Jason Isbell 

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Jason Isbell is my generation’s poet troubadour. 

I wish I had the vocabulary to describe his music in an educated-knows-what-she-is-talking-about manner, but I don’t. The first thing coming to my mind is a word stolen from Cameron Crowe in Almost Famous, “Incendiary.” Except I am no William Miller and I will never get to write for Rolling Stone magazine. Actually, I am no Cameron Crowe either. 

Last night I spent 2 hours in music fangirl bliss listening to my favorite artist crooning into the microphone and wailing on his guitar, while his beautiful charming and haunting wife played with his band, The 400 Unit in Canadaigua, New York. I feel a kinship with Amanda Shires because she is from Lubbock, Texas, my home. Her voice adds a unique dimension to his vocals, and the sound of her fiddle felt like it was drifting across the venue and sneaking into my brain. I know, that sounds cheesy, but it was truly a visceral experience.

I had good intentions of attempting to write a smart, worthy read of a review. I even started a note so I could keep up with the set list. It only has one entry because I forgot my grand plans about 12 seconds into the first number, Anxiety. 

It felt like I was being swept away by his lyrics and melodic imagery, and I was too busy swaying and singing along. I couldn’t critique the show. I was too busy living it. 

I tried to educate myself on the vernacular used to describe his music. People who have never heard of him ask me “Is he country?” My stock answer is “No, he’s amazing.” Sorry, Mom- but he’s different. 

Perhaps I could call him a storyteller. I feel like each of his songs are showing me a new way to describe yearning, guilt, appreciation, and pride all wrapped up in guitar and fiddle strings. 

It would be presumptuous for me to start trying to break down his lyrics and explaining what they must mean, so I won’t do that. 

I guess the point is, maybe music reviews are just bullshit. If we are lucky, we get to go to a show and feel like someone is showing us a different point of view. Perhaps they are teaching us a lesson. Maybe it’s all just some attempt to ease the disquiet sitting just beneath our sternum, the little motor of Anxiety that keeps us awake at night even when all is right in our world. 

I’m not a musician, poet, or artist at all. I’m just a fangirl who appreciates when someone gives me a catharsis and allows me to feel a little more of a connection with humanity. 

Perhaps that is the point. Live music gives us a vehicle to connect. It’s intoxicating. Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit left me feeling a little Something More than Free. 

Battle Wounds

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I was just trying to be pretty. Girly. Feminine. A real woman. Maybe I was trying to punish myself, one will never know. (I just love saying one… it makes me feel so grown up and sophisticated.) 

Nevermind that I never actually used a curling iron. I only mastered the flat iron… and only for straightening, in the last couple of years. Mastered is being used lightly here. More like can sometimes do a passable job. 

Nevermind I ran out of my travel-sized hairspray. You know what that means dontcha? Yep. All those curls I burned my poor fingers for fell out. 

Nevermind some of my DNA must have gotten lost. I didn’t get the MAC gene. Unless you count an obsession with eyeliner. Expensive eyeliner. That I am not even good at applying. 

Nevermind my eyebrows never match, lending me an air of perplexed annoyance most of the time. 

Nevermind my right eyeball that is a magnet for mascara wands, which causes excessive tearing and smearing of my foundation. 

Nevermind my streaky foundation settling into my pores. My contour game is awesome though. If you call tiger stripes awesome. 

Max Factor, Bobbi Brown, Sephora are the bane of my messy attempts to look like I made an effort to look effortlessly put together. Does Max Factor even still exist? 

I have a whole box of bandaids, so I guess I can’t give up yet. Damn you beauty vloggers. 

Maybe someday I will be presentable without all the battle wounds. 

Sex in Planes???

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I did something today for the first time. 

Yes! I was obviously afraid people would hear. I normally reserve these activities for the privacy of a hotel room. Yes, it was awkward and uncomfortable. I bumped my elbow and my pants were a little crooked when I walked out. I felt 200 pairs of eyes glaring at me as I sashayed down the aisle back to my seat. 

I felt a little dirty by the time I was finished. I was a little paranoid about what may have ended up on my clothing. I was a little wheezy and sweaty by the time the ordeal was over. 

I’ve read about people doing this and after my experience I am still flummoxed as to why they would want to. 

No! I didn’t have sex on the plane. I did pee though. That was horrible enough. 

Good Morning Texts

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It’s nice when someone thinks of you. It’s even nicer when they drop you a line to let you know they thought of you. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in the game we forget how good it feels to be in someone’s thoughts. 

Don’t hold back. Enjoy the feelings. Stay in the present. It’s a good place to be.

It makes me smile to wake up to a good morning text. 

So, think of me. 

I Didn’t Believe You

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Once upon a time, many years ago, an entire generation of teenage girls, or maybe it was just me, belted out inappropriate song lyrics about oral sex in theaters and angry diatribes about how men have done us wrong. We were strong and we could talk about sex, love, and life just like the boys. 

It was all so dramatic.

I was raised to believe I can do anything I want to do. My family indulged my whims and supported me completely. Even when their little girl eschewed all that was feminine. I was allowed to wear short hair and men’s clothing if that’s what made me feel strong. I believed I was no different than the guys. Feminism was outdated and no longer necessary. We had equal rights, thanks to the women who fought for us. Unfortunately, I also equated feminists with man hating, bra burning, no shaving screeching misandrists. 

I mistakenly believed women who complained were overly sensitive and needed to learn to go with the flow. If you wanted to play with the boys you couldn’t get mad when they treated you like one of the guys. They were only kidding. 

Except we never were one of the guys. Our attempts at learning leadership skills were equated with shrew bitchiness. Any effort at assertiveness was offensive. In order to be one of the guys we had to become weak. If we complained, we were difficult and must be dealt with. At work I was often shushed and put in my place by men. My input was ignored in favor of male members of the team. I could do nothing right. 

This attitude is pervasive in the work place. Even in a predominately female profession like nursing men are preferred. Men advance faster and their opinions more respected. 

So, what role should feminism play in my professional development? How can I become a better leader? How do I protect myself and my female colleagues from discrimination and harassment? 

Sometimes I still want to be one of the guys. I want to be included in the jokes and respected for my contributions. 

How do we fix this? 

How do we make these conversations more productive instead of resorting to complaining and man bashing? 

More importantly, why is this still an issue in 2017?

So, We Laugh. 

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Wait a second. What is happening? Is this really happening? Now? With all these people watching? What do I do? What did I do to cause this? Oh my God, what will people think? I don’t want to be the bitch who causes a scene. Maybe if I just stay really quiet and still this will stop. Why are you massaging my shoulders? I don’t like it when anyone does that. Oh, what the hell? What are these nurses thinking right now? Do they think I want this to be happening? Can they see the shock and horror on my face? Do I want them to feel sorry for me? Can I just play this off as a weird joke? Am I overreacting? Is this okay? Why do I feel so weird? Is it odd I am a little scared? This just took a very bad turn. Maybe it’s okay. He doesn’t mean anything by this. Who am I to assume this is anything unusual? I don’t want him to hate me. I just want to fit in. I just laugh nervously and catch the charge nurse’s eye. She is not surprised. 

We laugh about this situation several times over the next couple of days. The next time it happens I am a little less shocked, but even more uncomfortable. I feel like I should say something, but I don’t know how. 

He’s MARRIED. He’s basically my boss. He would not be doing anything that is inappropriate. What kind of person misinterprets someone just being nice as something sexual? I am the one who is unprofessional. I’m not the kind of girl people randomly pursue anyway. I need to chill. Besides, no. Not ever in a million years. 

So, I laugh. 

I laugh about it with the nurses. They regale me with other shocking stories and examples of bad behavior. The doctor that asked the nurse to help him diagnose some problem with a patient’s penis by googling images and having her look at them with him, nevermind that he draped his arm around her shoulder.  Hang on. WHAT? How can he possibly think that is okay? How socially blind can you be? Cues! Can he not see the cues? Maybe he really did just want some help figuring out the diagnosis. I’m sure he meant nothing by it. He’s just a gigantic dork. He didn’t get many girls in high school. He doesn’t know. 

So, we laugh. 

We ignore the vaguely threatening tone when he discusses issues with us. “It’s a friendly chat.” He is on our side, as long as we a team player. He just wants to reassure me that we all want the same things here. This conversation can stay between us.  What happens when I tell you to leave me alone? Professional development should not have to be a secret. 

So, we laugh. 

You can tell the laughter is masking something else. I wonder if part of it is fear. 

As healthcare providers we rely on our team. When people like us and think we are fun to work with, the day is so much better. We depend on inappropriate humor to shield us from the horrors of our work lives. We spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our family and friends. We don’t necessarily want to maintain strict professional boundaries at all times. We need and want to be close to our work family. The lines have to be blurred. Does this mean we can’t stand up for ourselves? 

Nobody wants to be the uptight bitch who tattles about trivial things. We don’t want to be the narc who doesn’t sneak drinks to the nurse’s station. We would never dream of reporting someone for playing on their phone during a rare moment of downtime. The rules are made to be broken. 

So, we laugh. 

Sometimes we need physical contact with our coworkers. Sometimes playful banter (even wildly inappropriate banter) is what gets us through the day. 

So, we laugh. 

We all know how bad it can be if the people we work with or for do not like us. They will find fault with every decision we make. We will be written up for every infraction of “policy.” It’s easy to get rid of the people who don’t fit in. 

We need them to have our back when there is conflict. We need a resource. We are dependent on them for security and protection from other providers and even sometimes patients. 

So, we laugh. 

We don’t speak up when someone violates our personal space. We allow people to touch us in a way that makes us uncomfortable. We smile and pretend it doesn’t bother us. 

We don’t tell someone we are not comfortable perusing photos of penises with their arm around our shoulders at the nurse’s station. We sit there and wonder how we got into this situation. 

If we don’t laugh, it could mean this is serious. It could leave us feeling vulnerable when we are already in danger every day. If this isn’t funny and no big deal, it means it is hostile and we are victims. 

So, I am afraid we will continue to laugh. We will train our new nurses to allow “friendly” assaults on our bodies. After all, we are all on the same team. 

Tell Me I’m Wrong

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Sometimes a song can weasel itself into your brain and take you on a journey of self-reflection. Sometimes, the song is just an excuse to wallow in the feelings for a bit. 

Kyler England’s version of Lay It On Me is one of those songs. 

Tell me I’m wrong, tell me you want me. 

I can be strong, if you don’t want me. 

Honesty is all I need. Just lay it on me. 

We have to give ourselves permission to experience things as they are instead of as we wish them to be. 

Sometimes honesty is all we need. When someone shows us who they are, we should listen. 

Turns out Casper wasn’t so friendly after all. 

I can be sad. 

I can also be relieved I don’t have to wonder anymore.