Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Happiest Time of the Year

Sitting down and planning holidays with family is one of the hardest things in life. Mostly because there is no sitting down. There's a lot of calling back and forth, and texts and he said she said. Family decisions are weighted by the number of people they affect and so oftentimes the opinion of a single, childless member has very little value. This makes things even more difficult, because these are the people who need to look out the most for themselves, and the ones who the rest of the family think they're doing some kind of favor for, so they won't be alone. To make things worse, the routine and interests of younger members is often out of tune with that of the older members of the family. Nothing fits together.

When a family is young, the parents (or sometimes one parent) makes the decisions. Most possible situations (seeing mom's side of the family or dad's, seeing friends or going on a trip) are equally enjoyable for the kids so there's little discord (outside of the everyday discord of dirty diapers, uncomfortable socks, and eating fruits and vegetables). Eventually though, the needs of the offspring become more complex and disparate from those of the parent generation. Someone is always being asked to compromise. Often, no one gets what they want. Other times, one party acquiesces to the wishes of the others, putting their own needs aside; but unfortunately if the other parties don't recognize the developmental changes in the maturing family, then the sacrifices made on one person's part are merely met with a lack of recognition.

Holidays are supposed to be a joyous time for all. But if the joy of one depends on others acting in a role which they no longer truly occupy (and, therefore, can't really fill) then expectations are not met, resentments grow, and discontent is the theme of the day. Only by stepping back and recognizing, and appreciating, who each member of the family is, and by letting each person make their nown sincere contribution, will everyone find peace together.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Answers for guys

Men and women have long been known to think differently. Sometimes this can cause difficulties in communication between the sexes! Anecdotal evidence tell us that many couples run into the same problems, over and over again.
The following is a guide to answers for guys.

Woman: Does this outfit make me look fat?
Correct answer, in all situations: No.

Woman: What did you think of Jenny at the party last night?

Wrong: She seemed to be a lovely person
Wrong: She was ok
Wrong: She was a dog

Correct answer: Which one was Jenny?

Woman: Do you have plans this weekend?

Correct answer: I was hoping to spend it with you, since that is the best possible use of my time.

Also acceptable: I was going to wash the floors for you, since I know you've been too busy to get around to it.

Woman: What was your first kiss like?

Correct answer, if not with the woman present: Disappointing.
Correct answer, if with the woman present: The most magnificent moment in my life.

Woman: Mindy just got married.

Wrong: We don't need a label to show that we love each other.
Wrong: Weddings are a beautiful tradition of two people sharing their lives and love with others.

Correct answer: Look, I bought you this shiny ring!
(This answer is correct regardless of how long you've been seeing each other. Fork over the jewelry and work it out later.)

Friday, December 6, 2013


What's with all these 7 layer dips? Seven layers is too much. It's excessive. Two or three is enough. Don't go crazy, people.

Kmart, your "gif-out" commercials are annoying and a little creepy. As if your business weren't already in the toilet. Couldn't you just make a commercial about how your stores are so much less crowded, better lit, stocked, and your rewards program is super easy to use?? Oh sorry, I guess that would make too much sense.

I'm reading this great book called The Signal and the Noise. It has some intresting tidbits, including that news stations that forecast more severe weather get better ratings, even if they're wrong. Did y'all know that?! It's terrible. Stop buying into the panic.

I really like that there's a growing trend to use the term "partner" for any significant other. I like that it doesn't make sexuality the main issue. In addition, I feel like referring to my significant other as my "boyfriend" understates our relationship. People had boyfriends in seventh grade. I'm dating a man, not a boy, and we're in a committed relationship. I think that as many professionals put off marriage later for career reasons (or are opposed to it for idealistic reasons), countless people are in similar situations. By using the term "boyfriend" or "girlfriend", I feel that people can immediately judge the relationship to be transient, frivolous or just "less" than what a legally married couple has (since this country thinks that marriage means that two people will magically be together forever, without any work).

When should I start worrying about the growing crack in my ceiling? Is it actually growing or am I just imagining that it is, when I'm staring up at it while stretching after my workout?

Friday, November 22, 2013

A well-oiled machine

Sometimes people are the best thing about life.

Sometimes they're not.

I think the most common and most hinder some problem between people is communication. People don't say what they mean. I get that. Sometimes you'll say something, and realize you're not sure it came across right, but then get nervous and feel that if you explain it again the other person will feel as if you're treating them as someone with inferior intelligence. Other times you're not sure if you're understanding something that someone else said, and don't want to make yourself look silly for not getting it. And then there are those really bad situations, where both parties think they're communicating efficiently, but neither of which is actually talking about the same thing as the other one.

This is can pretty frustrating at work in general, especially when working with a team or with other teams. In a team situation wherein implementation is dependent on multiple people, things can change quickly and it's easy to let communication slip. It's hard to keep up! I work in many such situations, and even when on my own, I have so many things going on that my plans often change. But one thing that I can say with certainty is that it's always appreciated when I give people a heads up when I have to modify my schedule.

This happens a lot in science because sometimes things don't work correctly and one needs more time than they thought. I'm currently pretty lucky in that my team of research undergraduates are committed and will often accommodate any changes that need to be made for the research. Sometimes I take this for granted, especially when something comes up during a period of exams etc when my students are very busy, or when I have less time to be in lab than usual (such as currently, since I'm trying to crunch data, work on my CV, etc, etc, etc). I also take for granted the fact that my lab team communicate with me VERY well, which I am reminded of when I have to deal with someone who does not do so.

Communication for the sake of facilitating coordination of work and sharing of equipment is yet another skill that is invaluable for scientists, and yet woefully under-appreciated. For 90% of situations, I would rather work with someone who is of normal intelligence with good organization and people skills than someone who is exceptionally intelligent. The bottom line is that the former will cause less stress, which I think is pretty important. Everyone reading this should feel welcome to remind me of this entry should I ever be in the position of hiring employees!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


InvisAlign: in response to your claim that "most people" won't even know you're wearing the dental appliance, from what I've seen only a blind person won't know you're wearing them. They're probably more comfortable than braces but let's stop pretending.

Fiat: I hate every one of your commercials. Being Italian isn't an excuse to be sexist in America. Up yours.

Angie's List: we're on to you. We know that "no company can pay to be on Angie's List." But that doesn't mean companies can't pay to get OFF the list... there's a suspicious lack of negative reviews on the site and we all know how much people love to write bad reviews, spitting and foaming at the mouth. Something tells me auntie Angie isn't as selfless as her marketing implies.

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Perfect evening

Eating chocolate ice cream and pomegranate seeds with my honey while watching Walking Dead :)

posted from Bloggeroid

Perfect evening

Eating chocolate ice cream and pomegranate seeds with my honey while watching Walking Dead :)

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dumb things that guys say 3

"Please do X. I could do it myself, but I don't want to."

A 50-something year old man, after his turn looking at a faraway galaxy through a state of the art telescope, "Can we look at something more interesting?" (Shout out to Chelsea for relaying this to me)

"Fine then! You're no longer my number three!" (Quoted from Bridesmaids, definitely deserves to be included in DTGS)

"It was fine I was in her bedroom because her kids were home!" (Nope not true, nice try)

"Want to video chat? I'll show you my bedroom, it's in the basement."

"What's your favorite thing about yourself? Mine is my... well, you know ;) (And when accused of making an uncomfortable situation) Oh code on, it was just a joke!"

"Doing it the hard way week make you feel more useful."

Day 1: "I really have no idea if So and so wants X."
Day 2: "I think that if So and so wants X, we should do Y."
Day 3: "I really feel there's a good chance that So and so wants X, so we need to do Y."
Me: "Well, did you ask So and so if she wants X?"

Text from an ex, three months after breaking up: I owe you an apology. Can we get together for coffee? (After message that phone contact only is preferable, he fails to call or initiate any additional contact)

"I hate when people clean before they have guests. They're just trying to hide the fact that they're slobs."

"I would totally blow off my friends for you if you weren't on your period and we could have sex."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gender bender

I attend a fiercely PC, liberal arts university where the health center once had a total of twenty different classifications for one's sexuality. Despite this, I haven't given the issue of gender much thought in recent years (except for the time when a student demanded to know why I referred to male pine gamete as "sperm"... in which case I guess I didn't give it much thought either, my answer being, "Because they look exactly like sperm.")

Recent events in the lives of my loved ones has gotten me thinking, and doing some research. I read in one document that children can show "gender dysphoria" even before they hit puberty. Gender dysphoria is linked with being transgender, the desire to live as the opposite gender. I don't think that this link is definitive, however.

I remember myself as a "pre-teen". Few people who know me now would recognize me. I wore loose-fitting clothes and refused to do anything feminine to my hair. I was interested in taking things apart and able to quote every Star Wars movie. Besides a handful of events (my confirmation, the 8th grade dance... ....were there any others??) and holidays, I refused to wear a dress or skirt from third grade until my junior year in high school.

This sounds pretty much like "gender dysphoria", no? When I look back I thank God how lucky I am that no overbearing school officials or psychologists got in the way. Because I didn't want to be a boy. I just didn't want to be treated with the disrespect that I saw as the norm for women.

I'm not making this up. I remember watching shows and movies and thinking how unfair it was that the only girls in adventures were princesses, and they never got to do anything fun (there was definitely some anime involving mechas where the princess had to stay at mission control all the time while the guys got to go out and blow stuff up... please comment if you can remember wth this was called). My Barbies did a lot more search and rescue missions than fashion shows. And then there was all of the blatant boob-lust in the 90s.... it may have been a prevailing theme since the beginning of time, and maybe it was just my own dawning comprehension of lewd jokes, but I remember it as a period when women in the media were eye candy, at best. (Now at least they demand respect even if they purposely market themselves as eye candy. That's better, right...?)

Anyway, my point is that even as a child I was disgusted with how women were treated in society and I was having none of it. So I decided to hide my womanly features and deny any related constraints placed upon me as a female.

As an adult, I have much more control over how I'm viewed and treated, and am comfortable with balancing my femininity with more "masculine" activities and interests. Tonight, for example, I decided to fix my phone charger and in the process challenged myself to run an electric tea light off AA batteries (a challenge because the light required 3V), and after I was done, I had a private fashion show to pick out a dress for the formal I'm attending this weekend.

Deep down, I'm still terrified at being pigeonholed into being a "woman", at least as others may see women. I get anxious whenever a partner puts their work over mine, the societal default since men still often make more money and women often take long breaks to raise the children. On the other hand, I'm very comfortable and confident in my femininity. I'm sure that when I was twelve, my mother never would have believed that this would happen, and I can only thank her for standing back (for the most part) and letting me find my own solution. I know that others might not have the same outcome and identify themselves as transgender. However I think it's important to recognize the distinction between wanting to be treated in a certain manner, and wanting to live a different live in a different body- especially when your subject is a nine year old.

She's come undone

I read a book by this title once. It wasn't very good, but I still love the phrase. It sounds so poetic and sad. Have you ever come undone? Sometimes I feel like I'm coming undone at the end of every single day. Tomorrow is another drudgery of responsibilities, the panic of stress and uncertainty of whether or not you've made  any progress.

I don't always feel this way, but sometimes I do, and the short, cold days of the New England fall and winter don't help.

I try to fill the need with food, but it's never quite reassuring enough. I watch TV to try to find a thrill, something uplifting or exciting that will satisfy whatever need this is. I talk to friends online until they all wander off to bed, but I'm still awake, looking, searching, waiting. Is this sadness or anxiety? I traipse through this state every so often, and have done so ever since I was a teenager. Then, my subconscious percolated on the possibility of my secret love returning my interests, while my body wilted from exhaustion.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Maximum support

While personal problems and major life decisions are no walk in the park,  supporting a loved one while they face their own challenges can be equally difficult. As an independent, self-realized woman I've had to learn to step back and let partners come to a solution on their own.

It's inherently difficult to be emotionally tied to a situation wherein you lack control. I remember once watching some undercover cop scenario on TV; the character put herself in danger as her partner watched remotely through a security camera. The partner commented, "Sometimes not doing anything at all is the hardest thing." I absolutely agree. (Although my boyfriend at the time demonstrated his lack of maturity by bursting out, "No it's not! Doing nothing is the easiest thing ever! That's just lazy!" I often wonder about my judgement in that relationship.) It's tough not to be in the driver's seat because we usually believe that we would be able to help the situation, or bring something to the table that would change the course of events for the better.

I think that there are two main difficulties when supporting a loved one through a tumultuous time; one selfless, and one selfish. I find these instincts battling within me. First and foremost is the desire to prevent pain in those we care for. We don't want to see them suffer (and it sounds callous, but I think this is why people sometimes refuse to see others' pain; it's easier to deny its existence if it's not something we can fix). Lurking close behind on the tails of this noble instinct is the less flattering reaction; How will this affect me?

I have a particular fear of being affected by a loved one's personal trials. From being impacted at a young age by my mother fighting intense flashbacks from chilling childhood experiences, I've always been anxious when my partner is experiencing a personal trauma. I've been through other experiences reinforcing this fear; a close friend came out to me in high school and, when she people judging her at her school, became angry with me and vehemently accused me of not accepting, or understanding her, as well. I also had a devastating few weeks in college when a fellow student passed away unexpectedly in our dorm, and my boyfriend ignored me in public places and refused to talk, saying he needed time and that I couldn't understand. Of course I'm nervous about how my loved ones' tribulations will impact my own life and my relationships with them.

However, I have grown through these experiences, and recognize that not all personal adversities result in broken relationships. My past experiences, the latter in particular, all put me in a position of little to no control or influence. I remember my mother once advising me to let dinner guests bring a loaf of bread to my apartment, saying, "It makes people feel good to contribute something." I think this applies perfectly to the topic at hand. In the past I had been pushed away during difficult times, leaving me hurting and creating additional problems between me and the suffering party. In contrast, wiser, more mature people recognize that pushing away concern is merely a way to gain control over a situation. My current partner, for example, is grateful to have me as a sounding board during difficult times, but probably doesn't recognize how much comfort is gives me to just feel like I'm helping in some small way.

Still, giving comfort to those we love through a period of ordeal is always challenging. When do we step back and give someone space? How selfless should we be, and how much should we disrupt our own lives for others? After a time, are we enabling the sufferer? Or do they still need to be built up, emotionally? At what point is it ok to gently remind others that we have needs and concerns of our own? Part of the trial is that the answers to these questions will change with each person and situation. But I think that my current thinking is to give love and support until it hurts, (or begins to disrupt your daily activities and major goals). Because when someone else is the protagonist, playing a supporting role might be the best way to help.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Melissa's Coat Coverup

Or: why Hollywood still doesn't get it

Everyone is up in arms about Melissa McCarthy wearing a trenchcoat on the cover of Elle magazine. The media is up in arms because the other actresses on the cover are usually half naked. They're upset because they've assumed Melissa is being treated differently because she's ovweweight.

I've been a fan of McCarthy since way before she became adored by the media for her hilarity in Bridesmaids- back in her Gilmore Girls days I knew she was brilliant. She was a supporting actor that supported by having her own personality and story rather than just appearing at Lorelei s side for the sake of the main plot. This is a woman not afraid to swear, dress like a tomboy, wrestle hysterical costars onto a couch for a scene, and continue starring in her regular sitcom even when she was the biggest thing in Hollywood after her first movie.

This is not a woman who was forced into wearing a trenchcoat.

This is a woman who, given a choice, wore a trenchcoat (admittedly, the other options might not have been fantastic, but still). I have complete faith in Melissa that she would have refused to do the shoot or be on the cover if she didn't like it.

But maybe it's even bigger than all that. Maybe McCarthy is even MORE bold than we're giving her credit for. The media are all commenting on what she's wearing, and completely ignoring the big picture; she looks hot. She looks fantastic! She looks glamorous and young, confident and flawless. What I see here is a smart, successful woman saying, "Here I am. THIS is what a successfull actress can be." This cover isn't hiding Melissa's flaws. Its redefining what sexy and desirable can be. She's a woman who is denying that she has to show everything to be sexy. She's proving that you don't have to compromise your principles or concede to public expectations to be a woman who succeeds.

You rocked it, Melissa. Keep kicking ass.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Purchase More Shoes

I walked into the sun room just now and noticed that one of my hats, which had been on a Command instant hook thingy, had fallen down. Then I looked up, and there was a HOUSE CENTIPEDE in the corner where the ceiling met the wall, right above where my hat's hook had been. HE KNOCKED DOWN MY HAT. So do you know what I did to that little fucker? I vacuumed him up and FLUSHED him. He deserved it, the little asshole.

This has been your warning message; I have PMS.

EDIT: Also, I'm still kind of angry that some first year astronomy student had the nerve to argue with me over what a house centipede is. THEY'RE NOT SILVERFISH. If you google image search "silverfish", then yeah, some pictures of house centipedes pop up, because any jerkface can post shit on the internet. To be fair, it seems that in some areas, the common name for house centipedes is "silverfish" (who knows why, since they're not silver and DON'T LOOK LIKE FISH). But somehow this girl had come to the conclusion that house centipedes are actually silverfish pupae...which they're not.... and continued to argue with me about it, fully aware that I am get my PhD in biology, which doesn't make me an expert in entomology but definitely qualifies me to identify insects that I have in my home. I don't HOPE that house centipedes crawl into her hair while she's sleeping, but I certainly wouldn't be upset if they did.

Ok I would be upset, but only because I would worry it might happen to me.

Practicing for hibernation

Things I'm not doing today

Things I'm not doing today

-Letting my spoiled cat guilt me into playing with her while I should be preparing for a meeting

-Hanging around in my decrepit office in my uncomfortable chair waiting for people who haven't confirmed their meeting times with me

-Calling anyone "Dr." anything

-Letting anyone make judgmental statements when they haven't bothered to find out about my life in 6 months

-Missing my fitness class AGAIN bc of meetings running way past 5pm

Yay, goals!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's the little things

I've said it before, and I'll say it again... people who tell you to "stop looking" for a partner when you're single just don't get it.

I'm bringing this up because I don't ever want to be one of those people. And because after a long time alone, I'm not anymore. And everywhere I turn, things are different.

The glasses in the sink are from wine for two- not sipping cordials by myself.

Getting regular texts throughout the day (from someone besides my mom :P) is now the norm.

I don't wonder if my dresses are going to turn to dust in the closet before I have the chance to wear them out for a night on the town.

The kitchen table is regularly cleared so that people can eat at it (instead of in the living room in front of the TV).

And at any given time, I know I don't have to face my difficult times alone. They're still my problems and I still want to find solutions myself, but I have someone to listen, commiserate, and remind me of the good things in life.
This is how it should be.

Sorry for the sap

Funny ladies

Last night to keep myself from eating due to a blood test in the morning, I made this desktop wallpaper.

Bc Tina and Amy are awesome.

Obviously I don't own any of these images and I'm not making any money from this. I'm legally required to say that, right?....

Good research vs headache

I think that undergraduates participating in professional, publishable, serious research is amazing. It's a wonderful learning experience where individuals can learn the skills they'll need to lead a miserable life as a graduate student. Sometimes, though, this might cause frustration in those actually working with the undergraduates.

For example, sometimes they leave your name off their poster, or, when it comes time to decide the authors on a publication, they neglect to mention that you spent hours helping them analyze the data. Also they sometimes misspell the name of your study organism (which, in the sciences, is basically like getting your own phone number wrong).

In addition.....

...they've been know to cut corners

For example, this solution seems a little too thick to be accurately pipetted.
But someone used it anyway.

(Otherwise it would be wasteful, right?...)

...they tend to ignore things they don't want to clean up (if you've ever had a messy roommate, you know how this game goes....whoever cleans up the dead bugs first is the loser!).

Also, they're not the best at documenting things.

When it comes time to replicate your experiments, it doesn't help much if you keep a lab notebook, but then for some reason took it with you when you graduated.

Of course, in science the bottom line is the data.

...which is when we send a grad student to the rescue:

Should have just done it myself in the first place.

...and for the rescue of the graduate students.....


Disclaimer: I should mention that in reality I think most of my undergrads are great and valuable assets to my research. I enjoy working with them and (I hope) they with me. On the other hand, every once in a while someone comes along that really doesn't care, or doesn't listen, which really gets under my skin. And they're the reason for this post.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Give me a break, people.

Ugh. I hate lies that gain people unfair rewards or advantages. But I also hate lies that are just untruths for their own sake. In fact that's almost worse, because there's literally no excuse for it. What. is. Wrong. With people.

Recently I overheard some undergrads discussing a lovely new rumor: that oral sex causes throat cancer. This seems like one of those ridiculous "facts" that spread between social groups through hype and misunderstandings, but when I mentioned how ridiculous it is to one of my non-university friends, she too had heard about it. (Apparently, when she had heard about the "fact" had morphed to specify that certain behaviors by females were the cause of the cancer.) This is the kind of thing that a feminist scientist has to get to the bottom of.

I found an article relatively easily. It quotes the CDC as saying, “that people who had at least   6 oral-sex partners during their lifetime were 3.4 times more likely to have   throat cancer. Those with 26 or more vaginal-sex partners had a 3.1   times higher risk of developing throat cancer.” NOT TRUE.

This quote is all over the friggin' internet. Except, of course, the CDC website. When you go there, then you start to actually get some facts. Throat cancer has not been directly linked to oral sex. It has been linked to HPV, the Human Papillomavirus Virus. While HPV is sexually transmitted, that still doesn't mean that oral sex causes throat cancer, by any means. The CDC website, acknowledges that "recent studies show that about 60%–70% of cancers of the oropharynx may be linked to HPV. Many of these may be caused by a combination of tobacco, alcohol, and HPV."
Considering the fact that HPV is the most common STD in the US, with the number of women reaching as high as 42.5% (and including women with only a single sexual partner), it's not all that surprising that lots of people with oropharynx cancer have HPV. Furthermore, in my biologists's mind, it's likely that even if HPV does increase risk of throat cancer, it doesn't have to be transmitted orally- viruses are tricky little buggers that can hijack cells, travel through the body in the bloodstream, avoid detection and fool immune cells by hiding in the spinal nerves.

Finally, an important FYI for all the non-scientists out there. Cells don't just get bitten by radioactive spiders and immediately become superheros. I mean cancerous. Whatever. In reality, cells develop "cancer" mutations in their DNA all the time, due to carcinogens like UV and smoke (and also just normal cell division) but these mutations can be caught and fixed by the body. The mutations only cause true danger when the same cell has multiple mutations, which is obviously made more likely by a combination of carcinogens, such as listed above (or by many frequent divisions, which is why cancers are linked to cell lines that continue to divide throughout life, but that's a totally different topic).

Why does this matter (besides making me angry)?

People pretend that we're so sexually liberated in our society, because people like Miley Cyrus strut around with barely any clothing on. And yet, people still don't bother (or are too embarrassed to) find out the facts. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. KNOWLEDGE WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE. I hate when people spread around scary rumors like this one. Increased anxiety and distress over possible fatal diseases is not really what our society needs right now.What we need are people who are informed and responsible with their bodies and health, and the first step towards that is facing down fear and finding out the facts and actual risks we expose ourselves to. (On a related note, this reminds me of a former colleague who just didn't believe that ethidium bromide could hurt him. While it's true that limited exposure to this chemical is unlikely to negatively impact health, prolonged and repeated exposure most certainly should be predicted to, if not protected against. As biologists, we will probably be handling this chemical for a large part of our careers. As with many things, the aforementioned fellow was just too scared to accept the fact that he is not invincible and act accordingly.)

In addition, this whole fiasco bothers because this is how prejudices are born. Isn't this what happened with HIV? People who were diagnosed were stereotyped as being drug users or sex-crazed gay men. While those are two lifestyles that may lead to heightened exposure to the virus, it's still totally unfair to people who contracted HIV from moms or family members (let's be honest, it's not unusual for family members co-habitating to come into contact with each other's blood), from the workplace (not only nurses and doctors, but also vets and even loggers in Africa- who are probably exposed to the virus through eating monkey flesh), or, god forbid, a rape. Are we going to start doing the same with throat cancer- assuming that someone who gets it is a huge slut, going down on people left and right? Is it just me, or is that a really private thing to assume about someone because of a disease? 

Instead, I'd like us to be reasonable people and heed what the CDC (actually) said, which is that a medley of risk factors increase the likelihood that multiple mutations will occur in the same cell and become cancer.

Bonus rant:
You should get the HPV shot. Your children should get the HPV shot. It's total BS to say that getting the shot is somehow going to increase their likelihood of shacking up. Teens are notoriously overconfident and brash and are going to do what they do. If you raised them to care about their bodies, emotions, and spirit, then that's going to influence their sexual behavior infinitely more than getting a shot. Also, is fear really how you want to keep your young adult in line? (Don't have sex or you'll get an STD, develop throat and/or cervical cancer, and die!!) And finally, if your kid is stupid enough to have unprotected sex and isn't frightened by the possibility of becoming impregnated, having a miniature human being grow inside them, causing them to grow a belly the size of an elephant, and step on their bladder every 3 minutes for a month, then the possibility of getting HPV has almost certainly not crossed their mind.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


This tangent originated in my last post, but got out of control. So it's here, which allowed me to include pictures/figures. Yay!

I hate when people rationalize the low stipend for graduate students.

We're not getting a "free education"; in the sciences, at least, we take one or two classes a semester- or less- right now I'm taking two courses that only add up to half a credit (woooo whee). So adding $2500 to pay for that half credit to my stipend isn't really elevating me into a new pay grade.

The other common response of family members to the woes of broke graduate students is to point out that we'll be making the "big bucks" soon!

Actually, you only make decent money if you're a full professor, which only comes after 2-10 years as a post doc and/or associate professor, or if you work at a pharma (or other such) company. Of course some of us are actually doing this PhD thing to follow our dreams and aim to end up working for the government and never making much more than a contractor. I'll end this rant now but I think I've made my point.

Some salaries of jobs requiring a degree and/or other credentials.

Annnddd surgeons wreck the curve

Which is, of course why you should do this because you love it, and not for the money or prestige (although, evidently, a lot of people probably do get into it for these reasons).

Virtue is its own reward

Most people have no idea what it takes to do a PhD. People commonly think certain individuals have some kind of magic intelligence that allows them to memorize things and crank out facts and ideas like some kind of machine. My ex-aunt had such a mindset, and had an irksome habit of making comments such as, "Well you must be looking forward to starting school again. It's easy for you, because you're smart."

Yes, this woman is a bitch, and that's partly my point. Or rather, my point is that I never told her to her face that she's a bitch, because I have a lot of self control. Self control, along with self-motivation, are two of the most crucial qualities for someone attempting an advanced degree. These qualities allow you to endure the opinion of pompous tenured sexist bastards, to stay in your office and work while your friends are going on tropical vacations, and prevent you from strangling undergrads who suggest that you're not fit to be a graduate student because you can't answer their off-topic questions to their satisfaction (it's notoriously difficult to finish your thesis while in jail).

Another quality that will benefit graduate students is patience. The uses for this quality range from enduring speeches by blowhard members of the upper administration, to listening to blowhard members of your department spouting facts literally just because they enjoy the sound of their own voice. Besides the ability to endure a two-hour lab meeting culminating in zero final decisions on the matter at hand (the wording of a figure legend in an appendix of a paper that hasn't yet been accepted) a type of existential patience is also beneficial; the power to accept that some questions will never be answered, the ability to endure years of minimal pay without opportunity for advancement, and suffer a painfully low ratio of successful to failed experiments. (Tangent: I hate when people rationalize the low pay for graduate students.)

Finally, I think that one of the most important attributes that a graduate student can have is a sense of self-worth. You can certainly succeed without this, but in order to emerge with your PhD mentally and emotionally intact (no, I'm not even being dramatic here) I believe that you must have had to have started with some kind of appreciation of yourself. A PhD consists of endless criticisms and positive affirmations are few and far between (a mentor of mine suggests this is a kind of traditional academic hazing, perpetuated by the belief that it's actually necessary for the student). The position of graduate student is not only below that of professors, but also undergraduates (as they're the ones paying the university!). Some universities (mine included) see graduate students as useless parasitic drains on school resources and you become accustomed to abuses such as being charged a professor's fee for a locker at the gym ($50 vs the $10 fee for undergrads) while at the same time being denied the same benefits as professors (no vision insurance for us!) and categorically being assigned to THE worst living conditions on campus. (Have I mentioned that I've found that the secret to getting maintenance respond to a work request is to introduce myself as being from "biology" instead of saying I'm a graduate student? I swear this is true.) Not to mention your friends and family constantly make helpful comments such as "So WHEN are you supposed to finish??" (It's a freaking PhD, not a GED, jerks. It's not a matter of taking a fixed number of courses.) After five or six years of this treatment, you naturally start to believe that you're the scum of the earth (another reason why I think it's incredibly laughable when professors spout their opinions about social justice). But we must avoid giving in to this notion at all costs!! (see picture)
I think that some people might label me as argumentative, but in my mind I'm just refusing to be a doormat. I have a lot of patience, and self-control, motivation; I'm a hard worker and fairly intelligent and organized. None of those things align with me having to endure intentional OR unintentional insults, jibes, or uncalled-for/nonconstructive criticism without saying something. When you live your life acting as if you have a subservient personality, then you default to those behaviors and thoughts. Is it really a mystery why so many of our academic high fliers have such deviant personalities? At least part of that has to be a survival mechanism as a result of this kind of treatment.

To get a PhD, you have to have some smarts. You also need intense determination, maturity, self-esteem, and control to remain sane. I don't look down on people who leave our PhD program; most of them are probably doing what's best for themselves. In fact, sometimes I think they're wiser than the rest of us.

Not looking back

I was cleaning up my email inbox and saw that I still had one dating profile active.. I logged in and deleted it, but not before I saw this genuinely priceless profile pic of a guy that had recently looked at me....

Ah, how I miss the thrill of the chase.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


So I was writing a long post but then I forgot what my point was. Enjoy this phdcomic instead:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Carcharocles megalodon

Meant to transfer this from FB weeks ago...

Megalodon fake documentary: How an extinct monster shark became the next Bigfoot

"The 70-foot shark is not only the stuff of legends, the two-hour special offers, it still lurks and hunts, making its presence known only occasionally. And it still exists.
Perhaps. At the least, nobody can prove otherwise.
On Tuesday the Discovery Channel dived into the brewing controversy of fact versus fiction that has surrounded the "Megalodon" fake documentary since it aired Sunday night as the kick-off to the network's popular Shark Week."
People are apparently all up in arms about this (including my sister, who alerted me to the debate). Something that wasn't completely true was aired on TV! Heaven forbid!! But was this really a fake documentary? The Blair Witch Project is a fake documentary. This special was more like a real documentary on people who study something that doesn't really exist. Like a Bigfoot documentary, only apparently the general populace is clever enough to realize that the Abominable Snowman doesn't exist... some people are dumb enough to believe Sasquatch (Sasquatches?) are running rampant around north america probably influenced by shows such as Finding Bigfoot, but that's their own fault, right? Shouldn't it be the same case with Megalodon? (Heck, the History Channel has a whole series called Ancient Aliens. The History Channel. I mean, wth!!) Megalodon (the show, not the organism... the organism probably wouldn't be much for talking, even if there were still living specimens) even admit they never proved anything.

I think the real issue here is that people are poorly trained in using their own background knowledge to make judgments and just listen to what people on television tell them. This is all the more amplified by the fact that the ocean really is a large, mysterious place, so people are more willing to believe extraordinary things about it. But I'm here to tell you; don't just reply on what TV tells you! Don't just take the word of floating heads with pretty faces and seductive voices! Use common sense, and logic, and maybe even a little of the basic science you learned waaaay back in school.

And if that fails, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Isn't it ironic?

...that the parents of toddler pageant contestants are generally poorly dressed and unattractive

...that in college you learn how to answer questions but in grad school you learn how to ask them

...that reality tv stars now have just as much cosmetic surgery as actors

...when everyone complains about gas prices but speed and tailgate on the highway regardless

...how people cry for social change but are still callous towards people they see every day

...that people will ridicule others for mean posts on Yahoo! answers but won't stop two teenagers from ganging up on another in the mall

...that in a world where freedom of religion is rallied for but actual practice of religion is socially ridiculed

...that everyone agrees others would benefit from therapy but no one thinks they should go themselves

...how people are so upset by the thought of the government spying on them but unconcerned about private corporations collecting personal information about them

...that people will drink hundreds of calories worth of alcohol but forego the cake because they're "trying to lose weight"

Eat the damn cake, people.

Traditional Anniversary Gifts

Traditional Anniversary Gifts

Please click for larger view

Special considerations:
+ This list only refers to anniversaries, which are in addition to presents which should be exchanged for birthdays, Christmas, etc

+ Breakups done after one month done through email or via text message may apply the gift due to the following anniversary milestone

+ Partings due to cheating entitle the cheated party to call the police every time the cheater hosts a party for the next 12 months

+ Terminating a relationship without giving any type of reason or while intoxicated allows the former partner to refer to you as "that crazy asshole" for the rest of their known existence

The author does not advise anyone to actually follow this list and takes absolutely no responsibility if you carry through on her excellent ideas.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


The other day, I met a fellow sane person in an insane world.

It was on a date, a very good date, and not just because we went to a museum of natural history :)

The two of us were swapping dating stories, not any of the really bad ones, mostly just generally amusing anecdotes, like the guy who gave me a multiple choice survey. I ended summing up by saying that I feel that most men my age just don't know what they want, which surprised the guy I was with. I tried to explain, saying how it had happened to me twice that things had been going pretty well with a guy for a few weeks, that they had said things were going well, and then after not talking for a few days, they called it off, saying that things "weren't working out".

This is a baffling and hurtful way to be broken up with. It causes feelings of insecurity and periods of dwelling on what you must have done wrong. You feel like a leper. You have to fight the belief that you must have some terrible flaw unbeknownst to you, such as rancid breath or the fact that your face looks exactly like Jack Nicholson in certain light. Dating is very similar to interviewing for jobs. In both situations you want to be able to say, confidently, that things ended on good terms but you're looking for something different. In both situations a red flag probably goes up when the interviewee says, "I don't know why it ended, but I got booted."

So, going back to the conversation I had been having on the date, I was a little apprehensive admitting this. My companion, however, impressed me with what he said.
"That sounds like a problem with them, not with you. If they said that everything was fine, and nothing changed, then they just started thinking differently."

Hooray!!! You don't know how precious such an thoughtful response is in the vapid world of dating. His response was what I believed to be true, but in the end was only what I hoped others would believe as well. I no longer felt like a leper. Even if others might be suspicious of my breath, this man right here was also sane. It was a liberating and comforting experience. I think it also speaks to the wisdom and maturity of my companion, as males (in my experience) tend to be somewhat rodent-like in their tendency to be skittish and suspicious (and having food and reproduction constantly on the mind). He earns my admiration and appreciation for being logical, observant, and honest.

Natural born hunters

its like 4 spiders in one insect 
spiders aren't that fast 
and the ones i killed like exploded and their gross legs blew off and were twitching on their own 

 again, Rosie cat: useless

same with Abby! 
but if there's a harmless tiny moth, its like, clear your calendar 
 OMG. I was JUST going to say that
On the same night as the last centipede, 
I was freaking out and proud at the same time cause I thought she had another one 
but no 
a tiny, tiny moth
probably a dwarf baby moth


Me:  Exactly.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Short People Magazine: Shark Week Special

This week SPM joins thousands of adults and pre-teens staying up past their bedtimes in celebrating Discovery channel's shark marathon. Contrary to current programming, the big D was making sixty minute "documentaries" centered around a mere forty seconds of actual footage of the topic in the early '90s* (of course, the reigning champion is still the History Channel, which, after producers grew bored of historians' voice-overs while showing clips of colonial-era paintings, began airing crackpots' voice-overs while showing clips of artists' renderings of alien beings). The D channel kicked off this year with "Is Megalodon Still Alive?", a special wherein actual people pretending to be skilled scientists dipped each other into dark oceans filled with everyone's favorite bloodthirsty marine vertebrates (sharks), with the objective hypothesis of finding any shred of proof for the existence of the ancient over-sized predator, Megalodon. Citing proof such as "recently discovered" Nazi photographs, from an unidentified source, showing a large dorsal fin (actual science factoid: "dorsal" is science-speak for "back") and a beached whale with a severed tail (actual science factoid: we did not intend for that to rhyme), D-covery claims that the Megalodon is to blame for a recent boat capsize in South Africa. Jawbones of this gargantuan fish have been unearthed, but since they were found in soils dated back millions of years, scientists concluded that the Megalodon was an ancient animal.

D'channel, and many fans, beg to differ. An imaginary survey of 100 people in New York City's Times Square found an overwhelming majority of positive answers when posed the question "Megalodon: Fact or Friction?"

"Yes," replies native New Yorker Sally Bastille-Buttocks. "The oceans very big." Others see the Megalodon debate in a political light, accusing the United States government of covering up Megalodon sightings by the navy to bury evidence of global warming. Harrison Dolittle reports, "The government knows that this monster is real, and is a sign of things to come. They don't want us to know about it because it's in their agenda! The politicians don't want to help the average middle class working man." (Dolittle also notes that the government is hiding a natural cure for cancer while pushing a petroleum-based treatment; you can read more about it at his blog, ImAFingNutbag@bloggersport.com)

Discoverer's special ended with (SPOILER ALERT!) (THAT MEANS WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT HOW IT ENDS!) (NOT THAT IT MATTERS!) the "researchers" (not a single PhD among them) acquiring a jumbled recording of dark undersea footage (evidently they're not all that talented with cinematography, either). They did manage to shoot a tracking device, however, and watched it "dive" to a depth of 6,000+ feet, an unexpected drop for their objective. They took this as evidence for the Megalodon's extraordinary ability to swim down to depths with gut-crushing pressures. Others are still skeptical. "I think it sank," says Coach Z, the janitor on the explorer's vessel. (Of course, Z probably harbors resentment at his directors' record-breaking achievements.) Then again, as an anonymous PhD Candidate points out, "None of these people have published a single scientific paper, nor do they have any training. I'm not sure they know what they're doing."

Perhaps, perhaps not, but Twitter trends don't lie, and Shark Week is anticipated to dominate the social media this week. And THAT is a fact.

*Please note that 90s does not have an apostrophe, as it is not indicating possession.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Left to my own devices on a Friday night

Things I hate right now:


That commercial with the song that goes "moonlight, some serious moonlight" and the guy sings more intensely than is acceptable in an automobile commercial

Say Yes to the Dress, and the way that society has decided that it's ok for women to be selfish, cruel, and wasteful just because they're getting married (is it just my imagination or is the divorce rate still up near 50%? Why, exactly are we glorifying this ugly phenomenon?)

People who lie to themselves. Fyi, you're making things more difficult for everyone else too.

Things I love right now:


Giant cookies

Kitties who sit on top of the refrigerator


posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Air or water?

So I'm back online, dating again, because I just love it so much, and it makes such great fodder for entries. (Really it's not so bad, or else I wouldn't do it, but there is an awful lot of crap to wade through to get to the good ones.) One of the sites I'm on has a personality questionnaire that I've filled out while restarting/revamping a profile more times then I'd like to admit. I kind of wonder if I even answer the questions the way. Some of the questions I breeze through, and some I think about, and some annoy me every single time I see them. One of the latter is "Which is more important in a relationship, dedication or passion?"

Makes me want to bang my head against the keyboard. I can see why they ask this question- it's polarizing and seems like the two answers should be divided into those looking for a fling vs those looking for a long-term relationship (a relationship is a series of interactions between two people. I wish that males would stop equating that word with being married/miserably chained to a wall and tortured daily). I whole-heartedly disagree, however. I've been in relationships that have lacked in one or the other of these qualities and both ends of the spectrum suck. Let me tell you why.

A long-term relationship is a social agreement between two people. It's not going to work unless both people want to be in the relationship, because in a world with six billion people and virtually constant access to global communications, it's a totally non-random result that two people spend time together. Do you sense sarcasm? It's still true though. All of this nonsense about finding "The One" has been pumped into our brains by Disney movies and rom-coms. Which we believe because......? .....Hollywood has so many exemplary relationships? I enjoy good ol' Disney movies, and even some rom-coms, but believing the have any truth in them is like believing in a video game. Unfortunately in the current universe there are people who DO learn violence from video games and/or live mostly only within virtual settings and the same thing goes for these movies. A romantic relationship takes work, and agreement, and time. The reward, if the two people are compatible, is mutual enjoyment of each other's company, love, etc etc. People who come from cultures with arranged marriages stay together more often because there is more social pressure to agree to be in the marriage and dedicate time and energy to it. People who are looking for things to be "perfect" and "magical" end up disappointed because every human being is unique and we shouldn't expect our partner to compliment us in every way. Instead we need to accept our differences and disagreements and compromise... which builds upon the relationship in that it'something you've both contributed to.

Passion, on the other hand, keeps people excited about each other. A romantic relationship without passion is boring. Generally passion is assumed to be related to the physical, but it can also be emotional. Passion is one of the motivators for two people to stay together. It celebrates the relationship and is a reward for staying together. When two people are both dedicated to each other, I think it can increase the passion in the relationship. But of there isn't dedication, then passion wanes. Passion is also exhausting. It requires a lot of energy (both kinds- emotional and physical) and everyone needs a break once in a while. But if a pair is dedicated to the relationship, the passion can take a little dip and things will be ok.

What I'm proposing is that people get together and are maybe wooed or initially interested because of some kind of mutual passion. But they only become a couple together because of dedication- as I said, six billion people, yadah yadah, there are plenty of different people to experience passion with. And then when the couple starts to feel stressed or doubtful and the dedication is in question, the passion between them reminds them of what they share, how each is special in unique, and how far they've come from just being two random people experiencing a passionate interaction.

That's my theory of a healthy relationship. I'm not sure if it really exists, and if it does, there are everyday challenges and pitfalls to overcome. But I'm still willing to bet that I can make this work with someone, somewhere out there.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Science updates

From the Sigma Xi July 17 SmartBrief

Hexagonal honeycomb pattern made by forces, not bees 
The hexagonal engineering of a honeycomb could be attributed more to physical forces and surface tension, rather than bees' natural skills, according to a study. The team found that worker bees build circular cells that morph into hexagons as the wax is heated and squeezed by the creation of additional cells. Nature (free content) 

Finally, someone got around to proving that honeybees haven't mastered geometry; now we can all feel superior to insects for graduating high school. The theory that the bees did this through some kind of innate ability never made sense to me anyway. Didn't the people who believed that ever look at other structures in nature? Did they just assume beavers are slobs? And what about poor dung beetles? If they'd ever believed bees were knowingly constructing these intricate hexagons, they would be pretty ashamed of their shoddy dung balls!

NASA asteroid mission struggles to find candidates 
NASA's plan to capture and tow an asteroid for astronaut exploration has hit a snag -- of the 10,000 asteroid candidates, all but 14 do not suit the mission's requirements and observations do not reveal an influx on new candidates in the near future. "There's great skepticism, among both the science community and the public, that this can actually be pulled off," said planetary scientist Jim Bell. Nature (free content) 

Omg, NASA. Thank you. The plan to visit an asteroid has always been completely ridiculous. There are countless pitfalls; it's even more dangerous than other space missions (hasn't anyone seen The Empire Strikes Back?? That's for real. Minus the giant space worm.) Also, we probably don't know as much about asteroids as we do about most other bodies in the solar system, mostly due to the arguably largest pitfall, which is that nobody cares. Wtf. Asteroids? Really? We're not yet advanced enough to get good information on these relatively small, numerous, constantly moving and physically transient rocks. It's not an innovation thing that we can overcome by coming up with some plan full of ingenuity. It's not worth it right now. On the other hand, money and bad attitudes are the things preventing us from exploring Mars, not technology or background research. Think it over, Congress.

Team plans search for "loneliest whale in the world" 
Scientists and documentary filmmakers are scheduled to depart in the fall on a search for a yet-unseen whale, possibly a hybrid between the fin and blue whale, which has been heard on recordings for decades. The whale has been dubbed "the loneliest whale in the world" because its vocalizations were in a much higher range than any other whale species and researchers never heard a return call. "We never had a visual. We don't know what species it is. We don't know if it has a malformation. Obviously, it's healthy. It's been alive all these years. Is he alone? I don't know," said research team member Mary-Ann Daher. Discovery 

Once again, science tries to make us cry. (And succeeds.)


My mother had to put the family cat to sleep today, after a severe, productive infection from the removal of a tumor this spring (and again, earlier this month). He had been part of our family for fifteen years and we're going to miss him very much, but he had a fully and hopefully enjoyable life. Once he even caught a snake. I'm very sad today, naturally, and decided that I shouldn't be required to wear any pants.

RIP Grace the boy cat

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I think the universe should make some concessions when it's too hot. Weeks when the temperature reaches 90° every day should qualify as exceptions to normal rules. Heat pretty much affects everything we do.Yeah, we have AC inside, but there are very few of us who don't have to spend ANY time outside and very few of us have central AC in our homes, meaning we're still in danger of melting while we sleep.

Here are some specific examples of how I think things should be handled differently during heat waves:

- Being late should be ok. I don't know about everybody else, but I find it significantly more difficult to get ready in the morning when hot, humid air is seeping in under the bathroom window. Putting makeup on a sweaty face is frustrating and somewhat futile, but neglecting to use it at all seems like you're giving up before the day even begins. Can't we all just agree that things are a little more complicated during the summer and take an extra five minutes before we start meetings, classes, movies, surgery, etc? If you're on time (or early) then you can make good use of this time to wipe the sweat off.

- Butt pads. I can't be the only one who gets disgusted by the seat of my chair after sitting in one place for an hour. Our thighs (and butts) need to breathe, and that's just not happening with the current state of seating technology. Perspiration of the haunches is still socially taboo but we need to start recognizing this uncomfortable reality. Then, someone can invent a product designed for aeration during long stationary periods and market it through obnoxious infomercials (Only $19.99!) so it can then permeate popular culture. We'll all be better off.

- More ice cream trucks. Self-explanatory.

- Rent a swim. People who have pools should allow others to swim in their pools while not being used for a small fee. I'm pretty sure that this would leave all parties extremely satisfied. However if your child pees in the pool, you will be charged an extra fee for emptying and refilling it, and will be banned for the rest of the summer. Which should be pretty effective motivation to buy those special swimming diapers.

- No bathing suits under clothing at the mall. Bathing suits are not cooler than underwear. The fabric doesn't breathe. Plus they give you funny bumps under your clothes. Wearing a bathing suit just for the hell of it is stupid, and causes yeast infections. At least that's what common knowledge tells us. Also, whenever I see the colorful tie of a bikini top sticking out the back of someone's shirt all I can think is Damn you, beeotch! I wish I had someplace to swim!! I hope if you need CPR your brother is the only one around!

- Pictures must be captioned. I'm never one to censure picture taking, because I think that even bad times should be documented. (I'm always afraid I'm suddenly going to become senile and keep visual documentation of all parts of my life-major and minor events, classy and ridiculous- in anticipation of this affliction.) However I think that the outside temperature should be documented on any photos taken during a heat wave, as well as the humidity and the number of days the heat wave has lasted thus far. In addition, if there are any people appearing in the photo who have been without air conditioning, at work or home, Facebook, Shutterfly, and/or any photo printing services should be required to provide free touch-ups for facial blemishes. It's only fair.

- Smoothies should be devoid of calories. Smoothies not only hydrate and provide electrolytes, but also offer physical and emotional relief during the dog days of summer. Therefore, they should not be counted towards anyone's daily calorie count. The most effective way to do this, as I see it, is for everyone in the world to have at least one smoothie a day, including actors and models (who should be force-fed if necessary). That way everyone will remain the same size relative to everyone else. We might need to take additional measures, like hiring crack teams of seamstresses to secretly widen our pants in the middle of the night, but the central concept is sound. (Also, please see: avocado smoothie recipes, if you are looking to die of enjoyment.)

I think everyone can agree that the suggestions outlined here are completely reasonable and should be adopted by society immediately.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wish I had a neck

For the past four days I've been at a conference I attended two years ago. It's being held at the same university, on campus. The last time that I was here was a bit of a rough time for me, a few months before I started seeing my current therapist and getting antidepressants/antianxiety meds. The time I spent at the conference was two weeks after I coordinated and hosted a career symposium for our department, a week before my qualifying exam, and during the end of a pretty shitty relationship which was not only contributing to my stress but also pretty twisted and making me feel like I was doing a hell of a lot of things wrong.

Anyway, that's not where I am, mentally or emotionally anymore, but being here is making me seriously uncomfortable. My short friend sent me a link to the blog hyperbole and a half today, for the entry describing the journey through depression, and it was so overwhelming true I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time in the library. Not that I'm in a state of depression now, but being here in the dorms where I was at that time, having overwhelming feelings of doubt, panic, fear, unworthiness-you name it- has been pretty hard. It's completely involuntary, and seems like the previous feelings are lurking in a corner and sneak up behind me and latch onto me stealthily without my knowledge like some kind of emotionally scarring lamprey (actually having a lamprey latching onto you at all seems pretty scary, although they are pretty cool in terms of their evolutionary significance; they predate the jawed fishes and pretty much every other recognizable vertebrate). Anyway, what the hell was I talking about? Oh yeah, see, when I'm just sitting here in the dorm room trying to relax, the lamprey snags me and I start to get sad and listless and anxious. And it's really hard to shake off! But when I'm in one of the sessions or something, listening to cool science (or, apparently, sometimes when I start talking about it in my blog) then the lamprey shrivels up and can't attach because it's repelled by my enthusiasm.

I'm trying to make it through this week without losing my mind or having any completely unwarranted crying fits due to the lamprey, but it's pretty difficult. My feelings were so strong last time I was here, and I completely gave into them and felt like I had no control over all the crazy, overwhelming stuff that was going on. Part of that was probably because at that time I was apparently suffering an extended period of brain aneurysm and making every excuse in the book for my then-boyfriend. I knew him through work, and lots of people had told me what a great guy he was, so of COURSE he had to be a great guy, right? And he had all these sob stories, about his terrible, difficult childhood, how he had cancer, twice, and how it destroyed his life but he overcame it, and about this girl he loved even though she was evil and who emotionally abused him and then screwed him over and took all his money and his bed so that now he has to live in a rented room in a condo with an overweight, std-ridden girl with low self esteem who he insisted wanted to be his girlfriend and he had to fend off all the time.

From all of this trauma he'd experienced in his thirty two years, this guy had a plethora of rules which he lived by including that I was not allowed to tease him about not letting me help in the kitchen (because aforementioned female did that), a bedtime of exactly 9:30 because he took some kind of pill to sleep at 9 pm (which meant that I/he had to leave so he could sleep, even though he constantly complained that he was never able to sleep), and of course him being extremely controlling about our physical relationship. Even talking about this makes me suspect that I was actually taken over by pod people during this period, but in reality I know that I had sensed that something was wrong, but the combination of his self-assured manner and everyone's praise of his name made me think that I was just being paranoid.

Plus the fact that I was totally exhausted from already having gone to a conference that summer and doing a bunch of other aforementioned shit, plus the fear that precedes taking one's qualifying exam (for those of you who aren't aware, a qualifying exam is a test that they make you take partway through your PhD to add extra stress where you might have to write a long document and thne have professors ask you questions that begin with and then become more and more removed from your field while they poke you with sharp sticks). Basically I was utterly overwhelmed and confused about everything, and just trying to trust that everything was going to be ok, even though my qualifier document wasn't getting any longer, or much better, the longer I worked on it, because I was pretty much clueless as to what the goal actually was. Then my sh****-ass boyfriend stopped texting me, and every time I turned on my phone I experienced the overwhelming need to vomit with fear that he hadn't contacted me, which he hadn't. Then, when I finally called him, upset that we hadn't talked he tried to "cheer" me up by relating a story in which he bonded with a woman who had been through a similar divorce to his, the punchline being that it makes one "want to have unprotected sex with strippers."

In retrospect, I've decided the best thing to do in this situation is to actually reach through the phone and yell "I'M BREAKING UP WITH YOU, WORTHLESS PIECE OF DECAYING LARD." Then (the reason for reaching through the phone) pick up hot sauce and splash it into the offending person's eyes and kick them in the balls (if they have any). Afterward send their roommate a letter saying that you're sorry but you're keeping the pyrex dish since they never used it anyway, and sorry but so and so is always talking about you behind you back, calling you an overweight slut, etc. Then, in order to take your qualifying exam, you should push down all of your emotion, channeling your anger into studying and a robust presentation, and then break down and cry for 6-7 days straight afterward, no matter what the outcome.

This is not what I did. I was confused and hurt and angry but let it slide. I wanted to focus on my exam but couldn't. And now (although it doesn't really matter, I guess) I will always have the small regret (and I have like NO regrets) that I could have written a better qualifier if my brain hadn't been all f'd up by emotions.

I'm trying to come to my point, which I've partly forgotten, and apologize for the absurdity of the length of this post (although if you think it's too long I'm not sure why you're still reading it). My point is that sometimes you can't control your emotions, especially when something reminds you of the past, and it's not your fault. However you should try your best to work through it, as I am trying to do, by writing a mean blog post about ex boyfriends or eating sushi or letting animals free from the zoo or whatever makes you personally feel better. Now is the present, not the past, and you can't change the past but you CAN stop it from ruining the present. So long as you can rip off the lamprey.