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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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 supremacy of cool

I’m growing up and becoming less shallow.

It took long enough, that’s for sure, but I’ve finally come to the conclusion of the type of person I’m looking* for. It shouldn’t come as a huge shock to anyone who has ever been in a relationship but coolness is really one of the biggest factors you should use when finding someone you want to spend time with. Shifting to this from picking women based almost exclusively on attractiveness like I did in high school and college is actually quite the change for me, and one I like.

I began thinking about this a few months ago when my PhD program was interviewing candidates. It’s tradition that at the end of the two day marathon we take the candidates out on the town and end up at a bar where we unwind and really try to bond with the kids. We typically have three rounds of about twenty candidates each, and I typically do what I can to meet with each group at least once over those two day spans. This year I met with the first two groups and was extremely disappointed with the caliber of candidates, but a buddy of mine told me that the third group was, almost to a person, fucking awesome. Of course, I didn’t believe him, so I had to see this for myself.

We invited the group out to a bar where we were already having another celebration and I met the group. Needless to say, all of them I met were cool and interesting, but there was one stand-out even among a group such as that. That girl (woman? I don’t know what to call ’em anymore…) was just really cool , no way around it. The only thing is that she wasn’t exactly what me or my friends would call “attractive.” It didn’t matter for my two friends though, they both wanted to fuck her. They’re attractive guys too, so it’s not like they were just digging at the bottom of the barrel; she was just that cool.

That’s what cool does. It brings you in, and if it’s great enough it keeps you there.

That actually was part of the reason my marriage ended, and I’m finally beginning to realize that.

* I’m not looking in the traditional sense. I’m not crazy. I just got divorced, it’s time to shop around and play the field for a while.

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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

A sucker

There are two things I’m a total sucker for: love songs and “The Fountain.” I’ve known this for quite some time and was actually quite ashamed of it until a few years ago. I am not entirely sure why I was ashamed to be a sucker for these things, but it may have something to do with “manliness” or some other bullshit like that. This is ridiculous of course, and now I can unabashedly embrace my love for the idea of love.

This whole line of thought came about through the creation of a list of the ten greatest songs I currently own. It was remarkably difficult, but the one undeniable fact that came from this was that love songs are often some the best songs written by any particular artist. I don’t know if it’s due to the intensity of love and how it feels differently to everyone or what, but it is clearly some of the best song fodder of all time. This is by no means a novel observation and I don’t mean for it to seem profound, but it’s something that is nice to finally accept for what it is.

The love songs serve as a good transition into my feelings about Darren Aronofsky’s 2006 film “The Fountain.” I’m not even going to touch the artistic aspects of the film that make it such a masterpiece, but instead I am going to focus on the story and why it makes such an impact on me every time I watch it (which happens to be at least once a month).

Two things strike me deeply every time I watch The Fountain. The first is that I can realistically see myself as the main character, Tommy. He happens to be a scientist working on brain cancer research; the very same research that could cure his ailing wife. I could see that being me. Working endlessly, using all my intellect to solve an insolvable problem to the point of neglecting the very thing that drove me to work so hard in the first place. It was all Tommy knew, so he lost himself in his own work for the entirely selfish reason of not wanting to let go of the love of his life even though she was finally comfortable letting go. He took a commendable, yet self-defeating view of his terrible situation and reaped the consequences later on in the film.

The second thing I see is the most intense depiction of true love I’ve ever witnessed on film. Knowing the realities of my own history of love it gives me a depiction of what I aspire to have at some point. At the same point, the movie terrifies me greatly. You see, one of the most clear ways love was shown in the film was though moments of the most intense sadness. Desperation, complete despair, a total mental breakdown, and finally a single, unbreakable focus were what made Tommy the remarkable man he was in this story. What I fear is that I am simply not capable of having such intense emotions, and by extension can never feel the love he felt for his wife. I realize this is probably an unreasonable way to feel, but there’s something in me that keeps me from not rejecting it entirely. All I know is that I want to feel for someone the way that Tommy felt for his wife, Izzy.

Is that too much to ask?

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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