Wednesday, January 28, 2009


It is brutal around my parts today.

Every community, every town, every county is under a Snow Emergency of some level. We have a Level 2, which translates to only being on the roads if you absolutely have to be. I am sitting here in my office and can here the ice hitting the roof as it falls from the sky. Everything, from cars to trees to sidewalks, is encased in ice.

Evan hasn't had school for 2 days now. UC closed yesterday evening. My chemistry course was still on, but I couldn't make it. I had a biology exam scheduled for this evening, and it is no longer now. I have a chemistry exam at 11 AM tomorrow, and I am starting to wonder if that will be cancelled as well.

Yesterday was sort of nice. We were all snowed in, and we just hung out at the house together. I woke up and took a shower only to put on clean sweats a veg around the house. Actually, I'm not sure I would call it vegging. I got some heavy-duty biology work done. Today? Well, after I tinker around a bit, today shall be all about chemistry. I have a 3-hour online lab to complete, and then there is the exam that is supposed to be tomorrow. I am wondering if it will be cancelled, but must plan for it still going on.

Evan is driving me a little crazy at this point. He is tormenting Pixie and making a general mess all over the house. I really feel like I should do some cleaning. John is a complete crab. He and Evan are in the living right now, arguing about the whereabouts of the cable remote. But in my office, it is peaceful and quiet. Maybe I should just hibernate in here all day and forget the world.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Respiratory Distress

...Is in the eye of the beholder. Seriously.
I get a call from a nurse. We will call her RN. I like RN. RN and I have never had a problem. She is telling me that my patient is in respiratory distress and would like a PRN treatment. I respond.

RN is sitting at a desk when I get to the unit of the hospital. My first thought is : "If the patient is in such distress, why is she not at the bedside?" Realizing that crazier things have happened, I go to the patient's room. The door is closed. I knock lightly, then enter. The room is dark, but in the glow of the bathroom light, I can see it. The patient and her husband are both sound asleep. I tip-toe to the bedside and see that respirations are normal. Her breath sounds are clear, save for a few scattered crackles in the bases, which does not surprise me, considering the patient's diagnosis. I tiptoe out of the room, and as I pass the desk where RN is sitting, I give her that look and let her know that the patient is sleeping like a baby. I go back to my laundry list of tasks to complete.

30 minutes pass.
My phone rings again.

RN: "Andrea, she woke up and is breathing so badly that she is sobbing."
Me: "Sobbing????" (This isn't the usual presentation of respiratory distress.)
RN: "Yes, she says it hurts so bad...."
Me: "Wait a minute. Is pain her problem?"
RN: "Yep. She says it hurts in her side."
Me: "You know, albuterol won't fix that."
RN: "Well then, she's short of breath."

I go to the room. Again, RN is sitting at the desk and the patient's door is closed. I enter to find her awake this time. I ask what the problem is and she says that it hurts to breath. I ask her to describe her pain, and she clutches at the right lower rib cage, explaining that it hurts to take a deep breath. I observe her and notice her wincing with each breath. I ask her if she is short of breath. "NoNotReallyItJustHurtsWhenITakeADeepBreathCanPneumoniaDoThatIDidn'tKnowPneumoniaCouldDoThat."
Long run-on sentences. Normal respiratory pattern (rate and depth). SPO2 is 98% on 1 liter of O2. Heart rate is 86. Breath sounds completely clear. I know that nothing I can do is going to help her. She needs her pain meds, which come from RN. I explain to her that we can try the treatment, but that it really won't help if her problem is pain. She is too vague, so I give the med. After the treatment, she insists she is cured. There is no more pain. (!!!!!) I am convinced she needs a psych consult. I leave the floor, but not before letting RN know that while I did treat the patient, she was not in respiratory distress. That while I would love to run around the hospital appeasing patients and nurses all night, I truly have patients who need me.

As I am walking out, I think I should stop and see the patient on Q4 treatments. She is due for the next one in 15 minutes. I walk in her room. She is sound asleep. I gently wake her and let her know it is time for her treatment. She blatantly tells me she doesn't want it, doesn't need it, and rolls over and goes back to sleep. I chart the refusal and go on about my business.

45 minutes pass. It's RN again.

RN: "Andrea, our patient in room xxxx is feeling short of breath and would like a breathing treatment."
Me: "Seriously???? I was just in there less than an hour ago and woke her up. She refused. What changed?"
RN: "She refused??? (soft giggle) Well she wants one now, says she is short of breath. She just got back from being downstairs smoking."
Me: "Let me get this straight: she wouldn't let me treat her 45 minutes ago, but then went down and smoked and wants me to make a trip up there to treat her because she is short of breath after her trip to the smoking area?"
RN: "Yep (louder giggle now)." Shall I tell her she's on your 'list'?"
Me: "Yes, thank you."

"Respiratory distress" and "dyspnea" and "shortness of breath" are all subjective terms that are used too loosely in a hospital at night. They know I have to respond to a call that uses those words. I trust that the nurses have used their assessment skills, that they know I am busy, and have filtered through some of the BS. This is not always the case. I got calls like these all night last night. All 12 hours. A lot of them weren't even from my assigned units of the hospital. They were from other nurses who didn't feel like they got a quick enough response from their therapist and started dialing random respiratory extensions until they get me. In a respiratory eutopia, we would have the staff to run around and do this random crap. At my place of employment, we do not. At 11 PM, the respiratory staff cuts down from 8 therapists and/or techs to about 4 therapists (no techs at night because we have to be able to handle it when we are called). I am one of the lucky 4. And if you divide the hospital into 4 equal sets of work units, you wind up with therapists who have anywhere from 5 to 8 units of the hospital. I had the entire 2nd floor of the hospital last night, plus NICU and pediatrics, for a grand total of 9 units of the hospital. I do not have time for bullsh*t calls like this. And with assignments like this, if there is a code at night, all of us respond because you are never assumed to be able to go to a code on your own floor. I have been known to have simultaneous codes going on at multiple units to which I was assigned. So in the middle of all of this, I had to respond to a code, which resulted in my brand new shoes getting doused with so much vomit that it soaked through to my socks. In the middle of it all, I have to call the supply people and have them deliver to me a fresh set of scrubs, shoe covers and a jug of hydrogen peroxide. I got the puke out of my shoe, but only by pouring the entire bottle inside and outside of it, then having my toes squish around in the peroxide-soaked shoe for the remaining 5 hours of my shift. Fun.

God, I hate being a "floor whore". Send me back to the ICUs or the ER. Please!

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Word of the Day: Juggling

Busy, busy, busy me.

John and I have this little thing going. There will be a show coming on the tv at night that I want to see. I will be posted up in my office, studying, and he will let me know when it is coming on. He then helps me transfer my pile of books and notebooks into the living room, where I will lay on the floor while he rubs my back and I study while absorbing the show through osmosis. Ivariably, after about an hour, I will tell him that I need a little nap, and will instruct him to wake me after about one hour of sleep. No matter what I say or how much I gruble or what name I call you, WAKE ME UP! I have x, y, and z to get accomplished because this is my only night to do them. DO NOT let me sleep all night. The problem is that once I am asleep, being as sleep-deprived and busy as I am, he cannot get me to wake up. It is like I go into a coma. After several nights of this same thing, he has finally wisened up a bit, and when I say "let me go to sleep for an hour", he responds with "Hell NO!".

The moral of the story is that I have this laundry list of tasks that must be completed and since I snoozed all of those nights, I have to get them done NOW.

Today is my Monday. I work 12's the next three nights. Monday night I have biology and its lab. I literally have to make use of every free hour I have to get this crap done.

As soon as I log off, I plan to study until 2:30-ish. Then I plan to go to sleep for a couple of hours so I can function at work all night. If I wake up by 1:00 Saturday and Sunday, I can get a few more hours in each of those days. Monday will start with the completion of my night at work, followed by calculus and a meeting with my Pre-med advisor. If I hustle, I can get a few more hours in there before I have to head to Biology. If I stay up till 1:ooAM Monday night (normally I would say 2 or 3, but since I would have worked the night before and not slept, I am being nice to myself), I can get more done then. Thank God that my Chem lab is cancelled Tuesday morning. I don't have class until 2 PM as a result, and if I take all of my stuff to campus with a packed lunch, leaving the house at the normal time, I can get most everything else done with no distractions. Or interruptions. Or temptations.

This is what I mean by "juggling".

So I am left with this question for myself: Do I really want to be a doctor? Is it worth it to torture myself like this for many years to come?

The answer, after some thought: a resounding, unwaivering, Earth-shattering YES!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Want This

Now I need a new MP3 player. This is what I want. I don't know if I'll get it because inevitably, someone will need new shoes or something right about the time I am ready to buy it. But I want it. We shall see.

The Handprints They Leave

My boys, that is. Let me explain. I firmly believe that the people that come and go from our lives leave evidence that they were there in their wake. Some leave us smiling, and some leave us crying. Some stay longer than others. We are born alone, and we surround ourselves with others throughout our life, and we cannot take them with us when we go.

As I flit around from class to class, campus to campus, to work and to home and back again, the evidence my John and Evan leave behind is hard to miss. I spent the largest part of my day infuriated yesterday. You see, I stopped at a carwash to clean the salt grime that winter driving leaves on a car. And I thought to myself, "Self, why don't you vacuum it out while you're here. It will save you the hassle of tangled extension cords and a cumbersome Kirby being dragged to the curb at home." So I did. And for the first time, in the glaring light of day, I actually looked at my car. (Since John's car died a while back, he has mainly been driving my car and chaufferring me to the places I need to go.) What I found pissed me off beyond belief. Scuffs from gym shoes on the backs of the seats. French fries under the floor mats in the backseat. Dirt everywhere. What was supposed to be a quick stop turned into a 2-hour cleaning frenzy. Let me remind you that this car was brand spanking new in September. A 2009. The first new car I have ever purchased for myself. I was livid, and the boys got quite the lecture about respecting the things we own. I even broke down $20,000 to Evan in his terms, explaing that I could buy x amount of Webkinz for the price of the car, thinking maybe he would realize just how expensive automobiles are, and would respect the car a little more.

So I go back to class, and am a little early. I whip out my MP3 player from my backpack and am going to listen to some tunage while I am reviewing my notes for our quiz in biology. No music. What???? Why does it not work? The battery is charged, but it keeps trying to reboot itself. I try to remember the last time I used it. Or the last time it was used, period. And I flashback to a vision of little Evan wearing it and be-bopping around the house with it. He has his own, but mine has more memory, and thus more songs. Now I need a new MP3 player.

There is evidence all over the place that the boys are here. A discarded pile of school uniforms in the laundry room, holes in the knees of the pants or stains on the shirts (Pant: $45/pair, Shirts: $25/ each). Piles of shoes that are not outgrown, but simply worn out because they don't treat them well (I don't buy them the cheapies, either). Dirty dishes piled on the counter. Litlle pastel colored Post-It's all over my desk because the little one thinks they are "make-your-own" stickers. Money missing from my purse because someone, at some time, removed it for something they needed. It would seem that my boys don't leave handprints. They leave a path of destruction.

But wait...

This is the same little boy who came up to me early this morning and hugged my neck, telling me how I am the best Mommy he has ever had (LOL!). The one who gives me sloppy kisses on the cheek and presents to me Crayola masterpieces and macaroni sculptures, that I accept with such glee that you would be convinced that they are from Van Gogh. The one whose rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" would have given Beethoven a run for his money.

This is the man who looks deep into my eyes and tells me how convinced he is that I can do this when I am doubting myself the most. The one who kept his hand on my leg and wore lead the entire time I was getting head scans done for a brain tumor, just to assure me that he was there, that he was not leaving me. The one who cried with me when the doctors told me to consider aborting our child who was sure to be too premature to survive.

My life with these boys is messy. And expensive.That's a definite. Yes, they leave paths of destruction through it all. I wouldn't trade any of it for the world, truth be told. These are all such small prices for the joy they can bring to my life.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What They See

John looks at me all of the time and tells me I am "cute".

Cute? I am in my 30's. The last time he said it, my hair was in a ponytail, and I was wearing no makeup except for a dab of concealer to hide this huge zit on my face, and some mascara. I was wearing a hoodie and jeans, and had just returned from class. Most decidedly not cute. But it got me wondering what he sees when he looks at me. I see nothing but flaws, and that's okay. I know what the flaws are, but I know what my strengths are as well, before this turns into an elaborate revealing of my lack of self-esteem. I think I am a total bitch. But one of the girls at work the other day was describing me as a therapist to one of the employees in another department, and said that I care too much and try to help everyone out around me.

So...What do you do when the views others have of you is completely different than the view you have of yourself? Which one am I: the one they see or the one I see? Do I really care too much? I know I worry about what others think of me more than I should. I try not to let it define me though. At work, I try to be responsive to the needs of my patients and the needs of my coworkers. When I finish my assignment, I try to check on everyone else and make sure there is nothing I can do for them to make their nights go a little bit easier. I do this because there has never been a time when I have asked them for some help and they have told me no. When I visit a patient, I don't just do my job. If they need ice water, I get it for them. If they need help to the restroom, I do it. Nurse Aides and RNs are some of the most over-worked people there are. Not saying that I am not overworked.

I think the problem is that I hold myself and everyone else to some very high standards. I look at myself with a very critical eye. I know what I can do, I know what I have lived through, and I expect nothing less than that from myself. And if I can do it, so can everyone else.Maybe that is why I see myself as bitchy, as not-cute. Maybe I need to step back and see what they all see for a little while, to be nicer to myself for just a bit and see how it goes.

Which One Are We in Now?

This is 100% True.

John picked me up from my day of Chemistry yesterday, and Evan is in the backseat, himself fresh from school. He is very excited to tell me something.

"Mama, did you know there is another Ohio that is by Indiana?"

I tried to explain to him about state lines, that we live in Kentucky, but as soon as we get onto a bridge, we are in Ohio. That the same Ohio we cross into when Mommy goes shopping or to school is the same Ohio that borders Indiana. That the Indiana that Ohio borders is the same Indiana we lived in, albeit briefly. That the Kentucky where Grandma lives is the same Kentucky we live in now. It just takes so long to get there because it is in another part of the state.

He insists I am wrong. He could not fathom that the same places he frequents were the very same ones in the textbooks at school. I am racking my brain to come up for a way to teach him this concept. Why couldn't it be a science problem?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Missed History Today....

While I was in Chem Lab. I was a little bummed, even though my Republican self had nothing to do with Obama's election. I am still thrilled that our country finally took the step of electing an African American president.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I. Feel. Like. This.

Too tired to blog. One more 12, then a complete day off, as in no work, no school. Just studying and coffee on the schedule for Monday. In the meantime, watch a video.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I registered with AMCAS today. AMCAS= American Medical College Application Service, I do believe. And I went to schedule my MCAT. I found a great date, with seats available in Cincinnati. I clicked on the link, and this ominous little window popped up, asking me if I was sure I wanted to reserve the seat. It seemed to be taunting me. I read this: "Are you sure you want to do this?" Then, "Are you sure you can do this?

I closed the windows and left it be.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Call Me Ed. Special Ed.

Evan and I have something in common. We both hate MATH. We both can do rather well at it, but hate it nonetheless. I was just about to blog about my calculus experience today. My innocent little boy is sitting beside me at my desk, working on his math homework and muttering of his dislike for the subject and it hit me that it is precisely what I am going to tell you. Evan is not Special Ed. I, however, most definitely am.

I love a good challenge. But, while it seems completely snotty to say, I have never failed at anything. Give me chemistry and biology and physics. Bring it on. Math? While I do okay, I do have to work at it just a bit. I don't like that. I like it when things are so easy for me I can do them in my sleep.

So I have this calculus assignment. There are only 3 questions, but these are the types of problems that take 30 minutes and about 5 sheets of scratch paper to complete, so it is more than it seems. I am armed with my pink calculator (see the pic, it is too cute and just screams ANDREA!) It is early in the morning, and thus quiet in the house. I am ready. And I get every damned one of the problems wrong. This is for two reasons (actually more, but I am getting to that): A) I cannot work my cute pink calculator I bought specifically for this class. B) I didn't convert my answers back to fractions, and left them in decimal form, which was not how they wanted to answers to be formatted.
Truthfully? Math psychs me out a bit. I know I have to work at it a little more than I do the sciences, and therefore it fills me with terror. I could make some huge political statement about this, if I were the type. I am a woman and society has programmed me to believe that I am inferior to men in the arenas of math and science. I won't do that. That is utter bullshit. I am a woman, and I will kick ass in science any day of the week. Math? Not so much.

So I go to my Calculus lecture this morning, ready to talk to my professor about this issue with the homework. I am armed, ready for him to tell me that I am semi-retarded and do not belong in a Calculus course. That there is some sort of Fundamentals of Addition course that is more my speed. 1 + 1=2 sort of thing.
He tells me to meet him in his office after class.
I do.

I get there, and I sit down across the table from him and pull out a fresh sheet of paper. He gives me a sample problem. I do it. After every step or so, he stops me to check my calculations. I was right.

He gives me another sample problem. I do that one too. I am right again.

He continues to tell me that I am smart. That I am much better off than my classmates. That I need patience. That if I can do chemistry with such ease, then I can do the math. Since I consider myself a science geek, he reminds me that math is a science. That I am a whiz at the sciences, and therefore a math whiz too. He completely gets in my head. The man is brilliant.

Calculus is no longer my kryptonite.


My name is Andrea, and I am a senior at the University of Cincinnati!

Yep, that's right. I said Senior. S-E-N-I-O-R! Ha! I love it.

I got my credit evaluation in the mail Saturday. Apparently, it has been finalized. The initial evaluation, as in the one I got immediately after enrolling, only gave me credit for an English course and a history course. For a whopping total of 9.5 credit hours. Wow! (Dripping with sarcasm right now, of course.)

Well, the one I received Saturday was significantly different. As in 136.5. And I am enrolled in 16 credit hours now. There truly is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Which is good...and bad. Very, very bad. Before you are thinking I am insane for thinking being closer to the end of my undergraduate education is terrible, let me explain a little bit. Well, not a little bit. There are two words to sum it all up for you:



I have not even looked into the med school application process. Well, I have, or I wouldn't have a clue what I am doing. Since I do most definitely have a clue, let me rephrase that: I have only taken a gander at it to ensure that I am on the right track. What I have not done is start the process. And while I have been looking at the MCAT for some time now, I am in no way ready for it. I still have the chemistry and physics to get through, and while I have had some, I have not had the quantity I would like.

So yes, the news is good and bad.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Verona

After the drama with the neighbors, I started looking on Craigslist. I wanted to see what was out there. Do I want to move again??? Hell no. But I refuse to live like I have been living over some pettiness. I called this lady about these apartments, and they were cheap and right around the corner from campus. Out-of-state tuition?? Ha! Yet still close to work. I am pumped. I am psyched. I am ready. She knows I am a UC student. She knows what I am looking for. We meet to see the apartment. It is way too small for us. I think she homed in on the "student" part of our conversation more than she did the "Respiratory Therapist" part. As in I am not on a student's normal budget, nor is a tiny shabby apartment going to do for me and my family.
She can tell by the look on my face that I am not thrilled, and asks if I have time for one more. I tell her yes, but am really reluctant. If it looked like that, I really would have rather gone home to my mounting pile of schoolwork.

We follow her through this really horrible area of town, and I am chain-smoking, getting scared of the place she is going to show us. We end up parked on the street on this corner, and I look all around us at the different buildings.Which one. I see this one out of the corner of my eye, and don't really look that way because I couldn't bare the disappointment if she told me I was wrong. John is sure it is fate because in the courtyard, there is a flagpole. Underneath Old Glory is none other than the flag of the United States Marine Corps.

I ask her which building we are going to, and she points. I am sold.

We walk through the wrought-iron gate, past the fountain in the courtyard. The looping driveway, where others are not allowed to drive cars unless moving in, is the perfect opportunity for my son to have a place to ride his scooter and bike this summer. It is beautiful. My breath catches in my throat. My eyes cannot leave the arches on the balconies.
We enter the building and climb the marble staircases to the first condo she wants to show me. It has old-world charm. But it is not perfect. In its state of oldness, it looks kind of shabby. I am thinking is we can make it work with decor. I love the building. She can tell by the look on my face that I am not completely in-love with the living quarters, and says she has another.

We climb three flights of the marble staircase, my hand brushing the mahogany banisters and get to the very top floor. We pass through the beautiful front door. My heart melts.

There are two closets in every room, with custom cabinetry and chests in each. I can see my purses lining the shelves. There are enough that I could have one for shoes, one for handbags, and one for clothes, and still leave enough for John and Evan. I actually open the leaded glass French doors and step onto the arched balcony I was admiring from the courtyard. My office in this little house??? No. I can see myself out on this stone and brick balcony with a cup of coffee, studying or reading, or just getting peace from the chaos of my life. It is a cocoon for me. But alas, I must go inside and see the rest of the space.

The bedrooms are enormous. The hardwood floors in much better repair than the house we are in now. There is a huge dining area between the kitchen and living room with a gorgeous view of the street. My office. Built-in bookcases line the walls in several of the rooms. The future home of anatomy/ physiology, biology, chemistry, pharmacology.

We pass under the antique light fixtures, through the scullery that she calls a "pantry" (a long narrow room lined with cabinetry and counters on both sides, with a bracket for hanging pots and pans, into the kitchen with the worn floor, enough to look rustic and weathered, but nothing I would change. There is this huge cabinet mounted under the window, and she explains to Evan that this is where the milk man used to deliver fresh milk to the families who lived there. I love that is still there. Evan pokes his little head inside, fascinated that there used to be a day when you could not pick up a plastic jug of milk at any store.

I wish I had the words to capture the beauty of the place. Although it is in this enormous building, the space is huge. Our place now is huge, and you could fit three of this one in it. Even though there are many other tenants, it feels like a safe haven. Like we are removed from the rest of the world. Quiet, secluded. Home.

Now for the logistics of the thing. I developer bought the building. One by one, he is gutting the old and remodeling them into modern, gorgeous condos. The new is just as beautiful as the old. The new are selling for about $200K. We can rent one of the old because he is in the process of selling the ones that have already been flipped. He is not flipping any more until he sells what he has. The rent is about $20 cheaper per month than what we are in now. In the long run, with me paying out-of-state tuition, it will save me about $18K in the next year alone, without putting me too far from work. The downside is that, if all goes according to plan, the condo would only be available to rent for about 2 years.
But there is a kink in the works. The new ones he is selling for $200K? They are condos, as in divided into rooms. There are a couple that are loft-style. No room divisions. The same size, but other than the bathroom, no walls. The same finishing touches otherwise. The lofts that he has have roof access in addition to the balcony (the same balcony I love). There is one that has no roof access. He is selling that for a disgustingly cheap rate. As in my car was vastly more expensive than this piece of property. With that being said, if I hired a contractor to create rooms out of the vast empty space, I could still have this gorgeous $200K condo for about the cost of having a nice vehicle. And it would be mine. If I keep my payments about the same as my rent is now, it would be paid off within a year or so. In other words, by the time I finish my undergraduate work and face entering med school, the burden of paying for housing would no longer be mine to bear. I could stop the insane hours at work at the exact time when I needed to. This falls into my plan perfectly. And we would be owners of a luxury condo in my hometown, Cincinnati, right around the corner from UC College of Medicine. You see where I am going with this.

Worst case scenario is we apply and get to rent one of the beautiful places until they are ready to do the work to flip it. My fear is that if I do this, I won't want to leave.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Guess What! Calculus Sucks (And Other Random Drama)

The first week of school is officially completed. Biology was okay. I managed to work ahead there, completing an asignment and handing it in a week before the deadline. Chamistry? I guess it is okay too, other than the fact that he made a 3-hour online assignment due the morning after a 12 hour shift, and there was physically no way for me to complete it on time. After a discussion with the professor, we agreed that some points were better than none, and I would complete it for partial credit, with the intent of dropping that grade at the end of the quarter. Calculus? The good news there is that I actually comprehend the lectures. But it completely sucks. I actually have to use my brain. A lot.

Maybe it is because this is a new thing to me, but the whole issue of being a full-time student, and a mom, and a wife, and a full-time RT...Well the task has been rather daunting this week. I have had no breathing room in my schedule. I keep telling myself that this is because it is still oin the old schedule, where I am not off on the weekdays. This past week was the last week I have to worry about that for awhile. Hopefully this week will be better. I work a 12 tonight, then am off for 5 days, then I go back to working just the weekends.

So what is the other drama? Our neighbors and our landlord. When John called him to make arrangements to get our rent to him, he had some interesting things to say. Apparently the other tenants have been complaining about us and the level of noise that is coming from our apartment. Doors slamming and Evan playing, and even the time I come home from work on the weekend mornings. What are we supposed to do? Evan is 7. He has to play at some point. Toy trucks are loud on hardwood floors, especially with these 12-foot high ceilings, where the sound is amplified. Yet he cannot go outside to play because the yard is full of German Shepherd crap. The doors slamming? Same effect. When you shut a door here, it echos. And Evan's bedroom doors are pocket doors. They make a horrible racket when you close them because they don't slide smoothly on the track. And me? Coming home from work in the morning, I am as quiet as possible, because usually John and Evan are still asleep. But the same thing goes there as well. You can hear the front door to the building, I am sure, because I can hear when they all come and go. But they are complaining that they can hear me enter the building at 7:30 in the morning on Saturdays when they are trying to sleep in. Am I supposed to quit my job???
They say the noise starts at 7:30 in the morning. I can see that. During the week, that is when Evan is usally leaving for school. On the weekends, I am coming home from work. But they say it has been going all day everyday this week. How? Evan has been back in school. I have been in school. When I am not in school, I have been sleeping. Or studying. I guaruntee that Calculus-study does not get me into a wild frenzy enough to disturb my neighbors. The weeks before that? I was working so many nights a week that I was sleeping all day, and under fear of death, John and Evan were quiet to allow it.
I refuse to walk on eggshells. As it is, since we have heard of the complaints, we have stopped allowing Evan to close his bedroom doors. We are turning everything off at night so as not to disturb him while he is trying to sleep in the open room. I am afraid to even leave the house or return because of this. And I have been getting on my child and husband over every tiny noise.
Yet there is Kurt Cobain upstairs (we call him this in the hopes that he will have the same demise). This guy, at about 2 in the morning, will crank his stereo all the way up and try to play his electric guitar along with the songs. Most are asleep at that time, but you know my hours. If I am home, I am studying. On two different occasions, I had to stop because I couldn't concentrate. Yet I did not complain. There are just certain things you have to deal with when living in an apartment, especially in a building that was not designed initially to be an apartment.
The dog crap? It came to my attention that not only do we have Beowulf in the backyard, but the upstairs neighboir is allowing her dog (the ugliest dog I have evr seen) to do the same in the front yard, where I tread to go to and from the house. What is wrong with these people???

So...desperate times call for desperate measures, and I made a discovery that is going to be in the next post because there is too much to tell.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


A long time ago, I found this character in a book in which I completely identified. I devoured the book, a guilty pleasure, as it was not a literary masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. It was just good fun, and I saw some of myself in the character. I would read clips to John, and he would laugh and say "That's Andrea!". It was hilarious, and enabled me to laugh at myself and some of my flaws. I have always said that someone should make it into a movie. Confessions of a Shopaholic. Well, they did, and I am uber-excited to see myself on the big screen!


I enrolled in my biology course for this coming quarter. (I find the whole quarter system bizarre at a university. It is supposed to be semesters, and the quarters are more expensive: 3 quarters a year as opposed to 2 semesters in a year, and the quarters are as expensive as a semester, and alas you have 3 to pay for. Unfair, but that is neither here nor there...) As you know, I bought my books the other day, and started the beginning ritual I have of studying the first 3 units of a text before the class even starts. I find this gets me prepared for the first lecture, leaves me ahead of the game from the start, so I can continue to study the units ahead of time throughout the course. This way, all I have to do come time for the lecture is pay attention, instead of trying to scribble down everything the instructor is saying. I get more our of the lessons this way, and it is why I have aced every college exam I have ever taken.
But Wait!
There is a problem. Because I am a Bio major, they make me start all over with the bio courses. Okay, I can roll with that. Maybe the courses start at a higher level than normal. Or this will make sure my previously completed bio courses will have me on the same level as the other students who took all of theirs from UC. I can manage this setback, and I am not having to do this for any of the other courses I have previously completed. Okay, so the problem is manageable.
Until I remove the shrinkwrap from the glossy new book and start to read.
Seriously? The first unit is on the relation between chemistry and bio. The next speaks of carbon's realtion to living things. WTF????? We are fricken made of carbon. This is absolutely ridiculous. Between 3 years of high school biology, including a college course in it my senior year, even more college biology as a respiratory student, enough a&p to write a textbook, microbiology, MCAT prep, and more, I think I have this crap covered. This is not cool. This a backpedaling. This is boring.
Yet I have to take this course. I never thought I would actually say that one of the courses for my major would be my fluff course for the semester. Maybe I will get lucky and she will start at the end of the book. Or maybe she will tell me that I bought the wrong book (that would be good, but also bad as I have already unwrapped the $459 tome.) I am disappointed. Where is the meat? The challenge I have been waiting for? Is it going to be like this for the rest of the duration? Molecular Bio is not supposed to be a cakewalk, I don't think. Should I change my major to chemistry? If I am going to have to go backwards and review anything, it should be chemistry. I barely got my A in that.
Too late. I will have to chalk this up to a review. If anything, the Biological Sciences section of my MCAT should have a perfect score....

A Parking Issue and a Lesson Learned

Yesterday, on my only day off, when I had this huge list of things to accomplish, the public works department through a big kink -in -the -chain at me. Leaf Removal. Seriously! It is January, and they are worried about removing leaves???

Our house is on the corner of two rather heavily-traveled city streets. We have no off-street parking. I usually can find a spot that is either on the street directly in front of the house, or on the intersecting street that runs parallel to the side of the house. Thursday night, coming home from work was no exception. BUT...

There are these ominous-looking red and white signs on each street saying that there was to be no parking between the hours of 8 AM and 4 PM on Friday for leaf-removal. No biggie. I go ahead and park there anyway, as there are no other spots. I figure I will set my alarm for the morning to get up at 7:30 after everyone with normal jobs has left for work. There will be plenty of parking then, right? Wrong! Friday morning, there are no places to park, because there is only one side of one street on which to park for a 4-block grid of the city. In other words: Everybody was parked as tightly as they could in front of my house. The only exception was my neighbor who lives across the street and is a Covington police officer. He boldly left the police Suburban, light bar and all, parked on the street illegally. No one was brave enough to ticket that car!

We had no idea what to do with my car. My very shiny new conspicuous orange car. Still with Indiana plates long after the 30-day deadline because A) I have had the work schedule from hell since we moved, and B) it has been the holiday season, so the limited time I did have to go and take care of this wasn't always the time the license branch was open. Of course, though John has lived in a city before, he has never lived someplace quite so urban. He is completely flabbergasted/ pissed-off by this. Our only option was to hurry and leave the house before they started doing whatever it was they were going to do. After all, I had errands to run, and didn't know how long it would take me. Maybe someone would move before we got home.

I drive to the college to pick up my parking decal (Which boldly states University of Cincinnati Student. WOOOHOOO!), then we head to human resources at work to talk tuition reimbursement. This is where I find out that, if I pull an Andrea this semester and keep up my 4.0 GPA, the hospital will cut me a check for $3K in March at quarter's end. Aside from the pesky getting-into-med-school issue, what better incentive to study and keep my grades up???

The whole fam then decides we are hungry. Being the crafty mom that I am, I see this as an opportunity to kill time while the parking saga unfolds at home. I, armed with my copy of Twilight, head to the nearest Mickey D's with the biggest Playland that I can find. My intention is to stay there and let Evan play for awhile. The next item on my list of things to accomplish was getting groceries. John would have to carry the groceries four blocks from car to house if I didn't wait until we had a better place to park, so I was trying to stall. This is where I had a very interesting social encounter: a lesson in socioeconomic status.

You see, my kiddo has mainly lived in rural areas. Small towns where everyone knows everyone else. He has been adored all of his life by family and friends alike. As a result, he is confident and out-going. He has never had a reason not to be. Everyone loves Evan. Strangers have even bought him candy while waiting in line at stores, for crying out loud. But here is the thing: we live on the cusp of a very wealthy neighborhood. A neighborhood where they will look at you like you are a pile of garbage if your expensive Nikes have a scuff on the toe or your jeans are a little too frayed or, heaven forbid, have the wrong label on them. We have been a low-income family before, mainly while I was finishing college the first time. Evan has nice things, but he is a boy. He scuffs his shoes as soon as they are put on his feet. The hems of his jeans get frayed where he walks on them. Being the detail-oriented person I am, I don't pay attention to the fact that his clothing is expensive as hell. I notice these details. This is probably some huge indication of my abnormal psyche, but is true nonetheless. Being in a wealthy metropolitan area just feeds this flaw in an unhealthy way. People are unfriendly and keep to themsleves, and while is probably more related to city life, I see it as some sort of sign that we just don't measure up. I think this is just a remnant of the poor lifestyle we used to have. So...

Here we are at McD's in a snobby neighborhood. In my flawed mind, we do not fit in. I feel conspicuously out of place, though in truth we probably would have been a few years back, but are no longer. I am uncomfortable, and Evan's outgoing style of interacting with others is drawing even more attention to us. I could see the other parents sizing us up as we walk through the door with our tray of breakfast fare. I am wearing a UC sweatshirt, have no makeup on, and my hair is pulled into a sloppy topnot to get it off of my face and neck. I am assessing my flaws as I am sure they are. I see appraising eyes lingering on my expensive handbag, the prominent Versace label on my glasses, the clothing my son and husband are wearing. It makes me self conscious when everyone stares, and I am wondering if other parents feel this way ever. But then something magical happens...
About 10 little voices squealing "Hi Evaaaaaaaannnnn!" The progeny of these uppity people just happen to be my son's little classmates. At his private school. The entire mood changes. I stop being the mother in the sloppy college sweatshirt with the unkempt hair. I am now The Parent Who Can Afford To Send Her Child To Private School. They stop wondering if my purse is a knock-off. The frayed jeans are no longer an issue. We are one of them. The pinched appraising looks are replaced with warm smiles as our children play together. Only I can tell that the smiles are not genuine because they were noticeably absent when we walked into the room. Regardless, I am no longer feeling self-conscious. If anything, I become ashamed of myself and am extrapolating many lessons from the experience. I am no longer worrying about waht they were thinking. I am more appalled by their behavior than anything, and at myself for even caring. We eat our breakfast and Evan plays while I read and John watches the television. When it is time to go, the blatantly stare as we make our way to our shiny new car. I can already hear the invitations for playdates and social functions which I will turn down. The whole experience is disgusting.
I learned many things. We are no longer the poor family who does not measure up. With my education and hard work, I changed that. Great. But more importantly, why did I want to be one of them in the first place? I have always been the type to strike up a conversation with anyone. People are people, regardless of clothing brand or income level or skin color. Why would I even worry about what others thought of me, of us? And why would I even want to fit in with these fake, insincere, judgemental people? Lesson learned.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The To-Do List, $1200, and Taking the Bait

Yay! IAMOFFWORKTODAY! I have not had a day off since before Christmas!

Of course there is a myriad of things to accomplish today. The first on the list is to get my husband to wake up and move my car. For the past 2 days, there has been a sign on the street that there was to be no parking on the street that runs alongside the house because the city is conducting some sort of leaf removal. Ahh, city life! Why do I have to wake him up? I cannot parallel park very well, and I do not want to conduct an experiment in my newish car.

Next is the lovely task of securing a decal for my car, enabling me to park at the university. Apparently, you must have one for each campus you visit for classes. For me, there are two. I could've done this the other day, but the school had to make my life difficult. I could get them all from one campus, but no! If I go to the Clifton campus (home of calculus, biology, etc. for me) it is $150 per quarter to park my car. If I go to the Blue Ash campus (Site of History and chemistry), the parking decal is free with proof of enrollment, and all I have to do is show them my schedule of classes in Clifton, and they will give me a sticker for that campus as well. Free. SCORE!

Unfortunately, this is the only thing associated with my pre-med BS that is free. I next head to the bookstore to buy my books for the classes that will start in 4 days. Keep in mind that I just finished my respiratory degree in 2006. I had a 4.0 GPA, and thus people were willing to give me large sums of money to pay for everything. The small college I attended allowed us to charge bookstore items to our financial aid, so really, all I had to do to get everything I wanted (textbooks, school supplies, college sweats, bookbags, and even novels) was to sign my name on the line. I am sure I have spent 1000's of dollars each semster, but it wasn't like it was my money. Other than that, the last time I bough textbooks was as a freshman at Ball State in 1995. I took $500 in cash, along with my debit card in case I went over alittle bit. I only have 4 courses, and figured that if I buy used, I should have more than enough. I hand the man my schedule and tell him I need these books. He starts grabbing them off the shelves, and I pay no attention to the prices of each. I mean, I have to have them, right? We get to the register, and he starts ringing everything up. I am still not paying attention, as Evan is cruising the snack aisle, looking for junkfood after I told him he could pick out a snack. I am more worried about hurrying him up. Then I hear something that makes me pay attention: "That will be $998 please." Huh? Excuse me? I have more than that in my bank account, plus the $500 cash. I could cover it, but I had plans for the money. Bills to pay. Groceries to buy. Wtf? I had to call my bank. I was pissed. I got ahold of the VP of lending at my bank, the same lady who gave me my car loan. I told her the situation, and she replied that it would take her time to get me approved for a loan, that it was New Year's Eve and they were closing at noon, not to reopen until Friday. Could she do it then? That would mean the money would be in my account Friday night. No good. Classes start on Monday, I am working almost everyday, and the bookstore will also be closed over the weekend. She tells me to let her see what she can do and she will call me back. God bless her. I have no idea what she did, but within 20 minutes, she called me back to tell me that not only was I approved for the loan, but that the money was already in my checkjing so I just had to use my debit card to pay for anything I needed at the bookstore. All I had to do was go to the bank before noon to sign the paper for the loan. By the time I bought all of the books, then headed to Staples for all of my supplies (including a $200 calculator required for my calculus course), I had spent over $1200. Why did I do this to myself? I am a grown woman with a family and an established career. I don't need to go back to school. But then I remind myself: Dr. Ferguson.

What is next on the agenda? Well, I will give you a hint: John fed Evan mac and cheese for dinner last night. Yes, I must get groceries. This is the task of which I am most frightened. I found this video of a commercial, and I will show it to you, because it sums up exactly why I hate the grocery store!

I splurged on something for myself for my B-day: I bought myself the 4-book Twilight series. Apparently there is this craze over it, so I was reluctant to even try it. I usually try to keep away from those. But then I saw a coworker reading one of the books at work. The whole series was apparently marketed for young adults, and thus was too young for me older self, but then I remembered that Harry Potter was originally for children. So I snagged myself of some copies of the books and started to read the first one on Thursday, between the end of my 12-hour shift and the beginning of my 4-hour shift later that night. I found that I actually am very into the story, and could not wait to get home from work later that night to continue reading. Now, I am almost finished with the first book. Very interesting.

Reclaiming the Old

I am getting braver with each new thing I try. I finally looked into exporting my old blog and importing it to this one. Those posts are now in the archives down there on the left somewhere.