Attention span is shot

Sometimes I find myself desperately switching from app to app in an effort to block out reality and ticking time. It takes courage to stay in the moment. Have you ever tried to abstain from television, internet browsing, or any other activity that claims your attention and feels like slipping into a warm pool? Even while writing this sentence, I lost my attention and switched the music on youtube and considered picking up my phone!

(45 min later)

Ended up on groupon.

In the thick of twenty-something millenial fog

WOW so much has happened since graduation! What an education has transpired in these past nine months!

May 22: Graduation (Day 0)

Trip to Acadia (Days 1-4)


Job starts (day 11)

Experience restlessness of sitting at the same desk from 8:30-5

Getting to know my boss

VERY slowly becoming acquainted with HR processes, keeping track of how I spend each 15 minutes throughout the day so that I can bill my time to separate projects

Learning the meaning of “billability”

Coming home exhausted every day and racking my brain trying to figure out how I’ll have enough energy to ever go to the gym let alone have KIDS and a FAMILY (I admit it might’ve been a little premature for such thoughts)

Not knowing if I’ll have a job in September

Frantically poring over the threadbare Monster results for “botany internships jobs Connecticut”

Not knowing if I’ll have a job in October

Applying to jobs I know I won’t get for GIS managers at The Nature Conservancy and other companies. Soothing my guilt for asking professors for even more letters of recommendation.

Not knowing if I’ll have a job in January

Not knowing if I’ll have to get a part-time job for the spring

Getting a part-time job demoing Core Meals at Whole Foods. Shocking myself during the interview at my genuine passion for the ideals behind this product. Truly enjoying much of my time spent demoing, even on the weekends. Realizing the depth of my interest in environmentalism (sharply cutting down on meat and dairy purchases, buying reusable shopping and produce bags, even trying a real metal razor in lieu of staying a cog in the (women-have-to-pay-more-than-men-for-pink-and-aromatic) reusable razors landfill-filling machine) and nutrition (talking with an RN, nutritionist, and everyday people about the horror of the effectively government-subsidized obesity epidemic, the impossibility of finding a balanced granola bar (FIRST PARAGRAPH SAYS IT ALL) without excessive sugar (real or fake), and so much more.) Oftentimes, this ambivert will walk away from a 3-hour sampling session feeling energized and excited.


I just returned to this post today, January 4, 2018, after letting it linger in the Drafts folder for half a year. Thanks to motivation from my sis (hey Em!), I’ve decided to finish it- at least, bring it to today. So, five months after starting that part-time job, I found myself

Leaving said part-time job, exhausted from the demoing responsibility, and ambivalent about returning to a 40-hour work week

Watching the transformations that ensued after watching the company president amble into the office like the Terminator and dismiss my boss… all the company culture conversations that arose, all the new projects I became involved in, the reorganization of the company to ensure everyone knew the status of their supervisor and ultimately who they could turn to if they had a complaint… feeling unbelievable support from my coworkers, which continues today. Also thanking my lucky stars that they are as hilarious as they are, both in person and on gchat

Diving into graduate school research, anxiety and perfectionism doing their darnedest to prevent me from making loads of mistakes and mess up the application (in their words… in reality, these traits just made it really hard to actually research programs and reach out to professors). Reaching out to about thirty professors. Crafting an intricate spreadsheet that tracked correspondences, opinions, deadlines, statuses and creating over 100 email chains related to this venture (with their own label, of course)… mountains of ups and downs. An extremely stressful venture. But wow, have I emerged victorious, armed with new stress management skills including exercise and meditation, plus knowledge of my own self-worth! But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Working, working, working… developing skills with GIS, learning CAD and becoming a scientist-engineer hybrid (and secretly loving it), writing reports, performing different types of field work ranging from stream surveys to aquatic vegetation surveys… corresponding with and reaching out to many people in the company, mostly located in New Jersey… getting stressed out about billability…

Learning how to pack killer lunches and eat the way I want to, becoming healthier than ever during the process

Staying with the boyf I met as a college senior and continue to guffaw with at everything from squirrels running squirrel errands to the amount of time we spend plotting our meals (including at the table while we’re eating that which we just created)

Noting my marked lack of time spent researching new music, though continuing to attend incredible concerts like Bon Iver and Springsteen on Broadway

Being accepted to one graduate school (so far; it’s only January) (BIG. FRICKIN. SIGH OF RELIEF)

…to the current moment, where I’m slightly procrastinating creating an epidemiology/GIS lab for a biology professor at Georgia Tech so that I can document my life for my future self to read about and reflect on. I hope it feels as good as biting into a summer peach with an illegal amount of juice and sweetness, dribbling down every appendage and somehow splattering onto the table 10 feet away.

Though I am stressed on a daily basis, I’m learning how to handle it and think that this time in my life has been wonderful in a plethora of ways. Loved ones are a big reason why.

I could ramble on but let’s end there, on January 4, 2018, at 8:20 pm, sophomore year of “real life”.

Post-College Primer

It’s hard to overstate the anticipation felt by college seniors. Just like the weather, it’s basically been dubbed a universally acceptable topic to broach whenever, whereever, as long as the conversation partner has experienced three years of meal point budgeting and acronyming ≥ fifteen campus buildings.

Before you know it, you’re flinging your cap and posing for photos with your friends. But after the crowd disseminates, your family leaves, and you turn in your key, it’s like POOF. WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD, TAKE A NUMBER.

Image result for take a number

It felt a little bit like free fall when Mitch and I drove in our furniture-filled cars to my new apartment just a few hours after feeling the most collegiate I ever had. The lack of oversight was so sudden. This is hard to overstate. The lack of oversight was so sudden.

No more departments with well-paid employees whose livelihood was about making sure I was taken care of. No more instant access to thousands of journals, resources, media of all kinds, paid for with the intent to broaden my little scholarshipped mind. Now, my next stage of education was entirely up to me. (Well… and my parents. Because they were still aiding me financially with a car, a Y membership, health insurance. And because I am conditioned to value their opinion, whether I like that or not.)

How many college prep handbooks exist? Is there a limit to the number of sympathetic ears that will indulge a stressed college kid dealing with the classic problems everyone goes through during that life stage? That’s the thing about college: If you’re having a problem, someone else has already had it and written anywhere from a one-threaded to viral article/post/poem/expression about it, and has probably made it accessible to anyone with a knowledge of how keywords work. Post-college life? Not so much. Because it’s harder to succinctly package and none of us have the time (or monetary incentive) to express such things and there’s a much wider variety of experiences to be had with one’s first job or period of unemployment or however you use that time, there’s a deficit of self-help resources of recent college grads.

Looking back, I want to record the resources I found to guide me through one of the most grueling, growth-centered, uncomfortable, empowering years of my life.

  1. Friends. One of the most potent tools I use to center myself is empathizing with people going through similar experiences. Just last week, I was convinced that my life was crumbling before my eyes until my best friend described her bleak recent experiences: a boyfriend unable to buy her a slice of pizza, a night not without a helping of “cheese soup”, and the regrettable decision to watch Thirteen Reasons Why. On the other hand, it’s also uplifting to hear of strides my friends are making out there in the real world, landing jobs with benefits, not giving up when schools aren’t accepting them, and generally keeping themselves sane. This is not a low bar. This is ADMIRABLE! (…mostly for the first few years post-college, but, you know, always.)
  2. Letting it out. AKA crying. A LOT. Learning to live with it, accept who I am, how I emote. Taking steps to deal with stress better. Seeing a therapist. Fighting my inner middle school cynic and trying meditation (and it working!) Taking time to realize who I am or am becoming, and not pushing that away. Maybe not accepting it quite yet, but learning to parallel play with it.
  3. Similar to #1, relating to strangers with different life paths than me. The Millennial podcast has been absolutely paramount to thriving post-college. I encourage everyone to listen!
  4. Mark Manson’s blog. This guy reads like a down-to-earth philosophergeniuscomic. Like existential crisis medicine. Try one article and if you’re not impressed, either you didn’t get it or you are Mark Manson.
  5. These freaking parrots.

Environmentalism for Goonies

…don’t know where the title came from but I like it!

  1. Is environmentalism a privileged person’s cause? Isn’t it more pressing to be assisting hungry children or the homeless? Partly yes, partly no; climate change is causing untold numbers of humans to go hungry because of failing crops or become homeless as catastrophic weather events intensify and increase in frequency.
  2. How do we educate about climate change without making people so scared or angry or frustrated or bored that they turn off their emotions and go back to buying their daily Double Ristretto Venti Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Chocolate Brownie Iced Vanilla Double-Shot Gingerbread Frappuccino Extra Hot With Foam Whipped Cream Upside Down Double Blended, One Sweet’N Low and One Nutrasweet, and Ice in a non-recyclable coffee cup and using hundreds of plastic bags annually to encapsulate their grocery store vegetables?
    • Speaking of the latter clause: Buy reusable grocery and vegetable bags!!! Extra plus: THEY DON’T SQUEAKImage result for YAY gif 

      Short break for feminism:

    • How much could we learn if we removed the shopping-related portions of magazines and replaced them with information? I believe in style and fun ways to express yourself through clothing and, albeit not personally, makeup. I am just interested in pursuing this thought.
    • How much more could I learn or even earn if I traded time spent applying makeup doing something else? How about curating outfits (starkly posited: think of the typical men’s costume of a suit while women spend literally hours decking themselves in the perfect blend of color, texture, baubles, scent, etc.)

Back to environmentalism (last thought for now):

3. Yes, it costs more to buy organic and biodynamic and pasture-raised and cage-free and cruelty-free and not-tested-on-animals and biodegradable. However, if you can afford it (which you probably can… at least some products, which also probably taste better or are better for your bod), think of it as both voting and making an impact. Each product purchased acts as one vote towards the values associated with the product and/or the company itself. In regards to making an impact, your organic cotton rounds are polluting the world less than cotton balls, and that extra money spent is going to help someone affected by climate change by lessening its impact, even by a teensy tiny bit. This is not to say that I personally believe that buying organic = donating to climate refugees. However, it’s certainly not a terrible habit to get into.

bath bomb

A soft buttery light casts my still-being-furnished bedroom in a calming tone. It’s not as chilly as it usually is, thanks to my landlord offering a space heater in the interim before she can hire an electrician. I clutch my newly purchased bath towel and let it lick up the remaining water droplets while it leaves a snuggly after(taste?)

Then I realize: I am so proud that I own this lovely, lovely towel that I bought for not quite an hour’s labor, which functions as a drying device and mobile nest, whose shade is easy on the eyes yet stylish… this towel that I received in an exchange with the fruits of my first post-college job, which I actually like and is showering me with many lessons both cushy and spiky!

I love my towel! And this milestone towards independence!

Puppy staying cozy in a towel

Did I mention… IT’S ALSO ORGANIC?! 😉

You Know You’re a Feminist When…

You let yourself sneeze (into your elbow!) in public. Isn’t that almost the stupidest thing you’ve heard today? Hear me out: This is something that most men take for granted- that they’re allowed to make noise and exhibit a slightly grotesque bodily function in the presence of strangers. I know that, for years, I made sure to stifle my sneezes in school out of a misguided respect for others. Now I know that that way of thinking is totally ridiculous. We already have to put up with physical manifestation of societally-expected restriction like bras, high heels, and Spanx– Free the sneeze!

Thoughts in the 300’s of the library nonfiction section

It’s really scary to look at a mental floss magazine and feel no interest- a small repulsion, to be honest- in reading it. Years ago, in middle and high schools, I’d have snapped up that periodical and devoured it from cover to cover, delighting in all the exciting facts smeared throughout eighty pages. It was a gift to data-hungry nerds like me. Now, just like how depression renders you indifferent to things you used to enjoy, I move past the book with a heavy heart that remembers when the magazine was a friend. (This is not to say I’m depressed- I think I’m just growing up and my interests are changing.)
This happens frequently in the library now. Nearly the entire science section glares at me with its noble books urging me to memorize their insides so as to make myself into a more formidable scientist. Instead, I chalk it up to years of grueling studying for a biology degree and again move on. I rationalize that I’m allowed to want to indulge in the flowery language of cookbooks and feminist publications in my free time. However, this can’t be a good sign, to not want to savor more biology in my free time. That scares me.
The new and popular nonfiction has a little more intrigue, but mostly from the food books. Even these are decreasing in fun because food is so overrated. That seems to be a lesson in my slightly depressing postgrad life: multitudes of things once glittering with excitement are overrated. In many lights, the things I love are included in this sad idea: plants, evolution, cooking. However, in the right classes, articles, and parks, they shine with eons of mystery and relentless inspiration. I must cling to the moments that expose this fragile wonder.
How am I going to live a life that optimizes this inspiration while keeping a minimum to the BS, busy work, stress, competition, and other superficial systematics that uphold the science world?

In high school, I lost interest in reading. I think it was because I’d had to read intensely in order to finish the assignment without losing sleep (already going to bed at 10:30/11 was really hard on my sleep) and it made me bitter. Just like how deciding to pursue a past hobby and change it into a job can make one bitter, reading transformed from an enjoyable pastime into a chore. I also developed a habit of perpetually skimming everything I read. It’s a habit that frustrates me to no end when I try to soak up a Sunday NYT session and end up having read an article’s final sentence with half the emotion and knowledge I would’ve extracted before all this nonsense began. I totally blame school for these impediments. I know I can break them but, like any habit, it will be a challenge. Decreasing attention span thank to social media should also be mentioned here.

Audiobooks have helped put back literature into my life. I have hope that, after enjoying a few more, I’ll have developed the patience and courage necessary to take up a thick hardcover and savor it. Cross your fingers for me and every other milennial who deeply delights in photoshopped images of old books with vintage tea sets and a rainy setting but who can’t muster the patience to enter that world themselves.

Stressing about Potential Stress

Grad school. Two words, so very daunting.

I’m being bombarded with everyone’s opinions about it. Facts about applying, survival, and the very discouraging stats about getting a job afterwards. The long, long haul of poverty while slaving (or near to it) in the lab for 80 hours a week.

I might be able to do it. I’ve decided to do a Master’s before PhD to convince myself that I’ll have some tools before signing myself up for this necessary hell whose gates stand before becoming the PI I dream about, who researches climate change biology, botany, and evolution. In addition to those tools, maybe I can convince myself about having the ability to defeat the impending obstacles I can’t foresee.

Wow, I actually have a headache just thinking about this.

Where do I fit in the fun before this? How do I convince myself that volunteering in Europe and farming for free won’t turn off potential PI’s and facilitate the happy dissipation of college knowledge? It’d be SO different if I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Or if I wanted to pursue something that didn’t indicate grad school as a prerequisite, like writing or cooking. I love science, but I absolutely loathe the jungle gym of stress and competition that governs it like a dictatorship.

Summer 2016: A real handful

I was ecstatic to graduate. It was thrilling and challenging to surpass June. The first full days of work, memorizing commutes, and creating a list of food staples was an uncomfortable yet bearable suite of “real world” changes. July brought more time to practice. Finding a way to the Y every few days was difficult but important to maintaining a clear(ish) head. I saw the reminder telling me that my internship’s official end date was approaching, but disregarded it. After all, my boss had been dropping hints all summer of its likely continuance through multiple seasons.

I was fairly acquainted with the 10+ projects consultants balance at any one time and enjoying the mapping, field work, and statistical analyses. I also did mindless data entry and other rote tasks delegated to “the intern”, but didn’t mind much because the job had brought far more intellectual stimulation than I’d predicted.

August hit. My boss wasn’t so sure of my intended tenure. My mind leapt into a frenzy: what to do next!?

Now, in a parallel universe with an unattached Sophie, the frenzy would have been less frantic. Or at least a different shade of that dusty pink that temporarily blocks your senses and inhibits clear thinking. Single Sophie would have assessed her situation and felt free to apply to jobs all over the country and even the nearer parts of the world in hopes of furthering her dream to step into a biological researcher’s shoes, with notebook and pipette in tow. But in this world, Sophie’s heart is not unilocutory (trying to hold on to my dwindling Latin knowledge; forgive me) and it’s not that easy to book the next train to Winnipeg.

Here are were my options (as of last week):

  1. Apply to jobs all over the country (and world) that light my lil bio-crazed fire
  2. Try to coordinate job applications with my cardiac partner, which means applying to the Northeast area, and mostly to cities
  3. Email professors at cool city universites asking if they have room in their lab for me to work or volunteer. Then I’ll get a part-time job if it’s not full time (the most likely outcome, if I can even pull off the whole lab tech thing)
  4. WWOOF or do Workaway or join a cult.


Fast forward to the literal last week in August, when the internship without an end date should have ended. That was before I was asked to help catch some fish in the end of September. So now I’m on until then. My boss said he’d let me know about my future after he crunches numbers around Labor Day. So that’s the latest… how utterly freaked out I am! But also excited that, if I do find myself unemployed come October, I’ll have time to find another job that’s another good step towards grad school!

Whatever happens, there will be bad and there will be good. But, in time, the good will most definitely overshadow the tough stuff.