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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Changes in Platitudes, Changes in Attitudes

I keep looking like an asshole.

A conversation with someone who knows me, really knows me, and I make a comment or a reply.  They pause and look at me.  "Was that sarcastic?"

"No, no, no..." I say, "I meant that.  That's sincere."  I realize that it's not the statements themselves, but the deadpan delivery.  It's not my bitterness, but a flat affect.  I'm depressed.  

The light is shifting again, and I feel it more this autumn than I have felt it in a while.  The last time it got this bad, I started Wellbutrin.  But then I couldn't sleep, and I kept sleeping too long anyway, and it got into a bad feedback loop that I didn't even notice until I accidentally forgot to fill the prescription, didn't take it for a weekend, and was surprised to notice how awake and good I felt.  I haven't taken it since then, but now I'm debating - how much is either side worth it when both sides suck?

When I don't feel it, I think I remember what depression feels like, although there's always a component of forgetting.  When the realization of that feeling hits again, it's a familiar type of shudder: "Oh, yeah."  There's always a few days, weeks of interplay - a back-and-forth is-it-or-isn't-it period of furrowed brow introspection.  Depressed or just tired?  Is this a problem that can be fixed with coffee?  If not, then what?

***

I'm better at identifying it now, but still so bad about talking about it.  At this point, I don't feel shame--just concern.  I keep my mouth shut not for me, but for the other person.  When I say, finally, out loud, "I'm depressed right now," the result is inevitably me comforting the other person.

"Hey, I'm going to be ok," I promise.  "The crying is just a...thing.  It's just a thing.  I'm going to feel better soon."  Keeping quiet, I only have to console myself.

It doesn't matter how likely I try to put it. "I'm not doing super-great right now," or, "I'm struggling" or "This time of year gets really hard."  When my reaction is the only thing that I can safely control, then I just shut down.  It's exhausting to talk, and it's exhausting not too.  

That's one platitude: "Choose your hard."  So I choose the one that's easier on everyone else.

***
 

Depression, like so many pathologies (especially those of the neurological type), is a word that has gotten co-opted and misused until it is almost meaningless.  Colloquially, it is used to denote sadness, which indicates to me that most people who use it that way have never been depressed.

Depression is an emptiness.  

It's a hole in your heart.  It wants desperately to be filled by something, and it's a black hole of longing that just can't be stopped.  It's a foggy brain that also can't be filled with any pertinent information; my lab mates ask me questions, and I start to answer and then trail off as I look helplessly in space.  It can happen two or three times in a row before I finally finish the thought, their faces captured in a barely-concealed mask of puzzlement (slightly lifted eyebrow, mouth agape).  

It's not that everything is terrible.  All through the day, I laugh and joke with the people I love.  I go out to bars and drink pints and watch football and cheer when my fantasy players get touchdowns.  At the restaurant near the school, my favorite waiter wraps me into a big hug and calls me beautiful, and it makes me smile.  I commute with my husband and watch him work his ass off and feel proud when it all pays off for him.  I am happy, and it's fine -- I'm happy, but empty, but I know that some day soon I'll be happy and full again.  The waiting is the worst part.  

All day, it's one question over and over again: "What the fuck do you want?"  And a brief list of answers: to not be here, to be asleep somewhere, to be lightly touched.  The best help I can think of in most of these moments is that what I want is to have a hand on the back of my neck, a reassuring pressure that, if nothing else, reminds me that I'm not alone.  It's not feasible, or even possible, but the longing of that thought just keeps falling into the emptiness.  

***

Everything is best when there's a catastrophe.  Given a goal, I can focus on it with a fierce singularity--pushing a hundreds-pounds-heavy freezer across the room, making plans for experiments and putting those plans into place, feverishly processing and analyzing the tissues for data we need to rapidly put together.  But when the task is accomplished, I turn and my face falls and I've got that flat affect again.  I am reminded that my eyes are heavy, and that things are hard, and that sometime my own mind is also my own worst terrible enemy.

So I specifically seek out the company of other people so I won't be alone with my flat empty mind.  In a few days or weeks, everything will even out.  Or it won't, and I'll make sure that's it's not temporary, and then I'll tell my psychiatrist and go from there.  Being treated for bipolar disorder didn't put me on a different road; it just gave me a better map.  But I've done this circle enough by this point to know that it's going to be ok.  

"Fake it 'til you make it," I keep telling myself.  And so I do.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

I collect phrases, little bits of prose and poems.  They play back and forth on the axis between my hippocampus and the bow of my lips.  I lose them, forget where I got them or how they go.

"The seven years' difference in our ages lay between us like a chasm. I wondered if these years would ever operate between us as a bridge."

First seen, spring of 2003.  In a packet of material from AP English, cut out after I moved to my own dorm room in my freshman year of college and taped to the wall.  I lost it after that, lost everything I had on the wall.  What I could remember: "seven years" and "chasm" and "bridge."

Found, December of 2006.  Hypomanic, bipolar disorder undiagnosed.  It's from "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin, a favorite author of one of my best friends at the time.  Back then, everything felt like a sign.

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."  

First seen, high school.  Lost simultaneously by both my father and me.  We could both remember that we had seen it in the front of a YA book.  We could both remember "winter," and another season (incorrectly thought to be spring.)

Found, later in high school, much to the delight of my father.  Written by Albert Camus and used as an introduction to "The Pistachio Prescription" by Paula Danziger.

***
We had a long day.  We almost always have long days.
"...the act of attention is a form of prayer."
First seen, unknown but prior to April of 2006 (also hypomanic, quite undiagnosed) when I misquoted it in my old blog.  I have no idea where I saw it.  Remembered: "attention" and "prayer."  Many permutations of these words Googled over the past seven years.  So elusive that I though I may have - in that spinning lost world of hypercreativity - made it up.

It was fitting in those days, when we had easy access to a "prayer room."  There, we would sleep and study and meet in the middle of the night to flip through pictures and go into giggle fits.  So many of the things we did in there weren't even close to sacred, but we did them anyway.  I justified it thusly, that given those things undivided attention was its very own prayer.  Maybe it was.

Those same words, popping up in my mind all the time.  Running or concentrating in the lab, I feel like I am praying.  "Please let me make it to the end of this mile."  "Please don't fuck this up."  If there is a god in this machine, then he is the constant recipient of all these pleas.

Today was a long day.  Almost every day is a long day.

I was reminded, though, reading one of my favorite blogs, that some people are content to squander their gifts, to waste their own lives.  Which reminded me of this quote:
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
Mary Oliver, "The Summer Day."  Never lost but always delighted to be found.  And at the top of the poem, on one particular website:
"Today's poem holds that the act of attention is a form of prayer."
It does.  It is.  Our days are long, but oh (my love, my life, my world) so so short.  Across chasms and bridges.  Through the winters and summers in our very own hearts.  Wild and precious, full of secrets and plans.

Monday, July 22, 2013

How Things Break

The way our dressers broke was physics disguised as magic; riding 60 miles per hour down the interstate in the back of my brother's truck, they took flight.  They didn't fall or tip but took to the air, flying up and over the side in one fell swoop and smashing into pieces on the side of the road.  The fact that it was 11 PM and no one was following them on what can be a busy highway during the day: all magic, no physics.  Just one of the many ways things can break.

There were lots of broken things about this move, like any move, no matter how careful you are.  The Keurig fell out of Joey's hands and the springy plastic piece at the bottom of the reservoir snapped off.  It will still brew coffee, a half-cup to each cup of water poured in while the other half leaks out the bottom.  "These things happen," we say to ourselves, sighing.  I had wondered what the first wedding gift to break would be, and the Keurig -- one of the most used of all of the wedding gifts -- would be the winner.  

Even the move itself was made of broken things: a verbal agreement to renew the lease, my explicit instructions to please don't just walk into the fence because, although the dog usually isn't there, if she just happens to be, she will bite you.  And me, when the landlord called and said we would have to find  a new home, sobbing with my head down on the desk and a whole page of Craigslist ads in front of me.  

Things that we didn't break during the move: our beer glasses or Pyrex bowls, our handmade mugs or any more pieces of my first china, anything mirrored or porcelain or fragile.  Perhaps it's always the delicate things that stay intact, because you are paying more attention.  Things break more easily when they seem sturdy, because you didn't think they would break in the first place.  

The other thing we didn't break: our one-and-a-half year promise to a dog that we wouldn't let her go, even when she made things hard or when her presence in our lives demanded a sacrifice.  That our home would be her home, no matter where that home happened to be.  Even if she was the reason for the change in homes.  

Yesterday, Joey came home from work; I was napping, still exhausted from the move.  Mocha had been napping too: lying in the bed on her side, she had a series of nightmares that made her whine, growl and shake in her sleep.  They aren't rare occurrences, these nightmares, and I take them as a sign of what we believe to be a past life of abuse.  Dogs don't imagine or have abstract thinking, as far as I know; whereas humans can dream of things that have never happened to them, dogs can only have nightmares of what has happened to them.  Our dog is one of our broken things, broken by something that I can't imagine, don't even want to try.

Mocha jumped back up on the bed, and he told her to get down, and she responded by lying down on the bed like she usually does.  

"We met the neighbor," I said.  "And Mocha was a real asshole."  She had stuck her whole face through the fence at our neighbor's three dogs, contemplated their existence and started barking viciously at them.  I picked her up, all 40 pounds, and put her on my hip like a baby while I introduced myself.  "He was nice," I said, "although that wasn't really my ideal choice for a first impression."

Joey looked at her, remembering the day we picked her out.  In her kennel, she seemed calm but friendly.  Other dogs clamored up the sides of their cages, barking furiously, but she just brought her head to the door to be petted.  The shredded toys in the cage with her indicated that she had some sort of inertia to her, but she had personality in spades.  I wasn't so sure about her, but Joey lobbied her case, and I agreed.  "I vouched for you," he whispered at her, his voice almost pleading.  The love between all of us is furious and tight; I love the way he loves her against all odds because that's the way he loves me too.  

"We could have had any other dog there," I said.  It's true: the rescue was filled with dogs just waiting to be taken home.  We picked the one who had been brought back to the shelter before, the one who would bark at our friends before deciding she actually wanted them to cuddle with her, the one who would worm her way into our hearts before we could even tell it had happened.  She sucker-punched us, and we didn't see it coming until it was too late, until we couldn't imagine life without her, until we would do anything to keep her in our house.  

Joey looked at our broken little thing, lying there defiantly and safely in our bed, and scratched her underneath her chin.  "Yeah, " he said.  "But who would have loved her, if not us?"  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Even If Things End Up A Bit Too Heavy

Last week, a man drove on the biggest bridge out of town and tried to drive off of it. The bridge was closed for four hours while police worked to resolve the situation, and traffic was crazy for several hours -- all in the middle of the evening rush hour. Those of us who were still in the lab when the news first came in stayed in the lab; some of my lab mate went to buy beer while I was finishing up on the microscope, and after everyone had finished with their work, we drank beer and laughed for hours. Students, junior faculty -- we sat on desks and on the floor, my face flashing up red from the tiny bit of booze I drank, our laughter getting louder with each passing minute. Everyone else in the city was in their cars, angry and gridlocked, and we were there laughing. Sometimes the world is amazing when you don't mind waiting.

***

I was sick or on antibiotics for almost all of January, so progress went pretty shitty with our goals. That being said, I did manage to get some good workouts in, and we formed a team to do a 12-person 200 mile relay race in April, so more good runs are on their way -- hopefully, that will be a good transition into training for a full marathon, so exercise is happening, at least. I am training with my Friday morning group, and we are laughing and cursing our way through each hour, sweating and tripping over shit and making fun of each other. Maybe the best thing that I have done in January is to get back in the habit of exercising with partners -- a Wednesday evening spin date, an "I'll meet you there at 6 AM," and a "So, you will be there every Thursday?"

I did read a new book: Cemetery Girl, which was kind of meh. And because I am the worst at keeping up with popular things, I have been listening to Sigh No More by Mumford and Sons, which I haven't really done until now. So, I am making progress toward those 12 for 2012, sickness and antibiotics be damned.

***

When I stopped being sick, I started being nostalgic, listening to old music on the turntable, missing old friends and getting lost inside my mind. In the past few days, I've been back on the scope, so I listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers and Radiohead while concentrating so hard in a cold cold room. I sometimes wish I could reach out to all of those people that I can only reach now in my head; I used to know how to find them, but it's getting harder now. Sometimes, it is so much harder to be not-crazy, to be here and present in my life. But then, I fall back out of my head, and things are ok. And I don't have the words, sometimes, to describe what is beautiful about the love I have here, to tell you about the things we do when we are in love. Joey patiently ironing for me while I sit cross-legged waiting for him to finish, giving the dog a bath and laughing when she shakes water all over the bathroom, mimosas in bed and putting up the groceries together as a team. The best and deepest parts of my memories, of all the lives that I have lived since I was 17, are the parts that have him smiling and happy with me.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nostalgia Mixed with Pursuit of the Infinite

There's that thing they say, about being late and never doing something at all. It's already seven days into 2012, and I haven't said anything about 2011. Which I guess isn't too surprising, since I don't say too many things around here any more. There's the 9th anniversary post I should have done in October, the Now-I'm-No-Longer-A-Bright-Young-Thing post I should have done in May. When I get caught up in the supposed-toos, I end up in the nevers.

Sometimes a year ties itself up neatly in a bow. Sometimes, something begins in January. Last January, out of nowhere, my PhD project started working. This made my life alternately beautiful, frustrating, complicated and tear-inducing. I didn't sleep that much in January. Or October. And I still made it through. Maybe that was this year's lesson: you will probably survive whatever you are doing now. So, keep doing it. Even when it sucks and when it's hard. And even when it's absurdly easy, and you think you can do it with your eyes closed.

This was a fun year, most of it, but I think most of my years are. I like to orient myself around people who laugh often and loudly, and my days are certainly better because of it. I worked hard, but I had so much fun too.

So, what did I do in 2011?

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I was completely unable to take myself seriously almost 100% of the time.

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I got love notes in the lab.

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I worked hard.

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No, seriously, hard.

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Really, really hard.

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Prepared for a hurricane that never came.

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Made some terrible terrible decisions.

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Organized a completely successful Lab Olympics.

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Celebrated the Royal Wedding.

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Held back proud tears as I watched my friends take the Hippocratic Oath.

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Continued my girl crush on my brother's girlfriend.

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Bruised my ribs cutting off my alarm on Cinco de Mayo.

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Got all dressed up for Halloween...

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as my boss...

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much to the delight of my boss.

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Had fun with my family.

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Became the shortest of my siblings, right before my sister became a teenager.

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Made midnight cake with a wonderful old friend, talked shit while we did it.

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Woke up early in the morning for my health.

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Ran a 5K in a cape in a month that wasn't October. Also, made my own bad-ass Robin costume.

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Trained for and ran a half-marathon.

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Found out that I totally do not look cute when I run.

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We moved to a house, adopted a dog and rapidly fell in love with her.

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And took the whole thing in stride, holding hands and laughing all the way.

***
I've given up on New Year's Resolutions, not because I don't believe in having direction but because I rarely feel very resolved. Defining them as resolutions gives you too much time to fail; you pile all of the pressure on the first part of the year. Doing that primes yourself for failure; the first few times you find yourself not acting how you have "resolved" to, you give up. So, instead, I have goals. Goals that I have a whole year to accomplish.

The sports store where I buy my running shoes have a good guideline for goals; their mnemonic is SMART and stands for specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and timed. For a few months, I've been thinking about these guidelines and what I want to accomplish this year, so I have decided on 12 specific goals for 2012.

Creative:
1) Take a basic sewing machine class
2) Take a letterpress class.
3) Write stories for each round of NPR's Three-Minute Fiction

Health:
4) Lose final 60 pounds. This is important, because I will hopefully going back on the wards next year, and I want to give myself the health advantage, because I know it can be difficult to keep up with once you are in the clinics.
5) Exercise at least 4 times a week.
6) Run at least one half-marathon.
7) Run a full marathon.
8) Eat at home at least five nights of the week.

Random:
9) Read one new book per month.
10) Listen to one new album per month.
11) Complete the 2000 piece puzzle I got for Christmas.
12) Publish a first-author science journal paper.

***
2012 got off to a crappy start; I got sick on January 2nd, and I've been tired since before Christmas, and it's a long time until Memorial Day, the first day of the year my lab counts as a holiday. Some people would give up then and there, take it as a sign that it's going to be a bad year. But I don't think it will be. I'm pretty sure.




Wednesday, November 16, 2011

These Streets Will Make You Feel Brand New

There's something about being on streets you don't know in a place where people couldn't possibly need anything for you to keep moving. A place where almost no one knows your name, where you can wander for hours or days without a familiar place. There's something about that.

The past month, maybe six weeks, maybe longer, has been crazy. I was getting ready to go to my first national conference, and there were so many things to do. Western blots that took forever to work (so long that my boss half-canceled my vacation, our 9-year-anniversary vacation). Countless PCRs, things that weren't where they were supposed to be. Work that I thought would be done in a certain amount of time, when it really turned into that-certain-amount-plus-two-weeks. It was so fucking frustrating.

And then the conference came. And then the conference went. And then I left the city where the conference was, hopped on a train for one hour, and got picked up by one of the best friends I have in one of the best cities in the world.

***

Things are best when there aren't any expectations, no plans. When people asked what I would be doing there, I just said that I would be seeing friends. That was it: me, some friends, beer or good food. Those were all the plans I had.

When I got in town, I was so keyed up. I'd had a loud verbal altercation on the conference shuttle bus that morning, an altercation with a douchebag that had plenty of "FUCKING"s and a few "GODDAMN"s, and I was in a fighting mood. For a month, six weeks, I'd been in a fighting mood: irritable, grumpy. Sleepless, over-caffeinated, tired of a whole gamut of bullshit.

Then a subway ride to Washington Heights in a warm coat and a hat; a walk up to the roof; the sparks of a dying lighter in a corner made of bricks to shield the flame from the wind; then the simultaneous rush to the brain, the rush of the wind across the roof, and the boy's hand over my shoulder pointing out the Empire State Building. That moment when everything that has made you worry just falls away. I breathed in the cold air. Breathed out all the air I'd been holding in for six long weeks.

***

The last time I'd been there, I was with my mother. I was 12. We went to Broadway shows, museums, to see the Rockettes. That was all the memory, all of the pretense. That was the only thing I had.

Roberto had to work for 8 hours on Saturday, so I hopped on the subway by myself, took it to Columbus Circle and hopped back off. Hopped all day, 8 hours, down city streets. I punched my 1-Stupid-Tourist-Thing card with a reuben at Carnegie deli; the other people at the table looked sad for me, that I was alone, but I wasn't sad at all. I didn't have to say anything to anyone. Just, "No, this is the only thing I want." "Ticket for one adult." "A mocha, please." And that was it.

I went to MOMA and saw everything, wandering quietly through the galleries for two hours at my own pace. I played a game with myself, guessing the artists from as far away as possible. I nailed a Francis Bacon triptych from a good distance, a Klimt from far away. On my way back to the Klimt, I realized that I had almost missed Les Demoiselles D'Avignon and The Starry Night. I saw a Magritte, several by Man Ray and Du Champ. Everything I wanted to see was there, and more. It was so amazing, so perfect.

I went back to Roberto's, feet sore from walking more than 40 blocks for a fantastic cup of coffee, burning time. I watched trashy tv with his roommates, and then stood up.

"Oh, do you have somewhere else to go?" one asked, then immediately apologized, "Oh, I'm so sorry, that's none of my business!" I smiled at the politeness. No one I know is ever that polite. It was so sweet, so refreshing. I laughed and put on my coat, walked out the door in the dark and back to the subway.

***

"I conquered the subway," I announce. "I took the C train to the 1, and it brought me right here."

"Oh, so you rode the 1 all the way here?" asked a new friend, a friend-of-a-friend who'd been laughing with me all night.

"Mmhmm," I say, proud, "Yep, all by myself. Figured it out."

Roberto leans in close to my ear, "He's making fun of you for not taking the express train." I wrinkle my nose and look back at this new boy. He cracks a smile. I laugh. We all laugh, two pints down and not at all done for the night. A table of champions, me and three gay boys. One from high school, one from college, one new. We don't stop laughing.

I get terribly tipsy, find my hands in someone else's warm hands, brushing someone's arm. There is the immediate comfort of being physically close to someone who would never want to fuck you. You sink in, knock back more drinks, keep getting warmer.

"Why don't you move here?" they whine, the sangria pleading through them. "I wish you lived here. Please don't leave!" I teach them about blow job eyes, we top off each other's glasses. We argue over who pays for what, step out of the restaurant. Leave with kisses on the cheek. Get back on the subway, fold my legs up under me and turn toward Roberto. Hold onto his arm as we go back home.

***

We stayed up late with his polite roommate, a pot philosopher. I sat back while the room spun around me and watched Roberto make faces. We were talking about college, about all kinds of things. Until I excused myself to the bathroom, laid down on the floor. I went back to the living room. "Here, let me tuck you in," said Roberto. Covers went over me, tucked under my feet, kiss on the forehead. "Goodnight," he whispered, and went to bed. After he was gone, I got back up, ran to the bathroom and puked my guts out.

Worth it. Worth every single second, every stupid choice, every ounce of alcohol and wisp of smoke.

***

On Sunday morning, I got coffee with one of my best friends from high school. We shared an omelet, good conversation. She walked me to the next friend, hailed a cab with an ease that made me feel a flash of jealousy. "This is her life," I thought, suddenly amazed.

My friend from medical school and I took a cab to the meatpacking district to eat brunch. They wouldn't serve us mimosas until noon, so we just ate instead, snagging bites of each other's meals, sharing. We shared stories and gossip, wished out loud that our least favorite person from medical school would keep a residency blog for us to make fun of. He told me to come back for New York Restaurant Week, that I always have a place to stay with him. That was what they all said, "Come back. You have a place to stay with me."

They all meant it.

***

When you're not there, you forget what the draw is. You tell yourself that it's not that special, just a collection of big buildings, a high density of people. You forget that it's built on the dreams of millions of people, and that those dreams are what makes the city so bold and beautiful. The dreams of my friends there are so bright, weaving in and out of rooftop weed smoke and drunken nights. That there's something so vibrant about the place that somehow infuses you while you are there too. That it's a special city because you can blend in with everybody else and still feel like you're important. That in a city filled with beautiful things, you start to feel a little bit beautiful too.

***

But in the end, I walked away. Roberto putting my bag in the cab, my lips on the sharp edge of his jaw, an "I love you" text exchanged as I was driven away. Then I boarded the plane and flew back to this much smaller city, where a long-suffering and amazing boy picked me up from the airport, drove me home and cuddled me to sleep.

I don't know if I could live there, but I don't know -- not anymore, not really -- that I couldn't live there. I saw the kids being raised to navigate the subways, to know which one is the express and how to get on it. Couples walking hand-in-hand into stores that don't exist within 500 miles of my city. And I could see me there, me and Joey, in an apartment somewhere deep in the city.

Either way, it was amazing. Perfect. Everything I needed and have been needing for so long now. A chance to disappear. A chance to not have to worry -- at least not for a few days -- about even trying to get it right.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Stop Somewhere Waiting For You

Alternate title: "Another Irritating Spring Post" -- feel free to ignore should you be in the midst of snowdrifts or should you simply hate the hopeless optimism of a girl in the spring.

It's always this time of year that I start to fall in love with my city. Two weeks now, two weeks in October -- this city owns all of my heart. Even just now, listening to a back episode of This American Life, where Ira was talking about the Mediocrity Principle, the idea that no particular place is more special than any other. The idea that each city, each planet, each universe is equivalent -- I shook my head. This city, small and frustrating as it may be, has a piece of me tied up in its giant humid pocket. There's no time when it's more apparent than now, on the cusp of tourist season, right before it gets hot and busy. It's already so busy that we didn't want to wait for the unexpected line at our favorite dessert place, but not so busy that we couldn't cross the street to the ice cream shop, get blueberry cream pie milkshakes and walk the mile back to Rob's. There is a tenuous balance here that won't be around for much longer. We're about to hit the tipping point, and I'll start to fall back out of love...but until then, I'll sit smitten, smirking, ready to walk away at a moment's notice.

***

A list of things that I've professed my love for in recent days: the weather, french fries cooked in duck fat, attending step aerobics class with my favorite ladies for the first time in two months and nailing the combos, the weather, the incredible headbands that Anna made me several months ago, the Kindle the Fire In Your Chest mixtape, mixtapes in general and my brother's amazing girlfriend for sending them to me, Starbucks Cocoa Cappucino, Easter hymns, Eppendorf 10 uL pipets, the new Comedy Central show Workaholics, the pen I nicked from a colleague who got it at a conference, and the science of uncertainty.

***

Work has been hard, lately, in a really weird way. I'm getting to a point in my project where I'm really excited about the future, but I'm at a point where I get frustrated with the tedium of things, all the waiting that has to happen. And it's so gorgeous outside, and I'm trapped in a room with poor climate control, and I am distracted, limbs flailing and eyes darting around my computer screen. I have to slow myself down, breathe.

A few weeks ago, both of my bosses were out of the lab for the day, so the boys and I left the lab to get calzones and ended up drinking 10 pitchers of beer, leaving all of the things in the lab behind. At the end, I stood up from the table, toppled immediately backwards and hit my head on a chair. The next day, I had a bruise at the base of my skull and a vague memory of laughing on the floor of the pizza place. All day, I pieced together evidence of my drunkenness, text and Facebook messages I'd sent, pictures I'd taken. It was irresponsible. I'm not particularly proud of it. But I think it happened for a reason, this indescribable feeling we all had about that day, about this work.

I think it's all a symptom of this time of year, the perpetually-tripping-over-myself I described not that long ago. But I'm looking forward to the summer, to having long stretches of the day to do work without distractions when everything else -- classes, journal club, seminar -- in the department slows down, when it's too hot outside to want to be there anyway. I'm looking forward to that schedule, to buckling down on a marathon training schedule, to moving to a new place. Until then, limbs flailing, brain racing, I'll make do. Watch my bosses when they talk about science, with a true smile on their face that comes from making a discovery or going to a talk that they didn't think would be as good as it ended up being. Keep working until it works out. Open the door and run out into the gorgeous weather until I sweat bullets and can't think about anything. That's what I'll do. Just that.

***
Life gets weird, sometimes, like two weekends ago when I saw a friend I hadn't seen forever, on purpose. I felt like I was standing in a weird spot, like that place in a domed room where you can hear the whispers of someone across the way. I couldn't look her in the eye for the first fifteen minutes; there was a chasm between us, and that chasm was filled with the idea that she doesn't know any of the people I know now, that she doesn't know what I do on a day-to-day basis, that she doesn't know anything about the lab or my psychiatrist or step aerobics. I had a lot of feelings about that position -- some of them sad, and some of them mean, and some of them ok. And then at the end, some of them happy. I was glad I got to see her. It felt good in a way I almost hadn't expected.

And then I walked away, back into my life, leaving the tiniest crack in the door behind me.

***
I have 1 month and 6 days left of 25. I keep falling head over heels for the boy who makes me laugh. We are about to get our first set of produce from our CSA, and the farmer's market is back in full swing. Recently, the whole lab went to support our coworker who is in a fantasy rock band that dresses like wizards. Against all odds, our IMAX downtown didn't close. I still get to work out with my team from the fitness program, and we keep running up stairs and doing laps like it's our job. I get to see all of my siblings this weekend. The boy and I are working our way through The Wire while eating ice cream. My life is never dull, always kicks me right in the shins, begging me to chase after it. So I do.

The weather is gorgeous, and I'm in love.
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