More Things for Which I'm Thankful!
#5: The Salaita Lab
The Salaita lab has been hugely kind and supportive of me, for which I will ever be grateful to ALL of them. So, in no particular order, thanks to ....
Kevin: For his sense of humor, helping me take myself and everything less seriously. He has a near continuous, never-ending stream of jokes and is hilarious. Out of anyone, he gives me the most "hard time" but using nonsense humor that I truly enjoy. It makes me a lot more relaxed and feel like I'm part of the lab. Also, for his great advice about my experiments and data. He's always got some interesting question or opinion to point out! He's very insightful.
Yuan: For being such a continuous source of encouragement and love to me. Her asking me questions about protein back in May was such an honor and the first time I felt like a real grad student. She has also prayed with me a lot, supporting me during some really difficult times, and I cannot tell you what that meant to me. She gave me a necklace from China! She always seeks me out, grabs me to go do things and demands that I sit by her, which makes me feel so loved. She treats me like family and I feel loved and wanted around her. I couldn't ask for a better friend. I hope I can be such a good friend to people as she has been to me.
Yoshie: For helping me with a lot of things, teaching me Ni:NTA column purification and answering a lot of questions, which I tremendously appreciate! She's amazing in the lab. Everyone looks up to her. I aspire to her level of competence and will miss her when she's gone.
Yvonne: For being so funny and a good friend - she will also grab me randomly to go do things, like come to an authentic Chinese restaurant, practice English with me or demand that I eat yet another strange Chinese food (she's done this several times). She swears she's going to get me to eat chicken feet at some point, her favorite, which I'm dreading, but I'll probably eventually succumb, as she says. She also treats me like family, calls me funny names, and gives me a steady stream of warm hugs that are very comforting. She bought me a latte once and gave me cookies! I am lucky to know her.
Yue: For good conversations and respect - Yue likes to talk and has talked to me a lot about life and the philosophies behind science, as well as experiments and things. I felt honored to be talked to like an equal from a 5th year student. She also tries to include me in conversations she has with other people when I am around - which is kind of her - and payed for a whole latte and snacks one day, when she didn't have to. She's a very sweet person.
Daniel: For life, the universe and everything. Daniel is amazing! He's THE Daniel of awesome. Daniel will randomly tell me useful facts about anything I'm talking about or that he's doing. He'll explain experiments to me - his and other people's - giving me point-by-point facts to back up exactly what he's saying so that it all makes sense within five minutes and I can feel confident of what he's saying, with the data he uses to prove it. I don't even have to ask for evidence. He gives me what I want before I ask. I really appreciate his insight into biological aspects, since neuroscience and cancer are interests of his.
He's explained a lot of microscope stuff to me and I understand it much better than I used to (though still no where near competent). He's given me lots of advice about grad school in general. He's been encouraging. He always asks me how it's going. He talks to me about non-science stuff like Warmachine or gaming. He's taught me stuff about ImageJ and Adobe Illustrator and answered dumb, embarrassing questions for me that I didn't want to ask anyone else (aka what the heck is wrong with this math??). And he didn't treat me like I was an idiot for it. He ALWAYS says cool stuff is lab meetings. He very insightfully picks things up about experiments and data people present, which means he is also always listening carefully, and I truly respect that. I love listening to his point-of-view. In all respects, Daniel is inspiring and a wonderful help. I'm SO sad that he's leaving, which he continually reminds me that he IS in fact leaving. I'll miss him A LOT. I feel like I'm four times the grad student I could have been, simply because of his constant assistance in pulling me up higher.
Weiwei: For his constant support and congeniality! Weiwei is one of my favorite people! I don't really know how to describe him. "Amusing" is the best I can do. He'll come over to me and say something nonsenical that will make me laugh all the time. He also asks me how things are a lot. He smiles and laughs at almost everything I say and do - I have no idea why - but apparently he also finds me amusing. He snort/chuckled about me squealing that the new speed vac was "so pretty!" He is ALWAYS encouraging and positive. He's a very comforting person. And for some reason, he'll randomly come and talk to me during lunches and ask me "advice" about stuff, which I feel terribly honored about, since, I'm no one special and he's a post-doc. This still mystifies me. He's always smiling or joking about something or laughing at something I say. I love telling him what experiments I'm doing and asking him questions about quantum dots. He also reads some of the most interesting papers out of anyone!
Kornelia: For her humor - Kornelia is great - she is the life of the party wherever she goes, I feel like. A little bubble of music and fun follows her around. Whenever she sees me, she'll shout "Jessica!" in a made-up accent that she invented for the purpose. She'll play pranks on me, yell at me to "go home!" or "keep working" and twice she's beeped at me really loudly in her car while I was walking somewhere and she asked me where I was WALKING to and why I was ALWAYS walking. Ha. She laughs at my eating turkey sandwiches all the time. She and Yvonne are some of the most confusing people I know. I can rarely tell when they are serious. But that's ok. They're really sweet to me and I love them both.
Zheng: For his kindness and interesting conversations - He very kindly explains his experiments to me and answers questions I have and occasionally has asked me something. He always smiles and waves when I pass. Otherwise he's a very quiet person, but I feel like, he's a very comforting presence to have around.
Yang: For always smiling - Yang is almost ALWAYS smiling - he has a very iconic smile and it brightens up the place. He's usually laughing at or joking with Kevin. He thinks it's hilarious that "I'm always so happy" and love science and will laugh when I talk about experiments. His project is cool. He won't hesitate to answer questions or offer his two cents.
Carol: For helping everything run like clock-work and keeping us supplied - Carol does a lot of important stuff behind the scenes that I appreciate, like keeping us stocked up on falcon tubes, microcentrifuge tubes and paper towels - the necessities of life. I know she does a lot of other things that I don't even know about. She has a quiet passion about her that I admire. I would like to learn how to be more helpful to her and aspire to her competence at doing the "dirty jobs" without complaint that nobody notices and she seems to take care of so naturally.
#6: My parents and that mom doesn't have to work on Thanksgiving this year!
Mom is also one of those people who is SO stubborn. She just decides, in the spur of a minute, to do something impossible sounding. Even if she doesn't know how to do it, she immediately goes about it and figures it out, until it's done. Things like - 1) removing the front door and making the door frame smaller so that the lock will close better 2) making an elevated garden 3) building me a clothes rack from scratch - these all from this year alone. So, you can also blame her for teaching me to be stubborn. If she doesn't know something, she'll Google it, Youtube it or bother enough people until she figures out how to do it. Then, she'll go do it. It exasperates my dad and brother at times. And me too - because then we all have to help. But, it's actually very inspiring.
Mom always enjoys talking to me about what I'm learning and loves for me to explain it all. I try my best to do so. I have the best audience, with them. When I came home and told them about my ligation experiments without GTP, they said I presented it so dramatically and it was much better than anything they'd seen on TV that evening, which I found highly amusing. I could literally go on forever about all my mom has done for me but those are some of the highlights. She's cooking wonderful Thanksgiving food right now!! I'm SO excited.
Dad: Dad is such a kind, caring, soft-spoken and gentle soul. He's so much quieter than mom, who is kind of loud and talkative, by comparison. It's hard to know what he's thinking, because he prefers to sit and listen than talk much. He's worked in IT an a communications engineer for almost 30 years at the same company - what was Crawford Communications and now is Encompass M. Mr. Crawford sold it. Dad was there from the beginning. He originally worked with satellites. When they got their first computer, he read the manual on it backward and forward and they asked him if he wanted to take charge of it. Since then, he's been IT and brought computers home to tinker on.
Ham radio has been another big hobby of his. He taught James and I Morse Code as kids. I still know how to code "Lawrenceville," a fun challenge I thought, since it was so long. Dad introduced us to all kinds of things - from computers, ham radio, robotics, museums, trips, stamp and coin collecting, pets, computer and video games - to name a few. As kids, he built remote controlled robots out of an RC dump truck that could follow a table edge. We thought that was the greatest! We visited a cave for his birthday two years ago. We've been to several beach houses he took us to and once drove up the coast of California from San Francisco and saw the Red Wood forest - my very favorite place I've ever been. Those trees were awe inspiring and I felt like Alice in Wonderland. He also bequeathed on James the title of "James IV" which I think is the coolest thing ever. His father, James, Jr., called "Jim," was a geologist who got his master's at Emory and later become a school principle. Our great granddad was a surgeon in WWII. One of my prize possessions is his old, old microscope that he had. It's an antique but it still works! I used it as a kid to look at pollen and all kinds of stuff.
Dad and mom also gave us a rich spiritual heritage, teaching us about the Lord and taking us to church. Mom read to us from the KJV Bible every morning, a kid's book "Little Visits with God," and taught us to spend time with Him in the mornings. They were the ones who started me on my quest to know Him. And I began realizing that if I had anything in life, it had to be Him. Nothing else really compared or mattered. I'm so glad the Lord didn't give up on me. I'm so glad He lead me to Himself.
Thanks mom and dad. You really inspired me and gave me the best childhood I could have had. I hope I can be half the parents you were to James and I.
#7: James, my brother and friend
Growing up though, James wasn't always "easy to love." As all brother's do, he enjoyed giving me a hard time and scaring me to death. But, he taught me an incredible lesson - maybe the most important ones I've ever learned - how to forgive from the heart, patience, how to give of oneself and to put in practice the Biblical lessons that mom and dad taught us. If I hadn't had that in my life, I don't think I would be anywhere near as mature. I'd be cranky, crabby, avoid people altogether and just not very likeable.
But James didn't only roughen me up. He was also my best friend until I met John. As kids, we hunted caterpillars together. We had mud ball fights - we didn't have snow often - so we made wads of clay dirt and threw them at each other in the summer. Mom didn't mind. James taught me things on computers and we did Lego stop motion movies with our toys and Lego camera - that was a blast!! We also did lots of time lapses of Jenga towers falling. We played softball together. We played tennis together. We had a brief stint in a drawing class. We played computer and video games together. We fought, like kids will and yelled at each other. Then, five minutes later, it was as if it never happened. After we were about thirteen, we stopped having fights. It just didn't happen much.
James and I are about as opposite as two personalities can be. I'm a type A. James is a genius, but very relaxed and prefers to do less work than more. (I think though that's because, he's afraid of failure in his own way, and if he doesn't try his best, he can at least say - "I could have done better." But if he tries his best and doesn't make it, he feels like then he knows he's a failure. We just approach it differently. That's what I've found.) James loves to talk - almost incessantly. I don't and didn't always love to listen. I liked to read books. James said he grew to HATE the Nancy Drew books I read. Until he started reading them. Then he kind of liked them.
James will say and do things on the spur of the minute. I like to plan ahead. He will ask me if I want to do something - tomorrow - "Hey Jess, you want to go to Six Flags tomorrow?" "You want to see that new movie this afternoon?" "You want to go hammocking now?" I'll look at him exasperatedly. What he doesn't realize is I've already made plans well in advance. But he's taught me to occasionally be spontaneous for the heck of it. James is also famous for his nonsensical one liners and saying silly things. It was good for me to get used to a personality as opposed to mine as James's. I feel like he prepared me for life better than anyone I know, without realizing it. He's a bit of a clown and definitely a computer genius. I'm so lucky to call James my brother. The very best brother I could ever have had! I'm so proud of the man James has become. He's truly amazing and I cannot WAIT to see what God does in his life. I love him to death. I'm happy to say that James and I have no problem telling each other, "I love you."