Saturday, June 30, 2007

Contrast

Every time the phone rings, my stomach clenches. I used to debate before answering, and rarely rushed to the phone. Now any noise from the tiny device leaves me sprinting toward it, feeling sick, hoping nothing has gone wrong.

“I walked today.” Mom announced proudly when she called this afternoon. “They pulled out the drains and got me into a chair and I walked all the way to the bathroom.”

“Mom!” I said, brushing away stray tears at hearing her voice sound normal and strong, “I’m so proud of you!”

“I knew you would be.” She sounded a tiny bit smug. “That’s why I wanted to call.”

She shared news – what she’s eaten, how she’s not feeling nearly so sick anymore, that she’s ready to have the catheter out now that she’s able to walk. She’d like to try stairs tomorrow so she can come home on Monday or Tuesday.

This is a dramatic contrast to yesterday. Brother reported that she was very weepy, convinced she’d made the wrong decision and in a great deal of pain. She was often sick, throwing up anytime they moved her from the bed to the chair and noting she didn’t want to do her exercises. When I tried to gently encourage her, she sulked and said the therapists had told her she could try again tomorrow. The thought left unsaid was that at least they cared enough to be there for her when she was so sick and needy. Her only daughter remained at home. She was discouraged and terribly sad.

I prayed and kept checking in and tried to decide whether to leave early. I ended up staying at home, mowing my lawn, cleaning my house, preparing to be away for a few days.

There is an Otis elevator in the building where I work. It has a beautiful metal panel with this fancy script. The buttons sit lopsided in their holes and the switch that notes whether there is an operator or not is broken. Luckily, I’ve never seen an operator, so the switch doesn’t need to move.

I take this elevator to a meeting that operates on a by-invitation-only basis. We haven’t met for quite some time, so yesterday I drug myself to the dignified conference room despite being overwhelmed with talks and information thus far this week. I smiled after I opened my lunch – gourmet sandwiches made on bread with dried cranberries and pecans baked inside, lovely chips and a delicious cookie. It was like the conference lunch, only classier. In addition, there was a large, gleaming table on which I could place my paper, pen and fabulous lunch. I could see the projected slides reflecting on the shiny surface as I sat in the plush office chair like the rest of those resting neatly around the table. There was no one within 3 feet of me and I basked in the luxurious surroundings as compared to my recent conference.

I sent my CV out today – the first one in what will likely be a long interviewing season for me. I’m not particularly worried – we don’t struggle to find work in my field – but I’m also not completely thrilled with the idea of searching and traveling and moving.

“But,” I told Charlie, who refuses to update his blog, “I’d rather face interviews than the idea of staying here more than a year. It’s getting to be time to leave. I’m sure.”

After saying that I needed a year to wrap up my projects here, Charlie offered that – as a post-doc – I don’t really owe my current institution a huge amount of loyalty. If, he advised, the right job comes along, apply and see what happens. When Charlie speaks, I do listen, so I perused the job listings yesterday morning. Due to geographic restrictions, there weren’t many that caught my interest. But there was one. With a deadline of tomorrow.

I arrived at work to update my CV, nod at my progress thus far, and draft an email to the director of the program. I sent it off last evening, feeling rather good about the effort since I’m not really ready to leave. I do have some loyalty to Boss and my current institution – they’ve been remarkably patient with me and I’d like for them to see a bit of a pay-off from having me around.

Sending the CV away made me a bit nostalgic for the halls through which I walked. The people I know and meetings I remember attending. The knowledge of where rooms are located and what to expect once I arrive offer comfort. And when I’m relaxed, I’m more effective. Which means I should expect the next year to yield some decent science.

It’s an interesting place – being capable of handling the bad stuff, but hoping things change for the better. If Mom can walk on her new knees, calling to proudly report progress, perhaps I can one say make a pleased phone call of my own to note that I’m moving closer to home. These events tend to happen in time though, and patience isn't exactly one of my character traits.

2 comments:

BrightStar said...

It's great to hear that your mom is up and walking!

JustMe said...

yay for you your mom and good luck with the job search!

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