It’s been almost a month since I last wrote on my little blog. With all my new responsibilities and other things that keep piling up (like wedding planning from a million miles away) I just haven’t had much time to sit down and wrote about what’s going on.
Life is quiet. We’re having some issues with various pieces of equipment; that has slowed down my productivity. It’s sad that the instruments are down, but it’s a most welcomed break from all the craziness I’ve had in the last month. I’ve had tons of work to do, too many samples to count, too many people to train (including a handful of rotation students) and meetings and seminars to attend. The good thing is that, compared to my time as a grad student, I’m not being “watched” by department heads and questioned as to why I’ve missed seminars. Thank goodness for being a staff member. But at the same time, the amount of work I’m doing has probably doubled, mostly because I’ve brought with me some cool knowledge from my previous place of employment, which has a few faculty members excited to try. It’s been very rewarding, but very crazy too. There have been days where I have gone straight to the lab, no stopping in my office, so I can work for 9hrs with just a 30 minute break. All for the sake of science. The good thing is that most of the students are very independent, so while we set up experiments and conditions, when the data is collected, they need little assistance from me, which in turn means that I head back to the lab to collect more data. And due to previous data collection binges, I’m already in a manuscript that’s to be submitted before the end of the year! On of my goals of 2013 was to be an author in a paper from my previous job and one from the current one. I think that resolution might just come true!
On the personal front, I’ve managed to stay in the 190s for a few months now. That’s a relief in the sense that I’m not 200 (206 to be exact) anymore. But I’m stuck. I stopped working out and the eating needs a reboot. This means I still don’t fit in my wedding dress, and the store I bought it from (on Etsy) has closed. I’ve bookmarked a few other options, but with the final push many people do in November and December, I can’t guarantee I’ll lose anything more. I’m at 194, which I haven’t been in forever. But that’s still off by 24 pounds from my first weight goal. I remember a friend from grad school say that when he was able to leave the toxic environment from his PhD lab and get into a stable rhythm in his postdoc lab, the weight seemed to melt away. It’s been almost 3 years since I left my toxic postdoc, and nothing has happened on the weight front, except gain. And I’m too lazy to work out. I’m trying to count calories … we’ll see where that leads. I didn’t want to get married looking like a pregnant woman, but I’m so darned tired all the time that I can’t even begin to think about exercise. And of course, I’m now 32 and my metabolism is just slow.
We just ordered our wedding invitations and I’ve finished some small projects for the wedding. Things will be very colourful, and handmade. Hopefully our guests will have a good time and hon and I will get to eat something and dance even more. I’m still sorting out the situation with my orthotics. My orthotics are too thick for my wedding shoes, but without them I just know that my feet will kill me, no matter how hard I try to stand up and smile. My feet get easily fatigued without the orthotics. My shoes are a bit on the bigger side, so I could try to get custom orthotics, specifically for dressier shoes.
I bought a skirt and a pair of boots over the weekend. I’m nuts. But I saw a picture of one of my tweeps and decided that I too wanted in on the fun. They look awesome together. But skirts and boots have not been part of my wardrobe for the longest time. We’ll see how this works out.
Hon and I are going away for a weekend in the coming weeks. It will sure be refreshing to step away from lab responsibilities.
I’m enjoying better health, or at least better breathing since I started taking allergy meds everyday. That’s a huge relief. I don’t wake up coughing or sneezing as if I was sick, and better yet, people don’t ask all the time why am I sick yet again.
Oh, and we adopted a new kitty!
I used to be dazzled by superstars … be them in sports, music, movies .. even in my own church. It probably stemmed a bit from my mom being enchanted by them, and looking up to them. They were out super stars. They were blameless, and in a different sphere. Special. Spotless. Pretty much non-human.
I can’t remember the first time it happened, but I do remember that a decade or so ago, as my faith in the Catholic Church was crumbling, how the accusations of pedophilia within the ranks of the church still managed to surprise me, to upset me, and to horrify me. Surely there must have been some mistake. How can people that vow to be celibate, even consider a sexual thought, let alone an action. I now realize I was sorta brainwashed. I tried for a long time to reconcile being a strict adherent of my faith, while still trying to make excuses for the horrible, horrible acts that happened for god-knows-how-long to hundreds of thousands of kids and adults. How people in positions of power abused that power, took advantage of their position within the church, and moreover, the faith that people had (mis)placed in them, and caused so much hurt. It was a rough awakening. I learned that idols do fall. When they do, it’s painful. For them and for everyone that vouches for them.
It took me years to process and to try to reconcile the faith I grew up in, and the horrible acts that had been committed (sometimes) in the name of Jesus. Today I consider myself a (very) lapsed Catholic. I hurt every time a new accusation comes up … not because of the damage that it (supposedly) inflicts on the institution, but because that institution has some really well paid devils that will try to quench the desire for justice for all the victims. I hate that people have lost their faiths, not only in God but in the goodness of the human spirit whenever you see the snakes (ie. lawyers) try to defend the indefensible.
The next big blow came when an ex I dated throughout my last few years of undergrad, broke not only my trust, but my faith in him and in everything that I thought we’d built. Many things happened. And just recently I realized that some of what had been done to me had a name … it was called sexual coercion. When that “idol” fell, my soul was crushed. I was crushed yet again. Some I trusted, love and who had some power over me had again broken that trust, and broken something sacred within me.
Sadly, I’d been, slowly but surely, trying to desensitize from the hurt it causes when someone I admire, someone I look up to, falls from grace.
The most recent events are (very sadly) one of the few things that has caused me that pain, that feeling in my stomach, and reminded me that no matter how much or how hard you try to suppress a feeling, or how much you want to be “ready” (if you can even be ready) for when the next wave of idols fall, you never truly are. The blow to your trust in that person just breaks.
I don’t know what to think, other than I feel truly, deeply sorry for each and every one of the women who in one (or more) instances have been affected recent events. I can’t begin to wrap my head around how uncomfortable they felt and feel, the guilt, the pain. Because no matter how much you try to repeat it to yourself, somehow, you’ll feel guilty, when you did nothing, nothing to bring unto you the treatment, the harassment, the moment or moments of inappropriate behaviour. Sadly, as women, we’ve been socialized to feel guilty each and every time someone breaks our trust, someone interferes or invades our personal space and boundaries. It is yet another way in which society, our parents, our community, still fail us.
I also feel sad for his family (esp. his wife). I know I’d be devastated if someone ever divulged very personal and private information about my relationship with them … especially if that someone were my spouse. I know that if honey every talked about our intimate details I’d be broken, sad beyond belief. I know how frustrating and painful it can be to deal with issues our spouses have … and I recognize that I am not perfect. And that sometimes you feel a link to someone, a special connection and you want to unload some of what feels like a burden. That said, it is never, ever correct to do so in a professional setting, especially when you first meet the person. It is not right. It hurts. It traumatizes.
I’m saddened by it all. I’m saddened by the other people out there who may have experienced the same treatment. I’m saddened for the pain and hurt this is bringing to each and every woman that was harassed.
I can only hope that in this same SciX community, they feel welcomed and cared for. There are lots of people who want to offer a sincere shoulder, and all of our support, to help in your moment of need.
I know what it is to have your space invaded, to have an unwelcomed hug (or heck, even a kiss planted on you on Xmas day, at church!), your trust broken. I can only tell you that it will get better. It won’t be easy, but it will get better.
I am sorry. I am here for you.
This is in support of dear tweep @DNLee5
This entry is partly a repost of Dr. Isis’ batsignal, but also I wanted to add a few words of my own. Even if I only get 100 peeps to read my blog on a regular basis, at least those 100 will get to see what to do when you get a request for guest blogging that for one reason or another doesn’t really jive.
I’ve gotten a few invitations to guest blog here and there. One of my fave ones was with the peeps of Scientopia. It forced me to write more often than I’m used to and I got lots of really great comments (I still do!). I love my Scientopia folks. I’ve also appeared on a few other forums (here and here), some which pay and some that don’t. But since I’ve now changed places to a position that’s keeping me super busy and on my toes more often than not, I don’t blog as often … and I haven’t guest blogged for anyone in a bit.
I was approached by the folks of biology-online sometime ago. I thought it was pure spam, since I’d never heard of them. I didn’t reply on their first try. I’ve been approached once or twice more, again. I still haven’t replied. And definitely, after DNLee’s experience with them, I ain’t giving them the light of day.
Whether your write about pure research, or share your experiences in grad school like I did, and others do, you should never, EVER, feel pressured or bad for saying no to a gig. Since I switched jobs earlier in the year, I made a point of not taking more unpaid gigs (unless the organization or group is something that truly aligns with what I believe and how I feel) … regardless of how awesome they sound, or how many viewers they promise to expose to my (not so awesome) musings. People and companies will approach you. And you are under no obligation to say yes … regardless of how much pressure they put or how flattered you feel. You have to do what helps you feel good, and comfortable. And more than anything, you can’t let people try to insult you or call you names, just because you say no.
Without further ado, here’s a repost of @DNLee5′s experience with a site no one has ever heard of, which tried to intimidate her and did insult her for saying no.
wachemshe hao hao kwangu mtapoa
I got this wrap cloth from Tanzania. It’s a khanga. It was the first khanga I purchased while I was in Africa for my nearly 3 month stay for field research last year. Everyone giggled when they saw me wear it and then gave a nod to suggest, “Well, okay”. I later learned that it translates to “Give trouble to others, but not me”. I laughed, thinking how appropriate it was. I was never a trouble-starter as a kid and I’m no fan of drama, but I always took this 21st century ghetto proverb most seriously:
Don’t start none. Won’t be none.
For those not familiar with inner city anthropology – it is simply a variation of the Golden Rule. Be nice and respectful to me and I will do the same. Everyone doesn’t live by the Golden Rule it seems. (Click to embiggen.)
The Blog editor of Biology-Online dot org asked me if I would like to blog for them. I asked the conditions. He explained. I said no. He then called me out of my name.
My initial reaction was not civil, I can assure you. I’m far from rah-rah, but the inner South Memphis in me was spoiling for a fight after this unprovoked insult. I felt like Hollywood Cole, pulling my A-line T-shirt off over my head, walking wide leg from corner to corner yelling, “Aww hell nawl!” In my gut I felt so passionately:”Ofek, don’t let me catch you on these streets, homie!”
This is my official response:
It wasn’t just that he called me a whore – he juxtaposed it against my professional being: Are you urban scientist or an urban whore? Completely dismissing me as a scientist, a science communicator (whom he sought for my particular expertise), and someone who could offer something meaningful to his brand.What? Now, I’m so immoral and wrong to inquire about compensation? Plus, it was obvious me that I was supposed to be honored by the request..
After all, Dr. Important Person does it for free so what’s my problem? Listen, I ain’t him and he ain’t me. Folks have reasons – finances, time, energy, aligned missions, whatever – for doing or not doing things. Seriously, all anger aside…this rationalization of working for free and you’ll get exposure is wrong-headed. This is work. I am a professional. Professionals get paid. End of story. Even if I decide to do it pro bono (because I support your mission or I know you, whatevs) – it is still worth something. I’m simply choosing to waive that fee. But the fact is I told ol’ boy No; and he got all up in his feelings. So, go sit on a soft internet cushion, Ofek, ’cause you are obviously all butt-hurt over my rejection. And take heed of the advice on my khanga.
You don’t want none of this
Besides collecting a LOT of data for my PIs, one of the other hats I get to wear as a lab manager is the training one. Before I arrived in the lab, people had been somewhat trained by the senior peeps in my PIs labs, but some of them moved on right before I started, so I was handed over the task of observing and retraining people and standardizing procedures so that when something breaks we’ll know (or try to) what happened, on what step and what was not done (or what was done in weird way).
That gives me a break in the sense that I don’t have to spend every waking moment in front of an instrument (well, not every waking moment, but you catch my drift) and instead I get to sit back and show the tricks of the trade to a newer generation. Most people have a pretty good knowledge of the instrumentation, and how to get going, so I do give them a few pointers, then let them go on their way. But new people are also in the labs, especially rotations students and I get to spend some QT with them while they learn.
I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with most of this first crop of rotation students. Most seem enthusiastic and eager to collect data, and like I said before, it frees some of the time once they set up their experiments. I can sit back … and write protocols and procedures for the lab (I truly don’t have much time free these days).
I’ve discovered that I enjoy guiding people through a process, seeing their face light up in amazement when they get to *see* something they’ve heard in class but never witnessed happen. I live for those moments of discovery and amazement. I do like documenting things in the lab too … though one of my (500 million) PIs is too keen on writing everything down … which is a pain because we get into this back and forth corrections loop. But that’s somewhat minor when you compare it to all the other things I get to do.
I’ve collected (what I consider) a ton of data for at least 4 labs now … hopefully some of those will lead to papers in the future. We’ll see. And there may be a collaboration in the works too. We shall see how things flow.
Week #2 of Dr 27 trying to lose some weight just wrapped up. Thank fuck. I’m so tired. Besides being sleepy as usual (I think I’ve been having trouble sleeping for >8yrs; honey just reminded me he used to tell me stories late at night when we started dating so I’d go to sleep … it worked sometimes). I’m still sleepy, regardless of regular exercise. I’ve been a bit less faithful with my all fruit/all veggies/all wheat lunches, mostly because I couldn’t find my pitas at the supermarket.
Hon and I are working out together, for 30 mins, almost every day of the week. But Monday I had to go to my follow up on the Mirena appt and didn’t move a finger, and on Tuesday I was too tired and lazy to get up. According to my medical chart, I’ve dropped 3.9 pounds since the last time they saw me (a month ago). My blood pressure is also better (100/70). But my muscles are a bit sore and … did I mention that I was oh so very tired still? I haven’t (obviously) lost any inches from my gut or boobs … but I’m hanging on to hope … we’ll see.
I still don’t like working out, but my knees are not hurting and I can now walk a bit faster.
I hope to go back to bringing lunch every day next week. And damn it I will find my stupid whole wheat mini pitas somewhere! This week I was lazy (and far too busy) to sit down on my desk and eat (except for Tuesday and today). Too many things are falling apart in the lab at the same time, and I feel like I couldn’t catch a break.
Hopefully this weekend we’ll decompress a bit. We’re hoping to go to a fall crafts thing and perhaps catch a game. We need to take hon’s bike to a repair shop to have it looked at, so we can continue with the #bikedouchery. We’ll see how I can hang on to the getting up in the morning and doing exercise and eating healthy thing.
PS. As for the Mirena … I still have a bit of spotting, but the thing is in place. My boobs have not hurt one bit since my last (heavy) period which was in August. I’m hoping that once the stupid spotting is gone, I can catch a break from wearing pads … and perhaps even from having a period. I really won’t know for a few more months. If the bleeding becomes heavy, or it doesn’t stop, the Mirena will have to come off. But we’ll see. So far my breasts are doing OK and I’m hoping they’ll stay like that. And I’m getting protection from having babies. So those are all good things. This has been your Mirena report for September.
It’s called diet and exercise. Or fitness regime. Or whatever the fuck you call losing all the weight you gained while doing a PhD and a postdoc.
Soooooo, back in the first trimester of 2013, as I was on my way south from the shire of York, I decided that I needed to lose these pesky 50, or 60 or 80 extra lbs I have hanging around me. Around my boobs (I used to be a 36C and now I’m a 42D …. da fuck, it’s worse than if I was preggers). I have a waist circumference greater than that of Mr Dr 27 and I’ve got even more stretch marks than a teenager, all due to rapid weight gain. I’m at a loss. I feel tired all the time. I don’t sleep well. I snore. I feel like a giant blob. Ugh. Yeah, ugh.
I started going to the gym. Was doing both cardio and weights and was losing one pound or so every week. Then I fell off the wagon. And gained it all back. Granted, I’d only gone from 206lbs to 195 … but still.
I know, I know, that we shouldn’t necessarily believe the BMI numbers and percentages. But I see pictures of the time I was below 160lbs … and I look so happy. My clothes fit. My posture is much improved. My boobs don’t look like they’re overtaking my chest. I even had a waist, regardless of what my UG mentor thought.
I wasn’t a size 14 going on 16. And I was 1.5 shoe sizes less. WTF is wrong with me! And I was in a physiology and anatomy department during my PhD!!! Fuck, there were like 15 million seminars on belly fat and good body fat vs bad and cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome every single day of the week in my former department!
I’m killing myself and I don’t know how to stop!!! I eat all sorts of crap. Sure, I do eat meatless on most days. But I eat just as much as my husband. And he’s 6ft tall. And just because I don’t eat meat, it doesn’t mean I don’t have the need to fill my belly.
I’ve done weight watchers in the past. I did lose some weight. Almost 20lbs. But gained it all back. And 20 more pounds. I can’t afford a personal trainer. And to top it all off, I need to fit in a certain dress for my wedding next year (I’ve already bookmarked another dress that can be shipped in my size, in case I don’t drop all the pounds by the time I need). Good thing I only spent $230 on my wedding dress (though you wouldn’t believe me if I showed it to you). I can always sell it. But it would suck BIG because honey has already seen it and loves it and would love to see me wearing it.
Soooooooooooo, today, Tuesday Sept 10th, 2013 … on the 18th anniversary of my paternal grandfather’s death due to a massive heart attack (he was 64; due to complications of diabetes … even though he regularly checked his blood glucose levels, and measured and weighted everything and was slim) …
I Dr 27 and a PhD, do solemnly (but begrudgingly) swear to eat better and exercise. (fuck)
I can’t promise I’ll lose the 50lbs needed to fit in the dress (and not have the gut just take over in every single wedding picture) in time for the wedding. (double fuck)
But I do think I’ll lose some of the weight. (oh, who am I kidding … fuck).
I promise to eat fruits and veggies, lean meat and more veggies.
I promise to stay away from my regular soda.
And eat hummus and low fat cheese.
And drink water (clear coloured, not with HFCS, soda, ice and a lime wedge … aka Coca Cola or Pepsi .. regular please)
I’ll try to work out 30 mins every day of the week, so long as my legs and arms cooperate.
And I’ll try to give it my best.
But I anticipate I’ll give up more than once.
And run into the arms of my two friends Ben and Jerry.
Or anything that’s on sale at Publix. Or Kroger. Or both.
I promise to complain every day until the blessed day in 2014.
Ugh … who am I kidding … this is like climbing Mt Everest, naked, without oxygen, or boots.
And somehow I hope to make it.
Who am I kidding … I’ll fall flat on my face.
This is like imposter syndrome .. but worse.
Because I’ll have to look at my mirror.
And see the disappointment in hon’s eyes when I don’t reach my goal.
I’ll never be fit again …
I. just. want. to. be. healthy. and. look. hot. once. again. Srsly.
I hope I’m not kidding myself. Well, maybe I am. I’m lazy and I get bored and tired easily.
But fuck, I need to see this gut gone. I need to get down to a C-cup (though I’ll balloon again to a D should the husband and I have a spawn).
I’m tired of being another statistic. Another unhealthy Hispanic woman. But fuck, this is tough.
And this is how I’ll look from now until early next year:
Attention: This post contains the words period, blood, bloody tissue, ladybits, vagina, et al. If you’re not curious, skip it. If you faint at the sound of the word blood, feel free to skip it too. If you can’t ready about ladybits … well, you know the drill.
Today marks the first month I’ve been on this form of birth control. It’s weird. Not the bad kind of weird, not the good-ish one either … just neutral weird, if you can call it that. In the month of August I spent only a handful of days where bloody tissue wasn’t coming out of the ladybits. I’ve never had this happen, not even when my period started back in 1992. I did skip it a few months, part of my body adjusting to puberty. And I usually have a month, every year for the past 10 or so that my period doesn’t make an appearance. For the most part I’m regular, with a period lasting 5-7 days.
I got the Mirena right at the end of my period in August. It involved pain and discomfort and after looking at some videos on the procedure over on YouTube, I felt bad for my poor vagina, cervix and uterus. But I’m doing this for a reason. I’ve had bad cramps since I was in 6th or 7th grade (92-93) and they’ve gotten progressively worse. I used to get bad cramps in middle school, to the point where I felt that my legs would collapse. And it got worse as I got close to college (they were bad even after starting to have sex .. which is the excuse my ex used to get me to have sex with him … silly 20yr old me). In grad school, my boss had bad cramps too, so she understood if I had to stay home one day every month. And I’m just tired of this pain. I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with feeling like I want to yank my inner bits so that I can get some peace. It’s not only my inner workings, but also my mood is horrendous and I can’t sleep well 2 weeks prior to my period. Thus, after trying at least 3 other types of birth control and having horrible side effects (including gaining 10 pounds in single a month and sore boobs which felt like they were going to explode), I decided to give a shot to Mirena.
Other than the initial discomfort of measuring and putting it in, I feel OK. I did get a bit of a headache during the first night … which reminded me of a few conversations I’d had with my lady peeps on Twitter about how a few got worsening migraines. But after that, it seemed to be sort of smooth sailing. I got a heavy-ish period two weeks after, and I’ve had what looks like a very light period since. Enough to require a pad, but not like my usual period which requires changing every few hours, continuous access to a heating pad and as many non-NSAID drugs as I can get into my system without messing (too much) with my liver.
I’d give a 10 to Mirena if it wasn’t for the constant light period and having a pad in between my legs for the last 3 weeks … but for now my boobs are not tender and in pain and I don’t have headaches or pain in my tummy.
If after the 3-6 months wait I’m nowhere near finished with the light periods, I’ll get it out and brave the pains, once again. Unless I decide to forgo the option of having children, in which case I’ll get all my internal ladybits yanked out because the pain is THAT excruciating.
If you’re on Mirena or Paraguard, how has your experience been?