January 25 2013
Hello out there. Welcome to my first blog entry. After years of requests, prodding, gentle encouragement, nagging, forceful nudging, guilt-tripping, and exasperation (and that’s just my inner monologue), I’m finally plunging into the realm of blogdom. I have no idea exactly what shape this will take and I welcome suggestions and feedback. I also reserve the right to change my mind from day to day, month to month, or, if I have the stamina, from year to year. Actually, I might even change my mind mid-sentence, just to challenge myself. Or confuse myself—sometimes I can’t tell the difference. Oh, and by the way, I consider all of this a somewhat self-indulgent pastime, in which I invite people I know as well as hitchhikers to come along for the ride.
I will probably write about what’s going on in my life now…”The Adventures of an Urban Jewish Lesbian Nurse Practitioner in Rural Maine” or for the current months, in rural Vermont. I also reserve the right to change the names of some people and places to protect confidentiality—well, more realistically, to protect my ass. So to start off, we’ll say that I’m currently living and working away from home in a small Vermont town with a name that sounds like a sneeze. If my thoughts dry up from time to time (ha, if?), I might rehash some old popular pieces that I wrote many years ago in a small town in Maine that doesn’t sound like a sneeze.
Those of you who have been in my life for a while probably remember back in October of 1996 when I first moved to Maine and started writing a series of emails to my family and friends about my new adventures. I had just finished graduate school and had left my comfort zone of fourteen years of living in the Boston area, the last twelve of which had been spent in a comfy, if somewhat dumpy rent-controlled apartment in Cambridge. Just prior to being surgically removed from that apartment and relocating to Maine, I was living just with my two cats, Butch and Kissa. Their ashes currently rest in peace in small boxes on my “shelf of dead pets” in the bedroom. I can’t bear to bury them because I’m not sure I’ll be staying anywhere permanently. At this point, I might end up being like an ancient Egyptian and just bring them with me when I’m buried.
Anyway, in the years before that, various roommates had lived with me, including two girlfriends (not at the same time), and assorted stray friends from time to time. I loved Cambridge and my life there, but I was starting a new career. After three years of studying to become a primary care nurse practitioner, I was determined to use my new skills in a job that would truly encompass primary care. Turns out I didn’t actually acquire the majority of those skills for at least another few years—that diploma thing is a bit of a joke, but they don’t tell you that when you sign the student loan papers.
During my job search, I realized that for a new NP grad, I’d probably get the best primary care experience in a rural environment. My first clue to this was probably during my last couple of clinical rotations in school. In a large HMO facility, it seemed like when we saw patients with any kind of rashes, they were referred down the hall to dermatology, headaches were sent next door to neurology, new diabetics sent right to endocrinology, stubbed toes sent on stretchers to ortho…Okay, well maybe I’m exaggerating, but I do recall one large zit getting a referral…
Somehow, I didn’t think this would happen in a rural community, when the nearest specialists were at least 40 miles away and had three-month waiting lists. At the time, of course, I didn’t know that within a year of starting a job in my new career, I’d be bitching that the nearest specialists were 40 miles away and had three-month waiting lists. Now more than sixteen years into my career, I mostly just bitch, but I’ll get to the gory details of burnout and my views about healthcare in America eventually…one blog at a time
Here are a few blog tidbits as a preview:
1. Urban Jewish Lesbian (UJL) moves 40 miles north of Bangor where she knows no one, rents a small “quaint” poorly insulated log cabin out in the woods, realizes early on that she lives 40 miles from the nearest latte or even moderately edible sushi, that no restaurants in town are open past 7pm, and that taking out the garbage requires driving 8 miles each way.
2. There are interesting but strange, right-wing, religious, and possibly militia-type people in these parts who think that UJL is interesting, strange, left-wing, a witch, and possibly some sort of hippie. These people will refuse to clean my house but they will pray for me and try to save me.
3. UJL plods along, fumbling through the first awkward year of being a new NP, adopting 2 more cats, writing, settling in, making a few friends, but also starting to enjoy the relative quiet and the solitude. She then gets blindsided by a woman who comes into her life, brings along three teenagers (now with kids of their own), and stays. And stays. And stays. She’s still here. Well, not here in sneeze-town, but at home, in Maine, waiting for me to finish out this temp job. Now that Maine has finally decided that we can legally marry, we plan to do that next summer.
A lot has happened in between there and here. After Edie (I’m going to call her that) came into my life, the regular email stories slowed down and then eventually stopped, except for very occasional updates over the years. That’s when the requests, nagging, prodding and gentle nudging started. Even my personal journaling slowed down a lot. My life got busy, with all the usual ups and downs, and my career got chaotic, with a lot of strange twists and turns. I reserve the right to change my mind on the whole career thing too. I tell people that bar tending is one of my past and future careers, and some days I’m not entirely kidding.
In 2004, Edie and I eventually moved to a small town just outside of the enormous city of Bangor (street lights, lattes and sushi oh my!) to a nicer log home, on eight private wooded acres, and settled in, creating a life filled with an extended community of women, near and distant family, assorted jobs, losses, travels, health challenges, and all the other wackiness of life.
It’s time for me now to go back and fill in those gaps. I think I’ll have fun doing that. I hope you’ll have fun reading it. I also hope you’ll let me know one way or another. The feedback is a big part of what makes it fun. I’m only a click away. So click away….