Thursday, December 21, 2006

Is time moving faster, or what?

Well, I have been keeping a mental list of things to blog about--and boy, there's a lot--but as time flies past, those things just don't seem as interesting anymore. I'll bullet point to keep it short:
  • we (and I mean I) had a little fire in the kitchen Sunday afternoon. I was making a taco salad and decided to toast a tortilla to crumble on top. I've done it a million times before. Apparently, the toaster oven was fed up. It caught on fire--and I mean flames shooting out fire--and we had to toss it outside and fire extinguish it. I have a picture of the charred aftermath on my camera (no action shots, since I was a little busy at the moment), but I haven't loaded my pictures on the computer yet.
  • I've had two sessions back in the clinics. I'm shadowing a doctor one morning a week at the VA. I've totally forgotten everything, but I am enjoying re-learning things. And interacting with patients totally recharges me.
  • I am learning to understand patient frustration with the medical system. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday, and she wanted to test for some non-routine stuff in my bloodwork. Total exam time: ten minutes. Time in the waiting room: an hour. Time on the phone with insurance, then finding billing in the hospital to get a procedural code, then calling back insurance to make sure I don't have to pay the $800: two hours. Just awesome. But, I do like my doctor a lot, and I think she knows what she's doing, so I'm ok with it.
  • Lab has been insanely busy. That's where all the time loss is coming from. I blink, and the week's over. I'm not going to get much of a break over the holidays, but I'm refusing to come in on Christmas day.
  • Other random tidbits: My sister's home from California (though I haven't gotten to talk to her yet), Tim's work Christmas party is tonight (and it better be good, considering they kept my husband at work yesterday until 10:30 at night!), my last soccer game is Friday night....
  • Oh yeah, and CHRISTMAS IS ON MONDAY!!!!! When the heck did that happen? Thank goodness we aren't buying gifts this year. I haven't made it out once. I do have to get a few gift cards for the Grandmas, but I'm hoping to have time for that on Saturday. And if I hadn't put the Christmas tree up on the one night I was free, it might've been a second year in a row we didn't decorate for Christmas. And that would've been sad.

So, maybe I'll get a chance to ramble a little more over break. I just wanted to say hey! I'm alive!, especially since the Christmas cards aren't going to happen after all. Now there's a shocker.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Little things

Forty-five minutes made my day yesterday. As I've mentioned, I volunteer at a therapeutic riding program (TRP) in the metroparks. It's mostly kids with developmental disorders--a lot of autism, some Down's syndrome, and a bunch of others. It's the one thing that I consistently do to volunteer. I tried to keep as involved as I was in college, but it's just been impossible. Slowly I've had to let things go, but I've hung on to TRP.

I generally stick with the same kids for a long period of time. My first two riders have moved on to other programs, but I've been working with T (no names, just in case) for about a year. He's in kindergarten, and he's one of the highest-functioning students we work with. He can speak, follow commands, and generally pay attention during class. That's almost unheard of in this group.

T has been riding for a while on his little strawberry roan pony, Jimmy (I don't think I need to protect the horse's name). They are a good match. Some of the school ponies are a little skittish--needless to say, they try not to use those ponies for TRP. Others, like Jimmy, are "bomb-proof." When you have a kid flailing and screaming, that's a good quality to have. Almost all of the ponies and TRP horses have been donated to the program, so no one's really sure of their background. But Jimmy's a sweetie, and T loves riding him.

Yesterday, we had a small class. Winter is always smaller classes than the other seasons, since it's in an unheated arena (covered, but unheated). A lot of the little ones hate touching things, so those that don't wear mittens generally don't last in the winter. But T always comes, every session, and yesterday was no different. One other rider showed up late, but it was almost a private lesson. Since the instructor had so much time with T, she decided that it was time to test his progress.

Generally, the class works this way: someone leads the horse/pony with a lead line. Depending on the level of the student, the reins are either tied up (so only the leader steers) or the student has some rein control. In addition to the leader, generally each student has two sidewalkers who walk next to the rider on either side. Sometimes the kids just need someone to keep an eye on them, but a lot need physical support to stay on the horse.

T started out with his reins tied up and two sidewalkers, but we've moved to no sidewalkers and he has rein control. I still lead Jimmy with the lead line, and generally T only really takes rein control on maneuvers like steering around cones, etc. Last night, the instructor decided to let him have total control. I looped the lead line over Jimmy's neck and kept near the bit (in the horse's mouth) just in case. But T did it all on his own. After some assistance, he was stopping and starting his pony by himself, making circles around cones, and walking over poles. I was mostly his coach. I gave him verbal cues and steadied Jimmy a few times, but that was it.

It was just awesome. T's eyes lit up when he knew he was on his own. He didn't stop grinning the rest of the night. I get the feeling that he isn't allowed to do many things on his own, and I think riding solo gave him new confidence.

At the end of class, I taught him how to run up his stirrups "like a real cowboy". I even let him "help" me take Jimmy back to his stall (I had the reins and let him "hold" the end of them). As I took Jimmy in, T stopped and wrapped his arms around Jimmy's neck. He told Jimmy and I "bye" and skipped out with his mom, who seemed almost as happy as T.

As I untacked Jimmy, I realized that the forty-five minutes I had just spent in that class was what it was all about for me. There's so much delayed gratification in life--to see the result of it was just fantastic.

T may move up into another lesson class soon, and I have mixed feelings about it. We've definitely bonded, and he's been one of my favorite students so far. But I know he's ready to move up, and I'm glad he's made such amazing progress.

You know how sometimes people ask that hypothetical question, "If you had all the money you could ever want, what would you do?" I'd like to think that I'd answer, "Be a doctor/scientist" after all the hard work I've put into my program. But you know what? I don't think that's what I'd do.

I'd start a farm. I'd have a huge therapeutic riding program for all ages/abilities. It's not just the developmentally handicapped that can benefit. There was an article in the paper this weekend about how shy teenagers benefit from working with horses. I've seen shows about how they rehabilitate inmates by having them train horses, and I've also heard that it's used for battered women to rebuild confidence.

I'd have the weekly lessons and classes, like the stable has now, but I'd also have camps over the summer. Some of it could be inner-city kids, who never leave the street, getting to work a farm and learn to ride horses. Other could be regular kids--I did horse camp for two years as a Girl Scout, and I adored it. Really, there are all sorts of possibilities.

And if I had all the money I needed, there'd be opportunities for everyone, no matter their income. The TRP I work with relies almost entirely on donations--horses, equipment, and money to take care of them. They charge a little for lessons, but a lot of it is subsidized, and they won't turn anyone away.

I'd get to do something I love--help others and have horses too. It's a nice dream. Maybe if I win the lottery it's something I can make happen.

For now, with the little time I have to give, I'm happy to help out kids like T. I think I gain as much from it as he does, really.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

To card or not to card?

Here's my annual dilemma: should I or should I not send Christmas cards? Actually, it's less of a dilemma and more of a "I meant to do it but forgot" type thing.

The thing is, I'm a go big or go home sort of person. I don't like doing things halfway. So, I'd like to send cards to all of my family and friends, and in each one I'd like to write a personal message. Sounds simple, right? Yeah, except my mom is one of nine kids, my dad is one of eight, and I have a billion cousins. I can't selectively send cards to the handful that I really talk to and not send any to the rest. Word gets around.

What I might do instead is only send out friend cards. Then the question is: my friends alone or Tim's too? It's not like Tim is going to send out the cards on his own, but a lot of his friends are semi-mutual friends, so I don't want to totally exclude them.

Let's say that I just do my friends, which is a sad, small little handful. There are some, like my cousin and her husband (who is Tim's frat brother), that it'd be no problem. Although we don't see them as much as we'd like, we know the big stuff that's going on in their lives. It's easy to write a little note and see how things are going. I have a few other friends that fall into this category. Piece of cake. We don't see each other much, but when we do catch up, there's no tension.

Most of the group falls into that "why has it been so long since I've talked to you?" group. I am really terrible at keeping in touch. I just don't know what to say when I haven't talked to someone in a while. There are three of us high school girls that were all pretty tight. One of them I still see periodically. The other two--well, I just haven't kept up with as well. I've tried emailing out of the blue, but I never know what to say. I don't want to make it all about me (especially with this whole lab trauma), but I want to share a little so that they'll share too. Weird stuff.

And then there's a small fraction of people that I haven't talked to in ages but still think about them periodically. For instance, when I moved from Pittsburgh in 1995, there was a whole group of people I kept up with. That number slowly narrowed, and for a long time there were really three people. Now there's one. I still have emails for some of the people, and I have seen them as friends of friends on myspace. But how weird would it be for me to be like, "hey, haven't talked to you in ten years, how's life?" I think since I'm the one that moved, I remember them. For them, I think it'd be weird.

Anyway, this comes back to Christmas cards. I should just sign our name and send them to everyone--those that want to chat can always write back, email or call. Those that don't--no big deal. But I can't just send nearly empty cards. The perfectionist in me won't let it happen.

Time's running out for this year, so I may end up frozen in indecision again. Anyway, if anyone is reading this and doesn't get a Christmas card from me, Merry Christmas! And I'll try harder next year.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Nothing's changed

That title is pretty much the summary of life since my last post (time flies, I guess). Sure, there have been little things happening here and there--we had two big snowstorms last week (though now it's in the fifties here), I came down with a stomach bug, and I'm spending every ounce of myself that I have in the lab.

So really, nothing's changed.

My boss has been the MD on service for the past week or so, and that's been nice. He still pops by periodically, but we haven't been having our scheduled time together on Monday mornings. That has made things considerably nicer. Of course, when our little talks resume next Monday, it'll be that much worse. His expectations are exponentially proportional to the time that passes between our talks. If it's been an hour, he expects a new gel* (*these take about 4-5 hours to setup and complete). A day--maybe three gels plus more cells. A week--maybe a whole series of experiments, in duplicate. But two weeks--I think that is going to be ugly. And I missed a day last week due to flu/snow, so that's one less day I had work done. I know he'll expect miracles, and there won't be any, and that's when things will get ugly.

Unless I get his biploar side, in which case he'll be Mr. Happypants. But that just means he'll be twice as hard to deal with when he turns back into his regular self.

But, I don't want to get all negative here. I'm trying not to dwell on it too much. It's not easy, considering how many of my waking hours are spent in lab. But, this won't last forever. I keep telling myself that I'll be here till July 2008 at the latest. That means I'm more than halfway done. I can survive the rest.

Plus, I start my clinical tutorial this Thursday. That means that one morning a week, I shadow a doctor in his clinic and see some patients. I'm working at the VA hospital, which I've never been to before. I've never met my preceptor either, but people tell me he's a good doctor and a great teacher. I warned him that I haven't done a history & physical in two years, so this first time, I'll shadow him. Then I'll have 3-4 patients a week that I see, write up, and present. I know I am going to have to work hard to remember this stuff, but I am pumped about having some clinical exposure again.

So that's where I'm at. Sad that a week of non-blogging and there's nothing new to talk about. But, no big news means no drama either. And I'm thankful for that. My immune system is already beat up from the lab stress--life drama would just send me over the edge. Today, I'm thankful for the same old thing.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A little more laid back

Here's a nice, non-threatening post for you, after yesterday.

I want a Wii. Really bad. I'm a Zelda addict, and even though the new Zelda game is supposed to come out for my archaic game cube, I want a Wii. But I don't have the money to pay for one, so I've been trying to win one. There was the Comedy Central giveaway over Thanksgiving weekend--every hour they would flash a new word on the screen, and then you put them in for a total of 48 chances to get a Wii. Thank God for my DVR.

There was a Pringles giveaway, a giveaway, and many others. It started out that I was only interested in winning a Wii. Then I saw a sweepstakes for a Nikon digital SLR, which I want soooo bad. Then vacations, and iPods, and cars, and money. I've become addicted to sweepstakes. Lucky for me, I don't have a lot of down time in the lab right now. But man, you could do sweepstakes 24 hours a day if you wanted to!

Yeah, that's my obsessive personality kicking in. Especially for the sweepstakes where you can enter once a day for months. Oh no! I missed a day! That's going to be the sole reason I lose! Never mind the fact that the odds are about one in a billion, and there really ARE professional sweepstakes people who have a thousand times more entries than me.

But, no harm, no foul. I won't enter one that requires you to sign up for something, or one that wants all sorts of crazy personal info. But I figure hey, it's cheaper than the lottery.

And who knows, maybe I'll get my Wii.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Taking the bad with the good

Disclaimer: There's a reason I haven't blogged in a while. My break was so good that I just wanted to savor it. And life in the lab has been so bad since Monday that I'm not sure I'm even now ready to talk about it.

I'm trying to be even-tempered, though, so we'll see how it goes.

First, the good. I loved my break. Everything about it was awesome. Thanksgiving I got to see a bunch of family I haven't seen in ages (minus Amy, Jason, and Kim, which was too bad). I had amazing home cooked food. I don't really eat the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, so it's wonderful that I have my mom's Slovak side to cook. We always eat there first. After homemade cabbage rolls with Slovak sausage, creamed peas (don't knock 'em till you try 'em), garlic carrots, and homemade bread, I basically don't eat for the rest of the day. It's awesome.

Thursday was totally relaxing. We only had time for my mom's side and Tim's family, so while I missed seeing my dad's side, it was nice to only drive to two places instead of three. And we got home about 9 and went straight to bed.

We were up at 4 AM Friday morning to do the Black Friday shopping. I've gone almost every year, but I don't think we'll go again. I'm not even sure why we went this year. We've decided to not buy any gifts for Christmas this year. We did this sort of halfway last year, but we've totally committed to it. We're buying N-O-N-E. Ok, we'll get gift cards for the two grandmas, but they need it. Otherwise, no gifts. We've asked that no one buy us gifts in return, and I'm really hoping people stick to it. The biggest gift I can get is to spend time with my families. Plus, last year we took the money we would've spent and divided it in half. Half we saved away (and boy was I glad we had it later in the year), and the other half we gave to charity. We'll probably do the same this year.

Anyway, you might ask, if we're not giving gifts, why get up ungodly early to shop? Simple. I love the adrenaline rush. Plus, we decided to only do one store instead of the usual five or so. I didn't think it'd be that bad. I was wrong.

We decided on Ciruit City as the store. They had 1 GB memory cards for $3, 50 pack DVD-Rs for free after rebate, and $4 movies. We weren't in it for any big ticket items. Plus, Amy and I did Circuit City a few years ago, and it was by far the easiest Black Friday shopping ever. We thought it'd be easy.

Umm, not so much. What I didn't realize is that since the Circuit City by us closed, as did one about 20 minutes farther west, there was only one store serving a large area. We got to the store at 4:30 AM. By then, the line stretched down the store, down the long Marc's store (like a grocery store), took a turn and went down the long side of the parking lot, then turned again. We were far down this last turn, and the line was building behind us. We later learned people had been camped out since the afternoon before. And the ambulance came while we were in line because some woman had passed out.

Tim, having more common sense than me, asked if maybe we should just bail. Me, I thought I could take it. We had passed Best Buy on the way in, and despite the fact that it opened an hour after Circuit City, it was about twice as packed. I decided to stay.

Well, the store was packed. Packed to the point that you couldn't turn around. We got maybe a third of what we were looking for, and we headed for the line. Of course, only four lines were open. Smart. So after waiting in line for an hour and a half, we were out of there with four movies, two SD cards, and two packs of DVDs. So not worth it. But, I'll probably do it again next year.

The rest of the weekend was spent alternating with house/yard work and just relaxing. It was in the mid 60s every day, a total rarity for Cleveland, so we got a walk with the small dog every day. For once, coming off of a break, I felt totally rested. I was recharged and ready to head back to the lab.

This is where things go downhill.

Dr. B and I meet every Monday morning at 9 AM to go over the previous week's data. Since we went over it late Wednesday afternoon, and we had the holiday, I thought our little chat should go pretty smoothly. I was wrong.

I'm going to try to type this as rationally as possible, but please understand that even after four days have past, I'm still completely livid and pissed. If it doesn't come off that way, then I've done my job. But I am absolutely enraged.

OK. Here's how it went: I showed him the same blot I had showed him on Wednesday afternoon. On Wednesday, he said to run the samples over--they weren't resolved well, so I was just going to re-homogenize the samples. No biggie. But he was otherwise positive and liked where things were going.

Monday morning, he was a different guy. He said that I wasn't moving fast enough--in fact, he made it a point to say that I was moving at a below average speed. Forget that I had lived up to his timetable for these experiments, even with a full-day diabetes retreat, multiple days of trouble with gels, and the Thanksgiving holiday. He even said that if it had been him, he would've cut his holiday travel short to be in the lab each day over the break. I tried explaining that I wouldn't have had anything to do, since my cells weren't ready till Monday, but he wasn't having it. Despite the fact that I am already working way more that 40 hours a week, and getting my work done (and then some), he says I should be in late every night (like 10 or 11 o'clock late) and here every weekend day.

He mentioned again that he was having funding issues. No surprise--we had this conversation a few months ago. He said I had till July 2008, and we agreed I'd be done by then. This time, he said his current grants run out in summer 2007, but he thought he could stretch them till November 2007 (what happened to July 2008?). He had applied for two other grants, but they didn’t look good. And he hadn’t submitted his renewal for his R01 in October. He was planning to do it in February 2007, and then at best it would start January 2008. However, with Ming out on maternity leave, he may not have the data to submit in February.

He did say again that his first obligation was to me. Valerie leaves in June, Nadia has been applying for grants, and he told Sriram to find another job. While I’m glad Sriram is leaving, the thinning of the herd doesn’t bode well for me. Dr. B said that really, my experiments need to be done by summer 2007 so I can write for the fall. Never mind that I can’t go back to med school then (I can only go back once a year, in July). And he’s counting on this paper from Frank’s lab. There’s no possible way that I could get two papers on this project out in that time.

Long story short, he thinks I don’t spend enough time in lab. He always qualifies it by saying he knows that I have a family, etc, but he really doesn’t care. He said I need a sense of urgency. Like when I run a time course, I should run the gel that day. Hmm, one hour prep, four hour time course, one hour homogenization, one hour protein assay, half hour setup, two hour gel, one and a half our transfer, and an hour blocking. 12 hour days. Awesome.

I was upset. Not crying upset, but pissed. When I was looking into the lab less than a year and a half ago, he said his money was fine. Six months into the lab, he said he had funding till 2008. Now it’s 2007? What’ll it be next?

Dr. B said I need to make some decisions. He was even talking like I’ll have to end up in a third lab. If that’s going to happen, I’d like to learn from my mistakes and switch out sooner rather than later. I’d even switch departments at this point.

Now, after I calmed down, I went to see my MSTP advisor. He said that there's no way the MSTP would let me switch into a third lab, and they have money to support me if Dr. B. can't. I'm already on a training grants, so Dr. B doesn't even pay my salary. I'd just need money for supplies. And my MSTP advisor said they'd cover that. He agreed that July 2008 should be my goal, but he also agreed that it was unreasonable to expect me to be done for this July (2007). He thought Dr. B. was just being extreme to make a point. I hope he's right.

In a way, for as pissed as I am, I think Monday was a really good day for me. It pushed me over the edge. I had been trying so hard to do every little thing my boss asked of me, and then some, and it was never enough for him. I realized that it's his problem, not mine. I can work efficiently and get my experiments done mostly during the week. He just wants face time in the lab. Forget that he leaves by 5 every day. The one day he doesn't, and if I'm not here, all hell would break loose.

So I've been doing monster hours in the lab this week. And I will this weekend too. He wants face time--he'll get face time. But that's all he gets. He doesn't get to mess with my emotions any more. My thesis committee doesn't think I'm incompetent, my MSTP advisor doesn't think I'm incompetent. If he thinks I am, I know better (or at least, I'm trying to believe that). This is how he treats everyone.

At worst, I only have 19 more months in the lab. Hopefully, the last few months when I am writing my dissertation will be more flexible. I've been in this lab for about 14 months now, so I'm almost half way there.

I'm determined not to break. I think he's trying to break my spirit--that's how he controlled his last graduate student, and it's why he has a hard time retaining people in the lab. I'm determined to cut myself off emotionally and just do what I need to get done.

That's the good from Monday's meeting. He's back to being all happy-pants again, but I'm not getting sucked it. I'm trying to move up my thesis committee meeting by a month to see if we can resolve this, but at worst, I'll have one in January.

So that's what I've been up to. And it's what I'll continue to be up to. I'm frustrated, angry, feeling betrayed, and disheartened. But I'm determined to find the strength to get through it.

(oh and PS: it's only 4:30, and the rest of the lab has already left. I'll be here for several more hours. If he's going to demand face time, it'd be nice if he demanded it from everyone.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

At least we tried...

Well, we spent about $300 trying to clean the carpets. And really, it doesn't look much better. The problem is that the people who owned the house before us put down white berber carpet in the living room/dining room upstairs. They didn't have kids or pets, and apparently they never walked in the room. Why else would you ever put down white carpeting? I have a home carpet scrubber, and once or twice a year I'll scrub the carpets myself (and I think my scrub job looks about the same as the professional one). However, with two cats, a dog, three people using the rooms, and the occasional spills of coffee by Tim's cousin's kids, the carpet has seen better days.

We also scrubbed the downstairs carpet, which is only about a year old. However, our stupid, filthy cat took to peeing in two particular areas. We got the smell out, but the carpet is now a little discolored from all of the applications of pet cleaner. The carpet scrubber man didn't really help that out much either.

But at least we tried. We'll know better than to spend that sort of money again. When we move, which is probably a few years off, we'll end up definitely replacing the upstairs carpet. Add that to the new roof, new siding, redone bathroom (another one), and cosmetically redone kitchen, and we're looking at a huge chunk of change in order to sell the house.

Tim went for a walk yesterday with his dad, and they have a good point (one I initially brought up, thank you very much). The real estate market is pretty stagnant right now, although it's not plummeting like other areas of the country. In any case, it's a great time to be a homebuyer and a bad time to be a home seller. If we were buying our first house, I'd definitely do it now--good interest rates, motivated sellers, lots of options. However, with our current situation, we'd need to sell our house.

The idea is that we will lose some money, let's say $10,000, in selling our house (we'd probably be able to sell for more than we bought it, but after realtor's fees of 6% and the money we've already put into it, we'd lose). However, if we moved to a bigger house that is currently $30,000 below its value, one that doesn't need fixing, and we stay in that house a few years, we've actually come out ahead in terms of appreciation. I hate losing money, but it's a valid point.

The other comment Tim's dad made yesterday is that when you live in a house, you see every flaw. And I do. With the market being as tough as it is, I want the house to be perfect so that it sells relatively quickly. The thing I need to remember though is that this house is in really good shape for the neighborhood. We live in Parma--it's not a city full of mansions and granite countertops. We were attracted to the house in the first place because of how much nicer it was compared to everything else in our price range. It needs the most help outside--it's fine, but you might drive right past it--there's nothing particularly eye-catching about it. If we could do some basic fix-up outside, really, we could probably sell it now. We wouldn't get top dollar as compared to as if everything was perfect, but we'd probably end up the same in the end (considering the money we'd have to put into it to make it perfect).

This is all a moot point now, really, since we are leaning towards not moving. But it is an interesting perspective for when we do move. We've already put about $10,000 into the house, and we could easily put $20k or $30k more. But what does it do for us? This is a starter home, we bought it as a starter home, and the people who will some day buy it from us will buy it as a starter home. We'd have to live in the house for fifty years to get $50,000 back in appreciation. We've probably overimproved already. It's time to just let the house be lived in.

Yeah, random tangent. I didn't figure I'd be back to talking about house stuff. But I guess it's been on my mind more than I've let on. It's amazing to me that I can be so strict and disciplined when it comes to every other area of spending in my life. But when I start thinking houses, I get all starry-eyed and irrational. What's the point of me clipping coupons and shopping sales to save $20 every week when I want to buy a house with a mortgage that costs $700 more a month? Totally irrational. And I know it. But I keep house lusting.

Oh well, I'll get over it eventually. I do think it's financially smarter to stay in our current house if there is even the slightest chance we will be moving for residency in four years. I know this. Has that stopped me from looking? Not so much.

In other news, I can't believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving already. Where did this year go? And we're only a month from Christmas? You have got to be kidding me.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Long time no blog

Yeah, I guess time flies. Things at work have been insanely busy (although that doesn't mean experiments have worked). I only have time to blog today because three of my gels leaked, thus meaning I will have to push them back till tomorrow, which pushed four gels back till Wednesday, which means I'll have to come into work on Thanksgiving to finish my blot. Awesome.

Anyway, other than general work craziness, there isn't too much else going on. My Friday night co-ed soccer league (supposedly for age over-30, but no one has carded me yet) finally won our first game Friday night. These old people are crazy, and the older, the more aggressive they are. Nothing like a fifty year old woman giving you an elbow to the face to really get my competitiveness ramped up.

The only other news is that Tim and I finally joined the 20th century. Last weekend we got new phones (same phone number). I showed the salesperson my old phone, and he actually laughed. He said they hadn't made those in a long time (I knew it was being discontinued four years ago when I bought it, but hey, that's why it was so cheap).

So I went from this:

To this:

It's a pink RAZR phone. I'm not much of a pink girl, but I dug it. It's like a new world to have a phone that actually works. And there are colors on the screen! And pictures, not just alphanumeric text! Amazing stuff, really. They were saying that I can take video and download music and movies to my phone. Umm, yeah, we barely use 200 minutes a month between the two of us, we don't text, and I'm just excited to be able to talk for more than five minutes without my phone dying. Anything beyond that is just crazy technological fluff for me.

And yesterday, we finally got satellite TV. It's amazing. We hooked it up to two TVs, and the DVR system means we can record 100 hours of stuff per tv. We can be recording on both tvs and watch something different on one of the TVs, all at the same time. A far cry from the five blurry channels we've had for the last four years. Tim's addicted to the Sirius music channels. I'm just pumped that when I get home today, I'll have South Park, Rachel Ray, and Oprah waiting for me on the DVR. Like I told Tim last night, having this makes me wonder how we ever got by before.

Other than the technology upgrades we've had in the last week or so, there isn't much else going on. We are still trying to debate if we want to move or not. It wouldn't happen until after the holidays, and since we're going to Aruba with his parents in early February, it probably wouldn't happen until after that too. There are so many pros and cons to the moving stuff that I have utterly confused myself. We're just laying low now, and we'll see how we feel in a few months.

Lab is still being a total pain in my behind, but I'd rather be busy and have nothing work than be slow and have no experiments to do (because nothing is working). At least being busy makes the time go faster.

Tim took off all this week, so he's manning the fort at home. He's studying today, and then he's hanging around while the carpet cleaning people work tomorrow. I know he'll be bored out of his mind (although I'm hoping the new satellite TV distracts him). Bored Tim equals Tim finding something to do around the house. Sometimes it's good, like when he ripped the shower doors out of the bathroom so we could put in a regular rod. But I'm waiting for the day that I come home and there's a hole in the wall because he thought a window would look nice there. He's really not that bad, but he gets it from his dad. However, his dad's a retired carpenter and built their house by hand. Tim, not so much. He's handy, but he has yet to understand that carpentry is learned, not genetic.

I'm looking forward to some time away from lab. I still have to come in Thursday to do my blot, and then I'll have to come in over the weeked to change my cells, but hopefully they won't be long days.

That's all I've got. Not much new going on, but I promise to keep in touch better. For now, anyway.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


So today, I decided to play hooky and stay home from work. My boss is out of town this week, my cells aren't ready, and since they'll be ready this weekend, I'll likely have to work Saturday and Sunday. Add to that the fact that my whole lab is either not coming in or working 3-4 hour days, and I decided to not go in today. I'm such a rebel! This is maybe the second day in three years that I've stayed home (not counting two vacations, which I requested a week off for way in advance). Considering I'm supposed to get two week's vacation every year, I'd say I'm still under my quota.

So what, you ask, am I doing on my day off? Cleaning. I've already scrubbed my whole kitchen down. And I mean all of it. I took everything out under the sink, scrubbed all the wood and pipes in the cabinet down, disinfected it, and laid down contact paper. When I clean, I really do it. That's probably why I don't clean much.

Add to that the bathroom, the dining room, and the living room, and I'm doing pretty well. I have cuts all over my hands (from what, I don't know), so every time I get some cleaning chemical on them, it burns like crazy. I should use gloves. I do at work. Maybe I'll borrow some from work next time.

Jen was home in the morning, and she laughed at me. She said, "Why is it that when you and Tim take a day off, all you do is work?" She was referring to the fact that Tim took off the Mon/Tues/Wed before Thanksgiving. He's going to study Monday, Tuesday the guy's coming to install the satellite TV, and Wednesday we are having the carpets cleaned. Plus he plans to do some yardwork in there.

I guess I work on my days off because I don't really have the time to do it otherwise. Weekends tend to be so busy. Weeknights we're either busy or exhausted. It's almost like it requires either really advanced planning or a spontaneous day off.

So yeah, I'm headed back to cleaning. I'm totally exhausted. My back is killing me from the way that I had to scrunch up to get under the kitchen sink. I think I bleached my favorite lounge pants when I was scrubbing with Comet. But you know what? I'm proud of my work. Cleaning is one of those rare things where you can actually see the fruits of your labor. And it's nice to see my hard work pay off for once.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I just wanted to pop by and remind people to vote. I don't know about you, but I am tired of all of the whining politicians on the tv, the stupid robotic phone calls, the hangtags on my door and mailbox and windshield. And I refuse to vote for candidates unless I've researched them, which can get tedious (how many judges sit on the Court of Common Pleas? I mean really).

Still, I think voting is a privilege, and it's important to take the time out to vote. I'm not here to tell you who to vote for or what issues are important. It's great that we as Americans have the freedom to vote for whatever we want. Just use that privilege. If you don't, you have no right to complain about the state of affairs in this country (as so many people do). Vote and tell the politicians what you want!

That is all. Maybe I'll ramble more later.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Better already

Lab's not better already--that still sucks--but my attitude is. Instead of driving home, being anxious and stressed during that whole hour-plus commute, I relaxed. Instead of getting home and freaking out about cooking, Tim threw a frozen pizza in the oven. Instead of thinking about how I need to clean the kitchen, scrub the bathroom, clean the bedroom, do the laundry, go grocery shopping, etc, I went to mass (for All Saint's Day, a holy day of obligation if you are Catholic--it's a long explanation) and then I came home and vegged with the TV.

It was awesome. When Tim got home from class at 10:15, I was actually relaxed for once. I usually whip myself into a nervous tizzy while he's gone and then burst when he gets home. Sometimes he adds to this--expecting the house to be perfectly clean when he gets home--but usually it's me thinking that the clean house police are going to come and tattoo the word "bad homeowner/wife" on my forehead.

I know it's just a control thing. When things are bad at the lab (as always), I come home and want to control the house. Last night I decided to say, "screw it."

And besides, if there really is such a thing as the clean house police, they can come and give me that bad homeowner tattoo on my forehead. I'll just start wearing bangs again. Poofy poodle bangs are back, right?

Really, the only thing I did last night that I'm not proud of was get into the leftover Halloween candy. I had a few pieces last night, which I'm not proud of, but I did stop. The stopping I am proud of. Really, a few pieces of candy won't kill me, I know, but I had been trying to avoid it completely. I am proud I stopped before I had eaten 20 pieces of candy without knowing it, but I did decide today that the candy needs to leave. Tim and Jen can split it up and take it to work/school, or else it's going to get pitched. I don't need to torment myself like that.

Anyway, today is a better day. Yes, lab sucks, but I know that isn't going to change. I'm just going to work on being more relaxed and calm about the whole thing. And I am especially going to work on how I talk to myself. No, not like mumbling under my breath talking; how I self-talk. I've been the only one telling myself how worthless I am. Outside of the lab, everyone is very supportive of me. Instead of listening, I tune them out and tell myself negative things. No more. I'm the only one setting unattainable standards for myself. So the house isn't perfect. So I don't cook every night. So I'm a little heavier than I want to be. You know what? That's ok. I don't need to be perfect at everything.

That one phrase is going to take years to sink in. I don't need to be perfect at everything. I've lived the last twenty-six years of my life trying to be perfect at everything. It's time to enjoy the imperfection.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I don't really have anything new to say. It seems like the issues I'm having in lab have seeped into all other parts of my life. I doubt everything I do now, every decision that I make, just because I'm not sure I'm capable. It's not any fun at all.

I've always struggled with things in life, none of them life-threatening or anything, but enough that it's affected me. Generally, as time goes by, I look back on challenging life situations and appreciate how much it's caused me to grow as a person. A long time from now, I'm sure I'll feel that way about my PhD. But in the meantime, I've never had something difficult invade the rest of my life so completely.

I didn't expect this to be easy. I thought it'd be hard--I expected the medical part of it to be the hardest, since I had been in labs before but never in the clinic--but I think I was way too naive.

And now, I've let the doubts I have about my capacity to be a scientist creep into all other thoughts. My struggles in lab only intensify my struggles with my self-image, my weight, my dreams and aspirations, and my role as a wife, homeowner, friend, sister/daughter/relative, etc. I feel completely unable to be good at anything. And while I've never had overflowing self-confidence, I've always had enough to do what needed to be done. As time goes on in the lab, I feel more and more incompetent and useless. I hate that. I know I'm not a worthless person. Mentally, I know that, and I know that there are things I am good at, and that I have value. Emotionally, I find it impossible to believe that.

And that's why I really need to do something about my lab situation. I'm angry that I've let my job/education take over the rest of my life. The lab doesn't deserve to have that power. And I need to take the power back. It may be as simple as adjusting how I approach things. My boss may want me to be here all day and night, seven days a week, but I need to set boundaries. When I leave the lab, I'm done. I have a family, a house, hobbies, friends, and things I enjoy outside of the lab. I need to draw the line--the lab doesn't get to affect those things.

Sometimes I have days, usually weekends, where I can do something and completely forget about my struggles with my PhD. On those days, I'm back to being myself--goofy, optimistic, and relaxed. Unfortunately, most times I'm thinking about lab somehow. Evenings I think about how tough the day was and what I have to do the next day. Friday nights I'm exhausted from the week of mental stress and I just want to sleep to recharge. Saturdays are usually my best time, although I feel guilty about not being at work (like my PI wants me to be). Sundays start off ok, but as the day goes on, the dread about going back to work returns, and I can barely sleep.

I know that there are people who have worse lab situations than mine (although it is hard to believe). The differences is that they are mostly guys, and they just don't let it affect the rest of their lives. Some of them get screamed at on a regular basis, which I definitely couldn't handle (my PI likes mind games better), and yet they go home and enjoy their time away. That's what I am going to shoot for.

I'm tired of giving my PI and my lab mates the power to make me miserable even when I'm not in the lab. I think it's going to take some time, but I am going to work hard to take back my life. I've survived over two years in the lab, and I have less than two more to go. That's more than 50%. I know deep down I've got the strength to do this. I just have to have the courage to use it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

One of those weeks

Did you ever have one of those weeks where you feel totally, utterly, and absolutely unmotivated? This has been one of those weeks for me. I've gotten very little accomplished in the lab, other than going to seminars constantly. I bailed on our MSTP monthly dinner meeting Wednesday night, and I bailed on the MSTP women's dinner last night. I have my first indoor soccer practice tonight, and although I'll still go, I've had definite thoughts of bailing.

I just want to go home, curl up under a fleece blanket, and watch some TV. Or a movie. Or read a book. Something relaxing. In reality, what I really need to do is clean my house, because it is getting way gross.

It's just been a blah week. I wish soccer practice started before 9 PM (and it's right by my parent's house, so that's another 1/2 hour drive each way). It totally kills my night to have it start so late. But, it's exercise and being social at the same time, so I can't really turn it down.

I guess that's it for now. Just wishing I was home. But at least the weekend is coming--that's definitely good news.

Thursday, October 26, 2006
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

One decision down, a million to go...

Tim and I game-planned last night, and we decided to pass on the house stuff for now. While we could technically afford a bigger mortgage payment, much of that is due to the fact that we don't have car payments right now. Unfortunately, that is likely to change in the near future. His truck is at almost 150,000 miles, and my car is over 80,000. And there's no way we could swing a bigger mortgage and a car payment.

Add to that all the uncertainty about the housing market, moving for residency, maybe wanting to move to a better school district when we finally have kids, plus having to fix up and sell our house, and it's just not worth it right now.

We think it's good to keep an eye out and see what the market is doing, but for at least the next few years (until we know about my residency stuff), we're going to stay put.

I'm surprisingly happy with that decision. I thought I'd be all bummed, but really, it's a relief. All the work to sell our house would be killer. I'm glad we have a few years to spread it out now instead of trying to get it all done in six months.

Not much else going on. I'm feeling like a total procrastinator at work today, which is bad because I have stuff to do. I almost played hooky today--it was all sunny and crisp, the leaves are gorgeous, and I just wanted to have a nice day to enjoy doing nothing. Maybe another time, I guess.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Getting the message

Sometimes I wonder how life works the way it does. Exhibit A: Cleveland. Or rather, the constant debate I have with myself about staying in Cleveland for residency versus leaving.

As a quick primer for non-medical peoples, I'm (hopefully) going to start residency in July 2010. It'll probably be three years of internal medicine followed by three to four years of some specialty. I'd like to do residency and fellowship in the same area, if possible, so I don't have to move constantly--I'll likely have to move at the end of all of this when I finally get a real job in 2016/2017.

The debate has been: do we stay in Cleveland for this, or do we move? I wanted to move for med school, but for a variety of reasons (Tim's job, the best fit of MD and PhD programs for me), we stayed in Cleveland. This has been fine, really. I like my program--I just hate my lab.

My plan had been to go somewhere else for MD/PhD, then come back for residency. I have family here, and I figured I'd be having kids around residency time, so the option of having family support while I am constantly working 80 hour weeks with overnight call sounded good.

Since we stayed here, I have been thinking maybe we should move for residency. My desire to move increases: 1) when I visit a city/school I like, 2) when it snows here, 3) when I'm feeling the need for a little space from our fams, and 4) when I just want a total, radical change in my life. Another big thing is that moving is how it's done. Sure, there's a percentage (maybe 30%) of both MSTP and medical students that stay in Cleveland every year. But generally, my program places people in big-name hospitals, like Johns Hopkins or Massachusetts General or the like. It's expected that you'll go to the best hospital you can get into, and those that stay are just settling.

So there is both outside pressure to move, and there is personal pressure too. The comfortable thing would be to stay--we have a house, Tim has a good job, we know the area (and generally like it), and both of our families are here. Simple, right? But I don't want to stay just because it's comfortable. I want to stay because it's the best choice.

Anyway, back to the point. I've really been thinking more and more about moving. And yet, over the past few weeks, I've been feeling like someone's trying to send me a message. There were the applicants last week, who raved about Cleveland just as I was feeling negative about it. Then it was talking to several other, more senior MSTP students who are thinking of staying around for residency. And then there was finding all these house options. Then today, we had a women in science speaker who talked about how having family nearby to support her during her postdoc and first job was absolutely critical. And Thursday we are having a women in MSTP dinner and pumpkin carving, and for some reason, I always want to stay here after we all get together.

Plus Tim's got a good job. A really good job--not in the monetary sense, although it's not bad, but in the great work environment sense. He's suffered through a few real stinkers of jobs, and now he's finally in a place that respects him. And a happy Tim makes my life better too.

It's not all about him. His job is in demand everywhere that they are building things, so there's a lot of geographical flexibility. And he's offered to move, preferably to Richmond, where his company has another office. Too bad there isn't a great hospital in Richmond.

Back to the point. Today, as I was leaving the lunch, I suddenly became aware that there has been this message screaming at me the past few weeks. I've still got years to decide (which is both good and bad), but it seems that life is telling me not to take my current location for granted. I don't know what career path I want to take yet. If it's academic medicine and research, my pedigree makes a big difference in my ability to get jobs and grants. If it's private practice, or teaching, or some other pathway, the residency I choose isn't such a big deal. And it's not like there aren't two higher-tier residencies in my backyard anyway (the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals). It's not like I'm going to Bob's Hospital in Backwoods, USA.

I think I've wanted to leave Cleveland just to prove that I can do it. I somehow need to prove to myself that I can succeed outside of my little circle. I showed some of that when I went to the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, for four months. It's just that I chose to go to college in Ohio, then med/graduate school in Ohio, and now maybe residency in Ohio. I need to prove that it's not a fluke, that I am competitive.

But who is making me prove it? Just me. No one else (well, maybe a few faculty in my program, but they don't count) has told me I have to move. In fact, a lot recommend staying.

The point of this rambling post is that I've decided that I can't decide right now. I need to not limit myself to only Cleveland, but I also need to not eliminate it as a choice. I'm too all-or-nothing in my life. I need to let there be a little gray area from time to time.

Monday, October 23, 2006

House hunting, an explanation as promised

There are about six houses all in the same basic area that have been up for sale for a while. They started way out of our price range, but over the past eight months or so, they've dropped about fifty grand. They are all about ten years old, 2500 ft2, four bedroom colonials with basements and nice yards. That's pretty much what we wanted to move into ten years from now. And the fact that they are dropping into our price range got us a little excited.

Tim's pretty calm about the whole thing, but that's his personality. I, on the other hand, am not. And especially not about houses. Friday I ran all the numbers. Yes, we can afford the houses, but the extra mortgage and property taxes would cramp our savings plan some. And we’d either have to sell our house first or get a bridge loan, neither of which is to be taken lightly. That had me leaning towards not moving on Friday.

Saturday we drove past the houses. And Tim & I loved them. And we were already talking about calling the realtor and the bank.

Yesterday and today, my sanity returned. There’s only one question: do we need to move now? The answer: no. Yes, these are great houses. Yes, they are a bargain right now. Yes, the finances work out. But do we need to move right now? No. Our current house is small, but we don’t have kids, and we won’t for a while. Even if we wait four years to move (about residency time), that’s four years of smaller mortgage payments, four years of half the property tax, four years of building equity in our current house, and four years of saving money for emergencies. Yes, we’ll continue to be cramped here. Yes, we’ll still have a longer commute. But it makes so much more financial sense to wait.

All I do know is that I think houses, for me, have become a way to channel my anxiety. There are so many things I want to change in my life, and there are so many things I feel like I have no control over. Moving involves both change and control. And, if we move now, it also sort of forces me to stay in Cleveland for residency—thus making that decision for me.

I think the moving pattern is part of it too. I haven’t stayed in one place very long—the pattern for me is: six years (Barberton), three years (Brunswick), six years (Pittsburgh), three and a half years (Medina), four years (college), four years (current house). That could be a big part of it for me. I feel like it’s time. The longest I’ve live anywhere is six years, and that felt like a lifetime. Maybe I’m just ready to change it up.

These colonials we are looking at all fit my forever house description. The one we looked at about nine months ago was still pretty small—we both agreed that house would be an in-between for us. If all we wanted was a bargain in-between house, there are about a million of them in the area. These six colonials are different. They could be it for us. A forever house. Roots.

That appeals to me. To know we won’t have to move again, unless we choose to. Tim’s current company, which he loves, and I love because it’s so good for him, is between a 10-15 minute drive from these houses. And it’s about a half hour for me, maybe a few minutes more. That halves our commutes. It seems perfect.

Except that we didn’t expect to be making this move for a few more years. And that, really, is the issue: timing. Are we ready to commit to Cleveland for good? Are we ready to commit to a house for good? Or do we still need a few more years to decide? I mean, come on. I’m 26, Tim’s almost 28. How many people move into their forever house at that age? Somehow, when we were talking about moving to an in-between house, it was less scary. It was the same situation as our current house—we knew we wouldn’t live in an in-between house for more than 5-10 years. No pressure. If we don’t like it, we just try it again in a few years. Talking about a forever house is a bit scarier.

It’s weird. I’m torn between this whole commitment/non-commitment thing. I think staying in our current house is the best option until we can figure out what is best for us.

I guess that means I am going to have to turn off the house lusting for a while.


Yes, it was snowing here this morning. My school is on the east side of town, which is by the lake. The snow belt is eastern, so since I live on the west side, I might leave in the morning with no snow, and I get here and it's snowing. Such was the case this morning. I should've known it was coming--it was sort of icing as we left the Browns game last night, and it was cold as balls in the stands--but I was in denial that it could possibly snow in October.

The good news is that it's supposed to warm back up this week. I'm so not ready for winter yet.

This past weekend seemed to fly by. We were house hunting on Saturday (I'll come back to that) and then went to an MSTP dinner, and then Sunday was a blur of Joe's confirmation-lunch with the fam-hurrying to the Browns game-getting massacred at the game-driving Joe back to my parent's house-helping Tim with calculus-bed. Good times. And I have a bunch of gels to run this week in the lab, but I'm just having a hard time getting started today.

Anyway: house hunting. Well, we were. I don't think we are anymore. It was sort of a brief bout of insanity for me. I'll post the specifics later (that way, if it bores you to tears, you can skip it). But the big picture is: yes, we could afford it. Yes, they are nice houses. Yes, they are closer to work. But: we'd have to sell our house, we'd have to commit to being in the area for at least five years (thus staying for residency), and we don't really need the space right now, although we'll probably buy a house like this some day. So that's that, I guess.

I've really got to accomplish something in the lab today. I'll ramble more later, I'm sure.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

{hangs head in shame}

Wow, I was a pissy beyotch earlier today. While I still agree with my lab assessments, the applicant thing was really fun. I picked up three students at 3 o'clock from the airport. We went back to my house for about an hour, played with the crazy dog (which they all really liked), hit the drugstore (one guy's bags got lost! including his suit!), and then I took them on a brief driving tour of Cleveland. After that, we headed to the dinner party.

What an eye opener. They were all really fun. And it gave me such perspective. Here's a little (anonymous) background: one girl is from Minnesota, and she goes to school at a North Carolina university (and she's one of your former Kaplan students, Sarah). A guy is from New Orleans and also goes to said NC school. The last guy has been out of school for a while. He's from Philly but went to college in DC.

Things they said that made me pause:
  • Wow, what a nice area! Such cute little houses! (And this was in the old part of my town).
  • This reminds me of the quiet little street I lived on as a kid.
  • What a nice house! It's so big! (It's only 1500 sq ft, but compared to a dorm room, I guess that's big).
  • It's so beautiful here. Look at the trees! They are such pretty colors. (This statement was made multiple times, at multiple locations across the city).
  • Wow, I never knew! This puts my (hometown, college town) to shame!
  • Downtown looks really nice. And three sports teams--cool!
  • (We drove through downtown to the east side). Look! A lake! Is that a Great Lake? (I said yes, Lake Erie). Cool! That means we're by Cedar Point! (Yes, it's about an hour away).
  • (I took them down MLK, through Rockefeller Park, to University Circle). This is so beautiful! It's like it's out of a movie. And ethnic gardens! (Each country has its own little garden). And there's the art museum, and the botanical gardens, and the symphony, and the natural history museum! How great! (I told them you could get into most of them free with your ID)--Really? I bet you are here all the time (I'm not, but maybe I should be).
  • (I told them you could also get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center for free with your ID)--Wow! What a great program! There's so much to do here!
  • (I took them through Case, past the hospitals and research buildings) These are all Case/UH? Three research buildings? Amazing! (My college) isn't nearly this nice!
  • (I took them through north campus, past the Peter B. Lewis building) This is modern art! So cool! But wow, I almost like all of these other gothic/greek revival buildings better. It's so gorgeous!
  • (I took them on a driving tour of little Italy) So many restaurants! And they cost how much (About $10-20 a person, depending on the restaurant). That's so cheap!
  • (I took them through Cleveland Heights, to the dinner party). These houses are gorgeous! And students can own them? (Yes, a lot do). But they must cost so much! (No, between $140-180k, generally). Wow! That's so cheap!
  • (We went past a bunch of shops and restaurants). Such cute little shopping areas! And they aren't chains? How cool! (I told them there are some chain center, like Legacy Village, that have Trader Joe's, the Cheesecake Factory, etc.) That's good to know too--national stores and local ones--pretty cool!
  • (As we are pulling in). Wow, I never knew Cleveland had so much to offer! I'm definitely sold! (I tell them that I had no intention of selling it, and that's the honest truth). I know--it sold itself!

Cleveland? Really? I guess I've taken it for granted my whole life. I do like that it's a mid-size city, that the cost of living is cheap, that there's always something to do, that I can live in a suburb and still be near the city. I like having four (relatively) mild seasons, although I could stand a shorter winter. Although, compared to Minnesota, where it's 95 and humid in the summer and 0 degrees and blizzarding in the winter, Cleveland sounds pretty good.

I was just shocked at how impressed they were, and they seemed very genuine. At the end of the night, I got a few hugs goodbye. And I only spent five hours with them! If all the applicants were like that, this program would kick rear.

It made me feel really bad about how I've been overlooking the positive and focusing on the negative. Yes, lab is terrible. But there are others in my program in worse situations than mine, and they are surviving. I have a husband, family, friends, and great MSTP classmates who are there to support me. I have a house--it might be small, but it's mine (well, the bank's , but partially mine). I live in an underrated town that I overlook too often. And these people were from cities I was strongly considering for residency--I haven't taken them off my list, but I definitely got a new view. Every city has problems, I guess.

It's easy for me to sit here and wish for a bigger house, a different city, a different job. But that doesn't change right now. I need to focus more on today. I can't change the past, and focusing on the future just freezes me up. I need to take care of today, and that's manageable. Sure, I dread going to work tomorrow, but I just need to get through one day at a time.

I'll work on the whininess, too.

If you don't have anything nice to say...

That title is why I haven't posted in a while. I don't have anything nice to say. Lab has been taken to a new low this past week. I had to go work in the library for several hours yesterday for fear I may acutally do bodily harm to someone.

I had to present journal club this morning. That's no big deal. I've been trying to work on it for a while now, but I am constantly interrupted. This ordering crap has gotten out of hand, and Dr. B. is only making things worse. We went from "Bridgette orders general lab stuff one day a week--do the rest yourself" to "Just tell her what you want, she'll find it and order it RIGHT NOW." I've tried to get Dr. B. to intervene on my behalf, but I think it backfired.

So, of course, this meant I got home at 7:30 after horses, ate, worked on journal club till late, got up at 5:30 AM, got here to finish it, gave it from 9-10, and have since been pestered for the last three hours. I don't know how I'm ever go to get my own stuff done here. Plus, I have to leave at 2:15 to pick up three MSTP applicants from the airport, amuse them for a few hours somehow, then take them to a dinner party. Another case of Bridgette can't say no, so just screw her over: it started as me attending the dinner party. Then someone bailed on picking up their applicant, so I said I could do it. Somehow, they gave me three people instead of one, and I got the earliest pickup time (3 PM)--despite the fact that year 1&2 med students are off by noon, and I'm in the lab. I tried to switch, but no go. Then I was told that the dinner wouldn't start till six, so could I find something to do with them in the meantime?

I used to love recruiting. It was one of my favorite activities. I loved hearing about the applicants, and I was more than happy to share what I thought about the program. Now I'm all bitter and angry--not the best person to leave three applicants with for a few hours, right? That's what I thought.

Ok. Pity party over. I'll do my job, and I'll even try to be pleasant about it. It's not the applicant's fault I got screwed somehow. I'm sure they are very nice people.

Things are bad. How bad? Tim asked me yesterday if I just wanted to quit and go back to med school. Even when I was seriously debating that very fact earlier this year, he was against it (as nicely as he could be). The fact that he actually suggested it? Not a good sign.

I'm stressed, my body is breaking down, I'm about two seconds away from a nervous breakdown at all times, and each time I think it is getting better, it gets worse. I need to find a way to cope with this. I've got 2.5 years invested in my PhD--I only need another 1.5. I keep telling myself this. But another year and a half of this makes me want to cry.

I know I'm a strong person. I've been through some tough crap in my life. But this is breaking me. I used to be optimistic. I used to be able to have fun. Now I'm cynical and bitter, and it's not me. I'm so tired when I get home on Fridays that I collapse. I sleep for 16-18 hours on the weekend just to recharge. And finally, on Sunday nights, when I feel like I am almost a human being again, the dread wells up in the pit of my stomach, and it's back to lab-induced insomnia.

I know my body can't take this forever. And please, I'm not even physically abusing it yet, what with the 80 hour work weeks and overnight call I have in my distant future. I've got to change something or else it's going to be all bad.

I know the only part of my lab situation I have control over is me. I need to get a better attitude about things. Here's a start:

-It's only temporary.

-The lab doesn't define me as a person.

-I'm not the only person who has ever struggled.

-Just because I don't get everything done in a day that I want to doesn't mean I'm lazy.

-Just because certain lab folk talk down to me doesn't mean I'm an idiot (I already believe that one.)

-I will not be here for the rest of my life.

-I'm doing this because I really like science.

-Not all research is this bad.

-There are people--teachers, bosses, admission committees, mentors--who thought I was capable enough, worthy enough to enter this program. I need to remember that.

-When I'm 80 years old, my 4 years in the lab will only be 5% of my life. I will have been sleeping for a bigger percentage of my life.

-My job doesn't define me.

-I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and dog-gone-it, people like me.

Ok, Stuart Smalley was a bit much. But I'm going to keep working on it. Think positive. Think positive.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Blabbity blah

I'm feeling very blah today. A little down, but not depressed. I'm moved on since my close encounter of the binge kind. It's just the same old family drama. And although work sucks, it sucks no more than usual. I just don't know where my funk is coming from. Blah.

A brief update: the kaplan interview went fine. It was really informal, actually. It was me and three guys. One guy was in a suit, and he was all hardcore with handouts and everything on how to make bread. One guy, in a t shirt and jeans, winged it on how to make home brewed beer. I went, and I had visual aids and drew on the board some, but no hardcore handouts. The last guy came in late and basically started by saying, "I didn't really prepare anything...." He talked about how to be a freelance journalist and sort of "umm'd..." his way through it. We were all interested in teaching different tests, so it wasn't competitive at all. The vibe I got from the organizer guy seemed like if they had a need for the area you wanted to teach, they'd call you for training. If they didn't, well, thanks anyway. He said it would take about a week or two to hear back. I'm pretty cool with whatever. If it works out, great. If not, oh well. I'm pretty meh about it all.

Really, I'm pretty meh about everything. I need to find a journal article to present next week. Meh. I need to clean my house and actually cook. Meh. I should start putting my data into some sort of logical progression to go over with Dr. B (even though he thinks things are fine). Double meh.

I'm just really blah today. Dr. B left yesterday, and he won't be back till Monday. I'm running a big experiment today, and all I have to do tomorrow is pass my cells. Theoretically, I could just come in, do my cells, and leave. I think that's what the rest of the lab is doing. I feel bad ditching, but if I don't have much else to do (except all those things you should do when you have free time--read papers, go over data, etc), should I just head home? I haven't decided on that one yet.

So yeah. Meh. It's not that anything terribly bad has happened, or that I'm all depressed or upset. I think I'm just burned out. I need a break from every one and every thing for a day or two. I just need to relax and recharge with no "woulda, shoulda, coulda" lists for once. Wishful thinking, I suppose.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

You sing a sad song just to turn it around...

Confession time.

Yesterday, for the first time in a long, long while, I revisited my eating disorder. I’ve been doing much better lately. I’ve not been dieting per se, but I’ve been conscious of making good food choices and trying to work in more exercise. It’s been going pretty well, and occasionally I’ll lose a part of a pound here or there. All the more of a bonus. I’ve been able to stay on track without totally depriving myself of real food. It’s been mostly a success.

Yesterday was the perfect storm. Lab was awful—bad cells, bad experiments, ordering issues, people laying their personal conflicts on me, dealing with the completely useless rotation student, and overall lab frustration. I was insanely busy all day long, so I had a glass of milk for breakfast and my emergency can of soup for lunch at about 2:30 (since the cafeteria was closed). I got home about 7 PM, and I think I had maybe 200-300 calories for the whole day at that point.

When I got home, I started cooking dinner (since we had no food in the house). Of course, since I was starving, I reached for the first edible thing I could find. This happened to be a piece of leftover chocolate cake from Tim’s dad’s surprise party on Sunday. I haven’t had real cake (not the diet stuff I make and call cake) for probably over a year. Immediately after I finished the cake, things just exploded for me. That delicious, fatty, sugary, amazing chocolate cake was my trigger. I knew things had just gotten out of control.

I was making parsley potatoes with sausage for dinner. As bad as it sounds, it’s actually pretty healthy. I use low fat kielbasa and very little butter. Tasty and healthy. Of course, it’s only healthy when you eat one serving of it. Unfortunately, it was the closest thing I had to comfort food in the house. I don’t keep my triggers in the house anymore—ice cream much?—but warm potatoes seemed to fill in for the night. Instead of having one small bowl of potatoes and sausage, I had three. I couldn’t stop. I felt like I was starving (which, when I first got home, I probably was). And that feeling of starvation did it for me—I was officially bingeing.

In calorie and sheer volume measurements, it wasn’t as big as the binges I used to have. But my therapist said during “crazy talk” that disordered eating for me is eating with no control, with no sense of how my body is feeling, without the ability to stop, and with guilt and shame afterwards. That was definitely yesterday.

I just couldn’t cope with life yesterday, and bingeing was the comforting pattern I fell into. I was so stressed from the lab, so frustrated, so hungry from not eating much. Then I got home late, realized I had no food and needed to cook, and looked around and saw how much needed to be done around the house. The anxiety, the frustration, the despair of my day coupled with my feelings of inadequacy as a student, a researcher, a wife, and a home owner. What I needed was a good cry. What I did was eat.

When Tim got home from class at about 10:15, I fessed up to him. He’s not the food police. He knows it’s in his best interest to never assume that role with me. I know that too, but I had to tell someone. I had to speak what happened. Otherwise, it’s back to bingeing. Keeping it a secret, feeling guilty, and eating to silence my guilt—that’s the life I used to have. The only way to break the cycle is to fess up and own it.

And I did. It really tore me up. I feel weak. For as much as I try to be Superman (or Superwoman, I suppose), I feel like my relationship with food is my deep, dark secret. Call me an out of control pig, and you’ve found my kryptonite.

Tim did the best he could to help me feel better. I really feel bad for him. I don’t think he knows what to say in order to make me feel better. I don’t hold that against him. I think it’s tough for anyone who has never struggled with food to really understand what’s going on. Heck, I didn’t understand until after I had spent over a year in therapy. From the outside, it looks so simple. You are feeling out of control? Stop eating. Easy, right? For me, it’s not. It’s like an out of body experience. I’m watching myself eat, and there’s no way I can turn it off.

I started therapy (we called it “crazy talk”) in 2003. It didn’t begin as therapy for an eating disorder. I wanted help dealing with my stress. However, as we moved along, it was apparent that I had deeper issues that just learning how to relax. We dealt with it for over a year, and I’ve been finished with therapy for almost a year and a half now. I don’t think I’ve had more than one or two binges in that time, until yesterday. I got to a place where I didn’t need food to cope. It worked on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I still bottle things up, and when I let them explode like I did yesterday, somehow bingeing seems to be my comfort zone.

I think confessing this to Tim, and now posting it out there in the blogosphere, will keep me accountable. I have guilt from actually bingeing, but it’s keeping the binge secret that causes the most shame.

I also fessed up to the scale. Luckily, I’ve never been a compulsive scale-hopper, so seeing my weight is still a helpful tool. It’s depressing as hell to see that number go up four pounds overnight. Part of me knows that I really ate maybe 1500 calories extra, so much of that number is water retention, which will go away. Still, it’s motivation. Pre-“crazy talk”, I would’ve given up. I would’ve said, “See! I already screwed up! No point in trying to be healthy.” Now, I’m owning it, and I’m going to grow from it. It’s not going to be easy to be healthy 100% of the time, but at least for the next few days, I need to be 100% to get past the binge monster. Later, I’ll give myself back some of the leeway with my eating patterns. For now, it’s time to get back on track.

Dealing with the emotions will be more difficult. I’ve got the shame and guilt today, as usual, but I’m self-talking. I need to prevent the downward spiral of feeling like a failure because that only leads to bad places. But that’s just the emotions caused by the binge. The bigger issue is dealing with what caused me to binge in the first place. Some of that was just carelessness. I know not eating a real meal for lunch makes me starving. I almost always pack a lunch, or I’ll go down and get a big (but expensive!) salad from the cafeteria. Yesterday was a fluke—I had no food to pack for lunch, and I ate late, after the cafeteria was closed. I can be better about the food part. Tim even suggested maybe packing a meal for dinner if I know I’m going to be late, or maybe packing a snack for my hour-plus commute home. Both good ideas.

The other things that led to the binge yesterday are a bit tougher. The lab has been hell recently. I’ve made no secret of that. I’ve got over a year and a half yet to go here, and I need to find a way to cope with it. I know a lot of people use exercise. Personally, I’ve always hated exercise for exercise’s sake. When I volunteer with the horses, or play softball, I don’t mind that. It seems like it has a purpose. But to just get on the elliptical? I do it, but I hate it. I even try to distract myself with music or TV, but I still hate it. I never get those endorphins, even after an hour or so. But, I know it’s something I need to work on.

I have hobbies, sort of, but they don’t really relax me. And I’ve been so busy that I’ve abandoned a lot of them. This week is especially tough. Tonight is two classes of therapeutic riding, followed by writing some sort of talk for my Kaplan interview tomorrow. Wednesday (tomorrow) is the Kaplan interview. Thursday is free, which means I need to catch up on cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping. Friday night is the get-together of a bunch of women I know from my old church. Plus, it’s suppose to snow Friday. And then it’s the weekend. Which always seems to be busy for some reason.

Keeping busy, while not relaxing, does seem to be a good way to keep my mind off of things going on. Problem is, when I stop being busy, everything boils over. I’ve got to deal with this stuff sometime. Most of it seems to be related to the lab, and I just really feel powerless about that whole thing. I need to not take it so personally. That’s definitely an area to work on.

Ok, enough confessions for one day. It’s really emotionally draining, more so than I expected. Time to get back to work before my boss starts his daily rounds.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I write blogs not tragedies

Bonus points if you know the song title that my title came from. Tim, you don't count--you suggested it.

It's been a really up and down week for me. Tuesday afternoon was so good. Today has been so bad. I've been prepping this experiment for about a week and a half, and I was going to collect my cells today. Well, there was fungus in them. No good. There's a week's worth of work down the tubes. And the gels I ran earlier this week? The antibody's not working again. So I've got to re-grow my hybridoma and collect more antibody. Sweet.

I'm trying to think happy thoughts, to not focus on the negative. It's tough though--things in the lab are so discouraging all the time.

I did have a bit of an evil giggle today. This rotating student in my lab sort of worships my boss, why I don't know, but he just loves Dr. B. I've told him about the lab culture (of which there was more behind-the-scenes cattiness today), and I've tried to warn him about Dr. B's pet peeves and such. Well, for a week or so now, Dr. B has been convinced that this student is doing something wrong. All he has to do is scrape cells and collect them. Really easy. Dr. B insisted that he be there when the student scraped his plates today.

The student had to be in the clinic at 1, and he had class until 11. Dr. B had to leave to go out of town at 12:30. I know the student was hoping not to come in at all today, but upon Dr. B's insistence, they agreed to meet at 11 and scrape cells.

Well, 11:15 comes by. No Dr. B. The student is making excuses for him, like maybe he's in a meeting (he's not). 11:30. No Dr. B. The student walks by his office, and his door is mostly shut. 11:45. The student is pacing, so I tell him to ask the secretary what is going on. She does, and Dr. B says he'll be right there. 12:00. No Dr. B. The student is obviously impatient, and he leans over to me and says, "Ok, I'm a little pissed now." I tell him to give it ten minutes, and then just go to the clinic. Two minutes later, there's Dr. B. No apologies for being late. He just starts doing things his way and says nothing else about it.

The experiment takes all of ten minutes. As the student is leaving, he says, "You know, I wish he would've told me he was going to be late. I had other things to do."

Welcome to my life. He's the boss. He keeps appointments when he feels like it, he changes his mind every day about whether or not he likes your results. He can praise you one day and berate you the next for the same thing. And trust me, your time is unimportant to him. All that matters is his time. That's why they pay him the big bucks.

I don't think my boss is a bad person. He's just a horrible, horrible PI. He's let the catfights in the lab escalate way out of control, and if anything, he fuels the fires. He doesn't manage well. He is inconsistent at best with his decisions. He doesn't know how to troubleshoot problems, and he doesn't know how to pick effective projects.

Hence why I tried to do everything I could to not end up back in this lab. An eight week rotation was miserable--I had no illusions that working for him would be better. And yet, here I am.

And I did try very hard to stifle my evil giggle as the rotating student had his own illusions shattered. He's been pushing hard to stay in the lab as long as he can, even though he hasn't accomplished a thing. I've been telling him to do the minimum time (which he has), and get out. We'll see if today changed his opinions at all.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Crazy crap

Ok, massive stuff has happened since I last posted (at least, massive to me). I'll end with the good news. Here's the general update:

1. Lab sucks. Nothing new. I've been busting butt the last week or so, being insanely busy, and I have jack to show for it in terms of results. That's usual. And the rotation student is making me crazy. I think my frustration is starting to become obvious, despite my best efforts to hide it.

2. I set up an interview to apply to teach for Kaplan. Funny thing is, I did the same thing last year. I applied online and had my interview all set up for October 12, 2005, and then I chickened out at the last minute. In the last week, I've run into three MSTPs who teach who brought it up, Sarah mentioned it in the comments here, and I got an email about it. So, I did it. My interview is next Wednesday night, October 11 (almost exactly a year from the cancelled interview). We'll see what happens.

3. Our roof is leaking again. Tim got up on the roof Sunday and put a tube of caulk around the sanitary stack (which had a huge gap forming in the rubber), so we'll see if that does it. The rest of the roof looks pretty good, so here's hoping.

4. I helped chop down trees this weekend in the backyard, and I also changed the showerhead from the nozzle kind to the handheld kind all by myself. I'm like the second coming of Bob Vila or something. It's all that "This Old House" we watch on the weekends.

5. I got a little mini-raise for going on the department training grant. It's not more than a couple hundred bucks a year, but it's enough to justify getting satellite TV. 20th century, here we come!

6. Tim and I talked during our two-hour walk this weekend, and it was really nice to just talk about life. I think we figured a lot of stuff out together, and we have some sort of five-to-ten year plan worked out. Most of the action happens five or so years from now, but I can stress about things a lot less when I know for sure they are a long time away. Cryptic, I know, but I have to imagine you aren't super interested in the state of my uterus (and for my sibs that are, what I'm saying is that it's going to be unoccupied for at least several more years).

7. It's freaking October. Best month ever. The reason our short walk turned into a two-hour one is because it was too gorgeous to stop. If we hadn't had the little dog with us, we probably would've kept going.

8. Amy's doing well in California. I finally heard from her this weekend, after not wanting to call so much as to be a stalker but really wanting to hear what was up. The people are a lot better than the impression Tim and I got from visiting there, and she's in a good group. And there are no wildfires around. Always nice to hear she's safe.

9. Our four year anniversary is on Thursday. The tradition is to get take-out Chinese food. No gifts, maybe a card, and take out. Romantic, I know. Jen's been pumped for it all week. She's been planning what she wants to order for days now.

10. Finally, the great, tremendous, ecstatic good news. The postdoc from my old lab emailed me a few weeks ago about some of my data. This has happened before, and I've been out of the lab for over a year now, so I never get my hopes up. Yesterday, at about 4:30, he emailed me to say he was going to make it his personal project to help publish my paper. I'll be first author. I'm so excited and happy. The thought of only having to get one first author paper out of my current horrendous project made me choked up. I've got to remember cardiology now, and it'll take a lot of work to get back into my old project while keeping up with the one I have now, but I'd do whatever it takes at this point.

So I had another stressful, painful day in the lab yesterday. And then I got that email. It was like everything changed. I need two first author papers for graduation. If I can get this one out this winter, I only need one from my current lab. I still don't think this will let me get my PhD in 2007 (we really only have one entry point to get back into med school: July. You have to be fully defended before you can go back, and if you miss the deadline, you have to wait until the next year). So, I'll be back in med school July 2008. That was always the plan, but with the way my project has been going, we had doubts we'd be able to get two papers out by then.

I can't even express to you how happy I am today. To have an endpoint in sight, to know I'm almost halfway there now--it's amazing. I have such despair in my current lab. No projects are working, the money situation is bad. That makes for cranky labmates and a cranky boss. Knowing I'll be out of here in a few more years, FOR SURE, is most excellent.

I've got an insane, long day on tap today too, so it's back to work for me.

Happy thoughts! Happy thoughts!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Never is Enough

What, am I to wake up suddenly and then
Enroll at the local college,
earn me a degree
and I could work weekends?
If I work real hard
I could mow your backyard

The world’s your oyster shell
But what's that funny smell?
You eat the bivalve anyway, you're sick with salmonella
You get your PhD
How happy you will be
When you get a job at Wendy's
And are honored with employee of the month

It's almost Friday, so a little Barenaked Ladies is appropriate. I heard this on my mp3 player (it's a new toy--got a crazy good deal, and boy did I love it on the California trip!), and it made me think. What, exactly, is a PhD good for? Yes, if I choose to have one very specific career (academic science), it's perfect. But, if I want a job in anything else, does it put me ahead? Absolutely not.

I was thinking about getting a part time job (not at Wendy's, as the song suggests), but I just couldn't do it. The thought of having a college degree, having completed two years of med school and two years of grad school, and making $7 an hour at a store just kills me. Do they care that I have all this extra school? Heck no. Someone in high school can ring up clothes just as quickly as I can, if not quicker. I had a pretty good waitressing job in high school, so I thought about doing something like that again. And then I remembered how I got treated like crap. You think my customers care if I'm halfway to being a doctor-doctor? Think again. If anything, they'd probably tip me worse, figuring that at least I'm not going to be in this job forever.

So, for now, no part time job for me. It's probably better for my sanity, but man, my bank account sure would appreciate the extra moola.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sorting it out

There's a lot of stuff I avoid talking about on this blog--that's why private journals were invented--but at the same time, I know it's stuff other people struggle with too.

I just feel so lost sometimes.

I feel like I don't have any answers, let alone the right answers, to some of the life questions I am facing. Some of them I don't need to answer right now. Like choosing a medical specialty. You wouldn't believe how I bounce around that one. Last week, I was convinced I wanted to be a radiation oncologist. It's decent hours, good pay, patient- and science-oriented, and a relatively humane residency. But, it's also crazy competitive, and thus I'm not sure I could get in. Or, if I did, I'd have to list a ton of places to match, which wouldn't give me control over where I headed for residency. And we all know how I am with giving up control.

Then today I was back to medicine with some sort of specialty, maybe cardiology or heme/onc. Why? Who knows! I know I have a specialist's personality. I think I just went back to medicine because it's the safe choice. It's (mostly) not super competitive, I could choose where I wanted to live, and I have another few years to decide about a specialty.

Then there's peds, and psych, and (extremely briefly) pathology. I like patients, which is why pathology didn't make the cut, but I don't know yet how much I like patients, or what part of patient care is the most interesting. And I won't know these things until I get back into med school, which is still probably years away.

And then, I don't know if I'll want to do research or not. This PhD has been such a terrible experience that I never want to relive it. I know I used to love research, and I know not all research is like what I've been doing, but I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to dissociate the two.

Add that all up and you get a whole lot of "no idea what I want to do."

I've got other decisions to make too. Some day I'd like to have a family, and while Tim and I both know that isn't in the immediate future, it is something we'd like to plan for. He'll be in school for his engineering degree until probably 2009 or so. The idea of having a small child while he has class four nights a week and I am on call for my clerkships screams "bad idea." We were thinking of waiting until my fourth year of med school at the earliest, and likely even waiting until residency, but I'm scared. I don't know if I'm capable of taking care of a small child while I'm in residency. Yes, they are small and likely won't remember that I was gone frequently, but the logistics are staggering. Call multiple times a week, probably in a city several hours from family, with Tim working? Yes, it's been done, but it's definitely not the easiest way to do things.

Then again, when have I ever done things the easy way?

Plus, there are some personal issues I am struggling with. It's that whole eating disorder-body image-healthy lifestyle thing again, and no need to beat that into the ground. I think whenever I feel like I'm losing control in other areas of my life, those personal things come to the forefront. It's all related to control and anxiety. I've been dealing with it long enough to know what it is and why it gets so bad sometimes. I'm just struggling with how to make it go away.

I do have moments of peace. Deep down, I know that none of this is the end of the world. I'm sure there are multiple aspects of medicine that I would be happy with. I'm sure I'd get good residency training at a variety of cities and hospitals--that's why the programs are accredited by a national board. Although having children at any time is a major life change, I'm sure that we could make it work.

I know this stuff. I know none of these questions have only one right answer. And deep down, I trust that everything will work out.

It's pushing the daily anxiety down and bringing that trust up. That's the problem that I really need the solution to. I know a lot of it is gratitude--being thankful for what I have now and taking the focus away from what I don't have. I also know that a lot of it is accepting things don't always have to be "just so." It's accepting that life isn't multiple choice. There's more than one right answer.

I am thankful for so many aspects of my life. For as bad as lab can be, for as lost as I feel, for as often as I wonder, "what did I get myself into?", there are so many opportunities that make me feel blessed. I have family and friends to support me, a (relatively sturdy) roof over my head and clothes on my back, an opportunity for education, and the health and strength I need to get through whatever obstacle I come up against. I know this.

It's just so easy to look past the big picture and get hung up in the frustrating little details.

But, I'm working on it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

How I missed boring weekends

This weekend, I did almost nothing. And it was awesome. I caught a cold on Friday that seemed to wipe me out more than usual, so I fell asleep at 7 PM Friday, slept till 8:30 Saturday, went back to sleep and slept till almost 2 PM Saturday, and then basically chilled the rest of the day. I guess I needed it.

Sunday was another relaxing day. I slept in, hit 12 PM mass, watched football/napped (since the only 1 PM game on was Chicago-Minnesota, which was boring), and then we headed to Tim's parent's for dinner. Now, the Browns were on at 4, so we were bummed that we'd miss most of the game. But his parents were nice enough to leave the TV on during dinner (they are SO non-sports people!). It looked promising, but as usual, the Browns choked at the end. Same thing we saw when we went to the Saints game. We don't have tickets again until the Broncos game, and that doesn't look good for us. Oh well. We've got tickets to the Tampa Bay game on Christmas Eve, so now that their quarterback is out for the year (he had to have his spleen removed after it ruptured during the game yesterday--ouch!) maybe we'll actually win that one. Or not.

So today it's back to the lab. I was planning to start my experiments today, but we've got the mysterious fungus back in the cells. Joy. So, it's plan B for now.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Quickest way to a heart attack..

I just got an email from the department secretary asking if I was still having my thesis committee meeting tomorrow.


Umm, I'm a pretty organized, anal, control freak, and nowhere on my calendar was a thesis committee meeting!!! I had one in July that was informal, and I thought we weren't going to have one for six months after that.

And by the way, way to email me at 4:45 PM the day before.

I emailed her back and explained things, and then Dr. B emailed the whole committee plus the secretary to say we shouldn't have one for 3-4 months.

And thusly, the committee meeting was changed to January 22.

But for about five minutes between emails, my heart stopped. There's my adrenaline for the day.