Potatoes?

I realized that yesterday was my 4 year blogversary! I’ve picked one of my very first posts to share – and it’s not a fashion related one either! Thank you all for your continued support and here’s to another 4 years!

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One of the difficult decisions to be made when starting a blog is what to call it.  I thought I had some inspired ideas but when it came to getting the url it appeared others had had the same idea. So when I named this blog Poppy’s Style I was not only trying to make it personal to me and therefore hopefully more unique, but also ‘style’ was used to be all encompassing regarding my style of doing things as well as my fashion style. I want to take the opportunity in this blog to talk about all things I have done, dream to do and even things I have questioned doing…in addition to my passion for fashion.

After turning 40 last year I think I went through one of those ‘oh my goodness I haven’t achieved anything with my life’ moments.  Yes I know I have 2 brilliant children and a fabulous man but what about my achievements as an individual? As I looked back all the way to starting secondary school (middle school age for US readers) certain themes emerged.  I’ve always been driven to do my best, never doubting my academic abilities, but I get bored easily and need variety. In my career, before my current role, I’ve never stayed with a company for more than 2 years – my resume looks awful due to the number of companies listed on there…it took me a while to realize the grass is never greener and actually the corporate life just isn’t for me.  I tried to stick with it as I was driven to keep getting the higher salary, bigger office and better title but as often happens the added responsibility, hours etc. just didn’t make me happy especially with 2 little ones.  I wanted to be ‘SuperMom’ but my heart wasn’t in it and my enthusiasm for work was dwindling which meant I actually wasn’t doing a very good job.

Sometimes I think I ‘failed’ in the corporate world and often wonder what career would have suited me better?  I remember career counseling at school when I was in my early teens and I always dreamt of being a Doctor – a pediatrician actually, but maybe my fear of failures stopped me from pursuing it as only really smart people become Doctors no? So instead of medicine I decided to be a research scientist. In the UK it’s unfortunate that your University discipline is pretty much decided at 16 when you choose your A’level topics – or at least that’s how it was back in 1986.  I was good at science and far more interested in it than any of the humanities and I actually loved wearing a lab coat and doing practicals – I loved numbers too which helps – I still get excited creating formulas in spreadsheets:) Anyway my A’levels were Biology, Chemistry and Physics and I ended up studying Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the University of St. Andrews.

I had a great experience at St. Andrews and long before Will and Kate ever made headlines I met MM there working in a bar together. I was 19 and he was 24 doing his PhD in Byzantine History. Twenty years on he’s still the love of my life, my best friend and my greatest cheer leader (he was the one that suggested I start blogging), and there are many stories along the way of how we have survived through thick and thin which I will no doubt divulge in later posts. Anyway the point is HE had a PhD – therefore I must get one!!  Yes that was one of my main motivators for applying for my PhD – plus back in the early ’90s there were very few jobs to be had so being a student for another 4 years seemed like a better option than the dole.

Hence the title of this post – I studied potatoes for 4 years…the mind boggles that I managed to stick it out and complete my thesis when so many of my peers were abandoning their studies on far more interesting, relevant topics. “The Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of Bruising in Potatoes” is the title of my thesis – it was written in a tiny flat, with no central heating and various fungi growing in it (a Biochemist should be thrilled no?) on Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, on one of the first Apple Mac computers. My acknowledgments in my thesis thank my FIL who provided us with many dinners out when the bailiffs were knocking on our door. It was certainly an odd time – living in one of the most glamorous areas in London with zero money to our name.

Well I got my Doctorate and published a couple of papers but oddly enough the most important thing I learned in those 4 years was that I never wanted to see a test tube or a lab coat ever again – I was done with exploring potatoes – the only place I wanted to see them again was on a plate next to a piece of fish. An achievement of sorts but one that only led to more decisions – wrong and right – about how I should earn a living.

Photos show my thesis which sits in a display cabinet collecting dust.

The book

For Mum and DadTitle pageAcknowledgementsGels

15 Comments

  1. Very honest and resonates with so much in my own life. Loved reading it.

  2. Thanks Sarah so nice to hear you enjoyed it – I expect that when we eventually get together over a glass of wine we’ll have many similar ‘ah ha’ moments to share – though I think you were enjoying a slightly better lifestyle on Ledbury Rd at that time!:) Maybe I’ll tackle the insanity of BGS in a post at some point!

  3. You have a natural flare for writtignJoanna – please stick with Poppy’s Style! I love reading your blogs! Now back to clothes…….

  4. don’t look outside or next to you to find happiness… first look inside much easier and less confusing… Looks like you are starting on this path…..BTW how did you bruise the potatoes?

    • Ha – trust you to think of that Eric – I had a perspex cylinder a meter long clamped above a potato – I then dropped a weight down it – and voila a consistent method of bruising a potato!

  5. My senior thesis was titled “Whomever Dies with the Most Deals Wins” — or maybe it was whoever…it was grammatically correct whatever it was. A study on discount retailers. Can’t say I’ve done anything professionally with it, but it certainly has enhanced my shopping life! Love ya, girl~

  6. Happy blogaversary, and congratulations! Always an entertaining and thoughtful read, and I always feel like you’re sitting next to me and chatting over a drink (or three)!
    I didn’t get as far as a doctorate, but just for the record my BA work of art was entitled “The rôle of women in Molière”. I like to think it has been of absolutely no use or interest to mankind; the poor saps who had to read it will never get those 10 minutes of their life back!

    • Ha I sometimes wonder how many people have had to dig out my thesis in their work! I must have had a bibliography of thousands of papers so I am sure it is possible! Yours sounds way more interesting I have to say – maybe one day we will get that drink together – I would LOVE that!!! xx

  7. I’m a 30 something mom with a 4 year old at home. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do once she starts school. I’ve always envied people who knew what their career would be and just stuck to that choice. I still have no idea what I could do and it’s very frustrating!
    Anyways, I love your blog and I especially love how candid you are. Your give no f***s attitude is really inspiring to me, especially when I start doubting whether I should wear this or do that because of what people might think.

    • I am so honored that you read my trite! Thank you so much – and believe me it has taken 44 years to get to the stage where I say ‘zero f*cks’ – I envy and yet feel sorry for people who have their lives planned out – I’m quite happy with the twists and turns mine has taken to date! Though I’m sure my brain could have been put to better use!

  8. I’m also a biochemist – 1989 umist – Manchester – bio hem and macular biology lol ! I still work in corporate and have 2 young children – I’m office based though not labs…. Still find it soooo hard to mange – reading blogs like yours is my way of relaxing and coping In the evenings….!

    • Wow there’s a lot of us around! Don’t worry about managing – I probably still wouldn’t without kids! I quite enjoy the uncontrollable periods these days! You just have to throw your hands up and say ‘f*ck it’! 🙂 xx

  9. Happy blogging birthday! I loved this the first time round, and it was nice to revisit it today! I didn’t get any further than university, but I like to think my dissertation on gender roles in The Age of Innocence/The Handmaid’s Tale was taxpayers money well spent :-p Anything you need to know about ‘pen is envy/penis envy,’ I’m your woman…

I love hearing your thoughts and I will reply as soon as I can if you have a specific question! If you prefer email you can contact me at Joanna@Poppys-Style.com. Thanks for taking the time to comment xx