I'm pretty sure I'm past the point of bursting into tears, but right there in the middle of Stats class I felt them coming and the urge to simply pack up my things and get the f*ck out was so overpowering I had to talk myself down from the ledge over and over, which meant that I missed more info which of course only made it all worse.
Picture a lake. Picture a human being willingly flinging themselves into that lake fully believing themselves to be capable of swimming. They got a 92 in swimming just eight months ago. It was hard, but they pulled it off. But this go around, as they hit the water, they realize it is not just a different lake, but a different planet with different atmospheric attributes, and it is populated by creatures that speak in riddles and refuse to explain, instead making jokes about girl scout cookies and Chebyshev's Theorum. The good news? There is a creature whose job it is to teach me to swim these new waters. The bad news? When I asked him for help he waited until I was underwater for a minute and a half before he threw me a curly straw and said: good luck with that.
This ain't no undergrad program. This is grad school, and although I am smart enough to get that the letters are different, I'm afraid I wasn't able to fully comprehend the scale of the new definition's height. This isn't even one of the top programs in the country, it's not exactly the Everest of MPH programs. But I ain't exactly a base camp kinda girl, and my sherpa headed off to the yak butter tea bar months ago.
People come here from all over the world to study. Indians in saris and bindis, Middle Easterners in veils, modified burkas, people from China and Korea and New Zealand and Russia. They are physicians in their countries, statisticians, molecular biologists, stuff I can't even remember how to title. They ask intelligent questions. No unchecked emotion flows from them. When I turn worried eyes to them and ask: are you getting this? they smile and say Yeah.
I'm just not getting this stuff. It is as if I am taking a class in Chinese and the prof's mode of teaching it is to stand in front of the class and speak Chinese for an hour and a half. It is as if the textbook were written in hieraglyphics and there is no primer. That swirly symbol with the flaming curliques? Could be the solution to the question 'Comment on the symmetry of the distribution of change scores based on the answers derived from computing the mean change in cholesterol, as well as the standard deviation and range of hospitalization' or it could be just saying 'kiss my ass you granolahead honky'. I wouldn't know.
Two days ago I set up an appointment to meet with my stats prof. We emailed back a couple of times, he said best to come see him, we made a time, I showed up. He did not. I waited for a half hour. Someone finally took pity on me and went and found him for me. He showed up irritated, said he was busy making copies. He spent ten minutes rapidly running through a few Chinese phrases, drew a few hierglyphics, then sailed back off for the copy machine, saying: gotta go but I'll go over more in class on Tuesday.
It is Tuesday. I believe him when he says that he went over the problems in class, but I don't know for sure of course as all I saw were the pretty hierglyphics that flashed across the overhead screen, all I heard was the sing song cadence of Chinese. And as it hit me that Thursday morning brings a quiz, and that to fail this quiz would be a very, very bad thing, and as I have no idea how to swim out of this particular sink hole, the emotion begins to run, hence the dire prediction of a devastating cryquake.
After class, I went back to the prof's office. I can't talk to you now, I have a class, he said. When can you? I asked. We set up a time for tomorrow, but he said to email him as backup, that he needed to put it on a post it note to remind him. Can you not put it on a post it now? No, he said. Look, I said, this class is important to me and I'm not getting it, I'm doing the reading, I'm coming to class, I'm taking notes, but I have no idea what's going on. Okay, he said. Look, I said, I had a 92 average in Stats a couple of semesters ago, it's not as if I can't get this, but I need help, and I'm starting to get really emotional about it, and need to not freak out.
That did it. Threaten to cry in front of a math man and he'll agree to anything.
He said, I will write it on a post it right now. And he did.
I'm glad the threat of wild, fecund emotion did the trick with him. It saved us both the trauma of me saying: Guess what m*thaf*cker? You are gonna help me swim this freakin pond or I am going to drive you insane as I go under.
I need cookies. But instead I will go to the health food coop and lift fifty pound bags of rice for two hours and then go home and read 95 pages of text and write a two page paper for my Social Behavioral PH class and then self-medicate with kitty snuggles and watch tv until drool falls out of my head and everything goes fluffy and okay.
I have discovered that I am the Charlie Brown of the MPH program. The Horshack. The Ally MacBeal. What the hell have I gotten myself into???