My New York State of Mind

My annual review at work came around a couple of weeks ago, and I asked for a raise. I’ve been busting my ass, taken on a tremendous responsibility, proven myself over and over again, and worked there for 8 years without one single raise.

My supervisor agreed with everything. We took it to our director, who claimed he agreed and would put in my request with Administration.

I won’t get it. The reason is as simple as the fact that the corporation that owns my hospital is tightening its collective belt and any raises that are granted are going to be given to clinical personnel. I’m at the bottom of the totem pole. I’m a lowly peasant in the city employment caste system and simply don’t rate a raise, no matter what I do. I don’t even get acknowledgment. At our annual department breakfast, where staff get pins for time at the job (i.e., a one-year pin, 5-year pin, 10-year pin, etc.) and awards for employee of the year, I had to watch one employee get acknowledged because she put flowers and butterflies all over the place. Literally. She pinned butterflies and flowers and hearts on the wall, which made my maudlin supervisor happy. I tell this tale of woe because, I swear, if I didn’t have my writing, I don’t know what I’d do. I once had a career that’s now gone, but it’s been resurrected in the form of Dirt Road Books.

There are moments when I’m just filled with rage and resentment, but I’m trying to find my way to a more peaceful place. With the help of various tools, I’m working on myself, and I hope be a calmer me (a rageful me is not a pretty sight).

My writing helps me. It’s the thing I’ve always turned to, in one form or another, to feel as if I have a purpose. To feel I’m worth something. And DRB is a new chapter that I hope to write to my liking.

Don’t worry, I’m fine. It’s one of those things that happens when a wall hits me in the face. Eventually, the bricks fall away and I move on. This is just where I am right now. And, in the tradition of tortured artists, I remind myself that this why I write…write now.


  1. It’s discouraging to have one’s work go unrewarded or under-acknowledged. By all TRADITIONAL standards, there’s no doubt you’ve earned a pay raise. Unfortunately, the traditional standards have been replaced by show and tell, butterfly/flowers/hearts mavens and their admirers. This particular situation is a metaphor for many others where quality seems less important than glitz, sparkle, and showpersonship. Rest assured that you have co-workers and supervisors who recognize and value the quality of your work. More importantly, you’re being true to your standards. You know you’re doing a good job and going beyond what is called for. And…you have your writing and DRB.

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    • Thanks, Renee. I appreciate that. You know, I hadn’t thought of the situation as a metaphor, but you’re so right! It really is. Flash and sparkle always seem to win out over quality, sadly. Well, all I have is standards. No glitz and glamour here. 🙂

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  2. Dear R.G.,
    Thank you for this. I’m a nurse who had busted her old ass for the last 33 years and I plod along, getting paid well, but no recognition of any kind while flowers, butterflies and baby name badges get awards for nurses who haven’t learned the difference between art and science… Rest assured, your writing is way more important to the world than fake flowers and butterflies on some drab wall. I’ve learned that truth the hard way. It stings sometimes, but fuck’m.

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