“Oh dear…not those chilli flakes again”


In The Middle.

The above is the title I was planning on using, but the events of this weekend have forced a change. As is so often the case with me, there so many trains of thought all of which enter that cerebral station…and so it would appear that the more obscure the title is, the more fitting. Not in the least to say the the intended was not obscure, but certainly not as obscure as what it is now.

So, enough of the waffle (although I do love waffling…and procrastinating, one would say that they both go hand in hand, I would agree), March is over and April has begun, which means my deadline is ever near. And strangely enough, despite realising that the mountain of work I have yet to get through is ever growing, I seem somewhat unfazed. Perhaps through naivety? Or perhaps the dawning realisation that my shackles will soon come loose have shed perspective on what really matters? I suppose I can only answer that when I am well and truly free.

Now it may seem as though, the sentiment I have expressed would have me rushing towards a secure job with no sight of the tedious and uncertain world of research; on the contrary, it’s quite the opposite. I’m well prepared and more than ready to take the plunge into unknown waters. With the hope that the hopelessness I’ve experienced will equip me with the best of buoys to keep me afloat. Yes, that’s right, I’ve applied for a research position AND also finally communicated with Rainbow (one-sidedly of course). It’s an entirely different matter as to whether or not there is gold to be found beyond the rainbow. If there isn’t, well it certainly isn’t for a lack of trying.

I’ve actually been procrastinating with this post a lot more than I would have thought…a lot more activation energy required…it has been far too easy to simply lie on my floor and mindlessly stare at the ceiling. Something which is often associated with the pursuit of a doctoral programme. In fact, the past few weeks have been very contrasting, going from very productive to not; not due to a lack of mental capacity, but due to a lack of physical capacity. Sometimes it all just adds up and hits you when you least expect it. In fact, it hits you more often than not. I think I’ve recovered, but either way I have no more time to lose. I need to finish everything I’ve got lined up by the end of the month, not just because I’m starting back at my summer job (I love it there!), but because there is going to be a massive upheaval of equipment and much of what I need will disappear in a matter of days!

So, as it’s always said…certainly in my own head…get a move on Nazra!

Toodles!

 

PS. Titular reference is what Nazra ends up screaming when she clearly pushes a limit, darn you hot sauce! And also, I’ve been seriously binge-watching The Middle…not much else you can do when you have a cold 🙂 And the more I watch, the more I relate.

Let’s be Zen.


Sometimes it’s harder said than done, and sometimes it’s the easiest thing imaginable; to constantly be there for someone, who has no regard and no appreciation of you. It’s difficult, I won’t lie. It’s almost as though you are choosing who to be, the person who is a doormat, or the person who is giving and kind. The latter is certainly more flattering and often rewarding when recognised, but that’s hardly ever the case, is it? Well, anyway, despite feeling a little like a doormat, I’m choosing not to be disheartened. In fact, I’m choosing to adopt a ‘zen-like’ approach…to some things (wouldn’t be me, if I were zen in everything!), notably my PhD (my most stressful burden).

Although, I have to admit…perhaps I’m being too zen? I have a lot pending, and yet I seemed relatively unfazed, as though I have all the time in the world…not true, I really don’t. But then, why should I ruin this ‘calmish’ state of mind with anxiety? It’s not often, one studying a PhD can say that they aren’t very stressed, certainly not something you’d hear from a finalist.

So, what I’ll do is take this all in my stride. I won’t let anyone else take me for granted, I’m a valuable resource, but mistreat it and it’ll go…and that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Fend for yourselves, you dirty Feet (because I’m a doormat…get it?)! Nazra is no longer a doormat, I’m going to be a tapestry, pick me up and put me on a wall! Oh yeah! Also…I need to get stuck into doing research, and this time, instead of freaking out about why I’m not freaking out, I’m going to work with the ‘zen-like’ attitude and calmly and rationally approach everything with an open and clear mind. If something isn’t working, I’ll simply move on to the next thing. Baddabing baddaboom. Job done.

 

NQ out.

Must’ve eaten from the same beetroot.


I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve posted (it probably hasn’t, but I haven’t really got much sense of time at the moment), so here goes!

So just to get things up to speed, I’m recovering from a cold…it’s been more ‘headache’ than most other symptoms, but I’m not complaining…much. Although the cold may be subsiding, the headache may be here to stay. Undergrad projects have started and that spells chaos, and since we’re (PhD students) making a point of staying well out of the way, I’m hopeful that the chaos won’t spread. But who am I kidding, since when doesn’t chaos spread? In fact, it may even reside well within the roots of each of our respective studies…now that’s a scary thought!

Four weeks to get through, and I’ve finally got my “plan” written down, whether I can complete all that I ambitiously aim to fulfil…well…we’ll just be optimistic, won’t we? As I said to a colleague of mine earlier today, I have 7 lots of experiments to complete until the end of April, and I should be able to complete 5 of the 7 things. But then again, life does tend to get in the way of things, and I do mean Life…please don’t ask me what that means, my mum has asked me plenty as it is! (Crawls into the smallest little crack in the wall…They’ll never find me here!…laughs theatrically until a spider crawls into my mouth)

Like I said before, this is going to be a very busy year, and I expect to be procrastinating a lot. A lot. I just hope that everything happens like I hope it will. There’s a lot of hope and effort to be put into this year, and it’s entirely possible, with the support system that I have. I love you all. I just want my silly isolations to work, and I hope that I can make sense of the flow cytometer! I have no idea what the outputs mean, right now it’s all just random blobs…in what I would say are the wrong places. But how would I know! Oh well, just have to try again and then again, until I can get something that I actually understand.

So here’s to new and old techniques, and a year of waiting and seeing.

 

PS. Titular reference: Something I heard on TV.

A gassy deposition


I figured I’d squeeze in a final word before the end of the year. An ominous thought almost, that an entire year has passed and yet I struggle to recall it…as if I were to have fallen asleep in a lecture and suddenly have been presented with a test on the everything I’d slept over. In one sense, that’s exactly how I feel, like I’ve slept through the year, unable to distinguish January from December; but on the other hand, I feel as though this year has been agonisingly long, where I feel as though my journey has been stretched and then shrunk back…antagonising my forever confused brain.

Taking a break now from catching up with the book I had started in April, just makes me realise how quickly everything has become a cloudy blur. Now that probably sounds odd, a blur is already cloudy…but I don’t mean a blur of clouded objects…I mean cloud coloured, murky, dull and often depressing. It’s been an odd year on an international scale, a lot has happened over the past 12 months and dare I say, a lot more is left to happen. In the name of what we’ve called ‘taking a stand’ a lot of stupid decisions have been made by people motivated by nothing more than scare tactics and tempered fears. Played on emotional insecurities and disillusioned that the state we are in can be changed by the political ideologies of those who run our respective countries. Leaving a continental union, building a wall, destroying currency.

But I’m not going to talk about those things, they affect us all and I’m pretty certain that several other voices can do a lot more justice than I can. I simply want to talk about the journey that I’ve made this year, from the little steps to the bigger leaps (although not that much bigger, since as a short person my stride is tiny!). I’ve transitioned into the ‘final’ year of my PhD, and it’s been a rocky ride, emotionally and physically unsettling and that hasn’t quite stopped. Whilst the torrents may have eased, the stormy waters haven’t passed and the fear that the worst is yet to come…still hangs in the air. But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt this year especially, is that I’m not alone in this, even if sometimes I’ve felt more alienated than accepted, I know I’m not alone, and the stormy waters aren’t isolated. We all want to leave the waters, move forward and venture into a new territory…where even the worst may seem like clear skies. I feel more optimistic, and that may just be because I’m generally an optimist when my realist abilities have fallen asleep, but I’m hopeful that I can do this. I CAN do this. I can finish. And that’s the only motivation I need, just four words.

It’s scarier to think of what next, but again, I’m not alone. And suddenly, realising that you aren’t alone makes even the darkest alley less frightening. There are so many things that need to be aligned this coming year, my thesis, a job, a house…and something to go along with it. Lots to do and somehow I’m not as afraid as I might once have been. I’m not scared or put off by making those decisions, I’m not confined to my comfort zone. And that’s probably because a lot of firsts happened this year too. I went abroad alone for the first time in my life, had a downpour which became endless sunshine. Dublin, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, London. And nothing can compare with Makkah and Madinah. Every journey builds you, shapes you. Every obstacle exposes one more fact about you. Every struggle increases a strength.

I feel equipped to tackle the year to come…a year of fruits, well laboured for (iA).

 

PS. Titular reference: a lot of political decisions made from the rear…don’t you think?

Three days, one dress.


Do you ever just feel as though tears are just looming…no need for a push, just a tap to set them free? Oh well, I suppose it’s a passing thing. One minute you’re an emotional wreck, the next you’re hard as nails. It feels as though I haven’t posted in a VERY long time, and I suppose in the blogosphere…it probably IS a long time. So what’s been happening? Well, it seems that once again I’m struggling to “science” (yes, it is a verb…because I said so), I seem to be unable to get my own protocol to work again! And it’s odd because my colleagues seem to be working it just fine, in fact even when I make my own buffers and do 80% of the protocol…with 20% assistance (the crucial part clearly), it also works just fine. But any more input from me, send my experiment to the bin…quite literally. So what does that mean…it means that I can not “science” (yes, once more) without a pseudo-proxy. And what does that mean? Well…it means that since there is a shortage of PhD students in the lab right now (holiday season of course)…my experiments are on hold.

It felt as though before I started writing this post…I had a lot to say…perhaps too much, maybe to the extent where I am now overwhelmed with catching up with myself. So I suppose that means that I should summarise…right? So in short, Nazra isn’t having a very good ‘end of year’, far too much political drama which has destroyed all hope in one’s self and a lack of trust in everyone around (not my bestie!). Too much hurt, and not enough support. It’s a darn good thing that the Gilmore Girls came back…and even better that Nazra is a one-woman-band. You pick yourself after every fall, dust off, head strong and shoulders back…and carry on forward. It’s the way of life, there will always be people to put you down, but the important thing is to not let yourself down. Believe in yourself when no one else will and listen to your heart. It can be turbulent and often you feel like you shouldn’t leave that warm bed first thing in the morning, but you need to go out there and show your critics that no matter what they say, you will only take positives from them. They can’t hurt if you won’t let them.

So, as much as I would like to say that the phase has passed…it hasn’t quite, but I’m not going to let it put me down anymore. And with a bitter-sweet few days in London (BPS Pharmacology 2016), I now have a new energy for my work, I feel validated to an extent…not that I really needed it, but it’s just fuelled my imagination. All I need to do now is focus my energies on the right areas…I need to plan ahead for my future, I need to make those contacts and get those people thinking about taking me on. I need to complete my chapters and get my experiments to work (God help me! Please!). And I need to be firm with my supervisory team, no more waiting around for 20 minutes outside of an office and chasing up meetings when no one actually turns up for one, they will ALL HAVE to respond. No more nice Nazra.

Like I said a few years ago…Bring. It. On.

 

PS. Photos from London! Aside from the initial shock horror and reality smash for my colleague…the conference was well informed and I picked up a lot. But of course, none of that matters when you get to hang around London and see all those lights…SJ making it all sweeter. And of course, there was pizza (yum)…and Wicked!

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Psst…I feel as though I should clarify the titular reference, my indecisiveness meant I bought the same dress three times over three days…having returned it twice! Glad I bought it…for the third time!

A house of cards.


Do you ever just feel like everything is just piling up atop of a very unstable foundation? One which wasn’t unstable to begin with…but was rocked numerous times to the extent where it can hardly hold up it’s own weight.

Well, if that’s the case, and you happen to be anything like me…all you needed was the ‘Gilmore Girls’ revival. For me, that was the cement to re-establish my foundation. And it came just at the right time. It may sound strange, but looking back at my posts, you may have figured that I’m somewhat of a fan (putting it very lightly), and often I’ve found that show (because as I have to remind myself, it’s just that) has helped work through the obstacles in my life.

It’s been an odd few weeks, full of stress and highly charged with emotions of all sorts…other than joy, and that’s taken a toll on me. It’s wore me down, and left me lethargic with little hope. It’s difficult with a PhD to be able to mentally get away from it all, because even if you are physically away…your mind is forever on your work, either thinking of where you went wrong, or the guilt of being away. But you know what, you should be away…both mentally and physically. It’s gruelling and difficult, and exhausting in all manner of the word. I conducted 285 statistical tests with different data sets over a 4 day period, and slept only a total of 12 hours.

An exhausted Nazra, needed the Gilmore Girls revival.

Feeling exhausted and tired from all of those numbers, the cramp from typing for hours on end, the revival was like a hug from a very old friend. A friend who has been with you through your ups and downs, made you smile, made you laugh and made you feel sad with them. I won’t even begin to hide my enthusiasm and my squeals of delight on hearing that all so familiar opening theme. And it was certainly worth it, I can’t believe how no one had aged at all! It was like I was transported back in time, and I loved it. The story was brilliantly set, the writers certainly did not change at all, it was a comforting revival of old acquaintances and friends. A happy memory engraved into my mind. Enough to make me realise that the stress I’ve been hauling around for the past few weeks…simply isn’t worth the effort. I should let go, and focus on what I want, and smile as I go about getting that.

“Quick, someone throw me a buoy!”


You know sometimes everything can be so very confusing…and sometimes you don’t feel like a mid-20 something, and sometimes you feel like that very confused teen…back in the day, when the stresses in your life seemed so much like ultimatums. If it’s not been very clear already, this month has been stressful and I know exactly why that is. And the stress certainly won’t clear…not by itself. I’ve been an unrecognisably stressed version of myself…all due to the impending completion of my research and the procrastination associated with writing my thesis. With all of this ‘delightful’ additional stress…I’ve been snappier (I would duly advise all to avoid the circumference for the next few weeks), more emotionally charged  (which only means one thing…something I’m not proud of, and often unable to explain…waterworks) and of course, more aggravated (even in situations where normally a triage system would be applied…I just throw all of that out of the window and go straight to the most immediate response…yelling, screaming and throwing punches…yup that’s right…I’m sorry J).

And what does all of this mean for normal physiological function? Not good, not good at all. I’ve been eating more to: a) distract myself from everything that’s piling up and b) procrastinating…in a horrible way. My muffintop is staying. And other functions have been…impeded also. But let’s not talk about that shall we? I talk about it more than necessary with people who really wish I wouldn’t!

But you know what? Despite all of that stress…I feel very light today (not supposed to be an ill-timed pun!…but very appropriate). In fact, I’ve felt this way since this weekend. After a series of unfortunate events, starting with my car blinking out on me (Get Well soon sweetie!), I had time to mull a lot of things over, and it’s strangely odd how those events somehow led to me realising that the stress is simply not worth it. It’s not worth me losing my composure, my balance and to some extent my sanity. I’ve felt horrid the last few weeks, I let myself be controlled by a hormone, when I should be the boss and be telling IT where it should go. And that simple realisation was enough to free me from my self-made prison. It’s a horrible feeling knowing that you’re drowning and being unable swim or float…

 

PS. Throw me a buoy…or better yet, get the RNLI, Nazra needs a hand…or two.