Saturday, June 25, 2011

At Last...

So yesterday, less than an hour after posting about waiting for my "ATT" (Authorization to Test) letter, that gives me the final go-ahead to take the NCLEX, the test that will allow me to become a nurse, the letter arrived via email. For the last month and a half, since graduating, I've felt like the main character, Joseph, in Saul Bellow's book "Dangling Man". I'm tired of being broke, tired of working as a waiter and ready to start working as a nurse. I felt like a thousand pounds was lifted off my chest.

I've scheduled the test for July 13 at 2 pm, at a testing center in downtown Chicago. For a small fee, I will be able to get the "unofficial" results from the testing company after two working days; I should, therefore, know by the end of that week. Two school friends who took-- and passed-- the test recently described the test as "easy," confirming what we'd heard about the nursing program we were in; that it's so rigorous that the test seems easy by comparison. I'm feeling confident that I'll do fine. I'm just glad I've got the go-ahead-- at last...

Friday, June 24, 2011

One Week Countdown Friday Random Ten

Today begins the one week countdown to the move. Yesterday, I was in the new place taking measurements for various things-- counters, a dish hutch we have, etc.

The original plan was to move our refrigerator, which I got as a family Christmas gift in 2007. It was actually as much a gift to me as them-- they got a bigger, cleaner more modern refrigerator that had an icemaker. I got an electric bill that was cut in half. The old refrigerator, of seventies vintage, was inefficient in its better days, and had not improved with age. It ran 24/7, greatly increasing my electricity bill. We talked to the new landlady about putting the refrigerator in the unit, which was pretty modern, up into the attic storage area and moving ours in. I talked to my old landlord, who offered to purchase our refrigerator (and washer and dryer, which we can't bring with us-- there's no hook-up for them in the new building, which has coin-op units), and we made the decision to leave the old frig. Even with the movers we're hiring, it's a headache to move. I figured out that I saved the cost of the refrigerator after a little over a year in electricity costs. The rest has been gravy.

So today I'll be packing up a few more odds and ends, but am nearly done. I'll be able to move some boxes in beginning Wednesday next week.

I'm still awaiting my "ATT" letter-- Authorization To Test. Most of my classmates waited a week after actually paying for the test, but some waited longer. It's been a little over a week; I may call later today to see if there are any problems. I'm eager to take the test and start looking for a nursing job.

Update: Got the ATT letter about an hour ago! NCLEX, here I come!

1. I Wanna Be Your Man- The Beatles
2. It's My Life- The Animals
3. The River- Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
4. Sixteen Blue- The Replacements
5. Penny Evans- Steve Goodman
6. She Has Funny Cars- The Jefferson Airplane
7. Stargazer- Rainbow
8. That's All Right Mama- Elvis Presley
9. I Can Dream About You- Dan Hill
10. Masters of War- Bob Dylan

1. Written by Lennon and McCartney, but a big hit for the Rolling Stones.
2. Our local prog-rock station used to play a great live Springsteen and the E-Street band version of this, with a long spoken intro by Springsteen, telling an angry story about his father. Wish I could get my hands on it today.
3. Greatly saddened by the recent passing of Springsteen saxophonist Clarence Clemons-- "The Big Man."
4. From "Let It Be," which is tied with "Hootenanny" as my favorite Replacements album.
5. A beautiful, melancholy accapella song about a woman widowed by the Vietnam War.
6. From the great "Surrealistic Pillow" album.
7. This song sounds like it could have been written for Spinal Tap's "Stonehenge" album.
8. Elvis' first record. And it still sounds pretty damned good to me still.
9. A great song from a terrible movie ("Streets of Fire").
10. Written around the most heated part of the Cold War-- Berlin Wall, Cuban Missle Crisis, etc. Still stands, nearly 50 years later, as one of the most powerful anti-war songs.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Final Stretch Friday Random Ten

I finally got the second-to-last "okay" to take the NCLEX (the final nursing test); I'm on the "approved" list to take the test. I paid for it, and am now just awaiting the "ATT" (Authorization To Test) letter to be emailed to me. Should happen in the next week or so.

In the meantime, I'm still filling boxes, getting rid of stuff and getting ready for the big move.

My ex- must be getting reasonable in her old age; she allowed my son to rearrange the custody schedule so he could be with me the whole weekend, rather than just Father's Day. Looking forward to it.

1. Gary's Got A Boner- The Replacements
2. We're Desperate- X
3. The Rapper- The Jaggerz
4. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right- Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
5. A Strange Boy- Joni Mitchell
6. 1969- The Stooges
7. Esther Be the One- ZZ Top
8. Friday On My Mind- The Easybeats
9. We Can Work It Out- The Beatles
10. A Slow Song- Joe Jackson

1. My friend Dan used to play this one to annoy our friend Gary.
2. X played this one a couple of years ago when I saw them at the Double Door.
3. Jaggerz singer/guitarist Donnie Iris had one more hit with "Ah Leah" in 1981. He was also a member of Wild Cherry ("Play That Funky Music White Boy")
4. Yes, that "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," and that Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons. Recorded mostly as a joke, with an exaggerated falsetto, it actually hit the charts.
5. From the fabulous "Hejira" album.
6. My son, who's become a big fan of Iggy and the Stooges, has pointed out how the first couple of Stooges albums were way ahead of their time; they don't sound like something from 1969 and 1970.
7. Saw ZZ Top on the tour supporting this album, "Deguello," in 1980, at the Aragon Ballroom. When they played their second song, "Waiting for a Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago," the place went up for grabs.
8. Great Australian One-Hit Wonders. One of the guys in the band was the brother of Angus Young of AC/DC.
9. I love Stevie Wonder's cover of this one.
10. The closing song on the great "Night and Day" album.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'm Having Trouble Letting You Go

"It's a restless world, uncertain times
You said hope was getting hard to find
But time rolls on, days roll by...

I'm having trouble letting you go..."

--"Letting You Go," Tom Petty

Today I got some great news-- I checked online and discovered that I've been cleared by the state of Illinois to take the NCLEX, the last test I must pass to become a nurse. I got on the phone and paid for the test. When I get my "ATT"-- Authorization To Test-- I can schedule in the test just as soon as I get that email.

In the meantime, the move is proceeding. I got most of the basement packed and stored and we've all been packing the rest of the apartment.

When I moved in here nearly 13 years ago with my four year old son and a girlfriend, my son wasn't reading yet-- he hadn't been to kindergarten. He hadn't yet learned to ride a bike. His favorite movie was "Them," movie about giant ants attacking Los Angeles.

Now he's 17 years old. He'll be a senior in high school and he's looking at colleges. He can ride a bike and drive a car. And his favorite movie is "The Big Lebowski."

He spent a lot of time this weekend packing, separating his stuff into boxes to move and boxes to take to the Salvation Army. I popped in on him a couple of times to see how he was doing and realized that I was having a harder time with it than he was. I had to restrain myself from waylaying "Ten Apples On Top" and "Frog and Toad Are Friends" from the "Salvation Army" box. I knew in my head that the books should go to the Salvation Army so that some other parent could get them for their young kid, but my heart wanted to keep them so that I could hang on to a little bit of his childhood.

He was smart enough to tape the boxes shut-- I think he knew I might fish some things out if he didn't. Yesterday, as I drove the boxes to the Salvation Army, I had a tightness in my chest. I realized that I'd felt the feeling before: the day before he started high school, nearly three years ago.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The "Everything Changes" Friday Random Ten

The last couple of weeks have been days of transition, and some of the busiest of my life.

First, the ownership of the restaurant I've worked at for the last 11 years changed owners recently. Despite herculean efforts on the part of the new owners, the first week was rough. The computer system had all kinds of problems. And of course, I took the patio on the first night. It was a beautiful night, and of course it was packed. I had a throbbing headache by the end of the night.

Last night was much smoother, and pretty lucrative. I'm going to need it-- I have to pay for the NCLEX, the big test to get my nursing license, for part of the move and of course the rent in the new place is significantly more than what we've been paying.

In the meantime, I'm busy packing and moving stuff in to the storage unit I rented. On moving day, July 1, we'll pay the moving guys to move the big stuff, and we'll move the smaller stuff out of the storage unit into the new place in fits and spurts. It'll turn a $1500 move into a $400 move.

In the meantime, I'm waiting to get the email from the state that I can take the NCLEX. A bunch of people in my class have gotten the notice, but a bunch, including myself, have not gotten it yet. I'm still waiting-- it's just one more thing that's changing in my life. I'll only have a few more nights sitting on the back porch I've sat on for 13 years, unwinding at the end of long day, enjoying a glass of wine. In a few weeks, there'll be a new one to sit on and do the same.

1. Groove Is In the Heart- Dee-Lite
2. Early Morning Rain- Gordon Lightfoot
3. The Bells- Phil Ochs
4. Country Bumpkin- Don Williams
5. Spindrifter- Quicksilver Messenger Service
6. Little Bit 'o Soul- The Music Explosion
7. Southern Nights- Glen Campbell
8. The Ballad of Jerry Curlin- The Angry Samoans
9. The Perfect Kiss- New Order
10. Human Fly- The Cramps

1. One-hit wonder from the nineties-- still love this one!
2. Been a couple of good covers of this one by Peter, Paul and Mary and Ian and Sylvia, but the original still is my favorite.
3. Phil Ochs was best known for his political songs, but he occasionally did things like this song, based on an Edgar Allen Poe poem.
4. Don Williams wrote a bunch of hits for others before he finally scored on his own this one.
5. Written by sometime Rolling Stone Nicky Hopkins, who played on this album.
6. Great sixties one-hit wonder
7. Love Glen Campbell generally, but this one took a long time to grow on me.
8. A punk band at my college co-wrote this one to rip on a hypocritical student government member.
9. This one always brings me back to the couple of years after I got out of college, when I hung around the kind of clubs they played this song at.
10. Anyone remember when Danny's in Bucktown had a jukebox and had this song on it?