I’ve been tired lately, not the pleasant tiredness that comes after a good day’s work, but the “I think I must have cancer” sort of tiredness. I can pull myself together and go to work and get through a 12 hour shift without collapsing, so I think the exhaustion might be psychological or related to the sheer, unadulterated HELL of rotating between day shift and night shift. The other night, after I struggled to turn a paraplegic patient, he asked me to move his bed so that he could see the TV better. The beds are on wheels and generally move without too much difficulty, but this patient had electrical cords blocking his bed’s wheels and his room was so cramped I had to move three pieces of furniture (and knocked his phone and several other small items onto the floor in the process) and after I’d managed to tug the head of his bed a foot or so to the left I just wanted to lie down on the floor and sob. I confess, I told that patient that I simply did not have the strength to move his bed even another inch. There’s probably nothing physical wrong with me. There might be, but I am too tired to care.

Speaking of being too tired to care, my one-year anniversary of working as a nurse is fast approaching, which means I will be promoted one level up the clinical ladder. In order to achieve that I have to write a portfolio which includes a cover letter, CV, self-evaluation, two specific examples of times when I did something super-human as a nurse–saved someone’s life, that sort of thing– and four peer reviews. It is a requirement that the portfolio be packaged correctly: in a three-ring binder with dividers between the different sections of the portfolio and plastic page protectors on all pages. The other day I spent at least fifteen minutes perusing the different types of page protectors and dividers at Staples. Eventually I made a purchase that I now realize is all wrong. My dividers are not classy enough. My page protectors are wrong too–I went with the type that have a hole-punched tab along the side, thinking it would be easier not to have to punch holes in all my pages, but now I see that the tabbed-type page protectors are less classy than the ones without tabs. I bought a red binder with a purple contrast lining because I figured everybody else would go with navy blue or black but now I see that my binder is garish. I actually considered buying a second set of dividers/binder at the classiest stationary store in town.

Not to mention the SHEER FREAKING WASTE of having to make this package just to present my credentials. There are, I believe, sixty or so new grad nurses in the nurse residency class of 2010. That’s sixty plastic-coated three ring binders, and hundreds of plastic page protectors and dividers. The environmental impact of all those binders, year after year, on every nurse seeking advancement, boggles the mind. A single week’s energy needs for the storage space for all those binders could probably power a third-world country for six months. I won’t even go into the hell of actually writing the stupid thing. This is ME, writing about MYSELF, and even am bored to tears.

The good news–the glorious, glorious good news–is that I am reducing my hours to part time, effective September 18th. I have also withdrawn from the RN-BSN program at UVA. There are people who will be aghast when they hear that, but I don’t care. I remember Mr. McP bursting into tears and then locking himself in the coat closet when he heard I was going back to school. I tried to justify it, but my reasoning sounded thin, even to myself. Plus, I had been telling myself, “Well, it will just be two more years of hell and then I can enjoy life again,” but that’s what I was telling myself all through the first round of nursing school and then all this year. I want to enjoy life now, not two years from now. Not to mention that I already have a bachelor’s degree, so the effort and expense of getting a BSN would be a giant waste. I am considering doing an RN-MSN program, which is more appropriate to my needs, and at any rate wouldn’t start until next year because I’ll need to apply all over again.

I half hope the electromagnetic tsunami from the sun we’re supposed to get today will reduce us to the stone age and plastic binders with plastic page protectors will be seen as the fripperies they are. Or at least that I can stay awake long enough to maybe see the Northern Lights.

One other small source of happiness is that I made a trip to the Alderman library at UVA and now my nightstand it groaning with unread books. Hurrah! Here’s what I’ll be reading for the next several weeks:

HMS Surprise by Patrick O’Brian

The Common Reader by Virginia Woolfe

What’s the Matter with Kansas? by Thomas Frank

Flashman at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser

The Debut by Anita Brookner

Stars Fell on Alabama by Carl Carmer

My Five Cambridge Friends by Yuri Modin

When Blackbirds Sing by Martin Boyd

More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin.

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Any opinions about these selections?