Unfortunately, as soon as I cracked open the rule book I remembered why. Despite Race for the Galaxy being held up as a superb card game by many people and many rating systems online it's just impenetrable for newbies. There are so many different circumstances, phases, and symbols on the cards that it's impossible for new players to play without constantly referring to the reference charts and the manual.
Race for the Galaxy might be a good game, but after multiple attempts to get into it I think I just need to set it down and give up on it for now. It's either a game I should trade away or one where I should find a veteran player to sit down with and actually learn the game from a person instead of a booklet.