Category Archives: PE Exam

“My daughter is a ____”

We joke at work about how our parents can never remember what type of engineering we specialize in (or even that we’re engineers in some cases). As an architectural engineer (focused on Mechanical Building Systems), most people don’t get past the first word. I’m regularly introduced as an architect, which used to bother me but now I just nod and smile with strangers or people who I know could care less… unless I have the energy to give further clarification. A common question I get after telling people what I majored in is “what is an architectural engineer?”

The easiest way for me to describe a Mechanical Engineer with an Architectural Engineering (AE) background, is to say I work on the comfort systems for a building – such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing… the systems that make being inside more bearable. Other AE’s may work with structural systems (holding the building up), electrical (power and lighting systems) or even construction management.

Last week I found these handy images that explain the difference between architects and architectural engineers even better…


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Therapy (…and not the retail kind)

I’ve been trying to write this post for weeks and just haven’t been able to work through it. Now is as bad a time as any other day has been, but I want to get it done. So… imagine you’re in a bland office space, sitting in a high-backed chair with arms, wearing your black rimmed reading glasses with legs crossed and arms folded over the knees… staring at me, sprawled across your chaise lounge, one arm over my forehead, the other dangling so that my hand just misses the carpet. Yes, you are my personal therapist and I am your overly dramatic, demanding client who called you on a Sunday evening for an emergency visit… let the story begin.

2011 dosage2011 invisible fence

The past month has been so full of UPs and DOWNs. Its as if my life jumped on the Magnum XL-200 roller coaster at Cedar Point and never figured out how to get off the ride.

I took the Principles and Practice of Engineer (PE) license exam in April. I’ve dreamed of passing this exam for nearly a decade but initially didn’t meet the requirements, and eventually couldn’t muster up the courage, to sit for it. It was stressful, intimidating and full of pressure. Especially since it’s a HUGE (pretty much the only “certified”) requirement for my advancement at work. In other words, I need to pass. And preferably on the first try. I don’t get the results until late June, so until then I’m on pins and needles. I need ZERO fingers to count the number of Black women I’ve ever met who have PE licenses, so needless to say, this is WAY bigger than just getting two letters after my name.

As if that weren’t stressful enough, my grandmother fell ill during my final study weeks and passed the following week. For some people, this is a sad thing. For me, this was utterly devastating. My Granny was one of my BEST FRIENDS for my whole life. We were two of a kind, if that could be possible in any way. We talked about everything under the sun and it was always entertaining to hear her perspective. She was my shopping buddy and most of the items I posted here over the years were purchased with her approval (and occasionally with her credit card, LOL). She was my Senior Fashionista Advisor, enjoying plenty of televised fashion shows and Nordstroms ad books in her retirement, always reporting back to me about who wore what and how I should try that trend for myself. I was her personal shopper, making sure she was one of the sharpest dressed ladies in the church. She turned me on to Coach and Dooney and Bourke in high school; I turned her on to Marc by Marc Jacobs handbags and MAC makeup in her final years (to show her sense of humor, she had just promised me a new bag for my wedding shower… only problem was, there’s no wedding in site).

The space she occupies in my heart is huge. Her passing is something I am still learning to deal with, but her memory has kept my family and I close and comforted. I have days where I wish I could simply lay my head on her lap while we watched Real Housewives, or replay that regular moment when I would first walk into the house after driving to see her and feel my lips kiss her soft cheeks again. She had a feisty personality and when people say “You act just like your Granny” (usually said in regards to my snappy tone or spoiled attitude), I simply smile because that is the greatest compliment a granddaughter could receive.

Applebees_Cherish_and_GrannyMemorial Day (1)Old pics 20110037

I did mention that there were UPs – one of my oldest and truest friends ever just got engaged (in the most adorable and unconventionally romantic way), while another is a couple of months away from having her first baby (which will be the first kid in our crew so we’re all very excited). I also got to attend the HUGE Oprah taping at the United Center in Chicago, which was better than the Grammy, Oscars and Tony award shows combined (blog to come later… can’t reveal the surprises now)!

I’m still going through more up and down in other areas of life and really I just feel like I’m ready for 2012 already…. As if January 1st really means a clean slate or something, LOL. Really, I guess I’m just ready for a break from life. I find myself staring into space often. Imagining what it would be like to be in a “neutral” phase or even trying to visualize what my “ideal” phase looks like. In the end, I know that God makes those decisions anyway, so my best bet is to just say a prayer, buckle up and remember to smile for the roller coaster cameras. I’ll be back on the ground holding that elephant ear in no time!


(P.S. Thanks to all my family and friends who provided support, hugs, cards, and advice in the past months… you don’t know how much your thoughts truly mean to me.)

With love, Cherish

granny in the park

Almost there…

So we’re down to the final week!! A year ago I began studying for the Principles and Practice in Engineering exam… affectionately (or not) referred to as the PE Exam. While the passing rates can be a bit intimidating (see them here), I have remained positive and strong. Now, its less than a week to the big day! I am dealing with a mixture of anxiety, excitement, nervousness and an overall anticipation of my former social life which officially returns once this exam is over!

I’ve been slow on the posts because all I do is study, study, study (and eat, of course). I’ve had a few moments of retail therapy to carry me through this extended time, but now I’m just focusing on not just taking, but PASSING this test!!

So, if you’re reading this, please wish me luck and say a prayer for me! Here goes nothing!!!


Life Sabbatical

I am currently “between” jobs” (literally) so I’m thinking of this time period as a sort of unofficial personal sabbatical. Unfortunately, the “spare” time everything but free. I have sooo much to do. In preparation for 2010 I am really changing my life style. REALLY. (Yeah, I know I said that every fall but this time I’m DEAD SERIOUS).

2009 was FUN. Soooo much fun! I went to well over a dozen different cities, some more than once, hung out with all of my girl friends and experienced a fun summer in the city I live in and love! (Chicago, for my new blog friends). Unfortunately, all this fun left one of my biggest goals for 2009 on the back burner – saving money. My plan was to sacrifice 2009 as my hard-core year of saving and laying low, and live it up in 2010… except I did it backwards. So what happens now? I have to do the extreme opposite for 2010 in order to make up for it.

  • No girlfriend trips. NONE. Family trips are ok and I need to take some time to vacation with “Bobby” since we didn’t get to do much this year, but my friends have to wait until 2011! They are not taking that well, since there is a 30th Birthday celebration planned in Miami this coming March (that I was attempting to count as my birthday celebration too).
  • Move into a less expensive apartment – I was living the HIGH life here in Chicago and despite early attempts to justify the costs, reality set in that I was living beyond my means. Time to find a cheaper place.
  • SAVE SAVE SAVE – stop eating out as much. And not just eating out…. I mean the expensive dinner+drink events  go on with my girlfriends regularly. You have to treat yourself, but I need to get back to the point where its actually a “treat” and not the norm!
  • Take the BIG TEST – Engineers can earn the designation of ”PE” by passing a specialized exam that demonstrates their knowledge of the industry. I WILL take that test. The version I want to take is offered in April and while 2010 is very close, 2011 is VERY realistic. I have developed a detailed outline for my study prep to ace pass the exam in 16 months. Its daunting but I WILL do it!!

So these last 28 days will be enjoyed responsibly, but January 1 will bring a whole new light to my life. It should be very interesting! A year with limited travel??? What on earth will I do with myself?? I need to find a good birthday gift that will keep me entertained throughout the year and prevent me from daydreaming too hard about leaving town… any suggestions? A Wii? A new purse? A new Blackberry? Should I order cable/satellite? A gym membership? An all-in-one printer, scanner, copier so i can scan all these pics in? VHS-DVD extracting and converting software/hardware? So many options…

As for the Item of the Day, I got a message a while back about the Burberry sale going on. I am a huge fan of the classic Burberry trench coats, but didn’t pay much attention to the handbags… until now. There are some AWESOME items on sale! Maybe these Powerball numbers will hit in time for me to grab a few nice gifts for myself and my friends 🙂