Sunday, November 07, 2004

a (voluntary) return to texas (?!?)

One night at the last conference I attended, I was drinking (as is requisite for these events) with a professor, a respected academic, and a third man I did not know. Somewhere near the fourth or fifth round, mystery man mentions public health. I zone in, "are you in public health?" It often seems that all of this sexuality research group is made of psychologists and psychiatrists, a fellow public health enthusiast is hard to come by. Mystery man politely concedes, that yes, he teaches in a public health program.

Before I could question further, respected academic interrupts, "Dear, do you mean to tell me you do not realize who you are sitting next to?!? This is M___ R__, the number one force in sexual public health in the country, if not the world. He heads the country’s top public health grad program, and is receiving the Kinsey award in the morning."

"He’s not wearing his name tag," I smoothly joked in my defense.

That night, I was able to discuss the grad program in question in significant detail with MR. He encouraged me to apply. The program sounded ideal, except for the location. The program was housed at (duh, duh, duh!!!) — University of Texas, Houston.

Now, I spent 15 of 18 years in the greater Houston area, and I hated every moment of it. When looking at colleges for undergraduate, one of my primary standards was "anywhere but texas or michigan". Now, after five years in new york, I found myself considering volunatrily returning to the dreaded land.

I laughed at the irony and figured the program would probably be found flawed after a little research. Only it wasn’t. I researched. I visited. I talked with professors. I talked with other sexuality professionals. I talked with folks who had gone through the program. I even visited the campus when I was in Houston for my friend’s wedding. It really seems ideal.

Then, yesterday during the awards luncheon, I discreetly left the banquet hall for the bathroom. I was surprised to find MR also in the hall. I complimented him on his wonderful jacket. He returned the compliment on my loud vintage cindy brady dress. Walking to the bathroom, I reintroduced myself. I wasn’t halfway through my name before he interrupted with "Dear, I remember you quite well." Cool...

I informed him I was currently working on my application for his program. He told me to email him when I submitted it, promising to personally usher it through the admissions process. And then, he volunteered to be my mentor. I almost jumped up and down with giggles. Instead, I thanked him enthusiastically, as we entered our respective powder rooms.

So, it looks as if, come next, I may very well return to that dreaded land of mosquitos, humidity, and killer traffic, of my own volition. I never would have believed it, but sometimes life surprises you.


Blogger Michael said...

Well, that's something of a coup, analogous to my being introduced to (and subsequently offered a job by) Paul Levitz or Joe Quesada at a comic con. So good for that.

You might want to consider, once the studies are all done, teaching outside of Texas, though, given the new "standards" adopted for health textbooks last week.

11/08/2004 1:05 PM  
Blogger Dacia said...

I'll hate you if you leave me. But I'll probably get over it. Maybe I'll even send you care packages, aka pictures of me nekkid.

11/09/2004 1:42 AM  
Blogger Ribalding said...

I'll look forward to your arrival. Maybe not with baited breath, but with minnows in my pocket all the same.

Houston may make you itch, but it's always a handy place for displaced activists. We stick together around here....seeing as how our numbers are so paltry.

11/09/2004 5:01 AM  

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