Winter Blues

You know, I give up, I can’t be doing this anymore and I need a way out. What is it that has got me so rattled, you may ask? Is it my PhD? Is it my personal life? Is it my inability to find a job? Well, it’s actually a combination of everything, and yes I have been blaming the season, even though as we near the end of the year, it often becomes my favourite part of the year. As of now however, I’m simply apathetic. I’m struggling to find the motivation to get out of bed and finish those last few experiments and complete my PhD. I suppose it probably has something to do with the fact that the answer to my simple yes/no questions, is only maybe. ‘Maybe’ can’t get you very far. Even a ‘no’ is more useful. Yes, I agree that it’s a negative response, but even negative responses can be motivational, much better than a ‘meh’. Which perfectly describes my current state of mind.

I can’t even remember if it truly is seasonal…my brain (like many others) has a tendency to forget about anything remotely depressing…and of course, romanticising that which is does remember. I can’t blame winter, even though I feel blue. I just want to perk up again, I only wish I knew how.

I think I need to distract myself…maybe some time away? Or read one of the two Mark Billingham books I have sitting around untouched. I just need to do something…and even cooking and eating isn’t helping (very sad!). And of course, when I am sad and upset I want chocolate. Even though I have a dairy/lactose sensitivity…so what does that mean?…Painful tummy aches and worse! I need to cheer up and finish everything!!! So much to to do, glad my spirituality is helping me to just take a few minutes out several times a day. I need more of that. Amplified.


My Favourite nachos from Las Iguanas!

Yummy tuna bagel. Best bagel I’ve ever had!

Chocolate chip packed brownie!

Vanilla gelato and Ferrero Rocher cookie dough from Sprinkles. Extremely decadent.

Homemade kidney bean and potato chilli.

Tandoori potatoes made in my new worktop oven/grill! Yum!


It’s okay! I’m alive!

No really, I am! Despite all the last minuteness of everything going on right now and all the chaos and stress coming at me from every angle. I am very much still alive. However, only just. It’s difficult to stay afloat when you don’t have the strength to get out of bed…or perhaps it’s just pure laziness. Whatever it is, it certainly is a hinderance. And whilst that warm and cosy feeling I have when I’m lying in bed is plenty to keep me there (and successfully it has!)…that little voice in my bed reminds me more and more adamantly…that there is work to be done. Stay tuned.

I need a paper towel and a Valium.

Nos somos humanos, e nos não somos perfeitos. Mas, tentamos.

Isn’t it a relief to have your car insurance sorted? It feels like a bit of a load off…though sadly not a huge amount. I was supposed to have finished everything by now…but here we are, almost mid-July and I am yet to complete my PhD lab work. It’s not entirely my fault or ineptitude either, something I’ve ordered and subsequently re-ordered over a period of 5 months has yet to arrive. Bio-Rad. Why the incompetence? My PCR studies should’ve all been completed by now, but I’m still waiting to hear from you, it’s unacceptable!!! I’m now hoping that the one contact I have at the company can speed through their incredibly useless processing and get me what I need ASAP. Apart from that…everything else seems to be dependent very much on luck. I seemed to be unable to yield any results from something which worked at a 100% success rate…and now that (with a great deal of help) I’ve got it up and running again, I’ve now run out of antibodies…so despite spending 10 hrs in the lab yesterday…I’ve nothing to show for it.

On a slightly better note…my DoS has just sent back corrections for me to do with my chapter…and although that’s a good thing, having a flick through, I don’t feel so great about it. There are a lot of tedious things that need changing and some data which is apparently not needed. But of course…I spent weeks if not months collecting the data and then of course the painful analysis, so it feels a bit painful to remove. I feel quite deflated to be perfectly honest, the sort of feeling where you’re trying to pump air into a balloon with a hole in it. Absolutely futile. I won’t lie. I’m exasperated. I want to finish everything and move on with my life. This PhD has been draining and not because it’s too difficult, but because this environment is corrosive. This is where hopes and dreams come to die, Little One.

But let’s end on a slightly positive note…I tried baking peanut butter and M&M cookies on Sunday. The verdict was positive, though being self-critical (as always) they weren’t what I had wanted. Recipe was from Tanya Burr, although she also adds pretzels and I didn’t have nearly enough M&Ms (little brother ate them!). Enjoy! I’m going to try and find as many things to bake as possible…my only real form of stress relief!



PS. Titular reference is Lorelai’s reaction to Emily wanting to date.

“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!



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?