Thursday, August 28, 2008

Floods, insurance and waiting

We're still waiting to get a response from the insurance company about whether or not they will cover the flood. In the meantime I am floundering, trying to stay sane and not just have a complete mental breakdown.

Sometimes it feels like I'm drowning and everyone around me is watching and commenting about how nice the weather is. Like everyone is telling me to just man up and smile and pretend like everything is fine while the life that Derek and I built together crumbles around us like so much drywall.

I'm expected to act like everything is normal. But I'm spilling samples and dropping gels. I'm crying as I take my timepoints, wondering if their will be a lien on our home, if we'll be sued, if we'll lose everything we have and more because of some tiny part in our stupid washing machine that just... failed. Because I had to wash the damn laundry.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Doing dishes

I'm doing dishes in the bathtub because I'm classy like that.

Home repairs rule!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


This is why postsecret always makes me cry...


After a brutal weekend of Laminate Flooring 101, the Science Family is finally back home. We had help from some very generous friends and got the floors laid in 2.5 days. Sunday night was spent purging our home of drywall dust, laminate sawdust, and duct taping our carpets down (yes, my house is now held together with duct tape… no it’s not as funny as you think it is).

We can’t do laundry. There’s no food in our fridge. Our bathroom floor consists of cement subfloor covered with waterproof plastic.

But we’re home (!).

Friday, August 22, 2008

I think I'm paranoid

I took birth control pills for approximately 11 years straight before Husband and I decided we wanted to get pregnant. When Bean was born, we decided not to reinstate the pill until I was done breastfeeding so that I wouldn’t be exposing Bean to hormones via the milk.

Well it’s 16 months later (holy crap!) and I’m still breastfeeding. So we are using other, less effective methods of contraception. And even though we’re very religious about using said methods, I can’t help but freak out every single month waiting for my period.

Oh god, it’s been 33 days. I’m totally pregnant. In fact, I feel kind of nauseous and tired today. And I have been craving Ben and Jerry’s. I’m totally pregnant, aren’t I? Sh*t Sh*t Sh*t.

And so here I sit today. Nauseous and anxious. Knowing I’m not pregnant, but ohgodwe’dbetotallyscrewedifIam… So anxious was I that I actually walked my not-pregnant butt over to the hospital pharmacy.

Can I buy a pregnancy test here?

No, I’m sorry, we don’t carry them replies the pharmacy tech in her most sympathetic voice, as if I'd just asked to schedule my first chemo treatments.

So I walked, humiliated and with a very full bladder, back to lab. Argh. Husband is going to mock me for days when I make him stop to pick up a pack of pregnancy tests on the way home.

The take home message, my friends, is that the pill rules, all other forms of contraception leave too much to my paranoid imagination.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

On Swearing

My first year in grad school I roomed with a Biochem grad student. He was a decent guy, but his choice in friends was somewhat questionable. One guy in particular, let's call him Assface, was a real piece of work. He was your average let's-drive-drunk-and-crash-a-freshman-dorm-party-to-pick-up-chicks kind of guy. You know, a real quality character.

One night, as my roommate and his friends are pre-partying in preparation for a night of underage booty scavenging, Assface tells me that I shouldn't swear because, get this, it isn't ladylike.

Now, I am rarely what I would call ladylike. It's not really high on my priority list. But the reason this comment really chapped my adorable behind is because Assface definitely cursed plenty, as did my roommate, all his friends, and pretty much all human beings between the ages of 12 and 35. It was clearly not the cursing that bothered Assface. It was the fact that I was a girl who cursed/curses like a grizzled old truck driver.

So of course I told Assface to "F*cking bite me".

**Fastforward 7 years.**

I'm in the office of my boss, Dr. DNA. Dr. DNA mentions that her neice, who works as a technician in a lab on campus, has been having problems with a certain biochemistry grad student in her lab.

Is his name Assface? I ask.

Why yes!
Dr. DNA replies. How did you know?

So I regale her with several stories of Assface-related chauvinism. ...and one time he told me I shouldn't swear because "it isn't ladylike!"

Dr. DNA considers this but briefly. Well I don't think you should swear, she says, but that's because I think there are so many more descriptive and eloquent ways to express yourself.

Eloquent perhaps, I respond, but when I say that all this insurance bullshit is making me balls-to-the-wall batsh*t f*cking crazy, I think you understand exactly what I mean.*

*Disclaimer: Actual real life response to my actual real life boss may have involved significantly less bravado and fewer curse words. p-value << 0.005

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Naked baby

Because, come on. There's nothing better than a naked baby.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And furthermore

I decided I am also allowed to swear as much as I want until my house is fixed.

That is all.

I realized...

...I may never feel the same way about a washing machine again. I felt a sense of dread as I loaded our laundry last night.

Am I suffering from PTSD? If so, I think I should use it to get out of laundry duty for at least a few weeks.

Monday, August 18, 2008

On the road again

When our apartment first flooded, a couple of our closest friends triaged us, taking us in and letting me cry on their couch.

The last 8 days were spent as refugees (or Fugees, as it were), staying with friends from our birthing class. They were generous to take us in with approximately zero minutes notice.

Hey Phebes, remember your offhand offer of help if we needed it? Um, yeah... we're on your front porch.

And indeed, Phebe and her family took us in and even trusted me to use their washing machine! We've spent the last week living like crunchy hippies, reading to each others kids, cooking communal meals, and making BIG pots of coffee.

The Bean, for her part, has shown remarkable resilience through all the disruption, sleeping in her travel crib without complaint. She's cheery even, and has been training Phebe's son in the fine arts of throwing food to the dog and screaming to get your way.

But rather than overstay our welcome, we're trying to spread the love around a bit. So this morning the Science Family moved for the third time in two weeks, dog sitting for some friends while they're in Vegas, and then probably taking advantage of them for a little while after they return.

Meanwhile I'm leaving more threatening messages around town, with the insurance company, with the board, trying to get some movement on the insurance claim so we can start the repairs. I'm pretty sure the property manager is avoiding my calls at this point, and no one is calling me back. I think they know I'm desperate and possibly hormonal... given the chance I might start breaking some skulls.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In which I compress 6 days of the most stressful days of my life into as few sentences as possible

The flood left Science Family homeless, but some wonderful friends let us invade their home, toddler, dog, cats and all.

The floors in our condo were a complete loss and had to be torn out in order to start drying the subflooring and the walls. Damage estimates for our unit are around $10,000. Water obeys the laws of gravity, so unfortunately the two downstairs units got it even worse than we did. The damage estimates for those units were around $15,000 each.

Initially the president of the homeowners association (a real piece of work named Bob) told Science Family that the flood damage would not be covered by the condos homeowners insurance because (according to him) I was negligent for leaving the house before the washing machine had finished its run. However, in the days that followed it became obvious that the policy probably would cover the damage... but Bob and other members of the board acted deliberately to try to keep Husband and I from getting information about the policy. In fact, they did several illegal things to try to prevent a claim from being filed.

With state law in hand, we finally forced the board (under threat of legal action) to file the claim with the insurance company. We got a claim number this morning. So a week later we're just now getting the process started.

Hopefully the insurance company will send an adjuster out soon, and hopefully the insurance company will agree that this should be a covered event. My major concern at this point is that without the support of the board (who are technically the policy holders), we are going to have to be sure that they don't have the ability to influence the insurance company's decision in any way.

It's going to be a long process, I suspect. But I'm pretty damn proud of the way I handled myself and stuck up for my family when the board was trying to bully us. I'm also amazed at how many people rushed to lend a hand when we found ourselves homeless. It takes a disaster sometimes to show you who your real friends are, and apparently we have many.

I'll return to more hilarious posting once my life is a little more stable. In the meantime, may I direct you to Dr. Isis? That's a good place for a laugh.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Flood, Part 2

Wedding photos: Rescued by firefighters.
Cats and Dog: Safe.
Science Family: Thankful for their friends.


Condo: Flooded.
Damage: Intense.
Floors: Decimated.
Walls: Soaked.
Number of units damaged: 3.
Insurance: Doesn't cover flood caused by washing machine malfunction.
Savings: Paltry in comparison.
Science Family: Devastated.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lab before bedtime

It never fails.

Last night after putting Bean to bed, making a (delicious) dinner for Husband and I, packing Bean's lunch for school, and folding a load of laundry, I treated myself to an hour of deliciously trashy TV. (The Cleaner. Have you seen it? It's garbage TV but Benjamin Bratt is gorgeous and I'm kinda diggin' it.)

9:00 rolls around and I decide to enforce bedtime for Husband and I. So we're there standing at the mirror brushing our respective teeth and I'm of course thinking about my experiments for the next day. And that's when I see it: there are my restriction digests, still sitting at 37 degrees. The last thing I was supposed to do before I left work was add ethanol to those babies and stick 'em in the freezer. But I didn't. And the sample is precious. And star activity will ruin the experiment.

The age old question: is it worth it to run back to lab in the middle of the night (yes, 9:00 is the middle of the night for me these days) to save your experiment? In this case, because the sample took 5 days of prep, the answer was decidedly yes.

Age old sub-question: is it worth it to put on pants for said trip back to lab? In this case, because I am lazy, the answer was decidedly no.

So I hop in the car and head back to work. As I roll up to my building (a parking space even!), my stomach drops. The department has been hosting an evening seminar series on Wednesday nights which, if my calculations were correct, would currently be in the coffee and cookies phase in the lobby directly outside my lab. What better way to say I don't give a sh*t about this department then to walk through the seminar crowd in my pajamas? Awesome.

So I take the back stairs into the building and sneak into lab via 6 other labs. I remove my (possibly overdigested) samples from the incubator and sneak back out the way I came.

Now this tragedy of missed sleep and embarrassing pajamas could have all been avoided if I could just remember to finish my freakin' experiments. But it never fails. Whenever I have a long incubation and think I'll just take that out last thing before I leave, I always always forget.

I need some sort of, I don't know, timer or something. Oh wait, I have one of those. Clearly I need something else. Like a functional brain, or adequate amounts of sleep, but I'm not sure that working mothers can legally acquire either of those things.

Fine. I'll settle for an appropriately used post-it notepad and a total lack of faith in my ability to remember anything at all.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Oh internets, I am injured. According to my expert opinion (and that of my lab mates and the internets), I have shin splints in my left leg.*

I tried to deny and even ignore my injury. This, it turns out, was a BIG mistake. I don't like missing out on runs for any reason (Yes I am obsessive compulsive about running... I log my mileage to tenths of a mile. Was there ever a question?). So when I have a little pain, I prefer to soldier up and walk it off (or run it off, as it were). I can actually run through quite a bit of pain and it kinda makes me proud. So I ran and I ran. At first it only hurt when I ran. Then it started to ache during and after my runs. It'll go away, I thought. Last Thursday I was hurting even before my run. So I told myself I would take it easy, but I actually ended up doing a harder, hillier run than usual. By the end of the 7 mile run, my right knee was feeling all weak and wiggly. Whoops.

For the rest of the day on Thursday I was limping. I couldn't run all weekend. I still haven't been able to run. This morning I tried to put on a pair of heels (because I am a moron) and found that I couldn't physically walk down the stairs in them.

ARGH! With no one to blame but my idiot self, I am feeling pretty pissy about the whole situation. It makes me very antsy when I can't run. I'll give it till the weekend. If my leg still isn't better I may break down and actually think about making a sports medicine appointment, but I suspect they will just tell me to rest it. Bollocks says I.

*My uncle, the runner, says it's the pavement that's killing me and scolded me for putting ~800 miles on this pair of shoes.

Monday, August 4, 2008

By popular demand...

Family weekend

This past weekend the Science family was on a road trip. My aunt and uncle own a blueberry farm (um, awesome much?), conveniently located in the same town where Grandma K (Husband’s mom) has retired with her partner. Every year in August, my aunt and uncle have a harvest party to which they invite all their friends and family for an all-you-can-pick blueberry smorgasbord. So we packed up the Bean (and all of her Bean-related accoutrements) and hit the road for some extended family fun.

We left Thursday night so that, as we hoped, Bean slept the entire drive down. This was NICE. In fact, this may be the only sane way to travel with a toddler. On Friday Bean got to show off all her new tricks to her two loving and easily impressed grandmas. We took Bean to a kick*ss park where she tore around like a maniac and bravely slid down many a slide. She has also recently started saying and signing “Thank you”, so she ran around the playground picking up trash, handing it to me and thanking me for taking it from her. Aw, my little garbage collector. Mama is so proud. But perhaps her proudest moment was when she climbed (supervised) into the grandmas’ backyard fountain, diaper and all. We let her stomp around for a while until her diaper was so heavy with water it was almost tripping her. Absorbent indeed!

On Saturday was the blueberry party. Husband and I usually help my aunt and uncle set up before the party according to our assigned gender roles. He’ll be out in the garden lugging tables with my uncle and carting the kegs. I’m usually in the kitchen helping my aunt cook something or another. This year was no exception, except that I also had a Bean under foot as I cobbled together a blueberry cobbler. To keep her busy, I put blueberries around the kitchen for her to scavenge, hid toys in drawers, and pulled out Tupperware and pots for her to bang. I also worked quickly.

After the set up was done and the party was started, Husband and I scooped up the Bean and took her out to the fields to pick blueberries. We stood her in front of a bush. She didn’t react. So I grabbed one off the bush and fed it to her. She looked at me like You’re sh*tting me. These things grow on trees? and immediately began grabbing blueberries as fast as she could, shoving them into her mouth gleefully. We finally had to drag Bean away from the fields so she wouldn’t make herself sick on berries. More! More! she signed as we walked back to the house.

My uncle is a crazy long distance runner, so he and his running buddies regaled me with a few enviable stories of recent races. These are runners for whom a 2 hour run is an easy day, and iPods are verboten. My uncle was sporting the silver belt buckle from his most recent 100 mile finish (26.5 hours). It was easy to get tangled up in their heady tales of all-night runs. Their easy camaraderie reminded me that I need to find a dedicated running buddy again!

On Sunday we piled the Bean (and about 20 pounds of blueberries) back into the car for the long drive home. This time Bean was awake for most of the ride. I can’t tell you how many times I sang “Twinkle, twinkle” and “I’m a little teapot” yesterday. She adores action songs, and I have to admit it’s pretty cute to see her play along… At least the first 20 times or so. But we made it back in one piece, with a few shreds of sanity in tact.

But now our little family vacay is over, and it’s back to the daily grind. And I’m glad at least that Husband got some quality time with the Bean in the middle of his work related insanity.