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down in my heart.


Down in my heart!

We taught English in Cambodia last year and this was one of the songs that our (adult) students adored.  They also loved to play musical chair-body-parts, where you stop the music and call out a body part and they have to put the body part on the chair.  I have video.  It’s awesome.  But I can’t post it, cause that would be a breech of…something.  I just wouldn’t feel right about it.  But those early mornings (class started at, like 5:45 or something….yes, am) were awesome with the body parts musical chairs.

That is so not the point of my post.

Yesterday was the weirdest day.  I woke up, and I felt like I’d been run over by a Mack truck (only I bet people HAVE been run over by a Mack truck, and probably the results were worse than what I was feeling, so I feel like perhaps I am diminishing their experience) – and I realized that both the dog AND DB were gone, which was suspect.  Imagine my joy at having a husband that would take out the dog, even though I have nowhere to be – just so I can sleep later to feel better?  Yes.  I love him.

So after sleeping for 12 hours (maybe more, who knows) (yes, I know those of you with kids are envious.  I will also say that I am pretty sure if I was that sick with kids, DB would have taken a sick day to watch the kid(s) so I could have slept, too.  Really, I am not embarrassed about my 12 hours), I woke up, and I found out that that FBI agent had been killed, and that was really sobering.

And then I went to class.

At the school where I left my doctoral program in public health.  (I have to take a class there to finish a master’s degree – it’s a class doctoral students don’t normally take.)

To truly have an understanding of my situation, you would need to read this, this, and this (2nd half of post), and those might not even do it for you.  But let’s just say that I really lamented this decision, and many people were not supportive of the decision.  I left after 4 years of pain and agony at this program, 1 year of full-time work, and 1 year of cultivating some friendships with the people in my cohort.  And at the end of the year, I decided that I absolutely. did. not. want. to. finish.

The rationale behind this is all amply described in that other post (if you’re really interested).

So last night, I’m in this class, which is, incidentally, a Very Agonizing Class for me because I’ve already TAKEN it.  At another school.  And it’s required for me to get a master’s degree (my accidental masters, just to get SOMETHING out of the doctoral work), and it’s required that I take it AT THIS SCHOOL, which just goes to the heart of why I am a little frustrated with this school, but whatever.  So I decide in the middle of the lecture that I Really Need A Snack, and while I was standing at the vending machine (filled with Fake Healthy Snacks – the kind that taste like cardboard and make the public health people feel like we are making ourselves healthier, when in reality they are just grossness) debating what Fake Healthy Snack to buy (I picked some Snackwells cookies – which were gross.  Although I used to like them.  I am so evolved now on my food opinions…if I’m going to eat crap, I really want to eat Real Crap, not fake stand-in crap.  For dinner, I ate Doritos and yogurt.  Hey, dude, it’s protein, ok?) OK – so I was standing there, debating, and my old colleagues came up, super excited that I was there.

“RACHEL!!!!!  You’re BACK!”  – which always is very good for my self-esteem.  Because I am not that cool, so when people get excited about me, I think, “hey!  They think I’m cool!”  – don’t we all think this?  Because now I will feel like a total loser.

And here is where I am going to purposely insert an aside.  I’ve often wondered in the last few months whether this decision – the decision to abandon my plan to get a doctorate in public health – was a bad one.  I mean, in the beginning, yeah, it was all joyous and exciting and I was Walking On Air, but then the reality hit:  I have a lame job, and after being expected to think critically in doctoral-level coursework, I am now taking…undergraduate biology and physics, and being expected to regurgitate facts.  And oh, did I mention my lame job?  Society isn’t exactly awed by what I’m doing right now.

And if I’m honest, I will say that it is ALL about what society thinks that impacts how I see myself, which is just WRONG and I feel incredible guilt about that, but it’s true.  I would love to be able to say, “I feel that God spoke to me and said, ‘Rachel, leave your doctoral program now'”, but I’d be lying.  I don’t disparage people’s experiences of that – at ALL – but I feel in my situation that God could have used me with a doctorate in public health and God would have celebrated my departure from the program.  I don’t think that God really CARED one way or another whether I left my program – what I believe is that He CARED how I used my skills.  Which really puts the burden back on me, right – the burden to live for Him?  This is the spiritual version of lemonade making from lemons.

So I’ve often wondered, “Was that the right decision?  Is that the most God-honoring decision?”  – and my posts over the last few months have been about things like careers and motherhood, and depression over my pathetic lack of job, etc.

And then we had last night.

And my friends came up to me.

And I said, “How are things going here?!?” – and they said, “[qualifying*] exam…blah blah blah…oral exam…blah blah blah…oh I am so stressed…things are OKAY….dissertation…”

And I thought, Oh, I am so, so, so, so, so, so, so happy!  I don’t need to do those things!  I am free of this place!  This totally oppressive, humiliating (not humbling – that is different – no, this place was hellacious) place!  I AM FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joy.  Unadulterated joy.

(And I told them that.  I don’t think they were nearly so excited as I was to find out that I had achieved some sort of freakish nirvana.)

(Although I did emphasize to them that if we were to switch places, they would not be nearly so happy, because that program is right for them.  And it is not right for me.)

(That didn’t really help much.)

It was a totally redeeming experience.

What I am thankful for:  The balls to make a humongous decision that was right for me, and that everyone else discouraged.  I think everyone should do this at least once in their lifetimes.  It is totally liberating.

*AKA comprehensive exam, or comps.  Different schools call them different things.  My school doesn’t use either of these terms.

**You will need a password for the third post.  Let me know if you need it.

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(Scroll down for the open letter to Red States from Blue States.)

Last night, it was killing me, as you can see from my previous post. Physics – torque and spinning wheels – were killing me. Rural VA was killing me. Overeager MSNBC people whose maps did not match the AP maps were killing me.

My blood pressure was high, and I am embarrassed to say that I almost puked!

And then:

They called Pennsylvania for Obama in big, 48-point font on the screen.

And then: I got into the car, and NPR called Ohio for Obama in calm, banal voices that only NPR can muster in the midst of such thrill.

And then I thought to myself, “Breathe, Rachel. has the odds at 0% for McCain to win if he loses OH and PA. Virginia DOESN’T EVEN MATTER! All will be right in the world. And also? You are a huge dork!!”

And I watched about an hour of coverage and…I am so embarassed to say…fell asleep!!! (OK, I forgot to mention the beer that DB forced into my hand as part of the make-Rachel-less-insane intervention, and also? how I was very confident that yes, yes, yes!!! We did it!!!!!!! I only got through the neck of the beer though – it doesn’t take much.)

So I missed everything I wanted to watch last night – how sad is that?!? DB DVRed it all for me, though, after trying desperately to wake me.

I think I wasn’t sleeping all that well in the run-up to the election.

But I will say – in the midst of physics lecture, I was emailing a friend back and forth (the friend I referenced in the earlier post – the one who inconceivably voted for the Dark Side) (are you getting the picture yet that physics lecture was the least productive lecture…ever?) (I had a whole fan base behind me – I set the laptop on one of those seat-desks in the auditorium and there were probably 15 people fanned out behind me, watching the returns on my computer – I made sure to have a good selection going for them) – ok, where was I? Yes: my friend sent me this. In the height of my hysteria over Virginia, I decided I would post it if McP won, and now I am going to post it anyway ’cause it’s really funny. I think it’s circulating the web now (or was yesterday, at least).

To change! America is coming back, my friends! 🙂 (Although as a side note: did anyone check out the incredible ballot initiatives across the country? Although “change” won out on the presidential election, a lot of hate apparently made it through, too. So although my elation is uncontrolled for my president and my own state ballot initiatives, I am more than disconcerted about what is going on elsewhere.)

So on that note: the forward.

Dear Red States:

If you manage to steal this election too we’ve decided we’re leaving.
We intend to form our own country, and we’re taking the other Blue
States with us. In case you aren’t aware, that includes California,
Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois
and the entire Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to
the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.
We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of
Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get
WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole’ Miss. We get 85% of America’s
venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds
of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22% lower than the Christian
Coalition’s, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of
single moms. Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice
and anti-war, and we’re going to want all our citizens back from Iraq
at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have
kids they’re apparently willing to send to their deaths for no
purpose, and they don’t care if you don’t show pictures of their
children’s caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq , and
hope that the WMDs turn up, but we’re not willing to spend our
resources in Bush’s Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80% of the
country’s fresh water, more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce, 92%
of the nation’s fresh fruit, 95% of America’s quality wines, 90% of
all cheese, 90% of the high tech industry, 95% of the corn and
soybeans (thanks Iowa!), most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living
redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools
plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88%
of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92% of
all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the
hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all
televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the
University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you. Additionally, 38% of those
in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62%
believe life is sacred unless we’re discussing the war, the death
penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory, 53% that
Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61% of you crazy bastards believe you
are people with higher morals then we lefties.

Peace out,
–Blue States