Sunday, June 18, 2017

"You're the Good Girl"

There are a few specific phrases that turn my insides to molten lava. The ones that make me see red in front of my eyes in a few short seconds. With age I have sorted out many of these triggers, but it's not surprising that I forget a few. It is good that I have come to be able to take a breath and count to 10 so to speak before reacting.

There are also a few stereotypes bouncing around that mess things up. I've encountered quite a few as an immigrant, not to mention back in the day at university, and back in junior high school. Again, some of these come out to play nowadays too, sometimes to my own surprise...

Like the other week at work when I was enjoying a nice meeting and things moved into more informal mode with giggles and smiles. And then it came, innocent comment when looking at myself and my female coworker, So, you're the good girl and she's the party girl"

I kept smiling, since I was 99% that the person uttering these comments had no idea the things that went through my mind....

  • Good girls are boring
  • Good girls are predictable
  • One wants to hang out with pretty party girls
  • Party girls are good looking, good girls are...well... probably not that good looking since then they would be party girls. [yeah, it makes sense in teen brain, trust me]
  • Party girls are good looking but not really bright (it's like the Pet Shop Boys song "I've got brains, you got the looks")
  • Good girls are bright (the brains)
  • You want to party with the fun girl, you want to marry the good girl- maybe
  • and finally [we are not in a bar. do not engage in banter like this. this is work. You wouldn't want to say something too flirty/private/inappropriate] on a loop
Anyhooo.... I couldn't help my words a little bit later in the convo - while the smiles and giggles were abundant - to say "well, since I'm the boring girl I'll repeat that the joy ride is fun until the police stops you". Person who said the original comment didn't lose a second, looked at me and said "I never said boring, I said good girl" and smiled.

At this point I decided to listen to my brain who rushed into over drive to tell itself; "Shut your mouth and you'll get sugar" (Swedish proverb). I just kept on smiling, as per previous comments this year - points to me. So close to start explaining why I'm quite possibly not a good girl*, or at least that I'm not predictable and boring. Then again, I wouldn't have been happy with being called a party girl either. There are some stereotypes coming with both words that I have had some issues with in time so.... Sometimes you just can't win for losing - if you're me at least.

good girl dress

party girl tattoo
[this one isn't real, I am still tempted to make it real though]

I've expanded my shoe wardrobe since I moved to the South,
good and party girls wear boots with dresses

a great band - even for a good girl? [Ghost]

potential crush for a good girl turning party girl in danger zone? [Ghost]

*I'm most likely a good girl. Pay my bills on time, am loyal to my friends. Work too much, keep deadlines. Keep with the law. Don't do bad stuff. Call my parents every week. Send cards to my friends. And bring meals to the sick. It's just that underlying want from being a teen/young adult that I would like to be considered "exciting" or "cool" or "good looking hot stuff" sometimes. Not just the girl who can be relied on and help you with your homework since she's got it all together... Is this what they call a midlife crisis? Reliving the teen angst and want to change it? Am I buying a motor cycle soon and riding to work on it? Dear me. This could get expensive.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Book devourer

Book devourer - it's the literal translation of the term in Swedish I was called growing up 'bokslukare'. The correct English term is voracious reader, although I would say the devourer has a slightly more literal meaning of "tearing the story from the pages of the book" rather than "reading a lot of books" - but that's me and my feeling of languages. Probably not right, but more me.

When I moved to the United States for a while I didn't read as much as I had before. I think it was mainly because going through grad school, I didn't have the patience and time to indulge in reading as much. Well, at least not the last two years of grad school. It was easier to quiet the mind by watching TV series, episodes at a time of 40 mins. I went through Babylon 5 and Buffy (repeat) when writing my dissertation. It was the way to get me to get a quiet mind before falling a sleep. Something I've used during the years now, instead of lying in bed with insomnia while my mind churns into all this "what ifs" and "I must do" I turn on an episode of one of the series I watch and get lulled to sleep.

But there is something extraordinary with reading. Finding a book, sitting down or laying down or even walking around ever so slightly, and just turning the pages. Painting the pictures in my head, based on what the author is writing. Not watching something a director has made for you. Having the opportunity to make the details of the book in your mind, adding your own memories and desires into the descriptions of the book. Understanding certain aspects of being human, learning nuances of history or simple dream away in a fantasy novel.

When I didn't read as a child, I listed to "books on tape" and "dramatizations of books on tape". It was the best way to clean my room. I remember turning on one of the many Tintin tapes I had and listening to the reader and the different voices acting out the series. Or the Greek Mythology stories, how Phaeton fell from the chariot, Theseus fighting the stables and the Gods, or Orion being a merciless killer aiming for a little bird that turned into a hare laying eggs for Easter.... Educational and enjoyable at the same time.

Of course, part of this was probably because I am old and grew up with a black and white TV in a country far far away where there was two channels and not any (a lot) programming during the day. Never mind the idea of video, or Netflix as of today.

I still think though, that there is something very distinct with books. Something that's personal, yet you can share it. It's like your best memories in a box - that you can open up and look at, and then talk to friends about and they might understand. It's also one of my absolute clearest definitions of Vacation and "Time off". To wake up in the morning and grab the book of the bedside table and start reading. Never mind the time, you read the pages as long as you want - then get out of bed to grab a cup of tea and start the day. Or, as I have done these last two days, decide the "well, I guess I'm tired and would like to go back to sleep, perchance to dream" and then wake up a little later. Not to mention "going on vacation" to me read (I know) like "time to read lots of books". Even if I prefer real paper books, there is something to be said about being able to travel across the Atlantic and not being worries about running out of books when you can have them on an e-reader. Not to mention that if you purchase book 1 in a series and it turns out that you really like it, you can purchase book2 instantly... (yes, let's not talk about how much money I have spent doing exactly that.)

I've been told, on several occasions, that this habit of mine - the reading books with intensity - is not as innocent as I seems to think. It's sometimes viewed as "excluding", especially if you are a fast reader and can go through say 3 books in a weekend... The American therapist I saw for a short time while going through my divorce suggested that my memory of being with family and friends sitting in chairs reading books and spending time together, was really not that much about spending time together but pretending to spend time together. They suggested that if we really wanted to spend time together there was tv series to experience together or a football game to play etc. My explanation that I think it's more personal to read and then talk about what you've read was met with a strange face. Not to mention that I think there is a certain intimacy of spending time together when reading for a bit. I guess it makes more sense here if you read by the pool or on the beach?

Anyhow, I can take that reading like this is an introvert occupation. It's something for me. Something that I do on my own. My mind wakes up and I think and dream and live through the words I read. I sometimes feel rejuvenated (big word). It's making me cry, question thoughts and actions I never would've done before. It's also a fabulous escape from reality, depending on the book of course. I've been sleeping badly last couple of weeks - it's been hard falling back asleep after waking up in the middle of the night - and the last few days, rather than fighting it I've surrendered. I've pick up my kindle (I can read without turning on the light in bed) and read. Yesterday I ended up with silly issue that my ipad ran out of battery, the kindle too and finally when my phone indicated 5% I realized that I had to get out of bed and get up for the day. Reluctantly I did and had to charge my devices to continue reading. Lucky for me, there's an electric outlet on the patio so I could sit in the morning sun reading while drinking my tea while the kindle charged up. Small mercies with first world problems.

It was then I realized for real - it's summer now! And even if I don't have vacation plans at the moment, I can utilize the summer vacation feeling by increasing my reading and sitting (laying) outside in the grass on a blanket with a book, feeling the wind move and the sun shine on my freckles and just relax.

Happy summer time!

Monday, June 05, 2017

Visit to Smashville - Price anchored

If you read this blog, or come here by the way of twitter, there's a chance you've picked up that I am somewhat interested in hockey. I had an opportunity this last weekend to go to Nashville to hang out in the "the other city" where the Stanley Cup Finals are played this year (it's Pittsburgh and Nashville).

Funny enough, driving there I listened to a pod cast explaining the "anchoring phenomena" - an economic term and discussion that tries to explain that we people subconsciously compare things to others. If you are choosing if something is expensive or cheap, you automatically think about something first and then comparing it to that. The researchers had tried it with glasses of wine and after mentioning different prices, they asked their subjects to guess how much the glass of wine were that they were drinking. If the researchers had mentioned a higher number, the likelihood was that the subjects quoted a higher price. They were, as the report said, price anchored.

I got the perfect experiment set up when we arrived in Nashville. You see, the tickets online for the game (game three) were starting at $1300. While I am by no means poor, I don't have that much money to put on a team that isn't even my main one. I mean, it's my adopted thirdish one (the first American if you don't count Red Wings, which to be honest I have considered dumping since they ended up in the Atlantic with Leafs. I can't even try rooting for another team in Leafs division) but $2500 is more than living expenses for a month and to pay that for two tickets for one game?

Alas, what happened when we got to the arena? Scalpers. And were they trying to sell tickets. I knew I was in trouble when I managed to get someone down from $800 to $700 in two minutes flat. Plus that they said "I'll walk you to the doors and make sure the tickets work and you get in". I even considered it. "It's not that much, it's HALF of what I saw on the website". Well, little hind brain kicked in a second later with "it's still A LOT OF MONEY (and it isn't your team)". I even entertained the question "but how do I pay for the ticket, I have no cash and I doubt that the scalper takes credit card?".

Then I shook my head, for real shook my head as to banish the silly notion that I could afford the tickets (compared it to REAL life stuff rather than $1300) and walked my merry way to a good restaurant to have a nice meal, watch the first period. And then, when the game went to second period, take a stroll down town to the pedestrian bridge over the river.

It was on the bridge I stood, taking a photo of Järnkrok's shirt, when the cheer from every bar in the area and Broadway went to the skies. Predators had scored and made it an even game! Time to find a roof top party and watch the third period with all the lovely, happy, fun fans.

watching hockey outside in the summer breeze - what can be better?!
Preds won and they whole city erupted into joy and glee. It was truly a lifetime experience and I am very very happy I went there. Even if hotel rooms turned out to be pretty pricey. And the restaurant and the bar wasn't the cheapest. Although, if I anchor on the hockey ticket price - I still made a deal on my stay since it was cheaper than the cheapest ticket. Win-Win indeed :)

Broadway before the game

mini cup cakes like the Stanley Cup

Cat fish shirts, it's the South ;)

Friday, June 02, 2017

Happy being "water divider" author of article in Nature

One of the things my late professor from graduate school taught me was to always be happy and grateful for every publication you get. Of course, you are more happy about your First author publications, BUT it's important to be happy about the publication that you are in the middle of the author list of too (and obviously if you end up on the TT, the ones where you are the LAST authors for).

When I wrote my thesis, it was a summary thesis of a number of published articles (as is customs for STEM in Sweden), every one on my committee made it clear to me that regardless of where I was on the author list of a paper I added to my thesis I was required and expected to be able to defend the WHOLE paper. It enforced the idea to me that if your name is on a paper, you are responsible for all of the paper. Similarly, they enforced that you should be happy and have pride in papers that you have your name on.

To me that was the start of being happy and celebrating every time I have had a paper accepted and published. (I actually celebrate both the acceptance "oh thank goodness no more resubmissions and revisions" and the actual publication "oh look, that's MY name, in print!".) I realized when I started my post-doc at the more prestigious institute(TM) that people pretty much scoffed at this idea and only celebrated the First Author papers in CNS journals. It seemed like they thought it was silly to care about these "smaller achievements", like celebrating finishing a race but you didn't get a medal. Or something like that.

After coming back to academia as a project coordinator, after my post-doc, I have been happy to continue my little mission "you should be happy with every publication" even when certain post-docs aren't as on board with the idea.

Maybe this is since I probably will never have a first author publication again? Maybe it's because I think it's important to show that a paper comes for a team effort? Maybe I just want to feel important and successful? Who knows. But I still think it's a thing to do. Celebrate the acceptance and then later the actual print coming out.

So, yesterday I had the happy times finding out that an article I am the water divider on (the one in the middle so when you go one from the front, one from the back you'll end up with my name in the middle) got accepted in Nature. Ha. There might have been a small dream of mine, back in the early days of my graduate days, to get my name as a first author on a Nature article - although to be honest, just getting my name on the author list was a pretty big dream as well. It's like saying you dream of receiving a Nobel prize, ending up receiving a national prize would still be pretty swell... And I'm not turning that down. And I am silly happy being part of an article in Nature and that my name will be there. Pretty nice feeling for sure.

As a kicker I decided to humble brag and posted my happy times on twitter. (I wondered if it sounded like it was my article or if it was clear "I'm one of many people on there" but I think it was pretty clear and shouldn't have to worry about it, right?!) Lots of people said congratulations and liked the tweet. And in the end I got my most viewed tweet as well. What a day. A little happy turning into more happy and a great start of the weekend!

THANK YOU for sharing my happy times! .... until printing time..... :)