Monday, April 26

Done! Done! Done! Finished!

My degree won't be in the mail until next month..but barring some weird catastrophic happenstance I am now the proud owner?receipient?something? of a Masters degree!

Enough said!

Sunday, April 25

Big step: the bank accounts are now 1. Almost.

Pretty crazy.
Ben and I now have a single account.

Kind of.

After several weeks of annoying phone calls and filling out forms (sometimes several times), Ben and I now have a joint checking account.

When I sign online I can now see the joint account, my original checking account and my savings.

As soon as I have a second to breathe I'm going to call the bank and am going to merge my original checking into the joint account.

I have NO IDEA why they couldn't do this as part of the process we just went through..but oh well.

Either way, big step!!

Saturday, April 24

Better late than never..? Indian Feast with some Brooklyn pals!

Yikes, you'd think something major was going on in my life or something--like presenting my final essay and getting my masters--what with my lack of blogging.

Oh, wait..that is happening...THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW!

I'll back back after I present with some post-graduate degree thoughts.
But for now, a cooking post!

The informal cooking club that I tried to start up last fall has slowly morphed into an informal dinner party group.

This past week it turned into an Indian-themed Shabbat dinner.
I'll have to check in with J (the host) of this particular shindig, because I should really link to the site that had all the recipes.

Since I can't remember it offhand, I'll just share some pictures.

As I (hope) you can was delicious!

Tuesday, April 20

DM throwback post: Day of the Triffids Mini Series?

I have a weird habit--I search imdb for former A/B list actors and then see if they have made any movies that I might enjoy.

Why former A/B listers only?
Becasue they make all of the 'good' made for TV disaster movies of course!
Nothing like a former A or B lister slumming it up in another snake/shark/catastrophe/tornado movie!

I was trying to look up a specicic original 90210 cast member earlier today, and couldnt' remember the right name. So I guessed, and ended up on the wrong page [note to self: do not confuse Jason Priestly with Luke Perry].

Well,  it all turned out for the best!
Seems Mr. Priestly was recently involved in a remake of The Day of the Triffids, which is one of my favorite creature feature mini-series.

I think that the new version is a BBC remake? But I can't find any release information.
I did find a link for the blu-ray edition (Day of the Triffids [Blu-ray])of the DVD, but it's not even available right now.

Guess I'll have to wait and see if it shows up in Netfix?

The Reading List Grows Longer

With potential unemployment or underemployment looming, I've decided to create a reading list.

The library near us is pretty terrible, but it has free books and a way to order copies from other I think it will work out.

Here's what I have so far:

1. A Reliable Wife: I am actually already reading the book (thanks to Ben's aunt)
2. Inside the Outbreaks: The Elite Medical Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service: Seems like a good way to use some of my hard-earned public health knowledge. Plus, I'm a sucker for anything with case studies and/or the word 'epidemic' in the title.
3. Sustainably Delicious: Making the World a Better Place, One Recipe at a Time: I like cookbooks, and sustainable food. Seems on point.
4.Little Bee: A Novel: a co-worker @ the non-profit suggested that I add this to the list. She said it's really really good. Good enough for me!

Monday, April 19

Writing sample resquest: a.k.a. my first tiny kernal of hope in the job hunt process

A little bit of progress!

I received this email over the weekend:

Dear Saskia,

We recently received your resume for the (title removed by me!) and would like to see some of your writing samples before offering you an interview. While this may sound like an odd request, we’ve received several excellent applications and are hoping to get a better idea of each candidate’s writing abilities before offering interviews.

Ideally, we’re looking for one advocacy/policy brief and one annotated bibliography/literature review. The most related to family planning/reproductive health the better.

We are planning on holding interviews during the week of April 26th. Please let me know if you would be able to provide these samples by COB next Wednesday and we will be in touch as soon as possible afterwards.

The only thing is, this is actually for an internship and not a full time job.

I applied for the position anyway because:
1. It's a full-time position for the summer
2. They are offering a great hourly rate
3. It's in the family planning unit of the organization (hellloo using my P.H. degree!)
4. The organization is great, and I would love to work there for real.

I figure that an internship might be a great way to get a foot in the door.
And even if they don't have full-time positions avaialbe at the end of the summer, it will give me 3 more months of employment and experience.
I can keep job hunting during that time, and I'll get paid every week. 

In all honesty, I'm a little freaked out--it seems crazy that there is this much competition for an internship but really hopeful that this or something else will work out.
And if nothing else, it's a much better email than the other one I received last week!

Fingers crossed..

Sunday, April 18

Weekend report: Brooklyn flea

Came home from the flea yesterday with 2 things: cupcakes from raspberry bakeshop (the brainchild of Roopa from raspberry eggplant) and a banged up window with intact hinges.

The funny thing is, the window was the impulse buy of the day! I knew that there would be cupcakes at the flea yesterday, and I've been wanting to try Roopa's creations for a while. I've been reading her blog for ages (a year? two?) and love using her recipes. When she started a small specialty cupcake service, I figured it was my duty to check it out. Especially with wedding stuff on the (far far away) horizon!

As for the window, I couldn't resist. Oh, and the guy let me bargain for the price based upon the amount of money I had in my purse and the my need for cupcakes. A very understanding flea seller.

Here's my window:

You can already see the blue tape on the glass because I'm in the process of refinishing and priming the entire piece.

I think I'm then going to paint it a really cheery color.

I think I'm going to wall mount it and call it art.

I'll post more pictures as I get farther along in the process. I'm not entirely sure if this is going to work, so I guess we'll see what happens.

I almost bought 2 huge windows with shutters but realized:
a. too tiny to carry that stuff my byself
b. what would I do with 2 huge windows with shutters?

Wednesday, April 14

New Abortion Law in Nebraska

I'm curious to see how a new bill in Nebraska plays out--particularly how they choose to challenge the legality of the measure.

I'm sure that someone (ACLU, PP,etc) will challenge the new law, the question is really about tactics.

While I do NOT support this bill, I think that it represents a shift in thinking on the part of anti-choice advocates. Usually anti-choice legislation tries to shame women into continuing the pregnancy or make it financially impossible (forced waiting periods, ultrasound requirements etc). The idea behind most of these measures is that women don't know what's best, and it's up to the paternalistic government to save them from making a decision they might later regret.

The new bill, however, would "[ban] most abortions 20 weeks after conception or later on the theory that a fetus, by that stage in pregnancy, has the capacity to feel pain."

I have 2 (main) problems with this law:

1. I do not believe that the government has to the right determine if and when a woman can have an abortion. So I can't think of very few situations in which I would support a measure that limits choice. My particular problem with this particular bill, however, has to do with:

2. Science! I think that this law relies upon faulty science, and is a rather transparent attempt to (yet again) to curtail reproductive choice using pseudo scientific claims. As a public health student in the Population, Family and Reproductive Health dept. @ a great school, I've learned that we are still learning about fetal development..but what we do know now, does not support the claim that a fetus can feel pain.

For example: Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association that babies born before 30 weeks’ gestation lack “functional pain perception.” That’s one indicator, they suggested, that “fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.”
According to another researcher: "The brain circuitry for processing pain seems to be complete by 26 weeks’ gestation, he wrote. But true pain requires not only development of the brain but also development of the mind to accommodate the subjectivity of pain."

While one or two studies can not provide definitive proof either way, I think that the Nebraska bill is disregarding clear evidence that contradicts their basic premise.

Also, both of my concerns about this law totally disregard an important aspect of reproductive health decisions in this country--we currently make it very difficult for women to make family planning decisions. If we were to provide better information, and easier/cheaper access to contraceptive methods then abortions would not be needed as often.

Even in the current climate, most abortions occur before 20 weeks gestation and those that do occur in the later time period often happen in the context of a fetal anomaly or complication. In some ways this measure just adds a painful and unnecessary burden to women and families who have to terminate a pregnancy due to a serious problem. This bill will only cause pain to women who may already feel deeply tortured by a painful but necessary decision.

Tuesday, April 13

Making Rejection Sting a Little Less


I recently sent out a resume and cover letter indicating my interest in an open position at a foundation located in NYC.

I sent out the email at 11:32 am and received the following message at 11:46 am:

Dear Saskia,

Thank you very much for your interest in the role of ___(position) at the ___(organization). Although you do have an impressive background, we have decided to focus on applicants who are more closely aligned with our ideal profile as outlined in the position description.

I'm sorry that we won't be able to consider you for this role, but I will keep your resume in our active file in case I come across other opportunities that might be of interest to you.



Based on the job description, I thought I was rather closely aligned with the ideal profile.

I’m more interested, however, in figuring out how the recruiter (X) came to their conclusion.

How exactly do you read a cover letter, examine a resume and craft a response in a little less than 15 minutes?
It’s possible that their ideal profile was simply not clearly explained in the job posting and I was missing an important skill that immediately removed me from consideration. Although there was no length of work experience listed, maybe they immediately nixed anyone will less than 5 years in the field.

Or maybe they sent rejection letters to anyone whose name started with the letter ‘S.’

No way to know really.

Luckily, the quick turnaround actually made me feel less upset about the rejection.

Since the recruiter clearly didn’t take the time to learn anything about me, I’m going to assume that I do indeed have an ‘impressive background’ and that the refusal is their loss.

Sunday, April 11

The long-promised ring photos


Sorry everyone (and by everyone, I mean my mother and father) about the delay in the ring photos.

B & K took some pictures during our Chicago trip, and I snapped a few with my puny camera.

So here..they are:

The plain white gold band is Ben's engagement ring, and mine is the one with the diamond.

Also, not sure why  it looks like stones are missing on the top, but it's just a trick of the light.

Ben will wear his while we're engaged and then probably just keep it as his wedding band. I'll have to go back to the same jeweler who made mine so that he can create a band that works with my ring (oh the horror!).

So far Ben's gotten a few comments about his engagement ring, which makes me feel happy about the decision for us both to wear something.

We don't have to worry about the diamond as it was already in circulation, and having Ben wear a ring too means it's a mutual commitment symbol rather than a "my man bought me" thing. At least, that's the idea! Doesn't  hurt that I also rather enjoy sparkly jewelry..

Saturday, April 10

Next up on my newly created reading list: Inside the Outbreaks

With potential unemployment or underemployment looming, I've decided to create a reading list.

The library near us is pretty terrible, but it has free books and a way to order copies from other I think it will work out.

Here's what I have so far:

1. A Reliable Wife: I  am actually already reading the book (thanks to Ben's aunt)

2.  Inside the Outbreaks: The Elite Medical Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service: Seems like a good way to use some of my hard-earned public health knowledge. Plus, I'm a sucker for anything with case studies and/or the word 'epidemic' in the title.

3. Sustainably Delicious: Making the World a Better Place, One Recipe at a Time: I like cookbooks, and sustainable food. Seems on point.

And then..?


Friday, April 9

Chicago trip and the largest piece of carrot cake I've ever seen

So as you know, Ben and I recently took a trip to Chicago.

We went to second city to see a show, hung out with B & K (the parents of Ben's goddaughter), and generally acted like tourists.

I didn't take too many pictures, partially because my camera is getting old and a little grumpy.
I know that K took some great ones though, so perhaps I'll post those at some point.

This picture, however, just HAD to go up right now:


It was absurd. And free.
So we ate as much as we could, and then we packed it into boxes and brought it back to our hotel.

I think we all felt a little guilty about ordering such a monstrosity, but we had no idea what we were getting when we asked to redeem our coupon (provided by the hotel) for a free dessert.

And people wonder why America has such a reputation for excess...

Thursday, April 8

MHS Essay

A few people have asked (via email) about my MHS essay.

In case you're curious, I wrote about the need for better sexual assault data in NYC. We need better data so that we can evaluate prevention programs. Without a baseline, it's very difficult to determine if a program has been effective.

Wanna read the first few paragraphs?
Either way, they're included below.
Figure I should get a little extra mileage out of all that work (you know, in addition to my masters degree).


There is little debate that sexual violence is a serious problem that dramatically impacts the lives of many women, men, and children each year in the United States. Numerous studies have shown that survivors of sexual violence suffer from a plethora of problems, including physical injuries, mental health issues, substance abuse, and financial strain (Choudhary, 2008; Conoscenti, 2005; Kaukinen, 2005). Recognizing the impact sexual violence can have upon both individuals and communities, the feminist movement has been working since the early 1970s to “reform [the] criminal codes defining the crimes of sexual assault and other crimes against women” and to establish a system of community-based services for victims (Kilpatrick, 2004).

Although the advocacy and direct service organizations that arose from this movement have done much to address the long-term needs of survivors, efforts to impact sexual violence on a primary prevention level have been hampered by lack of coordination and a serious dearth of relevant community-level data.Without relevant baseline data, large-scale prevention programs cannot be adequately evaluated.uch evaluation is a key component of any new program and is necessary in order to determine a program’s effectiveness, success, and possible scale up/replicability. Thus, as primary prevention remains the ultimate goal of sexual violence advocates, lack of relevant data presents a serious problem................

Wednesday, April 7

MHS here I come..!

I handed in my final essay this past Monday.
Assuming that the review committee likes my final MHS essay and that I don't totally freak out during my 10 minute powerpoint presentation, I'm all done.

I have an end-date for my DOHMH/DOE internship, and will be figuring out my Alliance final day when my supervisor returns from vacation.

It seems crazy that this time last year I was interviewing for internships and trying to figure out how Ben, Layla and I were all going to fit in the 250 square feet of fun he called an apartment.

Now we have 2 kitties, 2 bedrooms and I have 2 internships and a freelance position with a non-profit.
Thanks to some help I'm the in process of setting up informational interviews with organizations in NYC and I'm trying to figure out my next steps.

Friday, April 2

Another thought on the job hunt..

Lately I've been wondering if I should have done things differently.

Perhaps I should have worked longer before starting a graduate program?
Perhaps I should have tried to do a dual degree program?
Perhaps I should still try to add a clinical degree to my (almost) masters?

I'm trying not to second guess my self, because I think ultimately this will all work out. If I had remained in STL, Ben and I might have been forced to endure at least 2 years of long distance. Considering how much we hated just 1 year/4 hours apart I'm not sure either of us would have remained sane during 2 years and 16 hours apart.

Or, if I had moved back East without an acceptance letter to a program, I might still be unemployed.

Or I might have been laid off in the last round of financial meltdowns in the non-profit and gov't sectors and facing the same predicament (needing a job) without the benefit of health insurance cushion due to school and an additional degree.

Right now though, it's all a little uncertain and it seems like I'm either under or overqualified for every single position in NYC.

As of now my goal is to send out a resume/cover letter per week and see what happens. I'm also trying to attend more work events for the networking possibilities and volunteer at a community event in April.

If that doesn't work, I'm going to move on to informational interviews and see what happens.
I know, however, that I'm still in a really good position. I've only been applying to positions that really spark my interest, which is really a luxury of sorts. If I don't feel like that's working, I'll start to broaden my search.

In the interim, I'm shamelessly self-promoting every chance I get @ work and trying really hard to remain upbeat.

Next step for blogging might be to create a 'places I would LOVE' to work @ list and see who has connections/wants to help!!

Thursday, April 1

A late birthday post: Ben's Birthday Cake!

Ben's birthday was already quite a few weeks ago, and I'm just now getting around to posting about the celebration. Yikes!

Anyway, despite taking a rather low-key approach I wanted to share a few quick photos.

First up, the cake: Olive Oil and Blood Orange w/ Pistachio Brittle Topping

I adapted a recipe from raspberryeggplant  and was (mostly) pleased with the result.
I made mine in this shallow dish; Ben made it for me and it seemed fitting, and Roopa's recipe said to put it in a loaf pan but I wanted mine to be more dessert-like.

It's a pretty terrible picture, but I think it tasted great.

I also made a little bit of the batter into cupcakes. That way I could try out the cake and topping before I handed it over to Ben! It would have been pretty sad if I gave him a cake I hadn't tried and it tasted awful.

You can (kind of) see in picture of the cupcake how everything turned out this rather neat shade of green:

I think it was a success, despite the fact that the topping was really really hard. I didn't get the sense from the  original recipe that it was supposed to be a brittle, but that's how mine turned I tweaked the name and decided to pretend it was on purpose.
I think that Ben had to shatter it with a knife before cutting slices @ his office party, but (he said) that it tasted that's all that matters (right?!).

Welcome back to blogging (to me!)

I'm not sure how/why this happened, but I took a hiatus from blogging during the month of March.

Which is weird, because a lot has happened over the past few weeks.

Got engaged and got ring #1.
Visited with my family in NYC and had sibling day on a lovely Sunday.
Wore ring #1 for 3 weeks while designing ring #2.
Got ring #2, and took it on a trip to Chicago to show it (and me) off at the seders.
Met Ben's uncles, aunts and cousins on his dad's side and spent some quality time with the future family members to be.
Hung out with the parents of Baby E in Chicago, and met one of Ben's oldest friends.

Got back from Chicago just in time to submit my graduate school thesis (due MONDAY), and start planning my presentation.
All while splitting my time between my 2 internships, doing consulting work for the 3rd organization, and trying not to lose my mind while job hunting.

Maybe I was just too busy to blog?