I Want To Go Back to College So I Can Wear These Shoes and a Jane Austen/Charles Darwin Timeline

July 15th, 2010

I spotted these shoes in a catalog the other day.

And even though the price was ludicrous, I decided that I must have them.


I must.

I must have them and I will wear them to…

I will wear them when I…

I will wear them when I am at the…

And that is when I decided to go back to college.

So that I have somewhere to wear these shoes.

Because I just don’t see myself wearing these while I am working the cash register at the garden center.

Nor could I find a good enough reason to wear them while chauffeuring the kids, shopping for groceries, or watching movies on Netflix.

I also don’t think they would be very good gardening shoes.

I guess I could get a different job instead of going back to school. One that might require the occasional uppity ensemble that would go with a pair of bright red wedges, but that seems like a lot of hassle and commitment just for a pair of shoes. Plus, I really like my job.

So college it is.

I’ve been thinking about going back for a while anyway.  But with the urgent need to purchase these shoes pressing down on me, it feels kind of like an emergency now.  I am not sure what I would study, but I have long wanted to do some exhaustive research on the topic of whether Jane Austen was possibly an atheist.  I know she was a vicar’s daughter, but could not that very fact only serve to point her more in the direction of atheism?  And when you add in her rapier wit, her ability to slice through the bullshit of her time and the way she made fun of everything and everybody in her books, you could regard her at the very least as an extreme skeptic. I see no evidence for a devout faith in her books, but I do see a profound desire in her writing for people to treat each other well.

It would be easier to consider Jane an atheist if she had been able to read Darwin’s Origin of Species.  So I decided to find out if that was even a remote possibility and quickly sketched out a time-line to see if their paths could possibly have intersected.


Charles Darwin/ Jane Austen (and other literary figures) timeline…

1809 – Charles Darwin is born

1811 – Jane Austen publishes Sense and Sensibility.

1813 – Pride and Prejudice published

1814 – Mansfield Park published

1816 – Charlotte Bronte is born and that same year Jane writes Emma

1817 – Jane Austen dies – Northanger Abbey and Persuasion published posthumously.

We pause momentarily here wishing Jane had lived to write a hundred more books…

1822 – Louis Pasteur is born

1830 – Emily Dickinson is born

1832 – Louisa May Alcott is born.

1838 – Best sellers this year are Nicholas Nickleby and Oliver Twist both by Dickens

1847 – Charlotte Bronte writes Jane Eyre and Emily Bronte writes Wuthering Heights

1850 – Nathaniel Hawthorne writes The Scarlett Letter

1852 – Harriet Beecher Stowe writes Uncle Tom’s Cabin

1856 – Neanderthal Skull is found near Dusseldorf Germany and five pro slavers are murdered by John Brown in my own neck of the woods – Pottawatomie Creek.

1859 – Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species is published.

From this time-line one can see that Darwin would have had no influence over Jane, and yet Jane had considerable influence over Darwin.  She was one of his favorite authors.  Which brings me back to the idea of Jane having the kind of mind that could have doubted the existence of God, in the midst of a religious family, even without the overwhelming scientific evidence that Darwin would eventually provide (that being that the world could easily have created itself without the intervention of a deity.)  If a mind like Jane’s was appealing to Darwin, it is interesting to consider what Jane’s reaction to Darwin might have been.  I’d like to imagine the two of them exchanging letters, though I dare say that Jane’s letters would have been a lot more fun to read than those of Darwin.


A few Jane Austen Quotes that point towards her general attitude of skepticism…

A woman, especially, if she has the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?

How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!

I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.

I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.

Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.

Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.

Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.

Respect for right conduct is felt by every body.

Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.

Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

They are much to be pitied who have not been given a taste for nature early in life.

We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be


Now, what was this blog about?

Oh yes!


I guess I don’t really need to go to college to find out if Jane was an atheist.  I can do my own research on the internet and Google is far less expensive than a Master’s Degree.   Although it doesn’t really give me an opportunity to wear a pair of fabulous red wedges does it?


  • I work from home. I live in the mountains. I have the most gorgeous high- heeled shoe collection. They look pretty on my shelves. They rarely see my feet.

  • Rhonda H.:

    I will not mention anything about PWs shoe thing…..

    • km:

      Rhonda, are you the one she seeks help from?

      • Rhonda H.:

        She should. I’d set her straight! Every time I would read her “help me Rhonda” statement, my only thought was, “I think it’s too late…..”

  • amy:

    The development of my shoe/shopping/girly genes was retarded somehow in my adolescence. Probably all the hours spent in the pool followed by throwing on sweats and tennis shoes to go to class.

    I have never, even once, desired any pair of high heels or dress shoes. I own four pairs of heels out of necessity only. Three are at least 10 years old. I wear heels maybe once a year.

    Running shoes? Lots of them. And going back to school sounds good–this time without being obsessed with swimming or jeebus. What a different experience I could have!

    You get those shoes, Rechelle. Someone has to look nice :)

  • brenda:

    Get the shoes, school or not. Wear them in good health and abject dismissal of the effects of fallen arches. Sometimes you have to throw caution, and arches, to the wind.

  • jamoody:

    I agree,,,get the shoes. Sometimes you just gotta!

  • Martha in Kansas:

    I think the shoes would add a little something to the garden center, so long as you don’t have to walk on gravel (or in mud). Go for broke! Kick up your heels!

  • *mops up my drool*
    I am so not “built” for high heels (I have arthritis in my toes…at age 36. how pathetic), and yet I slobber over such ridiculous pairs as these. I’ll get ‘em with you. They can look pretty on a shelf in our closet for awhile. Then we’ll convince our husbands they must take us out for a night on the town in the big city so we can wear them at least once. No children allowed. : )

  • Kait:

    Oh go for the shoes girl! They are cutie. I recently purchased a couple of pair of platform wedges that are so comfortable you would swear you didn’t have them on! I am not kidding. They are light as feathers. Show them a little leg and cute shoe at the garden center. Perhaps they will start to leave tips.

  • km:

    I think they should be your blogging shoes.

    Remember the Fly Lady craze. She said you had to lace up your shoes every day and clean your sink, or something like that.

    Well, I think these should be the shoes you don to do your blogging. You may take a picture of your laptop with your redwedged feet up on a nice ottoman. Rechelle Unplugged and Bewedged.

  • OOooooh – pretty! And I think you should go back to school (only if you want). It’s not about what you’ll do w/the degree, but the pleasure of learning & meeting other people interested in what you’re interested in. (Says the girl mired in student loan debt picked up in law school)

  • Those are Anthropologie, right? Love that store. They always have great shoes. I believe the pair I am currently coveting is the Marjorie. I say get the shoes. Wear them in the fall when you guys go to a football game and you go shopping downtown Lawrence! You’ll totally fit in with the hip group!

  • LOVE those shoes! You should buy them and then wear them when doing online courses on a laptop from the comfort of your swinging bed.

    I recently discovered John Fluevog shoes. To die for! I must now scour the house for things to sell so that I can buy a pair.

    • Kait:

      OMG Thanks to you I am now in love/drool with these John Fluevog shoes. Talk about Toon Town. I wanna. I wanna. I wanna.

  • Very interesting parallel!

    And I have a dress like those shoes. It’s been hanging in my closet for 3 years now. :S I saw it, had to have it, and have nowhere to wear it. Maybe we should organize a party where people can wear the items of clothing they have that they love and have nowhere to wear! :D

  • Kay in KCMo:

    I think those shoes might go with your mom’s long dress that you wore for the Grey Gardens fashion show.

  • Those shoes are fantastic!
    Also, Austen was a clergyman’s daughter, plus she lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, so I doubt she was an atheist. I’m not a huge fan of hers, but I did take an Austen lit class last semester, and I did admire her no-nonsense and logical attitude.
    Although, Mansfield Park kind of pushed the “men of the church are the best!” attitude.

  • Hallie:

    Sensational shoes! Buy them and invite the neighbors over for a movie and a potluck.

  • Jimmy-boy:


    I cannot tell you how happy I am that you are a Jane Austen fan. That is fantastic! When my favourite blogger (step down PZ; step down Jen Mcreight – just for a moment both of you) also lets us know that she has literary taste, and in no small degree, that is a moment for a celebration. So I shall! A wee dram of Lagavullin it shall be.

    I could rave about the wondeful Jane for a week. I know P&P just about off by heart (isn’t Darcy’s letter one of the most moving pieces of literature ever written?) – having studied it for A-Level.

    Let’s have more JA on Rechelle unplugged. And I have to ask: have you seen “Lost in Austen”? Because if you haven’t email me and I’ll send you a copy. It is absolutely fantastic!


    • Rechelle:

      Jimmyboy – have watched Lost in Austen and loved it. My favorite line… “Will you do something for me?” I blogged about it somewhere.

  • Kathy from NJ:

    Someone beat me to it – I was going to suggest weaaring them with your Grey Gardens outfit.

    You could also invite the CD home for lunch (after the kids are back in school) and wear them with a mini skirt and sheer blouse. You could serve lunch on the porch and then go for a swing….

  • If you were PW, you would have posted the price and seventeen additional photos of these shoes, and then said that you planned to wear them with tight jeans while walking through cow shit.

    HEE HAW!

    • And you would have done photoshoppy things to the pictures so that the shoes glowed or something.

  • Forget all that gobbeldy gook about Jane Austen. What about the RED SHOES???? You haven’t told us WHICH catalog. Hey, we get a little testy when it comes to red shoes!

    • Rechelle:

      Suzanne – they are in the Anthropologie catalog. Love that store.

  • LucyJoy:

    Get them! They are HOT!

    I am a domestic diva, so I don’t get a chance to wear fancy shoes much either, but I went out to lunch with 2 of my BFF’s yesterday & wore my non-sensible shoes. I felt like a princess!

  • farmgirl:


  • Martha in Kansas:

    Speaking of college… I just read an amusing sentence. Student wrote an essay arguing why college students need to have a car. One paragraph deals with how he goes to church, doesn’t have a car, takes a taxi and it’s costing him $20/trip. So he concludes the paragraph “Especially people who are Christians should have a car to go to church every Sunday”.

    So there you go.

  • I went back to college right about the same time I started having atheist twinges. It did me a load of good, emotionally, if not financially.

    I recommend. But, I don’ think it’s going to help with the shoe thing. College is for comfortable shoes. And any job that would REQUIRE such footwear is not a good job to have in my opinion.

    As far as the shoes are concerned, I have an alternative solution. Come visit me in Lawrence. We will go out on the town and wear fabulous shoes.