Foo on the AMCAS!!! Foo on you!!!

It’s the end of May/beginning of June. If you’re an academic scientist in the biomedical sciences this means two things…

There is an NIH deadline and medical school applications start to open through AMCAS.

Now, I try so hard to be chill. I am very upfront with students. If you ask me for a letter, the NIH deadline is June 5th. This means that I will totally write your letters that week, but there is no way I can get them in June 1st. I stop teaching mid-May and I really need this time to solidify my lab’s summer plans and to finish my grant applications.

no way

I write so many letters and I will write a student the world’s most supportive letter as soon as I submit the my summer grant. If you truly need it the day the applications open, I am not your gal. For 90% of students, this is fine. But there are still some students who think they get an edge by getting their application in five days earlier and that creates conflict.

But, you know, the AMCAS could help us all out.  I have to imagine that the majority of us writing letters are chasing the NIH train. Why do they make the bloody (revised from motherfucking) deadline within a couple of days of the NIH deadline??? Why not June 15th? Why not May 15th???  Am I the only one who sees this disconnect???

June 15th for the AMCAS!!! FTW!!!!


help me im poor

Always For the Babies…

yellow brick shoesI didn’t always want to be a university professor. I’m pretty honest about that when I meet with undergraduates to discuss careers and professions. For a while, I just followed the next logical step. Undergraduate, to graduate school when my husband-at-the-time wanted to go, and then a postdoc because that was what you were supposed to do. I met a young woman the other day that told me that she’s know since she was three years old that she wanted to be a doctor. I admire her. I was never that confident in my career aspirations – until two things happened…

First, I found myself in pediatric critical care, where I had the opportunity to see an application for my work. I got to know the NICU chief and the cardiologists. It was stunned to see babies that weighed less than a pound. I also had a child of my own, which gave me some small insight into what the parents of our hospitalized patients might be experiencing. I don’t have the calling to be a physician, but I did feel a calling to try and help these patients in some other way.  That’s central to the first sentence of my lab’s mission –

Our primary mission is to understand how events that happen immediately after birth impact the short- and long-term cardiopulmonary health of the premature infant, and to develop strategies to help them achieve the best quality of life possible.

I think the students that come to the lab can articulate that this is what motivates me. Which is the other thing that happened to inform my career path. I learned how much I enjoy doing to research with students. They’re enthusiastic and they breathe new life and ideas into the enterprise. It’s fun to watch them learn and succeed.  Those experiences are what pushed me toward an academic department with undergraduate and graduate programs. I like feeling like I am helping students progress in their goals. any job has is stressors and frustrations (especially one that is reliant on the federal government for its funding), so it’s nice to be reminded of the two things that motivate me to keep trying to be better – the students and the babies.

Leaving this here for myself for when I need those reminders…


One is Still the Loneliest Number

Michael & Melissa Belizean Shores Belize Wedding (SS) -5Strange and I are currently enjoying four months of marital bliss. It feels like yesterday and forever ago that we ran off to Belize to exchange vows in an 8 minute ceremony.  It feels like yesterday and forever ago. I think our wedding vows (the second time around for each of us) were more tempered and realistic. We promised to love each other, and to accept each others’ children as our own, but dramatic protestations of forever were sparser. I think a second marriage makes you more rational. You agree to stay together as long as you both agree to keep listening and trying.

Michael & Melissa Belizean Shores Belize Wedding (SS) -30.jpg

I take the part about our children pretty seriously. I’m trying my best to treat all five of them equally, and as if they were my own. Their needs are different, though. The oldest is off in college and needs life advice more than she needs to have her basic needs met. The youngest is a rapscallion who needs more elementary parenting. Our middle child is a teenager in every sense and needs his father to help him learn to grow into the same sort of strong, loving man that his father is. The baby (Tiny Diva) and her brother (Little I) get the most snuggles, but he’s the recipient of the biggest act of love. Even though we’re married, Strange still lives in his former town (four hours away) 2-4 days per week to be with his son. We’ve been doing this for two and a half years. We have three more to go until he graduates from high school. We’ve been able to compromise a bit on where we spend our weekends to decrease our monthly days apart from 14 to 10. I’m not in a position to travel more to decrease that number, but I can’t ask Strange for a different arrangement.  His son needs him.

I thought at one point that this would get easier as time would go on. I would get used to being apart and develop into a strong woman who is really good at being on her own. Really, the opposite is true. The longer we’ve done it, the harder it gets. I asked myself if this was just about being a “single mom.” Do I long to have him here because I’m overwhelmed by life? Not really.  We’ve gotten help around the house and I continue to miss my husband more and more every week. Every week when he leaves, he comes back inside for even more “one last kiss.”

I think I miss him for all oMichael & Melissa Belizean Shores Belize Wedding (SS) -11.jpgf the reasons I married him. He’s generous and loyal and loving. He fills a hole with the things that were missing from my life. We spend so much of our day together – at work, family and recreation- and there’s a void when he’s gone. He’s a good friend and I miss having that person here. I’ve wondered if I’m being pathetic and should just find some more local friends to spend time with. But, I don’t want that. I want him.

The question now is how to fix “me” in all of this. Frankly, I’m leaning toward taking the
Jane Austen route. Pining in dignified silence until I finally lay down and die quietly of consumption. Perhaps an angsty poem or two will come of all of this, thereby cementing our tragic love affair forever in history.

You know. For the ages.