Churly-Churly

Wednesday’s are supposed to be pivotal. The pivot point of the week, equal distance from beginning to end, the working day when you’re supposed to work the hardest – usually around 70% – and when people start the day on edge before working through their angst, ligaments and internal muscles unlocking and easing free of stress as we all face the graceful slide towards the weekend.

This is not my Wednesday.

And I’m not even in work!

When you’re doing shift work it breaks down to two simple choices. Either you’re on shift or you’re not. In work or not, on annual leave or not, unless you’re both, and then it gets complicated.

This week I’m on annual leave, which means I’m not in work. But I did overtime yesterday which means I was in work when I’m not supposed to be in work. Consciously I’m fine; subconsciously don’t know what planet I’m on, which is probably why I felt the way I did this morning when the murder-gang kicked off with their caterwauling.

I have a lot of crows where I live.

Without giving a play-by-play, this morning played out like a heavy medication trip. Aching body, fuggy head, motivation to do anything more than scroll the paper feeds online practically set at zero.

This is pretty much how the morning went, only with food at regular intervals and a returning interest in scrolling news. Eating reaching only grazing levels, finger food and the stuff you can spread on bread products; all this culminating when I finally ran out of milk and decided to make the trek to the local store (UK equivalent of a 7-11) to keep the tea drip going.

Going outside at this point goes beyond the planning of a well-planned night out and resorts instead to whatever is to hand and winging it, hoping that nothing bad happens and you make it back with what you want. Thank heavens I had the forethought to get cash two days ago.

Daps, tiedye leggings I picked up in Manhattan over 5 years before (and have only been washed once as I can recall) and a fur-lined green parka – which seems to be the coat of choice for half the city at the moment – is the best I can manage when it comes to clothes. The second I get outside I wished I’d included sunglasses. The UK, the only country where the sun is notoriously absent yet still blinding. Spring is an overrated season.

The trees on the way to the shops are ragged and barren, in the process of shooting buds but not far enough to hide the trash stuffed in the hedgerows. At this point in the process it’s unclear if they’re straining to live or waiting to die. The muck on the roads is the same, the dirt paths behind the sports centre cracked dry but slushy.

I walk quickly but with care, my left eye – the weaker of the two – fussing and wanting to close with the light irritating it. I look like a mad woman having some sort of seizure, or at the very least someone unbalanced winking at everyone she meets.

Cutting through the car park I skirt by two guys having a conversation and hear it stop dead as I pass. I think it might be the leggings. Complexion pallid and shiny I’m out of breath as I reach the top of the hill, another sign that my legs are reluctant to work for longer than it takes to trot from my sofa to the bathroom.

This doesn’t imply I’m unfit. Monday was spent in the gym, running too fast thanks to that ‘All About The Bass’ song. Yesterday was a full day in the hospital, my legs protesting all day from the work the night before. Nursing is a vocation that requires payment, in a variety of ways over a long degree of time. Our new hospital is bigger and shinier and the staff don’t have Segways.

Finally reaching the store, after skirting past more leaf debris and a pub seemingly undertaking a permanent refit, I wander inside as another patron leaves, hair mussed from the wind, the common expression of modern-life annoyance on her face.

I wave a greeting and make a beeline for the chiller cabinets.

“Are you working today?” asks the man behind the counter. I guess I must have looked even more shattered than even I myself gave credit for.

“No. Not today, thankfully. Yesterday yes, but not today, thankfully”.

I give him a tired smile. I think later that my answer might have suggested I was possibly high, or working in a trade that was less than nursing. Maybe society has a low opinion of the leggings.

He asks me if that’s all I need, placing the 2 litres on the counter. I look over the B&J selection but he’s lacking the one I want so I pass. Ice cream’s expensive at the best of times, I’m not gonna spend £4 on a flavour only as a stop-gap to the actual one I want. I hand him a note folded lengthways like a $10 bill. I’ve decided American paper folds better than English. Smells better too. But neither of these things matter when it comes to the exchange rate so I’m content to make do for now with the Queen’s head rather than some long dead white presidents.

“Have a good day Madam” he says by way of a goodbye as I bag up my purchase. I wonder his intent all the way back to the parking lot. Maybe he knew I was feeling, and definitely looking less than stellar. Or maybe he was just being courteous in the face of strict English propriety? Suggesting one thing when the true intention was anything but?

On the way back the weather gets worse. Being at the top of a hill means the wind blows regardless of season, rain whipping up into my eyes, making the left one close up permanently. I now look like I’ve got a squint. I pass no one at the hamburger stall, squatting ungracefully in the car park, parked lengthways and taking up three spaces, which isn’t surprising considering they’ve shut up shop for the day around two, following the lunchtime rush.

Ten minutes later I’m back on the sofa, trying to work my way through the first season for Girls, feeling better for the fresh air but happy that this day of annual leave was used accordingly. Tomorrow it’s back to work, and this day will be resigned to history under the tagline ‘Didn’t Do a Lot’. But it was an interesting day nevertheless. Not something to make a habit of, but like any day spent at the beach or nestled in a spa it’s something that’s needed occasionally. And I can happily say my subconscious feels better for it.

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