Friday, August 29, 2008

Why I love the mister

The mister and I had some good conversation yesterday, mostly me complaining about the situation, how torn I feel, how proud I am of my networking abilities, how I can not be happy about not doing a PhD no matter how much I try to focus on the benefits of having a job. To which he said: "Sweetheart - it is so obvious you want to do this. Don't make the mistake of rushing to a decision. Take some more time, turn over every stone, then at least you know tried everything." He is so on my side. I so love him.

Which end the happiness for the weekend. Its bitchfest! have a great long weekend!

Let the Bitchin Begin!

****As you can see from the side bar button, this weekend is the betchfest and I have donated my blog space. If you want to know what this all about go check out the Basement at HBM's. In the meantime, here is Anissa with some bitchin she can't do on her own blog:***

I can’t tell you how good this is going to feel. I get to rant about something that I can’t even breathe a word of at my own site (link to, which you can go check out, but be discreet about my personal bitchfest…because I am not THAT big a bitch. HOWEVER, here?? Here I get to be all BITCH, all the time.


Here goes, people.

My mother in law is a lovely person. She really truly is. Forget about the fact that she referred to my unexpected pregnancy 11 years ago as “that bastard”…I have forgiven for that moment of douchebaggery because she now worships my kids. She is an awesome grandmother and an above par mother in law. She has bent over backwards to help us through some of the most intensely emotional and painful times of our lives: my stroke, my daughter’s diagnosis of cancer. I love her.

Alrighty. There’s the reason I can’t EVER bitch about her to my husband (her son), or my friends (who have MILs that have etched their names in the Queen of Bitchdom crown).


What the FUCK!?

How in the name of all that is holy has she managed to go 68 years on this planet and not learned how to do laundry? I would pay someone to break her wrists so she can no longer pick things up to put them in my washing machine. Now, you may be saying, “WHOA! Who complains because someone comes over to do laundry?” Me. That’s who. And if you ruin my rant, I will CUT you!

Because the woman cannot…I mean, CANNOT…do a load of laundry without ruining all my shit. To date there have been untold loads of whites ruined because they were thrown in with whatever else was dirty, like, let’s say, a RED towel. OH MY GOD, I can’t stand it! And I get to stand there while she mumbles and poo poo’s about her mistake because I’m supposed to be grateful that she came in and destroyed an entire fucking load of laundry.

IF…IF it were just once that this happened, I would suck it up. But it happens EVERY damn time she walks into my house. She heads for the laundry room and I feel a full-blown panic attack start. I’ve taken to running around and hiding all the laundry hampers in my closet when I hear a door slam in front of my house. JUST in case.

I don’t get to spend a lot of money on clothes very often, so when I do spend, I take the time to buy quality. I want classic pieces that will last forever. I also have a hard time buying clothes off the rack and a lot of them need to be altered. I have spent a lot of goddamn money on the clothes I do have.

I set aside all of my delicates and dry clean only items. All the undies, the bras, the shirts that should never see water, the silks and cashmere go in their own special piles to be hand washed or taken to the cleaners.

Do you see where this is going?

Last week I came home to find these things in the dryer. Together. All together. IN.THE.DRYER. Are you getting this? My clothes that have never seen the inside of a washing machine were in the motherfuckingdryer!

I tear up just thinking about it.

My daughter’s favorite Build-A-Bear now wears my luscious purple cashmere sweater. The black silk sweater that fit me beautifully and hid things that needed to be hidden and showcased the good stuff is languishing in a landfill somewhere. The tale of travesty goes on and on and on. I was pissed. I was beyond pissed. I was enraged. I was nearing a point of combustion that my children picked up immediately, forcing them to run for the safety of their bedrooms.

I called my husband that day at work and started to cry because I was so upset. He said to me, “Just remember that it’s my mom and she was trying to help.”

I know. I KNOW. I.KNOW.

Yet I get to stand in the middle of my living room, shaking like a crack whore who just found out that someone stole my stash.

We’ve had 3 conversations about clothing that was ruined. About how, maybe, if she feels the insatiable urge to launder something, she could stick to towels and sheets. She nods her head, we hug, I think she gets it. But she doesn’t!!! She does it again. And she makes a little piece of me dies inside.

** sigh **

After calculating the costs of damage…in just my clothing alone, not hubby’s or kids…she’s killed over $2500 in items.

She gave me $40. I thanked her. I plotted her death in my head. I thought about how I would spend my hubby’s inheritance to replace all the clothing.

I will burn in an everlasting hell. It’ll probably just be closets full of all the shriveled, shrunken, discolored and inadvertently tye-dyed clothing left in the wake of my MIL.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Importance of Networking

Update at bottom

If this ordeal with my PhD studies has taught me anything, it is the importance of networking. I can not say it enough. Regardless of the stage of your studies, get out and NETWORK. Get to know labs, start collaborations, join organizations. I have a huge history of networking outside of the lab, in alternative science environments. I have a huge lack of history of networking in science. Getting out and working with other labs, going to talks and seminars. Had I done that, it probably would've been much easier to move labs. People would know who I am and would count on my reputation, that I had worked at developing. Instead (I think), they go by the reputation of GradAdvisor who is known to be very nice. If I can't work with him, what is wrong with me. That could be totally off base and I am sure it is, but the truth of the matter is that unless I am out there and developing those relationships and demonstrating my abilities, I am no one to other PI's.
Contrast this with what is happening in the alternative science environments, where I have developed relationship and a reputation. A job was posted in an area that I have been interested in as a career path. Although, I may not be the perfect candidate for it, I know women who have work(ed) in the field. Yesterday I was struggling with writing a cover letter, as its not something I have done in long time. I emailed my very very rough cover letter to, a very good friend, whom I met while volunteering on the Board of the our Women in Science Organization. She looked at the job posting and sent me back a cover letter with some edits, advise on how to lay it out, what skills / experience to highlight. She also suggested I contact a former Board member who works at the University in an area that is similar to the posted job. I worked on the cover letter some more, incorporating the edits and advise that was given to me, then sent it to the former board member and the current President of our Women in Science organization. The president emailed me back with an example of one of her cover letters and advise on what to put into a letter when applying for a job that you have little to no experience for. Former Board member emailed, asking me to call her at work and the spent over 45 minutes "hinting" on exactly what the hiring committee is looking for. She also told me who is on the hiring committee. I have met one of the ladies through my work with the Women in Science organization. Former Board member knows the other individual quite well. Once I submit my application, I am to email her so that she can put in a good word and recommend that the individual meet with me regardless of whether he thinks I am a good fit for this job.
Lesson learned:
I have developed great relationships with people in a variety of alternative science career path who can open doors and point me in the right direction.
I can not apply for this job and ask for those doors to be opened unless I am going to walk through them. To do otherwise, would be harming the relationship and reputation I have worked so hard to build.
If I am able to join the newLab, I will have to get out there in terms of science networking.
I can not make any moves until the door on the other lab is shut.

Action: I called PI, left a message on her voicemail indicating that I need to know her decision so that I can make my decisions about pursuing other opportunities. I will wait until 12 pm tomorrow to hear from her.

This is a hard decision to make, but I can not sit in limbo. I am getting depressed sitting at home with no where to focus my energies. VWXYNot suggested re-emailing the PI's that did not respond. I could do that, but then I think that I will be passing up on this alternative career path opportunity. I also think that I would be sitting in limbo again waiting for others to make decisions. Of the PIs that did not respond, only 1 is someone who has a solid publication record, combined with a reputation for good science and good mentoring. If I email her, I will have to put on hold the job application. I think I will wait for the first PI to repond. If there is no response, I will submit the application and see what happens with the meetings and interviews. I have been trying to mend my heart and my soul about leaving grad school. I don't think I am able to open the door to it, only to have to close it again. My heart and soul could not deal. Its barely dealing now.

My emotions are slowly moving from sad to mad. Just tell me already. Don't not reply. Just fucking say yes or NO!!!!! URGH! I keep fucking checking my email and nothing! I get nervous when the phone ring. grumble grumble grumble.


Now I am fully angry. I am trying to make myself feel ok about this situation because of the monatary reward. I will get that later as well. I am going to make an appointment with Program Advisor before making any rash decisions. I can open the doors, as long as I am honest about my situation. Honesty is the best policy even if it gets me stuck in crappy situations like I am right now. Integrity and respect aren't easy to earn, and it usually earned for choosing the harder, more ethical road.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I feel blah today. The weather here in HomeCity is ass. It is so cold that I actually had to turn the heat on to be comfortable inside, although its muggy outside. It is also the end of August. I gave myself until the end of August to find a new lab and unless the PI from the lab I blogged about offers me a position (she said she would be making a final decision after the 27th ), I'm SOL. I've looked at a numerous labs, but it is hard to find (1) something that you're interested in (2) with a PI that has good science (3) that at least as a reputation for being reasonable. I've emailed numerous individuals, many of which didn't even bother replying. Initially, I took the lack of response to be a reflection upon my marketability, but now I think not responding with even a "not interested" or a "no space" is a bit rude and a reflection upon them.
What now? I am moving on to plan B, which is to apply for jobs. I am sad. I am trying to focus on the positives of looking for a job: I can think about having another kid, we can afford to renovate the house, I can go buy those cute shoes and designer jeans without feeling guilty. I am trying to be optimistic about approaching this as a new adventure, but I just feel sad and I want to cry because I am closing a chapter on a dream. My BFF has said that I can always go back, but I know I won't. I am sure once I land somewhere, I will get excited about it but for now I have to just get over being sad and do what needs to be done. Relearn how to write a killer cover letter, get my resume checked over to ensure its highlighting my strengths and to let the network of friends and professionals that I have developed relationships with know that I am available. With that I am in the process of applying for one job and have made an appointment with the university's career services for advice on the resume and job marketing.
I am sad.
Gas Company guy called yesterday to say that Field manager has not returned his calls and he's still working on it. Blah!

and we have rats in the attic. blah!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Problem with Monopolies

Here in HomeProvince we have a Gas Company and an Electricity Company. One of each so you really have no choice in terms of where to get your gas and electricity from - unless you plan on producing your own. Gas Company and Electricity Company each have meters on your house so that they can charge you for the amount of gas and electricity that you use. Simple enough right? Every other month or whatever time interval they choose, they (Gas & Electricity Company) come to my house and read the meters, then they send me a bill for the amount I owe. Except in June and July the Gas Company sent me a bill for an exorbitant amount because they couldn't access the meter. The logic being (as much as I can understand) is if they don't know how much you used, they assume you used as much as you did over the last six months. Which makes complete sense, as I would use the same amount of gas to heat my home in the winter and early spring months of Jan - May (when its is COLD) as I would in the hot summer months of June and July when the heat is not on because its 30 + degrees Celsius outside. To say I was surprised at the amount of the bill is an understatement. No biggy, I did what any normal human being does and called the customer service department (CSD) to find out what was going on. It was at that point that I learned about the inability to access the meter. Great we know what part of the problem is lets investigate further.
SM - Why weren't they able to access the meter?
CSD - the gate to the yard was locked.
SM - OK, the gate is always locked, you have key to the gate.
CSD - well a different person checks the meters every month, you can't expect us to give a copy of your key to every person.
SM - Of course not, that would be unsafe for me to have all your employees having access to my yard. I am not sure what system is employed for distributing keys, but Gas Company has not had a problem accessing the meter during the >2.5 years I have been living here.
CSD - I can't help you other than to tell you they couldn't access your yard. I am not in charge of Field Operations.
SM - Can you connect me to someone who can tell me what happed to the key to my yard?
CSD - I can connect you to a supervisor
SM - great.
CSD - a supervisor will call you back in the next couple days (24 - 48 hours I was told).
SM - thanks

Naively, I thought I would get a call from Supervisor of Field Operations since they would be the ones able to tell me what happened to my key.
Nope, Supervisor of Customer Service called 4 days later. Supervisor of Customer Service was surprised that she was asked to call me and as it should havve been Supervisor of Field Operations (as I expected) No worries she said, I will put in a request but it may take a bit longer then 2 days as the long weekend is coming up.

I should have recognized what a gong show this process was going to be at this point. But, ever the optimist I figured I would get a call in the week after the long weekend (at some point during the first week of August). No call. I followed up the next week, on Thursday of the 2nd week of August. I spoke to the same Supervisor of Customer Service
SVofCSD - Oh yes the request just got processed on Wednesday, so you should get a call in the next couple days
SM - I'm sorry why did the request only get processed yesterday when I called 2 weeks ago?
SVofCSD - I was away when I spoke to you on the phone the first time, and then because of the holiday there has been a bit of a delay but you will get a call in the next 24-48 hours

It is now the last week of August and I have heard NOTHING. So I called the CSD again, and asked to speak to the Supervisor of Field Operations.

I was connected to the Supervisor of Customer Service, after listening to the sequence of events, she replied:

SVofCSD - I am sorry I do not know why they didn't call you but I can put in another request.
SM - that is unacceptable. I would like to speak to someone now.
SVofCSD - I am sorry I do not have any phone numbers that I can connect you too. All I can do is put in a request.
SM - I am sorry, perhaps you do not understand, as far as I am concerned putting in a request gets me nowhere. I would like to speak to someone who can provide me with some answers now.
SVofCSD - I have no-one to connect you to. I can send an email requesting a priority be put into to call you back.
SM - What part of I would like to speak to someone now is not clear? I recognized that you have limited options, but it is not my job to be following up with you every week because the department responsible for reading meters can not do their job.
SVofCSD - I am really sorry but there is nothing I can do. I will have my supervisor call you and I will send an email to the Supervisor of Field Operations in addition to putting in another request.

At this point, I realized resistance was futile and agreed. Then I called Gas Company's main line. Not the Customer Service Department but the switchboard at Gas Company HQ. It is amazing what switchboard operators know. I very calmly explained my situation and why I was not willing to speak to customer service. She connected me to Person in charge of Complaints. I left him a very very irate message. He just called back and apologized. I explained that I do not mean to be irate but I would like to know WTF happened to the key to my yard. He apparently has put the boots to the people in charge. Lets see what happens.

FYI - I know its just a key to the yard but we have a pool and I really don't want to someone getting access to it. There are lots and lots of liability issues with it. Also it is much easier to get into the house from the secluded backyard then the front.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I have lamented in the comments of a few different blogs on how I miss running. I used to be super duper active before the monkey came along and even did a CRAZY hike that was 2.9 km with an elevation gain of 853 meters (1.8 miles, 2800 feet for you non-metric readers). I did the hike in under 2 hours while 5 months prego. I was very happy with both my physical fitness and appearance.
With all the crap that has been going on with regards to my grad studies it is not hard to see that I've been in a bit of a slump. The unhappiness that I've felt in my now old lab I think was just part of the unhappiness that I have been feeling with myself in regards to my overall lack of good health and physical strength. The mister and I have been having some tension over this as well. Most of it, I think, stems from his frustration with my physical weakness and he thinks that I am not doing anything to change or fix the situation. I would like to point out that he is right in that aspect. I haven't been doing anything about it, but it wasn't due to a lack of desire. It was putting everything else as a more important priority. So when Dr.Isis called me out and asked to hear about my return to running, I decided to start putting myself first. I went for a run and it was a bit of a disaster, in the I can not run for more then 5 minutes disaster. Which is when I realized the other thing that was keeping me back. The frustration of not being able to run for 45 minutes like before.
That day I made the decision to start power walking and to work toward the goal of running a half marathon. This goal was put on hold with with monkey being sick at home.
Well today, on my second day of being home without the monkey, I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill. Since running on a treadmill is way easier than running on the road I was able to run at a decent pace for 15 minutes. I was really happy with how the run was going when the treadmill stopped. Dead. Communication error was what the display said and I just had to hit enter for it to resume. Despite almost falling off when the treadmill stopped unexpectedly, I hit resume and was soon back into a really really good rhythm. I was feeling so good that at the 19 minute mark I increased both the duration of the run and the incline. Just when Karma Chameleon came on to get me going for the extra 10 minutes, urging me to try and run 5 km the stupid treadmill stopped. Dead. Unexpectedly. I pulled my back when I stopped myself from falling off. Ruining my run. Which is really annoying because after culture club I have Franz Ferdinand and the Killers which really really keep me moving. GRRRRR!

Does culture affect your science?

An odd question I know. But it is something that I have been thinking about for the last couple weeks. That is what happens when you're at home dealing with a toddler I guess. As I have mentioned before, I am East Indian / South Asian. My parents immigrated to Canada in the 70's and embraced Canadian values. They worked really hard to be able to send all us to university and overall they treated myself, my brother and my sister relatively equally. There were differences and I dealt with them the best I could. My parents worked hard to incorporate many aspects of Canadiana into our childhood from camping and joining sport teams to celebrating Christmas and Thanksgiving. They also wanted us to value and appreciate our Indian heritage and did a lot to keep us connected to the Indian culture.
One of the things that is huge in Indian culture is respect for your elders, importance of family and "saving face". These things were drilled into me as child and they are things that I value. I truly believe in the importance of family and respecting those older than you. Those "older" included not just your parents and grandparents but your teachers, as well. Teacher includes your professors and PI. Respect to most Indian parents is defined as doing what your family asks. So for me respecting my PI = doing what S/he asks. Obviously that makes for a very difficult graduate studies, and over time I have had to make alot of adjustments to what I view as being respectful. This has been a difficult and challenging journey. One that I am extremely glad that I made, but it makes me wonder that if I didn't have that strong believe in what the definition of respect is, would the transition to questioning your PI had happened sooner or been easier? Would I have been able to take control faster?
The other ability that is critical to success in science (and almost every other field) is speaking up. Having opinions, stating them and being strong enough to defend them. Yet I am not able to do that at home. Actually that is not 100% true. I know Mr.SM would run in the opposite direction if I didn't have vigorous debates with him on all sorts of different topics. But Mr.SM is the epitome of the modern man (not compared to you 'whities' but definitely for an indian man), but his family is much more traditional. They have clearly defined roles for men and women, and quite frankly I can't be bothered to try and change the views of 50+ year old people. It is much easier on my relationship with his family if I pick my battles with them. Again, I wonder if it wasn't so faux pas to be an outspoken woman, that it would be easier to put the "hat" of outspoken woman on.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Woot Woot!!!

I am excited on a number of fronts:
  1. The boy is healthy again. He's eating, climbing and bouncing off the walls as per his usual self. Most importantly he is sleeping at night!
  2. Canada has 13 medals! 1 more than I predicted and we haven't even had all the kayaking & canoing finals. Go Canada Go!
  3. I was nominated for a weblog award! I totally didn't expect this and am honored that Amanda thought of me.
I would like to think I am a considerate blogger, so I am passing this award on. Here are the rules:
  1. Put the logo on your blog.
  2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
  3. Nominate at least seven other blogs.
  4. Add links to those blogs on your blog.
  5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

Who to nominate? This is the hard part as there are so many awesome blogs out there, some which have already been nominated by others, candid engineer, madhatter, VWXYNot. Here we go:
  • IsisTheScientist for making me think of things I normally wouldn't, and for making me laugh when she blogs about things I do think about.
  • Dr.Jekyll and Mrs.Hyde for giving me hope in science.
  • EcoGeoFemme for blogging about how to get it done. She is taking the bull by the horns.
  • I have to nominate the bean mom for both introducing me to these awesome science blogs AND for being a wicked scientist and mother
  • AcmeGirl for talking about the challenges of being a mom AND a graduate student in the biological sciences - it can be done!
  • Now on with some of those mommy blogs that just make me hoot:
  • Mel for being a great listener and for some excellent coping tricks. Yeah happiness journals
  • HerBadMother for her complete and utter honesty about motherhood and her excellent take on feminist issues.
  • Tania at ChickyChickyBaby, who I wished lived in my neck of the woods instead of hers.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lame Music Meme

I don't usually do these meme's but since I've hounded Mad Hatter AND VWXYNot about their choices, how anyone could call Bon Jovi or Byran Adams Summer of '69 lame is beyond my comprehension. Also, technically I've been tagged as I did have an ipod within six feet of me. Here is my lamest music:

Karma Chameleon - Culture Club*
Walk Like an Egyptian - The Bangles*
Don't Worry be happy - Bobby McFerrin
I'll make love to you - Boyz II Men
1999 - Prince**

I could not bring myself to put anything by George Michael on the List because I LOVE him (I soo could make him go straight) though I know so many people (including Mr.SM) that would've had him at the top of the list

* Yes lame but SO AWESOME for getting me pumped up at the "I am exhausted and could not run another km" point of my run (power walks now).
**1999 is only lame because we really can't party like its 1999 unless we (I) want to admit to trying to relive our (my) CraZy youth

Who do I tag? Anyone who thinks any of the above is NOT lame :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I really should be sleeping.

I was over at Dr.Isis's today to copy the link for todays first post. Since I had already logged out of Reader and have not yet updated my bookmarks (why update bookmarks when you have reader??), I did a quick google search to find her blog. I saw her blog and clicked to one what I thought was todays post, but which ended up being a very interesting post from a couple weeks ago. Since I thought I've kept up with all dr.isis's writings, I did not initially notice it was an older post. Apparently it was written during the storm, which is still a blur. Of course I had to comment, which started to get too long, so here I am posting my way too long comment. At 11:46 pm I am writing about feminism and my relationship with it instead of sleeping. I guess not sleeping for 2 nights due to a sick monkey makes you not need to sleep on the 3rd night when he is actually sleeping? I should be sleeping because monkey is finally sleeping. But I digress.

As a young teenager I was a proud and adamant feminist. The type that is born of rebelling against cultural stereotypes and having an older brother that I idolized yet hated. I idolized in that I would do anything he did. If he was skateboarding, so was I, if he was cliff jumping so was I. I hated him because he was allowed to do so many things that I wasn't. Because I was a girl. I was a South Asian Girl / Indian girl. He could have multiple girlfriends and be promiscuous because he was a boy and boys do that. I could not, good indian girls do not have boyfriends and are not sexual. Through high school I largely kept to that behaviour, especially because promiscuous girls of any skin colour were looked down upon and labeled, unlike the boys. Rightly or wrong as a teenager I bought into the idea of a "good girl". I was always sexual, I always had sexual thoughts but I never acted upon them.
Then I went to university.
In the first semester of my second year, my best friend died. Unexpectedly. It changed me. I refused to wait to live my life. I was always a studious person and figured I would travel, hang out and chill after I finished med school*, when I met the "right" person. His death ripped the blinders off my face and made me realize how unpredictable life could be. I may plan to do x,y and z when I am n years old but I may not make it to n years.
I started exploring, I had a few boy toys. I did not sleep around (its amazing what religion indoctrination can do) but I was also no longer a "good" indian girl. And I liked it. I still like knowing that I can get Mr.SM to do whatever I want with a wink wink nudge nudge. I enjoy dressing well. I enjoy knowing that when I dress to display my assets it gets noticed. It was this enjoyment that lead to my estrangement from feminism. The feminism that I knew looked down upon sexuality because it was the sexuality which was used to oppress us (and is still used in more nuance ways). I was proud and excited about my new found sexuality. I was not a man hating lesbian. This is such a WRONG view of feminism. Feminists are NOT synonymous with man hating lesbians. I know that now. I am a proud and active feminist. But then I was not.

What does this have to due with Dr. Isis post? Its about the conflict that we has women feel. My view of feminism now is that its about choice, freedom, and equality. As a scientist I should be judged on my science. My beauty (I am pretty, and being south asian am somewhat exotic in my biomedical area) should not be a factor. But it is. When I started at my current institute, I consciously had to dress down. I did not put on my nice shoes, dress trendy or do my hair because it would've negatively impacted the impression I was making. Talk show hosts like Tyra like to have shows demonstrating that when they alter their appearance to look less attractive and /or be overweight they are treated poorly compared to their "real" selves. In science attractive women have to work harder to demonstrate their intelligence. We have to think about how what we are wearing will impact how are science is viewed. What does wearing heels or a skirt have to do with the data? Nothing. If I am sexual or not doesn't impact my ability in other areas. Yet women are judged on it. I don't know a male whose qualifications were questioned because he was "hot". I wonder how many readers looked at what dr.isis wrote about her hooters and cringed.
My view of feminism is that the same standard should apply whether you are male or female.


I went to the follow-up interview today and this is what I have learned about science:
Professionalism is rare, when you find it getting into the lab is very difficult.
  • Almost all PI's bitch about one student to the other student
  • Even the ones that believe its not sink or swim in their lab, it is sink or swim
  • You either are independent or micro-managed
  • Good Science is hard to find
  • No one is perfect
  • The lab personal can determine the atmosphere of the lab
  • Starting in a lab where everyone is finishing is bad
  • Starting in a lab where everyone is starting can be hit or miss
  • Even the "Good Mentors" have bad traits
  • If you can't teach yourself to cook, you might as well get out of the Kitchen
If you had to work where there was a club, would you work in the boys club or the girls club?

If you're a student, go visit Dr. Isis's post on reading lists. I will go listen to her great advice now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Had a meeting yesterday with a really awesome neuro-scienctist whom is very pro-women in science, believes in mentoring, has high scientific standards, makes sure her students are prepared. She sounded great.
Then I talked to her students.
They love her, they think she is great but she can be unreasonable, makes a judgements about a student and can not have it changed (for no reason they can be negative judgements), oh yeah and talk to students about other students.
Doesn't shuffle projects on you, but will ask for crazy "Big Idea" experiments. 1 student had no problem getting their thesis, 2 did. 3rd I am meeting tomorrow.
You have a clear question and you work on it.
The people in the lab get along with each other, actually talk to each other. They have lunch together unlike current lab.
She admitted to having a lot on her plate, went through personal stuff and the lab was really negative last year.
Students said the same thing. If I interviewed last year they would've said run for the hills. Now they say you'll get scientific training from people in the lab not necessarily PI, but PI will make sure you're productive and that you do good science.

Oh and I am supposed to go for a follow-up visit tomorrow, however I have no car because its in the shop since yesterday AND monkey is sick with some random enterovirus that gives him mouth sores. I did not sleep last. At all. He is finally sleeping now but I am lying next to him on my bed. Mr. SM has yet another IMPORTANT presentation. Damn him for having a high level job that pays well. GRRR!
I think MIL is coming over so I can go to my meeting with lab that is like current lab except people are nicer and PI is no longer dealing with personal issues.
Oh and no other PI has responded to my emails. Don't I feel great.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Dr.Isis called me out online. She wants to hear how returning to running is going. As much as I appreciate her doing so, it is hard to do. Not because I don't enjoy it. I do. I LOVE running, there is something about pushing yourself through a trail that just makes everything feel better. The problem was I didn't go to a trail to run and I haven't ran in a long long time. I am no longer able to go for a nice 20 minute run. I can barely make it to the 8 minute mark. Which Sucks. Big time.
However, not running is not going to make it any easier. So like every thing else in my life, it will take some hard work, but I will get to the point of being able to run a half marathon again. The plan is to do interval training, I used to do 10 & 1's - 10 min run with a 1 min walk break. I will move that to 5 & 1's. I will run 3x a week and go for a power walk on alternate days. I will start going to the gym and work on strength training. Which means I will put myself first and hubby second. I can not get the gym in during work hours as I have to focus on lab work (once I get into a lab!). Mr.SM is not going to be able to watch monkey on weeknights. He should be able to but with this last class of his, he is pretty stressed about its degree of difficulty. So I will go to the gym at least 2x during the week after monkey is gone to bed. That is usually when I just want to vegetate because I am exhausted but I figure a good workout will wake me up, enabling me to stay up and read an article or two. Whatever lab I get into will require a considerable amount of background reading.
Now I must sleep while the monkey naps. I am pooped after todays 20+ minute run walk and yesterdays push ups. My muscles need some building time.

Friday, August 8, 2008


The monkey is stubborn. Very Very Stubborn. And persistent. I used to say that he gets his bullheadedness from his dad, but since I like be honest on this here blog I have to admit that genetics can be additive. He is more stubborn then either his father or me (and I am pretty pig-headed). He is also persistent. As in if I have pulled him off the 6 foot ladder 10 times he will still go there 111 more times. He will watch to make sure I am not looking and then run over to the ladder. He will wait until I am occupied so that he can run over to the ladder. These are good traits I know. I do not want to break his "will", but seriously I need to. The boy needs to learn who is the boss. I don't want to stop him from exploring or being curious but after he tried following his dad up onto to the roof - yes he climbed to the top of the 6 foot ladder and then grabbed the gutter to climb onto the roof, I have become a bit concerned about his adventurous spirit. Then yesterday he tried to put something onto bbq when the bbq was ON. He knows he's not allowed near the bbq. He stays well away from it while I am watching and will jump away as soon as he hears me or his dad. But every chance he gets, he will go to the bbq. His dad puts things on the bbq and plays with this contraption and by God that boy will do whatever his dad does. How do I break him without breaking him????

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

He WAS an ass

Just so you know. He claims he was being cheeky, testing my resolve. I don't believe him. I love Mr.SM and I know that he loves me. But he is selfish. He is not the type to think to himself "Mrs.SM is struggling and I should pick up the slack" or "Mrs. SM is stressing to get her thesis written so I will go buy groceries and make dinner". He will think to himself the mrs is stressed so I'll be a goofball or I will go grocery shopping with her, to ensure she laughs etc. When I finally speak up and say that he is putting me last, he will disagree, provide evidence to the contrary and basically refuse to admit that I spoke the truth.
Then he will re-adjust and change his behaviour.
Why he can not admit that he is wrong I haven't a clue. I have learned to stop asking for validation from him (having him say I am right and he was wrong). I am still learning to vocalize my needs. It is not something I am good at. Its the Indian upbringing that I have railed against my entire life, but yet I still suck it up and put everyone else before me. I will learn to put myself first. The first step was recognizing that I do love the science and I will do my PhD. The second is letting the mister know. The third will be vocalizing on a regular basis and asking for help. The last part is hard too. Being the youngest I always had to prove I could do it on my own. I am not 15 anymore. I can ask for help. It is ok to ask for help.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A perfect storm

OMG its already tuesday night of the next week! When I posted last week, I had fully intended to write a very intelligent commentary about the very useful workshop I attended (and I am happy to report that a total 1/4th of the attendees were women!). It was useful not only because of the skill set I learned but because of the insight into science. But that is for another post. This post is to let you all know that I survived the perfect storm. What is a perfect storm? Well for me is to be in middle of a life altering decision (continue with grad school or not) when monkey gets sick. Monkey getting sick is manageable especially when its on the Saturday of a weekend. Yes he's a little more needy but Tylenol and sleep make for an easy to care for child. When monkey gets sick its like the clouds rolling in on a sunny day.
It started raining when we learned that his fever, drooling and lack of appetite was not due to multiple molars coming in but was due to hand, foot and mouth disease. Its probably a good thing that I took him to the doctor to find this tidbit of information, however it would've been helpful had I taken while he had the fever so that I knew not to kiss my monkeys' droolly little face. I had already planned to be home all week pondering my life decisions, so doing that with monkey home didn't seem to be to hard of an adjustment (monkey was not allowed to go back to daycare until all his sores were clear even though every health guide say there is no need to keep the child home URGHHH!!).
The storm started brewing on Monday night when I started to feel ill. I was hoping it was no biggie just a cold and fatigue from having monkey home unexpectedly. I wish. Sleep did not come that night, only weird random science dreams, sweat and pain. I woke up ill as could be on tuesday morning. Mr.SM couldn't stay home as he was scheduled in meetings and had just taken last week off to paint the house and take of monkey while I was at the workshop. I couldn't keep my eyes open, I could not sit up. I was done. The storm was unleashed.
Thank God for cartoons and grandpa. It took my dad about 2 hours to get here but he did get here just in time. Monkey knew something was wrong and stayed near me watching tv. Or maybe he was excited because he was actually allowed to watch tv and have my cell phone (anything to occupy him in my vicinity). He had sympathy for about 2 hours before he decided he needed to bounce of the walls. My dad took him all day, I took 2 extra-strength tylenols every 4 hours and went to bed.
Wednesday I tried to send him to daycare but they sent him home at lunch. I called to come home early, he arrived at 5:30pm instead of 6pm. ScientistMother was not a happy camper. I felt alone, overwhelmed, sick, frustrated, incapable and done. How am I supposed to finish grad school in reasonable amount of time if he can't come home 2 hours early! It is crazy to think that he can work fulltime, go to school AND help with his family business AND be a 50% parent. I was ready to give up, crawl into a corner and lick my wounds. I DID NOT sign up for this. I could not understand how I could muster the strength to do grad school if I couldn't take care of my kid. If I have to do it all I can not.
Thursday I was way better and could manage the terror otherwise known as my son. But the storm wasn't done with me.

I have been looking foward to this year being over because it means Mr.SM's school is over, done finished. It would be mean that he could do more evening and weekend care, freeing me up to go into the lab or do readings. Over dinner, prior to heading to his family's Mr.SM ask how I would feel if he did his MBA, and in the ensuing discussion let me know that I would have to sacrifice my career and education goals. I could turn into his good little indian wifey. I looked at him dumbfounded. Pissed that I was being asked to do that. Pissed that it was all about him. Pissed that since my lovely monkey has been born, my entire life seems to revolve around him and the mister. Mr.SM left for the family business without the discussion finishing. I sat at home steaming mad at him, at my PI and my life choices. I sat there pissed at the idea of not finishing because of someone else. FUCK THAT. If I quit its for me and no one else.

Then realized that I have not been communicating well with the mister. I kept putting his needs before mine. I didn't vocalize when I felt that he was being unfair or unreasonable. To be honest, I am ok with making sacrifices for us as a family unit. I am not ok with making sacrifices for him to work at the family business. Friday morning I looked at the mister and said I would do my Phd with or without his support. I will not give up on my dreams. He looked at me and said the probability of him doing his MBA was low. He just wanted to know if I was really ready to give up on my dream. Obviously I wasn't. Cheeky little bastard.