Showing posts from August, 2016


I'm writing this from the spare bed in my brother's room. He won't be happy to find me in here, but I don't care. It's comfortable. I'm surrounded by some laundry and his half-open backpack. It's amazing how much can change in a year. My first time seeing the Ohio house was actually this time last year. Then I headed to Svalbard to collect my settlement plates, and that trip certainly does not feel like it was 12 months ago. I remember telling my brother about how I had to be trained on a 30-06 rifle in case of polar bear attack , and he positively freaked. I've never been much of a gun person, so he was proud of me for my new skills. Immediately, he announced that the next time we were both in Ohio, he would train me on his own collection of rifles. My target for the day. Not perfect, but I was still pretty proud. Well, it's taken a year for both of us to be in Ohio again, but Wes remembered his vow. I joined him and our dad at the local gu

East of center

Current location: Ohio, United States. Ohioans refer to their state as the "heart of America." If you look at a map, Ohio is actually kind of heart-shaped, and its location in the U.S. is about where a heart would be - above the middle, just east of center. Growing up in Michigan, I knew exactly two things about Ohio: it has a lot of truck stops (Ohio's central location makes it a hub for interstate commerce), and it's where the amusement park Cedar Point is located. Michiganders love Cedar Point. A trip to Cedar Point with friends is almost a rite of passage for Michigan teenagers, because it's the farthest our parents would let us drive by ourselves. I've even seen maps of the United States from a Michigander's point of view that label the entire state of Ohio as "Cedar Point." (For the record, these same maps label Michigan's Upper Peninsula as "Heaven" and the Lower Peninsula "God's high-five to Earth.") No


Well, friends, now that I've finished at OIMB, you might be wondering where that leaves me. I'm in limbo for a while, but the good news is that I won't stay there forever. I already know where I'm going next. I'm headed for a marine biology research institute on a new coast. I'm going to make you guess which one. The institute is not in France, despite the title of this post. (Paris is a metaphor; see below.) The institute is in the United States. To get there from OIMB, I have to fly. It's an institute I've visited within the past 18 months but not the past 12 months. This institute has incredible infrastructure, including one of the best underwater research vehicles in the world. When you pronounce the acronym for this institute, you sound a bit like an owl. Any ideas? It's WHOI, or Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Massachusetts. Sailboats seen from a beach in Falmouth, MA Woods Hole is a top-tier institute. In my humble

Black water

"The strange silence Surrounding me Grows closer Feels colder... Swallowed by a vicious, vengeful sea... In the deepest depths I lost myself See myself through someone else" - "Black water" by Of Monsters and Men Wearing tan slide-on shoes and a bag slung over one shoulder, I made my way down the sidewalk on Boat Basin Road. The fog was thick. So thick. Cut-it-with-a-knife thick. It occurred to me how eerily quiet it was. Fishing towns are usually full of chatter - sea lions, gulls, bells, whistles - but tonight there was nothing. Just the silence and the fog. Peering over my shoulder, I could see the amoeba of students heading the other way down the sidewalk, on their way back to the lab. One of them was walking backwards at the head of the crowd, pretending to be a band director. The rest seemed unaffected and continued their casual conversations. Every once in a while, I'll have a moment when I realize something simple but profound. I'll see


Well, friends, I have finished my Ph.D. I submitted my final-final-final dissertation to the Graduate School earlier this week, so my obligations to OIMB and to the university are completely finished. Done, over - and that means I'm in limbo. Limbo is not a bad place to be. On a scale of "Ducking under a broomstick at a party" to "The River Styx," I'd say it's about a 2. Maybe even a 1. I've had plenty of details and logistics to keep me occupied, but it's been low-stress. Here are a few things that have happened while I've been in limbo: My decorated desk 1) My fellow graduate students decorated my desk. It was epic. 2) I visited friends in Albany. We went swimming at the local pool, then grilled out and watched the Olympics. 3) I attended a goodbye party for two friends in Hebo. They live in a log cabin in the middle of the woods with running water straight out of the local stream. No kidding. 4) On the way home, I climbed a s