Friday, December 23, 2016

Tampa IS A Hockey Town

Growing up in Minnesota there is no question whether or not you will learn to skate it's a matter of when.  Not speaking of 1 or 2 years old but 6 months? 7 months?

We learn to skate before we talk.  We learn to put on pads, and helmets by age 1.  We learn what hockey sticks are for and that nets are just necessary to keep from having to chase the puck at backside of pond.

We learn to make ice in our yards after Nov 1, we learn... and some of us go onto Hall of Fame.  Obviously, I'm not that person but friends of mine are.

Several years ago, Minnesota moved the North Stars to Dallas.  Norm Greed(n) was being sued for sexual harassment and he threatened to leave if the lawsuit(s) didn't stop.  They didn't, he moved the team.

I quit really caring that much about the NHL because for the State of Hockey to not have a team would be like the Florida Gators dismantling their football program.

Fast forward, the Wild were built in Minnesota, I moved to FL 4.5 years ago.

I'd catch hockey games here and there; loved the Rangers and the NJ Devils.  Specifically, certain players on those teams whom I either know or players that I have an utmost respect for.

Last spring when things were so bad for my son and I, when we didn't know when we'd eat, or if; when we didn't know how to make the rent payment or when / where we'd live, someone offered up tickets for a playoff game to a friend of mine.  She couldn't go and offered them to me.  Thinking we'd be sitting in the nosebleed seats, we weren't.

Section 117, against the suite.  We cheered... and for 3 hours we got to forget about the drama unfolding in our lives.

Jobs offered and then rescinded because the client was bought by a Chinese company and all contracts were thrown out.  Jobs offered and because vendor IDs for agency couldn't be used, I didn't get that either.  Money dwindling, time running out, I got a 3 hour reprieve.

Then more tickets came.  The same individual kept sending my son and I to games.  Again, the seats were unbelievable and the Lightning, quickly became "my" team.

Sure, I'd watched the playoffs for the past few years but now, like I was a Vikings fan until 1998, I was fully converted to Bolt Fan For Life.

Coincidentally, one of my favorite players from the Rangers noted above, now plays for the Bolts.

He's the quiet, unsung hero of this team.  Quietly going about his job, gutting out bad situations, enforcing ... "better behavior" on the part of other teams (Detroit's Abdel... for one); he's funny, he's solid, and to boot, he's a great husband and father.  How could one not support that player?

The year started off with a bang.  Our team was back together.  Stammer, Heddy, Kuch signed for less to stay put; Bish was healthy, Vasy signed for 3 years, Nesty signed for 1... essentially our entire team was back... to put Lord Stanley in Tampa (again - something Minnesota has NEVER had).

Then... Strals got hurt, Stammer went down and out for 4 months; Cally was still recovering for labrum surgery over the summer and still out, Drouin took a nasty hit to the head (the opposing player should have been suspended, by the way).  Boyle went down... Bish lost his front 2 teeth when his goalie mask nailed backwards and into his face (he never left the ice).  Palat got hurt, Paquette got hurt; JT got suspended... it was bad.

But as I have seen my entire life and anyone who's followed or read this blog knows:

When crap goes bad, really bad, you have two choices:

1.  RISE!
2.  Submit

I've always chosen to rise.  I tweeted that to the certain player for the Bolts - LEAD, I told him.  YOUR time, your team... step up, lead and rise...

We were 8 losses in 9 games at that point; Stanley Cup expectancy to bottom dwellers (yes, without 1/2 our team).  We were sinking.  You could see it in the guys' faces during interviews, you could feel it in their postures and faces pre-game and during games.

I believe, however.

And that player, well, he rose.  He leads that team.  He normally plays center or wing.  However, with our defense sounding like a drain being emptied of water, he also got put back against the goalie to help on D.  And there was that one play...

Goalie out of net, wide  open net and there was that player, sliding on his knees into the net at an angle to cut off a large part of the shooting area.

He's a dog (defense, offense, goalie).

I tweeted all of that.  Multiple times to the Lightning, sports writers, NHL, and fans.

They put the "A" on his jersey :)

I might have forgotten, I do dumb signs for the pregame warmups.  "Kitties B Bish Slapped" was one, "COD? Call Of Daughter" for JT and his wife Lexi.

Always one of the first to stand for goals (generally, I'm already on my feet)... and if #11 scores, I'm already proudly wearing the player's jerseys (no matter the jersey color night - they alternate in Tampa).

100+ tweets to the guys, to our team, to our sports writers and truthfully, I never know if they see them or care.

Last night, I found out.

#11 was awarded 2 stars for his play in the game meaning he gets a game puck to sign and finds a fan to give it to.

My seats are directly across from the bench on the blue line, about 5 rows up from the ice.

As he came out on the ice, he waved it up for fans to cheer and then beelined.

Down the blue line, looking.

At me.

Gently tossing it up for me (there is no doubt in anyone's mind it was meant for me; everyone knows how much I appreciate the player as a player and as a citizen of this town), the guy in front of me snatched it up (then asked me who it was).

For me, last night, meant the world.  As much as I acknowledge their play, their leadership; as much as I love this team, these Bolts...

Apparently, they must sort of like the support they get from the fans.  And me.

I didn't get the signed puck, I got something greater.  Acknowledgement of what I do as little as it is.

No one can take that from me.  As this year closes out (thank God), I'm so thankful for the individual who bought those tickets for me, supported me through the dark times in more ways than one, and this town.

Tampa is a hockey town.  #11 just showed yet another reason why we are Bolt Fans 4 Life - we all are.

#GoBolts #11GotTheA

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Die Hard... Bolts Fan

Guess my anonymity just got a little less so.  The Lightning became my cathartic escape from reality or at least my reality for a few months.  Somehow through a myriad of wonky circumstances, I ended up with full season tickets to the Bolts.  My adopted hometown team (anonymity just depleted to near zero now).

The joke often told is that Minnesotans are born without skates but after leaving the womb, and instead of learning to walk, we skate.

That's mostly true.  I skated before I walked, as did my son and his father as well.  We skate, we check, we chase a little round rubber thing on the ice... and then we grow up and forget that passion.

Until we find a team.

Jeff Vinik bought the Tampa Bay Lightning in the late 2000s.  I didn't know who he was then, not sure anyone really did.  Then he landed a big fish, a general manager with a 20 year history with one of the storied teams in the NHL - Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings.

The rest, they say, is history.

With Ben Bishop in net, Stamkos at center, add in Palat, Boyle, Filpula, Heddy, Nesty, Vladdy, Vasy (OI OI OI), DROUINNNN, Brown (hometown Bulldogger), Garrison (another hometown Bulldogger), and that Point guy (seriously, 1 NHL game, 1 goal in sudden death)... this team is a joy to watch.  And forget about reality.

Jeff Vinik didn't stop with the Bolts.  He reinvigorated a dead town.  People born and raised here, having never lived anywhere else, don't get it (much like Minnesotans that never leave either). Culturally, Tampa IS different.  Big companies won't come here because of the work ethic, or lack thereof despite that salaries are lower here, big companies want to pay less for more work, or threaten to move to other countries (hello Mexico!)

Mr. Vinik, however, put all those thoughts to shame and started building infrastructure and revitalized a decaying downtown.  He pulled in the powers of Bill Gates, the USF Medical School among others and Tampa is growing.  Growing up!

Tampa is no longer just a beach town, a town where people winter and drive poorly (they will always do that, blinkers matter!)... Tampa is a growing corporate community, I believe, largely due to Vinik.

And he's humble.  And kind.  And when he was announced at the fan fest, he received a standing ovation.  From us, the fans and citizens of this great town (I said that... I really did... thanks to the Bolts).

Vinik should run for office.  He crossed boundaries, barriers, and created a great place to cheer for a team, earn decent pay, and maybe, forget about reality for a bit.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Conversion

About 23 years ago, I think I bought my first piece of furniture that didn't come from Target, Walmart or the local Goodwill.  I think it came from Slumberland.  Solid oak coffee table with a drawer which soon became a chew toy for a black lab named Boozer, a great dane named Tank, another great dane named Storm and eventually, Abby the dachshund, and Hope the golden retriever.   The indentations are all over the table top; reminders of their lives, puppyhood; Hope is still with me.  At 11, she shows no signs of slowing down though allergies wreak havoc on her each fall.

The table over the years ended up in storage, the garage or the basement; it's been moved from Minnesota to Florida and everywhere in between. It was dented, paint marks on it from my son's earlier life.  It was a mess.

Goodwill didn't even want it!

Last winter, people dropped off furniture for someone who's house had burned down.  I said to store it with me until they were ready, saving the cost of a storage shed.  Flea infested when it showed up, cleaned up by me over a period of months; the person didn't want it anymore.  She wanted brand new.

I called Salvation Army and Goodwill; they didn't want those items either.

Rather than pay over $200 to have it all hauled away, I looked into repurposing the furniture.  That's when I stumbled upon ideas for my old, battered, dented, chewed coffee table.

Over the past few days, Lowe's has become a favorite stop along with Joann's.  Today, needing more screws with furniture pegs and a saw (somehow a saw got lost in the house), I left Lowe's with the latest round of supplies and stopped at the 7-11 on the way to Joann's (more foam; can never have enough foam!!

Inside to get my favorite diet coke and water, there was a young mom struggling with her squiggly young son.  He was moving around and apparently, heavy.  She used EBT for the milk and formula and then had 40 cents left, "Can you put that on pump 1, please"

40 cents she had on her for gas into her car.

In asking the store owner if that was all she'd given him for gas, he nodded yes.

Anyone who knows me, figured out what happened next.

Leaving my diet coke and water on the counter, telling the owner I'd be right back, I approached the woman.  In Zubaz, painted sweatshirt, I asked her if that 40 cents was all she had for gas.

She looked at me quizzically, no doubt expecting a barrage of crap spewed at her (remember, I've been the young mom without much and have had physicians tell me horrid things that no mom, dad or child should ever hear).

I asked her if she'd allow me to fill her tank for her.  She said I didn't have to.  I responded I knew that I didn't but I wanted to... then told her of a time, not so long ago, that someone who knew I was struggling, filled my refrigerator with food and my truck with gas.  It was simply, I said, just me paying it forward.

She agreed to let me help her, I thanked for allowing me the grace to do so.  Swiping my card, and telling her to make sure she filled it, I went back in and paid for my diet coke and water.

Coming back out, she was in tears.  The only thing that could be said was things will get better.  No matter what her struggles were, things would get better; maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but they will.

"Be blessed" were the last words I spoke to her.

Conversion of someone's horrible day to just a little brighter happened.  I think it was my own conversion, not hers.

Just like the coffee table I'm redoing.  Battered, worn, ugly - it's converting.

Everyone should be so lucky.

Monday, October 17, 2016

2 Months Away

Seems like an eternity for me.  Writing is cathartic.  Some may think I write for others (and I do) but I really write to unwind, process, plan, escape.

So, my update.

3 days before the August 5th MCAT, I found out my account had been pilfered by someone who'd stolen my identity.  Over $5,000 was missing and I could not pay the rent.  Sickened, stunned, gutted, I was scared.  It took almost a full day for me to calm down and see what remediation was available for me.  There wasn't really anything to do.  Chase didn't catch the issue, I didn't catch the issue when I went to pay for the rent and it wouldn't process.

My options at that point were to take the test and score, or take the test and void.  I went in thinking I'd void just to see what it was all about and take for real on August 25.

After the chem/physics section, I was thinking, "SCORE!!!!!"  Seriously, everything I wrote about it was true and still is; not beyond difficult, not tricky, pretty straightforward.  Nothing tripped me up.

After CARS, I was thinking, "SCORE!!! DAMN, I have this!"  Seriously, I can remember the topics and the questions and even now, almost 3 months later, I can say confidently, it was not bad; almost easy.

After lunch and my forgetting to stop the clock, I had exactly 82 minutes to finish Bio/Biochem.  And after it was done my thoughts flew through my head, "OMG, I could really nail this thing!  OMG OMG OMG!!!"  Seriously, bio/bioc was almost easy.  Only one passage made me flinch a little; I stopped, drew out the pathway and answered the questions.  DONE!

Then... came psych/soc.  Seriously.  WTF are those people and what the he@# were those topics?  Admittedly, I did not focus too much on this only the 100 page document floating around out on the internet.  And admittedly, it was part of my plan for the few days pre-MCAT exam to study this further.

I voided.

After waiting the required days, I re-registered for the Aug 25th exam.  Studied like a mad woman; especially that psych/soc part; could nail everything from Chomsky to Karl; sociology to psych...

Aug 20th ... drama started in.  A friend knowing how bad things were during August and how often I thought of the sky bridge over the gulf... had stepped in to help cover things... without his support both mentally and financially, this blog might well have been a moot point.

Death equated to peace.

Often I've spoken of 2010 being the 2nd worst year of my life, only to the year my son died in 1986, but this year, 2016, has topped 2010.  There's only so many times a person can be beaten down, lied to, shunned, pushed until they finally break.  I was broken inside.

Failure in my head, failure in my heart.  I wanted peace.  Forever.

My friend stepped in.  He is private and so am I.  I can only say that there are people in his life who do not make him a priority and instead, focus selfishly on themselves.  He was forbidden to speak to me ever again, deleted from my Facebook account, and worse.

That was before the exam.  Two days.  I did not sit for it.  Giving up was seeming to be the easiest thing to do.  All of it.

For years, medical school has kept me going... when things get bad, I'd focus harder.  Now, it just seemed too far away...

But... as anyone knows that has followed this blog for the last 8 years (really?  holy batcrap!), I never give up.

I might for awhile - a day, a week or a month; even maybe 1/2 year... but quit is not in my vocab.

Those words became even more prominent today when a friend of mine was given a diagnosis that is not good.  Doctors give 6 - 12 months where I'd been thinking 4 - 8.

She will never quit until her body does; she'd be ticked if I quit until every medical school told me no.

Multiple times.

I'm not quitting.  But you already knew that :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hell Will Have To Wait

Interviews went very well; one offer for sure; the other one is expected by week's end.

Car is paid.

Rent is paid.

Dogs are fed (thank you, thank you, thank you).

So, hell will have to wait for me because I'm almost done walking through it.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Car Repo OR Rent

Le sigh.  4.5 years into pay for car, this year has sucked pretty significantly.  Thought I was moving to a different state to work for an old boss who is CEO of a consulting company; house packed, ready.  Chinese company bought client and my job went poof.  CEO had nothing else lined up.

Kick in the short term gig I had and things were caught up.  Enter in Intel out in CA and a longer term contract there.

Hiring manager wanted me; signed all the contracts, it had to go through a recruiter so we could do Corp-2-Corp (which is how I do things; am insured for $2M, large bond on hand) and I waited.  Recruiter said he was positive this was going through; the recruiter had several vendor IDs with Intel and it was just the procurement manager who was upset because hiring manager hadn't worked through her.

Politics.

For 2 months, the recruiter kept telling me it was coming through, that he'd often seen things come through after a couple of months because of x-y-z... I asked him to release me internally at his company so that possibly other recruiters could help get me assigned.

He did not.

Thankfully, I kept reaching out to those I knew ... and asked them to discretely look for me.

Last week, the first recruiter called and said Intel was dead.  I asked him how he was feeling about that and he was kind, a little down saying it would have been nice to go through and it was not anything to do with me (Ad2b)... but rather the procurement manager.  The hiring manager, he said, was livid and wanted me on board.

He asked if I had anything lined up.  I said no, I'd been waiting on him and given everything he'd been telling me, "It's coming, just need to get the rest of approvals" to "It's going to happen next week; we're meeting them to present the final terms"...  Then let him know that his lack of releasing me to other recruiters meant:

1)  I was still not under contract 2 months post date of hire

2)  That I had a letter on my desk stating the car that was nearly paid off would be repossessed by the company because I'd gone 30 days past due

So, 3 days before the MCAT I was looking at car repossession despite having paid almost $3000 over the summer to get it caught up before the last contact ended... and having to choose that or rent.

I still don't know what I'm going to do.  If the car is repossessed  I will owe still more on it for they will sell it for pennies and then charge me the difference, let alone what it will do to my credit.

Interviews on Monday and Tuesday next week... good news on the one would mean rent could wait, car could be saved.

I freaking hate this.  At times I give up.  At time I wonder how slowly I could float out to sea... and then quickly realize how stupid that sounds.

Prayers are heaved up for the interview on Monday. If I get it, I will be debt free - completely - in 2 months with money in the bank.  It'd almost be like 2007 again... the year before my life went to hell.

Oh please :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Aug 25, 2016 Test Takers

You have this.  You have worked for this, you have given up parties with friends, you have spent hours in the library looking at graphs, tables, random psych/soc words, reworking passages about things we may never 100% understand.

BUT ...

TOMORROW, this is YOUR day to show WHY you did this.  This is your day to PROVE to YOURSELF WHY you did this...

GO DO THIS - do not fear, don't let anxiety amp you up.

DO.  THIS.  With no regret!!

I.

AM.

WITH.


YOU!

LET'S GO!  :)

See you on the flip side.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Wanting To Give Up

Sometimes, it'd be easier.

Some nights the darkness rolls in, fear enters the spaces in my head.  I tell myself to get to the morning, things always look better in the light (except for me, sometimes :D).

Letters in the mail I can't do anything about.

 This says it all:


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Crossing The Finish Line

You're a premed and somehow you've wandered over to my blog about an ultra-non-trad premed who's struggles are well noted all over the blog.  Most of the struggles stem solely and only due to my decision to report my then very public company for fraud.  Unfortunately, as the VP of Internal Audit, I was not protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 because as an executive, the courts ruled that people like me were simply "doing our job" ... and the courts did not care if we were then fired.

And lost everything including... well everything.  The long term affects of that hit every aspect of my, my parents', and that, of course, of my son's lives.  People judge me for having poor credit but don't understand:  the systemic bumbling of everything related to my house, vehicle, and jobs impacted my ability to pay bills; then the bailout of GM bumbled the lawsuit I had against them for the lemon Escalade.  Which then forced me to file for bankruptcy when Chase (also bailed out by Federal Government) came after me for the lien on the vehicle that could not be driven... because it died on the road when I was driving it... the electronic malfunction in my vehicle was one of the first that GM knew about (and failed to disclose because I did not die in it...that's when GM lets the public know about an issue; someone has to die first, then, of course, they deny that for awhile until someone else dies...).

With very poor credit it's almost impossible to get a decent job, especially at the level I was at or any level, for that matter.

Without the ability to get a job, one can't reestablish the credit and if one does, I did, then when a contract ends (because no company wants a full time person with bad credit), the money runs out.  Then bills don't get paid again.

Enter in Obamacare, and I don't have health insurance either.  I did pay the $128/month before ACA kicked in.  I'm healthy, never had a severe anything (ruptured appendix but once that blew, it can't blow again), no addiction issues, no drinking, never smoked, never done drugs.  Under Obamacare, however, that rose to $578/month and I left off paying it.

Credit > healthcare.  Rent > credit and cars.

Through all of this, including the loss of $350,000 in equity on my house (see above), I've maintained a pretty happy stance.  This too shall pass (though I wish it would do so more quickly).  I've focused on the current task at hand (which is still med school - yes, I have a plan to pay for it).  I've been thankful, ever so grateful for the help along the way - most it has been emotional support and a friendly ear while I pressed to overcome - lately it has been much more than that.  Forever thankful.

It's a key point as well all push to cross the finish line of premed and anchor our next path in a medical school somewhere.

Be thankful, be gracious, and finish.  If I can get through all the above, you can finish too.

See you at a white coat!


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Unfortunate Drama

Several years ago, I dated a person whom we all now succinctly call, "Satan" because he was hell to live with after his shiny exterior wore off.  I met him at the age of 38 when I was thin, gorgeous and primed to meet a fabulous guy.

Things started off as most relationships do: it was fun, he was hot, he was bigger than life.  But there were little clues along the early path that I should have heeded.

He was jealous of any other man in my vicinity.  A friend of mine, John, has been one of my dearest friends in the world for almost 3 decades and we have always been nothing but friends; but to Satan, John was the enemy who would finally - in Satan's mind at least - woo me.  I never laughed so hard when Satan told me that.  Really?

Then there was Scott.  He was jealous of Scott as well.  Scott married his best friend, Jennifer, in a gorgeous wedding in Anchorage.  I was best woman... and brought my then boyfriend with me but Satan didn't care; he was jealous of Scott too.

There were the temper tantrums Satan threw over menial things: doors left open, soda cans not fully drained; the list goes on and on.

Primarily, people who act like Satan are insecure with themselves and overtly, it become narcissism.  Every one and every thing is a threat.  And the relationship becomes abusive.  Only those that the narcissist trusts (because they are lesser than they are in their eyes) are welcome in the life.  Satan trusted no one - including my own son whom he threatened... and whereupon, found his stuff on my curb.

Abuse knows no limits.  Isolation, judgmental, deprivation.  Satan did all those things to me.  Sabotaging my own self-esteem, denigrating everything I felt true about me to the point where I did not know who I really was anymore... when he got thrown out, I thought peace would come immediately, but it took years.

It took years to realize who I am and what I'm about.  It took years to rid myself of the stench he left behind.  About that time I met the physician who kicked me in the butt to get back to medical school pre-reqs.  While I ended that relationship as well, I'm forever thankful he was in my life for that very reason.  I'm  here today, writing as a medical school applicant because of him.

After I broke things off with him, there was one more person I thought maybe with.  Sir Hawtsalot, I called him.  Wealthy beyond imagination, secure, dignified, reasonable, wicked smart; we played chess and drank wine, we did all sorts of things but his lifestyle was not one that made me think forever partnership as he had to bound like Tigger in Pooh all over the world.  I believe he thought his money and means would keep me but...

I broke up with him too... money can't keep me.  It's the heart that does.  His heart was so scattered that no one person can ever be his only partner... he was a cheat.  He went on to get married and hasn't changed much; he still travels the world at a moment's notice but he does appear to love his wife.  I'm thankful for that - she has something I don't: Patience in relationships and a need for "gold" - she's a digger and he doesn't care.

There's a couple of main points to this whole post that I hope don't get lost:

1.  Abuse starts off as a "you don't understand" type of thing and turns into isolation; been there, won't ever do it again; can see it a million miles away

2.  Dignity is never lost - how you treat your spouse, your spouse's friends and others shows what type of person one is

3.  I am not, and never will be, a gold digger.  My life has been filled with people who are multi-billionaires (they owned a significant portion of ABC, the MN Wild, the precursor to DirecTV, among others); my life has been filled with countless multi-millionaires as well (largest wholesale nursery in the country, to descendants of the Waltons, to overnighters like Sir Hawtsalot).  Those people were welcome in MY life because of who they were inside, not how much resided in their bank accounts; they accepted me for the lack of... and never judged me for it.

For those of you who are reading this know, I am always a friend no matter the time or distance.  Friends don't desert you, or leave you feeling betrayed.  The generosity shown to my son and I during some really dark times will never be forgotten, and neither will you.

My white coat awaits somewhere.  Be you, be blessed, be happy.


Toxic Relationships

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Life's Bumps

Can either break you, shake you, or you can use them to lift you up and push you further.

Life is always going to have bumps.  Do you rise? Or do you fall?

I tend to rise.  Sure, I whine a little, I might even tear up and cry a little.  But I always rise.  Life will not beat me, it will be my partner for whatever decades I left in me.

The premed course is not easy.  The non-traditional premed course can be even more isolating (we don't fit in due to "length of life" as one medical school puts it) OR it can be inclusive (we use our length of life as a means to connect with our younger peers).  My tendency is to fall into the latter.

Right now, many of you are taking the MCAT tomorrow and others still on Saturday.

You're nervous, maybe even scared.  The instant of doubt raising its ugly head too often, if even for a blink of they eye.

When you think you're down, get up.  When you think you don't know the answer, know it's on the screen in front of you.  When you think it's too hard, think about how much harder it would be ON YOU if you quit.  When you think it's too long, think how long life will be if you stop chasing your dream.

And when you finish reading all that, watch this and RISE!


Monday, August 15, 2016

Home - Where The Heart Is

Born in southern Minnesota but raised in Duluth, MN... Duluth has always felt like home.  It's where my memories of childhood reside, the years of both my son's - the one who would be 30, and the one who is 24.  It's where winter skiing, summer at Park Point were spent; the day I moved south to raise my 24 year old, I cried all the way.

Duluth is home to the best hiking, best water sports - people even surf in the waves that come in some can easily get to 10 - 15' in the fall and in the spring.

Friends of mine from elementary school that I have kept in touch with and those that I met in college all agree:

The Big Lake they call Gitche Gumee, always brings us home.

This video was done by a family member of an old friend of mine.  We grew up down the street from each other...

Welcome to: Duluth, MN (Chester Creek, Congdon Creek, Lester River, The Lift Bridge, Park Point: Home)




Thursday, August 11, 2016

To Those Who Don't Believe

I do.



And for everyone else in /2 who likewise remembers this day 2 years ago, my solemn post.

Oh Robin. I wish you knew.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Post Exam Thoughts

Yes, I really did it.

At the age of 51, almost 52, I sat in a room, with a timer and headphones, and watched passages and questions come up.

After about 5.5 hours of actual testing, I left, sat in my truck and pondered life for a second.

See.  The test, or at least my version of the test, was not insurmountable.  It was not a venomous snake with dripping fangs ready to strike, it was more like a green broke mare that needed to be coaxed to give up the right answers.

Remember as you take it:

The AAMC goes to great lengths to make sure you have the right answer right there, on your screen, right in front of you.

There were some questions I had to think about for sure.  Not going to lie and say it was a cake walk but the answer... it was right there in front of me.  All I had to do is pick it, and quit it.  Just like the fine folks at Kaplan taught me to do.

Remember that.  Remember that there is no stupid trick question on the exam.  Yes, they might and will intentionally put 3 wrong answer choices on the question and 2 will be 100% off the wall wrong, leaving you with a 50% chance of getting the right answer.

Seriously.  Something like this (and no, AAMC, I will never break the oath I took when signing into the center - promise):

A black cat walks across the road and sees a chicken sitting on the fence.  A dog runs to the cat and neither tries to play with the chicken and the chicken looks upset.  Why do neither the dog or the cat want to play with the chicken?

a.  the chicken has a beak and talons
b.  the squirrel played with the chicken instead
c.  the dog has a black spot on it's back with a baseball cap
d.  the chicken was eating seed

There you have it my friends.  The MCAT in a nutshell.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

11th Hour - MCAT Final Prep

Or, sort of final prep.

I took the scored last weekend and let's just say my half-arsed way through it is not indicative of my capability but it is indicative of how I'd do on the real thing.

Many ask how to use the AAMC materials specifically after going through the myriad of prep courses from Kaplan, TPR, BR, NS, EK, et al.  What I will suggest is the following.

1)  Do the prep course work first but about midway do the Q-packs from the AAMC as they are a good guide to see where your content knowledge is.  The new MCAT is not a content test it is a critical thinking test but if you don't know the differences between physics equations and variables, or the SI units vs commonly used terms (Newton, for instance, rather than kg * m/s^2), you're going to want to use the Q-packs to find that out.  Use the mistakes there to shore up the content knowledge.

2)  Finish the prep work in the course.  Do all the CARS passages the course gives you, and then find more of them in EK or TPR or old AAMC exams.  If you're actually reading this ;), go to Reddit and search for old AAMC exams.  There is a link there to the material that someone kindly posted not only the exams but the solutions provided and explanations.  Let's face it, sometimes the AAMC's answers of "A is correct because B, C and D are wrong" doesn't really help.  Sorry, AAMC - you fail on that part.

3)  DRAW. I know, everyone who knows this blog is by "me" knows I draw. I draw all the pathways for gluconeogenesis, glycolysis, glycogenolysis, pentose phosphate pathway, hearing, eyesight, brain pathways, neurons, action potentials, etc.  At some point, I promise I will post them here and on Reddit using Google docs so that everyone can use to their advantage or ignore as you will.

4)  Finish the rest of the Section Bank exams - the biochem/biology, psych/soc, and chem/physics.  These are a beast.  Do not underestimate them.  They are hard, they are very research intense along with graphs and Y234D acronyms (that's a tyrosine to aspartic acid mutation at the 234 location, by the way; no one ever seems to explain that).  When doing the SBs, please, please, please - do them on accommodated so you can:

a.  Get the answer immediately
b.  Write down the question, answer and why you got it wrong
c.  DRAW the pathway if it is related to that

It is far more important than you know WHY you got something wrong instead of just the right answer because I'm almost 100% certain, the exact same thing won't be on the real MCAT... that said, it might be just slightly varied so you're still better off and ahead of the game if you follow my tips.

5)  Do the UNSCORED practice test on timed mode.  This is after the Q-packs, after the SBs... time it.  Then go back through and similar to 4.a, 4.b, 4.c - figure out why you got the questions wrong.

If necessary, go back through the SBs and Qpacks to polish the understanding and the content knowledge.  As mentioned above, I will be publishing my notes on all of this when I am officially done slaying this bugger.  You may be wondering how long this takes.  A long time. Give yourself 6- 8 weeks... and remember this:




6)  Take the SCORED AAMC test on timed mode.  Many suggest this the week of the actual exam. I would suggest 2 weeks beforehand because:

a.  if you do poorly, you have a full two weeks to polish up the weak areas
b.  if you do poorly, you have a full two weeks to get your confidence back up because nothing is worse than a crappy scored AAMC practice test to dump your confidence level to near zero
c.  if you do well, you can only get better - you have nothing to lose by doing it earlier :)

7)  If all of that is good, just review your notes and retake the SBs the week of the actual exam every other day.  The day before, obviously, is light review.

Last - go nail this thing!  Do not ever let anyone tell you, you can't, or won't.  Do not let anyone ever tell you, you're too old or too dumb or too slow.

If you got to this point, you are none of the above.

You, my readers, are MCAT Slayers.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pentose Phosphate Oxidative Phase

Yes, I'm T - 10 until MCAT day.  Yes, I'm getting very ready to take it and be done.

Someone once said that the aging population should be thinking about retiring; am pretty sure they could not have meant me because that word doesn't exist in my vocabulary.  Not sure it ever will.

My goal is to serve humanity, to serve those who are less fortunate that I have been; who sometimes wonder if anyone cares.

I do.

I care that people in countries that are developing (or worse) don't have access to adequate healthcare. I care that our own US citizens go without healthcare, insured or not.  I care that our homeless do not feel comfortable in their smelly clothes and unbathed bodies to see a physician whom they hold on a pedestal.

I care, and I hope, that one day, they will come see me as their physician of choice; smelly bodies, unwashed clothes, unbrushed teeth and all.  There is a business model that will work for them; I hope to use it.  One day, maybe 10 years from now after a couple of years as a licensed physician.

Until then, I draw.  And I prepare for the biggest exam of my lift to date.

Here's today little nugget:  Pentose Phosphate Oxidative Pathway


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Oh Gosh; T - 15

The days are winding down and part of me is thinking, "Thank God!"  For the past few months, and if including the fast pace last year toward taking it, I've been at the MCAT for almost - le gasp - 2 years.

First it was to try and cram it in before the "BIG" change; you know, the one where the AAMC wiped out a bunch of physics (not really true) and took out a bunch of orgo - YEAY! (also not really true) and added in biochem YEAY (but holy mother of all things good) and added in psych and soc at the end because you know, once we're done with this little doodad, we might need a shrink!

Haha.  I digress.

The 3.5 hour test went to 6. 1.5 on chemistry and physics, 1.5 on verbal reasoning (CARS) a 30 minute lunch, then 1.5 on biochem and biology, wrapping up with 1.5 on psych/soc.

About that biochem, it turns up everywhere.  It turns up in chemistry physics under the guise of orgo but it's really, biochem.  See, in my orgo class we never covered amino acids or peptides or any of that sort.  Good thing I took biochem.

Tonight was my last section bank to go through.  I take them untimed, check every answer the minute I choose, right down why my answer was right (or wrong), redraw the graphs, add any salient points to help me as I review.

What do I note on the graphs?

Things like the slope where the [S] is > than the v.  That way, I know, the reaction is still pre-Km and Vmax is far off yet.  I note things like points of comparison, x intercept, y-intercept, commonalities between variables, ratios, and yes, I know the inhibitor graphs well.

With 15 days of pure studying left (14, really as the TH before my exam, I'm not doing much), I'm honing; I want to know the why of an answer choice thoroughly, I want to know if a variable is changed in some way, I can answer a different question.

And I'm reading the old verbal from the old AAMC tests.  I figure it can't hurt for CARS and who knows, just maybe I'll get lucky and one of them will magically appear on my exam.

But I don't believe in Lady Luck, I believe in hard work.

And I am.  And will continue to for the next 15 days.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

T - 16 to MCAT

Car accident this morning on the way to school.  Interesting because the lady in the light blue Kia Sedona, side swiped me and drove off.

Good thing I got her license plate at the stop light and called 9-1-1.

That's where things got, how shall I say this, "Interesting."

When the sheriff finally arrived, he asked what happened, took notes, got my driver's license, asked for my insurance information and registration (which I keep both electronically)...

Then things got stranger.

After some time, the two approached me and asked if I was the sole registrant of the vehicle (I am) and asked if someone else drove it (he does but infrequently, very infrequently).

They then went onto say that my driver's license had been suspended for two traffic tickets in another county... one which I have no idea where it is, or didn't until they looked it up and told me.

Apparently, my insurance was also listed as lapsed for non-payment despite that I can see the payments to Geico and the withdrawals on the bank side.

The sheriff was puzzled and asked rather, ahem, "harmlessly" ...

"Why don't you call the insurance company while we're sitting right here?"

Yeah, I know.  He was trying to make sure I was legit before giving my license back.  He was trying to confirm that I was either a legitimate good person, or some scum in an Escalade.

So, I called Geico, the sheriff stood right there.  The agent asked some questions, I gave him the information; the sheriff asked if he could speak to him directly, I handed him my phone.

A few minutes later the sheriff handed me my license and said something was rather screwed up in the state's system because apparently in December of 2015 and January of 2016 I got speeding tickets in a beach side community about 3 or 4 hours away.

Um.  I wish?  Because if I had, that'd have meant I was enjoying my life?  Not stressing?

Three hours after the idiot in the Kia Sedona HIT ME, I was free to go study for the MCAT.  It's now 4 hours past incident and I think, I may be able to finally focus.

No, I was not hurt but my Escalade has body damage where the idiot hit me, slid across the door and then drove off.

MCAT.  T-16.  Must focus.  Must prevail!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

T-17 to MCAT

Back at it this morning.

Digested my biochem section bank results from yesterday at home, in my bed, snuggled up with the great dane puppy/adult (she's always going to be a puppy but she is 2 now).

Will be drawing all the glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, gylogenolysis, pentose phosphate, and obviously the TCA, ETC and probably beta-oxidation processes today along with the standard AA's plus 3-letter and 1-letter abbreviations.

Is this hard?

No.

It is time consuming and with my tendency to want to understand the why behind everything, it takes even longer.  My peers just want to know the right answer and move on.  Guess that is a bit of the difference between them at a normal college age and me, a not-so-normal college "kid" ...

This is my year.  I know it.  Can feel it.  Weird to have put so much effort into this to be at the door of the medical schools, about to take the MCAT and asking:

"Will you let me in?  Please?"

Stay tuned :)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Exhaustion Creeps In

This path, I've said, is not for the faint of heart.

Just when you think you're ready for beast-slaying (taking the MCAT for the non-medical people), just when you think you've mastered the graphs, tables, interpretations, nuances of every little enzyme in every pathway that relates to psychological and sociological phenomenon, the MCAT makes you feel:

Stupid.

Thanks Section Bank Biochem.

Yep, I thought I was good on the biochem - had the greatest professor ever (Hi Dr. S!).  He told the class a few years ago we'd be set and I would have been if I'd just kept up with it.  But I still am.

Over the past 2 weeks, I've spent more time in the library than I ever did in sum-total of my undergraduate years.  That's not saying much as the correlation to studying and my 30 year old GPA is 1:1.  Yes, I'm 51 and will be 52 when my application is considered complete at all 25 medical schools to which I've applied and no, I don't care much what people think.

BUT I am tired.

And it is worth it!

And then I came home to this:



Someone whom I met through life has become a dear friend along with his wife.  They've believed in me when my own doubt started taking hold.  They've supported me in ways I will never publicly disclose but without them... I would have possibly stopped (again).

With them by my side - OMG, I am so excited to take this exam, put it to bed, get this monkey off my back, slay the beast, and see what happens next.

I am also looking forward to a break - just a small one before I march into bench research, and cancer biology.  Maybe a small 2 or 3 day break, on a beach.  With not a single exam prep question, flashcard box, note filled binder, folder filled with graphs and pathways and enzyme mechanics (yes, I do get the LB and MM now) in sight, I won't even try to correlate a bird's flight with the volume of O2 flowing through it's wings or calculate in my head the pumping action of his heart or the pulmonary output of deoxygenated blood (pulmonary brings deoxygenated blood to the heart; it's the only artery to do so, all others go away).

With no flashcards, or iPad mini with loaded videos and podcasts and "MCAT" game (yes, they have them; they're lame but better than nothing); with no books, or graphs or laptop... I think I'llr remember what it's like to sit in the sun.

And be free.  If only for a little while.

T-18



Thursday, June 30, 2016

Public Comments - Being Careful

It is an unfortunate day when the great country fell to people who are uneducated, resort to name calling and can't carry a decent conversation about politics without becoming rude, obnoxious, condescending, and worse.

After the Bush election with Gore, it seemed like the mud slinging didn't end with the candidates, it flung onto those who supported either one of them.

That is pretty pathetic and a very good indicator what is really wrong with this country.

Uneducated people, being misinformed by people with no other outlet than the internet, elected a President who connected with them only because he was "cool" and "educated" and yes, black.  He said the right things, did the cool things like sit at a basketball game with Jay Z (the cheater), drank beer like an every day guy.

The uneducated - in droves - voted for him and he will thankfully leave office in less than 7 months.

Obviously, I didn't vote for him either time.  In 2008, I simply did not vote as Palin is a sham which indicated McCain was not thinking straight.

This election has me pondering the same thing.

I don't mind discussing politics, and love hearing other people's point of view.  I can do so without name calling, insulting commentary, obnoxious and inflammatory remarks.  It's what education does for someone, it's what class is all about.

Yesterday, my twitter blew up because I typed #NoClinton and was called in private and in public an idiot, dolt, daft, stupid, flaming bitch, and many other things.

Really?  That's what this country has come to?  Because I simply say I won't vote for a candidate I'm all of that?  Really?

Apparently mud slinging now goes to common, everyday people.

That is not only pathetic but it is frightening.

I deleted all of my posts for I am a med school candidate and unfortunately, not that I said anything wrong or flaming or worse, I don't want to get hit with the seagull affect of others who are simply inflammatory.

It's a sad day in America.  We're not ever going to be great again, all we can do is stop the slide toward the slums.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Oh Robin -

Many years ago now, life was really handing me some brutally difficult times.  I have often said that 2010 was the 2nd worst year of my life only the to the year my son died.


Without belaboring the muck again there were flashlights moving between my house and the guest house (yes, I was pretty wealthy back then), I hid under my desk.  Playing World of Warcraft.  On my druid.

Trade chat is often times a wide open troll with those who are good keeping the conversation going into the abyss that is trolling and then there was one.

He was spectacular.  Witty, sharp tongued, almost nasty.  He started in on me.  While I hid under my desk.  I begged him to stop in private.  He and I started talking.  Those conversations lasted years.

He'd often told me he'd help, that he had some money, that'd he'd been successful in LA.

I didn't believe him because - you know - everyone is 6'6" and 220 lbs on the internet, right?

Well, shortly before Robin passed away, those conversations stopped.  I never knew it was him, never knew he played on our server.  Until, that is, after he passed.

I think the anonymity of players is why many celebrities play.  They can be who they are without anyone ever knowing.  As it was... with Robin.

Robin - I wish you knew... as you wanted me to be.

Spectacular.

Miss you greatly my human priest friend.



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tonight. AMCAS Opened.

Tears came easily at 11:50 PM on June 7, 2016.

Tears of relief.  Tears of regret.  Tears.

Make no mistake, the path to medical school is hell AND I've loved every single, stinking, harsh, not-an-A moment.

I've loved note taking, pushing to learn new science, getting up at 4 AM to study before another exam after having been up until midnight the same day.

I've loved reading research articles to get ready for the MCAT.

I've loved learning new ways of looking at things (thanks physics!), (thanks biochem!).

But what I really loved?  Made my heart just leap?  Made me believe that just maybe?

Was clicking "Submit" and seeing this:



And then reaching for a kleenex.

30 years of regret just soaked into a tissue.

30 years of self-beratement and chastising gone into a kleenex

This path is not for the faint of heart no matter your age.  This path is a roller coaster of emotions, and mental gyrations - even outside of physics.  This path constantly makes one wonder if one should stop.  Or go.  This path... is like none other.  And I'm so proud of myself for having gotten this far.

Tonight, on day 1 of the 2017 application cycle, I'm officially:

A Medical School Applicant (2nd oldest ever, thank you very much!)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Personal Statements - Tips & Tricks

While the post could be about everything that has been written everywhere else (tell a story to show how a shadowing opportunity affected you and inspired you to become a doctor; explain a bit about why you got such poor grades so long ago - required for non-trads carrying baggage from years, if not decades prior to now).

I'm avoiding that here.  That info is well versed on many forums, websites, blogs, reddit, SDN, among others.  I think even my twitter feed has the info tagged to retweet automatically.

What you should know is this:

1.  People who offer their time to edit your PS are doing so of their own free will and are not paid for it.  PLEASE don't monopolize that or demand.

For the past 2 months, I've been reading and editing PS's.  Most of them are pretty well written, one was superb.  I thought mine was pretty stellar and then I read that one.  All I could do was bow and salute.  Here's to you hopeful pilot - you got this!  Can't wait to high-five you next year when we BOTH start!

Overall, I've read close to 100 of these personal stories, letters, vignettes of lives.  It has been an amazing honor to do so.  Privileged that people - especially the hyper competitive lot that comprised 100% of premeds - trust me with their material.

Everyone of those who sent me their life story was polite, gracious and kind.

Then I got another one AFTER I posted that I was not taking any further PS's for review.  I simply do not have the time.  With a client that I work 50+ hours for, physics 2, and MCAT prep - I'm buried.  Sleep evades me most nights and often, I run on 5 - 6 hours at most.

PLEASE, if someone states they are NOT able to take any more PS's for review, don't waste their time asking.  It's another intrusion into their lives.

FOR THOSE OF YOU who were in first, and I offered to review subsequent editions, that doesn't apply to you.  It only applies to those who I've never spoken, written or responded to.

2.  My opinion is just that.  It was free.  You get what you pay for.  While yes, I was a nationally published editor at one point in my life, that doesn't mean that whatever I write is gospel.  It's simply my opinion.

So don't be offended, don't write me back with snotty remarks, don't PM me that you think I suck.  Pretty sure that advice goes for everyone who reviews PS's.  Just like you guys talk amongst yourself at who is a good editor, we editors do too.  Think about that.  :)

Each PS takes me about an hour to go through.  I take my time.  I rearrange sentence structure so the PS flows, change grammar and often times, substitute more suitable words.

There's an old saying: take what you like and leave the rest.  At the end of the day, I edit like I do to HELP YOU because the end game is the same for all of us: Med School admission.  Right?

Am I tough?  Yes.  Am I good?  Probably.  Am I perfect?  No.  (Hell no, actually!)

3.  Know that on average, the adcoms spend less than 30 second gleaning every little morsel they can from the PS.  It stinks that we spend hours if not days and months worrying about this little thing that describes "WHY MEDICINE" and they spend 30 seconds on it but do we care?

No.  Again, the end game is the next hoop in our journey to hopeful med school admission.

Finally, go nail this application cycle which opens in less than 3 days.

LETS GO! And good luck to all of you!


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Research Articles - MCAT Prep

Largely, the new MCAT is similar to the old one in that the questions stem from passages.  It is probably only in that vein that they are similar.  In every other way, they are different exams.

Hence the 528 scale vs 45.

My own prep is including research articles published at any time over the past 20 years that include graphs, diagrams, data tables, and other types of non-verbiage information.  Things likely to be seen on the MCAT, in other words.

Below you will find links to articles that I found on reddit.  The goal is to read the published research, come to my own conclusions and then see how that matches to the researchers themselves.  In a way, this should mimic to a small degree how the new MCAT is tested.

3 Functional Classes of Transcriptional Activation Domains

SNF1/AMPK pathways in yeast

Recognition of Trimethylated Histone H3 Lysine 4

Rat1 in Coupling mRNA

Control of Somatic Tissue Differentiation

Will add more as I find them; waiting on links to genetic predisposition of behavioral issues.

Cheers!


Monday, April 11, 2016

Wow. Just Wow.

Often having spoken about hope, it just keeps coming back to me.

Again.  And again.  And again.

It did again today.

Michael Jackson once wrote:

"In my darkest hour,
In my deepest despair,
Will you still care?
Will you still be there?

In my trials
In my tribulations
Through my doubts
And frustrations

In my violence
In my turbulence
Through my fear
And my confessions

In my anguish and my pain
Through my joy and my sorrow
In the promise of another tomorrow

I'll never let you part,
For you're always in my heart"

Many don't really understand the begin of the demise of the Great Recession.  It didn't start in 2010, it started in 2008... for me, at least.

$675,000 home, owned 50% of it as appraised
$180,000 in stock @ Lehman
$120,000 in autos in driveway, 90% paid off
$50,000 in the bank
$17,000/month income

Life was good.  I was good to the people I hired, always protecting, always having their back.

Then life threw me a curve ball.  Or 9.  Wells Fargo stole my house, sold it to someone in a short-arm transaction leaving me without my $350,000 in equity.  Lehman filed for bankruptcy and I watched my $183,000 portfolio drop in a matter of days to less than $3,000.  General Motors had claimed they'd repurchase my lemon Escalade ESV, the one that died on the road when I drove as it had been declared a lemon by both the State of MN and GM itself... but GM filed for bankruptcy protection and it was repossessed in the middle of the night by Chase, who was then bailed out by the Federal government.  And finally, there was the tiny little lawsuit of mine - a whistleblower lawsuit - that I settled to keep my then physician boyfriend out of the press.  He'd done nothing wrong other than be by my side.  But opposing counsel threatened him.

But through it all... I had hope.  Hope that somehow, someday, I would be okay, things would be okay.  I had hope that someday people would know the truth about how the scumbags of Wall Street and Texas and Florida got away with theft and deceit and fraud.

I had hope that my path to medical school would not be for naught.  Through all of 2009 and 2010 while I watched in anguish as my life fell apart, there were two professors who stood by me, listened with pained eyes, as I told them what was going on in my life.

They stood by me.  Offered support, guidance, links to help for paying for school; told me not to give up.  Told me often, I had it all inside... that good would come again.

Today, I came home to find a fancy letter in my mailbox.  A letter from the great state of Minnesota.  Home.  Ad2b, come home, type letter.

The entire escrow that was fraudulently placed on my home, the escrow that pushed me into foreclosure when I'd just filed the whistleblower lawsuit... well, it came home today.

In my mailbox.

Last week, the dogs had been eating home cooked rice and oatmeal with boiled 6-month old turkey and carrots.  My son was starving, I'd not eaten for two days.

Tonight, we ate.

Hope never left me.  I knew that things would turn around.  I knew that someday, things would be okay.  I never lost hope. I hoped that I'd have enough money to register for the MCAT before the dates were booked.  I hoped I'd have enough money to pay for my last prereq course (physics 2).  I hoped ... and then I hoped some more.

Tonight... hope shown brightly once again.

Never give up hope.  Ever.  MCAT registered for 7/8/16.

And tonight, I wrote both of those professors and said, "Hope never left me.  Guess what?!?!"

From this ocean bordered state to that land of snow and ice, I can see them smiling.  They've had the same hope for me all along.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Another Professor = More Hope

Life has thrown some more curve balls my way.  Or rather, just one.

16 years ago, I worked for a man who'd founded an IT company.  I left and my career took off like a rocket, and plummeted in 2008 like a rock.  Since then, I've had exactly 2 good years financially.  Every other year has been beyond difficult.

For the years 1997 - 2013, I paid for my parents' life.  Mortgage, cars, credit cards, etc.  Saving was not really key as taking care of them was more important.  I don't regret that.

But it did leave me with no 401k or much of savings.  What I did have, 2010 wiped out.  Completely.

2014 was good to me as was most of 2015.  I'd been able to build up a savings on e-trade, put money in an IRA.  My contract, after being extended four times, expired on October 30, 2015.  I'd been told (lied to?) that I would be extended through Dec 2015 after I was begged to stay in August.

See, Nov and Dec are probably the worst months for me to find something.  I was begged to stay.  With the promise.

Well, promises are like the wind.  I'm okay with that.  I finished out my fall semester with an A- in genetics.  Had registered with that professors approval and override on school policy for his next courses.

But when January came, and no job prospects were around, I had to drop.  Because he'd gone to bat for me, I felt obligated to let him know why I wasn't in his class.  Explaining what was happening, he asked if there was something he could do to help.

"Can I sit in your class anyway?  IF there is space?" I demurred.

"OF course!"  and with that, I was set up as if I was a real student. I attend.  I do all the work as if I were a student.  The notes are transcribed into hard stock, just like I did last semester.

I ran into him today after class outside the library.  He asked if things were going well for me.  And once again, explained as succinctly as I could that my job prospect had gone poof.

See, that boss from 16 years ago had a client in a different state, one I'm interested in moving to, which needed someone with my background.  We discussed relocation package, salary, sign-on, etc.  He was waiting funding from his client and then I was good to go.  March 1.

Happy?  Of course!  But then, I didn't hear anything.  Curiosity being the better part of me, I wanted to learn more about the client so I perused the site.  And found it'd been purchased by a Chinese entity shortly after my former boss and I spoke.  That was mid - February.

Last week, it was confirmed there was no job waiting for me.  And whatever I'd saved was not entirely depleted keeping things afloat.

It was spring break last week.  Going to class with that professor has been a mind-saver.  I love learning and being pushed to learn more.  That job going poof was a kick to the gut.  I'm not angry with my former boss, I'm sure he's very disappointed too. It's simply not his fault.

But my professor?  There he was asking what he could do to help (again).

I said, "Nothing really, just really thank you for letting me sit in the class."

He replied with a smile, "Come sit in my other class. Today at such and such a time; there's fewer students and I think you'll really like it.  Can give you access to all the material for it as well.  Too bad I didn't think of it earlier!"

And then he added, "Don't stop.  Things will get better.  You know that."

Yes, Dr. E, I do.  And with people like him in the world, it's a little bit brighter and there is hope.

It's the little things in life that keep hope alive, not the big.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Where It Started & Where It Continued

I believe my first post for this blog in 2008 was written about my 4th grade teacher, Garry Ranthum.  And not wanting to bore you here (or anywhere), I'm simply posting the 4th grade class picture including, the one and only Garry Ranthum who lost his battle with leukemia in 1976 (I think it was '76) and caused the eyes of many, many students to well up and weep.

Garry... was one in a million.  Took all the "bad" kids, including David Sill who found a used condom by the hockey rink boards and brought it into class (for starters, "I" did not know what that was but everyone else was laughing so I did too!).  He took kids who were dyslexic and instead of making them continue to feel like failures, he helped them succeed.  He took bored kids whose desk was permanent put in the hallway prior to his class, and welcomed her into class helping her finish 4th grade math and science by the Christmas break.

I am the tall brunette with pigtails in red ribbons in the corner... without a dunce hat!

Garry.  RIP.  He will never be forgotten by any of us who had him.