Century egg = an egg that has been preserved by a combination of salt, clay, ash, and rice hulls for several months. The result: an egg with a potent taste and smell. Considered a delicacy in China.
I may not be as old as a century egg, but this week I got one step closer to being a quarter of a century old. (That’s 24 years old).
My birthday was pretty uneventful in that I went to work that day. Two days prior, I made my birthday cake. And yes, I made my birthday cake because I love to bake and it’s an excuse to make a cake and bring it to work.
Last year I went with chocolate, but this year I wasn’t feeling it. Strawberries were on sale, so I make a strawberry cake. Basically, its a dense white cake with a strawberry cream frosting.
Let me tell ya, it was a hit! Next time I make this cake, I want the cake itself to be lighter. So no cake flour and perhaps I’ll add some baking powder/baking soda to it.
To “spoil” myself, I bought a orthopedic seat cushion for my office chair. Woohoo! Adult gift! lol. But really, I sit around a lot and I gotta protect my spine…so that I’ll be healthy when I’m a century old.
This week I learned a valuable lesson in keeping calm…
Monday: Nothing spectacular.
Tuesday: Things are a little rocky.
Wednesday: I THINK I’M GOING TO BURST INTO TEARS ANY SECOND NOW.
Thursday: Settling back down.
Friday: AHHHHH!!!!…ouch. Collapse.
To elaborate on the week, Monday began with a morning commute which was three times as long as it is normally. I believe this is because the on-ramp to I-90 is closed due to construction on another major street nearby my apartment. Therefore, people who usually take the highway to get to places (like myself) are forced to take 3rd street. And so for the first time in me being here, I sat in morning commuter traffic. However, I’m not going to complain about it because it usually takes me 5 minutes to get to school and now it takes me 15 (which is still pretty short). No big deal. All is well.
Tuesday was when things got a little rocky. The realization that I have some paperwork that needed to be signed by my absent boss to take my oral exam began to stress me out a little. Not to mention he, uh…well, he hadn’t even seen my proposal yet and I’d had gone through four revisions since then so…moving right along…
Oh goodness, Wednesday. First of all, I couldn’t legally ship 50% of my dad’s birthday present, so I feel pretty awful about only sending 50% of it. Not to mention the dean of the graduate school ends up emailing me and my classmate and was like, “Due to the state of your preparation, I highly recommend you take your exam in May rather than April.” That’s when the tears were building behind my eyes.
But here’s the thing, 1) we were told THREE weeks ago we couldn’t do that and 2) and since then I’ve been busting my ass to prepare. My boss wasn’t back in lab yet, so I didn’t really know what to say to the dean. I ended up “ignoring” her email. And so, I emailed my boss the updated version (version 5) and told him I wanted to speak to him Thursday. The next morning he said he would talk to us.
Thursday comes and I’m in lab early, stationed at the computer, watching the the “skype for business” app for the little green light to appear next to my boss’ name. When his status changed, I announced to the whole office, “He’s here! He’s here!”
I resisted the urge to bombard him immediately and did some small work tasks for about half an hour. Plenty of time to him to settle in, right?
First of all, we told him how nice to was to see him. Literally, it was REALLY NICE to see him. We had some small talk on his trip and his flight back. Then straight to business.
After explaining our progress and the dean’s email, he said we are prepared to defend in April as we had planned. After that, my nerves calmed back down.
Friday: Two revisions later (also that’s new…I don’t think I’ve revised a paper SEVEN times before), an exception memo, paperwork finally turned in. It’s official:
I’M GOING TO TAKE MY PRELIMINARY EXAM!
Oh my GOODNESS! It’s really happening?! And I have TWO EXPERIMENTS to run, analyze, and incorporate into my partially completed presentation. Oh my goodness I have so much work to do…wish me luck.
Anyways, this was the first time stress actually took a toll on my body too. Friday morning I woke up with a pain in my side. That basically set my weekend plans: rest.
To kick things off, a buddy and I complained about work over a beer. ^_^
This week was exhausting. But it was totally worth it.
The conference was such an experience. First off, the hotel I choose was a-mazing. Yes, it was a little on the expensive side (I spent two-thirds of my travel award on a 3 night stay) but still…
The shower alone was worth every penny. Needless to say, I showered every night. ^_^
I’m also glad I decided to pack my orange dress. I always felt like the color was too much in most places, but in San Diego it was perfect.
7:30am day 1 on my way to the ASN welcome breakfast.
Hanging out, enjoying the sunshine in front of the fire of friendship.
When the conference started up, I walked around looking at posters related to my thesis. Then I spent some time mustering up some courage to go talk to vendors. As my lab mates told me, “Get out there and get some free stuff to bring back!”
At first the thought of talking to them was nerve wrecking. I put myself in a frenzy worrying about what I’d say to them. Then I realized, “Hey I use this stuff everyday. I have nothing to be afraid of.”
Although I didn’t get a lot of stuff, I got a few things of high value. I got several free biologicals (antibodies) samples and a free DNA extraction kit. I also told a vendor we’ve been using their products in lab and that I’m a “huge fan”. She took down my info and recently offered the lab a discount of the product I was raving about. I also talked to another vendor and told them I was having a problem with an antibody I just purchased (for $500 nonetheless, so I was pretty upset when I used it and got no results). I showed him my issue and I got a bag, a pen, a shirt, and a USB at the conference for my problems. On Friday, one of their reps contacted me to follow up which was nice.
I also went over to talk to “Jim the myograph guy” because he asked me to come over and say hi. But no freebies from that, just an awkward conversation because we haven’t actually used the myograph for any experiments yet.
In the afternoon, I attended a pain research seminar where ran into a student I TA for out of the blue and met another kid from Univ. of Maryland-Baltimore. Then we all went off to the poster session for the finalists and the “mixer” later that night. I say “mixer” because most people just hung out with the people they knew which, to me, is the opposite of mixing. Hence why there was a ton of free alcohol being served. lol. And so day 1 ended.
Day 2 was my big day. That was the day I was presenting my poster. So I walked over at 9am to hang my poster. Then I went to the Wnt signalling session since my new Baltimore friend was presenting. Afterwards the time had come…to present my poster!
Honestly, I really didn’t really know what to expect in the hour I was manning my poster. But I didn’t expect people to be so awkward. Let me explain, they schedule your time at your poster so that your immediate neighboring posters aren’t also being manned. That way you have a chance to talk to other people and see other manned posters afterwards. So there I was…it was just me and other girl across from me (she’s from Emory doing research in vitamin D intake in children) and literally, people came walking down our row would looked at other posters around us. 90% of the people I saw looked at me, smiled, and stopped at a poster to the left or right of me. And I’m like, “Duh helllllo?! I’m right here!” So I engaged my pick up line, “Do you drink green tea?” 🙂
The first person I spoke to was a man from Morrison, CO (hey a fellow Coloradian!) who asked me to go through my poster. When I got half way through, his phone rang to which he answered it, walked away, and never came back. And at that point I felt very discouraged.
Next person I talked to was an undergrad who was more interested in my undergrad research than what I was presenting there. -_-
But the next person was someone who sought me out. She told me she had rheumatoid arthritis, and read the recent article about our group. She told me to tell her everything about my poster. It made me feel what I did actually meant something–even if it was only for that one person.
And finally, I spoke to a Post Doc from Arizona who wanted to start research in my field. So he asked how I obtained the cells, treatments, etc. He got in touch with me Friday as well just to say hi. 🙂
But there was one thing all the people I talked to had in common: they were all impressed that I was only in my second year of my PhD. Made me realize two things:
Despite all the drama going on at school, I’ve accomplish a lot.
Not only have I accomplished much, I’m still young. Therefore, I still have a lot left to give.
I will admit, I came out of the entire experience with a sense of pride. ^_^
With that being said, I FINISHED MY GRANT PROPOSAL!!!
Three days of traveling followed by two loooong days writing has resulted in a exhausted me.
My feet are tired from all the walking, and my brain is tired from all the thinking. It’s time to have a quiet weekend with a bottle of nice wine and a kitchen nightmare marathon.
If you’re reading this right now, I’m not actually in Washington state anymore. I’m in San Diego!
It’s bittersweet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to get outta Spokane for a little and explore a new city and talk to new people. I’ll miss my friends here, some productive working hours, and of course Cinnamon.
Fun fact: one Halloween I dressed up as Carmen Sandiego. By the way, I really miss playing the Carmen Sandiego games. I remember sitting at the computer with my Dad’s encyclopedia opened trying to figure out what place to visit next. I also remember getting really freakin’ frustrated because the hints weren’t at all common knowledge (so much so the encyclopedia rarely helped).
But I was really good at the Carmen Sandiego math game. No geography trivia. >_<
Anyways, after months of research and preparation, the time has finally come to make my national debut in science. It’s kinda funny when you think about it. You see, (most) of the people I know that really excel in their work are more of a “eat. sleep. science. repeat.” kinda person. I’m more of a “cook/bake. eat. sleep. science. play games. watch videos. clean.laundry. repeat.”
For example, I don’t like to work in silence. I like to listen to things while I work for two reasons 1) It gives my mind something else to focus on and 2) Earbuds in = do not disturb.
I listen to Podcasts and Pandora in lab. When I’m at my computer I listen to Spotify (which satisfies my eccentric music taste). But because I’ve been spending a lot of time in front of my computer nowadays, I’ve been experimenting with other things to listen to while I write.
For now, I’ve settled with listening to Kitchen Nightmares. I know, it’s weird. Like, “why would you want to listen to Gordon Ramsay yell at someone else?” The show is predictable, but still entertaining. I notice though most restaurants he saves are family owned ones and most of them are Italian restaurants. Seems about right, does anyone REALLY know of a good authentic Italian restaurant that isn’t Olive Garden?
Besides that my grant is beginning to take shape. I’m at the part where more thinking is required. Like, “what happens if you get another result? what happens if it fails? what is the experimental design for the alternative experiment if the one you first proposed to do fails? why do you need 5 samples to represent a 52 million population?” The main question is basically, “Can you convince me to fund your project for the next 4-5 years?”
I tell what what, major props to whoever is NIH funded. I mean, you’re doing research there’s some novelty in. On the other hand, you need to justify what you’ll do will work which is easier when there is some method that has been published on. So it’s like, your idea better be new, but not too new. It’s a fine balance that I find myself currently working in.
So this is what I’ve learned this week: labs which are NIH funded are ran by people who can think years ahead in many directions and would probably make good salesmen with all the convincing they do.
I also learned this is hard. If an NIH funded person told me to do something or write in a certain way, I’d probably do it now. Obviously they figured out the system. I’ve been humbled now to listen to them.
So that’s it for now. I’ll be sure to talk about my trip later. Ttyl!