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.

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.

The Admissions Mistake

This is such a strange time for me. Well, “surreal” would be a good word.

I am wrapping up my undergraduate education. I received my last shipment of textbooks from school this week, considering I tripled my classes again. You may recall that I tripled last session with the plan of doing it again this session, all to finish in time to start grad school. The idea of making me wait was to ensure the course load wasn’t too much for me. It wasn’t and I got straight A’s again. If I pull it off this session as well, I will honestly be able to say that I have not gotten a B at all. And I will have completed my BBA that way.

Hmm. Completing my BBA. Let me talk to you about my higher education. I was the first one to go to college straight from high school in my family. I was supposed to do great things. I had been in the gifted classes all through my education, and was contemplating pre-medicine as my major. The problem was that I played classical flute for years and years, and I was good. My second choice was a music major. My mother helped me make the decision, stating that medical school was for the wealthy. Full financial aid was not a likelihood back then as much as it is now. So I went with music. And where I was good, that was the biggest blow to my ego. Because they were all good. I was one of the worst of the really good ones, and even I knew that to create a career in music, you really have to be the best. That was immaterial, because I didn’t finish. Mom was at home, dying. I was treated for a horrible deep depression. The classes that were to be so easy ended up being the greatest challenge just to show up. When mom finally died, it was just too much and I dropped out.This gave my brothers and sisters in my dysfunctional family even more reason to gloat: Andi, the smart one, couldn’t cut it.

Years later, John talked me into respiratory school. I needed a job that would pay what we needed. Suddenly, I was in the medical environment that I was fascinated with as a teen. And when it came to the advanced chemistries and physics, I still had it. I took to it like peanut butter to jelly. Maybe I had made a mistake listening to my mom from the beginning. Maybe medicine is where I belonged all along. So I took as many courses as I could, finished the respiratory degree–it’s just an associate degree–with twice the number of credits I needed to graduate, all because I knew that I wanted to go further. But life and bills got in the way, and my plans to immediately finish a premed degree fell through with the obstacles I encountered. It took several years before I got to the point where I could enroll. And I did. I was chugging along as a premed/ molecular biology major, prepping for my MCAT and working on med school applications when I got pregnant with Zach and bedrest happened.

So after all of this education I have had, I still do not have a bachelor’s degree. I am one educated bitch, in everything from music to the sciences to business, but no baccalaureate degree. That is all changing in about 6 weeks. It seems so strange to be getting a business degree, though. I never dreamed that this is where my life would take me. I would have never thought I would have an aptitude for this field. Honestly, I never thought I would love it. And I honestly thought I would never finish anything higher than my respiratory degree. For some reason, everything I tried has fallen through, and I thought someone was trying to tell me something. Of course this disbelief is compounded by the fact that I will not be donning a cap and gown. Since I completed it in an online program, graduation is across the country at the actual school, and I will not be traveling just for that.

Where I should be excited about finishing the degree, I am anxious. Five days after the end of these next classes, I start B-School. And I am seriously questioning my ability. I do really well at the role of big fish in a small pond. The times I have played the role of small fish in a big pond, something has happened to make me choke on the damned pond water. And I suspect that, even though I am going to a smaller, more elite private university, I am going to be the small fish. I’m afraid that I am the admissions mistake. You know what I’m talking about. The one, every year, that they let in by some fluke or flaw in their system of evaluating applicants. The one that really shouldn’t be there. I have so many questions, so many doubts.

Yeah, I produced the resume they loved. I’m the diversity factor. A woman. Coming from healthcare, not a business field. My application was amongst those of investment bankers and area business leaders, or simply new twenty-something college students fresh from the dorms and delaying the inevitable of going to find work by starting grad school immediately. So I can picture them going through the stack and thinking, “Hmmm. Respiratory Therapist? With an undergrad business degree?” Bizarre, yes. Then my transcripts. My 4.0, immaculate transcripts, with perfect grades in anything from music performance to human genetics. Psychology and Cardiopulmonary Anatomy and Physiology. Organic Chemistry and Corporate Fucking Finance. A’s. All of that shit. Well, you can think that this is one area in which you cannot argue. That was my point in sweating my grades so much through all of this. My grades will never limit me. I ensured that. But I have developed my own doubts. What if those grades are from schools that are too shitty to count? I have mastered the art of being a student, but other than Corporate Fucking Finance, none of it has really been a challenge. Well, maybe O.chem was, just because I hated the class, and now it doesn’t even matter that I did it. My point is, what if my GPA isn’t an indicator of my abilities at all, but an indicator of how easy the classes were?

What if I don’t belong there? What if I choke? What if I manage to navigate successfully and then there is no place in this world for a respiratory therapist with an MBA from a nationally ranked program? Then I am left with the most expensive piece of paper in the history of paper-making.

I guess I could have saved you the time you have spent in reading this by saying two simple words: I’m scared.

I don’t want to be the admissions mistake.

Conditionally

So, if you read my last post, you now that my experience with the GMAT was painful. And that the powers that be decided I had to take the damned thing. Yeah, whatevs. What you do not know, unless you delved into the comments, is that I found a big pair of lady balls and called the MBA Advisor at my first-choice school. And told her the story. About how I meet every single requirement but the damned score breakdown. So her words? Basically she told me it had to be a fluke, that either I got some really difficult questions in the beginning and that psyched me out, or my math section was abnormally hard—Basically, that there had to be a reason that the math score didn’t match up with my academic record or the remainder of my GMAT score. She’s right. We started talking about the courses I have taken and my performance in them. Corporate Finance. Financial Accounting. Stats. Calc I and II. A. A, A, A, A. I even got an A in that damned corporate finance class and am thanking my lucky stars that I do not have to take it again at a 600 level lest I kill myself. Seriously. So wtf gives with the GMAT math? Because the GMAT is an asshole of epic proportions. But…She told me to NOT SCHEDULE THAT TEST UNTIL I HEAR BACK FROM  HER. She said she was taking it to the dean.

So anyway, she had me fax my unofficial score report to her. I got no response, so I gave her a day or so and called to see if she got it, which is when she asked for my resume. By now they have received my app, my resume, my unofficial GMAT score, and my official transcripts. All that was left were my letters of recommendation, cover letter, and hard copy of my resume. I mentioned as much in my email and that I was sending those in this week. I was waiing for a phone call from her when a funny thing happened.

I decided to empty my email inbox of spam. There were so many emails where I had been out of the loop recently that I was about to just declare email bankruptcy when I spotted it. She had replied.

“Andrea, with your existing GMAT score, your excellent GPA, and the resume you sent, you are fine for conditional admission. Do NOT retake the GMAT.”

Oh. Ok. Yeah, no more of that GMAT shit. And then I stopped to think about what she said. By then I had closed the email. So I reopened it. And got hung up on the word “conditional”. Until I remembered that my BSBA will not be completed until September and they cannot grant me full admission into the MBA program until that is finished. So what did she really tell me?

She told me I’m getting in. To one of the top B-schools in the whole friggin’ country. Not only that, but to the most competitive program at one of the top B-schools in the country, since it means they will basically be waiving all of the first year MBA courses for me and I will finish the degree in a year. Basically, because of this, you have to have your shit together to even avoid them not throwing your app in the garbage immediately upon receipt.

She told me that I fucking did it.

And then I started crying. And I picked Evan up and swung him around. And Zachy and I danced around the room. And I anxiously waited for John to come home from class so I could tell him. But I didn’t get to tell him because, as soon as he pulled into the driveway, Evan was running toward the car, shouting, “Daddy, Mommy did it!!! She did it!”

I did it.

I really did.

Conditionally.

No Rest For the Wicked

I swear, everybody, that this next comment is going to make me seem like a braggart. I’m not. I’m really, really not. But some people have to really work at academics. I am not one of those people. From grade school, I have handled school work with ease. My business classes have been a cakewalk other than the demands on my time and the volume of work to be done. It isn’t that the work is demanding–it’s just overwhelming for my current schedule.

I am currently in a statistics course. It seems like common sense, and I have an A in the course with only two more assignments to be graded before winter break. But I swear, some of the assignments have been insanely difficult. Maybe it is because it is difficult to learn the intricacies of these complex mathematical formulas online with no face time with my professor. I can do the work but it is actually taking a certain amount of effort. Monday, for example, I had to complete a project that involved a 250 sample size, including organizing the data, computing solutions for problems regarding the data, and presenting it all in spreadsheet form along with an APA-formatted paper analyzing and interpreting the meaning of the information I extrapolated from the data. All of this was done after working all weekend and not sleeping. I literlly came home from work on Monday morning and sat at my desk at 7:30 AM and not completing it until 1AM Monday night/ Tuesday morning. At one point, whether it was from exhaustion, stress, being overwhelmed, or whatever, I actually broke down into tears. In the process, John kept looking over my shoulder, shaking his head and exclaiming how no human could possibly understand the stuff I was being asked to do for the project. He brewed me 5 pots of coffee throughout the day. And then, once completed, I had to hurry and finish the 46-slide PowerPoint presentation on the organizational effectiveness of my current employer. By the end of the night, I was nauseous, my fingers were swollen from feverishly typing, my back/ neck/ head ached. I was still sore the next morning, and didn’t want to even see typeface for a while. No Kindle, no blogs or blogging, no reading.

I am almost finished. I will be on winter break from Monday through January 8th, when I will return to a whirlwind of classes before I can move on to the MBA. As a matter of fact, I will have 6 more 5.5-week sessions, back to back, with 2 classes each session. For the immediate period of time, I am working every hour that is available. I have 3 days off between now and January 4th, and none of those are holidays.

And now starts my countdown for my GMAT and working on grad school applications. I have put in for vacation for the last 2 weeks of January–time to wrap up exam prep and actually take the exam, hopefully with a few days left over to do nothing work- or school-related. To maybe kick back and celebrate what I have done just a little bit. On a side note, I actually got some interest from M.I.T, which actually hurt a little bit. I cannot pick up my entire family and move like that, though their interest is beyond flattering.  I mean, this is the number  3 MBA program in the country! For me, when just this time last year, I was on track to med school. Maybe in a different time and place. But for now, I have my top three choices and a couple of “safety” schools picked out, and we’ll leave it at that.

In the meantime, I am going to try to spend some downtime here in the Blogosphere over he net three weeks. Please be patient with me and don’t lose interest.

I’m not a huge country fan, though I love me some Kenny Chesney. His music just reminds me of my John. But anyway, he has this song that sums it up pretty well, and I leave you with the key line from it:

“Hey, I wanted it all and that’s what I got.”

Bitchypants, Out.

>What Have I Done?

>

Busy busy busy. Still.

Aside from working 60 hours this past week, I also started the journey that is to be my business degree. The online program is supposed to be easy, right? Since I have all of the pre- and co-requisites completed from my other degree, all I have to do is take my business courses and the degree will be awarded and I can move onto the masters. Okay. And this is an accelerated online program, so each class is approximately 5 to 6 weeks long. 2 courses at a time. No breaks for summer, which has me finishing early next fall.

Oh. Crap.

Because I started. I got my glossy new texts and I delved into the world of marketing. And my professor has us completing a paper or presentation literally every 48 hours. Because, in a degree program designed for adults with other obligations like job and family, there couldn’t possibly be anything else for me to do other than prepare fictional marketing plans and writing papers to critique the business practices of the establishments I frequent. Along with 10 chapters of reading each week.

Maybe, just maybe, I will lose the little bit of sanity I have left.

Maybe all of my hair will turn gray.

What is more likely is that I will pull myself up by the bootstraps and get it done just like I always do.

And for an extra dose of fun? I submitted my application and resume for a PRN therapist position at a local rehab hospital. And they bit. Hard. As a matter of fact, I simply emailed about the position before I submitted anything and had the interview already scheduled before I had even updated my resume and started the app. A second job. For when I don’t get as much overtime as I like. Like that ever happens.

Such is my life as a workaholic student wife mommy. Sometimes when you want it all, that is exactly what you get.