Thursday, May 04, 2006

Yep, I'm an adult.

I was thinking about something yesterday – trying to figure out how many bins to put in my histogram, actually. Then how to normalize the suckers so I could compare across patients. Would standard deviation be the parameter that showed the difference across tumor grade? Kurtosis? Maybe some percentile value? Did I have a large enough population? What if there was some difference and I just couldn’t detect it?

In the middle of my thoughts and busy with some work required to obtain said histograms, I was completely engrossed. Then someone interrupted. I ignored her – I was busy. See the headphones? They scream “leave Katie alone please!” Heed the headphones, folks!

“Katie?” She just spoke louder, so I sighed audibly, freeing only my left ear from the music.

“Hmmm?” I asked, still looking at my screen.

“How old are you?”


“Really?” And now I was irritated. There was no reason for her to disturb me at all! And to know my age? Then to question me when I answered?!

“What?” I snapped, turning to look at her.

“How’d you finish grad school?”

“Oh…” I paused, focused, thought. “I’m 27. I wasn’t really paying attention. Sorry.”

I actually believe that the time spent in graduate school was punishment enough – I should not have aged at all while there. Yet I mention quite often that I’m concerned about my hair (no silvery strands in 3 weeks now though!); my vision continues to deterioriate; I have this weird tightness in the back of one knee on some mornings. I get massages to help the tension I carry in my neck and shoulders. I drink coffee for survival – I’m nearly non-functional without it. I’m getting older physically, but I think it bugs me so much because I don’t feel all that old mentally.

I started grad school feeling lost as to how to cope with all the data we use. I still get that disconcerting sensation when discussing new projects. The “oh, hell. I’m not sure what to do here. Nod and smile. Nod and smile and try to figure it out later.” Granted I’m much better at my job now, but there’s still that moment of worry in the beginning. I mentioned I was in touch with many of my former colleagues lately as I try to work through this newest dataset. I know what I want to do, but I keep hitting walls. Find myself making a step forward, and thinking “on to the next problem!” Because some of this stuff is inexplicably difficult – requiring multiple pieces of software and data type conversions before I can get my freaking histogram. So I ask questions – send email, try to figure out what people know. Just like grad school.

Then there’s personal stuff. My first reaction to receiving wedding invitations? "Really? Are we allowed to do that? At our age?" Then I remember that it was probably time for me to get married a couple years ago. I just didn't.

I want children – I really do. But there are times when I’m sitting with my parents, telling some delightful story, and I’m irritated when my little niece interrupts. When she needs someone to look at her favorite picture book with her. When I have to cram myself in her little house so we can have a tea party. When she comes and pats my nose when I’m clearly trying to nap. I love the Little One. More than I ever thought I would. And the irritation is fleeting. I carefully name items in the picture book as she points - clapping with glee when she repeats the words - lavishly praising her brilliance; I oooh and ah over our tea; Stifle sighs and get out of bed to play. But shouldn’t I be eager to do all these things? Not feel that initial selfish hesitation?

Then there’s my general lifestyle. I have never planned a week of dinners. I buy groceries for a couple meals at most, then snack most nights. I spend hours trying to figure out what I want from life. I think a great deal about God, why we’re here, what I want to mean to the world. Why? Because I can - I have time to think of such things. To write long blog posts. To indulge curiosity by applying a guess and check philosophy through life. Because I have so few responsibilities to others – it’s just me. And while I whine a lot about not being married, there are undeniable comforts in being single. Getting crushes, still defining qualities I want in a future partner, shaking my head over hearing marital problems and frustrations and thinking “I’m glad I’m not you. That sounds hard.”

Financially? Basically, if I want it, I buy it. I paid my mortgage twice last month – I’m not sure why. It wasn't intentional. The good news is that I have an extra $1000 to make such an error without bouncing checks. The bad news was that I don’t have a whole lot more than that extra $1000 so I moved some money around to cover other bills. And then I waited impatiently for May to arrive. Because I didn’t have money! To get take-out! Order pizza! Buy lip gloss! Get massages! I recognized that I’m quite lucky to have never felt the need to watch money pretty carefully, feeling very aware of when I would receive my next check. It was hard to feel sorry for myself when I looked around at my new stuff though – I bought a digital camera for my trip. Not the best one there is, but something nice. I have the softest, sweetest robe ever (but mine is short and pink!). Didn’t need it – I just liked it. Books, make-up (I really enjoy lip glosses), lotions, purses, shoes.

Ah, shoes. I just packed for a conference then several days afterward with a friend. I’ll be away for 9 days. I’m taking 13 pairs of shoes. Granted, many of them are color-coordinated flip flops, but who needs more than 1 pair of shoes for a day? Apparently me.

The final indication that I am perhaps too young? I watched South Park in college – thought it was quite funny. I have long since stopped watching. I thought I grew out of it – that my failure to find humor indicated I had matured in some way. So at least there’s that. The 9 years I’ve lived since beginning undergrad had at least given me better taste in entertainment, right?

Not so much. Carrie kept saying I needed to see Manbearpig. I said I wasn’t a big South Park fan, but she insisted. So I bought it on iTunes. And laughed. Hard. For a long time. I comforted myself by saying that I wouldn’t enjoy the next show, but it would have been difficult for me to enjoy last night more. I love the Dog Whisperer! I loved this episode.

So as I finish packing, do some yard work, and clean today, I will think about how immature I am. Because I love the fact that whenever I hear the phrase “I’m serious.” all I picture is cartoon Al Gore saying he’s super cereal. I'm ashamed to tell you I'm giggling right now.

But, yes, I'm 27. I'll try to remember because I don't always act it.


Dentist Down Under said...

I'm 27 too. I watch South Park, the Simpsons and Futurama and not afraid to admit that I do. In fact Simpsons and Futurama are the only 2 things I watch regularly on TV. You'll always have that inner child within you.

ceresina said...

I have to agree with your mother (from the Aveda post): you never are ready to get old. And I'm not sure you ever really feel your age. I certainly don't (I'm older than you, but I'm not telling how much; I'm not ready to be that old.)
And I don't think parents always want to jump up and play with their children; I think that, like you, they do it because they know it's the right thing to do, and because they know they will enjoy it by the end.
Anyway. It's hard to feel grown-up; birthdays do seem to pass without the expected amount of growth and experience.
What sort of bins did you decide on?

negativecapability said...

I'm 27 too and have the exact same thought when I get wedding invitations. It's like I'm still just out of high school and get that "wow, they're SO young - crazy!" idea and then realize that people are "supposed" to be getting married now (or two years ago...)

post-doc said...

Thank you - really. I haven't watched Futurama much at all, but perhaps I'll give it a try. South Park has certainly brought me a great deal of joy lately.

I know - I'm never going to say I want to be old. And it's good to hear that I'm not alone on my views on playing with children. It makes me feel selfish when I have the thought that I'd rather do something else, but perhaps that's normal.

I haven't decided on a bin size yet. When I'm not sure exactly what I'm looking for, it's difficult! So I'll whine about that too. :)

Everyone's being so nice to me today! Let's say we were supposed to stay single for a little while longer, shall we? Waiting for that right person - it makes life sound so much more pleasant. :) Though I just mowed my lawn in the miserable heat and wondered why I hadn't acquired a husband to deal with such chores. It's always something.

ScienceWoman said...

That's my girl! I think we are at an age where, regardless of our life choices, we feel alternately too young and too old. My favorite show is Gilmore Girls. The two main characters are a mother/daughter pair ages 22 and 38. Who I identifiy with changes every episode.

phd me said...

I just have to say: 13 pairs of shoes for a trip? I don't even own that many pairs. Wow.

post-doc said...

I love Gilmore Girls! And yes, I bounce between feeling more like one or the other. Excellent comment! :)


I should probably not mention that I pared it down from 20 pair, right? And that it was nowhere near all I own, and I tend to think of my shoe collection as small since my mother needs 2 closets to store all of hers? Oops. :)

Happy house hunting! Can't wait to read what you decide.

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