Monday, August 31, 2009

Here's what $900 looks like...

So, I purchased my books today. I purchased all of the required books and zero of the recommended books. I'll probably get some recommended books later. Right now I just wanted to focus on the basics.

I approached the cashier with trepidation once I found all of my books. I haven't purchased school books in 10 years! Not since I was in college in 2000! I was thinking it would cost $400-600 tops. Boy was I wrong. When the girl rang up all the books she had this look on her face so I knew it wasn't good. I actually knew it wasn't good from the start when ONE (read that ONE!!!!) book was $221 BEFORE taxes. Here's a pic of what a $221 book looks like:

Sorry, it doesn't prepare lunch or do my homework for me. Only the $225 books do that.

So anyway, the girl had a scary look on her face after ringing up all my books.

Me: Ok, just tell me. What's the damage?

Her: $881.92

Me: (staring blankly. The cashier and her manager went quiet and so did the people in line behind me...)

Me: (Finally, I just started crying) WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! AAAAAHHHHHHHH!

Ok, it was fake crying complete with my fist banging on the counter, heaving shoulders, sniffles and everything. The cashier, her manager and the people behind me all started laughing. Little did they know I wanted to cry for real! I felt like gathering all my books and running out of there like a fugitive. Ha ha!

So, here's what $900 in books looks like:

Pretty snazzy huh? Yeah, I didn't think so either...

Looks like me, and are gonna be real good friends over the next few days. I hope my co-workers are reading this. They can start a collection to help me buy books each semester. Instead of 'Save the Whales' it will be 'Save Kim!'

Shucks! I just spent $900 for schoolbooks. I guess this means I can't eat this month...

(that was a joke...kind of)

Tomorrow is Monday and I have no job

The first day of class starts in less than 2 days. I have a full schedule-17 hours. I know what you're thinking 'Wow, she's crazy! 17 hours her first semester in grad school!' Well, I'm crazy but not THAT crazy. In order to graduate on time and move with your class you must take specific classes in a specific order and at a specific time. In other words, I have no choice. But my motto is that there are lots of folks who went through this program before me and they all passed this program just fine. That means I can do it too.

Here's my Fall 2009 class schedule (drum roll please):

Gross Anatomy Lecture
Gross Anatomy Lab (this is where we get to dissect and inspect cadavers! whoo hoo!)
Movement Analysis Lecture
Movement Analysis Lab
Physiology of Disease Lecture
Physiology of Disease Lab
Occupational Therapy Process
Ethics, Policy & Advocacy (very important! a major tenet of OT)

As you can see I have a lot of biology courses. I'm really looking forward to this as Biology is one of my favorite subjects. They all involve familiarity with the cadavers and I suspect this will be an interesting semester. Naturally, grad school biology is another level of biology as this is the foundation for my livelihood. I'm all grown up now...

Tomorrow I have to go to the school to get the books for all these classes and meet with my advisor. I wish now that I had ordered the books online 2 weeks ago. There's a reason why I didn't do this and involves financial aid--enough said. Perhaps there is still time for this if I strategically plan the next few days. Ordering online would save a buck or two. This is even more important now that I have no job.

Gasp! Tomorrow is Monday and I don't have to go to work! Waking up tomorrow will be...different.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

How NOT to be a friend...

I have a theory that everyone has a box. I call it the Box of Greatness. Some people's box is very small because their belief and confidence in themselves is very small. They have boundaries and limits that they've placed on themselves and they walk around with their very small box. They say things like 'Oh no, I can NEVER do that. It will never happen.'

Some people have a box that's in the middle. They tend to play it safe sometimes and risky other times. They say things like 'Wow, I WISH I could do that. I wish I knew how to make it happen.'

Some people, however, have a very large box, I'm talking huge. They don't see boundaries or limitations. They have a goal, they make a plan and they go for it. They just take the plunge, jump right in. They say things like 'Wow, HOW can I do that? What plan will make it happen?'

All of my friends would agree I'm in the third category (I know this because they tell me this all the time. Even my co-workers tell me this). My Box of Greatness is very large. I come up with a crazy idea, I figure out how to do it and I do it. Sometimes I've done very silly things because of this personality trait but most times it's served me well. I've had an interesting life because of it.

Related to this theory is my second theory that people can only see their box. If your box is large, you only see your box, even when you converse with other people. You see your limitless, endless potential and believe everyone else has a limitless, endless potential as well. You try to impress this upon them.

If your box is small, you only see your box. You see your limitations and believe everyone else has these same limitations so you try to impress your boundaries upon everyone else. People in this category have small experiences and they assume everyone else will have small experiences too.

I mention this because, yesterday, at my final day at work, one gentlemen whom I speak with on a regular basis made some very discouraging remarks and it reminded me of my theory of the Box of Greatness.

Him: Wow, so you're going to school full-time for your Master of Occupational Therapy. Going to school full-time is a lot of work.

Me: Yeah it is a lot of work! I'm really looking forward to it. I'm very excited! It's gonna be fun.

Him: Yeah, it's a ton of work. You're gonna get burnt out.

Me: What?! No, I'm not. I LOVE school. I've worked hard to get here and I've been through worse than this. It will be a lot of work but I wouldn't say I'm going to get burnt out.

Him: Yes, you are. All those classes, going to school every day, studying every day. It's different from going to work every day. You're going to get burnt out.

(insert comment here: He's never been to grad school and yet he can give me NEGATIVE advice...I think my theory will manifest itself in this conversation....)

Me: No way. Don't put your limitations on me. Speak for yourself. I'm NOT going to get burnt out because I love this subject and I love this field. I've spoken with lots of students and yes it is a LOT of work but people do it. You just have to manage your time and pace yourself.

Him: Nah, you're gonna get burnt out---

Me: You know what? Don't come over here to MY desk with this negative energy. Now you're irritating me and I'm serious. If you're only going to give negative words and energy then don't say anything at all to me about it because I don't wanna hear it. How are you gonna tell me I'm gonna get burnt out?

Him: Whoa. Who are you? What have you done with Kim? Why are you getting so upset?

Me: Because you're putting YOUR limitations on ME and I don't appreciate that. Don't speak for me. I can speak for myself. I'm not gonna get burnt out.

Liz (my co-worker/replacement): I don't think Kim is the type of person to get burnt out. She's very high-energy...

Him: Yeah, high energy or not. She's gonna get burnt-out.

(Boss man comes out his office) Boss man: Hey guys, what's going on here?

Me: He's saying I'm going to get burnt out at school and I disagree with that.

Boss man: seems to me you'd get more burnt out at work than at school. Work can be very stressful. At least at school you have long-stretches of vacation...


Him: Yeah, that makes sense. You don't get a lot of vacation at work...

What?! This conversation was VERY frustrating to me. VERY. I HATE when people put me in their super-small, extra-tiny, diminutive boxes. Just because you don't think YOU can do it doesn't me I don't think I can do it. As I spoke with him, I was instantly reminded of my Box of Greatness theory. His box is small so he can't see past that box. My box is larger than his so I can't see how he can think so small. If boss man hadn't come out with his opinion and Liz hadn't given hers I would have gotten up and walked away from this conversation. (note: This guy and I are still cool but this conversation was worth writing about because it vexed me so...).

Why he H-E-double-hockey-sticks would I want to hear something so...TERRIBLE?! I have never heard anyone say something so forcefully negative about my going to school. He is the first person to be so forcefully negative and insist something so terrible on me. "You're going to get burnt out. YES YOU ARE."



When in doubt, ASK!

Yesterday, it happened. Some idiot tried to make a joke and GUESS (gasp!) what Occupational Therapists do instead of asking 'Hey, I have no idea what Occupational Therapists do. Can you enlighten me?'

Any OT or aspiring OT will tell you it's bound to happen. We all go through it many, many times. Some fool will give you the look. You know it too well. And you know it's coming. It's actually pretty irritating.

I was out for drinks with an old friend and her friends last night so I didn't know this guy. I guess he thought he was being funny by trying to guess what an OT does instead of just asking. So, for anyone who doesn't know what an Occupational Therapist does read my first post below or JUST ASK. Any OT or aspiring OT would LOVE to tell you what we (will soon) do for a living. It's our greatest pride and joy.

The Idiot: So, Kim. You just quit your job. What are you going to school for?

Me: Master of Occupational Therapy.

The Idiot: Oh! So you're gonna be giving people massages and s***. (grinning widely while the table erupts in laughter)

Me: No, dumba**. Clearly you don't know so just ask what an MOT is.

Honestly, I didn't say that last part but I was thinking it right along with a nice hard kick in the nuts. What I actually said was something polite like 'No, that's not what I'll be doing. A lot of people mistakenly believe that. An Occupational Therapist is a person who....' and I went on to explain it to him. I think he got it but he has a peanut head, perhaps it was too much info to comprehend all at once.

The purest sound on Earth

This morning I awoke to the purest sound on Earth:

A child laughing.

I love the sound of children laughing. It's so clean and pure and it always makes me feel good. It's beautiful. It makes me smile.

My last yogurt & dog food

As I walked toward the train station from work I decided to get some frozen yogurt. After purchasing I decided to sit and slowly enjoy my last yogurt downtown. About 2 minutes into this a young man sits down right next to me.

Him: Mind if I join you?

Me: Actually yes, I do mind. Today was my last day of work. I quit my job to go to school full-time and I just want to enjoy this time alone and reflect.

Him (still sitting and not moving): Well, look at it like this, everybody is strapped for cash sometimes and you quit to make a better life for yourself by going to school and---

Me: No, that's not what I meant. I meant I'm reflecting in a good way. I'm not sad I quit. I just want to enjoy this time alone.

Him: Well, I'm a designer. I went to school to be a graphics designer and I design things for a living blah blah blah blah blah blah

(Is this guy for real?? Didn't I just say I wanted to be alone?? Sometimes I think in Spanish... Did I subconsciously speak Spanish?? Gasp! Maybe I thought I said leave me alone when in fact I really said nothing at all...Wow, look at that cab driver yelling at that other cab driver...)

Him: ...then I decided to be a massage therapist. so i did that for awhile and discovered it wasn't for me. I didn't want to do something I didn't like for the rest of my life blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

(OH MY GOSH!! Is this Forrest Gump?? Am I being 'Punked'? Is he STILL talking to me? This is not happening...Wow, this yogurt is really good.)

Him: blah blah blah blah blah, that's my story. You mind telling me your story?

Me: Actually I do. Remember I told you I really don't want to talk?

Him: Oh.



(I'm really enjoying my yogurt. It tastes great. I really like the mix of almonds, walnuts and pecans. It gives it a nice flavor...I'm going to miss the yogurt place...)


Him: Can I take you out?

Me: I'm flattered but no thank you.


(family walks by with a dog and a baby. The baby keeps staring at me. I stare back.)


(more silence)

Him: You in a relationship?

I nodd my head while noticing my yogurt is almost gone. Yikes!

(silence again)



(My yogurt is gone. It was delicious. Farewell yogurt place...)

Me: Have a nice day.

Him: You, too.

As I left the young man who doesn't listen well and insists on talking about himself even though i was clear I wanted to be alone, I passed a homeless man holding a sign with a blank look on his face. The sign said 'Homeless and hungry.' Next to him was a dog. Next to the dog was a bowl of dog food. Behind the dog food was a large grocery bag of dog food.

Is this logical?
How is this possible?
Is it just me?
Am I wrong for noticing that the dog has a ton of food and the man has none?
What does this mean?

I keep walking.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Penultimate day of work :-( and :-)

Today was the day before the last day of work. I felt :-( and I felt :-). Once again, a bittersweet moment. All week I've been thinking 'this is my last Monday, my last Tuesday, my last...' you get the idea. I cleaned out my desk today of all my stuff, way more than I ever thought I would accumulate at any job. I said goodbye to a few people today because I knew I wouldn't see them again tomorrow.

Yesterday I spoke with a person who went on and on about money and Occupational Therapy and their curent position and flexibility and how I'm never going to have this and that and the other while in OT. You know, basically trying to discourage me by saying negative things when what they really want to say is 'I'm better than you. I won't come out and say that but you know I'm saying it and I know I'm saying it. But wow, even though I think I'm better than you I'm amazed that you're following your dreams and going to school full-time.'

So I punched them in the face.

Ok, I didn't do that because that's not in my character but I wish I could do it and get away with it. I also wish people would just say 'Congrats' and keep negative thoughts to themselves because I don't really want to hear anything negative. This is a positive time for me so let's think happy thoughts. It would be better for me if you just talked about me behind my back. I mean really, just do it because I would never know. This way you get the satisfaction of making yourself feel superior and I get the satisfaction of continuing to think positively. Besides, the whole time this person was talking to me I was thinking 'What if I smacked you silly right now? What would you do? Would you realize you know nothing about OT? Probably not. You'd probably just keep talking.' Sigh. As terrible as this sounds 99.5% of the people are completely supportive and that's the group I focus on and talk to most. I think yesterday's conversation really bothered me because I wanted to say something but it was the penultimate day of my penultimate day and I really don't want to leave on a bad note. Not good.

My wonderful coworkers treated me to an awesome lunch at an incredible Chinese restaurant. The restaurant, which shall remain nameless because for the first time in history we were treated very poorly there (but if one of my co-workers wants to comment below on the name be my guest!!), has an all you can eat option for groups of 6 or more. There were 9 of us but we ate like there were 15 of us. I almost believed there were 15 of us because the food went so fast. I kept looking around for the other 6 people. The food at this restaurant is excellent. My coworkers all chipped in and paid for me and I was so happy I wanted to kiss each of them. This was their second time doing this...they did this once before at the same restaurant (when the service was actually good) for my birthday. I didn't kiss them but I almost did. Didn't I tell you they're awesome people??? I'm really going to miss them. Great food, great company, what more can a girl ask for?

Three of my co-workers buy their lunch everyday and there was a conversation about how inefficient it is to prepare a lunch everyday. One coworker contested that it makes more sense for one person to fix lunch for 5 people then for each of the five people to fix lunch for themselves. I thought this was hilarious because while they purchase lunch everyday, I bring my lunch every day. It's second nature for me to prepare my lunch, I don't think much of it anymore. So, I made them a deal. I told them that if each person contributed $5, I would prepare the lunch and provide drinks. Hey, what can I say? As of tomorrow at 5pm I'll be an unemployed grad student. I have to get creative with streams of income. Maybe tomorrow I'll offer to stop by once a week and clean their apartments and their work cubicles. I'll keep you posted on that :-)

Anyway, the two pictures I've posted are of me at my desk and of my desk without me. It's kind of like now you see her and on Monday you won't. Tomorrow is my last day. I can't believe it. I've only been working at this super top secret company for a little over a year but I've met some really interesting people and I actually had FUN at work. I'm not kidding, I genuinely like my coworkers. And I'm not just saying that because they may be reading this. And if they are reading this, then I'm telling you now, I genuinely like you! (insert thumbs up and kool-aid smile here) I always had fun with them, they treated me well and they're all really interesting. You're never gonna find a more interesting, lively bunch. I would post photos but then they probably wouldn't be happy and the company would say I put them at risk then they would go down and it would all be my fault. I don't think that would be much fun.

If you're looking at my pics and thinking 'Gosh, she must have had a lot of stuff to move because her desk is messy' you can relax because my desk was ALWAYS messy. And this is after I cleaned it and packed all my stuff. Ha! But all that matters is that I know where everything is, right? Right. And most of the time I did know where everything was. That's important because I'm training my replacement at work and every day I keep asking myself if I'm forgetting something important that she needs to know. It's important to me that we at least touch on the major stuff because my team will be very dependent on her to keep things running smoothly. I just hope I'm not forgetting something. I would feel very badly about that...

On a final note, someone asked me why I didn't choose the major local public university that has like 30 or 40,000 students. They are under the impression it's a better school because it has more national recognition, it's super duper large, has lots of public funding and blah blah blah. Honestly, I thought about it. It's closer to my home and saying I graduated from there would be cool and it would sound good. However, when I was choosing a school to attend for OT and I began researchign programs and faculty and staff this school's program was not very...satisfying to me. I didn't like the way it was structured and there was very little hands on training and support. Plus, it would take me 2 years just to finish their pre-reqs and there was no guarantee I would get in. I felt like they were more focused on research and using their students to perform functions that students should not be focused on. Plus, their staff wasn't the most inviting or friendly. I wasn't interested in spending 2.5 years in a cold, robotic environment. My current school, however, had a very down to earth, supportive, nurturing staff that really stressed responsibility, accountability and learning. And they really wanted to know me as a person! They're program is excellent and focuses on what's important and relevant to an OT; I was drawn to them, the campus and their program. I was also drawn to their commmitment to learning anatomy, neuroscience and physiology and the importance of learning something new, uncomfortable and out of your element. This is what OT is about.

Last week I went to Orientation and I met most of my professors and classmates. I felt so comfortable! And yet, I felt like this would be a real challenge and I enjoy challenges! My favorite part was when Instructor D starting giving the rules and regulations for the anatomy lab. I wish I could have jumped up and kissed him right then but that probably wouldn't have gone over very well. But I probably could have stoop up and shouted I LOVE ANATOMY. I can't wait to get in the lab and dissect the cadavers. This is going to be my favorite part of grad school. And we have TWO ENTIRE semesters of anatomy lab.
GOSH. TWO SEMESTERS!!! I'm overwhelmed with emotion right now. Anatomy is soooo interesting! Dissecting cadavers is awesome! I can't wait. I'm doing cartwheels! We have school M-Th from 9-5 and Fridays off. But I hear on Fridays everyone goes to the Anatomy lab to study because you really have to know your muscles and insertion points and locations and so on. We have unlimited access to the anatomy lab. We can come and go at any hour of the day or night. That means 24-freaking-7.
GOSH. 24-7!!! It doesn't get any better than this. It really doesn't. I think I might faint.

If I were a few years younger I would try to find some medical degree that is in agreement with my health and lifestyle views and pursue that. Then I could work with people and study the body all day long every day. Not that I can't do that as an OT because I can, which is also one of the reasons why I chose OT, because of the marriage of anatomy and people. I'm great with people! I love anatomy! Life is good.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

School starts Tuesday!! Yippee!!

So, I must admit I'm one of the few people on Earth that LOVES school. I don't exaggerate when I say this so I'll repeat it so you really get what I'm saying: I LOVE SCHOOL! I enjoy the entire learning process, ESPECIALLY when I'm learning about other cultures or the human body, two of my favorite subjects. The human body is simply fascinating to me. The way we grow in the mother's warm, protecting womb, how our muscles receive electrical impulses and respond to directions and how the food we eat nourishes and feeds our bodies or poisons and weakens our bodies. It amazes me how the body responds, moves and keeps going when we treat it poorly; it's incredibly resilient. I'm enamored by it's awesomeness. It's beautiful and God did and awesome thing when He created it.

But, I digress (see how much I love the human body???? I can't even stay focused), back to how much I love school. I'm excited to pair two things I LOVE--school and the human body-- starting this Tuesday, only 6 days away!! Yippee! (insert 'Hallelujah' choir song here, heavens open, bright line shines) I am a brand spanking new Master of Occupational Therapy student. This is one of the most exciting times in my life!!!! (Yippee!!! again) Probably more exciting than when I left the US right after college to live in Japan for a year. Occupational Therapy is an incredible, vibrant field filled with wonderful people and it fits my personality perfectly.

For those who don't know, Occupational Therapy is the study of human occupation. Not occupation as in a job or career but occupation as in occupations of daily human life. Occupational therapists help people live meaningful, purposeful and fulfulling lives by enabling them to participate in (their) daily activities, activities that have meaning to them. For example, if you are in a car accident and you sustain an injury--a severly broken thumb which disables your ability to bend your thumb --you're suddenly aware of the importance and usefulness of your thumb. Immediately you realize how difficult it is button your shirt, braid your hair, open a can of soda or water, cook, clean, bowl, tie your shoes and a slew of other activities. An occupational therapist would you provide you with the necessary therapy to strengthen your thumb, thereby enabling you to resume your normal 'occupations.' It's an awesome career and I'm grateful to start the learning process next week! (Yippee!!! ok, I'm done with that now, I promise)

My Master of Occupational Therapy journey is 2.5 years--about 2 years of school work and a little over 6 months of clinicals. I'm 30 years old and until now I think I've only dabbled in various fields, searching, trying to find which field 'complemented' me most. At 30, I'm most interested in finding fulfilling work and working with interesting people. This time is bittersweet for me. I just left a job with the most interesting (and awesome) co-workers and the best boss (ever) to follow my dreams. It's a little scary (only a little) but I KNOW it's the right thing to do because I feel so peaceful about it. I have no job and very little money and it's a daunting situation to be in. Some people think I'm crazy for quitting my job to go to school in the health field when I have a perfectly good Bachelor of Science in Finance from a top-notch school. But Finance has not been fulfilling for me. So, one day I started thinking: I'm 30 years old and although I'm employed with great folks and and a great boss am I making the money I could make? Am I living to my full potential? What's my current career path? Could I do something greater? You get to thinking about these things and you realize how incredible you really are (I have high self-esteem, can't you tell???) and suddenly you're searching for something interesting, purposeful, meaningful and fulfulling.

Occupational Therapy found me. I think this is why I feel so peaceful about this incredibly daring decision I've just made. I can't go back now, I already took the plunge. I'm accepted at an awesome University with an awesome program, I have an all tuition paid scholarship (such a blessing!), I notified my job, interviewed potential replacements with my boss and after choosing the replacment I'm now training her and finally, my last day at work is Friday--only two days away! I'm excited and terrified, although more excited than terrified. I wish I could describe how peaceful I feel about this decision. I know it will work out, I can feel it...

So, I've decided to blog about this incredible journey I'm about to face. Partly because blogging is interesting and my OT student blogger idol Karen Dobyns (all hail Karen!!! you can find her at inspired me with her incredibly witty, insightful blogs throughout her 2 year journey....and partly because I would like to look back over this journal one day and witness my growth and transformation, which will hopefully help someone else. When I was deciding if OT was right for me I googled and found quite a few blogs. And other than Karen's blog and 2 or 3 others, most OT student blogs weren't very helpful. I hope to be helpful to those considering OT school and the field of OT. I hear that once school starts it's a little overwhelming and time is tight but I hope to continue writing in this blog as much as possible. This is one of my goals. The online OT community is not very large and I intend to contribute to enhancing it. I wouldn't have to explain OT if more people knew what it was. You never ask a doctor -- 'So, what does a doctor do?'

So, if you just stumbled upon this blog please continue to read it and definitely comment! I hope to provide engaging, interesting info about my experiences and I welcome any conversation! Besides, I'll be cutting open cadavers and looking at their insides. Hopefully, I can share this with all of you (I will have to ask first though, I'm certain this breaks some ethical school rule about privacy, etc...) But anyway, this will be fun! (I hope...)