Monday, September 12, 2011

The places my brain meanders

I have been writing all day and am now a little mental. In case you were wondering about the weirdness of this post. I am writing the discussion section of my paper. It is the final section to finish while I wait for my last bit of data that depends on some critters (who don't seem to want to grow). I think my critters know when I am getting close to publishing and suicide as a way to thwart my efforts. "Damn you scientist lady for your experiments, we are going to all die to teach you a lesson" is what they are thinking. Seriously, all I need is ONE more replicate. But no, I can't have it, instead I have to keep waiting and waiting and waiting for these sensitive fuckers to grow. Don't sneeze, or they will all die. Don't breathe on them, or they will all die. I shake my fist at you and your god damn insanely sensitive, die for no good reason, critter ways!

BTW where are the pictures of angry brown women shaking their fist? When I try to google it all I get is pages and pages of angry white woman. It makes me want to post my own pissed off picture of myself but I don't really want my face out there. If I had more time perhaps I make a picture and pixelate my face and maybe my chest area to make it look like I was doing something naughty when I clearly am not.

I worked all day today and wrote a whole page (with references) of my discussion section. I don't know how fast other people write but this is really really good for me. I think I am slowly getting better at the writing thing because what I wrote doesn't totally suck ass. Yeah me!

In other news, something is wrong with my left foot. It has been aching for a while and the last few weeks the pain has been getting way worse. I went to the foot doctor some time ago and got the special, super expensive, shoe inserts and that helped with my arch pain but not this other pain. So today I went back and they gave me a cortisone shot and this special foot stretcher thingy to wear at night.

The shot really freaking hurt and went deep into my heel and kind of scared the crap out of me. But... BUT this will hopefully work and I won't be in too much pain to take the baby for a walks at the end of the day anymore. Hopefully, this will also help me get more active and continue my weight loss regime.

Oh and I have a co-mentor now, the mammals person said yes to me and my fellowship ideas. So now I have those to write too, and another paper, and a review all before December. I made my to-do list and it made me freak out and ask our lab manager for a hug. Instead he asked me how I was going to possibly do everything on my list in three months, called me crazy (in a good way), and made me some coffee. Which is kind of helpful I guess.

And finally my ~11 month old daughter is full on walking now, without the assistance of walker, and keeps taking huge face plants into various objects at daycare. They have called me twice today to let me know she has bruised her cheek and her forehead. Apparently, she is completely unfazed by it and continues to meander through out the room, while holding her bottle, and babbling like a mini-version of a drunk sorority girl on spring break.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


So I am going to apply for a K award based on an idea that I had quite some time ago that my professor wasn't fully ready to get behind. However, now boss-man is coming around in part because he is realizing there is serious mula to be had when doing mammalian studies, not that we don't love our critters, but mammals pay the big bucks.

Anyway, due to the fact that I am going to be looking at the intersection of two, that is right TWO, diseases now I went looking for a co-mentor for the K award. I have plenty of experience with our critters, with mammals, but not with this second disease. I spent a bunch of time searching the interwebs for info on people at our university who have recently worked with both this disease and mammals. I found such a person and went to my professor to ask if I could contact him.

He wasn't sure this person was the right person so he wanted to do his own looking. After a month of emails, discussions, and getting shuttle from this person to that person. Do you know who he ended up with in the end... the original person that I found. Oh sweet irony. I feel a bit vindicated but can't be mad at him since he spent all this time advocating on my behalf.

Anyway, we are having a phone convo about it tomorrow. He seems interested and we have heard good things about him as a PI so hopefully this will come together nicely.

Cross your pipet tips for me!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We are not the Kardashians

So one of my vices is reality TV and I have sucked my husband into this as well. A particular show we like to watch and then discuss is Keeping up with the Kardashians. Their semi-scripted shenanigans are fun to watch and make fun of and in there most recent episode the family goes for a super cushy vacation in Bora Bora.

Looks lovely right?

This is the conversation we had before going to bed that night:

Hubbie: "I am sorry I can't take you on a vacation to Bora Bora."
PQA: "But I don't want to go to Bora Bora"
Hubbie: "I wish I could take you to somewhere like Bora Bora, when I am done with law school and making the big bucks"
PQA: "But I don't like beach vacations, I don't want to go to Bora Bora either"
Hubbie: "Fine a vacation like that somewhere that you want to go, I promise we will do it in the future"
PQA: "Why are you so fixated on this vacation thing?"
Hubbie: "I just wish that I could relax like that without worrying about how when I get back from vacation I will have twice as much work to do"
PQA: "We are not the Kardashians. We are normal people, and normal people always have twice as much work to do after a vacation."
Hubbie: grumble. grumble. SNORE

Since he fell asleep mid conversation (again) I am going to finish my thoughts here. The trick to having a relaxing vacation, dear husband, is not to travel halfway across the world to a super humid hot place that is extremely expensive. It is to let go of the work world mind when you go on vacation and not obsess about what you are going to have to do when you get back. You can do that by the pool, or in the mountains, or on your drive home from work. You don't need to go to fucking Bora Bora to get relaxed.

Also I would prefer if you not make the big bucks post law school because that means you will be working 80 hr work weeks for somebody else and we will never see you and you will miss all the cool stuff with our daughter. No vacation in god damn Bora Bora is going to make up for that shit. I would rather you be home at 530 pm every night and not have to commute 2 hrs a day and have our vacations be little weekend trips to the mountains. 

So fuck Bora Bora, is basically what I am saying. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

double face palm

Dear Grad Student,

I have question.

Why did you go online look up the very common, everyone in the lab uses it, antibody to protein X, and order it? Why didn't you use the catalog number on the tube, or the list stuck to the freezer where the antibodies are stored, or the protocol I emailed to you, or the list that was emailed to everyone?


Are you silly enough to think that the company only has one antibody to protein X? 

I see, you are. 

Well, thanks for ordering the wrong antibody, aliquoting it and mixing the old and new aliquots in a way that no one can tell the difference. I really appreciate the new and novel ways you are constantly coming up with to fuck with my experiments. It makes my job so much more of an adventure. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Baby Talk vs Science Talk

So this weird thing has happened to me every since I had my supremely cute baby... no one asks me about my science anymore at work. Every time I run into the department chair (who is a woman) or other professors everyone asks me out the mini-me is, how motherhood is going, etc.

It is not that I mind talking about the mini-me or making small talk but before this when I ran into other people in the department we would talk science. How is your project going, that sort of thing. Which was actually helpful in that sometimes people would have solutions to issues I was having. But also it kept me on the radar of some pretty important PIs who could be useful in the future.

I am worried that they know think of me as a mom first and a scientist second. Am I just being paranoid? Most everyone that asks me about the baby has children and families themselves and in general the campus and my department are very family-friendly. I have yet to run into the overt sexism that I encountered during my PhD program (which is good).

But still, I can't help but feel like my science is get the shaft a little bit. I mean how else can I let them know about some super cool technique I invented or how wonderfully my undergraduate mentee did during his presentation. I am an extroverted person, I have mad people skills, and lots of people know who I am which is great, but I also want them to know that I am doing good science. This kind of positive word of mouth has served me well in the past and I don't want to lose it now. I present at a seminar series once a year but that really doesn't seem enough. I haven't come  up with a good way of switching topics from parenthood to science in a two minute conversation yet.

Has anyone else run into this? How do you deal with it? Am I making too big a deal about it?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Reaching out

This weekend was one of the lower points of parenthood. My husband has thrown his back out and rather then help with the baby has become another person to tend to. On top of that we both came down with some kind of 24 hour stomach bug that the baby had on Thursday. Baby bounced back in like 6 hours, we were not so lucky. But I am choosing not to dwell on this spectacular poopy weekend.

Instead I want to write about what it feels like when ever the baby needs something... a diaper change, food, a nap, etc and she crawls to me and reaches up for me. I can't really communicate fully the sweetness of this experience. The way it makes me feel when this adorable tiny person trusts me, and only me, to fix what is wrong for them. When I have the power to makes things less scary just with my touch. To be someone's safe harbor, to be someone's home, to be trusted so fully and completely is a feeling that no words can describe.

Maybe because I have never had this feeling about my mother, who has always been unpredictably mean, I didn't really realize that this would be part of my role as mother. I wasn't expecting this, the gentle sweet joy of little chubby arms reaching up to me for comfort.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The 'Help"

I read 'The Help' recently and found it really disappointing. I would not really recommend the book to people and don't plan on seeing the movie, which it seems is even more annoying than the book. Here are my problems with the book...

  1. It was badly written, I didn't like the style of prose
  2. It ended really abruptly
  3. I found the main character immensely annoying
  4. It made me uncomfortable about how it presented the relationships between the main character and the black maids but I couldn't quite put my finger on why

Then Cloud linked to this post by Dr. Bernestine Singley about what it was like to be the help in 'the help' which is awesome, you should totally read it, and all the comments. It is a very mature conversation happening with lots of interesting links. But Dr. Singley very succinctly summarizes and puts into clear prose where my vague feelings of uncomfortableness were coming from. This led me to a tangent of sorts on the issue.

I have encountered quite a few people that think it is inappropriate that I pay someone to clean my house twice a month. I am perplexed by the idea that employing household help is wrong on principal. (Live-in help I do find a bit weird though and need to think about some more). I personally don't think there is anything wrong with paying someone a proper salary to do a defined set of household tasks while treating them with respect. In fact, I don't think I could work outside the home and maintain a family if I didn't do so.

There seems to be this belief that household work (usually defined as women's work) is demeaning by definition and I think we need to make the distinction between the work itself and the way people who are doing the work are treated. I don't think that cleaning toilets or doing laundry or taking care of someone else's children is inherently demeaning work. Anymore so then mowing someone's lawn or taking care of their gardens is. I think the way that domestic workers have been treated, and continue to be treated in the majority of situations, is what is demeaning and explotative and wrong.

Anyway, it made me realize how much of the shame/guilt/wrongness of hiring household help is centered around the de-valueing of women's work. After all, as my husband said, working men don't experience all this drama over hiring a gardner. It is not as if they are somehow a bad person for asking someone to do the tasks that they don't have the time or desire to do.