Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rocket Ship to the Moon

My son woke me up on Monday morning. "Rocket ships to the moon...Getcher rocketship to the moon here."

Aside: my son often wakes me up saying strange things. F'rinstance: when he was three he walked into my bedroom in the middle of the night and started talking about how microbats use echolocation to find their prey because their eyes are too tiny to see. What?

So I got up and I picked out a rocket ship amidst a fairly good selection. I chose the most colorful one because I was bleary-eyed and I felt it was a day that called for something festive.

See, my last big project for nursing school was due the next day and it was a monster of a project: It was, of course, a group project because all projects in nursing school require you to coordinate with at least one if not 7 other people all of whom live more than 30 miles from you and have some sort of unworkable combination of jobs and/ or kids. The three of us did most of the work over the phone and via email. It was one of those projects wherein various incarnations of the written bits are peppering the computer's desktop and they've been given names like "projectbest.doc" and "projectfinal.doc" and "projectfinalA.doc" and "projectfinalnoreally.doc" and so I can't really tell what the most updated version is and it's mixed in with the other docs and ppts and pdfs and I'm getting calls on the cell phone from other groups whilst on the landline with my posse, "What do you think she means by literature review?" and I can't answer because there's two phones and six people and 30 documents and the kids won't go to sleep and are mixing soap and baking soda together in the kitchen thanks to the whole gak experiment and now let's see what happens when we mix this messy substance with that other messy substance cuckoo, cuckoo.

So, I carried the rocket ship with me all day and every time I just couldn't take it I made little rocket ship whooshy sounds and headed to the moon and, I have to say, it helped because here I am. I am not exploded from stress. I have Thanskgiving pie action going on in the kitchen. There are toasty nuts cooling. There is caramel (oh, yes, there is!) in the fridge. There is vanilla custard. There's a graham cracker crust. No. settle down. These are components of two different pies: Banana cream (special request from my favorite niece) and chocolate caramal almond tart (organize those first three words in any way you'd like, but "tart" is the last name.

What was the point? Oh, yeah. So, the project to end all projects was an analysis of three research papers on an issue of interest. But, wait, there's more! We had to put it onto a poster to present it. So it was a three-dimensional paper. Somehow we got the thing together over the phone. Miss J. had purchased the poster and stayed up really late laying it out and nothing was fitting and we had pared it down as much as it would pare.

I showed up to class the next day just a tiny bit early and there's Miss J. and the poster and there were words leaking off the poster and onto the table and the edges of the paper were curling up at the sides and I think I gasped and the instructor walked in and I think Miss J.'s hand went up to her mouth because of the captain's platter of my gasp and the instructor walking in and I felt terrible. We couldn't really say anything because the instructions said that we had to work on ALL ASPECTS OF THE PROJECT AS A GROUP (and, yes, it was all caps). So Miss J. and I are taping up the curly bits and the instructor (sigh, I have to tell you she was my L and D instructor - not the biggest fan of me and you can refer to older posts on that one) says, "Not really in the lean and mean category is it?" In walk other groups with these gigantic posters. Turns out Target is not the place to buy those tri-fold demonstration posters and poor Miss J. had to work all night to fit everything onto this little board.

So we go first and the instructor sits down and scooties the desk up to the edge of the table that holds our research poster and she squwinches up her eyes and we get some comments and questions and maybe I was the only one trying not to cry because, well, this statement should have had a reference and we didn't synthesize the three studies at the end and can't anyone remember the literacy rate in Turkey? And then we get a 97 and we're breathing again. Phew. it's over.

I said goodbye to most of my clients this week. I was surprised at how hard it was. I'm so tired and I feel like I've done what I can in the time I can and now what and I've been ready to move on. All three of them said something along the lines of, "Maybe you can call," or "Maybe we'll run into each other," and I felt like I was the one breaking up a relationship and gave some awkward "Um, yes. Perhaps I'll see you around town," and left and tried not to look back because I didn't want to see their sad goodbye faces and I know I won't see them around because, well, it's over. That's how it is. I'm all professional in my weepiness and all, see.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


My application for the NCLEX (inclusive of all the checklist stuff: passport photo -drat, why did I wear the orange scarf that was my first and only knitting project?- check, photocopy of the form stating that I had the fingerprinting done - have you done that yet? The guy smashed and rolled all ten of my fingers on a scanner -, and the application itself) has been sitting next to the computer for days. I plan to send it certified mail and - did I mention I have a terrible cold? - I haven't picked up enough speed to get to the post office. I've been studying, though. I'm on page 85 of the gigantico study book. One of the first chapters is about leadership. "What type of leadership does this represent? A) autocratic B) automatic C) laundromatic D) dichromatic" Uh, you mean I really have to know that? Were you paying attention in that class? Yeah, no, me neither.

But then if you skip ahead to the fun stuff, let's say electrolytes and fluid balance (whee!) then you can start to wonder: Do I really need to know the acceptable levels of phosphorous in the human body (3.0 - 4.5 mg/dl)? And who knew there were so many different types of dehydration? Did I learn that? I was there for all the classes, right? You saw me sitting in front of you taking notes at a million miles per and asking questions to stay awake and engaged. Remember?

But, and, well, I'm not really worried. It'll be fine. They (those people who have taken The Test) say that the best thing an NCLEX- studying person can do is to answer lots of questions. Just practice answering questions. Post any questions you might have and I'll answer them.

Remember oobleck or gak? It's one part water to four parts cornstarch and if you're a REALLY cool mom (not like grumpy old me) you'll add a few drops of food coloring. That's some oobleck up there. Fun stuff. I recommend it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


"Are you good at forensics," my client asked as I was on my way out the door. "Uh...what do you mean...forensics?" I was thinking chalk outlines, dead bodies in the basement and, perhaps, maggots. "I think someone is breaking into my house and poisoning me," says my client. She was calm and her tone was a lovely-day-we're-having tone. She showed me the rat poison scattered in her cupboard. "I put this here, but I didn't put the borax over here," she said pointing to a trail of white powder, all of it looking the same to me. I was standing in the kitchen with her and the flies were buzzing around the open garbage can and her little body was in front of the door and I looked over and...

why didn't I notice the lawn mower in the dining room before? It may have previously been concealed by the boxes leaking clothes and magazines. And here, folks, I don't mean a svelte push mower. No. This was a full on gas-powered mower (w/ clipping bag attached!) sitting right there.

"Rat poison is warfarin." She said cheerfully. Yeah, I guess so. Basically, rats eat it and bleed to death. And she pointed out that she's been having inexplicable bleeding. Sooooo, here's the thing: I've come to realize lately that I haven't always been asking the right questions. What do you say, here, when someone with a lawn mower in their dining room tells you that they are being poisoned? "Who is poisoning you?" was what I asked. That was probably the wrong question. I probably should have asked where she kept the rat poison motherlode and taken it away like I should have taken another client's 5 untaken Cipro pills away. Or hidden it. But, no. I got to hear the whole story.

And then she took me to her room and showed me the necklace in the vitamin bottle. "This was stolen from me and then I, later, found it here." And, so what is the wrong question to ask here? Yes. I asked it, "Uh, are you sure that *you* didn't put it there?" That took my client from pleasant to agitated. I should have asked how she thought it got there. I should have said, "Interesting." I should have asked about the lawn mower as a clever change-o-subject. So, to calm her down I said, "Maybe you have a ghost." and, weirdly, that did calm her down because she may have realized I was feeble-minded and that I just didn't understand. "No, I don't have a ghost." Flies buzzing in the kitchen and lawn mower looming I fuzzily lost all therapeutic communication abilities. I just nodded.

So, on the one hand, I'm glad my client is opening up to me a bit more. On the other hand, now what? Geez, what if my (I now realize) demented client is poisoning herself? And what's with the lawn mower? I'm back in over my head.