Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Home Stretch and All That

Happy Halloween!

I could actually care less about the holiday.  Jeff and I never have enough time to celebrate things that require advance planning, such as getting costumes.  We have candy.  And I just put out a little wire black cat that's lit up with orange lights.  That's as good as it gets at our house.  So instead of being excited about the 31st of October being Halloween, I'm excited that it marks another month down of Jeff living in Baton Rouge.  4 months of this stupid away rotation are over and 2 more to go!

In grad school news, I finished what was most likely my last rat ovariectomy EVER yesterday.  Feels awesome.  I've been working my butt off lately so I can hold onto hope of graduating in May.  I still have the option of graduating in August if I need a little more time, but the summer graduation doesn't carry all the hoopla of the big one in May.  After 5 years of research misery I want to walk across a big stage and get "hooded" dammit!  Would be pretty anticlimactic if one day I'm just done and someone says- congrats, your diploma is in the mail.

I've started preparing my PI (my boss to all you non-science people) for the fact that I will most likely be done with research after graduation.  She is supportive, but I know it's a huge disappointment to her whether she says so or not.  Of course everyone in academia thinks any career a PhD gets outside of the full-time tenure track faculty position is a waste of a degree.  There are a lot of students who are so burnt out after grad school that they go into something else entirely, but no one talks about it.  It's all very hush hush.  You don't want to do a post doc?!  You're throwing your life away!  Blasphemy.

It's a real guilt trip and it's ridiculous.

With that said, I have an interview in 2 weeks for a post doc in Jackson.  The PI was willing to let me stay for just 1 year during Jeff's fellowship.  One year post docs are completely unheard of- the minimum is usually 2 years, and many people stay for 4.  Needless to say, I would kill myself.


  • The PI is a woman, which I think makes a drastic difference as far as having a life outside of the lab.  She has kids which is another bonus.  NEVER work for a single man.  They will expect you to be in the lab all the time since that's their only obligation.  Women with kids understand you have a life and other responsibilities.  
  • She obviously knows I will only be there for 1 year and is ok with that.  
  • Doing a postdoc will open up doors for me later on in terms of being able to get a faculty position...although I would need to do a 2nd postdoc since 1 year is not enough...see below.

  • I'm not sure a 1 year postdoc would make a difference if I decide I just want to adjunct teach, which is what I'm leaning towards.  You don't need a postdoc for those positions.  With us moving around for Jeff's job and wanting to have kids at some point, I think adjunct teaching would give me flexibility.  
  • If I change my mind and DO decide I want a full time faculty position, I will have to do another postdoc and commit to another lab for at least 2 years.  So that's at the minimum THREE more years of research after grad school.
  • Thinking about doing more research makes me want to cry.

I'll obviously know more after I meet with her and see what her personality and the lab dynamic is like.  It's only an overwhelming, life changing decision.  No big deal.  Sigh...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I know a LOT about a very specific topic

You know what's annoying?

Having someone knock on your door during dinner trying to get you to buy something.  Or in my case today, buy magazines from some random, totally not legit sounding, probably religious yet they don't want you to know that, "program" that somehow eventually helps inner city kids.

Seriously I asked the girl 3 times to explain what company she was affiliated with and I still don't know.  She was trying to collect "points" in order to progress through the program and had to go door to door asking people about career advice and to rate her on her professional skills (such as her eye contact while talking to me), all while selling magazines.  Once she gets enough points, she can stop selling magazines and gets to be a mentor for inner city kids...whaaa?

Anywho, she asked me how I "entered the work force."

Blank stare.

Does a 2 month stint as a waitress in high school count?  Oh yea, I worked at a gift shop for about 5 months in college...

Yea, I can't help you.  Move along.

Believe me, I'm aware I have no marketable skills outside of science, thanks.  #whatshouldwecallgradschool

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Semblence of Normalcy

 Jeff, his dad, and brothers went fishing a few weeks ago- charter guide and all!  So that means we have a ton of fish in our freezer right now.  But with Jeff always being gone working in BR, covering football games on Friday nights, doing a clinic at the local prison (and other fun stuff), we haven't had much of an opportunity to enjoy any of it.

So when we found out he would be home this past Friday night, I jumped at the opportunity to cook a real meal together, that didn't involve following directions on a box (ok so the broccoli was frozen, but whatever).  We had two redfish fillets that have been waiting for just such an opportunity.  I found a recipe on the Food Network website and tweaked it a bit.  You can find the original recipe here.  The recipe is from Brigsten's, a popular New Orleans restaurant.  The official recipe name is Broiled Fish with Shrimp and Jalapeno-smoked Corn Beurre Blanc.  Sounds fancy, right?!

I wasn't going to spend time smoking corn to use, so I just used Mexicorn from a can.  Also used regular melted unsalted butter where it called for clarified butter.  And can I just say, it was incredible all the same!

I mean seriously, look at that butter.

Fresh jumbo Gulf shrimp from our local grocery

The jalapeno corn compound butter would also be amazing spread on hot cornbread.  I plan on just making that part of the recipe again to keep in my fridge for things like that!  I made the compound butter and deveined the shrimp ahead of time, so everything was prepped and ready to go...the actual cook time was only about 20 minutes or so.

I used to cook meals like this on a pretty regular basis, but since Jeff has been living in Baton Rouge they have become few and far between.  I'll admit, we've gotten in a bit of a dinner rut.  It's easy to do when life gets a little crazy.  Residency and grad school have a way of forcing you to prioritize your time, to streamline your life.  Cooking creative, fresh meals has a way of falling by the wayside.  But, every now and then it's nice to slow down and enjoy the process of cooking a nice meal together! 

And enjoy drinking the rest of the "cooking" wine ;)

What helps you get back to a sense of "normal" when your lives start to get a little too hectic?

Monday, October 15, 2012

The year flew by!

 Today is officially our one year wedding anniversary!  

Since it fell on a Monday, we celebrated on Saturday by going out to a nice dinner at August, which is John Besh's flagship restaurant here in New Orleans.


My family in St. Louis gave us this bottle of wine for our engagement and I have been saving it ever since.  I figured our 1 year anniversary was the perfect time to pop it open.  (Another cool thing about John Besh's restaurants?  He lets you BYOB with no corkage fee!)  

I started thinking about where the year has gone, and I realized it's gone to Jeff's residency.  Of our first year of marriage, he has been gone for 6.5 months.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is not normal!  It's been very challenging, but we've made it through.  Adjusting to married life can be hard for any couple, so I wasn't happy about having to spend so much time apart when I first learned of his 5th year schedule.  But we're on the downward slope now! 

The funny thing year in Jackson, he will do two 5 week rotations here in New Orleans.  So we're not out of the "away rotation woods" quite yet.  I guess I have gotten pretty used to it by now..

 So we'll take our celebrations when we can get them, since on the actual day of our anniversary Jeff is in another city.

We did the usual save your cake topper tradition and cut it on Sunday.  We've had the most terrible luck with refrigerators over the past year, and our cake actually defrosted no less than 3 times.  I was really expecting the worst, extremely freezer burned mess of a cake, but it wasn't too bad after all.  Not very good, but not terrible.

Our cake the day of our wedding

Red velvet for the top layer

So here's to many more years of marriage to come for us, hopefully spent living together! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Big Things

This week has been full of big things.  Great, exciting, big, scary things.

I got an initial decision back from the editor of the journal (PLoS ONE) I submitted one of my manuscripts to- I just have to make some minor revisions and it will very likely be published!  They call it "revise and resubmit"- which is a good thing!  Especially since the revisions are easily doable.  I have submitted a different revised manuscript to another journal (Endocrinology)- I'm still waiting to hear the final decision from that editor.  Everyone cross your fingers!

I am actually published now on another manuscript, although not first author on this one.  That means it was another grad student's project, but I contributed a significant amount to her experiment.  You can find my name in lights here:

Neurobiology of Learning and Memory- Nelson et al 2012

AND...drum roll please...a professor at the med school in Jackson e-mailed me today and offered me an interview for a post-doc position in her lab next year!!!  The best news is that she is willing to let me do a short post-doc.  Most people want you to commit to at least 2 years, usually more, which is why I never really considered a post-doc to be an option for next year.  Remember- we will only be in Jackson for 1 year for Jeff to do his Sports Medicine fellowship.  I guess there's always the possibility he could work something out in Jackson and stay a bit longer, but it really seems like this professor is willing to work something out with me!  I'm going up to interview sometime next month so I'll know more details after I talk with her in person.

Can I just say:  NETWORK PEOPLE!  The only reason I got this offer is because I used my connections from my undergrad in Jackson and one of my old professors passed my CV along to the medical school.  There are a grand total of ZERO post-doc openings posted anywhere online for Jackson.  So the only way to find out about openings is to cold call professors whose research seems interesting or to use connections.  Admittedly, "using" people doesn't come easily to me.  I always feel like I am inconveniencing people.  I just had to realize that in research, a lot of times it's not what you know, but who you know.

I was really about to give up on next year.  I'd gotten really frustrated trying to figure out what my path will be after I graduate in the spring.  I'm still not sure if this post-doc is the right choice for me, but sometimes all you need is for someone to want you and make you feel like you're doing a good job in order to get motivated again.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Birthday Boy

I completely missed this month's Medical Mondays bloghop.  Sorry to all my fellow peeps who normally link up!  I had the best intentions, but just couldn't get a post together in time..

Jeff and I spent last weekend celebrating his 31st birthday.  31!  As in, not just barely out of his 20's, but moving full force ahead into a new decade of life.  31 is very adult sounding, isn't it?  This is the same age he will be when he finishes residency- big things people!

Last year was the big 3-0 though and I went all out planning a surprise party.  Here's the fancy 30 year old person cake I got him last year:


And here's the not-so-fancy 31 year old person cake he got this year, homemade by yours truly:

You're never too old for Funfetti.

You know, basically the same thing.

But we did have two nights of delicious birthday dinners where we spent way too much money...

First was Mexican with a couple friends at The Velvet Cactus in the Lakeview area of Nola.  The whole place has Christmas lights and funky decorations everywhere, such as this:


It was one of those meals where you are so stuffed you can't move afterwards.   You may have won this time Cactus...

And then Saturday night we went to a new-ish sushi place Uptown called Chiba.  The (very good looking and single!) owner happened to be our waiter for the night and to say he is obsessed with sake is an understatement.  He helped us navigate his extensive cold sake menu and after a 15 minute speech on the different types and qualities of each sake we ended up going with our usual option- the second cheapest bottle on the menu, which happened to be this one:


It was perfectly fine for our non-sake-discerning palates, thanks.  I'm sure the owner/waiter was judging us.

Oh, and we also had some sushi with our sake:

Very tasty indeed!

Told you I NEED a new iPhone with flash.  I'm ruining birthday memories!  I'm good at justifying wants into needs, see?

Believe me, it was good.