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This just in:

If you abstain from caffeine for four weeks and drink a cup (even a cup of half-caf) of coffee at 9:00 pm, you will not be sleepy at 2:00 am, EVEN IF you thought you were immune to the effects of caffeine.

Who knew?!?

So my days of chaos are over for now.  Only one more paper, and I will be done with the school of public health for a very long time – as long as I pass this class (I believe it is impossible not to), I will graduate in a few months with an (unintentional) second master’s degree.  Only one more lab report, and I will be done with my undergraduate science classes until the new year (when I have to take finals, and then start the spring semester).

So much has happened in the last few weeks.

I don’t know where to begin.

I would like to write about all of my thoughts and feelings around this time:  this master’s degree, although unintentional, is bringing up all sorts of unexpected struggles for me.  It is the culmination of almost five years of grief with this program, and although I do have incredible JOY when I think about my alternative – sticking with the doctoral program – I am still dealing with the occasional pang of “what did I do?” and “should I have done this?”  I look around at the students in my research class who are eager to be attending THIS school THIS year and I realize that my attitude is poisonous here – it was the wrong decision for me to come back to matriculate full-time in the program last year, and I am unsure of where to go next.  There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head about this decision – thoughts I really didn’t anticipate I would have – and because a lot of them are tied to my program and the actual school itself, my subsequent posts will be protected on the subject.  I hope you understand.  I realize that many of these posts have nothing to do with the chief reason most people read my blog (although frankly, I do not know why ANYone reads this blog – ha! – so perhaps you actually ARE interested in my career paths, although I find that hard to believe), but it helps me to process things by writing about them, and I seem to like the feedback from other people, too.  🙂

We have made a lot of decisions in the last few weeks in the baby journey (I can see you start to get more interested now 🙂 ).  Those decisions, coupled with some recent developments in the adoption world, have really occupied a lot of my brain space (which was in high demand, given the whole studying thing that needed to happen this last week).  I would like to share my thoughts on that but I am debating the best way to do it.  I share a lot of my adoption opinions in the open and I love the feedback; I share a lot of my health and genetics concerns out in the open and I have serious concerns about continuing that, to protect my current family (DB) and anyone who might join us in the future.  Although I feel strongly that some of what I write is important to disseminate to the world (even though I do not have a huge readership, the fact that I still get 50 hits/day for the phi symbol shows that I can totally capture some small sliver of an audience!), I am realizing that protecting my family needs to be paramount to anything else.  I am not sure how to proceed, although one thing I *do* know is that I will be writing about those things, too.

We are debating starting a second blog that eliminates any mention of the FBI so I can talk about these other things freely:  my career, our future children, my health, our plans and our lives, our LOCATION (which is integral to who I am and what I do).  I am debating starting a second blog anonymously so that I can write freely about these things without my neighbors and friends and family reading about my personal thoughts, but I love the community from blogging and I seem to be incapable of very much anonymity.  (DB once told me to apply for the CIA because I would find it interesting.  I think we can see why that would be a poor match for me.)  I am debating shutting this blog down entirely and migrating the FBI stuff to a new one and starting fresh with  another one.  I am debating continuing my current path, where I can post whatever I want and change the password every three months for the posts I want to protect.  However, I am conflicted.  I love writing, although I am not necessarily very good and I never actually edit what I write here (what you read here is the Very Rough Draft).  I love having an audience – is that bad?  I love having people read and comment and I love making new friends.  But I also want to share freely and not have people feel uncomfortable asking for passwords – that is really not my goal.

I am open to suggestions.  I know a lot of you are seasoned bloggers and might have some opinions about this.

Also, all of the above might become completely moot in the morning, when I have had an epiphany about what to do.  Just to warn you.

In the meantime, you will see some new protected posts.  I am going to start to share some of what is going on in my head and it will be less about mean girls and more about my faith, my pride, my career, and my struggles in finding my role as a wife, a mother, and as a contributor to society (like what on Earth am I doing here?!?).  I mean, don’t get me wrong – if something funny happens, I’ll be happy to share it.  But I think it will help me figure out where I’m going if I can share the other parts freely, too.  As always, reach out if you are interested in continuing to follow this blog.  I will try to gather a list of names of those I *know* read the blog and will pass along the password to those people.  If you don’t receive an email in the next week or so, please reach out to me.

Blessings to all of you this holiday season.

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Among other news.

If you didn’t read my comment to my commenters, he DID try to sneak another visit to the litter box yesterday afternoon while I was cleaning, BUT I redirected that effort…very quickly. We haven’t revisited the behavior since.

In other news from my couch, I am rapidly finishing my CEUs for my profession. They are insanely easy and I am beginning to wonder if ALL CEUs for my profession are this easy, or I just picked the jackpot. I have been dreading this for the last few weeks (when I’ve known I need to do them) and I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised. I don’t feel like my education is being continued, but…it sure beats sitting in a classroom for 8 hours (and paying $500 to do it). Go ahead, ask me anything about various mental health diagnoses. (I especially liked the one about autism spectrum disorders. I started with that one as a warm-up. It made me feel really smart.)

(The only reason I say this, for anyone who randomly surfed here, is that that is my JOB. If I couldn’t pass that, I’d be in deep trouble.)

I have lots of deep thoughts rumbling around in my brain, but I can’t really articulate them.

This past weekend, we went to California. We had a CRAZY trip: we flew into SFO, rented a (tiny, golf-cart-sized) convertible:

Then we ate at the In-N-Out.

(YUM.)

Then we drove to Yosemite (est. time: 4 hours. Actual time: 7 hours):

Camped in a tent-cabin:

Then mailed BACK our sleeping bags and dirty laundry (best $40 ever. spent. EVER. That car was SO DAMN SMALL!!!!) Although it was a little insane, it worked out well. 🙂

Then we went hiking:

And saw some nature:

(None of these people are us.  We are in other pictures that will be revealed in due time under a password.)

And we visited the site of DB’s 2001 brush with death, when he defied this sign:

(My feet, when DB was doing a re-enactment…photographing the re-enactment required the removal of footwear.)

After hiking and seeing big trees, we headed back to San Fran:

In San Fran, we saw some seals (DB imitated them with scary accuracy):

And some obligatory landmarks:


And then flew home.

It was a great two days. 🙂

And now we are home, and doing CEUs!

So I am totally going to overshare here. I thought about it last night, and I actually know most of you IRL, so I don’t really care. Plus I REALLY don’t care if some random person reads this, because HI RANDOM PERSON 🙂 feel free to delurk.

Let’s talk about babies.

Actually, I was going to publish this other talk about babies – the accidental kind – and how we go about processing these accidents in our society, and how I think that this conversation is totally inappropriate and that really, if the conservatives in our country wanted to fix the abortion rate in our country, they could at least start to deal with the very Real and Pressing issues of things like, oh, I don’t know, FEEDING the hungry kids in our country (because did you know? Poor women disproportionately seek abortions in this country – and there is evidence to indicate that this is due to a lack of instrumental support), or the very real double standard that exists between manipulation of life that we intentionally create (IVF) and the manipulation of life we didn’t intend to create (abortion).

I really hate double standards. I feel like this is the King Double Standard.

And…here is the kicker…I believe that God probably agrees with me. (Do I sound like George Bush yet? Hee hee.)

All of this to say that I am ardently pro-choice, but if we get pregnant, we aren’t even going to have a test for Trisomy 21 (Down’s syndrome), because WHY. Our kid is pretty screwed anyway. We are only testing (and oh, boy, are we testing) for the things we can fix with surgery or medication. But termination, as they say? Not an option.

For us.

But no, I wanted to overshare about our situation. (I’ll get back to that other argument in a coming post. It’s partially written. I just wanted to say something relevant to what I’ve been mentioning recently, but now I’m MOVING ON!)

HERE IS A NOTE: IF YOU ARE MY FAMILY OR YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE DISCUSSING OUR SEX LIFE, STOP HERE!

(The adoption stuff is at the bottom.)

If any of you have read my blog, you might remember the crazy story that I overshared (here) where I had a severe anaphylactic reaction to intravenous iron. It was very scary, blah blah blah, and I started this campaign to improve my apparently intransigent anemia by eating red meat. For a vegetarian, I will say, it was a LOT of red meat. And because I am really, really, really sensitive to food textures, it was only the pre-digested (ground) version, only very pretentious quality (because I cannot STAND having fat or grizzle or whatever those hard things are in my soft meat…eww eww ewwwwww) and because I am a little bit obsessed with exposures that haven’t been evaluated in the study of what causes autism, meat with no hormones or antibiotics added. And every time I got a bite of meat with fat in it, I would gag (as quietly as possible) and then stop eating.

(And then it would take me a few weeks to get back on the wagon.)

This last year or so of meat-eating has been quite a challenge, we’ll say. Although DB thinks it’s funny that we eat bar food as a nutritious meal.

Oh, and also, I don’t interact with it. DB has to handle all meat (mostly because I am scary. Fifteen years of vegetarianism leaves one rather stupid about meat safety – although now I am smarter, but just repulsed). So this whole meat thing is not the most awesome lifestyle, except…

TODAY…

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN MY ENTIRE LIFE…

I…AM…NOT…ANEMIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In fact, my IRON STORES ARE HIGH!!!!!!!!! (HIGH! Like higher than expected! This is unheard-of for me!)

I can’t quite emphasize the amount of joy here enough.

You know how a lot of women are anemic?

OK, I was not that kind of anemic. I was need-blood-transfusion, schedule-iron-infusion-even-though-we-know-you’re-deathly-allergic-to-it, anemic. Totally idiopathic-although-maybe-it’s-related-to-your-extraordinary-ability-to-manufacture
-autoantibodies anemic.

So I. am. PSYCHED.

My rheumatologist, who also demonstrated an uncharacteristic amount of happiness when we met (she was absolutely thrilled, and I must say, she is not the most emotive person in the world), said that if there is ever a time for us to consider conceiving, now would be it. So we have a fairly short window of time that my body will be in a position to support a pregnancy (my iron stores will plummet shortly…although I will keep on my bar-food-diet to hopefully prevent that). So now…we have some decisions to make!!

YIPPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now some of you are my male friends (and my brothers! and father!) and if you are horrified by this post, all I can say is..the heading is “oversharing”.

Enough said. 🙂

Some of you are undoubtedly wondering about adoption, and even though this post is totally long, I want to say…we are still adopting. Adoption has always been our Plan A, and attempting to conceive a biological child was our Plan B. However, I am obsessed with ethics, and there is a lot of tumult occurring in the international adoption world. We really wanted to adopt from Vietnam, which is obviously not going to happen, and it was quite an adjustment to mourn the loss of that opportunity. We moved on to Kyrgyzstan, and I have to say, so much about the Kyrgyzstan program made me so incredibly excited to adopt from there. The program was small (when we started looking at it) with only four agencies working there (now I think there are 12 or so). The community of adopting parents is unbelievably supportive, which is, frankly, a breath of fresh air compared with the Vietnam group. We could see ourselves supporting/being very involved with the country in the long term, which was important to us. But with China tightening up, Vietnam closing, and Guatemala closing, families searching for a program found Kyrgyzstan, and there are now waitlists a mile long (for some agencies, the waitlist to APPLY is 1 year!). The one agency that does not have a waitlist has another program that DB and I feel uncomfortable supporting (because our adoption fees do go to support all of the programs in the agency), so we refuse to use that agency.

All of that to say: although IA is always a gamble, and we know that, we are going to wait a few months (more) to see how things shake out with Vietnam closing, because there are a lot of families who lost a lot in this process scrambling for ways to recoup their losses and locate their children.

And…we are still adopting. Stay tuned as to where. We’re exploring a lot of possibilities, all of which we’re really excited about.

I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath. All…three of you.

I have made a decision (that link is in case you want to refresh yourself on the oh-so-important topic in question. Although there really aren’t all that many of you, I keep opening my big mouth about this election all over the internet, so maybe there are new people reading out there. Hi!)

FYI: This is a really, really, really, REALLY LONG post. I should break it up, and maybe I will do that later, but I’m just going to publish it like this. Feel free to skip it if you want. I’m not going to be offended. I just wanted to document it here in one place so that when I re-think the decision, I will be able to return to my thinking here.

I actually made the decision last Wednesday, but I wanted to sleep on it. A lot. And then yesterday morning, I got majorly cold feet. I sweated. I almost puked. I basically had a panic attack, which I have pretty much never had, and maybe I will regret posting this on the internet when we want to adopt internationally but you know what? It is situation-specific, so not pathological. Moving on…

After months and months and months and months of talking about all of the reasons I did not like my program – months of coming up with very rational, solid reasons for moving away from the program – I suddenly couldn’t bring myself to go to the school to declare my plans. I sat, frozen on the couch, wracking my brain to think of one good reason to leave the program. I couldn’t. Considering that I have bitched my way to this point, I found that amazing (I could remember complaining. I just couldn’t remember why I complained).

I’m not sure what inspired this temporary period of amnesia. Maybe it was because I unintentionally declared my plans by failing to show up for a Very Critical Seminar where it was painfully apparent that I was absent. We arrived back home at 2:00 am, the cat had peed all over the floor (not because of you, L), I cleaned it up, collapsed into bed, and then when I checked the class schedule at 9:00 am, I realized that the class started on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:30am. And THAT, folks, was not how I was going to make my exit. I am not a passive-aggressive person, and that is about the most passive aggressive way to depart – by blowing off the course taught by the faculty in charge of the doctoral program.

So I sat.

And sat.

And sat.

(And watched CNN, because as I said, man, watching Palin news is like crack for me.)

After a few hours, I dragged myself out the door, drove to school, parked a ways away, and walked…slowly to the building, trying to think of what I would tell my (truly awesome and rock star of an) advisor. And then I went to the hospital next door to get some blood work done, because I just could not bring myself to walk into that building.

I went to class today, and then I talked to my (awesome) advisor. And when it was done, and I signed some forms and talked to some more people, I felt more excited and secure about my decision than at any point in the last 3 months. And that, my friends, is peace that can only come from God.

So here are the reasons that I am leaving the doctoral program:

1) It is NOT FUNDED. It is the only doctoral program that I know of that is NOT FUNDED. My school thinks it is so awesome that it does not need to fund students to have them come rushing through its doors. And, unfortunately, it is right. It makes me feel sick to my stomach to think that I have fueled their self-perceptions by paying them tuition myself, too.

My history with this program is long, and I will try to make this short.

I applied to this program straight out of my master’s degree. I worked with a faculty member at Michigan (there you go – a place name!) who really encouraged me to pursue a Ph.D., and I chose public health because I wanted to prevent things. I loved the notion of public health as a field designed to protect and promote population health, and so I applied to doctoral programs all over the country.

When I applied to these programs, DB and I were just friends.

When I got into these programs, DB was on his way to the Academy.

When I learned about the funding at these programs, DB and I were engaged.

And so it goes.

I was offered full funding plus a sizeable stipend at some very competitive schools across the nation. I am not bragging – I am very self-deprecating – but I was pleasantly surprised at the response I received from all of these different schools, save one (that I will call Majorly Sucky School, or MSS for short).

At the same time, DB found out that he would be assigned to the city that we currently live in, aka the location of MSS. So I accepted their offer with the prayer that they would at least ATTEMPT to match the other offers financially and went off to work in Vietnam for the summer. When I returned, the financial situation had no more changed than I had grown another foot, so I took one class (to secure health insurance, since I was also unemployed at that time and had health concerns that required group health insurance – I can’t just buy a health insurance plan on the internet). Then I took a few (sequential) leave of absences. Then I took another class. In the meantime, I worked full-time in various research positions, and when one of them lost its funding for a full-time position, and DB was making enough money that I could work part-time and we wouldn’t starve, I decided that maybe I could stomach the thought of the doctorate. I was getting older, I wanted to start a family, and the timing was pretty good.

There was a lot of drama that surrounded my return to the program, but the upshot of it was that I changed advisors to my awesome current advisor, and I started the program last fall with a fairly awesome cohort of people…but no funding. And I thought I was okay with the no funding, until I wasn’t…because seriously. What does it say about my program that everyone there is getting a degree because they are sitting on a trust fund or have a spouse that can pay their way for them? This is a RESEARCH DEGREE, not a law or medicine degree that has the potential to be profitable at the end.

And I realized: for the rest of my life, I will always be chasing money. That’s what research means. Chasing money.

And I also realized: I should not be chasing money to fund my doctoral coursework, before my qualifying exam. Students often chase money (apply for grants) to fund their research for their dissertations – that’s why so many grants stipulate that they are for “ABD students [all but dissertation]”, or “post-coursework” students. Basically: no grant program wants to pay for classes.

So my school thinks it can just charge tuition. No big deal.

Except it is a Very Big Deal.

And I also realized: this program – solely because of the funding – makes me feel very, very, very, very, very unintelligent.

Some students are (partially) funded, and some are not. Some students are rich because they married rich lawyers, and some are destitute and working three+ jobs (I have two, and I picked up the second mid-term when I realized we needed more money. But I make more than a research assistant because of the autism gig, which was a saving grace, because I need more than the 2-3 hours of sleep I’d be getting with multiple jobs that pay $10/hour). I don’t know anyone who hasn’t taken on at least SOME debt in this process.

Compare that to a program of similar caliber that offered me full tuition and a $25,000 stipend.

And then I was talking to a friend who is on faculty at a nearby university, and he was complaining because HIS doctoral students were bartending (bartending! How could they not be working in HIS lab 24/7?!?) and I said, “you mean most students DON’T rely on bartending?”

It’s only money, but it’s money. And it’s money we could be spending on adoption. It’s money I don’t want to pay in the future. It’s tuition money for a degree I’m not sure I want.

And if I want that degree in the future, we’ll be living somewhere else, and I will go to another university and obtain that degree and be perfectly happy because it will be funded. Because THAT is the way a research degree is supposed to be.

2) Career. This ties into money.

I have said many, many times on this blog that I am not interested in a life solely devoted to research. I appreciate research. I actually love reading research. I reserve the right to engage in research.

But in our classes, do you know who comes to talk to us about their research?

Do you know the qualifications of 4 out of my last 5 supervisors?

All MDs. Not Ph.Ds, who arguably are better-qualified to direct research, but MDs. Clinicians who have an interest in a particular topic.

Ph.Ds, with many exceptions, engage in research with no clinical work. MDs engage in clinical work that directs their research, and they do both.

And I am a strong, strong, staunch supporter of practice-directed research. What good is research if it is not practical and based in reality? What effect will it have on policy? It is great that we find out things like this or this, and it is totally fascinating, but there are other research findings that are incorporated into policy initiatives, and these are the kind of studies that we need to promote as practice-oriented and grounded in reality.

There are other degrees that offer more flexibility (and, I will submit, more pain and agony) than the path I am on, and they will offer very similar options when I am done. AND, more importantly, I believe I’ll be more effective at doing whatever I’m doing at the end of an alternative path.

3) Career. Where can I work?

My husband could be ordered to work anywhere in the country, including places that I might not choose to live (aka the Deep South, or the Middle of Nowhere, or…). While I do not have anything against these places, per se, I have to say that they are not places I look forward to potentially living.

We want to move overseas. In the FBI, if we move overseas, we must start with a place that is less desirable (think hazard pay and one of us – maybe even me – must learn how to actually cook from non-frozen foods. Actually, there are a lot of other things we’d be more concerned with thinking about, but those are the effects I’m comfortable sharing on this blog. Email me directly for more information) and work up the global ladder of desirable locations that way. No one starts out by moving to Paris.

I’m okay with that (actually, I am really psyched about it) but I want to have a job wherever we live. I want a career that is instantly useful wherever we go – not a career where the local expat community feels it has to create a job for me somewhere. A doctorate is not that kind of useful.

I cannot wait to grow my career in ways that will serve others and glorify God. And while I have no doubt that there are a TON OF RESEARCHERS out there that do EXACTLY that, and that my pursuit of a doctorate in no way precludes that from happening, I feel at this point in time that the best thing I can do is my current plan. That’s just the right decision for ME, right now.

4) Kids.

Our goals right now are to be the best potential parents we can be. We don’t have a kid yet, but we are working on it, and frankly, I have done more research on adoption, child development, attachment, and parenting than anyone I know in real life (and, from reading lots of adoption blogs, more than a lot of adoptive parents. I tend to only read the ones that candidly share their experiences and have clearly done a lot of research, but like anything, there are quite a range of parenting practices out there.)

I care deeply about our future children. I pray for them. I pray for the biological mother of our adopted children, should we be fortunate to have them. I pray for the health of our biological children, should we be fortunate to have them.

I have spent a really, really, really long time thinking about how I want to raise our kids and what my role will be in this process.

I think that’s why I’m so shocked by Sarah Palin (and in this I am talking about her parenting practices, not her policy platforms, which are laughable and scary and are beyond the scope of this post): I’ve always said that it doesn’t matter what kind of job I have or if I’m presented with the job of my dreams. If my kids or my husband need me, I will drop that job – that path – in a heartbeat. Jobs are jobs. Family, on the other hand: we are covenant-bound by God to care for each other. DB feels the same way. We do our best to manage concomittent family and career identities, but if life presents us with something we did not plan for, we alter our plans.

We have a significant risk, as I’ve stated umpteen times before, of having a child with special needs. That’s not complaining; that’s just fact. And I’ve said to DB several times in this process – way, way, way before Sarah Palin’s name ever became a household word – that the moment we learn that our child has a special need, I will quit my job or put my academic career on hold. I have the background to help our child at home, and I will never forgive myself if my child did not realize his true God-given potential because his mother was too busy working.

Of COURSE DB could play that role. But my background is in working with kids with special needs. His isn’t. And his job is a career without the option to take a leave of absence, and once he leaves, that’s it – no returning. So which one of us is going to be the primary caregiver? It sure isn’t going to be someone NOT us unless we decide that’s what’s best for our CHILD.

All of that to say that I haven’t decided fully about medical school. What I have decided, however, is that a research degree – THIS research degree – is not for me. I am taking one more class to fulfill the master’s degree requirements and leaving the program skipping and jumping. I am going to fulfill the prereq requirements for medical school and for a genetic counselor program, because really, my passions and heart are in that field, too. But right now, my efforts are going to be in doing well in school and pursuing the expansion of our family, cause WOW are we in need of a little human.

And bashing the GOP, which is a role I so very much love. (And I used to WORK FOR THE GOP, albeit in high school, but I was one of those little people wearing blue suits and I did it for a whole year, so I think that gives me a little bit more credibility. Does it?)

**My next post will be shorter and will be about scripture and my views on reproductive health. I am sure it will be foreign to 98% of you. However, I think it might help to understand Christianity a little bit, and I’m sorry it wasn’t what I wrote or published tonight. I’d encourage you to read it, if only to realize where you can critique the Christian Right using something other than science or emotion.

And if you’re part of the Christian Right, I’d also encourage you to read it, only because you can comment and tell me how I’m wrong! 🙂 (Nicely, of course!)

I am really dumb.  I’ve done this a few times now – I never comment on anyone’s blogs, and then I feel compelled to both comment on some AND write a really whiny post on mine, so that anyone who decides to find out who wrote the (probably dumb) comment clicks here and finds…pathetic me.  So I’m going to spend the next few minutes re-framing.

Yes, the last post was quite a rant.  There is a (vocal) (potent) minority of students in this class who are obnoxious, entitled, bratty, immature, kids.  There is not much more to say about that. 

I am a little weary of learning…well, anything.  I’ve been in non-stop classes (no break whatsoever) since March, when we had a spring break (but I still spent a good chunk of “spring break” studying).  The last time I left this town was for 2 days to watch my brother’s rowing race, and then I jetted back here to study some more.  In the spring, my doctoral-level classes overlapped my freshman summer gen chem, and then gen chem overlapped orgo (by a week). 

DB got back from being in a war zone two weeks ago, but otherwise, that entire time was spent in isolation from the rest of the world, basically, except for my forays into the dog park (which are, admittedly, social events) and my ride to summer gen chem (which was really fun!  I miss hanging out with that person daily now!). 

And, as I mentioned, I haven’t seen DB much since he got back.  We finally went out on a “date” on Monday night – we saw a movie, which was really, really fun.  We ate overpriced and totally unhealthy movie food, too, which resulted in DB having a tummy ache the next day (I guess hot dogs and funnel cake aren’t nutritious?).  (My stomach, hardened by my months of bachelorette eating, was unaffected.  Of course.)

The sum of these events have basically left me really, really, really tired, although I honestly didn’t notice until…well, honestly, until those girls started playing their little hand games!  Because seriously, who DOES that? 

And…I’m about to head to night lab, where my lab partner basically lives to make me feel stupid.  It isn’t hard, mostly because this is basically my second science class since my sophomore year of high school (not kidding) and although I study A LOT – even for LAB – she *always* knows more.  That wouldn’t be a problem, except that she *always* wants to make sure I know that she knows more.  (Mission accomplished.  I get it.  I’m dumb.)

And…it’s not that I think I’m old, but it’s more that I see what my peers are doing (having babies and making lots of money, and no that is not really the thing, but it does make me feel a little useless…) and I feel really…inept.  Which is stupid.  (And I work, too, in case you all are wondering.  Even with this class.  I am actually pretty proud of the fact that I have managed to sustain these two jobs with this class, since I struggle with it so.)

But that doesn’t diminish the facts:  I honestly still feel truly blessed, and I feel really terrible for not being clearer about that earlier.  We are blessed.  DB is safely home.  I have the privilege of taking this class, seemingly intolerable though it may be today (it’s usually not this bad!).  We have wonderful family and friends and, since we work for the gov’t, we are not nearly as affected by a miserable economy as we could be.  We are truly, truly blessed, and those are just the things I could think of right this moment (since lab started one minute ago).

That’s all I wanted to say.  I hope that came across better than the last rant.  Have a blessed evening!

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!  🙂

I continue to be completely obsessed with my *own* blog stats.

Today, June 2nd, 2008, is about to be my best day ever, beating my previous best day ever (April 10th, 2008, and I have absolutely no idea why that day was so awesome.  Maybe because my all-time most popular post was published on that day – thanks, DB!). I don’t know why today was my best day ever, either, except that I do know I’m excited about it. I think part of the reason was that I got a lot of random hits. Sometimes when I’m really really REALLY bored, I try to recreate those hits, just to see how far someone had to go to get to my blog.

Anyway, so things I learned today (waiting outside for my friend so we can ride home together, thus reducing our carbon footprint):

1) Lick stick ovulation kit: I seriously thought this was a sick joke. No, actually, it’s for real. Apparently there is an alternative to peeing in a cup to determine whether you are ovulating: you can spit in a cup, instead! (I couldn’t, cause I don’t make spit, but this is a nice alternative for those of you who are seeking to predict ovulation with a kit and minimize the amount of time spent in target practice.)

Can I just offer a free alternative, those of you searching for lick stick kits (who will undoubtedly start coming here more often, now that I’ve written the whole word in the text)? (The reason I got the hit was because I told the internet world about my stupidity in licking clean a wooden coffee stirrer.) Buy a book: Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Whether you’re TTC or TTA (trying to conceive or trying to avoid), TCOYF is the best book out there. No pills, no money, no urine-drenched fingers (if you’re clumsy), no spitting. Oh, if only I got royalties from this.

2) Tradewinds semi-automatic shotgun: Ok, so the top search topics for this blog are basically:

1) Adoption in Vietnam topics
2) The quote about tradewinds (in various capacities)
3) Bachelorette food (I really want to serve this need – anyone got any great penis-cake recipes? I think I am really depressing people out there searching for this stuff.)
4) Various gun-related topics, like guns in pants, hiding guns in pants, types of guns (in pants), buying guns, etc. As a card-carrying bleeding-heart liberal, this makes me very uncomfortable, but I comfort myself by saying that there is nothing on here that cannot be found from much scarier sources, and I don’t exactly provide many answers to these questions, anyway.
5) The original point of this blog: FBI stuff. Today I got one for “FBI movies”. This might have been, like, the third search EVER where I was actually able to meet the person’s needs.

This search got #s 2 AND 4. I would really love to know what the goal of that search was.

3) ADOPTION IN VIETNAM. I am simply going to refer you to my previous post on the subject HERE. Please read it, read VVAI, read the Embassy statements (linked HERE). Please do not start a Vietnam adoption now. It may be that adoptions from Vietnam begin shortly after they end in September, but those who begin the process now will potentially never adopt a child and potentially lose thousands of dollars in the process. Let me put it this way: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY THAT ANY AGENCY WILL BE ABLE TO COMPLETE AN ADOPTION FROM VIETNAM THAT IS STARTED NOW, JUNE, 2008. Not even a waiting (special needs) child. Not even a very old child. No one. I’m so sorry. Please, please, please do not support the corrupt agencies that might willingly take your money at this point, because it is simply going into a black hole that will never be recovered.

That’s all for today. I know I totally failed in my ambitious attempt to blog about 4 huge topics last week. Hey – I got one of them, right? This chem class is sucking down all of my time!! (But YAY!  I got a good grade on my exam on Thursday!!!  The average was 65 and I beat the average by a very hefty margin!  The only reason I am reporting this is that I am just overjoyed, given that I am *NOT* AT ALL a science person!  At all.  At all at all at all.  So I’m PSYCHED.)  The next post will either be about my weekend (ASD, part II, and it will absolutely be protected) or about FAQ round 2 about the FBI. Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading my blog! 🙂

So I’ve seen heaven, and aside from the obvious that it is the dwelling place of God, it comes via DB and a dude in an Edible Arrangements truck to my house. Heaven = chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate covered pineapple.* YUM. I think the arrangement was supposed to feed a few people, but I have managed to polish off most of it on my very very own. I mean, seriously, who knew that the combination could be so addictive? I’ve never had such a spread of fruit placed in front of me with no other competition!

DB is the best husband EVER. Can I just say that? I mean, he’d be the best husband ever even if he didn’t send chocolate-covered fruit, but chocolate-covered fruit is a good reminder about his bestness in his absence…long, long, long absence. PAINFULLY long absence.

Sorry I have been a little AWOL with the blog lately. It’s been a busy time, and although I “blog” a lot in my head, I haven’t had the time to sit down and write about much. As noted above, DB is still on his gig, and will be for the next 47 days, 7 hours, and 46 minutes (not that I’m counting or anything). Thankfully, he can call home free of charge, and we talk twice a day (but I only count once a day, because the first call is at 6:00 am and I *never* remember what we say, although apparently I’m funny at that hour). My happiest happiest HAPPIEST moments are when he calls and I can walk Little at the same time. I feel so productive, and so energetic outside, and it kind of feels like we’re walking Little together. Yes, cheesy. I’m all about the cheese these days.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure (and I mean that in all seriousness) of watching my much younger little brother row in a high school rowing race in Philadelphia. I coxed in college, and rowed/coxed a little bit in high school, and it was such a total blast from the past being at the race, watching the boats come down, and tromping through the mud in the rain. I loved it! It was awesome seeing my little brother row, too, although they didn’t do as well as they’d have liked (although that is so not the point of the race, it IS nice to succeed at it. Rowing is a really tough sport with crazy hours, and it’s nice to see all that hard work pay off…)

I have a whole post composed in my head of my observations of that race, and I will write it shortly. Stay tuned. I’ll even add pictures.

And…yesterday, I finished the second semester of my coursework toward a doctoral degree in public health. Most of the reason that I haven’t written much about the FBI recently is because I perseverate on two main things, for the most part: having kids, and my career. DB’s career is pretty much set, and he’s doing pretty well with it, if I do say so myself. I’m thrilled for him that he’s found a career that he likes as much as he does – he’s been quite the jack of all trades for a while. The FBI is a good place to be if you’re into lots of different things (it’s also a good place to be if you’re into one thing and one thing only. However, the one thing required by the FBI is to be flexible. It can be a challenge for agents and families – the need to be flexible. However, that is a separate post for a separate time.)

(As an aside, I received my very first email from someone asking more questions about the FBI about a month ago. I was PSYCHED! I will probably answer some of her questions in another post soon…they were all good ones.)

So obsessions: Operation Baby and Operation Find a Life. Operation Baby is another post, again for another time, although I will probably write it soon. I haven’t decided if it will be password-protected or not. I’ll explain a bit here: although there are many, many, many reasons we wanted to adopt, some of which are described here previously, chief among them are my medical situation, which is not exactly optimal for fetal development, and our family history of autism spectrum disorders. I feel incredibly blessed that my career with kids and families on the spectrum has really given me an eye-opening perspective on the disorder, but at the same time, it’s raised so many questions about whether we feel comfortable taking the risk that any child we create biologically will potentially have an autism spectrum disorder. I want to write something that will articulate some of my (our) thoughts on this subject, and although I want to write something that will elicit feedback from others in our situation, I also need to be sensitive to the fact that this is the internet, and things I write will be seen by lots of unknown people – and these are our family members. So after all of that, if you’d like the password, please let me know. I know some of you out there will ask (Jen * a million – if your name is Jen I probably know about your desire for the password, Liz…WOW…most of my readers are named Jen!) but just let me know if you’re interested. If I have no idea who you are, don’t be shy. I adore hearing from people.

Operation Find a Life…well, this, of course, goes hand-in-hand with Operation Baby. I’ve mentioned a few times that I am a doctoral student in public health. I had a number of reservations coming into the program, but I decided to cast those aside and pursue the degree whole-heartedly. I am a little sad to report that, after two full semesters in this program, I am increasingly uneasy about continuing my education here. I think it’s possible to stop now, get a master’s degree (I don’t really know about this one – I have to check on it), and pursue either a job or another career track. I do have another master’s degree – the one that I’ve been working under all of this time – but I’ve always felt in my heart that I want to pursue another clinical degree. Therefore, I am taking a few undergraduate-level (yes, undergrads. As in there are 19-year olds in my class. Just two words on that: pride.swallowing.) summer courses to test these waters. Last week I managed the doctoral-level classes with the undergrad class, and it was just such a bipolar experience. Now I just have one class of young ‘uns to manage. Should be fun, although I feel REEEEEEAALLLLLY old. Ahh. The things we do in pursuit of crazy career changes.

SO….the point of this was to say that a) I’m not dead, but I’m being eaten alive by sprightly young undergrads in a chemistry lab, b) I am officially capable of doing some statistical analyses and talking about various epidemics, c) DB is tired, but alive, too, and d) I will be blogging more soon. Topics to be covered this week include (I promise):

1) Observations of a high school rowing race: So you wanna cox? How to navigate a 60-foot torpedo down a river without killing ANYone;
2) Reflections on Autism Spectrum Disorders;
3) All that you wanted to know, part II, about being married to the FBI;
4) Still pondering whether to write this: Biblical marriage. I am the least qualified person in the world to write this, but I’ve been getting a lot of questions about it, so maybe I’ll just give it a shot. Leave me a note in the comments if you want to read what I have to say about it.

I think that’s it. Don’t worry, I won’t really have anything to write about the chem lab. I am not exactly sure what I’m supposed to be knowing about chemistry, but I hope that’s just because it’s the beginning of the semester!

Peace,

rach 🙂

*PS Duh, I realize that food is not heaven.  If you take offense at this please do not tell me about it.  Thanks!

FYI

This blog represents my personal views of a wide variety of topics. Aside from my connection through marriage, I am absolutely in no way affiliated with, informed by, or directed by the FBI, and, as such, the FBI bears no responsibility or affiliation with this blog.

Because I am not affiliated with the FBI, all information in this blog is second-hand information, and is therefore subject to inaccuracies. (Of course, I would never publish something that I believed to be a lie; however, there is always a chance that I will inadvertently misrepresent something.)

Finally, despite what you might expect given my husband's occupation, I am what most people would call a "(flaming, or insert other word) liberal". I gleefully mock the policies and practices of the USG that I consider worthy of mocking. In doing so, I am exercising a fundamental Constitutional freedom. Of course, you are always welcome to disagree (and exercise your Constitutional rights).

I welcome comments and emails.

Thanks!

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