Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Strangely drawn...

To some of you I have described the basic topography of Rochester as: a nucleus comprised of the Mayo Clinic and affiliated hospitals, clinics and other buildings, which is surrounded by a ring of hotels and restaurants, which is surrounded by yet another ring best described as “residential,” and then, there’s nothin’ but prairie. This is in no way binding or entirely accurate – but you get a rough idea. The slue of hotels and restaurants vary in quality and corresponding affordability. They are meant for those whose loved ones are actually patients in the aforementioned hospitals and clinics. The mom’n’pop places tend to advertise their amenities rather garishly to attract the eye of those passing through. I pass my favorite everyday on my way to and from work. They have faded red awnings with bold white lettering. “MICROS AND FRIGS” gets me every time.

Best sign on the back of a bus: Little Bob’s Auto Body “Highly Wreck-a-Mended” Ha! Get it? "Wreck-a-Mended?" Genius.

Most hypocritical package in my pantry: Woodstock Farms “Every day 5000 acres of farmland are being sold for development. With education and enthusiastic consumer demand, we can preserve our American farming heritage, keep farming families on the farm, and keep farming a viable economic livelihood.”
Small print on the back – “Product of Turkey.”

And I’m taking a small survey – how many of you have eaten greasy burgers and fries in libraries? Anyone? Why does the new Wendy’s $2.99 commercial have the two guys eating their meals in a library? Of all places. The better to whisper “$2.99” in? Or are libraries the new cool place to hang out and eat your fast food? Maybe that’s where all the folks my age are…

Thursday, January 25, 2007

You'd be so proud of me

I’ve made a *new* friend.

She’s funny and nice and we’re going to get together with her husband and eat chili. I can’t wait! We click. She laughs at my jokes. I wish I’d met her much sooner.

Making new friends here in Rochester hasn’t been easy and I don’t see it getting any easier in the foreseeable future. My first stab at it was mediocre at best. Boys like assertive girls, right? I introduced myself, asked about his shirt, typical small talk, didn’t sound like TOO big of an idiot. Aaaaand, nuthin. Never occurred to him to tell me his name. Maybe that was on purpose. Nice. Great ego boost right there. I need to find where the people my age are hiding, having fun without me, because they certainly aren’t working where I’m working.

You all need to move here. Pronto.
Or at least plan to visit. Give me something to look forward to.
I have movies I want to see and places I want to explore and I’m too much of a self-conscious social wuss to go by myself. I’m even considering adult classes in fun things that I never got to do in college (e.g. cooking, yoga, beginners Norwegian, etc.), but like I said: social wuss. So don’t hold your breath.

AND, illustrating how selfish I am: my new friend is pregnant and I’m sad thinking that she won’t have time to play with me after the baby is born.

Then I’ll be all alone again. Talking to the TV. Exploring the boundless depths of laziness I am willing to sink to. (You’d definitely NOT be proud of me, maybe impressed, or shocked, but not proud).

Isn’t that sad? Don’t you feel sorry for me? Come visit. Make me a better person.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Road Trip!

This past weekend I ventured for the first time to the Twin Cities. Everyone in Rochester will tell you that it’s an 80 minute drive (1 hour and 20 minutes – depending on your source). It is an easy drive because, in a fit of common sense, the powers that be decreed “We shall have a 4-lane highway connecting Rochester to The Cities” and it was so. There isn’t too much to see along the highway: farms, an elk farm, small towns, and several strip clubs (sorry “gentleman’s clubs”).

Being a 4-lane divided highway, the speed limit is 65 MPH. I set my cruise control to 70 MPH and quickly learned that the posted speed limit is taken as merely a suggestion… should you find you don’t have enough speed and adventure in your life. Otherwise most were Sunday Drivers, content to plod along at 55-60 MPH.

Fine. As long as I have the opportunity to pass them, I’m satisfied. Then I was introduced to The Minnesota Wedge. I don’t believe this particular phenomenon is specific to MN by any means, but if looking for away to distinguish your state’s driving population – this will do the trick. Picture two vehicles (I’ll leave the make, model and color up to your imagination) being driven by the aforementioned Sunday Drivers – side by side (or nearly so) down the highway. As you approach, you find that you are trapped by a wall of oblivious-ness. Both Sunday Drivers are quite enjoying the view off to either side of the highway and cannot be bothered to check their mirrors and notice your presence. They do not recognize the purpose nor the authority of the passing lane. In their minds, both lanes are equal. Why should anyone want to pass them?

I also came across several cases of Road Hypnosis. I’d pass someone only to be passed by them a short time later. Apparently I snapped them out of their reverie just in time to see a speed limit sign and realize that they were, in fact, allowed to drive faster. Much, much faster. This is most annoying when the realization hits JUST AS I am attempting to pass them – thereby negating the need to pass in the first place.

The most creepy driver I came across – The Stalker. This driver follows the nearest relatively fast car. This guy wants reassurance that it’s OK to drive fast so he attaches himself like a pilot fish to a shark. If you pass his shark, he’ll attach himself to you. I believe he thinks he will avoid a speeding ticket this way, but that’s just a guess. I picked up a Stalker on my way home to Rochester. What was creepy was his tendency to stay 1-2 car lengths behind me, as if riding my ass to get me to speed up. All the while the passing lane is wide open. Our little procession crossed a good number of miles. Finally we reached a stretch where a third lane appeared to our right and it was THEN that the decided it was time. To actually pass me. On the right. WTF?

Now I will openly admit that I am not a perfect driver, but I do try to have proper highway etiquette. I’ll be anxious to see what other interesting species of driver I come across the next time I venture north.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Can someone explain to me how, after eating toast, with the toast in front of me, I can end up with crumbs on my shoulder?

I swear I wasn’t eating it so fast and furious that crumbs were flying EVERYWHERE, which, by definition, would include my shoulder.

My current hypothesis: kitchen gnomes.

FYI: a real honest-to-goodness post is brewing in my head but I am either a) too lazy, b) too tired, c) watching a video on how to properly treat lab animals or d) watching TV, and can’t be bothered to actually type it up. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have some motivation.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Thanks for your patience

It’s been a very busy last few weeks, my friends, and I appreciate your patience (all 7 of you).

The move from Cleveland went well. Weather and traffic were good. I avoided any unpleasant or uncomfortable conversations with my mother by intently listening to “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson on CD. HOURS of entertainment right there. I’ll have to write him a fan letter and thank him.

Christmas was full of the usual hectic and drama-filled family events. I even had a little time to squeeze in some friends. I learned a new dice game called Farkle. Kinda reminded me of cribbage with all the different combinations adding up to different point values. I don’t think I could explain it.

The move to Rochester also went well. We unloaded the truck in record time while the furniture guys delivered and set up my new bedroom set and sleeper sofa. As we started to unpack and organize, the cable guy set up my TV. I was set. Exhausted, and not wanting to go shopping or out to dinner, but set.

My parents alternated between complaining that I had too much shit, and trying to make me buy more. I snapped at the Wal-Mart checkout, asking them to make up their fucking minds already. (That’s how tired I was.) We all slept soundly. The next day the parents took me shopping one last time (without incident), hung some curtain rods and shelves, and were on their way back to WI by noon. I was breathing a big sigh of relief by 12:05.

My New Year’s weekend was spent unpacking and organizing. Two of my most favorite things to do. A close second was doing my first couple loads of laundry in my very own washer and drier. It’s the little things, you know?

I also learned that there are two truths to moving:
1) You really don’t know how much shit you have until you try to box it all up.
2) Moving is an excuse for your family to foist shit they don’t want on you.
I turned down: wicker furniture, random kitchen gadgets and an artificial fichus tree. I accepted: a giant metal desk, a giant metal table, nice rolly chair with matching carpet protecting plastic thing to roll on, and a bookcase. I know how to prioritize. And I’m ready for houseguests. So, if you ever find yourself in the Rochester area, let me know.

Work as been… good. Being a new employee is never fun, per se. Lots of training, orientating, setting up, reading, and doctor’s appointments. You’ll be happy to know that I don’t have TB, and I won’t be getting tetanus, pertussis OR diphtheria any time soon. I know I’m relieved.

So far I like my new boss and my new labmates. Most of the folks I’ve met at work are married women who are either pregnant or have kids. I’m learning a lot about differing mothering styles. Most have been very nice and welcoming. Then there are some on the floor that won’t even make eye contact. I’ve been warned that there’s a bit of clique-ish-ness by lab. I am not in their lab, therefore, I am unimportant. Fine. I won’t waste my time.

My most favorite graduation gift arrived last week: my new matchbook-sized iPod Shuffle. It’s SO CUTE. I could eat it up. Helps me drown out the country music playing in the lab and gives me something to do on the bus to and from work.

One cool thing about work: I have access to “Staff Only” corridors, tunnels and elevators because now I’m actually, officially staff. A very novel concept for me. Oh, and everything is connected by underground tunnels – also novel for me. I can even get to my bank via underground tunnel here! AND they have a bunch of little shops in part of the tunnel system – gift shops, coffee shops, sandwich shops, etc. Pretty cool. My office has a huge window and being on the 13th floor affords me a pretty decent view. My office mate leaves something to be desired, but she’s tolerable. Likes to give out obvious, unsolicited advice. That rubs me the wrong way. She also likes to corner people and chew their ears off. I’m polite, but I keep things short.

That pretty much brings you up to speed.

I hope your new year is starting off on the right foot!