This may not end well

I’ve been in Pasadena for a few days, now, and I have lots to blog about but the thing that is consuming all of my energy right now is this:

I know beyond a reasonable doubt that I left three pairs of sandals here.*  Two of them are among my favorite pairs.  I cannot find them.  I have looked in the bedroom closet, under the bed, in the dresser, under the dresser, in the hall closet, in suitcases that are stored in the closet, in the trunk where the spare blankets are supposed to be kept (but instead houses my stuffed animals for some reason), in the linen close, under the couch and, in desperation, the filing cabinet.

The only thing left to do is to ask Husband where they are and pray he doesn’t say something infinitely stupid like, “I got rid of them.”

*Even if I didn’t remember that I had left them here, I just spent a week packing up and shipping everything from Grad School City, so I know they were not there.

[Update:  They were in the top drawer of the dresser.  I had only searched the bottom drawers thinking that, of course, the clothes would be in the top drawers because you’d want them to be where you could reach them easily.]

Can’t talk, busy packing

I have one more day to get all of my crap packed up and shipped.  Most of it is already in the mail, but there’s still a few odds and ends left in the apt.  I have lots to blog about but no time to do so.  Therefore, you will be getting random bulletpoints until I have time to write more.

  • There are good times to get reacquainted with spending 24/7 with your spouse after living apart for 2.5 years.  Packing for a major move is not one of them.
  • I had a dream that had Comrade Physioprof in it.  What does that say about the amount of time I spend in the blogging world?
  • I tried to say goodbye to my advisor.  However, my eyes started tearing up so I ended with, “Well, I guess this is it!”  I’ll be sending him an email later.
  • I really must learn how to dust.  Really.
  • Husband and I may have internet addictions.  We both get online within 5 minutes of waking up in the morning.

Letting go

In the last couple of days, I have noticed that I’ve been a little in denial about the fact that I’m leaving the lab for good.  The first moment of realization came when I started cleaning out my shelf in the -20 freezer.  I had kept every cut plasmid and purified insert that I had used for cloning over my entire graduate career (because, yes, I did sometimes reuse them in other cloning projects).  I had also kept a large number of genomic DNA preps, diluted primers, vectors that had been linearized for integration into the genome and PCR products.  In all, I had around 12 boxes of this stuff.  And it was hard–really, really hard–to just throw it in the garbage can.  I kept thinking, “But, what if I need this?”

See, I’m a packrat.  A major packrat.  I have a very difficult time getting rid of things so it’s a good thing I’ve moved every 4 years or so because that forces me to purge my belongings.  Usually, all I have to do is consider the likelihood that I’ll use an item again and compare that to how much I really want to have to pack it in a box.  When my husband moved to California, it was even easier because I had to look at an item and decide if I really wanted to pay to ship it clear across the country.

In the case of lab, it should be even more cut and dried.  I’m leaving.  I’m not just leaving this lab, I’m leaving benchwork.  I am not ever planning on working in a lab again.  Therefore, I absolutely do not need any of this stuff.  Not a bit of it.  I had to keep telling myself that, though, while I threw out old plates and precultures from the cold room and cloning intermediates from the freezer and files in my desk.  I’d say, “But what if I need it?” and then wonder under what circumstances in my post-lab life I could possibly need the manual from a Qiagen miniprep kit.  I still can’t force myself to throw out my NEB catalog, though.  That thing has been my companion and reference book for so long, it would be like throwing away a part of myself.  And who knows, maybe one day I’ll be making dinner and I will suddenly really want to know if you can do a double digest with BamHI and HindIII.  Granted, this seems highly unlikely, but you never know.  I just can’t part with it.  Maybe after a year or so of being out of the lab I will be able to throw it out.

The thing of it is that, including the years I spent as a tech, I’ve spent about the last 12 years of my life working at a lab bench.  And, while I’m still certain I do not want to do a post-doc, leaving the lab bench has me feeling a little scared and a lot sad.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am overjoyed at the fact that when I go on vacation I will no longer have to ask someone to look after my yeast plates as well as my pet.  I am thrilled beyond measure that I will never again need to do a ritual dance around the PCR machine or have such bad lab karma that I get my grandmother to send me a bottle of holy water which I then proceed to wipe down my bench with because it’s either that or sit in a corner and cry.  I will never again stomp into lab and shout, “For the love of Qiagen, why can’t people clean up after themselves when they spill a culture in the shaking incubator?  Why???”

But there are plenty of things that I will miss, too.  I’ll miss going to see a really good seminar and then coming back to the lab to discuss it.  I’ll miss being in the lab when someone finally, finally gets the result she’s been waiting for and she runs through the lab screaming, “I did it!  I did it!” while waving a picture of a western blot.  I’ll miss being the person waving a picture of a western blot.

And so, I imagine that when I wipe down my lab bench for the very last time, there will be a few tears shed.

Something I’ve been thinking about

While writing about my yearly Lady Doctor visits, I thought of something I might like to share with all of you.  After this last weekend’s tragic events, I think it even more important that I share it now.

When I was 18, I went on The Pill.  Like most teenage girls of my acquaintance, I did this by visiting Planned Parenthood.  All throughout college, I went to Planned Parenthood for my yearly exams and to buy birth control.  During that time, depending on where I was, I happened to go to three different clinics in three different cities.  The experience was always as pleasant as such things could be, but in particular I really liked the clinic I went to in Boston.

The Planned Parenthood in Boston was very close to my school–within a few blocks.  It was housed on the first floor of a brownstone with apartments above it.  It was a truly wonderful environment.  The waiting room was cozy–more like a living room–the staff were warm and kind.  Like most apartment buildings in the city, it had a buzzer in the lobby and when you pressed it, the receptionist let you in.

I never had anything but good experiences there.  The staff really cared about what they were doing and their treatment was first-rate.  It was there that I was asked if I wanted to see my cervix during an exam.

It happened that, while I was in Iowa during my Christmas break one year, I messed up my pill prescription somehow.  I don’t exactly recall what I did but I must’ve forgotten to take my pill for three or four days in a row.  In any case, the mess up was such that I needed to call Planned Parenthood in Boston to find out what I should do.  I did this in the morning and talked to a very sweet woman on the phone who assured me that a nurse would call me as soon as one was available.

I went on with my day, I’m not sure what I did, probably read a book or something.  I know I did not turn out a TV.  Sometime in the afternoon, I made plans to meet up with a friend but I was still waiting for the phone call from Planned Parenthood.  This was in the dark ages before everyone and their dog had a cell phone, so if I left the house, I would miss the call.  So, I called the clinic.

Now, typically, when I called the clinic, my call was handled in a prompt and efficient manner.  This phone call was a little unusual in that I got randomly transferred a couple of times and had to repeat my problem a couple of times.  Things seemed to be a little bit confused, but the women I talked to were caring and professional just as they always were and I finally got my question answered and I hung up the phone.

A little while later, I turned on the TV for the first time that day.  And then, I sat in stunned amazement as I listened to the news reports centered on Boston.  That morning, sometime after I made my first phone call, a man had gone into two separate clinics in Boston and shot people.  This included the Planned Parenthood I went to.  And the receptionist, the one who was so nice to me on the phone, had been shot and killed an hour or two after I talked to her.

The most amazing thing about this story is that later that very same day, only hours after their colleague had been gunned down in that very clinic, there were people there answering the phones, people who very kindly helped me with my oh-so-trivial problem.

The next time I went to that Planned Parenthood, things were a little bit different than they had been.  In the lobby was a Boston City Policeman and a metal detector.  The policeman was friendly and jovial even while he searched my backpack, then looked for my name on the appointment sheet, then buzzed the receptionist, then allowed me into the building.  Inside, the receptionist sat behind bullet-proof glass.  The staff were just as friendly, just as competent, but the atmosphere had changed.  It was no longer warm and comforting there.  You couldn’t help but think about what had happened there.  How terrible it was that the receptionist had in all likelihood buzzed her killer through the door.  How scared and frightened everyone must’ve been.  How scared they must still be, bulletproof glass or no.

My friends asked me why I continued to go there after the shooting.  I could have gone to the student health center in all likelihood.  But, I didn’t want to do that.  It seemed to me that if I truly supported the mission of Planned Parenthood then I should continue to go there and give them my business.  People like to say as a joke these days that if you [do whatever] then the terrorists win.  Well, that’s exactly how I felt.  The extremists wanted women to be afraid.  They wanted to shut down the clinics that give good quality health care to women who might not be able to afford it otherwise.  Well, the hell with that.  I would continue to go and I persuade all of my friends to go as well.  If I didn’t then the whackjobs had won.

On the Drugmonkey blog, I saw a reference to a post here which suggests that a good response to this last weekend’s events would be to donate to Planned Parenthood, perhaps in memory of George Tiller.  You can do so here.

It’s not often that you’re given a chance to truly stand up for your convictions, even if it’s not the easy thing to do.  Many women say that they are pro-choice, that they firmly believe in a woman’s right to choose, in a woman’s right to obtain good healthcare, in a woman’s right to obtain affordable birth control, in a woman’s right to have an abortion.  But, how much do they believe in that?  Do they believe in it enough to continue going to a clinic where a woman was murdered?  Do they believe in it enough to support it not just with words, but with money, too?  Do you?

Too much to say

Lately, I’ve been thinking about posting to the blog a lot and I’ve even started a few posts but I don’t even get them finished before a new blog post topic comes along and then I don’t feel like writing about the previous post anymore.  So, I’m just going to do the random bullet points thing:

  • My brother’s baby was born May 9.  I would have blogged about it then but Nephew the 3rd had some problems at first and was in the neonatal ICU and it was just too hard to write about it.  He’s fine now and at home and everything is okay.
  • Just found out my Husband’s brother’s baby is going to be a boy.  That’s four nephews for those of you keeping track.
  • My 9th wedding anniversary was in early May.  It was sad that Husband wasn’t here so we could celebrate together.
  • My birthday was in late May.  I am now 35.  I have been thinking a lot about my life, the past and the present and what I want for the future.
  • My last day in lab is supposed to be this Friday.  I’ve been pretty apathetic about getting stuff done so now I’m going to cram it all in this week.
  • My last appt. with my psychiatrist is tomorrow morning.  This makes me sad.  I wish I could take her with me to CA.
  • There was no nonfiction book for May.  Thank goodness I read three in April so I’m not behind in my goal of reading 12 this year.
  • I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries lately.  Not sure why.  Though I do like how everything gets tidied up at the end.
  • I went to the bookstore yesterday and I saw books advertising recipes and knitting patterns and cleaning tips.  The surprising thing about this was that I saw them in the mystery section.  I do not need recipes or knitting patterns or cleaning tips in my mystery books.  If I want any of that, I’ll go to the non-fiction section.

I suppose that’s it for now.  I’ve got to get to lab and get cracking on finishing freezing everything down!