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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Unsolicited Advice Makes Me Think

After my classes today, I stopped at my school's library to print the PowerPoint slides for my next Micro unit. There was another woman in there, also printing. I happened to catch a glimpse of text on one of her printouts. Nursing Diagnosis, it read. She caught me reading her PowerPoint as it sat on the printer, and she smiled.

"What's your major?" she asked.

"I'm in my last pre-nursing semester," I told her. "Once I finish Micro, I'm applying to the program."

She nodded. "I'm at the end of the journey and you're just starting out."

Then she looked me dead in the eye, her expression serious. "If you don't cry at least once, you won't become a nurse."


She nodded again. "It's hard," she said. "Very hard. You'll be overwhelmed and you'll cry. But you'll get through it."

Some days, I'm certain I'm ready for it. I'm positive I'm on the right path. Right where I need to be. It's going to be hard. I know it's going to be hard. It should be hard. Nothing worth achieving is easy. But then there are the other days. On the other days, I'm just not sure. Can I do it? Can I handle it? I guess time will tell.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Farewell, sweet Prince

R.I.P., Prince
Beloved friend and family member

Sad, sad weekend in my household. On Sunday, we said goodbye to a dear, dear friend and family member.

Prince showed up in our neighborhood about 10 years ago. He was a sweet, sweet dog who seemed to take a liking to my front porch. Back when I still smoked, I would go out onto the porch for my before-bed cigarette and there he'd be, sleeping in the corner.

I didn't realize it at the time, but he kept coming back to my front porch because my kids were putting food out for him.

This went on for a couple weeks, maybe a little longer. He was just the cute, sweet, stray dog who showed up on my porch every night. Then came the December day when the weatherman forecast the nighttime low to drop below 30 degrees. I couldn't bear the idea of the sweet little dog left out in the cold, so I brought him into my house.

He promptly wedged himself beneath our Christmas tree, knocking ornaments this way and that.

A couple days later, Animal Control knocked on my door. Apparently, another neighbor had called them to pick up the dog, and had told them he was last seen at my house. By then, Prince was living in my backyard with our other dog, so I sent Animal Control away, telling them to contact me if anybody came looking for their lost dog. The officer took my number, thanked me profusely (Animal Control was pretty full), and left. That was the last we heard from them.

When we took Prince to the vet, we were told the sweet dog had probably been abandoned, since he tested positive for heartworms. Of course the vet recommended we have him treated, as he probably wouldn't live very long otherwise. Sadly, we didn't have a spare $700 laying around, so we figured we'd keep him comfortable and happy. At least now he'd have available food, fresh water, and a warm place to sleep to live out his days.

That was around ten years ago.

I guess the heartworms finally got him. And old age--our best guess is he lived to be about 12-14 years old. Arthritis made it hard for him to get around. We found him on the back patio. Maybe he'd been sunning himself. That's what I'm trying to convince myself. He knew his time was upon him, and he wanted to enjoy the warmth of the sun one last time.

Now he's in doggie heaven. He's pain-free and able to run like he used to. He has all the toys he wants. There are no more heartworms making breathing and life in general difficult. That's my dream. That sweet Prince is pain-free and happy and barking at the sky like he used to.

Goodbye sweet Prince. We weren't your first family, but I hope you knew how much we loved you. How much we still love you. Rest in peace.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nature, Nurture, and Bacteria

Today. Monday. Today is Monday. The third Monday in August. First day of Fall Semester. First day of my last semester of pre-requisites. I'll be testing for and applying to my program in January.


Today is the first day of Fall Semester and I'm sitting in my living room in my pajamas at 7:43 am. I like first days like this. I would say my real first day is tomorrow, but that wouldn't be entirely true. I'm braving another foray into the world of online learning despite my previous experience, so technically, my first day really is today.

Fall Semester 2012 will be another three class, seven credit hour semester. That might seem like a light load to some, but since two of those three classes are science, it feels like a smart decision.

"Take your sciences by themselves," they said. They being advisement, and anybody -- students and instructors alike -- who has an opinion about the Health Science programs. Gotta keep that 4.0 GPA to help make myself a more attractive candidate for my program. The higher my GPA, the better my shot at acceptance.

Besides, after my ultra-busy summer semester, I needed more time wearing my mom hat again.
My first class is the online class. PSYC 2103 Human Development. I've heard good things about this class, although the reports I've heard were for the on-campus class. That's what I would have preferred, but there wasn't an on-campus class available that worked with my schedule.

The instructor has a great reputation and ratings, so that will help. She was one of the teachers I thought about taking for PSYC 1101. After re-reading what some of her former students say about her, I kind of wish I could have found a suitable on-campus time to take her. I think I would have enjoyed her lectures.

Classes two and three are my sciences and they're linked. Introductory Microbiology and its accompanying lab. I think at one time, even though lecture and lab were offered at different times, they were billed as one class. No more. Lecture is a 3 credit course and lab is worth 1 credit. You register for them separately, they're graded separately, and you can have different instructors for each.

I'm pleased with the instructor I have for both lecture and lab. He's the head of the department, and all my resources (including my A&P II teacher) say he's the one to take. They say he "knows his stuff." I had to work hard to get him, though. His lab and lecture classes filled before I was even allowed to register. A couple weeks after registration, perseverance (and extended time mumbling and staring at the registration screen) finally paid off. I managed to snag one of the very few slots that came available during drop/add. 

I've heard mixed reviews on the class -- I guess it depends where your interests reside. Some people love it and call it easy, others hate it. One they thing all agree on is it's a lot of work. I'm not afraid of work. I proved that in Summer Semester.

I'm hoping for a little more breathing room than I had last semester. I'm praying for more time to spend with my kids. Especially since my mother, who was here to help during my summer semester, has gone back home (sniff!). That means I'll be taking the kids to Tae Kwon Do, Hap Ki Do, and marching band practice. That means I'll be doing the shopping and cleaning and cooking and laundry. That means I'll have nobody home with me to make faces at when my kids are arguing with each other or with me and are on my last nerve.

I really really really miss my mom.

And thus ends my long, boring, humor-free post. My public statement of my whereabouts for the next 16 weeks. I've been invited to the lifespan while buried in micro. See you in December. Maybe earlier if I'm able to come up for breath.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Change, it is a-comin'

Summer semester is complete (finally), and I'm proud to say it was successful although quite taxing. I'm slowly recovering, and can even form coherent sentences again. Shocking, I know. Before I get into the reason for this post, I suppose I should post a quick brag:

Yup, that's an excerpt from my college transcript, and yes, that is a 4.0 GPA. Go, me.

Anyway, the reason for my post is the fact that I'm following in the footsteps of John Cougar/John Cougar Mellencamp/John Mellencamp and trying to confuse everybody these days. I recently changed by Facebook username and Twitter profile name to be closer to my real name, and now I've done the same with my Twitter username and the address for this blog. So...I ask you to note the address for this blog (that isn't updated nearly enough) is now

For now, I'm going to download more free crochet patterns that I'll convince myself I'll have the time to make someday and enjoy NOT studying for the next two weeks.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sad, Sad Story

I stopped by Unnamed Store tonight to pick up some coffee creamer. Coffee creamer is infinitely important to me, and I was certain I didn't have enough left at home to doctor tomorrow morning's coffee properly. This warranted a trip to the store. Unnamed Store has creamer for $1, so I ran in after picking MiniMe up from her friend's birthday party.

I found my creamer and brought it to the register. The young man behind the counter rang it up. Total was $2.06. After a little digging in my handy-dandy little all-in-one wallet thingy, I handed him $5.06 -- the last thing I needed was more change rattling around in my wallet. The clerk punched a couple buttons on the register and the cash drawer sprang open with a resounding ding. As I stood there, the young clerk looked at the register display, looked down at the money in his hand, and his face fell. "Oh, no," he said. He closed the cash drawer, punched a few more buttons, and looked at me apologetically. "I did it wrong," he said.

Color me confused at this point. Two items at $1 each, $2.06 total... No, it looked perfectly fine to me. I said as much to the clerk. He didn't respond, instead restarting from the beginning. Beep went the first item across the scanner. Beep went the second item. Again, the clerk totaled my purchases. Again, he punched a couple more buttons. Again, the cash drawer sprang open with a resounding ding. But this time was different. This time, the clerk smiled as he counted my change out of the drawer.

"I punched in the wrong amount," he explained as he handed me $3. "I entered $2.06 as the amount you gave me, and it said you didn't get change. But that wasn't right because you gave me more money." He pushed the cash drawer closed. "Now it's right." The young clerk smiled, extremely proud of himself.

MiniMe and I bade the store employees goodbye as we gathered our purchases stepped out of the store into early evening twilight. Once we were out of earshot, I looked at her. I know my eyes must have been the size of large dinner plates. I couldn't believe what I had just seen."Did he really just void that first transaction because he punched in the wrong amount tendered?" I asked.

"I don't think he could figure out the change without the computer," she replied.

I think she was right.

It's a sad story. It's a scary story. And the worst part: it's a true story.

Monday, May 14, 2012

One Ends, Another Begins

I always seem to start new posts with an excuse and an explanation, these days. This post will be no different, since I haven't posted since February. February? Has it really been that long? Wow.

Spring Semester 2012 has finally come to a close. Classes are over, finals complete, and as of this morning all my grades are posted. So....yes, you guessed it. This is another brag about my grades post. And why shouldn't I? I'm proud of my grades. I'm proud of the fact that even after being out of school 25 years I can still pull it off. I'm just plain proud.

So here you go, my grades for Spring Semester 2012 including my final exam score and my overall grade for the semester:

ENGL1101 Literature & Composition Final: 100%     Overall: 99.7% / A
BIOL2113 Anatomy & Physiology I Final: 99.5% Overall: 100.2% / A
BIOL2113L  Anatomy & Physiology I Lab   Final: 99% Overall: 100.75% / A

My overall GPA continues to be a 4.0, which is where I want it to be -- particularly going in to apply for the extremely competitive nursing program at my school.

Yes, I'm bragging. It was a really tough semester. A&P I is well-known as a weed out course with a 50% drop rate, and I not only survived it, but I survived it with an A. Yes, I'm proud. No, I won't apologize. But I will smile sweetly. :-)

Summer Semester begins in a couple weeks, and I'll be tackling A&P II with its accompanying lab and Healthcare Communications. Another tough semester. Two more months of intense studying. Immersion in A&P. Two more months of remembering details of the digestive or endocrine systems, but inability to remember to plug my phone in to charge at night. Two more months that will leave me feeling accomplished at the end.

I just hope my family will be able to put up with me.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I Worked Hard!

I just opened my school e-mail and found this note from the registrar:

Dear Lynn,

In honor of your superior academic record attained in the fall semester 2012, I am pleased to include your name in the dean’s list for the term. The catalog states that students who have achieved a quarterly grade point average (GPA) of 3.69 or higher while carrying a minimum of 12 credit hours will be placed on the dean’s list. Your transcript will reflect this accomplishment.

You have demonstrated a strong determination to succeed and a commendable work ethic; the college wishes to recognize your success. You are encouraged to continue your hard work and challenged to inspire your student colleagues to demonstrate excellence, so that they, too, may join you on the dean’s list in the future.

The French statesman, Charles de Gaulle said, “Nothing great will ever be achieved without great men, and men are great only if they are determined to be so.” Let your determination continue to drive you to your success. This accomplishment is a result of that determination which you possess.

Congratulations on your outstanding achievement!

Am I giddy? Yup.

Am I happy? Absolutely. I'm grinning from ear to ear.

Am I proud? HELL, YES!  I worked damn hard for this. I earned it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Overwhelmed, Terrified, and Excited

Week one of semester two is now complete, and I left campus yesterday feeling overwhelmed, terrified, and excited. It was the oddest way to be. The sheer amount of material I know I will have to master in order to maintain my 4.0 (which is still my intention) is overwhelming. The amount of work I'll be doing and time I'll be spending doing it -- terrifying. The material? Utterly exciting.

Last semester, my first week of class was all about class syllabi and expectations.  Here's what we're doing, here's how we're doing it, this is what you'll need, this is when it'll be due. I remember being a bit overwhelmed with the brand new experience. I also remember stumbling initially and fearing I'd be unable to do any of it. Yet, I overcame. I succeeded. I'm trying to keep that in mind.

This semester started completely differently. Yes, there were syllabi. Yes, there was the presentations of expectations, supplies, and due dates. What changed is in all my classes, we jumped right into the material on the first day. In a couple cases, that was what made it overwhelming.

My very first class on my first first day was ENGL 1102: Literature and Composition. Lots of reading -- mostly short stories and poems with a couple plays. Lots of writing -- four essays total, plus the final. After going over the syllabus, Mrs. H had us write a story about ourselves in the story arc with introduction, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Luckily, she gave us questions to answer that guided us. After that, it was class introductions -- name, rank, serial number -- and literature definitions. All in all, not too bad, although our instructor has promised us it will be a tough class. I have a reading assignment due Tuesday.

Day two was BIOL 2113:  Anatomy & Physiology I. At 64 students, this class is huge. Especially when you consider my English class had 15 students. In fact, I don't think any class I've taken so far has had more than 30 students. Until now. So...big class. I made sure to get a seat up front where I knew I'd be able to see and hear the professor.

Class started as usual with syllabus and expectations. Dr. S told us we'd need the textbook package available at the bookstore. I had picked mine up last week, before the lines became ridiculous. The package contained lecture notes, a lab manual, a body atlas, a computer code for online access, a body systems DVD, a lecture DVD, and of course, the textbook, which is huge.  Huge! At seven pounds (yes, I weighed it), it reminds me of an oddly-shaped bowling ball.

As class went on, I quickly recognized that this class (and the co-requisite lab) would be taking over my life. Dr. S made it clear that this course would not be like high school anatomy. Rote memorization will not get us through. Learning and repeating the information from the book word-for-word will not work. We're expected to recognize and understand the material. Test questions won't come directly from the book. When completing our homework, we won't find answers word-for-word in the textbook. Understanding. Comprehending. It's actually a whole new way of learning.

Consider this the first class of your program would be a phrase I would hear repeatedly over the next couple of days.

My A&P textbook package from the bookstore
Last week, the Biology Department sent all new students an e-mail warning of the amount of commitment the class requires, advising us to re-evaluate our schedules and make sure we could devote the necessary study time. Included were the first three chapters of lecture notes and a suggestion to fill in as much of the notes as necessary. Dr. S also stressed that people who earn A's in A&P are those who come to class prepared. In the world of A&P, this doesn't just mean with notebooks and textbooks and writing instruments. In the world of A&P, preparing means checking the schedule to see what chapter the next lecture will be covering, pre-reading the material, and filling in the lecture notes. In other words, self-study. Lecture should be treated as review, not the introduction of new material.

This became evident when Dr. S jumped right into the first chapter of material. She didn't fill in all the blanks from the lecture notes; we're expected to do that on our own. If it's in the lecture notes, we're expected to know it. If it's not in the lecture notes, we won't see it on a test. The department has posted study aids including flash cards and games, and it's strongly suggested we form study groups. ::gulp::

Day three was BIOL 2113L: Anatomy & Physiology I Lab, the co-requisite for A&P I.  The lab coordinator came in and gave our orientation talk. We got the rules of the lab, the dress code, and the expectations. No pictures allowed. The other school I had originally considered suggested photographing the models for self-study, the school I've chosen forbids it for copyright reasons. If I hadn't already been terrified and overwhelmed after yesterday's class, the lab orientation would have done it. As it was, I was doubly overwhelmed, terrified, and excited when all was said and done.

The lab coordinator showed us the models that were available to us, talked to us about Open Lab, and then told us that when she went through her program, she treated school like a job. She got up, got her kids off to school, then went to "work" and stayed there until it was time to meet her children's bus after school. While she was at "work," if she wasn't in class, she was in Open Lab or otherwise studying.  Once she went home, though, work was done. I can definitely see the logic there, and I already anticipate spending a lot of time in Open Lab. Gotta learn those bones! And organ systems! And cell parts! Gotta learn it all!

After orientation in Lab, we sat at our lab tables and filled in the first chapter of our lab manual. Since the information coincided with the material from class that I had already prepared and been studying earnestly (like a good little girl!), I completed that without issue. I also managed to find a study group, get my first homework finished, and schedule group study time.

This weekend, I'll be reading for English; studying anatomical terms, organ systems, directional terms; and preparing for Monday's A&P chemistry lecture.  Overwhelmed by the amount of material, terrified by the amount of work, and excited subject matter. And ready to go back on Monday.