Ruminations of strange times

I‘m writing this because I need to write something. Not because there is something poignant I want to get across. But because I have inadvertently erected a barrier that I now want, no, need to break. Wait. I guess that is a pretty poignant thing.

After starting as a Marie Curie fellow at the Leiden observatory in the Netherlands, the world… I hesitate to use the word “changed“, but there were things that happened. There are things that happened that changed how I see the world. How I experience the world.

In short, there were things that happened in the world that made me want to stop writing under this pseudonym because I thought other voices were more important than my own. But also, because in this time, I lost something along the way. I lost pieces of myself, here and there in time.

I still want to write and I miss the writing process and everything I have learned whilst doing what I‘ll call “scientifically creative & dissective writing”.

I want to write about my academic and creative journey.

I want to write about bad (and good) science in Hollywood movies and TV shows.

I want to write about mental health in academia.

I want to write about all the problems academia is facing in terms of funding, publishing, bullying, work loads, expectations…

I want to write about LGBTQIA+ issues in academia.

I want to write about things.

But I don‘t know where or how to start.

Maybe I need to start at the beginning.

When I started this blog/website/whatever, I had been unemployed for several months after finishing my PhD. I was severely depressed and I desperately needed an outlet for my drive to continue writing about science. During my PhD I discovered that I actually quite enjoy writing about science and doing it in my own way as well as in an academic sense. Upon defending my PhD in chemistry I had zero work options where I lived (an isolated volcanic rock in the middle of nowhere) and the first thing I did after my defense was to apply for unemployment benefits.


I needed something. Over the years I have been inspired by a wealth of online film critics (The Cinema Snob being my absolute favorite) that made me want to do something similar only to dissect the science in Hollywood films rather than the art of filmmaking. I even went so far that I had written an entire script around the “science” in the film ‚The Scorpion King‘. But those notes are forever lost. I didn‘t follow through. Maybe I would have made a good YT essayist. Perhaps I one day will.

In desperate need of release or at least a feeling that I was doing something I enjoyed, I made this website. I like to think that it helped me keep my sanity for a little bit, but the reality is that the months after I made the website were some of the darkest of my entire life.

Reaching rock bottom and experiencing a complete burnout as an adjunct whilst in an awful relationship is not fun. Suffering from suicidal ideations every day is not fun. Relinquishing your entire being for others is not fun.

The start of 2017 marked the start of a new life. A rebirth of sorts. I obtained a postdoc position that turned out to be very successful in my opinion. During that time, I collaborated with a whole host of extremely talented and hard-working researchers all over the world who I collaborate with still today and will remain collaborators for the foreseeable future if I were to have my way. Not only did I get papers published, but I kept writing (reasonably ambitious) articles about science in films that I love.

In 2019 I won a Marie Curie fellowship to go to the Netherlands to what is arguably the proverbial Mecca of astrochemistry; the Leiden Observatory. This had been my dream for several years as I had been working towards this goal since 2015, well before I defended my thesis.

Then six months after moving. Lockdown.

It‘s weird because for the past three years in Leiden I feel like I have made enormous strides with my academic career but I have felt that I have started losing myself again.

To be perfectly honest, I have been feeling broken for a while. And there is little impetus to express oneself when your voice is missing, your head is somewhere else, and your heart is in pieces.

But I am piecing myself back together and this blog was once a big jigsaw piece in my being. Writing something, even if disjointed and incoherent, is important, I believe, to starting to feel whole again.

I have a problem which is having too much to write about. Both professionally as well as personally. I have many papers I am working on and there is a lot about life in general as well as science, that I want to get off my chest.

That brings me to now.

I‘m about to move back to Paris. Not for a permanent position but for a postdoc position in the laboratory that I have been trying to get to for the past couple of years as a CNRS researcher (I‘ll have to write about that another time) but to no avail (yet). It is exciting. I am happy to meet the challenge.

I feel like I have a lot that I want to talk about that concerns my time in Leiden. Some good. Some bad. But mostly things that have taught me valuable lessons.

Let‘s see if this works.

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