Seeking an essay posted on MeFi September 8, 2019 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Do you remember a personal essay about a female researcher who very nearly missed the opportunity to present her work (due to a terrible combination of romantic breakup, burglary, and something else?) but prevailed, and went on to win major accolades?

Sometime in the last 5 years, I read a personal essay that resonated with me that loosely followed the below structure/details. I'm pretty sure I found the essay on Metafilter, but perhaps not. I've tried the Google and searching Metafilter, to no avail. Do you remember this based on the below details?

* Woman author
* Author was describing the terrible week before she presented on a major scientific paper/accomplishment that she and her team had worked on
* The author considered skipping the presentation, but her advisor told her not to, and encourage her to find ways for childcare arrangements
* During that terrible week before, the author experienced:
*** Divorce/separation from her husband
*** Burglary/robbery at her home
*** Something else, perhaps some type of childcare problem (I believe her mom wasn't able to provide childcare?)
* Ultimately the author prevailed and went on to either directly win a major prize, or spawned a major technological breakthrough that won significant accolades

I've thought of this essay often and would love to read it again. Please hope me Metafilter!
posted by samthemander to MetaFilter-Related at 2:36 PM (18 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I have a faint memory of hearing this story on public radio, in a long-form piece. She lived in California? Or was supposed to go to California for the conference? I also remember her advisor telling her to come to the conference, and maybe to bring her little girl along? Could have been from a TED Radio Hour (NPR) episode--I think I remember he piece alternating between an interview andher lecture on the experience.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:41 PM on September 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yes! This was the story of Mary-Claire King's discovery of BRCA-1, a gene for inherited breast cancer. There was a post about her story from The Moth.
posted by workerant at 2:51 PM on September 8, 2019 [9 favorites]

One of my very favorite mefi posts of all time. Makes me giggly and weepy every time i come across it.
posted by chasles at 4:50 PM on September 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I totally remember reading that. That was a hell of a twist lol.
posted by nikaspark at 5:39 PM on September 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Wow damn!!
posted by sallybrown at 7:48 PM on September 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

The kid's deadpan "I can't tell if the burglar was in here" was amazing.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:11 AM on September 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

omg. There's a real life deus ex machina in it. Amaze. Sniffles galore.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:13 AM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

A dear friend worked on the intersection of BRCA1 and ashkenazi jewish self-identity from the perspective of a genetic anthropologist for her post doc and she LOVES to tell this story. The doc in question is much beloved.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:56 AM on September 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is one of the best things I have ever read, and I have read a lot of things. It is worth HuffPo/Oath's vile lack-of-privacy policy, though you could read it on your non-dominant browser to reduce that. Srsly. Missed it on the blue, so thanks for bringing it to our attention.
posted by theora55 at 10:20 AM on September 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

That story is amazing.
posted by sarcasticah at 3:22 PM on September 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I know that if I didn't post it, someone else would have. But the same could be said for many scientific discoveries as well. Thus, you are welcome. Have a snow leopard.
posted by jjray at 7:40 PM on September 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

Thank you everyone!!
posted by samthemander at 11:04 PM on September 9, 2019

Guys, I love this story so much. I’ve just re-read it three times. In the thick of suffering, she makes what feels like the easiest (and yet also clearly the hardest) decision at every point. She gets shat upon, and then she cries and asks for help, and some people help and some people don’t, and she keeps going. And then the next problem happens, and she asks for help, and some people help and some people don’t, and she keeps going. She finds the will to trust a stranger, even though the world had just given her a lot of reasons to turn inward. She neither gives up nor gives in; she just keeps moving forward. Plus, she goes on to become scientific legend. I just love it. I’m so inspired.
posted by samthemander at 11:25 PM on September 9, 2019 [3 favorites] link
posted by Cozybee at 2:45 AM on September 10, 2019

Such a good read. As I was reading this I thought "wait a minute, I know this story" and it was the Joe DiMaggio bit that made me realise I must have read it on the first go-around. But lovely to read it again.
posted by freethefeet at 2:57 AM on September 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I love this story and Mary Claire King so much. As a BRCA+ person, I believe she saved my life and am extremely grateful that she made it through that week.
posted by tangosnail at 6:57 AM on September 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also, the random celebrity cameo punch line makes the story so much more entertaining. I was so, so angry with her mother, listening to the story. The ex husband, yes, terrible, but in a role where you expect terribleness. The mother repeatedly sabotaging her was horrifying.
posted by LizardBreath at 9:17 AM on September 13, 2019

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