Despite their gaping lack of human or even animal geneticists, the exclusively plant-oriented genetics program at BYU really does make significant contributions toward solving world-wide agricultural problems. Instead of immediately deleting my copy of alumni news I actually opened it and saw this article. I know that in addition to working on growing these plants in salty conditions, they have also been making significant progress toward isolating the salt-tolerant gene (which codes for an intermembrane protein that essentially "pumps" salt out of the cells) in hopes of being able to incorperate it into the genome of some of the cereal grains to allow their growth in salty environments as well. Cool huh? Even I think that's exciting.
So, way to go all you professors who I loved but just couldn't bring myself to do research with. Plants aren't for me, but thanks for being so excited about them (and believe me, all of them are absolutely CRAZY about their plants). Thanks for continuing to make these kinds of contributions which significantly affect global health and nutrition.
While reading the book Phoenix Rising in middle school I became intrigued by the symbolism of the mythical phoenix. This type of fascination happened a lot during my elementary and middle school years with anything from the phoenix, to the Pony Express, the founding of the thirteen colonies, origami, and the list continues. I would become obsessed, reading everything I could, spending hours in the library searching for and studying primary and secondary sources. The summer of my thirteen colonies obsession I even went so far as to write a paper...during my summer vacation...of my own volition. My mom thought I was crazy.
After having thrown my little ignorant self so passionately into searching for information on my latest academic obsession I always felt a sort of ownership of the subject, even after moving on to something new. So, even though years had passed, when the phoenix gained notoriety from its presence in the wildly-popular Harry Potter books I felt a little pang, as if my secret, meaningful symbol was somehow diminished by being in the public eye.
Since reading those books though I really haven't given the phoenix much thought at all. But recently as I've pondered everything that has happened over the past few months, weeks, and days, the symbol of my childhood obsession has come powerfully, and I think, appropriately back into my mind.
This fall was entirely consumed by my application process, which nearly destroyed me. I'm really not kidding. Working full time and trying to complete over 80 essay questions was much more difficult than I thought it would be, and as a result I ended up having to settle for less than perfect quality several times just to get the applications out of my hands. To be fair though, while the process was painful, it was also enlightening, and allowed me to clarify my intentions, goals and desires to myself as well as to prospective programs. But, by the time I had turned in the last one I had written over fifty-five single-spaced pages of essays and was completely burned out.
The week after I finished I began the next stage of the game: interviews (which I discovered are MUCH more fun than applications). I also indulged myself by reading six books that first week, and a steady helping since then. I then jumped on a plane to travel home for my little sister's wedding to her childhood friend. Then helped my mom throw a whirlwind Christmas. Then traveled to Tennessee where my sister's in-laws (who happen to be really good family friends) were throwing an open house. Then drove back to Virginia to get the newlyweds packed up and settled in their house before my sister's new husband is deployed to Iraq next week.
So, despite all of the marvelous family time I still feel as though I haven't quite recouped from all the craziness that has been my life recently. Today is my birthday, and in addition to being close to the celebration of Christ's birth, and the new year, it's also a day when I remember my grandpa, who I used to share a birthday celebration with and who was the model of the kind of human being and scientist I want to be. So naturally, I've been reflecting on where my life is heading, how my choices are affecting that heading, and what I need to do differently to make sure I stay on course.
Sometimes I get discouraged by how often it seems like I need to reevaluate my priorities, and essentially straighten myself out. But I'm beginning to realize this self-renewal is not such a bad thing. Enter the phoenix. As the beautiful bird nears the end of its life it builds a nest which it then ignites. The nest and bird are burned until only ashes remain. A new phoenix then rises from the ashes of its old self and begins life anew. In some versions, the new bird even gathers and encases the ashes of its old life in an egg, which it brings to the heavens as an offering to the gods before returning to earth. So, instead of limping along trying to pick up pieces of my life, I think I need to make the choice to start afresh, wipe my slate clean, and like a phoenix rising from the ashes, offer those parts of me that I've burned to the heavens and begin again, a new creature. I am grateful that the gift of the atonement, which we celebrate this season, provides me with the opportunities for renewal that I've needed and will continue to need throughout my life.
So, it's usually around this time of year that my thoughts turn home-ward. This is the time when I not only make sure I'm all caught up on the local Virginia politics (which is always really hilarious to me...can I just say, I absolutely LOVE small-town Virginia) but I get really homesick for the foliage in the Valley. Don't get me wrong, I am relishing in the gorgeous Boston fall. In the morning on my way to work I bike down one of the most beautiful roads in the city and it has been completely lovely enjoying the sunlight shining through the collage of colored leaves every day. I honestly can't image a better way to begin my days. But...it still isn't the Shenandoah Valley.
I'm just going to live vicariously for a moment through other people's photos...
But seriously, I'm living in New England, so really you shouldn't feel sorry for me cause I have nothing to complain about. I mean, some people spend autumn in the desert where there are NO trees. Feel sorry for them.
So, back to the politics. As frustrated as I've been over the presidential election, it feels really good to be confident in my decisions about my senate, house, and local elections. Knowing that I'll be able to use my vote to change things for good, if not in the nation, at least in my home state and community is quite comforting. What I've come to realize about the presidential election is that no choice is perfect and I can't change that reality. However, I can be confident that I've done my best to weigh the options and now it's time to make a choice. And that's that. Oh yeah, my ballot came in the mail today which is why I'm doing my final analysis/obsessing about elections. Considering that VA is technically a swing state in the presidential election, I feel extra important. Well, that's about all I have to say at the moment.
Just make sure to vote...and enjoy the fall, cause it's fleeting.
I have become my own worst nightmare!!!! Although I think that I secretly still hold on to the belief that I am better than most pre-meds, I'm pretty sure that I have become an annoying, neurotic, nitpicking, crazy person. I am now one of them!!! Egads!!!
Why hasn't the CVS on the corner opened up the other part of their building yet? It has been over a year now. Is it still "coming soon"? Plus I'm really curious to know how the empty part I see in the window actually connects to the rest of the store. It confuses me.
I'm pretty sure I'm going to withdraw my application from Northwestern because some of their application procedures are downright ridiculous. I'm waiting to hear back from them still, but I'm definitely warming to the idea of saving myself $85 by not turning in their secondary.
This whole getting accepted thing is totally random and I'm pretty sure that I have finally entirely, undeniably, completely realized that I have no control over where I am going to get into school. I mean, I'll do my best on interviews and everything, but I'm pretty sure that the outcome of this insane process will be a nonsensical surprise.
I love the smell of cinnamon and spices in the fall. I'm smelling it now because I just spent way more money than I should have on yummy candles but it's totally worth it because it's therapeutic for me and I need therapeutic right now.
I may have a black thumb of death when it comes to plants. This fact breaks my heart into a million tiny pieces but I'm afraid it's true. I've been in denial for a really long time because I love green things and wish I could keep them alive. Maybe I need to take a class or something and put more effort into self-improvement before completely giving up and going plastic. The fact that I'm admitting there's a problem is a big step forward though.
My living room is orange.
I got so excited/relieved at work today because I found out that Invitrogen is going to save me months of tedious work isolating RNA, making cDNA, and cloning it because they sell ready-made vectors for each of the proteins I need DNA for! Seriously, this is the best news I've gotten/discovered in a really long time.
Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim - finished
1776 - finished
Marley and Me - finished
He's just not that into you - finished
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter - finished
The Secret Life of Bees - finished
Breaking Dawn - finished
New Moon - finished
Eclipse - finished
Twilight - finished
"Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them—that’s the best of it. Just as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.” -Anne Shirley
"I am not responsible for what other people think, only for what I am" - Jim McKay (The Big Country)
"The biggest thing that will poison your progress is arrogance." -Donald S. Coffey
"If you can't change your fate change your attitude" -Amy Tan