When I was younger, I elected to spend my after school hours watching educational television, reading those giant Eyewitness books, or puzzling through kitchen chemistry experiments.  I spent my summers at talented youth programs, where I wrote essays and read the works of philosophers for seven hours a day.  My senior year of high school I took no fewer than five AP classes and in college, I couldn’t decide between two majors so I kept them both.  And for my entire life, my parents would joke about how I was a professional student; that I’d stay in school for the rest of my life, if only someone would pay me.

And they were right!  I am going to stay in school for the rest of life and yes, part of that time will be spent as this so-called “professional student.”

One of my ultimate professional goals is to become a professor.  A neuroscience/neuropsych professor with a research lab with little undergrads to do my bidding.  I came to this life plan gradually.  First I wanted to do something science-y.  Then I decided I wanted a lab, with the white coat and everything.  And then one day, while emailing my undergraduate psychology advisor, I realized I wanted to continue having these kinds of academic friendships.  Furthermore, I felt that I want to be on the other side of that professor-student relationship.  So onward to professordom I go!

Everything about being a professor appeals to me, from the silly stupid things like being able to wear jeans to work to the notion that one day someone will address me as “Dr. [insert last name here].”  I am already excited about furnishing my future office and filling the bookshelves with volumes of knowledge.  I cannot wait for conferences, for peer reviewed papers, for dull faculty meetings and university politics.  Sometimes I think about the advice I will give my future advisees; will I be as helpful as my own major advisors?  Will they come to me when…

…wait. Advisees?!  I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, no?  I haven’t entered a Ph.D program yet, much less applied to one.  That is my Ultimate Big Project until all of the applications have been postmarked and mailed in.  It’s quite the undertaking.  Like applying to college again, but more expensive, with more to do and more on the line.

The “more to do” part of that is quite daunting.  There are program requirements to be researched, letters of recommendation to be solicited, standardized exams to be studied for and taken.  I need to find writing samples or maybe produce new ones and write essays about how awesome of a candidate I’d make.  And on top of all that, I still need to network my way into at least one of the programs.

I’m usually a last-minute kind of person, but because of the immensity of this application process, I’m trying to get the gears grinding now, before the added stresses of schoolwork and more schoolwork are piled on top.  But like I said, I’m a procrastinator.  Planning ahead and then following through are most definitely NOT some of my strong points.

To solve this issue, I’m trying to do something at least vaguely professional-goal-related every single day until the end of the summer.  Whether it is emailing potential contacts or actually writing a response to a question or whatever, I plan on doing something helpful for my life every day.  I intend to use this blog to help me; if I make myself write about my pursuits perhaps I’ll be kept accountable for my plans.

So.  To begin.  I started with sending an email to a professor who was Ph.D’ed in a lab I’m rather interested in.

I’m 23 years old and I’m freaking out.

I’m seeking balance in my life.  To use pop psychology terms, I’m very whole-brained; creative and scientific pursuits both fulfill me, and I don’t think I could do one for very long without even the option of the other.  I enjoy writing research paper and black and white printing in the darkroom as much as I enjoy the act of taking a photo or developing a study.  I’ve also collected a few more-than-just-passing interests, and I want to make sure that each gets its rightful slice of the pie that is my life.

But I’m about to begin the application process for Ph.D programs in neuroscience and as I am poised to launch myself along a life-long career path in just one thing, I am freaking out about pigeonholing myself into one tiny, brainy corner of a university and never coming out.  My head spins around questions like “will I have time for photography?” and “can I somehow work out being a rockstar photographer brewer poet millionaire scientist?”

I get somewhat freaked out over my body and my health, too.  A lot about me has changed in the last five years, with respect to what my body does and does not tolerate.  I have gained a little bit weight and had a surgical procedure, but some of that weight is in places I needed it (hello, butt!) and I have also stopped getting seasonal colds and flus.  But I am still trying to figure out what my body is telling me and how to respond to it, and that’s a little scary.

I am also single.  This freaks me out simply because I had the luxury? curse? of emotionally growing up in long term relationships, and because this time two years ago I was pretty sure I would be with someone for a long time after graduation.  I don’t want to get too into the deets, but it did not end up like that, not even close.

To top it off, in all of this, I am An Adult and the thought alone is enough to incite panic.  I have to take care of myself?  I have a real apartment with a real landlord and real pets and real apartment problems?  Am I even allowed to be a Real Adult if I’m thinking this way?

All in all, I’m not so much freaking out about being able to handle Life As It Comes, I’m more in a tizzy about accidentally losing a teeny tiny part of myself along the way.  And so I have created dopaminergic, a space where I will put all of the different things that feed me mentally, emotionally, physically.

I seek balance, and here I will grow and nurture the even-natured person I know is in there somewhere.  And so I will be part-time food blogger, part-time beer blogger, part-time nerd blogger, part-time photog blogger.  Maybe a couple other things as well.


do·pa·mi·ner·gic [doh-puh-mi-nur-jik], adj.

  1. Relating to, involved in, or initiated by the neurotransmitteractivity of dopamine or related substances.
  2. A collection of things that please, motivate, and teach me.

This may very well be my 400th attempt at a blog.  I feel like that’s not all too surprising, given how hip and cool blogging seems to be these days.

Anyway, I’m Chels.  I eat and drink, photograph and study brains.  I’m 23 and I live in Brooklyn.  I have an expensive liberal arts degree and I’m single.  I will probably be writing about all of these things.