Yesterday morning, Rob drove to Long Island so that I could pick up an application to the nursing school. I’d already formed a picture of the place from the gruff voices that answered the phone, but I didn’t really expect the real thing to come so close to my idea of it. It was like boot camp, but with syringes.
Unlike college, where there is an unmistakable warmth to the facilities and the staff, nursing school is downright frigid. The teachers expect you to do little more than what you’re told. The only way you learn is by soaking up their instruction and experiencing the results . There is no room for excuses or delays. No room for imperfection. Only results. Only input and output. It’s rigorous, militant and – dare I say it? – invigorating.
Maybe it’s because I’ve watched G.I. Jane a million times, but I’ve always wanted to see if I could make it through basic training. I loathe the military for the same reasons that I respect and admire it: there is little room for individualistic thinking. You do what you’re trained to do, what you must do, and what you’re ordered to do; there is little difference between the three. Sure, brainwashing helps out, but the sheer will power it must take to continue to thrive in that kind of environment and stay true to yourself – it’s amazing.
I left nursing school with an application in my hand and a newfound appreciation for the road I’ve chosen. The odds are good that I’ll be awarded a Pell Grant to cover the full cost of tuition, and the schedule isn’t as hard as I’d thought (Monday through Friday, 8 AM till 1 PM). Now all I have to do is gather all of the necessary paperwork, get the $175 for the entrance exam, and pass the interview and test.
We spent some time in Long Island, then on the road, Rob looked into the rearview mirror and caught a glimpse of the sunset. “Look how beautiful that is,” he said, as the car came to a stop at a red light.
I turned around and sure enough, behind me, the sky was a palette of mostly pinks and purples. Strokes of red and orange stretched out in every direction, and the sun looked like a fresh egg yolk as it descended past the horizon. I nodded appreciatively, but couldn’t think of anything poetic to say. So I said the last thing that I thought.
Rob looked incredulous, but was amused. “It’s one of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve seen together, and that’s what you say? That it looks like an egg yolk?”
I shrugged and laughed along with him. “Well… an egg yolk… is one of nature’s gifts,” I chortled, aware that I was failing at my attempt at sounding poetic.
He shook his head and kissed me, and in that moment I really regretted having lost my digital camera.
This past summer, Rob saved a stray kitten from a neighbor’s pit bull. He’s always had a soft spot for cats, and I swear sometimes he can speak their language. Cats follow him everywhere, and his family members all have funny stories of Rob, as a kid, bringing home strays. At the time that Rob saved the cat, he and I were living at his mom’s house and it didn’t look like the situation would change any time soon, so we adopted the kitten, and Rob named her Ruby.
After leaving the nursing school yesterday, Rob drove us to Brooklyn, where we hung out at his mom’s place, played with Ruby, and ate lunch. Ruby stays in Rob’s mom’s house because she isn’t spayed yet and we don’t want her peeing all over my mom’s house. (I told Rob that there’s a poison in cat feces that prevents me from cleaning out the litter box while I’m pregnant, and Rob’s afraid that the poison might somehow seep into Ruby’s urine and make me sick.) We’ve decided to take Ruby to the ASPCA as soon as possible so she can get spayed and we can be one big, happy family under one roof. At the same time, we’ll also probably take Lola to get spayed.
“Who’s Lola?” you ask.
Lola’s the shih-tzu that we adopted yesterday. This brings the Blond-Kings* animal count to five. My 11-year old pug, Justice, who detests babies and children; our 9-month cat, Ruby, who beats up dogs; the 4-year old chinchillas that my brother left me when he went overseas for college, Midnight and Shadow; and Lola, a 2-year old shih-tzu whose previous owner, my good friend, Sherene, decided to put up for adoption.
It’s overkill, I know. Rob isn’t thrilled about the idea of our attention being so heavily soaked up my quadrupeds when we have a baby on the way. I agree with him, but I have a bleeding heart complex – especially when it comes to children and animals. I couldn’t let Lola get brought to the pound, and no one I trust would adopt her. I’ve seen too many people adopt little dogs so that their pit bull puppy has something to “train on.” So Lola’s living with us. At least, for the time being.
Seeing as Justice is still a virgin, I figured he’d be ecstatic to have a female dog to play with, but actually he seems upset to have to share my attention. Thankfully, there’s no aggression on either of their parts, and while Lola seems intent on making Justice play with her, Justice is tolerating Lola’s intrustion on his territory. I’m hoping that Justice and Lola become friends before the baby arrives, and that having a canine playmate will take Justice’s mind off the little human who’s taking up so much of Mommy’s attention.
Meanwhile, Rob, who’s a zillion times more handy with electronics than I am, made a loop of recordings with one thing in common: babies are crying. Jagged crying, low crying, hungry crying – it’s all in there, and we’ve taken to locking Justice in a room with the recording and making him get used to the barrage of wails. After two days, he still hasn’t gotten used to it. He barks non-stop, and after I let him out of the room, he throws me an annoyed and disgusted look, like, “That sound is gonna come out of a living thing, and you’re gonna love it?”
Oh, Craigslist, how I love thee. Without you, it would have been so much harder to get our extra sofa set out of the house and into another family’s living room.
A few days ago, I put an ad up, proclaiming our sofa set as a free give-away to whomever wanted it. Sure enough, I gave it to the first non-rude and grammatically correct emailer, and it’s now in their home, no doubt a part of their kids’ fort. After taking doors off their hinges and setting all of our other furniture to the side, Rob helped the new owner carry the sofa and two seats out to the van. And in that moment, while the new owners of the sofa set exited with our furniture, and our annoying neighbor [his father called the cops on Rob] rang our doorbell, I looked at all the extra room in the house and exhaled deeply and contentedly. It looks like I’ll be turning my home office into a nursery and our basement into an apartment sooner than I’d expected.
Rob and I decided that we were in need of groceries, so we took a drive to Key Food and loaded up on necessities. Soda, Tostitos, salsa, and cheese dip for him, and bananas, cold cuts, cheese and yogurt for me. Our spoils took up more space than the basket allowed, so Rob went outside to retrieve a shopping cart. When he came back, he looked really proud of himself.
“What took you so long?” I asked.
“I was just flirting with some girl.”
“Oh yeah? Was she at least cute?”
Rob laughed, put the groceries into the cart and took me in his arms. “Nah, I just helped an old lady put her groceries in her car.”
“Sure ya did,” I said, smirking at him.
And there, in the dairy aisle, Rob started dancing slowly with me as The Platters boomed from the overhead speakers, two dogs attempted to get to know one another, two chinchillas were waking up from their nap, a cat was waiting to get spayed, and a baby was counting down the days till it made us parents.
* That’s what we’ve decided to call our little clan, after the English versions of our last names.