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Apparently it is “cute” to add mini cocaine kilos to your dollhouse

Well, fuck me. Apparently this is the week in which all things stupid and WTF are bound to happen. We’re going 2-for-2.

The wonderful Artologica, artist and curator of the most awesome science art on Etsy and Twitter shared this jewel this am.

Yes, you fucking read it right, a fucking moron on Etsy decided, by whatever messed up idea of what art is, that portraying little kilos of cocaine to add to your dollhouse is … well, cute.


Seriously. Are you even thinking straight when you posted that shit on Etsy? I get that there are lots of things that represent art and what not, and I don’t pretend to be an art connoisseur, but seriously, seriously? 18 bucks to add little cocaine-looking bricks to your dollhouse? You think it’s cute? You think the war on drugs is cute?

I don’t think I’m missing the humour in this.

I mean, did you even think of the millions, MILLIONS, of people, especially in Latin, Central America and the Caribbean that are affected (directly and indirectly) by cocaine trafficking? Are you familiar with the former Medellin and Cali cartels and the trail of blood they left and how its effects are felt even today? Do you have an idea of the amount of Colombians that have left their country, still seeking political asylum because they fear for their safety? The 500 cops killed in 1 year, yes, 1 year, during the reign of terror of Pablo Escobar? And what about the Mexican cartels and the drug wars, kidnappings and associated suffering, all caused by drug trafficking? Did those come to mind?

Seriously? What the fuck?

Drug trafficking, blood wars, increase in drug-related crimes … and you think it’s cute to add little bricks to a fucking dollhouse? Do you have any idea of how disturbing it is, and how it minimizes the suffering of all that have been touched in one way or another by crime?

Like my husband would say, this world is pure shit.

I could say many, many other things, from how I have had a cousin in jail and currently homeless all because of cocaine. Or how many people die every day because of drug wars in my hometown. Or how many of my classmates have seen the inside of a jailhouse because of cocaine and other drugs. But I won’t. I’ll let you Google that and see for yourself. While you’re at it, check the images. It’s a bloody mess. Get a fucking grip.

And finally, for the love of all that is holy and sacred, it is ColOmbia you fucking moron, Columbia is only when you refer to the District of Columbia (DC).

Update … apparently other sellers on Etsy think it’s “cute” to have the word cocaine in their merchandise. Fuck me.

Taking it all in

I know it’s been a month since I last wrote. Life has gone fast at times, and at other moments it’s gone too fast to even think. I’m still busy with work, lots of it, which is good, but it also means I’m tired (as usual) and I’m facing the last minute crunch of everything and everyone that needs to collect data before their grant/paper/presentation/defense are due.

I’ve been off and on on Twitter due to personal issues. I will share a bit, so you know what’s going on. And if you have any words of wisdom, I welcome them.

A month and a half ago my dear husband went to a NP at a counseling office, as he’s been diagnosed with panic syndrome. Hon is very panicky and anxious by nature and since his first panic attack (in Canada), he’d been on a mood pill to help with the panic attacks. The pill had worked well for the last couple of years. But this summer, after having two major medical procedures, and having to take an adjunct job that left him very dissatisfied, things came crashing down. He started getting panic attacks more often (a couple of times a month, when they had been absent since 2010) and we thought that perhaps he’d developed some sort of “resistance” to the drug. He tried getting to a psych doctor at school, but turns out they’re really swamped with new patients. Instead he was referred to the facility I  mentioned above and after the intake interview, he saw the nurse practitioner who suggested he upped his dose, since the drug had been working for 3 years.

Little did we know that upping the dose would sent my hubby on a downward spiral, which culminated with a visit to the psych ER on Thanksgiving. We’d planned to have a nice dinner, cook delicious (non traditional) food, stay home and rest from the hectic weeks we’d had. But it wasn’t meant to be. On Thanksgiving Thursday, hon woke me up in panic. He’d had thoughts of hurting himself, and me. And though he didn’t act on them, the mere thought sent him in a downward path. We tried everything, from watching funny shows, to driving around, but his anxiety wasn’t budging. Finally at night, when I realized we were sleep deprived and he was still panicked, I took the same decision I did in Canada 3 years back … I drove him to the ER to see if there he could find an answer or some form of treatment to whatever was going on.

We ended up staying the night after he was first interviewed. Once he told the nurses and doctors in the ER of the thoughts, that was enough for him to be taken to the psych area of the ER and for him to get even more interviews, more vitals and more questions.

It was a hell of a weekend.

At least in the ER he was being observed. His mind had a million thoughts, all being fired up at the same time. He was anticipating the death of his careers, blaming himself for choosing to study a topic that apparently no one has interest in these parts of the country, mourning the loss of the career he thought he’d be in by now. He was afraid I’d have him committed, them have the key thrown away. He was afraid I’d think he was crazy.

I didn’t think we was/is crazy. I just knew that my husband wasn’t the same man he was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. That he was anxious, panicked, terrified. And that just talking about things wasn’t doing shit.

The next day we saw a doctor. I had to leave for work for a few hours. My bosses were understanding, though I didn’t give way too many details. I went back and the doctor assured him he wasn’t crazy. That in all likelihood, the change in dose of his med, and the fact that he hated the job he was doing, plus the stress from the surgeries and recovery had made the perfect storm. This wasn’t just another panic attack. He was depressed. This was serious. And before he could act on his thoughts, he needed to be stabilized and needed urgent counseling.

The last couple of weeks have been a mix of good news and progress and the occasional set back. But mostly it’s been moving forward. He’s being weaned out of his med, changed into a “classical” one. He’s taken powerful meds to try to get his stress levels down. Though he’s afraid of what will happen once he’s off of it (there’s no history of addiction in his family, but still, he’s scared). I’m scared of not being a supportive wife and of “dumping” him on the doctors at the ER when things get stressful.

I’m sure it will be a long recovery for both. Hon seems to be doing better now that he’s in counseling every day and that there’s a plan of action. But still, I know that any “little” thing could destabilize whatever “normal” we’ve had until now. I’m eating my feelings away. We’re both going on little sleep.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayer. They are felt. If I don’t write before the end of the year, I hope your 2013 ends well and that 2014 is even better.

When idols fall

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.

Tell Someone “No”, Get Called a “Whore” – #StandingwithDNLee #batsignal

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

Thanks to everyone who helped me focus my righteous anger on these less-celebrated equines. I appreciate your support, words of encouragement, and offers to ride down on his *$$.

Ugh. I’m on this evil thing again. Crap

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:



That’s how I feel. Days before my period I feel like a zombie. I can sleep as little as 4 hours and as much as 12, yet I feel tired all the time. I feel bloated. I can’t even look at my chest because my breasts feel like they’re going to explode. I look tired, I feel tired. I’m hungry at all hours, and I especially dislike coming to work. The moment my period ends, my life goes back to normal. So does my appetite … and so does my sleep. I’m already on medication, and the symptoms seem to be not as extreme as a few years back, but I still feel like crap. My mood goes to shit. I feel like a blob, just waiting for life to happen around me. This is what PMDD feels like. And I hate it with passion.


This week has been hell. My experiments and those that I was in charge of, and the time that some people had booked in the instruments at my core went to shit. It all went to shit. We had some major breakdowns and interruptions throughout the week and I’ve had to place 3 calls for the service engineers in charge of all of our instruments to come and help me figure out how to unfuck everything that manage to get fucked up during this week. And I’m fighting back the tears and frustration because there is so much work to do and so many things I had planned, and it all went to shit. I’m afraid that the students and postdocs that depend on the instrumentation will get fed up with my constant updates and cancellations due to so much stuff breaking down at the same time. I feel guilty for having to cut people’s vacation time short to get this shit fixed and settled, and I’m afraid this will reflect bad on me. Sure, things break down … but I’d been doing the numbers for the last 6 months and during my time here, a lot of shit has broken. Some of it is due to normal wear and tear … but it happened under my watch. I even had to call my boss to see if he could lend a hand and not even him could figure out how to unfuck things. I’m just so frustrated (it could also be the PMS speaking, I hate that shit). But I’m very pissed and sad … I like my job, I just don’t like when everything breaks at the same time and people have to wait (or worse, take their samples elsewhere) for instruments to be back and data collection to resume.

Aaaaargh … this is something I was definitely NOT looking forward as a lab manager.