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

Unwinding...

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

T-32...

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.

T-55.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Little Macy Gray Girl

Some months ago, I received an email from a rescue group that needed immediate foster homes for around 85 puppy mill rescues.  I had fostered one dog before, a ridgeback/pittie mix, and thought, well... why not.  Wherefore, I encountered a little long-haired, scared, shy, pretty girl named Macy.

Macy was immediately spayed, vetted (shots, nails clipped, teeth brushed, etc) and then sent home with me.

She'd had plenty of applications for her, but the founders of the rescue are rather picky... apparently, more picky with the dogs than their human friends (one of which, I came to find out is the "Evil" that lived with us - garosss!).

Anyway, Macy became a happy fixture in our house.  Each day when I'd come home from school, there'd be a waggy tail, clippering little toe-nails on the kitchen flooring as she scampered to try and greet me.  She'd bark to get let out, bark if something was not right, bark if... well, she barked.  A lot.  She's a dachsie - that's what they do!!

Macy had an application come in for her a few weeks ago that at first blush, I thought it might be her former "family" - sometimes those that over breed are not evil, just mentally ill with OCD and hoarder issues.  I asked my own questions of the leaders of the rescue - really candid questions - they didn't like that so much.  I didn't care.  My concern was not in being well liked by them but making sure little Macy Gray (as I call her) found a great home to go to.

Then, I was supposed to meet them on Th night.  Enter in the flu.  Then enter in really poorly constructed logistics by the rescue and a myriad of bad decisions on their part and my morning was shot to hell.  This is not about that, however.

This is about how one family is about to meet a great love.  A little bundle of joy that will forever be grateful for them in taking her home to live out the rest of her hopeful 12 years as a lap dog.  The family is amazing!  I love the fact they would spend money to help their pets beyond just shots and neutering.  I love their commitment to saving another rescue.  And Macy, will love them too!

So, as I bid farewell and good luck to the Macy Gray girl, it is bittersweet.  Happy for her but a little misty eyed in having to say goodbye.

Here's a not-so-great picture taken of her at an adoption day event (I only took her to one - she never shined at them)


My Gman

Was headed to a movie tonight with Olivia and although I'm sick and feel like cahrap, it was going to be far more fun than being at home coughing, sniffling and wheezing.

Stereo turned up to pass the time, sing (croak, actually) and tap my fingers, a song came on that brought a broad grin to my face, and made my fingers tap a little more wildly (I was driving with my knees... just kidding!).

Many years ago, probably about 16 to be exact, my son staying at my parents house for the weekend.  I'm sure I was on some steel encased flying contraption so he was down there, having fun, hanging out with Grandpa and Grandma.  On this particular weekend, my dad being the church usher, always having to do his duty for the church, always having to be engaged with some activity, he'd asked my son to be an acolyte and "help" Grandpa light the candles in front.

No doubt my son was eager to please his beloved Grandfather.  No doubt my dad told my son to be very careful.

And as that proud Grandfather and very proud Grandson walked up the aisle, that 4 year old little boy... tripped a little on the carpeting in the aisle.  In front of the ENTIRE congregation, what they saw was not him tripping, oh no.  That'd have been easy.  What the ENTIRE congregation HEARD was:

"Oh shit."  And not from my dad.  Nope.  From my 4 year old son.

I think I laughed so hard then at the story (as did everyone else whilst raising an eyebrow at me!), and I think I laughed so hard today hearing this song:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

One Down, Next?

Heard this on my way into school this morning, at the crack of dawn (what ARE you people doing up that early?!?!?!!?), and this song came on...



So, one test down.  One paper submitted.  One biochem final to come and then....

Galapagos here I come!!

Yes, I may be walking through hell but instead of letting life direct my victim mentality, I'm grabbing life and walking through it all.  Galapagos was already paid for (eh, on my tuition bill) so I can stay home and still owe the money OR I can head there and try to enjoy.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Last Paper - Edited

Tonight I polish what is most likely the very last research paper I will ever write.  That sentence is very surreal.  Really?  I'll never write another one, and honestly, thank God!

My undergraduate degree is in technical writing obtained when owning an IBM Selectric with backspace correction tape was seen as being of the upper middle class.  Between buying regular tape and the white correction tape, I spent much of my drinking money to make sure my papers were well crafted including catchy opening lines, quotes that struck a chord, and follow-up on details.

Tonight, I'm bored.  My final in the class is also tomorrow and while I care, the last two weeks have decreased my enthusiasm for school.

This particular class started off being very fun.  The professor is nationally, if not internationally, renown for his work on the topic.  He is engaging and witty, always with props, it's like a high school science class on steroids.  What sucked was another non-traditional student who, pardon the language, I would have like to invent a new use for duct tape upon.  He just never. ever. shut. up.

He ruined the class.  Ended up hating the class, dreading every second I had to be there because of that dolt.  I was not alone.  Looking around the classroom, there were less than 50 of us, the minute the dolt raised his hand or started pontificating, eyes would roll, backpacks would shuffle, pens snapped... and the dolt would drone on.  At one point, he openly contradicted the professor who stated quite emphatically, "Excuse me.  This is my classroom."

Dolt didn't get it.

And tonight, I'm struggling to finish the paper (8 pages, double spaced, without addendum, etc).

And I can't.  I quit caring about the class a long time ago when the dolt became so obtuse and distracting, the class was no longer interesting.

Best two weeks of class were right after he bailed on his group's project, leaving them in a lurch to perform without him (ass!), and he did not show up.  I thought (prayed!) he'd dropped.

Ugh.  School's almost over.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel that is Spring 2012 and honestly, I can. not. wait.

Then, crossing my fingers/toes and any other appendage, I head to Ecuador and Galapagos in two weeks.  Insurance money to be found, I think... I hope... I pray.  Then I can relax, rejuv, regen, and let go.

Back to paper writing... uninspired paper writing at that!

Edited Portion

Son just came upstairs.  "Go to Galapagos.  You've wanted to go for years, ever since I can remember.  And that paper you have write?  1 page per citation.  Done.  Oh, and turn on some classical music.  For some reason it helps."

Love him.  Really, really love my son!