Sunday, January 25, 2009

Close Enough

Being Away
Since I started writing here, I have posted when sick and sad, home and away, of triumphs and miserable defeats. I'll be honest - the first week without writing left me alternately aching and twitchy. Like most prone to addiction, I missed this and needed it. Yet after several days, I paused one night after hopping around my basement in my imitation of working out and thought it was an odd relief. I wasn't wondering if I'd stated something incorrectly or made someone think badly of me. I could, I thought with no small amount of surprise, stop blogging altogether.

Coming Back
In addition to aerobics, I added a devotional to my daily routine. I rather like the Upper Room. With a vague memory of carefully reading the tiny booklets Grandma brought home from church each month, I traded in my former bookmark for a place that struck me as overly conservative. I find reading the simple stories comforting as I sip coffee and resign myself to driving to work before the sun lights the sky. A couple days ago, there was a message about coming home. About the thrill and sense of rightness that one feels upon returning from a lengthy trip and the anticipation of being welcomed by God upon the end of one's journey here. While it is easy to be distracted from my priorities and purpose, I've found putting some thought into how I spend my time is valuable. Though I know it sounds ridiculous, there was a glimmer of giddy homecoming when I clicked the blue button on the Blogger dashboard that lets me begin a new post.

Catching Up
"You have a beautiful laugh," a colleague told me and I blinked at her, completely distracted from the request I'd come to make, before my lips curved bashfully. Not knowing how to respond, I shrugged. The woman who sits near my office but had never spoken to me before smiled. "I hear you sometimes," she confided, "when someone goes in to talk to you or you're on the phone. And I always smile - no matter what I'm doing - when you laugh." I finally thanked her and wondered if I was being too loud. But the glow of the lovely compliment lingered, reminding me that there are countless moments each day when I giggle and smile and feel lucky to work where I am with the people who surround me.

I spent my birthday weekend, for I am now age 30, with my parents and Little One. They invaded while I was still at work on Friday and created a happy sort of chaos during the days they spent here. We went out only once, spending several hours letting Little One play and bask in our complete attention. She returned to my house to play with Care Bears and Webkinz, diligently furnishing the online rooms of the latter and creating a makeshift jail for a members of the former gang who were being mean. We cuddled. Mom cooked. Dad fixed things. It was a rather lovely weekend. A fact which I continue to repeat in my mind when I think that I don't have a family of my own. And I'm thirty. This isn't what I would have expected when I was younger. But it is not all bad.

"I saw it," Boss wrote me in an email, making me cock my head in confusion, "and it's going to be wonderful." Still befuddled by the cryptic message from my post-doctoral mentor, I continued to sort through email, gasping with delight when I found one from the editor of the journal in which I always wanted to publish. A figure of mine had been selected for the cover. So in addition to the paper I wrote with Penguin and Dr. Icing on days that feel like they happened a lifetime ago, but are faithfully documented in the archives, I shall have a second piece of paper to frame and preen over. And it is, in fact, rather wonderful.

"Oh," I stopped just inside my office door earlier this week, greeted by a profusion of purple and white blooms draping happily from all sides of a pretty vase. The colleagues I so enjoy bought me birthday flowers a day after I'd treated them to cookies to celebrate the occasion. So each day I sit at my desk and answer emails, rush off to meetings or reach for a ringing phone, I breathe in and am cheered by the affection I've found in this space. Above the cut flowers, perched on a shelf that is closer to the light, my violet is in full and impressive bloom. I told a friend the story the other day - of Winnie and the loss of someone amazing, therapy and research into violet care and the eventual flowering of the beloved plant. "We're doing rather well," I told it the other day, speaking quietly in case anyone passed by.

I was excited to find my entry - like last year - made it past a tough crowd of judges (I know - I was one of them) and into Open Lab. When taken out of context, for I read a bunch of posts by people who aren't on my normal lists, I found it was often difficult to become engaged or amused. (My post, by the way, has been edited before final submission - I really like going back to text that's been published and reworking it. It's my favorite part of the Open Lab process.) Given the number of people who come and go, those who employ different styles of writing and topics to discuss, it seems trivial to me to just - should you desire something to read or someone to know - continue to click and skim until something strikes you as nice. If I don't like it - and I'm not shy about saying there's a ton of stuff I think it asinine - I won't read it.

That being said, I think there are people who are fascinating and funny which transitions neatly into the bloggy awards I collected while I wasn't writing. Psych Post Doc and Brigindo were both sweet enough to think of me when they followed the instuctions for recognition I think is truly lovely. It is therefore with some regret that I'm going to screw it up. I'm sorry! I'm bad with things like these - I tend to twist them and use them for my own purposes. So I put my comments in parentheses.

"This blog invests and believes the proximity - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. (Aw...) These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. (I like friends.) They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. (Oh. I also like prizes and self-aggrandizement. I'm already ruining it.) Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. (What a sweet thought.) Please give more attention to these writers! [Redacted rules I'm not going to follow] and include this cleverly-written text.”

There are a few reasons I started to blog - the one that has grown is this sense of friendship I feel for many of you. So for those that commented on my 'taking a break' post and those who are listed in the sidebar, I missed you!


Psych Post Doc said...

Welcome back. Sounds like a lovely birthday and the flowers are amazing. Congrats on the figure cover. How exciting.

I missed you too!

Seeking Solace said...

Yes, welcome back!!! I am so glad you are writing again!!!

Sounds like a lovely birthday!

Thank you for the honor!!!

Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

Welcome back! I'm glad that your sabbatical was useful and helped you find some peace. Your birthday sounds like it was very cozy and nice. I missed your writing and I'm happy that you're back!

Psycgirl said...

Welcome back Katie :)

microbiologist xx said...

Yaaaay! I am so glad you are back. Thanks for the nod. :)

JaneB said...

Welcome back!!

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Happy birthday and welcome back!

Anonymous said...


Don't make me cry.

The bean-mom said...

We missed you! Glad to have you back, Katie. Happy birthday, and congrats on your cover figure! (and on the Open Lab publication, too!)

Jenn, PhD said...

Oh, I'm so glad you're back!!! I've missed you. Happy belated birthday. Congrats on many fronts :)
Thanks so much for thinking of me with the award... I'm away at a conference right now (I just gave my first ever "real" talk, and it went great!) it might take me some time, but I'll update my blog soon

eMelectric said...

You came back! :o) I missed your writing. Sounds like you had a lovely break. A belated happy birthday to you! Thanks also for the mention. :o) I'm a little ashamed to admit I did a mini yelp of surprised excitement. Haha!

EthidiumBromide said...

I am so glad to see that you have returned -- in your absence, it felt like I had lost contact with a friend!

Thanks for the blog award - I am flattered!

Amelie said...

Happy belated birthday! I'm glad you had a good time. It's great to have you back here!

Unbalanced Reaction said...

YAY! Congrats on open lab. (and much thanks!)

Anonymous said...

aww, well thank you for the award, i missed you while you were gone, and while i was gone. thank you for your comments while i was in hospital, things are better now, but i'm a couch potato not by choice at the moment. and a very belated happy bday to you :o)

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