Saturday, December 29, 2012

It was only a kiss

It's not always easy when things go well. So many people, myself included, adopt the attitude, "I just need to get through this." I just need to make it through this week. I only have to finish this paper and then things will be better. I can relax after this exam. But when does life really give you a break? I've been pretty stressed, what with it being the holidays and all. Plus trying to get work done while students are gone, deal with the weather, etc etc etc. And for a while now I've been waiting for a guy to come along that I'm excited about. Well, the holidays are (mostly) over (I can just ignore New Years, right?). I was still feeling anxious and attributed it to a budding new relationship. But after the next date, which involved lots of laughs, talking, and a first kiss, I woke up in the middle of the night, sweating from a nightmare. In the nightmare I was walking a tightrope. It was only three feet off the ground, but I was still terrified. It can be seen as symbolic, in that the tightrope is th relationship just getting off the ground, or just everyday life, which is less strenuous right now than at other times. But why would this cause me so much anxiety? My therapist has said that even though good things make us feel good and relieve some stresses, they also bring new stress. Since I have some free time now, I'm worried about wasting it. Since I have fewer pressures, I should be more productive. And now that I've found a romantic interest, I can start being afraid of losing it. P!nk sings
Screw fear it's contagious Infecting everything It makes me do such stupid stupid stuff I say things I never mean What exactly do I think? What am I afraid of? If I fall it'll blow up in my face Now that's just crazy
We all do this. It's natural to be afraid of losing something, almost as soon as we get it. Sometimes, even before we get it! (Ever been jealous of a friend or competitor during a contest?) Sure, it hurts to be hurt. It stinks to be disappointed. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't even try. Finding the balance between keeping low expectations but still letting ourselves become invested in a relationship or task is very difficult. Personally I think it depends very much upon your last experience with the situation. Were you very hurt or just a little? Was it fast or slow? Did it make you feel un-empowered? It's so hard to face our fears, and even more difficult to face them while still acknowledging that they are valuable lessons that can inform us. We don't want to make the same mistakes twice. But we also don't want to cut ourselves off from the possibility of a different outcome. I think it's probably rare that anyone finds the perfect balance between ignoring fear and being overcome by it. I guess the solace is that we don't need to be perfect to be happy. We just need to stay within a certain boundary (oh geeze... I was just thinking, we need to stay within a certain confidence interval... sorry, that's the nerd in me). For now, that's all I can do... P!nk "Timebomb" (originally by Kylie Minogue) Screw fear, it's contagious Infecting everything It makes me do such stupid, stupid stuff I say things I never mean What exactly do I think? Who am I protecting? If I fall it'll blow up in my face That's just crazy I'm delicate, I'm sensitive Please try to be more careful You're mean, you're a lunatic Let's try to make this fun again It's only love, give it away (It's only love) You'll probably get it back again (It's only love) It's simple, it's a silly thing Throw it away like a boomerang I wish we all could lighten up It's only love, not a time bomb I'm tired from last nights fight I wish I hadn't started it I hate when my fear speaks for me It makes me nasty I thought we could start again Go back to the days when we felt like friends It's all too serious for me And I know I'm guilty Matchsticks and poison That's what I add to the fire My dear, I'm frozen Turned from a saint to a liar It's only love, give it away (It's only love) You'll probably get it back again (It's only love) It's simple, it's a silly thing Throw it away like a boomerang I wish we all could lighten up It's only love not a time bomb I don't want to be precious I don't want to feel stress Life is for the living, But not a living hell So take it Take this Oh, you can have all of me Take it Take this Here, you can have everything I don't want to be flawless When I go I want the cuts to show So take it Take this Oh, you can have all of me Break it Take it Oh, fuck it, have everything It's only love, give it away (It's only love) You'll probably get it back again (It's only love) It's simple, it's a silly thing Throw it away like a boomerang I wish we all could lighten up It's only love not a time bomb (It's only love) (It's only love) It's simple, it's a silly thing Throw it away like a boomerang I wish we all could lighten up It's only love not a time bomb

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The ten things I'm most proud of having done in grad school

1. Discovering the rusty, forgotten key to the paper towel dispensers in the lab
2. Giving a lecture to nearly 200 students
3. Creating an environment where students are excited to talk about science
4. Creating an environment where no one feels judged for snacking 90% of the day
5. Creating witty, nerdly screensaver marquees (Ecotypes are real!)
6. Figuring out when to say no.
7. Figuring out HOW to say no
8. Being presented with a shirt that says 'Proud mom of a chocolate lab' t-shirt
9. Getting to a point where my advisor trusts me to make decisions
10. Surviving for almost 5 years

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A decidedly smart move

Remember how I said I moved?
Soooo glad I did that. Lemme tell you why.

I realize that I may have come across as a brat in my blog entries where I complained about my former building, landlord, and downstairs neighbor. The stories I conveyed are true, and I don’t mask my sassiness because it’s funnier that way. But in reality, I didn't move only because the guy who lived below me was noisy. He was only a contributing factor. The truth is, the place was sketchy. I know this sounds snooty and uppity and sheltered etc etc etc. Sure, so someone in the building smoked a lot of pot. Most people would say, so what? Actually, it was more that a LOT of the people in the building smoked pot. Yes, people were messy and sometimes dropped their unwanted third class mail in the front of the building and left their cigarette butts in the hallway but who cares? That’s not REALLY a safety hazard, is it? Somewhat more worrying was the fact that a LOT of people left the front door open, because they’re apparently too busy to come let in their friends or too weak to carry their apparently extremely weighty keychains with them when they walk their dogs. I mean, I didn't really mind during the day, but if I came back after a night out and the front door was propped open at 1am, then I started to feel a little uncomfortable. But the fact that, judging from the times I stopped by my apartment to grab something in the middle of the day (yay for living five minutes from work!), some of these people never actually WENT to work was a little weird. I mean it’s not PROOF that they’re getting income from selling illegal drugs or weapons. Maybe they’re just nocturnal wildlife photographers, or strippers. But they all had really nice cars for wildlife photographers.
Are these complaints just baseless whining?
But the armed arrest I witnessed tonight begs to differ.

I've been in the process of cleaning the last few items out of the old place all week. Tonight I went over after work one last time to clean, throw some third-generation (well, third grad generation anyway) furniture, and pick up my last few items.
On one of my trips to the dumpster, I noticed a tall, nice looking man walking a dog.
On my next trip downstairs I realized there were two men. And they weren't so much walking the dog as following it. It also happened to be a police dog. And lo and behold, they were policemen.
I figured they had been called in for another pot junkie stinking up the place. I chuckled at the thought of tipping them off to my old neighbor. As I walked back into the building, I held the door for a guy who lives in the building. The police watched us go inside.
Back in the apartment, I gathered up the final armful of crap and locked the door. Good riddance. I made my way to the back parking lot, now sans police and dog, and threw my armful in the trunk. Before getting in the car, I decided to check my mail one more time. As I approached the area with the mailboxes, I saw one of the cops again. He was asking some of my former neighbors if they had seen a white guy wearing a back hat running by. It slowly dawned on me that this might not be just a dinky pot bust.
It was then that I realized the policeman was carrying an assault rifle.
I had to follow through on checking my mail or it would have looked like I was avoiding them. “Oh my. Lets get inside the building!” the women talking to the policemen said. I grabbed my single piece of mail (a Comcast internet ad- not worth it, for the record) and hurried to my car. Just as I was getting in, someone yelled, “GET DOWN ON THE GROUND!”

So here I was, sitting outside of a building where I no longer lived, having just totally cleaned out everything I own, blocked in the parking lot by a police car that had just moved to cut off anyone who might try to help their suspect escape. What. The heck. Do I do.
I just sat there. It seems like the guy wasn't who they were looking for but an accomplice. Two more cop cars and a motorcycle officer arrived. They shined their flashlights and questioned the guy. I sat in my car trying not to look suspicious but watching in my rear view mirror so that I could get the hell out of there as soon as the cruiser moved.
In the end the motorcycle officer walked around back and I asked him if I could leave. He asked me if I had seen anyone run behind the building, and then told me they’d move the cruiser soon. They did, but none of them actually left. There was another cop car about a half mile away down the most likely route of escape on foot.
What fun.
I don’t know what the heck was going on or why and frankly I don’t care. I don’t think I've ever personally seen police carrying their weapons drawn and I KNOW I've never seen it so close to somewhere I used to sleep. Maybe this incidence was a fluke and maybe it was unrelated any occupants of my former building. But the next time I don’t feel safe, I’m listening to my gut, no matter how people scoff or assure me it’s no big deal.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Testing 1...2....3...6...

I've recently moved again to escape the atrocious conditions (some of which I detailed here previously) where I was previously living. However it seems that moving a week before the semester ends, the same day as a major party for one of your best friends turns out to be a sign of mental illness. For example, here is my schedule for today:

morning: catch up on email, grade essays, try to get internet set up at apartment
2-4 pm: proctor exam
4-5 pm: clean old apartment and remove shelving that I installed a mere 4 months ago
5-8/9 pm: grade exams because undergrads TAs insist on leaving for break immediately instead of staying to grade exams tomorrow ("I've already booked my plane tickets!" Boo freaking hoo.)
9-10 pm: shell-shocked tv coma
10-12 am: unpack boxes in an attempt to live a somewhat organized life
12-2 am: worry about how I'm going to get everything done, get ready for bed least this has been the kind of hectic schedule that I've been living so far this week. I could really use some BSG therapy, but the house I moved into has DSL, and I don't have the password yet, and anyway apparently you can't have two wireless modems on one phone line, and the guy upstairs doesn't want me using his, and I can't get Uverse without them cancelling the DSL service, and OMG I AM GOING TO EXPLODE WITH TECHNICAL-INDUCED TMI. JUST STICK A FIBER-OPTIC RECEIVER DIRECTLY INTO MY BRAIN, AT&T AND STOP MAKING IT SO DIFFICULT!!!!!

...thank you for your time and attention.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Slug farm

One thing that I am cursed in regards to is gardening. Let me tell you, it's just NOT happening. Am I raving yet? Oh just wait, I WILL be.

Years ago, in the youth of my post-baccalaureate education, I didn't try very hard.  I got plants and kept them in the same pot I bought them in. When my basil plant got fruit flies, I put it outside the door. I forgot to water plants until they wilted. When I went to Death Valley to sample for the first time, I thoughtfully left my Rosemary on the deck to be watered by the rain- which is did not. It was actually blackened by the time I got back.

Then came a glorious summer when my good friend, let's call her Michelle, took me under her wing and helped me plant a small garden. Michelle is a gardening genius, able to keep plants alive for MONTHS at a time. She lent me everything I needed and that summer I enjoyed several tomato plants, flowers, a tiny strawberry vine, and lots of spring greens. I enjoyed the greenery and Rosie enjoyed chomping on the greens all summer long.

Last year I tried to grow salad greens and some daisies on my own. No go. Barely anything even sprouted, even though I remembered to water them every day (possibly part of the problem). I kept hoping that they were just taking a long time to germinate, but that hope was sadly misplaced.

After that I took a different approach. I bought a miniature rosebush and a variety of herbs, already sprouted, and put them in larger pots. I also bought a vibrant, leafy Ajuga reptans (or chocolate chip plant). I stacked them all up near the windows. How could I fail?!

Well let me tell you. All of my herbs withered. The rose lost most of its leaves. I continued to water (in moderation). I had high hopes for ol' A. reptans though. Some of the lower leaves had withered, but I assumed that it was adjusting to put energy into growing up, not out.

However, after another week, the Chocolate chip plant, which was the largest and healthiest at the start, turned crunchy brown like its namesake. What the HECK. Frustrated, I figured I should make the best of it and transferred the rosebush into the former A. reptans pot. And do you know what I found? SLUGS. I had a SLUG infestation in my houseplants. How does that even happen??

I put a the bottom of an Altoids box in the pot and filled it with beer, which is supposedly the absolute best way to trap slugs. My slugs, of course, are straightedge and refuse to fall off the wagon. Currently I'm trying to dry them out but that's one drawback to using the new low-energy efficient bulbs.

Of course, if I had the old-fashioned heat-radiating ones, the rose plant would probably spontaneously burst into flame.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I remember coming home late one night in college, sophomore year. My roommate was enjoying the late night reality classic, Cheaters. We watched it as a joke, laughing at couples screaming at each other over billiard tables, women pulling each others' hair, and interviews with the weeping protagonists explaining how their spouse had promised never to "do this" again after "last time".
"Once a cheater, always a cheater," my roommate stated as we climbed into our respective beds.

For some reason that comment has stuck with me.

I think that the same goes for liars. Have you ever known someone who has had a series of unusual experiences that don't seem to add up? Have their circumstances ever started to make more sense after you catch them in a lie? As a rule, growing up, I would second guess myself rather than someone else. Maybe I was confused, or remembered something wrong, or there was a misunderstanding. Nowadays, I'm a little more jaded. I still give people the benefit of the doubt initially, but when things don't seem to make sense, they're on thin ice. And once I have proof that the person has lied in the past, why should I believe anything else they say that sounds suspicious? Sure, some of it is probably true, but why should I have to play the fool? That's not fair.

I'm not happy about this. Maybe if I were in a more stable phase in my life, with a  long-term job, relationship, and residence, I would gloss over more offenses. It's not fun being suspicious or angry. It degrades relationships. It's stressful and I feel like I always have to justify being so defensive. But what else can I do? Words don't mean much if they've only been empty promises in the past.

Interesting tidbits on landlord responsibilities

My water has been turned off, without warning, for the second time in the span of 8 days. I found the following information, from the Rights and Responsibilities
of Landlords and Tenants in Connecticut, published by the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch Superior Court, pretty interesting.

The landlord must:

  • provide a clean apartment when the tenant moves in;
  • clean common areas (hallways, stairs, yards, entryways);
  • keep hallways and entryways lighted well; and,
  • keep plumbing and heating systems working (both hot and cold running water).
In addition, the following may be required by state and
local housing, health and fire codes:
  • correctly repaired and safe stairways, porches, floors, ceilings and walls;
  • good locks on the doors to the apartment;
  • safe fire exits from the building;
  • two electrical outlets in each room;
  • extermination service if the apartment is infested with pests or rodents; and
  • a smoke detector that is in working order.

If problems arise with utilities supplied by the landlord,
the tenant should:

  • First contact the landlord and then tell the land-lord the problem in writing and follow up with a call.
  • If the utility is not restored, contact the local Health Department or Housing Code Office. They have the power to contact the landlord and inspect the apartment.
  • Contact the local police department.
  • Restore the utility and deduct the cost from the rent.
  • After two (2) business days without a utility, get another place to live until the utility is restored.

As it turns out, my landlord doesn't only suck, but he's also been violating the rules outlined in this document! I know that some of these are subjective, but I don't think that anyone would deny that leaving cleaning materials, including disgusting dirty towels in the tub and bathroom cabinet are part of a clean apartment upon moving in, nor a refrigerator filled with dead fruit flies. I am so seething with anger that I can't even call him. I wish someone could take my bp right now.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Luck and logic

Being alone sucks. (Have I started a post this way before?...) But I'm not just whining. Being alone is annoying and bad for your bank account and your general and mental health. However if you haven't met that special someone, the only alternative is being with someone who isn't right for you. This is also generally bad for your finances and general and mental health.

So what the heck world? So what the heck other people who are all my age and married? Am I missing some vital secret or did I not get the memo that we're supposed to be faking it? Or do I really just have incredibly bad luck??

I'm actually guessing that it's the last one. I've always had bad luck. I knew it even back when I was little. In third grade the students did a project where we decorated giant pieces of paper with what we imagined to be Native American-like designs (but as we know, third graders aren't exactly masters of the Components of Design). My rug was made with my best friend, and included cat faces, hearts, and other traditional Native American elements. When it was done, I wanted to share the rug weekly, but my friend wanted to draw straws. I objected, because I knew I would lose. I think that finally I ended up crying, but my friend wouldn't back down, and so the teacher picked names out of a hat... and I won. I felt like such a jerk, with tears streaming down my face from being upset that I would lose. After all this, I'm pretty sure that having my name drawn for custody of the rug was the most unlucky thing that could have happened.

Who are all these people who long for the days of youth anyway??

I'm still not really sure what the best option is in regard to being alone or being with someone who's eh. I'm pretty sure both of them have more cons than pros. I've always rationalized not dating someone who's only mediocre with the logic that I don't have the time or energy for added stress. But honestly taking care of everything myself and the lack of any physical contact aside from that of Rosie rubbing her wet nose into my nostril to wake me up at 5am also results in a certain amount of stress.

I don't have an answer, but I think that it's valuable to see both sides. I do enjoy blowing off steam by writing these entries but they also help me pick apart a swarm of contrasting feelings in a complex situation. I talk about it to work through it, because I know that I can learn from all of these experiences. As my best short friend always reassures me, "Think of how much we've learned from all this. We're going to be GENIUSES!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Unconditional love

I once dated a guy who didn't believe that animals have feelings.

I don't know what I was thinking.

This morning it was chilly. I was bundled up in my blankets and was having a dream about staying at an awful hotel for a conference (all too real, in my opinion) when I awoke. Checking my phone and seeing that I had time to sleep more, I stumbled to the bathroom and back, alerting my three year old cat, Rosie, that I was "awake". She jumped up on the bed, probably expecting attention, but I rolled over and went back to sleep with the comforter pulled up to my chin and tucked in around my shoulders, practically an air-tight seal.
When I awoke on my side, I found that Rosie had scrunched herself into the mini crevice between my arm and stomach. I smiled but, uncomfortable, rolled over onto my back. Rosie complied and moved to lie on my chest on the part that people are always rubbing in Vaporub commercials; exactly where I can feel the cold when a sinus infection is coming on. Then she began to purr.

Maybe she was just cold, but this is what I call unconditional love.

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

People just... make me wonder.

This is a Tumbler-type entry, themed "People just... make me wonder."

From a blog titled End Of World Party 2012, dedicated to organizing a party boat cruise for Dec 21:

Sir Samuel Zeus Clemons February 27, 2011 at 11:15 pm

i’ve been communicating with mayan aliens for some time. i was turned onto this site by one of my elves, she’s the coolest elfin chick on the planet, goes by @OuchDammit on #Twitter.

i can say the mayans are pretty decent people, they come occasionally and send out landing parties from time to time….

it is probably obvious why they communicate with us ferrets, instead of humans, since humans are so bipolar and whacked out half the time.

i tweet at @Samuel_Clemons

P.S. can i bring my elves, nurse in hot maid’s outfit, and other minions?


A message recently received on a dating website...
Hello , 
My name is XXXX. I’m doing My Fellowship to become an Heart Surgeon .You look beautiful. Your eyes can speak.. I would love to know you more you seem like an honest person which is hard to get in today’s world. Looking forward to hearing from you. 
PS I had bad stalker experience which was not good that is why no picture on profile. 

Yup this guy is DEFINITELY a real doctor...
And finally, a *highly* selective sampling of reviews for the movie Trollhunter-

"5 Stars! Sharp wit, explosive action and great humor."

"Funny and sad, mythic and thoroughly modern, Troll Hunter is a MUST-SEE for anybody who likes smart, well-written creature features."

"Makes trolls seem so real you will be afraid to go camping."

I have seen this movie all the way through and none of these- I repeat, NONE of these- come even close to being true.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

And the snow with its whiteness...

In bed with my down comforter, listening to the wind whistling over the brick face of my building, I feel fortunate to separate from nature's angry power. Winter in New England is such a unique time. There is the one world outside, where the elements rule with all their fury. And there is another world here inside, a world of normal, simple things which we take for granted, like heat and blankets and curtains. Such a curiosity, that there should be such a difference between the worlds- one is nothing like the other.
Look out my window, and all that can be see is white. Even the roads show only a smudge of muted grey down the middle. There is snow carpeting the fallen leaves, snow up above on ledges and branches, and even the air is still filled with snow, whipping back and forth as if trying to fill up that space also. It's easy to imagine, 50 years ago, why people scoffed at the idea of tectonic plates, landing on the moon, global warming. Nature seems so big and overwhelming, so ubiquitous and all-encompassing, that it must be infallible. Just think of trying to travel in the snow before plows and cars.... it would seem outrageous to think of moving the volume of snow that plows now remove (and trucks sometimes further remove) from the roads.
The vast power and strength of nature are not only intimidating though. In its grandness, nature is also reassuring. It is something bigger than ourselves. Uncontrollable and unstoppable, we think that it must prevail no matter what mistakes we make. That even after a disaster, errors will be hidden until so much snow.
This is exactly why we must protect it; to remind us that there is something bigger than ourselves; and perhaps, also that even the biggest, strongest, most wild beast sometimes faces a fight where it might not triumph.

Tonight is exactly the kind of night I imagine it being when Meg Murry hears a wind in the door.

“At Tara in this fateful hour,
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness:
All these I place,
By God's almighty help and grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness.”

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Brannigan, begin again

I want to eat because I'm stressed. I'm stressed NOT because I have six million things to do, but because after nearly five years in graduate school and hours of therapy, I can now handle having five million things to do. No, I'm stressed because for some inexplicable reason, everyone seems to think that THEY know how to do my job better than I can.

My standard operating procedure is as follows:
1- Observe how undesirable situations arise
2- Do not repeat actions that yielded undesirable situation.

If my mother is reading this, she's raising vehement objections. Mom, it's one thing for you to tell me life lessons that you've learned and expect me to take them on faith. It's another thing for me to suggest the way to do something during a lab meeting, politely defer to others' (these are junior others) and then waste countless hours of my life discussing endless other ways to do whatever it is we're trying to achieve. Usually it's something completely asinine, like the division of work, or setting up meetings. Lately, I've just given up on being nice and bark out my suggestions and stare down dissenters. I know that barking isn't attractive, but neither are the giant bags under my eyes from working until late because the time that I had reserved for reading an article, or doing analyses or WHATEVER was eaten up by some sophomore with an uncontrollable desire to help by suggesting increasingly unhelpful possibilities of when to hold meetings.

Growing up, I wasn't much of a leader. I marched to the beat of my own drum (more like, the toot of my own Star Wars intro theme) but wasn't much for getting others to do it with me. I knew I had good ideas, and was passionate, but I never felt the need to be in charge.

But then I entered grad school.

One of the most overlooked and potentially devastating downfalls of higher education in science is that young scientists get zero training in management. Have you ever sat in a room full of professors and graduate students and tried to pick a theme for your discussion-based primary literature course? After 10 semesters of this, I seriously don't know if I can stand another round. Seriously. I may have to inhale some toxic fumes and get rushed to the hospital on purpose to avoid it.
It's not just that everyone has different opinions. It's that everyone is polite enough to (grudgingly) listen to everyone else's suggestions, even long after the time that you've accumulated far more topics than are needed, even if everyone votes twice. No one ever steps in and says, yeah ok that's enough. I don't know if it's because no one wants to be "that" person, who doesn't let little Rhiannon get in her oh-so-important fourth recommendation, or because they're afraid someone else will step up and ask who put THEM in charge, or because they enjoy the screechy melody of our young, caffeine-fueled voices. All I know is that no one ever stops it until I've spent 15 minutes imagining ways to kill myself inside the conference room without anyone noticing. (Note: it wouldn't be very hard to keep them from noticing.)

I'm completely off topic. What was my point again? Ah yes. People mysteriously insisting on taking the path of greatest resistance. Here's another example. Last year, I applied for a grant from a national institution. Roughly a week before it was due, someone mentioned to me (surprise!!!) that the grant actually had to be submitted to my university first, and then the university would "OK" it, and do the actual submission. It was still nearly just as much work for me; the only thing the institution needed to do, besides read over what I had written and click "submit" was to fill out the overhead costs section. All this was pretty annoying though, because they wanted to have the grant 4 days in advance (apparently they're slow readers!) and since I had been informed of this at a late date (don't even get me started on THAT) this was, to say the least, a time crunch.
But after a hell of a lot of work, and revisions, and not sleeping for a week, I submitted! I was so proud of myself that I opened a bottle of wine I'd brought back from Argentina and had been saving for three years.
Two days later, I got a message from the grant institution. A bit apprehensive, I opened it.

I had been disqualified because the overhead costs on my application had been filled out incorrectly.

Some people think I'm bitter. Others think I'm bossy, and I bet some people even think I'm mean. But really, I'm just trying to get shit done. Right.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday night's-

The kitty's asleep
but I'm awake with my expectations.
I thought I only
watched six episodes of Glee;
but it turns out
I watched 9.

This afternoon I worked hard
so I could take the night off.
But without any plans
on a Saturday night, it's no so all right.

I'll go to bed now too late,
having stayed up waiting
for something better to come along.
And tomorrow I work again.

Go to the gym,
work for the lab,
clean up the apartment,
wash myclothes
And I can't get no

Another week has gone by
without hitch nor error
but I ask myself-
What have I done wrong?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Every day is a gift

Every day is a gift. Sometimes that gift is the lead singer of fun. waiting at your door wearing nothing but a layer of raspberry cheesecake. And sometimes the gift is a dead skunk wrapped in moldy cabbage. But still, it's a gift.

posted from Bloggeroid

Word games

As part of a pedagogy class, my coworker designed a writing exercise wherein each student chooses three words from a collection of magazine cutouts. The three words must be used for the title of a story, the beginning of which she had them write in class. I practiced this little activity and the following is the result. :D

Extra Glowing Revolution

Why the fuck do vampires shimmer anyway? Crissy thought for the millionth time after the director yelled, “Cut!” They would have to do the scene again, all because her idiot coworkers couldn’t get the scene right- if the protagonist, Edward, turned too far to the left his face was in shadow and the CGI crew would complain about not being able to make his countenance pale enough. Secretly, Crissy preferred the old-school pointy eared, slick haired dorky vampires to the sexy-pale ones that were all the rage today. But her manager had told her that this role would make her famous, and it had. So who was she to argue?
Although what’s the use of being famous if you’re constantly surrounded by idiots? Crissy wondered. She was dating her costar Doug in real life, also following the advice of her manager/publicist Joan, also her aunt. She couldn't decide which was worse, starring in this crappy role, or having to spend every waking moment with someone who actually believed they were making a valuable artistic contribution with this nonsense. In truth, as little time as possible was spent with Doug, who she could not stand, but after having been caught “cheating” on her “true love” by the paparazzi, Joan had forbade her from dating anyone else- at least until the movie was released. Then Crissy could do whatever she wanted. Well ok, almost anything- the BEST thing she could imagine doing would be to publicly join the ranks of cynical young adult Dusk haters like herself, but Joan would surely murder her for that.
“Places!” the director yelled, and Crissy rolled her eyes as she walked back to the center of the set.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The absolute value of two evils

Meerkats live in community, and one of the more interesting aspects of their social interactions is the alarm call. When a lookout sees a threat such as a badger, it calls to the other meerkats to alert them. Scientists are perplexed by this, because by drawing attention to himself, the lookout may put himself in danger even as he protects the other members of his community. (I remember this little anecdote because when my professor, also my undergrad adviser, explained this he cited an experiment wherein a grad student dragged a dead badger through a prairie dog community while they all shrieked at him. My adviser got quite a bit of amusement out of this.)

The university I attend has sent out four "Public Safety Alerts" in the past 36 hours. The first one was about a male non-student who approached and basically tried to solicit services from a female student. The other three events were basically just teenage and young adult townies attacking students.

This is pretty upsetting. Making it even worse, none of the students decided to file police reports. I don't know if this is because the university urged them to not to or because they themselves were hesitant. This is silly. To my mind, there is no reason not to file a police report when you're attacked. A physical assault isn't an accident and shouldn't escalate from a misunderstanding with a stranger. What other reason would you have for hesitating to get the police involved?

I think that one other deterrent is fear. But why are we letting fear win? Yes, these people might have the power to hurt us. But is that a reason to let them get away with it?! It's really our civil responsibility to report such incidents, and doing so is a very real way to protect our fellow students and citizens. Am I the only one who watched Law and Order? There's something called "priors" and something else called "motive". Both help a conviction of a criminal.... and by not reporting violent incidents, YOU are responsible for keeping this predator's record clean while he or she has actually already committed an offense.

I think something that further aggravates this situation is the divide between university and residents that occurs in many towns. Students may not want to appear to be elitist or prejudice by reporting what may seem, in the great scheme of things, a small crime. However, knowing that these attacks are happening is obviously going to make students more suspicious of residents and more hesitant to interact with any of them, wondering if they too might have some bone to pick with university students. One way that we can fight this cycle of mistrust and division is by making everyone feel safe. Everyone should do their part to report crimes and to take note of suspicious behaviors, creating a community where we know that we can trust our neighbors to back us up and look out for us even if they might feel uncomfortable getting involved. Haven't we all seen the news article about the girl who got the crap kicked out of her by two bigger girls as a security guard and a bunch of people stood around? Well guess what? The security guard wasn't the only one who could have done something (although he should have). Didn't read that article make you feel a little less safe, knowing that even if people are around it might not save you from being attacked? Let's leave this mantra of "sucks to be you" behind and look out for each other, because in reality that means that someone else is always looking out for US.

Prairie dogs also selflessly alert their friends of predators. Shouldn't you?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

If I die tonight

If I die tonight, it will probably be because my downstairs neighbor killed me. He's an angry bugger. Have I mentioned that the police had to break up his fight with his girlfriend this weekend, which involved throwing things and screaming, "I DIDN'T YELL AT YOU!!!"? Anyway, I finally got sick of listening to him and his girlfriend argue, fuck, move furniture, slam doors, and have high volume conversations at all hours, so I stomped on the floor to get them to be quiet. At midnight. Guess what? This totally reasonable dude slammed what I assume was his fist into the ceiling as loud as he could right back. Nothin' like bein' neighborly!! I screamed, "GOOD, I'LL CALL TED!!" Ted is our landlord. Have I mentioned that Ted gave me a lecture when I viewed the apartment on how he insists on only renting to responsible tenants, and emphasized that his tenants all have jobs, aren't partiers, and are all 'good people'? Ted doesn't like me much but I bet he'd prefer to lose a discourteous pothead as a tenant than a PhD student with guaranteed income. I almost hope my dumbass downstairs friend does murder me, so that he can go to jail (anonymous blog entires can be used as evidence in court, right?) and have someone else's sex keep HIM up all night. (Sex, self-pleasure, threats, shank whittling- whatever.) I know that's awfully mean but I'm sick and tired of people turning their lives into trash and using that as an excuse to be way more rude to me than I would ever be to them.

On the bright side, I locked myself out tonight and after knocking on three doors with no answer, I found a really friendly couple downstairs with a really cute kid and kitty. They insisted that I stay with them until I got back into my apartment and we chatted and laughed until that time came. Finally, meeting some nice people!

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, October 5, 2012

Things I am tired of

I'm tired of my apartment reeking of cheap pot smoke.
I'm tired of finding book lice in my papers.
I'm tired of administration confusing me for a child because I am a student.
I'm tired of adults making decisions while only thinking of themselves.
I'm tired of people leaving my front door unlocked because they're too lazy to bring their key.
I'm tired of politics being reported like a beauty queen pagent.
I'm tired of being alone.
I'm tired of people lacking understanding.
I'm tired of people who open their mouths first and think second.
I'm tired of parallel parking
I'm tired of filling my tank with gas (when are we going to get magic broomsticks, already??)
I'm tired of people being tired of my problems, just because they never change (but really, isn't that the case with everybody?)
I'm tired of looking for friends who know how to have a sober (or mostly sober) good time.
I'm tired of spending $10 in quarters every time I do laundry in the room with the bulb that's out.
I'm tired of my sensitive skin.
I'm tired of the one new elliptical always being taken.
I'm tired of the kitty sleeping in instead of waking up with me (what happened to morning cuddle time, Rosie??).
I'm tired of New England winters.

I'm tired of me
I'm tired of you.
posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Won't you be my neighbor?

The apartment below me recently became occupied by a pair of 18 year olds.

You can imagine how thrilled I am.

Daily routine

10:00am                     Loud morning sex

11am-5pm                  Sleep

5:15                           Have friends over

5:20                           Break out the booze

5:25                           Swap jokes and laugh hysterically

5:35                           Argue over various issues and insult each other in loud                          voices

5:40                           Hit things with other things and laugh hysterically

6:00                           Time to break out the extremely cheap pot!!

6-8pm                        Smoke

8-11pm                      Go out

11:00                         Arrive back at apartment

11:05                         Practice yelling

11:15                         Knock over furniture

11:25                         Time for extremely loud sex!

11:30                         Practice porn star moaning punctuated with awkward                          pauses

11:35                         Scream each others' names unconvincingly

11:37                         Rest

11:40                         Practice yelling

11:45                         Hit things with other things

12:00                         More sex

[At this point I usually fall asleep which I believe is probably important for my sanity. When I ran into my landlord, he explained to me that the new residents downstairs were living away from home for the first time. He admitted they had some troubles but that they were "good kids" and added, "Well you remember the kinds of things you did when you were that age."

I informed him that when I was that age, the situation was a bit different.]

Monday, October 1, 2012

I can be so mean when I wanna be

Since the dog got food poisoning from eating the raw chicken, he had the inclination to avoid food procured from the garbage.

The fire had spread to the gas line, but his inclination was to relieve his bladder first.

With a noticeable increase in the clamor, the cannibals surrounded him with their torches and spears, and he suddenly had the inclination to run.

After his long and tiring day, his inclination was to drink the beer, even though he knew it was poisoned.

They had recently kissed and enjoyed it, but abruptly after a few days he decided his inclination was more towards being friends.

The receptionist saw that the line was growing and could hear the anxiety in the caller's voice over the telephone line, so her inclination was to take a bathroom break.

His date was beautiful and funny but he had no inclination to avert his eyes when the busty waitress flirted with him.

Even though he had lost the feeling in his left leg, his inclination was to maintain his stance that his wife was wrong about the gator being an inappropriate house pet.

Also watch this:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I know what I'll stand for

The other night, you wouldn't believe the dream I just had about you and me
I called you up, but we'd both agree
It's for the best you didn't listen
It's for the best we get our distance... oh...
It's for the best you didn't listen
It's for the best we get our distance... oh...

I'm in a strange situation. I've been interested in someone for the past month or so. The catch is that he won't be staying in the area after the next 6 months or so. 

As y'all know, I've been on dates with a lot of guys. I make some decisions that others might view as rude, because I don't like to waste my time (and if I gave some to every clueless creeper who wanted it, I would have probably have wasted YEARS). I won't date just any old person even though I very much want to be in a relationship. So I've had a conundrum thinking about the situation with this guy, because it seems to be a waste of time in the long run, but in many ways he's several steps above most men in the general population.

I've spent much time in the past three years of my life coming to terms with what it will mean for me to be a scientist. In part I've thought a great deal about my real and potential romantic relationships, and how I might (or might not) be able to dovetail them with my career. One very important conclusion I've come to is that no matter what may occur, I will have to go where I need to (and want to) for my job. I don't know how this will affect my relationships- I've often hoped that I will find a man who likes to travel and whose job isn't rooted to one place. But that's quite a gamble and when entering into most relationships I know I might have to face the consequences of putting my career before my partner's wishes.

The thing is, I'm willing to live this way. First of all, my dedication to my career hasn't been the end of any of my relationships thus far; I'd characterize most if these endings as the result of incompatibility (not to mention immaturity!) (sorry-my sass is showing). Second, due in part to my time at Fairfield University, I periodically step back to take stock of my life. Overall, I'm very happy with where I am. But I've also come to the conclusion that for me, work is not enough in itself to satisfy all of the aspects of myself. I enjoy being in a healthy relationship and know that there are parts of me that can only be satisfied by that. This is why I don't regret the majority of the relationships I've had. I recognize their value even if they ended negatively. I recognize that 90% of the guys out there are not even remotely what I'm looking for, and recognize the rarity of finding one that's compatible.

It follows that even as I enter a relationship, I accept the fact that I might end up getting hurt. It's risk management. I protect my investments (time, energy and emotions) by being choosy about who I spend my time with, but I recognize that there is no guarantee. In my mind putting myself in a position where I might get hurt is balanced by the beauty of time spent with someone I care about and who cares about me. Some may think I'm crazy. My therapist congratulates me for getting back on the horse. But having spent time recently trying to accept that the implications of my career-driven goals and my abnormal level of maturity for my 26 years might add up to quite a few more years waiting for a mate who fits with me, I have to ask: Should I spend all of that time alone? From my experiences thus far, I say no. It's worth the risk.

The only problem is that the other person might not see it this way.

Some Nights

Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck
Some nights, I call it a draw
Some nights, I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights, I wish they'd just fall off

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don't know anymore...
Oh whoa, oh whoa, oh whoa oh oh
Oh whoa, oh whoa, oh whoa oh oh

This is it, boys, this is war - what are we waiting for?
Why don't we break the rules already?
I was never one to believe the hype - save that for the black and white
I try twice as hard and I'm half as liked, but here they come again to jack my style

And that's alright; I found a martyr in my bed tonight
She stops my bones from wondering just who I am, who I am, who I am
Oh, who am I? mmm... mmm...

Well, some nights, I wish that this all would end
Cause I could use some friends for a change
And some nights, I'm scared you'll forget me again
Some nights, I always win, I always win...

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for, oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don't know... (come on)

So this is it? I sold my soul for this?
Washed my hands of that for this?
I miss my mom and dad for this?

(Come on)

No. When I see stars, when I see, when I see stars, that's all they are
When I hear songs, they sound like this one, so come on
Oh, come on. Oh, come on, OH COME ON!

Well, that is it guys, that is all - five minutes in and I'm bored again
Ten years of this, I'm not sure if anybody understands
This one is not for the folks at home; Sorry to leave, mom, I had to go
Who the fuck wants to die alone all dried up in the desert sun?

My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she call "love"
When I look into my nephew's eyes...
Man, you wouldn't believe the most amazing things that can come from...
Some terrible lies...ahhh...

Oh whoa, oh whoa, oh whoa, oh oh
Oh whoa, oh whoa, oh whoa, oh oh

The other night, you wouldn't believe the dream I just had about you and me
I called you up, but we'd both agree
It's for the best you didn't listen
It's for the best we get our distance... oh...
It's for the best you didn't listen
It's for the best we get our distance... oh...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I'd rather be happy than do everything right

One of the most dangerous pitfalls of people who are dedicated workers and passionate about their careers is the desire to do each and every thing absolutely perfectly. On the one hand you might say, of course! Why would anyone want to do something wrong? But then again, it takes an incredible amount of time and discipline to do everything right. But if you want to be your best, isn't this what you have to do?

I think this is one of the critical points in life wherein we must choose to be a little more or a little less human. Doing everything correctly may appear to be the most responsible thing, thus the correct course and the choice for the most hardworking son of a gun. But I distinctly remember an episode of CSI that utilized the quote "Sometimes the hardest thing to do is nothing at all." My boyfriend at the time vehemently argued with this statement, saying that it is the mantra for lazy people and that not doing something is infinitely easier than doing it. But is it really? For those of us feeling the pressure to succeed and constantly produce work better than our last product, to rise above the competition and shine as the highest achiever in the post-5 year reunion world, is it really always more difficult to do than to not do?

Working late instead of sleeping becomes habit. Foregoing social events may be the norm. Spending idle hours on the couch in front of the television might seem pointless and irresponsible. But how many of these things can we give up before they start to be trademarks of our lifestyle? When does doing readings on a weeknight instead of going to dinner with a friend turn into the parent who was always the last to arrive at daycare? Is skipping a walk to enjoy the fall air so you can put the final touches on a presentation going to turn into being an absent spouse? I'm not saying these choices are easy. Just the opposite really; I know that risking being seen as sub par invokes a great deal of anxiety. And worse, this anxiety is never going to abate on its own. We may think that when we get to a certain level of achievement or management or income or whatever, we"ll feel safe. The truth is, we will only feel safe when we allow ourselves to, by consciously opposing our anxieties and allowing ourselves to relax and be happy.

Outside circumstances vary, and sometimes they suck. But even in good times happiness is a choice that we must make for ourselves. The truth is that life will never be perfect, and neither will we. Whether we can accept this, or instead keep chasing after an unachievable goal can transform the course of our entire lives.

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My unofficial jobs


A glimpse into the glamorous life of a grad student

Office manager
Book lice bleacher
Snack drawer stocker
Desk duster
Freezer defroster/de-icer
Translator (languages: PI, undergrad, cat, irony)
Baked goods provider
Copy maker
Room reservationist
Meeting scheduler
Mold and mildew battler
Old Wise One
Coordinator of lab chores
Safety officer
Sample curator (samples 1992-2011)
Lab decorator
Cockroach trapper
Decorative plant waterer
Dead plant disposal
Over the counter pharmacist
Keeper of the keys (for the paper towel dispensers)
Course choice adviser
Red tape navigator
Professional whiner
Email draft proofreader
AV technician
Fry stealer
Book lender
Big picture reminder
PI whisperer
Ice cream break coordinator
Data detangler
Fashion violation officer

In addition, I'm the only one who calls in malfunctioning light bulbs, changes the PCR machine signup calendar, turns off the autoclave alarm, and puts signs on the dishwasher when the undergrads continue to run it when it's flooding.

Breakup movies

Forest Gump (personally I can watch this one twice in a row when I'm really sad)
Field of Dreams
Footloose (ok some romance but it also has really great music and a tractor contest so I say its ok)
The African Queen
Every Hitchcock movie ever!
Baby Mama
Walk the Line
Finding Nemo (duuuuuhh)
The Sound of Music
All three LOTR movies
Uncle Buck
Trains Planes and Automobiles
Toy Story
Batman movies (but u already knew that)
Jaws (Hahahahahah jk)
Jurassic Park
Back to the FUTURE (only the first one though the other obvs get annoying when you're sad)
The Muppets, The Muppets Take NY, Muppets in Space, etc etc

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sharks of the heart

Breakups are the sharks of the heart.

They chew you up and spit you out. Their approach is stealthy and all too fast, impossible to prevent until its too late. The destruction they leave in their wake is shocking to the point of awe.

Breakups are shitty.

It's awful when you can't figure out what went wrong. It's also awful when you know exactly what your mistakes were. Nothing helps, but you want friends to try. You feel like everyone knows even though you're also invisible. The weight of the world presses down on you even though you feel like nothing is real.

There are stages, just like any period of grief- although grieving for other reasons generally doesn't make you want to key someone's car. At first you cry all the time and the short periods where you don't you have a stuffy nose. (During this period you are allowed to stay home sick from work but you should still shower.) This period generally overlaps with a time of anger and believing your former partner is the sum of the earth. This may or may not be true, but usually it helps to believe it. During this time you should change the name your ex is listed under uv your phone so that you don't call or text them through drunkenness or an accident motivated by your subconscious. (We recommend adding a "z" to the beginning of your ex s name to move their entry to the bottom of your address book; an alternative is to add the prefix "douschebag" to their name.)

During the initial tears and anger you will probably feel very alone, and as if no one understands. You will believe that what you had with whoever was different from the feelings between every other pair of people. That's because it was. You will believe that you will never find the same experiences again, and you won't (but many times this is actually a good thing.) Secretly you will hope that you and So and So are destined to be together and that things will work out. They might, but probably not. There are billions of people in this world and chances are there is someone else who will fit better with you.

You may experience numbness and depression. You may not want to sleep or eat, or you might only sleep or devour high calorie foods. You might drink, or exercise obsessively, or fight, or otherwise hurt yourself.

But there will come a day when your pain is a little less painful. And maybe it won't be the very most important thing in your life. And then it will be a little bit less. And less. I don't think anyone believes they will get through a truly painful breakup, but people do. You get to the point where all you want to do is
forget, and then you do forget. And then after a very long while sometimes you can remember again and not regret it.

This entry is dedicated to Dory.

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, August 24, 2012


I had to eat barbecue chips for breakfast. Fuck conferences.

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Notes to self: attending conferences

- Do not try to teach people manners on the subway. You will probably end up getting hurt.

- Be discrete when snacking on chocolates from your purse.

- Try your very best not to scold your adviser in public.

- When you meet people, limit stories wherein the central figure is your cat to five minutes or less.

- Be discrete if you need to nap. Rest your head on your hand so you don't do "the wake up jerk"

- Beware of mixing alcohol and socializing with potential collaborators!

- Try not to roll your eyes, no matter how bad the speaker is

- Don't giggle if a speaker uses a piece of jargon that she herself made up. This may be difficult, especially if the jargon is vaguely dirty, such as "tree hole"
....hehehehehehehe treeholetreeholetreehole

- Control your urge to stare openly at attractive members of the opposite sex. Sexy scientists DO exisit.

- If you are giving a presentation, remember one word: PICTURES. Please. We want something to look at besides your laser pointer randomly darting across the screen.

- Don't laugh when a speaker used the word feces.

- The third day of the conference shall be the worst. You'll be grumpy from getting up early and skimping on food. However, it's key for your career to resist the urge to just give up and arrive at the conference center at 10 am in your pajamas.

- Don't judge people by their haircut or how they dress at a conference. You'll develop an artificially inflated sense of superiority that won't be applicable in the real world.

- Its acceptable to leave a talk early if it will get you ahead in the lunch line.

- Don't laugh when the speaker says the word testes. (You may, however, laugh if they use the word balls.)

- Don't go to every talk. If you do then you will end up in a haze of general life-hatred, including hatred for your colleagues, your subject area, and the chairs in the lecture hall.

Do try to have a little fun..... :)
posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, August 13, 2012

Waiting for cultures to grow

The Pussycat Doll's Don't Cha: PhD version lyrics

Don't you wish your girlfriend was smart like me?
Don't you wish your girlfriend was getting a PhD like me?
Don't cha, don't cha?
Don't you wish your girlfriend was learned like me?
Don't you wish your girlfriend was proff like me?

That's right, I'm a professional scientist. Can't you see it in my eyes?

ohhhh yeah.

This is what I do when I have time to kill.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Everyday Olympics

When I ran cross country in high school, the coach would tell the team that distance running is a mental sport. "Everyone can finish a race if they've been going to practices," she stated. It was more or less true. The key to reaching the top of Heartbreak Hill on a rival's course was to ignore the pain in your knees and know that it would be over in a matter of minutes.

Being in a PhD program is also a mental game. Just as in cross country, finishing is not only reserved for those whose talents exceed the normal human being's. And as in cross country, having such talent does not guarantee success, unless you also possess the capacity to absorb and ignore your personal discomfort, so to speak.

The tricky part of this is that in both circumstances there is the danger of going too far. This was pointedly illustrated to me during one of my last races. Being at the end of the season, it was an important race, and all if the schools in the state participated. A girl on my team, a junior with a lot if promise, came in minutes later than she should have. When I saw her, tears were streaming down her face. You could tell that every step was agony as she unsteadily pulled herself across the finish line. The next week she was confined to the bench for two weeks, having pulled all of the muscles in her back.

The physical risks are less dramatic in the world of higher education, but, I would argue, just as dramatic. It's easy to become engrossed in a project and try to comply with every wish of your advisor. This is almost the logical path, as you tell yourself that your thesis will be used to judge your intelligence and that will in part determine your future.

I think this attitude contributes in part to so many students hating their adviser by the time they graduate.
I don't hate my adviser, and its not because he's a wonderful human being (lol he is, but plenty of wonderful human beings are hated regardless). I don't hate my adviser because I don't do everything he tells me to. Sometimes I do more; sometimes, I do less. This has helped me take ownership of my work and actions, lending greater satisfaction and an attitude that is more practical than hopeless in time of failure. I work extremely hard but I don't feel like a cog in the system, which makes all of the difference. Then, when I know that I'm tired and need a break, or that revising something one more time is not going to matter to the end product, I stop. This keeps me from pulling my back muscles, so to speak. I'm able to preserve my sanity and allow myself to avoid hitting the lowest low, thus allowing me to bounce back more easily.

This has been a major issue that I discuss with my therapist; dealing with stress and keeping the levels as low as possible so that I less often come to a point where I'm mentally or emotionally paralyzed and the stress just creates more stress. A great way to do this is to keep things in respective by allowing oneself to laugh at even negative experiences. (As a side note, Laughter societies/groups are a wonderful way to do this, and have been popular in India and Europe for a long time and  are becoming popular in the US as well.) Sometimes breathing helps to release stress, and I've been practicing blowing out air when km especially frustrated and start thinking in circles. Exercise can also help to shed anxieties by releasing endorphins, and I think that listening to music that you enjoy does the same.

The key is to recognize that as an adult, you are in control of yourself and are responsible for listening to your mind and body. This is difficult at first and you learn the same way that kids learn not to wet the bed- by making the mistakes first and then recognizing what it felt like just before the disaster occurred. Then, when you can identify when you're at your limit, you can work on implementing ways to keep yourself from over exerting so that in the end, you're more often at your peak performance.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Connecticut Yankee in Deutschland II

Today I:

-Ran all the way to the pond and back
-Made delicious quinoa and almond salad
-Managed to solve a problem with my internet provider without anyone getting yelled at
-Went to the grocery store and managed to pay (in cash), thereby obtaining some of THE most delicious granola I've ever eaten (only rivaled by that of the notorious fish geneticist and granola maker M.Tippy)
-Lowered the seat of my bike and realized it was probably the reason I kept falling off
-Had a lovely conversation with a British postal delivery man who spoke ENGLISH (I almost married him then and there. Not just because of the English. He was also cute.)

Practically the only BAD thing that happened today was opening a jar of mushrooms while making lunch. NOTE TO READERS: DO NOT BUY JARRED MUSHROOMS ABROAD. The container was closed extremely tightly and I had to make several attempts before I got the top off.
When I did, it was similar to one of those sci-fi/horror movie/Fern Gully where space scientists/teenagers/loggers go through a lot of trouble to open a heavily sealed vault only to accidentally liberate some sort of ancient terror. In this case the previously imprisoned fiend was a wholly offensive smell that soon filled the kitchen. It reminded me, viscerally, of disecting frogs in intro bio- without doubt my least favorite lab ever. (When teaching, this is the lab where I spend the highest proportion of time at my desk and the least time with students.) Tragically, I actually lost my appetite, a notable occurrence since normally it's much too large to misplace. However I appeased my ill stomach by munching on chocolate wafers some time later and recovered in time for a mid-afternoon snack.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tragic supermarket experience

I used to say that the worst thing in the world was getting some kind of baked good that appeared to contain chocolate chips but then finding, after biting into it, that the dark specks in the treat were actually raisins. I like raisins, but they are nothing- NOTHING- compared to chocolate. Especially in baked goods, when the raisins generally lose all of their sweet plumpness and turn into shriveled sheaths of their former selves, hiding in the hollows that their previously robust forms carved out in the pastry.

The main point is that when you have great expectations for a snack and reality falls short, it can be far worse than never having had the snack at all! And today I had an experience even WORSE than the one described above (which, for the record, is also unfortunately drawn from personal experience).

Today I went to the grocery store, list in hand, prepared to stock my fridge and shelves for the week's meals. It was my first time going to the store alone in Germany. I patiently walked through all of the aisles, sometimes twice or three times if I didn't find what I needed. I planned to make a tasty looking quinoa salad similar to one I had at an honorary lunch earlier this summer, and managed to remember a number of things that weren't on my list, such as laundry detergent and tissues. I made sure that I scrutinized everything that was boxed or bottled to make sure I knew what I was buying (I learned it's pretty difficult to determine if a bottle of soap is laundry detergent or dish soap, and then I realized that I wasn't sure if I was sure that this was detergent and not fabric softener!). I was excited that I was able to find some things that were more tricky to purchase in the US, such as licorice tea (it's SO good but stores don't stock it because no one thinks so but me). I even grabbed an extra large basket to help me with my little bike problem (I HATE RIDING A BIKE TO WORK) and was feeling pretty proud of myself, not to mention tired and hungry, when I reached the cashier.

Who then informed me that Kaufland won't take  Visa.
Really? REALLY, Kaufland? What do you take, friggin seashells?

I didn't have any cash, and as I expected the ringer looked at my checkbook like it was some kind of poisonous-looking mushroom. I sadly recalled the 30 minute section on taking cashiers check during my training at Filenes and my disdain for anyone lame enough not to have a working credit card. Oh, woe was me.

This story has a bittersweet ending. I'm cooking thick-sliced bacon and hashbrowns for the third night in a row, which at any other time would be a treat. But oh, I did so want that quinoa salad.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Connecticut Yankee in Deutschland I

The things that can comfort you sometimes are so strange. I've felt utterly out of place since I arrived in Germany, due to language barriers and not being able to pick up on social cues. Every day is like playing one of those stupid games that we played as children that had a million rules and only some of us could figure out. I never had the patience.

Today I forced myself to go out to take a walk instead of sitting in my room for the evening. All of the shops in the plaza near the place I'm staying were closed except for a pizzaria/ice cream shop, Pizzaria Valentino's. I took the name to be too cliche to be authentic- but I was pleasantly surprised. While having trouble ordering mozzarella cheese on my pizza instead of a cheese I couldn't translate from German, I realized that the owner and his wife were discussing in Italian. Ah, va bene! A light shined down on the little pizza shop from the heavens. I took Italian in school and while I'm rusty, at least I understand it better than German. I apologized in Italian, and ordered my large, fungi pizza con mozzarella. It was just what I needed to feel competent.

And the pizza was deliscioso.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ways that Europeans will know you're American

  • You keep falling off your bike because you haven't ridden since you were 10 and then you didn't have to carry your laptop on your back
  • Your water bottles explode every time you open one because you keep forgetting it's fizzy water.
  • You unwittingly buy the meatball from the vending machine, assuming from the picture on the package that it's some kind of biscuit
  • You get really excited when you order a scoop of ice cream and it's only 1
  • You get really disappointed when you see how small one European scoop of ice cream is
  • You walk around with bedhead because your hairdryer doesn't work with the weird converter
  • You talk about "working out"
  • You're weirded out by "mobile prostitute" vans
  • You can't tell the difference between their 7s and their 1s
  • You wait for people to get off the train before you get on
  • You get really confused when people start discussing "football"
  • You get overwhelmed by all of the yogurt options in the store
  • You can't figure out how to get into the pay toilets
  • You have a momentary freakout every time the weather is predicted to be 20 degrees (until you realize it's in Celsius)