend supporting him by taking him to do something she already knows lifts his spirits; hitting tennis balls off the roof of some building or other.  Just as Teddy starts feeling better he hits one last ball off the roof and we hear a male voice cry out in pain.  In the next scene, we see Teddy and Silver standing over a guy, dressed in soccer attire, sitting on a bench with an ice pack on his eye.  Teddy offers an  apology, the guy asks what they were doing and Teddy tells him that Silver was supporting him after a bad break-up.  The soccer player tells Teddy that the person must have messed him up pretty badly and before he thinks about it Teddy says, “Yeah.  He did.”  There’s an awkward silence as Teddy realizes what he just said and as the soccer stud doesn’t react to it, and then Soccer Stud says, “Yeah.  Well, I’ve been there,” before writing his phone number on Teddy’s tennis ball and suggesting that maybe Teddy could give him a free tennis lesson “to make up for hitting him.”

In this week’s episode we see Teddy’s friends, Dixon, Navid and Liam talking about going to a girls volleyball game to cover the story for the school news.  Just then Teddy walks in and they shut up.  There’s an awkward moment when Teddy feels left out and the idiots guys feel awkward for having talked about girls within the ear shot of the gay guy.  Later Teddy see’s Silver in the courtyard and they talk about how he feels like he’s out in the cold with all his friends.  Silver scolds the idiots boys who confess that they thought Teddy would be uncomfortable with what they were talking about and that they didn’t mean to be leaving him out.  The idiots guys decide to make it up to Teddy and invite him to hang out.  Teddy agrees without knowing what they have planned only to realize, too late, that they are taking him to a gay bar.  When this is revealed to the audience, my own anxiety level skyrocketed as I imagined being in Teddy’s shoes.

Inside, the bar is full of muscular, shirtless guys dancing and the friends stand dumbfounded, staring at the crowd.  Everyone is awkward, the guys don’t know what to think, and then a guy comes over to them and asks if he can buy Liam a drink.  Liam storms out and stands on the sidewalk outside, as if that’s going to make him less appealing to the gay guys in the area, and soon he is joined by Teddy.  They have a nice little heart to heart in which Liam tells Teddy he’s just not comfortable in that place and Teddy tells Liam he isn’t either.

“This just isn’t my scene,” Teddy says.

“So, what is?” Liam asks.

There is a moment of silence as Teddy looks through the huge window at Dixon and Navid dancing together while the pedophiles guys in the bar watch.  Teddy shakes his head in uncertainty, not disgust, and says, “I don’t really know.  But it’s not this.”  In that moment I can truly relate to Teddy.

Liam and Teddy leave to get a burger and leave Dixon and Navid inside with their admirers.


Heather, as I have mentioned before, is perhaps the one and only person in the world who has taken the time to know me of her own volition.  Deb probably knows me as well as Heather does, but I pay her for that and as much as I’d like to be able to look beyond the business nature of our relationship, I just can’t.  Heather knows me because she wants to.  She wants to take the time to see and understand me.  She wants to know the truth of my existence and not just the flowery, fun, shiny, “happy” side of my life (because she knows it’s not real).

While having dinner on Saturday night, I decided to ask her a loaded question.  I didn’t know how far the conversation would go, or just how useful it would prove to be, but I decided it was worth a shot.

“So tell me,” I started, “what’s wrong with me?”

“Well!  How much time have you got?” she asked, with a chuckle.  “What do you mean, what’s wrong with you? In what context?”

“Socially,” I answered.  “Why can’t I meet people?”

I don’t remember the exact dialogue of the conversation but she asked me for more specifics about what I was thinking and it came down to this.  Stereotypes exist for a reason.  I truly believe that.  The stereotype of a modern-day gay man is one of promiscuity, lecherous even, damn near predatory at times.  I saw a movie once in which one of the characters talked about how sex, for gay men, is like a handshake.  I am not like that.  I wasn’t like that before I knew I was gay and I’m not like that now.  But I buy into the stereotype… Because stereotypes exist for a reason.  And as such, I don’t trust gay men (I mean, I don’t really trust anybody, but for the purposes of this conversation, I don’t trust gay men.)

I know it’s not realistic to compare my life to characters on television or in movies and for the most part I try not to do that, but T.V. and movie scripts are based in some modicum of reality and so when I see things that I like, but which don’t jive with my own experience it’s disheartening, to say the least.

You see it all the time on television.  Gay characters meet in the most ordinary of places under the most ordinary of circumstances and they fall in love and have a relationship, like I would like to have.  Depending on the show their might be some “cruzing”/ “club scene” hooking up taking place but rarely is that where the lasting relationships come from; kind of like reality.  But these guys go about their day-to-day lives and meet each other in the most random and ordinary of circumstances and end up in relationships.  Meanwhile, I go about my day-to-day life which includes an overabundance of ordinary circumstances and I never meet anybody who I know is gay first of all, and with whom I have a connection, secondly.  I never have a moment of realization in which we both realize the other person is “family”.  I never meet a guy, think he’s attractive and have certainty that he’s gay and he knows I am as well and then bond and have anything, whatsoever, evolve from that.

I go to work.  I go shopping.  I go to school.  I go to the gym.  I go to Big Brothers and Big Sisters events.  I go to random training opportunities a couple of times a year.  I may not be a social butterfly, but I’m honestly not a shut in, either and yet, never once have I met someone I thought could be something more and had it turn out to be so.

Heather suggested that I should look into on-line dating.  Honestly, that idea is abhorrent to me, for me. But even if it weren’t, stereotypes.  Exist.  For.  A reason.  What little exposure I have had to the world of on-line gay dating has proved that those men are looking to live up to the stereotype, and I am not.  So I don’t trust it.  I don’t trust them.  And honestly, I’m afraid of them.

Heather says I lack self-esteem…  Well, DUH!  If anybody knows where I can buy some of that, please let me know!

Freaking Out

Tomorrow morning at O:dark o’clock (to those of you who aren’t complete morning whimps, that would be 7:00) I have to be AT the County Trauma Center to start my twelve hour day, doing I don’t even know what.  It’s a required component of my curriculum for the EMT Class and so naturally we waited until the very last two weeks of the semester to do this.

I haven’t thought too terribly much about it until now, but now it is upon me and I have to admit, I’m terrified.  When I don’t think about it then, of course, everything is fine, but when I do think about it, I feel sick to my stomach and light headed.  Thank God, I saved some of the Ativan my Psychiatrist gave me a while back to use until the Buspar kicked in.  I’ll defintely need that tomorrow morning.

I’ve never been to this hospital before, and while I found an address on-line and found it in my GPS in my car, I don’t know where the hospital is.  Normally, I’d have done a dry run by now, but I just haven’t had time and I won’t have time tonight unless I do it after class (which I might – although with as much as it’s ranined today, I’m not so sure it can be called a dry run.)

I’m flat broke right now, and it suddenly dawned on me last night that I didn’t know what the parking situation was or if there was a charge.  I called the hospital today and found out that there is a charge, but I spoke with a woman in the facilities department who told me she would validate my parking, if I come see her during her office hours.  That shouldn’t be a problem but if I don’t catch up with her, I’m kind of screwed.

No one has been able to tell me what to do when I get there.  Where am I going?  Who am I supposed to report to?  What should I come prepared for?  Whatever I’m doing, I just pray that it goes better than my Fire Department Ride Along did.

And yes, of course, I know, “it’ll all work out” and I’ll “do just fine” and all that other crap stuff people tell me when I freak out like this, but yeah…  Right now?  I’m freaking out.

I’m Still Here

To borrow a rather brilliant title from what is sure to be a rather horrendous mocumentary, “I’m Still Here.”  I know you’ve been missing me terribly!

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have struggled with clinical depression in my lifetime and as many of you probably know, anxiety, in one form or another is often the evil handmaiden of depression (as if Depression on its own isn’t evil enough.)  I have been no exception to that rule.  Pretty early into my relationship with Deb, my therapist (like, probably 5 minutes in) she “diagnosed” me with Social Phobia.

For some reason this frequently comes as a surprise to people, but I’m actually quite shy.  In person, anyway, I am very uncomfortable meeting new people, or putting myself in situations where I’m going to have to meet and interact with strangers, and even though intellectually, I know I shouldn’t worry about what people think of me there’s still that small, insecure, child-voice in the back of my head that remembers every tease and taunt and abuse I suffered at the hands of other, cruel, children as I was growing up and fears experiencing more of the same.

Deb also diagnosed me, to a much lesser degree, with generalized anxiety disorder.  It’s nothing major.  In fact, for the most part I think of it as buzzwords that loosely translate to “I don’t like the unknown!!!

Who does?

Honestly, I am most aware of anxiety in the car, as I drive to my therapy appointments.  I don’t know what I’m going to talk about (which is actually a better way to go in, even if it doesn’t feel like it) and therefore I don’t know what our 50 minutes holds and it makes me anxious.  I feel a sense of needing to “do it right” even though there supposedly is no right or wrong way to do it and I worry that I’ll get it wrong and that it will be bad.

I occasionally realize, especially when I’m deep in thought, that I’ve not taken a breath in a while.  Quite literally, I forget to breathe.  My mind mulls over the situation, sometimes a very stressful thing, and I start to feel cramps in my stomach, both a feeling nausea and the potential on-set of diarrhea, and only as I feel a sense of panic start to come over me do I realize, “oh hey! I haven’t inhaled recently.”  A couple of deliberate, deep breaths, and the cramping starts to subside, the nausea disappears and the need to rush to the toilet subsides.  And then I continue to mull over whatever I’m mulling and I forget to breathe again and the whole cycle repeats itself.

Now, let’s be fair.  I’ve learned a lot in my… five(?) years of therapy and the anxiety, both social and generalized, has lessened quite a bit (though, sadly, not been completely dispensed with.)  I know what the physical symptoms mean, and I know that, usually, a few deep breaths will go a long way to remedy them.  Sometimes that’s enough to do away with the anxiety and sometimes it’s just enough to make me aware that it’s happening and to try to manage it as best I can.  (By the way, I’ve had to remind myself to breath, no fewer than 12 times just as I’ve written this much of this post.  Almost a “chewing gum and walking” effect.  I can’t seem to breath and type at the same time, right now.  I realize I’m not breathing, I have to stop typing so I can focus my energy on taking a deep breath.  There’s a reason for this.)

Up until recently, I’ve felt like I had a much better handle on these feelings.


When I decided to take this EMT class, I knew I was signing up for a lot of work.  I knew it wouldn’t be a cake walk and that I’d have to put a lot of time and energy into it.  I had no idea how much time and energy it would require.  We have to cover three chapters of textbook a week and we have tests over each chapter each week.  THREE TESTS!!  These chapters are anywhere from 40 to 70 pages long and they’re filled with information that is important and needs to be retained and remembered.

My instructor goes out of his way to be an asshole and his general attitude and demeanor are very difficult for me to tolerate.  He’s not friendly, or kind, or supportive.  He’s determined to make the class as uncomfortable and unwelcoming as possible.  He’s doing it on purpose because the job is a high stress job and he thinks he’s preparing us for it by doing things this way, he has said so, more than once.  He might even be right and I understand that way of thinking.  But on the other hand, wouldn’t it be better to make the class as conducive to learning as possible so that we can know our stuff and then when we get out in the field we can focus solely on dealing with the stress, because we’ll have the knowledge down?

The class is very disorganized.  We have the tests first thing Monday night, usually and then if there’s time and he has his act together (which he frequently doesn’t) he’ll lecture, but there’s never time to do lecture on all three chapters that we’ll be testing over the following Monday night, so it really does depend on the reading.  Wednesday nights are supposed to be about Skills.  We break up into groups and he assigns each group to one of the volunteers from the last class who go over the skills with us, which is all well and good, except they’re not experts and as likely as not, they’re not getting it completely right anyway, and then when we demonstrate what we’ve learned for one of the two instructors we get called out for doing it wrong and made to feel stupid when in fact we demonstrated it exactly the way the volunteer had shown us, (for example, using a pediatric non-rebreathing mask on an adult sized mannequin – thanks for that, volunteer whose name I can’t remember!)

So every Monday we have three tests, one over each of three chapters that we’re supposed to read and learn and then we have not very good lecture over the materials in one (maybe two) of the next chapters.  Wednesday we go over skills and are constantly reminded that there’s going to come a time – though I’m not at all clear about when that is – when we will have to actually test over these skills and if we don’t get them right on the first or second try (except for airway at which we only get one shot) then he will kick us out of the class.

The purpose of this class is not to qualify me to get a job as an EMT if that’s what I decide I want to do.  The purpose of this class is to qualify me to take a National Registry exam to become licensed as an EMT.  As if the stress of this class weren’t enough, there is then additional stress about when and whether I’ll take and pass the written and demonstrative portions of the National Registry exam.

I’ve heard conflicting reports about what the pay for an EMT is.  Some reports have it as low as $16.00 an hour while others have it at $60K a year.  If I decided to pursue a job as an EMT that means a cut in pay, but how much of one is still up in the air.  And while I decided to take this class first and foremost because I wanted to know the information, the more time and energy I spend on it, the more I think it might be the direction I want to go and if I go through all this and then can’t make the career change, then what has been the point?  (I do recognize that this is not entirely rational thinking, but it’s still among the thoughts that are going through my head.)

I spend hours and hours and hours reading my textbook and highlighting information (I’ve completely drained three highlighters, which either means I’m highlighting too much (likely) or there’s a lot of important information that needs to be marked.)  I spend at least two hours a day at work, most days, reading or working in the work book.  I have hardly watched any television at all in the last three weeks and once I finish preparing food for the next day (or on the nights before a class, the next two days), cooked and eaten dinner, I spend a couple of hours at night reading and have been staying up way too late.

I read and read and read, and then when I’m finished with a chapter, I go through the review materials in the back of the chapter, I go over the sample questions on the last page (to which I have found no answer key, so I have no idea if my answers are correct or not.)

Then I break out the work book which does not get turned in, but is purely for my own study purposes.  I go through the materials in the work book, anywhere from three to twelve pages and then check my answers in the back.  I usually do pretty well on the mix and match, multiple choice and true and false sections, though not as well as I feel like I should be doing.  But the critical thinking sections are harder.  And the written answer questions are —  I don’t even know how to explain it.  I read the answers they give in the back and I realize it made sense and I remember all the information from when I was reading…  But I couldn’t formulate it into an answer on my own…  I don’t know what that means for my ability to make use of the information in the real world.

And then as if that weren’t enough, I download the three chapters of the book I’m working with to iTunes and then into my iPhone and I listen to them. ALL. THE. TIME.  I listen when I’m working.  I listen while I’m driving.  I listen while I’m grocery shopping.  I listen while I’m preparing food. AND I LISTEN IN MY SLEEP.  All in the hopes of retaining most of the pertinent information.  I never feel like I am.  I never feel like I know this stuff backwards and forwards and every Monday I walk into class worried that I am not going to pass the tests we have to take that day.

When I’m reading, I stress because I don’t feel like I’m getting it and I think about all the other things in my life that I’m not getting done and then I realize that my mind is wandering so I have to stop and go back to the last thing I remember reading and start over.  (By the way, I read out loud to help focus my attention on the text.  How can I read out loud, say the words, and not be thinking about them at all?  Doesn’t seem like that should be possible.  But apparently it is.)

When I’m not reading, like right now, I feel guilty, like I should be and that if I don’t get to it, I might not finish reading in time and it stresses me out.

I worry that I’m not reading enough.

I worry that I’m not learning what I’m reading.

I worry that I’m not going to pass the tests.

I worry that I’m not getting the practice I need to learn the skills.

I worry that I will learn the skills and still bomb the test, even if only out of stress and fear.

I worry that I’m not equipped to handle what’s coming when we get into the trauma portion of the materials (I don’t have a great track record with pictures of graphic things.  I don’t get sick or throw up, though that might be better.  But in my lifetime I have passed out as a result of looking at pictures or reenactments of serious injuries and I worry that this will be a problem now.)

I worry that I won’t make a good impression, or be able to handle myself, when I have to go on a ride-along later in the semester.

I worry that I won’t make it far enough in the class to have the opportunity to go on the ride-along.

I worry that I won’t be able to pass the National Registry Exam.

I worry that I won’t be able to make a good impression on a hiring manager when I start looking for a job.

I worry that I won’t be able to find something that I want to do with this new knowledge and skill.

I worry that I will get a job, only to find out that I can’t live on the salary, or that I can’t handle the working conditions or the hours or the stress.

I worry that I’ll get to the end of all this and realize that it’s not for me and feel like I’ve wasted my time and energy.

I worry about all of this, ALL of the time and I can’t shut my brain up and focus solely on what’s in front of me, the learning.

I’ve been crampy and nauseated and diarrhea-y for three weeks (you’re welcome.)  And as I was driving over to my therapy appointment on Tuesday and feeling all those things, plus the not at all unusual anxiety of “what am I going to talk about today?”, I suddenly reached the very rational realization that, “Hello!  I’ve been feeling so crappy and stressed out because I’ve been living at a heightened state of anxiety since the class began.”

So I asked Deb about Anti-Anxiety medication.  Deb is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (what that means exactly I don’t know) so she is knowledgable, but not expert about medication.  It also means she can not prescribe anything.  She told me what she knows, and helped me to eliminate some specific possibilities (I can not go on a benzodiazepine – Valium, Xanex – because they’re too “stoney” and I wouldn’t be able to function, or retain information while taking them.)  But there are some other possibilities and she suggested it might not be a bad idea to talk to my psychiatrist about it.  Honestly, I’m a little reluctant because after five and half years on antidepressants and feeling dependant on them (I’ve now been off them for about 22 months) I don’t want to rely upon more pills to regulate my life.  On the other hand, I’ve never been under this much pressure before and if it’s a temporary situation with a temporary solution, maybe I can work with that.

I contacted the Psychiatrist that I last saw at my healthcare provider and he informed me that because he hadn’t seen me in over 2 years, I had to start fresh with the intake process, which is funny because when it was all said and done, I still ended up with an appointment with him. BUT, the earliest appointment I could get is on Friday, September 17th.  What’s wrong with this picture?

I was actually going to end this post right there, because, I at least, think that’s funny, and I like to end my posts with a humorous note.  However it seems like a good idea to add a little bit of a reality check to this as well…

Up until now, we have taken our tests in groups.  Each week, we split up into our little work groups and we get one copy of the test and put all our names on one answer sheet and submit the one answer sheet with our “collectively arrived upon answers”.  Starting next week we will take our tests as individuals and it will be every man for himself.  (Don’t think I haven’t worried about that too.)  But here’s the reality:

1) I have not once, so far, been unable to finish the reading before Monday night’s class.  (I was going to add some “but”s and some qualifiers, but let’s just leave it at that.  Reading gets done in time.)

2) Somehow I became the default test-reader-out-louder-guy, possibly because I am able to speak clearly and rapidly and buzz through the test at a rapid pace, or possibly because I felt the need to take control and feel like we were doing everything we could to get through the test in the time allotted.  I usually read the question out and then select the answer I think is right.   I told my group-mates, “I’m going to just do this, if you think I’m answering wrong, speak up.”  They were all OK with that, and hardly, if ever, disagreed with my selection.  Either I actually do know the stuff when I need to, or they’re completely clueless and allowing me to lead them down the wrong path, except…

3) We finished our three tests last night (yes it was Wednesday but there was no class on Monday for the holiday) in record time.  We were completely finished more than half an hour before the other five groups.  I started to worry that maybe that meant something bad and just as I was verbalizing that to my group-mates the instructor asked, from across the room, “Are you guys done already?”  We confirmed that we had and he made some sort of comment designed to shake our nerve.  But then the Teaching Assistant spoke up and said, “No, they’re actually doing really well.”  He had already graded our three tests and knew our results.  I asked him, “We did well tonight, or we’re doing well over-all?” We haven’t gotten anything back, or any way of knowing our grades to date.  The TA glanced back at the computer screen and said, “Well, everybody did badly on Chapter 5” (chapter 5 was vitals, so, you know, that’s bad) “but over-all you guys are doing well.”

As of last night, we have an 88% in the class.  Naturally, an A would be preferable but I was a C average student in high school; I will not be complaining about an 88%!

I know all the real, rational facts about this situation.  I have a job that I’m not in danger of losing and that pays a decent salary.  If I fail (or get kicked out of) this class, I can take it again next semester (at a different school where this instructor isn’t teaching).  I’m probably not going to fail or get kicked out and I’ll do OK on the materials and testing and the certification.  I own the textbook so I can review whenever, however often and for however long I want and I can learn this stuff inside and out, at my own pace without all the pressure, once this class is over.  Time and experience and exposure will over-power any anxiety about the job and the injuries I might witness and eventually, it’ll become second nature to me, just like my job today became second nature to me.

It would be nice to think that having this rational knowledge would help to alleviate the anxiety, but you know what?  It doesn’t! Not one iota!

I sure do hope the psychiatrist can give me something to help!