Deadline, deadlines and more deadlines, with a splash of stress and reality check.

Don’t evaluate me on the actions of my past, instead judge me on the principles of my present and the intentions of my future.

It has been a hectic few weeks, dashing around to complete my poster for the ISHR-ES meeting in Hamburg, Germany and the uncertainty of whether I could submit within my deadline. But all of a sudden I’m a lot calmer than I have been for a number of weeks (a little help from Nature of course…no, not the journal…although that is helpful too). My DoS is convinced that I can submit on time and regardless of whether those PCR plates show up or not, to be honest…it’s not that big of an issue, I could still use some of my pilot data and mention what I see, but I’d really love to have some complete data. I’ve been enquiring along a new line of thought, something which I just happened to come across a few days ago, something which shows promise and excitement; but I have to remind myself that now is not the time to start new studies, I need to wrap things up.

So let’s focus on the trip to Hamburg, and in true Nazra fashion, here comes the pictures. But before a complete visual overload, I just want to say that I really enjoyed Hamburg as a city, and whilst we (my sister and I) hadn’t quite planned the cultural side of our visit as perhaps Dublin, there was a nice vibe to the city; and if we were slightly more interested in pigging out on chocolate and harbour history…it may have been paradise.



I have to say the Miniatur Wunderland was definitely an incredible site, The Vatican was one of the most impressive models I saw. And the day to night transition was amazing! And of course the Hachez Chocoversum chocolate museum was definitely a sweet treat, perfect with the opportunity to create our own chocolate bar…lots of chocolatey fun! The botanical garden was also an amazing experience, the humidity and heat were truly replicable of a brilliantly tropical environment, just look at the moisture on that leaf! And the floor to ceiling aquarium at the zoo was definitely breathtaking. Other than being a little expensive in some aspects, the city was great fun when the weather permitted!


PS. Title: nope, it’s not a typographical error. I do indeed mean Deadline, deadlines and more deadlines. The ‘Deadline’ refers to the vastly looming thesis completion date, and the others refer to the myriad of deadlines, either self-imposed or doled out. I’m drowning in these deadlines…I’m only a small person!

Edit: The PCR plates arrived!


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.

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.

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!














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.

The build up of it all…

” And when the levels rise, the whole world drowns.”

I didn’t really want to post anything in the immediate aftermath of such an occasion (ironically…my post title lives up to the post…without even intending to do so)…unless you’ve managed the impossible and avoided all dialogue or social interaction, you will know exactly what I’m referring to. In fact, before the wrong idea is embedded, I should probably point out that…as with many of my posts, I had started this a few days ago, regarding a completely different matter (more on that).  But plans rarely stay on task, and nor do expectations, not now, nor back in June (still incredibly disappointed with the outcome. In fact, disappointed doesn’t even begin to describe the feelings).

The above line…says a lot, (also…what’s with VR headsets? They’re absolutely everywhere…sorry! TV advert…again!) it can apply to everything in this post. Initially it was simply referring to being overwhelmed. By responsibilities, by experiments, by corrupt politics. There’s just far too much to think about. About how a single step, or a win can impact a life or several million.

Perhaps I’m extrapolating, but I’m certain that the sentiments are echoed. But nonetheless, I shan’t deviate from my initial thoughts. I have a lot of stressful work to carry forward, and very little time in which to do so. Add failing experiments, unreasonable expectations (personal), a work-life balance thrown out of the window and the inability to see clearly beyond the foggy disposition…all create an unrealistic and almost bound-to-fail prospect.

But as someone said…”no matter how tainted your past…your future is spotless”. I want to carry that forward with my approach in life…for myself and others. I can’t judge anyone based on their past, and I can’t judge my experiments based on the data I’ve collected in the past. Just because something was unsuccessful to begin with, doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved.

‘Bah, Humbug’

It’s been a rubbish week, and yes it’s only been a week. I keep having to remind myself that despite this week feeling like the equivalent of six…it has only been a seven day week. And the outstanding word of the week is *drum roll*… knackered.  In every sense of the word, physically, mentally and emotionally. I don’t know if it’s the change in seasons (officially autumn now), or if it’s the lab environment (far too many flies, and not enough “people”), or if it’s that time of year again. That’s right ladies and gents, it’s freshers season. New students, busy campus, new viruses to catch. Splendid(!) And of course, my one wisdom tooth doesn’t want to be ignored either, it wants to remind me (painfully), that it’s still there. Add in hormonal fluxes and sniffles…makes the perfect recipe for a very grumpy Nazra.

So all in all, I’m in a very ‘bah, humbug’ mood. I don’t want to be spoken to, I don’t want to get on with the million experiments I have remaining to complete my PhD, I don’t want to write my thesis and I certainly don’t want to write any papers! I give up! I hate everything right now…except my bed…that, I love. And it clearly loves me too, because I’ve been “spending” a good nine hours in bed every night, waking up exceptionally late…after doing my usual ‘bunny hop’ routine of: jumping out of bed, hitting snooze on my phone (I’ll explain), and then jumping back into bed and snuggling down into my covers. And this continues at ten minute intervals…for an hour (so I do this six times, and still manage to fall asleep every ten minutes!)

Now, most people tend not to require leaving the bed at all, usually just an arm reaching out to turn off that alarm. See, I thought I was being clever by purposely placing my phone/alarm halfway across my bedroom, thinking “I have to get out of bed to turn it off, which means that I’m already up…so I can’t possibly fall asleep again” WRONG. So very wrong. Well, anyway, aside from spending a good nine hours in bed…the quality of my sleep has been terrible, so despite the long hours, I feel in no way rested, just a lot of REM sleep (very odd dreams, my subconscious is bleeding out chaos) and little deep sleep. That needs to be corrected. Not entirely sure how. I just think that I’m a lot more stressed out than I appear to be. Yes, I’ve repeated that end of year review and now officially progressed to my third year (I sincerely hope that it is my final year); but I feel like I’m getting very mixed messages, on the one hand I’m expected to complete my experimental studies and my write up this year, which I understand, however I’m also expected to churn out papers. The latter, is something my DoS wants very much so, to the extent where he is ‘encouraging’ me to spend the entire year simply focused on experimental studies and then take an additional year to write up! I can’t afford that! Are you crazy?? I’m a PhD student without a stipend! Where do you think I’ll get that sort of money? Absurd. And don’t get me started on the silent pressure from my mother for me to get married. She doesn’t even say anything, but that look on her face is more than enough.

So to summarise, I’m stressed out. I hate freshers flu. I hate science…no I don’t, I just don’t love it right now. And I certainly don’t love my supervisory team and CM being a right pain in the rear.


NQ out.