Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stupidity Runs Rampant.

This time, I am the stupid one.

I simply had to pee. I go into the massive women's room in the same building as my chemistry class. My Zune is in the little froint compartment of my backpack, which is zipped. My earbud cords are hanging out because they are usually in my ears as I am walking about campus.

My backpack is massive. Heavy. My biology text, by itself, weighs 11 pounds. Then you add the chemistry text (5 lbs.), a spiral notebook for each subject, a binder (stuffed to capacity) for each subject, a couple of lab manuals, and any other necessity I have in there to get me through a day on campus. To say the backpack weighs 100 lbs. is probably not much of a stretch. And when it is strapped on my back, fitting into a stall in the women's room is not possible. I don't want to take it off and set in on the floor in the stall. Ick!

I ignore the big signs from campus police that plainly state to keep all of your things with you in the restroom. I ditch my bag under the paper towel dispenser, and handle my business.

I return to find the front zipper compartment of my backpack completely open, with contents spilling out. Most noticeably, no Zune.

I cannot blame anyone but myself. Now I have another cheapy mp3 player that I had to buy to replace the cute pink Zune I just got.


Chem Meltdown

I benignly and passively waited until lecture was over yesterday, sitting in my seat and waiting until the line of students waiting to ask questions had dissipated. My professor saw me sitting in my seat, apparently looking distraught, and came over to me, asking what was wrong. I simply told him I needed to make an appointment to speak with him in detail about my performance and future in his course, preferably before March 3rd, as this was the last day to drop the course without a grade. He literally looked confused and baffled and any other synonymous word to add to puzzlement. He asked what is wrong.

I spilled it.

That I am a straight-A student with an existing degree. That I have already aced this chemistry course before but because I am a transfer science major, UC guidelines state I must retake it. That I am always the curve-breaker. That I cannot seem to crack the homework software or the exams. That if I drop his course, I am dropping from UC altogether. That I am a registered respiratory therapist, and thus already have a great job that is stable in this horrid economy, and how there could be worse things than not becoming a doctor. I started to tear up a bit with this last statement. I know, after talking with the residents at work, with other med school applicants, with my professors, and more, that I will get into medical school so long as I can keep my GPA intact. That I realize the course is difficult and is considered one of the hurdles pre-med students need to overcome to get through undergrad. That the class is well-known for its "weeding-out" tendencies. I want to be a doctor more than I have wanted anything in my life. When I squint my eyes and try to see in the distant future, I cannot see myself doing anything else. I do not want to drop out, but I am not willing to let all of my work go down the drain (i.e. my GPA).

Just 5 minutes before, I witnessed a classmate hand him a drop slip, anfd heard him say, "It just isn't working out for you, is it?" Then he signed the slip.

He most definitely didn't do this with me. Instead, he wanted to know what was going on, why I was having this trouble. I told him very tactfully, but candidly, everything I was thinking. The homework software that is so finicky about the answers. The exam that psyched me out because it was worded completely different than either the lectures or the text. I spoke of how I could not blame my work schedule, as I am off during the week. That I cannot blame the whole this-just-doesn't-click-with-everyone issue, because I comprehend the lectures very well. I even told him how some of the students in the class have taken issue with how he lectures, but that I actually like the way he lectures: he doesn't simply regurgitate the text or the PowerPoints, but actually speaks on the topics and makes us think and participate by the questions he asks. That most of the class is having the same problem I am, but that, quitesimply, I do not care about the rest of the class. I care about my performance. He seemed surprised that no one else has come forward. I was shocked to hear that, as all of the students grumble about this class.

We talked for over 45 minutes. He offered many tips and suggestions. I tried some of them out last night, and actually got an A on the homework because of it. As a result, I am continuing in the class, and in my education overall. I have a new resolve. I have exactly 3 weeks to bring up my grade. The first opportunity is an exam tomorrow.

Now you know what I will be doing all day and night.

Buzzed to Death

I am so irritated. No one in this house slept much this last night. Our washer and dryer hook-ups are in the basement. Our upstairs neighbors were doing laundry late last night and had the buzzers set. Fine, right? Nope. Their machines do the same thing mine do. That is, they will buzz every five minutes until someone either comes and turns them off or gets the laundry or restarts them. But the thing is, the walls here are thin. So I have my buzzers turned off because we are liable to be doing a load of towels or jeans or scrubs at any given time. Apparently they have the same problem, but they are upstairs and do not realize that when their buzzer goes off, my entire apartment vibrates, the kid wakes up, and the dog starts wailing. Maybe I should leave them a note.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hope and Frustration are the Words of the Day

W.I.S.E.= Women in Science and Engineering. This is a program UC has that allows undergraduate uperclassmen females to gain research experience in the form of a 12-week research position over the summer, assisting with one of the numerous projects the university has going on at any given time. I'm a woman. I'm in science. I am senior molecular bio major. I threw my hat in the ring for this. I was turned down because I have a job. Seriously. Despite the fact that I work my full-time obligations over the weekend and am free around the clock Monday through Friday, I am not permitted to have outside employment for the internship. And while there is nothing wrong with any honest job these days, I had to explain to them that this was not a "job" as in minimum wage at McDonald's for gas money while in college. I have a career that supports an entire family. The director wasn't hearing any of it, and actually made some snippy comments about how I manage upperclassman level work while having a "career". That my grades must reflect it. This was my opportunity to say, "Actually, I have a 4.0 GPA, and that is not all. I am married with a child as well." Translation: I can manage my time, and nothing falls by the wayside in the process. Her response? "Well, we all have a lot to learn from your example." Yes, despite your Ph.D. overshadowing my attempts to gain entry into medical school, you do.

Later that night, I went to my biology lecture. My professor there is like a rock star in my eyes. 28 years old and has a PhD in molecular biology. I was talking with her about the "no work" guideline before class as we waited for the rest of the class to arrive. This is when she told me that, if I am just looking for a research internship and not an actual paid job, she is sure her boss would love to have me. She is going to reccomend me for an internship there. Where is there? Hahaha. University of Cincinnati College of...........Medicine. Yep, that's right. So when I finally complete the application for med school at UC, I could actually put this internship with them under the "Experience" category. Sweet.

As for the rest of my education....We are 3 weeks from the end of the quarter. Wow that went fast! I was wondering why my course load seemed to be taking so much work. I mean, yes, I do work full time now, which is a new factor in this. When I was taking 24 credit hours a semester, I was busy, but it never seemes this overwhelming. Well, I thought about it. Does me working on the weekends have that much of an impact? The answer to that is yes. Those are three full days that I could have to study if I didn't spend them working. Unfortunately, work is not optional. But is I am used to managing 24 credit hours, then 13 should not be that hard during the week. The answer to this problem: the quarter system. I was foolish to think that the courses would compensate for the lack of time. I was thinking that UC would be easier because of the quarter system. After all, you have more chances to earn the same amount of credit hours as a semster would provide, but you get three quarters instead of one semester. Ha! I was wrong.

The courses cover the same amount of material a semester-long course would, but in about 8 weeks less. They move fast, and if you fall behind in one little aspect of any class, you are lost for good.

So here I am, three weeks from the end of my first quarter back to school. My grades are intact, and I am passing everything. I am sure I am going to get an A in biology and it's lab. I think I will get an A in my chem lab as well. My chemistry course may be a B. I asked my prof yesterday if it was still possible for me to pull out with an A, and he said absolutely yes, I could. But he looked me straight in the eye and said that I needed to allow myself more time. He says I know the stuff, and the nights before the last two exams, he doesn't want me to look at the book at all. That all of the mistakes I made on the last exam were silly ones to questions he knew I knew how to answer. He's right. When I went to do my self assessment on the exam to recover the points I lost, and I had to provide the correct answer, there was only one question for which I had to physically look up the answer. For the rest, I was able to just provide the correct answer from the knowledge I already have. That tells me I should have only missed one question out of the 200 points. But more time? How? Where is that to come from?

I actually took some vacation time the week of my finals. I have no intention of answering my phone that week. I work the Friday night prior to my exam week, but then am off of work until the Saturday of the next week. My latest exam is on Tuesday of that week. I was thinking I would pick up some overtime after I am finished with my exams that week, but now I am thinking that I am just going to use those extra days off to relax. To be nice to myself as I wait for my grades. I will have earned it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Everyone. Is. Pregnant.

There is a guy at work who has a wife who is about to pop. A girl at work is. Another guy I work with just found out his wife is. John's sister is. Some friends just had a baby.

WTF is going on? It better not be contagious!

Satan's Horns Have Icicles on Them

I am a good student. The day I allow myself to get less than an A is the day Hell freezes over.

Welcome to Hell. Hope you brought your mittens. Blame Chemistry.
I have already been traumatized by the homework software. Everything we submit is online, through this website. It is the most horrible thing. I can have the completely correct answer at my fingertips, and enter it into the little box it provides for your answers. Then there is this little "submit" button that you click and it tells you whether your answer is correct or incorrect. Pretty standard for online homework. Except clicking the little button is kind of the equivalent of pulling the lever on a slot machine. The other day, I entered this big elaborate chemical equation, which was the correct answer by the way. Submit. Answer Incorrect. Then this little purple box pops up and tells you what you did wrong. I entered spaces between the compounds and the plus and yield signs to keep them separate. On another question, the compounds it was asking me about would not react. I entered "No Reaction" in the box. Answer Incorrect. they were looking for noReaction, exactly as it is typed in this sentence.

Needless to say, my homework grades have never been lower. And no amount of preparation can fix it, because it is not about understanding the material. It is about figuring out the little quirks with this software so it counts the answer correct.

(Side note: I love my husband, who just delivered breakfast to me in my office without me even having to ask.)

So I am having trouble with the assignments. So is everyone else in the course, but I don't sweat it. The prof is going to take the best 10 scores at the end of the quarter, and disregard the others. I can do okay enough, I suppose. What is important is that I have absolutely no issues comprehending what is going on material-wise. My brain is right there with him as he lectures. No Sweat. This will allreflect in the exams, whiuch make up the majority of my grade anyway.

So we report for an exam last week. I studied just like I do/ have done for every other bit of college work I have completed. I feel confident. I am not overly anxious. I've got it under control. I put my things away, except for my cute pink calculator, a pencil for the Scantron and a pen for the written short answer section. He hands out the test and I immediately get to work on it.
The beginning questions were kind of difficult. Some words were familiar. But it was like this exam was prepared for a bunch of PhD's. Not for an undergraduate, though upperclassman, molecular bio major. Are you fricken serious? But I hold it together and wade my way through the questions and try to answer them as best I can. I am fully immersed until He starts parading around the room, announcing that we have 30 minutes left.WTF????

Let me just explain something: I take tests in record time. I always have. Usually, I am very well prepared and know the answers without more than a simple recollection. I have been told by classmates that I am at fault for their poor exam performance because I get up and hand my exams in so quickly that it makes them anxious, as in "Andrea is done and she gets good grades so why is it taking me so long-i must be failing." And the lowest exam grade I have ever received was a 95%. Out of all of my college work. I don't get test anxiety. I don't have to study insanely. I just do my thing. Even for my credentialing RT exams. It was supposed to take 8 hours for both exams and I got them both completed in less than an hour and a half. You know I passed those because I am a practicing RT.

So for me to take this long for an exam is unnerving. And this shit is hard. Why is this shit so hard? I am thinking this as I try to answer the questions. I am actually starting to tear up as I see my 4.0 swirling in the toilet bowl in my imagination. This is not good. This is disastrous. Wtf is the carbon-12 atom used to define? It's atomic weight is exact by definition but why? I should know this crap. I cannot be logical when I am about to fail an exam. After I complete the last question, I flee as quick as I can. Marlboro is the only thing to make me feel better after that. I really want some Grey Goose to go along with it, but alas I have a lecture to get through.

Over the week I keep my cool by hoping that this is typical Andrea: That I did better than I thought, that I am being over-critical of myself. But the problem is that I have this philosophy: there are no bad grades that are surprises. Either you know the answers on an exam or you don't. If you don't, then you can expect a bad grade. If you do, then you can expect an A. Simple, really.I did badly. Everyone had horrible scores, so it wasn't just me. In fact, I had the highest grade in the class. I actually got a 55%, while evryone else actually got thess that 50%. Are you fucking serious?????? The only non-A I have ever received in my entire college career, and it isn't even a B. It is such a non-A that it is an F by normal standards (this class is hard and thus has a slightly different grading scale so in the world of UC Chem, it is a D). This isn't a non-A. This is the Anti-A.

I have been so distraught by this grade that I almost asked a resident at work for a script for some Xanies. Seriously. This is enough for me to abandon all hope of ever becoming a physician. I want to scream at the rooftops that I am Andrea-Fucking-Ferguson! That I do not get anything other than A's. Yes, this sounds cocky and arrogant, but facts are facts. I do not even get B's. 4.0. Perfect. That's me. Until now.

I would say it make me feel better to know that evryone else in my class had issues as well. These are some really bright people. This class is designed expressly for science majors. Everyone is pre-med, pre-pharm or something similar. I am not the only one who already has a degree. As a matter af fact, there is a group of about 6 of us who have already completed at least one degree. We are not stupid people. And we all failed. This tells me there was something wrong with the test, not us. But then again, I have never been the type to judge my success or failure by comparison to the performance of others. I know what I can do, and so I have high expectations for myself.

Chemistry is going to break me.


I have been wearing the little "go back" button on my MP3 player over a couple of songs lately. Here they are.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I Didn't Get The I-Pod Touch....

I got this instead. I really like it so far. The only problem is that the little buttons are very touchy, and so it turns itself on in my bag whenever it bumps against anything, which doesn't help the battery any. I even have it in a little sleeve. No dice. But it is the pink 8G Zune, and it was about $150, so it was a great deal. I was looking at a 160G model, but this is the way I see it: The one I bought is 8G, and it has over 600 songs on it and isn't even half-full yet. What in the blue hell would I do with 160G??? Sure, it could hold a library of movies, but do I really want to squint at a tiny screen to watch a flick? So this one is much more my speed.

Nothing Changes But the Seasons


My first round of exams has been completed for the quarter.
Biology: Big-Time A, even though most in the class failed it. I am officially the curve-breaker once again.
Chemistry: Hmmmf! I failed the damned thing. I am Andrea, dammit! Yet I failed a chem exam. I shouldn't be too hard on myself. Everyone else did as well. Just when I was about to drop the course, I was reassured when I was told that my prof is notorious for "breaking you" in the beginning. The exam was terrible, really. I literally started to tear up a bit in the last part of it. And when I saw my grade? I needed some Ativan. Seriously. The good news is, since everyone did terribly, he has given us the exam back and we are to prepare a "Self-Assessment" to be submitted in the form of short essays for each missed question, to include what the hell we were thinking that caused us to give the wrong answer, and what the correct answer is with the logic that explains why it is the corrct answer. Lots of work. My rough draft of mine is already completed. I just have to neaten it up a bit and submit it, even though it isn't due until the 17th. I guess I just got excited about the idea of earning back my points. It has been my priority over the past couple of days.
Calculus: I am dropping this course tomorrow morning. It is just too difficult for me to stay awake after my shifts to go to this little 50 minute class. I plan to retake it with the same professor next quarter, if I can.

I am still doing th standard 3 twelve-hour shifts on the weekends. Blah. At least tonight is my Friday.

High Times (From the Are-You-Fricken-Kidding-Me File)

Michael Phelps smokes weed? Are you serious?
Last night was a girls' night at work, and we were talking about this. I had no idea. That just goes to show you how far I have had my head jammed up my own arse for the past week or so. I am terribly disappointed.

Michael Phelps Smoking Weed: Fact or Fiction?
Swimming legend Michael Phelps has allegedly been caught on film smoking marijuana. If the allegations are true, it could wreak havoc on the Olympic swimmer's wholesome image.