Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 In Review

2012 In Review

It's that time again! Looking back on 2012.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
I went tubing on the Skunk River, which was a lot of fun! I also went to a live orchestra performance for the first time. I ran a 5K!

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I probably didn't keep it, because it was probably to lose weight. Depression gets in the way of that. I'm sure I'll make more for next year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My best friend Jasmine brought her son home! That's close enough to giving birth.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My Great Aunt Jan died in March. My kitty Miss Demeanor died in April. My dog Mischief died in October.

5. What countries did you visit?
I stayed in the US this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
A feeling of contentment and less stress. On a more mundane note, a patio herb garden.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory?
Other than the dates that I lost my pets, Dan and I went on our first date on February 11th.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Hmm. I guess maybe getting a place in my lab. It wasn't a huge achievement kind of year for me.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I don't think I had a major fail. I wish I had realized that a PhD track wasn't right for me earlier, but I guess that's it.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Depression really sucked in the spring and messed me up. Other than a few minor knee/ankle injuries, nothing serious happened.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Well I got a 3DS for Christmas, but I think the best thing I bought was my second kitty Leo! He was 75 bucks well spent.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Not the US Congress, that's for sure.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Oh. Well, the US Congress.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Hunziker Property Management. Gotta pay the rent.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Meeting Dan! I was giddy with excitement.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
I don't think there really is one.

17. Compared to this time last year, you are:
Happier or sadder: About the same, actually.
Thinner or fatter: Fatter. Argh.
Richer or poorer: Richer for the moment. It's all sitting in savings.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Exercise. I have trouble getting myself to do it but afterward I feel so much better. I wish I could get over the hump of doing it easier.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Stress eating. I feel so guilty afterward. And it doesn't help in the long run.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas at home with my family. I almost got trapped in Ames but I managed to get home in time. I would have been really pissed off if I hadn't made it.

21. What was your favorite month of 2012?
Oh hell, I don't know. August I guess? I moved to my townhouse so that was cool.

22. Did you fall in love in 2012?
I'm not sure I'd call it love quite yet, but I did meet Dan in February and we've been dating since then. And I'm very happy with him.

23. How many one-night stands?
None. I don't do one-night stands.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Ghost Hunters is still my guilty pleasure, along with Ghost Adventures. I also like Intervention.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

26. What was the best book you read?
I just finished Treasure Island last week. It was really good! For a classic it's very easy to read and follow and it's just fun. Pirates are always awesome.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I don't think I really had one this year. There's some random pop songs I liked but nothing amazing.

28. What did you want and get?
A Playstation 3, another kitty, and a 3DS. And a boyfriend!

29. What did you want and not get?
Confidence about my life path. Still not sure if I'm doing the right thing.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
I haven't seen too many films this year in the theater. However, I have watched a lot of Hammer horror this year and those are awesome.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 25. Dan and I went to Pine Lake State Park and then tried to find the Wildcat Cave. We never found the cave but we had a lot of fun and I got to spend the whole day with Dan. I also had a box from my parents that I opened.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Being done with school. I am so over school. Two years to go...

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Pretty much the same as last year-more fancy than t-shirts, jeans, boots. I have to keep it simple since I work in a lab.

34. What kept you sane?
Spending time with Dan. I seriously would have had a hard time dealing without him.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Robert Downey Jr. Why not?

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I guess that would be the general issue of the Republican Party sucking major ass.

37. Who did you miss?
My parents, my grandparents, and my Michigan friends Jasmine and Eric.

38. Who were the best new people you met?
DAN!!! Easy question.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
I am not cut out for life in academia and would rather work in industry when I graduate. Better to figure that out now than later.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
One day I'm here, I'm on top of the world/And the next it's falling in on me/I can get back on, I can get back on-Far Cry, Rush

Sunday, December 30, 2012


So that stupid snow storm totally delayed me by a day so I didn't get to leave Ames until December 22. Once I left, everything was fine, but it was incredibly lame to lose a day because Ames can't freaking plow their roads properly. But I got home and it was all okay in the end. I got to spend Christmas with my parents, see my grandparents, and meet my nephew Jebriel for the first time! Christmas morning was with my parents and their kitties. Then on Christmas afternoon we went to my grandparents' house and had dinner. My aunt Dani and my cousin Jessica were able to come too, which was cool. My parents and I went to the Detroit Art Institute to see their special Faberge exhibit. It was really neat to see that stuff up close, including six of the surviving fancy eggs. Then we went to the best used book store ever-John K King bookstore in Detroit. It's four stories and full of used and rare books. I found a first edition Ray Bradbury novel that was signed! And it only cost twenty bucks! I was so excited. That night we went out to eat with Granny and her new boyfriend. He's nice and that was cool, but it is still weird to think of my granny as having a boyfriend. The next day I was able to go see my best friend Jasmine and I met Jebriel for the first time. He wasn't home last year when I came home to visit.
It was a really good visit and I just wish I could have stayed longer. I hated having to leave. I always hate having to leave because I never know when I'll be able to come back. Since this year I don't have to move in the summer, I should be able to come home for a summer vacation. Then it won't be a whole year in between visits.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow Storm!

We got a huge snowstorm in Ames last night. It's the first real snow we've probably had in almost two years. Last winter was very mild. This was a storm nightmare! It was thundersnowing at one point. I had never seen thundersnow before. At first I thought a transformer had blown! Officially we got 10 inches of snow, and the wind is so gusty. The wind gusts are actually kind of scary sounding right now. But I still have power and heat so that's good. I'm stuck at home right now, which seems silly since work is three miles away, but my parking lot hasn't been plowed yet. I've been out once to shovel my sidewalk, and later I'll go out and try to dig out my spot and in front of my garage. I have no idea when the snowplows will come. Hopefully they will come soon. I'm supposed to leave for home tomorrow, and I really hope the roads and my lot are plowed so I can get out. I really don't want to be delayed.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


So this year is the first time I am completely alone on Thanksgiving. So far I'm doing alright. I slept in, put up the Christmas decorations, and I'm watching Twilight Zone. The whole show is on Netflix so I've got my own Twilight Zone marathon going on. The cats are being silly. I have stuffing mix and cranberry sauce to eat, which are my favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner anyway. It seemed silly to try and make a turkey for just me. As for the rest of the day, I'll probably play Pokemon and Animal Crossing, or maybe Harvest Moon. Just a relaxing day.  It's hard to not be with my family, but I still have a lot to be thankful for. I'm healthy for the most part, I have a family, I have a boyfriend, my kitties are healthy and happy. I'm still in school, I have health insurance, I'm not in debt. Even though I struggle with anxiety and depression, it could be so much worse. Overall I have a good life and I'm thankful for that.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fall is slipping away!

Wow, Thanksgiving is this week. That happened really fast. I feel like I've been saying that a lot, but it really does seem like this year has gone by incredibly quickly. My parents warned me that this is what happens when you get old, so maybe I'm officially old now :)
Not a whole lot has been going on. I've just been doing the work and school thing. It's been going alright. I'm not in love with going to work and class every day, but I don't feel depressed or miserable, so that's good. It's hard to stay motivated in graduate school though. I still have almost two years to go and already I really want to be done. I don't think that's an uncommon feeling though, and as long as I keep going I'll be fine.
I just found this awesome program today to help me keep my life organized and on track. It's called LifeRPG and it's pretty cool! Basically you can make a list of all your things you need to do, daily or bigger projects, and as you complete them you get experience points and level up. It's a video game based way to organize your life. I hope it will help me out especially in terms of making myself go to the gym regularly and not overeat. It's so hard to stay on track with those things and any motivation I can get will help. Plus it's free and that's cheaper than a hardcore organizing system, although those look pretty cool.
I'm not going home for Thanksgiving this year, mostly because I only get two days off and that's not enough time to go to Detroit and back. It sucks because this will be my first Thanksgiving alone. Even in 2008 when I was in DC I had Thanksgiving with my ex and his roommates so I wasn't by myself. This will be the first time and it will be hard. I know I should be grateful that I have the day off, my boyfriend doesn't, but it will be hard to be alone. On Saturday my brother and I are going to meet up since he lives in Madison and that's not super far away, but it will be weird to just be by myself on Thursday.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Obama again!

Just saying that I am extremely relieved that President Obama was reelected! I'm glad my reproductive rights will be safer for the next several years. I was really worried about what Romney and Ryan would do to appease the extreme right in that regard. I also think the President has better ideas about the economy and is better prepared on foreign policy. Now all we need is Congress to stop being ultra-partisan buttholes and compromise with each other, and maybe the country can get better.

Monday, October 29, 2012

October is almost over!

I feel like time is going by so quickly! How is it almost November already? It's not even like I've had lots and lots going on. Most of the month I've been just working and studying. It's been pretty productive. I should have some data soon from some of my experiments and that will be exciting. This past weekend was jam-packed with stuff! On Friday I went with my friends Tessa and Mike to AJ's on East Court for a Halloween party/drinking time. It was a lot of fun! I went as Dr. McCoy from Star Trek and got to wave a phaser around and be cranky. I didn't drink too much because the next morning I ran my first 5K!! It was the Susan G. Komen 5K, which isn't super competitive and has lots of people in it, and there are runners and walkers. I had to walk more than I wanted, but I finished which was the most important thing to me. I finished in 46:07, which is slow as hell, but I finished! I'm looking forward to getting healthier and more in shape so that the next time I run a 5K I have a better time! During the afternoon I helped Tessa decorate for a Halloween party. We made cupcakes that were delicious! Then in the evening we went to the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra. Our seats were actually pretty good for being eighteen bucks. They played the Sorcerer's Apprentice first, then something else I can't remember the name of lol, and then the Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz. It was awesome and it was the first time I've been to a live orchestra so that was cool. We have three more shows to go to so I'm looking forward to that!
The only bad thing that happened was that on Saturday my dad texted me and told me that our doggie, Mischief, had died. She was almost 13 and had been declining for a while, so it wasn't a surprise, but it was sad anyway. I was hoping she would make it until Christmas so that I could see her again. I hadn't seen her since last December. So it will be kind of weird to come home this Christmas because there will only be two cats, when last year there were three cats and a dog.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bits n' Bobs

There isn't a whole lot of news since I last wrote. Leo has assimilated well into the family. He and Memo are getting along well. I haven't caught them snuggling yet, but they will sit next to each other and watch 'cat TV' out the window. They like to tussle with each other but it's friendly and pretty cute actually. I'm really glad I brought Leo home. He and Memo make my house all happy and fluffy.
Work is going. I'm feeling ambivalent about school again. I really want to get my degree and then start working again. I think I'm just wanting to move on with my life and being in school makes me feel stuck, like I have to wait to do things like make money, buy a house, and all that. I'm sure I'll feel better in a little while, but right now I definitely wish that a genie would show up, hand me my degree, and leave. Too bad that thesis genies don't exist!
My running has been slow. A couple weeks ago I wore nice shoes to work and had the nastiest blisters. Then it got hot. But today I went out for a run and I feel really good. I'm still fat and I still can't run more than half a mile without stopping, but I feel good and I'm going to use that feeling to keep going. I'm hoping in a couple weeks I'll be able to make the whole mile without slowing down to a walk. I don't care about how slowly I run right now, it's all about being able to do it at all.
In other news, I just ordered some Lithops plants. They are really cool succulents and I'm hoping that I can get them to grow inside. I really like plants! I need to go to Lowe's and get a bunch of pots and herb seeds or plants so I can start an herb garden too. I might wait until spring to do that so I can grow them outside, so for now I'm getting more houseplants. Houseplants are freaking awesome. If anyone has suggestions on what plants would be good to grow, tell me!

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Addition to the Family

Last Friday I brought home a new cat from Furry Friends Animal Refuge in West Des Moines. His name is Leonardo da Vinci, Leo for short. He's a 4 year old, part Maine Coon, male cat. He's very chill and laid back. So far he and Memo have been interacting pretty well, with only a little bit of hissing and growling. I'm hoping that they'll get used to each other soon and get friendly.

Here's Leo! It's the best picture I have of his face so far. He's still pretty excited and exploring a lot, so he doesn't stay still for long!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Iowa State Fair

 A couple of weekends ago, I went to the Iowa State Fair for the first time with Mike and Tessa! I had only been to the Michigan State Fair once when I was a kid, and all I remember is riding a roller coaster and getting free strawberry milk. So I was pretty much a state fair virgin. It was a lot of fun! So here are some pictures.
 This is a reconstruction of the first church built in Dubuque, IA. It cost $250 back in 1834? 18-something anyway. I am being devout in front of the sign.
 And here I am in an old-timey telephone booth. Sadly the other half of the telephone wasn't in there so I couldn't pretend to be calling someone. There's a telephone museum at the fair that is actually pretty cool.
 Chocolate dipped bacon on a stick. It was very good, but very drippy so that's why mine is in the tray.
 Mike and I next to the third biggest pumpkin entered in the fair. I honestly have no idea how they get this big! Other than magic, that is.
 This is in the State Fair museum. It's the exact same cookie cutter that my family has, and that I insist on using every Christmas. It's a gingerbread man in a tuc.
 We took the chair lift thing across the grounds at one point, which was cool because my feet hurt. It was neat to be able to see the grounds from the air.
 Mike and I in the old-timey one room schoolhouse. We failed pretty hard at the assignments on the blackboard. For the record, I'm pretty sure I was never that excited to go to real school. I sure am not now.
Tessa and I making biodiesel, LOL. It's extra funny since I work in biorenewable chemicals.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New Fitness Goal

Today I decided to be a little crazy and I agreed to do the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K at the end of October with my friend Tessa! So now I have about two months to train for a 5K. It's certainly doable, but I will have to maintain my motivation to keep it up, especially when class starts. At least I'm only taking one class so hopefully it won't be too bad. I've been trying to get back into running and start losing weight again, and I think having a concrete deadline will be helpful. I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, August 3, 2012

New Home

I'm halfway moved into my new place so now I can at least post about moving. First, I want to plug Two Men and a Truck. I hired them and they were awesome. They were so fast, they took great care of all my stuff, and nothing broke in the move. It was fantastic. I am so glad I hired them; it was way better than trying to do it myself. Especially because it was hot as hell again on moving day, so that would have sucked to do it myself. I'm about halfway unpacked now. My kitchen is together, the bathroom is done, most of my bedroom is done, and clearly I have internet (the most important thing, lol). Memo is home too, after a short stay at the vet. When I picked him up, the nurse said that she found Memo and another cat all snuggled  up together that morning. I thought that was really adorable, and it makes me happy that he could interact nicely with another cat. Once we're all settled in, I think that I'll start looking for a friend for Memo.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Only three days until I move out! I'm almost done packing everything. I'm looking forward to moving into my new place a lot. Moving is just a pain so I'll be very happy to be done with it. I am glad that I hired people to move me because trying to do this alone would have been so difficult. But once I'm in my new place, I will be really happy. I'm on the end, so I'll only have neighbors on one side of me. I get a garage to put Alfred, my car. The neighborhood is single family homes and near an elementary school, so it's more families than undergraduates. No offense to undergrads, but I need to live somewhere quiet that's more grownup-oriented. Constant music and partying annoys the hell out of me. Part of it is just that the noise bothers me, but I'll admit that part of it is that I secretly wish school was still fun for me. Grad school is not fun that way. So my new place will be better for me. And I'll have a washer and dryer in unit so maybe laundry won't be such a pain in the ass. Laundry is one of my least favorite chores, and part of it is lugging it downstairs and spending so much money on it. First world problems, I know.
Anyway, I'm spending this weekend packing and cleaning and watching the Olympics!! I love it when the Olympics are on because I can watch a lot of cool sports that aren't usually on tv. I got to watch fencing today, how often is that ever on television? It's awesome. Right now I'm watching men's gymnastics. Those guys are crazy athletic. I have no idea how they manage to do any of that. I would fall on  my face.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Almost There!

I'm moving into my new townhouse next week! I'm really looking forward to it. A townhouse is only a step away from a house, and I've always wanted to have a house. I'm on the end too so I'll only have neighbors on one side, and I'm really looking forward to that. My neighbors have been so loud the past couple of weeks, stomping around upstairs and stuff like that. So knowing that I'm almost done dealing with that is awesome!
On the other hand, I am nervous about the move. I always get nervous about stuff like this, and it's double because this is the first time I'm doing it without my dad to help me out. I'm sure everything will be okay, but I'll breathe a sigh of relief when I get the keys to my place and the moving guys unload everything.
I'm also looking forward to having a week+ off of work. I think I'm ready for a vacation, and even though I'm not going anywhere, it will be nice to not have to be in lab for a week or so. Sometimes you just start to drag after a while, and having a break from the grind will be nice.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ready for a break

Man, I am ready for a break. I need a vacation. The past week I have not wanted to go to work. I don't want to go to work tomorrow. I just want to sleep in. I think it's because my last real vacation was in March. Also in three weeks I'm taking a week off to move into my townhouse, and I'm looking forward to that, and I wish it would hurry up. It's hard to keep going when all I want to do is stay home and sleep in and then pack or something. I'm handling it, it's just hard every night to not want to go in. I think I'm just ready for a break, and then I'll feel better.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


It's been a month since I posted. Oops. Oh well. I'll try to update quickly.
  • I officially joined the Bobik lab a couple of weeks ago. This is a huge relief because now I'm for sure staying the graduate program and I don't have to hurry and find a job. I've got my keys and all. 
  • I'm also staying listed as a PhD student for one more year. Dr. Bobik convinced me to just in case I change my mind, and I get to make a PhD salary for one more year, which is a lot more than an MS salary. So that's nice and hopefully I'll only have to take a pay cut for my last year of school. I'm still planning to get an MS and get the heck out of school though. 
  • I've started packing because I move at the end of this month. I hate packing but I'm really looking forward to living in my new place. 
  • Dan and I are still seeing each other. It's still not an 'official relationship' but we're seeing each other exclusively and it's awesome. 
  • And I think that's about it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


It's June already. That happened really fast. I feel like May just went so quickly. Everything is going well, and maybe it's good that the year feels like it's moving quickly. I just wish that the weekends felt like they were going more slowly, because it never feels like I've had quite enough time to recharge before it's time to go back to work. I'm doing alright, functioning and everything, but it just feels like I could use another day to sleep in, get things done, relax, etc.
I'm moving in a couple of months and I need to buy moving boxes. It takes me forever to pack so I have to start now or I won't get done in time. I'm so slow about it so if I can get my books all packed and my winter clothes and all that by a week or so before I have to move, then it won't be so hard to finish everything up. I have a million books so they will take forever to pack.
Other than that, I'm just working, trying to keep up with my chores and eat right, and trying to stay relaxed and okay. Hopefully it continues. In a couple more weeks I have to officially get into the lab, so I'm trying not to worry about it. Everything is going well so I think it won't be an issue, but I worry about stuff like that all the time, whether it makes any sense to worry about it or not.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Des Moines Botanical Center: Christmas Cactus

 I never finished putting up my photos from the botanical center back in March. Whoops. Anyway, this is a Christmas cactus. I thought this one was really cool because it was started from a cutting here in Iowa in 1810. This cactus is over 200 years old!
It had a few blooms on it. They're really pretty. I have a Christmas cactus myself, that my grandma started for me from a cutting from her plant. It's been growing really well over the past year and hopefully in another year or so it will bloom!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Dan and I went tubing on the Skunk River! It was a lot of fun. We started up near Ada Hayden Heritage Park. We got out near Carr Park because it turned out that where we thought we would get out was on  a different fork of the river. Oops. We had to walk to that spot and I have a million blisters now on my feet, but the tubing part was a lot of fun. There weren't a lot of people on the river, and the water temperature was really nice. Some parts of the river were too shallow and we had to get up and wade, but for the most part we could float. I saw a bald eagle fly over the river, which was super cool, and Dan spotted a deer looking at us from the riverbank. There were lots of cool little birds around and we even saw a freshwater mussel while we were wading at one point. It was really neat, and it was so quiet. We were floating through places in Ames, but from the river you couldn't tell where you were. It was like we were in a completely different world. I had so much fun (even with the walking barefoot for more than a mile and getting blisters lol) and it was my first time tubing so that was doubly fun. Next time we know where the best place is to get out so we won't have the same issue again. And Dan was really sweet and brought over epsom salts and rubbing alcohol for me so I could lance some of these blisters and get them healing. Overall, it was really fun.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hanging in There

Work so far has been going well. I'm going to learn how to do a gene knockout by the method they use soon, so that will be neat. The hardest part is honestly getting up in the mornings. Even though I get enough sleep, every morning I have to haul myself up and get there. Once I'm there, everything is fine, but man, mornings are hard. I wish that was easier, because it is not easy to start the day feeling that low. I have a sinus headache too, and I've had it all day, and that doesn't help. Hopefully I'll start feeling better and get more into the groove of everything and it'll be fine. It is easier right now since I don't have class so when I get home I have no homework to deal with. That makes the evenings nice. I just wish I had the energy in the mornings so that they weren't so hard. But I'm hanging in there, and everything is going to be alright.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day Off

So I had the day off work today. There was a conference that everyone had to attend except you had to have been registered for it, and obviously I wasn't, so I got the day off. It was nice. I got to do my laundry in the morning so I don't have to fight for the washers in the evening. I am really looking forward to having my own washer and dryer when I move in August. Sharing is such a pain in the ass.
Speaking of pains in the ass, I have some kind of obnoxious heat rash right where my thigh meets my butt. I know, too much information. It hurts like hell, but nothing will pop and it's not hot to the touch so I don't think it's infected. I've been putting hydrocortisone cream on it and taking acetaminophen which seems to help a bit. I've spent most of the day on the couch in pajamas hoping that keeping the pressure off of that area will help it heal. It's so annoying. I wanted to go for a run, but I think I'll wait until this heals up. I just hope it goes away soon and isn't something like MRSA because that would just suck massively.
Anyway, I'm back to work tomorrow. But I also get to see Dan tomorrow. So even though I'm already feeling a little tired and would rather sleep until noon, I'll be at work counting down to 5pm so I can leave and enjoy myself and not think about school for a while.

Monday, May 7, 2012

I told myself so

So just as I totally predicted, I feel about a million times better after spending my first day in Dr. Bobik's lab. I can't be too specific about what I'm doing on the internet because people would definitely try to scoop us all over the place, but I can say that I'm engineering E. coli to produce industrially relevant chemicals to replace petroleum derived products. And that's about all I can say about the research. However, I can say that the people in the lab are pretty awesome. It's currently pretty small because several people recently graduated and got postdocs, but that is fine with me. The two guys I'm working with are both pretty chill and have that sarcastic kind of humor that I do, so already I feel comfortable around them. One of them had no experience in this kind of stuff before he started working there as well, so I don't feel totally in over my head. Dr. Bobik is in the lab actually working on experiments pretty often as well, so it's neat to see my PI more than once a week in a lab meeting. It's a nice lab too, with plenty of room and windows (oh god the windows are the best) and we don't have to share too many instruments. It probably sounds bad, but I hate having to share all my lab equipment with random people so if I'm in a lab that has all its own stuff that makes me happy. Anyway, I feel a lot better now and I think everything is going to be alright.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Argh anxiety

I am already so nervous about starting to work in Bobik's lab. I am afraid that no one will like me, that I won't get accepted to the lab, that I'll get thrown out of the program and I at least want to get this stupid MS so I can say I have an advanced degree and get the hell out of academia. I know this is the anxiety disorder talking, but I am so antsy right now. I've already packed my bag, made a lunch, checked the map of the Molecular Biology building so I know where Bobik's office is and where the bathrooms are, and now I'm just drinking tea and trying to relax so I can sleep. I will definitely need to make coffee in the morning because I have no idea how well I'll sleep tonight. I'll feel so much better after this first day but right now I am freaking out.
In other non-related stuff, it stormed and the internet went out for about an hour. That was the first time it actually went down and I couldn't fix it by turning the modem on and off. It was out for about an hour and then came back on. Annoying, but whatever. When I called the provider, the lady on the phone said that all of their lines in Ames were down. The weird thing was that the storm lasted about ten minutes and that was it. It was silly.
And now I'm watching an interview on MSNBC of Jeffrey Dahmer's parents. Why? I have no idea. I like that kind of true crime and psychological stuff. Maybe I should have gone into criminal justice and been a forensic evidence technician person. Maybe I'll do that if I can't get my microbiology MS. It will totally be fine and I'll grind through this MS, but just in case, I'm already looking at various and sundry options.

Nice Weekend

I actually had a pretty good weekend, which is refreshing after the stress of final exams and the general stress of switching programs. On Friday, Dan and I went down to Saylorville Lake. I had never been there before and he had only been there once, so it was new for both of us. It was really hot out and I was sweating like crazy, but otherwise it was a lot of fun. We went down to the spillway, where they release all the water into the river. It was really open and the water was really gushing out like crazy. There were two guys there fishing with bows, which I had never seen before. They had caught a couple of big carp so I guess it works as a fishing technique. Anyway, Dan and I walked along the river, and to some of the parts of the lake further back, and then we drove around to the boat launch area so we could walk out on the rock pier in the big part of the lake. It was really cool and it made me feel at home, being out on this rock outcrop in this big lake. It was really nice. Afterwards we went to Buffalo Wild Wings. I'm not a big wing person, but Dan likes them, and I had a cheeseburger which was actually really good. Then we went back to my place and watched a Godzilla movie. I had a great day and my only wish is that I could see Dan every single day, because I love being with him.
Saturday was a laid-back day for me, just hanging out, watching Ghost Adventures and playing video games. Today I went down to Mike and Tessa's for Mike's 40th birthday party. It was great to see them again because I hadn't seen them since February, which is way too long. Since Tessa is done with school and I'm essentially working full time this summer, hopefully we'll be able to hang out together some more. And I was happy to see the kitties Satine and D'Artagnan, because they are adorable kitties.
I just finished grocery shopping and I think I'm just in time because the weather is looking like it will storm again. It stormed like crazy this morning, so much that water actually leaked in one of my windows. It wasn't a lot, but it surprised me because it had never happened before. I'm going to relax for the rest of the day, and try to be calm about starting my rotation tomorrow. I start tomorrow at 10am, hopefully everything goes really well!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Life Balance

So I've obviously had a rough month or so. Final exams are this week, and then classes will be done. But next week I start my next rotation. This one is really important, because if I can't get into this lab, I won't have any funding left and I'll essentially be stuck and have to leave the program. I really don't want that to happen because I don't want to feel like I've failed at graduate school twice. Honestly, I don't think that will happen, but I have an anxiety disorder so I spend too much time worrying about this shit.
Since class is almost done, I've moved to trying to spend some of my time making sure I'm taking care of myself mentally. I kind of got into this issue with school due to my depression and anxiety, and now I'm climbing out of it. Summer is a little iffy in terms of therapy that's available, so I've turned to the magic of the internet. My group this semester was about mindfulness and stress reduction, and there are actually a lot of cool (and free!) apps on Android that are guided meditations or mindfulness practices. Since I have an Android tablet, I've started using a bunch of those and my tablet is now my little personal meditation device. It's actually pretty cool and is really helpful. So even if I can't go to a group therapy again until fall, I feel like I have a lot of tools to make it through.
I'm also hoping that taking care of myself mentally will also help me take better care of myself physically. I gained some weight this semester which obviously bummed me out. I'm trying to get back on track and eat better portions and eat less emotionally. It's sort of slowly working, but it's still difficult. I'm trying to drink a lot more water and tea to stay full for longer, and I'm also trying to drink a fruit smoothie every day that I make in my blender to make sure I get my fruit servings. Now if I can just convince myself to eat less pizza, everything would be fine.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Orchids: Des Moines Botanical Center

Here are a bunch of pretty pictures of orchids at the botanical center. I've had a crappy Sunday so pretty pictures are here to make me feel better.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Big Decision

I've been thinking about this for a while, and now I've talked to my advisor and made the decision, so I feel comfortable telling the rest of the universe.
I'm dropping down from the PhD program to the MS program in microbiology.
I've had a very difficult semester. I don't see myself going to school for five years before I get any payoff, and moving to the MS program ensures that I can be done and leave with an advanced degree if I so choose. I could choose to keep going, maybe that's what will happen, but for now I'm moving to an MS. My advisor was really helpful and is very encouraging, so I feel like the department is going to help me succeed. Now I just need to find someone who is willing to let me rotate in their lab and take on a master's student. Hopefully that will happen soon and I can get started on a project.
I feel very relieved and at peace about this decision. I just don't see myself in academia for the rest of my life, so I'm not sure a PhD is even necessary at this point.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fishtail Palm: Des Moines Botanical Center

I think this palm tree is really cool looking. It's called a fishtail palm, and I think it's pretty obvious why. It's really tall. I had to look straight up to take this picture. I like it because it's different from the standard palm tree.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Des Moines Botanical Center: Koi

 There are lots of koi in the stream that goes through the botanical center. They're really pretty fish, even though they're related to carp, which are kind of ugly looking. Some of them are really big.
 Most of the koi in the pond were orange, but they did have some of the white varieties. They are my favorite.
While I was looking at the koi, I noticed this painted turtle! Painted turtles are from Michigan, so I had to take a picture of my Michigander turtle friend.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Des Moines Botanical Center: Palm

This is some kind of palm. I took a picture of it because of the leaves. You can see that some parts of the leaves are attached to each other near the stem, but as the leaves grow outward they are separated. This actually is because of apoptosis-programmed cell death. As the leaves grow, the cells that attach the leaves to each other undergo apoptosis and die, letting the leaves separate. How cool is that?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bananas: Des Moines Botanical Center

 This is a baby banana tree. Look at how little and cute it is! I'd never seen a baby banana tree before.
And this is an adult banana tree making bananas. They grow up so fast...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Funky Cactus of the Day

This is a close up of this weird cactus at the Des Moines Botanical Center. It has a thick stem, these adorable little tiny leaves, and gigantic thorns! It looks pretty crazy but I bet it protects itself well from predators. I kind of want one because they look really neat but I would always be afraid that I would hurt myself on it.

April is the cruelest month

Man, it's April already and I am feeling behind. March pretty much took a big dump on me. I was really depressed and anxious and between that and getting physically ill I didn't feel great on a regular basis. Then my Great Aunt Jan died. I barely spent any time at lab, so essentially I'm starting over tomorrow brand new. Dr. Phillips has been very understanding, which is good, but I feel the pressure because I want to stay in this lab and I can't fuck it up. Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting regularly back into lab. My grades are fine so I'm less worried about those. But of course, something else had to happen to make me feel off. I heard from my mum yesterday that our oldest cat, Miss Demeanor, is probably coming to the end of her life. She has hyperthyroidism and now my parents have to give her IV fluids every week. I don't know how much time she has left, and I don't know if I'll get to see her one more time or not. It's hard to think about especially when I have other things to focus on. I don't know if I'll talk about at group therapy or not, but I'm just trying to get my act together.
In addition, I'm trying really hard to get back on track with my weight loss. I gained about ten pounds in February and March. I started doing Zumba, which I really like, and hopefully it'll help me out. Dan has talked about getting me to run with him, which I think I'll do. I'm crap at running because I'm built to be a sprinter, but if I get to work out and spend time with the guy I'm dating, that seems like a good idea to me. My food intake is really hard to deal with but I'm trying to cut back more, because I know I'm eating too much. It's just difficult when I'm so stressed out.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Turtles at Des Moines Botanical Center

Yay turtles! There are a lot of turtles and koi in the stream that runs through the center. All of these turtles were lined up on the bank. Eventually they got bored and jumped back in the water, but it was cute while it lasted!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tulips: Des Moines Botanical Center

These are some of the tulips growing inside at the Botanical Center. The outside tulips hadn't bloomed yet when I was there, although by now they might be. I really liked both the purple and the yellow and orange ones. Fun fact: the stripes in tulips are caused by a plant virus. People have been manipulating the infected tulips to create new varieties for years.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Allspice Flower: Des Moines Botanical Center

Woo, I'm done with my Omaha zoo photos, so now we're moving to the pictures I took at the Des Moines Botanical Center. It's in downtown Des Moines and it's a pretty cool place! I love taking pictures of flowers so I had a lot of fun there. So be prepared for a crap load of flower pictures. Anyway, this is an allspice flower. I didn't know where allspice came from but apparently it's a tree and it makes these nice flowers.

Omaha Zoo Penguins

Look how cute the penguins were! They were all lined up outside this door like a bunch of preschoolers lining up at the end of recess. They were too adorable.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Omaha Zoo Birds

 Here's this neat crane that was sitting all by itself. I don't know what it was up to.
 This is a black swan. I think they're really pretty! Prettier than normal swans.
 These flamingos were having a heated discussion about something, which is why they got all poofy in the back.
 They resolved it eventually although I don't know what the argument was about.
I'm not sure what kind of bird this is, but he was pretty chill and sat on this branch the whole time.

Omaha Zoo Madagascar Exhibit

 One of the cool things at the Omaha Zoo is an exhibit that's all about Madagascar. Some of the nocturnal animals I couldn't get good pictures of, like the bats, but there were some I could photograph. For example, the tortoises above.
 This is pretty much  my most favorite thing ever. It's a pile of ring-tailed lemurs. They were all asleep in this little fluffy pile. I think there are four or five of them in there.
 See? They are adorable. I want a pile of lemurs. They look really fluffy too, like they would be awesome to pet.
 The tortoises a little closer up. No, they aren't getting it on, they were just being extraordinarily active.
This is a brown lemur. It's asleep in that incredibly uncomfortable looking position. I don't know how it managed to sleep that way.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Omaha Zoo Big Cats

 The tigers were mostly very sleepy while we were there. It's weird to see big cats stretching and doing the same things that my cat Memo does.
 This tiger had an attitude! He reminded me a lot of Wisp-he was giving us some angry eyebrows and looks.
 This lioness reminded me of Miss Demeanor. She looked like a long-suffering matriarch over the other lions.
 They had white tigers! I love white tigers. This one was stretching and looking all cute.
 It's Memo's bigger cousin, the black panther! He was very very sleepy.
Memo actually sleeps like this on the arms of my sofa sometimes. It's hilarious.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Omaha Zoo Desert Dome

 This is the geodesic dome that the desert exhibits at the Omaha Zoo are in. It's a gigantic dome.
 This is a desert cat. It was very sleepy and ignored me while I took its picture. It was pretty cute though.
 There were five or six of these pretty birds. I wish we had more colorful birds like this in Iowa.
 I was able to get a close up of one of the pretty birds. They were really cool!
 This is some kind of funky bird with little thin legs. I don't remember exactly what it was called though.
 This desert deer was in the same enclosure as the meerkats. All these kids were freaking out at the meerkats, and the deer just stood there chewing something. It was very calm. So I took a picture of it because I liked it better than the meerkats.
 It's a kooaburra! I really want one. They are super pretty! My dad said they were all over the place when he visited Melbourne.
 Lynxes! I was lucky to get a shot of both of them together, because the one on the left was prowling around a lot.
Desert tortoises. Their shells are more colorful in person.