June of 2006 was not a good month for me. My father was diagnosed with cancer-- a huge tumor in his abdomen that the doctor feared had entered his pancreas-- pancreatic cancer is terminal; I was denied tenure in the school district I had been working in the previous four years-- I would soon be out a job. And most awfully, my close friend Mark was shot to death in a robbery in front of his own home.
Happily, my father's cancer was successfully treated; the surgeon was able to remove all of the malignancy. Even better, the tumor had not entered his pancreas.
I worked for a year as a teacher in an alternative school to buy some time. In the interim, I made the decision to go to Pharmacy school. In the fall of 2007, I started taking the prerequisites at Truman College, a Chicago city college not too far from my home.
In December, 2007, the cops arrested the guy who killed my friend. His trial starts this month; the prosecutors are pretty certain he'll be convicted.
In the meantime, I began having second thoughts about Pharmacy school. It was going to take 3 or maybe even four years to get the prerequistes out of the way, then another four years at University of Illinois at Chicago's Pharmacy program-- if I even got in. They only take about 10% of their applicants, and it was very competitive gradewise. And even if all went well, I'd be finishing school about the same time as my oldest one was finishing, too late to help him financially.
My friend from work, Leslie, started trying to talk me into applying to the nursing program at Truman. She had applied to Truman's program (she got in, but also got into Depaul's graduate nursing program, where she's attending). She pointed out the pluses-- that the program was only two years. I'd come out of it with an RN certificate, and a job skill that was in huge demand-- and paid a hell of a lot more than I made as a teacher. She finally convinced me. I put my application in in January.
Leslie had told me that I'd probably hear whether I made it or not in in May. My grades are very good, but since there are always more applicants than slots, there is a lottery for positions in the school. As May has gotten closer, I've gotten more nervous. A job in nursing would be a lot of things: it would allow me to pay for most or all of college for my two kids. It would allow Kim and I to eventually retire comfortably to somewhere with nicer weather than Chicago. It would eventually mean an end to constantly worrying about money. If I got in this semester, I would finish a year before my son starts college, and be able to be on a sound financial footing when I started paying for that.
Last night, I had trouble sleeping, which is unusual for me. With a very physical job, school and two very active kids, I never, ever have trouble sleeping. But last night I did. I must have woken up four times last night.
Today I came home from school, did a little cooking and took a nap. When I woke up, I checked for the mail, which had arrived. In it, was something unexpected-- a letter from Truman College's nursing program. I hesitated for just a second-- it could be either good or bad news. I couldn't wait any longer; I opened the envelope.
I got into Truman's nursing program. I begin in the fall.