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7:54 a.m. - 2013-02-25
Top three things I want in life:

1. A divorce.

2. A divorce.

3. A divorce.

At the moment, other than wanting a divorce, I am struggling with figuring out what I want to do with my life.

Two years ago, after my husband walked out on me and wrecked what I thought was a forever family, I decided to go after what I'd always dreamed of doing before I met him -- working for an organization like Doctors Without Borders.

I decided to think of my 10 years as a news reporter and editor as a youthful adventure, sort of like backpacking through Europe, and go after nursing as a real, grown-up career. I figured I'd end up going after a master's and a PhD. And I figured I'd spend the rest of my life going to school and working in healthcare and hopefully, someday, working in and operating and maybe opening health clinics in developing countries.

The more time I spend in school, though, and more or less out of news (except for some very occasional freelance stuff), the more I miss news and feel like I could never be part of a "health care team" and not lose my identity and my mind.

A tells me all the time about things that are fucked up about her hospital and all I can think is, "That would be a great story." If I worked at a hospital, though, like she does, all I could do is file complaints in the appropriate manner with the appropriate authorities and shut up while they do nothing. I'd probably be labeled a trouble-maker from Day 1. Or would anyone ever hire me, knowing I used to be a news reporter? News reporters and businesses, for-profit or non, seem to be natural enemies the way cats and dogs are. Nobody wants a reporter in their hospital unless said reporter is tightly escorted by a really good hospital public relations staffer, and working on a story that benefits the hospital. NOBODY wants a reporter on the grounds, running loose, unescorted, and for G-d's sake not on the organization's payroll. How do they know I'm not working on an expose? (My accent keys don't work on d-land.) How do I know I'm not?

I miss reporting. I miss being able to see something wrong, or unfair, and DO something about it. Who is it that says it's the job of a journalist to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"? Anyway, that's what I loved doing, and I was good at it. Yes, I have really enjoyed the peace of NOT reporting; the tranquility of not fearing my voicemail every morning, getting screamed at and threatened by people I don't know who claim I ruined their lives (people never seem to understand that it's their decision to, say, embezzle, that ruins their lives, not me writing about it), etc., etc., etc. "How do you sleep at night?" strangers would scream at me. "How do you face yourself in the mirror every morning?" (The answer to those two questions was, "I often don't," and "I hate to," but I didn't tell people that.)

I think I'm slowly discovering that being out of journalism, for me, is actually more uncomfortable than being in it.

I wanted to make a bigger difference in the world than I could make through journalism; that's why I wanted to work for Doctors Without Borders. I'm realizing, though, that while I'm getting the experience necessary to work for Doctors Without Borders, I'm going to be essentially muzzled. For a while, if I want to stay employed, I'm going to have to make no difference at all.

The theoretical solution is that I could work in health care AND write feelance on topics that have nothing to do with healthcare ... but when am I going to find the time to do that? Doctors Without Borders wants people who work full-time in healthcare, not part-time. I still want to get my advanced degree, be a good mom to my two kids, keep working on the novel I'm writing, and keep studying on the three languages I always intend to study every day but don't.

I'm not really willing to give up any of those things, either.

So ... if this entry has a point, I don't know what it is. Maybe I'm just writing it so I can see in black and white how impossible it is to do all the things I want to do. OK, so it's possible -- I am pretty smart, and I can be very productive when I need to be. I could probably do all the things I want to do with the exception of being a good mom. I would be a burned-out mom with a million of excuses for why I'm not there with my kids. I would be a mom who lets nannies and day care centers do most of her parenting for her. I know there are moms like that and they are admired for being "successful career women who do it all," but as far as I am concerned that is not "doing it all," because someone else is raising their children.

I'm glad I stayed home with my kids instead of working and I'd do it again. I never meant to do it forever, but I never intended to go back to being a workaholic either. My days of working 90 hours a week went on an 18-plus year hiatus when I had kids. I can't do what I used to do.

And I suppose I am going to have to choose what I want to do most with my non-kid time.



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