Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Skipping the holidays...

I love my family because I have to love my family. They, and the associated drama, have a tendency to drive me up the wall, but I deal with it because I have known nothing else. In fact, until I met Mr. Dr Zeek and his associated family (which is quite large in comparison) I didn't realize the full extent of my family's dysfunction. Not that I grew up in squalor, not that I was ever afraid to go home, but there is a lot of things that just weren't right, to put it mildly.

Now that I have grown up and have a family of my own (hey, a fur-kid still counts as a kid), I realize that I don't have to be pulled into the mundane drama that seems to follow my immediate family around like the proverbial black cloud. In a fit of despair, I (ok, "we" since I am in an equal opportunity marriage) decided to run away for the holidays. In early October, Mr. Dr Zeek and I booked our tickets and hotel rooms for Las Vegas. We were skipping Christmas this year.

After pushing the "confirm" button, I felt empowered. I was doing something "naughty". I was going against the grain, I was going to be out of town during one of the busiest (and most "cherished" in my mother's eyes) holidays. But honestly, the thought of visiting four families (my mom's side, my dad's side and the same for Mr. Dr Zeek's family) in two days made me cringe. I just couldn't do it this year. And Mr. Dr Zeek was in full, if not more than full, agreement.

So we headed out from the land of snow and ice to the land of excess. We had been there once before when we were Mr. and soon-to be Dr. Zeek (I was neither a Zeek nor a Dr. at the point) but due to that tiny little thing called a wedding, we had little time to walk around Vegas and enjoy the sites, food and drink (since neither of us gamble). This time, though, was different.  Walking around, looking at the lights, the glitz, the glam, it was amazingly awesome, and not too mention one of the most relaxing holidays ever. No drama. No bullshit. No guilt-trips. Best. Christmas. Ever. Well, OK maybe not as good as the Christmas when I got the Cabbage-patch kid Big Wheel I had been lusting after, but it was damn close.

While Mr. Dr Zeek's family understood why we were skipping the holidays this year, our free pass was good for this year and this year only, which means next year we have to travel the 90 miles, endure the fake smiles, laugh at the horribly corny jokes and remind my grandmother that I am not that kind of doctor and have no idea what that lump on here right toe is or why the snake oil she bought doesn't seem to be doing anything for her arthritis. But, my dear friends, it was good while it lasted.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Obsession (and other randomness)

I have to admit, I have a slight case of OCD. M&M's (and skittles) must be arranged by color and put into even rows before consumption, at dinner, mashed potatoes and gravy must never touch the other things on the plate and all of one thing has to be eaten before moving on to the next (which is why KFC's chicken bowl made me cringe), books on the bookshelf must be arranged by height (not alphabetically) and all the spines must line up, when taking pipette tips out of a box, they must be removed in lines, starting with the right hand corner, and so on and so on.

My obsessiveness also extends into experiments. I want to make sure they are done "right" whether that means running more points for a double reciprocal plot or running at a ton of different concentrations. When bigboss man suggests to run a four-point plot, or check things at three concentrations, a little part of me dies inside. And, its something I think I may need to get over. Its hard for me to run a "quick-and-dirty" check on something to see if its worth pursuing further. Now, mind you, things don't usually work on the first try. In fact, I have a "rule of three" in my lab- the first run gets you used to the experiment and almost never works as plan, the second run gets you "some" usable data, but usually entails working out the small glitches and the third and subsequent runs are the ones which you can usually trust.

And it has backfired on me a few times. Once, when working on a extremely complex form of inhibition, bigbossman looked at me and said there is "too much data" and it is making things confusing. So now, I have to change the way I present things to him so that it doesn't look so confusing.

There is another form of obsessiveness that appears to take things over. Since I have no little Dr. Zeeks running around and Mr. DrZeek is pretty self-sufficient (ok, so I do most if not all of the cooking-but he know how to order from the pizza place) I have a tendency to spend a lot of time in the lab. A lot. Not as much as some people (my brain cuts out after about 10 hrs of solid lab work-- people there for 12-15 hrs a day are freaking superhuman in my eyes), but enough that I come home exhausted. And spending a Sunday afternoon in the lab (after football that is) is nothing for me. Mr. DrZeek has no problems whatsoever with it, but still, I feel guilty. But I enjoy what I do, and I have some hobbies. I just seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in the lab and working from home, for that matter. My parents have recently said that I was selfish, self-centered and obsessive when it came to work. Because I am trying to make a name for myself, publish as much as I can and just do really cool science. Is that so wrong?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Oh my goodness...

I have been "blogging" so to speak for over a year, and nothing in the past months. Things have been absolutely crazy stupid busy (emphasis on stupid) and I have so much pent up that I just need to start blogging regularly again. I actually have a good post in mind for obsessiveness in the lab. Tomorrow night...

Oh yeah, forgot. Today is the first official day of my fellowship. I am officially an NIH-funded post-doc fellow. Funny, I don't feel any different.