After this Friday, I will have worked 19 days in a row ( with emphasis on the “the in a row”). Why? Well, Monday-Friday is the regular work week. However I’m also part of an 6-week animal study which requires administering supplements every day. The past two weekends were my work shifts.
Besides working more than two weeks straight, within the work week I’ve put in a solid 50 hours of work (yup, basically five 10-hour days and then some on the weekends).
At this point I’m…well…burnt out. 😛
Granted at any other job 1) I would have been eligible for some serious overtime or 2) I would gotten the next two weeks off. But because I’m a PhD student, I’m not eligible for those benefits. In fact, it’s pretty much expected I put this amount of effort in. Honestly, it wouldn’t be that bad except for how I’ve noticed how I’ve been affected by it.
How two weeks of work effects me:
1. No amount of caffeine would help the exhaustion.
2. I’m a bit more irritable especially in the evening.
3. I’ve ignored taking care of myself.
Out of these three, the last one is the more disturbing one to me because it is not just a physical thing but a mental one too. This past week, my mind has felt frazzled.
So this week I learned of the the importance of meditation.
I’m not talking about sitting down in one spot and repeating a mantra until zen is reached. In fact, when I meditate I’m still working and hustling about.
Rather I meditate on the good things.
I think about all the past victories I’ve had and remind myself of how blessed I am. I remind myself of my growth as a person and how much better I am now because of it.
I’ve found this mindset refreshes me mentally. I feel more energized and ready to take on what’s ahead. Although I’m exhausted, I know I’m going to get through this season and I’ll be better off because of it.
Physically, I’ve noticed I haven’t been eating too well (which may contribute to my lethargy) and I’ve skipped out on pore strips and face masks for like a month.
Not to mention I haven’t cut my hair in the past six months.
Granted the hair cut can wait a little for “back to school” to cut off the summer damage.But after doing some beauty stuff today, I’m feeling much better about myself.
But really, if you ask, “what have you been up to?” All I would say is, work.
Over the past two years, I have observed and done a couple animal studies in lab. I learned they’re extremely time consuming and can be stressful.
This summer, I’ve been put on a 6 week dietary animal study. To give you a brief run down, we’re feeding apples to rats every. single. day. It’s been time consuming to say the least. I’m hoping by the end of the study it’ll take less than an hour to feed instead of the 1.5 hours spent everyday making and giving supplements.
In between working, I survived a massive heat wave in that temperatures were definitely 100F and in doing so learned that the living room window is facing west.
I also learned that my router wasn’t built to handle two computers, a smart TV, and a cell phone on the internet speed I was paying for (which is pretty fast). In doing so, I broke my router but not my modem so I replaced it (with a better one) this week.
Finally, after five failed attempts at finding the Rocks of Sharon at Iller Creek, I finally found them this weekend! I realized I’ve been turning left this whole time when I should have been taking a right. ^_^
As a result, I found the rock which they call “big rock” (descriptive, I know) and had a small snack overlooking the famous paloose.
Well, here is my picture of overlooking the Paloose from Big Rock:
Judging by Facebook, we are currently in the season in between spring and summer: graduation season.
First of all, congrats to all you recent grads with your BA’s and some with your MA’s now. Has it really been two years since I graduated?! Time has flown by.
Two years ago, I wrote my senior thesis and gradated with honors. Two years ago I had a mentor who taught me how to think, ask questions, and learn what I could about the world.
Present day: Now it is my turn to return the favor.
At WSU, there is a program for undergraduates to do research in the summer. Every year I’ve been here, there has always been a handful of them.
Last summer I helped out but didn’t mentor. This year, I’ve been given the task of mentoring a student.
You see, I have a small project that I’ve been putting off due to not having time. I figure this summer I would get around to it…eventually. It’s not a hard project by any means. Just time consuming. After overhearing my boss ask the associates in the lab if they had any ideas, I decided to speak up like Spongebob did.
And alas, my boss was pleased with the idea and the rest is history.
I am excited to have a minion. Sometimes there are not enough hours in a day to do everything. Having the extra help would be awesome. Not to mention putting this on my CV and perhaps getting a paper coming out of this work would be awesome.
At the same time I’m kinda nervous honestly. What if they’re lazy or they’re one of those kids who are doing this simply because they need research “experience” to get into med school?
But they could also be genuinely interested in research and hard working and willing to learn.
I hate to put them on the spot, but before even beginning I want to ask them, “what do you want out of this experience?” I think it would really help me gauge the effort I will put into it because the last thing I want to do is waste my time and breath explaining. At the same time, I was given such an amazing opportunity as an undergrad which got me where I am now. Nevertheless, I will put my best foot forward and hopefully instill a love of science and researching.
hehehehe…I hope he’s ready though for the craziness that is our lab. ^_^
Lesson one: your lab mates become your second family. With that being said, sometimes you hate each other. However, when it comes down to it they’ll be there to help you.
During the summer months (June-August) the average high is 83F.
Around 70% of households in the northwest do not have air conditioning.
Last week was the first full week of May and I saw a more than a few days of 80F weather. I am one of those households without A/C and it’s sucks. Being in my apartment feels like being inside an oven.
I realize I’ve survived much worse being a Colorado native. The average high in July is 90F. Having life guarded at an outdoor pool, I worked outside in the heat of day. But let me tell ya, I have adapted to living in the northwest for two years to which 80F has me like:
The only thought that comes to mind is, “If it’s this hot now, what will it be like in the next few months?!”
Nevertheless, if you are suffering from the heat (like me), here are some tips that I have found useful in beating the heat:
Drink plenty of water which has been pre-chilled in a pitcher in the fridge.
Have ice cream and popsicles on hand.
Lay off the hot beverages.
Go to bed with damp hair.
Pull all the blinds and close all the windows during the day (and don’t open them until it cools down outside).
Have the box fan facing out of the window at night.
Put a personal fan in between the bed sheets to blow air onto feet.
Three experiments, four practice talks, and 5-6 consecutive hours of sleep later…
…I’m a PhD candidate now.
Oh my goodness. Quite frankly, it feels surreal still.
My exam began with a 50 minute public presentation on my grant proposal. When I opened up the floor for questions, an eccentric professor “grilled” me with pharmacology questions. I say “grilled” because he’s really nice. Some of his questions I missed and some which I got right. Afterwards he shook my hand and said, “Oh. Your hand is clammy. That’s good! Good level of nerves.” Then he let go, shook my hand again, and said, “Yup. Still clammy. Good luck!” ^_^
I was dismissed for a few minutes then I was invited back into the room to begin my oral exam with my committee.
After an hour of experimental set-up questions and some rheumatoid arthritis questions, I was dismissed once more. And once I came back in, one of my committee members smiled and went, “congratulations.”
The excitement and joy was overwhelming. However, I didn’t sleep well the night before and I worked roughly 50 hours prior to my exam. Within a few minutes after passing, I felt like passing out. I had a soda afterwards and had was surviving on a little sugar buzz.
I left work an hour later. Then I proceeded to do my laundry, and watch an entire season of Great Food Truck Race on Netflix with half a bottle of wine.
I slept like a rock that night.
The rest of the week was loooooooooong. No experiments planned those days and all I needed to do was paperwork and try to get my head back into “green tea” mode so I can finish my manuscript by the end of the month.
Nevertheless, the weather this weekend looks fabulous, and I haven’t been “outside” for a couple of weeks now.
A hike is definitely in order for Sabrina, PhD candidate. ^_^
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!
As you can see, making hard-boilied eggs involves a lot of waiting. That’s basically all I did this week.
Sit at computer
Wait for ideas to come to mind
Wait until you get into “the zone”
Write in “the zone”
Leave to make some tea
Repeat steps 1-4. Step 5 can also be replaced with going to bathroom or going into lab for something small to do…anything to do except write.
So yeah, that’s all I did. I’ve been writing my grant. It surprises me how slow it’s been going. I think it’s because I’m citing as I’m writing, but at least I have EndNote to help with it. EndNote is fabulous.
I even planned out a couple of my days at the conference. Excuse me while I nerd out for a second, but there’s an entire poster and presentation session on the same topic as my thesis on Sunday afternoon and I’m pumped!
My poster presentation is on Monday morning. Looking at the other topics in my session, my abstract is the only about green tea and arthritis–potential advantage in the poster contest?!
Let’s see…next Friday I have an eye appointment for the first time in two years. I think it’s time I change up my frames. I’ve been rocking the black frame for two years now.
And I also have a deep tissue massage that afternoon. My neck and my back need it.
Since my life was pretty uneventful this week, allow me to introduce you to my roommate.
In January 2015 I felt a tug in my heart for a little furry friend. So on January 21st, 2015 I walked into the Spokane Humane Society and saw:
Immediately my heart melted. I wanted her not to be scared anymore in the shelter, and I knew I can be a good mom to her. I processed her paperwork that afternoon and took her home that evening.
In the few hours I had before I took her home, I prepared her toilet and food and water bowl, and I was thinking of her new name. Her slave name (the name originally given to her) was Cali, and I wanted to give her a new name to signify her new life with me. Looking at her, I noticed these spots of orange fur on her body. Even half of her face is orange. She seemed sweet, but with a little kick. Kinda like…
And so her (real) name was decided. :3
The first few days were a little rough on both of us. She’s EXTREMELY shy, so she didn’t really come out from under the bed. Eventually, she warmed up to me (after she realized that it was I who was feeding her) and now we’re BFFs 4 Lyfe. Like that Lana Del Rey song, “now my life is sweet like cinnamon.”
This week she’s revisiting this silly habit she has when we’re sleeping. You see, I sleep on one side of the bed which allows for ~50% of the bed for her. But where does she like to curl up? Right on top of my head. Yup, I wake up to find we’re sharing the same pillow. In my head I’m like, “Kitty, there is all this space on the bed plus 3 extra pillows. Why do you insist on using the same pillow?!”
She also has a new hangout. I save the tissue paper from my victoria secret purchases (cause tissue paper serisously costs $3 and that’s $2 too much). I keep it in another victoria secret bag which is next to my stack of plastic bags that I also save (to line the bathroom trashcan and for kitty’s toliet). Cinnamon has taken it upon herself to hang out in the bag of tissue paper!
So there you have it. I hope you guys have/had a wonderful Easter!
I’ll end it here with a collage of Cinnamon photos (cause I have so many of them).