Tuesday, November 27, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Solace

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

We are all just a car crash,
a diagnosis,
an unexpected phone call,
a newfound love,
or a broken heart away from becoming a
completely different person.

How beautifully fragile are we
that so many things can
take but a moment
to alter
who we are
for forever?

Friday, November 23, 2018


Yesterday, Grey and I were invited to join Rain and McRuger for an annual holiday tradition of spending time at the beach. Initially, we worried that the trip would be canceled due to rain and I was worried that everyone and their mother would have a similar idea leading to crowds, but driving out to the coast proved both to be pleasant and we were rewarded with an amazing day of an empty beach and warm ocean waves.

On the drive home, with everyone covered in sand and smelling of the Pacific, Grey and I talked about how much we had missed this coast. While in Seattle and near the end of graduate school, we had made it a tradition to go to the beach as much as possible. From the kite festivals to sand castle contests to simply hunting for shipwrecks, the ocean was a place of refuge. It's something we haven't been able to do reliably for the past few years, and yet the benefits from yesterday made it clear it was time to prioritize.

In addition to ocean time, Maddy has been hounding me for a knit unicorn. Documenting the Guatedamas toys resulted in her discovering a unicorn knit toy that made her insistent for one of her own. Three days ago, while in the midst of being stuck indoors, I caved and we raided my stash of leftover yarn to make this a reality.

The end result: meet Neela.

Sitting up last night, adding the final strands to Neela's mane, I reflected on where I'm at this year compared to years past. Unemployment sucks and I'm a bit bummed I haven't heard anything about the 2 interviews last week. We're also in the thick of transition with Grey's work, with his boss and boss's boss being pleased about what he's producing, but him still needing to meet goals before the end of the year. Finally, Maddy and Teddy, though doing awesome in some aspects (school is something they both are enjoying and excelling at) are struggling in others, with hyperactivity being very much on my mind.

Despite this, we have a lot to be thankful for. That we are on the other side of so many hard things and working to overcome others. That we still have the ability to do certain things that we once thought would be impossible or forever lost. That certain joys and gifts never really leave us. But also that hurts and heartaches can evolve, becoming something we never would have imagined at the beginning of the journey.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Let it rain

It's been a smokey past few days. With school canceled and warnings about air quality impacting health, finding forms of distraction has been quite a project. Something that is hard enough to explain to two Kindergarteners, never mind two cats.

Hence waking up this morning to raindrops brought a lot of cheering in our household. The promise of umbrellas, puddle jumping, but most importantly, more than a few minutes spent outside.

The air already smells different, like smoked tea as the smoke particles mix with the water. The promise of squelching the fires while quenching parched earth. Each drop bringing relief that is long overdue.

All while the four organisms that have been beyond excited about listening to the rhythm on the roof.

Let it rain

Friday, November 16, 2018

Plan B

Yesterday afternoon, within minutes of arriving home after my interview, I received an automated phone call from the school district informing me that school would be canceled tomorrow due to air quality. After driving through the haze all morning, I wasn't surprised, but it doesn't make the situation any less scary especially learning that all the universities and community colleges had already suspended classes for the same reason.

Racing to Teddy and Maddy's school to catch the teachers before they left (turning in homework that had thankfully already been completed and getting planned activities for the break), I found myself reflecting on all the natural disasters that caused school closures that we've lived through. From blizzards to hurricanes (and blizzard hurricanes) to floods, we've seen a lot. Poor air quality is a new one and something that I frankly am not prepared for.

Today is about learning how to manage. With school canceled and warnings about being outdoors of extended periods, I've been trying to find indoor activities knowing full well others likely have similar ideas. Grey has been researching getting another air purifier (we have a small one that we fished out to use), but I've actually also started considering face masks given that recovering from a cold has taking a lot longer and my lungs are starting to hurt from all the particulates in the air. All this on top of monitoring maps of local fires and being vigilant about any signs of smoke.

This morning, I'm forming a new plan B. Because, given all the trends and the destruction, I'm thinking this will become a new norm.

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Today is day 4 of interviews; all of which wasn't originally planned.

The original plan was an in-person interview on Monday and follow-up with two of the scientists who weren't able to be on site due to the holiday. The original plan was all the stress would be front-loaded in the week, and to continue job hunting for the rest of the week.

Then I got a request for a phone interview for another company, with me thinking "why not" as the opportunity was very different but also very interesting. Meaning back-to-back remote interviews on Tuesday that resulted in scheduling 2 days of an in-person interview for Wednesday and Thursday to work around the upcoming holiday.

Add in the fact the air quality has been at unhealthy levels for a week now and I can easily tell I'm hitting burn-out.

Grey informed me today that there's another fire, with this one being only a few miles from where we live. Looking at the hillsides, it's not surprising that one would start given that we are surrounded by a lot of brown, but it's still disconcerting to know these are getting closer.

That the rains most normally expect haven't come.

How in denial so many around me are about the changing world; something Grey and I have been hyperaware of for so long which is in stark contrast to the reactions we see from so many.

Yesterday one of the people interviewing me asked why I was making a career shift. I'm armed with many answers to this question given all that I've lived through over the past few years, but the response that seemed to surprise them was that I not only saw so many amazing things happening within this industry but also felt that my training as an educator and a scientist has uniquely prepared me to work with clients when facing unexpected outcomes or encountering unforeseen complications or problems. Talking more about this, we discussed how managed chaos is extremely common in many start-up environments, with those who excel having mechanisms in place to manage the stress and anxiety that comes would so many balls being in the air. That success not only requires effective communication but also being able to project a sense of calm while internally all your cylinders are firing.

Driving home yesterday through the haze and encountering people wearing surgical masks to counteract the smoke (even though it's well known the masks don't work), I began to realize how important a facade of calm is in daily lives but particularly in moments of disruption. Giving people something to grasp or look to when faced with uncertainty is extremely valuable, often being the element determining success vs failure.

The problem is this skill, though valuable, is often not something most will learn without having to sustain a fair amount of discomfort for an extended period of time. It's hard to teach resilience in a culture that currently promotes avoidance and echo chambers with the fear of prolonged discomfort and pain being driving factors for avoidance.

All this made me wonder how to counteract that avoidance, encouraging people to face uncomfortable truths and situations that don't have easy answers. Something I certainly don't have the answer for how to overcome

Part 2 of interviewing happens today. All while dealing with so many other things.

Hopefully I'll be able to stay awake for the drive home.

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


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


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. 


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


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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