Con Artist

Now that I am once again unemployed and not having an easy time of searching for a new job, my parents suggested that I get a certificate in something or another to be more employable.  Of course my first reaction is I have two degrees already!  Are you playing with me?!  But then I got down to thinking about it and everything seemed to fall into place.

Until my sophomore year of high school, I didn’t really think of doing anything professionally other than being a veterinarian.  Things happened, thoughts occurred, and I went for English instead.  I don’t regret my education choices at all.  I love literature and writing and will always keep that an active part of my life, but right now is not a good time for that market.  I don’t have a job, right?

You can get a veterinary assistant certificate in less than a year.  Veterinary careers are always a good option because they can never be outsourced and people always spend on their pets no matter the economy (I can’t remember the statistics but I see them on the news and in magazines all the time).  I thought if I found a program, I’d look into it but I didn’t pursue anything with much vigor.

Then I saw one of those commercials for a college that had a vet assistant program.  I’m always skeptical of colleges that advertise like that, but I figured I’d look at the website and fill out their form for more information.  The next day I got a call from an admissions counselor who set up an appointment with me to see the campus and find out more information.  At least that’s what I thought I was doing.

The meeting started out with a sort of interview.  I asked some questions but he was mostly interviewing me.  That was odd, but I went with it.  I got a lot of information about the program and the school and tried not to show much surprise when I saw the $11,000 price tag on the 8 month program.  I didn’t know how much these programs usually cost  and I hadn’t heard of a program going that long, but how much did I actually know?  I kept a positive attitude and went for a tour of the campus which was pretty impressive.  The next thing I knew, my tour ended at the testing center where I was taking the entrance exam.  The way the counselor said it, I would have to take the exam before applying anyhow.  I thought that was odd since you would think somebody would have to be accepted first, but I thought I’d get it over with, it only took 12 minutes anyhow.  It wasn’t holding me to anything.

I passed with flying colors.  Then I went back to the counselor’s office and he took me right through the application.  Huh?  I came to ask some questions!  Well, I thought, I don’t have to go through with it or accept an offer.  But as it turns out, applying is pretty much enrolling at this school.  After paperwork and a call to their financial aid department not knowing if I was excited or feeling stupid, I went to meet up with a friend for coffee.

By the time I got home my parents had talked over the matter (I had briefly told them what happened over the phone) and just based on cost they said no.  I agreed.  I felt conned.  I only went to ask questions.  What just happened?  I’m not that stupid!  So I immediately called the admissions counselor and left a message telling him I wasn’t going through with the program.

Several times my dad had told me that the community college had a veterinary assistant program but I could never find information on it and so I assumed it really didn’t exist.  I sat down and searched up and down the website.  As it turns out, the program is listed under “continuing education” in a corner you wouldn’t expect to find it.  And it’s half the time and a fraction of the cost of the other program.  I called the community college and left a message asking for information about the program.

This morning I got a call from the admissions counselor at the crazy college.  He was in disbelief and claimed he had been making sure I was really wanting to go through with it (by not giving me time to think?).  Anyhow, he asked all sorts of questions about the community college program.  Is it accredited?  How long will it take?  Won’t it take longer?  Have you done your research?  He’d never heard of the program, never heard of a program that short, and didn’t believe it could happen.  Well, I couldn’t believe a program could be 8 months long and cost $11,000.  We’re even.

My dad, being business savvy and ultra conscious about money and signatures had me write a letter and send it priority mail with confirmation so we know the counselor gets it.  It confirms that I’m opting out of the program and everything from yesterday should be disregarded.  Snaps to Dad.

I haven’t even enrolled in the community college program yet and my parents are making jokes that my job will be to express our dogs’ anal glands.  Lovely.  I’m excited, though.  Have I mentioned that I love animals?


Malignant is so Malevolent

Malevolent was vocabulary word back in high school.  For some reason the fact that it starts in “male” was very much a focal point for me.  And then volent is violent minus the i.  Violent Males are Malevolent.
But so is cancer.  And cancer is malignant which is very close to malevolent when you look at it and sound it out.  I’m sure if I looked up the etymology it would all make sense, but that would be giving in to all of those silly professors and English teachers from over the years.

I do have a point, as usual.  David Rakoff died recently.  In news time, I am horribly late in blogging about him, but in real-time with people mourning deaths, being born, celebrating life, and being human, I’m just on track.  David Rakoff was a frequent contributor to This American Life on NPR which I listen to weekly as a podcast either while driving or power walking on the treadmill.  This past week was a compilation of pieces David had done over the years.  It was bittersweet.  I enjoyed it.  And then I remembered Jeff.

I met Jeff, or Jeffrey depending on who was talking to him, while a student in college.  We were both active in the Hillel.  I always found him to be a bit quirky and odd but many people think the same of me so what did that matter?  He was also from the Chicago burbs and Jewish, enough at that small school to get us talking.  And he was very friendly.  I found out much later on that Jeff knew everybody and everybody knew Jeff…and liked Jeff.  Jeff was everybody’s friend.  He had a certain big brother quality to him.

I forget what year it was, but Jeff had a relapse of cancer.  Hodgkin’s Disease, if I remember correctly.  It was a slap in the face for me because I never knew he had cancer before.  He beat cancer in high school and was then studying to become a pharmacist.  But the cancer was back.  Over the next several semesters Jeff would be back and forth between Indianapolis and Chicago, getting treatments and coming back to school.  It didn’t matter how long it took him, he wasn’t going to quit school.

Eventually Jeff met Carah, one of my best friends at the time and my “little sister” in our sorority.  They fell in love.  I definitely did not react properly.  Jeff being brotherly and Carah being sisterly, it was just too weird for me.  Brothers and sisters don’t date.  Eww.  I eventually saw how much they cared for each other and it became adorable.  I still feel guilty about the awkwardness I initially felt.  They were so happy, I worried about Carah because it couldn’t be easy dating somebody so sick.

Apparently I didn’t know even a little bit of what was going on in Jeff’s life.  You could see him lose weight, hair, and color in his face, but that was normal with chemotherapy, right?  The Hillel held a bone marrow donor drive on the “mall” on campus collecting cheek swab samples from potential donors for those who needed one.  Because of Jeff, we had a surprisingly large turnout.  Like I said, Jeff knew everybody and everybody loved Jeff.  He inspired people to come out, whether the swabs would benefit him directly or not.  I was immediately crossed off the donor list because I was too much of a risk for a complicated surgery like that.  I wanted to see if I was match so badly, but to fund the surgeries privately would have been too much and still too risky for me.

Eventually Jeff’s time at school dwindled even further.  I saw less and less of him and then I graduated.  He was very behind in his studies and was settling on a pharmaceutical studies degree instead of PharmD.  He should have been a pharmacist by the time I graduated if he was on track.

Then, via Facebook, I found out that he died.

I exploded.  How did nobody tell me?  How could everyone we knew let me find out through Facebook, of all places, that Jeff died?  I called Carah wanting to know why she didn’t tell me.  That’s when she told me she had been in Chicago because he wanted to see her.  He had a terrible infection and couldn’t fight it off.  He wasn’t going to let go until he saw her again.  I was cruel enough to accuse her of not telling me.

I went to his funeral and bawled my eyes out.  There were so many wonderful eulogies but I loved Carah’s best.  And I loved that he had done so much and loved so much in such a short time.  I couldn’t bring myself to go to the burial, it was too surreal thinking he was in that coffin I could only take so much.

He was a cool kid.


Fuzzy Fruit

Last weekend a good friend of mine informed me that her mother had never eaten kiwi fruit before.  Both of us were shocked.  In her entire kiwi-consuming life, my friend never realized that her mother was not taking part in the action.  She bought a couple kiwis for a fruit salad she was bringing to a picnic and so she gave her mother a slice and her mother fell in love.

When I told my mom, she was initially shocked, as well.  How does one go so many years without tasting a kiwi fruit?  I know this friend’s mother had been exposed to many a fruit salad in her day as fruit salad is a staple of family gatherings, picnics, and summertime eating.  Kiwi, although not native to our area, is certainly plentiful enough.  But when we thought about it more, it made a little bit of sense.  Even if you’re indulging in a big fruit salad, you’ll only eat what you’re familiar with, right?

I asked my friend who introduced her to kiwi if it wasn’t her mother.  She said she could not remember her first kiwi experience.  I guess that’s OK considering I cannot remember mine either.

I remember watching Little Women, the movie, for the first time.  It was the version with Winona Ryder (infinitely better than the earlier versions which botch up the story, if you ask me) and I don’t think I had read the book yet.  Seeing Jo (Ryder) take such careful bites of the orange that Frederich gave her seemed so silly to me.  What is so special about an orange?  We probably had a whole sack in the fridge.  My mom had to explain to me that “back in the day” fruit wasn’t as readily available to everyone except in the areas in which it grew because transportation was not like it is today.  To this day, when I see that scene, I wonder how that orange really did taste compared to our comparatively super fresh produce available today.  How old and warm was it?  Would we have rejected it and thrown it away like we do so often with barely damaged food?  Imagine, an orange as a delicacy.

And so I think, of the fruits we mixed into the fruit salad that sits in our refrigerator right now, what should be there by nature’s standards?  What could feasibly grow in this Midwestern soil?  What would a fruit salad look like to Jo March? And how many people have never tried a kiwi before?

Olympic Sized News

That might have been setting you up for disappointment and I apologize in advance.  I had half of a post written awhile ago about the opening ceremony and I saved it to complete at a later date, but later then became far too late.  Now the Olympics are eleven days in and the amount of news related to the event is crazy (especially when you consider what these people are writing).

So, in an attempt to amuse you and fulfill an overdue post, I give you my “opinion” on the so-called “news” items.

The Opening Ceremony

I can’t go without commenting.  I’ve heard everything from it was terrible and lame to it was the best thing ever.  What I saw I thought was fabulous.  I thought Danny Boyle’s vision was very poetic and sincere.  Perhaps if you are not artsy-fartsy or heavily into literature and history, you wouldn’t enjoy it.  But then again, you wouldn’t enjoy many opening ceremonies, would you?  I could have done without the cheesy love story.  Voldemort vs Mary Poppins?  Classic.  The ages passing by to show the progress of labor/industry?  Beautiful (in a haunting way).  Finding out that NBC cut out huge portions of the ceremony thinking that all Americans are uninterested in anything not America related?  Infuriating.


I’ll lump this all into one.  First and foremost, leave the poor girls alone.  The media has hyped up the USA women’s gymnastics team, especially a few individual girls, to be gymnastics goddesses.  Yes, they are brilliant.  Yes, brilliance can falter because it is the human kind and no human is perfect.  They are young girls barely out of high school, at that.  Do you want to know why McKayla Maroney was sneering on the podium with her silver medal for the vault?  Because everyone told her she was guaranteed the gold and then she slipped up.  She expected it and then didn’t get it.  You can’t do that to any athlete, let alone a young and impressionable one.  And how do you think all the hype and expectation made Jordyn Wieber feel?  Probably a lot worse than if the girls had gotten equal attention.  And to those Russian girls–lay off the makeup and the glitter, kids.  One of these days a chunk of sparkle or eyelash is going to get caught in your eye and you’ll break your neck falling off the bars.  Plus, it looks trashy and juvenile.

Michael Phelps

Yes, he is the most decorated Olympian in history.  Yes, he’s kind of cute.  Yes, he missed a lot of chances this year.  Cut the kid some slack.  He’s probably had retirement on the mind for a while and I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that he started training late for London because he wasn’t sure he wanted to go.  Maybe I’m making it up?  But he’s being a good sport so I don’t see why everyone has to slam him for coming in second or third.

Ryan Lochte

OK, so the USA has some good-looking swimmers.  And the USA is obsessed with sex appeal and looks.  And he’s fast.  And his mom has a big mouth and really needs to learn how to think before she speaks, especially in front of media.

Missy Franklin

I admire this girl and not because she set records, won gold, and is extraordinarily cheerful and smiley.  Franklin has chosen to stay in her hometown to go to school and be with her friends.  She wants to go to college.  Fame and winning is not going to her head (or at least not at first glance).

Physical Appearance

This has been a hot topic for Olympic news.  First there was Gabby Douglas’s hair.  Dude, who really cares?  She won gold and has a smile that could melt anyone’s heart.  People should embrace and celebrate the fact that she is the first black woman to get gold in gymnastics, that she’s so young and dedicated and talented, and that even with disappointment she manages to smile through and cheer her team on.  Get over yourself.

Oh, and who gave anyone permission to criticize an Olympic athlete’s weight?  When I read an article detailing how certain female athletes were under attack for being overweight, I nearly messed myself.  If you are fit enough to make it to the Olympics, nobody should be flapping a tongue.  The End.

Beach Volleyball

I’m in love with beach volleyball now, but I can’t get over hearing that women’s uniforms have to be a certain size and not too big.  Since when are we worried about covering up too much?  And what harm will that do in beach volleyball?  I can’t put into words how crazy this seems to me.  Oh, I’m sorry.  You’re bikini bottom isn’t thong-like enough for this tournament.


I’ve tried to get into soccer (or as it should be called, football) before but it just didn’t happen.  I don’t know many soccer fans and I don’t know the rules of the game.  But when the World Cup or the Olympics come around, there is ample opportunity to just stare at the screen.  Yesterday I found myself exhausted just having watched the Canada vs USA game.  Now I know what everyone meant by the two teams being “physical.”


I’ve actually been avoiding the horse-related coverage.  For some reason I’ve been getting extra nostalgic this year.  It makes me miss riding even more and when I recall the sad number connected to my bank account, I realize that riding lessons are nowhere in the near future.  The day I left riding is something I really should write about.  Just like everything else.
In the Mean Time

At home we’ve had our own little show going on.  I like to call it the Weenilympics.

The events:

Grasshopping– So far Bailey is winning without much competition from Bill who likes to just flop down and roll in the grass.

Disguising as a blanket– It’s pretty much tied.  Bailey has been lazy and is only hiding her head lately which makes up for Bill’s pathetic effort at snorgling up in a ball.  He’s successful after a long bout of scratching, turning, pawing, and adjusting.

Rut-rooing (also known as howling, barking, yelling, chewing out, etc)– Bailey definitely has the upper-hand here.  She always has to have the last word.  Bill will woof in an “indoor voice” if prompted, but Bailey has to be full blast.

Endurance Begging-I’m giving this one to Bill.  He started it with begging for car rides from my dad in the morning and Bailey eventually caught on.  He also begs for his midday snack.  And to go lay outside for no reason.  He doesn’t just beg, he paws, barks, howls, cries pathetically, makes a noise that sounds like he’s dying of a stomach tumor, sneezes on purpose, digs his paws into your chest…shall I go on?  He could do that for hours if he needed to, hence endurance begging.

Well, now I must be off to check on the latest results and standings for London 2012!  Go Team USA! (And all the other lovely people of the world…)