Archive for: December, 2010

Happy New Year!

Dec 31 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

This year--hell, this month--has been so chock-full of action, I wouldn't even know where to start a recap. You're all probably quite tired of recaps and top 10's and whatnot anyway, right? Some of my action is currently unbloggable, but suffice to say that there's no possible universe in which 2011 will be boring. For me.


I hope you all have a safe and happy NYE tonight. J and I are hosting a little dinner party, and I will be preparing a pork tenderloin, Wellington style. I feel that this way, even if '11 ends up being horrible, at least I started it eating pork wrapped in pork, wrapped in puff pastry.

*If the ecard doesn't make all that much sense to you, please familiarize yourself with This Is Spinal Tap. Immediately.

9 responses so far

A holiday cocktail for you!

Dec 23 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

We're almost there, lovely readers--it's Christmas Eve Eve. As a member of the Other Team, I normally don't care much one way or the other about such things, but this year I have some very fun plans with some people I adore, and thus the Holiday Spirit is upon me.

I hope that you, too, will be spending the holidays with people you love and not people who are crazy. But whether it's the former, latter, or a healthy mix of both, you'll probably want a cocktail, amirite?

There are a lot of fancy Hot Buttered Rum recipes out there (ice cream WTF?), but a good HBR really requires only butter, rum, and hotness. IMHO this one is the best around, because it's simple, delicious, and portable! You can make a huge batch of the butter mixture and keep it in your purse the fridge or bring it to parties. Then just add rum and hot water!  Instant holiday awesomeness, wherever you are! To make it, do the following:

Cream one stick of softened unsalted butter together with 2 cups light brown sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of nutmeg, and just a pinch each of ground cloves and salt. Refrigerate until it firms up a little.

Scoop ~2 tablespoons of the butter mixture into a mug, and add 2 oz dark-ish rum (just stay away from the silver, really). Top with boiling water, stir, and garnish with a cinnamon stick or star anise if it pleases you. Like I said above, instant holiday awesomeness.

Have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday, everyone!

10 responses so far

Interview No. 1 (with pictures!)

Dec 21 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Say, you've been thinking to yourself, didn't Dr Becca have her first faculty interview last week? I wonder how it went?

Well, wonder no longer, lovely readers--I'm here to spill. Now, in the interest of self-preservation I can't spill too many revealing details, but I'll do what I can.

First, let's back up to last Saturday, when out of nowhere I had a complete and utter meltdown. Suddenly I was positive I knew nothing about my field, about my own research, or, now that you mention it, about neuroscience in general. I felt there was no amount of reading I could do between then and the interview that would allow me to answer even the most basic of questions in an acceptable way.  What if they saw through my ruse? What was I going to talk about with admins and students? And what if I couldn't stay awake?

But because you are all the absolute BOMB, I was feeling great again in under 24 hours. The post received amazing comments, many of which just told me to calm the fuck down, and most of which gave concrete, knowledgable advice for which I'll always be grateful. I heart you guys.

So by the time I was actually on my way, I was feeling pretty good. Of course, there were the 15 minutes I stood on a street corner in the icy cold Brooklyn wind, unable to hail a cab to the airport. That didn't feel too good. And then there was my airplane, perhaps only a category or two above "paper."

You see how I am outside the plane? This, I feel, is a bad sign, when your plane is too small to hook up with a JetWay(tm). Now, I'm sure there are some of you who right about now are all, "Oh please, I've flown in a two-seater" or whatever. Well I have not, and everything is relative, so please STFU.

When I arrived in Interview City, I was picked up by a nice faculty member who explained that he wouldn't be able to come to my interview events the next day, and he thus proceeded to interview me in the car. That was fun. The interview was intermingled with a few tourist attraction acknowledgements, and I was also treated to a campus-drive through. Very impressive, I have to admit.

He then dropped me off at my hotel, where I had about half an hour to freshen up before dinner. The hotel was in this beautiful old Victorian something-or-other, with pretty antiques, old-fashioned window panes, and a four-poster bed larger than some NYC apartments.

You can't see it, but there was smoke coming out of the chimney, there. Impossibly quaint, and I ate it all up.

Dinner was with a mixed group of faculty and students, and though I should have been exhausted, I'd taken a 12-hr decongestant, so I was, in fact, kind of wired. What I seemed to recall from all my advice was that people were there to hear me talk, so I just talked. Dinner conversation was a little about science and a lot about Convince the New Yorker that Interview City Has Cultural Stuff to Do and Delicious Ethnic Food to Eat. It was very charming, really.

The one drawback to my impossibly quaint hotel was that there was no hotel bar in which to have a nightcap. I love hotel bars (and I loooove nightcaps), so this was disappointing, but I settled for a mini-sized wine from reception and settled into my giant bed to go over my talk and to call several of my favorite people for goodnight chats.

Honestly? I got the best sleep I'd had in ages. I was pooped from traveling, I was in this enormous bed, and I'd eaten dinner at 7 o'clock, which is 4-5 hrs earlier than I normally eat dinner. I went to bed early and woke up before my alarm went off, feeling well rested and excited to start the day.

And the day was great! Everyone was super nice and surprisingly candid about the pros and cons of the department, school, and city. I got to see the labs, and have a nice chat with some of the grad students. My talk went incredibly smoothly, and I got so many questions that my host had to cut them off so we could move on to lunch. I remembered Physioprof's sage advice that people like to feel smart, and so I did my best to praise every question I got for its astuteness and insight. And really, I didn't even feel like I got questions I couldn't answer! I had been warned that the department Papa Bear might give me a hard time, and while he did sidle up to me at lunch and pretty much co-opt the entire conversation, I really enjoyed it! Great sciency chat.

I also really enjoyed one of the parts I'd been most nervous about--my meeting with the Dean. He was immensely interesting and easy to talk to, and we got along famously.

In general, I was very pleased with the visit, and how pain-free the whole thing had been. Really, people just want to know who you are, so as long as YOU know who you are and can talk about yourself and your science ad nauseum (and you will), things should go swimmingly. With this first interview under my belt, I'm so looking forward to the next one.

18 responses so far

Moving day!

Dec 16 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Watch out, you guys--there's wet paint EVERYWHERE in here. Of course, I've made sure to take care of the important things. Fancy a cocktail?

Welcome to my new bloggy home! To those of you who followed me from LabSpaces or blogspot, thanks for your flexibility; I don't anticipate another move at any time in the near future, so your RSS feeds can breathe easy.

To those of you I've never met before, thanks for stopping by! You've caught me at an incredibly exciting and...transitional point in my career. This week marked not only my last day in my current post-doc lab (back story here and here), but my first bona fide faculty interview!

I hope you'll stay tuned for the continued chronicling of my many misadventures on the track to tenure track. Many, many misadventures.  There will be highs and lows, I'm sure. And without question, there will be cocktails. Oh, there will be cocktails.

29 responses so far

Two weeks

Dec 01 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Original post date: Dec 1, 2010

I signed my termination notice yesterday.

Now, I knew this was coming, and really my boss was incredibly generous to extend my stay into December (and benefits through Jan 1), but it's final; my last day at work is two weeks from tomorrow.

There is no immediate plan in place. With the SfN meeting and Thanksgiving taking up basically all of November, nothing has been settled one way or the other from my interview at the end of October. I have a different post-doc interview next week, and of course, my upcoming faculty interviews as well. I even took action on a Plan B, so it's not like I have nothing going on, but still. It's crazy to know that there's a day in the very near future when I'll just wake up and have nowhere to be. More meaningfully, I will not be doing The Science, for the first time since I started grad school over 10 years ago. It is heartbreaking.

I have only ever been unemployed once before, for about a month after college when I moved to the Bay Area and promptly sprained my knee. It was pretty miserable, but then I was alone--a solo invalid in a new city. Here at least I have J, and my friends, and the physical means to leave my apartment.

Still. I'm so sad because I love my lab and because the time I've spent in it has been so rich and so...formative. I have a lot to be grateful for. I can't let myself get too mopey, though, because for the next two weeks, I also have a hefty to-do list:

1. Polish and practice my job talk
2. Find out how much everything in my lab costs so I can have a ballpark budget ready for TT interviews
3. Revisit my grant proposals so am prepared for chalk talks
4. See if dentist and ophtho can squeeze me in before benefits expire
5. Find a way to get 6 years' worth of crap from lab desk to home (note to self: hire someone? other note to self: pay in....what, cookies?)
6. Do something with the brains in the fridge
7. Bake cookies
8. Download as many papers as possible while institutional access still valid
9. Buy presents for people? PI? Lab Manager? Input, please
10. Not cry (too much) at going-away party

3 responses so far