Sometimes…


It’s easy to drown. Drown in your emotion, in your work load, in your everyday life…when everything seems to submerge you inch by inch. Whether it’s that pile of paperwork you need to go through by the end of the week, or packing up your house before the big move, or even just hearing for the 100th time “when are you going to get married?”…it’s so very easy to drown.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any metaphysical buoys that I know of which can rescue those who find themselves submerged. So what are we to do?…learn how to hold your breath? Maybe. We drown, because we let ourselves be overcome by things which in reality can do no harm. If you can’t complete the paperwork, state it. If you know that’s not an option, then buckle down, and get yourself working. If you’re overwhelmed by all that packing, and don’t know where to start, just pick up a box and start putting things in. If you’re tired of having to answer to the whereabouts of your pending nuptials, think of something clever to say. And if you can’t be rude (which you shouldn’t), let sarcasm do all the work.

And then sometimes…you just need chips and curry sauce. I’m hoping that chips and curry sauce does the trick! I don’t even like curry sauce but I’ve been craving it! No idea why!

 

NQ out.

 

PS. Why is it so easy to write 200+ words for my blog, but writing even 20 takes forever for my thesis?!

And that nausea feeling…


You know that feeling you get when you’re so incredibly stressed out that your body and mind are in complete conflict…where one wants to the run away, whilst the other wants to complete the marathon? The only answer? Indigestion relief, because this particular feeling wreaks havoc on my stomach. Ouch. Acid reflux…no thanks!

Anyone chasing a PhD will know exactly that, IT IS a chase, a bit of a tease sometimes. A very mismatched opponent, with cards incredibly close to it’s hypothetical chest, sitting opposite you on that green table, staring at you, poker faced. If a PhD was a poker player…but to me it’s best described as a 26.2 mile run. You start off thinking, that it’ll be “fun”, you’re pursuing something you’ve always enjoyed and the title is just a bonus. And then you get mid-way, and the lactic acid begins to kick in, and you start to think, it’s still okay, I know it burns and it hurts, but I can do this…right? And then about 2/3 in, and you really feel it, the anaerobic respiration is too much, you can’t even take shallow breaths…you want to throw in the towel, but you’ve already done more than half the distance…so what do you do next? You cry and forget the run…it’s now just a limp…and you hold it together for those last few miles…wishing you could collapse on a stretcher and just be taken across the finishing line.

I wish there was such a thing as a stretcher in a PhD…perhaps there is one, but I’ve yet to come across it.

It’s just been absolute manic since we came back from Saudi. With my nan’s surgery, my cousin’s wedding, me falling ill and then frantically trying to catch up with my PhD…and the complete chaos in the lab (no supervisors, no technicians, no orders, no reagents, no gas!)…of course I’m getting heartburn! I know that I often joke that my PhD will probably kill me (as long as I don’t ingest anything funny!)…but I didn’t think it’d actually come to a point where my stress is giving me an upset digestive system. What did my tummy ever do to you!!

All I know is that I’ve spent the majority of this weekend planning for my end of year review, and sorting through my data for the last year. You know how much data that is? Four graphs. That’s right, just four. I spent over 300 days of the year looking at one protein in four different conditions…and that is all that I have. Just four. So sad. And yet the story has barely begun…I have so much more to do, and with only a year to go…that little fire of hope (which was mainly extinguished after Argentina) is slowly burning out…with no more fuel.

Just need to make sure that I can still limp across my finishing line…only one more year…

Need to get on that writing bandwagon asap!

NQ out.

 

PS. Can’t I just play Pokémon Go instead? I know it drains my battery, but that Oddish is so cute! He makes my day🙂

But it’s not winter!


Following from my less-than-wordy blog post a few days ago, my sore throat has manifested into a cough. I hate coughing. I really don’t like feeling ill, I’m not as productive as I need to be and even the things I do aren’t up to par. I’m feverish still and it’s definitely not ideal! I have stupid catch up meeting (my own fault) tomorrow and I’ve not prepped for it at all. I’ve been in holiday mode for a number of weeks now, and the thought of getting stuck back in the lab with my less than ideal data is anything but welcome.

I need to sort through the hoard of western blot images I’ve accumulated…well, actually in my opinion, I wouldn’t even call them blots😦

Having analysed a dozen of them…the picture is far from clear, and of course that could only mean one thing…back to the drawing board. There’s a question mark over multiple orders I placed months ago, no idea if they’re on their way! And that means more delays. I’m already over a year behind with my experiments, and now even more so. I have my second year review coming up soon, and other than a few failed western blots, I have very little to show. I have a small amount of time (around about a month) in which I need to somehow squeeze out enough data for another abstract, re-do some data collection to round off my ‘n’ numbers for my first year studies, and learn how to do cell isolations and use flow cytometry. Achievable? Sure. If you’re living in a dream world. PhD…what was I thinking(!)

From dawn to dusk.


I was initially going to title this post as “Losing my mind…one neuron at a time”, but something changed my mind🙂

That’s not to say that I’m NOT losing my mind…I truly am, to the extent where I panic thinking that I’ve lost my phone, and walk a fair distance only to realise that I’d left it in the car…after I had literally just taken it out of my pocket, knowing that it could fall out. Yes, I’m ageing, like I said earlier this month “doing a PhD adds 30 years!”.

Anyway, the purpose of my post (although I appreciate that often there is no real train of thought…just rambles). The month of Ramadhan. The best and certainly my favourite month. The month which makes you feel like nothing is impossible, no struggles is in vain, no effort goes unnoticed…certainly not where it counts. The month where smiles bring out the best in people, where everyone strives to learn and better themselves for more than a selfish benefit. The month that I wish would translate to every month. I want the best out of Ramadhan…always, and for always. This year the time has swiftly raced by (something I have gotten far to familiar with), and like always we are nearing the very end. Only a matter of nights until the new crescent appears…nights which I will very gratefully (iA) spend in Makkah🙂

So, what do I want to say?

Not very much. But, do all that you can. I know it’s difficult with work/school/children and the long hours and higher temperatures, but have sabr and faith, efforts do not go unnoticed. Try with your best intentions and constantly want to exceed your best, the mere passion behind your actions is enough for the One who matters. Humility and hope. These are the two words that everyone should have in their vocabulary, let us strive to be humble, in our words and our actions. Never lose hope, not in yourself nor others…and certainly not in Him; especially when the times are tough, listen to the words that reach your heart, and be patient. I say this as much for my own understanding as much as anyone else. And let us eagerly await the next Ramadhan, may it bring with it eternal blessings, and hope of forgiveness. Ameen.

I’m calling off May.


Only a little under 48 hours to ago until the end of May. Now, generally speaking I’m not this nitpicky about a month, but for reasons beyond my own control, May has been largely unwelcome in my book. I don’t hate May, and I can’t remember it to ever have been so frustrating, but 2016 seems to have given a whole new meaning to “annoying”. The advent of May signals the start of another round of lab takeover. MSc projects. Now…last year was great, I really enjoyed projects, I took over the initial session and like to think that I influenced the way the students behaved. And I liked that. A lot. They weren’t too irritating and the majority were keen on learning and self sufficient. And we got on very well, in particular with a few individuals. However, this project season was doomed to be different.

With an ever increasing student intake and loss in the quality of students (though I’m never sure that the majority of students have ever been outwardly intelligent…or inwardly intelligent), and a never changing lab…it becomes ever more difficult to sustain research and teaching side by side. Something which shouldn’t co-exist in any one lab, but rather in a continuum. So, as I was saying…May = annoying. Having started my job in the last week of April, (which I love and don’t regret taking on) I knew that I would certainly be pressed for time, but that only meant a small compromise in sleep. Starting the day earlier in the lab, and then off to work. Sounds perfectly fine to me, certainly tiring, but not in vain. However, this is something that my supervisor has made very clear that he is unhappy with, see he would much rather have me watch his students and supervise them. Basically take on his job. He made his point by giving me the cold shoulder for the first two weeks of the month. His stand offish behaviour was at first intimidating and disheartening, especially when I found that in my absence my reagents had been tampered with…which meant losing out on £500 worth of reagents.

But having work to go to every afternoon made things a sweet relief, and a pleasant change from a toxic environment, where despite all efforts my research was being punished. Not by will…but by violent force. The student force. The dark side of the force. Where a 15 minute incubation/wash of my Westerns easily becomes 2 hours of….”Nazra, Nazra, Nazra” “Help me!” “Do this…” “Do that…” Oh deer! Oh antelope!

But at the same time, I feel very sorry for these students, quite frankly abandoned by their so-called supervisors, there’s only so much that they can do. Mostly clueless about what they ought to be doing, and sitting around moping. I made it very clear that if they showed initiative…I would go the extra mile with them. And so I did. My only day off from work, instead of taking it easy and perhaps focussing on my research…I gave the students a masterclass. A long day…8.30-18.30…10 hours of demonstrating and teaching, incredibly tiring. But certainly well appreciated. I expect a ton of chocolate by the end of this.

So although, I relish the end of May and pray that June starts off a lot better…I hope that the students (the majority of whom I find annoying and rude) can learn something in the remaining weeks they have. At least they realise the torture it is to be in a lab unaided by supervisors who promised to be there. They’re lucky not all PhD students are bitter.

Mercy of realisation


It’s rained an awful lot over the last few days, and whilst I’m not a fan of stepping in puddles and feeling clammy…I must admit that I find something quite poetic about rain. Although that still doesn’t mean that I like the puddles. I really don’t like puddles.

I’ve been putting off this post for a while, and now I feel like I can finally write this. I have to say that the month of May hasn’t started off all that well for me. I’ve been trying to juggle my temp job (the exam office!) and my PhD and whilst I realise the importance of one over the other…lately it’s been difficult to feel inspired, and I just feel miserable all the time. I thought that taking my mind off some things would help to change perspectives but that’s yet to be the case. The chaos of heat and humidity…not only a perfect recipe for stormy weather, but also aiding in the storm that is swirling in my mind. A storm of conflict; of decisions; of right and wrong. There seems not to be a right answer to anything right now, only the wrong answer even when you think you’ve taken a right turn.

But I’m still hopeful, I know that whatever happens, happens for a reason, and often we are too stubborn to see things clearly. Just like the rain, some of us see it as ruining our sunshine, being unable to go outside…but the rain is necessary, we need it for the simplest of reasons, which at the time seem negligible. In the same way, hardships are necessary for the simplest of reasons, but when we encounter them, they seem like only an obstacle.