27 and a PhD

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Visiting: Family, friends & drama

Welcome to my blog!

Hello there, awesome reader. My name is Dr. 27. I'm older than that now, but I'm staying faithful to the origins of the blog.

This blog started 2 months before completing my PhD in a pretty southern university back in 2009. It was a way to practice my writing and take a break from all things thesis. My PhD is in a branch of structural biology where I studied some rather impressive stuff.

After completing the degree, I packed my life of 6 years in 3 days and moved to Canada to do a postdoc in a completely different field. Two years later, and after attending a lot of seminars, workshops and doing some much-needed soul-searching, I ended up getting out and looking for an alternative path to academia and industry.

The blog chronicles my mishaps, ideas, musings and tips on entering, staying and finishing grad school. It also talks about some (or a lot) of personal stuff. For a while, the blog became a place to talk about the frustrations of not knowing what to do after PhD. I wanted to explore alternatives to the traditional paths of research (academia, industry and goverment) whilst going back to my field of training (if at all possible). Eventually a job materialized. Follow my quest as I navigate the waters of being a staff scientist at a core facility.


December 2009
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Hey all! It’s been almost a week since I’ve been home. The BF and I had a 2 hr delay, but made it safe.  I really wanted to get home, eat home food, talk with my parents and sister and see friends. I’ve done a few of those things. And before I left my Canadian home I knew I needed to brace for drama. I’m a liberal, so a few of the reasons for the drama bother me, and yes, I know we must learn to respect other people’s opinions and convictions, but it kills me to see how some of the drama could be avoided if some of the conservative ways of thinking were not there.

My mommy and daddy are VERY conservative. My daddy despises church, my mom goes to it several times a week. Now she’s organizing a retreat and has to call and follow-up on people who supposedly will co-operate with her … but sometimes I think they just lean on her. Also she’s a retiree, and though I know church makes her feel useful, she’s not earning a dime, or at least some sort of physical reward for printing hundreds or documents, follow people up by phone and such. It bothers me too because she’s involved with a very conservative flavour or branch from the church, which in my opinion is giving her an extra (unneeded) headache.

Earlier this year my sister became pregnant. She called me as soon as she found out and she was literally scared of my parent’s reaction. To make the long and painful story short my daddy has embraced the situation and the new baby a LOT better than my mom. My mom went to talk to a priest from church who luckily told her to NOT marry my sis just to cover up circumstances. But I’m sure in the back of her mind, she still wants to try to marry her because a “good” girl should not have a kid out of wedlock. Mommy has times when she cries because my sis just moved in with her boyfriend, and though she’s 10 minutes away my mom totally feels alone (I’ve been trying to tell each side to be a little more understanding, to mediate and to not shun each other from their lives).

This whole situation has opened old wounds in me, things that I thought I had left behind. Also, my faith is in shambles, and sometimes I feel like I don’t care much for the church and even God. I’m pissed off by how conservatives in all branches of all churches had taken bits and pieces of the bible to justify hate, shunning people out of “God’s house” and do many other things that I thought Jesus had said not to do (remember Matthew 25:36 anyone). But this is partly besides the point.

I used to have a real close relationship with my mom. She’s ALWAYS been very supportive of me, and my school decisions. Boyfriend-wise my parents we’re not to keen on my dating many guys (because that’s only done by sluts … something that can be traced to ultra-conservatives views of people in any church). They wanted me to pursue a career (a very progressive thing to do in my view), but to eventually return home and get a job, a good husband and have kids. I’ve done some of those things. I finished my degree, moved to where the man I love lives and works, and hopefully in 2-3 years I’ll be doing a real-intensive job hunt to hopefully work close to everyone, BF included.

That does not piss me. What does is something my mom said the other day. She was saying how many people could or have criticized her in terms of how she’s not accepting of my sis’ decision and her baby because of her religion and mostly her conservative beliefs. I kind of agreed, but didn’t say anything. She then said that her faith in God is what’s kept her afloat. But for a minute I wonder … if she didn’t believe in God but was a moral person (like SO many non-believers who in my opinion are better at adhering to Mat. 25), would she have had such a hard time accepting the baby, or the act that lead to the baby?

The BF and I had an interesting discussion about this. I told him that I firmly believed that if my mom’s conservative “values” and beliefs weren’t there, if she was more chilled out, she might have had a different reaction to my sis’ pregnancy. My BF disagreed, he exposed his points and then the situation changed into why am I so mad at the church and it’s leaders, and why I’m opting out of participating in some sacraments. He said some very valid things (like why a sin of the “flesh” seems to be more frowned upon by some than say … homicide, etc … this goes to the point of why some commandments seemed to be viewed by some as more important than others). And then we both remembered something a few priests have said before, how the most important commandment can be summarized in “Love your God above all and your neighbour as much as you do yourself” … which I think is genius, because if we love our God and love each other the way we are supposed to love ourselves, wouldn’t the following the commandment parts be easier, or accomplished by “default.” We decided to stay true to that “summary” of God’s commandments, because if we do then accepting others won’t be as hard of a job as it’s been, we’ll hopefully tolerate each other more easily, and above all, learn to love God even is those who deliver His message are wrong sometimes.

This is not to say that I’m not pissed at having to deal with the drama. Especially when all I want to do is just watch TV, talk to the parents drama free and enjoy my new nephew.

It scares me (and I told my mom this) that because she’s so consumed on the act that led to the baby’s coming it might just kill her because of all the worry. And I went a step further by suggesting that if she lets her health decline and get all beaten up by this, what’s going to be God’s opinion about her taking care of his temple (her body, the Holy Spirit’s temple). I don’t know if something I’ve said will do any good, if it serve to help her tame her fears and worries …  but it’s not easy, and I’m not sure it will happen, but all I can do it try. And it pisses me off that these toxic thoughts and such are taking over my mom’s head, and that sometimes she might not tell people about my sister because of fear they will judge her (which they will do … now, when she need soup or a lift to the doctor or the hospital, they do not support or help in any way … not very Christian in my book …. remember Mat. 25?).

All in all it’s not been as dramatic as I thought it was going to be, but I’m not sure the storm is over just yet. For now all I can do is try to stay the course, talk to people and hope for the best. I still have almost 13 days left, so I’ll try to make the most of them.

How have your Xmas vacations been? Happy New Year!!



  1. leigh says:

    ugh…. family, religion, drama, holidays. it’s the same theme all over- i sympathize 😦 i’ve decided to make other plans next year.

  2. 28 and a PhD says:

    I know … usually my Xmas break is pretty chill. This year I’ve spent a LOT less time with my mom, which is kind of unusual, but due to my sis’ pregnancy I know most of what I’d hear would be related to that … ugh. Like I said, since I’m a liberal, and she’s obviously not it creates unwanted, unnecessary and stupid stress. But it’s my family, and I used to be close to them. I only get to see them once or twice, and my daddy loves when I come too, so it would be heartbreaking to not come during the holidays. But sometimes it can suck a LOT! Thanks for stopping by. I hope next year is better for all. Cheers! And have a happy, healthy and wonderful new year Dr. Leigh!

  3. Sean Rays says:

    Just want to say your article is striking. The clarity in your post is simply striking and i can take for granted you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the ac complished work. Excuse my poor English. English is not my mother tongue.

  4. 28 and a PhD says:

    Yes, most definitely. Feel free to subscribe at any time. Thanks for visiting Sean!

  5. Carol says:

    Hi PhD,
    I am also very close to my daughter and she is about to embark on a PhD program. Love her to pieces. I don’t know how i found your site but I thought I would add a note to you. As a mother, I would suggest that you give your mother time to adjust to your sister’s pregnancy and what it means to her. We have dreams for our children and sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. As humans we have the right to mull things over and just because we think one way one day doesn’t mean over time we won’t change our minds. Who knows? She may eventually make peace with the situation and be pushing that stroller with a smile on her face. What won’t help is if you hold her to what she is feeling now. Give her time and space to grow. She is your mother and will always love the two of you very much. Hope this helps. Oh and by the way, I am a psychotherapist and I have also questioned my faith while in college. I have a mother who has rolled thru my questioning of God, love, marriage, divorce, remarriage, and widowhood. I can tell you she wasn’t always happy with the choices I made but I knew she loved me. Take care and congrats on getting your PhD!

  6. 28 and a PhD says:

    Thank you so much Carol. I really appreciate your comment. My mom is a bit better these days, but I’m sure there are many things in her heart she won’t tell anyone, not even me. So, all I can do is listen and nod and try not to get wrapped up in all the little details and love her and my family as much as I can, even if I don’t agree with what’s causing them heartache. Thank you for visiting and for your kind words, they are much appreciated.

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