Can you buy individual potatoes?  As I just discovered while trying to make a baked potato, I really can’t go through a 3 lb bag before they go bad.

**Side note: I am easily distracted. Just finished uploading my brother’s wedding pics to Snapfish and now I am busy with fun photo-edit-y type stuff.**

Anyway…I fail at potatoes. That’s all I really wanted to say, now that I am distracted by other things.

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Why Not Happily Ever After?

I’ve been thinking about marriage a lot lately. My little brother is getting married on Friday, good friends from middle school (!!) got married in June, friends from college got married on July 3rd, and I just went to another wedding last Saturday. And those are just the ones I’ve been invited to! Oh, and another set of friends from college got engaged this weekend. It’s hard to NOT think about marriage what with being surrounded by weddings constantly.

I also read an article recently talking about the pitfalls of marriage and how to tell if yours will last. I won’t bore you with the details, as it’s the comments I’m interested in. At least half of the comments were along the lines of “marriage is pointless, half end in divorce, there’s no such thing as happily ever after” etc. The other half were “marriage can last! It just takes work.” And rather than post my two cents there, I had an idea to post here. So here it goes:

Why NOT happily ever after? Women in my generation grew up with Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Jasmine. I don’t think any of us are expecting to be woken by our One True Love with a kiss and swept up on a white horse to a castle in the clouds, but why shouldn’t we get the three words that all fairy tales end with?

Where did we get the idea that HEA means no problems, no struggles, not a spot of trouble for the rest of our lives? Are we kidding ourselves?! Unfortunately marriage involves a union of two people who are most definitely not perfect, which means not every second of every day of the rest of your life is going to be sunshine and rainbows. I got a fortune from a cookie once that said “Happiness is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it.” I think that’s a perfect analogy for a great relationship. And isn’t that what marriage is about-a great relationship?

My parents have been married for 27 years this September. They got married when they were both 20. I was born just three years later, when my dad was finishing up grad school and my parents lived far away from family. I know there were struggles early on. And there were struggles after that. Yet through everything, somehow they managed to stay in love while raising two children into happy, healthy, productive adults. Yes, they drive each other crazy, but in a good way…and frankly, why not go crazy with someone you love? Then you can at least enjoy the ride.

Did my parents get their HEA? Well, not yet, I would say. They are well on their way. The problem with HEA is it’s the end of story, not a halfway point. When they reach “till death do we part”, then we’ll know if they made it.

So, yes, maybe 50% of marriages end in divorce. Maybe it’s really hard to stay together for the rest of your life. If our grandparents and some of our parents could do it, why can’t we? Why shouldn’t we all get our HEA? We deserve it! If you want it, take it! Demand it! Expect it! But don’t expect to sit there and watch it arrive. Anything worth having is worth working for, right? Why NOT happily ever after?

To Joe and Abby, Paul and Jenn, Jessica and Paul, Brittany and Aaron, Bri and Bobby, Lauren and Mike, and Michael and Missy: “Love each other. It’s as simple and as hard as that.”

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Yup, that’s me singing. Don’t you love it?! If not, you are lucky you don’t work or live with me. I sing ALL. THE. TIME. Things like (to the tune of Heart and Soul) “agarose agarose ag ag a-agarose” or (this one to a conga line) “sucrose sucrose su-CROSE sucrose sucrose su-CROSE.” Cara also says I make everything sound like a superhero….so she always adds “to the rescue?” after I say something like that…

Anywho. A couple people have told me that the name of my blog turns them off, and I have begun to think that it’s a bit too…pretentious…for me. I’m the girl who sings at work all the time. The girl whose new favorite blog is “Hyperbole and a Half” (clean ALL the things?), and the girl who doesn’t care who’s watching her dance. 🙂 I’m not some stuffy jerk in a lab coat.

So I was trying to think of a new name, and two phrases came to me, that I say fairly often. One-“with bells on” and two- “my train of thought just derailed.” I thought the latter sounded better for a blog…but I still like the first one a lot.

Anyway, so same URL (you got here, didn’t you?) but new name.

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Why DO I want to go to grad school anyway?

So on Friday I took the GRE (totally rocked it, btw…well maybe I shouldn’t pass judgment until I see my writing scores…) Anyway, now that that’s over I’ve been working on personal statements. For one of my schools I have to write TWO of them! (That’s okay, UW-Milwaukee, I still love you….)

One of the aforementioned two-for-one personal statements required me to wax eloquently about why on earth I was pursuing graduate studies in the first place. That’s a damn good question.

The simple answer is: “Because I don’t want a second bachelor’s degree.” Which is true, and pretty darn valid as well. I COULD break into clinical laboratory science/laboratory medicine/medical technology (pick a name, already, profession!) by earning a second bachelor’s degree, or a certificate. If I don’t get in to grad school I’m going the certificate route. I just want to feel like I’m moving UP in the world, you know? Or at least that I’m not being stagnant. I HATE sitting still. (Though I’ve been at my computer almost all day…playing that new addicting gem My Tribe.)

The more complicated answer is harder to come up with. I have plenty of reasons, written down in a neat little Word file, for wanting to go into clinical laboratory science. But when pressed to say why I wanted to specifically go to graduate school, I found I had to do a little thinking.

What I ended up writing is that I 1) want the added knowledge and experience that comes with a master’s degree, 2) like the research environment and want to hone my skills in a research-based program, and 3) am aware that there is talk of making a MS degree the entry-level requirement for the field, and in turn creating a PhD. I want to have the education necessary to be successful in a PhD program should one arise before I’ve been out of school too long.

I really hope that my sincerity in saying that I do not want a second bachelor’s degree doesn’t come back to bite me. I hope that it shows that I have indeed considered the multiple paths to this career, and chosen the best one for me.

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Thoughts on the Pill and Promiscuity

What “The Pill” Did (on CNN.com) (***WARNING: I’m gonna talk about sex. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.***)

It’s the 50th anniversary of “The Pill” this year. Whether you believe the Pill to be one of the single greatest inventions of our time, or you think it’s the medicinal equivalent of the Antichrist, the impact of this tiny pellet of hormones on American life (and indeed, the lives of women around the world) cannot be denied.

Reading many of the comments on the above CNN.com article, I learned a few things. One, many people still believe that oral contraceptives are abortion. Which the Pill is not. The hormones prevent ovulation, which means that an egg will never be released from the ovary and never have the chance to be fertilized. Two, many people also believe that the Pill’s entrance into pharmacies and medicine cabinets promoted promiscuity among young women. I highly disagree.

Most people are not deterred from doing something simply because society or law dictates that they must. For example, people who choose not to do drugs do so not just because most drugs are illegal under U.S. law. They have no desire to engage in that sort of behavior. What stops people is their own personality and values, not a law in a book.

Promiscuity and the Pill works the same way. Sure, with its release in the 1960s it allowed women the freedom to have casual sex without needing to worry about pregnancy. But the truth is promiscuous women were already promiscuous. The Pill didn’t turn nice girls into sluts. People will do what they want to do, based on their own values, not based on a tiny little once-a-day pill.

Another group of comments that struck me as in need of discussion were the ones alleging that the Pill destroyed monogamy. First of all, let’s get one thing straight. Sex before marriage, whether you agree with it or not, has been around since the beginning of marriage.

Moving on. Biologically speaking, humans were designed to ENJOY SEX. If you can find an actual useful purpose for a clitoris, please let me know. Obviously nature didn’t intend for sex to be only within the context of marriage, and then only for procreation. I am a firm believer in monogamous relationships, but unlike the Protestant couple in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, I don’t want to only have sex twice because I only want two kids.

One of the causes of the death of monogamy was no-fault divorce. While the invention of no-fault divorce liberated a lot of women from abusive, going-nowhere-fast marriages, it also meant that divorce was cheap and certainly easier than working things out. There’s a time and a place when divorce is a welcome thing. I’m not advocating that women (or men) stay in abusive relationships or marriages where there is a clear disconnect that can’t be fixed. Perhaps we can bring back monogamy not by teaching our children that virginity is a special gift that should be saved for one person, as many comments suggested, but by teaching them that committing your present and future to another person is a decision that should not be taken lightly, and a decision that, once made, should be for life.

The Pill did great things for women. It allowed working women to decide when they could become mothers without risking their jobs. In 1962 a woman could be fired for no other reason than that she became pregnant. It allowed women to decide when they were financially, emotionally, and physically ready to become a mom. Planned children are wanted children, and wanted children have better lives.

Now the Pill allows women to control their monthly cycles, and if you’re like me, it’s a welcome thing. Cramps that render you unwilling to do anything but lay in bed are not fun. My mother used to stay home from school in high school because her cramps were so bad. She had a hysterectomy at 30. Thankfully, my parents already had two children and didn’t want more. So she had the hysterectomy to get rid of the pain. Because of the Pill, I won’t be forced to do the same thing. (Though on certain days I think about it…)

One last thought. I’m quoting the following comment word-for-word: “Courtship and romance existed because the man was fighting for a unique and special gift from the woman. With today’s attitudes, thanks to the pill, the “gift” is easily available and the price has gone down. Romance, love, and commitment are dead.” EXCUSE ME? Are you really suggesting that before the pill, men only treated women with love, affection, and respect because they wanted sex, and NOW they don’t have to because we’re just giving it away??? What about treating women with love and respect because it’s the right thing to do? What about doing it because you want to commit your life to this woman and you want her to do the same for you? What about doing it because every time you have sex, you’re being given a gift, and not just the first time? It seems to be that, based on the above argument, the Pill has actually given women a way of deciding which men are worthwhile partners and which ones are unevolved chauvinists. Thanks, Margaret Sanger!

EDIT: I just saw this comment on a CNN.com opinion piece by Raquel Welch arguing that these days in America, no one is able to keep it in their pants (which is somehow the fault of Pill, according to Ms. Welch…) Anyway, here’s the comment: “However, teaching girls that their virginity should be “saved” is also telling them that their value lies between their legs, and not with their personality or heart, all the same. so it’s sort of double-edged sword.” Good perspective.

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Universities should probably have correct info on their websites…

Well hello there new layout. (And yes, that’s my beloved Minneapolis in the header there.)

So this week I decided to double check on all my potential graduate schools and make sure that there are no prerequsite course requirements that aren’t listed. Good thinking, right?

I got an email back from the program chair at Michigan State that said “We do not have any specific course requirements, however we do have experiential requirements. We are looking for certified medical technologists with at least 3 years of experience.” Shigga-wha?! That’s not what I was told last summer when I first contacted MSU! So I emailed the chair back and attached the previous email I had gotten when I first asked if the program was an entry-level master’s. I was then informed that whichever office assistant had orginally written to me was sadly mistaken. So scratch one grad school off the list. (BTW, Michigan State, your program website says absolutely NOTHING about this. Maybe that’s why you get applications thinking your program is a route to certification….) grrrr

I then turned to my good friend Google, hoping I could dig up a few more entry level masters programs. I also started searching for certificate programs, which would allow me to take the national exam but does not give me another degree. What I found excited me greatly.

Ohio State (oh, sorry, THE Ohio State) has both a certificate program AND an entry-level master’s program!!!! *giggles* What you do is apply to the certificate program, and after completing your first year you may apply to the graduate program. So this is very exciting. I am positively enthralled by the idea of going to another Big Ten school, and as I stated last post, being back in the Midwest is my #1 goal. Now all I need to do is continue to get my applications ready and (at least for tOSU), figure out how I’m going to take a statistics class. I wonder if OCC (Onondaga Community College) offers online courses… (They do. I just checked. Not sure if I really have $1000 though. Perhaps I can save for it and take it next spring.)

Anyway, so my list of schools is finalized. I found another entry-level master’s program at UMass-Lowell, and I also found two certificate programs, one at Florida Gulf Coast University (Ft. Meyers, FL) and one at George Washington University (Washington DC.) The one at GWU is especially neat in that it can be done online as long as there is a clinical site near you. I guess if I ended up doing that one I would probably stay in Syracuse until I finished it. (Ugh…more time here?) I don’t think I’d move to Florida for just a year and a half…but as I have limited options I need to try as many places as possible.

On the grad school note, yesterday I pulled out my GRE book and went through some of the math review. I’ve always been good at math but I haven’t taken algebra since 10th grade. I did quite well on the math portion of my first practice test, but I still wanted to do some brushing up. It would of course help if my GRE book didn’t sometimes give answers to problems that are similar but NOT THE SAME to the one they asked. Really McGraw-Hill? Really? (Update 6:22 pm: For example, today there was a problem asking about the area of a fence surrounding a pool, where the fence was 4 feet away from the edge of the pool at all times. Pretty easy problem, given the diameter of said circular pool. My book gave the answer for a 2-foot difference between the edge of the pool and the fence. Two and four are DIFFERENT, silly GRE book.)

In other news, we got patio furniture today! Two of those fold-up camping/tailgating chairs and a small table. Now I can eat and study on our balcony! Yay for usable space!

In other other news, I (okay, my boyfriend) discovered a great Syracuse food review blog called Pulled Into Syracuse. I will now be using this to review any place we decide to go, or to find restaurants that have a specific kind of food. Like the other day when I was SERIOUSLY craving Burrito Loco’s popcorn. I miss that bar….

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My problem is not that I don’t know what to do with my life…

It’s that I don’t know how to get there. It’s also that I want to do everything. *sigh*

Here’s what we know:
1) I do NOT want a career in academia. My boss, who is kind of a big deal, does none of her own research. She spends her time supervising other projects, arguing debating with other PIs at our Fight Club weekly meetings, and generally being the CEO of her lab. Which is great, but if I were to go into academia, I’d want to be doing my own research. And I’m learning that that kind of life is very rare, and requires a kind of devotion to your work that I don’t think I can give. One of the PIs on my floor does do her own research, but she’s been a PI for under a year now, and she only has 2.5 people in her lab (the .5 being a rotating grad student.)

2) I don’t really want to be in school for another 5-6 years….

3) I want a career where I feel as though I am affecting the world (and more specifically, the worlds of science and medicine.) I am incredibly lucky to have grown up with supportive parents in a household where we may not have been rich, but I never needed something I didn’t already have. I went to a great high school, an excellent college, and I intend on going to a great grad school. I have tons of wonderful friends, and a fantastic boyfriend who still loves me despite the fact that he followed me to Syracuse, one of the most boring cities in America. With all these blessings I need to do something with them.

3) I want to go home. Maybe not necessarily to Minneapolis (stupid U of M not having a professional master’s program in CLS), but I would love to be a car ride away. And not a 17-plus hours “I will walk to Syracuse if it gets me out of this car” kind of car ride. I miss my friends (though they seem to be congregating out East), I miss my family, and I miss living in a “real” city. Dear Syracuse, you may think of yourself as a metro area, but you are not. Sorry to burst your bubble. Love, Robin

4) I am 90% sure I want to go to grad school for clinical lab science. Why? Well let me open up my Word doc telling me why. In case I forget something important when I am writing admissions essays. My God I’m prepared. Anywho, reason 1: There is an extreme amount of flexibility in the career. I can work just about anywhere there is a lab. This should help my inability to pick just one thing to do. Reason #2: The career is freakin’ practical!!! Tons of job security as well as great pay.  Reason 3: I really, really, really like laboratory work. I like trying to figure things out (although troubleshooting PCR tests my patience), and I like playing detective. Watch Mystery Diagnosis with me sometime. Reason 4: Going along with reason #2, I just like to know things!!! I research issues in politics, I read tabloid covers, I’m constantly asking questions, and I can’t stand knowing something is being hidden from me (even if it’s a Christmas present.) Reason #5: I think human diseases are sweet. Not having them, obviously. But understanding how they work fascinates me. Reason #6: I would love to use my bachelor’s degree for something. Reason #7:  I want a family. I want to be a mom (NOT ANYTIME SOON.) This career doesn’t take long to be educated for, and allows me to have a family life.

It seems pretty clear to me that Clinical Laboratory Science is the way to go.  Yet, I have doubts. I think I am very afraid of picking the “wrong” career path and sending myself back to school in a never-ending vicious cycle that ends with my student loans causing the government to be bought out by China. Or has that already happened?

One thing I did recently was looked for internship type programs at the CDC. It would be an absolute DREAM to work for them. I’m going to apply for the Emerging Infectious Diseases training fellowship. I would be placed in a CDC lab for a year, paid a stipend that’s more than I’m making now, be able to network and go to conferences, and hello!!! I’d be working for the CDC!!!! Excuse me while I swoon.

For actual grad school programs, I will be applying to Rush University in Chicago, which is my #1 choice. I will also be applying to Michigan State, UW-Milwaukee (if they get their professional master’s program ready in time), the University of Washington, and potentially Medical College of Georgia. Now other than being the location of the CDC, I’d rather not go to school in Georgia. But these programs take like ~20 people a year, and I’m really afraid I won’t get in. So I have two back-ups (UWash being the other one), and I have the CDC program. I hope it’s enough.

I suppose I should register for the GRE someday too, huh? If only I had $$ to do. Who has two thumbs and just had to buy train tickets for her brother’s wedding? This girl. And oh crap I have shoes to get, and a dress to get fitted. Thankfully Missy’s not a bridezilla. I’m not even living at HOME and being a bridesmaid is stressing me out. *sigh*

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