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So, tomorrow I’ll be going to my wonderful college town for the first time since I graduated last May.  Now, a year and a half ago I sat with a smug handful of job offers thinking ‘Thank goodness I’ll never have to go to another Career Fair.’ Ahh, the naivety.

After my daily routine of applying for jobs online, watching classes, and doing homework this morning, I took a career test to get myself in the timely spirit.  I thought the results were pretty interesting.

  So basically, I am an assertive person most interested in Art, Food Service, Personal Service, Science, and Writing.  I should be a technical writer for an engineering company, and then moonlight as a waitress/painter?

Or maybe I just scored higher on some things because most people aren’t interested in science, writing or service of any kind.

What the heck falls under personal service anyways?  And food service?  I have never been a waitress, worked at a restaurant, or even really cooked anything that didn’t start out in a frozen box.

Okay, this is better.  Descriptions of each category.  So let’s take those top five scores and examine a bit further.

Art: I would agree with this description.  My keyboard and microphone are set up directly to the left of my computer as I write this.  Recording my own music is somewhat of a therapy for me, even though I would be hesitant to ever perform any of it for an audience.  Some of my favorite memories in college was being in a cover band with my friends, too, even if we weren’t the best :)

Food Service?  Still at a loss here.

Personal service: I would agree with that.  If I could feed and clothe myself off of volunteering it would be my career.  There is nothing better than seeing a positive impact you have on others.

Science: Wow, there’s a brain buster.  Engineering students don’t often enjoy problem solving or learning new things, so I guess I’ve really put myself ahead of the curve here.


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Writing: Obviously, writing would probably have to make an appearance to support the validity of me presenting this test on my (written) blog.

Assertive: Great.  I’m the pushy one who needs to micro-manage everyone underneath me?  I honestly would have appreciated these results to be backwards from what they are, but perhaps this is a blaring sign that I should be aware of my assertiveness and back off sometimes :)

And now the incredible spider web that tells me exactly who I am!

So I’m a definite Thinker, Server, and Creator,

a pseudo- persuader/doer,

and absolutely not an organizer or helper.

Interesting that one can be highly attentive in needing to serve others but barely sociable in one’s need to help?  I’m not quite sure what that tells me, maybe that I’m attentive just not to other people.  Maybe that’s why I’d rather volunteer at an animal shelter than a soup kitchen.

Either way, I’m not quite sure what kind of job an investigative, attentive, artistic person should have.   Any ideas?

Weekly Spending

What a weekend.  I saw a winning Blues game on Friday, came nowhere near winning a trivia night on Saturday, and had an impromptu Super Bowl party on Sunday.

At one point on Sunday, the topic of going to work on Monday came into play, allowing everyone with a job to vent the typical frustrations of ending a fantastic weekend to start another work week.  The usual “I hate waking up so early”, “I never have time for anything outside of work”, “I always fight sleep in the afternoons” entered the conversation, and suddenly were halted by one friend, saying “You know, I’m okay with it.  If anything, it gives me an appreciation for my weekends.”

And in my experience, the hard-working week does pay off in a packed, usually fun-filled weekend. Five days gives you enough time to recover from the previous weekend, accomplish what you need to do that week, and plan for the upcoming weekend.  Sounds like a fair enough amount of time, right?  I mean, most people are lucky to get 2 days a week off work.

But not every weekend is fun, right?  I mean, think about 2014.  How many of those weekends did you spend fixing problems, studying, working, doing things that just had to get done, pleasing other people, sacrificing your time for others, etc?  Probably a few.

Let’s try to calculate this out.

I’ll go ahead and round it to one weekend a month lost to reasons previously mentioned.  That’s probably pretty conservative, especially if you consider the growing amount of responsibilities we acquire with age.  Let’s say starting at 35, we’re knocked down to 2 free weekends a month.

Now, to averaging the length of one individual’s adult, working-life: most people begin work between 22 – 25, and retire around 60-65.   Let’s approximate our adult working life to be about 40 years long, from age 23 – 63.

40 years x (52 weekends/year) = 2,080 weekends in your adult, working life.

(35 – 23 years old) x (52 weekends/year) x (3/4 weekends free) = 468 weekends enjoyed from age 23 to 35

63 – 35 years old) x (52 weekends/year) x (1/2 weekends free) = 728 weekends enjoyed from age 35 to 63

468 + 728 = 1,196 weekends to enjoy during your 40 years of being a working adult.

Furthermore, if 1 weekend = 2 days; 1,196 weekends = 2,392 days

40 years x 365 days = 14,600 days

2,392 free weekend days / 14,600 total days = 16.4% of days in your working adult life, free.

83.6% of your working adult life consumed by work and other obligations.

Who decided this was acceptable?  No wonder the United States is over-stressed, lazy in our personal lives, not finding time for self actualization, unfriendly, and impatient.

And why, knowing this, do we ever just settle for a job?

I understand, of course, there are exceptions.  Sometimes waiting for the “right job” is not an option, and sometimes self-sacrifice truly is the noblest way to spend your time.

But for those of you like me, fortunate enough not to have anyone depending on you for livelihood, fortunate to have time to seek out our own satisfaction; why would we ever settle for a disposition that leaves us with only 16.4% of our time happy?

As I keep relentlessly applying for jobs, going on interviews, reviewing offers, and coming up “empty-handed”, I pray to keep this big-picture idea in mind.  If I only get 16.4% of my adult working life outside of work and responsibility, wouldn’t it make sense to plan on enjoying not only my weekends, but at some point my weeks, too?

Money is important, but it can only be enjoyed through time.  I’m realizing more and more that I might rather have less money and enjoy more time than the other way around.

If a man runs away in a circular path who’s to say he won’t get where he’s going?
and if sacrifice saves us from exposing truth who’s to prove we won’t win without knowing?
I have salt in my hand to be thrown in the sand so my children can someday forgive me
for the life i provided so they’ll live divided by finding salt or still digging.

When the world comes to close in the glorious pose of an aftermath like its beginning
we sit back and wonder when we first succumbed to the powered seduction of sinning.
but judgement be made by the One who first Saved and the meek that we are be forgiven
or perhaps we’ll fall foolish to the salt of our labors and our life after death will be barren

imagine the pure disappointment man felt when he finished that path he’d been treadin’
in a broken Amen he must soon comprehend why they still keep the gates up in Heaven.

A Mile a Day

Ever heard someone say “Oh, I love running.  It helps me think clearly, appreciate nature, feel healthy, blah blah blah, something trendy, I only eat organic food, I only shop at Whole Foods, who wouldn’t pay $5 for a 2 oz bag of chips as long as it has an edgy story typed on the back about how they’re made from vegetables raised on a farm fertilized only with the manure of cows who are fed only the ingredients from the chips in this bag…”

I digress.

The only thing I like about running is the idea that I could possibly eat fried food afterwards and still fit into my clothes.  The only thing I think about while running is how much longer I could possibly run before my heart pulls the emergency break on my legs.

Also, I like the quirky stories typed on the side of a 2 oz. $5 bag of chips.  But I’d much rather have a gallon sized bag of Lays Wavy and Cheetos 2/$3 special at Sam’s Club.

Many Thanks

I wanted to thank everyone who commented, called, messaged, etc, in response to the post about Clementine.  My mom suggested I write her story down more as a therapeutic memorial, and I’m so glad now that I did.

I also need to thank someone for unknowingly convincing me to start my own blog.  For those of you who haven’t kept up with Shefali Lindsey’s photography blog, go to http://www.shefali-lindsey-photography-blog.com/ , or just type in shefali lindsey to Google (yes, she’s that famous).  She posted about creating your own blog at the exact same time that I was searching for an outlet for Clementine’s story.  Thank you, Shefy!

The only picture I could find of us where we aren’t cracking up or making ridiculous faces :)

Actually, this got me thinking about many of the older girls from my sorority.  When I was a freshman, they were seniors, and I remember thinking how cool and fun they were all the time.  They always say your freshman year is your best, but these girls seriously knew what fun and friendship was.  I have them to thank for getting me to join a sorority, getting me out of my comfort zone (so many times), helping me through some tough relationship struggles, and showing me for the first time the meaning of sisterhood.

I could make a photo album, post, Lifetime

First Picture of Natalie and Me

movie script, you name it, about my best friend (who I also met through my sorority).  I met Natalie through recruitment our freshman year of college, and I don’t know if we ever spent an entire day apart in Rolla, MO after that.  Not many people can be your best friend, your classmate, your confidant, and your roommate.  Natalie was all of those things and continues to be my long-distance best friend.  She’s getting married in October to the love of her life, Rob, to whom I also owe a million thank you’s for being absolutely wonderful and enduring all of our many adventures together.  He became a Chi O household name, winning the hearts of pretty much every younger girl in the house.  Congrats and thank you to you both, and I can’t wait for everything to come!

My Chi O family, freshman year

My sorority family especially taught me the ins and outs of being on my own, in (and out) of relationships, and not to take myself too seriously.  Unlike many other “families”, my big, big big, and big big big sister weren’t in school with me for very long at all.  Having the kind of impact they did in such a short time shows just how much they cared.  They are all off having awesome lives and doing wonderful, married things now, but I hope we can all get together soon and make some new fabulous memories.

Since then, my family has grown into my little, little little, and soon-to-be-initiated triple

My Chi O Family, Senior Year

little sister.  I haven’t met the newest edition yet, but I am so excited and proud of her to get initiated.  I miss my little family, haven’t seen them in a while, and I hope that I can see them soon :)

I know everyone who isn’t in a sorority/fraternity probably thinks this post is nonsense, because they’d never join or understand why anyone else would.  I get that completely.  That’s how I felt the first week of college, too.

You have to remember, though, that I went to a school that’s 3:1 male:female, in a town where the natives called WalMart “the mall”, and studied engineering with a high number of students who remind me constantly of the characters in the Big Bang Theory.  Imagine that for four years and then tell me you wouldn’t be counting down every week to The Bachelor, clinging to sorority events, and missing every second you didn’t have that sisterly support group with you.  The Eta Kappa girls of Chi Omega got me through a very strange and unique college experience.

Wow, I guess I got a bit side-tracked there.  Keep reading, I might just post a thank-you to you, next!

Darlin Clementine

Tail wagging, ears up, smile? Yeah, that's about right.

Meet my Darlin Clementine.  I was matched with her as a foster dog on December 11, 2014 from Stray Rescue of St Louis.  I figured I could foster dogs as a way to be trendy in the city since we have a fenced in yard and a playful puppy looking for a buddy.  Little did I know, Darlin Clementine would crawl into my heart, and make me the happiest (and saddest) I’ve been in a long time.

Clementine and I crash after a long walk in Forest Park

Okay, I guess I should start at the beginning.  Consider yourself warned, if you do not have a box of tissues, love for dogs/pets, or some time to read, you might as well skip this post.

Clementine came in to my life at a very busy time; two weeks before Christmas.  She had to endure a house party for Christmas and New Years’, my family Christmas, meeting dozens of friends and family members and dealing with the chaos of other dogs, loud music, big crowds, and late nights.  Throughout those two weeks, she not only figured out how to fit into the new environment, but she stole the hearts of everyone she met.  She gave everyone a big smile, most likely a couple marble-tongue licks, a vigorous tail wagging and usually a head tilt or two.

Kevin and Clementine play

It was like she knew she was rescued and wanted nothing more in life than to thank me for it.  She followed me EVERYWHERE, even to the point of waiting outside the bathroom door in anticipation for me to finish brushing my teeth every morning and night.  When I left the house, she would sit and wait patiently at the door.  Never a barker or a chewer.  She even let our puppy jump all over her every day.  I still attribute Maggie’s final ascent into full potty-trained capacity to her obsession with doing everything like her foster mama, Clementine.

After falling in love with her, I knew I couldn’t let go, even to the best of adopters.  At the cost of being a “foster failure”, I adopted Clementine on January 2, 2014.

Welcome to the Family, C-tine!

The first week in January, if you remember, was unusually warm and beautiful.  Clementine happened to also be a skilled marathon trainer, and was an expert at helping me keep perfect pace on our outside runs.  She loved being outside, running or just playing, and thankfully that beautifully weather-ed week gave us so much time to do both.

Clementine and Maggie walk together!

Thursday, January 5, I took Clementine to the vet for a check-up and to register her with a regular vet.  She passed the exam with flying colors, of course, and I gladly paid a small fortune for heart worm and flea preventatives for the next 6 months.  After that, we went to Treats Unleashed, an awesome St. Louis-owned store for pets, and ordered a personalized doggie tag for her.  They have a professional engraving service that mails your tags to you in about 7 business days, so I didn’t get the tag right then and there, but the sales associate promised me it would be a higher quality and last longer than the instant laser printed tags.  Seven days? No big deal.

Clementine with her Stray Rescue tag

Okay, here is where the story gets sad.  Normally, I wouldn’t dwell on events leading to anyone’s death, but the story is so strange and rare that I feel it necessary to explain.  Just keep in mind this whole time I was not aware of the sad ending this story would have, I only knew I had a perfectly healthy, 2 year old, beautiful sweet dog that I loved dearly.

___________________

Saturday, January 7.  Lazy day for everyone at the Plateau.  Clementine mostly relaxed in her crate by my bed, getting up to go potty outside a couple times.  I noticed she didn’t touch her food, but this actually didn’t phase me too much since food was never really top priority to her.  By Saturday evening, Kevin and I noticed she had a slight cough and was growling any time Maggie came by to play.  This was extremely abnormal, and we thought we better get her checked out by a vet.  So we drove her to the Animal Emergency Clinic, thinking we were crazy and would be laughed out of the place.

Oh how I wish we were.

After waiting a few hours, (standard procedure at even animal emergency rooms, I guess) we were seen by the vet.  Clementine had a 105.9 degree fever (normal for dogs is 101-102.5) and the vet recommended taking an x-ray to see her lungs.

Clementine's first x-ray

An hour later, the vet showed us the x-ray, describing it as “really scary”.  Basically, the white in her lungs is not supposed to be there.  Explained to us as fluid in the lungs, the vet guessed that Clementine either had a diaphragmatic hernia or a severe case of pneumonia.  Either way, she would have to stay overnight for further testing and hopefully they would have a diagnosis and treatment by midnight.

At 1 AM on Sunday, Jan 7, the clinic called to say they believed it to be pneumonia and they would start antibiotics right away to help clear out the fluid.  This was a best case scenario, and I slept soundly that night.

Sunday morning I went to the clinic to visit my girl, and heard from the vet that she was doing similarly to the previous night.  She had started coughing up bloody matter, but this was probably just due to irritation in her throat, and whatever she was coughing up was “better out than in”.  No progress was nothing to worry about, though, because the antibiotics could take up to 24 hours to take full effect, and an x-ray the next morning would tell us the progress she had made.

visiting Clementine at the animal emergency clinic on Sunday

I got a call Monday, Jan 8, at 11:30 AM from the clinic saying that Clementine’s second x-ray looked “remarkably worse” and that her condition had moved from “severe” to “dire”.  The vet explained that they had exhausted all of their resources and recommended moving Clementine to a specialist as soon as possible.  Devastated, I agreed to come in right away and help move her to Associated Veterinary Specialists in Bridgeton.

We arrived and met with an internal medicine specialist, Dr. Haus, who showed us what “remarkably worse” met.

Clementine had completely lost function in one of her lungs.  Her body had not responded to the antibiotics for pneumonia, and nobody was really sure of the reason.  Immediately, the vet team drew blood, ran tests, and sent a culture to a lab somewhere to see if whatever was wrong with her was viral or bacterial.

Clementine was given an oxygen tube (which was accompanied with a cone to prevent her swatting the tube out of her nose) and an IV drip with her necessary fluids and a different antibiotic.  The doctor explained that at this point it was a guessing game as to which antibiotic to give her until he received the results of the tests, which of course would be 3 to 5 days.  Three to five days.

Dr. Haus suggested an alternate potential diagnosis: canine influenza.  Dog flu.  Only one other case to date has been reported in Missouri, and there wasn’t much form of treatment other than supportive care.  All of her symptoms matched, though, and it would explain why the antibiotics weren’t successful so far in the treatment.

There was no reason to think the worst, Clementine was still energetic and high-spirited, smiling and wagging her tail anytime I was there.  She seemed much more comfortable on the oxygen.  The staff at AVS was incredible, with a nurse assigned specifically to her at all times.

She liked to look out and smile at everyone at AVS

Tuesday morning the vet called to inform me that Clementine wasn’t going to make it on her IV fluids alone if she didn’t eat in the next 24 hours.  He scheduled Wednesday afternoon to introduce a feeding tube if Clementine wasn’t eating by then.  Also, he recommended putting in a chest tube to extract the excess fluid around her lung.  In order to keep her around to see the test results and get the right treatment, she needed the strength that only food could get her.  He suggested I bring some sandwich meat to try to entice her to eat that day.

Naturally, I bought out Shop ‘n’ Save’s entire deli counter, including a rotisserie chicken.  Despite my best efforts, Clementine was more interested in cuddling with me and resting in my lap than eating any of it.  (Later, I found out that the meat did not go to waste and actually helped another dog who wasn’t eating find his appetite).

Meanwhile, at home, Maggie made a habit of walking into Clementine's crate every morning and whimpering, sometimes even laying down in protest to get her playmate back.

Wednesday morning, my mom and I sat on the floor outside Clementine’s cage with her for four hours waiting for the procedure.  She wasn’t a good candidate for anesthesia (nobody with one working lung is), but this was her only shot at getting the strength to fight this battle.  The longest hour and a half of my life passed like a decade, until the doctor came out to say the procedure was successful for both the feeding tube and the chest tube, and that Clementine was doing great recovering from the anesthesia.  This was great news!  Most likely she was able to get through the anesthesia because the antibiotics had progressed, but we would find out for sure Friday morning with the next x-ray.

Despite being "wired" on oxygen, Clementine was in the best of spirits.

Thursday my mom and I visited her to find that she was not only keeping down the water and fluids she was receiving through the feeding tube, but also all of the food!  Her fever was also down to 101.  This was great progress, showing that her body was still fighting and accepting nutrition voluntarily.  As soon as she could breathe regularly without oxygen, she could go home.  The nurse taught me how to feed her through the tube, explaining how often and what quantity would be necessary.  She also explained how to check the chest tube, although she had already extracted most of the fluid (another good sign).  Depending on the x-ray Friday morning, she might even be coming home that weekend.  I can’t describe to you the amount of hope I had in my heart.

Thursday night, Kevin got home from work and we even debated not going back to visit her that night, since there was talk of her coming home as soon as the next day.  The weather was horrendous and Kevin was tired from work and his four hour MBA class the past night, but something in us made us go.

She was so happy to see us. I remember her tail pounding relentlessly on the cage until we opened it, and she jumped out so fast she almost lost her oxygen right then and there.  The nurse said she was due to go outside and let us take her out.  She pranced out into the snow, sniffing and doing her thing just like nothing was wrong.  We brought her back in and she settled down and started to doze off.  Every time she would rest when I visited she would rest her whole head in the pillow I held in my hands and fall right asleep.  I swear her head weighed 20 pounds, but I’d hold it til the end of time just to help her rest easy.

Me with my Darlin Clementine

We drove home that night, and I don’t remember a thing until the next morning.

At 6:38AM on Friday, January 13, I got a call from AVS saying Clementine had gone into cardiac arrest and wasn’t breathing despite CPR efforts.  They asked if I wanted to induce extreme measures or if they should end her pain.  In disbelief, I told them to end their suffering and quietly hung up the phone.  Kevin hadn’t left for work yet, and for the next two hours we sat and cried.

__________________________

The doctor called later that morning and asked if I would let him perform an autopsy for research.  I allowed it, asking for the results.  He called again afterwards reporting that the fluid had spread to almost all of her second lung, leaving a lobe half the size of a handful for her to use to breathe.  Her body tried to fight it, keeping all of her other organs functioning normally, but the sickness (which is still not known) overtook her lungs without mercy.

If someone had asked me what was the worst thing that could happen in the worst way it could happen, I don’t think I could have even come up with this.  The sheer medical fluke of what happened to Clementine was so unfair, and I don’t think I’ll ever understand why it had to happen.  AVS sent samples to Cornell University to be tested for canine influenza (for which Clementine had been vaccinated, interestingly enough).  We are still waiting to hear what the results were.  I know it won’t bring her back, but I want to know what happened to my girl and why nothing could help her.  I will update with a new post as soon as I hear more about it.

_________________________

Clementine was truly a light in my life, and I believe she put a smile on the face of every person she met.  I only had her for about a month, adopted for 11 days and home as my adopted dog for only 5 of those.  In that time she met nearly everyone I cared about and made an impression on me that I will never forget or take for granted.  I am grateful for every minute I spent with her, and encourage you to do the same with the pet(s) in your family.

Clementine

I received Clementine’s dog tag on Tuesday, January 17.

Welcome to the Blog!

Hey friends, welcome to my fancy new expensive blog!   That’s right, for just $99 I have taken away ads and received my very own domain for your convenience.  Not that I have a hundred bucks to throw around on a webpage, but I do have an extensive amount of silly thoughts and stories, and I’ve manipulated myself into seeing it as on 27 cents a day to document them.  And I intend to get my money’s worth.

Feel free to leave a comment on here so I know I’m not alone in the Internet.

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