Wednesday, December 26, 2007

After Christmas

It seems like everyone is writing down “things that happened in 2007” or making yet another count down list or, horror, making New Years resolutions.

I got reminded about all this yesterday when eating a fabulous British Christmas turkey dinner with some American ‘stuffin muffins’. After saying grace, which at the time felt strangely appropriate and didn’t stress me at all, I got the question if I could recollect the best moment of 2007, or rather (as I actually think the question was) what was the single moment where I felt most thankful for?! I said I couldn’t pinpoint one…. Thought about it and then three things popped up. (It’s not that important what is was exactly, just that one involved my newfound friends, one my training regime and then the most personal one so far.)

Then we moved into “what would we do differently next year” aka “what would you try and make a promise of changing” aka “new years resolution”. I ended up with a few of them… although, to be fair, I think they all resemble each other. This said, I don’t make new years resolutions but rather look at it as a good way of counting my blessings and look back and see if I truly like my behaviour, my path of life or however I would put it without sounding too bombastic or pretentious.

So, needless to say it all comes down to a simple little thing. Stop worrying so much about the future. Stop worrying so much about what people think. Stop worrying about what the result of the experiment will be. Stop… well, I guess the picture is fairly clear?

Let’s just hope that I can do this, which I have good hopes on to be truthful. After all, practice makes perfect!

For personal reasons it is with mixed feelings I will go back to my mother country soon. I really would like to be going on a real vacation rather than to go ‘home’ and ‘fix things’ and although I really like to visit my family and friends it is with mixed feelings I realize that this is my only vacation for this year. Kind of anyway…

and at the moment I am dead tired and would really like a week off from work, either throwing myself down a hill with skis or walking on the beach on some Caribbean island. I guess I will just have to make more “weekend trips” next year and really work on making them happen.

Although, of course, I will get less money from work seeing that my status is shifted from “non-residential alien” to “residential alien”, which in short means that I will now pay social security taxes… and that will of course decrease the amount I get after the taxes are withdrawn. Well, I am sure it will all be fine after the initial shock of getting like 250 dollars less a month although, I have to be honest I say that I don’t really know how much it will be. Let’s see when January is over?!

All this of course is of non importance seeing that it is just to stop me from fretting over work or packing my things. The article is just hanging in midair, my PI and I haven’t talked, the bacteria will hopefully behave today and I just really want to have a sleep-in Boxing day.

Then I stop whining and think about the nice Christmas I had with good friends although I was on the other side of the world from my family and older friends. I got texts and phone calls and even some pressies via mail and all of them reminded this somewhat daft post doc what really matters in the world and even if it feels like it is getting publications in Nature or Science (again, what I would do for that to happen?! Don’t ask… it is still PG-13 in here… ;) ) but rather to try and be thankful for what we have today and that we are alive and have fruitful friendships and just trying to be a good friend. (And sure, having a publication or four is still necessary for work but again, it has to be a balance.)

And now it is time to stop. All sappy and emotional…. But after all, it is Christmas time!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 14, 2007


The personal thing to write, today of all days, 10 days before Christmas.

It is wonderful to realize that after "one of those 10 days with time points" I am always feeling a little blue, a little down and a little contemplative. It is when I want to bundle up in my house and write my thoughts down. Write and rest. And well, this weekend is not going to be that. It is going to be writing, for sure, but maybe not personal thoughts but rather the manuscript. My abandoned baby (I guess I could have called it that but at the moment it is almost like ‘the thing that could have been something’ or maybe, since it is more optimistic, ‘the thing that can be’.)

And still, the one thing on my mind today is kisses… Why, the mind is really a fantastic piece of equipment.

I dreamt of guerilla war and shooting guns last night. I dreamt of running in zig zag down a hill when a man was behind me shooting after me with a rifle. He missed and I rolled, like a child playing, down the hill and started once again to run. I tried to remember what the man looked like when I woke up but couldn’t. At least it wasn’t a known face, not Him or something like that.

And then I talked to ‘the friend who is almost done with her PhD’ and realized that it is hard to motivate one self when you know that there isn’t a path clear for you after that dissertation (or in my case the paper). The notion that “you have the world in front of you and can do whatever you like” isn’t really what you want to hear since it feels like there are too many choices. To many possibilities of mistakes to be made.

And then I said it out loud. Imagine how sad I will be when I am old and realize how much time and effort I have spent being scared of living my life or worrying about the future. Live in the now. Enjoy now. And really, don’t worry. Because when you really look into it, what is the worst thing that can happen to you?

And I promise I will try for real this time. Carpe diem. (I really hate throwing quotes like that out but still, it has a point here.) And I will not live like everyday is my last but I will try and remember that if nothing else, I still have my health, friends, family, some money in the bank and a security system that will not allow me to live on the streets and for now, a job that I actually don’t think I suck at as much as I tend to think.

Maybe this will be the good New Year? The year that this year wasn’t but still I know it was too early so next year might be too early too. But seriously, I am fed up with this worrying thing and the feeling that what ever I do it is not enough. ‘You can always do something better and you should strive for that”

Or “Do what you do and live a little, explore life and dare enjoy the kisses that make your knees buckle and your heart racing”.

I think I will try that. Hopefully tonight.

Monday, December 03, 2007

the hour of the wolf

I know I promised to stay positive regarding work… but after being optimistic and quite happy about this work thing for at least three weeks (wow) I felt the big despair this Saturday.

My hard experiment failed… and the mutants didn’t infect although I really upped the dose.

On the flip side, I guess I can say that they really are attenuated!! And that that in itself is kind of an interesting side effect. (See, trying to be positive in here.) The flop side is that the ELISA didn’t work last week, redoing it today but I fear that my cells might be a little sad and grumpy… ah well, I will try.

More over, I am starting the next 10 days of “living in lab for certain time points” at Wednesday and I really need to catch some sleep before that. Otherwise I will be a very gloomy scientist with bags under my eyes the size of Santa’s gift bag…

Realized that I must have been really stressed and thinking too much, (and maybe because of other reasons as well?) but still, have been tossing and turning in bed the last two nights really disturbs me and haven’t left me rested at all. Took about an hour to fall asleep (that really never happens to me) and then to wake up at 4 am and spend the “hour of the Wolf” by staring into space feeling discomfort and racing thoughts about life, science and everything in between. It didn’t help that Saturday night was spent with nightmares that was way too close to reality for me to disband them in my sleep and say ‘ah, it is just a dream’. (I can do that when I dream about the zombies and the ninjas jumping around chasing me around the world because I am Lara Croft or whatnot; not when it looks like real life and it is just the smaller things like a killer under the car or being half naked in front of the auditorium when one should give ‘the most important talk of your life’.)

So, here I am at work feeling tired and slightly annoyed with myself, writing some whiny things to ‘vent’. Alright, back to happy; I am going to redo an experiment today, hope it works and confirms everything. Although the ELISA didn’t work last week the different treatments still showed significant differences, even if I can’t determine the concentration or anything but it didn’t look crap.

And of course, I have realized it is just work… not my entire life and certainly not worth loosing sanity points for. I guess that is a good realization?! Off to the cell cultures and hoping bacteria grows as they should.