Thursday, December 7, 2017

And then it got odd

Where to even begin with this one? 

I could start with the fact that I went into yesterday day dreading the 4 separate meetings I had lined up; that I was utterly convinced it would be another day filled with fighting and disappointments.

And how none of that happened.

What happened was instead of E and me spending my first meeting trying to convince the director to run the course I was proposing next fall or spring, giving me time to develop it, he informed E and me we should run it, having the students help us with the building and development. That he's long been looking for something that marries genomics with engineering, giving the students real experience of what getting a research program off the ground looks like. Both E and I sat in stunned silence, looking at one another because this NEVER HAPPENS. The added cherry is that there's an internal grant for developing science education programs like mine that she and the director want me to apply for. Suddenly I have a course and a potential funding mechanism for gathering data for future grants. Pinch me.

Second meeting was a job interview. That I was 20 minutes late for because the person screening candidates failed to pass on the phone conference information. I figured I was doomed, with it now just being a formality. But what should have been a 20 minute interview with the managing editors for the publishing house the position is in turned into a 60 minute conversation. They informed me at the end that they would be setting up an final interview for next week (something I need to formally confirm today). Yeah . . . .

My third meeting was for a former student who is looking for a mentor. I wasn't jazzed about the proposal, but when I learned that her faculty mentor for the science club project her team was working on is basically flaking, I decided I could spend a few hours a week giving feedback and offering guidance and support. This stuff is second nature to me and can be a lot of fun. 

The final meeting involved me meeting with all the faculty and the teaching assistant who have been involved in the graduate-level course I've been co-teaching. Since it involved my co-instructor/course head who apologized for my performance, I figured it would be one where I would be sitting back, taking the brunt of humiliation about the course being a failure. What happened instead was the Nobel laureate who ran the first half of the course posed a very simple, but important question: are we training the next generation of scientists or are we training super technicians? As my course head sat in stunned silence, I jumped in and told the laureate I thought the course was designed to train scientists, but where the complaints were coming from was a mindset of super technicians who didn't understand that though the emerging methodology was amazing (and that's what industry is hiring for), it's the questions that advance the field. Somewhere in the middle of this, when my course head tried to end the discussion arguing there was nothing that could be done, he confessed that he had apologized to the students about disappointing them. The reaction from this Nobel laureate was utterly priceless: shock, horror wrapped up with some anger over enabling behavior he believes is hindering these students from growing. The meeting ended with some 12 year old Macallan scotch, with me having a moment where I realized how strange and surreal it was that I was sitting at that table. Just wow.

There are two final cherries for this day. The first being that there is a recently advertised position I'm pretty excited about at my current institution. But given all how my contract was ended, I haven't wanted to apply as I'm worried I'm seen as toxic. Both E and the science director told me I should contact the program director to ask for a meeting. The warning being that this high-powered individual who is well-known within the science education community likely wouldn't get back to me for awhile and to let them know if it was longer than a week for response.

I heard back within an hour of sending the email and have a meeting for Friday.

Oh, and Grey has a interview regarding a permanent position at his company while also getting an email from some higher-ups at an extremely well-known and advancing sequencing company about wanting to chat about him potentially working for them. &*(#@!

So . . . yesterday was odd. So odd that when I got home, I did all the bad things you're not suppose to do as a parent (allowing the kids access to the TV remote, pizza for dinner, extended playtime prior to bed instead of quiet reading) while also opening a beer (and handing one to Grey too after he walked through the door). I'm so use to rejection, bad news and fighting tooth-and-nail for any progress that yesterday just felt WAY too easy. Granted, nothing formal has been offered. There's work to be done. All of this could fall apart tomorrow.

Still, there actually may be a way forward and I may not be half as screwed as I believed myself to be. And I'm looking for that one word in the English language to summarize all the emotions and reactions to that possibility.


  1. This post makes me happy. You both deserve all the breaks. I can’t wait to hear how some of these possibilities play out. It feels like it things are to come.

  2. Woah. That sounds like an unusual set of meetings. But also awesome.

  3. I think you need to come up with a whole new word for that! Sending good thoughts to you.

  4. I cannot stop smiling. I want to pinch you and high five you and toast you and send vibes for continued reasons to get out the Macallan.

  5. I'm smiling after reading this too. You deserve every good thing that happened that day, and that might be coming your way in the future! :) Fingers crossed for you & Grey!

  6. Oh, I"m catching up, but I so hope that this good news train did not get derailed. So many cherries in this day! I'm glad you had a day of encouragement instead of the crap sandwich you seem to be handed, constantly, lately. Hoping all kept going up!

  7. Love this update!! It's always great to have a fantastic day filled with possibilities!


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