Saturday, January 31, 2009

Verb Usage

To Recover
"Good morning," I rolled over to greet Chienne this morning as I slowly emerged from sleep. Instead of the slow, sad blink she has offered the past few days, I ended up with arms full of wriggling canine while she placed kisses on my nose and chin.

"Oh," I offered, nuzzling closer and beginning to cry a little even as I tried to keep her tongue out of my mouth. "There's my girl." I smoothed her coat and told her I loved her and realized I missed this. While it's sometimes annoying - being tackled by an exuberant dog when I've just awakened - it was one of those moments that struck me as completely lovely after being absent for several days.

She pranced when I returned from work and shopping this afternoon. She carried a ball to me - I don't get to throw it, but I may look at it while she keeps it proudly between her teeth. I think she's feeling much better.

To Adapt
"I don't mind," I've always said of being tested on our equipment, "but I don't particularly like it." But as demands grow increasingly intense and I find myself walking through dimly lit hallways late at night or over weekends more and more often, I'm increasingly content to play guinea pig.

"You are OK?" I nodded in response to my European colleague's question, realizing that I had also grown used to the cadence of her speech. It no longer took me a moment to mentally replay a sentence to fully understand it.

As I shifted in the dim light during testing, finding a comfortable position and reminding myself to relax, I realized that I underestimate the capability of me and mine. Chienne will eventually go blind in her right eye and be completely unable to see. I will at some point get pushed past my breaking point at work. But both of us will make adjustments and adapt to our new circumstances.

To Select
"You do not mind?" I shook my head in response to her question, inviting her again to join me at Target after we grabbed lunch. We'd finished our work and I'd make a quick call to Adam to offer firm suggestions of what needed to happen to make work more bearable for our team. He's been out of the office and people are taking shameless advantage. I have decided I do not approve. Though, as always, I felt better after speaking with him.

"It's pretty much like all the others," I offered when she said she hadn't been there before.

"I've never been to them either," she explained, making me blink at her in surprise, pausing in my quest to obtain a bright red cart. At lunch, she spoke of her longing for the sea, the lack of chain restaurants in her region at home and how America was different than Italy. Yet it still surprised me that she would walk through Target for the first time. I quickly altered my 'grab Diet Coke, dog and cat food and head home' to meander through aisles as she explored.

"They have everything," she breathed as we stopped almost immediately to look at candles. She exclaimed over the sizes and colors and scents, all available and aligned neatly on shelves. I nodded, attempting to look suitably impressed while she showed me all the choices. We repeated the experiment in bedding - she found a new comforter after I reminded her of how we name bed sizes. (I don't know why twin is the smallest. I suppose it should fit two people. Technically, depending on the position of the pair, it actually would.) Then again in luggage - we evaluated carry-ons and backpacks. And once more in bedding when we returned to make absolutely sure she had what she wanted.

Thinking her adorable, I pushed the cart containing my dog and cat food, Diet Coke and new suitcase while she carried her new bedclothes and a small bag with candles inside. She reached to kiss my cheek before we parted, telling me to pass the gesture along to my puppy. While I took this job based on location, salary and opportunity, I'll reiterate that I did beautifully with colleagues.

To Repeat
Remember Pete? Of the 'told me I couldn't defend mere weeks before my defense date even though I had job offers and was ready to leave' fame?

He did it again.

Despite my warnings, students seem to think such a thing couldn't happen to them. A former group member put that waste of a human being on her committee and rather than calling it off early, he decided her work wasn't good enough and convinced the committee to fail her at her presentation. Which leaves me utterly disgusted with all of them.

Knowing that he feels justified in these actions leaves me furious. This asshole must be stopped and while considerable thought leaves me unable to devise a suitable plan, I may see him in a couple of weeks while I travel on business. Let the plotting commence.

To Blog
When I was small, I had a plastic cup with a cartoon of some sort printed on the side. I would carefully drink my milk or juice from said cup while I sat at Grandma's sunny kitchen table, often watching the squirrels balance on the wires near the alley. If I grew bored of the bushy-tailed creatures, I would examine the image on my cup, noticing that the character - who was also sitting at a table with his own cup - had the same picture as I did on his own cup. Therefore, with the proper resolution, I assumed that the picture on the character's cup also contained another cup with another picture of another cup. And now - if you followed that - I totally blew your mind. (If you didn't, you'll have to trust me.)

A glimpse into the infinite is at once fascinating and boring. For I sat and stared at that cup for long moments, wondering what stopped a loop from looping and how many characters could continue to have cups with the same pictures on the sides. But when Grandma and I sat to talk about it, the conversation at some point comes to "Yes, Katie. That would be a lot of cups, sweetheart." And there you have it.

So goes, for me, any discussion of writing online. I do more than my fair share of blogging about blogging - and have put additional thought into the concept while I wasn't actively writing and in the week I've been back - but, once finished, I look around, beaming with pride and announce, "I noticed that! Aren't I observant and sensitive and clever?!" And some of you are kind enough to smile at me and reply, "Yes, Katie. But it's all rather obvious, sweetheart." Then I give us all a break and toddle off for a nap.

The one message I will reiterate is that being away made me recognize what a source of comfort and support is available here. I very much appreciate the comments and emails and gift card (from ScienceWoman and Princess Pup - totally made me cry) while Chienne and I struggled through this week. When I heard about Pete and remembered how I tentatively started posting years ago and think about how much I've learned from and grown to love many of you, the awe I feel is not unlike staring into the infinite on the side of a plastic cup.

In a good way. In case that wasn't clear.


DocElectron said...

I've enjoyed reading your updates and thoughts - I'm glad you started blogging. I read your post on Pete...and the update here. disgusting. Truly.

chall said...

oh... please please plot something really good.

I'm not an evil person but when it comes to people like P, with your story and that you just wrote, something just snaps within me. It is like kicking a little one on the floor. It's easy but so wrong that you should never even think about it.

My own PhD time had something similar to your - altohugh mine was in the middle of it - and the thing that hurt the most was that my Advisor lied and then didn't have a spine. we ended up "good" in the end, that said, I don't trust him and don't really like the idea of Academia as much any more either. It did leave me with a less "naive" view (even if I would like to believe in people, I just have a hard time doing it now when collaborating/mentoring with people).

I'm so sorry to hear about Chienne btw. I hope you can have lots of lovely time with her!

Ambivalent Academic said...

I'm so glad that Chienne is feeling better...tackles, forbidden balls and all!

I read your post about Pete...god, that is truly horrific and completely uncalled for! I'm in a tough spot for my defense as well (though I don't think that any of my committee members is quite so evil as yours), and while it sounds rather counter-intuitive, I am glad to have your story to add to my arsenal. You see, my advisor tends to take an "everything will be fine, people are inherently good" attitude every time I bring up my worries about my rushed defense. I have been let down by program/department/grad school administration on several occasions thus far and am finding it very difficult to trust that they will just do the right thing in this circumstance.

So thanks for sharing your story - it's not making it easier for me to trust anyone right now but it's making me feel a lot less crazy for trying to prepare for every pitfall.

I am so so so sorry that they did such a horrible thing to you (and to others). And I am in admiration of your strength and courage to get through it.

hypoglycemiagirl said...

What an ass! Go plot something cruel.

I haven't been to target either...

Seeking Solace said...

I am so glad your pup is doing better!

Yes, plot something deliciously evil. I'll help!

Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

I'm so glad that Chienne is feeling better. Morning tackles are always a good sign.

As for Pete, I'm so angry every time I hear about him. What a jerk! And it's horrible that he did the same thing to someone else. If you need help plotting, let me know.

Target truly is a magical place. I love that everything is in one place. I can stop and buy everything (except fresh food) in one stop.

Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

Oh and I left you an award at my place.

Anonymous said...

Yay for Chienne !

And talking about the infinite, do you know the Laughing Cow? (I don't know how popular it is in the US — Google it if needed and look at the picture of the red cow and its earrings).

JaneB said...

So glad to hear that Chienne is back to her more exuberant self, even if the thought of licking dog makes me shudder!

Amelie said...

Please, plot something good... he would deserve it.

Anonymous said...

dude, why are there so many of these Petes in the so glad Chienne is better :o)

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