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Sue, Jennifer looked at your badass piece of aluminum last night (I was there to witness it), and even showed Tom… Tom looked surprised and said “that’s pretty nice”. I think he thought that you’d choose a girly bike – of course, we told him about the pink bell… Which, by the way, I’m really glad you added. It feels more like you with a pink bell :)

And in response to your thoughts below. I know that you know, but I so, so, SO agree. Based on your description, I imagine that California is an entire state of my grad school companions. They’re smart, they’re skeptical, they don’t just accept a trite, tired religious explanation for things that have no fucking explanation. Not to horribly oversimplify, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there are three categories of people:

#1 – The people who don’t subscribe to the theory of God and Jesus and Christianity at all, either because they’ve found an alternative, or because they just don’t care.

#2 – The people who believe there is a God, but who have thought about it and fought through it on a very personal level… They may support him, they may not, but they do believe that he exists.

#3 – The people who mindlessly throw themselves into a theory that makes them feel important and lets them believe that they’re in a chosen, elite group of “sons and daughters” who will inherit the “Kingdom of Heaven”, comforts them because it provides a simple, uncomplicated explanation for everything that they can’t actually comprehend, and ultimately allows them to continue in a thoughtless existence. These people are stereotypically stupid – by stupid, I mean not smart, non-thinking, dense – just plain dumb.

98% of the Southern population (and pretty much all of Mama’s family) is in #3… they’re just spiritually & mentally ignorant. They either can’t or won’t think outside their little box of rules and mandates, they feel religiously superior because they don’t have anything else to hold onto, they mold & shape their rulebook to support all their own limitations, personal agendas, and biases, and ultimately, they’re weak, sniveling, mindless rats on a wheel. Just running, running, running in hopes of getting somewhere – never deterred by the fact that there’s no horizon in sight, no glimpse of a future different from their present, and no promise of anything more.

That being said, now I have to say this.

I went into grad school with a too-narrow scope – feeling intellectually inferior from being raised in a male-dominated church & family, spiritually & mentally stunted from years of manipulation through guilt and fear, and scared to even admit that there might be anything else because I might “blaspheme the Holy Ghost” – the cardinal sin for which you’re damned for all eternity.

At Clemson, I was told that it’s ok to think, that I’m actually just as, or maybe smarter, than most of the males in my life, and that it’s not ok to blindly accept anything. Like a pendulum, I swung to the extreme other side… category #1 all the way. Questioned EVERYTHING – is there a God? Is there anything bigger than me? Where’s the proof? Where’s the empirical, fact-driven evidence? How can you look at the world and believe that there’s a benevolent God smiling down on us? I became a skeptic, an agnostic, a unbeliever.

But with time, the pendulum does find the middle, water finds its level, and all that shit. Believing that you are the biggest thing out there, that there’s nothing bigger than you, that when you die it’s like you never were – that’s a truly depressing and hopeless place to be. Which is why I decided to believe in heaven after all… or at least a dimension beyond what we see. Mama dying sealed the deal – the afterlife is an actual, real place. Because there has to be something more… Mama can’t have just left and disappeared.

Whew, ok, I’m done. Have to go to a meeting to talk about purchasing processes. Ahh.