Friday, December 10, 2010

Blog-day the 13th

I went for a ride yesterday and headed East instead of West.  Just to see what was out there.  New views. 
I also wore a new pair of sunglasses.  They were cheap, but have those little nose pads that rest on the sides of your nose as opposed to the pairs I have now that are plastic frames that sit right on the bridge of my nose.  To most people there would be no difference, but I have had my nose broken 4 times.  First time in junior high by a hockey puck, second time (thankfully) under anesthesia, third time was self-inflicted (by doing a pull-up into a door frame), fourth time under anesthesia again.  Apparently the third time was pretty gruesome.  The doc that fixed it said not only had I dislocated the nasal bones from my skull; they were shattered.  Several layers of cadaveric and synthetic cartilage later, and I have a sore and tender nose as
you can see by the look on my face (this was about 24 hours after the fourth break).  So anyway, new sunglasses to help take the pressure off the poor shattered remnants of the bridge of my nose.  And what I didn't notice in the store was immediately obvious when I set off on my ride.  The tint on the lenses turned the sky this surreal and bright turquoise blue and the dead leaves and grass on the sides of the road had this strange rosy-orange glow to them. 
So new views on new trail direction in crazy techni-color.  Heading East was not as productive as I would have liked.  I lost the trail somewhere under the highway (225) and ended up sort of diddling around Aurora until I figured I'd just go back the way I came. 
And I tried to deal with the turmoil that has been my emotional state this week.  Uuuuugh the drama is exhausting. 
In grad school I started working as a "Professional Research Assistant" (PRA) for a few years.  I handled sputum samples, input data from questionnaires, and probably most importantly (at least to me, probably not for the study), maintain contact with the study participants.  This involved long phone calls, extensive internet and credit report research to find phone numbers, and occasionally calling homes to ask for someone who had recently passed away.  I actually enjoyed the work (unless sputum leaked onto my desk ew).  Then I got it in my head that with my master's degree about to be completed that I needed to be doing something bigger and better.  I thought I'd find it at Denver Health.  Instead of sharing everything I didn't like about that place, I'll just say "I didn't find my bigger and better there".  So I transitioned from research to environmental health. 
I took a job as an "Environmental Health Specialist" at Tri-County Health Department.  Basically, a health inspector.  I was trained to conduct regulatory inspections of retail food establishments (restaurants, grocery stores, convenient stores, etc.), child care facilities, pools, hot tubs, on-site sewage disposal systems (septics systems), and answer phone calls and handle complaints from the public.  I also went into remediated meth labs to verify the contamination was at an acceptable level.  Good grief.  Every day was completely different, and always busy.  I picked dead squirrels up off the road and had a very shocking and unpleasant experience involving said dead squirrels and maggots. *shivering*.  I set mosquito light traps, scraped baby poo out of diapers into sample containers, closed down hotel pools, dealt with failing septic systems, got yelled at by angry restaurant owners when their walk-in refrigerators were running at 53 degrees and all their food had to be condemned.  I also got promoted and transferred to a different office.  Then an opening came up at the State health department, and was hired on to work with them. 
Similar job, just bigger.  No pools or septics, but add milk plants and farms and warehouses and processors, tanning beds, prisons, youth correctional facilities, non-community ground water (wells) and plan reviews.  I had to learn all about exhaust systems installed over dish machines and stoves in restaurants and learned more about high-temperature short-time pasteurization than I ever thought I would.  I also had to travel to different parts of the state to do these inspections.  It was totally fun at first - I had never been to the Great Sand Dunes before, and got to spend time in Glenwood Springs.  Lots of time.
I enjoyed seeing all the different parts of the state. I can honestly say I would've never been to Rifle Falls otherwise. Then I got that weird virus infection. It was already kinda hard to be away from home for 4 days at a time, but worse to be losing feeling slowly over my entire body while in Glenwood Springs.  So it became my mission to find myself another job.  Inspecting was certainly interesting, but challenging.  I'm not a confrontational person, and as an inspector that's what I had to do.  It was a constant personal challenge.  Add that to being numb and isolated away from home, and my general state of "can't sit still for too long" and I started looking elsewhere for jobs.
I found one that sounded really interesting with the State, different division.  I would've helped county health departments get insurance reimbursement for vaccinations given, which would've allowed these health departments to afford more vaccine and help more people.  Something I actually cared about!  I interviewed first for this position the day after my spinal tap.  I could barely walk and my head hurt, but I nailed the interview.  A week later, they wanted me to meet the director for a second interview.  This was the day before I went back for the blood patch to plug my poor leaking brain.  So during this interview I was faint, pale, shaky, covered in raw milk (from my sampling route), my head hurt like I didn't think was possible, and I wasn't sure if I was going to pass out or throw up or both.  But somehow also nailed this interview.  Job was mine.  Except then HR initiated the hiring process by opening it to the public and I didn't make it.  Really??  Thanks for that, Universe.
I had several other interviews over the following months.  Then, on a whim, applied for a fairly vague job posting at University of Colorado in the Pulmonary Sciences division.  I figured since I was "detail-oriented" and had worked with lung stuff before I'd give it a whirl.  HIRED!  Boo-ya. 
So now, here I am, between jobs, freaking out.  I was a really good inspector!  I got high levels of compliance, got my work done, was dependable, reliable, and had some damn good friends at work.  And it wasn't so bad when I wasn't stuck in my hotel with a piece of cake the size of my head every night (already losing weight without that temptation).  What if I go nuts sitting in a cube all day?  What if I don't like research anymore?  What if they make me do Institutional Review Board submissions *make slitting wrists gesture*?  What if I have to do difficult statistics I don't even remember how to do anymore?  What if I can't stream Pandora on my computer there?  What if the girls in the cubes next to me talk all day really loud on the phone or have fake nails that clack on the keyboards and feels like they are typing ON MY BRAIN?  And now I have to pay for parking and I won't get to see my buddies anymore....did I make the right choice?  What if I miss my giant delicious chocolate cake?
Anyway, I guess I am now heading East.  Different direction.  New views.  Hopefully I don't lose my trail under the highway.  Or at least, hopefully I'll find my path eventually.  Right, to Zion?


  1. hmmm, lot of "what ifs." try these on:
    what if this turns out to be a brilliant move? what if your coworkers rock on toast, take you into their bosom (figuratively), and make you one of their own? what if you find out that your (obviously) creative brain works better than ever in this environment? what if this takes you in directions you could never have predicted? (well,that's pretty much guaranteed.) what if you like it?
    now, go bake a cake.

  2. By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.

  3. How very biblical, Badger.
    And thanks, somh. I like those "what ifs" better than mine.