Thursday, August 12, 2010

boston, it's been real

Things have been busy. This is the year when everything transitions, and I have been waiting for this for a while now. I finally finished school. I got engaged. I interviewed for some jobs. I decided to pick up and move to California. This is the start of the life that I've been waiting for, and the anticipation is intoxicating.

I'll miss a lot of things about Boston. Tomorrow will be my last day rowing on the Charles, which has been fantastic and invigorating and gorgeous. I'll miss the blue herons and the crowned night herons and the ducklings in spring. I won't miss the piles of goose poo on the dock. At all.

I'll definitely miss the hockey community here, and I think I'll always be a Bruins fan since Boston was the city where I learned about and grew to love hockey. I only hope I can find a cool league or team to play with out in California...

I find it sort of comforting now to hear people's Boston accents, to see people make 3-point turns in the middle of a busy street, to overhear uber-nerd conversations in the hallways of MIT. I used to think I could really live here for a long time, but now I am sort of itching for a change. James (my fiance...!) and I are planning to finally do that cross-country road trip that we've always wanted to do. We will leave in about one month (after I learn to drive stick??) with our camping gear in the trunk and our stuff shipped in boxes to Cali or sold to craigslist buyers. It's incredible the quantity of "stuff" we have in our apartment, and it's kind of refreshing to make those tough decisions about what to keep and what to toss or give away. Remind me again why I've been carrying around all this junk for years? Of course I will keep my sewing machine, my good yarns, my fabric stash (it's small), and my textbooks. Some things are too special to get rid of. ;) What really matters is that I will have my Jimmy James and we are going to California, where we get married and find awesome jobs and plant a huge garden and adopt a kitty. I can't wait!

Friday, May 28, 2010

bliss, almost

Wow, I'm done! I defended about two weeks ago, turned in my thesis last Friday, and am now just counting the days till I get my diploma and am officially a doctor! Okay, I have definitely already become a doctor in my head, and in everyone else's head too. (Doctor of Philosophy, of course.) However, I can't break myself of the habit of coming in to lab every day and puttering around on my computer for at least a few hours. I am staying on my advisor's payroll for the month of June as a post-doc, so I can write a few papers from the results of my PhD. I don't anticipate that to be too much work though, since I just wrote this 120-page document called "My Thesis" which I can repackage as a few papers. The more pressing thing on my mind is finding a job! I got my resume critiqued earlier this week, and now I need to start doing some networking and writing some cover letters. This part is a huge pain, but really I would like to have some interviews and such in the next few weeks. Then I can take a trip to Europe and not be stressing about my unemployment!

The first trip on the agenda is to Lompoc, CA, where James and I are excited to meet his new niece Madison who is due to arrive in about 2 weeks. Woo hoo! I picked up some new yarn at the store this week and am excited to start making a little sweater. Any baby I know shall never be cold, if I have anything to say about it! Haha... the biggest challenge was just picking a pattern to start knitting, and then picking out an appropriate yarn to use! Quite a dilemma, yes.

In other news, James finally bought a road bike (a really awesome one at that), and we are hoping to do a little bike trip this weekend, in the gorgeous (hopefully) weather! I'm so excited. Outdoor activities, yay!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

the amazing plant world

Plants are really kind of amazing when you think about it. They are like living light-sensors, and then they have some kind of actuator in their leaves to point themselves towards the light. Isn't that incredible? Furthermore, if you chop off one of their branches, they can grow another one - regeneration! I'm also amazed by plants that can climb walls - I saw this awesome video on the Discovery Channel website from the show Life, which had a fast-forward motion video of a rainforest vine climbing up a tree trunk to reach the sunlight. It was like it had little fingers on the edge of its vine, which tapped against the tree as it grew upwards. One of the awesomest things ever! (p.s. while just now looking at their website to find that video, I came upon this other must-see of mud-wrestling mudskippers. watch that and tell me you don't believe in evolution!) I could easily spend the rest of my day watching every video on that site, but I will try to restrain myself in the interest of graduating in two weeks.

I usually bike home due to my impatience in commuting, but occasionally when the weather is nice (which is very occasionally), I walk home. I try to see how many plants I can recognize in people's gardens, even those without flowers as clues. James went to NYC last weekend and brought back this awesome book called Grow Great Grub, which has both awesome photos and helpful tips for even city-dwelling gardeners. I'm so excited to grow some tomatoes, spinach, and shallots! Woo hoo summer!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

that legendary light at the end of the tunnel

This past week my lab hosted a manufacturing summit, which consisted of a lot of free coffee, muffins, and lunches, and 1.5 days of talks about a variety of topics related to manufacturing but not necessarily to each other. My favorite talk was by Don Sadoway, who's an amazing lecturer, and I had my first pang of a feeling that there will be a few things I'll miss about being a student! My general feeling now is that I'm beyond ready to get out of here and move on with my life, but I will kind of miss hearing super-smart people give engaging talks about cool science topics... Alas, you can't have it all.

I've been doing not much else besides work on my thesis lately (and play sports, of course), and it's excruciating to do so on those days when it's finally sunny! Also, what is up with cafes banning laptops and studying during the middle of the day? Would you rather I didn't buy anything from you at all, than to open up my laptop while I drink my coffee? I miss the old Berkeley days where every (tiny) table was filled with some studious student, sipping a mocha and doing homework. (We didn't call them p-sets at Cal, man.)

I've scheduled my PhD defense for about one month from now. I can't believe this is finally happening, but I really cannot wait for it! Yay! What a long journey! Ahhh! Next chapter is still TBD.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

outside the cars are beeping

I find that stirring milk into my coffee has serious similarities to stirring the curing agent into resin to form epoxy that will embed my samples for polishing. Ten-ounce cup, wooden stir-stick, chemistry ensues.

The trees on campus have millions of dark pink buds, but when they bloom they are light pink flowers. Beautiful and amazing! This is the best time of the year and the best kind of weather. These 2-3 weeks are what we wait for ALL WINTER.

Today I made up a word: "thermometrically". Google didn't recognize it as a word, but I feel that it should be - the adverb form of thermometric. Duh. It's going into my thesis to be immortalized.

There are certain songs on my playlist that come through my headphones and I have a heard time not singing along. One of these days I'm going to blurt out a few notes in the office inadvertently. It's hard to control.

Monday, April 12, 2010

i know it's spring but i must ignore it and work

I am writing my thesis. I have no words to spare for you, blog.

Except some angry words towards the squirrel in my neighborhood who keeps trying to dig up my bulbs! I sprinkled cayenne pepper on the dirt around my dahlia bulb (which has not yet sprouted) and Evil McSquirrelsons still dug in the dirt! I patted it back into place and sprinkled hot chili pepper for Round 2. I will have my dahlia!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

it must be spring

I'm sitting in Mariposa (the bakery cafe) and they are playing The Talking Heads, and that makes me happy.

On my way here, I passed many other things that made me happy. The explosion of yellow in front of my house, thanks to the forsythia bushes. A couple of black-capped chickadees tweeting loudly from the windowsills of an old house. A small front yard completely covered with tiny purple star-shaped flowers. A girl wearing turquoise flats. A quick phone call to my mom, who's totally loving hanging out with my cousin's three little sons, playing legos and picking oranges. I know she's not as vocal about it as James's mom is, but my mom would LOVE to have some grandkids. LOVE. And I'm excited for that. Someday.