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Saturday, July 31, 2010

From My Book Shelf to Yours!

When I finished my LPN test I wanted to celebrate.  Before even knowing my results I wanted to revel in the fact that it was over.  I was in the big city of Burlington and had time to kill.  What did I decide to do?  Well, I went straight to the book store. 

Yes, I realize that officially makes me a nerd.

And I am ok with that.


I browsed the bookstore like a kid in a candy store for over an hour.  It was refreshing for a couple of reasons.  When I usually go to Burlington and visit the big bookstore Shawn is with me.  He does not share the same zest for books as I do and grows bored easily standing there while I read cover jackets.  Without him there I was free to closely inspect every shelf and try and not miss one single book that I might find interesting.  I also floated through the aisles of books knowing that school was out and I didn't have to have my nose buried in textbook 24/7.  The thought of reading for pleasure made me smile like a kid who just got a pony for her birthday.  I ended up spending almost a hundred bucks on several books that I now have stacked up to read.  First, I had to finish the book I bought at the grocery store.



I am such an impulse buyer and in one of my impulses as Shawn thumbed through Drummer magazine I browsed the shelves of books in the greeting card aisle at the grocery store.  I picked up this one book "Sworn to Silence".  The snippet of the novel drew me in.  It is an unlikely read for me, a thriller, but the story seemed swaying.  It ended up being a complete page turner.

One thing that I have realized is that I haven't read a book I don't like.  Every single book  that I have a chance to read I enjoy.  Its great, actually.  I either have really good taste in books or am not picky when it comes to reading material.  I'll assume its the latter because it means I finally found something in my life that I am not picky about!  ...hang on while I run and tell my husband.  He won't believe it.  




So what exactly is this book about?

If you haven't already left to go off and Google or read about it on Amazon.com, Sworn to Silence is about a former Amish girl turned rugged police chief in a small town that is struck by a series of gruesome and strange murders.  The murders are complicated by a secret from her past that stems from the reason why she chose to leave the Amish society.  The end of the book is really gripping.  I loved it.  If you don't like a few gruesome scenes or a couple of sexual moments then this book is not for you.  The author really describes what happens throughout the story. 

Think it sounds like something you might enjoy?   

The thing about reading books is that once I read them I never usually read them again.  Its not because I don't like them, but because I already know what happens and I can't trick myself into enjoying a book as much the second or third time around.  So now I have this newly finished novel, with a couple of bent edges and a little wear from traveling with me over the past week, that I need to figure out what to do with.  

I want to give this book away to whomever would like to read it!  If you think you might enjoy this book leave me a comment and tell me why.  Is it the type of book you usually read? Interested in a new genre?  Need a book to bring on vacation?  You tell me.  I need to make space on my bookshelf!


I'll randomly choose someone the at the end of the weekend!  
If this book isn't you're cup of tea or you aren't chosen don't worry.  I plan on offering up all my books when I finish them!  Like my grandmother always says... Nothing is nicer than Sharing something you like with people you like.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lisa Frank Flashback

There are back to school commercials all over the television.  Some of my friends are anticipating the heart-wrenching approach of their child's first day of kindergarten or preschool.  In just a few short weeks I, myself, will be back in school so I have been reminiscing in the old school shopping days of 'yore.  I miss the days where my mother would drag us on a marathon from store to store buying everything from shoes and thermoses to the coveted Lisa Frank folders.  Do you remember Lisa Frank?


The awesomely colorful


Incredibly cute cartoons


Absolutely adorable animals


Having anything Lisa Frank was your ticket to being cool and popular in the third grade.  Everyone who was anyone had one of her folders or notebooks.  Ah, to be back in those days where school shopping was fun.  All the brand new clothes, freshly filled binders, and the annoyingly-click able lead pencils (who's teachers banned lead pencils because of the noise? Mine did!).

Now I don't even know what's cool when it comes to school supplies.  Getting ready for school consists of me finding a not-to-damaged binder from last year, dumping out its contents, and putting in some new clean paper.  I'm pretty sure that's not cool.  I once used to be on the ball with that sort of thing.  


So, I am curious...

Was Lisa Frank ever popular at your school?  or was my social circle just weird?

What was The Thing for you to have on the first day of school when it came to supplies?






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Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Awkward Group Photo Situation

Everyone has been in one of those situations where they are in a group having their photo taken and there are a half of dozen different people, if not more, trying to take your photo at the same time.  It is a complete uncoordinated effort where flashes go off in such a non sequential fashion that you feel like a small animal in the middle of the highway, unsure of which way to look or run.

So what the heck do you do when you find yourself in a group photo situation??
  1. Look for your camera or your significant other, that way at least your photos turn out with you looking normal and at the camera.
  2. If you can't find your camera or there isn't one there look straight ahead so you appear in a neutral position in the photo
  3. Dear God, whatever you do, do not laugh.  Someone always makes some sort of comment to break the awkwardness of being in a group photo.  Resist the urge to laugh at all costs.


So what happens if you do not follow any of the above?  


You end up in your local paper looking like a complete 'tard.  
Remember, this could be you!
You've been warned!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Weirdest Evening of My Life. Ever.

 For any of this to make sense and for me not to seem 100% crazy you may want to read this first.  You still may think I am crazy, though.



It was late in the afternoon when I met up with my friend, Jim, for the adventure that laid before us.  He eagerly hopped into my front seat as I pulled out a crumpled piece of paper from my pocket.  I dialed the numbers scribbled on it.  No answer, just voice mail. WorldGuy was lost in the black hole that is Vermont's lack of cell service.  I knew what direction he was walking, so I figured we could take a drive and see if we could spot WorldGuy.  How far could a guy and a giant inflatable ball walk in seven hours?

We drove down some windy back road and twelve miles later spotted the caravan with the giant globe on the side of the road in an old farm house's lawn.  WorldGuy was bent over pouring water in his eye while his son stood there listlessly and Nice the dog pulled up big tufts of grass from the well manicured lawn. I pulled my car over to the side of the road and hopped out.


"I've got a motorcycle in my eye" was how WorldGuy greeted me and poured more water across his face.  He was sweaty and covered in a fine glow of dust that must have been swirled up from the road as cars passed him all day long.  I assumed it was really dust that was the motorcycle in his eye, but was perplexed by his poor attempt at a metaphor.  He gained his composure, stood up and greeted me.  "Hello Jennay" he said with a Forrest Gump accent.  I had told him my name was Jennifer, but he made the leap on his own. to Jennay "And who is your friend?"  I introduced Jim to WorldGuy and they shook hands.  

"So this is Jimmay and Jennay, well I'm sure glad you came back for us Jennay!  It's been a long walk today, but not a lonely one.  I've been writing poetry in my head all day."  WorldGuy said as he leaned in, winked at me, and then continued on talking "I am headed to a restaurant down the road.  Francis told me to go there.  It would be awful nice if you joined me for a bite to eat."   I had an idea what restaurant he was talking about since there was only one within ten miles of where we were.  It was a hole-in-the-wall diner out past town where you would never expect there to be a diner.  I looked at Jim, who lit up with excitement at the idea, and then agreed.  His son and Nice the dog hopped into my car while WorldGuy with his giant globe began walking towards the restaurant.  He wasn't allowed to stop walking apparently.  As we drove off he said something philosophical along the lines of "I shall keep walking.  The world rolls on and I with it." 

At the restaurant a mile or so away the parking lot was packed with cars and semi-trucks.  Jim, the son, Nice the dog, and I sat on big granite pillars outside and talked about life.  The son was nineteen years old, but looked much older.  He talked a lot about his opinions of law enforcement across the country and how those opinions derived from inappropriate behavior and breaking the law.  In just his short, not quite two decade, stint on Earth the kid had experienced more drugs, drinking, and poor choices than I had ten fold.  He was walking to clean himself up and give himself a purpose, for the mean time.  When the walk ended he didn't know what he was going to do or where he would go.  Despite his less than favorable lifestyle he was quite a charismatic and hilarious kid.  It was enjoyable to talk to him as we waited for WorldGuy to appear around the bend.


Finally the big globe appeared with WorldGuy behind it.  He parked his globe along side Nice the dog.  "Its always nice to have a pretty girl waitin' for ya." he said as we walked into the restaurant.  People stared at us as we grabbed a seat in a booth by the wall.  WorldGuy chatted with a couple people at a table next to us while we talked with the son.  We ordered our food and WorldGuy excused himself to check on Nice the dog who was left outside guarding the world.  "You know my dad was hitting on you, right?" the son said when his father left.  Yeah, I know.  It was kind of obvious... thanks.  

When WorldGuy came back in he began talking about the motorcycle that was still in his eye  It was a clear attempt at a joke, but I didn't find it funny and the awkwardness of a failed attempt at humor quieted the table.  I asked him about his travels, but he seemed disinterested in talking about anything substantial.  I was growing disappointed because it seemed my hopes that he would have any of value to say was dwindling.  What he did talk about was all of the cute girls he met along the way (of which I was apparently in the ranks according to him), and how many free things he received from nice people he met in his travels.  Occasionally he poked fun at his son who retorted back with more witty remarks that made Jim and I genuinely laugh.  WorldGuy only tried harder and harder to make me laugh, but never succeeded.  He forgot Jim's name numerous times and never looked at him when he talked, only at me.  It was classic.  A bad Lifetime movie character couldn't portray a creepy old guy hitting on a young woman any better. 


Finally our food came.  I had ordered cheeseburger with fries.  It was, hands down, the best cheeseburger I had ever eaten.  WorldGuy scarfed down his meal like he hadn't eaten in a week.  I guess all that walking made him hungry.  Then he moved on to french fries... Jim and mine's.  His dirt laden hand reached over the tabled and pawed fries off of both of our plates.  Apparently, I was done eating.  Then the waitress came by offering desert.  In a culmination of hilarity the son asked for a desert menu.  The place barely had regular menus and wrote their deserts on a white board on the wall.  The waitress raised her eyebrow at him and then ignored his request.  She rambled off two dozen choices of pies.  The son continued to poke fun at her and asked if there were any other options.  Through fits of laughter I order a coconut cream pie only because it is my favorite. 

The pie arrived and I eagerly dug in.  After a few bites I couldn't eat anymore.  Jim had ordered the same thing and he couldn't either.  The pie tasted like banana boat sunscreen.  As I laid down my fork WorldGuy's eye's lit up.  The awkwardness of the evening was about to culminate in one brief moment.  

He grabbed my plate proclaiming that if I wasn't going to finish the pie than he would.  Then he picked up my fork, in a big theatrical performance, holding it in the air. "Well, God forbid I use Jennay's (always with the Forrest Gump accent) fork!  How dare my lips touch something that her lips have touch."  And then took up his fork as he smiled at me.  I wasn't sure whether he was trying to get a laugh out of me or not.  All I could think of was that I wanted this meal to be over.


After what seemed liked far too long dinner was over and we finally stepped outside.  "Didn't you say you wanted some photographs?" WorldGuy asked me.  After the weirdness of the dinner I had completely forgotten that far earlier int he day I mentioned I was a photographer and wanted to take photographs of his entourage.  I obliged him and we posed for a photo.  I took a couple more hastily as Jim played with Nice the dog.  When WorldGuy tried to imitate Nice and Jim playing together with me I decided I had had enough and it was time to bring an end to the evening. 

We said goodbye to the son who had sat down to roll a cigarette using pouch tobacco.  He nodded and went about his task.  WorldGuy walked up to the side of my car and I watched him fumble for a second with the decision whether to get in the front seat or back seat as his hand hovered back and forth between the two handles.  Jim walked over and grabbed the front seat handle, thankfully, settling where WorldGuy would sit.

On the twelve mile drive back to his purple hippy van I fought the urge not to speed.  Initially the ride was quiet and I began chatting with Jim about the great cheeseburger I had just eaten, almost forgetting that WorldGuy was in the back seat.  Then he leaned forward and interjected.  "This is sad! Its the last time I will see Jennay!"  All I could think of was, yes, this is the one and only time you'll see me .  He kept going.  "Its such a shame I won't see you anymore Jennay, because you are so beautiful!"  Jim then made an awkward throat clearing noise that clearly signaled he was irritated.  WorldGuy began to apologize profusely to Jim rather than to myself for his remarks.   


When we arrived at his van I didn't even get out of my car.  WorldGuy walked around collecting the free items that people had left at his van during the day.  A bag of dog food, a gas card, and other memorabilia.  He flashed it at us and said "You asked how I afforded to do this trip.  You're looking at it!"  He boasted because he was taking advantage of people's good will.  I felt like a schmuck.  We politely wished him well on his journey, pulled out of the parking lot, and didn't even look back.

---------------------------------


I honestly went into this thinking I would meet someone interesting and have a great conversation about his cause, his travels, and life in general.   My goals were to talk to him, grab a couple of photos, and write about it here in my blog.  What really happened was I was incessantly hit on by a middle-aged man who takes advantage of nice people who believes in his cause, which he had no interest in discussing with me.  I guess I did accomplish the photos and blog writing part, though...

Now when I read his blog posts I see the fakeness behind it and can't help but shudder at the though of how such an intriguing mission could be so horribly wrong.  Thankfully my friend Jim was brazen enough to tag along, because I never would have done any of this by myself.  While it was one of the most unusual evenings and dinners of my entire life it is not one I would ever care to relive.  If you happen to see WorldGuy and his inflatable globe rolling through you neck of the woods I would suggest just let him keep on rolling and spare yourself the awkwardness.

Monday, July 26, 2010

This is the Beginning of a Bad Idea.

I was pumping my gas and eying a large five foot diameter ball painted to resemble the world that was a few yards away.  Next to it was a dog tied to the telephone pone.  There was no one around this unusual sight.  On the side of the globe was a website "WorldGuy.org" it was written in green across the Pacific Ocean.  I was curious so I pulled out my iPhone and looked up the web page.  It turns out he was a middle-aged man with his son and dog named "Nice" and they were walking from Washington D.C. to Maine in order to raise awareness for diabetes.  I was intrigued and excited to see something so obscure in my little corner of the world.  When WorldGuy came out of the gas station I was just finishing fueling up.  How cool would it be to meet this guy, or so I thought?  


I eyed him over as he exited the gas station before deciding whether to talk to him.  He was wearing a bucket hat, the kind that my grandfather always wore fishing.  His pants were dingy, his blue denim shirt was a size too small.  Around his neck there was a yellow handkerchief with several other trinkets and attached to his shirt collar was a nice new blackberry. It was quite an eclectic ensemble.

I decided, what was the harm in meeting someone new on such an unusual mission?  I walked over to the WorldGuy and his giant, painted, inflatable world at the corner of the gas station property.  He was very friendly, almost overly friendly.  Perhaps months of walking the East Coast will do that to you?  I greeted him and asked him how the walking was.  We chatted a moment about the weather and his prospected route for the day.  As we talked about he forthcoming travels he asked me what I was doing later that afternoon.  Not sure why he was asking and not wanting to give a middle-aged man I didn't know that answer I stalled.  "I need someone to come pick me up at the end of the day and bring me back to my van."  he said.  My mind was perplexed.  Wasn't this guy suppose to be walking across New England, not driving it??  I think he saw the confusion in my face.

"It's what we do.  We park our van, walk all day, and then find some nice person to give one of us a ride back to our van while the other stays with the ball.  Then we drive the van to where the ball is." 

"Oh, I see."

"I'd love to see a pretty girl like you again this afternoon"  he said as he winked at me and pulled out something from his pocket that he then scribbled on.

"Well, I have obligations until later this evening." 

"It won't be the first time a beautiful girl hasn't called me back, but it would be a shame to never see you again."  He said as he shoved a piece of paper into my hand that had his name and cell phone scribbled on it.  "I'd appreciate a ride if you'd be obliged."  

I wasn't sure what to think.  It seemed as if I was just hit on and asked out by a middle aged man toting a giant ball around the country.  Oh wait, that was exactly what just happened...


WorldGuy then seemed eager to begin his walking.  "Hope to get your call later!" He waved as he began pushing his giant ball onto the main road.  I walked back to my car reflecting over what had just happened and then immediately called one of my friends who I knew was just crazy enough to agree to what I was planning.  A normal person would toss the piece of paper out the window as soon as she got back into her car, but if you're me you call one of your male friends and concoct a plan to find WorldGuy that afternoon and indeed give him a ride back to his van.  Little did I know that such a plan would lead to the most unusual and awkward evening of my life... ever...


To. Be. Continued.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Even This Much Danger Isn't Enough

When I woke up early in the morning I knew what I was going to end up doing later.  The clouds had already begun building.  Two days ago I started hearing the word "severe" in the forecast and I was beyond excited.  Around three in the afternoon I packed up my camera, double checked all my equipment, and grabbed some food.  It was going to be a long afternoon.  


I headed south, into New Hampshire, but to get there I first had to drive through torrential rains.  The whole time I had my iPhone in my lap with the radar continually looping.  It was beginning, one of the most epic days of storm chasing ever...


Over an hour away from my home and well beyond the White Mountains of New Hampshire I felt I was finally in the right spot.  There was a field to my left that was a good dozen acres big and afforded me enough clearance from the trees to see the sky.  I parked along the edge of the road, grabbed my tripod and camera, and ran out into the field.  I surveyed the sky, but I didn't need to to know that the storms were close.  The sound of thunder was continuous, almost like an old car engine rumbling.  There were lightning strikes just beyond the ridgeline in the distance.  My hopes were to capture some of those strikes, but the lightning became too close for comfort.  With nothing but power lines above my head and short grass around me I didn''t feel safe.  Then a wall of rain approached.  I was forced to run through it, soaking myself to the bone, in a mad dash across the field and back to my car.


Unsuccessful at obtaining any sort of photos besides a treeline and gray clouds I was moderately frustrated.  I was too close to the storm.  It was bearing down right on top of me and that was no place to be when you are driving and photographing.  For the next hour I drove through a horrible storm.  Getting ahead of it was futile.  All I ended up doing was sitting on the side of the road the looked as if it was washing away while I watched the radar for the next storm.  This one was a lost cause.  

The highway seemed like a logical choice.  There was yet another severe storm bee-lining for central New Hampshire and I had a chance to get ahead of it.  I needed interstate speeds to pull that off.   Just as I crested the hill into Plymouth New Hampshire I could see a horrible green churning of clouds off to my right.  The storm was close, almost too close, just like the last one.  I whipped off the interstate at the next exit, at the Plymouth State University exit, and pulled directly into the field's parking lot.  In a mad frenzy I grabbed my camera and ran up a steep hill to the field house.  There was a six foot overhang I parked myself under and readied myself, shutter cord in hand.  It was only a matter of time before my reflexes and the storm combined in perfect photographic harmony...



Shortly after this a torrential wall of wind, rain, and hail pummeled me.  I had nowhere to go, but stand underneath the overhang and wait it out, but the onslaught of the storm couldn't bother me.  I knew I had captured some real shots of lightning. When the coast was clear and the hailing had stopped I dashed back to my car. It was on to the next storm.  The show wasn't over yet.

I meandered down a narrow road, still in New Hampshire, headed west.  I heard a tornado warning bleep across the radio station I was listening to for the storm that had passed over Plymouth State University just moments before.  I was disappointed I was driving in the opposite direction, but knew the day wasn't over.  Storms were still firing over in Vermont and headed towards New Hampshire where I was eagerly aniticpating their paths and trying to set up ahead of them.  


After a good hour of twisting and turning country roads in the woods I emerged on the shores of Lake Sunapee.  I drove around the lake in search of a westward facing beach.  As the skies grew darker and the storms approached I was nervous I would not find a clear lakeside spot to perch my camera before the storms rolled across the waters.  After half an hour of searching I found myself on the shores of a huge private beach.  It was the most incredible place I had ever been and the most incredible moment I have ever experienced.

Lightning was all around me.  Some bolts were striking less than a mile away and the clouds were glowing, almost continuously, from the electricity.  I ran across the sand, a strong wind in my face, and set up my camera.  There I was, metal tripod in hand, in the middle of a huge, empty beach, on the shores of Lake Sunapee watching a line of severe thunderstorms bear down on the lake.  No one needed to explain to me how stupidly dangerous that was, but none of that mattered.  It was a risk I was more than willing to take.  


The skies grew dark and the winds grew stronger. I knew that the time I had left on the beach was coming to an end.  Sheets of rain were rolling fast towards me and the winds intensified to near hurricane strength.  My hair was lose and blowing behind me like I was on a horse galloping at full speed.  I was still taking photos, waiting for that one shot to make all of this worthwhile...


Suddenly the rains came.  It was stinging and hard, like little BBs hitting me all over.  In mid photograph, with my shutter still open, I picked up my tripod and ran.  Lightning was striking the lake surface not too far off the shoreline.  In a matter of a minute I was back at my car.  Wait... I had lost something... My phone!!  

In my abrupt flight from the beach I had somehow dropped my phone.  I had to go back for it so back out into the rain I went, back to the beach.  I was running full tilt across the beach.  Instead of being pelted with BBs the rain had turned to hail and it felt as if I was being stoned.  It was painful.  The lightning was so bright it was as if there were moments of daylight.  My pupils constricted and dilated in a painful, frequent, frenzy trying to keep up with the adjusting light and my search efforts.  Then, in a dull glow, I saw my phone laying in the sand, face up, with the radar looping.  How ironic.  I swooped it up as fast as I could and ran back to my car.  

My chasing efforts ended there.  The storms headed off to the south and east.  I watched the lightning fade further and further away.  Despite the 300 miles and seven hours of driving I wanted more.  It wasn't enough that I had just been hailed on and seriously prayed that God spare my life and not choose to electrocute me on the beach right there as I took photos and then again as I searched for my phone.  When your chasing storms it will never be enough.

I can't wait to do it again. 


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Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Preview of an Adventure


 Yesterday was pretty legendary and this photo sums up my day...


Any guesses what I was up to??

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Worst Thing to Happen While Studying

I had planned to be studious.  All of my intentions were to have a quiet day at home, relaxing, and unwinding so I wouldn't be a nervous wreck the night before and morning of my NCLEX exam.  That didn't happen in any way, shape, or form...

I was already out of the house.  A very bad storm passed through town so naturally I was out watching the rain pour down, the thunder boom, and searching for lightning that I couldn't see because it was daylight.  Fifteen miles from home, by a true stroke of luck, I happened to hear a small part of a dispatch.  It was hard to make out, but I was pretty darn sure that they said "Brighton Fire Department" and "Structure Fire".  Immediately I pulled a 180 and headed back towards town at the break-neck speed of 30mph through torrential rain and ponding water in the roadway. 

Half an hour later I reached the fire station.  Not a soul was there.  Some of the garage doors were left open.  Apparently everyone left in a hurry, but there were still a couple fire trucks and other vehicles at the station.  I hopped into an army truck that doubles as our mini-pumper because that's the only fire department apparatus I felt comfortable enough to drive without putting it in a ditch (I've never been formally trained to drive any of the fire department vehicles). 

Three miles away, up a hill, past a bunch of ill kept houses, at the end of a road that most likely used to go somewhere decades ago, but doesn't know, was the fire.  I pulled on all my gear and grabbed a hose, ready and eager to fight fire. 




Three hours later, after a courageous battle to find and establish a reliable water source, the flames had been doused and the house was left still standing.  Unfortunately it was a total loss.  The elderly man who lived there lost everything.  He had lived there since anyone could remember.  Heck, the road was named after him and that road's been there forever.  The saddest part for me was the fact that he lost his sixteen year old dog who was trapped on the second floor when the fire spread too quickly.  We walked through the house in search of the dogs remains or anything else salvageable, but there wasn't much of anything that wasn't already completely destroyed.




Finally, hot, sweaty, and smelling like smoke, I went back down the hill and to my house.  Six hours had passed since I left for a "short study break" to chase after those storms.  I had not anticipated a lightning strike igniting an old farm house.  It was not in my plans to spend the day in ninety degree heat and equal humidity wearing full turnout gear, but I will never ever turn down an opportunity to fight a fire. 

You have to be flexible when you are a firefighter... you never know when your best intentioned and responsible plans will be interrupted.  I don't much mind, though. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Its Officially Official - I'm Legit

Today was the big day I had been waiting for, where I find out my "unofficial" results on my NCLEX.   (If you haven't read about my ridiculous test process you must.)  Even though I knew the results wouldn't be there I logged onto the testing web page probably twenty times "just in case" over the last two days.  This morning, on the way to a meeting and violating Vermont State Law, I logged onto the internet using my phone while driving at exactly 8am (48 hours after my test time) to check my results.  Nothing.  I was irritated.  It had been 48 hours!  I had already waited impatiently for two whole days.  Hmph.

So into the meeting I went without knowing whether or not I was officially a licensed practicing nurse yet.  I was sitting there at a table between my boss and the Medical Director (ER Doctor) for our EMS service reviewing cases over the last month.  Its hard to be sneaky at a table with only three people sitting there, but I kept checking for  my results as the doctor discussed atrial fibrillation and hypotension.  Halfway through the meeting I logged in and finally saw a message that said "You're results are ready to view" and clicked the link.  After paying $8 and waiting for my impossibly slow iPhone browser to load I was able to see my results.  


That's right!

I PASSED!  

And just to make sure there wasn't some glitch or something like that I logged onto the Vermont State Board of Nursing website.  There you can find anyone who has a license with the state so if my LPN license had been officially approved and my results legitimate my name would be on their web site. 




It was!  I'm officially an LPN!  I am going to be able to go on to my RN year of college!  Oh, the heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I can breath.  My microbiology test tomorrow seems so insignificant compared to the relief I am feeling. 

How awesome is it when you see your hard work and ambitions pay off?!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Biggest Day Since My Wedding Day


The big, nail biting, pants wetting, sweat pouring moment has come and gone.  The test is over.  I am relieved, and exhausted.  So how did I do?  Well, I don't even know the answer that that yet.  I have to wait a grueling and suspenseful 48 hours and pay $8 to get my results.  You can stew in the uncertainty with me until then!


So in the mean time....  


What was Test Day like? 

My appointment was at 8am all the way on the other side of the state in Burlington and we had to be there thirty minutes early to register.  That meant that I had to wake up at 4am, get ready, and drive the two hours or so to the test center.  My plan was to study all morning, relax in the afternoon, and go to bed early so I could be nice and rested today.  What really happened?  I chased after a storm, went to a structure fire all afternoon, studied until 10pm, and finally fell asleep around 11:30.  ...I love how I stick to my plans. 

When I woke up this morning I was oddly awake, but nervous.  My stomach was rumbling like a pack of wild dogs fighting in a rail yard.  It reminded me of my wedding day, the day I discovered that when I am nervous my bowels become jelly and I have to make a million trips to the bathroom.  A two hour drive was not something I was looking forward to. 

Call me superstitious, but to keep my mind occupied while driving I tried to look for "positive" signs, things that would possibly indicate that today was going to be a good day.  A gray cat crossed in front of my car.  "Hey, it's not black!" I thought, being optimistic.  Then, about a minute later, a black one ran across the road.  Does that mean bad luck or just cancel out the good luck, I wondered? 

As I drove on the sun rose.  The sky turned an incredible red orange.  It was beautiful.  There was mist in all the fields that illuminated a bright gold in the sunlight.  Every inch of me wanted to pull over and take photos.  The world was so picturesque.  I fought the gnawing urge to transform from NCLEX examinee to photographer and instead snapped a shot of the sunrise with my phone.  It didn't do the sunrise justice in the least.  


I arrived at the test center forty five minutes early.  As I sat in the parking lot waiting for the test center to open (that's how early I arrived) I didn't review my notes and lab values I had scribbled down over the week, but rather mulled over the incredible photographic scenes I saw this morning.  "I could have stopped!  At least once, anyway, and still have made it on time."  Now I am convinced that I need to wake my butt up earlier and head out with my camera to watch the sun rise. 

The test centered finally opened its doors and five of us that had been waiting in the parking lot rushed in.  Every single one of us that rushed inside rushed directly into the bathroom.  Anxiety was abound.  Then we lined up in a narrow hallway outside the door to the test center's office.  We weren't allowed in.  The computers were warming up.  In the hallway we each nervously engaged in conversation, but no one was really friendly.  I think that made me more nervous.  My belly did somersaults.  

Finally, after I had begun sweating from either the heat of being crammed in the small hallway or from nerves, the doors opened and we were ushered into the office where they made us wait yet again.  Each of us were handed a large, double sided, small print piece of paper that depicted all the rules of the testing facility.  No gum, no watches, no bracelets thicker than 1/4 of an inch, no drinks, and no weapons of any kind.  We then were called one by one to the desk to register, a process which makes airport security seem like the circus.  

To start we had to show our drivers license and a piece of paper printed from the test center website.  Then we had to have our index finger of our right hand scanned, immediately followed by a scan of our right palm.  Everything except our clothes were removed.  No watch, no sunglasses, no jackets, nothing.  All of that was shoved into a locker that was in direct view of the front desk.  Next, a photograph from the shoulders up was taken so that our identity could be verified using face comparison by the woman who was twelve feet away watching the examination room.  Finally, each of us had to stand in front of the woman at the desk and turn our pockets inside out.  If our pockets didn't turn inside out we had to pat them and she visually inspected them (as in the back pockets of my shorts).   After that ordeal was over we walked to the other side of the room where our palm was rescanned, our ID rechecked, and our faces compared to our freshly taken photo.  If everything was legit we were ushered through a door into the examination room that was on the other side of the big glass windows.  They take the testing process seriously, can't you tell?!

Our entire test would be video and audio taped, we were warned as I sat down at my computer.  Ok, mental note... no nose picking or swearing under my breath.  We were provided with a pair of noise canceling headphones that when I put on I could hear my heartbeat resonate in my head.  I clicked "begin examination" and then heard my heart rate speed up like galloping horses resonating in my head.  Damn you, autonomic nervous system and your sympathetic response (a little nursing humor there...). 

There were five hours allotted for my test.  I tried not to watch the clock, but what I couldn't help watching was the number of questions I had answered.  I knew that the minimum number of questions I had to answer was 85.  The way the test works is that you answer a question.  If you get it right you get a harder question, wrong, an easier one.  You keep going until it figures out whether you average as competent or incompetent.  Apparently it takes a minimum of 85 questions to decide your competency.  If you answer a lot of questions then the computer is having a hard time determining if you are competent or not.  A small number of questions means you're obviously competent or not at all.  The trouble is you don't know which one until you get your results.  

My test abruptly ended after just 85 questions, the minimum I had to answer.  It shut off and said "test complete", so that means I am either extremely competent or utterly ignorant when it comes to being a nurse.  I don't think its the latter, but the questions were impossibly hard.  Most of what I studied wasn't on the test.  All the lab values, acid/base balance, skin traction, APGAR, and so much more I had wracked my brain over never appeared.  I suppose all I can do now is wait until Monday morning for my results and know that I did the best that I could! 







Population 485 Giveaway
And the randomly selected winner from Random.org is JesCady!  Please send me an email with your address vtcabinfever{at}hotmail{dot}com so I can get the book out to you.  

Congratulations to Jes and thanks everyone for your uplifting words and sticking around after my week long absence! 





Saturday, July 10, 2010

The One Week Countdown

I have officially scheduled my NCLEX test date!
On July 17th at 8am I will sit down to take an exam that determines whether or not I become a licensed nurse and, more importantly, whether I can move on to my RN year that begins in August.  I have one chance to pass this exam so I don't need to tell you how important it is that I study!  That means I have to make an "adult decision" and commit myself to a lot more reading/studying and a lot less blogging this week.

But don't worry!  I haven't forgotten about you... 

This week I am going to be giving away a signed copy of  Michael Perry's first book Population 485 to one of my readers!  I have read this book cover to cover more than once and definitely couldn't put it down.  Its about small town life, friends, neighbors, and tying them all together with lights and sirens.  He has such a down to Earth and honest writing style.  You're going to love this book! 

To be entered:
You must be a follower of my blog!
Please leave a comment below telling me what your favorite reading genre is!
Or just anything positive and encouraging for my test!  (I'll need it!)
One winner will be randomly selected and announced on Saturday afternoon 7/17.



And I have something else!


I am going to be offering a limited edition canvas print this week only!
Blurred Black-Eyed Susans Canvas - $80
To view the image larger just click on the photo. 
(watermark won't appear on the printed photo!)

The print is a 16x16 gallery wrapped canvas signed by myself and ready to display in your home! It will not be available for purchase in my gallery or at any other time so if you would like it please send an email to jenhannux {at} hotmail {dot} com.  






Oh, and don't forget about the ongoing July Photo assignment "Black and White".  There are some great submissions already and still plenty of time for you to enter your own black and white photos.



Wish me luck!!  I will return next weekend with either a very happy or very sad post....

Friday, July 9, 2010

Google Map Fail

When I drive around taking photos I never ever had a direction.  So when I was finished with my microbiology class three hours before I had to be at work I decided that there was no better way to kill the three hours I had than by aimlessly making my way back north.  I picked a road along the Connecticut River and followed it.  There was a tad bit too much traffic to just hop out anywhere along the roadside with my camera so I searched for a back road on my Google Maps application.  Not far ahead there was what looked to be a perfect road, Hunt Mountain Road.  Looking at the map I saw that it lead to a small town, usually great photo ops, so I was eager to explore a new territory.

True to its name the Hunt Mountain road went uphill and it kept going uphill.  After ten minutes of elevation climbing I suddenly saw the trees thinning and was excited.  What was I approaching?  A beautiful view?  A mountaintop farm?  My first clue that things weren't going to go smooth was when I saw the sign "Road not maintained in winter" that I passed about five miles back.  When the trees finally cleared a giant electrical disappointment was revealed.


I was suddenly amidst dozens of buzzing electrical towers.    Not exactly the picturesque scene I had imaged this road would take me to.  According to Google Maps I was at the intersection of Hunt Mountain Road and Smith Road.


Some intersection huh?  That's Smith Road on the right and straight ahead was where Hunger Mountain Road continued on.  I had to double check my map.  This really couldn't be the road, could it?! 


Yup, Google Maps assured me I was on a road and that the road kept on going.  But given Google's interpretation of a "road" I was debating whether to believe it and venture any further.


See what I mean?  Smith Rd is a glorified four wheeler trail amongst the power lines.  Apparently I was about as far out in the middle of nowhere as one could get. Because I didn't want my drive to be in vain and wanted to believe that some part of me really thought I was going to end up where I did I hiked to the top of the nearby hill.  When I say hiked, I mean hiked.



Do you see my car?


What about now?  That's as zoomed in as my lens will go!  It was a big hill, let me tell you.  I also wore flip-flops and in case you didn't already know they are about the worse shoes to wear in such terrain. 


When I finally got down, before I left, I couldn't resist one last photo of my car before I headed back down whence I came.  It just looked so "Ford Commercial-esque".  You'd be surprised how well my Escape handles my crazy Google misadventures because this isn't the first time and I am sure it won't be the last where I end up somewhere I shouldn't.

Just remember.... the next time Google Maps tells you that "You can get there from here."  think again. 




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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Things Never Happen the Easy Way

I am finally getting around to putting together my LPN nursing application for the state and setting up my NCLEX test.  Two months ago we sat through an hour long presentation about the steps we had to take, everything that had to be in place, and what to expect through out the whole licensure and testing process so it would go smoothly.  Of course, when it comes to me actually doing it nothing goes smooth. At all.  

Yesterday I finally put together my LPN license paperwork.  It was ready to mail, addressed and sealed in a big brown envelope.  I called the Board of Nursing directly to ask what a general turn-around time would be for my application so I could plan how I would get my mail.  (getting the mail is tricky in the latter part of the week when I work Thursday through Saturday.)  The lady on the other end politely informed me that all mailed applications received after today wouldn't be processed until at least Monday because she was going on vacation.  Vacation?!  My future is at stake.  I didn't want to hear about  anyone's vacation at this juncture.  She then told me my only hopes of getting my application processed and scheduling a NCLEX test date within the next week would be to physically bring her my application today.  Ok, I said.  That's only a hour and a half drive across the state, but I guess its worth it.

So I drove the eighty miles, singing to my iPod the entire way.  When I finally arrived I had to peel my thighs off my leather seat with the most unappealing and painful sound.  The building was HUGE and by huge I mean its the kind of building where you actually have to stop and read signs to figure out where you are going more than once.  When I finally found the wing on the floor in the department where I had to deliver my application I was greeted by several middle aged women who were clearly biffed that I showed up ten minutes before the end of their work day.  Sorry!  I just drove an hour and a half to get there!  They collected my paperwork and made me sit outside in a 'waiting room' that was really the hallway I just walked through that was the entrance to their department.


I settled in and opened up the book I was reading to pass the time.  At least I always carry a novel with me for unexpected waiting times like these!  Twenty minutes and two chapters later the woman I handed my paperwork to returned to me with an irritate look on her face.

"We have a problem"

"What do you mean?  Everything is there.  I checked it at least five times."

"Well, there is a discrepancy with your paperwork from Vermont Technical College.  The date of your program completion is listed as August of 2009 and your graduation is June 2010."

"August 2009 is when the program began."

"Well I can't issue you a temporary license.  You'll have to get VTC to resubmit this paperwork."

"I don't want a temporary license.  I just want to register so I can schedule my NCLEX."

"Oh, ok.  Well we can do that for you." 

After my heart stopped racing and skipping beats I breathed a sigh of relief.  VTC had really screwed up my paperwork.  If I had driven all the way there trying to get a temporary license so I could work as an LPN before taking my exam I would have been screwed and wasted my gas.  Why? Because you can only apply for a temporary license up to 30 days after your nursing program ends.  According to the screw up VTC made it looked as if my program ended 11 months ago.  What made the screw up more annoying was that it was on a piece of paper sealed in an envelop that only the board of nursing could open so I wouldn't have seen the error ahead of time to correct it.  Good thing I didn't have a job depending on getting a temporary license. 


After all that nonsense and ring-around-the-rosy she handed me an envelope that told me that I was now in the State Board of Nursing's system and to wait 24 - 48 hours to get the number I need to schedule a NCLEX test date.  State Bureaucracy at its best.  So now I wait and study while I'm waiting.  By the end of the week I should officially have a test date to hide from look forward to. Kind of exciting? Or a tad bit scary?!  Oh my.... 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Relax. Just Don't Feed the Seagulls

All this warm weather has drawn me to the multitudes of lakes that are within a short drive of my home.  There are more lakes than there are days of ninety degree temperatures (thank God) and I have visited almost every one of them.  Not all of them are suitable for swimming, but every single one is suitable for relaxing on the shoreline and enjoying the cool breeze that seems to exist only when you are sitting at the edge of a body of water. 


This is Lake Francis, just south of the Connecticut Lakes in Pittsburgh, New Hampshire.  We decided to make the hour or so drive as a way to get out of the house and avoid the sweat wringing heat.   Once we arrived at the lake I was in heaven.  I could have sat on the shoreline in the light breeze and waded in the waters for hours, but Shawn ran out of rocks to skip and decided he was utterly bored.  He wanted to leave so he could go wade in rivers back home and fly fish.  I pretended I didn't hear him for at least another twenty minutes while I basked in the sun and snapped a few photos.  Sometimes my relaxation is so short lived...


 Seagulls have never struck me as a regal bird, but this photo somehow changes that. 

Did your mom ever yell at you to "not feed the seagulls" when you were at the beach?   Well my mom always told me to never feed them.  Because if you fed just one seagull your little haven of beach tranquility would soon be invaded by dozens of squawking, feathery monsters after your cheese puffs.   Its a lesson I have taken with me into adulthood.  Even though I didn't see a single other seagull this little bugger flew away hungry.  I'm sure the others were hiding in the trees waiting to swoop out after the smallest crumb.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Remember to Smile

Today is one of those days where I need a little reminder to smile.  Be forewarned... I am about to complain.  Shawn has had six days off and we spent four of them together.  Now he has to go back to work.  I won't see him again until Sunday because of his schedule rotation and my own work schedule.  Its over ninety degrees outside today and I can't go swimming.  Instead I have to drive an hour and a half one way to my summer microbiology class.  At my microbiology class we have to wear pants and closed-toe shoes because of the microbes we are handling.  Did I mention its over ninety degrees today? 

So in the face of all that makes me whine today I was inspired by a post at Shutter Sisters (a blog I read daily) to remember to smile.  What would make me smile more than my husband in a giant stuffed cat costume?  Nothing.  There is nothing that could possibly make me smile more. 


Rock on husband. Rock on.


Seriously.


You're one cool cat.


Thanks for making me smile.