Saturday, April 21, 2012

Waving gently in the wind

Today I went running on some of my favorite trails by my apartment. It's the first time this season that the woods really looked like spring has sprung. Miniature turtles lined fallen logs in the lake and Lemna, floating waterplants (shoutout to into bio!) already coated the surface of half the water. The trees were green and colorful flowers lined the edges of the path while grasshoppers crisscrossed the length of open field in the middle of my route. It all made me smile and wish that I had my camera but I knew that it had all happened before and would happen again.
As I turned back towards home, I reflected that there was a time that this route was my only solstice. Indeed, it is a quiet ritual that restores my spirit still, but once upon a time it was the only thing that could seem to restore my soul. Perhaps I now take the beauty of spring on my trails for granted, but I think that I've also grown stronger and learned to glean beauty and comfort from other things as well. Three years ago at this time, I felt so alone. My college roommates were far away in other states and I had made only superficial friends in grad school. I was afraid to show my comedic side to my peers and superiors lest they think me foolish and unprofessional Furthermore, I was paralyzed whenever faced with making a decision, fearing that I would make the wrong one and that no one would forget it.

I am a totally different woman now.

I am confident. I'm unafraid of making mistakes. (As it turns out, looking totally ridiculous once in a while is NOT fatal.) I make decisions daily on behalf of my lab and advocate for graduate student interests (more free food!) in our department and the university. The possibility that I might be wrong doesn't prevent me from disagreeing with others on issues I feel strongly about but I can also let these differences of opinion run their course and maintain friendships with these people.

My life is blessed in so many ways. It's not that the refuge of the woods is any less beautiful. It's just that I have so many beautiful things in my life now that it's not an abnormality to enjoy one.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Current status

Current status, Sunday night

Blisters: 2
Sunburn: Y
Sinuses: Congested
Presentation for Tuesday (% finished): 10
Laundry put away: N
Laundry folded: N
Sheets on bed: N
Gas tank: E

Assessment of weekend: Excellent.


Friday, April 13, 2012


My goal, this summer, is to make strawberry rhubarb pie. This is my ONE and ONLY definitive goal this summer, differing drastically from last summer, whose goals included heading the organization of a full-day career symposium for the department, attending and presenting at two conferences and passing my qualifier.

It's going to be a good summa.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dear Science

Dear Science,

I'm sorry that I said I hated you earlier today.  I don't hate you at all; in fact I think you're really cool!  It's just that our relationship is pretty complicated, and at times I find you difficult to get along with.  You demand nearly all of my time and energy, leaving little time for anything else.  You're often contrary to how I feel and you never try to change yourself to accommodate my view of things, leaving me to always come to the conclusion that it's not you, but me that is wrong.  Often after we have a difficult struggle I turn to crutches such as alcohol or chocolate to ameliorate my pain.  And not matter how much I achieve, you seem to have more  for me to do than when I began.

And yet, you thrill me.  You surprise me, you drive me, you tease me and keep me coming back for more.  A good day spent with you and nothing else can be more satisfying than anything else.  What I feel for you is nothing like what I've ever felt for anyone else, and I can't imagine being able to replace that.

In short, I know I can't stand to be without you science. So please treat me kindly.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It's never too late for a new beginning

Have you ever felt stuck? Have you come to the conclusion that the odds are hopelessly against you? Have you felt that your efforts to fight back are absorbed, unnoticed, by the cold and unfeeling world?

We have all felt this way.

This is what it is to be human. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" This quote is one of the most chilling in the New Testament, because it is perhaps the most convincing proof that Jesus is indeed human. His moment of doubt is something we can all relate to at our most vulnerable times. Even the most determined among us has moments when doubt and fear overcome any thoughts of hope. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, things don't turn out for the best- and in some instances, they turn out in the absolute worst way possible. Sometimes we feel like we re at the bottom of a hole and none of our skills or knowledge, friends or family help us make any leeway out of its dark bottom.

However, there is hope in our human tendency to despair. It is the very fact that we are human, and very often wrong. And though being fallible may have been one of the things that brought us to this miserable state in the first place, it may also be that this is our hope. Because though we may see no way out, it does not mean it doesn't exist.

With our backs against the wall, we may realize that we can push through after all. Perhaps there is a passage that we didn't notice we can use to escape. A friendly face may come to the rescue or maybe even an unfriendly one. And if all these possibilities have been exhausted and the foundation is coming down around us, we may find that what we really needed was the beauty of the blue sky.

Never give up, because though you may be imprisoned on an impossible quest, tomorrow the world itself may change in a way such that you will now find your treasure.

In loving memory of Michael Barry

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Education of the whole person

My Alma matter, Fairfield University, had a motto that sounded corny while I was there but now often resonates with me; "Education of the whole person."  The following link to an article written by one of my professors there very much illustrates the integrative thinking at Fairfield that has helped to shape my values as an adult, which I am endlessly grateful for.  I want to share a longer reflection on this later, but in short, I think that we must remember two things that can incalculably influence the course of our fates; one, that sometimes two things may seem mutually exclusive on the surface but when examined further the details tend to dovetail or even complement each other, and second, that we have the responsibility as organisms with the gift of conscious thought to contemplate issues for ourselves instead of adopting the mantra of the even-present "popular opinion."