Sunday, March 28, 2010

The end is still unwritten

I had barely poured my first cup of coffee Friday morning when my cell phone rang. Seeing it was my boss, I was surprised. She never calls me, not for any reason whatsoever. Surprised she had my cell phone, she called me back on my business line and started the conversation with "I have some bad news for you." blah blah blah "surplus" blah blah...last day May 25th blah blah severance package for you to look over...blah blah blah. Can I say I was shocked? No. I called this day a year ago. My gut was warning me in March. It was telling me in July that it was time to jump ship. Here we are. I was given Friday off to "digest" the news. Despite the conversation, my boss seemed a bit surprised that there was no reaction from me and commented that I seemed to be taking things awfully well. What exactly was I supposed to do? Beg? I simply asked her to forward me the paperwork and I would look it over. She urged me to consult an attorney and a financial consultant and make a decision: upload a resume and try for a position open elsewhere in the company or take my severance and permanently close the door on my career at Ma Bell. I spent Friday doing nothing in particular, went shopping, enjoyed the sun, picked up a prescription, treated it like any other day. Did some thinking over the weekend. Questioned whether I was really OK or just in some sort of denial. Would this layoff leave me in a sea of fear and grief eventually? I slept on it and woke up Saturday morning feeling absolutely.......LIBERATED! Excited even at the thought of a Summer without working two jobs, at resting after back and forth and back and forth to the U of C, Alexian Brothers, endless needles and poking and telling someone my name and birthday. I was excited about studying outside on my deck with a big glass of juice. And then, tonight, while I was taking a shower I remembered April 5, 1995. A young single mom, newly liberated from her husband, started her first day at a company called Advantis. It was the first non restaurant job she ever had and she was scared to death at the thought of working on a computer when she could barely type her name on one. She drove this old beat up two door Dodge Charger without air conditioning and both doors stuck so that she would have leave the window open in order to get into the car because it would only open from the inside. Two little kids were fastened into the back seat for their first day at the new day care. As she stopped off for gas, a million things were running through her head like "Can I do this job?" "OMG! I'm running late!" While deep in thought, she filled her beat up car with gas and realized that she FORGOT TO CRACK THE WINDOW. Kids in the back seat, purse with the money for the gas on the front seat and 45 minutes to show time, she stared at the full gas station, sighed and opened up the hatchback, crawled through a pile of debris while onlookers snickered and opened the door, ran into the store to pay for the gas and tried not to notice the people laughing. The attendant took the money and said "bad day??" "Yep" she said and she drove off for her first day. Once in the call center, she met her boss, Carol. Carol was a sweet and wonderful lady and though young single newly liberated from her marriage, mom was worried sick she could not handle the job, Carol had no doubt she could and boss was right. What was a new adventure, turned into a LOT of new friends. Every day at work was FUN. Weekends were for study or reading or hanging out with co-workers and talking when it was not busy. Relationships. Mary Lou, Ruby, Tom, Joe, Jim, Mahmoud, Doug, Eric, Tina, Ron, Mike and Mike and Mike, Gregg, Faraz, Phil, Leilani, Diane, Lou, Dwayne, Jason, Sherwin...a close crew. Good friends. Many laughs. Good times.
The AT&T that is now, is not the company that young single mom joined 15 years ago and it's not this AT&T that she will miss. Young single mom, now me, will always remember working for Advantis, my very first job. I will always remember kicking the back of Doug's chair on my way to my cubicle EVERY DAY. I do not now why I did that but it became part of the friendship. I will always remember when some smart ass in our group switched the coffee mate with flour. I will always remember Saturdays in the call center. We'd have weekly pot lucks and sit around and girl talk when it wasn't busy. I will always remember Friday nights at Bennigan's, doing blow job shots and winding down after the work week. I will always remember the thrill I had learning, being encouraged to learn, and the great bosses I had who took the time to try and build, not tear down. I have missed the feeling of being valued and wanting to contribute just for that feeling of doing a good job. I have been corporately beaten down by offshoring and outsourcing and feeling devalued, by layoff after layoff since 2004. I've been beaten down by a 40 hour work week somehow slowly growing into a 50 hour work week, then 60 with weekends and nights, feeling guilty for taking time to talk to the kids, eating dinner or going to the bathroom. So, my gut says, no. No resumes. No looking for a job in the company. Take the money and close the door. The fondness you feel is not for this. It's for what was. What was was pretty great. What will be....I guess that's up to me. I'm not saying there isn't a little fear but 3 years ago, I made a promise to God during the Relay for Life. I vowed that as long as I am living I will be a voice for cancer and that I would do anything in my power to eradicate this disease from the face of the Earth. He is holding me to my promise. Whereas He led me to what I needed 15 years ago, I have no doubt He is leading me now....and I'm following. So, goodbye AT&T. It's been a good run. I've learned a lot about what I want, and what I don't. God, now what?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bittersweet sums up this week.
Two MPNST warriors lost their fight, Tyler and Kelsie. All Sarcoma deaths sadden me but especially MPNST deaths and double especially when they are kids. My heart goes out to their families and my resolve to advocate and find a cure is strengthened. It's personal!! Yet in the middle of these stories are moments of inspiration, of deep compassion, of communities that come together to support and rally around the afflicted. A few weeks ago, a member of our little Sarcoma community, relapsed with Sarcoma. This Sarcoma warrior just HAPPENS to be local and is in Kris's class. He asked Schaumburg High School if they would participate in a St. Baldrick's event. Here is the story that ran in our local paper. SHS St. Baldrick's fundraiser I had the pleasure of meeting the family at a celebration at our church. This story illustrates so well how one voice can impact so positively.

It is Spring Break. I have put the kids to work cleaning the devastation that has occurred in my house since I started classes in November. We are slowly but surely tending to the wreckage but not without fights and screaming and anger at me because for the first time since last July, we can see sunshine and they want to go and have fun. By the looks of my house, lots of fun has been going on around here as we recently found leftover Christmas crackers, dips and chips still ground in the carpet and are sweeping up piles of debris. You may think I'm exaggerating but, not really. Now that I can see the sunshine through the newly polished glass, it's so much brighter in here and I can actually get a full view of all the dirt. NOT PRETTY! As I'm on Spring break myself, I have enjoyed not HAVING to have a book in front of my face but as I'm sitting here, there is one there anyway though it has taken me all day to read two pages.

Now for the really sweet. At work on Saturday, one of my co-workers had asked me how I am going to fund Nursing school and still pay my mortgage. I told her that I am hoping that God can pull a few strings for me. That evening when I came home, there was an email from an unfamiliar name asking me to call her ASAP. The email came from Possible Woman. I won their annual scholarship and they are awarding me $5000 towards my education! I was thrilled beyond thrilled. Could not even speak an intelligible sentence. I applied for this scholarship in January and as I found it 5 days before the deadline, I hustled to get the application finished and in the mail on time. Again I will thank Sue, Nonalee, Deb, Clyde, Andrea, Cyndy and all of those that encouraged me to go for it, wrote letters of recommendation, and proof read the essays to make sure they sounded intelligent. I am supposed to go to Atlanta, GA during the 3rd weekend in April to attend the banquet and accept the scholarship in person. I will post a link to PWI so that other women reading this blog who want to further their education, can apply for next years scholarship. It is not income dependent or age dependent and will not disqualify anyone for already having a college degree.
In all things, I am truly thankful.

PS: PLEASE vote for our Sarcoma Awareness NASCAR :)
Sarcoma Nascar

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's that dreaded time again.....SCAN TIME!!! I will say it one more time, I HATE SCAN TIME!! I hate the barium. I hate feeling like someone took a vise grip to my intestines every time I have to drink that crap. I hate the tummy ache and the multiple trips to the potty. I hate the scanxiety waiting for the results and right now, I am treating this like a huge interruption to my vastly busy schedule and I am downright annoyed at the cancer intrusion. SO THERE!

Almost two weeks ago, Kristopher participated in IHSA, the Illinois High School Association annual music contest. He was performing a solo and performing in a quartet, the solo occurring at an obscene time of the morning, 8:30am at Lake Zurich High School which is a nice little 45 minute drive. We had intended on being on the road at 7am so Kris had a chance to warm up. Needless to say, it didn't quite go off that way. I worked Friday night until 11pm, couldn't fall asleep until after 1am and though had my alarm set early enough, I slept through it and apparently, Kris slept through his and Cass slept through hers. None of us got out of bed until 6:45 and after mediating a fight between Kris and Cass over who got to use the shower first, I sent Cass in there and sternly warned Kris his shower should last less than 10 minutes and not the usual 2 hour shower he takes to avoid doing housework. (Note to self: start saving to modify downstairs bathroom from half bath to 3/4 SOON!) Kris proceeded to inform me at 7am that he did not have a white shirt to wear and what was I going to do about it? Hmmm...well let me put it to you this way Kris, NOTHING! Holy smokes! I work at a STORE. I worked at a STORE just the night before. I worked at a STORE every weekend for the 6 months that he knew about this solo contest. So of course, Kris got upset and threatened not to go and I, of course, told him to get his butt downstairs and put on his faded, holey, Led Zeppelin shirt for all I care. The bus is leaving at 7:15. CHOP! CHOP! We pulled out of the driveway at 7:25 and proceeded on our way. Our Mapquest directions were a little unclear and I missed one of the turnoffs. As I'm turning around, Kris is yelling at me for forgetting where Lake Zurich High School is because we were just there a year ago. Do I really have to explain to a 16 year old that over 2 million facts entered my head in the past year and every time one fact entered my brain, something else fell out? Apparently, I did. So while he was screaming he would not be able to warm up, I turned the bus around and got myself on the right track. It was now 8:15. Kris was scheduled to be on stage and I was still a fair distance from the high school. Success, finally on route 22. Directions say turn on Church street. 3 miles down the road, it was clear once more that I missed Church street. How? I went backwards and saw no Church street. In desperation, I took the first right and miraculously found Church. We pulled up to the high school 3 minutes before showtime. I dropped Kris off and parked the car, ran to the entrance, stood in line forever to get directions to the classroom, and somehow made it. Kris did not do as well on his solo as he wanted but, the quartet was wonderful.
This week was an Anatomy test week and I was very busy memorizing muscles, 56 muscles originations and insertions AND actions. I found that hugely difficult. Generally, I look for patterns. There just weren't any and it took me quite a long time to get them into my head. Of course, the test only had 10 questions on that and 40 questions on the two chapters I didn't spend a lot of time on. ARGH!! Hematology and Cardiac care is just off my list of Nursing possibilities. Still waiting for the official bad news on this. I had an A going in. Will I still have an A at the end of the day??? I am seriously hoping my guesswork was in top form last night.
If you haven't done so, please vote for our Sarcoma awareness NASCAR! We're up to 1400 votes. Thank you so much!!!
Sarcoma NASCAR

PS: added Friday 3/19, I got an A on the Anatomy test. :) Maybe I'll put cardiac care and hematology back on the list...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sarcoma Awareness ala Nascar

Toyota is sponsoring a contest. Vote on a Nascar design and the winning design stands to have their design made a reality. To promote Sarcoma Awareness, one of my friends designed a Sarcoma car laden with yellow ribbons, bearing the name of every child and adult fighting Sarcoma. We need votes to bring attention to this cause. If this is a cause you can get behind, please vote every day and forward this link to everyone you can.
Sarcoma Nascar

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Studyin Science

When I went to college the first time, I was a liberal arts major, focusing on history, literature and psychology with some smatterings of science classes that I took during my half hearted attempt at pre-medicine. Science and I did not get along. I hated the thought of labs. Chemistry gave me the chills. Twenty years later, I find myself immersed in learning the various systems of the body and studying life. A few weeks ago, we studied the Theory of Evolution. I realize it's a hot button topic for some especially when it comes to man and his role. Yesterday, my son asked me if I was a Creationist or an Evolutionist and mentioned that if I was an Evolutionist, it meant that I was not a true believer in God. There are some that feel that Science dispels all evidence of God but I'm of the school that Science does no such thing. I don't even see how the two can be separated. One created the rules. One attempts to explain the rules. Life is amazing! Life is a miracle in every sense of the word. It is so perfectly put together. Every cell, every plant, every animal, has a place in the world, a function, a reason to be here. Everything is related and if one element of a system is out of balance, the entire system and every element in it suffers. My textbook theorizes life began with one cell. My textbook also cannot explain how that cell got here and makes no attempt to do so. From that cell, came the fish, the flowers, the birds, the reptiles, the amphibians, and we humans. We are one. We are connected. That cell differentiated into cells that adapt to life in cold weather, life in the tropics, life in the ocean, life on land, life in high altitudes, life in the desert, life everywhere that life exists. The odds of that happening anywhere is a billion to one. How can anyone look at Science and say, there is no Creator? Yes, as perfect as life is, really unspeakable things happen. Our perfect Creator did not create a perfect world. I don't think the world was meant to be perfect. The world was meant to be exactly as it is and we, who all came from one single cell, who are all together on this planet after morphing into what we came to be, are all in this together to solve the problems that exist here. We will never prevent an Earthquake or tornado but as a community we can blunt the effects. We cannot affect the bad choices that another person makes but we can make good choices of our own that may counter the bad ones.
Studyin Science...studyin God... same thing.