Monday, June 18, 2007

This is the value of a "brand name" education

The other night over dinner, my boyfriend and I were discussing tuition prices for our first year of college. He started at UT Austin in the Fall of 1988; I started at Johns Hopkins University in the Fall of 1989. His first semester as a Texas resident was $450 and the price rose to $500 his second semester, making the grand total for his first year of college education a full $950. Now I, the East Coast Sophisticate, as he teases me, paid (or rather, my father paid) $15,000 for my first year of tuition.

Insane? Obviously.

To the outside observer, anyway.

He was a student on a campus of 50,000 students, while I enjoyed the relative quiet of being amongst less than 3,000 undergrads and a few hundred more graduate students. I knew a large proportion of my graduating class, but I know he can't say the same. And while we are both very intelligent people, I have experienced being one of the least intelligent people in a class or just simply in a room. He has not. He understands not wanting to be the smartest person in a room, but he's never spent years in a place where, even in an elevator or bathroom, you knew with almost absolute certainty that you weren't the smartest person in the room. I can't quite explain the comfort in that, but there's something easy about being able to use all your SAT words and skip as many steps in logical thought as you want, over a bowl of Lucky Charms, and not feel self conscious about it.

But here's the true power of the designer label education. It's where your friends wind up. I not only know doctors and lawyers and professors and such, but I know a great transplant surgeon in New York City. I can email a friend and get a referral to one of the top specialists on a rare autoimmune disorder for a friend's brother. In the space of 20 minutes, I can get a full explanation on the current methodology for biopsies of breast lumps and a recommendation for a second opinion.

It's that part of what college is about? Making the connections that will help you throughout your life? I don't mean to suggest that there aren't many people who graduated from UT who have gone on to do amazing things and help their former classmates, just that there were probably a higher proportion of Hopkins alum who did and with the smaller number of students, one had a much higher probability of actually knowing them.

We're just going to ignore the guy I went to school with who produces Pimp My Ride. That works for you, right?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sometimes I Miss New Hampshire

Why does it take a ridiculous Travel section article in the New York Times to remind what I left behind? And an incomplete article at that! Nowhere do they mention the trained bears at Clark's Trading Post!!!

My sister wrote an essay many years ago about growing up in our small suburb. In the essay, she spoke about her experiences living in Mexico where there is an almost mystical connection to where you come from, where your roots were planted. The place leaves an indelible imprint upon you. It is the origin of you, whether you like it or not.

My new boyfriend asked me if I wanted to go back to New Hampshire someday. He has become my conscious ~ he corrects me when I give my vague answer to "Where do you come from?" He doesn't let me get away with my well rehearsed pat answer "Outside of Boston." It's not a lie; it just lacks accuracy. They've even renamed the airport the is half in my hometown, The Manchester-Boston Regional International Airport.

It's not that I'm ashamed of being from NH. I love the first in the nation primary and the libertarian spirit of the state. The world looks a whole lot different from New Hampshire than it does from anywhere else.

It's just that the further away from New England you get, the less people understand New Hampshire. They lump us all together; Maine is Vermont is New Hampshire is Massachusetts is Rhode Island is Connecticut which might as well be New York or New Jersey. See what I'm saying? New Hampshire is NOT New Jersey. It's not even Massachusetts on its very worst day.

But on days like these, no matter how much I appreciate the fact that I left New Hampshire, when I see a picture like this, I miss New Hampshire.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Relief and Perhaps a Little Disappointment

On my way home from work last night I went to the grocery store to get the pregnancy test. I bought some healthy food as well since I should be eating better just on general principle.

The young kid at the check out was hysterical. It was like he was frightened by the pregnancy test, like it had special powers. He seemed to be afraid to touch it with his bare hands because if he did, the next female he touched may become pregnant. It was all I could do not to laugh at him, but seriously, the comic relief I needed.

Who knew peeing on a stick was such a complex skill???

I could hardly sleep as I was recounting the odd first trimester-like symptoms I was experiencing ~ bionic sense of smell, extreme exhaustion, the constant need to pee, heartburn and most troubling, complete lack of PMS and/or cramping.

So, when I woke up at 3am needing to pee, I figured that was the first urine of the morning and got out the stick. It must have taken me 20 minutes to manage to pee and pee on the stick. I'm blaming at least part of it on the early hour...

I wait the three minutes, which go by surprisingly fast, and there's only one line.

I go back to bed and when I get up at six and go to the bathroom, there's blood.

I go into work and talk to my friend, telling her about the skittish check out boy, the negative test and the period finally coming. She's the one who finally points out that I seem disappointed, that I really did want a baby.