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Recreation Re-creation

“We created a new…” He crosses it out. “We don’t create anything in science,” he says, in his usual condescending tone.

“But I like to create,” I think to myself, almost saying it out loud.

That was Monday. On Tuesday things changed. Well some things changed but some remained the same. The usual condescending tones were still present. Accusations were made. Truths were told. Feelings were unequally hurt. In the end, no real resolution.

Then came the stages of mourning. First disbelief. Did that really just happen? Then depression, followed by acceptance, relief, and finally liberation.

Fast forward to Saturday: race time. I pedal to the start line and see familiar faces. We all recall what we’ve experienced together. Fear, suffering, exhilaration. The starter says “go” and that is what I do. Hard. Two others follow, but I do the work. I don’t mind, knowing there is mutual respect.

In twenty one minutes the last four years have been erased. Recreation, perhaps. Re-creation, for sure.

Mutual Understanding

I did something very difficult today. But it had to happen.

The feeling of worthlessness was beginning to be too much. Smiles were becoming more intermittent, puffy eyes and tears an all too common sight.

His take on it was different. I’m not focused. It was that simple. Obviously a mutual understanding.

But to give him the benefit of the doubt, he hinted at me having some redeeming qualities, and he related to my feelings of frustration.  “Five minutes of his time” turned into a much longer discussion.

Now I’m faced with the resignation letter. What is it that I have to say? Do I completely jump ship or do I gradually fade away?

My knee jerk reaction is to take the jump. But that is unlike me.

Perhaps that is why it is so tempting.

When DNF Is Victory

I’m not a quitter; quitting is not in my nature. When I start something, I have to finish it. I have to do it all the way. There is no other way.

Right?

Perhaps my will to continue despite the circumstances is why I am where I am today.

But is this a good place? Is this where I want to be?

The answer is no, not completely.

So instead of continuing to fight this battle, I will step down and let others step in. I will not finish what I started.

It does not matter what others think or say. My DNF is victory today.

Perhaps I suffered a record-long bout of writer’s block; nothing of interest to expound upon, years older but not wiser, apathetic with life’s daily events.

More likely, however, life threw me for a loop. We did, after all, move away from sunny Santa Barbara to the Rocky Mountains, eventually landing in Laramie, Wyoming. Yup, the wild, wild west at its finest, where the winters are long, the wind is incessant, and the people are few. Along with the new environment came new challenges: a new job, new friends, a new (old) house, and as if a metaphor fall all these new challenges, new athletic pursuits.

(Now brace yourself because I’m about to say something that might shock you.)

I’m not a runner anymore. I no longer fall asleep at night reliving each corner of the running track or wake up each morning to lace up my shoes with the goal of making myself more quick and agile on two feet. My calluses have faded, my hamstrings have weakened, and my running shorts are out of style.

But I am still the same Annie, perhaps more Annie than ever before. I’m still mentally ill in the minds of many, sensing pleasure in what most perceive as suffering. I expect the worse only to experience the best, and I still dream big.

Perhaps that is why I caught the cycling bug. Certainly years of running made me susceptible to it but I think it goes deeper than that. I’ve always needed an outlet of some kind, a non-verbal way to express feeling of frustration, anger, love and joy. So from here on out, or until I sell myself to some other sport, my blog entries will most likely be about cruising around on two wheels. Or, more accurately, powering up mountain climbs, cornering at high speeds, or descending gloriously down mountain passes. Ah, the thrill, the freedom. Will it never end?

Rocky Mountain High

In March, I moved to Golden (Colorado) after I finished my thesis at UCSB.  I was certainly sad to leave Santa Barbara — my friends at school, the great running community, the all-the-time sunshine, the bike riding lifestyle, the beautiful oceans and mountains.  I also found it difficult to leave my work in the lab — once I left, who would finish my (never-ending) projects?

However, I do have to say that the Rocky Mountains are not at all a bad place at all to live.  I first visited them when I was in high school.  My sister Amy was conducting research at Rocky Mountain Biological Station (near Crested Butte, Colorado), and my mom and I went out to visit.  I fell in love with the region immediately.  How could I not?  Majestic snow-capped mountains, gigantic blue skies, purple columbine, meandering streams, beautiful blue-green colored glacial lakes, humming birds, marmots, the list goes on and on.

In college, I returned to Colorado for a National Science Foundation sponsored research program at CSU.  What a great experience!  Not only did the program provide me with the opportunity to do some cutting edge science, but it also enabled me to return to a place I felt drawn to.  Not to mention, my two summers in Colorado would very positively and drastically change my life for good — it was in Fort Collins that I met Carl, who would later become my husband and all-time best friend.

So now I am back in Rockies, and I am definitely high again!  Carl is currently working for the USGS in Golden, and in August will be starting his professorship at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.  In June, I’ll be starting a post-doc up in Laramie, but for the time-being, I am enjoying the unemployed life, spending a lot of time doing things that I’ve wanted to do for years, like cooking, baking, birding, pleasure-reading, and, most importantly, recreating in the mountains with Carl.

Academic injury

I pulled an all-nighter last Thursday night to try to get my thesis finished by my 29th birthday (Friday). I haven’t done that since high school. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best birthday, but hey, I eventually got what I wanted – A FINISHED PRODUCT! It may have only been only 25% the thickness of Carl’s, but my heart went into every single one of those 196 pages.

The sick thing is that through the whole month of writing I didn’t miss a day of running. Even on the Friday after my all-nighter, I went out for a run in the rain around 11AM. I saw John B. on the path on my way out. We said “hello” to each other. On the way back I saw him again. He said “I thought you were gonna catch me.” My reply, “Not today.”

So maybe my fitness has suffered somewhat. But now it’s done — or at least handed off to my committee. But in reality I know that the work never stops. Immediately after handing in my thesis I was back at my lab bench, pipette in hand. Perhaps that’s the great thing about science — there is always more to do.  Depressing?  Maybe.  Exciting?  Definitely.  Perhaps I am insane for being so upbeat right after obsessing for weeks over that stupid document that no one will ever read.  But I guess I can say that my graduate experience has been a COMPLETE success, because I’ve acquired the wisdom that I really know nothing at all.

Chapter 6:  Overview

Regulation of ADAR1 is a complex process involving multiple promoters [115, 120, 121], alternative splicing [115, 117], SUMOylation [131], and presumably proteolytic degradation [123]. During our study of ADAR1 biology, we learned much more about how ADAR1 is regulated and processed. This chapter describes a diverse range of experiments that although seemingly unrelated, were all motivated by one simple question: “Where are all the bands on the gel coming from?” Needless to say, I spent a great deal of time trying unsuccessfully to answer that question and in the process created more bands on the gel and even more questions. The projects described here are by no means finished, and I don’t wish it upon anyone to ever try to complete them. However, I hope the results summarized in this chapter serve as a reminder to the chosen few people who ever try to comprehend these pages that, with ADAR1, as in life, anything is possible.