Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Job search.... 3 months gone.

3 months into my job search. 2 Interviews.
#1 I turned down cause the boss was a jerk-face.
#2 sitting and waiting to hear something.

It seemed like things were going in the right direction 2 distance interviews in 3 days! One via skype and another via telephone.

Skype guy was an jerk. Seriously I have 8 years of hands-on experience and fantastic references and youre gonna quiz me on what kind of grades I got in my immunology class- 10- years ago!?!? Then make it seem like a bad thing that all my experience is in developing sensors but also at the same time tell me I dont have much experience developing products!? HUH!? That doesnt even make sense. And tell me you'll see if theres somewhere you might be able to fit me in (code words for we'll bring you in to do our shit work that we're too important to do ourselves). Sorry buddy- im not working for you.

Phone interview was 3 days later and went completely in the opposite direction. Guys seemed to praise me about how my experience was perfectly what they were looking for and his questions consisted of details on what things I did with each of my former projects. He immediately said they'd be emailing me about an in person interview.
Cue hectic crazy week trying to prepare a 30 minute interview presentation in 3 days. (My husband is amazing and I'd have never made it through the week without his support and willingness to let the chores slide for a few days so I could concentrate on preparing).
Then- full day interview 8:30am to 2:15pm. Whew- exhausting, but left me excited about the prospects- including the work theyre doing and my qualifications for the position- pretty much figured it was in the bag..... Until- I was told theyd be in contact within the next week OR TWO...... UGH.

Is there anything more frustrating that watching the days tick by not knowing anything. Especially when youre only 50% funded at your current job. AND your boss told you hed make sure you were funded- but now says he cant provide for the rest of your time because he doesnt have the funding (the announcement of which just so happens to coincide with him finding out youre still looking for a new job- surprise-surprise).

Ive got 2.5 days left til the 2 week mark.... and nothing yet. Meanwhile- nothing else worth applying to has come across my plate and I havent heard from any other applications I already have out.

Frustration, Lack of Motivation, Edge of Depression- THAT is my life at present. Making due on the love of my family and friends in the meantime.

If youre so inclined- say a prayer for us.... We could certainly use it.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Looking Fear in the Eyes

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look at fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Guns. A controversial topic to be sure. Although not in my family. In rural VA youre more out of the ordinary if you dont enjoy the occasional recreational gathering to try out each others favorite weapons shooting at paper or cans or satellite dishes (Whatever it is my dad has decided to rig up with a target this go around). My husband is the same way. His mother bought him a gift certificate to the gun range for Christmas, he talks about all the other guns he wants to buy all the time. At least monthly he stops into the local gun shops to chat with the people working there. He currently has 2- a hand gun (.40) and a  shotgun. But of course he says he needs a rifle, and a smaller hand gun that he can use for CHP (concealed carry) and im sure hell find a few more before were said and done.
So you can imgaine- the fact that Im not interested in guns hasnt gone over well. Its ranged from well meaning- "do you want to try?" to trying to shame me into it with "well why the hell not". But since 2010 its really taken a back seat. No one in my family has questioned me about guns- them knowing I had two of them held to my head kinda makes it an issue thats off the table for discussion.
Except when it comes to my husband. Not only does he bring it up regularly- but he then decides its his duty to explain to me why I need to do it and why I cant let my fears hold me back and why my fears are irrational anyway. He even tried to say maybe it wouldnt have happened if I'd had a gun myself- which I call BS on. When he goes to the gun shop he always comes home with a new description of another gun which would be perfect for me. Im feeling very pressured.

This is his most recent selection- A Bursa. Made in Argentina and used by police there. Very lightweight and small without looking ridiculously small so he thinks it would be perfect for me because of the weight and minimal recoil.

But weight and recoil are the least of my issues. Im still working on trying to hold a gun without my hands shaking terribly from terror. I dont think im ready to fire one. But he's insisting I need to take this step soon. And as much as I can tell him he doesnt understand and I need more time, to some degree I know he's right. This is the obvious next step to getting over my past trauma.

I guess I just need to kick myself in the butt and do it.

I have lived through the horror, I am strong enough to take whatever may come next, and I must do what I think I cannot. (Now I just have to figure out how.... strength of will?? great- im a wimp.)

Thanks Ellie (*sarcasm) looks like I have no excuse now. Damn-it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

When decisions are made for you

Scary though huh? Not having control over your own future.

An article came out recently with the projected growth for STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Match) over the next 5 years. (This is obviously the wrong graph since its from 2010- but it was similar so you get the idea).

Focusing on Life Sciences (I am a Molecular Biologist after all). There are supposed to be about 12% more jobs in the life sciences in 2020 than there were in 2010.

So Why is it that over the past month- I've known a large percentage of people who have been told they  will be unfunded after the end of the fiscal year on September 30th and thus should be actively looking for a new job!?
We had a farewell lunch for one of our post-docs yesterday. He was told his fellowship wasn't picking him up for another year…. he's only been with us for one year- a one year post doc is virtually unheard of. Two more of our post-docs are leaving next month. One has finished his 3 years and isn't being picked up as a federal employee cause theres no money. The other is in the same situation as the one we just had the lunch for. 
Then it really hits home. A month ago one of my fellow contractors was told to start looking for a job- because new funding to cover his salary did not come in. Another one left because his temporary position in IT had run out of money to fund the additional 4th person. I found out from him that our boss was going to have to completely shut down our New Jersey office- thats 5 additional colleagues gone.
The Monday after I got back from vacation it was my turn. I had a long talk with my boss. The short story being. The funding sources have just decided they're not giving us next years money ($1.5 million). My client can barely afford his own salary. My boss is trying to find other people with funding to cover me- but he's very pessimistic about the ability to do so- because a full 50% of the biology division is unfunded at current- and any funding that comes in must first go to pay for federal employees who are tenured. With 2.5 months of this fiscal year left to go, its looking gloomy.

So I am officially looking for a new job. Even with the ever present 'were stuck in a lease til april' hanging over our heads- the true job search is on. With the possibility that if I find the right job in the right place- we will take it and whatever monetary consequence we need face for breaking said lease.

So where exactly is this almost 15% growth!?

Looks to me like the US government is finally tasting what has happened to the rest of the country over the past 6-7 years…. which seems like a bad sign for the rest of the economy. We're taking it as a sign to get the heck outta dodge while we can.

Good luck and Prayers to all my colleagues looking for employment, and those who still have their jobs- may this disease not touch you.

As for me…. If you know anyone looking for a highly skilled Cell & Molecular Biologist with 8 years of experience- let me know!!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Capital Hill! and Top Chef! and Local Resturants Part IV!

I did it!
Its been about six months since I've been in DC proper. I haven't been back to Capital Hill since May 2011 when I moved my stuff out of that house.
But Tuesday that all changed. My boss asked three of us who are among the most senior at work to take a young kid who he had in for an interview out for lunch and give him the run down about the DMV (DC/MD/VA) and answer any questions he may have.

Of course one of the guys lives in Capital Hill and knows all the good restaurants there and he offered to drive so that's where we headed- I fought myself to say we should go somewhere else because I knew it was beyond time I went back- anything to help me finish moving on.

So we hit up Good Stuff Eatery.













One of three restaurants owned and operated by none other than Spike Mendelsohn of Top Chef fame!! Yep- that guy- the one in the hat- the one everyone loved to hate. He also owns the two places right next door. We The Pizza and Bearnaise.

So Good Stuff is mainly burgers- although they also have salads- but as the saying goes- that's like going to a steakhouse and ordering chicken.
I had the Good Stuff Melt. Muenster and cheddar, caramelized onions and mushrooms (hold the onions on mine) and good stuff sauce (which is a a mix of mayo, molasses, ketchup and vinegar). The burger was so tender and the cheese so melty and good and I've never done muenster with mushrooms but-yum!
But the best part- bar none.....





















Yes. That is indeed exactly what you're guessing and hoping it might be. Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake. With real toasted marshmallows on top. OMGoodness. Dessert heaven. And I don't even usually like marshmallows!!


So all in all. a successful trip to within 5 blocks of where I was robbed. We drove within a single block of where it happened. I looked down the street and pointed it out and felt almost nothing. Maybe because I was starving and there with two friends/coworkers and a interviewee whom I needed to look like an adult in front of, or maybe because I'm finally healing. I think the time was right though. And even if it hadn't been the right time- it was so worth it for that milkshake and to finally go to a top chef contestant owned restaurant!! I LOVE that show! And I've come out of the whole thing with a little more sense of peace about my whole ordeal.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dinner May 20th

Now that the wedding is almost 3 months behind us a new favorite past-time of mine has been finally trying out the recipes I've been pining for years on Pinterest. M loves it when I cook, and it allows him alot more time to do things around the house while I am, plus he actually enjoys helping me and seeing what I come up with! So I figure some blog reviews of the recipes are always warranted.... Ill have to get better about making sure I take pictures of how everything turned out in the future. Pictures here refer to the recipe page.

Last night's dinner had a spicy mexican theme.

Mexican Spiced Steak with Lime Butter and Chipotle Sweet Corn Fettuccine


I used tenderloin steaks because they were easiest to defrost out of what we had in the freezer. And went for the fresh corn on the cob- its still pretty early in the season for it, but I couldnt resist and it was nice and sweet.
The steaks were very easy, although I think they would have turned out ALOT better if we'd done them on the grill- but Alas M was spending some volunteer time at St Elizabeth's doing yard work and he's my grill master. That being said- make sure you use the spices as a rub especially if youre cooking on a stove top-- not just a coating.... way too much spice mixture on the steaks- some of which would have been lost with the grilling, but was retained with the fry pan and oven broiler.
I did a sear on each side of the steak then 3 minutes per side in the broiler. Added the lime butter and left in the oven til M got home (which luckily was only about 5 minutes). They ended up just over medium.
This was my first time making compound butter and while I think it turned out alright, I also needed to use a bigger container to mix it in..... everything fit nicely into the tiny little tupperware- but it didnt allow much room for mixing. Unfortunately the taste was drowned out by the over abundance of spice rub- but luckily ive got plenty left to try on other things in the future.
The corn fettuccine was a mess but decently tasty. I was having a hard time figuring out how long M would be gone and so a few things got started too soon. The corn cooked up nicely- although there is a fine line when cutting corn off the cob with getting too close to the cob and getting those little hard pieces. I used a mix of white and yellow ears... FYI mid-may has decent ears of yellow, but the kernels on the white are still pretty tiny.
So first off with why my fettuccine was only so so... I didnt make the sauce. Our AC is down until we can get new filters- because the whole thing was a mess when we moved in- the AC didnt work at all because of a freon leak. By the time I started the broiler for the steaks it was too damn hot in our kitchen and the thought of cream sauce was repulsive. The pasta definitely needed a sauce though (which was probably also exaggerated by the pasta sticking together thanks to being over cooked). I threw the garlic and some chipotle powder (I dont like putting real peppers in my food) directly into the mix of corn and pasta since I didnt make the sauce- but I dont think I added enough of either. So gummy pasta a decent corn flavor and a tiny bit of spice. not bad, but nothing to write home about.

Definitely gotta try it with the cream sauce next time....

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Making decisions for the future

M and I have been talking alot about the future and damn are there alot of decisions to make. Our current discussion focus around--

Stay or Go? Rent or Buy?

Do we try and make our living here in VA- where I have to spend 2.5ish hours of everyday away from home to drive back and forth between work and home because it's the only way we'll be able to afford a decent size house AND be able to save money? Or do we try and find anther place to continue our lives and eventually our family?
Once we've made that decision- do we rent in case we dont like the new place if we move and/or so that we can save more money (for a down payment etc) in both cases? Or do we go ahead and buy because a mortgage would be cheaper than a rental?

Buying would be tied to knowing we're going to stay in a certain location for a good period of time- long term commitment. So we're back to the first question/decision.

We LOVE VA. Its been my only home for 30 years (minus the 2ish months in DC before the robbery). M has been a bit more transient- OK, TX, VI, VA, PA, NY, MO, but has spent most of his life in VA. Needless to say he's more ok with moving, while I like to cling to the idea of staying here and being near both of our families- especially for once we have children.
BUT- other jobs outside of Northern VA dont pay nearly as well. And NoVA is expensive as crap.
          For Example. The median house cost in NoVA (Alexandria): $477,100
                                                                   in Fredericksburg- near where we live: 317,959
                                                                   VA average: $243,100
                                                                   in Huntsville AL: 156,100

And just for reference- What you can get for $150K in each of the above mentioned cities respectively.





So as you can see- buying a home is a bit cost restrictive. Mortgage payments would be approximately $2330, $1550, $1180 and $760 respectively- with NO down payment (which is technically only allowed in the last two... maybe the third- not sure- Thanks to the USDA Rural development program). Obviously a down payment would change these slightly- but it would be awhile before we could amass the necessary 20% to make any significant difference. We can technically afford the last three- we're currently paying $1500 in rent. But it makes it very difficult to save any money when you have to figure in other bills (car payments, gas, food, M's student loans, cell phones, etc etc etc.).

Back to the point here. Staying harms our potential to save.

Leaving maximizes our potential to save IF I can find a job making similar money.... which let me tell you- not really the easiest thing to do when youre leaving one of the most expensive places in the country to live. Obviously leaving has its own cons: my company has a terrific profit-sharing retirement program, we'd be far from all of our family and friends, we may have to live somewhere more suburban instead of rural b/c M needs interwebs for work. But pros too- Cheaper! Friendlier people if we go more south! Less traffic!! M maybe ok with public school for our future kiddos if we're not faced with so many liberals! (= more savings!).

Any advice about how to make these big decisions?

So of course- we start talking about this and the inevitable happens.... I come across something beyond perfect on the first glance at job listings. Higher salary- staying here and training at Quantico then being moved to Huntsville, Alabama (You knew I was going somewhere by including that in the list above!!). Job pays relocation and lets us ride out our lease terms. Theres a great Tridentine Catholic Church and even a monastery where we could attend Mass. I get to learn something new- the job is still in Molecular biology/ Genetics- but is a Forensic Examiner position! cool right!? I'd be like Abby on NCIS! LOL. pretty cool Pro list.

Then more Cons.

TORNADOES. Worst city in the US for tornado damage.

Oh Damn! I am beyond freaked out by tornadoes. Not about being hurt in one believe it or not. But about losing our stuff- pictures, photo albums, pets, BOOKS!, The house were talking about buying!

Im planning on applying, I told my husband it was a great opportunity and it really is. When i just knew they got Tornadoes I thought, it wasnt a big deal cause the likelihood of us getting hit was low in my mind. Til I saw that article in the link above. Now Im freaked, I dont even have the job- havent even sent in the application yet, and im going crazy.

Anyone have any advice about living around Tornadoes- besides the normal shelter, food, water prep kinda stuff? Or how to even keep your brain working beyond the immediate freak out!?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

3-0

Oh right. I said I was going to try and do this more often and now its been 3.5 months since Ive posted something... well then lets start with a big one.

30

Yep. Almost 2 & a half weeks ago I hit the big 3-0.

So for the big event Im going to go through a list Glamour and Huff-Post put online awhile back. Things every woman should have and know by the time she turns 30. And with the wisdom Ive gained in the week and a half Ive been 30 Ill explain why I either agree or disagree.

By 30, you should have ...
1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come. I mean seriously?? promoting women going back to old boyfriends?? WTF is wrong with people!? No- you broke up with them for a reason, and you shouldnt be pining if they broke up with you. The only way to be a healthy woman is to move the F on. The second part though I agree with fully. To appreciate the good you have in your life- there has to be a little bad. I appreciate my husband that much more because Ive had boyfriends in the past who were nothing more than an emotional drain.
2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family. Yes and No. I love old antiques and heirlooms- especially wood furniture- tables, bookshelves. But you also need that nice comfy couch to crash on- and it helps if its not musty from years of use OR storage.
3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour. Well these would be two different things obviously not wearing a suit to meet the man of your dreams- but yea- every woman should have a well tailored suit (Or suit pants and a nice blazer/blouse combo).
4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying. Purse- yes absolutely. Suitcase- who cares unless youre traveling for business regularly. Umbrella- seriously?? mix it up and have a little fun! There is no need for us all to have corporate looking blue and white golf umbrellas. stupid.
5. A youth you’re content to move beyond. Eh. I dont like this. Yes you need to grow up and mature- but you should always keep a hold on parts of your youth. Your drive and passion. The excitement for meeting people and doing new things. Our youth- the mistakes and achivements have made us who we are- and we need to celebrate this, lets say instead- a youth youre content with- youve accepted it and learned from it.
6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age. LOL We all need some interesting stories. But youre going to be retelling them long before your old age rolls around.
7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age -- and some money set aside to help fund it. Ugh. So beyond important. SAVE SAVE SAVE. Dont abandon all fun to save- but dont neglect your future just because everyone you know is going to Europe and South America and you dont want to be left out. Soon you'll be 30 and no where close to being able to afford the down payment on a house for your family and you'll start questioning whether that daily latte or the trip to cancun; where all you did was drink your face off, was really worth it.
8. An email address, a voice mailbox, and a bank account -- all of which nobody has access to but you. Well- until you get married and then it's bye-bye privacy lol. But by then you shouldnt be having anything in any of those places youre afraid of the other person seeing- because then youve missed the biggest point of marriage- trust.
9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded. Heck Yea! Very important. Dont waste time doing meaningless jobs for 10 years. Even if you cant find the job of your dreams right away- find one that adds to your skill set and boosts your resume honestly.
10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry. These could be the same friend, they could be different ones, but you cannot be a person in and of yourself with all your emotions. Tried it myself back in college and my 20s.... its emotionally exhausting and leads to bad decisions in life.
11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra. Ugh. I hate lace underwear. seriously you hate to hear it- but the older you get the more comfortable you want to be. Lace is only good if youre only going to have it on for an hour or so before your husband decides it looks better on the floor. 
12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it. This is dumb. And just feeding into our consumerist society. Yes, buy yourself something nice once in awhile- but it doesnt have to be ridiculous and it shouldnt be on the regular. I get my designer purses at outlets. I get my designer clothes and accessories at online outlets. Dont be an idiot with your money- I got a Vera Wang bridesmaids dress for $200 and an Invicta watch for my husband for the same. I saved $1400. Yep the person who paid the full almost 2K- you just failed.
13. The belief that you deserve it. You dont deserve a damn thing unless you worked your ass off for it.
14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30. Enough said. very true. Although plans dont always work out- you find yourself with minimal time and a maximum amount of work that needs to be done. But always make time to take care of yourself.
15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better. Beyond true. Those of us turning 30 now have had it hard on the job front thanks to the recession and on the relationship front thanks to the new norm in society of later entrance into marriage and family life (mostly because of the instability in our careers), but it is so important to find something that truly makes you happy for a career and in love and life. It doesnt have to be the end all be all- but it should be devoid of drama and full of optimism.

This is getting long- so ill post the rest in part two sometimes to come in the near future.