Monday, December 24, 2012

Kirkland Home - Citrus Park

Many heartfelt thanks from Garret and I for making our Christmas a little brighter, a little cheerier, and a little more festive.  What you did for us goes beyond simple.  Thank you so very, very much!

Merry Christmas to you and your families!!  May your own seasons grow bright with joy and happiness and great cheer as you ring in the new year.

Extended Blessings,

PJ (adoc2be) and Garret

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Other Stories

Early on, my son's sleeping schedule was completely off kilter.  Asleep all day, awake all night and hungry all the time (hmmm.... some things NEVER change!!!).  My maternity leave had started early because:

1)  I was starting to have labor pains (not BH)
2)  I was grumpy
3)  I was too big to drive
4)  I was grumpy

On my last day going in to train my temp, I was in a car accident almost broadsided by a semi as I slid on the icy road out into the highway.  The car was totaled but I was safe (thank you Ford!).  At the hospital, I was told the accident would either speed up the arrival of my cargo or delay.

Sadly, for me, it delayed and I continued to get bigger.  The estimated size of my unborn son was 10#.  He arrived at 10# 12 oz, 24-1/2 inches long.  Don was there the entire time, never leaving my side (the labor and delivery lasted about 1.5 hours).  When my son was born, and in Don's excitement, he yelled, "OMGAWD!!! He's a keeper!!!"  (fish language for "we're not tossing him back).

Don went back to work that day and came to visit.  When I went back to work three weeks later, Don switched up his schedule for my son was too little for daycare.  Don and I worked opposite schedules so that he or I was home to take care of the Gman.

One day, I got home early and found him asleep on the couch with the newborn; another day, I came home with Don smiling broadly saying, "Look what I get him to do!!"  as his slowly and carefully did the 'washing machine' with the Gman on his lap.  Gman would slowly fall asleep, only waking if Don stopped.

It would be unfair and unkind if the only image anyone saw was the image of a gravely ill father and ex-fiance.  So, below, is the only picture I can find of the father in his healthier days with his young son at the other grandmother's house... 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Family Picture

It was the only one taken over the span of 20 years.  In the end, a mother, father and their son...

Don was unable to move much, the pole above his head given by hospice so he could be less reliant on others.  The morphine syringes in the coffee cup and dire reminder that his time on earth was quickly coming to an end.

True to himself, he still smoked (something he'd picked up long after I'd left him) and unbeknownst to others, his "medicinal pharmaceutical" was tucked away in the Marlboro box.  I did not care any more.  Anything that provided relief from his pain and suffering got a +1,000,000.... from me.

When talking with him, I saw the glimmer of mischievousness in his sparkling blue eyes.  When he talked about one of our misadventures, I saw the shininess of happiness in his smile.  For a few moments, he was just with his son, and the mother that bore him.  Peace had come.  Peace has finally come for him.

We here on earth, still entangled in complicated emotions.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

26 Years Ago

In a town on the edge of Lake Superior, college sorority sisters went out for a night, soaking in the warmth of the soon fading August summer.  The bar and saloon was known for its disco glamour ball and peanut shell covered floor (it WAS 1987!).  As the group of girls drank, laughed, and swayed to the heart-thumping music, this tall, handsome, well muscled young man approached them.

Talking to the group, he used his charms and then asked me to dance.  I laughed, asked if he played football for the university and when he smiled broadly and said, "Yes" I pushed him away.  He came back, asked again, and once again, I said no.

He finally smiled and asked why.  I said football players were not my thing - just big, dumb, jocks who traipse around after other girls (apparently, not much has changed in almost 30 years :))  He stabbed at his heart, laughing, and fell backwards onto the floor.  Got up, asked one more time, I said yes.

Man, we had some heart gusting belly laughs over the next seven years.  We had a son, I kicked him out when his pot smoking habits, cheating, and other crap would not stop; when he showed up drunk at my house, I told him the rules to engage my son.

My rules were not harsh or overly restrictive:

1)  can't be using drugs anymore - no pot, coke, 'shrooms, speed, etc.  And if he claimed he was clean, he had to show me lab proof (yes, I was adamant)

2)  could not have been drinking in the 12 hours before he got to our home and he could not drink while he had our son

3)  had to set a schedule - every two weeks, every week, once a month - I did not care how often as long as it was greater than once per month

He never made an effort.  He'd say he was clean, I'd ask for proof knowing better (blood shot eyes) and he'd wander away.  He'd call asking for a place to live because of "x-y=z" reasons, I said no.  Finally, when he married a woman who then thought to shoot paint balls through my son's bedroom, I got a restraining order on her, and because of the marriage, on him as well.

The child support never came very consistently.  At $250/month, despite that he was the owner of two Subway stores in the early days of that franchise; he'd been good at making sure his salary was hidden in areas the court system would not view as income.  That was fine, my job was paying very well, my son was living a good life; despite not having his father around.

His paternal family had been asked if they wanted involvement and had shunned him over the years; they never even so much as sent a birthday card or tried to write/call him.  At the age of 8, I petitioned the court to have my son's last name changed to mine.  It was granted without question.

Don soon divorced the wretch of a woman that convinced him to sell his Subway stores and spend the money on her.  That whole episode in his life was beyond sad.  For all that he did to me, I never saw him as evil, just not capable of making good decisions for himself, and obviously, for my son.

He always made sure any consent letters I needed were taken care of so that I could take my son anywhere in the world.  In 2006, I was taking my son to the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy and needed his consent once again.  Meeting me at a Wells Fargo bank to get the letter notarized, it was the last time I saw my son's father until November 23, 2012.

For all he did not do, for all that he did do to me - there is still a piece of me that will always love him for the good times we had, for the funny adventures (and more misadventures) we went on, and for giving me the greatest gift of all - my son.

See, early last week, I'd been sent an out-of-the-blue FB message that I had not seen.

Don had stage IV melanoma, tumors on the brain, in his lymph system, and on his spine, rendering him paralyzed from the waist down.  The brother who wrote me said he was not sure how long Don would live.  The brother implored me to come back to Minnesota and have Don see his only child.  Yes, the one that he had abandoned, the one he'd never come clean to see or spend time with.

It was an agonizing decision.  Do I take my son, now almost 21, to see this man before he passes?  Or let it go and possibly regret later when my son possibly asks why I never tried to get him up there.

We went, of course.  3500 miles over 80 hours, 45 minutes with a dying ex-boyfriend/fiance, and home.

While Don's family watched from the sidelines, Don talked about things we'd done together so that my son could have some understanding of why I stayed with this man so many years ago.  Don laughed at the fishing story of our lake adventure, and then said to me, "I'm so sorry.  You've done a great job with him."

Yes, Don, I know I did.  My son is a warm, compassionate, passionate young man.

Don's own mother said she was so glad that I'd cut the anchor that was her son, from my life because, as she said, "He'd just have taken you down with him."  And she is right... but that doesn't mean you don't still care about the person, or love them for all that they were choosing to let go of all that they weren't.  And for all that he did do, or did not do, I would never in a million years have wished this terrible ending on him.  He did not deserve it.  He was not evil, just a man who made some bad decisions in his life.

And one very good one.

Yesterday, Don passed away peacefully in a morphine induced coma.  And yesterday, a piece of me died with him.  The hope that Don would turn his life around was quashed; the hope that he would finally lower his pride and come to see his son on his own, now flat-lined.

3500 miles.  80 hours.  45 mins.  Very worth it.

R.I.P. Don
December 2, 1966 - November 30, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Just when I thought, my week...

couldn't get worse, I find out my son's father is dying of stage IV melanoma.  Apparently, the little bump under his armpit was a sign of the tumors in his brain, of the lesions on his spine, of the ending I never imagined for this man.

My son's father has not been a part of our lives.  We were together for many years, probably close to seven in all, but when I found out I was pregnant it was time to grow up or ... and I raised my son alone.  Not with anger toward his father but with more love for my son; not with bitterness of what had happened in the past, but for the hope that rose in my son's eyes, and upon his broad shoulders.

A few weeks ago through happenstance circumstances, I found a post on FB (of all things that I just signed up on) related to him; brain tumors.  Tonight I found out how bad it is.

My week has been shit anyway - and it's only Monday night.  This makes me not overtly sad but melancholy as I think of how much a great part of my life, this dying man played in my life.  Without him, I'd not have my son and Lord only knows how my life would've turned out.

I have funny stories I wish I could retell - things that when I told my son tonight, made him laugh and shake his head.  There are things his father and I did that make most people double over - my God we WERE stupid!!! lol

And he may not make it to this weekend, or his 46th birthday next week.

And my son, may never meet the man who is his father.

I feel for both of them.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

R.I.P. Susie

My days at the barn have been awesome - nothing short of ear to ear grin.  All the horses have their personalities and all of them love to be cared for.

Yesterday, I groomed and bathed Susie.  The old Percheron with the sweet as can be personality stood for me in the cross ties, but something was different.  The barn paid help said she was having a bad day.  After bathing her, she was not really doing well then, I took her back to the stall for feed time.

And then I left.

As all Sundays go, I came out today to give her an apple, brush her, and give her some love.  See, I'd been looking for a place to buy so I could take her with me, the barn had recently told me they'd allow me to.

After about 1/2 hour today, things started to look very different.

Susie looked drunk.  Her back end with the leg that has ringbone, seemed to cave underneath her, she fell hard against the box stall, snorted, then got back up.  The paid barn person asked what happened, and I told her.

Get her out of there, put her in the pasture.

Susie stood for me patiently while I tossed the halter over her head and led her out.  She stopped a little on the path, looked around, legs wobbling, and then gained her balance.

A few more yards, and she did the same thing, only this time she leaned forward, and then back, and then fell again.  And then she got up...

and fell again.

At this point the barn person was very scared and pretty freaked out.

Everyone loved Susie.  And watching her flail and panic and fall again was agonizing.  Eventually, I got her to the pasture where it was softer, she fell again; I got the halter off.  She got up...

And fell again.  This time the lead of the barn was on the phone and asking me what was transpiring.  Vet was on the way.  In seeing the stricken, panicked face of the barn person, I told her to go back to the barn, tell the teens that this was probably not going to end well, and she did.

Sadly, the vet never made it.  Susie got up one last time, walked a few yards on her own, got wobbly, bumped into the hot wire, tried to rear away, broke a post and with a thud, it was over.

The horse I quickly loved, groomed every weekend, loved all the time I was with her, was dead in the pasture.

And her hopeful adopted mom too stunned to say anything but wander back into the barn to let the person know Susie had died.

I don't regret a single moment I spent with her.  In my own mind, I hope she knew I cared for her and she was safe when I was around.  She'd just started to bring her head down for me to put the fly cream on her ears without any hesitation.  She'd stand for me and do whatever I wanted, I'm hoping that meant she trusted me.

What did I learn?  It's okay to let those whom you know will not be with you long:, that you care and that you will keep them safe.  Whether canine, equine, or human we all need to know we are loved and safe.

R.I.P.  Susie Q.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bakas Equestrian Center

Spent the afternoon at Bakas, grooming Susie - big, bold, beautiful Percheron.  Asking about trying to help the group with marketing (they are hoping to become full funded 501(c)3 and off the county budget) I was shown this:

It is a great start in getting the message out about the help this equestrian center provides to families and children.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Apparently, 6th Grade

Has fond memories for many of my old classmates.  It warmed my heart to see that people still think of those years, lost so long ago.

I laughed when I saw my VERY BIG pre-braces teeth.  Rabbits had nothing on me :)

(The arrow points to the top of my head if my BIG RABBIT teeth don't help you!)

Fun times - the fond and fun memories I have of growing up in the cold northern city of Minnesota far outweigh the bad.

Just the way it should be!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Bentley

Species: Dorkus Extraordinairus

Approved by President Barack Obama

Current advertisement running in Tampa on 100.7 (Approved by President Barack Obama)

"We need leadership to help stop the financial crisis that started 4 years ago. 

I'm President Barack Obama, and I approve this message." 

I kid you not.  Got up this morning, went to wash/wax my truck, and on the way back home heard that message from the PoTUS himself.

So, for those of you who also do not read carefully (:D), Obama openly admits and consents to an advertisement campaign that says the financial crisis started four years ago.

Isn't that when he was elected President the first (and hopefully, only) time?!?!?

 (And for you who read here and think I'm a registered Republican, I'm not.  I'm not registered for either party, voted for Colin Powell as a write-in 4 years ago, voted for  Governor Dayton, and campaigned for Pawlenty.  I'm about as independent as you can get without becoming an anarchist.)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mitt Romney

I did not write the following, I copied/pasted it from a comment on but I agree 100%

Obama has blurry vision.  Here is what he has really done for us in 4 years. 
23 million Americans without work
1 in 6 Americans in poverty
47 million Americans needing food stamps to survive
6.2 trillion dollars piled on our national debt
4 billion dollars a day borrowed from China
Cover ups in Fast and Furious and Benghazi
Bail out of Unions across the nation
Handing money out to Political Donors with "Green" companies
Gas prices double when he took over
$4,500 less take home pay for middle class Americans
Largest expansion of the federal government in history
Obamacare...costs more and is raiding money from Medicare to pay for it. 
African American Unemployment at 14%, Hispanic 12%, Women 12%
My opinion of President Obama is that he is probably a really fun to hang out with (Jay-Z and Beyonce, George Clooney, among others); he is probably a really great husband (Mrs. Obama is going to be on Entertainment tonight, which seems appropriate); he is probably a great dad (buy Sasha and Malia their pooch, I mean really, he bought his kids a pup!!!)... BUT

I think President Obama is a failure as a President.

At a rally in Tampa, I was asked how a single mom could think about voting for Mitt Romney.  To me, there is no choice.

Five years ago, my net worth was well over seven figures, despite paying $90,000/year in taxes to the federal government and another $8,000 or so in state.  Five years ago, I owned a home that I'd put 20% down on, paid each month a little extra in addition to my monthly mortgage, and had at the end of 2008, and mid 2009 - still had $350,000 in equity in the thing as appraised by a licensed appraiser during the new appraisal regulations (i.e. appraisers were going to be fined if they gave any falsified increase in worth to the home and faced jail as a potential if the appraisal were egregious.)  By the way, I bought the house in 2000.

Four years ago, President Obama was elected and he forcefully stated during his campaign that he'd stop rubber stamping of foreclosures.  We all know what happened to me (or you can dig through posts and figure it out yourself).

My foreclosure was rubber stamped and is now being litigated by the federal government.  BUT my house belongs to someone else now.  And there is no way the federal government, or the bank, is going to send me a check for $350,000.

Four years ago, I had hope that my executive job would come back, or something like it.

It never did.  Those jobs are gone because when big business can't afford to keep their full staffing because of the tax rate, the smaller companies soon follow suit.  And then, of course, we have the push from Wall Street that says what an earnings report should state, so the CEOs focus more on that (or lose their own jobs), and then they off-shore because why?

Oh yeah, China is cheaper (India actually, or the Philippines).

Four years ago, President Obama said he'd crack down on Wall Street greed and theft.

I was contacted by the SEC about the company where I was the VP of internal audit.  Unfortunately, when the amount was not the staggering $500,000,000 of say an Enron or WorldCom, the SEC was no longer interested because President Obama would not have made good press on a mealy $5,000,000 thievery.

No, see President Obama wanted good press and a company worth $800,000,000 stealing and lying about $5,000,000 is not going to get him the USA Today style press he wanted.

Four years ago, my life was different.  In 2010, I went through the 2nd darkest year of my life; 2nd only to the year my first son died of SIDS.  If I recall correctly, President Obama was in the White House then.  He pushed and focused for a solid year on Obamacare and failed to do anything else for Americans.  He went shore to shore of other continents apologizing for being an American and the war we started in Iraq (I agree with him there, we had no business in Iraq).  He also apologized for Afghanistan and yet, the intell the CIA and others gained from Afghanistan is what led him to be able to take out Osamathejackass.

Four years ago, I did not vote for him (or for McCain - I voted for Colin Powell as a write in).  But I did have hope.  Hope that was quickly extinguished when I saw he was going to run this country into the ground.

Four years ago, the US had $10,000,000,000,000 in debt.

Today, we are $16,000,000,000,000 in debt to China and to others.

Four years ago, our embassies were protected by the brave men and women of our armed forces.

Today, we mourn the loss of an unprotected embassy in Libya (and where else, I might ask).

Four years ago, the unemployment (those actually filing claims, which do not include those who do not, or cannot - like me), the rate was 8%.

Today, the rate is the same 8% but more women and more children are on welfare and food stamps.  (Personally, I do not obtain those though I do qualify.)

Four years ago... we were better off as a nation than we are today.  And people want to take another four years of the same?

I do not get that.

And last, Alabama and Mississippi are two of the poorest and MOST African American populated states in the country.  Take a look at the Huffington Post map, or or any other political map:

Why is it that those two states are voting and leaning heavily toward Romney?

That should be all you have to know about what those folks' fear is.

Another four years of Obama.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Physics Review

Ahem.  Me and my note cards and EK are going to bond tonight.  Pardon the pun.

Vectors and scalars oh my.  I keep laughing because everyone hates physics, and to be frank, I kind of like it.  Everything makes sense from a science standpoint if you understand physics.  Chemistry?  Is Physics on 'roids.  Biology?  Is chemistry... which is physics.

So, that's kind of boring.  What's cool?

Yesterday, I was at the horse barn again (get ready for many stories on the barn).  It was the Halloween party for the riders.  Remember, these rides have varying degrees if disabilities.  There were so many tables set up for games, the kids dressed up the horses (Dawn became "Dawn Trump" replete with a gel'd back forelock, flopped all the way over her head with "You're Fired" written on her side).

Judging costumes was horrid.  How do you tell children who perhaps don't really understand, why they did not get picked.  Yes, everyone got a consolation prize but it was still hard.

Standing at the grill - yes, I eat - one of the moms started up a conversation about her work in the NICU.  She asked if I knew what PKU was and after saying yes, went into tiny conversation about how biochemically the enzymes are stopping a reaction.  Or rather, the lack of the enzyme causes a build up of pyruvate in the system and then things get ugly.  If you have no pyruvate, you get no Kreb's and no Kreb's means no ATP, and no ATP means no energy.

Smiling, she asked when I take the MCAT.  Smiling, she asked if I'd like to shadow her in the NICU, adding maybe she'd even get a doc to take my under his/her wing for part of the day.

I could have been pushed over with a feather.  I'm so excited!!  The rest will fall into place.  As one of my friends said, I've come too far to stop now.

Yep.  That's me: barns and biochem.  And loving life!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Smiling Again

Those of you who have followed my story for a very long time, know every once in awhile, I think I'm done. I put the books away, go after yet another executive job and then right before I ink my name on the page of a contract "something" happens.

I get asked to come into the clinic to shadow the doc.  Or I get asked to help at an accident.  Or, in the current case, I got asked to volunteer.

And then that weird buzzing feeling comes roaring back.

So, my countdown starts.  April 27th looms like a distant ship on a clear day with crystal blue waters beneath me.  I've met some really awesome people in FL who've made the transition to "native" much easier.

Now the hard work starts (again) as I prep for the MCAT.  I made it.

My plan is to study like mad for physics probably even enrolling in the Kaplan Physics deep dive course.  Seems if any subject is going to trip me, it's that one.  I already know verbal will throw me so I'm reserving a good amount of time for that.

My schedule?

1 - 3 day straight physics immersion
1 - 3 day straight chem immersion, then a mix for remainder of that week

I'll add ochem in the same fashion and then bio.  After a month, I'll add in verbal.  By the end of the 5th week, I should be doing an hour a day on a subject during the week, with my weekends spent immersing myself in more problems, more studying.  (And time for Ocean Prime! and wine!)

At 6 weeks, I'm taking my first practice exam under MY conditions (I have really bad test anxiety and I'm going to attempt the MCAT without accommodations).  Then, I'll rinse repeat until after my 3 practice exam, and see if I can do so in a noisier place like a library at the U.  By the time April rolls around, I'm hoping to be so comfortable with the noise and time that I won't care about accommodations.  AND if I should need to get them, I'll cross that bridge.

Why not try for accommodations first?  I've heard they are tremendously difficult (impossible) to get.  Even with documented testing (all 9 hours worth) for ADHD and anxiety, I've heard it might not be enough since my childhood records are long gone.  I hate my kindergarten report card from 1969 that says I'm hyper and have no ability to concentrate or focus on the task at hand.

So, I think I'll pass on trying.  I'm hopeful, I will do well without them. :)

Make it a great day!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Another Day @ The Barn

or two :)

So, I've signed up for the MCAT, asked B&N to order me the 1001 Physics from EK (already had the entire base set, plus 1001 for bio, orgo, gchem and verbal).  Started making notecards for physics equations that I've long forgotten; cards for equations, cards for concepts; and my handy dandy sketch book for drawing.  Thanks to my biochem prof, I've found drawing helps everything. 

With that movement forward, it was back to the barn for me this weekend.  Partially spent with riders on horses, and partially spent cleaning out stalls, washing horses, tossing hay flakes.  Batman rode again as did another youg man I'd gotten to meet.  Non verbal and yet, the person knew who his friends are.  He is unable to communicate through "normal" means but pointing and smiling, he found his friend.  Newton.  Another fine young man, unable to communicate verbally but, I believe, expressions say it all.  He simply smiled.

I heard yet again how horses help those with balance, coordination, and atrophying muscles regain mobility.  I saw one person who I was told, started out completely wheelchair bound, unable to walk independently, unable to walk at all.  Well, he walked with limited assistance.  When asked, the parents said the horses helped their child use different muscles and build the stabilizing muscular structure.  Self-esteem comes with independence for everyone, not just those requiring the assistance of the stable.

All of that makes me remember how blessed I am.  No matter how hard things get once in a great while (cough cough), I'm still able bodied and mostly able minded.  :)

The percheron that I was contemplating finding a home where she could be mine, is shot.  Understandedly, the stable gets lots of offers for their horses.  With a horse that has medical issues, I understand how the stables' first concern is that horse will be taken care of, not sent off to the not-so-great place when the bills become too much.

So, I've offered up putting her on supplements, buying her feed for her (senior feed), and whatever else the poor girl needs.  Years in the mines hauling carts, she deserves nothing but time to be just-a-horse.

Great weekend - horses and young people with various stages and states of disabilities.  Amazing!

Gives me the jump start I need to start studying for the MCAT...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Didn't Forget Him Either

:( - not a day goes by - he was never "just a dog" - he was my Storm.

I edited out the original video.  My life is pretty awesome most days, some days I could bang my head on a drum but for the most part... and sad, depressing songs are just not me.

So, something more appropriate: Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding...

Sir Elton John - #1 fan :)

Not Stopping Now

Whelp... here I go.  I have 6 months to prepare more formally.  My MCAT test date is April 27th, 2013.  By June 1, 2013, hopefully my MCAT score will be solid and my application cycle, 48 years in the making, will begin.

I have EK.  I will be registering soon for Kaplan that starts in December along with 24/7 Physics immersion.

As a good friend of mine said, "You've come so far to stop now.  You've been through so much to get to this point, you can't stop now.  It's just not who you are."

And she, of course, is right.  < 3 Olivia

Thursday, October 18, 2012

MCAT Dates

My finger got itchy today.  Clicked on KAPLAN prep test course which starts December 2 and ends March 27th.

Of course, that got my itchy clicky finger going to and clicking on MCAT dates.

My mind didn't stop there, I actually went through all of it, selected a date/time, then got to the payment information page...

and stopped.

Soooo very close!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Yep, That Was Therapeutic!

Many years ago, someone once told me, "If your life is crap, go volunteer.  Change your perspective."

I didn't get it then, even though I volunteered often.  I eventually understood as I found the right opportunity that was the right fit with me (and my quirkiness).

Today, I went back to BAKAS.

Maybe - the tobiano paint - has issues.  She is quirky.  And she weighs about a ton.  She doesn't like to have people move to quickly toward her, likes having a calming presence beside her on the halter.  The farm hand's choice today was me.

Many years ago, I had a tobiano paint - Trixie Bar Poco.  A green horse with an inexperienced rider, she threw me into a log, knocked me out with a hawk cawing and a rabbit squealing in terror.  When I came to, I had severe concussion (which is what I blame my memory loss on :D), and moderate to severe back sprain.  Vicodin became my friend for a few days.  I never rode Trixie again but I worked on building trust with her.

Similarly, I treated Maybe today.  As she was brushed by others, she pulled her ears back, pulled her head up, looked at me. I'd whisper it was alright, she was fine.  No one would hurt her.  Slowly her head came back down.  Slowly, maybe I'm building the trust with her.

Next was Susie.  Susie is a Percheron.  Big, bold, black as night, gorgeous.  And lame.  She has ringbone apparently, a disease much like osteoporosis in humans.  No longer able to be ridden, she gets groomed.  And she, like so many others who just need to be loved, stole my heart.

With open sores on her rump the size of half-dollars (some of you might know what those are!), and a calm, easy temperament, she was washed, groomed and turned out.  Her mane made her look like one hot mess; brushing it out, she simply stood still and let me take care of it.

It was after turning her out to pasture, with fly spray and a gentle pat on the chest, I was told the group had considered euthanizing her because of the pain she'd been in.  The sores on her rump akin to bed sores in a human.  She'd been laying down too long and the sores became oozing messes.  Thankfully, she's healed and is not looking at that grim future right now.

My calling has always been to those in need of help.  I'm always drawn to those less fortunate and those in acute pain, or those simply suffering long term ailments.

Susie needs a home to become a lawn ornament.  Somewhere she can live out her days as a loved companion, blessed to be brushed and groomed and beloved.

See, volunteering is awesome!  Sometimes... maybe most times, it's not about what I give to the organization but rather, what I get in return.  And honestly, this particular organization and my volunteering there, is selfish on my part.

I get so much back.  Today was no different.  AWESOME!

(And yes... I'm looking for a place to board Susie and make her mine.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Back To The Barn

My weekend will be spent trying to gather a whole lotta documents for issues related to my parents.  Of course, since I've moved to sunny Tampa, I've also found time for the pool, the ocean, the patio, the...

Yes, I still love it here~~  are you kidding me??  But the best part?

Not knowing a soul beyond my son has forced me to meet and get involved.  So, a few weeks ago I volunteered at an equestrian stable for handicapped folks.  And this weekend, I'm going back.  Brush the horses, muck stalls, relax.  Give back.

It's not what I say that defines me (or anyone else), its what I do.  In private.

Yes, I miss school. But the drama that started before my 2nd midterm last spring, and dropped my solid A in biochem to a B has not abated.

Being around the horses lets me forget for awhile how much I miss certain aspects of my life last year.  Being around the horses keeps me focused on the present, not ruminating in the past of "what if"s for nothing good, ever comes of that.

Make it a great day!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I Smell

Like horses.  Big horses, small horses, and sweat.  (I smell pretty good, actually, even with sweat! - haha)

BAKAS Equestrian Center for handicapped individuals caters to self-esteem and fun for everyone, even the volunteers.  The event was part of the United Way day of the company I work for.  We could choose events, sign up, show up, and pitch in.

I'm not sure I liked being there.  My morning involved horses, and walking them, and helping kids and young adults with various disabilities.  I think when they asked for volunteers to help on the first horse, I spasmed and my arm shot up.  Too slow to pull it back down, I *had* to walk with the horse, and a young person named Bobby.

Bobby has Trisomy-21 or some other such chromosomal mutation.  Riding for 21 years, the love of the horse made his smile very broad, his cheerful swinging of his arms, and the eventual kiss on the horse's nose, all I needed to see the sheer happiness.

Dust in the eye, so to speak.

Next up, raking mulch around the bushes of the barn (no snakes!!! whoo hoo!!!).

Then back to riders.  Next up was Sam.  Sam was non-verbal.  Pointing, laughing, looking and trying to smile; but no words.  Until, the horse - well mannered Maybe - swished her tail, and I nickered to her (I hate horses, you know; smelly things they are; cannot imagine where my fine Ariat boots came from, or that tack in my garage).  But Sam was happy, and then Sam got tired.  Like Bobby, a kiss on the nose, and a pat on the neck of the mare.

Dust in the eyes, so to speak.

At the end, was a small wisp of a person named Batman.  Obviously at this point, you should know gender and names may, or may not, have been changed.  Batman made me look away.  Not because of his disability, but because of his ability!

Autism is my guess.  High functioning but autistic.  Cherubic, kind, piercing blue eyes.  

"Walk on," Batman said.  And the horse with a nicker started her slow pace.

"Halt" Batman uttered, and Maybe stopped.  We counted balls (part of the game the people play on the horses), Batman threw his dice which told him how many balls and rings to pick up.

Counting.  One, two, three... eventually, 20 from the last person holding the game toys.

"Batman," I asked, "What do we say?"  I meant to the horse, but little Batman, at age 4 or 5, having the most piercing blue eyes, and the kindest soul said,

"Thank you."

Dust in the eyes.

Perfect day for this horsewoman.  In a barn, with the horses, and youngsters who just want to be loved with parents who just want to understand.

Cannot wait to go back!!

Just in case you want to sponsor a hole at the annual golf tournament.

And just in case you really wondered if I liked being there today, I LOVED it.  Not sure I ever stopped smiling and truly, if I could have stayed even longer and groomed the horses, or helped with the afternoon, I would have.

Sheer joy!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My Very Talented Friend - Olivia

My birthday was a few weeks ago and with great fanfare, my friend Olivia arrived.  Coming off her long plane ride, she was bubbly, I was excited.  Happy to see her!

She and I met this past school year while "loving" ochem.  She with her myriad of pen colors to highlight that which was important and that which was not, me with my online purchase of balls and sticks; we survived by working problems, talking through solutions...

or rather, we survived because we did not know how to do otherwise.

At the end of the school year when I hesitantly said my journey to med school had probably ended in May with biochem (got a dreaded "B"), she laughed and said, "WE SURVIVED OCHEM!  You cannot give up now!"

Laughing we said we should have shirts made... for my birthday, what you see below is hers.  She had it done for me, and for her.  There are only two of them in the world, and I think, I might have to get mine framed.

Her work could be sold.  Look at the details - the molecules, the boat out on the ocean of water molecules... really, take a good hard look.

And she wonders if she's talented!!!

Typical pre-med :)

Hope you're enjoying a fabulous holiday weekend!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Big Nothing

Isaac never even met me.  Kind of blew me off, like a prom dress in a tornado; or like a jet ski in 3' waves at 55 MPH..

Seriously.  Tampa didn't even get so much as a strong wind, or if we did and in my light sleep did not hear it, that should speak volumes.

Oh wait.

There was a 3' section of an old pine tree laying where the dogs do their morning duty.

And the pavement was wet.

And it was cloudy.

Otherwise?  No big deal.

No wonder the Floridians were non-plussed about the incoming hurricane.  I tend to think I will become like them... "Meh!"

I did, however, buy a fancy flashlight.  You know, just in case... bwahaha.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sir Isaac

So, you may wonder how a lady from Minnesota viewing the incoming hurricane in Tampa.

Kind of like this:


Yep, can't wait!  Seriously.  I know it will be interesting to be in, and no doubt I will be one of "those" idiots on the patio taking video of the storm squalls and whatever else.  And no doubt, when Sir Isaac has left our beautiful area, I will be grateful for that as well.

See?  Life IS to be lived, loved, and cherished.  We're only here for such a short time, might as well see and experience everything one can.


Earthquake (Acapulco, 2007) - Check!
Tornadoes (Several, 1979 - 2011) - Check!
Blizzard (Duluth, MN, 1991) - Check!  (3' of snow, yes feet, in less than 24 hours)
2nd degree sunburn (Clearwater Beach, 1996) - Check!  (And, truthfully, I'd like to have not had that experience; can we say, "OUCH!" and "Yuck" - when it peeled)

My question for ya'll:

what are you going to do this weekend to enjoy your life?!

Friday, August 24, 2012

I'm Alive

Won't go into details, but holy Batshi$ what the hell?!?


Okay, no really. I'm good. Florida is awesome!! The people here are great, my job is going well (up for a promo and crossing my fingers). Checked out the medical school here; can't really find the oomph in my stride yet. Maybe it's gone, maybe it'll return, maybe I'll find something else that stokes my passion and doesn't leave me hanging. 

Anyway, here's a picture of gorgeous Sanibel Island before the storm blew in.

Hope ya'll are well!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Losing My Anonymity

I am considering taking the blog private for some time due to my anonymity now being shot.  Those who know me in real life, to whom I've invited to read it, were people I trusted, people whom I knew had the story of what has happened since that fateful day - December 4, 2007 - and people whom I knew "had my back" so to speak.

This week an email from a best friend's, parents' best friend sent me a link to which I posted.  The organization is well known in the city and very well thought of.  I sent him the blog post back (which I have done before).

What I didn't know is that it would get sent out by the president of the organization to everyone on their board with my full real name attached.  There are many executives on that board who do not know what I went through and if all they read were a few posts, they'd think me someone they did not want to know.

What they do not realize, is that in real life I keep my damn fool mouth shut.  I smile and say niceties, I thank the clerk for giving me MY change, thank the waitress for being kind enough to refill my water or diet coke.  I say please and thank you, smile when I'm mad nodding my head so that in private, I can vent.

My blog was my venting place.  Again, those who know me in real life know the stories in full.  They also know me to be publicly soft spoken and kind hearted.

I am not embarrassed, ashamed, or humiliated about any post I have made on this blog.

I will never back away from the wrongful misconduct of my former SVP of finance and his financial fraud committed on behalf of the company.  Never.  If I could change one, and only one, aspect of that entire time in my life, I would have pursued the court case all the way to trial if need be because no one else had my back, as I was to find out except for:

the SEC; and that group failed to act because I refused to testify or find myself in legal trouble for breaking the confidentiality agreement with the company... while vindicated by the SEC who stated I did the right thing, the amount was not Enron sized.

I am not sorry that I posted about Sir Hawtsalot who still remains anonymous.  Despite some things he did to me, or failed to inform me of, or decided erroneously to eliminate certain details of his life, he still remains ...

If I do take this private, please email me at and I will add you as a reader.  If not, I'll continue to post and one day, it will magically reappear.

My best to all of you -


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Most Iconic View + Most Iconic Animal - Old Lonesome George

Snorkeling off Pinnacle Rock was amazing.  For about 2 hours we swam with penguins and sea lions.  The penguinos have no fear of humans and as they chased fish around us, they would not change direction.  For instance, at one point, there was a very fast little fellow aimed directly at me, I had to swerve to get out of his way or I might have been... doubtful... but one never knows.  I'm sure they are not as directionally challenged as I!

So, boarding the Panga again to get dry clothes, we landed on the other side of Bartolome to climb to the iconic site of which no Galapagos book is complete with out it.

The hike is steps (again reminding me of the stairs in Quayaquil to the top of Santa Ana hill).  Boardwalk with little side outs to rest upon.  The hike is not that easy but not that difficult.

My pictures do not adequately depict the scene.  Thankfully, Nat Geo has not requisitioned my photos from the trip either :)

And this is the other side:

We still saw a few birds here and there but the sight from the top - marvelous!

Tomorrow's post will bring you to "China Man's Hat" or Sombriero China and more animals.

The remainder of my trip includes Isabella, Fernadina, Rabida, and Daphne Major.

Oh and lest you think I did not remember him, Old Lonesome George.  We thought he was already dead when we were there.  Here is a picture of the sign outside his massive enclosure, taken on May 24, 2012.

and of course, the magnificent, old, wrinkled icon himself - looking barely alive May 24, 2012:

RIP Old Man!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

To My New Readership

When I started writing this blog, it was going to specifically and only aimed at guiding other non-traditional premeds through the roller-coaster that is this path.  From getting an A- on an exam to a B in a course, the drops of sweat the condense on our brows is equally met with emotional highs and lows, no matter one's personal emotional make up.  Pre med is h.a.r.d.

This blog turned into a venting place for me.  At times my life was beyond difficult over the past 4 years and while I dealt with those obstacles pretty effectively, there were some painful points.

There still are at times.

My son was hearing impaired due to the 1/10,000 chance of a reaction to the pertussis vaccine.  When he was an infant the drug companies used deactivated live bacteria to obtain immunizations.  He became a statistic and lost his hearing.

In the 3rd grade we moved to a village far east of the large metro area I lived in.  On his first day, he was told by a rather smug and self-absorbed 3rd grader that "he must be close to death because he was like an old man wearing a hearing aid."

To those of us as adults, we can laugh off such an absurd comment.  For an 8 year old with a deceased brother, it was terrifying.

That smug 3rd grader - the one who tormented him for months from 3rd grade to 6th grade: knives at school, chasing him off the bus with fake but real looking guns to the point where he stopped at a neighbor's house and knocked on the door in terror ...

was the now tramp-stamped girl on my Galapagos boat.

My post vented about her.  It was not as much about what she did to me, but the memories of what she did to my son.

I am easily able to forgive and forget that which is done to me.  It is far harder, if not impossible, for me to forgive and forget that which is done to my son.  In trying to be polite to her, she showed her true colors.  Again.

So, know that if you continue to read here, for the most part I'm pretty affable, likable if not lovable, but I do get angry and sometimes, I come here to blow off steam in what used to be a fairly anonymous blog.

Enjoy a happy 4th of July!  We are :D

Two For One - Santiago & Bartolome'

Every night, our group (all groups, actually) have to be off the island by 6 PM according to National Parque guidance.  And each night, we were.  After a usually exhausting day of hiking up and down large hills, on lava, in Keens, with water bottles, snorkeling gear, cameras, and research equipment, we were generally just plain tired.

After leaving Genovasa, we had a 7 hour navigation to the islands of Santiago and Bartolome a perfect time to relax aboard our small boat (75' Floreana).  We never saw whales or dolphins but we did pick up a flock of frigate birds who decided that, apparently, I look like a toilet.  Laying out on my hot pink beach towel, almost sound asleep to the rocking of the boat, it happened.  Thankfully, my mouth was closed.

Note to self: tan away from birds!

Upon arriving at Santiago, I noticed my camera battery, taken out of the charger, was missing.  Time was running out for me to find it before the Panga left for the shores.

Rules on the boat:

Don't be late.
Don't touch animals.
Don't be late.
Don't be late.
Don't be late.

Anyone who knows me, understands that first one is really hard for me.  I'm late for everything (courtesy, I'm told, of the ADHD).  I work on it and here was my first chance to choose:

be late


not have camera

Let me just say now: I was NEVER late for any activity the group had embarked on.  I refused to be "that" person who held up the rest of the clan.

So, off to Santiago I went sans my camera.

It is a dry landing meaning you don't wash up on shore and step out into the ocean, you land on rock and get hoisted up to the lava (remember, ALL the Galapagos Islands were built by volcanos and every place one steps is generally lava of some sort).  Also, because I refused to be late, all these pictures were taken from the boat once I found my camera battery (which had been placed in a very secure location but scopalamine patches do weird things to one's memory, or maybe, just mine!)

The rim of the volcano is easily seen.  Our guide, Rafael, had been forgotten while walking with his teaching tour back 20 years ago or so.  He had to forage for himself because in the heat and the sun, it was hard to find the way back to safety.

Now leaving Santiago, we headed for Bartolome, just a very short navigation away. Pinnacle Rock is one of the iconic sites in Galapagos.

Around Pinnacle Rock are various animals which were amusing, and obviously by the amount of pictures I took, very cute!

Sea lions, resting just about 15' from the penguinos (who we swam with on snorkeling outing).

And those were from the start of the trip, upon the rocking Panga.  Hiking on the island gave me better pictures, more opportunities to explore the amazing island, and bigger smiles as the animals were, in one case 6" from my hand.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Call To Help Others

My dad turned 82 last week.  He's still at home having now spent almost all of 2012 at home, rather than in the hospital.  Mayo is awesome but home is far better!

Dad can still drive having passed his annual driver's exam, and cook his own meals without burning the house down (a gift he learned from me was the ease of use fire extinguisher!). He shops for himself (and my mom) and while often sneaking in some chocolate, it is the sheer ability to shop that keeps him smiling!

There are many people my dad's age who cannot do those things.  They may be physically challenged and unable to manuever outside their homes for a shopping excursion, or even for a trip to the driveway.

That's where Store To Door comes in handy.  Helping those over 60 stay in their homes, remain happy and content, to enjoy their lives.

Here is a link to the latest newsletter.  Perhaps in your own community there is a similar organization, reaching out to those often forgotten.

Please consider donating.  Any amount helps - even just spreading the good word of the great deeds S2D accomplishes!

Monday, July 2, 2012

I'm Alive

I am not quitting the path (as you all probably guessed), but I did move 1500 miles to sunny, amazing, wonderful Florida.

Thank you to all the Floridians who have made my first few days awesome!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm Fried

I will post more when I can but between moving, packing, job search, housing search, I'm simply tapped out at the end of the day.

Hope ya'll are enjoying your summer!!!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Leaving Santa Cruz For Genovasa

Navigation, as it is called in the boating language of Galapagos, is the traveling between spots via boat.  The Yate Floreana, our boat, left Santa Cruz after picking up our sick professor en route to Genovasa, or "Bird Island" as it is known.

I was told that there is a very narrow point on the island where some boats cannot get through.  Our captain, and our boat, were able to.

The day's events were hike, then change into snorkeling gear and for those more adventurous and better swimmers, a drop point around the corner to snorkel back to our land point.

But first, we landed and saw:

Our point for dropping our snorkeling gear was about 15' from this nursing pup and mom.  You can see how "afraid" they are of us.  :)  The pup kept nursing the entire time we were walking around.

Over my shoulder, I heard the noise that once heard cannot be forgotten.  That of:

Calling for his mate:

The male friggate birds inflate their red pouches or sacks to attract females and make this sound this somewhat like a very loud turkey call only "warblier" - if that makes any sense.  Like many females who are attractive and courted by males, this female is very non-plussed by the males in her vicinity.  :P

Walking further along our trail, we saw our first:

Who had a secret:

Two eggs were being guarded.  The real secret is the obligate siblicide that these Nasca Boobie's endure.  See, two eggs are laid, approximately 1 week apart.  If the first egg hatches with a viable offspring, it will kill the 2nd egg's offspring when it hatches.  Either the 1st will attack the 2nd outright, or it will push the 2nd out of the nesting area, ensuring the 2nd starves or is eaten by a predator.

Mother Nature, specifically in these birds, ensures that offspring are viable and the species can continue.  If the first hatched bird is somehow defective, then the 2nd will hatch and kill the first.  Parental interference is non-existant.  In many cases, the mother bird will pay no attention to the obligate killing of the other offspring.

Thankfully, I never saw this happen but I did see the remains of several outcomes of the siblicide.  Yuck!

Walking through the path, there were happier sites:

And one with a juvenile:

Not to be outdone, the Nasca Boobie showed off it's juvenile offspring, replete with downy feathers:

Then onto the lava path we went (the entire islands are lava and as I will get to later in a different post, there are some that are active).  Upon walking out onto the coast filled with lava:

Which eats petrels for lunch.  I think I'd rather have the Oreos and fried potatoes (not in that order).

Winding around the bushes and shrubs, we found a gull:

And a ground finch:

Mother Nature can be cruel.  This little pup, we believe, might be orphaned as it was found in a tidal pool area and while snorkeling, we found a dead mother sea lion.  I hope not...

Then there were sea lion colonies.  Unlike dogs which will nurse other mothers' offspring, sea lions do not.  The mothers will chase away pups that are not theirs.  The calling of the pups and answers from the moms are bittersweet.  Again and again, one would see a pup approach a mother to nurse, only to be rebuked back to the sea.

And this, is what we walked on:

After spending 4 hours hiking and 2 hours snorkeling, it was time to depart Genovasa and head for Santiago and Bartolome.

This was the last look back before we left (and why it is called, Bird Island):

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

So, It Began

Guayaquil was very interesting and once upon the Malecon river, it was gorgeous.  My expectations of Ecuador were very low.  I'd been to many countries in the past with high expectations and while oft not disappointed, sometimes, my expectations were not met.

Ecuador... exceeded all of them.

The university group with which I was traveling finally arrived very, very late (or very, very early depending on your perspective) Tuesday night (Weds morning, actually).  And with a tired group in tow, we started our trek through the city of Guayaquil with our tour guide.  If you are inclined to visit Ecuador, ask me for the name as in keeping with everyone's privacy, I won't name him.  However... well, more on he and his family later!

We toured, we ate, we left for the airport to land on the island of Baltra in the Galapagos chain.

Here, I met one of man's worst enemies.  The narcissistic, adolescent, head full of entitlement, ... turns out my son was in elementary school with her and called her a not-so-nice name, then looked at me and said, "You were on a boat with her?"  adding much more quickly, "I'm so sorry.  She is a ..." and then said a word that I will not utter.

Yep, that's how my trip started.  With "her"... and upon landing in Baltra, I considered turning around at the LAN terminal and asking how much to return to the mainland.  Nine days with her... oiy.

So, here's a learning note for me:

Don't travel in groups of 19 year olds who think that God created the planet just for them...

Okay, onward.

Baltra is the island where everyone lands.  Even Angelina and her brood have to pass through the National Parque in order to visit the islands.  Everyone has to swear they will not touch the animals, try to take plants or shells, or sand or ... you know, breathe the Galapagos air... (okay, I was kidding on that part)... before you can embark onto the boat.

Yes, for nine days on a boat without the ability to flush toilet paper... you put it in a garbage can (yes, even the ickiest, poo filled TP goes in the can, not the toilet and lest you forget, you plug up the piping and the entire thing overflows - just ask cabin 7! - I was cabin 3).

Our first visit to an island was an unplanned stop because one of our instructors was puking all the time.  So onto Santa Cruz we went; 40 minutes by bus to drop her off at the guide's house and then onto the scenery.

And here, my blog readers, things changed for the better.  MUCH much better!

Of course, that's all grand and everything but then... I saw this:

And then I zoomed in to see this:

But turning around I was intrigued by "Fang" - haha:

and then he started walking toward me.

Note:  In the Galapagos, the animals have NO fear of humans.  This becomes more and more important as the islands visits got more interesting.  The animals approach without concern about the human snapping photos but according the promise made on Baltra, one most move (if possible, this is a key point) 6 feet from the animal.  Unless of course, you can't (which I have pictures of to show that in some cases, I was literally an inch from a sea lion with no where to move).

So, I'll start you here on my trek - Santa Cruz.  It's where my smile re-emerged!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Monday, June 4, 2012

On My Way

Ecuador has been fabulous but...

I am an American and thankful to be headed home tonight.  Thank you, Delta!

More to come on Galapagos, Montanita, and all else that is the fabulous country Ecuador!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guayaquil - Heat - Sunscreen!

In my 3rd day in Guayaquil the city on the river which leads, eventually, to the Galapagos.  Mats of weeds, grasses, sticks, and whatever else float quickly down the river, almost seemingly anxious to get to their destination.  As am I!

My first full day, alone in the city of 3.5 million, I asked where to walk (ahem... start walking off those B&J HalfBaked pints, 4-cheese ravioli with chicken and asparagus).  Given a map, walking directions and told, "Just walk to the end of pier, and up a few steps to the top where the naval museum and the church is.  The site is amazing!"

Okay, so...

1/2 mile to the river.

1/2 mile to the end of the pier

88 degree heat

blazing sun (LOVE IT!!!! and HUMID!!!=

And... those "just a few steps" meant...

480+ to the top of the hill. 

Thankfully, there were little benches, MANY people saying "Agua, agua, agua" followed by my meek response, "Por favor" and "Muchos gracias"... yes, it is a two water bottle hike up those stairs to the top.  And if so wanted, another 120 to the top of the lighthouse.

Sweaty, hot mess.  Of course the return was not nearly as difficult.  And I WILL post pictures - I had just no realized what I was going to see so I left my camera behind.  However, even on my 2nd trip I did not bring it with me.  I will have to ask my partner in hiking crime if he brought his.  (Yes, Olivia, there it is............)

Other notable funny sights:

  • the security guard at the corner of 9-Octobre gives me water bottles on my way to the river (I must be the only gringo he´s ever seen)
  • people here, as well in the States, look at my head, glance (nonchalantly, so they think), the follow my legs up to my head again (yes, I´m tall, and American)
  • people go out of their way to be friendly to the American lady with blond hair (a tour guide that knows our lead professor well asked if I was tall and blond; my professor´s only response, if you saw her you´d know, there is no one in the States let alone Ecuador as tall and blond as she is... well, maybe Giselle but I am not a super model)
Hope all of you are well - we leave for Galapagos in 44 hours.  WHOO HOOO!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Almost There!

Left on Friday afternoon with only a 45 minute layover in Hawtlanta. Good, right?

Baaaaaddddd, very, very baaaad. Coupled with a 30 minute delay in my outbound flight, let's just say that I probably did not need to hit the gym that night. I ran. Literally, through five terminals and was ... Boarded. Breathing hard, legs aching I also realized I needed to start eating differently now that school is out. Those daily pints of Ben & Jerry's Half Baked not only induced a sugar fixation but also a sofa affinity that had been nonexistent before. I will be fit when I return.

Quito was shiveringly cold. Had not expected that; my shorts and thin cotton dress stop were not enough. Overnight the JW Marriott was sublime and everything I expect from that chain's top hotel. Marble floors, fine linens, comfy pillows, and chocolate on my pillow! I know, what about that "eating better thing" , right? It was the size of a marble. Noooo guilt!

At the Quito airport yesterday, a little girl was standing next to me. Now, I will tell you I am not short in the U.S. standing at 6'1". In Ecuador...

This little girl came to about my knees. I kept waiting for binoculars to come out to see my face! Seriously!! Anyway, I stood there and this tiny voice, "Uno, dous, tres, quattro..." and I looked down at her. Facing the wall, her eyes covered, she counted. Looking around, I saw her father hiding behind a post. She stopped counting, looked at me, "Papa.... Papa....". As she wandered the small area calling for her father, you could start to feel a little of her angst. And his as she did not find him right away.

No worries, though. I pointed him to where she was, he hurried up and that little girl's smile was as broad as her body tall! Her papa swooped her up into his arms... It was an "awwwww" moment.

So, I am in Guayaquil now. And I am finally warm!! Pics coming soon from Guayaquil!

(If the posts appear as a endless stream of text in one paragraph, be assured, I wrote from my iPad!)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Blog Title Changes

Decided since I have no plan for my life (right now), I'm going to start just typing in what I *AM* doing.

For instance, on Sat or Sun, I leave for Galapagos and launch an 11 day tour of research, sun, fun, away from it all.

Literally.  Can't call me, I won't hear you.  Can't write me, I won't get it.  Can't email me, even mother Google doesn't reach that far!

So... life DOES go on ... and I'm here to tell ya, it doesn't hurt.  At least not quite as much as I thought it might :)

Make it a great day!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

To all of you who have children, mentor children, love children, or wish that you had them!

My son's gift to me this year was:

1)  unquestioning support while I went to school; he's stepped without asking each time I needed "something" - more sleep, more quiet time, more away time at school; he's let the dogs out, fed them, walked them

2)  a very cleaned house

We are moving to Florida in a few weeks.  After living there many years ago, we've always wanted to get back.  People are friendlier, more welcoming, more accepting.  No one is "from" there, they come from all over the nation, if not the world.  In my state we are known for being "nice" - I would say very, very polite.  However, people grow up and marry their best friend's sister, or a friend of that friend and no one, I mean NO ONE, ever leaves here.  Many people who move into the state are disillusioned thinking that "We'll have to get together for..." actually means something, it does not.  You'll never hear from them again.  Or new people hear, "We should really start a volleyball team!" which really means, "we like you but you're not one of us and you'll never hear from us again."

In FL, people are different.  What I recall is being invited to a volleyball team by an almost complete stranger from my son's then daycare center... within 2 days.  What I recall is BBQs, swimming parties, baseball games, etc with people who were from anywhere but FL.  I loved it there; so did my son.

Don't get me wrong - I love my state too.  But I hate winter.  It's overrated unless you live in CO, UT, or some other state where mountains exist upon which to enjoy the fluffy white stuff.  Fluffy white stuff for its own sake... sucks.

So, on Friday, I gave my notice on the house we rent.  It was official.  We have to move.  Graciously accepting my notice, my landlord also said that my rent for June was covered.  He said he was in a similar situation a year ago when they moved south.  And three weeks before they left, he'd found a job.  What he also said is that I'll never regret this but if I don't, I may.

After listing my furniture on Craigslist, it was gone in less than 4 hours - patio furniture, sofa/love seat. I think those sales made it "real" for my son.

Our house was not only cleaned, it was packed.  Boxes were consolidated and put away so they house can be shown.  When I walked in the front door, he was doing dishes and had the ones he'd done stacked and said, "We just need boxes for those."

Are we excited?  Hell ya!

Am I thankful?  Double Hell ya!

Florida here we come... hot weather, humid days, sunshine, warmth (no freaking -30 F for us anymore), and ... a new start.

My mother's day gift was fabulous - hope yours is as well!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Any Regrets?

The Angry Medic - a Londoner (Cambridge at that!  Go Darwin!) posted some articles starting with the speech internationally renown Dr. Sanjay Gupta gave at U-Mich, and his own asking, "Any regrets?"

As I ponder the last 4 years since I really started down this path (again), and as I look and wonder what the next phase of my life will look like, I ask myself that question.

Do I, Ad2b, have any regrets that I gave up everything to try and become a doc?  And if so, what are they?

I have thoroughly enjoyed every day I was in school - pounding headache and all.  Every day walking through a hallway with the scent only a large university can house, I was happy.  Every day I had a classmate who I wanted to drop kick on the floor was better than any day I ever spent in the business world as an executive.  Every day I pushed myself harder and faster to be the best student I could be, under the circumstances given was better than the day before when I did quite the same.

Each time I took a test, no matter how stressed or worried about blacking out, or thinking I was stupid was better than any day I simply did. not. try.

Each time I did homework on the 4th floor of the bio-med library was better than any day I spent playing WoW or watching TV.  Was it better than a round of golf, or a good day spent playing volleyball?

No!  haha - but I did like school.  Immensely!!

I loved learning new therapies, and the biochemistry behind them.  I loved learning about enzyme mechanisms, and quite frankly, about organic chemistry mechanisms too.  I found it fascinating that electrons - tiny little things - can create so very much.

I loved the invigorating atmosphere that can only be created by people who are decades younger than me.  Their innocence and zest for life, their sharing of the friendship and time with me, motivated me to keep up with them and try to out-do them as well.  More often than not, I was able.  NOT because I'm smarter, for surely, I am not.  I was able to because my singular focus was med school admission.

What I regret is that as a mother I have had to rely on my son to help keep things afloat when my job ended and we looked at living in the dark.  Literally. My son has stepped up to the plate in ways that I never imagined he would have to and he has done so without question, without a whimper.  But I regret that he had to in the first place.

What I regret is that I was unable to focus on school this past semester because so much of my life was once again focused on trying to find a job.  My mind split in two different directions, it became too much.

And, my grades show it.

I believe I will get another "B" this semester (along with an "A") and that ... this path of mine will end.  I know the Caribbean schools will take me but... with a great dane and a golden retriever I'm unwilling to part with, the Caribbean schools are not amenable to me.

What I regret is not that I chose this path and to give it everything I had; what I regret is that it took me so damn long to get here.

If I had the same choices would I do it over again?

Hell ya!

I started this path off saying that if I hit 50 and did not try, I would wonder for the rest of my life if I should have.

I will be 50 and I gave it everything I had... and came up short.  Oh well.

Along the way I've made some awesome friends who I hope will be there with me for as long as we live.  Along the way I've learned how to not run away when things look bleak but dig a little deeper and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

In March when my contract ended (far shorter than the "all the way through med school" I'd been told by the placing company), I thought about quitting school then.  I did not.

Earlier this month when I knew I was stopping, I could have easily just not taken the final as my "B" is solid and I could have quit.  I did not.

Earlier this month when I knew my paper was due and the final in that class was in 8 hours, I could have chosen to just not try and just turn in "something".  I did not do that either.  I gave it everything I had to do the best I could.

I'm okay with all of that.

As I told a good friend of mine tonight:

I hate being poor. I hate being so stressed out over keeping the basic requirements of life going (electricity on, heat on, water supply, let alone gas for the truck and food).  I hate not know if, or when, I will be able to work again.  I hate worrying about all of that... and then, on top of that, school.

I hate that more than I loved being in school.  Because the former leads to poor performance in the latter, I am done.

I'll get a "B" in biochem; my "A" in biology is already on the books.  I head to Galapagos (already on my tuition bill before my contract ended and non-refundable) and will enjoy.  Craigslist is helping with that!  :D

Do I have any regrets?  No.  Yes, there are minor ones but when I look back on my life in another 20 years, trying to do the unthinkable at 44 (now I'm 47) I will be thankful I tried.  And the pain I feel now, will be long gone.

No doubt I will keep writing.  I think it is important for people to know that once the pre-med journey ends, life goes on.

It's all part of life's most excellent adventure.  I hope you'll stay tuned!!

Make it a great day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


As I unwind this adventure of mine (yes, I'm done with premed), I start thinking of what I'm leaving behind...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Done; Looking Back, Focusing Ahead

Test was hard.  Genetics is not my strong suit as there are aspects I readily understand, and then others where there are just too many minute details for my tired brain to absorb.

Rather than be sad about the exam, or focus on the job posting I found that presumably represents Sir Hawtsalot's impending retirement, I'm focusing on all of YOU who are still taking finals:

KICK ASH!!!!!  And here's to you!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

T - 8ish

Not going to lie.

Youtube is my friend.  Helping to solidify my knowledge (or ... help me waste time), it is a Godsend right now.

I've mastered (I hope) all the components of many aspects of the final, but I'm FAR from thinking I can ace the final.

Catch ya'll on the flip side of my exam.  If you're currently taking finals, KICK IT!  :D

Monday, May 7, 2012

T- 32 - Bwahahaha

I'm fried.  And obviously, my mind has wandered.

'Nuff said!  :D


Sunday, May 6, 2012

T - 57

The last time I wrote that, sheer panic had settled into my neuronal cavities creating clumps of misfiring neurons, decaying my gray matter, and making my tangles get more tangly.

Remember that?  Ochem madness at its finest?  My GAWD I hated studying for THAT final... hated it.  Loved my bio final, though, it was like easy peezy (yes, if you perhaps read here, your final is EASY - truly, test me on something :D)... okay, maybe it was not that easy... well.  Yeah, it was.  Perhaps it was assisted, however, in the knowledge that I had 13 pts to give before falling out of the A category... and there were only 50 points on the test.  Yes folks, I could have gotten a 37 on the final, and still received an A...

I digress.  A little.  Ochem.  Sucked the life out of me.  Turned me into this green, HULKETTE (I should really try to Photoshop a Hulk with my picture, maybe make it pink instead of green) monster.  Crabby?

Gman's comments were, "You're sick of ochem?  *I* am sick of ochem and I'm not in the class!!!"

This semester is different.  Evolution was interesting during the biology, geology, and chronology parts; I hate case law.  At one point, not sure I've ever mentioned this before, in 2001 I took the LSAT.  Got a 178 on it. I think back then that was pretty decent.  I have no idea how the heck I thought I was going to ENJOY being 1) a law student (although I'd read One L by Turow and many others, had many of the books from West, etc etc etc) but I HATE case law.  B O R I N G

So, the last 1/2 of class was ALL about case law.  Ugh.  That plus the ... oh, how to phrase this nicely... non-traditional-thinks-HE-knows-everything and has to pontificate about his supposed brilliance with long winded diatribes that the ENTIRE class hated?  Yeah, the combo case last and THAT guy sucked.  I hated going to class.  I hated being there.  Hated that my money was going to have to pay for that crap.  What's worse, is that it was an instructor I had last semester and he was still pretty awesome, but THAT guy ruined it.  For everyone.  There are others from that class in my biochem class and they openly said, "Yep, THAT guy ruined the entire semester in that class for them."

And then there is biochem.  My saving grace.

For those of you who are new, I've been through hell, walked through fire, come out the other side, still smiling and just a little singed.  The professor who teaches my biochem class also teaches a freshman level class that I "took" almost three years ago.

Let me rephrase that.

I added the class via normal procedures.

I dropped the class at week three.

My advisor got me readded to the class by talking to the professor who welcomed me back to class.

AND on the VERY LAST day you can drop an entire semester, without question, I dropped everything.  Including the professor's class.  I was getting an A-.  A 91% A- and freaked out... well, I did have a lot going on back then (really, three years ago?!?!?!).

Anyway, I asked him if I could take his upper level biochem course.  He welcomed me.  Said he'd be honored.

I vowed to myself no matter what stones (boulders) were hurled my way, no matter how well or poorly I did on an exam, no matter what... I would finish the course and do the very best I could under any and all circumstances.

And in T-55 hours, I will take the final, finish the class, pray I get an "A" and relax.

Asked Gman, "You sick of biochem?"

"Are you in it?" he questioned, with a broad grin that said... he too realizes how much I've loved being in school this semester even with THAT guy and all the distractions.

I will miss school.  I will miss being pushed to the extent that I can learn, will miss knowing my way around campus, miss finding the uber rooms to study in (And I will let those secrets out once I'm done - seriously, 40' of white board?!?!?  OMG, nerdgasm!)

Biochem final.  Photosynthesis, some metabolism, DNA-RNA, and then done.