Here’s looking at you, MSc thesis.

The relationship lasted nearly four years. I poured my all into it. It was what I centered my life around. The reason I got out of bed in the morning when it was going well, and also the reason I couldn’t face the world if I tried when it was going wrong. I knew the end was coming. I always knew. I walked on eggshells wondering when the day would come. I spent so many hours daydreaming about what I would do when I was no longer tied down, but I was still terrified for what it would take to get there. And now, here I am.

Please don’t pass the tissue. I’m not heartbroken. No, this was a different kind of relationship that has now come to a close.

I have officially finished my thesis.

It’s over! The writing, the review, the defense, the revisions, everything. The confetti has settled, my dress clothes are now back in the closet, and I have photocopied the page with no fewer than six faculty signatures about fourteen times just in case. I’m registered to walk across the stage in scholarly regalia in June. The defense went really well overall, and when I step back, I’m really, really proud of how far I have come with a tough project with many unforeseen pitfalls along the way. (To my American readers: in Canada, a Masters is not a failed PhD; rather, it is a step between a bachelor and a PhD – some people “roll over” from MSc to PhD, and others like myself wrap up the MSc project as a whole before moving on [or not]).

But I can’t help but feel like it’s a very weird breakup. The kind where it just sort of ends because it needs to, because there’s more out there, but you always know that it has changed you for the better (and maybe in one or two ways for the worse).

Like any breakup, the hardest part is in the shakeup to your day to day routine. For instance, I got into the habit of coming to the local Starbucks most Sunday afternoons to do work, whether it was reading papers, editing drafts, or grading undergraduate assignments for the courses I TA’ed. Sometimes, I would even run into my PI and we’d have completely impromptu but incredibly productive meetings over coffee, far away from the grind of the laboratory. It became such a habit that I’m sheepishly writing this post in that very Starbucks. After Friday and Saturday as my first two full days of not having a reason to be on campus at all, I cracked. Coming to this café is my equivalent of driving by an ex’s house. The territory is so familiar, I find myself here without even thinking. I could drive here with my eyes shut (don’t worry, I didn’t!). With my thesis out of the picture, I feel like I’m back on the market. Would anyone else know that adding a finishing date to my “education” listing on Facebook feels the same to me as changing the relationship status to single?

While my friends are posting updates about weddings and babies, I’m proud to announce my own milestone. I’m ready to take a chance on new opportunities. I’ve already started two new projects; one helping to organize a local community day to celebrate bees and other pollinators, the other volunteering in a wildlife rehabilitation clinic. The world is my oyster – and I’m planting the grain of sand myself to make the world cough up a pearl.

It may be the end of my complicated relationship with my thesis, but with the rest of the world? I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 

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Seven days

This time a week from now I will be finished my MSc thesis defense.

I am oscillating so quickly between freaking right out and feeling completely prepared and ready that I think I’m averaging out at neutral.

I feel so deep in the rut that has been a very much over time program that I can hardly believe there will be the day when I am out of the rut – and I really can’t picture that day happening next week.

Here’s to pushing through and staying focused for one more week. Eye on the prize!

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In absentia

For the last few months, I have been more or less absent. Absent from this blog, absent from my circle of friends, absent from pretty much everything except grad school – and I feel like I’m disappearing from that too.

I’m most pleased to report to you that my thesis has reached Another Step Towards Finishing: it has been returned from my reader with a wealth of very useful, positive, and constructive comments. I had a genuine fear of releasing my baby from within the confines of communication between my PI and myself over the last year, with my mind thoroughly convinced it was going to be shredded and that I’d have to quit (or fail – I don’t know which would be worse) instead of graduating. They tell you that to survive graduate school, you need a thick skin. I think mine has only become thinner. But I have the signature I needed officially, and great suggestions to improve my own writing, and I’ll take this as a win any day.

But all things come to an end, and though I still have a ways to go before you see me in cap and gown (if you do, I’m undecided on whether or not to attend convocation), there is now an expiry date on my time here. I have scheduled my defense, lined up the examiners, have gathered a mountain of papers I need to refamiliarize myself with, and for the first time in a long time, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.


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¡Hola! Return from Playa del Carmen

I have arrived back in the frostbitten Great White North from my first ever trip to Mexico! Although I’m sad to be returning to a polar vortex, I’m thankful I got to escape at least a little bit of this year’s brutal winter. I was able to finally relax after not having taken a proper holiday since 2011 (grad school!) and even that holiday was a lot of trekking around the UK on foot, trains, buses, planes, cars….so although fun, not exactly fully relaxing. I tend to be much more of the adventurous sort over the beach sort, but I definitely needed some down time. And best of all, it was all for a wedding! I was able to hand over my first full copy of my thesis to my PI just before I left last week, so I could take off knowing it was off my plate for the time being.

Now I’m back, a little more recharged, and ready to sharpen my axe and get this MSc submitted and defended! I’m now knee deep in both Canadian snow and thesis revisions, but I’m hoping to be able to do some travel posts over the next few weeks, including our excursions to the Mayan ruins of Tulum (pictured below) and a deep sea fishing adventure that culminated in a delicious lunch of fresh and pretty fish.


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Taking flight!

Taking flight!

Pelican in Monterey, CA September 2013
Photo taken by myself

Happy New Year in a very belated fashion! I’m running around like mad trying to finish my edits of my now WHOLE MSc thesis before I hand it off to my PI. I’m also prepping for a friend’s destination wedding in Mexico, which is tough because I cannot fathom the idea of relaxing on a beach right now (to be fair, I did think when I accepted the invitation last July that there was no way I’d still be anywhere near grad school in January).

Stay tuned for science, thrills, and more science! 2014 is going to rock.

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Critter prints for Christmas!

I recently made a few of my photos available as “art gifts” through (an account I’ve had since high school, hence the angst-y username. sorry-not-sorry!). I don’t claim to be a pro, but I do get a 20% cut from such prized items as canvas prints, mugs, and even puzzles featuring photos and paintings such as those appearing below. Here’s the link to my prints gallery.


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“We’ve attempted a drone delivery; however…”

Amazon, that behemoth of an online distributor, announced yesterday its Orwellian plan for the future to deliver packaged goods via drone delivery service. Needless to say, the Internet was onto joke generation pronto.

This was submitted to by an unknown user. BUT WAIT! The creator was FAR more creative than is already obvious!

The drone ID # 1001101011 is binary for the deicmal value 619. An innocuous number, perhaps. But deeper Internetting reveals that 619 is actually the number of a New Hampshire house bill (HB 619) that sought to limit the potential for abuse by drone surveillance.

Clever! Let’s just hope the Amazon drones go the way of the Internet and evolve to function solely as cat entertainment.

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