Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One catastrophe unexpectedly (and miraculously?) averted...

The grades from my "catastrophic" molecular biology test have been posted, and I'm apparently not as dumb as I look because I didn't fail it. Scores were posted by student ID number and I must have checked and double-checked the spreadsheet against my ID card a dozen times. I got an 83%, which is passing (there is no grading scale anywhere that I can find, so I'm going by the one I found in the graduate nursing bulletin). I had expected to see maybe a 50%, and certainly nothing above a 70%. I'm still half-expecting to be told that someone made a mistake and that the poor sap who scored a 52% was actually me. I feel a little bit relieved that I didn't fail horribly. Now I have to wait and see how I did on the cell exam.

Tomorrow is Graduate Student Research Day (sort of like EMU's Graduate Research Fair, but bigger), so my usual classes have been cancelled so that everyone can go to the talks and poster presentations. The associate dean of the med school's graduate programs made a personal appearance at the end of lecture this morning and said that he expected to see all of us there tomorrow. I can't get out of it because he knows who I am, plus most of the other Immuno & Micro students are presenting, and they'll expect to see me there too. This thing is an all day event, and I don't know how long I'm expected to be there. I really don't want to be there from 8 to 5, but I didn't want to ask because it implies that I don't want to go. This would be true to a point, but I think it would be bad form to admit it outright.

School is going to start picking up steam in October. My first rotation is scheduled to begin Oct. 10th in Dr. N's lab, possibly either working on capsule production in Group B Strep or looking at lantibiotic production in Group A Strep. Each rotation is about 8 weeks long, so this first one will end the first week of December. My next rotation, beginning January 9th through March 2nd, will be in Dr. W's lab. Here's the funny thing about that: Jim will be doing his sabbatical next semester in Dr. D's lab, working on cholera toxin regulation. At the same time, I'll be doing my second rotation in the lab of Dr. D's former post-doc, Dr. W, also likely working on cholera toxin regulation. Weirdness. My last rotation is March 5th to April 27th with an immunologist/virologist, Dr. R. He studies proteins that may be involved in helping HIV replicate in host cells. I'm nervous, but kind of excited about doing rotations. I'm not really sure what to expect.

Our departmental seminars begin on October 11th (and occur every Tuesday for the rest of the term) and go from 12-1. The PhD students, not faculty members, are responsible for making arrangements for seminar speakers, so this should be interesting. Also, journal club (called RDP for research data presentation) starts on October 19th (Wednesdays), also from 12-1. Everyone has been assigned a date to present something, and my day of reckoning is March 14th.

Gotta get to bed so I can get up super early for Graduate Student Research Day. But more importantly, I need to rest up to go the Corner Brewery tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Meltdown showdown

As much as I'd love to write about my life being all rainbows and puppies and butterflies, I just can't. One reason is because it isn't. And let's be honest - who wants to read about someone whose life is "perfect"? I don't. And apparently neither do you, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this sentence right now.

Yesterday I stayed at school all day trying to cram for my cell biology test. Overall, I don't think that test was quite as catastrophic as my molecular biology test was. Still not great though. This time, I gave up about two hours in, instead of taking the entire three hours. That's progress, right? I really need to start studying for this stuff. So after I got home yesterday evening, I actually did what I should have been doing for a month now - I cracked open my textbooks and read ahead. Yes, you read that right. I read ahead! I'm not sure I've ever really truly done that. And I'm doing it again today too. Yay, me.

Today hasn't been the greatest day. This morning got off to a rotten start when I hear whining and crying coming from the living room. This is at 7:45. Chris takes him to school and he's not out of the shower yet. I think the first bell rings at 8:05, so there's not much time for them to wrap everything up and leave the house. Elliot's crying because he can't build a Ninjago Lego guy. I am not a morning person, nor am I a very patient person even under the best of circumstances. I am especially cranky and impatient in the morning, particulary in response to whining and crying. I tell Elliot to put the Legos away and finish getting ready for school. He's got about 1000 (I'm not exaggerating this figure) Lego bricks spread out all over the floor. Have you ever stepped on a Lego brick? On a hardwood floor? In bare feet? IT HURTS. He cops an attitude with me, so I raise my voice. Chris finally comes out of the bathroom, Elliot's still bitching and whining and generally acting like a brat. I'm annoyed with Chris because he's running late, therefore I'm now running late too. I don't remember the straw that finally broke the camel's back. All I remember is being very pissed off and yelling at both of them and storming out of the room. Elliot and I both had temper tantrums this morning.

Later in the day, I have to pick Elliot up from school so Chris can go to the store. I don't know what the fuck took him so long or why he wanted to be the exalted shopper, but he ultimately didn't get home until almost 8:30. All we had in the house to eat was stuff to make a grilled cheese. So at 7:00, I'm about to make one for Elliot for his dinner and see that the unopened (yet somehow expired) loaf of bread is slightly furry. I try calling Chris, but he doesn't answer and his voicemail isn't set up, so the call automatically disconnects. I am not happy. I end up driving to McDonald's to buy Elliot and myself dinner. I am still not happy, and I'm intensely unhappy enough that I haven't attempted to talk to Chris because, well, it just wouldn't be prudent. Maybe tomorrow. And that's all I have to say about that.

I had intended to talk about more academic type stuff, but this is what poured out of me instead. I'm exhausted and still feeling kind of upset. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day to talk shop. Let's hope tomorrow is a better day period.

Monday, September 26, 2011

No rest for the wicked

I was all super motivated to write a few minutes ago, but now I'm just not. I'll do a quick recap of events since last Wednesday, and perhaps elaborate (or not) tomorrow.

Wednesday in a word SUCKED. I had my first molecular biology exam. Some of it went okay, I guess, but the last section (which counted the most towards my grade, of course) was catastrophic. Like, I'm going down in flames and no one is gonna survive this wreckage kind of catastrophic. I was COMPLETELY unprepared for the shit that got lobbed at me on this part of the test. Fucking enzyme kinetics, and math, and equations, and mechanisms, and the stupid pushing electron arrows, and bonds flying all over the place. Oh and the regulation! Can't forget enzyme regulation! You know, if I really wanted to draw pointless arrows around a bunch of dumb ball and stick molecules, and if I was just fascinated by Km and Vmax and half Vmax, and half equilibrium arrows - I would've been a fucking chemist!!! But I'm not, and do you know why? Aside from the fact that I'm a biologist, it's BECAUSE I FUCKING HATE CHEMISTRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT (jumping up and down and screaming now)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I'm sure the feeling is mutual.

Thursday wasn't as horrible. There was a new student reception for me and the lone master's student in the Immuno & Micro department. It basically consisted of a meat and cheese tray, lots of potato chips, some fruit, and some veggies that no one touched. Oh yeah, and pop. It was only mildly awkward. There were no formal introductions of the "new students" to anyone. It was basically a game of "The unfamiliar faces must be the new students. Huh. Where's the rest of the food?". Okay, it was mostly me wondering where the rest of the food was. I was hoping for at least some pizza or something. What a let down. So I ate a bunch of cantaloupe that gave me gas and made me feel a little nauseous. This, in turn, made me worry that the low-rent melon I just loaded up on was contaminated with Listeria. The department secretary did give me my first key, though. I think she told me that it opens the office, the lounge, and the library. Woot. Boy, was I happy to go to the Corner that afternoon. I look forward to Thursdays more than I look forward to just about anything else. It's just enough of a pick me up to keep me from going completely batshit crazy. I'm holding steady at just a little batshit crazy, and I think that's as good as it's going to get for now.

Friday. I really don't remember Friday at all. I didn't think I was THAT hungover. Oh well.

Saturday we finally got our new mattress delivered and Chris finished building the frame for it. It's a crazy-expensive TempurPedic and honestly, it was more comfortable in the store. I sleep just as poorly on it as I did on my old mattress, except now I have a hard time flipping over because I have to climb out of the memory foam chasm my body has carved into the bed. I have a hard time turning over and so I wake up 3 or 4 times a night. Then my back still hurts when I get up in the morning and it still takes me a few minutes to limber up before my range of motion extends beyond "shuffle". But the cat is totally in love with this bed, which I really didn't expect:

That night when Zeus (the aforementioned cat) came to bed, he established his cat groove under the covers as usual. And he didn't move an inch until late afternoon Sunday - some 16 hours later. He was just a non-moving lump under the comforter, which I really should have taken a picture of. I was starting to wonder if he was dead, because he NEVER sleeps all day - especially when I'm there for him to yell at and generally harass. I checked on him. Nope, not dead. Just annoyed that I woke him up.

Alright, this was supposed to be a short post, but it isn't. I'm just not very trustworthy. Sorry. More tomorrow.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Word of the day, b*tches!

It's Friday night, I'm studying, I've had a beer, and I feel feisty. So the word of the day today, children, is "Hyperbaton": inversion or transposition of normal sentence structure, often for emphasis and/or dramatic effect. English translation: to talk like Yoda. For example, standard English uses a subject-verb-object sentence structure as in the phrase, "Jim covets Glenn's sheep". The subject is "Jim", the verb is "covets", and the object is "Glenn's sheep". In hyperbaton, the structure might get switched around to object-subject-verb as in, "Glenn's sheep Jim covets". In this case, the emphasis is on Glenn's sheep that Jim is coveting, in contrast to the first sentence where the emphasis is on Jim, who is probably less interesting than the sheep. I tried to find information on the psychology of why people might talk or write like that when it is normally out of character for them, but gave up when all I could find were Star Wars fan sites. Obviously, nobody takes this shit seriously but me. Well, that is all for today. Tune in tomorrow or Sunday for my recap of the last half of this week. The word "catastrophic" features prominently...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A report from the trenches

Today is the big molecular biology exam and I feel mostly unprepared. Because of the exam, we didn't have mol. bio. lecture at 9:30, but we still had cell bio. at 10:45, so I still had to drag my ass down here this morning. It doesn't make sense for me to waste an hour or more driving home and back for the test at 4:00, so I'm just going to stay at school and study. After lecture, I tried to find the medical library so I could camp out. Naturally, I went the wrong direction coming out of the stairwell and the hall ultimately came to a dead end at a classroom. I didn't realize that the hallways on some floors don't make a full circle around the building. So I turned around, found the bridge to the other building and went down a different stairway. I popped out just outside the cafeteria ("The Vital Signs Cafe" - yeah) in Scott Hall. WTF?? I didn't see a certain med student who usually flags me down in the cafeteria, so I slowed down and checked for the presence of microwaves, so I can bring my lunch next time. Check. There are several. Lots of vending machines, although I didn't check to see how outrageous the prices are. They have an area with sandwiches, salads, and cooked stuff, so I picked up some chicken salad scoops (no bread) with grapes. Now I have until 1:30 (when the cafeteria closes and I get booted out) to sit here listening to and watching med students. They're almost cute, what with their medical-ese and entitled student grousing about the presentation of concepts in their lectures. They look so motivated and energetic and very very YOUNG. I am tired, want to go home and veg in front of The Peoples Court, and I am, um...thirty-something. Sigh. By the time I finish this and do a post-doc, Elliot will just about be an adult, and I will be close to retirement age. Maybe Jim can hold off on retiring for a bit so he can give me his job. Then Ashley can replace Kurta and maybe Jen can take over for Clemans. No one can replace Walker, so he's gonna have to stay. When he dies, we'll have to freshen up his cardboard cutout and then we'll just stuff his corpse into a wall during the next remodel. I've got it all worked out. If only I devoted this much time and energy to studying. I tried explaining to Elliot the importance of doing a little homework everyday so he doesn't end up all extra-irritable and frantic like his mother who waited until the last minute to do her homework. I showed him all the amino acid structures I've been drawing over and over and over again and you know what he did? He laughed. I told him that I wasn't kidding and he just laughed harder. Maybe I should quit school and go into stand-up.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The changing of the guard

Writing is exactly what I shouldn't be doing and really don't have time for now, but it was either procrastinate this way or by cleaning up the kitchen. I had an 8:00 am meeting today to go over requirements and what is expected of me as one of the 6 recipients of an NIH training grant (Minority Biomedical Research Support Program aka IMSD) that will fund my tuition and stipend for 2 years and give me a little bit of money for research supplies and conference travel. Basically, the message is "no pressure or anything, just don't screw up and you'll be fine!". The program director sent out an email with the date and time of today's meeting and closed with the request to please be on time. I left the house at 7:15 and was delayed this time not by rain, but by some moron who couldn't figure out where the brake pedal was and rear-ended the car in front of him. In bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. In the left lane (which has no shoulder). I just about came unglued. I finally got clear of that and raced up to my exit only to get tied up in construction on John R at Warren. Are you fucking kidding me??!! The light cycle for traffic on John R trying to cross Warren is ridiculously short. The light stays green for no more than 15 seconds (I've timed it), just enough for 4 cars to get through - at most. Unless someone just has to turn left onto Warren (no Michigan left turns here!), then only 2 cars get through. After a few light cycles, I got through, got to school, and yada, yada, yada I ended up being 5 minutes late. I hate showing up anywhere late. Especially for the first meeting of the semester. I had even called the program director's cell phone to let her know, but she didn't answer. ARGHH!! Deep breaths...

Lucky for me, one of the other 5 recipients of this training grant is D, who I've met a couple of times before and is a 2nd year student in Immuno & Micro. I had emailed him yesterday asking about the content and format of the molecular biology test and we chatted a bit about the tests today. After this morning's meeting got out, we went up to his lab and he grabs this HUGE stack of old cell bio and molecular bio tests off a shelf and basically tells me that I am now the keeper of the exams. I guess the stack is added to every year and passed on to the next newbie. There's stuff going back to 2002 in this pile - it's amazing!

My pile of salvation.
I feel like I don't know anything, even though I've had this material before. It seems like for every new bit I can cram into my head, something else that I really needed falls out. Are PhDs just really good at faking like they know shit or do they really and truly learn it? I'm not talking about "learning" something to get a passing grade on a test and then promptly purging it. I always viewed the PhD as the stage where you finally and permanently master all of this crap that you spent umpteen years in undergrad or other grad work practicing with for when you have to learn the stuff for real. The depth and breadth and magnitude of the knowledge that I always thought PhD students were gaining is not possible!! It can't be, especially with the amount of material we have to know and how fast we have to learn it. It's like trying to create the philosopher's stone - the substance that would magically transform ordinary metals into gold. Every alchemist thought every other alchemist had a leg up on them; racing to unlock that final key step that would to allow them to make the stone, and thus become infinitely rich. When will I figure out how this whole system works?? That is, the PhD/learning thing, not the alchemy thing. Although I may end up having to resort to that.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Water water EVERYWHERE! And some academic stuff too.

Okay, I should start out by saying that I'm pretty obsessive about checking the weather forecast both before I go to bed and first thing after I wake up. As far as I knew last night, we were supposed to get rain today, but not early in the morning. So you can imagine my horror at 7:45 am as I lay face-down in bed blindly swatting at the snooze button and I hear it raining outside. I've mentioned before how long it takes me to get to school when it's raining. Right. Somehow, I manage to eat something, shower, and leave the house by 8:30. Traffic wasn't quite as bad as I expected and I made it to school 20 minutes early. Awesome! Had class and didn't fall asleep. Yay. This is about as good as it gets. That is, until I tried to get on the freeway to go home. Bah. Traffic was stopped up because just the middle lane wasn't under a foot of water. Only idiots in SUVs were driving in the heavily flooded left lane. Opposing traffic traveling in the left lane made wakes so big that water was splashing up at least a foot higher the concrete median - it was unreal. I'm basically sitting in the middle lane creeping along when some jackwagon in an SUV comes barreling up the left lane - through the pond of water. I've never had my car be completely doused like that before. It sucked. I don't even want to think about how bad my commute will be when it snows.

Anyway, I have a test in molecular biology on Wednesday evening. It's from 4-7 pm in one of the med student lecture halls, which is not at all where or when I normally have class. I think that's weird. In anticipation of the grade I'm likely to get on this exam, I decided to do online evaluations of the faculty that have taught so far, which will get me 10 extra points. I'm desperate. These aren't done the way EMU does it. Evaluations for molecular biology are online and apparently done at the end of each "block" of material (which I explain below). And they have to be done within a week of the end of the block. After a certain date, you get locked out of that evaluation. You get an email that tells you who you're evaluating, along with a PIN and a password. There are 24 multiple-choice type questions, along with free text fields for comments that go along with each question. All 3 faculty I had in the most recent block are evaluated at the same time. My answers are supposed to be anonymous, the only thing the course director can see is whether or not I completed the eval.

The structure of the courses here is pretty different from that at EMU also. Here, at least in the 2 classes I have now, material is broken up into "blocks". For example, Block 1 was all about the structure of biological macromolecules, Block 2 was enzymology and protein function, and it keeps going until Block 15, which is genetics. Different faculty from various departments come in and teach different portions of the block or sometimes the entire block, based on their area of expertise. The material I'm being tested on was taught by 3 different faculty members. In the case of molecular biology, a total of 15 faculty members will have taught a portion of the material over the course of the term. This can be a positive thing if you get someone who is good at teaching and if your learning style meshes with their teaching style. It can also be very very bad. And of course they're all different - some are straight lecturers, some assign problem sets, some assign journal articles, etc. The prof. who just kicked off Block 3, membrane biochemistry, does a mix of chalk-talk and PowerPoint. Amazingly, none of the faculty - 4 in molecular bio and 3 in cell bio so far - have fallen behind with any of their lectures. That's impressive. Overall though, I think having that many different people teaching is going to make the class harder no matter the level of the stuff being hurled at us.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Part 2 - some of what I learned, etc.

I can't imagine anyone is still following this story, as I am sick of telling it myself. But I have to finish what I started, I'll just try to keep it brief. My dad started having problems related to congestive heart failure in early 2006 and had to be hospitalized. He was very ill and there was a very real possibility that he wouldn't make it out of the hospital alive. It was during this time that my mom told me something that my dad had made her swear not to tell me. Remember when I said that I thought I had been an only child until my younger brother was born? It turns out that I am actually just the youngest daughter of the 9 children in total that he had. My oldest sibling is my sister, Audrey, who is 67 and a month older than my mother. My mom told me that my dad had been married twice before and that he had 7 kids from his second marriage. He had apparently paid child support, but never saw them again after he split from their mother. I really can't even begin to describe my feelings during this time, nor do I want to revisit them, so I won't. Suffice it to say that it's been a long journey to get to where I am now. I will never understand why he felt he had to lie to me. Alzheimer's ensured that all of my questions will forever go unanswered. That and the betrayal of trust were the worst of it. Did I ever really know him at all? I don't know and that still hurts. I haven't yet figured out how to forgive him. That is still a work in progress.
However I feel about him, I'm sad that Elliot doesn't remember having any relationship with his Grandpa Mitch. My parents and mother-in-law alternately took care of baby Elliot during the day so that Chris and I could go to work. For a while, my dad was really good with my son - they napped together, they played together.  Because I'm weird, I keep my dad alive to Elliot by making him the benchmark for all things that are "old". For example, we watched a documentary about the Titanic recently and I told Elliot that Grandpa Mitch was 6 months old when the Titanic sank. Then we talked about how long ago that was. Knowing someone THAT old makes the history seem more tangible. We've also discussed the fact that the last Passenger Pigeon didn't die until 1914 - Grandpa Mitch would have been 3 years old then. At the Detroit Science Center, we saw a model of the 1st modern traffic light in the U.S., installed at the intersection of Woodward and Michigan Ave in 1920. "Hey Elliot, did you know that Grandpa Mitch was born before traffic lights?! How crazy is that?!"
So that's about it. During the course of today, I've realized that there are so many more stories to tell about my father than I thought there were. Maybe one day I'll get around to writing the rest of them down. Happy centennial, Dad. I hope it was a good one.

Part 1 - some of what I know.

My parents were introduced by a mutual friend in the mid-60's and they dated for 10 years before they got married in 1974. My mom was 30 and my dad was 40 - or so she thought. I'll come back to this later. I was born in 1976 and was an only child - or so I thought (more on this in the next part) - until my brother came along in 1981. My dad worked for the Ann Arbor Public School system as a custodian before switching to the paint department. He painted all of the schools in the school system, and I was always a little excited and proud to see my dad working when it was my school's turn to be painted.
Life hummed along as life tends to do until a letter from the Social Security Administration, addressed to my father, came in 1989. The letter was basically asking my father why he wasn't retired yet. Exactly what happened after this, I am not sure. I do know, however, that the shit really hit the fan once my dad was finally forced to tell my mom the truth. He knew exactly why the SSA had sent him that letter. When my parents first started dating, my dad told my mother that he was born in California about 1934, which would have made him 10 years her senior. This is the birthplace and birthdate that is listed on my birth certificate as well as my marriage certificate (since it was on my birth certificate). He told her his real age at that time: 78 years old, making him not 10 years her senior, but 33 years her senior! He said that he'd had to lie about his age in order to get work at some point and he just never corrected the error. Much later as an adult, I hypothesized that he was living in California in the mid-1930's when he was issued a social security number (FDR's "New Deal" really was new then) and it was convenient to make that his new birth year. I wasn't able to verify that he lived in California (even though he said he did) until a few days after he died last November. I was searching for any new scrap of information I could find to help me make sense out of his life when I stumbled upon an "Index to Register of Voters" for Los Angeles precinct 238, dated 1934. And there was his name staring back at me. As well as the name of his first wife, Dora, whom he'd also kept secret. He voted democrat and so did his wife, but I digress.
I was 13 when this all came out, and all of a sudden my dad had become old enough to be my grandfather. In fact, he was older than both of my mom's parents! He became the "cool" dad somehow, just because he was that old and didn't act like it. He had always loved clothes and cars, and although his own fashion sense fell by the wayside, he still liked a sweet-looking ride - with lots of bass-heavy music blasting out of it. He never kept a car for too long before getting a new one. The one he had the longest was also his last, like he told me it would be. It was a black 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix two-door, with a rear spoiler. Nearly every time I'd come over to visit, he'd be out in the driveway happily polishing it. For a few years, he ran an auto detailing business as a side job. He had a small number of clients - mostly older women. When I bought my first new car 11 years ago - the Jetta, which is now on its last legs - he taught me how to detail it properly (this is a story in and of itself). He hesitated to point out what I was doing wrong when he saw me washing it because as he told me, "I know you don't like nobody tellin' you what to do". Can't imagine where I got that from. Ultimately though, he got to the point that he couldn't drive safely anymore because of his dementia, and my mom made me take it to my house so he couldn't see it and keep asking about it. It soon became clear that we needed to sell the car. We got the necessary repairs made to it, since he hadn't been able to maintain it himself in quite some time. I spent most of a day detailing it, inside and out one last time. It was so pretty:

The people I sold it to were buying it for their teenage daughter and wanted something driven by a little old lady. This was the next best thing. So I took my dad's old license plate off and sold his car.  Before the buyers had even made it to the end of the street, I just started sobbing. I mean, to the point of not being able to talk or breathe. I felt like such a traitor. I had just sold my dad's car right out from under him. Since finding out he had Alzheimer's, emotionally, I think the day I sold his car was one of my darkest. He loved to drive. He had driven damn near his entire life (his first car was a Ford Model A, for Christ's sake!) and I just sold the last remnant of his independence. That really drove home for me the fact that he was going to die and I felt like I had just helped speed the process along.
Good grief, that tangent really took a turn for the macabre, didn't it? Sorry. More of the story later.

Happy 100th birthday, Dad: an introduction to the story.

Today would've been my dad's 100th birthday. Aubrey Archie Mitchell was born September 18, 1911 in Gregory, Arkansas to a Baptist minister, John, and his wife, Lottie. My middle name comes from her. If you've ever received an email from my account, you know what that name is. Only my dad's sisters and brothers called him Aubrey, everyone else called him Mitch. Some of you know his story and some of you don't. He was older than dirt, as I used to like to remind him, so it's kind of a long story. I only have first-hand knowledge of the last third of it, since he was already 64 by the time I was born. I can't retell it in a single sitting, so I'll likely be writing in fits and starts throughout the rest of the day. Time to go collect my thoughts...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Don't blame me for my bad attitude, blame the architects.

In the course of putting off studying (again) for my molecular biology test, I was perusing the PhD Comics archives and found this:

I circled the "Neo-Penal" style. Remember what it looks like because it will be important in a second.  Note the underlined and italicized "...drain your very Life Force". Now I'm going to show you another picture. Try to guess what it is:

Not really a prison. Just looks, feels, and probably sometimes smells like one.

No, it's not the Wayne county lockup - that's actually much nicer looking. This is Scott Hall at WSU. This building houses research labs, med school classes, my classes, etc. It's basically the main hub of the med school. This is where I go every day to have the Life Force drained out of me. The first time I saw this building, I actually said, "God, this looks like a prison!" Oh yeah, it also has security guards posted at a reception desk just inside the front doors. Can we say "prison"? Yes. Just don't say "Neo-Penal" out loud though. It doesn't matter how you spin it, it just sounds dirty. You have to show your WSU ID or sign in. These people mean business too. I tried to sneak past one of the guards I'd already seen several times before I got my ID and she caught me before I could get to the elevators. They have guards posted at the medical library front desk too. I don't know if any of them are armed. I'll try to find out. Hopefully not the hard way. In case you want to know what the Wayne county jail actually looks like, here it is:

The Wayne county lockup. Looks like a nice place to have class, doesn't it?

A rollercoaster of a week

I have so many thoughts and emotions swirling around that I can't keep anything straight. Nothing externally earth-shattering happened, but I tend to live in my head and I'm exhausted because of it. I've become aware of a disturbing habit of talking to myself - out loud - every morning in the shower. It isn't a new behavior, I'm just newly aware of it. Not sure which is worse. I say the same thing every day: "I don't want to do this anymore". I haven't decided what "this" is. The top candidate right now (and rightly so) is PhD school, but "this" could also be showering, driving, trying to look like I don't want to stab someone in the eye, thinking, feeling, being sober...the list goes on. 

Wednesday. I did end up going to the farmers market on Wayne State's main campus. I took the medical campus shuttle, hoping it would take me to places I hadn't made it to on foot. This whole thing seemed more exciting at the time than it does as I half-heartedly try to recount it. I'm tired of telling this lame story, so here's the abbreviated version. Got on shuttle. Drove around awhile. Made a stop at Henry Ford Hospital where two impossibly young and attractive female doctors mistook this shuttle for a different one. Their simple mistake pissed off the surly eastern European driver, who after the doors shut, started gesticulating wildly and sort of yelling stuff I couldn't understand. I decided that I would not be taking the shuttle back to the med school since walking doesn't (usually) involved pissed off gesticulating eastern Europeans. Got off shuttle when I saw lots of college-y looking people milling around. Briefly scoped out the tiny farmers market:

Found the tent that sold crepes and bought a turkey, swiss, and spinach crepe for $7.00. I'm still baffled at how much shit costs in Detroit. Feels like Ann Arbor. And I don't miss that part of living in Ann Arbor. I've never seen a bigger crepe in my life - it was at least as big as a 78 rpm record. Folded up, it was still pretty fucking huge:

Ginormous expensive-ass crepe

I couldn't even eat the whole thing. I haven't had much of an appetite lately anyway though. And frankly, it's about time that I quit shoving everything that looks like food into my mouth because it has gotten way out of hand. Seriously. I have a wicked case of "thesis ass" that I need to work off. "Thesis ass" is a close relative of the "office ass" that many of the case managers at M-CARE were afflicted with. With "thesis ass", there's lots of sitting (duh, right?), but a lot more cussing and shrieking than typing. Shit, I just remembered that this is supposed to be the abbreviated recount of Wednesday. Okay, back on track. Stopped at lame-o WSU bookstore to get the stupid lanyard I wanted last week (I'm nothing if not persistent) and scored a bonus item: an orange homework folder. Elliot needed a bunch of folders of specific colors, including orange. Do you know how hard orange folders are to find? I was convinced that no one made them and that the teacher was playing a practical joke with her supply list that I was not finding too funny. The ONLY place I have found that had any orange folders was the lame-o WSU bookstore. They even had two different colors of orange folders!! WTF?? So I bought an orange homework folder and a Wayne State lanyard for my ID. Walked back to the medical campus. Got lost in the building next to Scott Hall while looking for the medical library. Found the bridge into Scott Hall while lost. Came back and found the medical library that I had walked past on the way to getting lost. Sweaty now. Ew. Waited around for another hour before my rotation interview. Had interview. Talked about host proteins involved with HIV replication. Left. Went home. Don't remember much of the rest of the day, probably because it sucked. Helped Elliot study for spelling. He was happy and thought it was fun. Felt like a really smart mom.

Thursday. Had class. In molecular biology, I'm pretty sure the professor knows that I don't know what the fuck she's talking about. I've never had a prof who looked at me with the slightly disappointed gaze that tells me she can read my mind. She gets frustrated when she asks if anyone has any questions, but no one responds. I want to just come out and say, "look lady, it's not like I know this shit so well that I don't have to ask questions. Gimme a break. I'm a first year - I'm not nearly that arrogant yet. The problem is that I don't know enough to be able to ask ANY question." We are light years apart in terms of the level of understanding or comprehension. And I have a test on this crap next Wednesday. It should be a blast. The high point of the day was going to the Corner with Ashley and Walker, and staying long enough to see the GA crowd come out of the woodwork. I had 3 beers and a great time with my friends.

Friday. Holy fuck - I had 3 beers last night and I feel like I've been run over by a truck. What was I thinking?! Go to class. Hung. Over. Barely supressed the urge to puke when going over incomprehensible serine or cysteine (whatever) protease mechanisms. Went home. Still hungover. Texted my friends and begged them to let me help move the micro teaching lab. Went to Eastern. Felt like a stalker. Jim told me I was a stalker. Jim was being a dick. I let his foul mood take me down with it. Went scavenging for random shit in the psych department. Got creeped out by the rooms with windows for cameras. Back hurt. Feet hurt. Hungry. Upset. Felt old, lonely, and broken. Went home. Got stuck in construction traffic on I-94. Managed not to go apeshit crazy before making it to the house. Laid down. Cat tried to make out with me. Got back up. Emailed Walker for reassurance that Jim really doesn't hate me. Walker is awesome and made me feel better. This emotional rollercoaster bullshit is why I tend to keep everyone at arm's length. It's harder for people to hurt what they can't reach. I hear Chris playing World of Warcraft (lots of mouse clicking and keyboard key tapping sounds). I think I'll go make fun of him to make me feel better about myself before I go to bed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Extending my pseudopods beyond Scott Hall...

Today after the daily dose of brain lidocaine they call lecture, I dared myself to go find Eastern Market, scope it out, and then find my way home without getting lost. If you look at a map, it shows Eastern Market spread out over several blocks - it's absolutely massive and intimidating. On Tuesdays during the summer, they actually have a very scaled down version of the weekend market that seems almost manageable for a noob like myself. Since I don't have a GPS thingy yet, I found directions online and memorized how to get there and how to get home from there. It's only 1.5 miles from the medical campus, but the route isn't very pedestrian-friendly. The parking lot was full, but I managed to find a metered spot on the street. Historically, every parking meter I've tried to use in Detroit has eaten my quarters without putting any time on the meter, and the piece of shit I parked in front of this time was no exception. The secretaries in the Immuno & Micro department had cautioned me about parking on the street, saying that they film the show "Parking Wars" in the area and the meter maids here don't fuck around (I'm paraphrasing). I had visions of me coming back to my booted (or absent!) car, so it was a quick trip. I went looking for raw honey since my source for super cheap delicious honey in Glennie (Northern MI in the middle of nowhere) isn't there anymore. I found honey, but they were selling it at Ann Arbor Farmers' Market prices. Um, hello - this is Detroit! I ended up buying a couple of cartons of strawberries and walked away feeling kinda weird about the fact that the label said they were grown in California. I got back to the car (still there, no boot, yay!) and found my way to I-75 going the right to way to get me to I-94 and home! I was so proud of myself for risking getting totally lost, but going out anyway and having a successful trip. Tomorrow, I'm going to the Wayne State Farmers' Market on main campus. This time, I'm going to try taking the campus shuttle to see where it goes. I have a rotation interview at 2:30, so I have some time to kill after class lets out at 11:45.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Enzyme kinetics and microfilaments can suck it

I feel like I'm in the seventh circle of hell - where all of the concepts in cell bio and biochem that I most despised and hoped never to see again have become the be-all and end-all of my pathetic existence. I know I need to learn this stuff, but I haaaaate it. It's sooooo boring. I actually googled "can you die of boredom?", and found out that you can! Boredom will probably kill me at some point by giving me heart disease with perhaps a massive heart attack or maybe get real fancy and give me a nice big hemorrhagic stroke. But with my genes, this probably won't happen until I'm about 150-160 years old. Fuck. It's so bad that even bringing Ben Stein in to do the lectures would really liven things up. How am I going to assimilate this material?? It seems hopeless - I've actually been using my cell biology book as bedtime reading because it knocks me out in less than five minutes. Seriously. My biochemistry book works even better; whenever I open the cover, it's as if I'm overcome by a cloud of chloroform and it's lights out for Kristie. I'm so screwed...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Trivial Pursuit and mattress shopping

The last few days, Elliot's been wanting to do puzzles with me. After we finished putting together an Indiana Jones puzzle on Thursday, Elliot asked if we could do another one. I didn't really want to do another puzzle, so I went to the closet to see what else we had. It was then that I spotted my very first Trivial Pursuit game. In fact, I think it is the only one of all the games and toys that I ever had as a kid to make it to adulthood with me. Meanwhile, Chris still has every toy that he ever played with. Not that I'm bitter about that, but I digress...If you know me, then you know that Trivial Pursuit is my absolute hands-down all-time favorite game in the whole world. I really can't overstate this. I love this game. Then I read the suggested age range: "Age 7 and Up". YESSSS!!!!! I grabbed the box, spun around, and said, "Elliot, I've been waiting your whole life for this!!" Unfortunately, we ran out of time to play it that day. I can't wait though - it's gonna be awesome when I finally get to play it with him! Chris just rolled his eyes at me (as usual), even though he was exactly the same way with Legos. Quattros and Duplos weren't "real" Legos, so he couldn't wait until Elliot was old enough to be trusted not to eat them.
My 1st Trivial Pursuit, circa sometime between 1984 & 1987. The brown spots are from my dad's chewing tobacco. Yum.
On a completely different subject, we went mattress shopping today. The last time I bought a bed/mattress was in 1997. I think the whole shebang cost me something like $400 from L.L. Bean. I really got my money's worth out of it, but at this point I think the floor might be a more comfortable sleeping surface. Naturally, the mattress I liked the most was one of the more expensive ones - it's a Tempur Pedic. For what we paid for this thing, any rational person would also expect it to perform sexual favors. I think I'm still on the hook for those though. Damn.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Deep thoughts

It's finally the end of a very long week and I've just sat down to my desk after coming home and taking out the trash. Ashley's thesis defense was a great success (even though she still isn't convinced of that) - she packed the house! I've never seen so many people show up for a thesis defense - she even had a couple of her students turn out for this! They had to sit on the floor because the room was so full. She did a fabulous job, just like I knew she would, and I'm so proud of her! Her whole family flew out from Oregon for this. It was so sweet it almost made me wish I had told my mom that I was defending my thesis. I just visited her the other day and I still don't think I told her. I know - who forgets to say to her mother, "hey Mom, I just got my Master's degree!!!"? You know who? Me, that's who. I knew if I told her, she'd feel obligated to come, and she'd probably dress up and all. If she dressed up, that would mean that she thought it was a big deal. I didn't want it to be a big deal, because I wouldn't have been able to handle it emotionally. Really. I would have been hiding in a bathroom stall somewhere shaking and sobbing uncontrollably. That's not a good look for me. If I pretended like it was just a normal day, I'd be fine. So that's what I did. And I was. Although I almost started to choke up at the very end when I showed the collage of people/pets I'd lost. When I was an early undergrad, I always envisioned the day that I would graduate with my bachelor's degree and how proud my dad would be when he saw me walk across that stage. That day never came. By the time I finally got my bachelor's degree after more than a decade of hard work, Alzheimer's had already taken too much of him. I still beat myself up sometimes for taking too long to get through school. I don't ever again want to build fantasies in my head that reality doesn't have a prayer of living up to. I joked about naming plasmids after my dad, my grandma, Bob the Hedgehog, and my cat, Lynx, to make it okay for me to memorialize them without making people feel too awkward. I really did name plasmids after them though - I wasn't kidding about that.

It was weird to be back at Eastern. Good, but weird. I didn't feel at home there like I used to though. I think this is mostly because I was a good girl and turned in all of my keys, even though Judy never shook me down for them. Even after 2 weeks, it still doesn't feel right not to have my jailor's key ring on my belt. I still catch myself checking my hip for keys that aren't there anymore. I had so many keys on my carabiner that I really needed to wear a belt to keep them from dragging my pants down. What I found really surprising today was how many people told me they read this blog and how much they enjoy it. It actually made me feel a little embarrassed. I honestly didn't think anyone would care enough to want to read it. Me interesting? What?! It feels good to have proof that you belong. At the very least, I'm glad my misery is a source of amusement because otherwise it would be a total waste. VandenBosch showed me how much he loves me by giving me a USB key I need to fix the figure in my thesis that he told me I screwed up, then proceeding to completely ignore me in order to totally monopolize conversation with Mandy, who came from Puerto Rico for Ashley's defense. Then, when I protested, he started talking about me to Mandy in Spanish. He said I was muy something. I think it was probably muy pain-in-the-ass (however you say that in Spanish). I reminded him that his wife had called him a few minutes earlier and would be wondering why he wasn't home yet. I hadn't seen Jim in 2 weeks, yet we picked right up where we left off with the old married couple bickering. Ah, it was so nice to be home again.

I had intended to talk about more stuff, but now I don't feel like it. I'll save it for tomorrow. I didn't expect to enjoy writing (only as long as it isn't thesis-related, otherwise I'd rather have my fingernails ripped off), but I'm starting to remember why in high school I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. If only I would grow up already...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Morning rush + torrential rain + Detroit = Fustercluck

Yeah, yeah at least it's not snow, right? Whatever - I'm still not a fan of the rain. Yesterday it took me 45 minutes to get to Wayne State because of it. As soon as I entered Detroit city limits, traffic just stopped. I ended up walking into class late. Mind you, it normally takes me 24-30 minutes to get to school. So I leave the house 15 minutes early to give me a bit of a buffer (leaving at 8:45 for a 9:30 class). Since it was even rainier this morning than it was yesterday morning, I left the house at 8:30,  a full hour before my class is scheduled to start. This time, traffic ground to a halt in Dearborn - nearly 5 miles outside Detroit city limits. Fabulous. There were a few points at which I seriously thought about parking my car on the shoulder and walking the remaining 10 miles to school. I probably would have gotten there faster than I actually did. It took me AN HOUR to get to campus. Getting to class on time just hasn't been in the cards for me lately. Apparently, only the middle lane of I-94 in Detroit doesn't completely flood when it rains. These are not puddles; you could paddle a kayak through this water.

After class, I decided to walk down Canfield towards Woodward and Cass, gradually making my way to main campus. Shitty day to do it because of the rain, but there were a couple of stores that I've been wanting to check out. I ended up wandering around for an hour and a half. I learned a few things during the course of my trek. One is that there are black squirrels in the parking lot behind The Whitney. Okay, there was one black squirrel, but it was super cute and I was surprised to see ANY squirrels running around down there. Another thing I discovered is that the WSU Barnes & Noble bookstore sucks monkey balls. All I wanted were 3 things: a WSU lanyard for my ID card, a cute shirt for Elliot, and a short checkout line. All they had were the lanyards. Believe it or not, the EMU bookstore at the Student Center is waaaay better in just about every regard. And a third thing that I discovered while walking back to the medical campus is that main campus has power supplied by Consumers Energy, while the med school and half of Midtown is supplied by Detroit Public Lighting. At least the power waited to go out until I didn't need it for class anymore. Would've been nice for traffic though. Some people don't seem to think the 4-way stop rule applies to them.

I need to go eat some ice cream and go to bed. I have an interview with Dr. W after class tomorrow to help me figure out whether I want to do a rotation in his lab. As soon as I'm done with that, I'll be headed over to Eastern for Ashley's defense. And beer. Mmmm, beer. I haven't had any alcohol since the Bio party at Frenchie's. I should be a cheap date :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nice to meet you, Physiology guy!

I actually talked to someone this morning while waiting to be let into molecular biology lecture! His name is K and he's in the Physiology program. I think he sounds like a very interesting guy, and here's why: before we actually introduced ourselves, I was busy eavesdropping on a phone call he made that kind of made me prick my ears up. I gathered that he was calling a jail or prison - he told the person on the other end that he'd received a letter from his brother, which stated that the brother's release date was today. He was calling to confirm this so he could make pick-up arrangements (I assume). The first call was to the wrong person or department, so he made a second call to someone else. I'm not sure if he got any useful information or not - I must have zoned out or something. To summarize, all I really know about K is 1) his name is K, 2) he's in the Physiology PhD program (and doesn't have to take cell bio, damn him!), and 3) he has a delinquent brother who was supposed to be getting out of the joint today. The dichotomy between the goody-goody smarty-pants PhD student brother and the locked-up criminal brother (he had to have done something pretty bad to have time to be writing and sending letters, right?) makes K a very interesting person indeed.

Monday, September 5, 2011

On the eve of my second week - doubts

I'm seriously questioning whether I made the right decision to get a PhD. What the fuck was I thinking? My social skills are deficient at best and I'm so terrified of screwing things up that I've been paralyzed. I've read a sum total of three pages out of my cell biology book - all within the past hour. And comprehension of anything? Ha! What's comprehenshun?!?! I feel like an idiot. I really do. And there's nothing and no one that can allay my fears of failing spectacularly - because that's a very real possibility at this point. Compounding my inferiority complex is my fear of being forgotten by the people I love and whose company I genuinely enjoy. Even to the point of looking for any speck of evidence that this is happening - let's just say that lurking on Facebook isn't always fun or constructive. Maybe I do belong in academia - my ego seems to need constant validation in order for me to feel okay about myself. I'm well on my way to becoming a professor! I feel very vulnerable in admitting some of my irrational thoughts and emotions (and I've only just scratched the surface) - and maybe I shouldn't be doing it, but this is part of the "adventure" of grad school. I remember feeling just as lost and irrational and stupid at various points while working on my master's degree - even while I was giving my thesis seminar. My rational mind is telling me that these feelings will subside (or at least become less intense) as time goes on, but the reptilian part of my brain is still just telling me to run and hide.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Day 3

Looking at the title of this post makes me feel like I've either survived the zombie apocalypse or I'm impersonating Doogie Howser, MD (I can even hear the awful keyboard theme song in my head). I have survived my first week at Wayne State. Yay. I'm exhausted and my eyes feel like they're on fire. This is probably because I fought with my asshole cat for most of the night until I finally gave up on trying to sleep. He insisted on trying to sleep thisclosetome on top of the covers, pinning me in place. I'd break free and throw him off the bed. A few seconds later, he'd be back and the cycle would start over again. This must have happened at least 20 times. Whatever sleep I did get was in between feline molestation sessions. I couldn't take it anymore after psycho-Siamese pulled a wrestling move on me - noiseless flying leap from tall dresser with hard landing on scared shitless owner (me) in bed. That's a fun way to wake up for the day at 3:30 am.

Asshole cat. He looks smug, doesn't he?

I think it's too soon for me to say whether I like the PhD program or not. I kind of went into it thinking that it was going to be awesome and I'd make some new friends and start learning new lab stuff relatively quickly. So far reality isn't living up to expectations. I still hate cell biology as much as I ever have. Maybe even more now. It is soul-suckingly evil. Molecular biology so far has been a review of basic stuff from undergraduate molecular biology and biochemistry. I hate this material, so it is going to be a major struggle for me not to skip studying. I'm already behind with the reading, so I really need to get my shit together. Something that I think has been helpful and will continue to be helpful is the iPad Chris got me for my birthday. He got it because he thought it would be useful in my classes. So I've made an effort not to do the same thing that I've always done in school, which is printing out PowerPoint slides and pdfs for each course and each lecture, filling binder after binder. Everyone sitting around me, however, has done just that: one slide per page, one-sided prints, and 50-60 slides per lecture. Holy shit - that's a lot of trees!! I have a program on my iPad that lets me annotate pdfs by freehand writing with a fancy stylus or by typing in notes. I haven't had to print out a single page so far, which is awesome since I am still incredibly disorganized from thesis writing, ADD, and just plain laziness - there are piles of shit everywhere:

My bloody mess of a desk.

It would be a losing battle for me to keep printed notes organized and un-lost. Writing with the stylus is not easy if you want to be able to read it later and it's slow, but hopefully that will improve as I get more practice. Here's a page where I both wrote with the stylus and typed something:

Academics aside, it's been a very lonely week. I'm not even sure if I've spoken to anyone that doesn't live in my house with me. Oh wait, I take that back - I called my eye doctor today to make an appointment and I spoke to the receptionist. Sadly, that's about the extent of my social interactions as of late (not including email and the internet). What's keeping me going for now is the promise of seeing all of my favorite people at Eastern when Ashley defends her thesis next Friday. I can't wait!

So, why am I doing this to myself? There's nothing like having the carrot of discovering something that no one else knows dangled in front of you. Most of the time, it seems like the carrot is permanently attached to a cinder block wall and you're just banging your head against it over and over again with nothing to show for it - and the carrot is still there just out of your reach. Then every once in a while, you might actually blast a chunk out of that wall so that you can take a step forward, but you still can't ever seem to get the carrot within your grasp. Research is like a sick psychological game that nutjobs like me can't get enough of. The highs (though infrequent) are as tall as the lows are deep. I don't know if that makes sense, but it sounds philosophical and stuff so I'm going to stick with that for now. When I come up with a more concrete reason for wanting to do bacterial pathogenesis research, you can be sure that I'll be back to pontificate on it.

Yesterday and today I've been surprised at how many words have spilled out of me and onto the page. Sorry. Maybe once I start talking to real humans again, I won't feel compelled to say as much to my invisible online friends. Or my computer. Maybe.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 2

 I have Jamin to thank for the name of this blog, since he's the first person I ever heard pronounce PhD "phud" (think Elmer Fudd). My life feels a bit like a traveling carnival - I never know when something will go horribly wrong, but fairly certain it will happen at some point. While I was imagining one of these freak accident type scenarios, I thought of calling this new chapter in my life "Adventures in Funland". Then I remembered when I was a new master's student and Jamin asked me if I planned to get a "phud". And I guess the rest is history. So here begin my "Adventures in PhuDland".

I had intended to start writing on my first day of classes as a new PhD student. That clearly did not happen (hence the title of this post), but I'm always a day late and a dollar short with everything, so no big surprise there.

Day 1 Recap:
I wanted to give myself enough time to drive to campus, park, and make it to my class without feeling unnecessarily rushed, so I left the house at 8:45. It takes about 30 minutes to get to Scott Hall and my first class doesn't start until 9:30. I think I ended up walking into the classroom at about 9:25-ish. That was cutting it just a bit close. Especially since the clock in the room was stuck on 8:10, so the professor was kind of guessing what time it was.

Aside from that excitement, my first day was kind of, well, lame. So, the way classes work is all the 1st year PhD students in the med school (from various departments like cancer biology, physiology, etc.) have to take the same basic biomedical science classes. For fall, the two courses are Cell Biology and Molecular Biology (which is really more like a biochem. course). They are back to back and each class is an hour long. Oh, and they meet five days a week. Blech. All the programs admitted more than one student...except for Immuno/Micro. Yeah, I'm a class of one. So all these other students are clustered in their little groups chatting and getting to know one another. And then there's me. I just wanted to fast forward to 11:45 so I could get the hell out of there. And that's exactly what happened. The one bright spot was that I got to meet most of the current students in my department at their annual graduate committee meeting. I really like them. They're all really friendly AND they all seem to have that dry sarcastic sense of humor that I so love about the Biology department at Eastern. An additional bonus is that there is another new student - but he's a master's student. YES!!! That means that I am officially NOT the low man on the totem pole!

After that meeting, I went home. I think I was home by 1:30 and then I watched some People's Court (love that show!), surfed the web, and just generally procrastinated for the rest of the day. I didn't get jack shit done in terms of homework or really anything else.

Day 2
Okay, fast forward to today. Today I left the house at 8:30 to give myself more of a buffer. Traffic was awful - dozens upon dozens of semi trucks that took up both the right and middle lanes of I-94. Only the left lane had traffic that was moving over 65 mph. Barely. But it didn't take me any longer to get there, plus now I had 20 minutes to kill so I decided to get a little crazy and park in the structure across from Scott Hall. I hate parking structures. And I ended up on the 7th fucking floor. I didn't even think that I'd gone in that many circles up the ramp, but I guess I had. And I ended up in the tiny elevator with my molecular biology professor and his wife and a couple of other people. I just love those awkward moments being crammed in an elevator with people I mostly don't know. So I make it to the classroom at 9:15 only to find another class still in session and most of my classmates (still clustered together!) waiting outside. Ultimately, I made it through the two hours of class, promptly turned tail and drove home. Lab rotations and journal club don't start until October, so until then I really don't have much of a reason to hang around campus. I'll start exploring Detroit soon - there are some really cool restaurants and shops in Midtown within walking distance of the med school - but I just want to make it through the end of this week before I plan my next big adventure.