When I wrote the post entitled “Four More Days”, I imagined them as this sort of gentle winding down ritual as I transition from life-while-testing, to life-post-testing. For starters, the material for this test felt more like a review of information that I already know and understand. And to be completely honest, I was pretty much mentally checked out of the process at this point. Slugging through these exams has stretched my brain a little too much, and my muscles a little too little – my head and my body ache most days. It took me two nights to get back into studying for test seven, then we were out of town for the first weekend, and I hosted two big events as well. Of the thirteen days I gave myself for test preparation, I only cracked a book for half of them. Despite my lack of motivation, I was feeling pretty good about things last week. Which was sort of smug of me I’m now realizing. The universe was watching.
Here’s a quick photo recap of what I did other than study over the past two weeks:
We walked in the Light The Night Walk in memory of my niece.
Both sets of grandparents came into town for a quick visit and to attend the Grandparents Breakfast at F’s school. I employed the grandmothers for set up and then manned the event on Monday morning.
I coordinated, baked and then hosted the edible portion of the Open House at F’s school. My committee members were awesome – they ran with the food ideas and the spread looked amazing.
But I still had to bake, set up, run, and clean up after the event. Five minutes into Saturday morning’s setup, I let a folding table slip and it hit my right big toe like a croquet mallet. I was wearing open toed sandals. It wasn’t pretty.
After a few minutes I regained my composure, and as people started to arrive at the school I pushed my toe thoughts to the back burner. Later that afternoon in my empty house, I pulled out my study materials once again, and noticed that my toe had started throbbing. It had drastically changed colors and the nail looked suspiciously funky. It really started to hurt, and I really started to freak out – imagining a fracture, or some sort of injury or misalignment of my newly reconstructed toe and all its hardware. I’ve been forced to focus on my feet for sixteen months now – fractures and surgeries and boots and rehab – all of it came rushing to the surface. For three hours I tried to take my mind off the pain and the internal destruction but it didn’t work. I finally called M and asked him to come home with the girls. I was a complete disaster by that point – a bundle of pain and frustration and indecision about what to do next.
I called my dad, I called my doctor, and I cried. A lot. I learned later that, as I studied (and sniffled) downstairs, my debacle had a new name with the upstairs crowd. It was dubbed toe-nado, like sharknado, but with less fins and more tears. It might still be a little too soon in my book for that kind of humor, but I’ll admit that it was the perfect storm of pain-stress-hunger-exhaustion in the living room that night.
But then I had a plan. Sunday morning my foot was x-rayed, hardware and bones were intact, and the nail was declared a likely lost cause. I could work with that, and I settled back down for my last day of studying.
Monday morning I was positively giddy with excitement about the test. I was singing out loud, dancing around the house (on one foot), planning out my afternoon and evening after the test. I skipped into the testing center and was stopped at the door by the crowd. A crowd of unhappy people.
Here’s the CliffsNotes verson: The testing center upgraded the computers in one lab and their software throughout on Sunday. They were physically working on it past midnight, and the system was not working at 6:30 Monday morning. So I was seeing a crowd of people that had been waiting for hours, and a staff person was debriefing them on the situation. They let everyone know that they were trying to resolve the situation, and they would stay until midnight again if necessary to let everyone get through their tests. I plopped myself on the floor in the corner for the wait because there was no way I was leaving. Two hours later I was on my third or fourth computer – none would advance beyond the first page of the test. Thirty minutes after that I was on a working one… until the screen went completely black for several seconds mid test, and I thought briefly that all my work had been lost.
It returned, but the screen continued to appear and disappear every few moments. I kept going, even when they asked if I wanted to stop. I was on a mission by that point. I was finishing that test no matter what. They could blindfold me, I didn’t care. I was ready to be done.
I honestly have no idea how I did, or if the issues I was having on the screen and the other larger issues of the testing center will affect my final score, but I feel pretty good about my efforts. Regardless, reports have been filed and I’ll be able to retake the test again at no additional charge (and hopefully as soon as possible).
For right now I’m focusing on the fact that I’m done. Really done. I set a goal – seven of them in fact – and I did it. It wasn’t always pretty or graceful, but quite honestly, most things rarely are. This life is sticky-sweet and messy; things change, plans change, sometimes dark and smashed beyond repair. God knows we understand that in our family better than we ever have before. All we can do is show up and sit tight, work through the dark spots, bring as much beauty to the table as we are able, and count ourselves lucky beyond lucky to be able to take a seat.