So I was in Canada this week….

Alright, I haven’t blogged in a while, and there’s a whole freakin’ mess of crap that happened in the last few months (I’ve crossed off like nine things on my life list! Who does that?!?) I’ve been kinda composing a really emotional essay in my head about the trials and tribulations of being me, but I’ve decided instead to give you some basic bullet points, because I want to spend the bulk of this space telling you about the past week. Ok, here’s what I’ve been up to since my last post (if you haven’t done so, you might want to go back and read my other blogs for an idea of what I’m talking about. There’ll be a short quiz later…):

1) I’m now an EM-T. I spent this last semester sitting a big old long class, and talking bunches of tests and practical exams, and now I can save you if you’re dying. Well, technically I can give you oxygen and transport you to the hospital, but I can also give you cpr and talk intelligently about medical thingies. Yay me! So if you’re dying, call. I’ll tell you when you need to call 911.

2) I taught a record number of students in Bio 21 this spring. A total of 394 kids were enrolled in the class, which is the largest its ever been in the history of class. I’m pretty sure it’s just because I don’t have the balls to tell a student “no,” but whatever the reason, there were bunches of them, all the time, talking to me.

3) I’m infertile. Yep, it’s official. Dean and I cannot have children. We tried what we could, but for whatever reason biology failed us and we will never be able to have a baby together. Yes, I am upset about this. No, I don’t think I’ll be ok for a long, long while. Yes, I know we’ll make great parents. No, we don’t know if we want to adopt.
There’s a weird grieving process that I’m currently going through to deal with this, and it is certainly not easy, so don’t take it personally if I have to disappear for awhile. I have to do things to protect myself. Get me in a melancholy mood sometime and I’ll tell you things that’ll make you cry for days…maybe I’ll write about it sometime; maybe I won’t. I haven’t quite decided yet. Oh, and if you ever, ever want a very strong opinion on how to treat (or not treat) and infertile woman, just ask me. I have a very, very sharp tongue on this issue. Ask, I dare you!

4) Dean and I are in therapy to deal with the whole “we’re as barren the driest desert” issue mentioned in 2. It’s helped a lot–I no longer wish the death of fertile females; That dead place inside of me where I’ve been storing the worst experiences of the past four years has shrunk to the size of a tennis ball. Score! We also get the distinct pleasure of deciding if we actually want to have children or not, because in our particular case we have to go and find a child if we want one. Don’t worry, we’re dealing with it.

5) I actually finished my masters. All done! The thesis was signed on time, stats were finished, I defended in a jam-packed hour of forensic wonder, and I just got the official email saying my diploma is on its way home. I’m officially Adrienne Brundage MS! How rockin’ is that? I know!

6) I’m teaching again in fall, but since I have my masters, I get paid more and work less. What the hell?!? This fall is going to rule.

Well, there you go. The last three months in a nutshell. If you haven’t heard from/seen/talked to/gotten wind of/known about me, don’t worry. That’s just because I went through one of the most stressful semesters of my life (Fall ’06 and Spring ’07 will go down in the record books of my life I think. I’m already saying things like “this is bad, but its no Fall-oh-six.” I expect to be saying this when I’m 100) and somehow came out alive and kicking on the other side. A true miracle!

But this wasn’t the reason for my post. This past week I went Vancouver, Canada for the 6th annual meeting of the North American Forensic Entomological Association. It was held at Simon Fraser University, the home of one of our international members, Gail Andersen. Gail has just opened an admirable new forensic facility specializing in entomology. It was so pretty! I stayed in the prison block (actually, it was the dorms they rented for $50 per night. They were prison rooms) with no air conditioning and the world’s hardest bed. At least it had a tiny fridge. No phone, but a fridge. That was good, since it was incredibly hot for the area (98 degrees) and in order to sleep I had to drench my pjs in the shower down the hall and put them in the mini fridge for 20 minutes before I went to sleep. It was wet.

Anyhow, these meetings are fun. All the big names in forensic entomology are there (just read any article or interview with a forensic entomologist, and I’ve totally met that guy! We hang out) and it’s a really fun group. This year, the organizer set up a workshop and invited the author of the newest calliphorid key to come and teach us how to use it. That’s kind of like having Einstein teach you physics or Beethoven teach you piano. It was awesome. I went to this workshop, and one of the entomologists I met last year came up to talk to me. His name is Dr. Jeff Tomberlin, and he is a professor out of Texas A&M University. In the last year, he’s had well over 20 publications, has worked 30 or so crime scenes, and is known as the midwestern authority on forensic entomology. Oh, and he drinks like a fish. So he walks up to me and gives me a hug. Then we had a conversation that went something like this:

Jeff: Hey Adie! I was hoping you’d be here!
Me: I wouldn’t miss it!
Jeff: So, how have things been going?
Me: Well, I finally finished my thesis! How awesome is that?
Jeff: Great! Want a spot in my lab?
Me: Um, what?
Jeff: Oh, I just opened a dedicated forensic entomology lab and I’m looking for doctoral candidates. We’ll talk about it later.
Me: Um…what? (then the workshop started so we had to stop talking)

I’m pretty sure one of the top forensic entomologists in the country just offered me a doctoral position. Huh.

On Thursday the group took a tour bus around the city, and Dr. Tomberlin sat next to me. Here’s the conversation:

Jeff: So, have you thought about my offer?
Me: Um….
Jeff: Ok, here’s what I’ve got: I just moved into a new forensic entomology lab at the university, and the administration wants me to focus chiefly on forensics. I set aside the first doctoral candidate spot for you, if you want it. It’s a three year program, after which you’d be able to roll your research into a post-doc program. I can’t afford to pay for you after three years, so we’d have to make sure you get your doctorate in three years. I’ll pay for your tuition for those three years, and since you’d be a doctoral candidate, you’re eligible for a $20,000 stipend each year. You’ll have to take 15 units a semester for their first two years, then sit for your exams, and the final year will be focused on your research. While you’re working on your project, we’ll give you the opportunity to collaborate on other papers. You should end up with about 8 publications by the end of your program, although there may be more. Since you have experience with case work, I’ll let you take over some of my cases so you can get more case work under your belt. I also insist that you get experience writing for grants and fellowships, and I’ll do what I can to bolster your resume. I think you’d fit right into the lab. Well, talk to your husband and let me know. I’ll fly you guys out this fall so you can look at the lab. If you don’t want to move to Texas, I’ll help you find a school in your area that meets your needs. Send me a resume! Hey, want to get a beer?
Me: Um…

So, there it is. One of the best forensic entomologists in the country opened a forensic entomology research lab, and set aside the first doctoral position for yours truly. I’ll get a full ride to Texas A&M University, and I’ll graduate with the first ever doctorate in Forensic Entomology. I’m pretty much floating. What do you think? Should I accept?

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