Yeesh, it's been a while. I could just offer up a bunch of excuses for why my blog has gotten so defunct, BUT it's the end of the year and '2013' lists are all the rage so I'm jumping on that bandwagon before it's too late. So what have I been doing this whole time? In no particular order...
1. Wrote My Dissertation! The first, let's say, half to three-quarters of 2013 was extremely stressful. I wrote a 118-page document that summarized 6-7 years worth of work. That document basically ate my life for a while, but eventually it was completed. I defended and graduated from my PhD program in May. Finally.
2. Applied for jobs. Lots of jobs. When I wasn't writing my dissertation, I was scouring job boards and applying to everything in sight. It was a discouraging process, with very few positions available in Academia and Industry jobs wanting several years of experience before they would consider paying the salary a PhD demands. Most employers wouldn't even consider me, as I fell in the ever-widening gap between 'over-qualified' and 'not qualified enough'. I wasn't alone in this struggle either, with several other students in my graduating class having to take shitty jobs or leaving science all-together. For a while there I was pretty nervous about being able to support myself.
3. Taught a semester of Introductory Microbiology Thankfully, I did find something that would pay me money to do science...it just wasn't very much money. As an adjunct I was forbidden from teaching more than one section at a time, because that would mean I qualified for full-time benefits and actually made enough money to live off of, and that's just not how Academia does things. Even teaching one section of a course is a TON of work, yo. And my course started a week after my graduation, so I had zero time to do anything in-between except write curriculum.
4. Got a REAL job! I didn't stop applying to jobs or attending job fairs once I started teaching because that job sucked. Fortunately for me, I was nice to the right person at a local Biotech fair and she helped me get an internship at a company I never would have even applied to on my own. Who knew there was a place for microbiologists in agricultural science? Once the semester was over and I was done teaching, that internship became a full-time job and, as of December, a salaried position with a good company full of awesome people that I am happy to work for. Just in time for me to be able to afford repayment on my student loans!
5. Moved into a REAL house! My boyfriend and I were tired of our crappy apartment and my best friend's lease was up in Tampa. We decided to get a place together, and it rules. I'm now living with my two favorite people on Earth, and our collective nerdyness knows no bounds.
6. Read SO MANY comics This was a great year for comics, and for my Amazon wish list. Saga, Chew, Captain Marvel, Hawkeye, Sex Criminals, Gotham Central, Manhattan Projects, Rat Queens, Batwoman, Batgirl, Archer and Armstong, East of West, Nowhere Men...you get the idea. Comics rule. You should read more comics. I have recommendations.
7. Played SO MANY board games My boyfriend and I love games, and that love really developed this year...especially now that there are three of us in the house. We picked up a ton of games that we thoroughly enjoy and routinely play with our friends. Biggest hits would probably be King of Tokyo, Gloom, Dixit, Forbidden Island, Red Dragon Inn, Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Smash-Up. Play more games. Wil Wheaton's YouTube show Table Top is great for seeing what a game is like before investing and has turned me on to several new games I have added to my Amazon wish list.
8. Got a Steam Account I missed out on so many great video games when I was in grad school, you guys. And guess what? They're all available for super cheap on Steam now. I have already bought enough games to devour my free time for the next couple years, assuming I stopped reading comics and playing board games. We all know that will never happen, so they will probably last me more like a decade. Yet I keep buying more, because there are so many good games out there that I want to own and eventually play. It's like Pokemon. Speaking of which...
9. Started a second play-through of Pokemon Pearl I loves me some Pokemon. It was hard to say goodbye to my Piplup, but it had been so long since I had played I needed a new fix. This time I'm running with Chimchar. Yes, I know there have been like a dozen more Pokemon games since Pearl. Those can go on the pile.
10. Discovered Life after Grad School
Like I said guys, the first half to three-quarters of 2013 was rough. I was super busy all the time and stressed about graduating, getting a job, being able to support myself and pay back my student loans...and it's all actually working out. All of the things that were killing me at the beginning on this year are done and dealt with, and I'm going into 2014 with a good job, a beautiful home, and wonderful people I care about. I'm extremely fortunate, and I'm looking forward to next year more than I ever would have thought possible. I'm reclaiming my life and my free time and getting back into the hobbies I love. I might even have time to start blogging again, who knows? My goals next year are to pay off as much of student debt as I can, be healthier, and enjoy myself as much as is humanly possible so we'll see if I can fit blogging into all of that.
Happy New Year, everyone!