Archive for July, 2013

July 27, 2013

Celebrating the opportunity to work my ass off basically for free

A couple months ago, I discovered that I had been accepted to the Microbiology and Immunology PhD program at UMB.  Finally, a journey that began with my registering for the GRE’s in January 2011 culminated in a teary-eyed, sweaty-palmed ultimately victorious meeting with the department chair last April in which I received my acceptance letter with trembling fingers.  Naturally, I am only writing about it now because…grad school gave, and grad school hath taken away…and I soon became mired neck-deep in the unclean dreck I had just worked so hard to wade into.  But I did want to take a moment and touch on the things the Greek and I did to celebrate…this and my recent birthday, a day now, since my thirties, celebrated by everyone but me (including all the citizens of Canada since it also happens to be their independence day).  I was playfully calling it my third 29th birthday, but you’ll also notice that I have very saliently and intentionally neglected to account for the passage of time in the profile of this very blog.  And so begins the period of my life in which I am only truthful and forthcoming of my age when not doing so is considered a felony…to be immediately followed, around the age of 50 I imagine, by my “Couldn’t give a shit how old I am” stage.

Conundrum: How do two suburban misanthropes enjoy the peak blooming of DC’s cherry blossoms and not have to interact with any people?  I asked the Greek if he wanted to see the cherry blossoms that bloom along the National Mall (because it’s one of those things people nearby like me vow to do but then never get around to).  He said sure, but he didn’t want to deal with the crowds and could I maybe play hooky from work some day during the week, confirming 2 things for me: 1.) That he had the same idea I had in my brain that I hadn’t shared, and 2.) That, apparently, people still say “playing hooky”.  And why am I suddenly talking about something that occurred a season ago?  Well, because this didn’t end up happening (see “Bad hostess”), but we did finally recently end up doing our ‘burb equivalent- the nearby nurseries, an outing that is both fun and utilitarian- since I’m pretty sure you can’t take the cherry blossoms on the National Mall home and plant them in your garden, speaking of felonies.  This is an especial treat for me because, as we can now almost certainly conclude, I am an inveterate ‘brown thumb‘.  The accidental arboreal Angel of Death, if you will.  And I must accept that the most beautiful gardens I shall ever have will be the ones I create in my mind.

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They had magnolias there that were lovely…far beyond the price range of the pay grade I recently forced upon myself…but lovely all the same.  And of course cherry blossoms.  And we have made another decision, or rather, another attempt to make gardening happen for me: azaleas (if only I were as tenacious at actual gardening as I am my unwillingness to accept my botanical limits!).  Reputably quite hearty and even the dwarf bushes we had our eye on will grow big and cover more surface area at once.  The Greek has proposed we come back later (which I guess is about now!) when they’ve filled in a little more (Translation: For you, we’re really going to need them to be at the peak of their health, my little flower assassin.  Aren’t you adorable?  You kill everything you touch, like some sort of manual Medusa).

After that, we dined for the first time at The Iron Bridge Wine Co., a small, dark, charming little place on Route 108.  I departed from my normally vegetarian diet and had the diver scallops.  The Greek had the duck in a delicate brown sauce.  And between us, we split a bottle of a red blend from South America whose name I can’t recall.  And for the close of this sumptuous feast, we each had an enormous crème brûlée with, get this, a thick layer of chocolate ganache gloriously discovered at the bottom and topped with fresh blackberries.

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For my birthday, we went to a place called Honey Pig, a Korean BBQ my fellow grad students are basically obsessed with.  Now that I’ve been there, I’m beginning to understand the prepossession.  At my behest, our first trip there was actually the prior week when my mother took me out for a birthday dinner.  This picture was taken at Honey Pig, part deux, when the Greek and I found ourselves back there a few days after my birthday: thinly sliced pork belly cooked right at the table (bring a hand fan; it gets hot in there!), udon noodle soup with fish cakes, and kimchi of course.  Additionally, and it goes without saying, I have also clearly fallen off the vegetarian wagon for this one as well.  Sadly, I am like Julius Ceasar: when I celebrate, something has to die.

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July 25, 2013

The Misadventures of Spots and Stripes, Part Four: Holding down the fort

It’s fairly well-known amongst those who know me that you shouldn’t ask me or the Greek how our kitties are doing unless you’re free for the next, say, forty minutes.  We tend to forget that perhaps not everyone is as invested in our boys as we are and that perhaps protracted tales of feline forays and catty anecdotes was not what they signed on for when they asked that simple question.  I’m sure somewhere in the back of my mind I am aware that “How are your cats?” is sometimes simply a standard nicety someone might make on the way to the restroom, with the expectation of a one word answer.  BUT theeeeennnnn I think, surely, once they hear the uproarious account of cuteness run amok, they will be glad they held it in.  So, ask at your own risk and clear your schedule!

There are, in fact, many instances where this occurs in my life: the moment when I realize that what I thought was garden-variety doting is actually viewed by some as fervent attachment verging on obsession.  Aw well.  Recently, I was showing pictures of the kits on my phone and remarked casually, “This was when we built them a fort…” to which my uncle responded, “Wait.  Pause for a moment.  You built them a fort?!  You built them…a fort?!?  They’re cats!!!”.  Evidently, this is yet another thing we are blissfully unaware that other people simply do not do.  Alright, fine, we might be a little indulgent and I don’t know about everyone else’s little ones (four- or two-legged), but our cats just love a fort.  Any enclosed space where they can hide and feel safe or nap or pounce.  They’ve been known to dig furiously at my stomach when I’m wearing a particularly baggy sweatshirt in a desperate attempt to burrow inside me like I’m their own personal ton-ton.  With that in mind, who can deny them, really?  So, I thought, for Part 4 of what is otherwise known as my creepy cat lady chronicles, I’d devote a post to my felines and their forts:

Some are sensible, intentional forts.  Usually a gift from their magnanimous Nana Barbara:

Condo buddies

And a peek inside…


Some are somewhat improvised:

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Occasionally an errant limb will fall from the aforementioned flimsy fortification; I fear my boys are not as stealthy and astucious as they’d like to think

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Sometimes our intrepid duo are clearly just fooling themselves…for instance, these actually happened:

otis in track

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And lest we forget our dear friend sweatshirt: Blanket, playmate, companion, friend…and best fort EVER!

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July 24, 2013

Bits 4

Well, it’s certainly been a while since I’ve done a Bits post.  It’s not as though I haven’t had random preoccupations worth noting recently; indeed I find that due to the abundance of scientific knowledge flooding into my brain the past eleven months, any other unrelated thoughts I may have are, by necessity, a bit discursive.  I cannot tell you how unsettling it is to know the word ‘Paracoccidioidomycosis‘ but struggle to find the word ‘necessity’…just now.  With that mind, I would like to segue awkwardly into an announcement that I am finished with my first year!  Which, technically, means nothing as there is no summer break in grad school; I got to take a whopping week off!  At any rate, I’m done with classes at least for several months and have been granted a partial reprieve to indulge in the other things I enjoy doing.  Namely, looking at stuff online.

Now, when you factor in my Facebook page, my blog, and let’s not forget all my online shopping, I have a pretty prolific internet presence.  That last one makes the most profound impact by far, which, given the amount of time I spend trawling Facebook and blogging about nothing, should frighten you.  To be clear, that is not to be confused with “trolling”, which, in regards to the internet, means “being a prick on the internet because you can” according to

So, let’s get on with it, shall we?  This is a collection of a few things useful or beautiful that I’ve lately found online.  Much like Pinterest, only with more reading.  (Hint, hint: it’s basically all fashion…and décor; my life is one small, well-decorated sphere.)

This edition– Etsy finds: I must confess, I am an Etsy fan.  If you don’t know what Etsy is, then you’ve obviously never wondered aloud where one might get penny farthing earrings or a papier-mâché rabbit sculpture in my presence.  Because I surely would have told you about the charming online marketplace that is  Here are just a few of my favorite shops:

  • barberry & lace – The shop of a woman in Arizona who creates handmade vintage-inspired jewelry.  Um, what even is “handmade, vintage-inspired jewelry”?  Yeah, this is:

barberry and lace 2 barberry and lace 3 barberry and lace 4 barberry and lace 7 barberry and lace 5

barberry and lace barberry and lace 8

Gorgeous, no?

  • ethanollie– A shop with a brick-and-mortar counterpart in Portland, OR that sells vintage furniture and decor, mostly from the last century (i.e. simple, retro pieces)

ethanollie 1 ethanollie 3 ethanollie 2 ethanollie 5

ethanollie 4

liperla 2

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Oh, and other random nuggets of loveliness that it is my strong recommendation you check out:

Classic and elegant eco-fashion from Amour Vert:

amour-vert-summer-01-01 amour-vert-summer-22 amour-vert-summer-25-01 amour vert claire emerald silk dress

This pretty little yoga meditation cushion from Relaxso: Because sometimes it is hard to attain a state of blissful transcendence and spiritual nirvana when one’s butt is sore

relaxso zafu meditation cushion

These delightful place mats from William-Sonoma…to match your paper mache rabbit head, naturally! (I adore kitschy tableware!):

w-s bunny placemat

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