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Monday, November 28, 2005

Enough With the Chicken Already!

So I've returned from my odyssey of Long Island funereal badness and from my week being home for Thanksgiving and am back in my usual life, sleeping in my own bed (that is, crappy futon that I really need to replace), hating lab and all its science-y life-stealing tentacles, and general pointless existence.

Let me just say that I hate New Jersey. I managed to get totally and completely lost somehow on the way to LI and wound up in total nothingness in the Garden State for over two hours. Two hours was just the "lost" part, that isn't counting the other two hours where I pretty much was on the right track in that damn state. Dear NJ: your highway system sucks ass, please label things like "exits" and "roads" better in the future. Anyway, that meant that despite my leaving DC and then Philly on time for once, I was still really late getting to suburban hell and my waiting family. Which was bad because apparently I was supposed to be at a private viewing at 5 and I didn't make it until after 7.

But wait, you say. Jews don't have viewings! Not having to be in the same room as a corpse is one of the few benefits of the faith, one that might almost make up for the lack of porkaliciousness! Yeah, that's what I thought. I just thought I'd show up and go to dinner but my mom decided that we should, you know, see him. Which I totally was not interested in doing, and I said as much to her during one of the panicked "I'm totally lost in fucking New Jersey" phone calls, and both my sister and my uncle told my mom that they knew me and knew I had no desire to look at my grandfather all dead and in a coffin, but did she listen to any of that? So I finally show up at the Jewish funeral home (I didn't know we had those, what with my apparently errant "Jews don't hang out with corpses" belief) and she's all crying, which was to be expected, but then she was like, "you mean you don't want to see him? Then why didn't we just go to dinner?" and it was then that the headache really started. Oh, and my charming grandmother's lovely comment, "I hear you said goodbye to your father's mother at her funeral" to which I managed to reply only "Well, that side of the family is Protestant, that's how things work" and not the "how are you, evil shrew-woman from hell, my only living grandparent? HOW THE FUCK IS THAT FUCKING FAIR?!" which is what I really wanted to say. And why did everyone send chicken? I know sending food to the house during shivah is traditional and I sort of like the idea, but damn did I get sick of chicken.

Anyway. My family is nuts, my grandmother is evil, and apparently I have a burial plot somewhere out on Long Island. Which prompted me to start a somewhat panicked and probably highly inappropriate given the timing (while hiding upstairs from the shivah callers on Tuesday) conversation with my mom, sister, and uncle that consisted of me near hysterics yelling "Don't you fucking dare bury me on Long Island I fucking hate this place and everything it stands for please, please, don't bury me here! I swear, I'll write it down, I'll get it notarized just don't make me stay here after I'm dead!" and my mom giving me that look that she gets when I freak out and doing the calm, rational mom voice "okay, sweetheart. Where would you rather be buried?" And then my sister said that she didn't want to be buried in Long Island either, but then she upset my mom by being all "I don't want to be buried in a Jewish cemetery at all, I'm agnostic, and I don't want any mention of religion at my funeral either" which my mom was none too pleased to hear. But really, isn't 25 a bit young to have a plot already? What are they expecting from me?

On my brief stop in Philly between LI and home, I went to Sex Dwarf at Fluid which was awesome. Go new wave dance party! Except there were $2 drinks until midnight and let's just say I overindulged, passed out at Rachel's, and woke up with a raging hangover and that moment of "where the fuck am I?" panic. Luckily I was fully clothed and it was just Rachel next to me, and the club was basically filled with cute gay boys anyway so there wasn't any danger of anything untoward occurring, but still...moment of panic. But really, really fun and I'm totally going back only I think I'll have fewer than eight drinks next time. Ouch.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bad to Worse

Well, I survived three solid days of stereology. It was tortorous. But I grudgingly admit that I learned a lot.

And I made it into DC last night. This city confuses me: Letters! States! Numbers! I have no clue where anything is with their street system. But my hotel is right next to the Treasury and the White House. I think a drunken flicking off of Bush may be in order.

So I finally make it to the "fun" part of the last month - after the frantic image analysis and data collection and poster design and stereology crap, SFN really is fun - and I go out last night. Of course I do, it is Friday night and I'm in DC! Woo!

When of course I start getting phone calls from my mom that I don't hear. I finally pick up when it is my dad since I'm outside the bar at that point. I am not very nice. Apparently my grandfather (on my mom's side) has died. This is not unexpected, he was in a nursing home and pretty much lacking in cognition and not eating or anything. But for fuck's sake, Friday night at SFN? How do people expect me to react to that sort of news in that circumstance?

So I'm fucked. I have to leave the conference, but I'm not leaving DC until tomorrow morning, when I'll drive to Philly, switch out my accumulated dirty underwear for clean, pick up a black suit (I have three) and drive right out to the hell on earth that is Long Island. LI with my psycho-under-the-best-of circumstances relatives made worse by death. And my grandmother, who I never get along with and who has lung cancer and who is unbearable no matter what. It isn't the "family" so much as her. And I know I'm not a very good granddaughter or niece or anything like that. I know there are reciprocal feelings. But this is a family who has gotten into actual fistfights at diners post-funeral (yes, diners: Long Island Reform Jews here). The funeral is Monday, shivah will go through Friday but I don't think I'll stay that long.

I hate this. I suck at dealing with these things. To me, it was like he was dead ages ago, when I realized his higher function was basically gone. I don't know if that is a bias from being a neuroscientist for too long or what, but I define life by thinking and so tome he's been dead a long time. But to everyone else, it is fresh and awful. And I hate emotions and that is all funerals are: a chance for the living to have this orgy of feelings and be reinforced. It isn't about the dead person at all. I don't want to be around people and be consoled and hugged and asked how I'm doing. I want to be left alone. I don't want to cry or wail or break glasses or throw a fit and I am wholly incapable of dealing with those who do. I am totally useless at interacting with my fellow human beings under these situations and I've never been sure why. It is like things that usually bring people together drive me farther away from them and into my own head. I wonder if I was born without something that everyone else has. Like a soul. Because normal people aren't like this.

In lighter news, I've posted my Halloween pictures (finally!) at flickr. Yeah, I was a pre-Feminine Mystique housewife and that pill bottle is labeled "Mother's little Helper". I don't have too many pictures. I suck.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

If I'd Gone to Law School, I'd Be a Lawyer By Now

Far, far too many 13-hour days in the lab in the last two weeks. Really, one is too many but ugh. I don't know the last time I made it home before nine from this fluorescently lit windowless hell. Last night I got home just before midnight - yay science! Because nothing seems to want to work for me lately. First we didn't get the image analysis software we ordered, then I tried to get NIH Image to work and it refused to open any of my images, then I downloaded its PC eqivalent onto my laptop to see if it was a weird Mac issue but that didn't work either. Then I figured out what the problem was (it involved recapturing all my images off the microscope directly - believe me, I tried just renaming and resaving them) and then I started to analyze them on my computer, went home for the night (at 11) and came back the next day to find that my power cord had basically melted and all the fun stuff on my laptop is totally locked in there all inaccessable until I get the replacement that I rush-ordered for $100. So I'm back stuck with NIH image on the damn G4, analyzing and analyzing and not getting any nice patterns to make into pretty bar graphs and put on my SFN poster. That I have to make Monday and still don't know what it will look like, whether there will be any actual conculsions I can draw. And I have to leave for that stereology workshop Tuesday and I haven't read the books for it at all. And my grandfather has taken another turn for the worse, so I might be dashing off to the hell of Long Island at some point during SFN or the workshop.

Um, why did I think grad school was a good idea again? Anyone?

I'm so beyond stressed I'm oddly calm. And exhausted and cold and hungry, but that's all from the sleep deprivation.

I have a lot to say and Halloween pictures to show (assuming I can get my computer to work sometime soon) and comments to make about the Court and Tim and Scooter Libby but I can't formulate anything remotely coherent now.

Though one little thing: flirty myspace messages are sort of okay, provided they have proper grammar and are witty and you're neither from New Jersey nor into metal. You'll never see me naked because I have that little rule ("people I meet on the internet do not get to see me naked" - seems like a good rule). Suddenly going from that to describing sexual positions and me visiting you to try them out is quite surely not okay. I don't care if we went to highschool together, it gets me all sorts of weirded out. Especially if we went to highschool together, since that means I can't even hide in the rural nothingness of WNY where most people will never, ever go. Not funny anymore.

Who wants to trade lives with me? Please? You'll get to go to a stereology conference!