Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Oh, dear reader, I nearly lost my mind.

After four (FOUR!) submissions and three rounds of revisions, the Journal of Neuroscience has finally agreed that my first-author paper is worthy of publication.

It’s about damn time.

And do you know what my graduate advisor wrote in response to the news? “This is a relief!!”

I couldn’t agree more.

But the thing is, I do want a little more. Perhaps a congratulations is in order here? After all, this paper acceptance practically puts a P and half an h after my name: the halfway mark on my journey to a PhD. With this paper on its way to the presses, I feel relieved, elated, buoyed, happy, refreshed. I’m ready to finish this project of mine called graduate school, ready to see the horizon beyond the finish line.

The acceptance of this paper feels like the final milestone in a long, painful journey that has occupied much of my conscious thought for the past year. It’s not just a paper, a story about fruit flies and biological clocks and enzymes. It has been one of the greatest and most humbling learning experiences I have survived. It’s right up there with life after breaking up with my first boyfriend and losing a beloved mentor and friend to cancer two years ago. Written between the lines of my manuscript is the story of my failures, one after another after another, most of them biochemical assays that simply did not work. This paper is not the story I wanted to tell but it is the story told to us by the data we had. This paper is a lesson in doing the best with what is, not what we wish we had. It’s a difficult lesson to learn, but it’s a pervasive lesson in life. How many moments are we going to spend regretting what isn’t? How much time can I waste wishing things were different—wishing that I didn’t have days during which I feel sad for no reason, that my friends would stop moving away, that the stifling humidity would cease and desist, that my apartment would clean itself when I’m away at work, that my family would come visit me?

Life is filled with disappointments: bad days, inconveniences, devastating losses, heartbreaking news. Let me take this one tiny moment of success and celebrate it for what it is. An accepted manuscript. And an acceptance of the larger experiment in which we all participate: life.

Who knew that “accepted” would only follow acceptance?

May you all find the inner strength and flexibility to accept what life has to offer you. Accept all and regret nothing.


boston girlie said...

YES! CONGRATULATIONS!!! I'm so happy for you, Rose-Anne. You completely deserve this. So, where does the other half of the "h" and "d" following your name come from? :)

Rosiecat said...

Thank you, Boston Girlie! I'm awfully happy about the news.

Great question about those three little letters! My advisor's official position on graduation is that two first-author papers earns a PhD. Since I've got one in the publication pipeline now, I figure I've earned half my letters. And now it's onto the next paper! Perhaps it's foolish optimism, or the same effect that helps mothers forget the pain of childbirth so they can have another baby, but I feel like this second paper will be a little less painful than the first. Not that it will be less work, but rather I feel less green and more savvy about the process.

And dammit, I WANT MY PHD!

ttfn300 said...

Congrats!! Keep up the good work :) I just defended on monday, and i still can't believe it really happenned! It's crazy how finishing is dependent on your mentor, committee, and luck...

Rosiecat said...

Congratulations to YOU, ttfn300! I love it when other students graduate; it gives me such hope that grad school won't last forever. I'm equal parts happy for you and jealous of you ;-)

And thank you for the kind words. I totally agree with you, especially the part about your success being dependent on your mentor. As for committees: Eek! I need to meet with mine soon!