Finding the Right Travel Nursing Placement Agency

Travel nursing is becoming one of our nation’s fastest growing professions, and it’s no surprise. If you love seeing new places and enjoy exciting new experiences that evoke the feeling of taking an extended vacation, then the career of a traveling nurse might be just what the doctor ordered! Travel nursing enables many people to stay on vacation for two to six months in free luxury accommodations while earning high hourly wages at the same time.

Yet despite all these advantages, many nurses describe to me that they’ve shied away from the traveling profession. Why? Because bad experiences with placement agencies have left them with nothing but a negative impression. They’ve been underpaid or lacked benefits, and I can’t tell you how many nurses have complained to me about inadequate housing or recruiters who were unkind, uncaring, and just plain unavailable. The sad result is that nurses end up jumping from one agency to the next, always in search of the perfect package that’s never there.

In this light, choosing the right staffing agency requires a nurse to consider everything that is offered. Some nurses emphasize pay as their top priority. Others require an excellent benefits package. Many travel RNs are location-specific and want to experience the lifestyle in the country’s hot spots. Career flexibility is often a pivotal factor, along with customer service. The bottom line is, your agency choice depends largely upon one of the four following criteria.

SALARY

No question about it, there are some agencies that offer more money than others. So the first thing to remember is that agencies may base salaries upon things like location availability, need-to-fill assignments, and cost of living.

Some agencies must offer noticeably higher rates if they expect to fill certain assignments where nurse-to-patient ratios are very low, or where a facility has extreme patient needs. If you’re a nurse who is attracted by very high dollars, be alert for a potentially desperate situation you might be entering, and the workload it could bring. You may make more money, but you’ll earn every dollar and more.

Location also factors into salary. The California bay area and many larger east coast cities definitely offer more lucrative pay rates. It’s also much more expensive to live in those places, so recognize the relationship that exists between salary dollars and cost of living. I’ve seen nurses return from Hawaii saying they had a great vacation and made a lot of friends–but their purses were lighter, not heavier from the experience. You might get less money in an exotic location and come back with more money from a not-so-exotic location. My point is, your criteria will determine your priorities.

BENEFITS

What some companies may lack in salary, they make up for with benefits. Many agencies offer benefits programs that revolve around monetary bonuses or discounted luxury housing; and I have even observed a trend with several newer companies that offer entirely free housing to all their nurses. Take note, however, that those agencies may not ante up the really high salaries. It’s a trade-off, so they compensate you with benefits to save you daily, monthly, and annual expenses. Every nurse should be aware of what benefits they need the most, and then ask their recruiters to assist in developing a package that is tailored to their individual needs.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

To many traveling nurses, customer service and aid are the most important attributes a placement agency possesses. If you called ten agencies and only talked with one live recruiter, it’s probably best to narrow it down to the agency where individual placement specialists were easily available. After all, if you’re ready to proceed with a new assignment you’ll want an agency that can make it happen fast and has recruiters available who already understand your criteria. In fact, your criteria may change from one assignment to another, so customer service is paramount. Determine what you want and then find out which agencies can make it happen.

FEATURED LOCATIONS AND HOT SPOTS

While for some nurses, salary, benefits, and career flexibility might be the number-one interest, many others just want the obvious–to travel and see the world. If you’re an adventurer who cares more about the travel experience than the money, then you’ll need an agency that can offer you the locations you want.

Not every agency can send you just anywhere. Figure out where you want to go, and then call around to discover who can send you there.

A travel nursing career is absolutely one of the best, most rewarding choices any nurse can make, but it’s important to select a company who will partner with you every step of the way. Before you jump in, do your homework and research all the best placement agencies. Finding the agency that fits your unique wants and needs will drastically increase your chances of success and happiness in your career.

Cheap Car Insurance and Car Safety – Safe Speeds to Drive At

Most motorists, in fact anyone who travels in a car regularly, will be well aware that there are speed limits on most roads, in fact on every road although some roads do not actually have road signs on them showing speed limits. Different speed limits have been introduced on different roads in virtually all countries over the last few years, in large part as a safety measure in order to reduce road traffic accidents and fatalities result from such accidents.

Most motorists regard speed limits as something they observe not out of respect for the safety implications but more because of the risks involved if they get caught speeding. Some motorists will undoubtedly respect speed as an issue on the roads and will adjust their speed accordingly including regarding the proper observation of speed limits on most roads.

Speed as an issue is hugely important in road safety and correspondingly in relation to car insurance. When people are learning to drive they inevitably drive much more slowly and cautiously than they do once they had passed their test and gained some level of experience of driving on roads. Much of that driving slowly and cautiously is actually not very safe driving because it is done more out of fear than out of a respect for the need for a certain speed in relation to the road conditions being driven upon.

As people progress in terms of levels of driving experience, inevitably they tend to drive faster in large part because they feel safer within their vehicle and therefore more confident. It’s quite rare if not unusual that motorists will at a conscious level, decide what speed is relevant to the situation now driving.

Most countries will have speed limits for all roads that are being driven upon. Certain countries will have a top speed for their motorway or highway or interstate and will have much lower speeds for city and urban and metropolitan areas. Most major cities and towns will have much lower levels of speed around schools and areas where there are children present. The penalties for speeding in these areas and in other areas can be quite severe.

There will inevitably be a fine often have quite a significant and actual amount, they will normally be a number of penalty points on driving licence. There will sometimes be an automatic disqualification for a period of time depending on speed being done, and in some instances if there were fatalities a time in prison might be the punishment as well. In fact in certain states in America, in the south, as you enter the state that a large signs advising you that anyone caught speeding will face $1000 fine, loss of licence and possible imprisonment as a consequence.

The above is obviously intended as a deterrent, but is not something that should be tested. It is worth pointing out that quite often roads will not have signs up advising the speed limit, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one – there is. There will be a speed limit on every road driven upon, even minor ones, virtually wherever you live. It is quite often a national policy in a country not to display what is a normal speed limit for certain roads. It’s normally only where there is a difference in the speed limit either lower or upper that it is advised to make this by way of a road sign.

The Benefits of Advertising – Business Internet Marketing

Marketing online has become a very profitable way of marketing products and services of the company. Online advertising is one method of advertising that uses the Internet to deliver the marketing message that can attract customers. World Wide Web is the main medium that can be used as part of online advertising to attract customers and spread the name of the company. There are also several examples of online advertising such as email marketing, banner ads or contextual ads on various search engines.

The benefits of advertising business internet marketing are:

1. Ad beneficial for sellers and buyers. This is mutually beneficial. Sellers use advertising to promote products on the internet by providing an explanation of the details of products both in price, usability, and benefits of these products. Buyers who come to the site, they know about the various products from these ads and can choose according to their wishes.
2. Before the Internet, advertising is limited to newspapers, television and so on. Along with the development of the Internet, we can use a variety of ways to advertise our businesses either through email or posting through various websites. Through advertising on the internet allows you to expand the business globally, not limited to time and place.
3. Internet is becoming increasingly popular in line with the number of people who use these systems and tools. Almost all people use online facilities to perform the work as they use email to send and receive the official letter to the company or using social media such as twitter, Facebook, and others. By using advertising on the internet the more people will see and some of them will make a purchase.
4. Advertise your business with the internet; you will be able to reach very specific target audience through this online facility. This is often referred to as SEO Optimize system where you use specific keywords for specific markets. There is also the term PPC or pay per click where you need to pay for keywords that you are advertising on the internet.
5. Online ads can reach every person in the whole world in a small time period. Some tools or software is provided either free or paid; where you can choose which best suit your business. On average a good website can be optimized in a few months and with time running it will be increasing visitors and buyers so that we get a return on investment.
6. Cheap online advertising as a source of advertising would cost so much while placing an ad in the newspaper or television will be more expensive than online advertising. You can also get a clear picture of how much money he would spend and how much profit from your investment.

If you have not done in the advertising business internet marketing, it is good you start to learn the details and start running. This not only shortens your time in business, but you can increase your profits away from what you get. Of course, learning from the right sources and correct.

Stress – How it Affects You and How You Can Treat It

Your life is full of stress! Any arguments? Didn’t think so. Your life is full of pressure, frustration, and stress. Worrying about job security, being overworked, driving in rush hour traffic, arguing with your spouse, even dealing with medical bills – all of these create stress in your life.

According to the American Psychology Association, more than half of all Americans report being concerned about the level of stress in their lives. Most people are feeling over scheduled, overextended, and overworked. By far, the most commonly reported source of stress is the workplace.

Studies suggest that stress is a contributing factor in the development of chronic and degenerative conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. High stress levels at work can lead to job burnout, reduction in productivity, ill health, job dissatisfaction, and absenteeism. As these problems add up over time, you worry more about keeping your job while your boss becomes more dissatisfied, leading to more stress and an ever-growing vicious cycle.

When you experience stress, glands within your body respond by releasing a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone – we’ll call it ACTH for short. When your glands send out a burst of ACTH it is like an alarm system going off within your body. ACTH tells other glands to flood your body with the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. These two hormones cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase. They shut down your digestive system and even alter your immune system. When you remove yourself from the stressful situation, the levels of cortisol and adrenaline decrease. As cortisol and adrenaline decrease in your system, your heart rate, blood pressure, digestive system and immune system return to normal.

As you pile one stressful situation on top of another, your body has no time to recover. If you are in a constant state of stress, or experience many stressful situations, your body’s stress response system can disrupt nearly all of your body’s processes. Some of the effects can lead to chronic illness and disease.

Stress affects the digestive system so much that stomachaches and diarrhea become common. The hormones related to stress slow down the release of stomach acid and the process of emptying the stomach. The same hormones stimulate your colon which speeds the passage of its contents – a.k.a diarrhea.

Chronic stress dampens your immune system making you more susceptible to colds and other infections.

Stress affects your nervous system and has been linked to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and dementia. Over time, chronic release of cortisol can even cause damage to several structures in the brain.

Stress affects your cardiovascular system by causing an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Unlike most other diseases that affect Americans, there really isn’t any routine medical treatment for stress. Some doctors prescribe antidepressants. But drugs have a limited ability to alleviate stress.

The most effective way to reduce or relieve stress is through lifestyle habits.

Lifestyle habits such as spinal alignment, exercise, breathing exercises and coping strategies are the most effective ways to reduce stress.

Exercise is a good way to deal with stress because it is a healthy way to relieve your pent-up energy and tension. By getting physically active, you can decrease your levels of anxiety and stress, and elevate your moods. Numerous studies show that people who exercise exhibit a marked improvement in their ability to concentrate, sleep better, suffer fewer illnesses, suffer from pain less, and report a higher quality of life.

One of the consequences of stress is a tendency to unconsciously tense up your muscles, especially in your upper back and shoulder regions. This chronic tension, coupled with poor posture, causes the vertebrae of your spine to become misaligned. Misalignment causes irritation. Irritation causes more tension. More tension causes greater misalignment. And the cycle continues and you continue to get worse. Most people experience a notable improvement in their own stress levels almost immediately after a spinal adjustment. You can reduce your level of stress by visiting your local chiropractor to have a spinal adjustment.

There are two types of nutritional supplements. There are nutritional supplements that help reduce stress and there are nutritional supplements that help the body better cope with the effects of stress. Supplements that help reduce stress belong to a class of herbs that helps the body relax. Herbs such as chamomile, skullcap, valerian, and lavender help to clear your mind and calm intense emotions. Many of these herbs are taken in the form of a hot or warm tea.

Supplements that help the body cope with the physical effects of stress are the B-vitamins and zinc. When you experience stress, your body needs more zinc and more of the Vitamin-B complex. Your health suffers and you are more prone to illness when you don’t have enough of each in your body. Taking a B-complex with zinc in the form of a liquid nutritional supplement will help protect your body from the negative effects of stress.

The final key to treating stress is healthy thinking. Most stress is caused by two factors – dealing with change and feeling out of control. While you can’t predict the changes that will occur in your life, you can – control how you plan each day, – you can positively respond to change, and – you can act with purpose.

The combination of these three positive thinking habits can help remove stress from your life and diminish the effects of stress. These three simple ‘attitude adjustments’ will help you feel more in control and once adopted as a habit, can be quite relaxing.

Don’t let prolonged or repeated episodes of stress lead you to chronic or degenerative disease like diabetes or heart disease. Lifestyle habits such as spinal alignment, exercise, breathing exercises and coping strategies are the most effective ways you can reduce stress and the effects of stress on your body.

How Word of Mouth Promotion Can Help You Make Money Online

A lot of people have turned to blogging to make money online. These blogs range from providing up-to-date information about a specific type of product, topic or service like digital cameras, marathons, hemorrhoids, restaurants, etc. You name it and there’s bound to be a blog that talks about it on the internet.

But blogs are not just used for promoting products and services. Professionals from different industries have also discovered that they can make money from blogging by building a community of avid followers.

They start by building a personal brand and reputation online. Likewise, they put themselves out there and let people know that they genuinely want to help them. They then provide a mountain of tips and advices on their blog and sneak in some sales pitches in between to entice them to buy a product or two or even to avail of their services and in the process, make money online.

People, as well all know, are constantly looking for solutions to their problems online. So if they stumble upon your blog which is full of insights, suggestions and tips that are specific to their problems, they would not just visit your blog often, they would also want to share it with their personal network of family and friends! As your followers grow in number, so does your potential to make money online.

The question here now is, “how do you make sure that people find your blog?”

There are many ways to promote your blog online and I’m pretty sure that you’re well aware of some of them. However, there’s one channel that many professional marketers overlook and that is through word of mouth promotion. I know, it sounds pretty old school. But hey, it works and here’s how!

1. A Personal Encounter Has More Impact Than An Online Interaction

Let’s admit it! We can all remember our first date, our first kiss, our first car or even funny incidents with family and friends. It gives us a mental picture that we can easily pull out of our memory and share with others or just to reminisce about it.

This is also true with networking in person. Meeting people in the flesh and engaging them in a lively conversation has more impact than if you were just chatting online or exchanging comments on Facebook or Twitter. Not only that but you will leave a lasting impression which can be strengthened further when they visit your blog and read about your insightful thoughts and recommendations.

Although engaging people online in discussions has its merits, think of how you’re missing out on their expressions and reactions. A personal encounter on the other hand won’t give them a chance to conceal what they’re really thinking or feeling and you can immediately find ways to assure them or provide them with a solution. Of course, don’t forget to let them know about your blog so they could still find you online after your meet up.

2. A Personal Encounter Can Lead To A Community Of Prospects

You might be wondering how this is possible but I tell you, a number of marketers have found networking events are a goldmine of potential business to make money online.

Joining networking events and conferences such as one that is sponsored by your local chamber of commerce would give you ample opportunity to meet with industry leaders and influential people. These people would Uncategorizedly have their own community of followers who they can influence and if you can get them to see the value of what you’re offering, you would have a huge chance to market to their followers as well!

Mike Eagar of Wildfire Marketing shared how word of mouth marketing had helped him sell thousands of books about social media from just one community at a time when eBook readers hardly existed.

What he did first was identify the trade shows and conferences that would attract influential leaders to join. He would then contact the organizers and provide free resources as well as conduct workshops based on the book that he was selling. However, he made it his top priority to build personal relationships with the leaders of the community.

One event alone led him to conduct more than 20 large speaking engagements that subsequently resulted to thousands of books sold!

Even though this example involved the physical selling of books, this is relevant to promoting your blog too and make money online. For instance, if you’re a social media marketer who offers coaching and social media marketing services, you can reach out to potential businesses that are looking to break in to the social media arena and use its power to boost their business from these networking events. These businesses would know of other businesses that would also want to take advantage of the internet’s reach and they can very well recommend you to them and so on.

So don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth marketing in promoting your blog and selling your products and services on the internet. It is without a doubt a channel that every professional marketer should exploit to make money online.

How to Shop For a Woman

There’s a saying that goes, “Women are from Venus, men are from Mars;” this saying does hold true when shopping for a woman. It can get quite difficult and intimidating to buy gifts for a woman, like an anniversary present or a gift for Valentine’s Day. Many men get intimidated when shopping for women, because it’s quite difficult to know and understand what a woman really wants. There are times that even the most heartfelt and well-intentioned gifts can spark fits of the wrong emotions in a woman. Shopping for women doesn’t have to be a roller coaster of confusion; here’s a quick guide to help.

Think Like a Woman

To shop for a woman, you have to get in touch with your feminine side. Whether you’re shopping for your mother, your sister, your wife, or your girlfriend, you need to have a good idea of what she likes. Don’t go for obvious things like jewelry or flowers or teddy bears. Every woman has a unique personality, which means that what she really wants may fall under a stereotype or an idea you have of what women want.

Go for the Sale

Many women love sales. Sales are that time of the year where everything good comes cheap. The mall may be crowded during mall-wide promo sales, but the extra time and effort you spend looking for a gift is well worth the savings you get if you buy shop on a sale. Sales can be difficult to come by, and can get a bit stressful especially with a crowd of shoppers. Here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping at a sale.

* Holiday and clearance sales. The most expensive items usually have up to a 50% markdown during special sales, when stores and boutiques need to clear out inventory. Make sure that you’re not buying old stock, and that you’re getting the best value for money.

* Discounts. Shopping for women can get a bit expensive. Store owners know this, and try to offer discounts for gift items for women as much as they can. Discount goods need not be cheap; as long as the gift is of a good quality and has a reasonable price, then you can buy it.

* Follow the leader.

Duplicates and One-of-a-Kind Items

If you think that shopping for women won’t get any more difficult, think again. Some women prefer to have two or more items of the same variety, and some prefer to have a one-of-a-kind item that only they own. What makes it even more confusing is that many women have certain preferences on what items should be bought in duplicates, and what items should be one-of-a-kind. To make things easier for your shopping day, here’s a quick list of what can be duplicated, and what should be extra-special:

* Duplicates: perfumes, shoes, jewelry, make-up kits, skin care products

* One-of-a-kind items: clothes, bags, purses, watches, bracelets

Keep Up With Trends

While reading a fashion or women’s lifestyle magazine may sound unappealing and completely beneath your manhood, it’s always a good idea to do research before shopping. You don’t have to completely and thoroughly read the articles as much as you would a hotrod magazine or the latest video games; the least you could do is to look at pictures, memorize them, and look for similar items at the boutique or the department store. That way, you can keep your friend or significant other trendy and happy with the way she looks.

Shop, and Get It Over With

One of the reasons why men find it so difficult to shop for gifts is the very idea of shopping. For some men, a boutique or a store that specializes in women’s apparel and accessories is like a punishment for some unknown sin. While the place may seem a bit too feminine and fluffy for your own tastes, the only way you’re going to get a good gift for that special woman in your life is if you enter the store, have a good idea of what you’re going to buy, make shopping quick, and high-tail it out. Chances are, though, that you may enjoy the shopping experience more than you’re willing to admit to yourself.

Windscreen Essentials

A windscreen’s or a windshield’s main function is to serve as a wind and debris cover for people inside and sometimes even supports the vehicle’s frame. Manufacturers configure the screens aerodynamically to not affect the vehicle’s performance. Some even have special substances integrated into them to protect the eyes of the passengers from UV rays. Without windshields, a driver can have difficulty controlling the vehicle. Here some things you need to know in taking care of your windscreens.

Causes of Damage

There are different reasons for your vehicle’s windshield to crack. Here are some of the most common ones:

– Direct Collision: This is the number one cause of shield cracks in road travel. There are small particles and debris that may be invisible to the eye due to your speed in highways. These particles can be gravel, tiny rocks and stones. A car in front of you can propel a small stone strong enough the chip the windscreen glass. The cracks leave room for moisture to accumulate and spread the cracks to the whole windshield gradually.

– Structural Flaw: This reason comes with the vehicle’s old age. When manufacturers make windshields, they unconsciously create weak points at the glass edges. This is because the particles at the edge have no stable gripping. Additionally, builders designed the middle part of the glass to stretch and absorb shock while the edges endure the heavy load.

– Cold Weather: The windscreen reacts to temperature whether it is hot or cold. The difference between the outside and inside temperature can cause distortions to the class that lead to small cracks.

– Hail Storm: Although these events are rare. A windshield suffering damage from a hailstorm renders it to be irreparable.

The small fissures that these factors can cause are unnoticeable. It can make the fracture spread, however, if unaddressed, causing danger to the passengers.

Dangers of Cracks

The most apparent drawback of having cracked windscreens is reduced visibility. One cannot drive without proper vision thus this proves very dangerous to anyone riding the vehicle. Additionally, if the damage becomes significant, the car’s structure might fail, causing the front of the vehicle to cave in unsuspecting passengers. It can also cause the airbags not to release properly, turning simple injuries to fatal ones. windscreen repair is important to continue using the vehicle.

Repairing the Dent

You can buy windscreen repair kits that you can actually use to repair the damage yourself. Bear in mind that these kits are good only for one-time use and may not be applicable to older cracks so repair the dents as soon as you notice them. Be mindful that these kits provide repair for inch long fractures, not the ones that cover the windshield already. Clean the screen before you try to apply the repair kit. Using it on a surface full of dirt and debris can make the resin less effective. Inspect the repair when you are done to make sure you did it correctly.

Installing a New One

There are times when windscreen repair are no longer possible. You can purchase quality windshield glasses from certain dealers but be sure not to do the installation by yourself.

Top 7 Reasons to Start an Internet Based Business

Today’s economy is iffy at best. We keep hearing about the “Fiscal Cliff” and how companies are cutting thousands of jobs. Even the Government is starting to realize that they will have to cut jobs. Long gone is the one income household. In fact, I know of some people who work 50 to 60 hours a week, then have a part-time job to make ends meet. If you are not prepared, you could find yourself in financial trouble yourself.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to working part-time at McDonalds or Walmart. Cottage industries on the internet are springing up all over the place. People are selling items on eBay, selling their skills and even starting a full authority website!

Like any other type of business, starting an internet based business has its own benefits. It can be challenging, but the rewards are worth the effort!

Minimal Investment

Start-up costs are minimal, if done right. Compare the costs of starting your own business in the city, putting up an internet based business is amazingly easier and more affordable. Instead of renting out an office space and hiring tons of employees just to do one task or job per person, why not start an internet business, where you do not need a lot of people to work for you and you are not required to find an office to operate in. Believe it or not, but with this type of business, you can set up your very own virtual office in your own bedroom or attic or even at the beach!. As long as you have a fast and stable internet connection, then you are good to go.

Big Returns

The possibility of earning a lot is not far from your grasp. This means that you can choose to work and handle several clients in one go and earn big money; or you can be picky when it comes to working with clients. In fact, compared to working from 9am to 5pm, where you earn a fixed amount, an internet business gives you an opportunity to earn a lot without slaving countless of hours in front of your desk.

Flexible Work Hours

Your working hours are extremely flexible. You are the boss! You are in control of your own life. With your very own internet business, you will no longer worry about waking up really early in the morning just to cook breakfast, drive your kids to school and meet your office deadlines. Now, you will have all the time in the world to manage your business.

Time With Family

Working from home increases your time with the family. Starting a home based internet business can be the best way to stay focused on your job while having enough time to spend with the family. This is a luxury you can afford to have on a daily basis. How cool is it to see your watch your kids grow, know you are there for them and earn big bucks on the side?

Work at home… or wherever!

You do not need to leave home to work. Online or internet businesses do not require you to commute or drive to and from the office just to get some work done. No more gas, carpool and bus allowances, because you lie in bed and earn money. Also, you can take your business with you to the beach or coffee shop. Where there is a stable internet connection, you are at work!

Autopilot

Your business runs on autopilot, even when you want to sleep in. This means that you do not need to stay up late and watch over your website. All you need to do is to set up your website and retrieve all messages and other business related transactions when and where you want.

Easy to analyze growth

You can easily measure your personal growth, as well as that of your virtual company. Since you can personally monitor every deal that you close or every client that you lose, you know instantly how well your internet business is doing. Create a chart or a table where you can calculate your earnings, losses and potential gains. Need a raise? Add another website or a couple more clients.

Internet business can indeed turn your entrepreneur dreams into reality. With a lot of determination, a bucket of creativity and a box full of patience, you will be able to reap all these business benefits and more!

Shakespeare on Addiction: Sonnet 129

Something interesting happens every time I teach Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129. I’m reasonably certain the term “sex addiction” didn’t exist in his day – and neither did 12 step groups for it, with Elizabethans turning up in their flamboyant garb – but that doesn’t mean that the problem, and its attendant degradations, didn’t exist. Just ask Shakespeare about his Dark Lady.***

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Is lust in action; and till action, lust

Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,

Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,

Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight,

Past reason hunted, and no sooner had

Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait

On purpose laid to make the taker mad;

Mad in pursuit and in possession so;

Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;

A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;

Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.

All this the world well knows; yet none knows well

To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

Why am I thinking about sonnet 129? Shakespeare’s sonnets beg for interpretation, and it’s not just because they are formal masterpieces that we should, as intelligent folk, feel compelled to dissect for dissection’s sake. No, there’s more to them than that. His sonnets are relevant today and I’m going to show you why.

A few years ago, I came across an hour long documentary made about Vancouver’s notorious downtown eastside. The area has been ravaged by an influx of drugs and its victims, earning it a reputation for being something of an elephants’ graveyard: it’s where addicts go to die. The film was called Through a Blue Lens and was shot, mostly, by two beat cops who wanted to portray the lives of the addicts living there. It’s not a warm and fuzzy film about drug addiction, but it’s not condemnatory either. Here’s an excerpt:

The plight of those living in that part of Vancouver became a minor cause célèbre in 1999, in part because The Globe and Mail published a photo essay of its denizens that left a lot of Canadians gasping. It made us aware, in a none-too-gentle way, that we had inner city problems just as bad as some cities south of the border. Vancouver’s port is a gateway for the drug trade and it seems at least some of these drugs don’t travel far: they form the lifeblood of those immiserated souls living in the downtown area.

So why look at Canada’s Skid Row when we’re talking about Shakespeare? It’s because his definition of addiction is one of the best I’ve ever read. It’s relevant today and that’s because when addicts talk about their suffering, they report (albeit less eloquently) many of the same things. And when I say things, I mean they report having many of the same feelings and experiences described by Shakespeare. Those haunting sounds of agony — the addict’s anguish — are distilled, painfully and thoroughly, in this poem.

It begins:

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Shakespeare believes we forfeit our spirit – our soul – when we engage in addictive behaviour. The expense, or the price of the addiction, is paid with it. Waste here is used literally (implying that lives are wasted by addiction) and also symbolically to denote a place. This double meaning is made obvious by the use of the preposition in, as “in” a waste of shame. Waste as a place bookends neatly with that other inferno, hell, mentioned in the closing couplet.

Lust is Shakespeare’s drug of choice and the belief is that it was aimed at the infamous Dark Lady, that promiscuous creature that had Shakespeare, and others, utterly intoxicated.

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Is lust in action; and till action, lust

Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,

Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust

What are the signs of Shakespeare’s enslavement? The form of a sonnet is strictly prescribed: it is made up of three quatrains — three groups of four lines — and a closing couplet. The rhyme scheme tends to alternate lines, meaning the first line rhymes with the third, the second with the fourth, etc. The lines are usually made up of phrases that go towards forming sentences. However, in this quatrain, the last half is simply a list of adjectives or adjective phrases, enumerating Shakespeare’s agonies. And these agonies are stated strongly, with words like murderous, bloody, savage and extreme.

This is a man in the throes of an obsession, an obsession that won’t even allow him to form coherent thoughts; instead he spits out a list of adjectives to convey his feelings. Shakespeare the wordsmith created this list for a reason. It’s there to denote a burst of feeling that can’t be contained.

But does this fury of Shakespeare’s capture the state of those sad and emaciated souls wandering the downtown eastside? I would argue it does and the key word here is shame. Ask any active addict how they feel about their life and you are bound to discover, underneath the anger and street braggadocio, a deep and murky well of it. That shame is what keeps them using; it’s what keeps them from wanting to feel.

After Shakespeare establishes his narrative voice, he turns to the cyclical nature of his malady. In the second quatrain, he states:

Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight,

Past reason hunted, and no sooner had

Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait

On purpose laid to make the taker mad;

Here we see the structural and thematic rendering of the cycle of addiction. Let me translate: the addict no sooner enjoys (uses) her drug when she starts to despise its consequences straight (right away). However, beyond all reason she continues to hunt for it, and again, as soon as she consumes it, she hates it beyond all reason because she can’t stop. Then Shakespeare expands the subtle animal imagery and lays blame on suppliers and enablers. Her drug is like a trap laid on purpose and it makes her, the taker, mad. Mad here is being used in the British sense of the word, meaning insane.

It’s usually at this point in my class that I stop and ask students to think of an activity, any activity, they do to excess. Do they spend too much time online? Eat too much of the wrong kind of food? Text incessantly? And it’s also here that I tell them my own little story of addiction, the one that had me frequently rushing to the neighbourhood corner store, in Toronto, when I was a student.

I had an addiction and it was to Swedish Berries, those soft red candies that taste heavenly but are of no nutritional value whatever. These darlings came in handy at midnight when I had an essay to finish and needed a sugar boost. However, the problem was that I didn’t know when to stop. The store sold them in bulk and I didn’t have the discipline to buy only a few. My reasoning, as I stood in front of that bin and ladled in scoop after scoop, was that I would save some for later.

Right.

So I would eat them until I felt sick and this process, over the last two years of my undergrad degree, repeated itself more times than I care to remember. But it was the sequence of events in this process that was important. I would come to the realization it was late. I knew I had to keep working but didn’t want coffee. Then I would think: Hey! Swedish Berries! Great idea! And I would haul myself off to the store, come back and eat way too many of them. Only afterwards would I say to myself: “Did I really have to scarf down that whole bag?” Or: “Good idea? What was I thinking?”

So too goes the cycle of addiction: there is the chase, the consummation and the aftermath. In other words, the anticipation, the imbibing and the remorse. This cycle will be expanded upon in the next quatrain.

Mad in pursuit and in possession so;

Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;

A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;

Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.

The first quatrain establishes, through the use of enumeration, Shakespeare’s lo
ss of control. The second establishes the cyclical nature of his addiction. This last is significant because it does not provide new information. However, it does repeat the three part cycle and repetition in Shakespeare is always significant: he uses it to let us know we need to pay attention. Here we are told, again and with more emphasis, that an addict is mad while chasing the drug and mad while consuming it. And of course it is that madness — that inability to reason — that starts the cycle all over again.

But take a look at the second line. Shakespeare reverses the order of the cycle: he starts with the aftermath: had, moves to the consummation: having, and then moves to the first stage of the cycle, the chase: in quest to have. He does this to create the impression of a back-and-forth motion: the addict moves forward and backward, forward and backward, ad infinitum. Why? Because that’s what happens when one becomes addicted: life stalls.

At the start of this article, I said something interesting happens every time I teach this sonnet. Here it is: after I read it out loud, I tell my students to look closely at the panhandlers, especially the young ones, when they pass through the Atwater metro, the metro that services Dawson. I almost always get the same reaction: the class goes silent, the flow of air in the room stops, and these young people, with their futures ahead of them, pay closer attention. This suffering, rendered so poetically by Shakespeare, is only steps away.

And it happens elsewhere. When I drive home, I stop at a busy intersection leading onto the highway. That’s where I often see a young woman, her blonde hair in dreadlocks, holding up a sign asking for spare change. I always give her some and now she knows to come to me. If the traffic light permits, we may even exchange a few words.

I’ve been criticized for doing this — “she’ll just spend the money on drugs” is what I hear — but I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know how we can stop people from “committing suicide on the installment plan,” as a good friend of mine puts it.

Shakespeare didn’t know either, but luckily for us, that didn’t stop him from looking deeply into that darkness and writing about it anyway.

***I will be, for the sake of brevity and compression, be referring to the narrator as Shakespeare.

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