Saturday, January 15, 2011

hold on to nothing as fast as you can

well, here we are 2011. and I am blowing the dust off the trusty blog and writing something down. guess I'm feeling reflective (or maybe reflexive) about 2010. it was a pretty epic year for me. let's recap, shall we?

turned 30
defended thesis, got PhD
traveled solo in Costa Rica, hiked surfed and hung out with monkeys
fell in love again, over countless drinks and bike rides and shenanigans
ran first half marathon
graduated, the pomp the circumstance
didn't say goodbye, but smell ya later, to the StL
moved to another country on another continent to do the Science
imbibed in Belgium, rocked Oktoberfest
ran first full marathon
major health scare and surgery
lost my paternal grandmother to cancer, welcomed a niece and nephew
convinced EU funding agencies to give ca$h to an American postdoc

not a bad list, if I do say so myself. so where is there to go for 2011? I've been talking a lot lately on paths and choices. two weeks from my 31st birthday and I find myself wondering if I will ever move off this conveyor-belt-academic-route that has had me chugging along for the last, oh, 16 years give or take. it's not a bad path, it's just been oh-so-me-centric for so long that I've missed out on any opportunity to think with my heart instead of my head. stuck in the land where the prescribed choices are automatically the right ones. am I happy that I'm in Germany? yes, definitely. do I love the work that I am doing and think it's positioning me to maybe one day settle down and I dunno, have a AWESOME PERMANENT JOB? of course. am I starting to get a bit frustrated that I still talk about 'positionings' and 'one days' and the constant flux? maybe a little bit. believe me, I'm not complaining about the opportunities I have, about the fact that I am living an adventure that I've worked very hard to achieve. I relish in change and would be pretty bummed without it. but maybe for the first time in my life I actually would like something constant and stable, besides myself, along for the ride. crazy thought. maybe I need a goldfish?

so far 2011, I have a list of goals, all of which are totally me-centric (see, hard habit to break)...

attend 3 conferences
publish 3 papers
run 2 marathons
try racing bikes (like the eternal footman)
see more of Europe

and, maybe maybe think about doing some other things not because they are on the "future-path-list" but because they feel good, because they let me love and feel loved and think with my heart for a change. balance, it's not just for scales and yoga poses.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

you take it on the run, baby

the last month has been a busy one... as evidenced by the lack of posts. I've been here now going on 8 weeks. I finally have my own place: a 2-floor or "masionette" style apartment with an amazing view in the Neustadt, the bohemian-bar-cafe-shopping area that became the heart of Dresden after the bombings destroyed most of the rest of the city. It's great to be in walking distance to so many different distractions. My street, Görlitzer, features among other things, a art house movie theater and a bar named Lebowski. Yes, that sort of Lebowski... are you thinking white Russians? I have yet to venture in, but there's always a crowd and the drinks are purported to be stiff. The Cohen Bros would approve.

View of Görlitzer Str. from the top floor of my apartment

another event occupied several nights in July... the Scheune Schaubuden Sommer festival. I have never experienced anything quite like it. 10 days of theater, dance, cabaret, comedy, music, film... I saw American and Austrailian comics, a Swiss troupe whose finale featured an Elephant singing "Personal Jesus" accompanied by baritone and electric ukulele, a cast of clowns as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse performing songs about death, and a lizard puppet act that included one of the best pick-up lines I've heard. obviously, it was auf Deutsch, but it went a little something like this:

Die Echse: (to a girl in the audience) According to my watch, you're not wearing any underwear. Is this true?
Girl: No, sorry.
Die Echse: Hmm. Maybe I should tell you that my watch is two hours fast...

Buff Papier at Schaubuden Sommer

finally, as I've been deprived of long road rides (so missing that and my cycling friends from the StL...), I've been running a lot instead. actually, I've decided to run the Dresden Marathon in October. 6 weeks into training now and I've already clocked 86 miles total. running has given me a way to explore the city - it's definitely the most scenic place I've ever lived. whether I am running along the Elbe or through the historic buildings of Altstadt, it makes the miles pass faster... though, I should be thinking in kilometers now!

Monday, July 12, 2010

until 2014...

Hard to believe that I am starting my 4th week here in Dresden. Thankfully, my arrival coincided with the World Cup. One makes fast friends when one enjoys sports and rooting for the home team, not to mention beer drinking...

Some documentation of the many Deutschland matches I've attended:

Watching the Group of 16 match against England

The crowd celebrates the first goal in the quarterfinal against Argentina

Many a frei bier at Waldschlösschen - 8 in all over 2 matches

The only picture I took the night of the loss to Spain at the Red Rooster...

The crowd at Fähregarten celebrates the small final victory over Uruguay

Sunday, July 4, 2010

the CBG and me

Here's a little tour around my new work digs. The building, designed by Finish and German architects, has housed about 400 scientists from over 30 countries comprising 25 research groups since 2001 in its unique space. The MPI-CBG also brought about the "Dresden Model" - a research institution that limits hierarchy of resources for the better pursuit of science.

The Germans call the ground floor the Eingang or entrance, not level 1 - which means working on the 4th floor means I climb up 4 flights of stairs to get to lab.

Can't do the science without the caffeine!

Or something to eat. Our canteen serves pretty good food. And it's subsidized, so it's a bargain!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

long, hot Dresden summer

Priessnitz Str 35. Maybe my future apartmet?

What with a major move, it's time to brush the cobwebs off and start blogging again. I arrived in Dresden on Monday for my postdoc stint here (1-3 years) and am busy settling in. Getting to know my new lab, making friends, looking for apartments and a bike, and lots of paperwork. Seems that a summer is the best time to be in Dresden. The days are long and the temps are a good 20 degrees cooler than in the Lou. Highs of 75 everyday? Don't mind if I do... Festivals, encouraged outdoor drinking, and the World Cup seem to fuel the fire. I was told over my umpteenth grosse Hefeweizen last night (omg, so so so good and I am not a Hefe drinker, usually) that Dresdeners party all summer, only waking up from their bacchanal in September to find their flats (in daylight) dirty and smelling of stale beer. I think I'm going to like it here.

On Louisenstrasse in Neustadt

Flea market along the Elbe

Biergarten overlooking the Elbe

USA World Cuppage, er Steinage

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

neko case and the pantheon of heavy metal gods

I think for every stretch of life, there's a defining set of music. For me, adolescence was REM, sparked by my father's love of college radio. my early 20s... the indie rock bliss of Belle and Sebastian. circa-25 was the Replacements, rowdy and unapologetic. and now, as I wrap up my 3rd decade, no one speaks to me more than one Ms. Neko Case.

I would trade you my empire for ashes.

Neko has played StL twice in the last 2 years. I have been lucky enough to take in both shows from the balcony of the Pageant (alternating stage left and right) with women I am proud to call some of my closest friends here. And while many of the songs were the same, these were unique experiences in many respects.

Contrasting the two, I'd say that the first show took on a much more melancholy vibe... likely because of our emotional states at the time... but that's another story. And Neko was chill, almost somber compared to the more recent show, playing a mix of old stuff and really highlighting the new songs from the upcoming record that was to be released in spring of 2009. Not sure what substances, illegal or otherwise, were consumed before they took the stage the other week, but Neko et al were downright punchy this time. The running joke of the evening was "metal" and where each song fell amongst the pantheon of metal gods. There was also a brief interlude regarding Cannibal Corpse, complete with random voiceover in British accent by Ms. Case.

Other highlights included the running tally of Neko's hair tucks (gotta love a nervous habit... HOT) and the tornado playing phone-a-friend to share the last song of the set. Of course we all sang along to our favorites, the checklist of what we wanted to hear. For her cover of Harry Nielsen's "Don't forget me" there was swaying... arms around each other... taking in the moment. I'm putting that song on my "Goodbye StL" mix. And there will probably be some tears.

The Neko shows v.1 and v.2 will go down as some of my fonder recent memories... Good friends. Beautiful songs. An amazing voice.

That's SO metal.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

so here's your future

So it's official. I'm moving to Dresden, Germany next June for a post-doc at the Max Planck. This was a really tough decision, as I had three incredible offers to choose from. Turning down Johns Hopkins and Cambridge was not an easy thing to do. However, I am really excited about joining Andy Oates' lab at the MPI and starting to work on zebrafish! The work will be a nice complement to and extension of my graduate training in circadian biology. I will be looking at single cell clocks in a new model system and in development... With the "pull" in place, it's now time to buckle down finish that pesky thesis!