Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Name Game

"Michael, Michael, motorcycle" and "Give it to Mikey, he eats anything. He liked it, Mikey likes it" were about the only insults to my first name that I heard growing up. The first one wasn't even that bad and it was only used by one kid I knew in 1st grade and I accidently broke his arm. More on that story at a later date. So, unlike most other kids I knew, I was teased very little due to my first name. My last name however, is a different story.

Sweetie and I are at a place where we are trying to pick a name for our future child. He or she is supposed to arrive in early to mid January and we want to have a name picked out. We should be finding out next month the gender and of course that will narrow our options. I think sweetie is a little more meticulous about finding the perfect name than I am. It is a given that I do not want to be one of those parents that picks out a horrible name for his child that causes him or her to get made fun of all the time. Lord knows that he or she will get laughed at enough due to our last name. But I don't think it is that big of a deal. Sweetie's standards for names seems to be a little bit higher than mine. There are many names that I like and she does not like any of them, where as she has a select few that she likes and of those, I like one or two.

Luckily, I have been able to loosen up her standards lately. Before she would say no because she had a student named that (and considering she taught for 6 years, that makes it difficult) or because she did not like the initials. For her, this ruled out any name that started with a "B" because when combined with my last name, was "BM", which she says are the initials of "Bowel Movement". I had never heard this term until I met my wife. It must be a Mid-West thing. Then she will decide if it is unique enough. Because our first child was given a unique name, my wife feels like we have to have a unique name for the next one as well or he or she may feel cheated and unloved. I think we did too well with our first boy's name. We peeked too early, like the MTV movie awards did with the lifetime achievement award to Clint Howard. Also, any shortened names that do not go well together with our last name has been ruled out. She has also vetoed any names that have similar sounds as the last name, for example, she would not like "Jane Plane" or "Jack Black". If it has past all of the above tests, then it moves on to the final test which is the doctor's name test. She says the full name like they do at a college graduation or she says it like she is paging our child over the intercom "Paging Dr. Christopher Collins, Dr. Christopher Collins to the OR stat". If it sounds presidential, doctoral, and distinguished enough, then she just decides whether or not she likes it.

This process is very complex but not without its fun. I like to tease my wife with a name I teased her about wanting for our first son, and that is "Blade" I enjoy bringing it out every now and then for a laugh. I should probably hold off on joking about it anymore though because she may soon start to think that I really do want it.

Our lives have been very entertaining these past few weeks due to this topic. We will be driving around and spot a name on a billboard or a street sign and attach that name to our last name, consider the initials, the flow, the nicknames, the uniqueness, the quality, etc. Most of the time we are kidding of course, because who would want a first name like "Battlefield" or "Maaco" or "Glenstone"? We will also at random times just spit out a name that we like or sounds interesting. We may mull it over for a minute or a couple of days, saying it in different tones at different volumes, and at different tempos, like sloshing around a good wine or a new beer in your mouth, feeling for texture, acidity, and flavor. Most names are spit out quickly while others are consumed and allowed to rest for a day or two before returning to them. My dad has dropped hints before our first one was born, hoping to get his name in there somewhere, which led us to consider "Robbertson" for a boy. I do not care for Robert for a first name but we may have it for the middle name.

All in all, this decision is tough. I would not mind some help from others about any good names, especially less common names or maybe even unique names. If we have a girl, I would like Charlotte or Elizabeth so I could call her "Libby." For me, boy names are much easier to decide on. I could equally settle for Joshua, Caleb, Bauer, Sawyer, etc. My graduate class was very helpful in assisting me with creating a list of names that I liked to present to sweetie for her consideration. I could sure use their help again.

This is tough. Anyone have any ideas?

Sunday, July 25, 2010


One of my favorite episodes of the Twighlight Zone was about a wager. The scene starts off at a country club for the elite in society. Men are heard talking about their businesses, stock portfolios, and lavish lifestyles. The focus then settles on a younger man, probably in his late twenties, who is a bit garrulous and exaggerating his success. One of the older club members decides that he can not take listening to this arrogant young man anymore, so they end up making a wager. The deal is that the young man will have to go for one year without saying a word. To be sure he is compliant, he will have to agree to live in this cell on the club grounds. If he is successful, the older business man will be forced to pay the younger man a large sum of money, which will not be difficult for the rich old man.

The majority of the remaining part of the episode surrounds the young man in his cell, while day after day, the older man taunts him, insults him, ridicules him, questions him, and says whatever else he can think of to get the young man to speak. The year comes and goes and the episode ends on the day when the young man's time in the cell is up and he is released. Before the young man speaks, the old man appologizes to the young man saying, the reason I tried so hard to get you to speak was because I really do not have that money I said I do and will therefore be unable to pay you your winnings. The young man turns away, defeated, and as he does, the older man asks, how were you able to go so long without speaking. The young man turns back around and pulls down the lip of his turtleneck and exposes the scars from where he had his vocal chords surgically severed.

It was at that moment that the audience realized the morals of the story. I say morals because there were many points you could take from that story. One was the greed of the youngman to go to the length of cutting his throat to win money, just so he could fit in at the club. Another would be the pride of the older man who lied about his finances so that he could remain a member of the club. Both men walked away having lost a great deal. The young man his ability to speak and the older man his pride and integrity.

In life, it often seems as though the only way to ensure our compliance is to totally take away any ability to act to the contrary. When in life have you ever cut your own throat, figuratively speaking of course, so that you could ensure obedience to yourself or another?

The topic of today's message in PG Sunday school class was silence. I mean being able to disconnect from the world, whether it be through use of cell phones, pagers, computers, telephones, MP3 players, etc. to just focus on listening to God. Have you ever had a speaking fast? Have you ever tried to go 2 hours, 2 days, or maybe even 2 weeks without speaking to anyone, listening to music, watching t.v., or surfing the web? I remember an assignment for my World Religions class at Yuba College in Northern California about 10 years ago I had to have a media fast for 2 hours. That meant that I was not to intake any information verbal or visual for that period of time. I could not read, speak, or listen to anyone or anything. All I could do was write, if I was so inclined. The goal was to teach you to listen to your thoughts.

Over the past couple of years, I have made every effort I could to "help God" get me to where He wanted me to go. I applied to 5 doctoral programs, the Air Force for a commission as an officer, and 8 jobs working as a counselor for the VA. I researched on line jobs ranging from intelligence specialist to counselor to FBI Special Agent to Secret Service Agent to INS Agent, all of which were in multiple states. I have looked into countless other psychology doctoral programs, MBA programs, Nursing programs, Physical Therapist programs, and even a Pharmasist doctorate. That caused me to look into the possible jobs that those degrees listed might bring. I considered going back into the Air Force as an enlisted man performing interpretation of a foreign language, even though I believe that although it would be fun, would be a step down in my career progression. I have even looked at joining other branches and foresake my beloved Air Force, so that it would mean that I could settle on a career as an officer for the next 12 years until retirement where I would then be forced to find another career. But at least I would be free for 12 years from planning my future.

All of this planning, researching, contemplating, comparing, and contrasting has created a decent size amount of stress in my life and not just for me but for my wife, who in turn puts more stress on to me. This insight was lost on me until yesterday when I had the chance to play golf with a buddy of mine. He too is a counselor that does in-home therapy. Although he is a couple of years further along in his career than I am. After the game during lunch, he described to me his frustrations with career decisions and they seemed remarkably similar to my own. He also told me about a deal he made with God. He promised that he would not do any planning or decision making in regards to future planning for the next year in an attempt to "hear from God." Despite his choice to refrain from cutting his own throat, I believe my friend James will be able to do it.

His proposition got me thinking. What if I made a similar deal with God? Not that I feel I have to do it because James is doing it (like my last few failed attempts at dieting with my wife), but because I see James going through the same struggles I am having and after hearing that parallel message in Sunday school group about listening to God, it seems like a clear solution. I too will not make any decisions for the next year about what my future will look like. No attempts to join the service, find a new job, apply for a doctoral program or any other degree program, will be made. I will avoid looking on line for hours at night to find something better, more fulfilling, higher paying, or something that gets me closer to the Southwest. I will not add stress to my wife's already stressful life by suggesting a possible move, maybe even across country, with little warning. I will just sit and listen.

Hopefully, a year of following this fast will lead me to greater rewards. I may not get a huge payout from God but I would settle for not having to cut my throat. Of course, as little as I speak now, I doubt anyone would take much notice.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hot and Cold

In 1993, Rookie of the Year debuted. It was a movie directed by Daniel Stern, who also played a character that was supposed to bring laughs. Okay, well he sort of did. The movie is about a young boy who ends up having an arm injury and after having the cast removed, can do incredible things with his arm. One skill in particular he learns is that he can throw a baseball very fast. It's not long before he gets picked up by his local major league team to pitch for them. Daniel Stern played a pitching/batting coach I believe. There is this one scene where Daniel Stern is talking to the young pitcher about what different players do to relieve pain and tension in their muscles. He says, some players use ice to treat the sore muscles while other guys think heat is the way to go, but what I do is take ice cubes and heat them up, "It's the best of both worlds."

This line by Stern is funny of course because the young pitcher and the audience know that if you heat up ice cubes, all you get is room temperature water, which does nothing to soothe aching muscles or to heal an injury. But Stern, playing the "dumb guy" is not smart enough to figure this out. So true to many things in life, it is the extremes in life that create things to happen. The smartest people, the most physically tuned athletes, the most talented musical composers, the greatest actors, the gifted writers, the most effective leaders, are all people that live on the exteremes. They are not a part of the norm, they are outliers, and for you stats lovers out they, they are greater than 3 standard deviations from the mean. If they were "normal", would they be well known and in most cases, very well respected?

This observation has been the cause of great frustation in my life as of late. Dating back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, man has attempted to defy the odds, find the secret to life, the fountain of youth, and the keys to success in this life. Man has built skyscrapers, walked on the moon, cured diseases, created laws, found lost relics and treasures, and designed facebook. All in an attempt to make a difference in this world, to matter, and in some cases, simply to be remembered.

I examine my dreams to further my education and I wonder why? Why do I need to get that degree? Why do I want to reach the top of my profession? Why do I want to start training to compete in the Ironman Triatholon? Why do I want to write a pulitzer prize winning novel or direct and produce a best picture film in the style of the Coen Bros.? Is it because at my death bed I will feel like my life was less meaningful because I did not accomplish great things? I am reminded of a quote that I saw on an old episode of the Twighlight Zone about a retiring teacher who quoted a hero of his when he said, "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." Will I be driven to accomplish more and more to fulfill that desire because I want to help others or because I want to be remembered, like some quasi form of immortatlity?

But probably the most important question yet, Why did I feel the need to write this blog? Well, I was sitting here wondering about what to write and I was reviewing my events of the day and I noticed that I was outside a lot today. I played a round of golf in the morning until noon, then went to a BBQ in the afternoon into the evening and it was very hot out today. While deciding what to write, I started to realize that I feel like I am coming down with a cold. Voila, two complete ends of the spectrum, it was hot and I have a cold. How ironic. That's it.

Peace out.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's My Party

Earlier this week, my supervisor, my team and our sister team, all colluded behind my back to throw me a good bye party of sorts. Not so much a party but an eating session. Not so much for me, because it was a surprise and I did not know about it so I had eaten prior to meeting with them. It was not so much an eating session as it was our scheduled time to meet together for our bi-monthly combined team meeting. So, people were forced to be there, each agreed to bring something to eat, and my goodbye was a point on the team meeting agenda. So there I was, for my going away "party" full from breakfast and I got a quick goodbye from everyone.

WOW!! Well if that setup does not inspire me to feel pride about the job I am leaving, I do not know what will. What kind of screwed up leader says goodbye that way? I mean really, who was the party for? Did anyone ask me if I wanted my goodbye party to be a part of our team meeting? Did anybody at least attempt to fool me into not eating breakfast so that I would be able to enjoy a delicious, free, combination of various snacks? Did anybody ask what kind of food I like? Did anybody consider if I wanted people to be forced to say goodbye to me?

Now, I know I am not a "GREAT" leader. I think I do okay. If my goodbye party was only attended by myself and one or two others, I would appreciate that more than setting it up for a time when people have to be there. Every time that someone from my team left, I would talk to that person ahead of time, find out what kind of food they like, let them pick a restaurant, work out with them and the team what afternoon/evening would work best, organize the reservations with the restaurant, and be one of the ones to chip in to buy their dinner. I did that for the 2 people on my team that left on good terms.

What do I get in return? A meal that I did not choose and could not eat provided by people who had no choice to attend and required virtually no effort to organize. What's really funny is the fact that toward the last couple of months of my time with this organization, my supervisor wanted to press upon me how to be a better leader. She required, yes REQUIRED me to read a book about motivating people. Well one of the points in that book is that you should lead from the front. Now juxtapose how I treated people who left my team to how my "motivating" supervisor treated my departure.

When I got to the meeting and saw the different selection of food, my first thought was "Well I should be grateful that they cared enough about me to throw me a party." Well, okay, my first real thought was, "Well, there goes my dinner at a restaurant paid for by my workers." But seriously, am I being ungrateful or do I have a legitimate complaint that my party really wasn't my party and that it was a horrible example of leadership? The downside was that since it was headed up by my supervisor, who is going to say no? Who would say to their boss's boss, well I think we should do something that will require a little more effort?

I really am curious though how my team would have voted if they were given the choice between that "party" of snacks or allowing me to pick a restaurant and everyone who wanted to attend getting a meal of their choice.

Should a goodbye party be about, for, and take into consideration the wants of the person you are saying goodbye to or should it be about what you, the giver, wants? When a loved one has a birthday, do you get them what you want? I could see that go over real well with Sweetie if I were to buy her a new set of golf clubs on her birthday.

I don't know, just my thoughts. Where is my Pulitzer?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

False Advertisement

Buddy has clothes that reference me, his father. Shirts and onesies say things like "Cute like daddy" or "Daddy's little helper" or "My dad is so cool, he is the best dad in the world and when I grow up, I want to be like him because he is so cool and awesome and is the bestest ever, in the whole world." Well, okay that last one was made up but it just got me thinking that at that age, his mother and father are the best people in the world. They seem like perfect giants. At a young age, kids see no wrong in their parents, they only feel for them adoration, respect, and a healthy dose of fear. But as they get older, their idolization of their parents fade. The kids see their parents' mistakes. They see their parents' failures and they lose a little of their innocence.

This thought has occurred to me when I find myself saying "NO" to buddy. I wonder if I am being too hard on him. Am I setting him up for failure? Am I being a good Christian example for him? Are my rules there for no reason, as if breaking them will not harm him but maybe just devalue my stuff that he likes to destroy?

What brought this thinking on was a situation at work. I was confronted again with a scenario that I had experienced six years ago. And I know I failed that test completely. Six years ago, when stationed at RAF Lakenheath, my supervisor called me into the office to give me a LOR or Letter of Reprimand because I failed to complete a self-directed training course in the allotted time. The way I saw it at the time was that I was in the right because given my rank at the time, I was qualified. I was even qualified to promote up to the next level and still be adequate with my training. So, the fact that he was telling me to complete this training just did not make any sense. This self-righteousness caused me to go into the meeting and verbalize my disappointment with his directive and his leadership ability. I thought that because the Air Force said I was qualified, I did not need to listen to him tell me I needed to go further in my training, especially considering that I was separating from the Air Force in a few months and I had no desire to continue in that career field in the civilian sector. It could not have been any later than a day or two when I read from the Bible about giving to those who are in authority over us what they deserve, be it respect, honor, etc. And a day after that I read about how we are not wronged if we are punished for doing wrong, rather if we do right and are punished, then we can rejoice in our perseverance because we were right.

From that moment on, I decided that if I were to be put in that position again, I would do what I was told to do whether I disagreed or not, within reason of course. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. My subordinates were given a "directive" by my boss's, boss's, boss, the director of our part of the company. I emphasize "directive" because that is how my boss describes it. When I received the e-mail, I read it and it appeared to me to be a suggestion or a recommendation or even a favor. A request really. It did not read like a directive. He used phrases such as "I know that by asking you" and "it is my hope" and "I would like." So, over the next two weeks, as that is how long the assignment was to take, that is how I viewed it, as a request.

Wouldn't you know it but one of my subordinates failed to turn in the assignment. Later the next week when the director sent out an e-mail saying who had yet to turn in the assignment, my subordinate replied and copied me on the e-mail. He wrote I'm sorry a couple of times and I know I let you down and I will understand if paperwork comes out of this, etc. First, I was disappointed because I wanted to talk to my subordinate about the assignment before he wrote that e-mail. He was definitely never in the military. But the next week, during my supervision with my boss, she asked me how I planned on dealing with the situation. I said tentatively, I guess write him up??? She nodded. So then I said, so it was a mandatory assignment and she said yes. I dropped the subject.

Well I ended up writing up my subordinate the following week but not after mulling it over a lot during the weekend. The day after writing him up, I brought up to my boss my thoughts about the whole topic and that was the driving force behind this post.

Much like 6 years earlier, I had the opportunity to voice my objection about something to a superior. The difference going into this meeting was that beforehand, I did what I was expected to do, unlike that similar meeting 6 years earlier. I wrote up the counseling memo for my subordinate, directed the counseling session with him and my supervisor present, and at no time did I destroy the integrity of the organizational structure by telling my subordinate exactly how I felt about the situation. Here is how my meeting with my supervisor went...

After covering the regular contents of our weekly meeting such as client issues, subordinate issues, paperwork issues, etc. I brought up how I felt about the "directive." I told her that I did not see it as a directive given the language used in the e-mail and that I was ready, willing, and able to not write up my subordinate and instead defend him if he saw fit to defend himself. I told her that he kind of shot himself in the foot by sending the e-mail before speaking to me about it but that if he would have stated that he believed the assignment to be a request and not a directive, I would have backed him.

So, using reflective statements and in my opinion a little bit of arrogance, she said, "So in your world, you believe..." (with the emphasis on your, as if like only I could come to that conclusion given the wording in the e-mail) and "I hear you saying" and "you believe". All of which are legitimate reflections but given the situation, it came across as her being defensive, like there was no way in the world it was anything but a directive. And her defense was, "well it came from the director." Of course, I was thinking, "well even if it came from God, a request is a request. If you ask a subordinate for something, and he says no, well that's one of the downsides of asking instead of telling." But I repeated that given the wording, it just seemed like a request. Than she said, "well if it was unclear, you should have asked for clarification." But that's just the point. I did not need clarification because to me, it was a request. I did say that but in a nicer way of course.

Her final point on the topic was, well I hope that if you decide to work in a business in the future, you could learn to read more between the lines. And just like I did 6 years ago, I gave my opinion. I said, "and I will just as well turn that around and recommend that you and the rest of the management could learn to be more direct in your communication." It was at that moment that I saw a few very clear similarities between her and my supervisor of 6 years ago. It floors me sometimes that people just assume that an error in communication is your fault and never theirs. I see in her the need to control things. At times I have felt that my team was not even my team. When I would make a decision, she would tell me to do something different, or second guess my decision. Often I felt more like her assistant than a supervisor.

I could also tell from her response to my final point, that she just ignored it. She did not come out and say it and her non-verbals were very limited but when you get to know how some people act after being around them for a while and hearing them speak, and recognizing their thought patterns, you can almost read their minds. The look in her eye was "okay, so this supervisor who I do not think is very good at his job is telling me, the person who has years more of experience than he, that I should learn something? Ya, I don't think so." I think it is that attitude of defensiveness and stubbornness that prevents people from looking inside themselves and growing. I know a few of her weaknesses and several of her failures. I have not pointed those out to her because what good would it do me? If she gets defensive and tunes out my advice because of the position she has relegated me to in her mind, than what good would it do to show her how she could improve.

In fact, I noticed today a failure of hers. The director sent out another e-mail asking supervisors to send an e-mail out to two specific people informing them of the names and dates the supervisors subordinates have attended the training. That's right, that is attended as in the past tense. My boss e-mailed me to copy her on that e-mail. Now considering the training is not until after I leave, I cannot e-mail those two people about what dates they attended the training. So, I e-mailed them the projected training dates. Of course one of the two people e-mailed back that that does no good to know the projected dates, rather she needs to know the dates they actually attended. My boss replied to her with well I asked Mike to send me a list of names and dates of those attending and I will follow-up with the firm dates after the training is over. Actually, No, that's not what you said. You told me to copy you on the e-mail I sent them. No admission of "I told him to e-mail that info to you." Whatever. I really don't think she is that bad of a boss. I think she has more positives than negatives, more strengths than weaknesses. But why is that I have had a string of not that great of leaders? Am I just getting to the point when I can see everyone's weaknesses and failures given enough time? Do I expect perfection from my superiors?

At the end of the day, who cares? My last day at the Suck will be in two days and I may never see her again. But to bring it full circle, at what point will my son realize that I am not perfect. At what point will he reason that he is right and that I am wrong, as that is bound to happen given enough time and my nature as a human? Will I recognize my faults then as I feel I am able to do now? Will I be willing to smooth those rough spots or be content despite knowing they are there? Will my son ever get to the point when he says "who cares? My last day living under this roof is just around the corner and I will only have to see him during the holidays"? Will he look upon his baby clothes and those faded cliche's with a sense of nostalgia and warmth over what a great dad I was or will his understanding of human nature make him cynical and think himself foolish for ever entertaining such "Father Knows Best" nonsense. It is my prayer that it be the former.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In the Parlance of Our Time

Anyone that looks close enough will notice that I have named myself on this blog, "the Dude." To those that do not recognize the reference, it is to one of the greatest movies ever made, "The Big Lebowski." To those who have not seen it, The Big Lebowski is about a slacker named Jeffrey Lebowski and he calls himself the Dude. The story is about a guy that is mistaken for another Jeffrey Lebowski and is visited by a couple of thugs that are looking to extort money from this other guy named Lebowski. One of the thugs urinates on the Dude's rug and the Dude goes looking for the Lebowski that the thugs were looking for. All the Dude wants is a replacement rug but ends up becoming a bag man and the center of attention for several unsavory characters. He becomes harassed by a group of German nihilists, an artsy feminine modern hippie, a police chief, a private dick, and the Big Lebowski himself. The Dude is regularly accompanied by his bowling buddies. One who is a militant Vietnam veteran that seems to relate everything to the Vietnam conflict and the other is....well...Steve Buscemi.

What makes this movie great are the characters and the dialogue. Jeff Bridges did an excellent job portraying this unemployed slacker and his friend Walter Sobchak was played by John Goodman. This movie was one of many written, produced, and directed by the duo known as the Coen Bros. If you have not seen this cult classic, you have no doubt seen one of their other masterpieces, maybe Raising Arizona, Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou, No Country for Old Men, or Burn After Reading, just to name a few. Their art is one that is not enjoyed by all, my wife being a perfect example, but for those who appreciate them, they are geniuses.

So why am I writing this? It does not seem to fit with the 4 other posts I have written thus far. Well, I once heard that in order to start writing, you have to start writing. So why not write about what I know. I figured I had to explain why I call myself the Dude and at the same time I could talk about a favorite pastime of mine, movies. It is my desire to one day write a novel. I have some ideas and in one case have already started writing. But it seems that as soon as I have an idea set in stone, once I start writing, it turns into something else, a different plot, a different theme, and different symbols.

I was inspired to start writing in this blog again after I found this blog after not writing in it for a few months and I realized that I had not written in it since I found out the news that not only did OU say "No", but a job that I had applied for in October, that I thought had decided against me in November, called me in early May to set up an appointment for a telephone interview. The job was my dream job, being a counselor for veterans in the VA. The job would have been very close to my family in Southern California. Well, the interview came and went, the projected time to hire a counselor came and went and I heard nothing. I did not want to be pushy, so I did not call them until this last week. Of course, we know what the answer was.....NO.

I suppose there is a reason for this. At least that is what I keep telling myself. I guess God has something different planned for me. We'll see.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Now What???

Waiting has got to be one of the hardest things that humans endure. Since the beginning of time, man has waited for...something. In the case of Adam it was a helper named Eve. How long did he wait for her to arrive? The Bible is not clear but we do know that she eventually came and with her came his downfall. They could not wait for God's blessing but instead took it upon themselves to get what they wanted. Of course, bad things resulted.

I find myself waiting to hear a "yes" or "no" from the University of Oklahoma. Like most other things I have "wanted" in the past couple of years or during my whole life for that matter, I find myself unable to wait and to start looking for things to fill those voids. I did not allow for God to direct my career path after high school so I found myself in the Air Force doing a job I did not like. I guess that I look on my own because I end up waiting for what I feel is too long and end up not liking what I get or I wait a long time and end up hearing "no." The Air Force Office of Special Investigations said "no" twice. The Air Force commissioning board said "no", the Universities of Missouri in Columbia, St. Louis, and Kansas City each said "no." Oklahoma State University said "no."

Although I am not too optimistic about hearing a "yes" from OU, I can't help but continue to find myself waiting. What are my options? I can wait and hear a "yes" or "no." Of course, if it is a no, I do have other options but its almost like I feel a part of myself die a little. Why do I feel driven to do something or accomplish something even though I keep hearing "no"? And every time I hear "no" and another piece of me dies, at what point do I throw in the towel, cut my losses, and try something else? When its your future career that you are betting on, at what point do you say, "I can't keep putting my life and family on hold to pursue a career."? How much of my family's life must I disrupt to accomplish my dreams? Why does following your passion devour so much of your time and hurt so much without having any guarantee of not only success and happiness, but even a career that you can wake up to every morning and not hate that you have to go to? I do not expect to be one of those people who LOVES their job, but to just not have to wake up and say, "Do I really have to go to work today?" would really be alright with me.

If I continue to pursue my dream and I acquire my desired profession, will I even want it anymore because I have spent so much time pursuing it and being hurt by it? I mean, is it even really what I want? It's not like I was born with this burning desire to be a psychologist but I just don't know what else to do. Counseling barely pays the bills and "The Suck" pays even less and is even less rewarding. I pray and pray but continue to not hear any answer other than "NO" or "wait." I mean really God, is it too much to ask for a job that gives me a comfortable life and one that I enjoy? It's not like I am asking for a job where others are envious of me and I make a million dollars a year. I am not asking for fame, fortune, or adoration but just a career that gives me a little autonomy and the ability to help others.

...And so, I wait. And I ask, "Now what?"

However, if OU calls me sometime this week, what will happen if they say "YES?"