Have you ever gone to grad school? If not, the most important thing to know about it is this: all you want, from pretty much the second you start, is to be done. And the closer you get to the end, the further away it seems. You spend an inordinate amount of time in the middle of the proverbial tunnel, unable to see the light at the end, and too far in to see the light at the beginning. I can’t even tell you how many “last” experiments I had. So, so, so many “last” experiments. So, so, so many mice. I have absolutely no desire to ever see, hear, smell, or touch another mouse so long as I live. (Or taste. I don’t want to taste one either, but that’s not something I ever tried anyway. Figured I ought to throw it in for the sake of five-senses-completeness.) However, when I was nearing the end and I was gearing up for another one of my “last” experiments, all I wanted were those little ladies to come in so that I could get started… and subsequently get finished, and fast!!
Right before Thanksgiving of 2011, I was expecting a big old shipment of genetically modified mice and I was pumped. Ready to go, even though it meant working through the holiday. No biggie. My then boyfriend, now husband, was already safe and sound in Wisconsin, ready to watch some football without me, and that was fine. So, day before Thanksgiving I find out: NO. MICE. None. Not-a-one. I flipped… my… lid… I immediately got on the phone to the hubs and, no preface, just said, “Fly me to Wisconsin. Immediately.” A few hours later, I was at Reagan Airport and a few hours after that I was in Wisconsin, ready to eat turkey and pie and mourn the loss of the mice I never even had in addition to the loss of my impending graduation. Woe was me. I was practically drowning in anger and self-pity. It was not a beautiful thing.
While in Wisconsin, one is customarily expected to drink. Like a fish. And upon a previous trip to Green Bay (you know, the holy land), we discovered Captain’s Walk winery and the best white wine I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. (Disclaimer: I am definitely not a wine connoisseur and have been known to enjoy what those who are would call swill. But it suits my taste, and that’s what really matters when you’re the one drinking it, right?) So as long as we were in the Sconi-land, we thought we’d head on down to the local grocery store (Festival Foods—best name ever, it’s a party every time I shop!) to pick up a bottle (or two, or whatever… it’s really good).
So, the day after Thanksgiving, my in-laws-to-be took us out for a traditional Friday fish fry at the Belvedere Supper Club (my favorite!!), to Festival Foods for wine to smuggle back to Maryland, and then we stopped at the Marshfield Rotary Winter Wonderland to see the Christmas lights (another favorite of mine!). On the way, we passed the Marshfield Clinic and I thought to myself, “Hey, self, perhaps we ought to check out the Marshfield Clinic online and see what kinds of employment opportunities there might be for a girl like me someday. Someone who knows a lot about mice and lot about STDs and knows her way around science pretty well.” Turns out, they were looking for a Scientific Research Writer, which I didn’t even know was a job that existed and I applied. I interviewed on Valentine’s day 2012 and they must have been hit by one of Cupid’s arrows because they offered me a job and I started in April.
So let’s recap, shall we. No mice. Wisconsin. Graduation (finally). J-o-b job. Silver lining.
All that rage, anger, the self-pity, and the anxiety over a situation that was quite literally out of my control. Worth it? Absolutely not. Necessary? Maybe. It’s not realistic to expect that the idea of a future silver lining or a blessing in disguise related to a crappy situation negates the crappiness of the present moment. But cumulatively, every struggle has a purpose and for me, life is better when I spend less time raging about the struggle and more time searching for the silver linings in the clouds.