Thursday, September 24, 2009

Working, and a book review

I guess there really is such as thing as too much time on one's hands. With four kids in school and no job, I found myself jealously guarding my free time, falling into sloth mode, where accomplishing a few basic household tasks meant that it was time for a coffee "break." Then I was cranky about spending the evenings picking the kids up from their various activities. And for the first time since Mad Scientist was an infant, I actually looked forward to cooking dinner. Because I was so bored, bored, bored.

Now I've started working and, strange as it may seem, I feel content with less time for myself. This is just orientation week: sitting in a class room with a group of other new hires, hour-long lunches, and dismissal at 5:00pm, or earlier. I may be singing a different tune after next week. I get just one day off (Saturday) and begin 12-hour shifts on my unit on Sunday.

I think I am going to invest in a bicycle. I've been walking to and from work--it's about a 25 minute walk and up a fierce hill--but the parking situation is so bad, that if I drove, it would take even longer to get to work. My assigned parking lot is past the hospital--a fifteen-minute drive, then you wait for a shuttle bus--another six minutes if you've just missed one--and then the slow drive back to the hospital, which can take twenty minutes. But walking every day is somewhat tedious, and I know that after a 12-hour shift on my feet, I am not going to want to walk home. I used to ride my bike everywhere, when we lived in Buffalo, but Charlottesville is an intimidating city for bikers because of the hills, the narrow streets and accompanying dangerous traffic. I will have to bike a long way around if I want to avoid the fierce hill, but even so, I will probably be able to get there in fifteen minutes, and the bike racks are right near the front entrance.

One tiny book review: The Diaries of Jane Somers by Doris Lessing. Doris Lessing, who won the nobel prize for literature--there's a hilarious youtube of her reaction to it when reporters accost her on the steps of her house--wrote these books (Diaries is two novels bound together) under a pseudonym to illustrate the difficulties that new writers have in getting published. Her regular publisher rejected the novels. They tell the story of Jane Somers, who lives what must be many women's fantasy perfect life. She's an editor at a fashion magazine, has an elegant flat in London, and beautiful clothes. Jane Somers has probably never been a burden to anyone, but she hasn't been much use either, at least where there are serious emotional needs. It's not that she's uncaring, just clueless. Then she meets Maudie, a poor elderly woman living in a filthy basement flat. Jane gets ever more involved in Maudie's life, buying her groceries, cleaning her flat, emptying the commode, bathing her. Maudie survived a difficult life at a time when there were no social safety nets for the poor. She is distrustful of the modern British services now available to her so she lives in filth rather than allow "them" to "take" her to a "home." The Maudie/Jane relationship is beautifully written, and is the main subject of the first novel in this volume. In the second, Maudie has died, and Jane deals with an impossible neice who moves in, uninvited. She also falls in love. Doris Lessing's writing is just superb. You can read her as a writer and just be in awe of her gifts, and you can read this book for its story and be enthralled.


  1. I wish you a great day on Sunday.

  2. I'm impressed that you've been walking, especially at the end of a long day.

    And why do nurses work 12 hour shifts? I've never understood that. If the standard is 8 hours, why go longer?

    I learned this summer that biking in our town is tough at first, but it does get easier, even the hills. And if you want to go biking together sometime, I'm totally game. The TJ trail at Monticello is particularly fun.

  3. I'd like to bike more here, but most of the avid cyclists I know have been hit by a car or run off the road at least once. C'ville drivers seem to see cyclists as a points-system.

    Since I'd be biking with a toddler, I'm just sticking to my feet, my car, and the bus.

    There might be a convenient bus for you. Given our system, though, cycling would definitely be faster. Walking might be faster. There are some newer routes right now, though, so they might be worth checking out.

  4. Wow, you have been busy. Bikes are so nice for convenience's sake, but a little scary when there isn't road space allocated for them.
    That book sounds really good.
    I'm glad you're morphing into your new schedule and life. Is it what you thought it would be?

  5. Jen, I think the 12 hour shift is just more efficient for an institution that is open 24 hours a day. In a way it is an advantage because you can work full time and never work more than three or four days per week. I like that TJ trail. I've been trying to run it once a week, which is a big workout for me.

    Jocelyn, when my husband commuted on his bike, he had several nasty run-ins with drivers including one who seemed bent on purposefully trying to kill him. The number 3 bus used to go straight from my house to the hospital, but ever since they built the new transfer station, I need to transfer to a different bus and I don't trust them to get me to work on time any more.

  6. Just wanted to say Hi - I just found your blog... don't even ask how, and I quite like it. Love the writing and the stories.

  7. I've just been compiling a book list. I'll have to add this one.

    Enjoy the new job!

  8. Charlotte in cvilleSeptember 25, 2009 11:37 AM

    Tatiana's comment moved me to also say hello. I have become a real fan (the first blog I've read regularly other than book review blogs) and especially enjoyed your trip to Italy. My first encounter was a link from someone at PVCC (where I worked for years) pointing out your post about the Mad Scientist's experience there, a wonderful story. I look forward to your posts. Congrats on the job.

  9. I also read your blog, having come here by way of madhousewife, which I read faithfully. I have never commented but totally have to now that you are reading Doris Lessing - I am in a serious Doris Lessing stage at the moment. I loved her years ago, forgot her, and am now rediscovering her all over again, to my absolute delight. Interestingly, I am also midway now through Diaries of Jane Somers. I am having difficulty putting it down to tend to my real life... I am also partly curious how much of me is enamored by her writing because of my infatuation with her as a person - of course one of the reasons she wrote Diaries under a pseudonym. There you have it. She is a compelling woman... I enjoy her storytelling, too!

  10. Welcome, Charlotte! :)
    Traci, I need to read more Doris Lessing. I read The Golden Notebook when I was in college, but I don't think I appreciated it properly.