Thursday, April 29, 2010

Caffeinated

I have a caffeine-induced rush from drinking one cup of coffee at lunchtime. Thats all it takes for me. I am finding it super hard to concentrate on work as my mind flits from one task to the next- on the several tabs open in my browser. I just opened up yet another tab (this one), with the hope that once I get all the distractions out of my head and onto this blogpost, I can go back to work, one task at a time.

My lab mate is speaking loudly in mandarin on the phone. This time though- I am not complaining. He just found out that his mom was diagnosed with cancer, and he is trying to get things together to fly to China. :( I think he is talking to his mom right now- "Ma" is universal and worry and distress sound the same in all languages. Tumors and stages and biopsies are pretty much daily jargon in our lab, but its hard when you hear it in such a personal context.

Our lab has become closer after all of us went to the conference two weeks ago. The guys came out of their shell a bit, they even almost danced at the social/mixer thing but stopped just short of it. Anyhow, it feels nice to have a more personal relationship with them and I grudge the mandarin-speak a lot less now- I am beginning to sympathise more with their difficulty in learning English and also sometimes openly rib them about mandarin-speak. I also have a non-mandarin speaking person for company so that has helped. To their credit, they are also communicating more in English with me and the other labmate, as some of the ice has broken. So we discuss house-buying adventures, children. experiments, and what not.

One of the chinese labmates, Jo, has a halting, staccato style of speaking English. It is clear he is making a huge effort. Recently, I asked him how we could get a new trash can and he told me "You. need -a- to. ask. the. uhhh superman". He meant Super. :) Another time, we were both in a tiny room within another lab doing an experiment. It was after hours and nobody was in that lab. The room we were in was the size of a broom closet, and we had the slding doors shut as we worked. Half way through our experiment, we heard the security officer outside the tiny room, perhaps just wondering why there was someone after hours in that lab. So, Jo opened the door, walked out of that tiny room, and with me trailing behind him, Jo declares to the security officer-before even being asked anything-  in his typical halting tone "WE. ARE. UH- DO-ING. ESS-PERI-MENT." It was hilarious. The security guy had a funny look on his face and muttered "Do what y'all got to do, man!" and went off, and I had to work really hard to stop myself from bursting into laughter.

I also have renewed sympathy for slow-walkers. I typically walk fast by force of habit. Ever since I started having knee problems, I have had to learn to walk slowly and often remind myself to slow down. Sometimes, I realise how I am holding up people behind me- when there is no room to step aside- and I remember how I'd get very impatient at such slow-walkers earlier. Not any more, I am one of them now. I am worried about my knees now- worried if they will ever get fit - they are taking abnormally long to heal and have not shown much improvement since a while now.

I have a headache. Also caffeine-induced, may be?

OK, I will try to get back to work now, one task at a time, and leave soon.






Tuesday, April 27, 2010

W O M M

I need to rediscover some kind of hobby/passion: science has become a bit of a drudge these days. What else got me really excited?

In other news, somebody stole my umbrella. What kind of an ass takes an umbrella from right outside someone's lab, on a day when it is pouring? May s/he fall into a chullu bhar pani and doob marofy.

Another best friend gave me the wonderful news of her going to have a baby soon. That makes the count to 3- 3 of my closest friends won't be at my wedding because of the were busy making babies when I was announcing my marriage to them. I hope at least one of them names the baby after me- its the least they can do.

Other than that, its a dull gloomy tuesday and I am dragging myself to lab.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

W O M M

The weekend has been rather blah. The rain did its bit in being a general mood-downer. Went to a friend's kid's 1st year birthday party and felt very out of place and bored. I am not one to stick to myself- I do my bit to mingle with groups of strangers- but this time I just didn't feel like it. Thank god for the beer.

Whenever I have a kid, I do not want to celebrate the kid's first birthday in a restaurant with tons of people and a theme cake and an almost mini-wedding-scale extravaganza. I think it is extremely impersonal. I do not want to be the stressed out host- planning for the event for days together and putting my kid through three dress-changes. Most of all, I do not want to waste that kind of money. My idea of a fun party is one which I get to enjoy too. :)

Also went to a memorial service for my coworker's mother who passed away a few days ago. It was my first such experience in the US. The mood was far from serious and somber. There were a lot of people- dressed up, sitting about and chatting, even laughing aloud. Pink Floyd and REM were playing in the background. My coworker was greeting people that had come and had a brave face on all the time. A very different experience.

Dealing with someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one is never easy. I have learned over the years that it is important to just be there for them- thats all that counts. Showing up or calling them/emailing them and letting them know that you are there and wish them strength. The few standard words- that seem very insufficient - "I am sorry for your loss- let me know if I can help out"- are all it takes. It is worth even rehearsing those lines in your head if you are afraid of feeling uncomfortable when you face them- but it is important to face them and not let the awkwardness take over and hide behind it. For them- the mere show of support counts.

B and I are going through rough times- he more than me- and it has turned out that every phone call between us constitutes one person venting/whining and the other one being the supportive listener/cheerleader. But I am getting tired of it. It brings me down and makes me question all of this all over again. It's a never-ending loop. I think we need to take our rants elsewhere- give ourselves a break from this stuff and try to find happy stuff to discuss about, even if that seems impossible.

Question of the day from my 4 year old niece "TGFI-pinni, what is a chemical?". How do you explain that to a 4 yo?

The good stuff: the wedding is looming closer! Yay! I am definitely excited- also a bit apprehensive. I really don't enjoy being the center of attention and am not sure how I will deal with all the fussing. I have been told to enjoy it, and I'm going to try to. But it's exciting enough to think of all the relatives getting together, meeting our respective extended families- and in general- the enormity of the occasion is beginning to sink in. I am enjoying being asked about the wedding, and find myself wondering how I am going to get on the flight back to the US after it is all done.

I am becoming one of those people who can't keep up with their email. Scary.

I had said I wouldn't be one of those girls fretting about losing weight for their wedding and I am doing exactly that. Mainly because saris are a bitch when it comes to camouflaging the beer belly- my mom has finally given up and said exasperatedly- "you got it from your aunts" (blame shifting on my fathers' sisters. :) heh. ) I read somewhere that discipline is the first step to getting into shape. I am going to give that discipline thing a shot now.

Friday, April 23, 2010

W O M M

I am glad I have a short fuse when it comes to indulging in self-pity-parties. I get pretty tired of my own whining soon enough, and am able to shake it off and get up and go. Yeah, nobody ever said life would be simple or easy.

I was at a huge meeting for the past 5 days. An international meeting attended by over 15k people. It was the best meeting I have ever been to, in terms of how the meeting was organized, the caliber of science being presented, the motivation and energy levels and the quality of talks. Several european speakers couldn't make it thanks to Eyjafjallajökull, but they managed to seamlessly present their talks by phoning in, to huge audiences.

The only downside of all of this: the meeting totally messed with my head and I don't know if I want to leave academia to cross over to the dark side now.

Also managed to meet up with a blogger- which was so much fun. More about that next.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On parents

I was trying to hunt for the phone number of my dad's Canadian friend Jack in my gmail and came across this email between me and my dad, in which I was yelling at him for embarrassing me. Then I scrolled down further to see what it was all about and found this:

Dear Jack,
You must be aware that TGFI and her friend have got their visa at
Ottawa and TGFI alone is going to Montreal for a day's stay.
We have just no idea how she is traveling to Montreal and where she
is put up for the day.
In case she calls you, just tell her to be careful to keep money in
two or three places and your contact numbers on her.
We are just worried as usual.
Hope everything is fine with you and your family.
Thanks and Regards
-TGFI's father

Seriously?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Blog break

Sorry for the unannounced shut-down. I guess it is temporary, I will not be blogging for a while, and don't want my blog to be accessed by anyone. When I start again, doors will reopen. Until then, I need to figure out how to stop this blasted feedburner from publishing my posts and how to get my old stuff off it! Gah!

:) So long and thanks for all the fish, people.

Friday, April 09, 2010

I wish today was Saturday

I have been meaning to leave for lab over an hour ago. But just kept wasting time. I don't feel like going to lab. I want to go back into bed and sleep. I am tired and exhausted. I have so many things going on in my mind.

I also don't feel like blogging anymore. Time for another blog break. I hate that people I know in real life read this blog. Makes me rethink every damn thing I write here, and this space is no more what it used to be for me.

Unfortunately I forgot my password to my sicrit blog. :p

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

WOMM

On life's struggles: People struggle in all kinds of ways. In many ways every now and then I am reminded of how I had it relatively easy in life. Indeed, it's all relative and there's always two ends of the scale, no matter where you are standing. Also, not everyone likes to expound on their struggles. I have seen that the harder, more serious the struggles, the less likely you are to hear about them. And every person you encounter is in that moment the sum of his struggles and the person it has made him into. There is no way for us to fathom that. We see what we see: a fidgety person, a loud person, a stingy person. Most of the time we will never have a complete grasp of what lies beneath: even at the times we think we do.

I always bitched about people judging others. I have come to realise its quite human. I do it too, whether I realise it or not, whether I admit it or not. And its not ok just because of that, but I hope I can draw the line between forming opinions, aware of the scanty evidence on the basis of which I form them and labeling people without leaving room for error and, even worse, conveying those possibly wrong opinions about a person to other people.

Early in the days I was "getting to know" B, I broached the idea of gift registries. In a very casual way, I asked "I am writing a post on my blog about gift registries-what do you think of them?". And to my shock and horror, the dude said he was totally in favour of them. It was a worse moment of reckoning than the time he told me he's crazy about dogs and hopes to have one. What was I to do? This guy likes gift registries! Should I go ahead??? :)

Anyways, clearly I managed to see past that argument :p , but I put my foot down against having one for our wedding now. I threw that gchat archive in his face, telling him that he knew this about me all along and he had his chance. Hah! What would I do without gtalk archives? I said he could, by all means have one of his own, but I was not going to participate.

Now, I am telling our close friends that ask what we'd like as gifts. B calls me a hypocrite. I think there's a huge difference. It's really close friends who ask and I totally enjoy that feeling. A list of possible gifts from various stores put together and sent to all and sundry, in my opinion, is way too impersonal and quite different from this, I think. Sigh. I can see another long endless argument here.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Links from here and there

Some posts must be made mandatory reading- like here Here's the first para:
Life gets more pedestrian every day. And far from being aware of this fact, we appear to revel in its fall-out without even realizing the implications of our choices. Take malls, for example. In what way are they a suitable entertainment option? If you need something, you show up and buy it. Or you show up, browse and buy it. Or go window shopping and indulge the odd whim. But who actively steps out saying “Ooh, let’s randomly hang around at a mall without an agenda and cloak ourselves in consumerism, ignoring more appropriate cultural/cerebral/child-friendly pursuits”?

Then this morning I happened to read this via Desipundit that said "Our Apple iPad arrived this morning. It is an amazing piece of technology that greatly enhances media consumption and interactivity. It is a perfect fit in our household and perfectly serves the need of an half-computer"

I am no techie (although I do confess I have some bits of appple-fangirl-ism in me), but I don't know why words like "perfect half-computer" and "enhances media consumption" made me giggle.

Although I think this tweet by cgawker says it all "A great feature of the iPad is that it frees up your laptop so it can be used as a drink holder." :)

Friday, April 02, 2010

W O M M

I've had a very tiring day. Wish I could come home and crash, but there's the tiny matter of dinner, which, if avoided, will transform into a raging migraine tomorrow. Am totally out of groceries and don't want to order food..so I have to rough up something. And the sink is full of dishes. Oh man. Thank god for Maggi. I used up my last packet that was saved for a rainy day.

Although, weather-wise, today was beautiful and sunny. I wish I could've gone out..but things just kept dragging on at work. On my way back home I saw a bunch of post-docs all dressed up to go downtown. I felt pangs of jealousy..I don't know any people around here to plan a fun night out with...I only made half-hearted attempts at socializing with the crowd here, and being in a lab that straddles different departments means that I don't enjoy that sense of belonging to any particular department. That said, for non-socializing purposes, I very much enjoy the strong post-doc network and sense of community around here. But most friendships I strike up end with the "We must get together sometime..." and never materialize. I am as guilty in not making further efforts.

Ah well.. in the midst of all that cribbing about friendless-ness I just remembered I did get invited out a couple hours earlier today, if only I wasn't stuck in the lab. So there. I can stop complaining about lack of friends. I have..one. :)

I am super happy with the supervisor of our building of late. I have always chatted with him and greeted him when I see him around, and even left thank-you notes when their work totally exceeded my expectations. This morning I left a complaint slip about a light that needed to be fitted with new bulbs. When I walked in this evening and flicked the switches on everywhere it's like "Aaya naya ujaala!". :) He replaced all the faulty bulbs- when I was making do with one or two working bulb in each set. (Each light has 4 bulbs).

This post is totally random. I am bored and wish I were out gallivanting in the city. I am going to try and get some roaming about done over the weekend.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Yeah!

The best time to ask your boss for time off is when he is heading out the door. :)

The conversation with my boss went very well. He smilingly okayed a month off, saying that it was a great life event and I should celebrate and enjoy it. Then he said we should sit down and prioritize what needs to get done in the next 8 weeks and that I should really work hard on bringing at least one of my projects to some semblance of completion. I am going to be working my ass off for the next 8 weeks, and hopefully lose some weight too in the process, so that I can fit in my wedding sari with enough left for the pallu.

:))))))) yeah!