May 18th – the day I became a marine biologist

Guys, I did it. I finally did it. I made 8 year old me proud and happy beyond measure. On May 18th, I successfully defended my thesis and am now a marine biologist.

I have never been so nervous in my life as I was the night before the presentation. I tried to rehearse but that failed miserably. The presentation itself went great, despite me blanking out on several questions my opponent had. That probably nerfed my grade, to be honest. I couldn’t sleep that night, and I even dreamt that I failed it because I couldn’t speak. That probably contributed to the half-assed presentation I did. I’m sure I can pull it off in a better manner today but what is done is done, right?

Yesterday, I spent the day alone. Zoe was at daycare and I couldn’t sit around and do nothing, which resulted in me taking busses around town to play Pokemon Go. Once I got home again, chores awaited and in between those, I experienced a turmoil of feelings. I was happy beyond measure, but I also felt empty and insecure. I know it’s expected. I’ve worked so hard for so long, I barely know what it’s like to fully relax. I honestly cannot remember when last I actually relaxed and didn’t worry about anything. Yesterday was a first. I still feel confused. I didn’t have a plan for life after university because the plan I had up until attending uni was all shot to hell. Why? Because life happens and you can’t ever plan everything.

I’m sure I wouldn’t been able to pull any of this off without the immense support I’ve received from almost everyone I know. You guys have been cheering me on since day 1 and no matter how long I’ve known you, you’ve always come through to pat me on my back, telling me I got this to get me back up on my feet. You’ve truly been the lights in my world and I really couldn’t have done it without you.

Right now, I’m constantly moving between sheer happiness and utter emptiness. Come Monday, and I’ll gotta do some things to get me moving toward a job. In between those tasks, I don’t know what to do. Maybe I’ll read a few books. Maybe I’ll catch up on my never-ending list of documentaries I want to watch. Maybe I’ll just go to the sea side and dream away. Or maybe I’ll catch up on all my series and anime or play all the games I’ve been meaning to play. It’s just weird to have so much time on my hands when I’ve always only been having 2-3h every week. It feels weird to me to start playing a game or watch a show. Those have always been an award to me. If I finish this task, I can watch one episode of X. That has always been my system. Do this and get this. Finish that and buy this. Now I don’t have a real thing to be my number one priority.

I think I’ll just have to go see the ocean. Then I’ll be fine again.

//c_Cae; finally did it. now what? 

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Rejoice

The deadline for the PhD application was on April 16, which resulted in me working over Easter desperately trying to finish it. It ended up pretty good, if I may say so myself. The only problem now is out of my hands, and I can only hope that my application stands out enough to call for an interview among the 40 other applicants. Other than being nervous, I also managed to finish my thesis.

I sent it in twice for revision and now the final version is in my hands. I only need to check for some minor errors and find typos. After than I’m ready to write a presentation manuscript and defend it. It’ll be fun, I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. Knowing that I have so many people that support me is very comforting. I’m not gonna lie, I am nervous but being a little nervous is good. It feels amazing and very unrealistic at the same time. Once my defence is over and I pass, I will have made my childhood dream come true and I’ll finally be a marine biologist.

I remember when I first started this blog and it was all about being a bartender before I realised I need to head back to uni and finish what I started. I also remember the picture shown to me when I was 8 and I decided then and there that I wasn’t going to be an archeologist and head for the deep blue instead. For the longest time as a child, I thought the words marine biologist was just a made up thing. I had just put together two words that made sense to me: marine because of the ocean and biologist because of all the life around us. Countless of times was I met with the question Is that even a thing? Of course it is! Look at me now. I’m very happy, although the thought of not knowing what I’ll do the coming years is frightening.

Most of all, I’m proud of myself. I’ve managed an education with 0 in debt. Zero. Nil. Nada. My degree is the manifestation of hard work in its purest form. Yes, I have put many things aside to achieve this but it is worth it. I’m also very proud of the fact that I managed to do something that I’d never thought I’d be able to pull off. My thesis is strictly theoretical and it’s packed with statistics. I’m still afraid of statistics but I now have a fundamental understanding to it and I know why it’s important. It scared the living being out of me when I took it but I am really glad I did it. It put me through so much agony, pain and frustration but it paid me back in knowledge and resilience. I’m really impressed with myself, not only to the fact that I managed to pull this thesis off, but also because I took the courage and challenged myself and walked out of it alive. So whatever the future has coming my way, I am not afraid.

//c_Cae; challenge accepted and achievement unlocked: marine biologist one month from now! 

Recap

It feels like a million things have happened since I last posted. While not literally a million things have happened, but many have. I’ll try not to be too long about it, but I still want to keep you readers in the loop despite not being able to update here as much as I’d like to.

Being one of the most difficult decisions in my life, we ultimately decided to let Serah go. Zoe kept locking herself in her room, crying whenever Serah as much as looked at her when we ate, and repeatedly telling us how scared she was of Serah. Serah, being the pup she is, just looked curiously at Zoe, wondering why this little human was acting the way she does. I can understand Zoe. It is scary to have a dog that’s almost double your own size and is still growing. It pained (and still does) me a lot to see Serah go, but I’m also a mother that want my child to feel safe at home. I still miss Serah every day. I get a striking pain in my chest whenever I think of her. Of course, my frustration is back because there’s nothing to fill in for Serah. We’ll get a dog, a smaller one for sure, but we don’t know when. Until then I have to cope. Besides, Zoe is back to her old self, only she keeps naming anything dog-related Haylee.

My thesis is taking up a lot of time, as usual. I had another round of corrupted data and so I had to do it all over from what I could salvage from October last year. It took me a week, but it’s all back and even improved. I’ve been writing like my life literally depended on it. I came to realise that I still love doing this even though the curveballs have been abundant and lately, they’ve been harder to handle too. In the meantime of writing my thesis, I have also come to terms with a few things. I started applying for jobs outside my field because no PhD opportunities were coming up and everyone I talked to seemed to be more keen on getting new post-docs instead. It had me thinking, that if nothing shows up (it really didn’t feel like it), I might as well look for a 9-5 job outside my expertise and do the marine bio stuff on my spare time. If I can’t do what I love, find something that pays enough for me to do it, I kept telling myself. It is better to secure each month’s pay check than to worry about it. At some point, I thought I had convinced myself that a life outside academia is what was better, at least for the time being.

Or at least that’s what it was like until I dropped in at the unit on Wednesday. That’s when I heard about the new PhD postings. One of them, I am very interested in. I have no idea how successful I will be if I applied, but I am applying. It’ll always be a missed shot if I don’t take it and let’s face it, no one likes 100% failure. There are so many things I’m insecure about. I have no doubt my work ethics or my workaholic tendencies are top notch. What I doubt about is that my thesis has been incredibly dragged out. I still don’t feel much smarter about statistics, nor am I anywhere near confident of what I have produced so far. I’ve tried to explain to my supervisor why I feel like this, but there seem to be little to zero room for listening. It’s all about achievements. I hate that I let my emotional state from my private life affect my professional life. I try my best to keep the two separated, but each time the word cancer pops up I just feel petrified (I’m okay, it’s a family member, though). Some friends tell me I’m a very private person, yet I blog and I live stream when playing games. I still doubt about my own abilities. I sometimes even feel that there is so much doubt, I’m hindering myself from growth. It doesn’t help that several colleagues encourage me and tells me, in these words Not every master’s student is like you, you know? PhD material. I don’t know. If I was that kind of material, why have my thesis taken so long?

I can’t blame it on my eye condition, and I can’t blame it on working so much last year. Just those two, took away at least 12 months of time. Each time I have my eye examined, I’m thrown off work for at least three days if nothing goes wrong. I can’t blame it on these two things. Work I chose to keep because I needed the money and I needed to get away from the computer every now and then. My eye condition is genetic. They’re just explanations.

This has never resonated with me the way it does right now.

//c_Cae; full of doubts :(

A divided decision

3 weeks have passed since Serah came to us. Training has paid off, she listens whenever we tell her no, knows her commands and has improved a great deal when walking on the leash. She does turn deaf when she plays with other dogs, though. That’s alright, she’s still a pup. She’s very sneaky, too. She’s not allowed on the couch and she knows it, yet she seizes every opportunity to jump up on it and then look all innocent when we catch her. Most the time, we don’t need to tell her off, she’d jump off on her own and then give you the saddest puppy face on the planet before laying down in her own bed.

During the time Serah’s been here, I have loved 90% of it. Finally having a dog feels amazing. Actually, it feels more than amazing even though it didn’t really turn out the way I wanted (I want a shiba, remember?). I haven’t felt any anger when I’m bored since Serah came. I’ve always had something to do. Zoe is very independent, so a dog fills the gaps where I feel I really want to do something. Whenever I’m bored, I could just train with Serah. She’s very eager to please, which has made our training sessions very easy.

However, I can’t say the same about my family. Patience have been shortened and there haven’t been much understanding to the fact that Serah is a puppy. Zoe has a few phrases on repeat whenever Serah’s around.
I’m scared of Serah. Does she have to live here? Can Haylee live here instead? Haylee can sleep in my bed. Serah’s too big. I love small dogs, like Haylee. 

Haylee is a chihuahua our beloved friends have. She’s indeed adorable, but a wee bit too small for my taste. I understand Zoe, though. It is intimidating to have a dog that’s about twice your body size and it isn’t very helpful knowing the dog will only grow bigger and much faster than Zoe does.
For two and a half weeks, the Dutchman and I have sat down every day, several times a day, with Zoe and Serah and have them become more accustomed to each other. We’ve put up a gate to Zoe’s room to help the progress. Serah keeps laying outside said gate, wagging her tail, hoping Zoe will come play. But Zoe just ignores or teases from the other side. We’ve also tried walking Serah with Zoe, playing out- and indoors with everyone involved and tried doing simple tricks. None of these work and what has happened is that Zoe even more repeats her phrases.

Now, we feel like we have two options. Either return Serah to the adoption bureau, in which case she will again go to a foster family, or keep her and try to make the best of it. Chances are, though, that Zoe will forever emphasise the size of the dog. I’m very divided. I’m a mother, first hand and that makes me feel like I need to listen to my child no matter what. That includes if I have to take the fall (of feeling bad for giving up the dog) if it means Zoe will feel better. The Dutchman seem to have little problem with this aspect, less than I do at least. An equal part of me does not want to give up Serah. She’s amazing. And the voice echoes but you have to think of your child. I don’t know what to do and it just feels awful.

//c_Cae; adulting is hard, parenting is sometimes harder.

Meet Serah

The stress from the holidays have just gone away. It only took one month for me to get over it and now I have to brace myself for the stress that is the month of March, where  ~85% of the Dutchman’s family celebrate their birthdays. I’m not stressed, I have no idea what you’re talking about…

To a different matter, meet Serah.

omnomnomnom

omnomnomnom

We’ve wanted a dog for some time now, and I still REALLY want a shiba (because let’s face it, they’re perfect). Before the shiba-plans, we intended to rescue a dog. The problem was only that most rescue dogs are not suitable with kids and that’s a problem. Then, we found a site and a puppy that was alright with kids and she was adorable on the pictures. Sarah (the name her foster home gave her), along with her 8 siblings, were found in a paperbag by a highway when they were just a few weeks old. Someone had dumped them there like garbage but a kind soul had found them and took them to a pound. Unfortunately, we only know the whereabouts of Sarah and her sister Sally. I’m not sure if Sally has found her furever home yet.

We obviously fell for Sarah and thought we could just apply and see where it took us. This we did right before New Year’s Eve and we went about thinking it’d take a while before we actually got a reply. It did not take as long as we’d anticipated. Two weeks after we sent our adoption applications in, the agency called us asking us a bunch of questions. After that, several phone calls were made and we found out that Sarah would come to Sweden and was ready for pick-up the following Tuesday. This completely stressed me out and I’m still stressed out about it.

I had to pick her up alone and when we met, Sarah was a bundle of smelly puppy dynamite. I didn’t blame her. She did spend 3 days in a car with a bunch of other dogs and had a rough past. I’ve never had a dog in my life and I really don’t know much other than what I’ve read about shibas. I was, and still am, very focused on that breed and naturally, my knowledge is limited to how to handle things with shibas only.

A lot of googling and reading took place the first days Sarah was with us. We decided to name her Serah as to put our own twist to it (it’s a Final Fantasy reference). So far, she’s shown a lot of promise to agility and obedience. I have already managed to teach her paw, sit, lie down, jump and heel (to some extent) on command. It’s amazing how quick she learns. Table manners on the other hand is more difficult and outdoors she gets very distracted. I don’t blame her, the world is a big place for a puppy with insecurities. She does push my patience to the utmost limits, more so than Zoe ever did.

We don’t know what kind of breed she is, but her passport says lab-mix. I don’t know what that means but I get the feeling there’s a lot of retriever in her. She already fetches things and she has webbed paws. Now, if we can get her to like water, that’d be great.

//c_Cae; more to come, gotta get ready for stream

Holidays

Christmas is coming closer, and all I feel is stress. I don’t want to visit people, I don’t want to do all the Christmas dinners and I really don’t want to travel anywhere further than 30min from home. I just want to hide until this is all over. Unfortunately, I have obligations.

This year, I had my mind set on just being at home and cozy it up with our own Christmas tree and our own Christmas dinner, just the three of us. Plans quickly change, though, and now it seems we’re all booked for at least 3 events. That’s 2 too much. I’m very stressed and frankly, I’m mentally exhausted.

Why? Well, I had just barely recovered from the immense show that was Zoe’s birthday. Many guests in a confined area is not my expertise. I simply feel mentally drained whenever such things happen. Normally, I phrase it “I love people, but I hate crowds”, and that’s exactly what that was. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time, it was just so exhausting, I took a week to recover (does this make me an introvert of some sort?).

Then, when I had recovered somewhat, I thought my thesis would finally wrap up and I could, you know, get this thing over-with. Again, I love my thesis, because it’s challenging and novel (to me), but the speedbumps that involve my data messing around with me is agonising. I struggled a bit to draw any conclusions about my data and actually discuss them, but then I stumbled upon a problem that shouldn’t exist, but does. I decided to talk to my supervisor and he said that result is impossible and that it might be something wrong with my data. Again. I spent last weekend and yesterday trying to find said problem so I could solve it and finally get back to writing, but to absolutely no avail. My option now is to go all the way back and try to track down whatever possible thing that could’ve gone wrong from the last time I looked at it and thought it was fine. That time, it took me about 3 months to clear things up, and that was because some comma decided to jump a few numbers disrupting my 8Mb datasheet. It wasn’t pleasant, but it had to be done. Now, it feels like I’m there again.

I felt like I could finally wrap this up and then Murphy’s law thought it’d pay me (another!) visit. I’m so tired, no amount of sleep is helping me. I don’t even want to eat. Not even pho feels appetising right now, and this is how I know something bad. I feel so stressed, that I am thinking about stepping away for a bit and just take a breather. On the other hand, I really want to finish. My report is brilliantly written (for a first draft) and all that’s missing is writing the discussion and the defence. It’s so close, but I keep tripping at the finish line. I shouldn’t push myself harder, I know that, but I also know I shouldn’t prolong this any more. I want to finish so I can find a job (which is another agonising matter, money but we won’t talk about it).

A break just cannot be caught right now.

//c_Cae; when not even food is fun anymore, I’m in trouble

Parenting level 4

And so, November passed faster than any other month. The last week of it was spent planning Zoe’s birthday party. People tend to tell you how great it is to have kids and how the little sleep will be compensated by the moments full of laughter. However, no one ever tells you how bloody stressful it is to throw a birthday party for a 4 year old. We only got to throw one for the closest family, and due to lack of space, we couldn’t even invite Zoe’s friends from daycare (yes, the latter part makes me feel bad). The coming years, I am not caving to all the “Oh, we missed it last year so you have to throw one this year” b.s.

It was fun for Zoe and the kids that were there, though. Apart from the “oh no, s/he can’t have my toys”-tantrums Zoe threw every now and then, it was all good for everyone. Everyone except me. I was so tired the day after the party, I have spent the past week at home because I don’t have any social skills left. It was just mentally draining for me to hang out with so many people at the same time in such a small space.

Anyway, I still remember 4 years ago, when my water broke and the Dutchman had barely slept. The cab ride to the hospital was calm, and I remember being thankful for the little traffic there was at 5am. Once we arrived to the hospital, the first snow fell and it was one of the most romantic moments of my life. I couldn’t wait. Who knew it’d take Zoe 14 hours before she decided to rush it all and come see the world?

For the majority of those 14 hours, we actually slept since absolutely nothing happened. Around noon that following day, we decided to let them give me a morphine shot to help me relax because I just couldn’t relax. No kidding, I had a baby I was dying to meet and she just didn’t wanna move out (I really hope she won’t be like this when she grows up lol). Two hours after I get the shot, it all happened very quickly. I still laugh at the fact that the nurses didn’t tell us that if I feel like I need to go to the toilet, I shouldn’t because that would mean the baby is on its way. So, right after I got into the bathroom, the nurses come in and I hear the conversation that the Dutchman and the nurse have. Seconds later, I, for the first time in my life, called for help. I couldn’t get up from the toilet seat no matter how hard I tried. Luckily, I hadn’t locked the door so the Dutchman and the nurse came in to help me up. Those few meters between the toilet seat and the bed felt like a mile. It most definitely felt like the longest walk I had ever had to walk. Once I got to the bed, it all happened very fast. I remember having monitors attached to me, and I remember monitoring my contractions as well. To be honest, the pain was the least of my concerns. I was worried Zoe wasn’t feeling well since my water was murky when it broke.

For moments, I couldn’t hear any of the nurses when they called out to me. All I could hear was the Dutchman’s voice, so he had to convey the nurses’ messages to me. I couldn’t push when I was told to, because all of the sudden, Zoe was in a real hurry to get out. Three pushes later, there she was. Immediately, I was worried because I didn’t hear her cry until what felt like minutes later. Of course, the first thing she did was to pee on me when they put her on my chest. Nice, I love you too, kiddo.

The only regret I have, was that I was too knocked out to ask to see the placenta. It’d be so cool to see it, especially one that I actually grew. I know it sounds gross, but I’m curious haha.

Anyway, we just finished up eating all the cakes and left over food from the party and I’ll gotta say, I’m not sure I want to do this again :P

//c_Cae; can’t believe kiddo is 4….