Category Archives: grad school

Dear lord…

So, the hell that has been my thesis proposal is essentially over. Getting mine approved took a few weeks longer than usual because I got FUCKING SANDBAGGED BY MY GODDAMN BOSS DURING MY PROPOSAL. But whatever, I’m (somewhat) over it now that I have a project that’s been approved by my committee. The project is damn near impossible and almost certainly not going to work, but it’s better than not having a project. I’m still going to have to throw out 8 months of research, but I still think things could somehow be worse.

For the first time in years I’m actually making time to have fun and meet people. I’ve been going on freaking boatloads of dates the past two months and am loving the chance to go out and meet new people. I do feel somewhat bad for the first half-dozen or so of the women I went out with since I was still just working out the awkward out of my system. Never going on a real date as an adult will do that to you. I was FULL of awkward. Like, to the brim. Okay, not that bad, but it wasn’t pretty. Sorry, first six or so ladies, I really am.

But even though research isn’t going well I’m not letting it bring me down since life in general is actually quite enjoyable. I still have a few friends who either can’t or won’t see the world this way and that is really beginning to rub me the wrong way. I’m just now beginning to realize that happiness is largely a choice for those of us fortunate enough to be in our situation. I mean we’re doing bleeding-edge medical research at one of the best freaking labs in the field, in one of the best cities in America, and we’re getting fucking PAID to get our degree. This is, of course, a very rosy view of our current situation, but it’s one that helps change a possibly shitty situation into one that is at least tolerable.

So, life is decently good and I’m happy. That is all that really matters right now.

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Filed under animal research, crazy, grad school, just sad, life, neurobiology, sleep deprived

The guilt trip

When it comes to relationships of all kinds – family, friends, romantic – it takes a lot for me to become annoyed if the relationship has already been established. However, I’m human, and as such do have a few pet peeves that I have found can in the long run ruin my relationships. One of those mortal sins is the guilt trip.

Guilt. That ugly, base emotion we all feel at one time or another is never considered a good emotion and by its very nature shouldn’t be a common feeling. But when a friend uses guilt as a weapon to curry favor or force you into something a line has been crossed. This has happened to me numerous times in the past, but one of my lab mates has this line of “friendship” down to, well, a science.

Take Sunday night as a typical example. I went in to lab on Saturday to knock out an experiment early in the day so I could still go out and have some fun that night. I had WAY too much fun and didn’t wake up until noon Sunday. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to be making it into lab that day like I thought I would. No worries, I thought, I still have plenty of shit that needs to get done around the apartment, I needed to get a decent workout in, et cetera. Essentially, my way was full.

Enter Steven (clearly not his real name). He texts me saying he’s going into lab around 9PM and wanted me to come too. That’s fine and dandy most days since I actually like midnight recording, but I really wanted to get a decent night sleep and do what I could to get back on a quasi-normal sleep schedule so I played it diplomatically and said, “maybe.” I get, “so that’s a no. Sleep man. I would like some company. But I’ll be fine.” in return.

I know that doesn’t seem like much to someone else reading it, but it means quite a bit coming from this guy. This was him saying, “I clearly don’t mean as much to you as you do to me.” I don’t deal well with that type of attitude in any person, let alone someone I truly consider a friend. However, considering I’ve dealt with this type of passive aggressiveness before I’m willing to do it again to just push off the inevitable one more day. There are more pressing issues at hand.

Like getting laid.

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Filed under grad school, life, pet peeve, relationship, sleep deprived

On loneliness

Coming back into the fold of single life has been relatively easy for the most part. I’ve been living in my new place for a month now and that time has been a relatively novel experience. However, the novelty has begun to wear thin and the loneliness associated with being single has begun to set in. It’s an alien feeling that I had not fully anticipated and have yet to understand what to do with.

Spending time in lab and with friends has thus far kept me sane and happy, but I know that this cannot last forever. At some point I’m going to have to deal with this. Sooner would be better than later but I have no idea how to begin to deal with this problem. It’s clearly not just my problem since I’ve been talking with a few other friends about the very same issue, and they’ve been single for years.

The question becomes: what will I do when true loneliness comes? Stemming the tide with exercise, cooking, work, and hanging out with friends will only take me so far. At some point the only thing I feel that can keep me from going crazy is some sort of relationship and I fear that desperation may take hold at some point and usurp reason, leading me down the path to another divorce. I realize there are two people involved at that point and it’s reasonable to think that the other person wouldn’t let that happen, but I’m a realist and know that even though the other person is likely to have more experience dealing with loneliness it doesn’t mean a bad decision won’t be made.

Oh well, I guess it’s all theoretical at this point and I shouldn’t really concern myself with it.

I’ll just drink instead.

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Filed under divorce, grad school, just sad, life, marriage, relationship, sleep deprived, social

The grad school blues

A large portion of grad school is reading. Lots and lots of reading and doing what you can to synthesize the information into a whole and then do something with it. This is much more difficult than it may seem for a plethora of reasons, but when it really comes down to many areas of the literature the larger picture makes sense. Things are somewhat ordered.

This is not the case with the literature I’m reading for my project. The area I study seems to be nothing but a clusterfuck of randomness. However, the data is rarely presented this way which makes reading the papers that much more difficult. For instance, I just read a paper that had a very nice looking bar graph, but after reading the text I realized the data for that figure was only from ~15% of the cells they recorded from. I’m not saying that making the comparison they did wasn’t valid, it was, but it was also somewhat misleading since you kind of had to dig for the rest of the story.

This is really bringing something to light that I wish more people in my lab (really, just some of the higher ups) would recognize: the nucleus we study IS NOT HOMOGENOUS. All the cells share some basic characteristics, but that does not mean we can treat them as a homogenous group like we do. I’ve been fighting this stance since the beginning due to the literature and my own findings and while I seem to have convinced my peers the higher-ups still don’t apparently see it that way.

Science can be frustrating.

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Filed under animal research, biology, disease, grad school, neurobiology, parkinson's

Too long between posts…

For the first time in quite a while the science is going relatively well. I want to write about it, but with science being the way it is (and my boss being the way he is) I shouldn’t go into details. What I will say is that the optogenetics work I have been doing is finally coming to fruition and the postdoc who made it seem so fucking difficult was clearly just trying to dissuade me since my first animal gave me data. Bitch…

Had a group dinner where the lady I’m kind of interested in was also in attendance Wednesday night. We were kind of segregated from the rest of the group and ended up talking most of the dinner. Not gonna lie, there were some awkward times but I would like to feel that they were overshadowed by the not awkward times. I don’t know what to do about this woman. Is this one of those carpe diem times or is it more complicated than that due to my divorce situation? I’m leaning towards the former since at this age amazing single women are becoming more difficult to find by the day.

Overall, good shit. I like life again.

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Filed under biology, divorce, grad school, life, marriage, neurobiology, parkinson's

Quickies

Turns out that going without internet still sucks (I did this a few years ago when I first split with my wife), but going without gas is even worse. Yeah, the morons from the gas company shut my gas off instead of beginning to charge me for it. I knew they were dumb, but this has been going on for a week now and I’m getting real sick of it. Cooking is my stress relief, so thank god there’s very little stress in my life right now

On a more positive note the divorce paperwork is all filled out and ready to go. Turns out it’s just checking a few boxes and signing your name about a dozen times (as long as you’re getting an awesome divorce like my wife and I). Have to say it looked much more intimidating than it really was.

My apartment is coming along nicely since I got my bed on Friday. I’m at work now, but when I get back I plan to put up a bunch of pictures and paintings and really help make my place feel more like my home. Still need to get rid of those boxes though…

And science-wise things are progressing quite nicely. This Thursday will be a trying time since the mice I injected with Channelrhodopsin will be ready to use and, fingers crossed, I get a boatload of data. In theory I can knock out all the data I need with just a few healthy animals with unique injections. It won’t work out quite that nicely, but I still have hope that all my training will get me through this.

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Filed under animal research, biology, divorce, grad school, life, marriage, neurobiology, parkinson's

Today was a good day

Outreach went well today. It was a tad bumpy early on and a few kinks needed to be worked out, but overall we got the kids engaged and (at least it seemed) excited about learning about their brain. This is very encouraging because to me that means that kids aren’t nearly as apathetic about learning as many people believe, but simply need to be engaged in a way that may require some teaching outside the normal curriculum.

Over the next four visits (spring break screws with our schedule) over the rest of the school year we have some really cool projects and experiments for them to do including the spikerbox which is an ingenious device that was the brainchild of two UofM graduate students who wanted to see if they could bring electrophysiology to the masses by producing a cheap (<$100) and simple to use device that kids and adults can use to explore neuron function with live tissue. It’s really something and these two guys really deserve all the praise the neuroscience community (in particular the YOUNG neuroscience community) has given them and more.

On a completely different topic, I did go on… something tonight. I don’t think it was a date, partially because it wasn’t intended to be, but also because it was just a drink at a nice bar. The whole “what is a date” thing weirds me out anyway. I went out with a cool woman tonight for a drink. It is what it is and that’s it. I hope it happens again.

I may like being single.

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Filed under biology, divorce, grad school, marriage