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Trying hard not to be a fuck-up

     We have a tendency to be fuck-ups in my family.  Mom would like to think it comes from Dad's side of the family where there's a long line of teenage pregnancies, a dearth of diplomas, a lack of basic health- and money-related life skills, and an abiding fondness for self-medication.  Well, that's my paternal grandmother's people anyway.  My paternal grandfather is something of a mystery because he died--drowned in the Missouri river trying to save a buddy who'd apparently reached the "mightier than the current" stage of drunk while they were partying on the riverbank--before his 15 year-old pregnant girlfriend, my grandma, could give birth to my father.  I'm not sure what grandpa's people were like, but the evidence alone just screams fuck-up, doesn't it? 
    
     I've had a lot of familial encounters of the fuck-up kind as of late.  My mom flew into Council Blufs week before last to see her people and then to come stay with me for the week.  She stayed with her niece, L. whose eldest daughter B. is a class A fuck-up.   Mom's people are generally successes and therefore have no background in dealing with her, besides vague recollections that my sisters and I  went wild after high school.  At the age of 19, B. has been so infantilized by the dual messages of a Nazarene upbringing and junky One Tree 9021-OC culture that she can't even be a functional fuck-up, one that at least can scrape up beer money and get a shady apartment and drive a Council Bluffs Piece of Shit Special.  She's one of those high-dollar, name-brand purse, trustafarian without the trust fund kind of Fuck-Ups, one of those new breeds that I totally don't get.  When I went to pick Mom up from Council Bluffs, B.  was upstairs raging around her house and a bunch of her stuff was strewn around the driveway like she'd tossed them out the window.  L. just looked defeated.  I offered to go kick the Fuck-Up's ass for her and L. actually seemed to consider my offer for a long second before sighing and shaking her head.  The light died in L.'s eyes as she told us goodbye and turned to go face B. and her bullshit yet again.
    
     Mom spent the week here and we talked.  A lot.  Mostly about the past and the kids and the states of the union Miller and Lorenz.  Mom turned 55 this year and is still working retail a few days a week.  She had kids young and went back to college for an associate's degree in business when I was about 10.  She did well in school but couldn't seem to quite pull it together to have a viable career, what with my dad being crazy and my sisters and I squabbling over extremely finite resources like prison inmates until one by one, we stormed out of the house at the age of 18.   I was the only one of us who managed to graduate from high school.  She has regrets, I have regrets, but there's no fixing a lot of those other than trying to do better by my kids.    
    
     Then last weekend, my aunt Culline  (nope, not a typo.  Just ask my aunts Therese and Jode) turned 50 last weekend and her husband, my uncle Casey (the only husband besides Corey who has managed to stay married to a Miller woman for an appreciable length of time) threw her a big ole party at their favorite bar, Big T's, in their one-square-mile-sized town of Tabor, IA. The occasion brought out a lot of people I haven't seen in ages, all the relatives who weren't on the outs or planning rival parties for the following night (seriously, my cousin Skylar who, by the way, has never actually spoken to me voluntarily, had her graduation kegger scheduled for Sunday night and expected all and sundry, even those of us with long drives home and jobs on Monday morning, to attend).
    
     Now besides my dad and my aunt Culline, both of whom have had steady jobs since they were teenagers, the Millers are fuck-ups in a different way:  they are allowed to fuck up as long as they want, allowed to live at home and make all the bad choices they can survive.  The theory goes that eventually the fuck-ups tucker themselves out eventually, calm down and get steady jobs.  Seems to work for them.  They may be clannish and backwards but they can at least wipe their own asses, so to speak.   They're really fun at parties.  Sure, they regularly shoot themselves in the foot, but they hobble to work the next morning.  Usually.   So I've got bunches of directionless cousins wandering around, mostly worried about money in six dollar increments because that's how much a pitcher of Bud Lite goes for at Big T's.
    
     My sister Megan drove up with my dad from Tennessee for the festivities and to retrieve Mom in the process.  Megan's living back at home now at the age of 31.  She and her long-time boyfriend split up a couple of years ago and she was left with a bunch of debt, a crippled old car not worth fixing that she only recently got paid off, and a house she couldn't afford or maintain on her server income.  She's had to rent it out and is trying to figure out a way to sell it in the crummy housing market.  Her job is demanding even though it doesn't pay much, and when she's off, all she wants to do is forget work until two seconds before she has to show up the next day.  She just can't get ahead even living with my folks.  After we staggered away from the party, during the sobering up phase of the wee morning hours, we had a long talk about how trapped she felt and it just broke my heart not to be able to sweep in and rescue her.  A couple of grand would totally fix.
    
     So that leaves me.  My triplets are going to be ten years old this summer and I have to pick something to be when I grow up.  Something viable.  Something less follow my dreams and more make money to make dreams happen.  I've got a couple of years to go to school for something before the triplets hit middle school--you would not believe how much more expensive maintenance on a 6th grader is compared to a 5th grader--so my goal is to be doing some full time work by the fall of 2012 (if the world doesn't end, which, admittedly, would solve all my problems, but seems like kind of a bummer.)
    
     I've been watching all these direction-less women in my life kind of wandering around and have decided that I'm not having that.  The best thing I can see myself doing in the next two years is a nursing program at the local community college.  The nurses I know are by-and-large happy with what they do despite the hard work, and it seems like if I could get over my wee blood issues (namely, feeling faint at the sight of too much of it spilling out of me or my kids), I'd be great at it.  I'm so not squeamish about any other bodily functions, though.  And you know I've got a great bedside manner.  
    
     I want to have a thing I do so I don't have to worry about  what I'm going to be when I grow up anymore.  Seriously, the question is driving me insane.
     I want to do good.  
     I want to make good money so CDL doesn't have to worry so much about finances and so I can help my family. 
     I don't want to spend any more time in school than I have to for I hates it, precious.
     I don't want a desk job--my ADD won't let me sit still that long.

    What do we think?  Advice?  
 
 

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
May. 25th, 2010 07:47 am (UTC)
response
Don't go to nursing. Go to teaching. I'm a nurse. It is hard, hard, work. Shift work. Weekend work. Public holiday work. The money is ok...but it freaking sucks the soul out of you. My blog is 'itsnotalwayswhatitseems.blogspot.com'...i'm barb wigley's cousin..used to be on livejournal..back in the day. nursing....she sucks.
(Anonymous)
May. 28th, 2010 02:55 am (UTC)
Whatever you decide, keep writing. There's living, there's livelihood and there's a gift. You have it. You have a book in you, and more.
(Anonymous)
Sep. 12th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
Teaching is hard, too. Be prepared to spend more than 40 hours a week during the school year. There's no way to get all your planning and grading done during the provided planning time. There are too many hoops to jump through and they divert focus from student learning, which SHOULD BE, but unfortunately isn't always, the priority. Some of your coworkers will be incompetent and it will drive you to previously unknown levels of frustration that they are able to stay employed and have a hand in shaping the lives of children. Some parents are assholes of epic proportions, and they get some kind of sick entertainment out of trying to make your life miserable. Some kids have it way rougher than they deserve, but unless they come to school bruised (and sometimes even when they do), social services won't do anything.

But the rewards you feel when you know you've helped a kid do something they didn't think they would ever be able to - indescribable. And because you aren't drinking the kool-aid, you're going to be able to bring a perspective that a lot of the kids woudn't otherwise be exposed to. Plus, you get summers off, which is a bonus while your kids are still at home. And you can focus on writing during the summer, as well. Of course, as with anything, there are going to be a ton of pros and cons - I think the best any of us can do is find something where the former can outweigh the latter.

I do know that if you teach in a shortage area - math, science, special ed., for example, there are a lot of opportunities for special grants or "loan forgiveness" programs that make the preparation more competative - cost wise. Whatever you pick, I'm sure you'll be great at it!!
nausicaa1
Oct. 20th, 2010 01:38 pm (UTC)
You know I'm right there with you. I got a part time job at my daughters' elementary school in September and I'm seeing exactly the kind of things you're talking about. The politics are interesting to watch from an outsider's POV and I've used my Powers of Bitchiness for good in several instances already to protect kids from my co-workers ass-hattery. This is about all I can handle for now but as the triplets get older and more independent, I can see myself going back to school for my teaching license.

Thanks for the encouragement, whoever you are!
(Anonymous)
Jan. 17th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
provides access
I am looking forward to looked over way more of your current well written articles, have a pleasant day!
(Anonymous)
Jan. 17th, 2011 10:15 am (UTC)
painter 11
very use full information. thank you.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 18th, 2011 11:53 am (UTC)
provides access
Good luck getting people behind this one. Though you make some VERY fascinating points, youre going to have to do more than bring up a few things that may be different than what weve already heard. What are trying to say here? What do you want us to think? It seems like you cant really get behind a unique thought. Anyway, thats just my opinion.
batteal
Mar. 9th, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
Strolling through the old neighborhood here at el-jay. Been frustrated at the Book of Face lately because you can't tell a friggin' story there. And, FUCKING RELATIVES. Whose idea was it to make family drama possible on the INTERNET (couldn't we just keep it in the faux-wood-paneled basement and bar)?

I gather you've found a job you're relatively happy with for now, at the school. That's pretty cool (I heard Miley Cyrus' voice say that as I typed; d'oh).

I'm still working on narrowing down What I Want To Be When I Grow Up, myself. I've got a few theories.

I relate to this post of yours so much.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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