Waking in the morning has become a less dreadful experience for me in these later years of my life. I use to loathe seeing the sunshine in the morning. Now my body attempts to welcome it willingly. Although the mind isn’t as willing; it still likes to enjoy the sluggish time in the morning. However, restlessness always takes over, no matter how long I linger. My body itches to do something with the day!
Breakfast is always a fleeting thought. I strive so hard to make something hearty, healthy, enriching. Then I realize how quickly my morning seems to fly by, and I’m left pondering how urgently I need to get into the laboratory to start my work for the day. Today, the lure of scrambled eggs and cheddar on some unbuttered toast is far too tempting. I have plenty of time to make it into work before 8am. My brain starts to slow down as the urgency is lost.
As I wait for the cheese to melt into it’s most delicious state on the eggs and toast, I peruse through my torrents from the night before. I’m a bit of an odd cookie in that I enjoy watching prime time television, but I don’t go through the exceedingly simple solution of Hulu for it. Instead, I download 720p-compressed television streams that have been recorded from the night before. Not only does it allow me to watch it on my television, it also mildly satiates my pack rat mentality; I have a library of television shows that I’ll never have to purchase the season sets of. Upon inspection, they’re all done from the night before, so I take a brief glance over my Google Reader feed as I start to consume my now perfect breakfast sandwich. The superficial glance at the unread counts tells me I’m in way too deep for this time I have to consume my sandwich. I close up shop, put the desktop to sleep, and finish packing my daily goods to haul into work.
Pulling into the parking lot, I’m ecstatic to be parked in the front row of my usual lot for a change. It’s been happening less often lately, but really it’s only a couple minutes of my time to park further out. Something to do with my perfectionist attitude towards life: I need the best spot possible! The march up from the parking lot is as monotonous as usual; handfuls of dental students march past in a rush in their scrubs while I maintain my nonchalant gait. Perhaps I just don’t feel the same sense of urgency that these students do? In the absence of coursework, the days just blur together. They start when they start; they end when they end. The timely appointments of classes no longer affect me. Oh! Crazy person honking at the stopped car in the dental clinic parking lot. Hello again reality, let us tango once again.
Arrival into the lab is anticlimactic; none of the other lab peons have arrived yet, although my boss has already opened the lab and left the door open. Unpacking my laptop, Mark (my mentor/PI) updates me on some security news from last night: one of the other students in our department had her laptop stolen yesterday afternoon while we were out at a seminar. Someone just walked right into the lab, snatched it up, and left completely unnoticed. This has been a slowly growing trend over the years in the Biomedical Research Building. It hasn’t even been restricted to just laptops; other pieces of electronics or laboratory equipment has been rendered missing. I just can’t believe it’s finally happened to a friend of mine. After checking on my cultures that were growing overnight and setting them well on their way towards experiments for the day, I send out an email to my friend and offer her up my old MacBook Pro as a temporary replacement. I know how tough it is to work without your own recording device for many an experiment, so I thought it was the least I could offer in the situation.
Experimentation begins. Labmates enter. Socialization begins as people wake up and people have jokes to crack at each other. It is usually about then that the headphones go in my ears. I enjoy the witty banter much of the time, but it often never ceases. If it could be brought a little more high-brow instead of in-the-gutter in mentality, I could entertain it so much more readily, but alas, it rarely stays on the sophisticated level, and always devolves into some head-shaking hilarity. So I toodle along: my laboratory notebook is always a chore to keep up to date, and I’m behind a couple days. While my experiments are doing their own thing for an hour or so, I spend it catching up my meticulous notebook. Virtually every nuance to my experiments captured. People jest over my attention to detail, but my successors in the lab will thank me dearly for it. Our previous graduate students left ruinous notes in their notebooks. Every repeated experiment is an exercise in troubleshooting.
Lunchtime rolls up, and Dr. Hohle checks in again today to see if I want some. I had to pass on it yesterday due to some important experimentation, but a walk out in the lovely weather for some pizza sounds worthwhile. We catch up on some of the chatter I had during the seminar yesterday with an incoming graduate student who was inquiring about the faculty in our department. Apparently she’s already heard all the racy stories about professors so far; she had even been hit on by another. *shakes head* By the time we’re across the street and within ground zero of Zetti’s, I’ve digressed into a gripe about one of my lab members. It never fails. I’m not terribly proud of it, but they often drive me to these discussions in some fashion or another. Tom doesn’t take it personally or complain about it; he’s very much aware of these people’s flaws or failures, so he associates and relates. I wonder some days if he just entertains and placates me, but I’ve come to realize he’s a good enough of a friend that he wouldn’t do that to me. He won’t lie; he’ll probably just avoid the truth if it really comes to that.
Returning from lunch always means it’s go time. Time to finish experiments. Time to crunch data. Time to make sure the day doesn’t become obnoxiously long and end long past dinnertime. Transduction? Check. Transformation? Check. Wrapping glassware for my lab duties? Check. Finishing my preparation of my genomic DNA extractions? Check. Just now (as I type this) realizing my genomic DNA is still incubating at 37˚C? Oh fuck me…NOT GOOD! Oh well. Can’t win them all, right? Well, I need to win this one. So here I sit, crossing my fingers that I did not have a nuclease contamination that decided to eat up all of my genomic DNA preparations…
Feeling weird to be done before 5pm, I work on counting some colonies off some plates to kill time until 5. I feel like a slacker leaving before then, despite what I’ve accomplished in a day. Today? It was mediocre for productivity. Probably about par, if not marginally below. Timing on using shared-facility equipment is putting a minor damper on what I can and cannot accomplish in the given day. Regardless, 5ish rolls around, and it’s a good time to roll home.
Driving down Kenmore Avenue, I realize that there’s no reason for me to leave before 6pm. Kenmore is always just a choking artery of traffic at 5pm. I should have stayed at the lab counting plates longer. But you know what? I’m done; I’m ready to relax. I’m ready to beat off whatever inkling of sickness is attempting to work its way into my throat. Maybe I need to discover a shortcut. I have little patience for slow/stalled traffic. I fight desperately to keep from zoning out. The screech of tires behind me from stopping too quickly shocks me back to reality; someone else zoned out before I did, apparently.
Upon entering the apartment, I find it empty. This is not a surprise, as I noticed Emily’s car was nowhere in sight when I park mine own. Yes. I’m one of those people who notices things of that nature. I recognize your car from being on our street all day. I knew which Starbucks employees drove which vehicles in the Main Street plaza location because I visited them so frequently and noticed the repeatedly parked vehicles. Hell, I notice when you decide to unusually smack someone on the arm, hold your head too much during the day, how often your arms remain crossed, how evasive your eye contact is, or even just the different ways you stare at me when I crack a joke. I notice a lot. I’m a detail freak. So detailed, I frequently lose track of everything I just noticed. It’s terrible!
Laying down for a movie, all I can feel is the tickle at the back of my throat. No matter how I swallow, no matter how much water I drink, no matter the pseudoephedrine I took to help with any congestion, no matter how gruesome Hannibal seems to be at times, I can’t shake the distraction of the sore throat. Already dreading the misery of being sick, I throw my mind to better thoughts. I try to lose my interest to the movie, but it’s already demonstrating itself to be a less than superb adaptation of the novel. My mind tries to search for hope again.
I’m suddently in high school again. Angsty over the anticipation of some wit, banter, dialogue, and general conversation. Okay, not really high school; I never dated then. Early college. The suspense and anticipation of waiting for something good to happen with another. That connection. That linkage. That ability to intrigue and please another, and be intriguing and pleasing to him/her. It gives me that glow I need to shun the dread of sickness. That glow to wilt away all the earlier woes and gripes of the day.
And that’s how the day ends. Daydreaming of those better moments; choice occasions spend with the right people. Bigger weekend plans that have been staged and are awaiting execution. I try to think big before bed; those aspirations help leave the night on a good note, even though it all washes away in the morning. I go to sleep thinking of them in the hope that they’ll slip through to the morning, because just even a fraction of one of those blissful thoughts that remains on the wallboard of my mind come morning has the power to bloom fully and rapidly, quickly eclipsing the rest of the new day.
But really? That last thought as I go to bed is nothing any more complex than, “mmm, this feels warm; this feels good.” An entire day of life, conversations, banter, confrontations, and sorrows melt into nothing more than a blanket. And next thing you know…there’s my restless body. Tired of the bed. Needing something to do.
So we begin it again. And again. And yet again. Waiting for that special something, when really, every day has been special, and my mind is just tricking itself. 2000 words about a day in the life, and my mind still somehow seems to miss it. Today was an eye opener; there’s so much more to my day. Time to put that attention to detail to use…