Archive for July, 2011


reaffirming that this is all a good idea

July 27, 2011

Even several months out from leaving research, and approaching a year since I started to make the decision, I keep finding these things that tell me it’s okay, it was a good idea, I don’t have to feel bad about leaving.

Today’s resource of choice?  “I am not wasting my Ph.D.” from project steph.  I don’t have one to waste, but it is nice to hear someone tell me that they didn’t waste 5+ years — therefore, I didn’t waste 3.

A favorite excerpt (emphasis hers, part of the organization of the post):

I’ve already decided to leave research, so I will just have to make use of my training as best as I can.

I have decided for multiple reasons that research is not the best fit for me. Thus, whether or not I am wasting my training is sort of a moot point. These are the two primary reasons why I left academia and the research bench:

  1. I was not personally fulfilled with bench research (i.e. the cycle of designing experiments, executing them, troubleshooting them, and analyzing the data). I was pretty sure I could find a job that I enjoyed more.
  2. I saw that the career path ahead (specifically that of an academic researcher) is extremely competitive and difficult. Jobs and funding are scarce. I just didn’t think that the academic research path was a good fit with other things I wanted/needed from life. (Some of these things were money and a desire to live in a specific geographical location.)

In other words, 1) I don’t wanna and 2) it’s gonna suck. I’m not left with much motivation to continue with a bench career or stay in academia. Why should I work so hard for something I don’t really want in the first place?

Exactly.  I didn’t wanna, and it was gonna suck.

Off to tell the masses about plant immune systems!


the coolest thing about being a journalist

July 21, 2011

I have a reporter superpower.  It’s called “the phone.”

It’s amazing.  These days, if I have a question, I can just look up an expert and call them.  BAM.  Done.  Instant answers.

Or, well, voicemail, voicemail, email, BAM.  Done.  Almost instant answers.

Case in point: my fun allergy situation the other night.  I think I’ve tracked it down, and actually it makes a funny reporting anecdote if I’m right (and my doc thinks I am), so I’m writing a column about it for the paper.  This means that I have full license to wave around my press credentials to get access to world experts … who I then will ask about the science behind an allergy that I (am pretty sure I) have.

This is awesome.


things that are not okay: histamine edition

July 18, 2011

I had a super fun evening last night (in a manner of speaking), but I’m okay.  But, that said, some things are definitely not okay:

  • Aggressive A/C in the ER.  Brrrrr, turn it down!  Some of us have IV lines in and can’t put sweaters on, you know.
  • Hives on the palms of hands.  I dare you to try to scratch it and make it feel better instead of way, way worse.
  • Ears swelling shut.  What?  What’d you say?  You’re going to give me an IV of what?  Eyes, on the other hand, are kind of okay, since it gives you an excuse to not work to keep them open.  And believe me, that’s a big challenge after getting a syringe full of benadryl straight down the veins.
  • Being on prednisone and having no chocolate, ice cream, or cookies in the house.  This was an intentional, health-protective choice on my part, but boy am I regretting it.
  • Being knocked down again just as I’d re-established momentum at work post-migraine.
  • Having very little idea what caused a seriously terrifying allergy.
  • My phone ringing off the hook just as I was coming out of the drug daze this morning (but I love y’all anyway and was sorry to worry you).

So, yeah.  Late night last night in the ER, but all’s well that ends well, I suppose.  I’m down for the count for at least today, but I imagine I’ll be back up and stumbling (I’m on lots of antihistimines) by tomorrow afternoon.

But I promise I’m okay.  I have two tentative theories about what might have happened, and I’ve already scheduled an appointment to check it out.


on loving — but sometimes not — one’s job

July 13, 2011

I’ve had an interesting experience over the past few days.  First of all, I had a migraine.  This in and of itself isn’t interesting or new.  The degree of severity, new symptoms, incredible duration, and lack of response to my prescription drugs exhibited by this migraine were definitely all interesting and new, if by “interesting” you mean “dear god make it stop.”  Let’s just say for brevity’s sake that I definitely have a doctor’s appointment for next week and I was laid up on and off to one degree or another since last Friday.

What was most interesting, though, was how much my opinion of my job turned around once I started feeling better.  Towards the end of last week when the headache was impending and finally hit, I was feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and undersupported, and a few times I felt like I was right back in grad school.  Monday and Tuesday of this week, I felt even worse, and hated myself for failing to get things done well, and taking so long (in newsroom time) to get them done at all.

But today, I felt like I was queen of the newsroom.  My editor and I talked about a story I’d been struggling with, and he wants me to expand it into a big piece that will totally indulge my nerdiness.  Better, when I fessed up to him that I had no idea what I was doing and was really afraid of stories like this one where there are lots of pieces to stitch together, he told me, “this is your chance to get some experience and get better — use it!”  Yay supportive mentors!  And finally, when I picked up a story for tomorrow at 1 p.m., I did all the reporting and had it to my editor by 6:30 p.m (reality check: this is slow for experienced journalists, but a record for me, at least for a story more complex than “the smoke blew in from the east today, and meteorologists say it will be gone tomorrow”).  Plus, it was a really cool story.

Basically, today I was able to communicate effectively with my editor, do my job efficiently, and I enjoyed the crap out of it the whole time.  I couldn’t do any of that when I was feeling shitty.

It really makes me wonder if I would have felt better about grad school if, well, I’d felt better.