Thursday, January 15, 2009

How Working Kills Blogging

For me, anyway. Or maybe I'm just in an adjustment period when I have too much to do at work to have time to blog AT work. And still a little paranoid about the ability of bosses and/or network administrators to look at a record of all the sites you surf at work. Maybe these things will pass. Or maybe I just won't be so achingly tired every evening that I want to go to bed at nine. (I say this optimistically, but I'm no optimist, really.) I may just be tired forever, from now on, and not blog much. Not that I was blogging all that much before getting the job. Sigh. Now I'm just depressing my tired self.

I did have two things I wanted to blog about, though, so here goes.

Last week, I went to the student health center to get an allergy prescription. I'm a grad student and student health is free! I still have to pay for the prescription because I don't have health insurance for the moment, but the appointment is free! Maybe you get what you pay for, because it was a weird little experience that I've probably retold to five or six different people in the last seven days.

The nurse had me step on the scale in the hallway. I did, and watched the number appear, all digital style, the same number I've been frowning at when standing on the YMCA scale, jiggling the non-digital balance thingy, hoping it'll bounce up, er, down, a little.

The nurse, on the other hand, was shocked at the number. Not because she knows me (never seen her before) or saw that I'd gained a significant amount since my last visit (I haven't) or was even looking at my chart. She was shocked because, as she put it, "Wow. You do not look like you weigh that much!"

I chuckled or snorted or something, perhaps slightly uncomfortable, but not hearing the alarm bells that later reflection told me I should have heard. My people-pleasing kicked in, and I said, with a little slap to my, ahem, outer thigh, "It's all in my hips!"

"Seriously," the nurse continued, unable to impress this upon me with only one inappropriate comment, "You do NOT look like you weigh that much."

Heh, heh, I might have said. I went into the room, briefly chatted with the doctor, got my script, and I was gone. It wasn't until after class, on my hour-long drive home, that I thought, Huh. Something was not right about that.

I probably should write a letter to the medical director, as more than one of my post-event confidantes told me. I should probably include in that letter that no staff member should ever comment on a woman's (or any patient's) weight while weighing them and writing the number in the chart. If a comment needs to be made, as it might, about significant gain or loss, or concerns about medical complications, it should be made by the primary provider, in a sensitive, confidential way.

Here's the thing. I think she thought she was complimenting me. "Wow, you look skinnier than that number!" or "Wow, you look like you weigh ten pounds less!" But isn't there also a subtext:
"Wow, that's a high number!" or "Wow, you don't look that fat!" And what about this? What if I were recovering from or still dealing with an eating disorder? This is university student health. I know I'm 36 and don't flatter myself that I look 18, but eating disorders have been around since my college days. If it bothered me, who has never been particularly obsessed or concerned about my weight, what would it have done to someone who was finally at a "normal" weight after years of anorexia or bulimia. What if I'd heard negative things about my weight through my whole life from my mother or other important role models? (And isn't that A LOT of women?)

Okay, maybe I'll copy some of that into a letter. Without the sarcasm. I'm going to send a note to a great blog I've been reading, called Every Woman Has an Eating Disorder, too. What do you all think?

My second ruminating point this week happened when I ran into an old friend. A girl I used to hang out with in elementary and a little bit of middle school. We went to sleepovers at each other's houses; we were in Girl Scouts together. We went to high school together, too, and were always friendly, but moved into different circles of friends and didn't hang out anymore. And I haven't seen her since.

I went to a meeting for work, with other staff from work, at another (much larger) facility who provides many of the services to which we refer clients. Behavioral health, substance abuse, etc. We were meeting their executive staff, with our director, trying to build a positive and mutual beneficial relationship, yada yada. Long story short, we're both covertly studying each other across the conference table because we had the feeling we knew the other. As soon as we start the tour, she takes my arm and says, "I know you." Then we say OMG, where do you live? how old are your kids? etc., etc.

Nothing is bad about this. It's just me, looking at her business card, realizing she has the same degree I'm about to get, the same license I will soon be pursuing, that she's an chief [blank] officer at a pretty fracking large facility. I'm happy for her. Why wouldn't I be? It's just that I'm a case manager. It's going to be close to three years before I can put those licensing initials after my name. It's like I can hear my mother saying, See that's why I told you to get a useful degree (I got an English degree), and Look at So-and-So's wedding announcement, she already has her CPA/MBA/Ph.D./M.D.

My mother's proud of me. That's not really the issue anymore. I don't know what the issue is, except that I have one. Why should I be jealous that someone else did things differently, more directly, with less distractions and diversions, and is successful in her career? (And, damn it, she even has one more kid than me.) If I hadn't done all the things that I did, I wouldn't have met my husband, other friends I have, conceived these particular children, blah, blah, blah. But it still stings a little. I still feel a little bit like a loser. This is not a plea for reassurances--I've already gotten a lot of those, from sister, mom, husband, my own more reasonable self. I just wanted to get it down. To look it in the face and maybe stop it.

You know what my (poker-playing, stay-at-home-dad) husband said when I invited him to the pity party, with all my qualifiers ("I know that people take different paths . . . I should be happy for her--I am, aren't I?"). I said, "Wouldn't you feel that way, though, honestly, if you met someone from your class who was doing really well?"

"I know there are people from my class who are really successful," he said, first, reminding us both unnecessarily that he went to a private, preparatory school. "Besides," he added, "I think I AM successful."

Maybe that's part of the difference. Maybe I need a bit of that. I am successful, too. I am.


Geohde said...

Working kills blogging. Badly.

And nobody should EVER comment on weight. Ever :)


Missie said...

What a well-written, thought provoking post. Loved your husband's comment at the end.

JG said...

Work does kill blogging. And your husband is right. But I know what you mean about that stuff. It's like this -- even if you wouldn't look down on someone else for being where you are, you sort of look down on yourself for being where you are. I don't have a magic cure, but I think years of getting more comfortable in one's own skin do help that. I hope so, at least.