Monday, April 28, 2008

Off the hook

Ok, so I know I said I'd be better about blogging. Sorry. Things have been insanely busy round these parts. What you've missed:

-I had 10 hours of seminar just from Monday-Wednesday for my department, plus I am gone Tuesday afternoons at the VA clinic. So I had a near-impossible time getting any experiments done for a few days. Really, I have 6 hour time course experiments, with samples every half hour. Help me out here!

-Oh, and then the new chair of our department scheduled an 8 AM meeting on Thursday with less than 24 hours notice, so I was up crazy early to get childcare figured out. And what did we talk about for about 2 hours? The department renovations. And he didn't listen to our input anyway.

-And then the food at the Thursday student seminar made me so sick I couldn't come in on Friday. Maybe fried chicken from a place called Hot Sauce Williams is not such the good idea?

-I had probably my toughest patient since I started doing the VA clinic a few years ago. He was the last appointment of the day, at 3:20. He didn't show until after 4. And then I spent over an hour with him. He was a paranoid schizophrenic convinced his medications were killing him. He's diabetic with very high cholesterol and high blood pressure. He stopped taking glipizide and metformin, metoprolol and lisinopril, and gemfibrozil and simvastatin. Basically, he was on his psych meds and verapamil (which he shouldn't be on metoprolol and verapamil at the same time anyway) and that was it. I talked to him every way I knew how. My preceptor came in and did the same thing. But nothing we could say would convince him to take his meds. He's only about 40 or so, and he could easily be dead in the not too distant future if he doesn't take his meds. I felt so defeated after seeing him. I got a pep talk from my preceptor, but that didn't make it better. We couldn't just admit him without a medical condition, and he was actually fairly well-controlled psych wise, so that wasn't an option. I just had to let him go and hope he didn't die.

-Sophie turned 6 months old on Friday. I had a yoga party that night (which was exactly what I needed, although I had concerns my GI system wasn't going to permit me to go). It was hosted by a friend of mine who knows a yoga instructor. Once or twice a year, we get a private yoga session and then have healthy food (and lots of girl time) afterward. I never know anyone other than my friend the hostess, but the women are always super nice. This time, all but one had kids three or younger, so we talked a lot about baby stuff. It was nice to get out and vent a little. And Tim did a great job with Sophie on his own for a few hours.

-Saturday my cousin needed to go to the art museum for her class, so Tim, Sophie, and I went too. And Sophie didn't yell! I was a little concerned, since the art museum is closed for renovation except for the traveling exhibit. And this exhibit was armor, so there wasn't a lot of color to keep her interested. Sophie did amazingly well though.

-After the art museum, my cousin was kind enough to watch Sophie for a few hours so Tim and I could get out of the house. We couldn't decide what to do. So, we went to Lowe's for about an hour and a half to look at paint. Just when we though we committed on a shade of blue for the bedroom, we decided we weren't sure and wimped out. Then we went to Kohl's, walked around, and didn't buy anything. We did stop at a gas station for a Dr. Pepper and a raspberry iced tea. And we stopped at CVS because batteries for my camera were on sale. And then we came home. Sounds like a hot date, right?

-Sunday Jen came up. We followed her back to college to bring her futon home, and she bought us dinner on campus. And then on the way home, Sophie had a meltdown. We crashed my cousin's house (she's Sophie's new BFF, so of course Sophie stopped screaming when we got there), changed a diaper, and then headed the rest of the way home. Another hot date.

-Today I'm busting butt to get experiments done, then I've got another departmental seminar from 4-5, and then I've got another few hours in lab. I'm trying to get as much done as I can.

-Tomorrow I'll be in during the morning, but then Sophie's got her 6 months shots in the afternoon. I can't wait to see how big she is! I swear she even grows overnight.

I've got all sorts of random topics that have been on my mind. If things slow down this week, hopefully I'll get the chance to discuss them :)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

28

Yesterday was Saturday, a beautiful, sunny, warm day (which we in Cleveland have not seen much of since, oh, October). It was also my 28th birthday. And where was I? At work.

Yep, I had to go into the lab on a perfect spring day, and my birthday none the less. Last year, I would've been pretty upset about it. This year? Eh, not so much.

Not that I like lab. And not that I have any confidence that the work I did yesterday will lead to some sort of fruitful result. For whatever reason, no one in the lab (which I guess means me and Kim) has had any sort of usable data for various reasons in some time.

So, yesterday was probably worthless. But that still doesn't bother me.

I've gotten a lot of peace related to the lab in the past few months. I can't really tell you why. Nothing has changed. If anything, things are more stressful now than they ever have been. Our grant is empty, the lab will be non-existent by the end of this year, we've scaled down from about 10 people in the lab to two, none of my experiments are working, and the new physiology chair has been scheduling about 5 seminars a week (on top of journal club and my VA clinic) so scheduling anything sucks. But, I'm ok.

It must be me. At some point I realized that Dr. B isn't being nasty to me. That's just who he is. He's not a bad guy--if anything, Kim's helped me realize he's a bit quirky, and she's fond of him because of it. I'm not going to go that far, but it has helped me realize I'm not at war with him. Lab sucks. That's just the way it's been for me. Not one thing at any point has come to me easily since starting the PhD phase full time. That's been a lesson in itself. But Dr. B, while not particularly helping me, isn't trying to destroy my life either. He isn't a good mentor because he doesn't know how to be. He was never taught, and my institution has no method of teaching him. He does what he knows, and that's it.

So while he's not my best friend, Dr. B isn't my mortal enemy either. And I don't like the lab any more than I have, but it doesn't turn my stomach in knots every morning like it used to.

I think I've just accepted that lab isn't my life. As much as my PI, my program, and my department want it to be, it's not. It's finite (hopefully), I'll go back to the clinics in the next year, and I'll never have to set foot in another lab if I don't want to. And that's that.

Yes, I'm still there every weekday and nearly every weekend. But like yesterday, a lot of times Sophie (and Tim) come with me on the weekends. We kill some time while my media for my cells warms up. Tim amuses Sophie while I am busy. Or, like two weekends ago, maybe a kind soul from a neighboring lab (Chep, in this case) has some down time during a gel and plays with Sophie for a half hour or so. It works out.

Sure, I'd rather not have to work as much as I do, especially with nothing to show for it. But, I also have some flexibility (if I assert myself). I don't love having to move my schedule around, but if something comes up, I can. That won't be the case once I'm back on the clinical side. So I might as well use it while I can.

Yes, yesterday should have been lab-free for so many reasons. But it wasn't. And there will be many more beautiful days eaten up by work. That's not going to get better as I progress through my training. So, better to suck it up and see the positive in life--it's not snowing anymore!, Tim let me sleep in another hour on my birthday while he took Sophie!, I had a wonderful family dinner planned for after lab!--than focus on the negative. I can't change the fact that I have to be in lab. I can change how I feel about it.

I think having Sophie has really put my life in perspective in ways I couldn't have imagined. Things are busier than ever (hence the break in posting--I'll work on that). But I feel like I am finding new ways to adjust. Tim and I just commented the other day about how, now that she's almost six months old, we feel like we finally have our head above water. It's not the end of the world to figure out how to pack her (and ourselves) up to leave the house. W were so worried about forgetting something, or having her scream, or just not being able to handle a situation. Now? Heck, we'll wing it.

We don't have it down by any stretch, but it's so much better than it was. Sure, we don't leave the house after 8, ever, because once she's in bed, that's it. But that's why we tivo Design on a Dime and 30 Rock (and Futurama for Tim). Number 1, it's not like we ever have 5 minutes when she's awake to watch TV. Two, it's so much better being able to skip commercials. And three, it's always nice to know we have a stash of mind-numbing TV to watch whenever we need it.

So happy birthday to me. Tim promised he was going to pick out a card to show me at Target for my birthday, but he forgot when we were there today. Oh well, maybe he can show me two next year :) Really, an extra hour of sleep was probably the best gift I could've gotten. That, plus dinner with family, made the day just about perfect, lab or not.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pictures-Friday (on Saturday)

Sorry, I didn't get the chance to do this yesterday. This is the last photo post. Some of these aren't great--the ones of her playing on the mat are a little dark because my flash isn't great--but I was otherwise caught up on pictures. Enjoy!
Sophie in her umbrella stroller in the driveway 4-6-08

Sophie playing with her snap beads on her fuzzy blanket 4-9-08



Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pictures-Thursday

Tomorrow will be the last day of the week of pictures, which is good, because I'm nearly caught up. Other than that, same old, same old.
Sophie playing tall baby with Tim 4-5-08


Tim & Sophie coordinating--we didn't plan the blue/yellow thing, but it worked out pretty cute. 4-5-08


Sophie & Jen chillin. 4-5-08

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Pictures-Wednesday

On a happier note, here are some more pictures. Sophie was in a good mood on 4-5-08, and we took advantage of it. She is definitely "Unmoosetakably Cute" courtesy of Katie in Alaska:





A real post

Ok, so this is a real post, with another picture post later tonight. If you've been wondering where I've been, here's how I've been keeping busy.

It seems in my life that the phrase, “When it rains, it pours” applies on a regular basis. For instance, in the last week:

-Sophie has been sleeping very little, leading to me getting very little sleep. She’s not teething as far as we can tell, she isn’t sick, but she just doesn’t want to sleep like she used to.

-I had to give grand rounds and journal club, and I’ve got to write a draft of my paper by next week. That equals many nights (like last night) where I am up till 1 AM working, Sophie howls from 3:30 to 4:30, I finally fall asleep at 6, and then I have to get up at 6:30.

-My experiments have been for crap. After transfecting cells on Saturday, I passed them Monday night. And I dropped five of my experimental plates on the way to the incubator. I saved some, but there’s a week of work I’ll never get back. I really need more sleep.

The big drama has been the house. We lowered the house price by 5 grand on Monday the 31st. It is now listed at what it was when we bought it six years ago. On Saturday the 5th, a couple went through it twice. They put in an offer on Sunday. We’d be selling for 10,000 less than we bought it for six years ago at their bid.

We countered a bit, but the final number is bad. It’s 2500 less than what we bought it for six years ago. If you factor in the repairs and the real estate commission, we’re out about 25,000. And we’ll have to write probably a 7 or 8 thousand dollar check (somehow) to sell it. I don’t know if we’ll get a home equity loan on our current house or what to come up with the money, but we don’t have any other choice.

And they are FHA, so we’re in for a very terrible inspection. And they may find even more things that will cost us money.

Yeah, I had a good long cry about that yesterday. If I would’ve know a year ago that we’d be where we are, I would have never even thought to move. We bought a house in 2002 to gain equity. We bought a little house so we had room in the budget to save for the future. We fixed up the house in order to make it nicer for us and future owners. And in one year, we’ve taken a huge loss on the house (that is not tax deductible), moved into a nice house (I have no issues with the new house, let that be said) with a house payment that does not afford us the same saving luxury that we had previously, and we’ve basically wiped out our non-retirement savings in order to buy the new house and sell the old one. That is totally against what I am about. I am a saver. I find security in knowing we are living below our means and saving for the future. It makes me calm. It makes me secure. And this entire house debacle has been the most heartbreaking experience of my life.

I wanted a place that would be better for Sophie: a better yard to play in, a neighborhood with kids, a safer house with room for her to grow, a shorter commute for us so she could spend more time with us. I did get all those things. As I said, I have no issues with the house itself. The issue is that I feel like I put us in a financial pinch we did not need to be in. No, we’re not going into foreclosure. It’s a stretch, but it is in the budget (well, one mortgage is. Two has wiped us out). There’s no reason we had to move when I was seven months pregnant. Sophie could’ve lasted a few years in the old house. Granted, there’s no guarantee that the real estate market would’ve been any better. But at least we would have known that the market was going downhill.

Instead, we bought the new house (we did get a decent price on it) and put the old one up for sale. The banks, the realtors, they all told us it would sell at a good number. We’d maybe break even on improvements. Well, then we lowered the price after no interest. Again, and again we lowered it. And here we are, 8 months after it went on the market, and we’re selling it for less than we paid for it. And way less than what we had ever planned to get. I would’ve lived in it for a few more years if I would have known.

Everyone said that renting is throwing your money away. And in the old real estate market, it was. But we would have been head and shoulders above where we are financially if we would’ve waited to buy our first house until now. If both sets of buyers we’ve had on the old house are any indication, they are out for blood. And we have absolutely no leverage. If we want it sold, we have to give in.

It breaks my heart. Yes, it is just money. But that was money that was supposed to be for our future, for Sophie’s future. Thank goodness the retirement money is untouchable—we knew that was never an option, and at least we’ll have something in thirty years. And theoretically, our income should keep increasing. Hopefully someday I won’t be making a grad student stipend. Anything over that will be a bonus. And if we stay in this house a long time, eventually the market will turn around. We’ll gain some equity, our house payment will be a smaller portion of our monthly budget, and things will get simpler. That’s what we’re assuming.

I know it’s just money. And I know that likely we may not get another offer at this price. If we had to drop the price another 5 grand, we wouldn’t get what they are offering now. So it hurts, but it will probably only hurt more the longer time goes on. And I don’t have any illusions that someone is going to offer us 15 thousand over our asking price so we break even. That ship sailed a long time ago.

I had a nice crying jag last night about the whole situation, and then I moved on. When Tim called this morning to tell me that they moved up slightly, but not a lot, it didn’t sting as much as it had last night. Now, if they want 10 grand worth of work done after the inspection, I’m walking away. But barring disaster, hopefully we’ll close on May 9th and be done with all of this.

I really wanted someone like us to buy the house. We were so ecstatic to go through a decent house in our price range that we went through it twice in one day and put an offer on it that night. Turns out that Tim’s dad knew the sellers, so everything was very friendly. We met up with them before the closing, and they sold/gave us a bunch of furniture. It was all very nice, and they knew that we really liked the house. I want buyers like that. I want people who are going to love the house. I want friendly people. I want the process to be civil. Instead, we’ve gotten nasty buyers who will not negotiate hardly at all and want us to be the ones shedding all the blood. And none of them have ever said anything about loving the house once the offer is in—then all the niceties about the house change to wanting to screw us over and get the best deal possible. I have to believe that somewhere out there is a buyer that wants to love the house as much as we did. But we don’t have the time or money to wait for that buyer.

For as much as this entire process has broken me, I just want to be done. I can’t take the pain anymore. And there is too much else going on in my life for me to continue to waste the emotional energy on it. I need to move on.

There are some other issues going on right now that are a bit too personal for the blog (I know I seem to share everything, but there are some things that are not appropriate). I think things are coming to a head, and once that happens, I’ll talk about it. But for now, that’s drama I need to keep to myself.

So, I’ve been busy. And my lab work has suffered in the meantime. I haven’t filled Dr. B in on all of this, because I won’t get any sympathy for it. That’s not good or bad—that’s just life. A topic for another day will be how I’ve made peace with lab life, because I really think I have. But real life needs to take over this week. The lab will still be there when I’m done.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Pictures-Tuesday

These are from the fondue party graciously hosted by Heather and Aaron about a week and a half ago. Who knew grownups and babies could have fun at the same party?
Tim's frat brother and their daughter (who is 3.5 months older than Sophie) with Tim & Sophie. Guess who's the bigger baby? 3-28-08

Baby cage match! Heather with Sophie versus Jen & Allison. 3-28-08


Close up of baby cage match 3-28-08


They really like each other. It's like another language. 3-28-08


Sophie and Heather's big Eeyore. 3-28-08

Semi-post

Yes, pictures will be coming later tonight. They are on the home computer. I just wanted to say that hopefully sometime soon I'll have a real post. There's been a lot going on, both in the lab and at home. Today is out of the picture as far as a real post goes--I've got to do my cells, do a journal club presentation for tomorrow morning, and then go the the VA all afternoon for my clinc. But there's been a lot on my mind. I'd like to get it all out there.

Such is life. I guess not having much free time comes with the whole being overwhelmed thing. It wouldn't make much sense otherwise :)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Pictures-Monday

Tim's cousin Jenny, his mom, his Grandma, and Tim all around Sophie 3-23-08

Tim and Sophie 3-23-08


Sophie enjoying a biter biscuit 3-26-08


Tall baby (and long baby--that's a 12 month onesie) 4-1-08

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Pictures-Sunday

Here's the next batch:

Sophie in the swing 3-21-08

She just loves the jumperoo! 3-21-08


Our Easter picture (hey, it was early in the morning) 3-23-08

Jen, my Grandma, and Sophie 3-23-08

Sophie, Tim's cousin Jenny, Tim, his mom, and his Grandma 3-23-08

Pictures-Saturday

OK, I am a few months behind, but it's midnight on Saturday night, Sophie's asleep, and I've got a few minutes to post pictures. I'll try to do five or so pictures every day for the next week. Here's the first batch:

Sophie in her jumperoo 2-18-08

Tim and Sophie relaxing 2-24-08

Me wearing Sophie during house work (she's pretty much too big for this now!) 3-1-08

Too appropriate! A gift from Heather & Aaron 3-2-08

Sitting in the bumbo, eating a biter biscuit (or at least face painting with it) 3-15-08

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sleep

Ok, I just totally fell asleep at my desk while I was reading an article--like spread out all over my laptop fell asleep :) Thank goodness it's just me in the lab today. I haven't been getting more than an hour or two of sleep a night (Sophie's been fussy for unknown reasons) and my week has been totally non-stop.

I did give my Grand Rounds talk last night, so that's one biggie off my plate. I still have to do a presentation for journal club next week, finish my rough draft of this current paper for my committee (and I am way behind on this one) and still keep up with the two different sets of experiments I have going on.

Plus, I have a dinner with two of my high school friends tonight, and considering how tough it is to get our schedules to work out, I don't want to cancel. And Tim's in Richmond today and tomorrow, and then he gets home late Friday only to have an all-day class for work on Saturday. And then we are having dinner at his parent's house Sunday afternoon-evening. So there is no break in sight.

I am really starting to feel the effects of stress/no sleep. I'm starting to get a little bit of blurry vision, I am totally unable to concentrate, and now I'm having random sleep attacks at my desk! I keep telling myself that sometime, I'll get a full night's sleep again. I haven't had one in over a year, but I usually can at least net 4-5 hours. This 1-2 hours stuff is killing me!

Anyway, I've had lots of things to talk about, but no time to do so. Hopefully that'll change sometime soon. For now, it's off to get a diet Dr. Pepper to stay awake. Here's hoping caffeine helps!