Well hello there, good looking

(by gerty-z) Sep 18 2013

Hi again. It's been a while since my last post. It turns out that my friend Prof-Like Substance was right: Year 3 on the tenure track does, in fact, suck goat balls. I am playing whack-a-mole with various grant-writing/paper-submitting/teaching/grad-student/postdoc/administration/colleagues issues. And that is the easy part, because LIFE has decided to also throw me some curve balls in the last year. I can't really blog about it right now, but hopefully soon. I miss you guys.

So what finally drew me back into this space? Hilarity, of course. The other day I was chatting with a friend who's kids go to a private (religious) school. And I learned about one of the most entertaining homework assignments of all time. Here it is: take an advertisement and use the tagline to describe God. Here was a common one:

God is like Nike: Just do it!

At first I thought this was weird because commercializing god, blah blah, whatev. BUT YOU GUYS...the potential for hilarity is awesome! Here are some favorites of mine* (start each with "God is like"):

Calvin Klein: Between love and madness lies obsession
Sony: Make Believe
GE: Imagination at work
KFC: It's finger lickin' good!

OK, I should stop now. I think something is on fire.

 

*h/t @Bam294 for collaborating, or at least laughing, on several of these

 

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I want to be outraged, but I'm just sad

(by gerty-z) Apr 15 2013

I started today with a super breakfast/lunch and then headed to the airport on my way home from a super-fantastic vacation week. I was shocked when I got on the plane and saw the news that there had been two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I watched in horror as the news stations replayed the horrific scene, showing the explosions. I almost cried when I saw the runner, just meters from the finish line, get knocked over by the blast. And I did get teary when I watched the interview with the doctor from the ER at Mass General who was describing the patients that had already arrived. I couldn't stop thinking of all the friends that I have in the Boston area, and trying to figure out where they were relative to Copley Square. I scoured my mind to try to figure out which of my friends were running today, so that as soon as I hit the ground I could try to check up on them. I can't imagine how scared and angry everyone in Boston must be feeling right now.

I want to be pissed off that anyone would decide that they were going to set up bombs in a crowd, at the finish line of a race. THE biggest marathon of the year. The one that almost every runner has thought about (even if, like me, you've never run it). I've trained with friends as they got ready for their qualifying race and then geared up for Patriot's Day. I've gotten up early to watch the race on TV and follow my friends online, cheering even though they couldn't hear me. The Boston Marathon is a Big Deal if you like to run. And thinking that someone would use this event to hurt the people that show up to cheer for people who decided they wanted to take on a 26.2 mile race For Fun is heartbreaking. What the fuck is wrong with people??

But even though I want to be pissed and angry at anyone that would do such a terrible, awful thing I can't get past just feeling sad. Sad for everyone that was at the finish line to cheer on the runners, and how they will live with the images from today for the rest of their lives. For the folks that were injured for no fucking reason and will have to rearrange their life so unexpectedly. And so sad for anyone that lost a loved one. And I'm sad to think about the reaction to this. Already in the news there are people arguing about whether Obama should call this a "terrorist" act. Who the fuck cares? I am so sick of hearing every tragic event get spinned by politicians and the media. It makes my stomach drop when folks use these events to play into to our worst fears, manipulating us into a reaction for their own purposes.

I wish that everyone would take a minute away from fear-mongering, spinning, and "explaining" to really think about how a lot of people got hurt very, very badly today. Some died. This is horrible and tragic. I have no doubt that our society will find someone to blame, get angry, and exact "justice". But just for today can we all just take minute to step away from the knee-jerk anger and mourn what was lost? To reflect on the lives of those that are changed forever by today, hug your friends and family, and take the time to check in with the people that you care about.

This is super-cheesy, and you probably already saw it floating around on FB or something. But I kinda like it anyway:

This quote went viral after the tragedy in Newtown and is making the rounds again, if my FB is any indication.

This quote went viral after the tragedy in Newtown and is making the rounds again, if my FB is any indication.

I'm sending every good thought I can to those that have been impacted by the events in Boston today - the folks that live there, anyone that has family or friends in the area, and all the runners and their supporters that were at the race today.

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Dealing with loss and March madness - guest post by @bam294 #fuckcancer

(by gerty-z) Mar 16 2013

This is a guest post by commenter and twitter bad-ass Bam D. Woodchipper (aka @bam294). Bam has organized a BRACKET CHALLENGE for the upcoming NCAA men's basketball tournament. She also recently lost a dear friend to cancer. FUCK CANCER. The Madness Bracket Challenge is set up to benefit the three girls that just lost their father - donate at least $10 to the girls' education trust fund to play. If you want to play along with the bracket challenge, leave a comment and I'll send you the info (but you have to include your email address-it won't be publicly visible). If you don't want to play but would like to help out the family follow this link to learn more. 

---------- by BAM294 ----------

Last week, my friend Christopher Maki died at the age of 40 from kidney cancer. There are heart-breaking facts that accompany this – his three gorgeous and crazy sporty daughters all under the age of 13 will never get to have their dad walk them down the aisle. His wife, my idol, won’t have Christopher to stare blankly at her as she tells him about how stoked she is to compete (and, did I mention, win?) the next Muddy Buddy.

The kids got their sports skills from their mother, but their competitiveness was something that had generational breeding of epic proportions. It is their mom's defining feature, but it was also Chris’s. Don’t get me wrong. Christopher could run. If there were police or some sort of beer-related challenge that ended in 50 yards. Other than that….not so much.

Tomorrow, I’m facing my first trip to see the family without Chris and I’m terrified. Chris was the youngest of a group of 10 or 12 of us from grad school. He was married after one of the funniest ‘ripped from the Spanish soap opera’ courtships around. She was a wee bit older, and might have known his sister before she and Chris started dating.

And yet, Chris took this all in stride. Actually, stride may not be the right word. He basked in it. He had a defiant ‘why the hell not’ attitude about his love that made the rest of us wonder who this brazen kid was. He had an amazing capability to back up talking smack with more talking smack. And this I loved. No, this I adored.

I am going to see a group of friends brought together by grad school and marriage; defined by humor-and Chris kicked all our asses in it. He was snark and sincerity in heaping helpings. I look at tomorrow knowing have lost my friend, but I have also lost my sense of balance in this group. I am snark. I’m not so great at sincerity. Those moments where I would occasionally wonder if I had gone too far in my humor, Chris would take things a bit farther and a bit funnier if only to offer me a safe dock back to civil discourse. And then as the conversation moved on he would catch my glace, and roll his eyes at me and I would install the small filter remembering not to voyage into that area again.

And he did the same, seamlessly  for so many others in the last year the awkward moments-where people wondered how Chris was and if it was okay to ask about cancer treatments and how he felt-would be caught by him before they had a chance to exist in real time as he looked at them and said, “Hey. Can you get me a beer. I have cancer you know.” He was super classy that way.

I wait for the first horrific silence of my group as we gather tomorrow. The one Chris should be filling in and I wonder if I’ve learned enough from him, from our friends, to find grace and say something of substance. And it will require something that the word ‘grace’ makes sound too trite. Something miraculous in fact, because I know no one will never replace my friend. As fabulous as our group memories are, our hearts will always be broken in a way that can and should never be corrected.

This week has made plain to me how selfish I am. I want more time, more jokes, more hugs and more Chris. I want these things not just for myself but for all of us. Yet no bargaining, disbelief or pains of loss are going to make that possible for those we want it most for – his wife and those three sweet kids.

I know this because I’ve lived it. My dad died when I was the age of Chris’ daughters. Growing up, the awkward silences when strangers asked about what my parents did, or where my dad was were filled with silence. Raging silence as no one wanted to mention my dad and make everyone cry. Because crying was a bad thing.

I hope we can show the girls that crying is okay. And laughing is okay too. But most of all, talking about Chris and the way he made us all funnier, kinder, more competitive, and far better people is okay. I know if love of family and love of life were enough to make anyone survive, Chris would have outlived us all. Of this I am certain.

But of all the hilarious, selfless, even keeled and great things he did, Chris’ daughters are without question the best (with his wife's help, of course). In some way that defies all logic, I look to the them for my hope. I want desperately to see them tomorrow. I want to see how many of Chris’ attributes they have. Who has the glint Chris had in his eyes when he did something ever so sly that might pass under his wife's radar. I want to see if any of them bob their head and hold their face the way he would when something was overwhelmed him with laughter. And when I am too heartbroken to think of this for another second, I close my eyes and look to a future where when each of the girls turns 21, we take them out, as we did when his wife turned 40, and and tell them stories about their dad.

For those interested in contributing to his daughter's education fund, find more information here.

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Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse...

(by gerty-z) Mar 13 2013

OMG you guys. O M F G. I thought that I couldn't be surprised by stupid, homophobic things said out loud anymore. BUT...BUT...THIS IS JUST SO FUCKED UP THAT IT IS BLOWING MY MIND.

You may remember that in Minnesota there is an on-going debate about marriage equality. The voters actually became the first to reject a constitutional amendment against marriage equality (YAY, MN!). And now the Minnesota State Legislatures have even advanced a bill legalizing marriage equality! Holy progress, Batman!

And that is where shit gets fucked up. In a public hearing on the marriage equality bill, a "concerned father" decided to "enlighten" the lawmakers on what actually happens when TEH GEYS get married. And guys...I hope you are sitting down. Because, well...THIS dude is out of his fucking mind. Seriously. See for yourself, if you are drunk brave enough to watch.

I...just...but...OH FOR FUCK SAKE. You can read a transcript of this dude's fucked-up-beyond-belief testimony here.

There is too much stupid here to unpack it all. But holy fuck. The dude seems to think it is a big shock to the legislatures that gays have sex. FOR REAL. And he is really freaked out about this idea of "ejaculation inside the colon". Not to mention the fact that he clearly doesn't have the faintest idea of what an enzymes are, not to mention how they are different from viruses (like HIV, which causes AIDS) and bacteria (which you treat with antibiotics). Way to take stupidity + homophobia to a whole 'nother level, dude.

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Ugh. #WTFIWWP

(by gerty-z) Mar 12 2013

I'm pretty lucky. I don't have to face homophobes in person much. But OMFG. I read this and...just...I threw up a little, TBH. What the fuck is wrong with people??!

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Things that break your heart

(by gerty-z) Mar 06 2013

I have a daughter, and so reading this article made me so sad. I hope that we can all work to make sure that little girls don't feel so limited.

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AYFKM, politics edition

(by gerty-z) Feb 25 2013

UPDATE! IF YOU HAVEN'T WRITTEN A LETTER YET, NOW IS THE TIME!! LETTERS NEED TO BE TO @nparmalee TODAY!

I know I should be used to it, but it blows my mind the way politicians can argue like idiots about important things. But shit is getting real now. And it's time for us (the BOSS of these politicians) to stand up and say "enough!".

Do you care about biomedical research? Because if the sequester happens, the NIH is basically FUCKED. Srsly fucked. You can read more about that here and here and here (among others). If you were wondering, here is the "plan" for NIH to deal with the sequester (NSFW, as it will likely induce swearing). It's NOT TOO LATE! Write a letter to your Representatives and Senator (find their address HERE). Tell them this is UNACCEPTABLE! Talk to them about why you value biomedical research. CALL THEM!!! If you write your letter now, you can email it to @nparmalee. She is in DC RIGHT NOW to advocate for basic research and will be on the Hill this Wednesday - and has told me that that she will make sure the letters are delivered.

Let's do this!!!

 

EDIT: see here for a description of what Nancy is doing in DC -which is TOTALLY badass, ftr.

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Fuck yeah HOCKEY!!! The #vwxpool update

(by gerty-z) Feb 22 2013

I know there isn't a full season this year (fucking-A, NHL. :-( ) Nevertheless, there is hockey, and though I don't have so much time to watch because teaching/life/etc *cough*FML*cough* that doesn't stop me from playing in the super awesome fantasy pool led up by Cath Ennis. Sadly, it does limit my success in said pool. sigh. Nevertheless, I present to you today the much-awaited WEEK FOUR UPDATE!

hockeyI had a super-shitty week, but managed to stay in the middle-ish of the pack. Sugar Scientist is still kicking ass, but hot on her heels are the dynamic duo of Mod Scientist and Lava. OMG the suspense! Bam294 and Genomic Repairman are still fighting it out in the gutter, as you might expect.

YAY HOCKEY!

 

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Go Time

(by gerty-z) Feb 20 2013

Hello again, friends. I have been sporadic with my blogging, I know. There is some IRL stuff going on that I can't blog about just yet. And this year I started my undergrad teaching which was...fucking crazy, honestly. More on that later. What I really wanted to talk about now is your CongressCritter (as Drugmonkey would refer to them). When was the last time you made contact with your elected representative to let them know where you stand on the "sequester"? Maybe you are a fan of biomedical research and know that the proposed cuts will totally fuck over NIH. Does your representative know how you feel about that?

Now is the time to make sure that you contact the folks that act as your voice in DC. There are a couple of ways to go about this. You could call them directly (find contact info for your Congress and Senate reps here). OR you could let the amazing @nparmalee (aka Nancy Parmalee) hand-deliver your message FOR you. How awesome is THAT!?!!

photo provided by the most awesome @bam294

image provided by the most awesome @bam294

Seriously, you can't go wrong. Nancy will be on Capitol Hill to advocate for Parkinson's research as part of Parkinson's Call in Day. She has offered to deliver messages to reps and also to "Live Yell"* from twitter.  I know that I'm writing a note for my Reps. Because what a fucking fantastic opportunity!! It's really not that much to ask. Oh, and while you are at it, the AAAS has something for you! Go here to sign the "Speak up for Science" petition.

YAY SCIENCE!

 

* This will apparently involve her reading @ProfLikeSubst's tweets to the Critters. Loudly. Sounds like a winner!

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My own path...was not straightforward

(by gerty-z) Jan 24 2013

My IRL life has been pretty...unsettled recently. I hope to blog about this a little more in the future. But one thing that has fallen out is that I've been thinking more about the immediate reaction to Jodie Foster's Golden Globes "coming out" speech. As I process these IRL events, I can't avoid thinking more about my own coming out process. And there is a lot of stuff that keeps running around in my head...so I'm gonna try to get them out on by writing them here. BE WARNED: this is going to be a little personal and navel-gazing. If that sort of things bothers you, now is the time to click away. But, if you would like to see what else I have to say about being queer as a tt-asst. prof, look here.

IME, when you are openly queer, someone will inevitably ask "when you knew". I've struggled with this question. On some level I always knew...but at the same time I really didn't know. It took me a Really Long time to admit to myself that I was gay. Being lesbian wan't an option that I was aware of growing up. Maybe because I grew up in a big-red-flyover environment. Not to mention that I didn't even know any queer folks (that I was aware of). Whatever the reason, the whole idea was off my radar. I felt a lot of pressure to act straight - to BE straight. And honestly,  I BELIEVED I was straight. But...then folks I knew started having sex , and I didn't know how to react. I felt weird and isolated. Like I was failing somehow. So I tried to be straight the only way I knew how. I slept with guys - as many as I could. Not because I really wanted to, but because I felt like it was expected of me. That if I did that, then I would be "normal" and everyone would accept me. I went off to college and kept up with the whole dating (and sleeping with) dudes thing. I wanted to fit in. But still, something wasn't right. I didn't feel good about myself. At some point, I started to meet real, live queers - classmates, teammates, co-workers.  They were my friends. They were great people, and I loved them. I asked a bunch of questions that are, honestly, embarrassing when I think back on them*. "How did you know...?", "But...how does it work?" etc. My friends were awesome: patient, kind, and so open.

I wasn't ready to answer those questions for myself. It was too hard. It was half-way through grad school that I was able to admit that I was queer. To realize that sleeping with guys to "pass" made me feel cheap and fake. That it was self-destructive. When I finally admitted to myself that I was gay it felt like a huge burden lifted. I felt...more comfortable with myself. It wasn't "easy" - I could have kept on pretending to fit in. That would have been easier on many levels. Hell, I was terrified coming out to my family and friends. Every time I had the "coming out" conversation I had to prepare myself for the possibility that the person I was talking to might decide to cut all ties with me. It was (is) always possible. And that is really fucking terrifying. It still is.

Sometimes, I look back and wish that I had done things differently. That I had been strong enough to stand up for myself earlier. I think that us LGBTQ* folks are good at telling our coming out stories. These are awesome, empowering stories. And I love to hear them. But it is harder (at least for me) to talk about how destructive it was for me during that period when I tried so hard to fit in. When I actively denied my own truth. I am still working to understand the effects of that period of my life. I wish I could be as patient and understanding with my younger self as my fantastic queer friends were with me. I'm working on it, because this is my history. It's what makes me who I am today. I would never judge anyone else for behaving the same way in the same situation. I would cheer that they survived. I would give them a hug and tell them that IT GETS BETTER. It totally sucks that I have internalized so many negative judgements about what I did when I was younger. I know that I did the best I could back then. And the younger me deserves a lot of love and respect for making it through really hard circumstances.

Sure, I was goofy and somewhat misdirected as a youngster. THAT'S WHAT YOUNG FOLKS DO. And honestly, my life is pretty fucking amazing right now. I have a fantastic daughter. Being a mom is teaching me so much about patience and acceptance - and the process of growing up. I have a job that I love, where I don't have to hide who I am. I don't let anyone assume that I have a husband, or that Mini-G has a "Daddy".

And that is why I make an effort every day to be as out as I can.  I want anyone else that may be going through their own struggle to know that they are not alone. To see that others have made it through. That it can be fantastic, even. And that is why I encourage anyone that CAN come out does, following the Rachel Maddow model and the slightly more..colorful.. version by Dan Savage. Being visible in the community not only helps younger folks that may be struggling, but can help gain support of straight allies. But no one can tell another person when they are ready to come out, or how they should do it. I don't care if you are Anderson Cooper, Jodie Foster, or a stick figure on the interweb. Everyone has their own journey to get to the place they feel safe and comfortable enough to make their statement. The journey is important, too.  And every single person that does come out is fucking courageous as hell.

 

*I'm embarrassed now, but at the time these questions were very important to me. And really, they are not embarrassing questions. I would (and do) answer these kinds of questions pretty regularly.

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