Friday, May 25, 2012

Don't ask me when I graduate

Most people don't understand the concept of what I do in grad school.  I don't blame them.  Not a lot of people are in school to get their Ph.D. so the process remains sort of a mystery to most of our family and friends.  To clear up a few things:

No I don't get summer vacation.

No I don't get paid overtime for working late, weekends, or holidays.

No I don't take classes anymore.

No I actually have no clue when I'm going to graduate, although I like to think I have a general idea.  Or I did...

This last issue gets to me the most I think.  Unlike med school, Ph.D. students have no set graduation date.  The average for our program is 5-6 years, but you could actually finish any month of the year.  It just depends on when you finish all your experiments and how long it takes to write your dissertation.  On that note, I've been having the goal of finishing in May 2013 (a little less than 5 years for me) since that's when Jeff will be done with residency.

However, I guess the Neuroscience gods have decided that I was getting a little too confident, a little too sure of myself graduating in 5 years, shall we say.  I have a great, super helpful advisor! I thought.  A surefire project!  I'm motivated! I said.  These Neuroscience gods, they laughed in my face.

The project I've been working on since January (the 2nd experiment out of the 3 planned for my dissertation) is looking like a complete and utter failure.  I still have a couple of weeks left before I can analyze all the data and know for sure, but it's not looking good.

I asked my advisor, What if this experiment fails?  Hoping for the best, some sort of insightful, optimistic, encouraging answer.  Wanting her to say that these past 5 months haven't been a waste, haven't just set me back an entire semester.  I don't know, she said.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why you can't lose weight in New Orleans...

Because there are restaurants like this one that tempt you with all their national accolades and promises of Southern goodness:

Boucherie plate

Fried alligator with aioli

Rabbit and dumplings

You win, Chef Link.  You win.

It was a good thing we planned on going to the WWII museum the next day.  We needed to get our butts out of the house and walk around for several hours after our recent pig out complements of Cochon.

If you haven't ever been, the D-Day museum is awesome.  Jeff and I have both been before, but they are always adding something new and sometimes it's good to go just to remember.  Throughout the whole exhibit we kept noticing startling similarities between the times before and during WWII and our current situation in the Middle East and with our economy (and President Obama's viewpoints but we won't get into politics here).  Ever heard the saying "History repeats itself"? 

There was a special traveling 9/11 exhibit that we wanted to see before it left.

Piero Capobianco mixed media 

Quilt of firefighters killed in 9/11 

I think our generation feels pretty far removed from WWII.  Sure, we learn about it in grade school and some of us have grandparents who served in the war but for the most part it's just a part of history to us.  Is this how our grandchildren will feel about 9/11?  That it doesn't have any bearing on their lives?  It's hard to imagine since our daily lives now revolve around worrying about nuclear weapons in Iran, terrorists at the airport, family and friends serving overseas, and other national security concerns.

WWII posters

Model of air and sea armada on D-Day

If you live in New Orleans or are ever here visiting, a trip here is worth the price of admission and then some.  

After walking through the museum for several hours, of course our minds were back on food again.  Luckily enough, there's a cute little 40's-era restaurant called the Soda Shop connected to the museum (and strategically enough, the gift shop).  Word of advice:  skip the food and go straight for the milkshakes.

Think I'm done talking about food?

Do you know me?

Here's what I made for dinner Monday night, from a recipe I found on Pinterest:

Bow tie pasta with avocado, turkey bacon, olive oil, and romano cheese

It was reaallly good.  Here's the recipe if you're interested.  (I left out the basil).

And just for good measure, some peanut butter cookies.

If you need me, I'll be recovering the rest of this week from food indulgence overload...until this weekend.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lab Life

I knew I was going to jinx myself when I said a few weeks ago that we had been having so many great weekends in a row.  I now get the pleasure of spending my entire weekend with the rats in the lab.  Both days.

At least the weather is terrible today.  Jeff is off at his department's yearly golf tournament.  Speaking of jinxes, they have had terrible weather for it every single year...

The lovely lab

Will all the commencement festivities going on lately, I got to thinking about how it has been 4 years since I graduated college.  I can't believe it's been that long. 

And then I started thinking, if I hadn't gone to grad school:  I could have gone to college twice by now; I could have finished med school; I could have gotten a nursing degree two times over.  I could possibly have a real job making real money.  

This video probably describes every feeling I have been having lately:

Although it means extra work for me, I love this time of year at Tulane.  There's a different feeling in the air here when all the undergrads have scattered.  I honestly think I get better work done without all the annoyances of a crowded campus.  There's some sort of special camaraderie between us grad students left here during the summer.  

And there's no line at the campus PJ's which is probably the biggest perk.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Week in review

Last week was a complete blur.  With no undergraduate help last week and next week with them having dead week/finals, I've been spending the majority of my time with the rats.  Next week promises to be more of the same.

After I spent most of yet another Saturday in the lab, Jeff and I were able to make it out with some friends to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Juan's in Mid City.  Lucky for me, right nearby was Angelo Brocato's.  This gelato place has been on my list for some time now, so of course we had to stop there after dinner.  Sooo good!

Tiramisu gelato
Sunday we were looking for something to do outdoors but weren't really feeling like Jazz Fest.  Or more like we weren't feeling spending the obscene amount of money it costs to buy a ticket to sit in the humid afternoon heat with the added bonus of scattered storms and port a potties.

So why not go to the zoo?

And then enjoyed a late lunch at Gott Gourmet on Magazine:


And I made the Tulane website!  Check out my science nerdiness here: