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Friday, July 29, 2005

Grad Student Insurance Needs to Cover Valium

(Science ahead)
So on Tuesday I gave my advisor a draft of my revised grant application. She had told me to add more stuff about estrogen and axonal sprouting, since I was proposing something like that, so I did. Except THEN she told me to take out all the hormone parts (i.e. half the damn experiments) and just propose to look at sex differences. Oh, and ditch the oxytocin aim and propose a retrograde study as aim 2. And propose some neonatal stuff too (since one to tell whether a sex difference observed in adults is organizational you expose neonatal female to testosterone and she's masculinized forever so you can see if her brain "looks" male or female), which I've never done before and would involve digesting massive amounts of previous studies enough to write about them. And she's going away next week, so this had to be done in three days.

Well, I gave it a shot. And then Wednesday one of my rec writers said he couldn't do my rec after all as he was going out of town. And I was hopelessly lost on my rewrite. So I did what any normal grad student would do: I wound up laying on the floor of the conference room in the fetal position crying silently as my labmates looked at each other and debated calling my advisor. Not my proudest academic moment, I admit. My advisor appeared in search of tea, spotted me, asked if I was okay (yeah, since I totally do this all.the.time) and asked if we needed a chat. The upshot is I'm now holding off until the December deadline for my NRSA, by which point I will actually understand what it is she wants me to propose. Except that I won't because she'll change her mind again.

And I get to go to a three-day stereology course, ending the day before the Neuroscience convention. Now, a convention with 30,000 scientists at which you present your date and spend five days attending talks, posters, and drinking your ass off with your fellow grad students is exhausting. I'm not sure how I'll hold up after spending the previous three days immersed in the finer points of mathematically counting cellular objects. And I hate stereology and the transportation logistics are a nightmare. But at least I'll be forced to finish my SFN poster a bit ahead of time, so no backlog for the poster printer!

Still no phone call. I've realized the main drawback of sleeping with friends: if they act jerky afterwards by, say, not calling, you're friends with a jerk who doesn't call. And while it may be that many of my male friends are this way, I don't usually have to know about it. I mean, I don't really want to be friends with jerks! I know some will say it is more general boy weirdness than jerkiness but I happen to think that boy weirdness IS jerkiness. So there. Though I suppose it is helping my "we shall never speak of this again" plan. Except I never wanted to stop speaking entirely, I just cringe at the thought of speaking about the events of last Saturday night/Sunday morning between the hours of 2 and 4:30 am. I've never quite mastered the whole "communication" thing, especially when it is the boy/relationship/I've seen you naked sort of thing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Sixteen Again

First off, guess who hasn't called yet? Yeah, nothing like brooding to make a girl really regret something.

I've been thinking about high school. I blame him. And I've felt sort of like a teenager again lately - all boy-crazy but confused, weirdly oscillatory moods, listening to the Cure. I don't really think I've changed that much since high school. Misha's cousin Carrie always used to say the reason their family liked me so much then (age 14-16) was because I was bitter and sarcastic, which meshed well with that clan. I'm still bitter and sarcastic, maybe even more so. I'm still the smart girl, the weird sort of crazy smart girl at that.

The thing is, I don't think I had one of those awful soul-scarring high school experiences that so many people seem to have had. I had friends, a boyfriend, some side boyfriends, and I was never really targeted for the sort of torture and ridicule that others were subjected to. I wasn't one of the super-popular girls, either. Yeah, I have some good stories of various people being mean to me or whatever, but they demonstrate how much many of my peers sucked more than anything about me - like the infamous Lesbian Drinking Fountain Incident. I'd bet that people said horrible things about me behind my back, but I wasn't aware of too much of it.

I was at a graduation party on University where all of us were drinking and Liz had just gotten back from Thailand and later we'd make out and look up to find many of the boys we'd just graduated with peering at us from inside the house, overwhelmed. And I asked Matt Ball, who I'd known as a kid but only "rediscovered" that year since we had a crazy psych class together in 3-1-3, to honestly tell me what my reputation had been. He was in more of the jockish caste so I figured he knew. Without hesitation, he said, "druggie nymphomaniac, but smart." I'm guessing that was the consensus. Since I did indeed have a lot of sex and I took a lot of drugs (though less than I did in college) and most people I hung out with were older and I dated college boys from age 15 on and I just never really played the stupid high school popularity games.

But I also hung out with people who were total nerds. I mean, those were the kids in my classes and in Quiz Club and all. And they were fantastic and just as warped and twisted as everyone else - I mean, duty sheep! And gross misadventures of Mr. Polchetti! Despite my unofficial extracurriculars, I was still the girl that got straight A's. Except I took advantage of my academic position to get away with stuff like cutting class and having sex in the darkroom and trying to get Student Council to let same-sex couples get a couple's ticket to the winter ball. What were they going to do to me? I was great on paper, all A's and volunteering, and me leaving that school would have dropped their average test scores. Plus, FHS never admitted to having any problems. I recall three pregnant girls from my year who just...vanished.

I'm wondering if who I remember being in high school is who I really was. And whether my present is more colored by what I think of as my high school era or how it really was. I feel like I was really out of place in my high school, but that was my own choosing. And not out of place like ostracized, more just separate from most of the little everyday dramas. By my senior year, I was taking more classes at the college than I was at the high school and a lot of my life had adjusted accordingly. Plus, Misha left and Liz was overseas and Jason's family moved to Florida and everything was just different. My parents were finally splitting up and I was partying and dating a 27-year-old for a bit and staying out until 4am and working at the college bookstore. So I was even more separate from the FHS scene that I'd ever been, which is why I think I have such different recollections of how things were there.

There are a lot of people I wonder about. And a few that I'd like to find. But I probably won't look, because I'm always figuring that someone will find me if they want to. Which they won't.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Timwatch 7/24

As expected, Tim this morning was all about the Roberts nomination to the Court. First up was former senator Thompson, who is apparently filtering the info about Roberts to help him get confirmed. Anyway, I can't separate him from Law and Order. Maybe the administration thinks that his TV persona will help or something, but I find it very distracting. Especially since I never liked his character. Then Senator Durbin, who I've never really paid attention to. So I didn't really learn anything: there is going to be a fight, Democrats will ask questions, Roberts will try to dodge. Yawn.

The highlight was Tim's shoutout to Cansius. Woo, Western NY! That and actually seeing Nina Totenberg - I love her reports on NPR and I'm always really curious as to what radio people look like. So, she looks younger than I pictured. And you can tell she's usually on radio because her outfit was awful. Yikes.

In other news (big news): ohmygod I totally slept with a friend last night. Not the friend from the cab last week either. That's what happens when party-hopping leads you to a party with a Casio-based band in the basement flashing you right back to being an undergrad, overconsumption from the kegs of Lager included. I think that was a very, very bad idea. I crush on friends all the time - I mean, they're boys and they're around, right? - but that's usually where it ends. Unless you count LP in high school, but he was a former raging crush and not really a friend and that was more about proving something to myself. And him and my former best friend. Really twisted in retrospect. So now I'm all discombobulated. Such a violation of my "never see another scientist naked" policy can't be ignored but I really, really don't want to talk about it either. This is very much not good. And it isn't something I can talk about with a lot of my friends, since obviously they're all friends with him too. (Jessy: you totally almost got a phone call at 7 this morning when he left. Luckily I realized that normal people are sleeping.)

Yeah. And I'm working on my NRSA resubmission and trying to get through all this histology from all the rats I was dealing with the last two weeks and trying not to totally have a big freakout. My brain hurts. I don't know what I want at all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I'm Proposing a New Hankie Code

Poor Suzanne, got all interested in someone she was dating, only to have him turn out to be a Republican. Who not only voted for Bush (twice!) but is one of those active Bush supporters, volunteering and shit. And he lives in the gayborhood! Poor dear Suzanne was so upset when he told her, she kicked him out of her apartment. A move that required a lot of strength considering it meant no super fun frolicking activities. And since my infamous Republican from back in May as well as another one I found who is tall and fun and can quote Young Frankenstein (the bastard) I've decided that for the good of all of us, the Republicans need to be marked somehow so future Suzannes do not have to suffer.

Enter the Republican Hankie Code. Only it isn't going to be cute little pocket bandanas, there are too many skinny hipsters sporting those. No, I've decided that the symbol for Republicans should be bunny ears. Because bunny ears are hilarious, totally not macho, and elephant ears would be way too obvious. They'd be color-coded, of course - I'm thinking camo for the military-type (or chickenhawk, as it were) Republicans, pink for the hard-core Christian activist "I hate gays and know what you should be doing with your uterus" types, purple for the libertarian-ish, blue for the business ones...you get the picture. So that way if I met someone in a bar I'd know right away that he was a Republican-leaning libertarian and could ascertain just where he stood on things and who he'd voted for before even giving him my number. Because I am sick of wasting my time and my fabulous hotness on people who think what America really needs is even more capital gains tax cuts.

In other news...far too busy in lab, weird random rat deaths, frustration. Weekend: drinking, more drinking, dancing, kissing of very good friend in cab, extreme hangover, barbecue, new Harry Potter. With much hyper-analysis of the friend/cab/lips incident, which said friend and I have not discussed despite sharing one of those post-indulgence "we're far too hungover to move so let's just hang out" days. I thought I knew what I wanted: a boy I could call a few times a week who wouldn't stay over and who would be separate from my social circle to avoid that whole mess. And while I still don't want a boyfriend in general, would I make an exception for someone who was already a friend? Really, what I'm sure will happen is that we won't talk about it at all, we'll get drunk again, and we'll repeat the cycle. Which I'm actually not opposed to.

At least I know for sure he isn't a Republican.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Timwatch 7/10 and More Lab Fun

Much-varied Meet the Press yesterday, much about post-London mass transit scary terrorist stuff. And the Supreme Court. Chuck Schumer doesn't look good on TV. Though Chertoff looked like hell too. Maybe there wasn't a makeup artist for the guests yesterday or something, because everyone's skin was sort of sallow and greyish. I'm a political junkie, and am especially into Constitutional stuff, but I'm already getting bored of the O'Connor replacement speculation. I'm sick of people talking about the coming fight, just let the knock-down drag-out start already and let me organize my "get your ass to Canada" paperwork.

Otherwise, I did lots and lots of rat brain surgery. And have been trying to avoid most of my labmates, since they've really been getting on my nerves. People! I DO NOT want to talk to you in the morning, especially if you're always perky and constantly asking stupid questions! It takes a good two hours for all my coffee to penetrate my cells and render me able to engage in human interactions, trying to engage me before that point will only result in me clawing your face off. And stop making nasty loud eating noises, that's why I keep not eating lunch with all of you. Ew.

Much as I like Philadelphia, the summer stench is starting to get to me. Probably because of how magnified the odor gets at 97 degrees. Like river sludge and trash and decomposing things all wafting up together. I fear the day I'll be dragging myself in all hungover and wind up puking off the bridge from the stench, thus adding to the general misery of the city. Perhaps I should look into mass transit for those days. Though when it is this hot, the human odor can get rather rank as well. Dear South Philly: using even more aftershave in July is not a subsitute for deodorant. Sorry.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I Think I've Become Magnetic

Everything I touch lately breaks. My computer is still dead, though I finally sent it off to Sony last week to see if they can resurrect it. Watch me get back some lame zombie-like computer, tryung to eat my brains when I'm not paying attention. My car...I fixed the tire and got the hood latch replaced so my hood actually closes now, which is good safety-wise. But the A/C is way broken, they want over a thousand dollars to fix it, plus I still don't really have a rear suspension system. And to add insult to injury, my iPod broke and I've had to send it off to Apple. I think my mere touch must be rearranging circuits.

We still haven't gotten the R01 in. So more lab, forever and ever world without end. I hid in the microscope all morning because I couldn't stand the thought of talking to my labmates. Not a good sign when you think about it.

A boy from my hometown a bit younger than my sister immolated himself. My father told me about that part but was all caught up in the fire aspects of it. My mom mentioned that he'd committed suicide but didn't know how. I'd been assuming that he lived and was just going to have a nightmarish recovery since dad neglected to tell me the "and he's dead" part of the story. I've always thought that being burned would be the worst way to die. The boy's family used to own the local department store, it is a Big Lots now. Which sucks, since I used to play at the makeup counter when I was a kid and my mom went to buy boring adult clothes. I'm not sure there are any locally-owned stores left at home. Not big ones, anyway. Wal-Mart or nothing.