Monday, October 13, 2014

bits and pieces

**I started this blog post on Sunday morning, and the original title was "living the mothereffin' dream". I think I was in a good mood.**

Thoughts that have been floating around my head the past few days/notes that I've written to myself:

You guys--I don't think I actually like molecular biology. (In the like, canonical sense of the world I mean what *isn't* molecular biology, in the same way that as soon as you use a plasmid you are doing synthetic biology but *synthetic biology* still means something very specific. Where was I? Oh yes--) So I don't think I like molecular biology that much. That level of mechanistic detail just doesn't drive me. But for some reason I love listening to talks about mitotic spindles...spindle pole bodies...microtubule dynamics. It reminds me of my childhood. Of sitting around the table listening to my parents talk. It just...feels like home. I had kind of a weird childhood.

earlier that day...

I mean seriously. Next time my PI gives a talk he's going to say, "Here's the smart one, here's the one that works hard, and here's rachael, the lab idiot." I mean everyone needs one. I'm the foil. The comic relief. The cautionary tale.

My favorite memory from a class in college...

In a human genetics lab we had to turn in a lit review thing about a genetic disease. I chose oculocutaneous albinism...because there was this great Science paper from 50+ years ago where these geneticists drew a pedigree from a Hopi Indian tribe in Arizona that had this crazy high incidence of albinism. The reason was this: albino people were held in high esteem by this tribe, and also because they were really light sensitive they had to stay inside all the time. So like, when all the men went hunting, the albino men would stay at home in their cabin things and you know, and then there is a really high incidence of albino babies being born. I love that story. Ok so--I wrote a report on this, and I was turning it in, and all the other papers were like, 10 + pages. Mine was 3. I mean I printed double-sided, but still I was SO WORRIED and I got really insecure about my assignment. But I covered everything I needed to cover! So then later, I get an A on it (like literally the only A I ever got in a science class I think because maybe I was so tickled by the subject matter) and I talk to the professor who was teaching the class, and she says Rachael, I was so worried when I picked up yours to grade because it was so much smaller than all the others, but you covered everything and you did a great job! 

I just went to find the paper, and I had forgotten the other great thing about it--the citation is "Woolf and Dukepoo, 1969" DUKEPOO.

Just call me Rachael "the village idiot" Bloom.

The reason all this came up...

I'm working on my grant for a class, and I am consistently under the page limit, because I've just said everything I've needed to say. But then I'm like, does anyone ever submit a grant that doesn't meet the page limit? I mean there's no rule against going under. Ok. back to work.

Monday, October 6, 2014

"wish you would step back from that ledge my friend"

L had a new play date this weekend with a girl down the street from us. I would like to take a moment to give myself a pat on the back for overcoming my social anxiety and setting up this play date yes I did that all by myself thankyouverymuch we are very proud of how much we are growing up.

The mom is great, when we were making small talk at the bus stop I asked if she was from this area and she said, no, but she feels like it anyway since she's been here since she came for college in 1986.

*long pause*

Well I was born here and she's still been here longer than I have.

I did some "back of the envelope calculations" (the best phrase ever) and figured out that she had to be at least 18 years older than me. C'est la vie. (Pronounced "cess la vi".) At the park I find out we're twenty years apart, and we laugh at this, but we then find we have so many shared experiences. Wanting to force our kids into Sunday school, crying in the bathroom after we found out we were pregnant. Loving to share the most intimate details about our life. We're not so different.

We walked our kids to the park together, chatting the whole time, and after two hours outside L went over to their house to play for another two hours, while I made all the meals for this week (10 black bean and sweet potato burritos which after making them I never want to eat) and a lasagna. I walked over to their house to pick L up, and there is Christmas music playing. Fred (that's the mom, who is also Jewish) said, "I was trying to find some innocuous music. They didn't like Nat King Cole so we settled on this." She says to me then, when her daughter was a baby she listened to the Clash and the Kinks but now she's older so she worries more about the lyrics.

That's the only time I feel conscious about an age difference. L and I listen to a lot of Third Eye Blind and Rilo Kiley.

90s kid!

Friday, August 29, 2014


I'm an up and down kind of person. The highs are high, the lows are low. It's not DSM worthy highs, not clinically depressed lows, but I don't seem to just have "bad" days and "good" days. Days are REALLY REALLY GREAT or really really horrible. Like last week I heard that I won another fellowship, and then this week I spilled coffee over everything in my car, so I just threw everything out on my driveway and cried in the front seat while Lena waited patiently and confused on the front porch for me to open the door.

Lab work is kind of the same. I never have run of the mill productive days, I just get these waves of malaise and unproductivity, and then suddenly everything clicks and I am incredibly productive.

I talk to my dad a lot about all of this; the good and bad days, and the productivity thing. His response is always the same, "you just need to work on being even-keeled." Last night, he brought L back to our house at 7 because I was having a VERY PRODUCTIVE as well as GREAT day and needed to ride the wave, and I articulated this to him, again. Then, for the first time he says to me, "Well, that's just the way you are, and you should just go with it."

It's that self-acceptance theme. The stop-giving-yourself-a-hard-time theme. The gotta-be-me theme. I can't express how thankful I am that I am in a place that forgives me the time of figuring this all out.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

touching the tree

My favoritest english teacher turned mentor turned friend turned ex-boyfriend's friend turned my friend still, thankfully, recited this poem on the first day of class and I was amazed by it. (Was constantly amazed by this teacher.) He recites it to all his classes, the first day of school, and I used to text him my favorite line (the walls are painted white to be better?) as a way of wishing him a happy first day of school.

I dropped off a little bit, grad school wears on the more tenuous friendships, but then also makes them stronger.

I got a text this morning (the second day of school!) saying "I have dug a cave for a lion...remember me?"

How could I forget.

Touching the tree

W.S. Merwin

Faces are bending over me asking why

they do not live here they do not know anything
there is a black river beyond the buildings
watching everything from one side
it is moving while I touch the tree

the black river says no my father says no
my mother says no in the streets they say nothing
they walk past one at a time in hats
with their heads down
it is wrong to answer them through the green fence
the street cars go by singing to themselves I am iron
the broom seller goes past in the sound of grass
by the tree touching the tree I hear the tree
I walk with the tree
we talk without anything

come late echoes of ferries chains whistles
tires on the avenue wires humming among windows
words flying out of rooms
the stones of the wall are painted white to be better
but at the foot of the tree in the fluttering light
I have dug a cave for a lion
a lion cave so that the cave will be there
among the roots waiting
when the lion comes to the tree

Friday, August 22, 2014

back to school

Last night was meet the teacher night at L's new school. Her teacher let them choose their seats. L chose the seat the farthest away from the front. I don't think it's because she understands the connotations of seat choice, it's only first grade after all; instead, she wanted to be near the fish tank. 


My PI has two kids, and one is almost one year old. I ask to hold her all the time, and I always thought people are so dumb when they say "kids they grow up so fast" but I look at Lena and see these legs and arms and thoughts and choices and ideas and how did she grow up so fast?

Thursday, August 21, 2014


the director of my program's name is doug, and every time i type it out i add an 'h' so it's 'dough' (like literally i did it just then.)

so then every time i type it i say to myself in a will shortz voice (from the weekend puzzler on npr) "what common name, when you add an extra consonant changes the name to a common noun, and silences the final syllable?"


i lose like 5 minutes whenever i have to email this person. also i am incredibly entertained by myself.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

comfort during a storm

Last night we had another wave of storms come through. This was a big, slow moving doozy. There wasn't that much rain, there wasn't that much wind, but it just seemed like there was thunder and lightning for hours.

Lena was scared. Like, really scared. It was annoying and frustrating. She gets this super whiny voice and does this really pathetic screechy-yelp thing whenever there was a thunder clap that just bugs the crap out of me. I tried to brush off her fear; we started playing the game "thunder" or "neighbors taking in their garbage cans over a gravel driveway." That helped because one time I really think it was the neighbor, but the rest of the time it was thunder.

Around 7, thankfully after dinner and dishes, the power flickered, then went out. Lena lost it completely. I tried to leave her in bed to go find flashlights and things, and despite the fact that the diameter of my house is literally like 10 feet (It's not literally like 10 feet, it's literally like 50 feet but you know what I mean) she couldn't be anywhere but by my side. I rushed us into pajamas, forced my shivering whining kid to go to the bathroom, and got us snuggled into bed. It was dark, she was scared, and she fell asleep within minutes.

I stayed up longer, until after the storm. I turned off all the already-off-lights, I tried flipping the circuit breakers (one neighbor had power), and I read by the window for a while. I tried to sleep, but instead watched the flickering headlamps of the power people outside my bedroom window. (A branch fell on a transformer, and knocked the power out for four houses on our street.) I love the silence of the house when the power is out, but thankfully around 11, the power came back on, and I was able to fall asleep with sweet sweet cool air coming into my room, with the hum of the air conditioning unit outside of my window.

L woke up early (she went to bed at 7:30, after all) and when I finally dragged myself out of bed, I found this note on the table next to me.

This kid. I mean seriously.