Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Cheers to spontaneous moments

I was reminiscing some memorable moments in my life last night. These pleasing memories are of relatively simple events where something spontaneous happened, and everything seemed to click like magic for just a few hours. These are the moments I cherish most, and I spend most my time chasing them down again. When they happen, you don't always know they're happening (it's part of what makes it so wonderful) but you also don't realize how wonderful that moment is right then and there. You feel like it's normal and happens all the time.
One of these moments was during my first year of graduate school (when I used to go out). I went out with a small group of friends to celebrate a friend's birthday on a quiet Thursday night in the middle of December. I remember that it was chilly and dark. We went to a little pub down the street and sat around the table talking and drinking. It doesn't seem that eventful, but for some reason, I had more fun that night than I can remember having in a long time. It wasn't what we did but everything at that moment just seemed to click. It was the first (and last) time I did tequila shots. We went to a dance club and danced like fools. No one else was there. It was so much fun to have the whole club to ourselves. Because there were no expectations, there was no anxiety, and everything was natural and smooth. That was a great night.
The second spontaneous experience was my first Bicycle Fun Club ride. I was nervous because I went by myself to this strange place to go on a strange bike ride with hundreds of strangers. Everyone was very friendly and it became a lot of fun right away. There was a short, middle, and long route. We began by taking the ferry across the Mississippi. The water was clean and calm and egrets and hawks sat amongst the trees on the banks. Some hard-core bicyclists teased me about my body marking (numbering from a race on the arm and leg) left over from a triathlon the day before. I remeber thinking it was odd that a "triathlon prejudice" existed.
After we reached the other side, I decided to do the middle distance, about 35 miles. I set out and biked alone for the first part. Soon, I realized I was going the same pace as a guy next to me. I would pass him, then he would pass me, and so forth. This went on for a mile or two. I pulled up next to him and introduced myself. He removed his headphones, and we started up a conversation. He was very friendly, and it was definitely more fun to ride with someone than alone so we decided to ride together.
His name was Gary. He was middle-aged and worked in construction as a welder. He used to smoke and had been inactive but then he developed heart problems. He now was addicted to his bike. He had a pacemaker and was tough as nails. He was doing the long ride and convinced me to go the distance with him. His story amazed me. He had found an activity he was passionate about and that was keeping him young. I couldn't believe how he tackled the hills (and there were several killers on that ride). I worried that he might have problems because of his heart, but he hung in there. We took breaks here and there, but I was grateful for the rest (although I didn't admit that I needed them). It was such an incredible, magical afternoon. We were very comfortable riding alongside each other, talking about our respective lives and significant others.
I think it's amazing how activities, like cycling, can bring people together who would never talk or meet under normal circumstances. Where else in my life would I meet a guy like Gary? It was so refreshing and enlightening to meet someone new. I encourage everyone out there to try new things and meet new people. It may just surprise you. And, Gary, wherever you are out there, thank you. I hope you're doing well.

Weekend Report

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend. I spent the entire weekend packing. I had the time, and I got the bug. I packed everything I never use, rarely use, or could bare without using until August (for Jason)/December (me). 54 boxes neatly labeled and numbered with a corresponding inventory list stacked in piles in the basement. We went through everything: closets, garage, clothes. There is a huge pile for trash (old furniture crap and stuff) and another for give-away (clay pots, horse tack, etc.) in the garage. I then polished it off with a dusting, vacuum, and litter box changing. I can't believe how much I did. Now, I'm trying to get everything in order to get back into my lab/exercise routine. Pay bills (check), finalize moving trip in August (harder than you would think to reserve a goddamn truck), set up utilities, etc., etc. Lab is picking up nicely. I'm breaking out of my sluggish rut.
Tried a new restaurant this weekend. I took Jason out to celebrate getting into UCSDs econ program since he wouldn't congratulate himself. Bought him a card and a laptop computer (he's upset at the expense, but who's going to turn down a computer?). Then, we saw Star Wars. Very entertaining. Never underestimate the power of dinner and a movie. It was a lot of fun.

P.S. Why does Grievous (the bug guy) in Star Wars cough all the time? I couldn't figure that one out.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Relaxing little nook I photographed in our backyard a week ago. Sunlight was hitting the coral bells during the early evening, making them look like they were on fire.  Posted by Hello

Lakeshore Path; Madison, WI in February. So glad it's May. So glad I'm moving somewhere warm. Brrrrr! Posted by Hello

Watercolor of a wolf I did. Painting is something I don't get to do enough of.  Posted by Hello

Some songs that are simply awesome

1. 10,000 Maniacs "Because the Night"
2. Temple of the Dog "Hunger Strike"
3. Audioslave "Like a Stone"
4. Pearl Jam "Indifference"
5. Red Hot Chili Peppers "I Could Have Lied"
6. Chris Issak "Wicked Games"
7. Bruce Springstein "I'm on Fire"
8. Aerosmith "Sweet Emotion"
9. Aretha Franklin "A Rose is Still a Rose"
10. Natalie Cole "Reverend Lee"
11. The Beatles "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
12. Simon and Garfunkel "The Boxer"
13. Creedence Clearwater Revival "Down on the Corner"
14. Moby "Evening Rain"
15. Dixie Chicks "Landslide"
16. Eagles "Take It Easy"
17. Garbage "Only Happy When It Rains"
18. Guns 'N Roses "Sweet Child Of Mine"
19. Metallica "The Unforgiven"
20. Pantera "Planet Caravan"

Quote and Word of the Day


"What would you do if you had a million dollars?"
"Nothing...I would sit on my ass all day; I would do nothing."

--from the movie Office Space (one of the most awesome movies of all times)



A word I'm trying out as an alternative for cool, kick ass, sweet, or tight.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Baby Taz on a leash in Wisconsin. Posted by Hello

Taz's story

I need to post about my first bunny since I wrote about Oscar (Cokie) and Babs. I got Taz from a petstore, knowing nothing about bunnies. I wasn't even planning on getting a bunny when I walked in. I was getting food for my fish. This is SO bad, bad, bad! I always look around the petstore when I go. I saw a room with bunnies in it. They had just gotten a bunch of baby bunnies.
Petstores are bad b/c they usually don't take very good care of their animals. They want to sell them as quickly as possible and spend as little on their care as possible. It's a business. If they get sick, they usually put them down instead of paying for a vet bill. They don't always euthanize, and some of the ways the animals are destroyed are inhumane. Plus, if the pets get too old, they destroy them because customers want baby animals. Not only that, they don't always know how to care for their bunnies and they give customers inaccurate information. The bunnies are sold at too young an age and often come home with an illness. They are often kept in crowded plastic boxes with poor ventilation. When possible, always adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue group. These animals need homes, and they have been cared for properly and socialized. You know what you're getting.
Okay, I'm stepping off my soapbox now. All the bunnies were black and white (Dutch bunnies) except one. He was soft brown and stared up at me quietly with liquid eyes. The others jumped around and played, but he was the only one that seemed to have noticed me. I picked him up and held him. I'm allergic to cats and dogs, but I discovered that I'm not allergic to bunnies. He was unbelievably soft and sat very still in my arms. That was it.
I brought him home, surprising Jason and knowing nothing about how to care for him. He was 4 weeks old. He taught me that bunnies are affectionate and love to play and exercise. We named him Taz after the Tazmanian Devil b/c when he was a youngster, he tore through the apartment with gusto. He got into everything. He is so precious. He used to run circles around my feet and then Jason's feet, alternating and doing little figure 8s. I have a video of him doing it. He loves Jason and plops down by his side every chance he gets.
One time, I had such a bad migraine, I was lying on the floor because I couldn't make it to the bed without the room spinning and overwhelming nausea. Taz came over and began licking my temple, in the exact spot that my brain was pulsating out of my skull. It felt amazing. He took care of me. It was precious. He still takes care of me. He jumps onto the bad and cuddles with me when Jason is out of town. He waits by the door when I come home late.
I lucked out with Taz. He made me want to help other bunnies and learn more about them. He is turning 6 in June. Bunnies can live from 9-12 years old. He is the sweetest little guy (4 lbs). He is still luxuriously soft. He purrs when I pet him. He is the only bunny that grooms me. He licks my face, my nose, my eyelids--verrry carefully. He makes happy little grunts when I pet him and whimpers when I trim his nails. He is very good at putting me on guilt trips. He plays the poor little victim when Babs bullies him. He runs up to strangers and runs to the door when the doorbell rings to see who it is (he scared the pizza guy one time). He begs for food by standing on his hind feet like a dog. He loves popcorn. He licks the refrigerator and the dishwasher. I've taken him to Wisconsin and he ran around my in-laws house and played with the dolls in the living room, dancing with them and looking up their skirts. He is my little bunny. In a way, he is kind of my favorite b/c he's my first.

Thinking of California. Banana slug in redwood forest near my parents' house. Mascot of UC-Santa Cruz. I kissed one in day camp on a dare when I was a kid.  Posted by Hello

Coomassie of one of my protein purification attempts. The first lane is what I start with. The last lane is what I'm left with. Not very much. Glad I don't have to do this anymore.  Posted by Hello

Guess what this is... Posted by Hello

Bad graduate student

I'm being a bad graduate student. I've had a slow week. For some reason, when things are slow, I have a hard time doing the 1 or 2 things I should be doing. Why is that? Plus, my P.I. is out of the lab tomorrow. I may just take part of the day off! Shhhh. I deserve it (I'm rationalizing). I've been working my butt off, and I hardly take any time off.
Yesterday, I planned a date for Jason and I for this weekend to congratulate him for getting into graduate school. I bought him a laptop (he will need it, and he wasn't going to buy it himself). I'm taking him out to dinner on Saturday (steak. mmmm.) and then Star Wars. It's all planned. I'm excited. Yea! Sunday, we're going to Grant's Farm (his suggestion; we've never been), and then we're grilling out in the backyard that evening. We're trying to enjoy everything before we leave St. Louis.
Our 5-year wedding anniversary is coming up in June. I bought him some little things that he's going to love. Plus, I got Cardinals tickets for Friday night (the day of our anniversary), which he's excited about. I don't particularly love baseball but it's the last season at Busch Stadium, and it's the last summer we will be in St. Louis.
Jason also loves golf but never gives himself time to do it. We're going on a golf date with some friends from lab that golf. I'm trying to hook them up since they have a lot in common. Other things to do in St. Louis before we go? The Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, the Butterfly House, the Art Museum...and one last party at our place to celebrate the house and yard before we go. I'm glad I'm planning fun things in addition to everything else. It brings balance into a hectic time.
Yes, I have a fun list. I have a wish list. I have a long-term to-do list. I have a lab list. I have a daily list. I have a moving list. I have an inventory list. I even write down on my calendar when to start worrying about things, like "June 6th, begin worrying about Father's Day gift". I think I need a list of my lists. A little obsessive-compulsive? Oh, well.
Update on suspicious mole: it's not cancer. Yea! They are atypical cells so I wasn't out of my mind. The derm may remove more to be safe. Maybe next week I'll have more stitches to show off.
Last night, I was pretty good. I went for a run even though I didn't feel like it. Then, I worked on packing. Books and CDs. Books are heavy. They take up a lot of space too. I don't have a lot of stuff to throw out (although I looked) b/c I've already gone through the house and organized everything and threw out stuff previously (a routine I do every 4 months).
I've been a little bad about eating chocolate and sweets but I think, on the whole, better than usual. Slow, steady progress. And maybe it's a good thing I can't do heavy weight lifting sessions or swim since I'm starting back into it. Focusing on running and cycling makes it simpler so I don't get overwhelmed with all the exercise I "have" to do.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Bluebell Posted by Hello

Picture of our bike from the Felt website. Awesome! Posted by Hello

Cloud 9

I biked last night. 35 minutes on the trainer. It was torture. I think my next biking workout will be outside. Trainers are boring. At least I got to watch Sex and the City while I biked. I wore my heart rate monitor and made sure it stayed between 130 and 150. Good base building. During the commercials, I did 1 minute sprints and stood up in the saddle to get my heart rate up. Then, I pedaled at 95 rpm during the show, reaching a nice, steady-state pace. It worked out pretty well. Except that it was really, really hard! Probably because I can't even remember the last time I rode Bluebell (the nickname for my bike; Jason's is Asphalt).
After the bike, I did a ton of ab and abductor exercises while watching the Shield (awesome show, b.t.w.). I slept like a baby. Except that it's hard to sleep in my favorite position b/c of the stitches in my shoulder. But, oh well. I compensated.
This morning, I met with my committee chair. She was so positive! She said I had done a Ph.D.'s worth of work and could defend in December with no more meetings. She said my work was elegant and publishable and that I was very focused. Jeez. I'm starting to get a big head with all these compliments. Plus, did I mention the progress report I had last week? My P.I. called me into her office and complimented for 10 minutes! I'm a hard worker and organized and thinking independently about my project. All sorts of good stuff! I feel like I'm floating on Cloud 9 right now. I wish it could be like this forever.
Plus, I've been getting to bed at a decent time and waking up a little bit earlier and exercising this week. Maybe I'm finally getting back on track. Oh! And no more 16 hour days for awhile b/c we're nixing the protein purification project! I'm using an alternative approach hidden up my sleeve. It will be A LOT easier. It's another beautiful day to match my mood. 70s, sunny, crisp, clear, and gorgeous. Windows open. Light breeze. 50s at night. Can it be like this all year? Oh, yeah. That's San Diego.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

24 Little Hours

I feel 100% better today. Yesterday was very productive. It was great. I have tons of energy again. We went for a 4-mile run yesterday evening. It was hot--85 and humid. I had to wear a shirt with sleeves to cover up my shoulder. It was hard, but I did it! I even passed a few people. Okay, I know. I get too competitive.
She was in front of me, and she was starting to pass this other girl. I felt good and picked up the pace. I passed her and the girl she was trying to pass. Jason kept pace, no problem, very entertained by my antics. She was definitely surprised as I blew by her. I settled into a steady pace once again, being quite out of breath after this exertion. A mile down the path, I see a shadow behind her. A quarter mile later, she passes me! The race is on. She had most definitely picked up the pace to catch me after I passed her. I straggled behind her, lungs burning. I could keep pace, but I couldnt quite catch her. We had half a mile left to go. Jason, who had been checking himself to pace with me, couldn't hold back any longer. He let loose, and smoked her. Yea, Jason! I'll take it. The girl definitely didn't like it, and she picked up the pace again, but Jason was gone. She checked her watch and slowed up. I never did catch her again, but I'm sure I could have if I was in better shape. What a run. I love how complete strangers motivate me. I can't believe I ran a 1/2 marathon a little over a month ago.
I felt energized the rest of the night. Not only that, I ate healthy all day! I didn't even succumb to ice cream! Yea! Go me! I was able to pick up the house, iron, shake out bunny towels, garden a little, and then go down in the basement and organize boxes. My mom thought it was cute; I told her I had to go because I had to do my chores.
Gardening was fun. The yard is gorgeous. I knew we would be moving about the time when the garden took off. I just can't believe I planted some of these gorgeous flowers by seed. Except the schizos next door were out, and one must not have taken his medicine or something because he kept shouting, cackling, cursing, and going on about burying people in the desert, shotguns, knives, and pistols. Hmmmm.
I had so much fun in the basement too. Except for all the spiders. Yucky. I took inventory of all the boxes and numbered them carefully. I put other items in a trash corner and a Goodwill corner. Another corner was stuff for my sister. Very organized. We are videotaping the house (it's so nice and clean) tonight, and then I can resume packing, room by room.
I'm in very good spirits. It's gorgeous and 70s and sunny outside. We can sleep with the windows open--such a luxury. The bunnies are happy and playful. Babs woke me up by getting under the bed and digging at the mattress this morning so that the whole bed shook. I swear, if it's not one of them, then it's another. Anyway, here's to another great day for everyone out there!

My battle wound from the dermatolgist appt. Posted by Hello


Monday, May 23, 2005

St. Louis Crime

This was an e-mail Wash. U. security sent all employees and students. They let us know about the crime but don't do anything. Don't you love it? We get this kind of message anywhere from once a week to once a month.

On Friday, 05-20-2005 at approximately 8:30 pm a Medical School employeewas robbed as she was placing items into her vehicle which was parked onthe street level of the Forest Park Parking Garage near the Lacledeentrance. The victim described the suspect as a young African Americanmale in his early twenties, 5' 08" tall and 150 pounds. He was wearing adark shirt and light pants. The suspect demanded money and her vehicle. He took her purse and contents then fled the area, running toward ForestPark Parkway. The suspect told the victim he was armed, but did notdisplay a weapon. The employee was not injured."

Walking the thin line

I have a confession to make. When I began exercising consistently several years ago, I was motivated by reasons other than health. I wanted to look good. I have always hated the way my gut looks, and more than anything, I wanted "Britney Spears" abs (Britney Spears back then, not today). On the one hand, it motivated me to eat right and exercise, but I went through periods where I denied myself food and exercised way too much. I was very unhappy. There was this drill seargent in my head, barking orders, tearing me down when I took a day off.
I remember one run Jason and I took on a very hot, humid day. We were going for 6 miles, and I didn't feel so great, and it was around 1 pm, 95 degrees, and so humid, it was hard to breathe. I felt like crap, but I wouldn't stop. Jason asked if I wanted to stop. "Not unless I fall down, pass out, or throw up," I replied. Then I almost wanted one of those things to happen to justify stopping. That scared me. We joined a gym shortly after, and I spent 2-3 hours at the gym every day. It took up all my free time. I remember thinking that I couldn't keep this up because it was exhausting. There were days so low I remember wishing I could be anorexic. I would research the topic in search of ways to stop eating and not be hungry. "How do they do it?" I wondered. Did I lack the will and strength to abstain from food? This way of thinking was pathetic.
Somewhere around this time, I began having knee problems and started cross-training. I realized that triathlon training might be something I would enjoy. I signed up for my first triathlon and started training. I was logging around 15 hours a week at this time. Soon, I suffered from exhaustion and several injuries. I no longer looked forward to my workouts and I was becoming depressed and irritable. I was suffering from signs of overtraining. I learned that, sometimes, less is more, and I backed off on the training volume. I began to focus on the quality, not quantity of each workout. I outlined a plan for my training schedule so that not every workout was at such a high intensity level. I also scheduled rest days. This seemed to work a lot better. I could follow the plan and not be so afraid that if I took 1 rest day, that I would become a ball of flab.
The first triathlon was awesome. It was exhilarating and energizing. I felt so good and strong afterwards. It was liberating and built up my confidence. I was amazed at what my body could do. I wondered how much it could really do. For the first time, I was relishing in what my body could do, and not focusing so much on how it looked. At the same time, I was forced to listen to my body. After the race, I was exhausted and it was so rewarding to nap and watch movies the rest of the weekend. I had earned a rest. In addition, I was ravenous. My body told me what to eat. I craved eggs, fruit, and tuna fish. It was obvious that my body needed this. I slowly began listening to my body and trying to work with it to see how far I could go. I wasn't working against myself for the first time.
Today, I'm struggling with balancing lab and a drastically changing life with routine and exercise, which I crave. I've lost a significant amount of fitness, and this depresses me. At the same time, it feels good to work out simply for the work out and not for some ultimate competitive goal. I'm learning to enjoy exercise again for the simple pleasure of the exercise and fresh air. It's nice not to be so competitive and not feel so pressured. There's something about getting outside and running until your panting and dripping sweat that is refreshing.
It's still a constant battle. I think I will feel better once I steer myself back on track--with regular workouts and a healthier eating plan. Right now, I feel like a blob. I know I could revert back to my original, over-critical self very easily, and I'm fighting it. It's not rational. In my head, I know what is good for me and healthy, but emotionally, I feel like sometimes I have no control over these belittling, self-deflating thoughts. I plod on.


I'm really mad at myself. I've been eating like a pig lately. I'm going to make a conscious effort to start eating healthfully. Here are some tips I'm going to follow that I thought might be useful for other people wanting to get on the right track.
1. Keep a food journal. You can see how much you eat and what you eat. Be honest. Also, take notes of when you're eating, how hungry you were, and what you felt like. This can help you pinpoint whether you're eating b/c you're hungry or bored or depressed.
2. Use calories like a budget. You have a fixed amount you can use each day. Spend them wisely. Instead of eating chips or cookies, try to eat something satisfying and nutritious to meet your daily requirements.
3. Exercise. This will help keep everything in check. This is like putting money in the bank.
4. Eat 5-6 small meals a day. You shouldn't feel hungry. Don't starve yourself. You're more likely to overeat and make bad decisions when you're ravenous. Also, if you consisently deny yourself calories, your body goes into "starvation mode" and your metabolism slows, slowing weight loss.
5. Make small, consistent changes--slowly. There is no such word as "diet." You have to eat right every day the rest of your life. So make them bearable. 1 week, replace soda with water. After that gets easier, try eating whole grain bread instead of white and so on.
6. Before you eat, make sure you're hungry. Evaluate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10. If you're 6 or above, eat something. Otherwise, you might just be bored. Not sure? Try taking a walk or knitting or doing another activity for 20 minutes. If you're still thinking of food afterwards, have a snack.
7. Leave room in your calorie budget for your favorite foods. There is no such thing as a forbidden or bad food. This will only intensify your craving for it, leading to a binge later on down the road. If you love chocolate, dole out 2-3 mini Hershey bars (the kind you get on Halloween) and enjoy.
8. Eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that your full. Your less likely to overeat if you savor your food. On the same note, don't overeat. Listen to your body. Stop eating when your full, not stuffed.
9. Get lots of sleep and try to de-stress every day with something enjoyable, like Yoga, meditation, a bath, or a quiet walk, even if it's only for 10 minutes.
10. If you have a bad day, don't despair. 1 pound is 3500 excess calories so it's probably impossible that you can do enough damage in 1 day to affect your weight. The next day, re-evaluate and start fresh. Maybe you can cut back a little or exercise a little more the next few days to burn off the excess. Everyone has a bad day. It's okay.

our new apartment Posted by Hello

New Apartment, New Life Approaching

I've been so emotionally overwhelmed lately. I think that's why I've been so tired. We signed a lease on a gorgeous apartment this weekend! I'm very excited. I love it. I blew up a floorplan and arranged all of our furniture. I took inventory on everything and put it in different categories: apartment, storage, or Goodwill. Turns out we don't need storage! My sister is moving into her first apartment and needs furniture. We made a deal. She can use it if I can store it at her place. Pretty good deal, huh?
Now, I can't wait to start packing. The house is spotless so we're videotaping tonight. Then, it's all going into boxes. I'm going to itemize every box so it's very clear what's in what. Jason has to move at the beginning of August for his graduate program, but I can't move until December (the earliest). That sucks. I hate how we'll have to be apart. I'll have to be all alone in a big, empty house in a scary city with lots of crime. Wonderful. At least I'll have the buns.
It's also hard planning the logistics of the move. Since my sis needs her stuff by early September, and moving is expensive, we've figured out a detailed, if not complicated, plan. Here's how we're going to do it. We'll pack everything up, rent a giant Ryder truck, and recruit some good friends to help us load the truck. My sister's stuff will go in first since it's coming out last. I'm treating my friends to free beer and dinner. Is that good enough? Helping someone move sucks.
Then, I'll take off from lab (bad time to do it with a defense coming up), and ride out with Jason to San Diego. We can do the entire drive in 3 days total. My dad is meeting us there with the Nissan pickup truck (for Jason so he doesn't have to rent a car--we share 1 car currently). We'll unpack on the 4th day. I'll fly back on the 5th or 6th day, and Jason and my dad will drive up to my parents' place to unload my sister's stuff. Then, Jason will fly back down to San Diego and get ready for school. Whew. Does that make sense?
Once I get back to St. Louis (all by my lonesome self), I'll work my ass off in lab. The house will be empty except for the bunnies (yea!), the bed that we're getting rid of, a little t.v. that we're selling, a card table with folding chairs (again, disposable), and some plastic dishes to eat off of. I'll live out of my suitcase for a few months. Any other odds and ends that we will want in San Diego, we'll box up and DHL it across country. It sucks because the house will be so empty. If I want to work out, I'll go the gym. It'll be a good incentive to work harder in lab.
Finally, in December, after I defend, we'll load up our little Corolla with the buns, our suitcases, and drive out to San Diego--the final trip. That's our gameplan.

Battle of the Mole

I saw the derm today. He was concerned my mole had changed. So he took it out and is having it biopsied. I feel giddy, dizzy, and disoriented after the minor, minor office procedure. Anyone else feel like this after the doctor? I think I get so nervous beforehand that I feel extremely relieved and happy afterwards since it's never as bad as I imagine. They numbed it up and took a cookie-cutter and took it out. Then, they stitched it up. He said no swimming or weight lifting for a month! Damn! Makes my exercise routine simpler. Abs, biking, and running. Okay. My shoulder is very gross considering they just took out a little mole. They had to put a HUGE bandaid on it to keep it from oozing. I have this cool war wound to show off in lab. Do I get a lollipop?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

What is wrong with me?

This title is like opening a can of worms. But, specifically, I'm mostly talking about fatigue. Every time I begin to start to get back into a routine, something throws me off. Ever since the trip to San Diego, I've been all screwed up. Basically, the 2 weeks before San Diego, I worked my ass off in lab. The next week, I was in San Diego. The next week, I worked my ass off in lab and had a committee meeting. I spent the rest of that week recovering. So, by May 16th I had decided it was time to get back into a normal schedule.
It was going okay until a protein purification kept me in lab until 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning. Is that why I've been so tired? How long does it take to recover from a busy day or a few busy weeks? I mean, c'mon! Get with the program, already!
I have been addicted to lab. It's good, but I can't do anything else. I get in there, and I don't want to leave. This has never happened. Normally, I can delegate life and work a little better than this. Balance, anyone?
So I come home on Friday and feel this overwhelming exhaustion come over me. I lie down, just for a minute, I promise. Jason and I were looking forward to a run, maybe renting some movies. I doze off at 7:30. Okay, fine. But then, I don't wake up until 9:30 a.m. the following morning. What the f...? After cleaning litterboxes at home, and volunteering at the House Rabbit Society and cleaning 16 more bunny cages and pens, I return home at 5:30 p.m., and nap again until 8:30 p.m. I slept last night, no problem, for about 9 hours. After a great pancake, watermelon, and coffee breakfast, I fell asleep on the couch with the t.v. blasting for another 5 hours.
Now, I'm up. I don't feel tired. But this is just weird. What is wrong with me? I don't feel the events in my life justify this amount of fatigue. Am I just being lazy? Why am I having such a hard time fighting this? Is it the antidepressants? If so, why now? I've been on them for 3 or 4 months; I would have expected side effects earlier. This is just simply unacceptable to me. The high levels of energy I normally possess allow me to do everything I want to do. How can I get my energy back?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Babs, my little girl.  Posted by Hello

Taz grooming Babs (inspiration for watercolor pencil I posted earlier). Posted by Hello

Babs, flipping over for attention. Posted by Hello

Bab's story

As you can see, I've been so busy in lab, I've had no time to work out. I do feel very guilty about this. I'm going to have to work extra hard to slough off the Buddha belly I'm acquiring. However, instead of boring you with lab details, I can tell cute animal stories:

I decided Taz needed a bondmate after having him for 3 1/2 years. He was very comfortable and happy with our small family but I had read that bunnies are very social and like company. Jason and I are gone most of the day so I worried he might be lonely. Jason was very reluctant but I wore him down gradually. It took several months. He made me swear I would not adopt any more pets after Babs. (I already broke that promise). I discovered the House Rabbit Society and decided to adopt a rabbit from them since they had so many rabbits that needed good homes. I found Babs' picture on the web. She looked just like Taz. Her name at the time was Velvet.
(Both Taz and Babs are mini-Rexes, which is a breed with incredibly soft fur. They have a mutation that disrupts production of the bristly guard hair that most animals have. So mini Rexes have downy-soft baby fur all their lives. It's softer than velvet. I've never felt anything softer. You can't stop petting them, which they love.)
I brought Taz over to meet Velvet. They got along okay. Taz was introduced to some other potential bondmates but Taz hated all of them. He tolerated Velvet the best, and Velvet really liked him. The foster mom was impressed b/c she had apparently already rejected several suitors. However, she kept trying to steer me towards other bunnies, which I thought was odd. I decided to adopt Velvet and rename her Babs, keeping with the Looney Tunes theme (after the Tiny Tunes girl rabbit character).
After bringing Velvet home, she turned into a different bunny. She was extremely aggressive when inside a pen and extremely fearful when outside during playtime. She didn't want me to pet her and bit hard when I stepped inside her territory. I found out later that her foster mom had hidden her in the sanctuary (where unadoptable bunnies go) after she had bitten and attacked many prospective adopters. Obviously, something terrible had happened in her past that had taught her to deeply mistrust people and consider them a threat. I had adopted an unadoptable bunny.
The bonding sessions didn't go well either. She attacked Taz tooth and nail. Poor petrified Taz kept trying to run away. Poor guy. Babs didn't respond to me either, which didn't help when I was trying to separate them. In fact, when I tried to stop her from lunging at him, she leapt up, grabbed hold of my hand with her teeth, and hung. I had to shake her off. I still have a scar.
At this point, I was crying and upset because I didn't want to give up on her, but Taz and I were both afraid of her, and I was considering giving her back. But I didn't. I started bonding sessions between her and me so she could get used to me. I spent a lot of time in her pen, reading, singing, and hanging out so I could earn her trust. I continued the bonding sessions, petting them and taking them to strange places together (vet, friends' apartments, dry bathtub, porch, top of washing machine, PetsMart, etc.) so Babs would be too apprehensive to feel aggressive.
Gradually, persistence paid off. Biting became nipping, which I still hated. I would shriek, stomp my foot, and leave (much like a bunny in distress does). Soon, she learned that nudging me with her nose was much more effective than nipping. In addition, I would lay down when I was near her so she would feel less threatened by me. Curiosity would win her over (it's not often people would lie down beside her), and she'd come over and investigate. Soon, after I lay down, she would lay down too, and that would be the signal for me to come over and pet her. Now, when she feels that she's being ignored, she spontaneously flips over on her back like a dog playing dead. I find this so adoreably irresistible, I am forced to drop whatever I'm doing and come over and pet her.
3 months later, I had won Babs over, and 6 months later, Babs and Taz were bonded. Taz and Babs now co-exist peacefully. They groom each other and cuddle. She still bullies him, especially at feeding and snuggle time. They're more like brother and sister than husband and wife. But she covers him protectively when they ride together in the carrier, and when I pull them apart out of concern for Taz because it looks like she's smothering him, he squishes himself back under her. I know they comfort each other.
Now, when I lay down, I feel a bump, bump on my shoulder, and there's Babs, nudging me for attention. She purrs when I pet her and runs up to me for attention. She races, wriggles, bounces, and leaps like an acrobat with excitement at feeding time. She's a perfect angel when I have to give her medicine or clip her nails. She responds to my voice when I say "Babs," "Good girl," or "No." She waits for me by the bed when I get up in the morning.
Babs has become a member of the family. She's a completely different bunny today then when I brought her home 2 years ago. She'll never be good with strangers, and she still runs and hides under the bed when I try to show her off to friends. But that's okay. She's my special girl.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A happy Cokie, playing with newspaper. Posted by Hello

Cokie's story

My bunnies are like little people to me. They each come to me with their own stories. Some have sad stories, especially the ones that are rescued by the House Rabbit Society. Cokie is such a case. He's a 10 lb., black, middle-aged, grumpy bunny, characteristics that don't make for an appealing pet. His chances of getting adopted were very slim so I started fostering him, where he could be more comfortable in a quieter setting.
He's been in and out of the foster system all his life. He first came to us when he was confiscated by the police during a drug bust. His first owner was a drug dealer, and that is probably where he got his name. (I wanted to change it, but he knows his name. I was going to call him Oscar, after the grouchy Sesame Street muppet). He was then adopted by a father and his son. The son, who was between 6 to 9 years old was responsible for his care. We don't know exactly what happen, but from the change in Cokie's personality during this time, some sort of mistreatment occurred. I can imagine that the boy teased, poked, and denied Cokie food. The father probably didn't pay close enough attention to know what was going on. Cokie became very aggressive and began grunting, charging, and biting, which is what rabbits do when they feel cornered and threatened. Of course, it's also very amusing and probably was positive reinforcement for the boy, who only teased and poked and prodded more. We discovered this and took him back, but the damage had already been done.
When I started fostering, he didn't want to be touched, and at feeding time, he charged, grunted and would bite if he got the chance. Pretty intimidating for a big, black, 10 lb. rabbit. I gave him a box to hide in so he wouldn't feel threatened. I didn't try to pet him. And I figured out a consistent routine for feeding him. Several months later, I was petting him.
Now, he craves attention. He purrs when I pet him and runs over to be petted. He lays down when I read to him or talk to him and just sits and listens as he dozes off. He runs circles excitedly around my feet at feeding time. He still grunts, but they're soft, happy grunts, not loud, aggressive ones.
I was not going to keep him. I have two bunnies, and they're a lot of work, and 3 is a lot to handle. One night, Cokie got sick. I came home and he was huddled in his litterbox. His gut was making awful gurglig noises. He wouldn't eat--a VERY bad sign. He wouldn't charge or grunt. Turned out, he had gastric stasis (his gut had stopped), which can be fatal very quickly in rabbits. I had to force feed him canned pumpkin. Since he's 10 lbs., I was supposed to feed him over 130 cc. I think I got down about 80. It took all night. Both of us were miserable. The bathroom was covered in pumpkin by morning. After an emergency trip to the vet the following morning, they gave him some injections and an i.v. of fluids, and he recovered. Today, he is doing just fine.
After that night, I realized I had fallen in love with him, and I could never give him up. So I've convinced Jason to let me adopt yet a 3rd rabbit. I've begun bonding sessions between Cokie and Babs and Taz (bunnies that don't know each other will fight; they are very territorial). Now, we are planning on taking all 3 to San Diego with us. I'm on the 3rd Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events. He absolutely loves story time.

Protein purification, allergies, and humidity

I was doing protein purification last night in the cold room...again. Until 1:30 a.m. Again. However, it either worked this time or I have given it the ole' college try and don't have to do it again. I also got a rave performance review from my P.I. It gave me such a high. 4 stars!
It's hot here today. Not so much hot as muggy. It's yucky St. Louis weather. Spring morphing into summer. Everything is blooming. The smell of honeysuckle is very strong in our backyard. It is climbing up the back of the garage. My eyes are very itchy. I've doubled up on the Flonase and started Zyrtec, and now I'm fine. The pharmaceutical companies love me. I saw a robin fledgling on my walk to lab. His daddy was teaching him how to hunt for worms in the grass. He still had a bright yellow beak and lots of spots. He chirped very boldly at me but I didn't have any worms for him. I smiled at a woman on my walk this morning as well. I try to smile at strangers when they don't pose as a potential threat (someone who might mug me) because it makes them feel good and me feel good. She smiled back and said, "I wish it was as easy for me as it is for you." What the hell does that mean?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

San Diego, here I come! Posted by Hello

I Did It!

I accepted an offer for a postdoctoral position in one of the labs. I declined offers from the other 4. There is an ocean view from the lab. I can't believe it. I can't believe I got that over with. That's a huge ton of bricks off my chest. My future P.I. told me I could put up wallpaper of palm trees on my computer. It's actually going to happen. Hard to believe. I'm in a fog.

Feeling like a beginner all over again.

I want to start discussing exercise again since that is supposed to be the focus of my blog. I've been getting back into it. I feel like a beginner all over again. I'm taking it slow. I want to be consistent. I don't want to injure myself. I want to build, and I know this will happen with small steps. This has been easy to accomplish.
I've been doing a lot of walking. Sort of by accident. I'll leave my bike in lab and end up walking back and forth from home to lab, which totals 2 miles round trip by the end of the day. Yesterday, I had to walk from lab, to my house, to a friend's house, back to lab, because he needed a digital camera (stat!), and I could help him out. By the time it was all said and done, I had walked a total of about 3 miles. Awesome.
Last night, after I got home, I was tired and sore. I had run 4 miles the day before and done all that walking. I had a big dinner and a large sundae and was lying like a bloated pig on the couch, watching the season finale of The Bachelor (which was unbelievably boring, by the way). It bored me so much, in fact, that it drove me to the basement to work out.
I'm glad I did. I feel good today. I kept the session short--45 minutes. I decided if I wasn't sore today, I could increase it next time. Guess what? I'm sore today. I love that feeling of being sore the next day. It means it's working. I kept the weights light and watched my form. I also did fewer crunches and thought about doing each one carefully and slowly. I think I felt the burn more than when I eek out more sets. This also saves time.
So, moral of the story? #1) Do something. Something is better than nothing. #2) Take it slow. You can always do more next time. It's better than injuring yourself. #3) Be consistent. #4) Work on form. It's quality, not quantity that's going to give you Janet Jackson abs.

Finally, it feels so good just to have fun and work out to work out. Last season, I was so focused on the competition. Everything I did was about the next race. I'm sure I will get back into racing again, but I'm just enjoying exercising right now. I'd like to build up a strong base and be able to do races without having to train specifically for them. Then, they'd be fun and motivational. I wouldn't be so focused on them. I'm having a lot of fun with this new attitude. So moral #5) Have fun. Don't take yourself too seriously.

Exciting new changes

I hate to admit this, but I am having a totally unproductive day at work. I've been procrastinating. Ugh. I know I'll hate myself later for doing it. I was supposed to do a 16-hour protein purification today and have been putting it off. Now it's early afternoon, and I'm panicking b/c I don't want to be here until 4 a.m. I'm debating whether to gut it out or just plan everything carefully and put it off until tomorrow. I'm leaning towards the latter. Only thing is, I have to make up an excuse to my P.I. This is a wonderful way for a senior graduate student to act.
My mind has been wandering. I can't sleep at night. I'm too excited. I feel happy and in control. It's not that I'm actually lazy. I just feel a little overwhelmed. I think I'll spend today planning and preparing to salvage the day and make it somewhat productive and then launch into bench work tomorrow.
I think I've chosen my postdoc lab, and I'm too scared to admit it. I'm thinking of e-mailing the P.I. today and getting the decision over with. I've even had dreams about this. It's all about following gut feelings.
We will find our apartment soon as well. We're getting phone calls from the leasing managers about units for rent. I dreamt about one last night. It was being remodeled and we were touring the unfinished building. I remember having a hard time walking because the floor was made of a rubbery, foam-like substance, and it was undulating from the wind. I think there's some strong symbolism there about feeling unsteady on my feet.
I finished the photos of the house. We're making a video tour of the place tomorrow. It's spotless right now, and I love it. Then, I get to begin phase b of packing. (There are, of course, several phases). I can't wait. Packing and unpacking is like the ultimate organizing. I get to put everything into neat little piles and keep only the essentials. Trash, goodwill, sell, store, or new place.
Then, at the new place, there is so much potential. I get to put everything away for the first time. Everything has it's place. Nothing is ever as clean as after I first unpack. I wipe all the empty drawers with a damp rag to make everything pristine. All items get dusted or washed before putting them away. I get so much satisfaction when I'm all done, and I've made my new home. I love to open and close all the drawers afterwards just to see everything in it's place. It's the ultimate OCD coming out. I am very excited about doing this. I know. It's weird.
I've updated my lists a few times. I'm on track. But I feel like I'm missing something. This is free-floating anxiety, and it's my most dreaded emotion. It's the feeling of impending doom without any reason for feeling like that. Sometimes it's minor, like I forgot something, turning on the alarm, turning off the coffee pot or something. Sometimes it's much worse--someone's going to die, or the house is going to burn down. Luckily, it's only about a 1 on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the lowest (forgetting to turn off the coffee pot). By the way, I've never forgotten to do those things before so why do I worry about them? I know, rationally, that it's silly but emotionally, I can't help it. I know it's because I'm so excited about all the changes going on in my life.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Taz giving Babs a kiss (a watercolor pencil of a photograph I took). Posted by Hello

The front porch Posted by Hello

Our living room (note the bike on the trainer in the corner). Posted by Hello

My favorite sofa to nap on over the weekends (Note the peony by the mirror--courtesy of our garden).  Posted by Hello

A restful reading nook in the backyard Posted by Hello

Another backyard garden pic Posted by Hello

Our backyard (where I spent the weekend gardening)  Posted by Hello

Our lovely house Posted by Hello

Show 'n Tell

I've taken a bunch of photos lately so I thought I'd share. Be sure to scroll down and look at ALL of May. I talk/write/post A LOT so you don't want to miss anything!

Disoriented and Dizzy

Today has been weird. I feel distracted and disoriented. Like I'm floating above my body and watching from the outside in. I felt like that yesterday too. My mind is racing. I keep making lists and I'm getting a lot done but I feel like my wheels are spinning. I guess it's a little of free floating anxiety. I hope I can feel like I'm getting into some sort of a routine. We're close to signing a lease on an apartment in San Diego. I took pics for the realtor. I'm also going to make a decision on my post doc in the next few days (I've already made it, I think, but it's not official yet). All these big-life decisions are making me dizzy.

Odd mole

I should explain the word of the day. I have a funny mole with asymmetric borders that has been changing. I did the right thing and scheduled an appointment with the derm. However, the appointment was 3 months after I noticed the funny mole. I asked if this might be a problem. "Probably not," they said. I showed my primary practicioner. "It's probably nothing." she said. I hate that word. "Probably." What the hell does that mean. Anyway, now it's been 2 months and the damn thing is definitely getting bigger. Then, the dermatologist quit unexpectedly, and my treasureds appointment that I'd been waiting for became null and void. I've been transferred to another dermatologist. I have to wait all over again. July they are now tell me is when I can be seen. Don't you think a possibly life-threatening condition takes precedence over some teen's acne? So anyway, if I die of cancer, I'm suing.

Weekend recap

After a verrrry lazy Saturday, I kicked my ass into gear on Sunday. We gardened, cleaned the house, and I took photos of everything to prepare for selling the house. Spring is so pretty here. I want to photograph the house when it looks its best. I cut peonies and roses and put them in vases around the house. I feel like Martha Stewart. Jason saw the photos and was like, "Wow! Those look good." I guess he forgets we live in a nice house. It will be different moving into a little apartment once we move to San Diego. I don't care. I would be happy living on the beach there.
I love taking photos. It was so fun. I kept taking all these artsy photos of flowers. Jason was like, "That doesn't add anything." I know! They're artsy fartsy pics for me, silly! I like to paint the photos I take. It's so relaxing.
I keep dreaming of San Diego and surfing. I dreamt I tried to go in the water, but the waves were full of black wetsuits, and I couldn't get in the water without getting trampled by a surfer. I want to learn how to surf! I also think rock climbing and roller blading would kick ass. I've never done these things before.
This morning, I kept chasing the stray cat away from the bird feeder. We saw it run off with a bird in its mouth yesterday. When we trimmed the bushes, we found bird remannts around the bottom of the bird feeder. It's supposed to be a bird haven, not a bird slaughter house! I kept chasing the cat away from a female cardinal this morning. 3x! Very persistant cat. I want to catch it and put a bell on its neck but it's very sly. I don't know if it's a stray or not. I did feed it tuna fish this winter when it was huddled under the bird feeder, shivering from the cold. I felt sorry for it. This is what I get. I love animals, and I try to help them, and then they eat each other.

Word and Quote of the Day

Squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC)
- A skin tumor or cancer likely derived from the keratinocytes (skin- surface cells) closer to the surface of the skin. There are several grades of squamous-cell carcinoma, depending on how unusual the tumor's cells are. The less normal (and less natural) the cells are, the more aggressively (badly) they usually behave. For example, poorly differentiated (not looking much like any normal tissue found in the skin) squamous-cell carcinoma has a much greater tendency to spread unchecked and kill a patient than well-differentiated SCC.


"If there was an ounce of modesty in this room, it would bounce around like a pea in a barn."
--my grandfather Lloyd from Danville, VA

Friday, May 13, 2005


This guy called me "Mam" in the elevator. Just a note to you guys. Women like to be called "Miss" no matter what the age. Mam makes us feel old. I've been doing a lot of on-line shopping and taking it easy. Looking forward to the weekend. Trying to wake up before 10:30 a.m. What is wrong with me? I just want to lie on the rug with the bunnies and watch t.v.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Periods suck!

For the squemish or faint of heart, you may want to skip this post. Be advised, some graphic descriptions are to follow.
Can I just say that being a woman sucks sometimes! I feel like my periods last all freakin' month! One week of PMS. One week of period. One week of ovulation cramps. Suck. Suck. Suck ass. I just love gaining a pound overnight for no reason and feeling like a huge pig for eating half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and Rocky Road ice cream with Hershey's syrup.
I had quite the adventure this morning when I discovered I was out of tampons. It's like a bad addiction I can't quit. I hunted all over the house for a secret stash. I knew I had to have some somewhere. I just needed 1 to get me through the morning before I could get to the store. I finally found some in the bottom of an old suitcase. They were a little smushed and bent up, but still useable. However, my make-shift pad didn't quite do the trick, and I spent the next 20 minutes retracing my steps with the bottle of Woolite pet stain remover (normally for bunny accidents) and a rag, vigorously cleaning up spots of blood splattered on the rug and bathroom floor. I don't even have a chance to dry off after the shower! It looked like I had butchered a small animal. Lots of fun.
I managed to find some tampons at a liquor store, thank God. The slim pinks are a joke. The yellow normals are for lucky gals who don't know what the real curse is like. The super greens are for me before the i.u.d. And, now, the orange super "plus" tampons are the only ones that last more than 2 hours. One time, a friend asked to borrow a tampon. I gave her an orange one, and she freaked out. "How can you use these missiles?" she asked me. Believe me, boys. In case you're getting funny ideas. I do not enjoy it.
I'm sitting here, feeling like I'm wearing a diaper and popping Advil like tic tacs, doubled over in pain from random cramping stabs in my abdomen and back. My body is revolting as I fend off oily hair, pimples, weight gain, and crazy cravings for greasy hamburgers and loads of chocolate. Let's just say that I don't feel pretty.

Morning glories on our backyard fence last summer. We have such a nice garden.  Posted by Hello