Today, I ran my overnight ligation reaction gel. It went well - pretty gel - though it showed my protein isn't working. I'm pleased the gels I'm running are turning out - granted, they're pre-cast. I'm going to work on my gel leaking issues tomorrow.
Must Fix Gel Leaks!
The cassette that holds the gel together while it's polymerizing (or while the gel is gelling, hardening) - it leaks really badly sometimes. I still have to figure out why.
I think I have a plan though. I'm going to add water to it with some blue dye I made up that I haven't used and watch it for 30 min for leaks before I actually pour a gel. If it doesn't leak, then I'll pour out the dye and add in the gel! That should work. If I can just figure out from where it's leaking.
The Cas9 Presentation
I had a presentation this past Tuesday. Gah! That's all I have to say to that. It could have been so much better if I'd only prepared more like I was supposed to. I did all kinds of presentations at UGA, I feel like, but maybe it's fewer than I think - I ended up leading many of them - there was always another one to do. A few were in front of classes of 80 people. This one was no where near the level I expect of myself. I felt like I was bumming it and I hate that.
Last week, I kept wanting to run experiments instead of preparing for it and flopping into bed when I got home, pretty much. I equate running experiments with working. If I don't run them, I don't feel like I'm working. And now, I'm being paid - so I MUST make sure that I'm always working when I'm at school, or else, I feel like a slacker.
So, I worked on it on Monday, but I didn't work on it ALL day, like I needed to. I really should have taken a week of evenings.
Just beforehand, I nearly had a nervous collapse. I've never been that scared in a very VERY long time. I think it came close to riding the Goliath at Six Flags for the first time. Maybe. Nah. That was worse.
Most of what freaked me out was that I wasn't prepared enough - I wanted to have scoured the papers, read both of the SIs, looked over all the data in meticulous detail, reviewed the processing of type II CRISPR/Cas sequences, then gone over the whole thing until I could have explained it smoothly and effortlessly - but I didn't get to nearly as much as I had hoped.
But, what made it so much worse was that it was in front of Dr. Salaita! And Yoshie! Both of whom I respect unbelievably and they stuck out in my mind as the scariest people to give a presentation in front of, because they'd probably see all kinds of horrible flaws in it.
Dr. Salaita pointed out that they didn't know anything about Cas9, so I was safe there. But at that point, I could barely hear him, really. His demeanor helped make me feel a bit better in a vague way - but I'm pretty sure I just convinced him I was insane. It's ok. Better he knows now what he's getting into having me as a student, than later.
Now that I scared the crap out of myself doing a presentation I wasn't prepared for, I feel as if it set me straight for the rest of grad school. I will *never* do that again and will start putting it together two weeks in advance, probably.
After the Presentation
I was unhinged pretty much the whole day, in a fog, even after the presentation was over. I had 4 hrs of sleep. I'm not one of those people who does well with not much sleep - not at all.
I stared at my data I had gathered on Monday for a whole hour and really, really, tried to puzzle it out before my meeting with Dr. Salaita, but it didn't do any good. My head hurt, my brain felt like molasses, and refused to move. I couldn't figure out what anything meant. I think I was trying to think *too* hard. It's like oobleck - corn starch and water - let your hand sit in it, and it will sink in. But any sudden movements, and it turns solid and doesn't budge. I ended up not seeing what was in front of my face.
In the meeting, I'm sure I must have convinced Dr. Salaita I was insane, if his face was any judge. Later, after I ate lunch, I figured out I had my shirt buttoned askew, off by one. Everybody must have thought I was crazy. I was, at the time. Looking back at it ... it's really, really funny. This is what happens when Jessica goes insane. Note.
It's too bad. I really was looking forward to talking about Cas9. I think it would have been more fun if I'd done it better. That meeting was good though. It helped me remember some things Bijoy told me about data collecting and organized my thoughts better for future meetings, I think.
Questions that Stump the Brain
Have you ever had someone ask you a question - and you *knew* what the answer was - but the answer was too big, or didn't fit into words, or composed of a jumbled mess that you couldn't sort out right then, and you were left staring bug-eyed with your mouth open or speaking incoherent nonsense? I feel like this happens to me all the time.
I find it so much easier to write, than to talk. I wondered vaguely this week if it would help me get words out if I imagined writing an email in my mind and reading it out. I'm not sure.
Dr. Salaita asked me about a week ago, "How is it going in lab?" *brain freeze* You know in MS DOS prompts - the old computers, where you type a /command, and it brings up a scrolling list of code text that's really long and keeps going down the screen? That's what my mind felt like. How could I put any of that into words? Impossible. So I ended up saying something really vague, like, 'good.' I just couldn't figure out what to say. Everything I think and decide is composed of endless details. If you don't know what they are, how can you know how I feel about anything?
He also asked me if I felt better while I was talking, in the Cas9 presentation. That was another complicated question. Yes, I no longer felt scared to death. But no, that did not imply I was happy or satisfied with it. I was still very, very unhappy and unsatisfied with the whole thing. But I couldn't figure out how to say that either.
Oh the annoyance of talking, I feel like, sometimes. If I could just do a brain transference or mind meld, my life would be so much easier.
Daniel is a Nerd Gamer
Later that day, Daniel said, "SO, you play Old Republic, huh? He'd seen the icon on my computer when I was loading up my presentation. I said OH yes. Though I don't play right now.
That lead to a very interesting conversation in which I discovered he knew about Warhammer AND Warmachine and actually played some Warmachine - Cygnar! My faction!! What do you know. That was a shocker. Not many people know about Warmachine - which is what he said - he couldn't believe he was talking to someone who knew what some of it meant. Granted, John knows it a lot better than I.
We discussed Cygnar for 20 min. I felt like I was talking to John, almost, and that I had been transported to Tower Games, with Bryan, Steven, Walter, Matt, Chip and Daniel and didn't know it (see my gaming blog photos). I told him we should find a way to hang out w/ him and play some games, or he should come up to the game store someday, on a Saturday, when we're there. He said, yeah, we should. Amazing. I still can't believe he plays Warmachine - that is SO cool. It made me really happy, because I felt like it connected John in some kind of mystical way with my grad school stuff. Maybe this will be a way for John to connect better w/ some of my grad school people.
Yuan made me laugh more this week. She came up behind me and touched my hair and said, "Ooo, so soft!" And walked away before I could react.
Kornelia has taken to calling me, "Jess-EE-ca" - accent on the middle. Yuan was teasing her about how she pronounced things, one of them being my name. Oma calls me that. I think it's a German/Polish thing. Now she says it every time she sees me. "Jess-EE-ca!"
Yang came back from China. I didn't recognize him, at first. He's very interesting. He's Chinese, but he really doesn't have much of an accent. He has a really deep voice. And, he's almost *always* smiling. I remembered that, once I saw him again, and was amazed. I didn't know anyone could smile that much. That's a good thing. It's just surprising.
Yvonne saw me today and asked if I had eaten lunch. I said, "No, I didn't make myself a lunch today, I ran out of turkey." She said, "What?! How is that possible? Don't you have tons stored up in your freezer?" She has a point. But no, frozen turkey doesn't taste nearly as good. Everyone now jokes about how I eat turkey every day - I think it's hilarious. I don't mind - it is weird - I'm not sure why I can eat turkey that often without getting sick of it - I just really like turkey. I've puzzled over it myself without use.
Rolando and Vijay
I saw Rolando and Vijay in the hall. Vijay, I know from last semester's Oxford organic chem SIs I did for Dr. Saadein. He's such a hilarious and expressive person and tends to do and say very amusing things - he's in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURE) right now, with Rolando in the Lynn lab.
Rolando looked at me with this peeved face and said that everything I said on facebook was about lab. Every day I'd say: "Today in lab," and "Today in lab" and "Today in lab," but lately, I hadn't said anything, so did that mean I was getting not as excited? I said, no, I just had a presentation and was stressed out. I couldn't believe he read those. Probably no one understands what I write up there, *except* him and maybe a few others. Later, I posted something about lab, just for him. ;) I told him I would. He said I'd better.
I ran into Matthew in the elevator! He's the guy, during the visitation weekend, that was another prospective student in my group who proposed to Ann Dasher, for the scavenger hunt check list. I told him I'd always remember him as, "That guy who proposed to Ann Dasher." I never forgot his name - that's how impressed I was. We talked about our projects. He's working in the MacDonald lab right now on synthesis of a toxin. He said the visitation weekend was so long ago, when I mentioned it, he couldn't remember it very well. This kind of surprised me. I remember it like it was yesterday, burned into my mind.
Zheng, one of the post-docs in the Salaita lab found my blog - this one! He even said it was cool and gave me a thumbs up! I was *really* surprised. I don't advertise this blog to anyone except my gamer friends, a few other friends, a few people on facebook and family. He said he found it randomly when he was searching some article or another involving "Salaita." How fascinating I tried to reproduce this, but couldn't. Maybe he'll read this and find himself in this note.
Sealed to the Salaita Lab
I love working in the Salaita lab. I had been trying to be sneaky about my choice before, not telling very many people, but I've given up on that. What's the point? The other professors may as well know that I'm taken. I just didn't want to disappoint anyone, or have people try to argue me out of what I'd decided because I "couldn't possibly know" and thus force me to explain the unexplainable. It's futile. But I'm tired of all the evading and side-stepping I was having to do. So now, when people ask if I'm going to join, I just say, "Yes, absolutely."
However, I'm beginning to think that Dr. Salaita won't really believe me until I *actually* join the lab, which initially really surprised me. All things considered though, after I talked to Yuan, I suppose it makes sense. That's ok. Time will bear me out. I wouldn't have believed myself, a year ago.
Yuan has kept saying to me, "Hopefully, you won't change your mind." :| I think I've finally convinced her though, after today. If only people knew how completely impossible that is. So completely impossible. But since other people aren't me, they can't know this. This is where a brain transference would be useful.
It's an understandable misconception. Lots of people do change their minds. It just so turns out that I'm not one of them. I have reached a certain threshold of knowledge. Most decisions, one decides, and makes the best choice out of the facts at hand. Either is as good as the next, it's just what's most favorable or best for you at the time - or what you think is.
And then, there are those rare decisions where not only the facts at hand fit perfectly, but it's like the whole universe itself aligns: God tells you what to do not once, but multiple times, it's suddenly clearer than the nose on your face, not to mention that it also happens to be a perfect answer to four years of prayer and better than your fondest hopes. What is there left to question? Hmm. I think I'll keep looking? No. One would have to be stupid not to dive for it. I mean, seriously.
There is only one choice. I ended up accepting Emory specifically to join the Salaita lab. It was a huge risk. But I knew that it was the right one. People tell you not to join a place that you couldn't see yourself working in at least 2-3 labs. But - I considered - what if - against all conventional wisdom, there was one place with your name on it and nothing else really that fit - and that place was where you needed to go? Should you not go there, just because there weren't multiple places you wanted to be? Sometimes, just sometimes, there are exceptions.
I have only become more certain. I'm not certain it's possible to be more certain. How more sure can you be *after* 100% sure? I've already ridden and dispelled all the waves of doubt that come with decisions, now and then. I'm left on this very firm and certain rock of confidence that I know, that I know, that I know I'm in the right place, the right time with the right people, exactly where God wants me. Exactly. *sigh* Imagine trying to explain this to scientists. It's very hard. Another reason why I've tried to be so evasive. I have logical reasons that go with this decision. But my logical reasons won't convince someone I mean what I say. And the reason is, because there is in fact more than that, that I cannot say very well or don't know how, unless I write a 5-page essay.
Anyway, SO sorry this note is just a bunch of random thoughts. I should give a more organized account. Alas! *headdesk* You'll have to just have randomness today. Until next time! I'll try to write sooner than two weeks, in future. I was just so tired last Sunday.