Wednesday, 26th Feb: Working on my presentation like mad and other things that happened
Talking to Kevin and Khalid
Practicing my presentation and realizing it was short
Thursday, 27th Feb: day of the presentation of doom;
Dr. Conticello had mercy on me
So, I went and ate lunch. I read my Bible and prayed about it. I couldn't do anything else, really. I felt like I was walking to my execution, but ironically, I didn't feel nervous about it really this time. There was nothing I could do. The presentation was going to arrive whether I wanted it to or not, so I figured, why stress about it? That's one of the first times that has happened.
And I just prayed that the Lord would have mercy on me. It turns out He did. Dr. Conticello was kind and used up some of my time in the beginning talking and making jokes. A few people asked questions and Dr. Conticello used up more time at the end, asking questions. I was SO relieved to be done with it. I was the first person to present after Dr. Conticello's students.
Busting out a small experiment: checking RNA integrity
Friday, 28th Feb: Part 1 of recruitment weekend and lots of things happening all at once
Judging the Gwinnett Science Fair!
Getting to Emory and feeling panicked, as I tried to sort out the schedules of things
I also had a meeting with the librarian Donna Hudson at 3 p.m. and I was worried I'd be late to the poster session, which started at 4 p.m. Khalid had told me to be there with Victor and Mingda. I also had no idea really where the Emory Conference Center was, where it was being held.
I walked over to the Woodruff library and wandered around until I found Ms. Hudon's office. I didn't know where that was either. Finding her was an answer to prayer. She said she was actually meeting near Ann's office, so I didn't need to go there. But now I know where the library actually IS, which I think will prove useful to me.
Dr. Scarborough's funny story
Meeting with Donna and busting out of the lab to the poster session
I finally got to the poster session around 4:10 p.m., somewhat tired, but in one piece. There was only two posters setup instead of the four we had expected, probably because the space was kind of small.
The poster session, talking to lots of people
I actually got a chance to talk to Carol in the lab. She talked to me! It was a decent length conversation too. I was so delighted to actually talk to her like normal - that's doesn't happen often. It made me feel special, because she doesn't just talk to everyone.
Epiphany: realizing I was part of the Salaita lab
It's kind of like, the moment I first became proud of being a Petree. I always loved my maiden name and wasn't so excited about it changing, though I loved John. I didn't feel like a Petree. Then, during PE at Oxford one day, we were playing ultimate frisbee, and someone yelled at me, "PETREE!" Using it as my name. At that moment, I suddenly appreciated my name and felt like a Petree, such a surge of love and pride for John, and that I was his. Ever after, I've been so proud of my name.
It was the same kind of thing for the Salaita lab at that moment. I finally feel as if I'm a real member, after all. It makes me glow. I still am slowly digesting the reality that Khalid's my adviser. I am HIS student! I relish that fact almost every day. It's such a sweet savor of awesome to me.
Dr. Weinert found my running amusing
I actually went to the dinner and bowling this time
Dr. Blakey let me sign up for bowling on his game. He bowled amazingly - something like a 125! I was terrible - 54. I was doing ok, and then, bowled four sets of gutter balls. I seem to have rounds of bad luck, but I don't know what makes the difference, because I don't necessarily do anything differently. I didn't mind though. I was glad I had participated. By the end, it was 8 p.m. and I was more than exhausted, so I went home. The stuff I'd been doing was being nervous, lots of walking, some running, and lots and lots of talking. That makes for a tiring day - though I enjoyed the whole thing.
Saturday, March 1st: Part 2 of recruitment weekend
Nervous and working on my DNAzyme system
Khalid toured people through our lab. That was fun to watch. And all day, I worked on designing a substrate, DNAzymes and a splint for my system. It was very difficult and took me several continuous hours of work, with 10 minute breaks. I got to show it to Khalid though after it was finally done. I didn't expect to finish it - I was kind of amazed that I had - I attribute it to lots of prayer. I did find one kink that I have to fix, but I hope it won't give me too much trouble.
Taking students on a walking tour
Rolando mentioned the Woodruff library and asked what I had to add about it, since I'd been inside. I just remembered the floors of books, and said, "There's lots and LOTS of books." Rolando laughed and made jokes about how HELPFUL that answer was, and so did I. I'm kind of silly sometimes.
The dinner in the evening: talking to Nadine, Dr. Weinert and Khalid - the best part of the day
The food was great - mysterious - in that I didn't know what most of it was - but great. Khalid sat at a table nearby. I had hoped to sit at his table, but I resolved not to be too disappointed. I'd already talked to him that day and I count myself lucky if I can talk to him for 2 min at least in a day. It's really nice. I look forward to that. During rotations in other labs, I hardly was able to talk to him at all. It's a wonderful difference being able to.
I talked to Nadine a long time and really enjoyed hearing about her opinions of Emory. She really liked it over all. Our table wasn't very full. In fact, there were far fewer people at this dinner than the one in my year - or so it seemed. The seat next to me was empty and after Dr. Weinert, Nadine and I sat down, two other people joined us, along with Kevin from the Hill lab and some other guy.
AJ came and sat down - he is SO absolutely hilarious! He regaled us with stories of all his mistakes in cooking and the girl next to us told us cool recipe ideas of how to make raman noodles that were amazing and other trade secrets. Dr. Weinert pitched in and had her own trade secrets to share. AJ said he once had cracked an egg and cooked it raw in the microwave. It mutated into something else entirely. I laughed a lot about this.
And somewhere about then, Khalid came over and talked to me! I was both completely surprised and beyond happy and delighted. I admit to have been wishing and praying he'd come our way, trying to will it with the Force, I guess, but didn't expect it to actually happen. And then he sat at our table! Nothing could have made me happier. It's not often I get to talk to him in a non-academic setting. It seemed the person he was talking to at his table had left.
He regaled us with his own hilarious food stories. My favorite was the egg HE cooked in the microwave as a grad student - raw, the entire thing, with the shell and all. He cooked it for a minute and left it in there. It exploded with a loud bang, blew open the door of the microwave and sprayed burned egg all over the walls! And it broke the microwave. That was HYSTERICAL. I think he one upped AJ.
Khalid also got to talk to Nadine and everyone which was great. A dinner is a great venue for conversation. If I can't think of anything to say, other people can and the conversation continues, and I can listen. I enjoy listening as much as talking.
Finishing the dinner
It was also special to me, because I felt like a real lab member and had such pride in that fact. It was cool, thinking about my time at this dinner as a recruit, and now I was here again, as a member. The dinner when I was a recruit was a real game changer for me. I might never have joined the Salaita lab otherwise, if Khalid hadn't talked to me that night. All the Lord's doing, I tell you. So much has happened since then, it's unbelievable and all of it has been good. I wonder what will happen next year.
While Khalid was getting a drink, I expounded to Nadine about why I thought he was so awesome and how he fit all my five things I was looking for when I came here, and why I thought the lab was so wonderful, and the atmospheres of labs, how they were all different, with examples. She listened avidly and said I was really making her want to join the Salaita lab. GOOD, I say. At the end, I gave her my phone number and email and told her to keep in touch. I really look forward to her coming to Emory. She's so nice! Quiet, thoughtful and sweet. I tried to allay her fears about all the new and scariness. I was scared too when I came, but my excitement eventually overcame that.
Khalid has really blessed me recently, by speaking so many positive and wonderful things to me and over me. I can't put into words what that has meant to me. It's been a long time since I've had such a mentor in my life, who I admire, and speaks so much good. I appreciate and love him tremendously. I hope to bless him as much as he has me. I pray that all the time. Maybe someday, I can meet and get to know Meisa better.