Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Somebody revoke my "(Marginally) Sane Member of Society" card, please!

I hate Christmas music. When I worked in the pathology labs at UM, we always had the radio playing in the background. Unfortunately, we listened to a station that switched over to All-Christmas-Music All-the-Time beginning immediately after Halloween. I do not recall the choice of radio station being a democratic decision. After having listened to a third of a year's worth of the same 20 Christmas songs 8 hours per night, 5-6 nights a week over the course of two years, I just can't do it now; not even 12 years after the fact. This background should make what I'm doing right now highly disturbing, even to me: I'm listening to Christmas music and liking it. Actually, it's only one Christmas song played over and over again - "All I Want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Carey. Somehow this is the only song that escaped my eternal disdain even though I'm pretty sure it was in heavy rotation on the radio back then (translation: this is the only Christmas song I like).

 I normally can't read while listening to music, especially not if the music has lyrics, but here I sit, reading up on the generation of NADH and ATP with comprehension (!) AND listening to the One Sanctioned Christmas Song AND swaying from side to side in time with the music. Simultaneously! This is no small feat here, people. Holy shit!! What else requires near-maximal brain power?! This may be one of the rare times the stars have aligned for me and I actually have most cylinders not misfiring, so lemme at it! Maybe I can solve some crazy-ass mathematical theorem (the goal of world peace is just too cliché) and credit the miracle to Mariah Carey's magical voice! Perhaps I should just settle for passing my upcoming final cell biology exam. I've got one pass and two pretty spectacular fails under my belt (go big or go home, right?), so I could really use a miracle of any sort at this point, lol! At the present moment, however, I'm just grateful for this tiny glint of joy in the otherwise barren landscape that has been my life this semester. It's a start in the right direction, isn't it? It's gotta get better soon because I'm staking the last of my sanity on it. In any case, I'm so thankful for my wonderful friends who have stuck by me through this tough time and haven't given up on me; you inspire me to keep going- "I don't want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need / I don't care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree / I just want you for my own, more than you could ever know / make my wish come true, all I want for Christmas is you..."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sourpuss begone!

I'm not gonna lie - I've been very depressed lately - for a number of legitimate reasons. So much so that I'm actually starting to really annoy myself. That's bad. I feel like a useless, floundering, beer-guzzling, pie-eating, sedentary chunk of Kobe beef, to put it bluntly. In a desperate no-holds-barred attempt to cheer myself up, I'm sitting in front of my seasonal affective "happy" light bank, typing up future exam questions, and totally rocking out to The Monkees. Yes, The Monkees - my first musical love, my first concert, and my go-to "cheer the fuck up, already!" music. From the time I was Elliot's age through adolescence and early adulthood, up to the present day - I have always adored them. Even I can't be depressed listening to these lyrics: "I have no more than I did before / but now I've got all that I need / for I love you and I know you love me / yes, I love you and I know you love me..." I can't explain it, but this almost never fails to lift my mood. All I need now is a marathon of the original Star Trek (with Captain Kirk - swoon!). Two of the best childhood memories ever - summers spent watching The Monkees and Star Trek, sitting a foot away from the TV so I could reach the dial to change the channel, lol! Ah, I was born far too late!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I'm all out of clever titles today. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

I feel guilty that I've only had time to write once a week lately. This sentence implies so many pathologies I'm not even sure where to start with it. I guess the first assumption is that anyone still reads what I write - I mean, if you think about it, it seems pretty egotistical for me to assume that there are people out there in the "blogosphere" awaiting my next blog post with baited breath. Or any other kind of breath, for that matter. Another thing is why on earth do I feel guilty for not doing something as banal and nonessential as compiling a list of grievances? That's just dumb. I feel guilty for not writing a blog post as often as I think I should, but there's really no appreciable amount of guilt associated with not studying enough or not wanting to do any lab work or any one of the number of things that I really should be doing right now instead of this!!! I blame it on the extensive training I've had in Catholic guilt. Extraordinarily effective, those crazy-ass Catholic nuns are. They have the power to fuck with people's heads like nothing I've ever seen before. The government really should exploit this abundant untapped resource we have for counterintelligence. But I digress.

School is pretty [heavy sigh] "meh", as usual. I had a molecular biology exam yesterday evening that took me the entire 3 hours, from 4:00 to 7:00 pm. I'm not going to say how I think I did, because it doesn't seem to be a factor in how I actually do on exams. I've said in the past that I felt like I failed a test, then learned that I got one of the highest grades in the class. I've also said that I didn't think a test felt "too catastrophic" only to fail beyond even my worst expectations (which is pretty bad, because I really set my expectations low). So with that background, I can't honestly say that I have any idea how well or how poorly I did on this exam. What makes me nervous is that the exam was based on 20 hours of lecture material from 5 different faculty: 5 hours on DNA replication and repair, 4 hours on DNA recombination/chromosome structure, 4 hours on prokaryotic transcription, 5 hours on eukaryotic transcription (2 different profs split this 2:3), and finally, 2 hours on RNA processing. Sadly, only one of the instructors was any good and he only had 3 hours of lecture time. One thing I have learned is that I am terrible at designing assays to look for the evidence or existance of pretty much anything scientific. I think one reason for that is that the instructor didn't fucking teach us how to design any kind of assay!!! Helllloooo!!!!! I think once you reach a certain level of knowledge, and especially if your primary job/interest isn't teaching, you tend to forget just how difficult some things were for you in the beginning. It's not enough to briefly flash some overcrowded PowerPoint slides and say that some group decided to do A, B, and C, and from those experiments clearly deduced X. It may be clear as day to the guy putting this shit together as a presentation, simply because he's done these assays for years himself, but it is clear as fucking mud to the 1st-years. Or at least it is to me, which I find worrisome. [another sigh]

In the midst of all this turmoil, the powers that be want me to register for next semester's classes. I have to sign up for six classes this time, instead of the two that I'm taking now. I know, right?! I did neglect to say that it's the same number of credit hours that I have currently: 10. Five of the classes are required - Fundamentals of Immunology (2 cr.), Molecular Biology of Viruses (2 cr.), Molecular Mechanisms of Bacterial Pathogenesis (2 cr.), Research Conferences in Immunology and Microbiology (fancy name for "Journal Club"; 1 cr.), and Seminar (1 cr.). In addition to those, I need one 2-credit elective. I want to take Functional Genomics and Systems Biology because it sounds like a pretty relevant area of science, but it requires a co-requisite AND it's from like 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Two things immediately come to mind here: one is that I'm all about NOT taking more classes than I have to (I learned that lesson after finishing a 124-credit bachelor's degree with over 170 credits...), and the other thing is that it's dark and fairly deserted in Detroit at 8:00 pm. There have been several armed muggings in the area lately - exacerbated by the fact that many of the street lights don't work because they are on the oldest electrical circuits in the city (installed about the time my dad was born - 100 years ago!). There is something to be said for achieving your 15 minutes of fame, but I don't think being featured as an assault or homicide victim on the 10 o'clock news is the way to go about it. I guess this will have to be food for thought because it's now Sunday and I have officially spent WAY too much time on this. There goes another perfectly good Saturday night. Oh well. Until next time...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Not enough time

I wish there was more time for me to record my thoughts - unfortunately, my thoughts all seem to be varying shades of negative. This afternoon I made the decision not to quit school until the end of my first year. If I'm still as miserable and depressed at that time as I am now, I'll give myself permission to quit and just find a job somewhere, I guess. Yeah, I want a PhD, but not as much as I want my life to stop sucking. I'm just not sure that it's worth it. I haven't had a break in well over a year, my thesis won't be done in time for me to graduate from Eastern this year, the first anniversary of my father's death is two weeks from today, and I've lost interest in everything I'm supposed to be doing. I don't know how to make this better, and it scares me.