27 and a PhD

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Almost home … and guns

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.

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I’m one week away from napping with my baby nephew (who is really a big boy … all of his 2.5 years of age, 😦 ). I can’t wait to be with my mom and crack jokes with my sister. To indulge in some liquor, to be surrounded by the family. I can’t wait to be with my honey, who has promised to take me on dates and indulge my sweet tooth with at a couple of new fro-yo places. I’m also gearing up to retort to the “loving” remarks that some family and friends are sure to make when they see my almost-200-pounds worth of a body. “No, I’m not pregnant. I’m just fat. Thanks for asking.” I’d lost a tiny bit of weight back in the summer, but between Whole Food brownies and my local Asian take out places (plus, holy mother, the McRib is back!), I’ve added more, and more to my boobies and mid-section. I guess I’ll make the dropping the weight one of my usual resolutions of the New Year. Barf. I’m tired, my period is starting and I’m not in a good mood. Can’t you tell!

Anyway. I’m generally pissed at life. Though almost all of my meaningful relationships are good, and I’ve gotten a few lovely holiday cards from a few of you (THANK YOU!), I have this general feeling of being pissed. It’s no one’s fault. I’m just in a general state of being pissed. Yes, I’m still on my meds. Yes, I’m getting along with the people I live with. (Sadly) no, none of them is honey. I’m just pissed.

I’m pissed at life, I’m pissed with fucking stupid, sick people who kill people, kids, little innocent kids, at the beginning of their day. I’m pissed that there’s no strict gun control in this fucking country and that fucking sick people have (almost) free and limitless access to all sorts of weapons that cut such precious lives short. I’m fucking sick of it. And don’t you dare bring the “God had a purpose for this.” Fuck that shit. A loving, caring God would not let something like this happen. But whatever, what the hell do I know. I’m just a fucking scientist without kids who knows shit about how parents feel.

Growing up I never had to worry about someone coming into my school and doing such harm. The worst thing I could be looking at would be an after school fight. Thankfully that never happened. Nor did I ever break an arm or leg playing. I was one lucky kid.

At home, it was a whole different story. My dad owned a gun and had access to it for most of the time I lived under my parents’ roof. We didn’t have the warmest relationship growing up, we still don’t. Many times, especially at night, we got into nasty arguments … some of them physical, in which I was punched and hit. I begged my mom to divorce him. The church she believes in told her to swallow up her pride and hang on … the reward would come in the next life. She never called the police … neither did I. We’d both swallowed the Kool-Aid. In addition, my dad had the gun. And now  I can think back to some of those times, when as I teenager I would go to bed after a fight, or after a physical confrontation, and try to fall asleep. I would wonder whether my dad was mad enough to pick up the gun and empty the bullets on my face, or worst, on my sister’s. Even to this day, we’re scared of the 357 Magnum. He said he handed it over to the authorities when the cost of owning it and having a carrying permit became too much to bear after losing his job. When he lost his job my sister called me crying, saying that she thought it would be too much for him to be jobless and with a mortgage and several loans and that she was afraid he’d turn the gun on himself and commit suicide.

He didn’t. He hasn’t. But my dad had (has a temper) and he has OCD, and several other issues. I think he was sane enough to recognize that shooting at me or my sister would be a bad thing. That said, growing up I didn’t know that. He seemed insane, possessed, when we had our fights. And I wonder now … did his right to carry a gun, was more important than his two girls feeling safe and loved and without the anxiety of wondering the what ifs/could haves, etc. THIS is what it boils down to, for me, that what sort of peace of mind can a piece of metal and wood bring you and your family, when you have anger and anxiety issues, when people annoy you, when even your family annoys you and test your patience constantly, when you obviously have deep psychological issues that need therapy and attention, and you constantly refuse because you believe science is voodoo, yet you have ready access to a WEAPON that HURTS, that KILLS, that does deep damage, both physical and psychological. To this day I can recall the worry, the anxiety. As I write this I feel a deep pressure and discomfort in my chest.

For fuck’s sake … really, we need to do something to prevent people that “seem” otherwise normal from getting their hands on ASSAULT rifles. The fuck? Who need a FUCKING ASSAULT rifle in suburbia? WHO THE FUCK NEEDS THAT. We need tighter controls on the kinds of weapons that are readily available out there. There has to be a way to prevent future Sandy Hooks, and Columbines, and Auroras. The last few weeks before I finished high school were filled with anxiety and worry that someone would come and open fire in my school. Columbine happened weeks before I graduated. On the subway I worry that someone will open fire. When I lived in the south I worried that some God-fearing, gun-loving, person would open fire on me because I am Hispanic.

Seriously, what kind of fucked up country are we living in?

I can’t begin to imagine how much therapy and counseling the survivors and families of Sandy Hook, how many YEARS, they’ll have to go through to feel some sense of peace and relief … if that’s even possible. I was 17 when Columbine happened, and it frightened me greatly. I can’t wrap my mind around the thought of how every single child and parents who’s seen this tragedy unfold in the last few days, how they can begin to cope with the new reality. This should not have happened. This can’t keep happening.

Your “gun rights” are not more important than my right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

PS. If this sounds like I was rambling, maybe I was. I’m too shaken, too pissed, too upset to make all these things into a succinct entry. I just wonder what’s going to happen when my nephew and his friends grow up … if this is the kind of event he will grow up to live with. Is this really the new normal? What has happened to all of us?

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