Excerpt I from Recipe for Disaster
Slowly, I incorporated work with my life. I had to have an income. I might have had to force myself to do it, but at least I had something I could do. And working as a nurse allowed me to keep my life somewhat balanced as I tried to continue to keep the train on the tracks of life.
Anyone who’s ever watched “Nurse Jackie” would have a good idea of what I was like as a nurse—only, instead of drugs, I was ducking into the locker room, or the bathroom, or the lunchroom, to check my Blackberry and keep up with SaraBear. Maybe I went down for the count, but SaraBear hadn’t. Not yet. It needed some TLC, some intensive medical attention, but it hadn’t reached the end of its life yet. There were still Target orders to fill. The manufacturer in China was still assembling thousands and thousands of caddies. I had to negotiate with the freight forwarder that was handling containers coming into the port of Los Angeles.
Cracking up. Being a nurse. Being a mother. None of that changed those responsibilities. I was going to dig myself and my family out from under the financial weight I’d created. Most of my nurse friends were dogged tired by their shifts. Me, my day still began at four in the morning. I caught up on what I needed to know for SaraBear. Then I got ready for the “real” day. Kids went off to school and daycare, and I went to “work.” Then I picked up the kids and took them to whatever afterschool activity they had. Dinner and time devoted to them. Then it was back to SaraBear until bedtime.
The sense of numbness was falling away from me each day. I was feeling more alive. I was exhausted, annoyed, frustrated, overjoyed, beaten down, and raised up each day. Through it all, I kept focused on SaraBear. SaraBear had gotten me into the mess I was in, but it could get me out too.
Sales of the caddy had still been strong at Target. We were meeting or exceeding projections every week. They had bumped up the caddies to more stores. It was now in-line at over seven hundred stores in the United States.
“Just tell me what you need,” I emailed my Target rep. “Eight hundred stores? Nine hundred? One thousand?”
Not only was Target going well, I was hearing a buzz that BRU really wanted the product. My BRU rep had emailed a few weeks earlier saying, “Melissa, the buyer, she really likes the SaraBears. Wants to expand the product line. What are your capabilities?” They just had to wait for some store changes to complete before picking up new product lines. But it all looked good.
“Come on, come on…”
The key to everything was selling those damned caddies! If Target bumped it up to one thousand stores, if BRU picked them up…My financial mess could be well on the way to being straightened out.
The sun was shining. The future looked bright. I was just getting a little antsy for it to get here!
Mid-October. I was at work at the hospital and finishing up with a patient, putting in and taping up her IV line. “There you go, dear,” I said, smiling at a sweet, older woman who was soon to have a heart catheterization. “Lunch,” I said, walking past the charge nurse. She hardly glanced up. I went outside to feel the sun on my face. As soon as I stepped outside, I checked my email. Nothing. I paced a bit before coming back in to have something to eat.
I stopped by my locker to put away my bag before coming off lunch. I glanced up at the clock. I had to get back to the unit and my patients. I checked my email one more time. There was an unread email from my Target rep.
“It looks as though the buyer has decided to not carry the SaraBear line in 2010. I’m asking for an urgent meeting, but thought you should know for PO projections.”
And with those two sentences, my world stopped.
I slumped down on one of the benches in the locker room. “Are you fucking kidding me…?”
I blinked my eyes as to clear them and read the email again. Then again after that. I was bent over, like I had a pain in my gut. This was incredible. I read the email again. Un-mother-fucking-believable. It was so unbelievable that I almost had to laugh. I think I did laugh, or maybe it was God again, as I heard a cackling echo off the metal lockers around me.
What else could I do? That one email, those few words, meant that the bottom was dropping out of my life. Without Target, SaraBear was done. And without SaraBear, the Bramlage family had nothing but a shit storm in front of it. Benny’s salary and my nursing salary combined couldn’t dig us out of this hole, not in fifty years.
I was fucked.
I walked out of that locker room knowing that nothing short of emergency resuscitation was going to save my life now. SaraBear’s heart had stopped.
With no other choice but to smile at my patients and give them the best care I knew how, I made my way back to the unit. My own heart and mind were far, far away.