Monday, March 3, 2014

life in eden had changed

*Attention: If you are looking for science related posts, this is not one of them. I accidentally wrote a novel on my personal life and I decided I should probably do another post soon just on science. Sorry, just wait a bit.*

Hey Guys,

The title of this blogpost is from "Eden" by Sara Bareilles. This particular song I love because it has a lot of meaning for me once I settled into western Mass. It's a little on the morbid side for her, the lyrics describe her dislike of her old home and why she left. For me, I loved "home" (UNH). What I can relate to is the idea of growing out of a place over time and that "life in eden had changed." I visit Durham and Dover still on a regular basis but it isn't like visiting "home" anymore. A place I enjoy? Most definitely. It’s how I enjoy it that’s different. It was funny because I didn't realize it until I went up in the beginning of the school year. I was waiting downtown for Ethan to finish up his lab work so we could go to Portsmouth. I went to Breaking New Grounds to get a coffee and I made note that all the people that worked there had filtered out. I ordered the special as usual and went outside to sit and people watch by the stone benches that people typically never see (there's a lot of trees and its sorta hidden between the bagelry and hair shop). I saw freshmen walking around with their parents and getting textbooks. The "bleed blue" t-shirts everywhere and of course, the tremendous about of spandex and flip flops from the new comers and the younger undergraduates. I felt like I was in a glass box just watching it. Weirdest moment of, well, one, I miss when my ass was that small and I actually could have worn spandex like that, and two, I wasn't coming back that fall to start class. I then drove "home" (Granby, MA) that Monday morning and slowly over the past 7 months have morphed into my new "Eden".

In one of the posts I had written about all the new stuff I found and the great people here (also there is a secret post in another blog site that I put a link to for those that want to try to find it). It was more of list really and just me still getting excited and trying new things. Now? I actually have a routine.

To clarify, I have a grad student routine. I figured I would share this life with you since when people ask me what grad school is like all I can think of is well, a lot like undergrad, but I have to act like an adult and now I get paid to stress out, pull long nights studying, and take exams… not to mention complete lab work and come off across some what intelligent in between dancing in lab with huge skull candy headphones when no one is around.

Now I haven't had to do this as much as others because I'm new (though I see it on the horizon starting as the weeks continue… 8 westerns in 1 day? Challenge accepted.) but with grad school, you don't have a "weekend" or a "9-5". You come in when your experiments need you on the weekend and when you are home you are studying for your exams or prepping review sessions for your undergrads. Actually for most of us, you are constantly reading science literature to stay up to date on your project. With undergrads, "C's get degrees". For graduate students? You need a B minimum for some courses, or like right now, an A- is the lowest I'm allowed to get in my Cellular Physiology course this semester to qualify for candidacy. You actually have to earn your degree beyond the classroom… so it's nothing like undergrad life. Not to say we don't have fun though. I was told by a history professor once that graduate school would be the best years of my life and put my undergrad memories to shame. I am gladly willing to take that bet, after all, life in Eden had changed.

For one, it's amazing how once you actually see the receipt of a gym membership how much you then want to use your pass. It's unreal. As an undergrad, everyone who knew me would have known that I was super athletic in high school but in college? Ha. Maybe went to the gym a handful of times a year, if that. Now? I get my calves, hamstrings, glutes, biceps, abs, etc handed to me in a pile of mush Monday-Wednesday (Thursday/Saturday is yoga, not as extreme). Cardio Kickboxing? Oh yeah, I'm becoming a regular. I used to make fun of the girls that went when I was at UNH, calling it a "biddy fest". Now I am one of the oldest there and sweating like a pig in heat in a baggy t-shirt and soccer shorts amongst spandex and tiny little waists that I could break with one finger. Spinning Class? Nothing says "I hate myself" like cycling for an hour and not gaining any distance other than away from sanity. And finally on Thursdays it's sample day for me. Pick a class and see how it goes. Piloxing was my favorite so far of "Oh dear god, never again". I mean, my arms were on fire and I'm pretty sure I could hold up for like 5 seconds now if I did an arm wrestle with Ethan (hockey player… goalie actually… so big arms); however in this class she made us shimmy. Yeah, shimmy. Grown 22+ yr old grad students shimmy with students that we probably are TAs for at some point in the following years. If that is not a humbling experience, I don't know what is.

Actually I lie, I do.

She then at the end had us do this three step move and yell "sexy, strength, and power!"… my lips were shut tight. If you haven't picked up on it already, I don't go to these things alone. There's about 5 of us that try to go to these classes together. If I didn't have them (and the receipt hanging in my kitchen) I probably wouldn't be as dedicated. What's nice is the evening classes, though insanely crowded, are after most of us have finished lab work and have hit the point of "If I don't get out of lab soon I will start making evil fingers with the P1000 tips" (don't worry if you don't get that, that's a good thing). Especially us first through third years still dealing with classes, the preliminary exam to be considered for candidacy, TAing, and then our actual lab work. The gym is a release at this point, but I say that with also a big hint of endearment. I really do enjoy the comradery I have with these 4 people. Not to mention The Pub (cue heavenly angels singing). Nothing says a Thursday then having an embarrassing/tiring/funny/etc workout followed by a $5 special (burgers, tacos, etc) at The Pub with a beer. May or may not be a huge highlight of my week.

Secondly, as a first year we do rotations to get a feel of not only the department, but what would we like to do for the next 5 years. Meaning I join different labs for a semester each and then at the end of spring/summer I figure out which lab I would like to work in. In a sense, it's speed dating. Think about it. A semester is 4ish months. How many of us say that when dating the 3 month point is the "hump" month. Either you stay to invest in a long term relationship because you've seen what this person is like for the most part and the honeymoon stage is fizzling down or you run out of the room screaming never to return. Aka: rotations. Well, okay not really. But not only do you get a feel for what the lab is like, they also are getting a feel for you. It's a good set up and there are no surprises in what you are getting into. At first, to be honest, I thought it was a little silly. Just get your degree, who cares as long as it gets you to where you need to be in the end. Now, I see its importance. I've enjoyed the two labs I have been in. As mentioned prior in a post I was working with anaerobic bacteria dealing with environmental biotechnology, something I have never done before. The work reminded me of my undergrad (bio-energy aspect) so that was slightly familiar but still, completely new. My current rotation I am working with aerobic bacteria focusing on cell cycle and protein degradation. No environmental at all, but gaining techniques I only read about as an undergraduate or saw the TA do an example of. Two completely different labs (and two different buildings even). I'm getting a sense of what I want to get out of my degree as well as who I see myself as research scientist.

Finally, in case some of the prospective students creeped on facebook and found me (I noticed a spike in views for the blog since the Microbiology Retreat) here’s just a quick glimpse into the random crap you will get yourself into that makes it clear life in Eden has changed when you enter into this realm of academia.

You will do things you said you’d never do. For instance, I have now gone ice fishing... twice. If you plan correctly and save up, you can still take trips. I just took a four day trip in January to Florida to see Machayla and Colin (thank you Ethan for the wonderful Christmas present again). You will also find entertainment everywhere. I am going to Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil this week on campus and a Boy and Bear concert late this March in Cambridge. You will become athletic to keep your sanity… there’s now like 5 or 6 of us running a Cosmic Run in Hartford in April. 

Yet when all is said and done… You are still in your twenties. You will still have those nights where next thing you know you and your friends are drinking, eating fruit dipped in chocolate, and desperately trying to follow the “Just Dance” video game icon and the others secretly video taping you slamming your knee into the coffee table...

There’s so many more stories I want to type out but this is literally 3 pages long (I wrote it in Word first)… so I should stop; however, next post I have some cool stuff I’d like to talk about I learned in class as well as maybe going into more detail with certain events that occur (ahem, ice fishing… twice.) For now I am going to advertise some music but this time I am plugging for a local band… which happens to have my mother in it. Yes folks, Valerie (or as my friends know her, "Val") is a paid singer (yay mom!). The band is called Wooden Soul, which specializes in acoustic rock (though they also do way more than that. Check out their playlist) and is a duo of my mom and Rudi Glenn Ridosh. Restaurants, weddings, private occasions, you name -they do it. I may be biased but they are pretty damn good so if you are in the southern NH area you should go to the local places they sing at… just saying.

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PS: Anyone got some good stories from first year out of college please share!


  1. When is the Boy and Bear concert in Cambridge?! Hopefully we can plan to meet up before or after or something!! Your writing is awesome, Geen, and totally you. How exciting for your mama! Also, I still need to hear about your ice fishing competition. Blog idea exchange coming soon!

  2. The Boy and Bear concert is on March 26 @ 8pm (first time after 4.5 weeks I see Ethan, I'm so excited! - girl moment). Maybe afterwards we can plan something? Depends how late it goes because I have to drive back to Granby (blah). Thanks about the writing :) I have some new tricks/gadgets I'm going to try next blog. Can't wait to exchange ideas!