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!

Cookies!

 

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

Why must you do this to me?


“It’s a matter of patience, perseverance and endurance.”

That’s what I’ve been telling myself these last few weeks. I feel as though I’ve been notably “absent” in every way possible…posting, writing, research and especially with my family and friends. I suppose the stresses I’ve been experiencing haven’t been very kind to the gentler side of me, and instead aggravate and demotivate me. I feel as if I have a million things to do, and no time for it, and as I try to remember one thing, I forget another.

It’s not unusual that everyday has started to merge into one very exhausting day on loop…it’s difficult to tell when one day starts and another day ends. I’ve been trying to balance my research priorities with working…but it’s not a very 50:50 arrangement right now. I suppose it’s because I feel like my attention can’t be divided very well right now, perhaps because I feel a little weakened? The damage usually comes from the source you least expect, and when you’re repeatedly suffering blows, it’s very difficult to find yourself being “everywhere”. Hence the absence. I know that things needs to change, but a lot of things aren’t in my control, and that means that I have to suffer at this cost. I’m struggling to make sense of my days, the only thing I have which is remotely soothing…is my time to reflect. Any form of prayer…I’ve always found that the busier I get, the more I find time to pray. I suppose with being busy, I can filter out all the unnecessary chaos and allocate due time to just reflect and gather myself…before I’m destroyed again. Perhaps this is a way to become stronger? As it’s said…what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger (much like antimicrobial resistance).

I must say, that despite how very strange I feel right now, how very chaotic and hectic things seem, I don’t feel anxious. And that’s saying something…anxiety for me, is much like a shadow, it’s always there, but it’s magnitude is dependent on light. Perhaps, I need the anxiety? Or perhaps I’m so desensitised right now, that I’m unable to place emotion where it is due? I suppose the take home message is that…there’s a lot going on in my life and I need a moment to just be able to filter through what needs attention and what doesn’t. I know that my PhD certainly needs attention, and that I can’t possibly afford to lack in this area, because I’m so close to the finish line. But I also need to realise that being close, isn’t the same as crossing the finish line, and I can’t afford to be complacent. I need to maintain the acceleration and I need to channel the excess energy into finding a permanent job at the end of all of this.

That being said, I can’t quite focus on much more, the Glorious month is on the horizon, and I know that my inner peace will find it’s nexus soon. I’m working towards building that up, and ensuring that I can find the strength in me, to do what is right for myself and my family. That’s my priority…everything else will either need to change or wait for me.

 

NQ out.

Little Black Cloud


It’s rare that I feel like this, annoyed and distant. In fact, it’s almost the complete opposite to how I usually am, I’m involved, engaged and proactive, but not as of now. It’s like everything around me just frustrates me and is getting an exaggerated response as a result, I know that a lot of it probably doesn’t deserve the angst that I’m expelling…but I physically feel so angry and annoyed all the time. Perhaps I’m projecting the emotions of something else onto something else? Or perhaps I’m just so emotionally sensitive right now, that anything and everything will set me off…even a lab coat with pink patches! (So very, very annoyed)

This little black cloud I have suspended above my head is certainly not doing anyone any good, especially not me. Everyone else may see themselves as the recipients to my hotheadedness, but no one will see that it’s eating me up on the inside. I’m not quite sure as to what has triggered this state of mind, but all I know is that I walked into lab on a Monday morning (having overslept) and that was it…I was VERY annoyed. I suppose it must have been perpetuated from the fact that my usually bubbly self was gone unmissed, it was as if I was not present…that felt more a rejection of myself than anything else, certainly did not feel as though people just wanted to give me space (although a rational version of myself would certainly justify responsive quietness as people just letting me work out my angst). And it’s just escalated from there really, I’ve felt irritated and neglected and almost as if everyone around me is conspiratorial, even if they really aren’t.

The “odd” thing, is that I know the rationality of everything, and I can understand what is beyond the red mist, but for some reason, I’m inclined to believe otherwise. It’s almost as if the rational and logical part of me has given up, taken a holiday and told another more emotionally charged version of myself to come and take the reins. I don’t appreciate this version, it’s far too irrational for me, and I can observe myself almost as a third person so to speak (if that even makes any sense). It’s almost as if I can step in and out of myself…and I can see myself from the outside as well be this version of myself from the inside.

I can’t help but think that this is the storm I have been anticipating. I knew everything was far too calm for it to be alright. I need a version of my maternal self to come and give me a hug…and shake away the negativity and distrust I have acquired all of a sudden. I don’t like how I feel. It’s as if I’m not myself, but a distorted version of myself…an alternate reality version almost. I hope I can get back to my usual happy-go-lucky self. It’s far more energising and less draining. This entire working week…I’ve been so exhausted from being so quiet and angry that I’ve gotten home from the lab and fallen asleep almost immediately. And then being home for the weekend hasn’t been great either…I constantly feel misunderstood and undermined, and I’ll admit, I’m certainly not behaving rationally…but it’s as if the entire world around me can see something is wrong with me, yet no one is willing to help me. I’m drowning in my own confusion.

Let’s hope those pink stains get out of my lab coat…it might help…just might.

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.

 

‘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.

The Soy Milk paradox.


I don’t even know where to start today, and although that’s not entirely unusual…in a strange way, it is. This week has been chaotic, and possibly the longest 4 day week I can remember, where we’ve transitioned not only months, but also seasons. But that’s not the point. The point is the chaos, and disturbances. I had my end of year review earlier this week, and I won’t lie…despite all the heartache that Western blots have caused, I was relatively calm about it. I was wrong. Although my presentation and ability to defend my choices and experiments, were fine…I was penalised for something beyond my control. Control which reigned in the sticky hands of my supervisory and the incompetent hands of the registry department.

So, what does that mean for poor old Nazra? It means a repeat examination. How do I feel about that? Honestly? I feel a heck of a lot better than I did a few days ago…and although my sleeping pattern has yet to return to normality, I’m optimistic about the future. Something which I’ve not been able to say for a while now. Despite the initial mindboggle…I think I’ve taken some positive from the entire experience. I’m more determined than ever to complete within my designated three years. That September deadline…(although looming)…is not unattainable. I have a new plan now, I’m compromising (gosh…never thought I’d say that!). I think it’s certainly a kick up the rear, a well needed one perhaps. Perhaps I had become complaisant, unable to fight my cause, to just become passive. I have a rejuvenated vigour to complete my stipend-less PhD and move ahead with my life.

A life which is going to dramatically change in the very near future. Where dreams may become a reality…where a battle isn’t going to be necessary, but there are going to be tantrums for sure. I wouldn’t be Nazra without my tantrums. And I refuse to wear all things ‘make up’…and all things jazzy, snazzy and bedazzly (not quite a triple rhyme).

As for the rest of the chaos, I have an abstract to write for the Pharmacology 2016 conference, I have a new presentation to prepare for my end of year review (not too much hard work), I have a supervisory team meeting (after an aeon) which needs an agenda prepared and a way for me to not let my DoS take over…again. I also need to make headway with my writing so that I’m not forcing a serious catch up, I need to work towards the rest of the techniques I have remaining (cell isolations, flow cytometry and PCR), and lastly…finding a job for next year. Because from then onward….Nazra has many more changes to make. Big changes.

But it’s not all been about the chaos, the end of August was very good. A very important friend and I made good, she’s happy with some big changes in her life (changes that are certainly ahead of me also); and another friend who’s mere presence makes me feel less stressed out. And of course, there’s that all important apprentice (reference?).

 

PS. Titular reference…soy milk isn’t giving me a tummy ache = great! But…soy hot chocolate isn’t quite the same = not so great. Hence a paradox.

Mr Muffin: "I have seen things I cannot describe"

Mr Muffin: “I have seen things I cannot describe”