Transition Time, Again

I’ve been away from the blog for quite some time. My co-blogger has been holding down the fort – that’s why there are two of us I suppose. It’s been a busy few months with the completion of nursing school, graduation, and taking of the NCLEX. Now that all those things are done and I secured a real nursing job it’s time for change. Big serious change, again.

A little less than six years ago I left a dead-end rather toxic work environment that I had been at, stagnantly, for seven years. During those seven years I played around with going back to school but it never really took. I tried early childhood classes, accounting (a hard no, that subject), and looked into several Master’s programs without ever finding something commitment worthy. I was stagnant. Until I got a new job – the midnight position where I met my lovely co-blogger – and things began to change. I had momentum again. That transition shook up my world. All of a sudden it became easier to make other changes. I altered one thing, threw my world into transition, and all of sudden there was movement. Then making changes began to get easier. I researched additional schooling, debating OT and nursing, and started taking classes.

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A few years later, here I am, a nursing grad and starting a new job again. It’s back to a big transition.

Running from the Black Dog

I don’t remember my dreams or even having dreams very often, never have. Maybe I just don’t dream much. There is one dream though, really more of a nightmare, from my childhood still hangs around in my memory. I remember waking up from it a couple times in the early to mid elementary years. I even remember being in the dream and starting to recognize the events that were unfolding, thinking “Not again. No! Not again.” in a dreamy panic but the details are fuzzy. There was a large black dog, clearly vicious, chasing me through an orchard full of gnarled apple trees. It was dark or getting dark and the snarling dog would chase me getting just a little closer as the chase ensued. The fear was visceral. I remember the running, the chasing, tripping and falling down. Knowing the black dog was about to reach me…and then I’d wake up in a sweat, heart pounding in my chest. Thump thump thump. That palpable fear; your body doesn’t care that it’s not real when your mind says it is.

The other day I stumbled across a blog post that talked about the come down after finishing a big race or event. It used the metaphor of the black dog. The author wrote about how the months of training change you, the intense focus it takes to succeed and the purpose that gives you, and the demons everyone who is doing these things are chasing. (Oh the demons!) We train and we chase; we pour ourselves intensely into this one goal, making not only our bodies but our whole selves stronger and more capable. And then the event we’ve been working towards arrives. And we do it. We push through, falling back on our training in the tougher moments, and we succeed. And it’s great. It’s so awesome…for about ten minutes. But then it’s over. And the Now What sets in. It lurks around the edges, like a black dog, hanging about and stalking. Waiting to give chase.

Lately I’ve been in a bit of a funk. It is the time of year for that. At least for me it is. The dark days of February, not as dark as they were a few years ago, are still not the best. It’s not just that though. A couple weeks ago (actually, well over a month now) I got the official email informing me that I did not get into dental school. I hadn’t even gotten an interview. Throughout the process of applying I struggled with a fear of failure that I had never realized was present, let alone so deep seated. And here it was in one email, the fear now a reality, staring me down in a generic, formally worded email:

I’m sorry but we have thousands of qualified applicants and only a couple hundred spots. We have to crush someone’s hopes and dreams. This year it’s yours. Best of luck in all your future endeavors.

Sincerely,

Dental School.

And that was it. Failure.

Any small shred of hope I had been hanging onto was gone. Obliterated. Smashed to bits in a few typed lines… I tried and I failed. I thought I was good enough, had done enough, but I wasn’t. And I didn’t.

All I could think was: Now what? What do I do?

And I did nothing. I didn’t quite wallow, it was more of a slumped. A passive sinking into the ground, somewhat less active than a full out wallow. I pretended I was okay with the rejection. After all I did see it coming. And on paper (hypothetical paper, not actually written down. That would be taking at least some action.) I had a plan. A regroup and recharge strategy in case this happened. Time was of the essence in this plan…but all I could do was…Nothing. I just floundered. I sunk into indecision, slumped, and I wavered.

The inclination to settle where I am started pulling like an anchor around my ankles. I questioned my goals and lost direction, not so sure anymore that this hard hard thing is right for me. There are a lot of reasons it might not be. Fresh upon this rejection they seemed pretty valid.

This past summer was consumed by an intense push to finish my dental school application. Cramming for the DAT, the pressure of getting a decent score with only a sad sorry month of studying under my belt, the hundred shadowing hours squeezed in between the demands of my constantly crazy life, the struggle to convey who I am and why I want to be a dentist in 4500 characters. It was a rush, there was a sense of urgency to reach the goal. And then I did, very early one morning  (late one night, really) in August. I submitted my dental school application and felt relief, the swell of victory that comes with accomplishing something challenging.

After that the waiting began. Sometimes it was itchy and uncomfortable but mostly life kept me distracted like it has a way of doing. September and October rolled around, interviews were scheduled. Still no word. November and then December. The chatter was that there were two more interview sessions in January after the initial wave of acceptances. There was still hope. And then January. The first week…then the second…no word. Chances were so, so slim now but the official email still brought a heavy sense of disappointment.

And the now what.

That black dog hanging around, lurking, stalking, waiting for its moment to take me over. It’s the same dog of my childhood nightmare. Appearing less aggressive but really it’s just a little wiser and more patient now.

I know what I should do. This situation calls for perseverance, pick yourself up and try again. Resilience. It’s a thing (a skill?) I’ve developed and honed. It should be fine tuned, sharp and ready, especially after the past five years of my life. But my instincts to grab onto and wield it are sluggish and I’ve stayed slumped. I let the black dog come in too close and thought that was it, the end. It’s not though. Slowly, oh so slowly, the regroup is starting. I put the plan on paper and started the slow, hard trudge of big test preparation..because, in the words of Chumbawumba, “I get knocked down, but I get up again…” Sometimes it just takes a little longer than it should.

(And now some memes to drive the point home…or possibly water it down. Whichever.)

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It’s 6 a.m. and Adele is on the radio.

Word to the wise, don’t listen to Adele at six in the morning after being up all night. Especially not this one and especially not on the third long night of work in a row…

It’s a lesson I learned the hard way this morning. All I needed was some sound to help pass the time in those few painful hours on the overnight shift where there’s not much to do and the drowse starts creeping in. I got more than I bargained for today though. Between her beautiful, sadly nostalgic songs and someone else’s bad divorce diatribe that I happened to read I started thinking about how things used to be. Not in a happy, the way things once were as viewed through rose colored glasses kind of way either. Some things can’t be viewed through rosy lenses even ten plus years later.

I’ve been working on writing my personal statement for the dental school application. Trying to find words to describe what I went through to get where I am and what it’s taught me is a challenge. Doing so in 4500 characters or less (including spaces) an even bigger one. If you haven’t noticed, being concise is not a strength of mine.This morning I started thinking about the semester I took the first organic chemistry and anatomy and physiology. There had to be another class or two in there as well but I don’t remember what. Maybe a math. Probably. Maybe that was the same semester I took online International Cinema; now that was a cool class. I don’t remember though, all I recall is that those two tough courses, both with labs, were on the same day.

At that time I had four young kids ages two, four, five or six, and seven. Two were in school already, two not. I took the younger ones with me to school and they went to the low-cost on campus childcare center while I was in class. That was two days a week. One of those two was my Very Long Day. I’d leave our crowded apartment with all four kids sometime before 8am to take the older two to school then sit in traffic on 23 stressing about whether or not I’d be able to find parking, get the other two checked in at the daycare, and be in class on time. Anatomy and Physiology lecture was first. Lab followed that and then maybe the ambiguous math class. After that I had a two hour break where I’d pick up the younger two from daycare and take them to my parents’ house about fifteen minutes from campus. I’d meet my husband there with the older two kids so he could go to work for the night. There was just enough time to decompress with my kids for a few minutes, make sure a parent or sibling was watching the four of them, and head back to school for organic chemistry lecture and lab. Four hours of organic chemistry that would end between 9 & 10 pm after which I’d head back to my parents to collect the kids and drive the forty-five minutes back home. There was a song by Blake Shelton that was getting a lot of radio play around that time called Home. I swear every week around 11:00pm on whichever day that was it would come on the radio just as my overly tired two year old who was fighting off sleep in his car seat would wake up and start crying that he wanted to be home.  As we were exiting the freeway just minutes from our beds, Blake Shelton would be crooning “I wanna go hoome..” and my exhausted baby would crying that he just wanted his home. Me too buddy, me too.

I remember sometime that same semester finding a small notebook my then-husband had used as a journal. I didn’t realize what it was until I had read things that couldn’t be unread. There are some things that can never be unseen, never unknown once they’re known. He had written in his tiny, neat handwriting that some guys at work had teased him about me trying to go to dental school so I could leave him and he was pretty sure that’s what was going on. I was pursuing a career in dentistry so I could mercilessly leave his sorry ass behind.  I was going to get through school and dump him. He was sure of it. It was a one-two punch to the gut for me. What do you even do with that kind of information? How do you carry on knowing that this person you’ve been married to for six or seven years now thinks you’re just using him to get through school and the you’re going to discard him like a dirty used glove, that he thinks you’re not only capable of that but most definitely planning on it? I’m not sure, you just kind of do. That doesn’t make it better.

If a picture is worth a thousand words what is a song worth? Ten million?

I reminisced about all this and a little more at six o’clock this morning and then thought about my feeble attempts to convey who I am, where I’ve come from, and why the powers that be should let me into their elite dental school. So far the few thousand words I’ve pounded out seem flat and dull on the paper…well, the computer screen. Some stories need to be told, I’m not sure this is one of them. There’s a right way to do this, ideal words to write,  but at six a.m. when Adele is playing on the radio all I see is the sadness.

Timing is Everything

Timing is everything on so many fronts. I had a dream last night that I double booked myself for horse riding lessons and another event at 8am in the morning. I couldn’t understand why I would do that and even in my dream I knew that planning something for 8:00 in the morning was just crazy.

A week and a half a go was finals week. That’s right, another semester is in the books. Right in the middle of finals week my fridge leaked! All over the corner of the basement. And it smelled awful. How is it that small crises know just when to pop up?! Just when there really isn’t proper time to deal. So in the middle of finals week there was carpet cleaner rental and elaborate fan set ups to dry everything out. Luckily, my significant other stepped up and fixed the actual leak (after several trips to Home Depot, of course). Now that finals week is over the basement is dry and non-smelly. Although we may have decided to re-do the basement sooner rather than later.

On a broader scale I’ve had more than one conversation about timing in life this week. I’m one of the older ones in my nursing program (not THEE oldest, just sayin’) but there are often young 20-somethings in my groups. Most of them are delightful and teach me all kinds of new things and other times the age difference shines. Part of me is jealous that these young students found their path in life so early. They’ll graduate, get a good nursing job and start their career nice and early. They simply have time that I’ll never have. BUT, I wouldn’t have been ready for something like nursing the first time I went to college. At that point I didn’t even realize it was something that would interest me (Although with several family members in the field and similar fields one would think I would’ve had a clue!). And I loved psychology, my first major. With psychology though there is no clear job path and it’s really kind of a useless without a Master’s. This meant that early in life I searched high and low for a career and took jobs that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. So, now I’m all well-rounded or at least that’s what they call it when there are some zig and zags to the path.

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Timing really is everything. Earlier in life I probably wouldn’t have been financially stable enough to attend school full time. Or had the support. Or been able to juggle both full time work & school.  Sometimes I wonder if time and life knows what it’s doing and sometimes the fridge leaks during finals week.

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Don’t Let Your Dreams be Dreams

There’s at least five important things other than blogging that I should be doing right now. I thought you should know that. I’m not, though, because I just wasted so much time trying to register for the last general education class in my long-lived quest to complete my bachelor’s degree that I only have half an hour before it’s time to pick the kids up from school (and get some ketchup…must remember the ketchup!!!). That’s not enough time to get into studying or listen to a lecture or start a paper.

Registering for classes this go round has been a major thorn in my side. Major! This is supposed to be my last semester. I should be graduating at the end of April. Should be. It’s looking like I won’t because I can’t get into the fucking classes I need. There’s only three of them and I’m getting blocked at every turn. (Eastern, you are seriously killing my learning boner here.) First, the instrumental chemistry class that’s required for my degree only has one section offered…it’s on Thursday evening. If you’ve been here a while you might know Thursday evening is my family’s divorce parenting switch time. No way I can be on campus almost an hour away Thursday evenings. On top of that no other nearby university offers a course that transfers as that. Did I mention it’s required for the degree I’m trying to get? Next, the other chemistry class I need has a lab component that’s a separate two credit class. Guess when that lab is offered…if you said Thursday evening you win. The choices are Monday/Wednesday afternoon (going about half an hour later than I really can stay for) and Tuesday/Thursday evening. But it really doesn’t matter either way because by the time the error on my transcripts that prevented me from registering the first day I could was cleared both sections were closed. I’m waitlisted in the terrible but still preferred Monday/Wednesday lab. I was so frustrated about these two classes that I procrastinated until today to register for the gen. ed class I need. Art. Turns out all the “good” art classes are full. *sigh* Online music appreciation it is.

This litany of registration frustrations (along with the super challenging microbiology class I’m taking this semester) have lead me to ask What the fuck am I doing? I probably won’t be able to get a job with the bachelor’s degree I’m getting (or at least trying to get) and if I can barely pull a C in microbiology is dental school (my long term goal…at this point) really realistic? My inner Debbie Downer is reminding me that I’m already thirty-five and up to my eye balls in student loan debt, that I’ve got five kids to take care of, that if I go to dental school I may never have the time to date. Ever. (Well, at least not until I’m, like, forty so basically the same thing.) It might be time to cut the losses and quit while you’re just barely not ahead, she says.

Clearly I’m in need of some redirection, a little motivation perhaps…

That’s right, it’s time to embrace my inner Shai LaBeouf and …JUST DO IT!

So my new motto for this season of my academic journey is: Don’t let your dreams be dreams.

I’m pretty sure I’ve been to the point others might have given up and have kept pushing through. Whatever, I guess I can do it a little longer. What’s one more semester anyhow? I’ll still graduate…eventually. I can still apply to dental school; I’ll asses whether I can hack it or not if (when?) I get in. Why borrow that problem from tomorrow? I’ll get to it when I get to it. And besides, dating is totally overrated.

Project ADD

I’m currently in a 2 month break from school. May and June are mine this year. In July I return with a summer class that will greatly cramp my style for 7 weeks and with any luck after that I’ll be starting nursing school. So, this is it! This is my free time before, in theory, months of studying and running around between work and school. With all this free time I am driving the people around me crazy because I want to do it all and I want to do it right now and I can’t decide what exactly it is I want to do at any given moment. I have project A-D-D. There’s so much I want to do and only 40 days left in which to do it!

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First, my house needed a good spring cleaning. I live with all boys (the boyfriend, a roommate and 2 very furry male cats) and while they do pick up a bit they all kinda suck at cleaning…especially the cats. So I did that. While cleaning dust bunnies from the corners I began to notice what a shitty job the previous owners did when they painted. I mean really shitty. The colors are fine but on closer inspection there are spots where they didn’t get complete coverage, spots they missed and spots where they clearly painted over stuff that should not have been painted over.

I want to paint.

I’ve slowly been working my terrible backyard. I’ve had some help from my more experienced mom because I didn’t even know where to start with that wasteland. So far I have one section done. Plus there are annual flowers to plant and mulch to spread just to freshen up the front.

What's finished so far

What’s finished so far

I want to landscape.

Since I have most mornings free because I’m basically 2nd shift I wake up by drinking some coffee and messing around on Pinterest. A couple weeks ago my Dad bought me a saw. But it didn’t fit into my car so it’s still at his house until he has a chance to bring it down to me. Oh my goodness the things Pinterest shows you can make.

My amazing saw that I have yet to use

My amazing saw that I have yet to use

I want to make it all!! With the saw!!

An old high school friend is having a baby shower next month and I’ve been working on a blanket for her. It’s been nice to crochet again.

I want to crochet!

After several starts I’ve been running fairly consistently. Even gave in and splurged on a pair of real fitted running shoes. Who knew shoes were so complicated?! But, wow, do they feel better. My co-blogger has been urging me to sign up for a race with her but I’ve been passively resistant. The race thing still intimidates me a bit.

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But, nevertheless, I run.

I could go on but you get the point. There are so many things to do and so little time! Some things will get done and some things will have to be postponed but I’m going to make the most of the next 40 days! I’ll keep you posted.

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