Monday, January 31, 2011

Full circle

I feel like I've come a long way in the last couple of years. I started running and finished my first half marathon. I reconnected with the Catholic church and have made it a part of my family's life. I put in motion a plan to attend a one-year accelerated nursing program, completed said program and went ahead and got the job I wanted.

I even added five letters behind my name because Christine Gardner RN-BSN sounds so much better than plain-old Chris.

All these accomplishments have come with a certain level of self confidence, a trait I do not naturally possess. So I find it sort of funny that I continue to be a socially awkward, baffoonish-type mom with a stutter when I am surround by other moms. I think I'm a fairly adequate mother, just not a very good in the mom circles.

Take last week. I was having a particularly low moment of self confidence when I got an e-mail about an after-school playdate with Penny's classmates. These moms, in particular, are the sort of go-getter Stay At Home sorts that organize stuff. They organize lots and lots of stuff and they seem to all get along. I'm sort of on the outside, in large part, because I haven't been around a lot of the year. But also, I haven't made an effort because they frighten and intimidate me.

So on this particularly bad day, I decided to forward the message to Steve and ask him if I should go to this outing (even though I had other plans) because I'm a shitty mom and I need to try harder and blah, blah, blah.

Only I didn't forward. I replied.

That is a horrible feeling. Realizing a minute too late that you have sent an un-retrievable message. So I speedy quick send a very light apology.

But I never heard back, which made me feel extra bad.

So today, I tried to make amends. The woman I was certain had sent the e-mail said, No... It wasn't her. Maybe it was one of two other women. One of them said no. The other said no as I blabbered on and on about how it was a mistake and then said the word bitchy in front of like 10 children.

Then I slowly backed away and left. It probably didn't help that it's five months after the start of school I still don't know anybody's name.

I told Steve that maybe these people were just not meant to be my friends. Maybe fate was not allowing this to happen. Maybe I would try extra hard next year.

Then he reminded me that after my stellar performance in the last week, perhaps it wasn't my decision anymore.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Road to NCLEX

Jan. 2010: First week of nursing school. I can do this. I'm just as smart as these others students. I can do this! What??? Test??? What test???

March 2010, and again in June, August, September, etc.: Oh good. Practice tests. And you say I'm not being graded? And tests, and tests, and tests.

September 2010: Finally, the last session of school begins. This NCLEX guru teaches my critical care clinical. I spend lots of time learning the side effects of various antibiotics and contemplating the disease processes of the heart and kidneys. She is very smart but she scares the shit out of me. She lays in wait, pouncing on unsuspecting students, launching impossible questions she knows we can't answer. Also, she just starts singing randomly and I find this to be disconcerting.

November 2010: I decided at this point I will not take the NCLEX review class (aka... Kaplan) if I pass the pre-test (yes, another test) that determines if I will pass NCLEX with 97 percent certainty. Kaplan is $400 and begins the day after finals a week before Christmas. I feel guilty, but no thank you.
I am alone in this philosophy and the smartest kids in class sign up for Kaplan weeks ahead of the pre-test. I sometimes wonder what's wrong with me.

December 2010: I easily passed pre-test and was one of five students who decided not to take Kaplan. I bought a test bank of questions to practice and hoped I had not made a huge mistake. I hope this every day for the next month. I tell the NCLEX guru that I'm not taking Kaplan, which she teaches, and she sort of shrugs and implies, "Well. If you think you can pass on your own..." Then she starts to sing.

Dec. 17, 2010: Graduation. Many students remark that Kaplan is awesome and they are so glad they took it. That's fantastic, I tell them.

Late December: I bought a NCLEX app for the iPod. I borrowed a Kaplan book from the library. I painted my living room. My new boss calls and says, "What do you mean you didn't take Kaplan!!!!"

January 2011: I return from the best vacation of my life and start studying, for real this time, for NCLEX ... sorta. I was still waiting for "permission to test" letter. Then I received it and made my test date for one week later. One week and 250 miles later.
So the real studying had finally begun. I had a plan. I was focused and I was ready.

Monday: Carolyn was sick so she stayed home. My last minute plans of catching up on my weak spots fell apart and I even lost electricity and needed an electrician. Everything that could go wrong was going wrong.

And in my twisted, tired mind, I believed these were omens instructing me not to take the test. Failure was imminent.

Tuesday: After losing internet access, I told Steve to cancel my testing appointment. I regain computer access 10 minutes later and re-enrolled for the same test. I did this all without even the slightest break in sobbing. The girls were very unsure of how to deal with this turn of events and eventually became sick of it, asking ,"Why are you crying? Are you going to stop soon?"

Wednesday (testing day): My eyes were swollen for two days after my massive breakdown. Thankfully, I spent all day Wednesday either driving or testing, so I didn't really see many people. The nursing student working at Panera looked like she felt sorry for me, but I was too nervous for chit chat. I was so nervous that I was shocked when I started testing and actually knew some of the answers. Then...


I took the minimum number of questions (75) and finished in two hours. Easy like sleazy. So after all the uncertainty, all the doubts and all the tears, I completed the biggest test of my life with very few problems. Well, except for four weeks of paranoid terror. But other than that, it very uneventful.

Thursday: The day after the test, I came down with a horrible cold that seemed to burst out like it had been holding back for weeks. So I laid on the couch and watched old movies with abandon and then I took a 2 hour nap... because I could.
So now on to the next chapter. A chapter free of tests, but full of the possibility I could kill somebody. Ahhh... No more tests.....

Friday, January 14, 2011

Once a writer

I always had this crazy habit as a writer in that I like to write out loud. I like to talk my thoughts out as I write them down and it's always helped me in organizing sentences and creating tone.

The problem is, I've started doing this in test taking. In prepping for my NCLEX test, which is in the near future (although I'm superstitiously not revealing the exact day), I have started working through problems verbally. I'm fairly certain this will be frowned upon on testing day.

To correct it, I'm thinking about just mouthing my thoughts during my upcoming practice exam. Sure, I might look insane. But it won't be the first (or presumably the last) time.

On a completely different topic, I've decided to cure Carolyn of her forgetfulness. To this, Steve hung his head and said, "Oh no..." He believes this to be a fruitless endeavor, but I think I can do it. More on this failed endeavor in the future.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I'm not certain if it's because I just finished one of the most challenging years of my life. Or maybe the stars are aligned. Or maybe it's because 37 is the best year of a person's life.

But my trip to Disney World was... and I realize how clique this sounds... truly magical.

To begin, Steve planned everything. Every detail. And in doing so, he landed us, not one, but two rooms at the Waldorf Astoria, the only existing model of the famous NYC hotel. And not just two rooms. But one room and one suite. So two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. With a balcony view of the fireworks at night. It was luxurious beyond my expectations. And they had the best breakfast I've ever eaten.

And then there were the children. If I ever write an Orlando guidebook, I will forever insist that 5 and 6 are the perfect age to take children to Disney. There is... here I go again... a certain magic they see that does not exist in everyday life that is readily available at Disney. And I'm not naive. I understand it's manufactured, which is sort of why I've always been (sort of) anti-Disney. But even I got weepy at the fireworks display.

And then there was the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be in a Disney parade. The only parade that invites guest. And they only ask about 7 or 8 families a day. By far, the girls' least favorite part. But having hundreds and hundred of people wave at you is a real experience. I could probably write a whole separate blog about how we were targeted for our multi-ethnic appearance, but I'll refrain.

And then, and this is the main "and then," there was my family. It just so worked out that Carolyn likes roller coasters. And who knew? Me too! We rode Space Mountain three times. Mt. Everest Expedition twice. Thunder Mountain. And this left lots of time for Penny and Steve to catch parades, get stalked by Disney photographers and meet lots of characters.

We rode every ride we wanted. Packed lunches so we didn't have to eat crappy, overpriced Disney food. Caught the bus at just the right time on all but one occasion. Met all the characters. Did I mention the girls love Disney characters?

It was the trip where everything went right. Even the flight through Atlanta, mere hours before an ice storm stranded the flight behind us. So thanks Disney. We'll probably never do it again, but it was one magical experience. I'll stop now.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

We must protect this house!

Well, I vowed to blog more, so here it is. I started the day with a 4-mile jog in 20 degrees. Brrr... But I have to say, running in that weather sort of makes me feel like a real bad ass. And that is a fine attitude for this time of year when I'm studying for NCLEX. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can....

Yesterday, in true "Me" style, I was asleep before midnight. But I did take the kids to the Children's Museum for a New Year's countdown at noon. I thought, "this should be fun." So did 1,057 other people. It was a wee bit crowded and annoying.

I kept losing the girls because they're not used to it being so busy and they just kind of wandered off. And I had this constant feeling I was being exposed to sickness. I could only take 90 minutes before I was like, "HOME!!! NOW!!!" Maybe it's good training for Disney, which we leave for in five days. Woohoo.

Well, I'm off to sit in front of the television. God bless New Year's Day. It's even more awesome when you're not hung over.