Monday, November 12, 2018

#MicroblogMonday: Before the interview

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.


Interviews are a double-edged sword. Though I'm terribly excited about this position and am honored to be invited for a formal interview, I am also dreading the talk I'm giving and being on the spot. My brain wants to be in a million other places instead of sitting in front of my computer, rehearsing my presentation and reviewing the published literature from the different members of the group (all of which is extremely interesting, btw). 

Sensing this, Grey took it upon himself to take a day out of work to watch Maddy and Teddy and kicked me out of the apartment so I could focus. There's something enduring and loving about someone who knows all your bad habits and puts mechanisms into place to prevent you from self-destructing.

The problem I now face is I've found myself at a coffee shop where other procrastinators have also set up shop. Glancing to my right is a woman alternating between her phone and cat-napping, all while the LSAT practice test is visible on her laptop screen. Directly across from me is a man who has appears to primarily be engaged with writing something involving, but has a secondary project with flirting with anyone who's attention he has caught. Never mind the usual coffee shop patrons that are there for social purposes. 

Oddly enough, all of this is helping me focus while distracting me from the underlying jitters I've been feeling all morning.

Still, Grey would likely be smacking if he saw where I was currently planted.

I'm preparing as best I can, getting myself back into a mindset I haven't been in for a few months. Earbuds in with me using the background chatter as an excuse to practice in a hushed tone and focusing on transitions and cues as well as questions I have for the different members of the team.

Because no matter the outcome, I want to nail this. Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Surrounded by smoke

There are 5 fires rage in California at the moment. 5. To people watching the news, the images coming from the front lines can seem surreal but here in the Bay Area the smoke is evidence of how destructive everything is.

For the past 2 days, we've been told to stay indoors. The sun is blocked for much by all the smoke that it is a red ball easy to stare directly at (something I normally wouldn't advise doing).


Breathing has also been an issue. Give that we are all fighting off a cold virus, Grey and I have been vigilant about Maddy and Teddy's breathing while watching one another. Apparently, I've been the worse of the lot, coughing and feeling fatigued easily. It's been a bit humbling.

It's been an interesting past few days. I watched my neighbors confront smokers, asking them to be mindful about where they dispose of their cigarettes (something they normally don't do) due to the fear of losing everything. I've seen people wearing masks to protect themselves while outside (which has been abnormally quiet). And I've witnessed severe anger at political leadership over flippant comments about how all of this is being managed, with them having loved ones currently on the front lines fighting these fires. 

In summary, we're living in a world surrounded by smoke. I'm hoping that it clears soon, ushering in the rains that are long overdue.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Pause

It's 10 am before I decide to look at the news. After a morning spent wrapping my head around interview preparation and weekend activities, I figured I was in a place where I could read about all that was happening in the world we live in. Scrolling through the headlines, I stopped when I came upon one that included "Michelle Obama" and "infertility." Taking a moment to reread what I just read, I clicked on the link and suddenly found myself fighting off tears as I read about someone I considered a role model candidly talking about miscarriage, IVF and marriage struggles.

All of this huge in an of itself.

But what's making my brain whirl is one line from our former First Lady: 

"I think it's the worst thing we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies, how they work and how they don't work."

Suddenly, something I've been putting off as I didn't feel like it was my role is something I now know I need to tackle.

We live in a world where biotechnology is rapidly advancing. From gene editing (CRISPR, TALENs, ZFNs) to Next Generation Sequencing to the advent of Synthetic Biology, we're officially in an insane period where scientists are doing and discovering things that only a few years ago would have been science fiction. And yet, the general public struggles to grasp what all this means and how these advances are already impacting our daily lives. From debates about the ethics of stem cell technologies and tissue engineering to genetically editing human embryos and our crops to grasping what information we get from direct to consumer DNA testing, there's a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings.

The world of fertility treatments is especially prone to these issues. Given that fertility treatments are still treated as optional consumer products, many in the trenches struggle to understand the protocols and procedures that are considered standard throughout the world. Never mind when these new technologies are introduced by medical practitioners who have zero clue how the analysis is done or what the biology behind these protocols actually looks like.

So, I've decided to start sharing that here, given that for the past 7 years teaching diverse audiences about genetics and biotechnology has been my job and is the soup I swim in.

I cannot promise I'll have all the answers to every technical point, especially given that a lot of this technology is proprietary. But I can give those reading a basic understanding, arming you with enough information to understand the lingo.

Because Michelle Obama is absolutely right: we need to understand our bodies, how they work and how they don't. And for anyone facing an infertility diagnosis, you need to understand what is known vs what isn't, allowing you to make informed choices about your body not only while you're in the trenches, but beyond.

So, first up is a brief history about DNA sequencing, an overview on Next Generation Sequencing and the current rat race that's happening in this arena. 

More soon.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Poof

There are moments where I hate being right. These moments usually involve horrible situations, where others get hurt or danger is near that others have ignored. So when the truth comes out, leaving others in shock, its hard not to be left feeling a bit sad.

Today at pick-up, I learned that the kid who bit Teddy last month is no longer attending the same elementary school. I had a feeling this was coming given that I hadn't seen him since the biting incident at aftercare, but upon seeing his assigned spaced removed and doing a quick internet search for the mother that revealed all social media accounts that were previously visible, including mailing address, completely gone, I knew it wasn't a good sign.

It's never a good sign when people disappear. Usually, there are rumblings of a move or new job that the kids chat about but with this situation there's been nothing. And that's not sitting well with me, given all the fire that was happening with this mother. 

Jinx

Back in February, I found myself invited for a job interview for a position I didn't know I would be extremely excited about. Though I didn't get the position (which I was more than a bit heartbroken over), I was surprised that I would even be somewhat excited about the prospect of going back to the bench.

That feeling stuck with me as I began ramping up my job hunting in October. Though most of the research positions left me fighting off deep yawns as I read through the job advertisements (medical device development and health care are areas I really don't have direct interests in), I found a few gems that left me excited as I tapped into my training and knowledge base, making me re-evaluate why I love science, but also the road I've taken with my training.

All this came front and center yesterday during a phone interview. Whereas other interviews have left me feeling like I was stretching (with me once stopping a recruiter and telling them I wasn't going to be a good fit), this one felt easy because I was genuinely interested in the project and could relate my experience to what they were looking for. The person interviewing me (who will be the supervisor for this project) was also very straightforward, making it clear that there's no ego on the line other than the work needed to drive all this forward.

The end result is that I've been invited for an in-person interview. I have to brush up my talk and do so reading to prepare, but the hope is that this will be sometime next week.

I'm not going to lie; I want this job. The work excites me and this opportunity will open so many doors. Plus this is a field that is rapidly expanding, with many companies throwing insane amounts of money at this general field of work, all with the focus on crop improvement and addressing issues like food shortage (hunger and malnutrition are still the number 1 cause of death around the world) and alternative energy development.

The problem comes in that I'm worried about jinxing myself with confessing my excitement, setting myself up for failure and disappointment.

So, here I go again. For better or for worse, putting myself out there and hoping that this time the stars align.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

VOTE!

The morning drop for school started out as usual. Maddy and Teddy made their way to their respective classrooms and were getting settled in when someone asked me what I was doing this morning. As I helped them hang up their coats, I mentioned that I needed to drop off Grey's and my ballots at one of the local dropboxes so they could be counted.

When the other person asked, "Why?" I found myself utterly dumbfounded that they didn't know today was election day. When I probed further, the response of "well, voting doesn't matter" launched me into a tirade that made every adult in the room become incredibly quiet.

Thing is, I don't care that I made them uncomfortable. Given our world today, with so many of in that room actively facing the negative consequences of this current administration, I was floored this attitude even existed.

One thing I really cannot forgive is that anyone with the right to vote not exercising it solely because it is inconvenient. Yes, some groups are being blocked for exercising this right and this needs to be stopped. Yes, voter registration is not readily accessible in some areas and that needs to be fixed. And yes, access to polling stations is not always convenient or easy, which also needs to be rectified. But simply not voting because you don't think it matters? Yeah, that attitude needs adjustment.

We live in a deeply divided country where the rights of a few are being pushed over the needs of so many. I get that everyone has opinions and viewpoints, with some being wildly different from mine, but given that the right to vote is a privilege we have in this country that many around the world do not have isn't something that should be taken lightly. In addition, voting is how you put those opinions and beliefs you hold so dear into action.


In short, VOTE. Instead of lecturing me about your ideals and beliefs, polluting the world with more hot air, get yourself to your local polling place and cast your ballot.

Because every vote does count.

Monday, November 5, 2018

#MicroblogMonday: Case of the Mondays

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Some days the best option seems to be simply crawling back into bed. After a frantic morning of getting two cranky small humans off to school followed by sending an email to my current boss, avoiding responding to her statement that she has no idea what I'm currently doing, and taking inventory of all the things that need to be completed in the next 24 hours, I'm officially ready for a nap.

Fighting a case of the Mondays. 
 
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