Wednesday, December 13, 2006

my Christmas 'letter'

my life has been peppered with happenings since last i wrote. research has been frantic yet slow. i have been working doggedly to complete the lingering bits of three different projects. all continue to thwart my efforts, dragging on slowly. still, progress is being made and i am hopeful to have all the bench work complete by the new year or end of January at the latest. once i pull that together, i will be left with writing up the papers, finishing my dissertation, preparing for and sitting my defense. today was spent on a combination of lab work and inroads into the papers. December is always hideous this way since research abstracts for the Internal Medicine College are due the first Friday of January. blech.

i have been offered a job, an Assistant Professorship (tenure-track) in Internal Medicine at UT Knoxville. the department is just wonderful and i absolutely love the faculty. Grandma would have been so very happy about this job - it is a shame it all didn't come together sooner, but i can hear her so clearly in my head saying, 'I am just so proud of you, honey. You deserve it.'

i just returned from a second interview/prelim negotiations a week ago. they understand i need to finish my PhD and are aiming for a July 1 start date. aside from the sheer honor of being offered 'one of the most coveted IM positions in academia,' this job offers the added blessing of placing me within a few short hours drive of my Mom. living this close, we could even do weekend 'playdates'! right now, i am threading my way through the bog of negotiations and details. along the way, i stumbled across an useful primer online that has been very enlightening. the biggest challenge for me right now is maintaining objectivity, important since one really can never change things in academia once an offer is accepted. oy. it is hard to see how this could go awry but anything can happen so no "Change of Address' forms yet!

TraV is incredibly proud of me, or so he keeps saying, and will be making the move with me if things work out wrt UTK. a bit scary - okay, a lot scary - as this is the first time a someone has ever made a choice like this, chosen me per se, instead of choosing something that takes them away from me.

unfortunately, it seems that the house is finally reaping the 'rewards' of so many plumbing problems. i have been quite bogged down with headaches, malaise, and allergies since the heat kicked on this fall. after trying high allergen heat filters, electrostatic vent filter covers, aggressive spring cleaning etc, i am fairly certain that there is some sort of toxic mold thriving in the vent system. this has placed me in a bit of a pickle, since it seems crazy [not to mention expensive] to move now and then possibly again in just a few months. i finally called the landlady and explained the situation, asking her to have the vents cleaned. she is going to look into the matter and get back to me once she finds someone reputable. i would be willing to pay half the cost if i have to (it'd certainly be cheaper than moving) but i cannot stay if something doesn't give. TraV has taken to calling my place the 'House of Doom'. the cats both are suffering allergies, he gets draggy when here and i am simply worn through.

last Monday i started with a nasty headache that became a migrane by Thursday. Thursday i also ended up with vomiting, fever and chills, and Friday i actually had to go to the hospital for IV fluids and shots. i have never suffered such severe pain before (as proven by pain beating brain and me going to the hospital) and all i can say is Halleluyah for Western medicine (and Denny for giving me a ride to the doc)... the doc thinks i had migraine compounded by a nasty virus; i am still recovering to some degree. when you start out run down and toxic, it is kinda hard to fight the crud, you know?

Christmas is fast approaching. it has been a challenging quandary for me this year. somehow, this year it seems more important than ever that Christmas be celebrated by giving 'out'. after much thought, i have finally committed to a course of good works in lieu of presents. for example, i have purchased a slew of toys for the pediatric unit at PVH that will be donated in people's honor instead of buying things for them directly and so on and so forth. it definitely feels more 'right' to me, more in keeping with Carol Bird's wishes as it were, but time is short till Christmas and my energy not what it should be.

my Christmas tree
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
i picked up two new Christmas albums (new to me that is) - Ultra-Lounge Christmas Cocktails vol 2 and 3 that are bringing me much pleasure, though Fairytale of New York and Please Daddy, don't get drunk on Christmas will always have their place. Christmas movies are in high season and i shamelessly wallow in them, watching a dead son heal his family, a slew of Santas bring hope to a slew of children, Peter Falk bring together a 'lost' town, James Caan learn the true meaning of Christmas, and Amahl's encounter with the 3 kings.

it is a season of happy endings and hope, two things of which a girl can never have enough. this is what i think of as i sit and bask in the lights from my lovely tree, brimming over with delights for unsuspecting little ones, while i knit another baby sweater or scarf.

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