Tuesday, March 19, 2013

tired in the afterdusk

Yikes, the real world has been busy for me lately!
  1. Still answering so many emails. 10 hour days are the norm. I love all this work!
  2. Worked on Saturday. Followed by letter writing at FourBarrel and Ethiopian food for dinner with M. After dinner we grabbed beers at Blackbird, and had an intensely personal conversation in the middle of the crowded bar.
  3. Slept 12 hours on Sunday. Needed it badly.
  4. Dance breaks have become a very important part of my day.
  5. Today at work I drank tea all the live-long day. PG Tips is #1!
  6. Guacamole is a great dinner.
  7. I often cry when I laugh. It makes me feel ridiculous, but there's nothing I can do about it.
  8. Some emails from work end like this:
What is your schedule like for the next week?
Can you come in everyday?
Do you want to join our super cool company?
What is your favorite color?
Do you like ice cream?
What is your opinion on puppies?

I love puppies.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

in the center of the action


{Happy Pi Day! Apple pie made by yours truly... in October 2012}

This week has not been at all what I expected.

That important email apparently won't be coming until early next week. Luckily, I have been keeping extremely busy, and haven't had the time to hyperventilate over this quite yet.

1. The tech start-up I am working at part time launched their website and product pre-order on Tuesday!
2. On Wednesday I woke up at six in the morning to go to the office in San Francisco. I left my brother's apartment before the sun rose. I graciously treated myself to a soy mocha.
3. Today at the office we got Ike's for lunch!
4. While sending out emails, J. and I talked about music for, like, forever. He was really good at guessing bands that I like.
5. I worked a 13 hour day today!
6. I ended this 13 hour day singing Weezer B sides with J.
7. I have sent at least 400 emails this week (and counting)! Woo customer support!
8. I accidentally almost signed one of those emails, "Love, Ari."
9. L. from work gave me recognition for my hard work and drive. He also told me I impressed J.
10. Gimme sparkling water! Fizzy, fizzy! I drink it all!

So, I am a bit crazed, can you tell? Working in the office this week feels similar to the way I felt working on the school newspaper near deadline Senior year of high school when I was an editor. Everyone is working so hard and everyone is so exhausted, but there is also this exciting buzz in the air. I am feasting on this buzz, and I love it.

Sleep shortage! Seven hours to recharge! But I feel so awake!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

43 cents and nothing but time

Usually people can't wait for the weekend, but being unemployed I dread the weekend. Weekends mean no new job postings, no emails from potential employers, stagnation. I try to fill my weekend with distractions, but this weekend I am so on edge I don't feel like doing anything. Instead I can't stop consuming stories that are not my own through the medium which offers instant gratification and works well with my presently short attention span--television.

As the moments crawl by I can see grains of sand slipping through the neck of an hour glass, and although part of me feels like I am wasting these grains of my life another part of me feels okay with that. It is kind of nice to witness time moving so slowly when usually it feels like the months are flying by. It's nice to crawl through a day. To fully feel every second that makes up a minute. To feel the length of an hour as I felt it when I was a child. Back then an hour was infinite. It's so peculiar that the passing of time can feel so different in childhood and adulthood. At what moment did that change occur? When did an hour become an hour and when did an hour start to feel more like a second? But perhaps these things don't matter really. Seconds, minutes, hours, these measurements are so empty. One doesn't remember every second of their life or even every day. One captures moments which may have lasted minutes or days in memories which are devoid of time, in which measurements of time are meaningless.

Early next week an email should arrive in my inbox, an email that will act as a catalyst. Once I receive the email my life will pick up momentum one way or another, but for now I putter around in the present and use expectation to feebly grasp at the future. In this state all I can do is wait, and during this waiting period I feel like cutting myself off from everything. I don't want to talk to people when I am wrapped in uncertainty. My mind is so heavily focused on this one thing that I can't bring myself to focus on anything else. Except cookies. I can almost always find the focus and motivation to combine science, creativity, and food in the comforting art of baking.


Happy Daylight Savings Time!

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I turned the engine off and stepped out of the car. Five more feet and my rented Honda Civic would have plunged into the fog-covered bay. The cold air, thick with sea-salt, brushes over my skin, weaving gently through the hairs on my arm. In the distance I see the Berkeley Pier cloaked in fog and feel the urge to be enveloped in the dense gray.

photo (54)

"Uneven Surfaces. Continue at your own risk!" proclaims a sign at the start of the pier. I venture forward.

With graffiti everywhere complemented by splotches of white bird feces the Berkeley Pier is not a beautiful pier. There are crevices in the concrete slabs under my feet through which I can catch glimpses of the ocean below. The only thing between me and falling in the ocean is this concrete's refusal to crumble just yet.

Alone I walk along the pier through patches of suspended water vapor. Occasionally others emerge from the gray: a mother with her baby wrapped tightly in a blanket of purple fleece, a pack of teenage boys climbing on a row of quiescent graffiti-ed concrete sinks, a shoal of young fisherman chattering in a foreign tongue. As people fade in and out around me I continue forward, determined to reach the invisible end.

Boats chug past blurred in my eyes. Chill air fills my lungs. Seagulls cry in my ears. Saltiness tickles my nose.

Slowly the end of the pier materializes. A hooded figure docilely stabs trash floating in the breeze. Vertical wooden beams shoot skyward like rotting gap teeth. At the edge of the pier I glance between two of the protective beams. Across the dull blue-gray water I can see an old segment of the pier being gradually consumed by the ocean.

photo (55)

Suddenly my heart pounds. I see movement on the decaying pier. I lean forward on my toes, strain my eyes to better visualize this apparition.

A seagull takes flight.

I retrace my steps along the pier, comforted by the reemergence of the woman and her baby, the pack of teenage boys, and the shoal of young fishermen.

I climb back into the car and shut the door, yet the salt smell still lingers.

Friday, March 1, 2013


photo (52)

photo (53)

It had been almost a week since I had seen M., so yesterday the two of us caught up over liters of beer and a pistachio pretzel at San Francisco's own Beirgarten. Good beer, lovely company, and gorgeous weather that only promises to get more gorgeous as the weekend approaches!

So, what have I been up to in the past week?

1. Last Friday I saw the modern dance group Pilobolus preform. The technique and ingenuity that go in to their dances is indescribable, so you should just {watch this}. They are, as my father would say, phenomenal.

2. I started working part-time as a beta tester at my brother's friend's tech start up!

3. Monday afternoon I had a phone interview for a position at the Public Library of Science, which is a research journal and organization involved in improving access to and utilization of scientific literature for both scientists and the public. I am incredibly excited about this job because it would allow me to be involved in transforming scientific research communication, which is an amazing opportunity for a young scientist like myself.

4. I had an interview for a position in a lab at UCSF that studies the role of microbial communities in defining states of health and disease. Basically there are communities of microorganisms living all over your body--on your skin, in your gut, in your nasal passages--and scientists have discovered that these microbial communities differ between healthy individuals and diseased individuals. For example, a patient with chronic sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) may have high numbers of Organism X in their nasal passages, while healthy individuals may have high numbers of Organism Y in their nasal passages. Building upon this research, scientists believe that by re-introducing Organism Y to the nasal passages of patients with sinusitis we may be able to create a microbial community similar to that of a healthy individual and in this way either reduce the symptoms of or eradicate an individual's chronic sinusitis. The lab focuses on microbial community studies in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Asthma, Sinusitis, Cystic Fibrosis, and in opportunistic infections in HIV patients.

My interview with the principle investigator of this lab went extremely well. So many amazing things kept coming out of her mouth that I thought I must be in a dream: She told me she respected me for walking away from a position that was not a good fit. She told me she appreciated my candidness and honesty. She told me she would want me to be involved in the lab's publications. She told me that she would want me to have my own project in her lab. She told me that her lab is a highly collaborative environment. She told me that she does not force people to work on weekends. She repeatedly said I seemed like a great fit. On Monday I will be meeting the other lab members.

5. I had another interview for a position at UCSF in a lab that studies the development of the human fetal and newborn immune system. For the most part my interview went well, with only the occasional awkward moment where I wasn't able to fully explain some of the projects I worked on in my previous position in Boston. I probably should have mentioned that these gaps in my knowledge were not due to disinterest on my part--but rather the less than ideal dynamic that existed between my past supervisor and I--but I couldn't think of a way to diplomatically slip this information into the conversation. Oh well.

6. I haven't been keeping up with my jogging this week, but on Tuesday I walked 6 miles!

7. I called Dell to inform them that the webcam in my computer was no longer working. During my two hour call (in which nothing was accomplished), the member of the Dell support staff and I had a mini conversation while we waited for something to load. He asked me what I did for a living, and when I said I was a scientist he got really excited. He told me about this movie he had watched in grade school called Mr. India in which a group of scientists invent a machine that makes you invisible except in red light. My Dell Supporter kindly asked me not to invent such a machine, and I kindly told him I would not as I was a biologist. Then he asked if I was married, and our mini conversation ended.

8. I returned a book to Amazon (it was the wrong version), sent an important piece of mail, and filled out an application to switch health care providers.

9. I am in love with the song "Call me on the Ouija Board" {press play}.

Can someone please tell me where February went?

Friday, February 22, 2013

into the city (v. 2)













On Wednesday I met with the principal investigator of a lab at University of California, San Francisco. After my meeting, I walked out onto Parnassus Avenue and into the sunshine. The sky was clear, the fresh slightly chill air filled my lungs, my blood pumped vigorously through my veins. I felt so elated and overtaken by the beauty of the day that I decided to take a long, meandering walk through the city.

I walked through Inner Sunset, from Upper Haight to Lower Haight {photo 1 & 2}. When Haight intersected Octavia I felt the urge to turn left. I didn't know why my body was pushing me in this direction, but when Octavia met Linden it all became clear. Octavia ends in the neighborhood of Hayes Valley. There you will find a small, lush park speckled with benches and filled with dogs. You will also find the most amazing ice cream shop in existence: Smitten {photo 4}. Smitten combines two of my favorite things: ice cream and science. Right in front of your eyes, fresh liquid ingredients are transformed into ice cream by a special machine that looks like a KitchenAid mixer, but has liquid nitrogen flowing through it. The liquid nitrogen reduces the size of the ice crystals in your ice cream, and so in 60 seconds time you will be enjoying the smoothest ice cream you've ever tasted.

After enjoying my treat (earl grey ice cream with milk chocolate chips) in the park {photo 5} I walked over to and up Van Ness {photo 6, sidewalk art on Van Ness}. I weaved between Pacific Avenue, Hyde Street, and other streets until I reached the neighborhood of Russian Hill {photo 7, view of Alcatraz from Russian Hill}, where I went in search of 28 Barbary Lane (the apartment the characters from "Tales of the City" reside in). The real Barbary Lane is actually called Macondray Lane. It's a quiet, wooded pedestrian path that cuts past several quintessential San Franciscan-style apartments. It ends with an expansive view of the Telegraph Hill neighborhood {photo 8}, and a set of wooden steps which descend to Taylor Street {photo 9}.

From Taylor Street I walked over to Broadway and headed towards the bay {photo 11, Transamerica Pyramid framed by two other buildings on Broadway}. I reached the Embarcadero {photo 12} and ended my adventure with a visit to M. at Tcho.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


photo (50)

I am a pretty indecisive person. My indecision runs so deep that it even affects the smallest things in my life, such as what topping to put on my toast. Do I want something savory or something sweet? Do I want a comforting and classical topping or do I want to indulge in something more decadent? Do I want a combination topping like peanut butter and jelly or do I want to keep it simple and stick with just peanut butter? So with all these possibilities what's the solution? Compromise. I present my breakfast: 1/2 cinnamon sugar toast, 1/4 peanut butter and jelly toast, and 1/4 olive oil, salt, and pepper toast. Now I have to decide which order to eat these pieces in...

Stay tuned for a post about yesterday's fun and fulfilling adventures in the city!