Friday, July 9, 2010

California Dreamin'

A story about a trip to San Diego should not involve a dog that has never been west of Greensboro, NC, which is over two thousand miles from San Diego. But the trip did involve Abby, but not in a physical sense. I was on a six day trip to San Diego for two job interviews out there. By this time, I had dropped down from a PhD track to a Master’s. Yes, I am one of those who people with doctorates look down upon with scorn, derision and even sympathy for being washed out of the PhD program. Normally, getting decent grades is something to be proud of and valued, but when someone with a Master’s has good grades and some success in the lab, it raises red flags. It often means there are some personality problems, which in my case was true to some extent. I was on good relations with my research adviser until a run-in I had with a post-doc. Although I don’t regret being upset at this guy’s boorish and anti-social behavior, I regret confronting the guy for his behavior. I should have walked away and went home that day, but I didn’t. It was almost like a scene out of a Dave Chapelle skit “When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong.” After that, things went downhill for me in my research group fast. I knew after incident that getting a PhD would have been a pyrrhic victory because I would not have received a good recommendation from my advisor which would have been my death knell in the chemistry world. With a Master’s, the recommendation was important but not as crucial as it is with PhDs. So, I dropped down to a Master’s.

The job market was red hot then, so I was able to find work easily. I had five interviews in a month’s time, one in NJ and four in CA. I was going to be moving from NC in a matter of months. The San Diego tour was the last stop on this five interview journey. I loved the area. The companies interviewing me put me up at an Embassy Suites in La Jolla. They even rented me a car, which I drove all over the place that weekend. I enjoyed myself, and hoped I would get a job there. Where Abby comes into this story on that trip was late one night when I awoke in the middle of my sleep. I found myself sitting upright patting the bed all around looking for Abby. I may have even said her name out loud. My heart sank. I slumped back down and tried to go back to sleep.

I realized I was going to miss Abby a whole lot. Abby belonged to my mom, and technically, Abby was my mom’s. But Abby didn’t see it that way. She thought I belonged to her. Actually, we all belonged together in her eyes. This was her world as she knew it. I had no idea how she would respond when I moved later that year. Up until I went on this trip, I didn’t realize how much I was going to miss her. I felt the same way in that bed as when I have woken up at night when I had a dream about someone close to me in my life but who was no longer there.

I never asked my mom if I could take Abby with me. It may have been presumptuous of me to have done so. Also, I would have been away for 10 or 11 hours at a time every day. I couldn’t bear her being alone for so long. Besides, Abby had my mom, Andy and Father to keep her company as well as a big yard and a pool for her to play in. My mom tried to assuage my fears and apprehension by saying that labs are not ‘One person dogs’. In other words, Abby would miss me but would still be happy and satisfied with my mom being with her.

This pang was brief; I fell back asleep. Otherwise, I enjoyed my trip out there. These interviews took place in May and June, so I wouldn’t have to worry about leaving Abby until September when I moved to NJ. Until then, I had the summer to spend with my Baby Girl. I also spent time with the new addition to our home, Pandy Please, our brand new 7 week old male Labrador Retriever.

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