There’s something in the air today that is making it a particularly pleasant time to be alive. Or maybe it was today’s news. A month ago, my advisor and I submitted a review paper for publication in an international journal with a decent readership. I worked hard on it, read up on the literature long before I actually started working in the lab this summer, and I had high hopes for my first real publication. Well, it turns out that our paper about nanoparticles and nanotubes used for reactive oxygen species sensing was a hit with the reviewers. This publication, while being my first and establishing me as a real scientist, is more than a career milestone; it’s a personal milestone. It’s been nine years since I began on this road, nine years since I graduated from high school and headed off to enter the world of higher learning. It’s been a rollercoaster for me, as it is for most young people who are leaving the nest and going off to make something of themselves. I’ve fallen off a bridge, been locked up in mental hospitals, killed thousands of fruit flies, had more surgeries than the average person has in a lifetime (and more x-rays too), and taken control of my life back from a handful of little people who populate my mind and pollute my every waking moment with nonsense. I am proud of my paper, yes, but considerably more proud of how I have lived my life. I am deeply flawed, as anyone who knows me knows, and frequently fumble through my days rather than march in an orderly fashion towards tomorrow, but I feel good about what I’ve done these past few years. In 2009, I graduated from college with a bachelor of science degree in biology. As I proudly limped across the stage to receive my scroll of congratulations, the only thing on my mind was not tripping and falling before I reached the department chair fifteen feet away. When I gave the closing speech, my only thoughts were that I should avoid saying “ummmm” and speak clearly with appreciable volume. But when I walked off the stage and back to my family in the lobby, all I could think about were the years of blood, sweat, and tears that went by while I pursued this degree. Today I am reminded again of that feeling, the glimmer of pride that accompanies a hard-won battle. Like all victories, this one is sweet and satisfying. If someone made a very large chocolate chip cookie mounded with buttercream frosting (which someone has), they might consider calling it “The Victory Cookie”. They might even turn that mound of buttercream into some sort of design of affirmation, maybe related to the particular occasion. A cake would do nicely as well, for larger affirmations and those that require sharing. Just a suggestion for all those industrious pastry chefs out there. My victory confection would likely involve a large stack of paper and a highlighter. Anyone interested in making my dream a reality? I think I smell those cookies baking right now. Or is it my imagination?