3/19/12 Regular Guest

 

Sometimes it all just falls into place (well... almost all)

You know "those days"? When you just can't seem to get anything right, everyone is a jerk, you can't catch a break, and you can't wait for it to be over?

My day on Saturday was the complete opposite of that.

It started off with an email that I was selected for a faculty position in physics at the University of Buffalo. This is the culmination of 4 years of college, 5 years of graduate school, 2 years of industry, and 5 years of postdoctoral research. I think they had 80 applications for this particular position, and in the end I got the offer. I count myself extremely lucky, as academia is one of the most competitive fields you can imagine. With the immense support of my family, especially my wife, I have endured a grueling selection process to finally achieve what I've been after for the past 16 years.

But it keeps getting better!

I went to the pharmacy, and my monthly prescription (co-pay $50) now has a generic (co-pay $10), so helllooooo, $80 extra a month, since my wife is on the same prescription!

Then we went to the LEGO store with the kids, and they had a great time. We then built some "X-Wing" and "TIE" starfighters from scratch, and chased each other around the house with them for awhile.

To top it all off, my mother-in-law volunteered to watch the rugrats while my wife and I went to celebrate. It was St. Patrick's Day, and we live in Boston, so it's a bit of a contact sport, so instead of Irish pub-crawling we decided to head to Dali Restaurant in Somerville. We've been going there for years, including notable events in our lives such as my PhD defense.

It was as wonderful as ever, of course. Our server (Gresa) was fantastic, and gave her honest opinion about everything, and her recommendations were spot-on. Actually, the best recommendation was a tasty house-created fruity cocktail called an Ibiza, which my wife went for and fell in love with. It's a tasteful blend of raspberry puree and vodka with a cava float, which made it nicely mellow. I went with a standard mojito, perfectly balanced with a strong muddle of mint. Gresa didn't even flinch when I dropped the mojito and brought another within minutes. I can't even blame anything fun on spilling, it was the first drink of the night, I'm just a klutz!

The tapas were, as always, fantastic. Gresa gave us some great recommendations and also shared a few secrets. How do they get the sauce for the ravioles mariscos (lobster ravioli) so beautifully colored? Boiling shrimp shells! My wife and Gresa both agreed that despite not enjoying seafood ordinarily, the ravioles mariscos are their favorite tapas on the planet. Yeah, they're that good. The other must-have was the pollo granada, which is a new menu item, chicken stew with bananas and sweet potatoes. The chicken is slow-cooked while the sugars from the potatoes and bananas give a natural semi-sweet glaze, which was just fantastic for a colorful springtime indulgence.

But to just fill out my perfect day, Gresa brought us the dessert menu. My absolute favorite dessert that I have ever tasted is at Dali, their fresones (fried strawberries). To my dismay, it was taken off the menu. I asked her about it when she got back, and to my delight, it was actually brought back the day before! So I gorged myself on deep-fried strawberries in a double sauce with Catalana cream and a dollop of ice cream while my wife indulged in the tarta de santiago, almond cake. They also had a fantastic white port in house, Ferreira, which was so smooth it almost tasted like cream. It had a delightfully subdued sweetness with just the right hints of fruit. Incidentally it also went fabulously with my fresones!

So... job offer... check. Prescriptions... check. Fun day with kids... check. Dinner at one of the best-kept secrets in the greater Boston area... check. My favorite dessert magically appearing on the menu after being taken off... check. I also left off the best part of the day too ;). I don't think you can ask for much more.

For the realists, though, to make sure my day doesn't quite get over-romanticized, the next day I heard back from one of the other jobs I applied for near my family's home in Albany. SUNY Albany offered the job to someone else. Well, I guess ALL the days can't be perfect, but it sure brings into sharp focus those days that are!

I'm still waiting for my last application, but I think the cause for relief and celebration is the first offer. I'm incredibly excited to finally be fulfilling my long-term goal of a faculty position. It was an arduous, difficult, frustrating grind that had a very real possibility of failure. I am one of the lucky few that managed to succeed, so for that I am extremely grateful. And before we move on to Buffalo (or wherever we end up), we'll be sure to visit Dali one last time. Of course, we'll be back for visits, though. You can't keep us away from that place!