Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Paraformaldehyde Tramp

Countdown to seeing the Mayan ruins: 3 days.

I can not wait.

I start my new job the day after I get back.

I can not wait.

I then have to help the new grad student in my old lab learn how to stain her tissue and analyze the results as no one in the lab knows how to do it.

I would rather stab myself in the eye.

I hope that she's been informed that this "training" will have to occur after hours as I do have a new job to go to. I'm sure no one found it necessary to tell her this as she is a grad student and thus a victim of The Man. At least she will have someone to help her, and she will not have to learn how to do these things on the Black Market like I did. I can't tell you how many of the lab's precious, disposable filter flasks and surgery needles were exchanged for protocols. Nor do I want to even think about how many animals I perfused like some paraformaldehyde whore in exchange for help cutting brains, use of cryostat and microscope equipment, and aliquots of solutions that I wasn't allowed to buy until I had tried them out. Do you know how hard it is to try something out before you buy it? Paraformaldehyde whore...that's what it came to.

Ahhhh, the life of the scientist. You wait for scraps to be thrown your way and then hover over them to protect them from being yanked away from you. Are there rescue societies for abused scientists? There should be.

Yep, she's lucky and she doesn't even know it.

Mayan ruins--here I come.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Lost Souls

Where was this a few weeks ago? I'm a lost soul--they need to add "scientist" to their list of lost souls.

Christmas in July, perhaps?

I love this t-shirt. Down with poverty and Monopoly, I say.

Friday, June 23, 2006

No Home

As my husband and I looked for a new apartment, I was struck by how bad the housing crisis has become. Three years ago, when we found our current home to rent, I remember thinking, "Wow, how do people working minimum wage jobs pay their rent around here?". Rent has, of course, increased steadily since then, and as we looked at apartment after apartment that we can't afford ($2300 for a two bedroom apartment seems a little impossible right now), I became overwhelmed with grief for all of the struggling families around us.

Just last week, some semi-affordable apartments close to where I live were leveled so that developers could build condominiums starting in the $800,000 range. Single-family homes (2 bedrooms, 1-2 baths) are being snatched up at $600,000, torn down, and rebuilt into $1.5 million dollar mansions. In the downtown areas that used to be relatively cheap (aka "dangerous), "revitalization" projects are forcing people who don't drive Volvos or BMW SUVs to move further South or to live on the streets. Apparently "revitalization" does not mean "let's build nice, affordable housing for the people who have lived here and paid taxes for decades". Overcrowding in areas not touched by developers is soon to lead to spikes in crime and violence as happens when supply can not meet demand. It's a sad, sick mess.

As a carless civilian who patrols the street on foot and by bus, I have had the chance to become familiar with many of the homeless people along my route. Every week, it seems like I'm introduced to a newbie either through formal, friendly introduction or by me accidentally triggering a panic response in some of the more unstable individuals causing them to start yelling/screaming/running/etc. A few of them have become my "watchers", warning me when "Crazy Mike" is around (they call him Crazy Mike because he allegedly steals from them and hits people, but I've only seen him yell). One woman keeps the bus stop so clean you could eat off of the ground, and that's saying a lot for a bus stop. It always amazes me to hear random people stop and give lectures on finding a job, Christ, or some other quick fix to homelessness--people like this. Give me a break.

For those of you who have followed me from the beginning, you will know that homelessness is something that hits close to home for me, as my brother lived on the streets when he first became ill. He was mistreated by police, spit on and cursed by upstanding citizens and church leaders, and labeled as a good-for-nothing druggie by people who needed justification for ignoring him and his malnourished frame. He was sick and lost and just needed somebody to care until his family could find him and get him the help he needed.

So, when I stopped by this blog (the homeless guy), I felt compelled to share a post on gift bags for the homeless. Ideas like this beat spending a Sunday morning at church giving your money to people who spend it on air conditioners and new carpeting for the chapel. Maybe your church isn't like that, but mine sure was.

I just wanted to share.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Things I'm excited about that prove I'm a loser:

--I have my own, personal FedEx account number. I can FedEx packages without carrying cash or going to the store. This may seem trivial to the average human, but I'm so far removed from the "real world" that getting my FedEx number was a really big deal. It makes me feel real.

--I am going to have a cubicle. I'm so excited about this cubicle that I'm busting at the seams. I've always dreamed of having one and decorating it and getting a red, Swingline stapler. For those of you who have had a "desk" inside a wet lab, you probably understand. I am used to having a desk with 3 drawers in a windowless room filled with boxes and tubes containing old, shriveled brains. My former desk was in the "rat treatment room", so it smelled of urine, feces, and death. Oh, and there was also a deep freeze next to my desk that buzzed so loudly that I'm now partially deaf. My new cubicle will have a window and carpeting and no lab equipment, and I will actually be able to eat and drink at it.

--Our new house has a built in shelf that my sewing machine will fit on. I've had the machine for 3-years, and it's still in the box. It was a random gift from my mom (I've talked about her gifting before), and I've never had a place to put it as housing here is so freakin' expensive that we've always lived in shoeboxes. I can't wait! An added bonus to moving is that I'm going to have a dishwasher. A real, working dishwasher. I'm clapping right now thinking about it.

I'm so excited!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Last Word

The official last word of my dissertation:


How appropriate.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Fossil Rat's and Dwight Schrute in No Particular Order

Living Fossil rat--the new white meat. I posted about this before, but I think it's such a great story.

Also, I just remembered that I have one of these coming soon. I can't wait! Dwight Schrute is partly responsible for protecting my smile muscles from neglect-related atrophy over the past few months.

Sometimes, it's the little things in life that keep you from trying to commit suicide by eating apple seeds.*

*I'm just joking. I would never use apple seeds.

Summer Book Report

Why I love the government by Falters:

I love the government because after you are hired you have to apply for the job to comply with the Man.

If that doesn't make sense then you understand what I'm saying.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Books For Fun

I'm reading "The Book Thief" right now as part of my "return to a normal, happy life" plan.

I really, really like it so far.

I also read "Why Girls Are Weird", but I hated it. I was so bored reading it that I almost stabbed myself in the eye to keep myself awake.

Thankfully, I received a lot of books and bookstore gift cards as graduation presents. I didn't want presents, but I think my husband pushed people in that direction so that I didn't blow all of our savings on fun reads after I defended. Little did he know that I would be busier after defending than I was in the weeks prior to finishing.

He has threatened (lovingly) to drop me off at the bookstore every weekend for two hours so that I could read books there without buying them. I told him to blame my mother for allowing me to take speedreading courses when I was 12 and that owning the book was part of the fun. I also told him that without books, I may be forced to take up shoe shopping. He chose the book option.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Sporking it

Stick a fork in me, I'm done. I'm so done that you could actually stick a spork in me and still get to see the meat falling off my bones. You had better hurry, though, because the line of scavengers picking at my parts grows by the second. They are relentless; they are ruthless.

The dilema of the 110% person is common enough. You give 110%, you are asked to give more. You give more. You become the go-to person, the reliable rock. People begin to believe that you are strong, that you love to spread yourself so thin that you drip over the edges. They forget that you are human. They do not see you crying--they do not realize that you can't sleep at night because your heart hurts and your mind is racing. They forget that you have bills to pay, errands to run, a life to keep track of.

I'm sitting in a hotel room right now, staring at the waves lapping at the shore. I just sent an abstract off for a meeting in the fall and am now working on some random lab stuff. Everytime I open my email, there is another "one more thing to do before you leave". I'm watching the people walking by, happy and relaxed. I've been here 3 days and have yet to feel the sand between my toes. There is so much to do in the next few weeks, and I don't know how to make it happen. This trip was meant to get me out of the house so that I could finish up my corrections in peace, but the list of things to do in addition to my corrections has turned into a monster that can not be tamed.

I'm tired. I'm sad. I feel cheated. I wanted just a few days to enjoy my accomplishment, to relax and reflect. I defended on Friday and then was bombarded by emails on Monday. So many things to do that I really shouldn't be asked to do, but over the last 5 years I became the go-to girl and now the lab is in a state of panic so they keep asking for another drumstick.

You had better hurry.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Hot, Hot, Hot

It was hot yesterday. Not only was it hot, but the humidity was so bad, the air was so thick, that every breath felt like it was being drawn under water.

Perfect day for a job interview.

My hair is long--it hangs down past the middle of my back. Did I pull it up yesterday? No.

I could feel the sweat mark growing on my back, under my hair, like a demonic ink stain with every step I took.

The bus was hot; the metro hotter.

The walk from the metro to my interview was long and without shade. My backpack felt like it was filled with bricks...wet bricks. My interviewer's office was on top of the hill from hell.

When I finally reached the top (making a mental note to start exercising again), I stopped to catch my breath and to pray that I was not having a heart attack. I don't think that someone will offer a job to a person who has a heart attack every day on their way to the office.

I paused in the entrance of the building to let myself cool down. I thought I was cooled off, silly me, but my interview was on the second floor. It's funny how a 5 degree difference in temperature can change everything.

As my future employer began talking, I could feel the sweat start to bead on my brow. I tried to ignore it, but drip by drip, I could feel myself being blinded. If makeup isn't tested on animals, what is it tested on? Yesterday, it was tested on my eyeballs, and I can tell you that although it did not blind me, it felt as though someone was pouring vodka onto my corneas.

I must have been making a wonderfully entertaining face, because my interviewer stopped talking and stared at me.

I sighed and said, "I can tell by your face that you noticed the look on my face. I'm sorry but...(and I bent over and pulled a tissue from my bad and wiped my face off)...it is just so hot out and your office is on such a steep hill..."

He laughed. I laughed to hide my mortification. I then blurted out that I was mortified, which blew my cover.

I am a moron.