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The one thing I liked about Marianna from the start is that she looked like fun. Unlike drab me. I was wanting to make a friend to go through the RN completion program with me. Spotting Marianna in the center of the room on the first day of a prerequisite Marriage and the Family class, I knew I needed to know her.

Marianna has bright red hair-wild and she looked kind of scattered. Bold black shirt and jeans. Me—I was wearing homemade polyester knit pull-on pants (I’d proudly passed Stretch and Sew lessons) and a matching pink and white tiny floral cotton blouse with a Peter Pan collar and short sleeves with buttoned cuffs. I had short blond hair in a pixie cut. I craved some wild unconventionality in my life. Looking at Marianna, I thought that I’d found it.

From the beginning, we were a comedy act. WE came up with similarly silly things to do. We readily finished each other’s sentences. We sailed through the prerequisite classes to our degree completion program and soon found ourselves in our beginning concepts and theories of nursing course at Governors State University to complete the degree.

Concepts and theories were a rather new notion in nursing at that time. Marianna and I had not been exposed to this stuff in our diploma programs, so this was new to us. WE also felt like were already accomplished nurses, having practiced for 15 years and held numerous responsible nursing positions.

So we felt this degree, and especially this course, was simply a rite of passage. We surely did not need it. Surely there was not much out there that we needed to know.

We were wrong. Concepts and theories introduced us to a whole new language of nursing jargon. Jargon that soon tickled our most hilarious funny bones and sent us into gales of uncontrollable laughter. We tried to hide in our seats at the back of the class. Jargon like self-care deficit, self-care agency, and therapeutic self-care demand. The self-care agency term split us in two laughing gales of laughter in the back row—leaning to avoid the stares of the serious teacher who read us her lecture (probably all new to her, too). What was so funny was the word agency—all we could think of was insurance. We had no clue what self-care agency could mean. Was it that self-care was selling something? Was it? Could it be?

It only got worse as we learned that if a patient did not have enough self-care agency to meet his TSCDs, a SCD would result. And it was this SCD that made the patient need a nurse. More simply put, SCA

It was so good to find a soul mate in this whole new world–who could see humor in the same things I did.


This story made it into Caring Lessons, after multiple revisions! If you have my book, you can find it on page 77 and compare. It starts like this:

I first saw her red hair. Not ordinary red hair, but wild, bushy, like it was allergic to combs. Her eyes, piercing from under flyaway bangs, looked as if they’d see Rome, London, Paris. Places beyond my new life in Park Forest, the “planned community” built to provide housing for World War II vets, made famous by William H Whyte, in The Organization Man. Her clothes–baggy jeans, plaid shirt, scuffed loafers–surprised me, a proud graduate of Stretch & Sew lessons.

I hope you see a change from the first draft!(I have no idea why I capitalized those “WEs”!)

After writing rough first drafts, the free writes, then it’s time for revision, revision, and more revision. Add, subtract, refine…until you (and all your other readers–workshop participants, critique group colleagues, writing teachers, etc.) are happy with it.

Now it’s your turn. Pick up a pen and write. The free write is an easy and fun way to dump your thoughts on a page; the revision is a fun and challenging way to apply the many facets of the craft of writing, sort of like putting a one-thousand piece puzzle together. A fun, fun puzzle!

Be prepared to sit in a chair for a long while.


Read the first part of this topic here. The second part was last week.

Find out what my friend Marianna Crane is doing now, nearly forty years later, at http://nursingstories.org

I plan to be back from my Mediterranean Cruise tomorrow, toting along many free writes about the  trip, ready for revision, revision, revision!