Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Saturday, I didn’t do any work! None Tuesday evening, either!

So, those of you who have been with me for a while here know all about my crazy hair dresser/stylist/”BFF”. I’d been struggling with the decision to bite the bullet and go back to her (because I desperately needed a haircut AND had about an inch of roots to highlight). I could have done it. I could have lied (sort of) and went on and on about how overwhelmingly busy I am. I could have been evasive and curt. I could only envision bad things coming of it, one of them being vengeful hair cutting/dying. And who needs that?

My labmate came to the rescue and said, “Let’s just go to Julie,” her stylist of choice at a completely different salon. Yes. Let’s. So we made back-to-back appointments with Julie for Saturday. While Labmate was getting her trim I was looking through the books.

Now, I have to explain to you that I have this thing. This thing where I lust after having a cute short haircut that looks all messy and chunky and hip. All the while I know that to achieve this level of girly-ness will require (pause for dramatic effect) the use of product. (Dum dum DUM) I suck at using product. But I always think, “Maybe this time will be different. Maybe this time I’ll ‘get it’ and I’ll practice and it’ll look the way it does in the picture and the world will applaud in unison!”

So when Julie turned to me and said “So what are we going to do today?” I sheepishly showed her the picture of the cute short haircut. “You know it’ll look a little different with your hair, right?” Yes, I know. All the pictures are of girls with ultra thick hair. My hair is not that hair. My hair is thin and wimpy.

“I think it’ll look great!” says Julie.

I’m hooked. I’m convinced. I’m psyched. Let’s do it!

I completely ignore the fact that the reason my hair is in its current state is because I’ve been letting it grow out from a similarly short ‘do. I’d missed ponytails and the freedom to use product at will, or not at all.

I don’t know what it is about cutting large amounts of hair off of people that excites the stylists so, but it gets them all hyper. I’ve never seen a stylist happier than when she’s orchestrating “drastic change.” Anyway, she was excited, I was excited, there was electricity in the air and hair on the floor.

Julie was so focused and intense, we didn’t even chat (bonus!). She explained, “When I get all quiet, it means I’m concentrating and excited.” Fine by me! I’ll be sure to be back.

At the end of it all I watched very closely, I took her instructions, I “learned” how to easily style it. Labmate and I also made appointments to get highlights later in the week. The rest of the day was spent dress shopping for Labmate. I didn’t touch a pipet once!

Despite my crash course, the next day my ‘do didn’t look anything like what Julie had done, but not so bad that I had to break out the baseball cap. I’ll figure it out… I hope. For now nobody is recoiling in horror. Maybe I can go back and ask for another lesson.

Yesterday was highlight day. Julie doesn’t do dye jobs, but Louise does. Louise is a lot chattier than Julie, but thoroughly enjoyed the story of my first stylist. Then she related the story of another stylist she knew, one who said “Sometimes I just want to plunge my scissors into your head” to one of her clients. Shyeah, and I thought I had it bad.

The dye job isn’t *exactly* what I had in mind, but I’ll get over it. She even threw in a 50% off my next color and cut gift certificate! For no reason! Maybe because I wasn’t bitchy about her running late.

I’m not sure, but I think I am in love with Louise.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Now God's just messing with my head

Yesterday I received the following email from (gasp!) the professor at the NIH:

“Kate, I assume by now that you have accepted the other postdoctoral fellowship position. However, I was just informed that one of the people in the lab is leaving to pursue a job that will get him the coveted H1 visa and thought I would check your availability one more time. Hope all is well, Dr. S”

My first instinct was to fire off a quick “Yes, as a matter of fact I DID accept another position. Thanks for asking.”

L & R stopped me (physically pulled my hands away from the keyboard) saying “Are you CRAZY?!”

Um, yes. But what does that have to do with anything?

They pointed out that I had really liked that lab, really liked the research, the pay and the atmosphere of a government lab. They reminded me that I have not signed anything committing myself to the Mayo Clinic.

I countered with “But she *screwed me over* and who’s to say she wouldn’t do it again?” I’ll bet she sent this same email out to 5 other kids that she interviewed and she’s just waiting to see who bites first. Besides, though I have not officially signed anything for the Mayo Clinic, I verbally committed. The paperwork has already been filled out (and will be filed pending receipt of rec letters from my committee members and official documentation of my graduation). I just can’t bring myself to be the asshole who calls up Dr. A to say “Yeah, nevermind. Something better came up.” I can’t do it. Makes me feel dirty – and hypocrital.

So I pleasantly declined Dr. S’s offer and wished her the best of luck in finding a new lab member.

And I felt good doing it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Apparently I break things

It is evident that I am not allowed to own any new electronics. I’ve managed to break my new external hard drive AND my new-to-me MP3 player. The hard drive has to be shipped back to the company, but the MP3 player just needs some carefully positioned tape to hold the headphones jack at just the right angle so it doesn’t sound like I’m listening to my music from the bottom of a tinny well. Annoying, but nothing I can’t live with.

When my hard drive started to act wonky I called the help number. Seeing as how it’s really not all that complicated to use, I can’t say I was expecting a lot of fancy technical know-how from the technician, but I did expect a little more than “try turning it off and then back on again” or “try it on a different computer.” These were things I had already tried on my own. When none of these, or different variations of these tricks worked, she says “You must of have broken it.”

Um, yeah, apparently.
But I didn’t do it on purpose!
So what now, Hard Drive Guru?

“Well, since you’re still under warranty, we can replace it, but you have to send us the *broken* one.” Alright, fine, can do, but can we lose the condescending tone? It’s not like I’m personally putting you out on this one.

She tells me I’ll be getting an email on how to properly ship it back to the company. If I can manage to accomplish this feat, they will send me a new one. Sounds easy enough.

But no.

Have you seen the instructions for something like this? You’d think the hard drive were made of human embryos encrusted in diamonds. I have to have it in a Static Shield bag (of which I had to go out and buy a pack of 10 – which I think portends I may have to go through this process 9 more times). I have to have it safely nestled in 2 inches of solid foam (no styrofoam peanuts allowed!) or 3 inches of bubble wrap, inside a corrugated cardboard box. And this corrugated cardboard box must have my special number clearly written on 3 sides. Why not all 6? I wonder if I put it on all 6 sides if they’d be pissed…

If anything fails to meet their shipping standards, they will promptly ship it back to me. I’m not sure how that helps. Maybe to give me another shot to properly packaging it up. Who knows.

Anyway, I need more bubble wrap.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

HOORAY! (For real this time)

Looks like I have *finally* landed a job!
This is the email I just received from Dr. A at the Mayo Clinic:

Kathryn: ... Whenever you have a chance, give me a call at #### to discuss specifics. I know for sure that I'll need 3 letters of recommendation (electronically or hard copy, your choice) and a current cv to begin the paperwork here. We should discuss when you wish to start, etc etc. Looking forward greatly to your coming, and give me a call when convienant, or, send me a time and we'll plan to mutually be at a phone...feel free to send me a # if you wish me to call.

You can bet I both emailed and called (unfortunately he wasn't at his phone) within seconds. I've also updated my CV and sent emails to my committee members and advisor asking for recommendation letters to be sent to Dr. A. All within the last 3 minutes.

And now all I want to do for the rest of the afternoon is look up apartments in Rochester...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Something funny to look at, because I'm just figuring this out

Caution: Alpine dangers
Summit of Zugspitze, Germany

Zurich airport

Call me Grant
Philadephia, PA, US Mint

Vulcan's got a sweet ass, see?
Birmingham, AL

No, No, sperm!
Cleveland, OH, Health Space Museum, work Christmas party

Monday, August 14, 2006


I wrote:

"Subject: I'd like to be a postdoc in your lab

Hi Dr. A,
I would like to officially accept the offer to be a postdoc in your lab
(if you'll still have me).
I hope that you are enjoying your time away from lab and I'll be looking
forward to hearing from you when you get back into town.
Thank you, again,

And he replied:

"Kathryn: I am in fact still in Europe using a Blackberry--content is difficult to get, but from.your subject line I'm looking forward to talking with you soon. I'll be back next weekend and actually accurately reading email. Looking forward to visiting with you."

HOORAY! Finally, a positive reply.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

2006: Year of the Ex

This has been an… interesting… year so far, in terms of relationships.

The groundwork was actually laid at Christmas time 2005 with the orchestrated run-in (thanks, Stepmom) with my ex, B, who had been my long-distance college boyfriend. We didn’t have a good break-up, harsh words were exchanged, and though there were some potentially reconciliatory phone calls afterward we parted on uncertain bad terms. Of course, if you talk to us separately about it, you get two different versions of the story. I chose to focus on the harsh words when remembering the break-up. He chose to focus on the potentially reconciliatory phone calls. Either way, here we were 5 years later, awkwardly chatting. After finding out that neither of us was pissed at the other any more, we had some decent conversation and catching up. We even exchanged email addresses.

Enter 2006 and to my surprise, B actually emailed me. We’ve been exchanging update emails every 1-2 months now. We’ve sufficiently felt each other out to be sure of the other’s intentions and are rebuilding a sort of casual long-distance friendship, of sorts. I know, kinda weird, and believe you me, I wasn’t expecting it. Despite the bad break-up he’s a decent guy – he had to be on some level or we wouldn’t have dated in the first place. He’s got a good sense of humor and I find myself laughing out loud at most of his emails. He also has honed the skill of “keep your chin up” speech giving. I wish him and his fiancé the best on their upcoming nuptials.

New Year’s Day 2006 ushered in the bittersweet end of a relationship with J. We’d lived together a little over 2 years. J and I were both attending grad school here in Cleveland and, being older, he graduated in 2005. He then moved to AL to start his postdoc. I know, the prospect of another long distance relationship didn’t bode well for me, either. Those last 6 months or so we’d both noticed a change. Less boyfriend/girlfriend and more friends/roommates. J had the guts to actually broach the subject and I’m glad that he did. Turns out we were on the same page about the relationship and whole-heartedly agreed to remain friends.

I can hear you scoffing through the internet, but I’m proud to report that we have maintained the friendship. J’s a decent guy and he completely understands the horrors of graduate school. I don’t know what I’d do without him and his encouragement.

I could accept these two incidents of maintaining a friendship with an ex as coincidence - that was just the way things were shaking down. But a third? Now things are getting weird.

Last week I received an email from C, my first serious high school boyfriend. We haven’t spoken to each other in… I don’t even know how long. It has to be, at the very least, well over 7 or 8 years. And if I remember right, it was a rather brief, random run-in on the street in my hometown.

Similar story: C was older, so he graduated from high school first and moved on to college. Long-distance didn’t suit us well, so we broke up (again, a relatively painful process for both of us at the time). C’s mom was in the habit of keeping in touch with C’s ex’s (the one’s she liked, thank you very much). After C and I broke up, my parents continued to exchange Christmas cards with C’s parents.

C’s mom must have shared with him that around Christmas time I was hoping to graduate from grad school in the summer. Out of the blue C decided to email me a “Congratulations.” I had to reply with a “My plans didn’t turn out, but thanks anyway, and by the way, how the hell are you?” Since then we’ve been exchanging emails and catching up a bit. He definitely hasn’t lost his sense of humor and I’m totally jealous that he’s bought a house.

2006 is only about half over so I wonder if any other exes will come out of the woodwork this year. I’d decided quite a while ago not to attend my 10-year high school reunion (it’s this coming weekend, for those who are interested) so I think that ruins some of my chances, but we’ll see. They seem to be seeking me out, and in this age of cyber-stalking, uh, I mean, “looking up people online,” it’s not too hard to track me down (apparently).

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Brief Update on the Job Hunt

No word has come in from the professor at the NIH who said she’d keep an eye out for folks looking for postdocs. Bummer.

I did get a reply from the professor at Vanderbilt and he still can’t afford to hire me. I guess I can’t say that I’m entirely shocked.

So, in an attempt to thwart my shitty luck, I emailed the professor at the Mayo Clinic right away to tell him I was accepting his offer (if he’d still have me). Of course, he is out of town this week and part of next, but checking his email periodically.

I am anxiously awaiting his reply. Based on our exchange of emails last week, he seemed pretty laid back about the whole thing, so that gives me a glimmer of hope. But, like I said, to try and side-step my bad luck, I’m not getting my hopes up too high lest something go horribly wrong.

In other news: I’m all settled into my new apartment and am finding it to be truly “cozy.” It has taken me a little while to get used to having only 4 rooms (total) and remembering where the hell I put things (I only spin around 1-2 times in the kitchen as I try to remember where the damn butter knives are). Slowly I am developing a routine, and I am able to get out of the house faster in the mornings. And everyone knows that the earlier you get to work, the sooner you can leave (or the sooner you can leave without being plagued with guilt, in my case). Sweet.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Damage control

What I've done since The Almighty tried to smote me (or at least smote my perfect job):

1. Replied to dear NCI/NIH professor with "Know anybody else looking for a postdoc?" She asked me for my CV again, and said she'd look into it. Good. At least she can do something for me besides show me that the grass is truly greener, then slam the gate shut. That's mean.

2. Emailed the bungling professor at Vanderbilt (my first great disappointment in the world of job hunting) to see if he's had any more money come rolling in and still wants me. I know, I know, you've all voted to hate him, but I really liked him and I'm willing to give him another chance. Of course, he's on vacation this week, but will be back in the office on Monday. If I don't get an email back, I'll call his office. All I need is a simple yes or no.

3. Emailed the nice profressor at the Mayo Clinic to ask if he could wait until next week sometime for me to give him an answer. He replied that that would be perfectly fine. In fact, he's going on vacation next week and part of the following week, but he will check his email sporadically. Sweet. I wonder if he's figured out that I'm waiting on something slightly better....

Now I can breath a little easier but I'm sure getting anxious. I want this job hunting to be OVER. Sure, interviewing can be fun, but c'mon. Enough already. I need to be able to focus on getting the H-E-L-L out of H-E-R-E. Having a job lined up just might help.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I'm starting to think that God hates me

I just got an email from the professor I interviewed with at the NIH. She's offered my position to another guy who has a different background and different skills than I do.


And I really liked her. And her lab.

Now I'm sure as shit glad that I didn't turn down the Mayo Clinic. But first I've emailed the guy at Vanderbilt to see if his financial situation has changed at all. If not, I'll be seeing if the Mayo Clinic will still take me.


I hate moving

And yet it is a necessary evil.

Come Moving Day, I still hadn’t quite finished packing up my kitchen and sorting through everything to determine what was to be banished to storage and what was coming along to the new apartment. No matter, we had things to do, I’d handle it later.

L & R arrived with bagels and cream cheese, I provided the chilled Gatorade. After a quick breakfast we headed to U-Haul to pick up our truck at 7 am, sharp. Surprisingly, there was only one couple in line ahead of us, so we got service relatively quickly. This is the only moving truck company within a reasonable distance to our neighborhoods, so they’re usually pretty busy on the weekends. We got our truck and went back to my apartment where A was waiting. He got his breakfast and then we commenced to fill the truck with everything I wanted to take to storage. T & J showed up, helped load the truck, AND helped me pack the rest of the kitchen. We were locked and loaded by 9 am. I was impressed and had a good feeling about the rest of the day. If it only took us that long for my apartment, loading up L’s apartment should be a snap!

We headed out to my storage facility, and as I filled out paperwork with the creepy manager, the “crew” started to unload the truck into the storage space. By the time I was done with Manager Leering Eye, the truck was almost empty. It was 10 am. Sweet.

Before traipsing off to L’s apartment, we stopped by my old place to make sure we brought the Gatorade along. While we were there one of the new tenants that is moving into my old place just showed up (we’ll call him D and his fiancé R – they’re the one’s who are crazy about their cable). D & R had decided that they wanted to get a jump on their moving and move some things in that day. D wanted to take my keys and make copies. He swore it would only take about 20 minutes. Alright, fine, but I’m on my way to L’s, so you’ll have to bring them back to me. Also, D, if you’ll notice, I’m not quite done moving out. No problem, says D. We’ll just be putting a few things in the dining room. Fine. By the way, says D, where can I get these keys copied? OK, genius, you’re the one who is so hot and bothered to do things today, maybe you should have thought of that *before* getting the keys. L and I directed him to a place about 2 blocks away. We were a tad worried he wouldn’t find it. He promised he’d call and meet me on the corner at a gas station to give me back my keys. Whatever. Get out of my face and drive away in your Mercury Cougar.

T & J had to go and attend to some moving-related busy-ness of their own, so I thanked them profusely and sent them on their way. L was moving out of a 2nd floor apartment, and though she wasn’t taking all of her major furniture, we still managed to fill the truck. The best part was chucking her futon mattresses over her balcony to A & R below to put on the tree lawn. Also, her dressers had WHEELS. Wonderful concept for large furniture.
D called about 30 minutes into his key-copying adventure to let me know that he still had about 2 hours on his meter, so he thought he’d get his hair cut. Fine. Just call me when I can have my keys back, OK?

Keep in mind that it’s about 90 degrees and sunny. Thank goodness there was a breeze to cool you as you walked down the fire escape with armloads of stuff. But still, we needed a break. Subway provided us not only with plenty of parking for the truck, but also an air conditioned place to sit and eat lunch. I love you, Subway!

Then the day took a sudden turn for the worse. L’s new apartment is on the FOURTH FLOOR, and there is NO ELEVATOR. We all thought we would die. I am no where near “in shape,” but I can be pretty scrappy when I have to be, carrying a bit more than you might expect. This was torture. We made L promise to live in this apartment for at least two years before asking us to help her move again.

The clock was ticking and we had to have the truck back at U-Haul by 3 pm, with the same amount of gas, if not more. At about 2:15 we decided to just get everything off the truck and pile it up by the door. That would give us enough time to swing by a gas station and get back to U-Haul. A & R thought it was a great time to take a break and not barrel toward heat exhaustion quite so fast. L drove the truck and I drove her car to the gas station. Putting in $10 of gas made the needle barely move. Putting in an additional $20 make the needle jump way beyond the half tank mark we were aiming for. Damn gauge.

As we approached U-Haul, we see that there could be a problem. The U-Haul has a kind of “courtyard” fenced in area where they store the trucks and trailers. Some idiot had come to return a trailer and had decided to back it into the courtyard and simultaneously block the entrance. It obviously never occurred to him that other people may need to be getting in and out. AND the U-Haul folks never told him to move his car. Consequently, a 24 foot truck parked itself almost bumper to bumper with the idiot’s Jeep, trying to leave at least a little bit of maneuvering room in the area outside of the courtyard for general public parking. L pulled in and was bumper to bumper with the 24 foot truck, trying to keep the rear end of our truck out of the street. I had to park someone in just to get off the street.

Thankfully they processed our return relatively quickly, and we got to see the idiot in person. This man and his daughter had no business attempting to pretend they knew anything about moving.

On the way back to L’s apartment we stopped at Wendy’s to bring the boys some frosties. We were shocked when we got back to her building. A & R had brought up just about everything that we had left piled by the door. All that was left were the mattress, box spring, a bookcase, and the 2 dressers. Of course they were irritable and ornery, but the frosties helped. L and I helped where we could to get the last remaining items up to her apartment. By then it was 4 pm and A had to go home – he was already about 4 hours late. We left L & R in the new apartment and I took A to his car parked by my old apartment.

A offered to help me take the rest of my stuff to my new apartment, but I declined (idiot!) thinking “I really don’t have all that much stuff.” About 5 car loads and 6 hours later I was done. But I did it! And I did it all by myself. I told you I was scrappy. What kept me going was knowing that I already had a bed that was assembled and covered in clean sheets waiting for me in my new furnished apartment.

I had been overpowered by the scent of Pinesol the minute I’d walked back into my old place. Turns out that D & R and R’s grandma had completely filled the dining room and had cleaned the kitchen sink with Pinesol. They were not going to be returning to “help” me clean. All I did for cleaning in the old apartment was bleach down the bathtub and toilet, then sweep the kitchen and foyer. Fuck it. If grandma is so hot to trot with her handy Pinesol, let ‘er rip.

I was to exhausted by the time I got to my new home that I was actually overtired. Part of it was sleeping in a new place – a hot and loud new place. My new apartment is significantly smaller than my old apartment, so it only has a window unit and really, that’s about all that it needs. My old apartment had central air. A body can get used to that in a hurry. The window unit is in the bedroom, right at the head of the bed. With all of my in-and-out with bringing my stuff up, the apartment never really got a good chance to cool, so I was hot, the apartment was hot, and the AC was constantly running and loud to boot. Hard to get used to your first night.

The Day After Moving Day sucked. I was sore and exhausted. I’d also plated a nice 7 hour experiment at work. I woke up relatively early to get to work and start my experiment. Thankfully there was a bit of down time near the beginning, and for the first time I actually grabbed a timer and laid down on the couch in the lounge. I was asleep within minutes. I woke up 2 minutes before my timer alarmed with drool all over my hand. Nice.

I completed my experiment and dragged myself home. My new landlords (D & L) are very nice and inquired if I had been gone all day for “business or pleasure.” I assured them it wasn’t pleasure.

Over the last few days I’ve put just about 95% of my things away in the new apartment. I’ve also discovered a bunch of things that missed the boat to the storage space. I’ll have to make another trip, but I’m not going alone. Not only was the manager creepy, but the place is in a pretty bad neighborhood and exudes a shady vibe.

I’ve also had a nice little “get to know you” chat with my new landlords. They are an interesting couple and I like them, but I can tell they are going to make good blog fodder. I’ve never met anyone like them.