I’ve always had high expectations for myself. I’ve always set as my “someday goal” an upper level management position, or a significant government post, or a professor at a named institution. I’ve just always oscillated between these as I changed my interests and my ultimate destination. Many friends of mine never questioned what they were going to do with their lives. (High school friends who knew they were going to be doctors and just partook in their white coat ceremonies, for example.) But I’ve never really known. I took a windy path, one could say, to end up where I am now.
But I had a moment last week that reminded me that where I am now is exactly where I want to be. It was the weekend, I was reading for fun. I was reading Science (if that doesn’t tell you a bit about who I am becoming…) and came across an article about “Yellow Lights” in science – basically that the current stop & go regulatory frameworks that are commonplace make it incredibly difficult to innovate in expensive industries. The article focuses on the complex FDA requirements and high biomedical expenses and argues that more flexible regulations – a yellow light or “California Roll,” if you will – could allow new and safe products to get to market (and help patients) faster. (Interestingly, an earlier magazine (June 12) focused a lot on innovative spaces – primarily in Cambridge, MA and the SF Bay Area – that allow biomedical startups to share workspaces and expensive machinery to compensate for these difficulties.)
Remember, I was reading for fun.
And then I realized I was also reading for work. Because my current task is to analyze the FDA regulatory structures and attempt to find ways the NRC could potentially mimic successful FDA frameworks. And this yellow light idea is definitely one to steal, for it would allow reactor designs that are more efficient but differ significantly from those currently on line to be approved in stages. This would in turn allow the designers to find funding in stages, instead of looking for a couple billion dollars on day one.
And then I realized I was also reading for school. Because part of my research project this fall is to look at other industries – I had planned originally to focus on technologies that inspired a regulatory overhaul, but the FDA parallel structure briefly mentioned in the article (and which I’ve thoroughly researched since then) could also be a perfect case study for comparison. Oh wait, that’s what I’m to complete over the next two weeks at work! And then I’ll rewrite it for school. And the book I’m currently reading for fun is about the beginnings of computer science; I haven’t gotten to anything significant about regulations, but I’m only 1/3 of the way through the book. So maybe my fun reading will become school too. Less likely, but still possible, it might become work.
So work is becoming school is becoming play is becoming work is becoming …
And while I know my parents have discussions where they go back and forth – one is proud of what I’ve done and the experiences I’ve had, while the other is distinctly more aware of the incredibly accomplished people my age who knew what they wanted years ago and have a much more focused resume – I always remember what I’ve noticed about the CVs of the professors I’ve admired and the industrial professionals I’ve looked up to: they’re usually missing a few years. Their resumes and CVs list their undergraduate graduation date and, with only a couple exceptions, nearly nothing can be found within five years of that date in either direction. Maybe an internship with a particularly significant politician, or a summer job at a big name company. But usually, nothing.
I often remind my friends about this while they stress about finding the perfect job today that will set them up for their dreams tomorrow. I remind them that the people we dream to become did something, presumably, for those few years, but it didn’t hold enough importance, relevance, whatever. Even just ten years out, those few post-college years became professionally irrelevant.
Obviously, I don’t want to aimlessly wander for a few years on the assumption that I can take them off my resume when I become who I want to be. I’m not squandering my immediate future because the resumes of people I idolize don’t mention that part of their lives. But I am using this reality – because it is reality – to remind myself that this is the time of my life when I should be doing what I want to be doing. This is the time when I should pursue jobs where expectations at work and the things I’m passionate about align, because that’s how I’ll get to the dream jobs I’ve always seen myself in.
And with that, I’m off to read an article that’s long been on my list of things that sound interesting. My fun list, if you will. I just put it off until an hour when I could say I read it for work, because its relevant to that too. 😉
My third overnight in one week (read about #1 and #2) was a trip to Napa, aka California’s drunkest county. A friend of mine, Nichole, has an amazing relative, Tori, who owns a fantastic winery, Frog’s Leap. She was kind enough to invite us (Nichole, myself, and four other friends) to the annual Frog’s Leap Peach Festival, which is essentially their harvest kick-off celebration. For the price of your ticket, you get to eat as much food and drink as much wine (and peach-flavored beer) as you want. The light breeze was warm, and there were kids running around, and quaint little chalkboards with all the options at each tent listed. There was the tent where you could get corn with peach butter and ribs, the tent that had two different types of salad, each with peach vinaigrette, the tent with the three sliders (salmon, pulled pork, and roasted pepper; each with a peach sauce, of course.) And then there was the dessert tents: peach ice cream, peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream, deep fried peaches with cream. Let’s just say the food was fantastic. And then there were the wines…
Over the course of three hours, I tried all seven wines, and the peach beer. And I had four glasses of water. (Don’t worry, I was drunk, but actually not that badly. I guess all that drinking in Prague served me well.)
I started with the Sauvignon Blanc, which was probably my favorite of them all. It was light and refreshing and honestly felt more like I was quenching my thirst than I was drinking alcohol. I absolutely loved it. I ended up buying a bottle on our way out, and my dad said it was the best Sauvignon Blanc he’s ever had. He doesn’t drink all that much wine, so I don’t know if that carries any weight, but I loved and he loved it and it was totally worth it. So yeah.
I moved on to the Zinfandel, which was also great. One of my favorite two reds. I swear, these were not my favorites because they were first. I never got that drunk. The Zin went really well with the corn that I was having, and with the deep fried peach I had next. I bought a couple bottles of this one too to bring home, and it went well with the BBQ chicken, bell peppers, and pasta we had with it. I’d say it’s safe to say this Zinfandel pairs well with most any summer dinner.
Then came the Cabernet Sauvignon. It was good, but I’ve had better. Perhaps it was just overshadowed by the absolutely amazing sliders I was having at the time. Pulled pork with peach sauce on the right (amazing), smoked salmon with peach glaze in the middle (amazing), and pepper and mushroom with a peach truffle sauce not really pictured (absolutely amazing). But the wine was good too.
The Heritage Blend. This one was just okay. It tasted basically just like red wine without any distinct flavors, which makes sense, seeing as it is a mix of grapes. I didn’t like it that much, and was glad I was distracted by the scavenger hunt that we completed. It took us all over the main property, and we theoretically learned some stuff about the winery, but really we just used it as an excuse to get up and walk around. Plus, we were gunning for the basket of wines. We didn’t win, but that was okay, because it was actually a lot of fun.
And the Merlot. The Merlot was goooood. I like Merlots in general, and this one was better than a lot of Merlots that I’ve had. It pretty much tied the Zinfandel for my favorite of all the reds, although I bought Zinfandel and not Merlot to bring home because a Merlot seemed too heavy for outdoor barbecue. At least, this one did. But when I go to a restaurant and see this on the menu, I’ll definitely be getting a glass or two. By this point, we had tasted all the food, completed the scavenger hunt, and moved on to the photo booth. We had to wait in line. The above selfie happened.
Followed by the Petite Sirah. We were chilling out, chatting, and eating some more peach ice cream, which was the perfect blend of peach flavor and ice cream creaminess and generally tasty. The wine was good too. It was berry-y and full of flavor, but I think it would have been better if it had aged for a few years, or maybe a decade. You can see Elizabeth’s glass of peach iced tea, which was also tasty (I just had a sip.)
Finally, I finished off the wine selections with a glass of Chardonnay. It was sweet and smooth, like a Chardonnay should be. I didn’t like the Chardonnay as much as the Sauvignon Blanc, but I tend to not like Chardonnays as much as Sauvignon Blancs, so that doesn’t surprise me. But it was definitely a nice wine to finish the afternoon with, and it was nice to get Nichole into a photo, not like I had to ask…
Okay, not finally. And not really finished either. I grabbed a glass of the peach beer too on our way out. The party was over, but ours wasn’t… The beer was good, if not fantastic. (I’m spoiled. Thanks, Prague.) But it was good. I liked the peach flavor, and it went well with the peach ice cream I was finishing when I got the beer. It also went well with the burrito, which I got when I was finishing the beer. It seems to go well with most things.
When we walked in, Tori made us promise to be Frog’s Leap fans forever, and after this fantastic afternoon, I can certainly do that! We finished the evening on a small meadow on Frog’s Leap property, after driving past vineyards. We had a few more beers, a burrito, some s’mores, and slept under the stars. Or would have, had there been stars – it was cloudy. But the trip as a whole was AMAZING.
I’ve been conspicuously silent this past week, and it is because I was out and about enjoying nature. What a strange idea, right? Spending a week in the woods, hiking and sailing and crafting and reading and not touching electronics for seven whole days… Okay, not quite. I touched electronics a lot. Namely, I took pictures and then put them on my computer. But the internet was spotty, so with the exception of one snapchat, no photos got distributed while I was at camp. But that is about to change!!
I’ll be sharing lots of stories as I sort through photos in the next few days, as well as at least a couple book reviews for the books I read and discussed while at camp, but here is a short slideshow to tide you over:
That’s it. Also, this post was published at 1:59. Just saying.
Sometimes, you make these great plans, like writing three blog posts a week. And then you do fun things, like go camping in gorgeous places like the Russian River:
We went camping with three other families; seventeen people and a dog in four cars and two campsites. Let’s just say it was quite a fun weekend. I’m pretty sure nobody did anything except cook, eat, read, and lounge on the beach. Which, if I had to say, makes for quite a good weekend. Perhaps a bit awkward when you play Cards Against Humanity with your parents, and certainly frustrating when you realize Jet Puffed has changed their marshmallow formula. (more…)