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But FIRST:  Go here, and enter to win an Ergo baby carrier!  That’s all.  I entered.  You should enter, too.  (I also accidentally entered twice.  I am totally embarrassed now and I hope the person doesn’t hate me forever.)

And now…my update, and rant.  Because THAT’s my mood.

First, because now you all are worried and I feel badly making you worry:  I took a cranberry pill (I felt guilty before I did it, but cranberries – safe – right?), drank 3 more glasses of water last night, only peed once during the night (yay!), and called the doctor’s office this morning.

Of COURSE, the report is not back yet (why would it be?!?) but I explained to the nurse that I was having some chills, and flank pain, and had a history of rapid progression, and she got nervous and said she’d talk to the dr and call me back ASAP.

I *am* having these symptoms, but really?  I think they are just pregnancy symptoms.  Well, maybe not the bladder and flank pain.  But having had many of these, all of which were worse than this one, I am feeling a little bit guilty.  I am a *tiny* bit worried that I exaggerated it a *bit* too much and will end up hospitalized tonight, on IV abx, but it’s worth it for Little Squirt…right?  At the very least she is going to get a result stat, versus three days.

HOWEVER:  My rant.

My FB status is, “Rachel is annoyed by the U.S. healthcare system.”  Referring, actually, to the three days waiting for the pee-test results.  HOWEVER, then I walked into the kitchen, pulled out a stack of bills, and proceeded to open the top one.

People, I got a bill – my FIRST BILL, mind you – for a rheumatologist I saw while HOSPITALIZED FOUR YEARS AGO.



They waited FOUR YEARS (4!!!!!!) to bill me for the pleasure of her services while I was chained to a bed in the metro DC area.

And actually, it is not an itemized bill.  Oh, no, it is a statement that says, “Please pay in FULL NOW.  You owe (roughly $200).”


And you waited FOUR YEARS?!?!?

So I called them.

And talked to the office manager.

She said, “well, we sent you a bill in September 2007.”

Which I didn’t receive, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.  So she billed me TWICE in FOUR YEARS and expected NOW for me to just hand over $200?!?!?

Then she said, “Well, I’m just now going through these bills.”

Ha.  I bet you are.  And I bet you are getting many many many of these irate calls.

(Four YEARS?!?)

(Isn’t there a statute of limitations on these things?!?  FOUR YEARS?!?)

So I told her that I needed an itemized bill.  That she was LUCKY because I don’t LIVE in her state, and therefore know *exactly* when I might have needed that physician’s services, but if I was an *actual* patient, I would have absolutely no idea and it is entirely unprofessional to send an unitemized bill FOUR YEARS after the fact and EXPECT TO BE PAID.  IN FULL.  IMMEDIATELY.

Then I got really riled up.  I said that I needed a letter from their attorney’s office explaining to me why their piss-poor accounting services were so delinquent that they needed FOUR YEARS to bill me (at this point, she corrected me and said, “we sent you a bill in September 2007”, and I said, “FINE, TWICE IN FOUR YEARS”) and she said, “From our attorney?!?”

Yes, lady.  From your attorney.

Because I am PISSED.

(Although I know I am being ridiculous now.)

(And also?  I don’t even remember who my insurance carrier was at that point.  I believe it was like two insurances ago.  She couldn’t understand why I didn’t have an EOB* from this experience.   She has GOT to be effing kidding me.  Like I would SAVE EVERY EOB I HAVE EVER RECEIVED.)


And ALSO!  I think this is fraudulent.  Someone help me out here – can’t they write off losses/unpaid bills on their taxes?  So this office already (ostensibly) took a LOSS on this, and is now, FOUR YEARS LATER, looking to cash in.

I think they picked the wrong girl to bill after four years, that’s what I think.

So today = really bad day for the healthcare system.  Obama, we need some HELP here.

*EOB = explanation of benefits, which is what the insurance company sends you when they pay out (or deny) on a claim, for those of you who have limited experience being sick.

So I did the whole pee-in-a-cup thing, and convinced myself that, indeed, this is a UTI.  Which I’ve had before, many, many, many times.  Ok, not many MANY times, but enough to know that this is, indeed, a UTI*.

I was going to assume here that everyone reading has had the joy of a UTI, but then I realized this is maybe an unfair assumption, because DB’s grandma had her very first one a few years ago at the ripe old age of 89 (I am sure she would be so tickled to know that I just wrote that), so if you haven’t had one, here is a description for you:

Take some razor blades

Drink them

Then pee them out.

Ok, now we can move on.

So I pee in the cup, walk out, and say, politely, of course, “When should I hear back?”

The answer:  “You can call tomorrow around lunchtime.”

My follow-up:  “And they will have cultured the sample by that point?” – knowing FULL WELL IT IS GOING TO SIT ON A LEDGE UNTIL SOMEONE CAN GET TO IT FOR THE NEXT THREE HOURS.

Their response:  “Oh, no, the culture will take 3 days.  But you can know if you have an infection in 24 hours.”

(Which I don’t need them to tell me.  Check check, Ranger Dogs.  Thanks for the FYI.)

OK, now let me rant a little bit here.  Because I am peeing something like sharp little diamond shards, and I am knocked up, and I am frankly not thrilled.

About a year and a half ago, I got (another) UTI.  This one was actually a lot worse.  I was peeing straight blood, and I was a little freaked out by it (I mean, STRAIGHT BLOOD.  EW) and ended up – because I was going to have to wait for 24 hours to pee in a cup in a doctor’s office, and hel-lo, I am peeing blood, and also? I had a final the next day – in the ER.  Where they also cultured the pee-blood, or they tried to, and they couldn’t get a quick test on it (because it was STRAIGHT BLOOD – I asked why they even bothered, and they agreed with me), so they gave me a prescription for Cipro** and I went on my merry way.

Except it wasn’t all that rosy.  I took the Cipro, valiantly, expecting greatness in 24 hours.

Oh, no.  I was still peeing blood.

So I call the ER, to find out what the sensitivities of the pee-blood were.  You know, because the Cipro appeared to be a shitty solution for said problem. Response from one of the best ERs in the country:  We don’t have the report yet.

???  Seriously?!?!?

In the time that passed, I developed a kidney infection. By the time I was able to find out the sensitivities and take the appropriate medicine (the bug was one I contracted in Cambodia, and was therefore resistant to every oral medication available), I was one sick chiquita, and I had already created this super beast of a bacteria in my very necessary urinary tract (and beyond).

I learned my lesson:  never, ever, ever, ever EVER take medicine without a sensitivity report.

Especially on something that is so simple to test, like PEE.

So now we have this new situation:  I have yet another UTI (yippee), and not only do I not want to take medicine that will create a super-bug, I also do not want to take UNNECESSARY medicine because my resident alien baby is in his/her last week of organ development this week, and DAMN if I am going to take a bajillion antibiotics.

So I will suffer.

For apparently three days.

If I were not the daughter-in-law of a very obsessed microbiologist, I would actually not think this was a big deal.  I would grin and bear it.  I would say, “Well, we want to be VERY SURE about the sensitivities.  It takes THREE DAYS to grow a culture.”

Except, I am here to tell you:  no, no, no, it does not.

It takes 24 hours.

And the other two days are simply administrative days.

So I am in a really really REALLY bad mood.  Mostly because I am in pain, and I am going to be peeing every 30 seconds for the next three days, and also? because I may develop a kidney infection with my stellar immune system, in the three days that it will take them to get off their asses and culture my (gorgeous) pee, but ALSO! Because I have a LITTLE HUMAN! inside me, and I WILL BE DAMNED if this impending doom of a kidney infection threatens his/her existence!


And I refuse to take a drug unless it is tested first.


P.S.  This hospital is one of the top 20 in the country.  Yes, be impressed.  The rankings clearly come from something OTHER THAN PATIENT CARE.

*Unfortunately, I did not get this UTI the way your imagination is probably thinking.  Sorry to burst your bubble.  I know I am a little sad I wasted a UTI with nothing fun preceding it.

**I am allergic to sulfa drugs, which they usually give people for UTIs.  So Cipro is usually an adequate substitute.

Guess what day it is?

Sunday of a major three-day weekend.

Guess where DB just went?

To work.

This is UNHEARD OF in the government.  UNHEARD OF.  Even for the FBI, with the exception of the bank robberies squad (which he is not on).  

This is where I am going to gripe a little bit.  See, the *only* times DB has to go into work at a strange/odd hour are when we have plans.  PLANS.  Once, we had to catch a FLIGHT and he had to stake out someone’s house.  Another time, we had dinner plans (ok, not a big deal, but go with me here) and he was surveilling someone else.  And ANOTHER time, we had to leave to go to a couples retreat, and he was busy chasing some perp somewhere, for like 5 hours.  From like 6 pm to 11 pm.

That was not a good start to our couples retreat, let me tell you.

Today, we have to study.  I say “we” have to study because, um, it’s physics, and *we* need to study so *I* can pass the test.  The final is on Tuesday.  *We* tried to study yesterday, but there was a major basketball game on across town (between DB’s alma mater and its rival), and I decided sleeping sounded REALLY GOOD, and by the time he got back, I wasn’t feeling the love for physics – and besides, we had ALL DAY Sunday and ALL DAY Monday, right?

But then, this morning, we had a meeting at church, and then since it’s kind of snowing* and I have no snow boots, we decided to go get some boots**.  And then eat (again).  (I eat a lot these days.)  And then we got home, I settled down to print some exams, and…

Yes.  The batphone rang.  Summoning DB to Heaven-knows-where, and he’ll be there for Lord-knows-how-long.  

And since it’s obviously ALL ABOUT ME, leaving me high and dry.

I realize I am supposed to be all happy that he is going to protect our country from various different things that ail it, but seriously?  Seriously?!?  TODAY?  Isn’t there SOMEONE ELSE they could call?!?  

I feel like (and this is not very far from the truth, so don’t judge) that when we do not go away for three-day weekends, we pay a price.  

I am not so happy.  In fact, as a sign of a truly actualized person, I cried.

I hate criminals.  

And I really, really, really hate physics.

*It’s always snowing.  I returned my boots to LL Bean (yay for great return policies) because they leaked.  However, leaky boots are better than no boots, which is what I currently use.  

**And to add insult, we did not get boots.  It turns out most people have boots by January 18th.  However, if you would like some cute strappy sandals, January 18th is a perfect time to shop.

Specifically, the cars manufactured by the fine folks at Ford, GM, and Chrysler, and managed by the moronic CEOs at the aforementioned F, G, & C. Actually, Chrysler is spared because it has not stepped up to the plate quite yet, apparently.

(This is a mini-rant, based on the NPR report of the Big Three‘s Two’s offers to Capitol Hill. If there is some amazing article out there, I didn’t read it. Short on time.)

Does it make anyone else a LITTLE upset that Ford and GM have graciously offered to take a token $1 salary if they utilize government money?

OK, I will admit it: It really bothers me. It bothered me all the way here, and it took me a whole 30 minutes to get here, and I was going to write this other blog post on this conversation I had with someone from my cohort (the ORIGINAL cohort – who is now an -eek!-graduating 5th year doc student, and wow, that could have been me), but instead you get my thoughts on the token $1/year salary.

I’m not even going to cover the laughable method of transportation to DC – by HYBRID CAR.

Are they TRYING to be like SNL?

No, let’s talk about the salary for a moment. To me, Mrs. Schmoe, the $1/year salary says this: “I know I was overpaid for what I did in the last

[Insert some internet research by Rachel here. Here is the AP article. Here is the article that says he is going to drive a hybrid to DC. There was a similar article in the Huff Post, and although I bet they’re psyched, I have my own (strong! of course! why wouldn’t I?) opinions about hybrids and they’re not all that warm and fuzzy on the environment.]

OK, so this is what $1/year says to me: “I know I was overpaid for what I did last year – I mean, I *thought* $22 million was appropriate when I started, but I guess you guys don’t agree, so now I see your point. In fact, actually, Ford paid me SO much last year that I don’t even need to work this year! Or next year! Watch me! I am so damn rich that I am running this company out of the graciousness of my heart!”

Only it says that in the most condescending way possible.

When one writes a grant, one must include a line item that states how much one will be reimbursed for one’s professional services. There are lots of grants written for people to service EXTREMELY at-risk populations, and they are still given a reasonable salary to conduct the work.

Otherwise, it is insulting to the people you are serving. It is your valuable time you are offering, and investigators should be reimbursed – at least at a livable wage – for their services.

I would be more impressed with Mulally’s gesture if he, say, chose to return some of the money to Ford to help bail it out (I mean, even a few million would probably pay a lot of salaries, right?) and opted to take a reasonable, fair-wage salary. A salary that will cover his living expenses (reasonable ones) adequately and still fairly compensate him for his time.

But no. He is doing this insulting, dramatic gesture instead. What a tool.

The OTHER thing that pisses me off is that he will not even PAY TAXES ON THE $1!!!!!! I personally think he should be compensated at a rate that will JUST HIT the maximum tax rate.

But that’s just me.

I am so fed up with greedy corporate people making decisions that screw the people that ACTUALLY get them places (like the people on the line, who made none of these decisions and are getting fully screwed for them) (I am not talking about the UAW leadership, and I am not thrilled with them either). UGH!

And that is the end of my little rant. Thanks for reading.

P.S. I am sitting next to some neurotic orgo students and I am just so, so, so, so, thankful that that bandaid is off. Orgo really sucked. Poor people.

PPS – First delivery of organic fruit and vegetables comes today. I have already FAILED multiple times at seasonal eating in the last 24 hours, beginning with the Basmati rice I just ate and the piece of pizza covered in tomatoes.

This is gonna be really, really hard.

PPPS – OH, and ALSO?!?  Who is gonna buy your stupid jet?!?

I think I just singlehandedly raised my pulse at my computer!  I thought that would only happen with Bush, but I guess I was wrong.  I can’t wait to see Jon Stewart tonight.

I really hope he agrees with me.  Ha!

Remember this post?

This is totally fascinating – if you are at all interested in that theory and in polling.

FOUR (4!) more days until election day.  I canNOT wait.  Unfortunately, I have class that night (until 9 pm!) but at least it isn’t lab night, when I have class until MIDNIGHT on Tuesdays.  Midnight!  That would be a conundrum of unimaginable proportions.  As it is, 9:00 is going to be really freaking hard.

Thanks for all of your comments and emails in recent days – it’s definitely been a good distraction from the complete and total rage I have choking back in response to an email I received yesterday – “You are a woman first and a Republican/Democrat SECOND.  If we don’t vote for Palin now, we will not have a woman in the White House in this generation.”  

Say what?!?  On an inconceivable number of levels.  Email me to tell me to vote for McPain for any number of policy positions – because you are a single issue voter (probably), or because you think War Heroes Make Good Presidents, but for the love of everything intelligent and holy, DO NOT tell me to vote for them because we could have a WOMAN in the WHITE HOUSE:

a)  she will be in the old executive office building, not the white house.  That’s obviously not the important thing, but it certainly bothered me.  Let’s be honest about where Sarah Palin will be in the inconceivable (and completely gut-wrenching) situation of that ticket wining – hopefully, far, far, far, far away from very much policy making.


c)  Try this on for size:  “Vote for Barack because he’s African-American.”  (OUCH.)  “Vote for Barack because he’s HALF-WHITE, and this is our only chance to have a HALF-ANY KIND OF RACE person in the Executive Branch.”  Or, “Vote for Hillary because she’s a woman.”  Or, “vote for Barack because he’s got big ears.”  Or…any other number of equally asinine things I could say about the skin-level details of someone’s persona.  As IF oh, wait!  THAT’S why she has that long hair?!?  THAT’S why she wears a skirt?  I just thought she was a male freak!  Thanks SO MUCH for cluing me into the details of her genitalia!  

I mean, even if you’re GONNA vote for McCain because your running mate is a female, MAKE SOMETHING ELSE UP!  And if nothing else, DON’T insult MY intelligence by telling me that’s why I should vote that way!  

The nerve!

I guess I had a lot to say about that.  What I wanted to say was this (this was the draft in my outbox that never got sent):  

This is a critical election for this country at an absolutely critical time.  One of the beautiful things about this country is that we have the right – and the obligation – to vote for the person that we feel is most qualified for this office – the person who will be best able to salvage our wrecked economy, rescue our tarnished reputation overseas, and safeguard the millions of lives lost overseas to war (both Americans and our allies), and failed health and social policies.  But to suggest that we should vote for a person solely because she has two X-chromosomes is insulting.     

What would all of you have said?  Unfortunately, this wasn’t someone I could have really fired back to, although someone else on the (massive) distribution list did, and it was everything I wanted to say – and more.

Ahh, satisfaction.  It was just as sweet coming from someone else.  

I sent her a profuse thank you note.

P.S.  This same discussion just took place on Larry King on CNN, and the guy said something like, “I”m voting for McCain because he was tortured and now he could be my President” and Larry said, “But that’s not a reason to VOTE for him,” and the guy said, “Yes it is, for me it is”.  And to that I say:  I wasn’t even going to touch that one (in my examples, above).  But if Larry says it – yeah, add it to the list.  “Vote for McCain because he served our country heroically 55 years ago.”

Wow, was I in a bad mood yesterday. Holy moly. I even peed on a stick*, I was in such a bad mood, because seriously? Is it even NORMAL to be in such a bad mood? It just got worse…and worse…and worse. And now I am going to write about it, because maybe in hindsight, it is a little funny. Plus, I just got out of going to the dentist to have my teeth fixed again – not because I don’t need to go (I really do) but because I just…didn’t want to. (I had 5 fillings filled last week and I am in agonizing pain now. Advil works wonders.)

So…bad days?

1) Aforementioned pain. You know it makes you mean, too. OK, maybe not, but DAMN I am in pain without the miracle that is ibuprofen (yay ibuprofen!). I am never again going to get top AND bottom fillings. Nosiree, I am going to get top, heal, then bottom, heal. At least that way my bite will be less mismatched, and my marriage will be saved.

2) No job. Yeah, this one is a PITA. I *really* want a job. Like not a job that is on my couch (although I will admit – the location of my current job is enviable, until I cannot get in touch with the people I need to from my couch). I am a little depressed about the job market now and I feel as though I will *never* have another job (and at the height of the agony that was yesterday, I decided that it was a terrible idea to go back to school last fall. I’m not sure how I feel about that now.)

This was augmented by the conversation next to me between two 22 year old girls in physics – “I work at [major medical center where I, Rachel, have been trying to work for a while now – on four separate job-search occasions in this blessed city].” “Oh, really? ME TOO!” “No way!”

WTH? How can they get positions in these places and I cannot?!?!? Am I really that unqualified? Seriously? (This attitude would make you think so, huh?) Then I overheard the one girl say that she was a pharmacy tech – and not to knock pharmacy techs (actually, I know nothing about them, or the competition to get that type of job) but that was not a job I was competing with her for, and I felt a teeny tiny bit better

This moves into the death-spiral of thinking that becomes me:

3) I have No Skills. No, seriously. How am I going to *get* a job? What are my marketable skills at this point?!? I have none. Actually, no, I can tell you if your child is on the autism spectrum, which is a valuable skill for a remarkably tiny population (despite what you hear on the news). Let’s just say that I have a serious hang-up about my lack of skills and value in this world.

Also: I know a lot about adoption. Oh, wait, I forgot, it’s not possible to get a job in that field. So maybe we should edit this to read: I have Skills, but they are Worthless.

4) And I really want a child, which would make me feel a bit better about being on my couch, because *that* is a *very* valuable job (raising a child). But oh! – no! – not possible right now.

5) And the FBI REALLY should give up that cash. Working for The Man = entitled to get upset when The Man bails out the fat dudes on Wall Street, lets innocent people default on shoddy mortgages, renders REALLY innocent people who are RENTING from the property owners HOMELESS, and fails to pay those who put their asses on the line in a country that we shouldn’t be in in the FIRST PLACE.

(I’ll tell you how I really feel about that! Ha!)

(To be fair, it is only 15 days after the money was expected, and perhaps this was a pipe dream that it would come on October 1st, so perhaps it is not late after all. However, it seems awfully damn late. If you ask me, it is really friggin’ late, considering DB returned in JULY).

6) I got a parking ticket even though my meter was paid, because I fed the meter. I hate you, parking attendants.

7) The ceiling in my kitchen is leaking over a place that has no water above it. (??)

8.) For the XXth night in a row, my car would not start. This is a source of extreme annoyance at this point. The effing car has dementia – it sundowns every. night. It runs just fine all day, and then at night – the battery dies. We carry a self-starter to jump it whenever we need a jump. It’s, like, regular life with this car (which is not THAT old). WTH does the car do this?!?

9) My neighbors sent us all an email: “DB, thank you for all of your hard work. Love, us.” Which is really effing annoying, since we BOTH did the work and they know it, and it was a low blow, and I am just beyond hurt. And I want DB to go downstairs and punch them, but he won’t.

10) DB won’t resort to violence against parking attendants, the car, HR staff, and my downstairs neighbors.

11) Seriously, people who try to link Obama with William Ayers? SERIOUSLY?!? Go after the Reverend Wright stuff and alienate your teeny-tiny inner-city electorate, but AYERS?!? Who is a renowned education researcher?

12) SERIOUSLY, McCain? “Obama is…he’s an Arab.” “Oh, no, ma’am, he’s a decent family man.” Did you seriously suggest that the two are mutually exclusive?!? And are you seriously not going to clamp down on the evil rhetoric emerging at your rallies except when the press is there to give you a sound bite? SERIOUSLY?!?

I think I’m running out of complaints now. I realize that these are little things and I should be grateful for the big things and really, seriously, I usually am, and I will be more positive soon.

*OBVIOUSLY it was negative. I HAVE AN IUD. Although we own stock in EPT, because even a smart person without a normal job tends to read too many things like this despite the fact that it is totally ridiculous (not that I doubt those people. I just think there are very few of them.)

(Also, I realize this post makes me sound like a egomaniacal crazy woman. Yesterday’s post was a struggle and a half to put out nice things about the world, and then the day just got worse and worse, and you know what? I feel better now. Thanks for reading. Love, me.)

Hi everyone who reads this blog,

I am really frustrated.  And tired.  And I know there are not a lot of you out there, but if you would like to comment or email, I would appreciate it on this matter (and oh, hey, J who lives next door – please just don’t forward or repeat this!  Thanks!)

Here is the situation:

We live in a three-family condo, and we are the middle family.

Our downstairs neighbors used to be our super-tight friends.

Now they hate us (me).

Actually, they’ve hated me for a while now, and it has been variably tolerable/intolerable during that time.  Now we’re back in the intolerable phase, and it! is! killing! me!  I hate to be hated.  I am a hatable person – for sure – but I usually try to remedy things, because if there is anything I hate worse than being hated, it’s not being able to discuss things in the open.  Which is what happens when you are hated.  (Follow that?)

Here is what happened:

My neighbor and I had a discussion regarding our shared health condition.  I thought I was helpful, and she felt it was hurtful.  I didn’t know she was hurt by it for a few months, though, so I noticed that she and her husband were becoming more and more distant – and I was confused.

We held a condo meeting in a restaurant.  The guy downstairs and the guy upstairs ordered really expensive meals, on the condo, and then we had a heated discussion about how we needed to raise condo fees.  But, see, I was in school full-time, and we could not afford to raise condo fees by $40/month like Guy Downstairs wanted (to be able to cover his extravagant condo expenses).  And if money was so tight, why order a $60 dinner?

(OK, so I might have been a little pissed about that.  But it was not personal. It was about fiscal responsibility.)

So DB and I invited them up to discuss it, since we *valued* their friendship and wanted to make sure we cleared the air.

They came upstairs to our place, talked for like 3 hours in our living room, and by the end of it, we thought things were better.  DB said, “That went really well!”, happily, and I said, “We’ll see…” because I am a pessimist that way.  At any rate, we felt like we’d done as much as we could to clear the air.

The next morning, I received an email from the husband that said, in part, “Rachel, you’re a passive-aggressive [bitch]”, and no, he did not use the word bitch, but he used lots of other similar words to say the same thing.  In short:  Rachel, we hate you.

Huh? – on so many levels, right?  I mean, pessimism about our future as BFFs is one thing – this outright verbal violence is something entirely different.

I mean, what more passive-aggressive move is there than to sit in my house for three hours, pretend you’re fine with me, and then send me an EMAIL to tell me you hate me?

Or let’s discuss how um, wait, I’m NOT passive-aggressive?  Like I have been called many, many, many things in my life – and they are not all positive – but “passive” really isn’t part of the picture?  (You need to know me to understand this.)

Or maybe how “passive-aggressive” is a clinical term – and he is not a clinician, or even close to it?

So I did what anyone would do when their former friends call them a passive-aggressive bitch:  I cried.


Embarrassingly hard.

I sent a reply email to him that said, basically, “WOW – that is misplaced” – and he wrote back and said, “I meant every word.”


So when we went downstairs to talk to them again that night (their idea, not ours), he apologized for upsetting me.  And I. got. pissed.

Eventually, after his wife cajoled him (“you’re sorry you said this, aren’t you?  SAY YOU’RE SORRY FOR SAYING THIS!“) he said, “OK! FINE! SORRY!” – which also doesn’t count, but I took it and walked out.

That was in February last year.  DB went to a war zone, and they came up the stairs to say goodbye – to him only.  For three months, I managed things on my own.  I prayed that I wouldn’t get locked out, because I knew that if I was stuck outside and they saw me, there was no way they’d come and let me in.  They refuse to sign for our packages if they’re home when the UPS guy comes.

At one point, in June, I sent them another email.  This one was over the seemingly interminable run of nightclub-level music below me – I must have asked him 35 times to turn it down, and every time he wanted to negotiate – “where are you?  Over the dining room?  Over the kitchen?” – when really, let’s be honest, just turn it down.  If I can sing along to your music, it! is! too! loud!  You chose to live in a condo.  Turn. it. down.

But this last email was a little stronger.  It said, in short, “Could we be neighborly?  I value our old relationship and I would like a sign from you that you would like to resurrect it, too”.

And it was met with a resounding silence.

And I felt very crappy again.

Scroll forward to this weekend.  As a way of a backstory, about a year ago, DB decided that the condo steps needed to be replaced.  When he got in there, he realized that EVERYTHING needed to be replaced, since they were rotten (100 year old house = crappy steps).  So he replaced all of the steps (handy DB).

Then he left town for 6 months, and it got cold, etc.

So this weekend was the weekend to paint the steps, replace the crown moulding, etc.  You know, completely revamp the entryway to the condo.

We devoted an entire three-day weekend to this project.  The upstairs neighbors moved out of state, so their renters were obviously not expected to help.  But the downstairs neighbors…?

Not even a “thank you” email.

Not even a hello to me as I stood in the entryway in front of their door.

Nothing.  Nadda.  Zilch.

And I am feeling very angry now.  And hurt.  And hated.

It sucks!

So…what to do?  Thoughts?

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I’m a little behind on my Olympics-watching, although I’m the sort of viewer that watches every. event. when the Olympics come around. Even the ones I suddenly find interesting after not even knowing they exist for the past 29 years, like…I don’t know. Synchronized diving, which came up as a discussion topic last night in the dog park, which I then spent the next 45 minutes searching for on the Internet to watch because it sounded cool. Let me tell you, I would never be remotely interested in synchronized diving at any other point in any four-year cycle.

Anyway, so I’ve been watching all of these events in the wake of my very anti-climactic exam (I still do not know how I did…) and plotting how to now spend my newfound free time (all 4 days of it). And I have to say – I’ve been watching the Olympics through a weird lens. Some of you know that I was a D-1 athlete, which, for some sports (including the one I played, and, in fact, this year’s US team for that sport has SEVERAL athletes from my program, ALL of who medaled – go my alma mater!!!) is the breeding ground for the national team. The athletes for some sports, like gymnastics, are culled from preschool programs; in others, like oh, I don’t know, others (maybe Track & Field? Swimming? I can’t think of examples other than my own sport), the muscles and drive needed to become amazing really don’t come online until late adolescence.

OK, so anyway. I’ve been viewing the Olympics through the lens of someone who has been an athlete at a very competitive level (not well. Watch what you read here. I was not awesome, but we had a phenomenal program and I happened to be fortunate to be part of it. If you really want to know more about that, you can leave a comment. Let’s just be clear here: I was not an amazing athlete by any stretch, and I did not make it all four years – only two, plus a little bit between the time that I recovered from mono and the point at which I realized that, actually, having a real life was kind of fun – and I want to be clear about that because there were others who did make it all four years and I don’t want them to read this and think, “Hey! Rachel is creating a false identity!”). So that is my lens, and I was just saying to DB last night that (ok, this is the embarrassing part) that I cannot imagine what it is like to be an athlete at the Olympic games who is NOT expected to win, or at least be fairly competitive to medal. Is that a terrible thing? I think it is. Because as I mentioned, I came from a phenomenal program, one that is fairly successful but fairly quiet about being successful. Kind of a la “walk softly and carry a big stick” sort of theme. So when we competed, by no means did we EXPECT to win, but we always knew that it was a strong POSSIBILITY. We had the CAPACITY to be the best, if we performed well.

So watching some of these athletes, who had absolutely no expectations to do anything but compete – I was in awe. Because would I work so hard if I didn’t expect to win? I don’t know. I know that’s horrible to say, so I don’t know why I’m sharing it with the internet, but my filter is, perhaps, more permeable today (maybe because DB suggested that my FBI blogging days are over) so here it goes.

And here is where I start to rant.

RIGHT AFTER I SAID THAT to DB last night, we were watching the pole vault, and this is why I am saying I might be a little behind on my Olympics watching, because HOLYCRAP HELLO SPORTSMANSHIP!??!? Have we all SEEN THIS?!? For those who did not install the plug in to watch the actual exchange, here is a text (and more focused commentary) of the exchange between the U.S. pole vaulter, Jenn Stuczynski, and her complete jerk of a coach, Rick Suhr. To save you clicking, here are the words of encouragement from Coach Suhr to his athlete RIGHT after she had won a SILVER MEDAL (second only to the reigning world champion in the sport. And oh, did I mention that Jenn Stuczynski has only been pole vaulting – is that the term? – for 4 years?!?):

(This is essentially lifted from here. I edited a little once I re-heard it again):

It’s the same old same old, you’re losing takeoff at the big heights. (shrug) Whaddaya gonna do? (shrug, looks away) Gotta learn to keep takeoff. You got caught at that meat grinder. I did not – and I told 10 people – I didn’t wanna be caught in a meat grinder between 65 and 80. Ya had to, though. You weren’t on, you know? Your warmup didn’t go well. You were at 55. You got caught up in that meat grinder. Whaddaya gonna do? (shrugs, looks away) Whaddaya gonna do? (shrugs, looks away) Didn’t have the legs. Her legs are fresh. Hey, it’s a silver medal. Not bad for someone that’s been pole vaulting four years.

And, the announcer: Am I missing something Dwight, didn’t she just win a silver medal? Where’s the joy?

Now, critics may say that I do not know the first thing about pole vaulting. They would be 100% correct. Pole vaulting is one of those things that I watch every 4 years, and I only pretty much watch it because something more interesting to me is coming up on NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. I have no clue what a meat grinder is (except in its obvious function – to, um, grind meat?) and I don’t really know what those numbers mean. I mean, we can all agree, it certainly sounds undesirable to be stuck in a meat grinder. It is certainly not a place I’d want to be stuck.

What I do know, however, is what coach abuse looks like, having been at the brunt of it. And I know what is appropriate and inappropriate for highly competitive athletics, and I know that a silver medal – while possibly not the COACH’S aspirations – is pretty frickin’ awesome.

I had a horrible coach my freshman year in college. On one hand, he was technically incompetent, although we did well enough that those issues weren’t showcased for the world to see. On the other, however, he was emotionally abusive. He would scream at us in front of our teammates, humiliate us to “motivate” us, and would unseat certain teammates to “teach” us (not to commit whatever grievous sins we had committed). I cannot count the number of times I bit back tears at practice, sobbed at night, or questioned my competence as a human being (not as an athlete. That would have been appropriate to question. No, I questioned my worthiness as a human being). In that position, however, I was left with few choices if I wanted to continue with the sport I loved.

Many of my teammates were also in that position, and at the end of the year – in fact, before the final race of the championship – the head coach told us that our coach had been inappropriate, which was enough fuel for us to kick ass in the final. Eventually (over the summer), the incompetent, abusive coach was fired.

All of this to say…

It is completely inappropriate to berate an athlete after she has just won a silver medal! In front of international cameras! In front of the athletes she has just surpassed!! (And if this is what he says in the most public of public venues, can we begin to imagine his coaching behind closed doors?) What an insult to her, to the sport, and to the integrity of the Olympic Games! What a way to completely cheapen what should be a joyful event in U.S. track & field.

(And in any event, that is not a way to talk to an athlete in any setting, private or not. There are kinder, more effective ways to discuss meat-grinder-stuckedness.)

I am livid. Rick Suhr, you’re scum, and if I wasn’t trying to maintain my family-friendly status, you’d be way, way worse. If anyone is similarly livid, Rick Suhr can be reached at

I have been thinking…and thinking…and thinking about this post, debating whether to write it, and I am just so fed up that now I am.

Let me preface this by stating that I realize that I am not going to sound like the world’s nicest person in this post. I’m really sorry, and I hope the rest of this blog makes you all realize that I am honestly a nice person, but it has been a really, really, really, REALLY long summer. Filled with people who just became eligible to vote. Filled with people who still send little notes to classmates with “do you want to kiss me? Check ‘YES’ or ‘NO'”. (As a total aside, one of my friends just received the FB equivalent of the “do you want to date me?” note. We were puzzling over how to respond to that. Was he serious? I mean, if you were, get a life, buddy! This guy is a 3rd year medical resident…clearly old enough to have developed some sort of social skills by now…right?)

This morning, I watched as two girls – my CLASSMATES – played some sort of hand-game (like down by the banks of the hanky-panky-style hand game) to decide something they probably deemed vitally important to their lives (and I cannot even conceive what that was). Didn’t hanky-panky hand games end in, like, 3rd grade?!?

And the teaching staff…well, the teaching staff is all 22. They all just graduated from this fine institution of higher learning (my discussion of that is imminent – like see PW-protected next post. Email me for PW), which means they have very, very, very, very inflated heads. Like so inflated that I swear I could POP it with a needle inflated. Their sense of self-importance is so incredibly…amplified. Painfully so.

I started this class with a very happy feeling. It was going to be great! I was going to embrace it! I was going to learn! Yay, new version of chemistry! And for the most part, the embracing went well. I did well on the first exam, completely bombed the second, and have been studying roughly 80-100 hours/week since then to squeak by. So yeah, it’s been a little harder than I thought it would be. I was a moron who thought people exaggerated about how hard organic chem was. I have no better excuse than that – I was a moron.

But my ineptitude in this class didn’t really squish my attitude, honestly. I just kept on trucking. I got tutors. I asked for help. I bought more books on this subject than I’ve ever purchased for any class, EVER. I made some friends, didn’t get super depressed when I studied my butt off and got…a 69% (that was a true celebration, believe it or not), and in general, was still pretty joyous. Yay! Orgo!

OK, joy is ending.

I can’t handle the hanky-panky.

I can’t handle the snotty, bratty rich kids that CLEARLY know EVERYTHING (aka many students in my discussion section. Also my mean lab partner, who just thinks she is God’s personal gift to our lab. I will not even get started on her.)

Case in point: one of the lab TAs. My nice partner (there are three of us – someone wisely withdrew from the class in the 2nd week) noticed a few weeks ago that he had a nice body. I did not notice, because I do not pay attention. (I might be the only woman on the planet who does not actually inspect the bodies of random guys, but I don’t. I love my husband. He’s awesome. The end on that one.) So I said, “oh, didn’t notice.”

Fast forward to the point at which a girl pours Very Strong Acid all over herself (which I will not disparage – I have no doubt that I am fully capable of an equivalent feat), and Hot Bod TA runs over to the coat area, pulls out someone’s fleece (random fleece), yells, “WHOSE IS THIS?!?” and proceeds to rip off HIS t-shirt, make the girl put it on, and strut around topless in the lab while he found out whose jacket it was that he could put on to cover himself.

Never mind that there are scrubs NEXT TO THE COATS that are FOR THIS PURPOSE (to clothe clumsy people, not to clothe egotistical teaching staff).

I have two more weeks. I think I might go insane.

P.S.  I know that it is possible that these people may be my classmates in med school, should that plan go to fruition.  Fortunately, I have found some nice, mature undergraduates along with my obnoxious ones, and it does give me hope that med school is slightly more diverse and tolerable from the perspective of peer relationships.  Plus, I think some of these kids need more time to percolate, and I am hoping with time, they will have improved.

And yes, I meant percolate.  Like coffee.  I was going to use incubate but decided against it.

And I really just want to have babies.  There, I said it.  Babies.  Multiple offspring.  At once.  And I got some not so good news about Kyrgyzstan (a few weeks ago) and I am just not letting myself process it now, because, frankly, I do not have time.  So for those of you looking for an adoption update, there is none, because I have been so completely immersed in this class that I haven’t had much time to get to it.  My time is spent either a) studying, b) spending time with DB, who has only been back for 2 weeks (and we have only seen each other for about 3 hours/day, if that), or c) sleeping.  In August/September, we will get busy with our family expansion plans.  So there’s a lot to look forward to!  🙂

So is it still nerdy to be on a laptop in public? I’m sitting outside (blogging) waiting for a friend, and I am the only person around…well, doing much of anything, but certainly on a computer. I feel like it’s 1992 and it’s really super dorky to be on a computer. Oh, well.

So 24 hours after my long contemplative walk with Little, a walk that ended with me resolving to essentially be a better person, I blew it. Apparently I have a way to go. We walked up the hill, Fido was out, and a person in my neighborhood who is a chem teacher was also out. In the interest of not failing my exam, I beelined for the park, planning to keep an eye on Little and Fido. Stupid me. Fido goes after Little (I watched this with my OWN EYES), Little rebukes him, I pull him away, and while I’m pulling him away, I am yelling (loudly and not very nicely AT ALL), “GET YOUR DOG OFF”.

So loudly, in fact, that the other neighbors down the street could hear me.


Now, in my defense, as I stomped off in disgust, Fido’s owners turn to him and say, “It’s okay, Fido. It’s okay...” petting his head and giving him a treat. And if you know ANYthing about training dogs, or socializing dogs, it is that you should NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER comfort a dog who has just demonstrated aggression or fear, because then they think there was something to be afraid of in the first place. And if you give them a treat, well – that just reinforces whatever behavior they were doing. Good luck if it’s not a behavior you wish to see again.

So I was ripped very upset.

I was also very upset because I watched him go after a black lab pretty much immediately after he gave up on Little.

He is a racist, sizist (is that a word? discriminates by size? because he only goes after the big ones) dog, that Fido.

In other news, I flunked my chem exam today. Yep. They handed out answer keys, and, yeah, I flunked. The saddest thing was that I really studied for this. Hard. And I thought I knew the stuff (actually, I DID know it. I am just apparently very challenged in understanding what the questions are asking for). This is rather upsetting, because although on the last test, I understood the questions and just bombed the answers, this test I was truly confused. And although I have now been told by those who know that this professor is truly insane and the scope of the class is out of line with the intent of the class, I am a little worried. This is GENERAL CHEMISTRY. For FRESHMEN IN COLLEGE. I should not be struggling with it. I should certainly not be concerned I might flunk the class (!).

So I have to say, I’ve had better days. And tonight I get to work, hopefully making very few phone calls but probably making very many. And clean. And maybe move some furniture.

I want to sleep.

**Hey – side note 10/1/08.  I “see” in my blog stats a lot of you coming to this post from searches for “phi” or “phi symbol”.  I don’t get it – I can’t find myself that way!  Could you leave me a comment with how you got here with those search terms?  Thanks so much!


OK, this is going to sound a little funny coming off the last post, but I need to say it.

Today, general chem. The guy is trying to talk about light. He does not like to use technical terms so he uses terms like “jiggle” and “wiggles like Jello” to describe the behavior of electron clouds. Whatever. I have sent him at least one previous email to respectfully request that, in addition to whatever weird analogies he wants to use, he also add the technical terms so I can look it up on (insert appropriate source here…I mean, it’s general chemistry. Wikipedia suffices, for Pete’s sake). That worked for the last section (whereupon I produced a…terrible grade). He’s back at his crazy magic again.

(Example: Talking about a building with an antenna on it. He draws a picture of the building, and says, “It has these…err…whiskers on it. Anyone know what these whiskers are called?” I sit there, trying to figure out WTF he’s talking about. ANTENNA. I mean, are we 5 years old? Just say ANTENNA! SHEESH!)

So today. Hot off the heels of Antenna v. Whiskers, we have…the crazy discussion of wave frequency and…I’m gonna screw this one up…Planck’s constant (which he never actually named but thankfully I have taken a little bit of chem before…a VERY little bit) and…something that is denoted by the greek letter, phi. Here is a picture of phi for those of you who don’t know or haven’t thought about this in 18 years:

Now, until I actually looked this up on Wikipedia, I did not know that the little symbol on the right in this picture was ALSO PHI. So I am going to sound stupid here, and then figure it all out in a minute. Let’s just go with the picture on the left (the circle with the line through it). Professor has been drawing randomly shaped Os with lines of various angles (from 45* to 90*) going through them, all ostensibly referring to this character.

(As a side note, I use the circle with a 45* line through it to indicate “no” or “not” in my shorthand notes, but I know this is my own darn problem. It has the potential to be confusing but I am coping with it Just Fine, thankyouverymuch.)

Girl in class: Is the line supposed to be going up and down?

Professor: What line?

GIC: The line going through the circle.

P: Oh, you mean the line for phi? I guess that could be confusing. Maybe I should change that. [Erases the symbols in the equation.] I’ll use f instead.

(Draws some very lazy cursive fs. The fs lack a curly head. They also lack a curly foot, so – I swear – the friggin’ fs look exactly. like. ts. And little t, time, is *also* firmly embedded in this equation.

Me: Those fs look like ts. Since it’s PHI, what about using P instead? [side note to readers: does this not make sense to you?]

Professor, in complete and total exasperation and disgust, proceeds to subtly berate me, comparing me to the person who drove the plane into the Everglades because he was too distracted by the light on the dashboard, and changes the phis back to circles with random lines through it.



Round 2:


1) I flunked exam. Average was not flunking. Ergo, I suck. I know it.
2) There is no partial credit for any answer. Ergo, perfection is expected, or else you will flunk. I own my total laziness and realize that is why I flunked. Okey doke.
3) Last question on the exam, which I will type out for you:

The rate law for the reaction A + B –> C + D is

delta C/delta t = kexpt (A)(B)/(E)

A suggested mechanism is:

Step 1: (blah blah blah) + H20 –> blah blah blah; rapid equilibrium, noted Keq

Step 2: blah blah blah blah –> blah blah blah; slow step; k

Step 3: blah blah –> blah blah + H20; rapid equilibrium

(Without getting technical, because it’s not all that super relevant, the rule is that you ignore all steps below the slow step.)

Question: Show that the mechanism reproduces the observed rate law. Do this by obtaining the expression for kexpt in terms of the quantities in the mechanism. Be sure to keep the concentration of water, H20, in your analysis.

Keq = _____________________________

It is probably not super evident, but notice that the INSTRUCTIONS ask for kexpt, the little blank spot states that “Keq” is the outcome, and BOTH FRIGGIN rate constants are GIVEN IN THE PROBLEM.

Moreover, the ANSWER HE WANTED was kexp = k*Keq*[H2o]

(Notice anything wrong? Maybe that the answer CONTAINS THE OUTCOME GIVEN IN THE PROBLEM?!?!?

In the middle of the exam, I asked the TA what the heck he wanted. The TA said, “I have no idea. We don’t know. Just answer it for the first sentence and ignore the rest.”

Now, this turns out to be the problem I did best on, but it’s only because it is the only problem they waived the partial credit rule for. At the same time, I spent a good chunk of my life on this problem trying to figure out what on Earth he was talking about.

So, today:

Me: I did very poorly on that exam. Most of it was due to stupid mistakes. [commentary: please note that I am owning my own laziness/stupidity/pride/etc. I am not asking for very much in this conversation.]

Him: Well make sure you understand everything.

Me: Yes, that’s my plan. One thing, the next time you have a typo in your exam, could you maybe make an announcement?

Him, getting flushed: It doesn’t matter. It was Very Clear from the test.

Me: No it wasn’t.

Him: Yes it was! [Getting really pissed.] Look. How could you POSSIBLY think that this could be asking for ANYthing OTHER than kexpt?!?!

Me: I don’t know, maybe because it SAYS Keq and BOTH rate constants are present in the problem?

Him: No, you are just making excuses. [Shakes head. Pissed.] It was VERY clear. VERY clear. YOU had the problem.

Me: All I am asking about is just making an announcement. I wasted a lot of time on this.

Him: That’s YOUR problem.

No, it’s not, mister. Perhaps as an undergrad, I would have just shut up and respected him as an authority on this subject. Authority he may be, but if he’s going to expect perfection in his answers, he needs to have perfection (or at least admit to mistakes) in his question writing.

Am I right or wrong to be so ticked?

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