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Not that I’m counting down other things in my life…

11 months and 7 days ago from Sunday, I had my qualifying exam oral defense meeting. It went well-ish; I got a conditional pass and had to rewrite the first part of my paper–the rest was too ambitious, so they just wanted me to focus on the first part. It was the culmination of 3 months of study and writing, and meant I was officially a doctoral candidate. Sweet!

As I was checking the room before leaving, trying to make sure I hadn’t left a stray computer cord or some random food behind (it’s a good idea to feed committee people–they’re nicer that way!), I gave the door a shove open with my toe and took one last glance backward.

Alas, the glance was too long, and the door slammed into my toe. It actually went over my big toenail and into the skin part of my toe just above it. It hurt like hell, but I didn’t think about it much after that.

Then, about a month later, I noticed my toenail looked dirty, and I couldn’t scrub it clean. I realized I’d bruised the very root of the nail, and it was only now becoming visible.

I’m not sure why, but unlike other toenail bruises, this one didn’t turn black and blue–it stayed reddish for its entire duration. Thus, I resorted to multiple pedicures (never a bad thing) and lots of maroon nail polish. Let me tell you, “Mrs. O’Leary’s BBQ” is a great color, but it gets a little tiring after multiple months.

Each time I got a pedicure, I could gauge how far my toenail had grown, and about how much longer I’d have left before it grew out completely. Sadly, the bruise was a reminder of painful quals, which in the end went well, but weren’t much fun doing. Lots of wasted time on something that wasn’t my actual research topic, sadly. Ah well, it was a good experience, I’m sure.

But finally, Sunday, when cutting my toenails (ewww, gross, I hate feet–another good reason for pedicures!), I could cut off all the bruise.

It is officially gone! And it only took 11 months and 7 days!

Now the only reminder of quals is the empty champagne bottle on the windowsill by my desk at work, which is a reminder that I survived, I passed, and all is well.

Sometime, in the (hopefully) not too distant future, I’ll add a thesis defense champagne bottle to that collection. I’ll try not to add any more bruised toes. 😉

John has started in on the countdown until we leave for the Caribbean.

Unfortunately, my brain interprets this as a countdown until I have to have all my data done and collected and analyzed for my talk/poster at the conference that immediately follows our trip to the Caribbean.

This is similar to when we got married.

Our wedding date was the same as the release date for a popular children’s book, and all the bookstores were advertising “16 days until The Book”, which my brain interpreted as “16 days to get every last little thing for the wedding done”. I nearly went into meltdown, and would have if it hadn’t been for Amelia and a lovely bartender several days before the big event.

Ah well, at the end of the next couple weeks is a white sand beach, plenty of diving, cheap drinks, and good friends.

I can live with that I suppose.

Let’s just see if my brain makes it that far…

Memorial Day weekend this year meant two things: Night Diving Specialty class (yea!), and an extra day to go into work when normal people don’t have to (boo!).

*sigh*

John was horrendously sick at the end of last week, calling in sick for the first time in nearly two years. He was like a one-man snot factory. It was gross. Thus, he didn’t get to go diving, but he did get to drive to Monterey to make sure I didn’t fall asleep on the way home. Within an hour or two of getting out of the water, it becomes physically impossible for me to stay awake, and thus driving after diving doesn’t work.

We were helping one of our instructor friends, Bob, with the Night Diving Specialty class for the Dive Club in exchange for the certification. Saturday night, the viz wasn’t great, but the student I was diving with and I did see the biggest octopus I’ve seen yet at Breakwater. It was probably in the 1.5-2 foot range in length, and we got to see it change colors a bunch of times as it swam along. Of course, that probably means we were harassing it, but oh well. We didn’t stick around for too long.

The water temp was only 51°F, and normally it’s about 54-56°C. This meant I froze my patootie off. Brrrrr. I ended up calling the second dive, as my fingers and toes were tingly-numb, and it just wasn’t going to be any fun. It was, apparently, a great dive (of course), and the students had fun.

We went down again last night for the last night dive (specialty takes 3), and went to Lovers 3 in Pacific Grove. I’ve done precisely a half a dive there (as in, entered the water there, and exited at Lovers 2, and got somewhat lost in the process), so of course it made perfect sense for me to lead a group of divers, all of whom had done more dives there. (I did get to go with the Brits, Shelly and Nate, who are good friends and good divers.)

Alas, that’s what Divemasters are for. To trust their navigational skills when it’s all they’ve got, and to demonstrate good diving for their fellow divers. We did a straight out and back dive so as not to get lost, and didn’t see much, but did see a lot of bioluminescence during the “3 minutes with no lights” part of the dive.

And let me tell you, that 3 minutes went by both faster than I’d expected and took forever. That’s long enough to start messing with your head when you’re 30 feet underwater and it’s dark. It’s definitely long enough for your brain to start thinking of large toothy predators despite the fact that you’ve never seen one in Monterey. I’ve gotten better at telling my brain to shut up when it starts down that path.

But it was fun, and Bob is giving me the cert, even though I only did two dives. I’ve got 7 logged night dives other than these, so he’s trusting me and my capabilities. Four of them are either my night dive for Advanced, or with Advanced classes, so I’ve done them with instructors, and done or helped with the skills multiple times.

We’ve spent the rest of the weekend doing nothing, partly because John’s sick, and partly because that’s all we wanted to do. I did have to go into work every day and deal with cells—why can’t they just take care of themselves for a day with out me? Ah well.

We’re thinking of going to see Shrek 3 now. Seems like a good way to end a good weekend.

I’ve been up late, and slept in late, for the past couple of days (late night Pirates viewing, surprise birthday party, diving, and diving), so we’ll see how tomorrow goes. Might as well enjoy the rest of today!!

****SPOILER ALERT****

****SPOILER ALERT****

****SPOILER ALERT****

We went to see Pirates 3 last night with James F and girlfriend Cara, and James M.

All I can say is, “Arrgh!!”

Having ridden Pirates of the Caribbean twice at Disneyland two weeks ago, I was excited. Especially since Johnny Depp and I share coffee every morning—got a mug with his ‘mug’ on it for my birthday—whee!! I’m hilarious, by the way.

So the movie was good. The rescuing of Jack took a lot less time than I thought it would, but the movie wasn’t really about rescuing Jack, it was about what came after, so that made sense in hindsight.

The plot was a lot more convoluted, since you had five people (Jack, Will, Barbosa, Davy Jones and the naval captain guy) scheming instead of just three (Jack, Will and Barbosa/Davy Jones). And I guess you should probably throw in Elizabeth in there, too. So six instead of four. It was a bit hard to follow, but everything (mostly) made sense in the end, and it worked itself out.

However, I didn’t really, truly appreciate the end a whole lot. Sure, I liked it, and sure, as James F pointed out, Will has more honor than Jack and thus should be the one to escort souls, but I didn’t really like that Will and Elizabeth were separated AGAIN. It’s getting a little old, people.

(John disagrees with James F—he thinks Jack has honor, but that it’s just skewed. I’m not getting in the middle of it all. Especially since John started talking about how the physics of shooting at a ship opposite you in a whirlpool wouldn’t work as you’d just be shooting down into the whirlpool unless you aimed up, and then he started talking angles and I got lost. Gah.)

Maybe this is just me speaking, as John and I have had trust issues over the years, but it seems to me that if you take a couple that’s got communication and trust issues, as evidenced by all the secrets they keep from one another, and separate them for ten years at a time, it just isn’t going to work out well and you’re going to have another Davy Jones-Calypso thing going on.

AND on behalf of woman everywhere, if I was married to Will, I’d want a hell of a lot more than 1 day every 10 years!!!!!

But anyways…Good movie. I did like it, even if the twist of Will taking Davy Jones’ place wasn’t great. Then again, I guess it was the only way to keep him from dying, which is better than no Will at all.

Go see it, if you haven’t. I’m sure this will all make much more sense once you have.

And who thinks there’s going to be a Pirates 4: Fountain of Youth? Maybe, just maybe? Not that Disney’s looking to make even more money off of this whole thing. As long as they’re good, I guess it’s okay with me!

In the meantime…

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.

And we’re headed to the ocean for the weekend, so you never know what might happen!

I sometimes have the disturbing ability to hang onto grudges long after I should let them go.

Case in point: Duke beat Arizona in the 2000 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game. I hate Duke. I probably always will. Even when I happened to work for a relative of J.J. Reddick’s, I couldn’t bring myself to like him or the team at all. Made me lie to my boss a lot when it came to basketball fanship.

Amelia took me to the Astros-Giants game last night so I wouldn’t have to be home alone, which was extremely lovely of her. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Astros are her team, since she comes from Texas (nevermind that the UofA can’t be my team cause I lived in Arizona for only 12 years, according to her), and she’d been to the games the two previous nights.

I took a certain satisfaction in the fact that the Astros lost to the Giants 0-4 and then 2-4 in their first two meetings.

And then last night, they lost 1-9.

I felt like rooting for the home team, having more allegiance in my life to the Giants due to living in the area than I do to the Astros (though, to be fair, Amelia has cheered on the UofA with me, just not when they play Stanford..hrm). And I felt like rooting for the Giants just to be ornery, giving the friction of the last couple months.

However, she was suitably upset at the Astros’ loss, so I just kept my mouth shut and commiserated.

Overall, things are going a lot better. We certainly don’t do as much as we used to, though I’m not sure who’s fault that is, or if we’re just both busy. Plus, she’s got a new guy, and seems to also be hanging out much more with a girl from the next door lab. As she reminded me during the period she was mad at me, she’s got a large support group so she’s not reliant on me. (Gee, thanks.)

I’m trying to just shrug it off and not be upset, as she can be friends with whoever she wants to be. But I think this somewhat-irrational desire to cheer against her team is an indication that I haven’t quite let go of the hurt and anger I felt after her shabby treatment of me when she was mad. Aside from my mental state, I think things are back to normal between us, so hopefully I’ll get over this soon.

In the meantime, go Giants!

Go Yankees, too! (Love you, John!)

Do you have any idea how awesome it is when your boss, a high-up mucky-muck ranking individual (who is actually really cool), braggs about you to other high-up mucky-mucks?

Dr. M did so today before her lecture, bragging about me (in front of me) to the student head of the department. She bragged that I’ve been awarded a talk after only 1.5-2 years of actual research in the lab, and at an international workshop.

*Commence shaking in my boots*

The student head of the department was appropriately admiring and congratulatory, and really did seem to be impressed.

Now that, ladies and gentleman, is an awesome feeling!

I’ve been vaguely creeped out to be home alone for the last couple of nights, but with John working late, there’s not much I can do about it. Plenty of friends have put in their two cents about the person who stole my laundry, and how it could be a random person who’s a cheapskate or the fact that kind of pervert is much more likely to be solitary, but I’m still a little creeped out.

So tonight Amelia is taking me to a baseball game. Her Astros are playing the Giants, and we’re off to cheer. I’m wearing orange, but as that’s the color for both teams, and I don’t really care who wins, I’m just in it to have fun.

I’ve also realized that there are only 4 more weeks until we leave for the Caribbean, so that means only 4 more weeks to get data for my talk/poster at the big meeting! Yikes!

Thus, I’ve been insanely busy at work, and sort of relishing it since it means I’m not going home early. Problem is, I’m then exhausted in the mornings, and with John working late, he gets up late, too, meaning it’s even harder for me to get up on time. Gah.

Finally, despite my push to be busybusybusy and accomplish a lot, I’ve found nothing to do today. My cells are growing away happily and don’t need attention, and as I’ve got class to TA for from 2-4, I can’t do Westerns easily, and I’m leaving (somewhat) early to go to the baseball game. So today’s kind of shot, and I’m at loose ends.

My boss, Dr. M, is lecturing for the class today, so that will be nice. She’s lecturing on stuff I don’t personally work on, and it’s nice to hear the complete picture sometimes, as people just give 5-minute snippets at lab meeting generally.

Sorry, this is very rambly. I just felt the need to get some words out, but I’m not sure what exactly needed to get out.

At least I still have my socks!

What do you do when somebody steals your laundry from the apartment complex laundry room? And not just any laundry, but specific feminine items of laundry? Specific feminine undergarments?

Not that I really want them back at this point, but I’m hugely creeped out by it nonetheless. And angry and disturbed and somewhat scared.

Eeek!

So…

It’s been a long, long drive and I’m way, way tired.

The last week and a half have had lots of ups and downs. It was so nice to see my parents for a couple days, and to see Amy graduate. I’ve never been so proud of her before. I think she was kind of bummed not to get any award or to graduate with honors, but she dun grad-ja-ma-cated with a better GPA than I did. I also overheard someone behind us at graduation talking about how her school was the 8th (give or take a few) hardest in the nation to get into, so I think she should be ridiculously proud that she got in, completed all the graduation requirements, and graduated.

We come from a family of well-educated people, and it’s always been expected that we’ll excel in school. I think she’s done just that, and now she shares something with the majority of my family that I never will—a degree from her particular school. I was the black sheep and went elsewhere for college, though I think I would have been happier at her school than I was at mine. Then again, John and I probably wouldn’t be married right now if I’d gone to college so far away from him, so there was a certain trade-off there.

So, again, Amy, I’m ridiculously proud of you, and you should be of yourself, too!

We spent sometime with my mom shopping while down south, and I got some beautiful new clothes, as did Amy. So did John, but not nearly is many. And they’re probably handsome, not beautiful.

We also got to go to so many dinners and dessert affairs that I never want to eat again. The amount of chocolate I consumed, including chocolate-covered strawberries, was amazing. Mmmm.

The graduation ceremony itself was very nice. I got horribly sunburned while saving seats, but other than that it was great. The class speaker was hilarious, and the other speakers were pretty good, too. They all kept things short, which was much appreciated, and the official speaker was a staunch Democrat who made some rather pointed jokes about certain elected officials. I enjoyed that, and even more so when some Republican behind us would yell “No” to some of the comments. Frankly, if you go to a liberal school, chances are you’re a liberal, and there are going to be liberal speakers. So there. It was pretty funny.

The guy who read out the names trit-trotted through them amazingly fast, which meant that the 300+ people graduated in record time, as far as I’m concerned. Then it was off to eat again, since we’d been so starved all weekend, obviously.

Then…

“What are you doing now that your sister has graduated?”

“I’m going to Disneyland!”

Well, no one asked me, but that’s what we did the day after graduation. We went with my in-laws, which was both nice, as they paid, and somewhat of a trial, as we don’t get along real well. It was kind of funny and nice, though, how we got to go to the front of nearly every line with my grandmother-in-law, Beatrice, who is handicapped. Most of the handicapped entrances are at the exits so they can get wheelchairs in there, so we got to by-pass the giant lines. We need to take her more often!

Then we took off to drive north and come home. We sat in LA traffic for awhile and finally convinced my mother-in-law, Pamela, that it wasn’t worth it to drive up 101, as it would take us umpteen hours to get there, and then umpteen more to actually make it up the coast. Additionally, I don’t think the central valley is really all that bad.

“Why do they have white coverings on all the trees?”

(It’s likely white paint to repel bugs from crawling up the trunks, or protective coverings to keep rabbits and the like from eating the trees.)

“Is it to keep the fungus from crawling up the trees?”

“Yes, Pam, it’s to keep the fungus from crawling up the trees. Crawling fungus is a big problem here in California.”

I may have lost a bit of my patience at that point, but some things are just a little too ridiculous for me.

*sigh*

Thankfully, I’ve been able to escape to work for the last three days, and gotten a decent amount done. And in the evenings, they’ve generally taken us out to dinner (and paid), so it hasn’t been too bad.

I never seem to act right, though, and always do something wrong. This time, I just didn’t want to say anything that would get me in trouble, so I tended to stand there silently for the most part, and Pam eventually asked John why I was so angry all the time. Gah. Even when trying my hardest I don’t do anything right!

He told her I was PMSing (gee, thanks), stressed about work, and in a fight with my best friend. So that sort of explained it, I hope, and got me off the hook.

And I have a car now! It’s big (gigantic) and new to us. So exciting. Of course, it would have been better if the check engine light hadn’t been on for about a thousand miles, but the mechanics have hopefully taken care of that and we didn’t have to pay. Of course, now we’re going to have to pay to ensure it, but it will be an awesome diving vehicle.

Anyways, that’s the last week. It was eventfully, and there was a lot of eye-rolling on my part, but I’m trying to do my best just to repress it—if I put it out there, it’ll eventually get back to her, I’m sure, although she had no idea how to use anything technological at all. Not even the coffee maker.

You think I’m kidding, but I had the worst coffee of my life yesterday morning. Five scoops of coffee doesn’t equal five people, it equals five cups of water. Not ten. And it’s really better to remove the day-old grounds before adding new. And if the coffee’s already ground, then grinding it again really just makes powder, which isn’t good for coffee.

*sigh*

Anyways…

That’s it for now. Things can go back to normal, and I can go back to my life.

The in-laws are here now. If I write anything, it will only be senseless ramblings of a definitely mad woman. And in the long run, I’ll probably regret what I saw. But they’re leaving soon, so then I’ll be back.

In the mean time, hope I stay sane.

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