How to begin an end to begin again

(Or writing a blog entry when your brain just doesn’t churn out coherent sentences for a scientific article that I am supposed to be writing).

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Me: I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Grad School friend 1: How much is there to do between you and the light?

Grad School friend 2: They did tell you that the light at the end of the tunnel is a train, right? ūüėČ

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Earlier today, my P.I. dropped by and asked if I’ve finished the draft of the scientific article that will serve as my ticket to thesis dissertation writing. ¬†I gave him a weak smile and told him the truth – in the two weeks since I showed him my outline and the random sentences that make up the dummy draft, it was still the same old dummy draft. ¬†In short, I have not done anything during the holidays. ¬†It’s just difficult to take a holiday brain to thinking about heterosubtypic immunity generated by a past influenza virus encounter and a potential pan-influenza epitope, when the world around you is celebrating/worrying about what gift to give/ binge eating/ getting drunk/ etc. etc. ¬†Now that the holidays are over and the new year has been ushered in by a ball dropping (among other ways of welcoming the new year), it’s time to begin this journey to the end. ¬†It’s time to start writing up this paper, submit it, write the dissertation, defend it and get the PhD. ¬†I just wish it’s as easy as writing down the previous sentence.

I’ve been sitting on my desk for hours now, and I’ve only done a couple of graphs and written a few short sentences here and there. ¬†The brain is still fried and wants to wander. ¬†The more I force myself to think about writing, the more my brain goes into this other world of self-reflection and random thought processing (well, not really random, but more like what-my-life-as-a-graduate-student-have-been kind of random). ¬†I guess I ‘ll just go ahead and put these thoughts into words.

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I took the road less traveled – as I would like to think. ¬†Graduate school is not the usual course people take after they get their degrees. ¬†I don’t know what prompted me to take the “plunge”, but the last six or so years have been bittersweet. ¬†And as Mr. Frost alluded to in his poem, those six years felt like I was in this long and dark road that¬†went for miles and miles, and there were still “miles to go before I sleep.” ¬†Even now that the end seems near, it still feels far away – if that makes any sense at all. I’ve learned tons of stuff and found that there is still so much to learn and so much to discover – and to think this is only in the field that I am currently studying! ¬†There were fun adventures and exciting places that I’ve done and gone to. ¬†If I meet my 22 year old self in an alternate universe, I think she will be amazed at the things that I have done for my 28 year old self. ¬†Never would she have thought of setting foot outside of the Philippines, or doing triathlons or long-distance running, or going on lone road trips. ¬† The personal life (TPL) has taken its toll, however, and for some people back home, it’s well and good to work on a PhD degree and do exciting things, but if you don’t have somebody (a.k.a. boyfriend or husband or whatever permutation there is of a “companion in life”), you’re missing out. ¬†I’m glad that my family and my closest friends don’t think that way, and although they drop hints and gentle reminders every so often, they don’t pressure me into dealing with TPL. ¬†And besides, I don’t want to deal with TPL yet, although my alter ego has been prodding me to be more deliberate in this aspect.

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People from the Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) came by and told us about a lab inspection/visit tomorrow by representatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). ¬†Just a few minutes earlier, my lab mate and I were munching on dark chocolate squares with orange peel. ¬†Thirty minutes prior, ¬†I had my coffee mug right next to my laptop. ¬†You see, were not supposed to have any food or drink (or cosmetics) inside the lab. ¬†I always eat snacks at my desk and bring my coffee inside the lab everyday except Thursdays, since the previous EH&S personnel does her inspection every Thursday afternoon. ¬†Now, the new personnel comes in on a Wednesday, and her new schedule hasn’t really sunk into me yet. ¬†Good thing my big pile of paper covered my coffee mug when she entered our lab! ¬†The ironic thing is that they gave us a thumbs up, telling us we’re good to go for the inspection tomorrow. ¬†I guess they didn’t smell the caffeine and the cocoa.

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Enough rambling for now.  The brain has been perked up by jotting down these random thoughts.  I better take advantage of this and get back to business.

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