The To-Do List

This is what I have to do this week, so you can understand my level of insanity:

For my health law and ethics elective:

  • A 12-page paper–I chose to do mine on the lack of OSHA regs in healthcare.
  • A matching presentation on the above to be presented to my classmates

For my social media marketing elective:

  • Plan a social media marketing for a local business with whom I have partnered, including an execution plan and integration with existing promotions and events
  • Read two books
  • Write a blog post and watch 2 2-hour videos
  • Present above plan to my class

For my finance class:

  • Get through another 100 pages of text
  • Get through a study guide and over 100 practice problems
  • A case study to be completed in a group
  • Get ready for what is sure to be the most difficult final exam ever.

For my capstone:

  • One more round of decisions for my fake company I have been running all semester (which has a 120% growth  in profits, thankyouverymuch!)
  • An online exam
  • 2 10-page papers
  • A review of the above operations of the fake company
  • Another simulation of a shorter duration
  • The ETS exam required of all MBAs from AACSB-accredited programs in the country

That’s this week. And I work two nights in the middle somewhere.

Now you get it, right? Because nobody in my life right now seems to understand what I am talking about when I try to explain my current stress level.

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These are the Days

16 Days. Of course I type that while I am supposed to be awake putting together a 45-minute multimedia presentation on integrated marketing practices for class tomorrow. My final project for a marketing elective to round out my requirements for the almighty advanced degree. John, in his awesomeness, brewed the strong coffee for me before turning in for the night. And I can’t quit thinking. I can’t quit thinking, not of integrated marketing as I should be, but of the uncertainty of my life right now. Have you ever been in a place where the things you spend your days doing no longer feel like they are what you should be doing? Where you feel like maybe your real life awaits you, if only you can survive this short little interim? That is this place. These are those days.

My views may possibly be skewed. I realize this. There are people who have devoted their entire lives to do what I have done for the past eight years. They keep doing it, content with their contribution to the world. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is honorable. I’m not selfless enough. I feel like I have spent the past eight years paying dues to the world, to my being in general. To the spirit of my mother, who died from lung disease. I’ve been a good girl, and I have been good at my job. There are, in all honesty, people who are breathing today because of the work I have done. I have been there to help babies who could not help themselves. I have been there when families have said goodbye to parts of themselves. I have wiped brows of the dying, delivered tough love when necessary, compassion when it was needed. I have put myself and my family last. And now, after all of these years of doing that, I want to do something different, and in my warped mind, I have earned that. Not because I will, in just 16 days, have a piece of paper with my name in beautiful calligraphy saying I have completed some requirement set forth from society, but because I have paid my dues in other ways.

People ask me what it is I want, and I always answer with a “we’ll see” kind of shrug. I love healthcare, am passionate about healthcare. And I want to leave some sort of mark on this industry that is on a higher level than the one I am currently leaving. And I want to do so in a way that allows time for me, time for my family.

Lately, I have been thinking a great deal about my path through higher education as a non-traditional student. Evan was about 2 when I put on a  backpack for the first time since my mom died, which was eight years before that. Evan is 12. I will finish this long road about 2 weeks before the ten-year anniversary of that first time back. And I have thought about it. I have allowed myself the luxury of pondering just sucking it up, reaching deep, and going straight into a Ph.D. program or a JD, even. And then I think of them. Of Evan and Zach, of John. And what I want is no longer about a higher degree or prestige. Now, when I think of what I want, it isn’t grandiose at all. It’s simple stuff. Little things that aren’t luxuries to most, but have been to me in these years where I have tried to do it all.

I want to come home and not have to rush off to class, be able to eat dinner with my family at a normal hour around a table with food we prepared at home. I want to watch a movie with John without worrying about homework I should be doing or, better yet, am actually trying to do with said movie playing in the background. I would love to take the boys to a movie or park on a weeknight for no reason at all. Maybe even go on a weekend hiking trip. Maybe John and I could have a real date once in a while. Or I could read a book that has not a damned thing to do with academics at all. I want to blog more. Maybe I could revamp this one a little bit with all I know about social media marketing and content creation these days. I want to join a gym and be able to go–and not some lame attempt a a resolution where I don’t have the follow-through because, hey, thinking I would even have the time for a workout each day was optimistic at best, even closer to being the world’s dumbest idea. No, I want to actually go. And work on myself a little bit, and not just on cramming my brain with as much knowledge as possible.

It’s so strange to me. When I started this, I thought, “MBA: the CEO’s degree. I’m want to be loaded.” It isn’t about that anymore. It’s about enjoying life and having the means to do so comfortably. There is only one material possession I even want, and it is going to sound worse than it is: that new Mercedes CLA 250. Sounds greedy and ridiculous, right? No, because in reality, it is only about 3K more than I paid for our current car and I bought it used. And the current car is too big for me to feel comfortable driving with my vision issues. So sounds crazy, but really isn’t. But anyway, here I am at the end, and the salary isn’t the thing anymore. The job is, the career is, the comfort is, but the money isn’t. And I am saying this about 2 days before I have an interview for a position that would pay more money than I have seen in my life–about 5 times my current salary. And now I suddenly don’t care. Well, I mean, I care in that there is a minimum I can take. I worked hard and paid a lot of money for my MBA. I can’t just give it away. But money isn’t the key determinant.

So here I am. Sixteen days from the big finish. And it feels like everything in my current life is winding down so I can start the new one. So these are the days. The days of excitement, of anticipation. Of anxiety and uncertainty. Of endings and new beginnings. Of wrapping up and starting anew. Of sheer panic mixed with resolution and calm.

These are the days I have to let go and hope it all works out, that it proves to have been worth it.

And if it does work out, these are the days I get to lean back, prop up my feet, and tell myself that after ten years, I earned every damned bit of it.

Still Alive

One day, I’ll return to writing for my own sake.

In the meantime, this is what is going on right now:

Evan is thriving in middle school. The girls are swarming. It’s bad. Last Thursday, after some really strange symptoms that had been going on sporadically, we were told that they thought he had a brain tumor. More about that experience on another day. I just can’t right now. He is seeing a pediatric neurologist in a few days and we’ll hopefully get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, I am trying not to unravel in my worry by focusing my attention on the fact that the head CT was negative. I am instead focusing on other things: that–for the first time ever–this kid has friends; that girls love him and I actually have to worry about what goes on when he is not supervised with a girl, that he is now wearing small men’s clothes, that he has that goofy ‘stache coming in and his dad is going to have to teach him to shave.

Zach is…Zach. He refuses to have anything to do with a toilet. I am tired of having to buy Pull-Ups. Or worse yet, diapers. He still sleeps in a diaper because Pull-Ups leak too much at bedtime. I would let him feel that discomfort with the idea that it would motivate him, but he just sleeps through it, thus we sleep through it, and we wake in the morning to a child with a rash and blue lips from sleeping in soaked pajamas. I cannot deal with neither the grossness factor or the health risk of that. We encourage. His preschool teachers encourage. We have purchased every toilet-learning device known to man, looking for the magic one. Currently, that is this cushie Prince Lionheart insert that seems so comfy that I wish it would accommodate adults.He has no desire whatsoever. But what is he doing? He is speaking plainly, counting, saying his alphabet, (crudely) writing his name, singing songs. (Please do not mix up the order of he verses of “The Wheels on the Bus”!) In May, this was the child who could literally say nothing that a stranger could understand. So I am not sweating the potty stuff. We’ll get there. He always does, doesn’t he? He’s still my little wonder–smart, cute,  funny, sweet.  He’s just Zachy.

John is making me proud everyday, He has lost over 50 pounds since the fateful day over the summer when a doctor I respect came to me to tell me that he could have died at any second from the blockages in his heart. His BP is down. He is down to only one medication for diabetes, and that dosage even had to be cut in half. His cardiologist cleared him to run at home after he outgrew the mild exercises at cardiac rehab. His cholesterol was actually low at his last check, so his medication for that was cut in half. The beta-blacker was stopped after he exhibited no need for it. He was wearing a size 40 waist in the summer. He is down to a 34, and those are falling off, but we’re holding off on shopping for more, since he’s built up to 2-mile runs daily–any little bit of weight he has left will melt off as his endurance gets back up there. His doctor says he only needs to lose 9 more pounds to be ideal body weight. If he loses 18 more, he will be back down to his post-boot camp weight from his Marine Corps days.

And me? I’m hanging in there. I have–wait, let me count–8 more weeks left of school. I start my capstone next Saturday. My paperwork for graduation is submitted. I am off of work. Blame some little boys who cannot seem to get their dirty laundry in a hamper. I tripped on some dirty clothes and fell down the entire flight of basement stairs on my left leg, with it ricocheting off of each step on the way down. They thought stuff was torn. Instead, I found out that every piece of cartilage in there is inflamed from the trauma. So it has been injections, PT, crutches (for about 5 weeks). I am finally to the walking stage, but only for very short trips and in transit. I cannot stand or walk for long periods at all. (Read: I can limp to my class and sit in a chair, I can walk to the car and get in it, but I can’t do shopping trips, etc.) I’m just hanging in. Also, I remember lamenting on here how I hated undergrad corporate finance. It has nothing on the 600 level.

That’s all.

I’ll be a blogger again one day, I swear,

I’m Having a Heart Attack or I May Just Be Bat-Sh*t Crazy

Okay, so given John’s recent fiasco where my perfectly fine husband’s heart ended up being most definitely not fine, we are pretty sensitive to anything in our house that could indicate impending death. Call us oversensitive.

10 days ago, I started having this chest pressure. It kind of comes and goes with no logical pattern at all, really. So I hemmed and hawed and mulled it over before finally just going to the ER, since it was a Sunday.

Normal EKG. Negative troponin. Negative d-dimer. Normal chest x-ray. It was deemed muscular in nature, and I was freed with a script for muscle relaxers.

Except for one problem: I am incaple on any form of consciousness on those damned things. So I have taken 2 of them in 10 days. And still, the pressure/pain comes and goes. It isn’t severe, but instead just there. Occasionally it will get bad enough that I have to stop and focus on my breathing.

So today I go to my family doctor, simply because it got bad enough that I couldn’t catch my breath and it felt bad enough that I couldn’t even focus on anything. Honestly, it reminded me of the massive squeezing done about 40 times a minute by my dysfunctional uterus just a few years back. Only not really, because it didn’t stop. And it was in my chest, just left of center.

But my tests were normal, so I have to be fine. Maybe it’s just stress. But it won’t go away. But I am under a lot of stress. But then again, I live in stress and have for my entire adult life.

But, but, but….

So the doctor asked me how I would like to proceed. And I don’t know, because the logical side of me who spent years studying all things cardiopulmonary knows it isn’t likely to be my heart. But then there is the part of me that doesn’t know what the hell it is and wants to be sure. So I told her I didn’t know, to jyst do what she feels is best.

I ended up on a proton pump inhibitor to ensure it isn’t something GI-related, a steroid to ensure it isn’t inflammation, and a stress echocardiogram just to be sure.

I’ve never had anxiety issues unless it involves John behind the wheel of the car. Now, I am questioning my sanity.

Bitchypants

Mastering the Art of Suckage

I suck at life right now. No, really, I do.

I woke up this morning to tackle the day. I was ready. Quick shower, yoga pants, hoodie. Ready. To. Go. And then I sat down. And I started reading Justin Halpern’s Shit My Dad Says on my phone. And before I knew what was happening, I had finished the damned book. And then I was exhausted, and we all took a collective nap. I was so hell-bent on not procrastinating on the finishing of the economics, and I suffered a massive failure on that one. (More on the econ in another post-that class is going to drive me into an early grave.)

So lunch came. And went. I didn’t eat a bite. Nothing sounded good other than a pint of black raspberry chip ice cream. And, well, that isn’t diet-friendly. Before I knew what was going on, it was time for dinner. Chipotle. And I ate the whole fucking bowl. With chips. How much more Fatty McFatFat can you get than shoveling heaps of rice and chicken and salsa onto chips to eat it? To use chips as flatware, for shit’s sake! So I’m not exactly feeling all svelte/ bask-in-my-hotness. On the contrary, I can practically feel the cellulite building up on my thighs just in the 45 minutes since I ate the last chip.

So now, the coffee is brewed. I’m ready. I am going to study.

“Andrea, I set a reminder for you, baby.” Awww, my husband is so thoughtful. A reminder for what?

For the season kick-off of Project Runway. Tonight. And suddenly, I can hear my resolve to study screaming in agony as it withers to nothingness.

Summer has entirely too many distractions.

And also, I am kind of tired of being a student.

Bring on the fall semester. Let’s get this shit done.

Fatty McFatFat's Flatware

Fatty McFatFat’s Flatware

Where in the Blue Hell Did Bitchypants Go?

So it seems that grad school is crazy. Well, grad school plus full-time employment plus parenting and wifedom is crazy. My life goes like this these days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday—sleep a little, wake up to eat and study and hug my babies, then off to work for 13-hour nights; Monday—get off of work in the morning and try to sleep for a few hours, then wake up and write any papers that are due; Tuesday through Thursday—classes for both John and I. In between, I squeeze in more study time. Somewhere in there, we squeeze in appointments for Evan and Zach’s speech therapy.

The result of all of this? I am, as of the end of this current semester in a couple of weeks, 75% finished with my MBA, according to the handy degree progression tool on my school’s website. If I take 4 classes in January, 3 during the summer, and 3 next fall, I will be finished in December of 2013. Done. Done done DONE. (And my January classes are already scheduled.)

The other result is that I have fallen off of the blogosphere and all of my bloggy friends and followers have either forgotten that I exist or hate me now. I’m sorry. Know that my absence has been for the greater good, because—surprise—I am really good at this whole business thing. I get it. I am thriving on the challenge. Because, although life is hectic, I cannot tell a lie and must admit that I love every stimulating minute of it. The projects, the exams, the papers, the presentations. Working with international students from entirely different cultures and hearing them talk about their homes. Being with really bright students and brilliant professors who know me. Finding out that, not only do I love marketing, but I am good at it. I GET IT. And for the first time, I am challenged. Before this, my challenges were limited to challenges of time management. This challenge is not only time management, but intellectual challenge as well. I mean, I got my first B EVER. Microeconomics. Because the shit was hard. Really difficult.  And there is  a level of respect there, too. Because I am a degree-holding professional and my peers and professors understand that. They seek my opinions. They ask for my input and ideas. The treatment of a grad student is so much different than that of an undergrad.

So I have a couple more papers and a final exam left in macroeconomics, and I am finished for the semester. I hope to blog some during the break. At some point, I will get my texts for next semester and start preparing for the next marathon, but I will have some time to be on here a little. If you’re still out there, let me know.

Time Flies (Still)

So the boys had some more photos taken with a coworker of mine who is working on honing her photog skills. She has taken their photos before, and this time she got some great candid images of my babies. We met her at a gorgeous park in Cincinnati, which is a prime spot for photography, it would seem. Well, at least there were a bunch of others there that day for the same purpose. We saw baby bump photos, wedding and engagement photos, and family photos being taken. I just wanted some playful, casual shots of the boys, as they are growing up before my eyes. And as always, I see the photos and I still see the newborns they once were. Time goes so quickly, and with grad school now, I am always hustling and bustling to and from one destination or another. And I miss them so much. While I wasn’t looking, Evan turned eleven years old. Two more years with him until he is a teenager. I want to clutch them to me and beg them to slow down. In the mean time, I remind myself daily that I am doing all of this for them. At some point, so help me, I will be able to honestly say that I can give them anything they want. Anything. The best home, the best education. Opportunities that they may not have had if I had not pushed myself to get these higher degrees. But in the meantime, I keep my nose to the grindstone, cherish every tiny moment I am given with them, and count the days until I am finished.