December 29, 2005

Hello!

No, I am not dead, and I did not quit my journal. And I am fine, although the latter half of 2005 was not a particularly easy time for me, nor a restful one. I am trying to finish up with the whole school thing (please send good thoughts on the afternoon of January 16th, because I have a big thesis committee meeting then) which leaves me at the end of the day with just enough energy to pop our latest arrival from Netflix in the DVD player, open a beer, and press "play," and not a whit more. And then there was a bunch of stressful life stuff: our friend Steve continuing to recover from his ruptured brain aneurysm, and a couple of trips to the hospital for Iggy, too. Maybe I'll talk about that stuff in a later entry. Things are fine now, but I don't think I've experienced that wrung-out feeling of stress and adrenaline and sadness as many times in my whole life up to this point as I have in the last six months. Does everyone get that physical sensation under stress? The feeling in your stomach as if someone has grabbed your upper torso with one hand and your legs with the other and then just twisted until your midsection forms a knot? Anyway, I am hoping for better things in 2006.

I'm writing this at work. It's my first day back this week; I was at my parents' house in Massachusetts for Christmas. My trip home yesterday took thirteen and a half hours door-to-door. The East Coast is too damned far away. But travel almost always makes for good fodder for journal entries!

My story of my trip home starts on Saturday at 4:15 a.m. That's when I had to get up to be ready for my 4:50 shuttle pickup to make it to the airport for my 7 o'clock flight. Except the shuttle doesn't come, so at 5:25, I call a cab. The cab comes at 5:40, and luckily I have a very fast driver who makes it to the airport in under 20 minutes (although I, a nervous passenger, have to close my eyes and grip the handle on the inside of my door in order to tolerate this). So, I get to the airport, and are maybe 200 people standing in the electronic check-in line at the Delta counter. But the line moves fast and they actually end up pushing back the departure time of my flight anyway in order to get everyone checked in. The woman sitting next to me on the first leg of my flight is reading the same book I am (Running With Scissors). She only reads for maybe half an hour, though, and then falls asleep. I finish that book, and then another and then have to look for something else to read at the Atlanta airport.

There is nothing good to read at the Atlanta airport. The Atlanta airport has "bookstores" that sell nothing but magazines and candy. They do have some books for sale, but it's the same dozen mass-market paperbacks at every newsstand and they're all by either Dan Brown or Scott Turow. I buy magazines thinking that if I'm going to buy crap to read, it may as well be disposable crap, but it would have been cheaper to just buy a book.

On that second flight, I am glad to have something to read, though, even though it's only two and a half hours from Atlanta to Hartford. This is largely because the guy sitting next to me is one of those people who literally does nothing throughout the duration of the flight. He doesn't bring anything to read or even an iPod or anything. And he doesn't sleep, either, he just stares at the seat in front of him. I've noticed that often, people who don't bring anything to read on a plane will try to talk to you, but he actually doesn't even do that. The guy sitting on the other side of my neighbor has rented a portable DVD player and watches "The Dukes of Hazzard," laughing uproariously throughout the entire flight. All I can think is how even though it is almost over, I'm going to have to do the same thing again on Wednesday.

My trip back was long, delayed in Atlanta due to weather, and then suddenly un-delayed which made me relieved that I had decided against going for a stroll around the terminal. And now I'm back.

Things here in the lab are mostly deserted, but I've got stuff that has to get done today. As a matter of course, I try not to talk about work here, because I don't think it's a particularly prudent thing to do, but today I'm feeling frustrated. Before I left, I asked a co-worker to take care of two things for a project we're both working on...to make a long story short, one of these, he farmed out to a technician who had told me that she didn't have time to do it (I guess she found the time to do it for him, though) and the other one, he screwed up and didn't bother to try to repeat. Oh, and someone left their chemical waste sitting on my bench. Basically, I have the feeling that I am failing to inspire sufficient awe in my co-workers. I will have to strive to be scarier in 2006, I guess.

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