Whatcha been…?

I’m only just getting around to filling out this “Whatcha been…?” questionnaire. Meh, only two months late…. 😉

Whatcha been reading?:  Mostly books that are part of a series. I’m a long-time fan of Bernard Cornwell and The Last Kingdom series in particular, so I devoured The Flame Bearer (book 10) when it was released at the end of November. I’ve also been reading and listening to (Kindle/Audible whisper-sync) The Dresden Files, but I’ve finished what’s out and am impatiently waiting for more. I got sucked into the Outlander books a few weeks ago, mostly because I wanted to watch the series (Graham McTavish in a kilt–need I say more?) and I generally like to read the book(s) before watching any adaptation. I thought it was pretty silly at first, but it’s growing on me.

Whatcha been watching?: Outlander, not surprisingly. I’m actually not the biggest fan of the show, eye-candy aside, but I feel like I’m invested at this point. I also watched the latest season of Black Mirror, but wasn’t terribly impressed. The first two seasons were awesome, so that was a bit of a let-down. I’m enjoying The Crown, though.

Whatcha been writing?: Law school application essays and manuscript reviews, mostly. Nothing fun.

Whatcha been learning?: I keep telling myself that I’m going to dust off my German, but nope. 😛 I finally bought a German audiobook version of one of my favorite Bernard Cornwell novels, so maybe I’ll actually get around to listening to it.

Whatcha been doing that’s new?:  I’ve been TEACHING. I’ve picked up a second job as an adjunct instructor at the local community college. I’m teaching an evening Intro to Bio class. It’s an adventure.

Whatcha been thinking about?: I love Alma’s book club idea, although it’s going to take a lot of discipline on my part to actually participate. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my impending career change. I applied to some law schools back in December and have gotten some offers and some interview requests. I will be attending law school in the fall, but it’ll be a few months before I make a final decision on which school.


My Life Since Converse


We graduated!

Baccalaureate: The Beginning of the End.

Baccalaureate: The Beginning of the End.

I drove my mom and my grandma up to Toronto to visit my cousins and aunt. One of my cousins had been attending boarding school in Canada since she was 13 and her mom and younger bro decided to visit that summer to study English. While we were there, we met up with some of my mom’s childhood friends who are now living in Canada and we all went to Niagara Falls.

My mom and her friend at Niagara Falls.

My mom and her friend at Niagara Falls.

In mid-July I moved to Winston-Salem, NC to start graduate school. I spent two weeks at bartending school before starting grad school orientation. Just after orientation, I went down to Charlotte to celebrate Page’s 21st birthday.

Page's first (legal) drink.

Page’s first (legal) drink.

The first year of graduate school consisted of the bulk of my required classwork, as well as rotations to test-drive potential dissertation labs. During my first rotation, I worked on Haemophilus influenzae biofilms and developed a close relationship with the members of that most excellent lab. Shortly after starting grad school, my cousin, Kyoung-Eun, came from Korea to live with me and study English at UNC-Greensboro. It was great to see her again and to reform bonds.

My second rotation was my favorite and, in addition to the awesome PI (private investigator, aka boss) and subject matter, I bonded with my classmate and co-roton (rotation student), Rick, over silly songs and karaoke. Our lab spent a long weekend in Spartanburg meeting with some collaborators from Atlanta. It was over that weekend that the first of many Grad School Musical songs was written.

I was so taken with my second rotation that I was inspired to draw this adenovirus on a bar wall with pool chalk.

I was so taken with my second rotation that I was inspired to draw this adenovirus on a bar wall with pool chalk.

I saw Page and Amy over Thanksgiving and spent New Year’s Eve with Page, Vicky, and my cousin in Charlotte.




My third and final rotation was my least favorite. I hated every minute of it. Actually, that’s a lie. I didn’t mind being there working by myself, processing samples and staining, but I hated the people, I didn’t care for the subject matter, and I hate making IP (intraperitoneal) injections. I made the last-minute decision to fly to Stuttgart for spring break and wound up playing hooky during that rotation…and kinda didn’t bother to tell anyone until I was at the gate, waiting to board. Whoops. I did get to take a quick trip down to Freiburg (where I spent Spring Semester of junior year) during that trip to visit a friend I’d studied abroad with back in 2005.

Lovely Stuttgart.

Lovely Stuttgart.

Bomb-ass German breakfast.

Bomb-ass German breakfast.

I'd missed schnitzel from Tacheles soooo much.

I’d missed schnitzel from Tacheles soooo much.

In June I chose to join the Ornelles lab and focus on the oncolytic properties of human adenovirus.

Joe and I celebrated our second anniversary in Alexandria, Virginia. It was a fun vacation filled with a ghost tour through the Old Town, a lovely dinner cruise, and a foray into DC to see the major tourist sites and the Spy Museum.

Obligatory White House pic.

Obligatory White House pic.

Joe during our dinner cruise.

Joe during our dinner cruise.

Again, I saw Page and Amy over Thanksgiving.


I got a fluffy little bundle of joy named Huggybear!


I wrote and submitted my proposal, then read/watched all the Harry Potter books/films for the first time in the two weeks I had before I defended my proposal. I miraculously passed.

Joe and I traveled to Berlin, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Rothenburg ob der Tauber in early December. It was a much needed trip.

The view just outside our hostel in Amsterdam.

The view just outside our hostel in Amsterdam.

The Christmas markets in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

The Christmas markets in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.


I was a bridesmaid in Courtney Clark’s wedding.

Courtney's wedding.

Courtney’s wedding.

I traveled to Oxford, UK for the DNA Tumor Virus Meeting.

Grabbing a pint at The Eagle and Child.

Grabbing a pint at The Eagle and Child.

Oxford: so Hogwarts-y

Oxford: SO Hogwarts-y


The Ornelles lab went crabbing during the first week of June. It was a great retreat. Very relaxing. I slept in the sun, read on the pier, went crabbing, and ate the best crab cakes of my life.


I traveled to Madison, WI for the DNA Tumor Virus Meeting over the summer. I wasn’t expecting much, but Madison surprised me. It’s a quaint city and it holds a special place in my heart due to the fact that the first public performance of a GSM song took place during the meeting’s final banquet.

Beers on the lake in Madison.

Beers on the lake in Madison.

I spent the week after Christmas in New York City (my first trip there!)–right after that huge snowstorm.

Snow in Brooklyn.

Snow in Brooklyn.



This was the year of the postdoc from hell. My labmates and I would head down the hall every afternoon for a blissfully postdoc-free tea break. With goodies.

Tea time.

Tea time. Ha! And there’s no tea in this pic. There WAS tea. I promise.

Here we are at the 5 -year reunion.

5 year reunion.

5 year reunion.

In early summer, I went to Taste of Charlotte and won this awesome shirt for completing a hot wing challenge…and I’m apparently a really prissy eater….


I traveled to Trieste, Italy for the DNA Tumor Virus Meeting with two of my favorite labmates, lab tech Ana and undergrad Nat. We played hooky one of the conference days (who cares about Merkel Cell Virus?) and slipped off to Slovenia and then spent a few days after the conference in Venice. I was especially impressed with our medieval rental in Venice. Great location, great price, and just all-around quaint as hell.


Trieste sunset with Nat. Photo courtesy of Ana.


The lovely port of Trieste.

Divaca, Slovenia. Where trains come and go, but no one ever leaves.

Divaca, Slovenia. Where trains come and go, but no one ever leaves.

Gondola ride in Venice.

Gondola ride in Venice.


I joined the Winston-Salem Symphony Chorale early that year and performed Orff’s Carmina Burana with them in May. Look for me in the second row down, last one on the left.


I traveled to Le MonĂȘtier-les-Baines, France in June to attend the European Workshop on Cell Death. EWCD was one of the best conferences I’ve ever been to. 90% of the people who attended were senior grad students, postdocs, or junior faculty, which broke down a lot of barriers and really opened up discussion. That and I just love cell death people. And European scientists.


Here I am with a group of awesome German scientists.


Conference location. BREATHTAKING!

I went to my 10-year high school reunion (Eek! Time flies!). It was nice seeing the handful of people I stayed friends with after high school and to see my old HS principal not long before he passed away.


I won a blue ribbon in the Meatloaf Competition at the Dixie Classic Fair. I’d never entered a fair competition before. Totally worth it just for the free fair entry and the fantastic free parking.


I had a cholecystectomy in October, after months of not being able to keep anything down and turning slightly yellow. Yay.


Trying not to laugh after my operation. Laughing was incredibly painful.

I had an incredibly embarrassing experience going to see The Hobbit in costume…the closest to a costume anyone else in the whole damn place was wearing was a pair of pointy ears.

I was a female dwarf.

I was a female dwarf.


2013 was a huge year for me. The first half of the year was spent writing my dissertation. During all the madness, Joe convinced me to audition at the Full Figured Fashion Week model casting call at the Pineville Lane Bryant. I found out that I’d been chosen in April and come June, I was in NYC. It was an incredible experience…and surprisingly eye-opening. It gave me an appreciation for the hard work involved in modeling and in the fashion industry in general.

My Plus Model Mag Interview

Modeling Ralph Lauren at Bloomingdale's.

Modeling Ralph Lauren at Bloomingdale’s.

Modeling Youthery Khmer at the Indie Designer Showcase.

Modeling Youthery Khmer at the Indie Designer Showcase.


After party at Pranna.

In May of 2013 I won a spot in the UNCSA CMS Honors Recital at the Stevens Center, during which I sang a Korean folk song, “Barley Field”, and Strauss’s “Zueignung”.

I defended my dissertation in August.

Here's the damn thing.

Here’s the damn thing.

And I got my diploma in December.


While 2013 had some breathtaking zeniths, it was also littered with its share of lows. My grandmother broke her hip that summer and developed a nosocomial infection while she was recovering. Her infection apparently unmasked Alzheimer’s that we never even knew she had. She’d had a few small lapses in memory, but no more than we’d expect from someone her age and we didn’t know that it was the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Her recovery from the hip surgery and the subsequent bacterial infection, although difficult, was promising, but her mind was rapidly deteriorating. We had to make the heartbreaking decision to send her back to Korea and she left in early December. She was put in a fancy schmancy hospital/care facility where she is surrounded by people she likes and gets round-the-clock supervision and specialized care and is currently very happy, though she misses us very much.


I sang at the March 1st Movement Festivities at the Korean Senior Citizens Center of Charlotte and received a ballin’ ass plaque–the first with my new title on it.

Ballin' ass plaque.

Ballin’ ass plaque.

And my mom’s dance went swimmingly.

I participated in the graduation rigmarole in the Spring…mostly for my parents’ benefit, but I have to admit that I love my cap.


Over the summer, I performed with the Eastern Music Festival Chorus in Greensboro.

Review of Eastern Music Festival Choral Concert

In November, I made my opera debut with the Symphony as Sister Claire in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites.

My Sister Claire costume for Dialogues of the Carmelites.

My Sister Claire costume for Dialogues of the Carmelites.

Page, Amy, and I got together over Thanksgiving, as per usual, and then the Christmas season madness began. December was absolutely insane. I was in lab 14-18 hours a day for about four weeks. This was just after two long runs of the Carolina Christmas Spectacular and Handel’s Messiah with the symphony. I was glad to see January.

Can’t wait to read what you ladies have been up to!


Following in Alma’s Shoes….

Well, I suppose I’ll follow Alma’s lead and introduce you to the day-to-day of my life. I am still living in Winston-Salem and, as of two years ago, Joe has been living with me. I graduated from Wake in December of 2013 and spent 2014 doing several crazy 6-week stints of frantic science while half-heartedly looking for postdocs and doing a ton of soul searching, but I’ll save my disillusionment with science for another post on another day.

My days are now devoted to music, writing, transcribing, occasional scientific consulting, and, most recently, studying for the LSATs. I typically study for the LSATs in the morning and spend my afternoons doing any freelance work I might have, singing, writing, researching my genealogy, brushing up on my German by reading the Harry Potter series, and brushing up on my Italian with a grammar text. I have Winston-Salem Symphony Chorale rehearsals on Monday evenings, church choir rehearsals on Wednesday evenings, and church on Sunday mornings. Sunday and Monday are Joe’s days off, so the two of us usually do some exploring on those days: trying new restaurants, visiting small local museums, and visiting historical sites.

The Winston-Salem Symphony Chorale is the absolute highlight of my week. I’ve been singing with the chorale for about three years now and we usually put on four or five sets of concerts per year. We just performed Bach’s Christ lag in Todes Banden and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass (I thought of you and Trafalgar Square, Alma!) at Centenary UMC last weekend and that was a ton of fun, even if the crowd was disappointingly sparse.

This post is really short, but perhaps I’ll write a year-by-year recap later today or tomorrow.