annotated at a disadvantage

I am goddamned sick and tired of hearing a constant nagging litany: Go to bed! Aren’t you better yet? Eat something. Let me cook for you. This has to stop. This has to change. Are you going in this week?

Dearheart, some things are just never going to change. She’s going to nag you for years to come. Eventually you will understand she does it out of love.

Quit interrupting me while I’m working, so I CAN work without losing my train of thought, so I can go to bed at a decent hour!

You will never make it to bed at a decent hour.

Now I’m beyond frustrated, and the feelings just won’t quit. Every time she asks me in that pitiful voice whether I want to go do the volunteer thing, when I know I’m going to have my period in the next twenty-four hours and therefore feel like hell — ! So many expectations, no matter what she says. Times like this I just want to put on my coat and start walking.

There are no frontiers anymore. I have to escape into my stories. You know, if hell broke loose in this country, I reckon I’d blink a few times and then grab one of my daddy’s rifles. Not strong enough that the military would take me, and Goddess forbid Mama’s baby girl goes into the police or the corrections system, but I could defend myself and my own just fine.

I could be a nurse, at that. I could be a public health nurse and go where there’s good solid work to be done. All my life, I’ve wanted to live free. Why do I keep moving towards imprisonment, instead?

Seven years from now, you will ask yourself why you didn’t do it. You’ll understand that in 2008, you thought it was too late, but in 2015, you’ll understand it wasn’t too late at all. There is hope: you will consider pursuing a role in public health on the graduate level, and who knows? If you get a good enough job… you could even save to become a nurse. The University of Rochester does an accelerated program, after all.

Didn’t you want me to ask questions?

You will meet a boy who doesn’t. I’m sorry.

I don’t know anything about APA, social work, or psychology, and if I try to edit a paper that incorporates those elements, I will screw up. I can do fiction, literary papers, hell, even speeches and editorials, but something deep inside me is rejecting the idea of fiddling with something so far out of my realm. You wouldn’t hire a rocket scientist to paint a masterpiece. To me, the two worlds are that far apart. I am not in Kansas anymore.

Luckily, you will find yourself well able to adapt to Oz.

So if I don’t know the work, why not get someone who does — like the paid assistant who’s already in place? Is she seriously too inept to fix glaring mechanical errors? If she is, why pay her? (Ladies and gentlemen, these are your tax dollars at work.) Fire her and hire me, dammit.

Unpaid work devalues the profession as a whole. If I come this cheap, who’s to say word won’t get out? I didn’t charge my dad when I proofed his college papers, but he takes care of me, and he would slip me a tenner now and then because he knew I was saving his ass. Time and energy cost me dearly.

If I’d rather be writing my own fiction in an attempt to publish — if I could be taking classes at MCC to round out my A.A.S. — what the hell am I doing offering services I can’t realistically provide without going insane? I’d love to be enrolled at MCC this winter, even part-time, so I can a) take a fitness/martial arts course and b) put myself in the running for a literary contest in which K—– WILL NOT ENTER — to say nothing of the playwriting thing, and I do have a finished one-act. Dammit, M—– wanted me to enter that contest.

You’ll lose. You’ll be bitter over that, so sorely bitter. You will, however, not lose to K—-, and you’ll bring one of the winning plays to life so well that you move the writer to tears.

Yes, this is selfishness talking, but… I have work yet to do, real work, literary work. Not work that, said-and-done, is basically a graduate assistant gig without any credit.

What the hell am I supposed to do now?

One breath at a time is an acceptable plan, she tells herself.


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