Home is where the tasty food is

Alternative title: I came to eat!

So, things I know about myself are while I don’t mind change (I travel for a living!), I do like a little bit of control over how things go. There are travelers who can wait until the last week of their current contract before they start looking for their next one. That can work to their advantage as they find the highest paying at the moment because the need is immediate. It can also be a disadvantage if contracts aren’t plentiful or they are looking in a specific place or, or, or…

Forget. That. Noise.

Did you note my panic just typing out the things that could go wrong waiting until the last minute? All the things. I like some control so I look (and book) early. Some say wait until 4-6 weeks before looking and securing. I’ve gotten my next contracts within 4 weeks of completing my current contract. It’s how I have a little control over what comes next and, if I don’t like where I am or have worn out my welcome, I can say I know where I’m going next.

I start my next 5 week contract in Plymouth shortly. Unfortunately, I have no idea where I’m going next. I thought I did, was sure if it actually, but life is funny, ain’t it?

Anyway, I wanted to talk about one of – and of course I have more than one – my favorite places I have to stop at when I’m home.

Provence Market 

I may only be home for a week, but odds are good you’ll catch me here for lunch one day that week.

Listen, I’m not here to advertise or convince you to like or go to a place, but if I’m home and I want to go someplace to eat, I’m going here.

I can’t say I’m a lover of French food. I tend to think it’s a bit… perfect, pretentious, pompous… over done. But I like the versions of the food they do here.

They do a delicious French dip with some Brie added. A side of house made chips with truffle dip and I’m set.

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Or their Croque Monsieur – American style

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Atmosphere has an upscale air, but it’s not stuffy. Colorful plates with paper across the table, it has a nice feel that’s not off-putting in the lest.

The part I most appreciate about this place is the prices aren’t crippling. That French dip? $9. I don’t know that may be more than most want to spend, but with my eating habits (and subsequent food spending habits) that’s a deal daggonit!

I’ve eaten at more expensive places, but something about this one always draws me back. The heart (stomach) wants what the heart (stomach) wants.

There are places in my home town that I want to boost up and this is one of them. Homegrown restaurants aiming for that big city is worth noting.

Man, I need to change my title to say “Traveling Nurse: baby catching with a side of traveling and eating.”

Next up? Boston Comic Con plus their restaurant week, and then back to work. As always, get out there and enjoy where you are even if socializing isn’t your strong suit. And eat the dang cupcake. Until next week

Travel on, road warrior

I can work with that

And I’m a year older!

We’re post birthday (welcome to me in Year 33), and I’ve already veered off my tentative blogging schedule. My original intention was to have a twice a week posting, and last week didn’t produce said activity.

Look, I’m not going to sweat a schedule. I’m just going to be happy I manage it at all. We can’t be picky when we’re out here seeing the world. I’m conquering town, cities, states, and countries over here.

In case you’re wondering, my weekend was filled with pickles and lots of food. Picklesburgh, set on the Roberto Clemente bridge near PNC Park, was an interesting experience that reminded me of why I love the opportunities that traveling provides me. And why I’ll never have pickle lemonade if I’m ever offered it  🤢

You can see a lot by going not so far from home.

Pittsburgh is a short jaunt up the road (hour and some change depending on how long it takes you to drive), and the short drive brings you into a city with its own culture. Steel City, the home of Heinz, a city with a history rooted in industry that’s shown itself to be far more.

It’s interesting to cruise around a city that at times feels like it’s struggling to grow out of its industrial slump. I’m not going to lie, it reminds me of D.C. and it’s constant struggles with gentrification. The rundown houses butt right up to the hipster breweries. That’s any major city though, so I can’t fault Pittsburgh for the pains it feels at times.

East Liberty has a huge Target that seemed to draw people from far and wide into its doors. You pass the orchestra house and the ballet, both tucked into buildings that appear to have one time held factory work. Lawrenceville is home to many a hipster restaurant, and is the setting for an ice cream place whose idea, I was informed by someone, originates from Thailand. Check out NatuRoll, if you’d love some ice cream with a side of fanfare. Head over to the strip district for cool bars and a great (and wicked busy) Argentinan place. Gaucho, oh Gaucho, delicious food that makes your little heart sing. Stuck near the airport? Head to Settlers Ridge for Giant Eagle… I mean, a strip filled with stores and food to keep you entertained.

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Stuck at home? I believe every city has its strong points. There are things I do like about home and I’ll have to express that in a post sometime. The thing to remember is getting out. I don’t know how many native dwellers have told me they’ve lived somewhere their whole lives and never visited any of the major landmarks.

If you can’t travel, explore where you live. There’s simply no excuse. Festivals, farmers markets, parks, trails. Free, free, and free. When you know it, the city leaves its mark on you, so let it leave its mark.

In the immortal words of Stephen Stills, if you can’t be with the one you love, honey love the one you’re with. 

I’ll take my own advice every time I’m home.

Travel on, road warriors

Changing Courses

I’ve been the height of negligence when it comes to the blog. I think it’s time to change courses a bit, but first…

My birthday is coming!

*cue confetti falling from the ceiling and balloons popping up!

My birthday has always been an interesting experience for me emotionally. Parts of me dreads growing older, always has dreaded it. Maybe because of fear what the future holds or how much closer it brings me to death. Life is fragile and uncertain. Birthdays can be a reminder that time is speeding along instead of creeping, and for some reason that’s always left me feeling breathless and scared.

I have to actively stop myself from checking for gray hairs, folks! I also comfort myself with the fact that neither of my parents grayed early, as well as the fact that I don’t always look my age. Growing older isn’t a bad thing, but I’m not always ready for that idea. Especially when my mother occasionally asks me when I’m going to have kids. 🤔

One of my traditions, something I’ve done since I was in college, is to dedicate my new year to God. It’s a chance to evaluate the previous year, look ahead to the coming year, and offer that new 365 to God to shape however He wants. It has always added a different perspective to my birthday by changing my outlook in a very purposeful way.

I also celebrate my birthday like it’s a national holiday! That can mean a big international trip or something as simple as a nice massage. It’s important to celebrate self where you can in life.

As for work, I’m finishing up one contract here in Plymouth and then returning for a few more weeks after. I have some travel plans in the works, including the travel nurse conference and a big international trip.

I want to do something more with this blog space. Not monetize it because that’s everyone MO as of late, but I want it to at least be more prolific than it is currently. I’m hoping to write more in general, including reviews for local places and restaurants.

Writing is something I love doing and I just want to offer more of it even if it’s only in weekly doses. So here’s to more traveling, more writing, and birthday celebrations.

Travel on, road warriors

The Good, The Bad, And The… Meh?

Another assignment completed. That means it’s time to hit the road and head off to my next assignment. Always to the next one with me.

I travel because being anywhere permanently makes even thinking about staying somewhere makes me break out in hives. While I’ve always known this, traveling has made it more obvious that there is no ‘awesome place to work’. Every place has its issues whether they are frank or hidden. The nature of the hospital setting lends itself to problems that aren’t easily solved. It could be staffing issues, management issues, upper management issues, or just interpersonal issues. Something always make it less than ideal.

Not every assignment is going to be amazing because every place has their issues. Not everyone is going to love me or what I bring to the table when I come there to help them. In their eyes, I’m simply another body where they’ve been incredibly short and as long as I’m capable enough they don’t need anything else from me.

Did I love this previous assignment? I started with mixed feelings and ended the same ways. This is one place that I didn’t have a party at the end. Not that a party when a traveler leaves is indicative of anything, but it’s obvious that you’re being there and leaving make a difference when they bother to have something for you. I know I was the only one of my group of incoming travelers that didn’t renew. That’s not necessarily reflective of the place as I always head back east, but I also didn’t want to stay where I felt so indifferent either.

It’s a reminder that you can still be the best you as a traveler even if no one else notices.

I’m rapidly coming up on four years of this travel nurse thing and I’m continuing to learn things. Mostly about myself and what I will tolerate, but also about my skills and abilities. I struggled at times this past few months with feeling unrecognized. As is typical of my personality, I realize I need to at least know someone appreciates me being around to help. That isn’t always possible so I need to remember who I am and what I know. Those things doesn’t change when I go somewhere that isn’t so excited to have travelers outside of filling vacated spots.

So every place, no matter how difficult, has a lesson or a learning point. Whether it’s something that boosts your skill set or something that increases your emotional awareness, every place will teach.

So I’ll keep on to the next thing as usual. Travelers gotta travel and I’m a traveler to the core.

Travel on, road warrior.

Is it too late now to say sorry

First week in da bag. It was looking iffy as to whether or not I’d start on Monday in hospital orientation. They are part of a large hospital system, which is fine until I’m hassled right up until Friday about minuscule paperwork. You’d think a big system would be less complicated and difficult, but what have we learned when anything gets too big? No quick movements and you tend to make a mess of things you won’t bother to clean up.

Anywho, I was able to start and did get to sit through the ever repetitive and ever boring Hospital Orientation. The upside is there was plenty of coffee.

I worried what with the snags I had leading up to starting that the floor was going to be where I’d truly regret my decision to work at the facility. So far (and this is day shift!), no one has been mean and I haven’t had to call my best friend to beat anyone up or my mom to come get me. Hehe.

In the course of my first three 8 hour shifts on the floor, I noticed something. I say SORRY an awful lot.

Now, some of that apologizing stems from my need to project an aura of perfection. Not good, but I want to be and seem more than competent at what I do. I’m always concerned there will be doubt when I start someplace new and I strive (overly so) to squash that perception within minutes of interacting with me. It leads to a certain level of constant anxiety that I have to work through and is a constant struggle. I notice that when it may seem I missed something obvious even when I may not have truly known, I say sorry.

I thought I was just me though. No, everyone says sorry unnecessarily. We apologize for behavior that is natural and doesn’t require it. I caught myself telling others to stop saying sorry. It was something that just stuck me as wrong.

Not that apologizing isnt a good response when you’re truly wrong, but perhaps we should change that to something else.

I’ll work on alternative phrasing, but in the meantime I’ll try not to work so hard at being perfect. No one is capable of it outside of God and I’m afraid I’m only made in His image.

Back at it for week two and off day shift. Waking up at 5:30am ought to be illegal. Hopefully this hospital gives me good experience in all its busyness. I’m here to help and learn so let’s get to it, shall we?

Travel on, road warrior

 

 

Jesus Take The Wheel

So begins my trek cross country. It started rather abruptly yesterday as the worry of snow and ice sent me out the door a day early. I’ll get to that in a sec, but first…

In case you didn’t know, I loathe the snow.

A little background on me (for those who don’t know me), I was born in Maryland and spent the first 10 years of my life in the D.C. Area. As a family, we moved to Bridgeport, WV when the FBI made the big transfer so I’ve spent the large majority of my life in WV. Love it, claim it, call the Mountian State my home. I went to college in the area and worked the first 7 years in a 30-40 min distance from my childhood home. It snows in WV. Pretty much can count on that happening every winter without fail. Most people cope with it well and for a long time I just worked to grin and bear it. Nurses are essential workers so…

And then I started traveling for a living. I love Boston, which is the first place I traveled, but it’s terrible in the winter. One of the worst places during winter months actually. So, when considering where to go next, of course I opted for a place that’s typically warm – meaning no snow. And a yearly tradition is born. The east coast is my place from April through December, but after the new year I’m a Cali girl for 3 months. This is year 4 of heading west

That means, I drive out every other year. So I beg my best friend to drive out with me, we try desperately to avoid the snow, and we sightsee. And eat all the good food. This year is Nashville, Oklahoma City, Sante Fe, Utah, Vegas, and up to San Fran.

As much as change doesn’t bother me, I like change under careful circumstances. Admittedly, when things change abruptly, I become grouchy, flustered, and incredibly uncertain. Yesterday’s abrupt departure definitely put a kink in all my plans for the week. Not only that, but once I arrived something went awry with the hotel and they had no power. That means I was sent to a different hotel. It was one little thing after another that kind left me extremely… not a nice girl.

I was trying to look for a lesson in it. Heck, I’ve been looking for a lesson in the entirety of this year. Here’s kind of what I’ve settled on.

Not a huge Carrie Underwood fan, and really I don’t like the song for a lot of reasons, but Jesus Take the Wheel is one of my favorite things to say when things get a little out of control. Sometimes I say it jokingly and others it’s a true prayer for patience.

Here’s where my Christian roots show even in the midst of my backslid ways. For all I struggle at times, I believe God has the proverbial wheel. I’m the queen of uncertain and right now I’m battling anxiety and obsessive tendencies, but I trust that even still God is working things out. That doesn’t protect me from death, disease, or pain, but it reminds me that His hand guides. This world isn’t a fun place and we can’t avoid the not fun parts even if we’re staunch believers who are kind, love others how they need it, and pray without ceasing. But His hand guiding is still a surety.

Things can go from great to awful in an instant. Life is that way and that won’t change. As much as we complain this year and our privilege in country had insulated us from many of the awful things that could occur. I never want to downplay grief, loss, change, or hard times. This year has been full of it. Next year may not be different, but I can set my mind where it needs to be in order to remind myself of the good. I’m thinking of doing a photo a day next year to help remind me to look for the good things.

As for this trip? I’m going to trust God with the things that make me uncertain. I’ll also keep my hands on the actual car steering wheel because we may run into *shudder* snow.

Travel on, Road Warrior

The good and the bad of leaving home 

I’m off to my next assignment soon. Not heading far, as I’ve mentioned. It’s not at home, but it’s close enough to home that my mother is pleased as punch and is already planning visits. Other than pushing my start date back a smidge, it’s not been much that’s made me more worried than normal about beginning a new assignment. Except… 

One of the things I’m distressed/worried/wondering about is how my appearance will be received. My hair is natural and colored plus I’m proudly sporting a nose ring that I have no plans on removing any time soon. Will that cause issues? 

There’s talk of the appearance of the nurse affecting care, or the patient’s  perception of the nurse’s ability to provide care. I’ll save this topic for another post, but where I stand on that is if I treat you with the dignity, respect, and care you deserve, what does a nose ring and hair color have to do with it? 

This brings me around to the topic that’s been brewing in my head since I’ve been home. 

The Good and the Bad of leaving (and coming) home. 

Many new travelers struggle with leaving the first few times. One of the biggest issues travelers face is homesickness. You’re somewhere totally new with people who don’t know you or what your capable of doing a different routine than what you’re probably used to from home. Add to that being in a new city all a lone and you run the risk of spiraling into depression and succumbing to homesickness. Most people quit if it gets too bad. I’ve always loved being on the road so it’s never been too big of deal to up and leave. I battle the anxiety of a new routine, but have learned to remember what I’m capable of and that makes the first few weeks easier to get through. 

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been traveling for three years, and while I like being home, I find it exceedingly difficult. I’ve been examining why and settled on the conclusion that I’ve changed so much that being home reminds me how much. 

Some of the changes are great. I recognize my worth, I know what I can take on without getting overwhelmed, I know what I won’t tolerate, and I know I’m a good helper. I’m a good nurse. Even when I’m anxious about so many things, I know that. I also know I can be an independent person who goes out and explores without needing someone else there with me. 

Some of the changes haven’t been so good. I’ve grown impatient with others, I’ve fallen into some habits that aren’t healthy (physically or spiritually), I’ve developed a potty mouth 😳, and another of other things that I don’t feel comfortable splashing over my blog today. And let’s not talk about my backsliding as a women of God. Everything has consequences 

It’s also tough on relationships, traveling. I find it easier to move on than take a chance when dating is the way it is currently. It’s hard coming home and seeing everyone in solid relationships, having babies when not sure it’ll ever happen for me. Side note: I’ve wondering how my mother would do arranging a marriage for me. Hm… 

Working at home gets tough because I see clearly what needs changed and I can’t tolerate when I see how poorly the staff is treated by those high in leadership. Church is tough too because they know how I was before and I feel like I’m struggling too much to pretend I have it together like I used to. When you’re out in the world that’s when the test of who you’ll be is given. Who am I right now? Human. Admittedly, I know God can use everything and I need to let Him led. I’m still learning. 

Traveling has helped me become someone better and different. That’s what happens when you’re on the move. Am I where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Yes, I believe that in spite of the struggles I battle against on many levels. I’m stronger in too many ways and I feel like more strength (as a nurse, as a woman, as a Christian) are coming. 

Leaving and coming home is an experience every time. And while I’d much rather stay on the road, everyone has to come home to rest. 

Travel on, Road Warrior 

Acknowledging the past, not ignoring it. 

It’s the start of week 9 here and it’s been a lot of radio silence. I apologize for that. Some could be the result of residual indifference I feel on this assignment. 

Odd to be feeling that way because in many instances it’s really not been bad. Great providers! Shoot, many doctors expect to be called by their first names and seem to listen and respect both the nurse’s opinion and the patient’s desire for a vaginal delivery. They tend to hold out on surgical intervention until it’s absolutely necessary, which I appreciation. I’ve not encountered too many high risk instances here that feel outside of my particular level of expertise. Even faced with such a nice set up, I still battle some of the worst anxiety I’ve felt in a long time, don’t really feel that usual connection I get at work, nor feel any desire to remain there that I usually consider at this point in my assignment (when things haven’t been bad). 

I can’t put my finger on it, but I know with 5 more weeks remaining, I’ll be moving on to somewhere else soon enough. 

Ambivalence aside, I wanted to discuss something that I encounter a lot as a labor nurse. And no, it’s not the self-important anesthesiologist who seems to expect the nurse to wait on him hand and foot. That’s another post… 

I’ll get a patient for admission, someone at the end of their pregnancy and in a committed relationship with their husband/significant other. I’ll start to browse through their history and read something that goes a little like this… 

Patient has (an STI/history of drug use/something serious in their past), HUSBAND DOES NOT KNOW. 

Uh oh. 

This puts me in a spot where I have to attempt to get a clear history, including medications they are on and sexual history that may affect the baby, but I have to figure out how to do it with them in pain as their significant other supports them. 

I understand what it means to have a past you don’t want to discuss and how it would be hard to bring it up, but I question the level of trust you have with someone you’re married to if you didn’t feel safe enough to reveal a big part of your history that directly impacts them. 

The basis of a marriage is trust and adding a child to that is asking for more trust between the two of you. Opting to withhold things that could damage established trust when it came out later could be detrimental. Is it a matter of acknowledging you’ve picked the wrong partner or exploring why you don’t trust them enough to reveal yourself? 

Plus you’ve got me in a bind as your nurse in trying not to be the one to ruin your relationship by accidently spilling the beans. Revealing secrets and ruining marriages, I’d like to not to add that to my résumé thankyouverymuch. 

This makes me think of things I still keep hidden. It’s hard to open up, but holding back when you’re in an intimate relationship (friendship, family, love relationship, discipleship group) can definitely breed more mistrust when truth comes to light. I guess it’s a matter of creating that space in your relationship to be honest or asking what holds you back from honesty. 

Bottom line: don’t make me have to be your secret keeper in labor. I’m not a good liar. 

Travel on, road warrior. 

Your first name is Dr. So and So

Two weeks over here in Plymouth and so far and cautiously optimistic about how this place will be. In review, this place is an LDRP similar to my home spot. They do between 600-800 delivers a year and have 10 beds, so far smaller than what I was doing in south San Fran. As usual, they are having a staffing crisis that started two years ago and has only gotten worse. 22 people have quit or gone per diem in the last 2 years. That number is insane to me for one floor considering how small they are. 

I had two 12 hour shifts of orientation of which there were no labors so I shadowed a nurse caring for postpartum patients. They were swamped with patients the few days prior to me starting so of course they drop down when I get there to orient. Which means I end up doing labor as soon as I’m off orientation. I can do labor anywhere, heck I can do postpartum anywhere. It just gets dicey when they have a mountain of paperwork I have to try to muddle through. I’m still trying to make sure I’ve crossed all my Ts and dotted my Is. 

I also find their relationship with their doctors interesting. 

After 10 years of nursing, I’m formed a distinct opinion of physicians as a whole. When you’ve been yelled at, belittled, questioned, or had things thrown at you, you allow that to shape your respect for those with DO or MD after their name. I’ve adopted a guilty until proven friendly approach with all physicians. They may be very nice outside of work, but the first time they treat me terribly, I only interact with them as far as work is required. We aren’t friends and we could barely pass as colleagues. I’ll advocate for my patient when we have to talk, but beyond that we don’t have much need to converse. 

This place is different because they have good relationships with their docs. First they happen to be really nice and willing to work with the nurses, and second, they let themselves be called BY THEIR FIRST NAMES. 

Wait… What?! 

I was talking to a fellow traveler and we both remarked on how bizarre that is. Not just that they address the docs by their first name, or that the docs introduce themselves as such, but this is the nicest group of physicians I’ve encountered in my career. 

Someone help me find a flat surface because I feel faint. 

It made me examine how I’ve allowed the bad behavior of previous doctors to make me use the title of Dr as a shield. Part of me understands the natural level respect for someone’s title. You’ve worked hard for that degree so you deserve to be addressed properly. Whether I like you or not, my mama raised me (semi) properly so those with a certain level of authority have earned a certain amount of respect. 

That’s on one hand, but on the other, titles can be used as a way to distance yourself from understanding or caring for someone. They are a doctor so of course they’re prone to arrogance, outbursts, disrespect, and disregard. I’ve been taught to give the barest level of respect, but you’re nothing to me beyond my interaction with you in caring for my patient. Terrible behavior on my part. 

Look, even though these docs seem very nice and personable, I don’t anticipate most physicians to be friendly or willing to be addressed by their first name. I don’t see myself doing it either, but I should try to stop letting my preconceived notions of how docs have behaved to turn me cool to all docs. 

Heaven help me, I’m entering into a new era. I’m going to need some time to make this attitude adjustment/change. 

12 weeks to go. And it’s felt fast even with me working 40 hours a week. Of course I’m already thinking of where I go next… 

Travel on, road warrior