The art of being Californian, it seems, is to cultivate a loose-limbed insouciance while secretly working away like a frantic ant.

--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Coffee and toothpaste . . .

My favorite way to start the day.

All that is missing is a phone call from the one I love most. Or just his arms wrapped around me.

I'm not picky.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Right Now . . .

I hate my undergrad.

He's sitting over there, looking obtuse on purpose. Not doing work. Ignoring my tirade about the importance of keeping lab notes in a lab notebook. Not doing work Losing research results and wasting money and time. Lab money. My time.

Did I mention not doing work?

While I am busting my ass (yes, I was actually working before I posted this. And will return to work in 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

White Out

The world disappeared last night while I was sleeping. Outside my window in an impenetrable wall of white. It's cold. Disconcerting. Yet it makes me feel loved.

My friend once told me that the marine layer was the wrapping around the gift of the bay given just to me. And that I would have to slowly unwrap it as the day progressed. Now whenever I see a white-out outside my window, I get a little burst of joy.

Like this morning.

Because I get to watch the bay unwrap itself from the marine layer's shroud of gauze and tulle, revealing a gift just for me.

Thank you, friend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Don't Care What You Think or Say

My son is the cutest kid. Ever.

I know some of you delusional parents or people with kids in your family are going to try to disagree with me.





My son is the cutest--as well as the most amazing child--that has ever lived. And he eats his vegetables!

I'm sorry for your loss. But I must speak the truth.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sky Blue Sky

Mammoth's ties to my trailor trash roots . . . .

Here are the top reasons I love Mammoth at this time of year (in no particular order, of course):

1. The play of sunlight between the trees. You can be walking in and out of the shade into dappled sun into full sun, and throughout, the sun's rays will move and shift like a living thing in and out of view.

2. You can walk literally on the side of the road. And as large trucks zoom past, you have to move to the scrub off the pavement.

3. The dichotomy of cold shade and warm sun.

4. The surprising and always breath-taking vistas of the mountain, valleys, lakes, bathed in warm warm sun or cool moonlight.

5. The always-presence of the snow-covered mountain. It looms large over the still bare town and valley like a protective lover or menacing ex.

6. You can actually see the stars at night.

7. And of course, the blue-enough sky.

Love you Mammoth. But still can't wait to go home.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


After two weeks sans husband and child, I am once again not-single and not-not-a-mother. The last two weeks have been a bit surreal. I haven't lived without one or another of those boys in 6 years. It takes a little adjustment.

And adjust I did. . . .

However, during this time, I have learned a few things about myself.

Here are the top five:

1. I do not like sleeping alone.

2. A pillow is no substitute for the warmth of the right body.

3. I really really like sex.

4. Waking up to the right person in the middle of the night is more-than-nice.

5. Morning kissing before brushing teeth is not only okay, but can be freaking amazing.

And It Feels Like I'm a Long Way From Home

I am a Southern California girl. I have strict living boundaries. I like warm. I like sunshine. I have strict boundaries. I like warm.

Did I mention that I like warm?

Did I mention I have strict boundaries?

Yet somehow I left my beloved San Diego on a weekend where we were promising to have 80 degree, flawless weather and journeyed to the far (okay, okay, not-so-far) north: Mammoth.

I must be crazy. Or just a mom, since I am going to get my son who has been with my mother for the past two weeks.

Oh, another thing about traveling to the not-so-far north: I hate road trips. I hate sitting still. I hate monotony. The movement of the car puts me instantly asleep, and then I wake up with nasty aches from being in a weird, awkward position. I fondly remember the days in our family '65 Impala, lying stretched out in the back . . . not a care in the world.
Stupid seatbelts.

Anyway, to kill the ridiculous hours it takes to get to Mammoth from San Diego (this time issue is totally the fault of the driver . . . if I were driving, we would be there in at least one hour less than it took to get here today. However, if I were driving, I would have also fallen asleep and wrecked the car), I took a few photos.

Consider the following a travel journal of sorts (whose format I have shamelessly plagiarized from those more talented than I):

Do I have enough to read? Will I be able to stay hydrated?

AHHH. This position hurts after an hour too!

Note the accumulation of bug splatters. . .

What kind of scary-assed pets do they have here? I am way way way out of my boundaries.

Notice my correct grammar. . . .

I must be one of the few people who come to Mammoth regularly and don't actually visit the mountain itself. My mom's best friend owns a chalet here and most of my childhood has been spent visiting this amazing area of eastern California (and yes, I did look at a map today and noticed that Mammoth is, indeed, not part of Yosemite. Are you happy?). Though I have few memories of snowboarding or mountain biking on the mountain, the memories I do have are full of friends, family, Thanksgivings, fireworks, festivals, and love. . .
Did I mention love?

Mammoth is a lot like home, but still far far way. It is missing an essential element.

On a side note: my son did not greet me with joyous abandon. Rather, he exclaimed, "Mommy! Oh . . . no. I don't want to go home. I'm going back with Nani."

Ah, the unconditional love of a child. Why did I leave my boundaries again?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Death of Cells . . . Man

I killed today.

Look at how unsuspecting these little guys are. . . .

Oh, little cells. Can you sense your imminent death?



It was as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Destroying the evidence.

Monday, November 10, 2008





Does nothing work?

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Stay of Execution

My hand wavered over my cells. I held bleach bottle held poised--a single drop forming on its yellow squeeze tip. . .

Could I do it?

With a heavy heart, I decided I should give them one last look before destroying over a year of effort.

Lo and behold! The cells are at the perfect growth for another experiment.

Did I decide to allow my cells four more days of life while I stuck yet another viral element inside of them? I did indeed.

Live little cells. Live a little longer . . . I'm just not ready to say goodbye yet.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Great Loss

Today I am in deep mourning.

No, not because of the presidential election. That was amazing. Though I did find out the results at the Madonna concert, so I might be confusing my elation for the election outcomes with my utter ecstasy at seeing an utterly freaking awesome show (did I say "utter" twice? And am I now flashing back to my first job?).

I am mourning instead the loss of hundreds of millions of human cells . . . and a year and a half's worth of research.

Flashback to earlier last month: I am working frantically on infecting cells with Hepatitis C (Yes!!! I made a virus! I. Made. It. Don't piss me off. I have a lot of it now) and then tweaking around to see if any factors change. Nothing works.

Nothing works.

Nothing works.

Nothing works.

Wait! Something is hopeful (this is how science is, I'm learning: most of the time you either get a "you suck" result or a result that is inconclusive before going back to the default "you suck"). I need to repeat the experiement. . . . .

. . . three weeks go by . . . .

. . . something is hopeful again!

maybei'llhavesomethingtoproposeonDecemberfirstwhenmy graduatecommitteemeetstojudgemyprogress!

Then, three days ago, while out with some girlfriends--without a care in the world, I might add--I get a text from my match who coincidently works in my lab so I never had to sign up for eharmony to find him.

"I have just confirmed that we have a mycoplasma contamination in tissue culture."

What's a "mycoplasma"? you might very well ask. Or what the hell is tissue culture? These are fair questions. However, the answer to these questions really just aren't that interesting unless you absolutely love geeking out to science.

Let me translate that text into plain English:

"All of the cells we experiment on are contaminated with teeny, tiny bacteria. It will cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars to clean this mess up. We are only choosing to save the most important cells. Yours aren't those cells. This weekend, you will need to throw away all of your research including frozen virus that took nine months to make and start all over from scratch."

Hmmmm, that's a bit longer than the original text, but isn't that the way with translations (unless of course you are Bill Murray in Lost in Translation).

As I type this, I realize the full ramifications of this news has yet to sink in (thank you Madonna--I mean--Obama--for giving me hope). But in all honesty, I'm pretty much back to where I started a year ago.

Oh, except for experience. Like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong say, "they can't take that away from me." However, experience isn't going to get me fresh data by December first. And if a gun were held to my head, I might forgo the experience in favor of kick-ass, uncontaminated results.

So today and tomorrow, I start the goodbye process to all of my tiny, contaminated cells. As I pour bleach on each plate, imagining the chorus of tiny screams erupting from the media, I may or may not shed a tear or two. Possibly.