Why is there never any chocolate or other candy around when you need it?
And why didn’t anyone bother to call to tell me my mom’s been really sick?
Friends are like bras; a good one never lets you down
Why is there never any chocolate or other candy around when you need it?
And why didn’t anyone bother to call to tell me my mom’s been really sick?
I remember when my kids were little and they’d do things that would cause me to say something I’d never thought I’d ever utter in my life, but it’s been a while, y’know? And despite the fact that I’ve cared for many children over the years, there are still things coming out of my mouth that surprise me.
Last night, I was giving the baby (nanny job, remember?) his bottle and he grabs his foot. He’s looking at it. Intently. Next thing you know, he’s jabbing his toe in his eye. Oy. Like I need to be ‘splainin’ that kind of injury to his mama.
Basically, it got me thinking about all the things my kids used to do when they were younger and how they made me shake my head in wonder at times.
Only slightly off-tangent: the things the kids used to say… “babing suit” was Mojo’s way of saying bathing suit. And “boo prise”. “Bessert” instead of dessert. LD…his Australian accent…
Nothing more to this post than that. Just randomly firing synapses I had to get out of my system.
Happiness is: Getting a CD in for review and falling absolutely, positively in love with it.
It’s a country CD. New one from a man whose music and voice I’ve always loved. Guess what? He’s managed to get even more brilliant with age.
CD: Neal McCoy XII. Review in progress…after a few more listens.
This has almost made up for my missing car. Almost. If he were here singing right to me, I’m sure I wouldn’t even remember having a car.
Happiness Is: discovering you’re not really a night owl, you were just born in the wrong hemisphere! Now, all I have to do to get myself on the “regular people” schedule is to move to, say, England or Scotland. Or, Australia. Perfectly sensible approach to my odd inner-clock’s war with “normal” work hours.
Over at Deadspin, Drew Magary writes about retaking the SAT at age 35.
At first you think, why would anyone want to do such a thing? WHY? Didn’t you get your fill of torture back in high school? But then you get to thinking, “I wonder if I’ve become smarter or dumber since leaving school…” and there’s really only one way to find out. You gotta take the test again.
While I didn’t do SAT or ACT in high school, I did have a couple of big tests I had to face later on to do the whole nursing thing. And Drew’s story made me remember, all too vividly, those events.
Here is that story (for those who may not have read it before [different iteration, same basic tale] and would like to take pleasure in my severe discomfort).
I never took the SAT or ACT. I wanted to go to college, but I figured I’d start out at a community college and work my way up. (Somehow, I figured it would be easier to figure out what I really wanted to do by spending less money on classes that only inspired me to drop out, drop back in, drop out again, and, well, you get the idea.)
It took me until I was 30 before I was ready to tackle school again, and I had picked a major: Nursing. I went into nursing. I went the old “tech school” route. I still had to take an entrance exam and general education classes to get to the nursing track, but I did it. And not only did I ace the entrance exam, I CORRECTED THE MOFO for the school. The one thing I’d remembered about algebra was order of operations and they messed it up, setting the “correct answer” incorrectly. For this half-brain dead second-time mom (really, only months after having kid #2…and at that point, you’re still not sleeping well, still haven’t recovered the brain cells the kid sucks out of you during gestation) who pretty much grasped math but hated it for anything unnecessary in life to correct an entrance exam at a school and have the school dance around me, throwing confetti, handing me champagne (okay, I probably just imagined the party), that’s pretty damn good, right? Right. And it was a good thing I had done so. Because, little did I know, I was about to enter the world of pharmacology. EVERYTHING involved with pharm and dosage calculation is all about numbers and scary equations. Multiplying and dividing fractions! Adding all sorts of scary other numbers. Worst of all, you were told: “YOU MUST GET THESE EQUATIONS RIGHT. A WRONG ANSWER COULD BE FATAL FOR YOUR PATIENTS.” Absolutely no pressure there. None. Just more sleepless nights and bald patches on your scalp, from all the hair-pulling. I don’t think I had fingernails for a whole year.
After you finally finish nursing school, you have to take your Boards. Yes, there is one final scary, piss-your-pants, sweat-stain-your-clothes exam that makes any other test seem like a cakewalk. I, fortunately, had gone to a school that had just been purchased by Kaplan. We got free Kaplan test prep classes. Thank God for that week of 8 hour sessions and practice tests. Thank God for the practice test books and CD-ROM tests I bought. Still, when I went in for my Board exam, I was terrified. TERRIFIED. But, as ready as I would ever be. All my belongings were locked in a locker. I was handed a pen, an erase board, had my driver’s license, too, and sat down in a chair in front of a large, intimidating gray computer screen. (Technically, I would call that shade of gray “grey” because it was so oppressive and scary.)
The thing about the NCLEX (Nursing Board exam) is that you know for certain you’ll have a minimum of 75 questions. Or you might end up with the maximum 500 questions. Or something in between. No indication if you’re doing well or not. You can take as long as you want to finish the test, but you can’t go back if it suddenly dawns on you that you answered something wrong. You just keep going forward. When the program determines you’ve answered enough questions correctly or incorrectly, it shuts down. Blank. No Porky Pig sayin’, “B-b-b-b-b- That’s all, folks!” Just a blank screen. At some point along the way. No warning.
I sat in my plastic chair in front of the GREY SCREEN OF DEATH and went through question after question. I applied all I’d learned through the Kaplan study course to make my life easier. Until it came to dosage calc. I didn’t have a calculator. Just my sweaty and horribly fatigued mommy brain. But I got to it, did what I had to, and got through each question as it came along. I floated back into the confusingly worded questions I liked so much better, hoping pharm wouldn’t come up again, but it did. Each time, I chicken scratched away on the white board, got my answer, and prayed it matched something on the GREY SCREEN OF DEATH. It did. It always did. Right or wrong, my feeble brain came up with something that someone else had kindly included in the multiple choice section.
After noticing that I was nearing question #75, I broke out in a new kind of sweat that I hadn’t known existed before. It’s the sourest of sour sweat and it’s super extra runny, drippy. I had to blink it away from my eyes. Finally, I gave up and started using my t-shirt to blot away what I could while I worked. My breathing was ragged. My hands were shaking. I thought for certain I was about to pass out in front of all the other people taking their boards. Somehow, I managed to avoid that indignity altogether. My mouth when dry as #75 popped onto the GREY SCREEN OF DEATH. I closed my eyes, took a long, deep breath, exhaled slowly, and then opened my eyes to find a question I knew without a doubt I could answer correctly. So, I did. And then the computer shut down. Blank screen staring back at me. I began shaking even more.
WHAT? Did I break it? Is the test really over? Does 75 questions mean I passed or failed? Help! HELP!! There was nothing left to do but pick up my pen, dry erase board, my locker key, and my driver’s license and take them to the administrator. I noticed my classmate Geraldine was still taking her test, and another couple people I knew, but I couldn’t say anything. Not even, “good luck!” Only after I had turned everything in to the administrator did I find out I’d finished in 45 or 90 minutes…something like that. The woman told me not to worry. The first person done always freaks out, even if they had all 500 questions. She told me to go home, take a warm shower, drink some Gatorade, and try to find a dark, quiet place to rest for a bit. “You need it, honey. You’re drenched in sweat and you’re so tense you look like a pretzel…and not one of the pretty ones that everyone eats first.” Gee, thanks.
I did go home. I did take a shower. The longest shower I’d ever taken in my life. It was so long, I emptied the water heater tank. No easy feat at our house. But I did it. I put on my jammies, grabbed a cold drink, went into my bedroom, curled up into the fetal position, and cried non-stop for two hours. Once the relief of being done with the test was fully out of my system, I picked up the phone and called everyone I knew. For those who were in the room taking the test with me: I had to leave messages. Apparently they were still there taking the test. For those who hadn’t taken the test yet: I went through the whole experience, leaving no detail out. I tried to give them as many questions as I could remember (although the database has an unlimited supply of questions and the chance of one of my classmates getting the same questions I had was basically zilch, we’d promised to do this for each other). Once I was done with the nursing school students, I called the three teachers I’d formed strong bonds with over the year. They talked me down off my ledge of anxiety and gave me the list of places I needed to apply, places they’d carefully chosen for me, and each ended our conversation with gentle, upbeat, life-affirming words of wisdom.
After that, I called my mom and started crying all over again. It took a full week for me to truly come down and chill out enough to get back to normal day-to-day activities. Well, at least until the day we knew we could call the Board of Registered Nursing (about 3 weeks later, if I remember correctly) to see if we’d passed (we could wait for the mail to deliver the results, but why wait longer when you can get the results quicker over the phone!). You didn’t just call in and give your name and have someone tell you, “yes, you passed. Your license number is 1234567″. You had to listen to a block of numbers and names read by a computerized voice. You had to pay attention to the numbers, too, because if your name followed it, that was your license number. And you might have to call back later if you hadn’t heard your name yet because they updated the system every two hours. It was nerve-wracking. By my third call, I figured out the easiest way to get through the system and when I finally heard my name, there really wasn’t much left to do but jump up and down and whoop and holler loud enough to wake the baby across the street. I had passed! Better still, I discovered my friend Geraldine had passed, too, as her number was right after mine.
Getting my results in the mail a few weeks later, along with my actual nursing license, was one of the proudest moments of my life! Much blood, sweat, tears, hair, vomit, diarrhea, and finger/toenails, not to mention money, were sacrificed for that glorious piece of paper and that little plastic card. Once again, I woke the neighbor’s baby, but didn’t stick around long enough to care. I raced over to show off my “trophies” to my mom, dad, mother-in-law, my sister and brother-in-law, my husband, my kids, and anyone else I could possibly bore with my tale of horror and, ultimately, victory.
Part of me is glad I never had to face the SAT or ACT because I would have crumbled. I wasn’t nearly as strong as a teen to endure that sort of pressure. I was barely just strong enough as an adult to face my nursing board exam (which was much more difficult). And I know if I’d had taken the SAT or ACT years before, I would have never wanted to sit for the NCLEX. It’s a trade I’m glad I made because by the time I got to nursing school, I was focused and clear on what I wanted to do with my life and I had my family, especially the kids, giving me all the motivation I needed to work hard and stay on task. I did it and I will never, ever…EVER…do it again. That was plenty for me.
Happiness is: discovering you sat on a Junior Mint BEFORE you’ve gone out in public.
I woke up this morning shaking my head. I had to clear it of the crazy dream that was still thick in my thoughts.
It went a little something like this:
I woke up on the sofa, which I’d pushed up close to the TV to make room (in the place I currently live) for a friend’s (we’ll call him Dale) piano and bass (even though he plays neither). He came in the room and sat down to talk, asking me if was ready for the holidays. (Holidays? Yeah, I guess. I could smell turkey and ham and all that.) Dale then thanked me for letting him be a part of celebration with my family and said he was just so happy that my mom had called to invite him. I was puzzled, but just nodded and said I was glad he could join us. I also warned him not to get near me because I’d been sick and sleeping on the couch for a couple days without a shower. “At the very least, I’d have to Febreze myself before you hug me. And brush my teeth.” He just laughed and went into the kitchen (but not the kitchen here) to fix breakfast.
Then a young toddler Little Dude came down the stairs (again, in the house I’m in at the moment) naked, cute little baby butt bare to the world. As soon as I saw LD, I scooped him into my arms and carried him upstairs. Upstairs, however, was my parents’ room from our second house in San Diego. Complete with pale green (celery?) carpeting, mirrored closet doors, and everything. And the rooms my sisters and I had. Except the room my little sister and I shared had another room in where the closet should’ve been.
As I walked into my parents’ room, I asked my mom where Mojo was. She told me my daughter was at a sleepover. Oh, and by the way, LD still had a slight diaper rash. I asked if we still had some A&D or Desitin and she replied that she wasn’t sure. Also, she said, “make sure you clean up after Dale. Bailing him out of jail is one thing; cleaning up his mess in the kitchen is another.” Well, color me confused. Jail? Huh? What?
Anyway, I went into the room that had been my older sister’s because, apparently, it was now the room I shared with my kids. It had bunk beds, a crib, and my old dresser and trunk. My big sister was asleep on the top bunk with a guinea pig in carrier.
Somehow or another, LD turned into a kitten and I put him up on the bed with my sister. She said I shouldn’t do that because she was sure the cat and guinea pig wouldn’t get along. Then the guinea pig turned into a kitten as well and the cats began sniffing at each other through the plastic carrier, pawing and mewing adorably. I turned around to look for the real LD, but he wasn’t there. I went into the other bedroom and called for him. I looked in the extra room (the one in the closet) and saw the bed that Dale had slept in (confusing because my little sister would have been in the adjoining room…I think) while I’d slumbered unaware downstairs.
LD wasn’t in either of those rooms. I kept looking for him, finally finding him in the drawer of my dresser where I’d gone to grab jeans and a shirt. I cradled him in one arm, my change of clothes in the other, and headed off for a shower.
I put him in a playpen in this gigantic bathroom (it was a thing of beauty, unlike any bathroom I’ve ever had) while I showered. Then I got him cleaned up and headed downstairs to clean the kitchen. The kitchen, in the meantime, had become the scene of some horrific carnage: Thanksgiving. And everyone had left the mess for me to clean up…along with a squirmy toddler and two crazy, playful cats.
And that’s when I awoke.
I think I can interpret most of the stuff, but I’m not sure how Dale showed up or why he was playing two instruments different from what he really plays. Nor am I sure I understand the extra room in the closet.
I gave up trying to figure it out. It only took me 12 hours to stop thinking about it.
Dear Jlo -
Please keep the music inside you.
You’d think after ten years of blogging you’d get used to losing a friend here or there. But death is shocking no matter what and I certainly never imagined this was in the cards for Lex.
Lex was a dear man. The kind to leave a sweet, funny, supportive comment, or send an email when he felt he could offer fresh perspective. Just seeing his name in the old inbox was enough to make me smile.
I was just thinking about him a couple days ago, too. I had a question only he could answer. In fact, I knew he’d already answered it for me once before but I had to ask again. I didn’t get the chance. Yet that’s hardly the worst thing in the world. No, the worst thing is not having the right words to share with his family; to thank them for sharing him with us; to thank them for being his support system and living the military life as he chased his dreams and kept us all safe from the evils that lurk out there.
Lex was a good man. A decent, hardworking, dedicated, devoted man. He believed in love (of family, of country); he believed in freedom (and fought and died for it); he believed in America (all its flaws and all its strengths — of which he was one of this country’s greatest strengths); he believed in lending a hand and sharing a kind word, shared laughter, thoughtfulness, being honorable, and so much more.
He was an excellent writer, too. His stories could draw you in with a single word.
But, mostly, Carroll LeFon (as those outside the blogosphere knew him) was a man who put his heart and soul into everything he did, keeping in mind that the most important reasons for all that hard work could be found at home: his family. “… ‘Married to the best girl I ever met, who also delivered up three wonderful children. Don’t really know how I could be happier, or more blessed,’ he wrote…”
To his family and close friends, my heart goes out to you. You are in my prayers and I am so very grateful to all that you have given us all these years.
Carroll “Neptunus Lex” LeFon — rest in peace. We salute you, my friend.
I have been puked on twice this week. First time was H2T (and in case you don’t comprendez Tyraspeak: “Head to  Toe” — and yes, I realize I watch way too much ANTM. It’s a guilty pleasure.)
So there I was, feeding an adorable little baby boy his bottle when ALL OF A SUDDEN HE ERUPTS! Gooey, mucousy, yellow and white vomit is pouring forth. I’ve been hit. Shoulder. Breast. Waist. The thigh! The shin! And the feet. Both of the feet. He’s covered with the goo, too. And crying. Okay, SCREAMING. I throw a blanket over the vomit on the floor and head upstairs to clean us up a bit before his mom gets home. In fact, I text her to let her know what’s going on since she’s been gone for over four hours (most of her outings turn into Gilligan’s Island pleasure cruises…heading out for a gallon of milk suddenly becomes a quest for the Holy Grail and my plans get shot to shit). Up the stairs with the wiggly, screaming, very unhappy baby, and the little guy to boot…I grab clothes for him, clothes for me, set him on the bathroom floor, grab wipes, washcloths, and a towel. I strip him down and get him cleaned up, dried off, and hand him a book. He calms down and looks at the book while I strip down, wash up, and get dressed. I have to do the washing bit a couple of times because I can still smell puke on my skin.
As many of you may recall, I don’t like vomit. Emesis is my nemesis.
And I’ve endured this twice in one week.
Also, I’ve had a repeat MRI. Finally. It’s been two years since the last one and I’m having increased symptoms of hand numbness and tingling in the morning, patches of tingling and heat in my legs, and even with meds the pain is not well-controlled (of course, having the insurance company play games and dangle the meds in front of me for three weeks before giving them to me was rather contra-indicated on my pain management plan, but I eventually got them). Now we can see if things have shifted/deteriorated/compressed or whatever else to the point of my needing surgery again, or at the very least having a reason for the insurance co to approve more steroid epidurals…which had been working!!!! Sometimes the simplest solutions require squeaking wheels (or overly dramatic tearful phone calls to lawyers) to get the game playing to stop and get people to do what a judge ordered them to do two years ago.
It’s no wonder I’ve begun to intermittently bite my nails again.
Late yesterday, after my MRI, after the barfing baby and his mommy left for an exotic land, and the daddy left for work, I found myself reveling in the deliciously pure silence in the house, knowing I wouldn’t have to wake up early for two weeks unless I so choose, knowing that my laundry can be done when I want to do it, how I like to do it, and knowing that after the daddy leaves to join the mommy and baby, I will have even more freedom to just rest and relax my way…all day…all night…watching whatever I want. Not having to visit with Caillou or Sportacus or even that cute little imp called Elmo. No. I will listen to grown up music. I will watch grown up tv shows. And I will eat grown up food WHEN I WANT TO!
Sadly, I will have no one to take a mid-day nap alongside me.
Applications are welcome. Up-chuckers need not apply.