مرحبا عليكم!

I study languages.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The edges are sharpening; things are coming back into focus and I am happy.
A perfect score on my most recent English paper combined with very-near-perfection in calculus and some highly concentrated fetal mouse DNA isolations boosted my mood, though I'm still waiting for the results of that chem test I can barely remember. Eh. My average is high enough; I'll be fine.

I sat alone in one of our colleagues' labs tonight, my concentration accompanied by the snap of the spectrophotometer as it smashed and stretched drops of my samples, graphing perfect calibration curves for me in real time.

So, um, I'm scared my interests are getting so narrow that I won't remember how to make conversation outside of school-related stuff.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

If you want to destroy my sweater...

I feel haggard, like my soul is fraying around the edges.
The thread unravels, ripping through seams as I am pulled in a million directions at once.
I've been up for 32 hours, 2.5 of which have been dedicated to sleep, and all I've eaten is a banana, string cheese, and a granola bar.
I stayed all night last night in the lab, repeating PCR and running electrophoresis and restriction digests over and over again in a vain attempt to get viable product from my (crucial, no less) samples. I slept crunched up in a lab chair from three to six a.m., waking every few minutes to adjust my badly angled position across the desk. I remember standing in the middle of the floor at four-thirty and staring at the clock above the door, one word on my mind: why?
Why can't I get data we can use?
That's one third of the grant proposal that officially can't be included, thanks to us.
I can't stand it.

And never take a chemistry exam after all of that. Trust me, you won't even be able to get your letters in the right order, let alone remember how to calculate bond order and molecular orbitals. The sad thing is, I had the potential to do really well on that test--just try doing technical chemical work for literally twenty hours beforehand and then see how well you remember the orbital hybridization of your polyatomic ions. I'm exaggerating; I think I probably hit the high A-minus/low-A range, but still--this was a test I could have aced had I been halfway coherent. It's entirely frustrating.

Above all, I need to sleep. But that isn't going to happen anytime soon; I have at least three hours of homework. Needless to say, I can't wait for the weekend. I am experiencing a desperate lack of "me" time. And by "desperate lack," I mean I haven't had one single moment to myself all week.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Under pressure.

I am so sick of molecular genetics.

I have completed genotyping protocol five times in the past ten days, but something is still going wrong. I stayed until 12:30 am last night running a restriction enzyme digest on what we thought might be product, but was actually contamination.
Our protocol has been immaculate.
I even had new DNA primers shipped to us on Monday.
The entire grant proposal is due to the NIH Friday at the latest, and it is basically a given that we will get the hundreds of thousands of dollars we are applying for IF my genotypes can be successfully determined by tomorrow. If not, our case has no strength. Everything rests on my results. You have no idea how horribly stressed out I am. Though I am the youngest member on my genotyping team, I am the one that seems to take this most seriously.
And today, I had to go to lab meeting all alone and explain to the lab that, after five rounds of complete protocol, we still have no results.
I feel so useless and incompetent.
Why won't this work?
I feel like it's all my fault, but I know it isn't--my team has done all of this together, so the blame should be shared between us. It just never seems like anyone else is around to take it with me. :-(


AND, I have a chem test tomorrow that I've barely looked over the material for.
I honestly haven't had time.
I'm past saying "This had better work" and have arrived at a quiet, total desperation. I don't have the energy to scream any more; all I have left is a whisper.



I will stay in the lab all night if I have to. And when I say "all night," I mean "all night."

Monday, October 20, 2008


Walking into the lab this morning, I offhandedly noticed a soft buzz directly over my head. I looked up to see a large wasp zipping through the light fixtures. "Hmm," I thought. "A wasp in a fifth floor laboratory with no windows. That can't happen very often." I ignored the insect and went to work. A few seconds later, however, I heard faint, shrillish girl-shrieks from somewhere down the hall. "Get it! Get it! Augh!" they screamed, and I poked my head out of the door only to feel two more wasps fly in right over my head. "What?" I thought. Pretty soon, I was ducking, gasping and flinching as the wasps zoomed around our lab. One of the senior boys was brave enough to grab a binder to smack them with, standing in the middle of the room and taking heavy, wild swings at the flying specks as they terrorized us. The sight was entirely absurd: a roomful of science students ducking behind expensive pieces of chemical equipment to avoid the wrath of three confused wasps. As soon as our wasps were successfully knocked out of the air, a girl came running down our hall at full speed, stopping in our doorway. "Wasp killer," she grinned, handing us an industrial-size bottle. "You have them too, right?"
Apparently, a large group of wasps had flown in through a broken fifth floor window earlier that morning, probably drawn by the scent of a solution some lab was making. They had basically infested the floor, and labs had been fighting them off all morning.
I returned later in the afternoon to find a hastily drawn message scrawled across the white board in big, shaky, block letters: DON'T WORRY. 523 HAS WASP KILLER.

I couldn't stop laughing.


I'm not sure what I want to do this summer.
Therefore, I present to you my options:

1- Study abroad in Jerusalem
2- Research internship at a different university
3- Stick around, take spring term classes, TA for bio and work in the lab


Pros for 1:
Four months in Jerusalem. ENOUGH SAID.
Makes for sweet interview material/resume builder.
I'd get to learn and speak a language (Arabic or Hebrew).
I can't make money (my parents would pay, but I wouldn't earn anything).
Random drawing determines which applicants merit an interview.
I'd be gone for four months...no real "summer."

Pros for 2:
Awesome and looks great on a med school resume.
Ten weeks, paid ($4000).
I'd get to live alone in another state.
Intensely competitive. I am a lowly freshman, and my GPA right now is "not applicable;" I haven't even finished a full semester yet, so I have little to no chance of landing a spot.
I plan to do things like this the summers after my sophomore and junior years; why start now if I have other options?

Pros for 3:
I make money.
I stick around, so I can see my family and the Friendship.
I get to go on vacations.
I move up in the lab hierarchy.
Simply not as cool.
Doesn't build my resume.

Of course, I want #1 the most, but I need to be making money...
And #2 sounds great, but I will be doing that for two years anyway...
And #3 has its good points, too, even though it is less exciting.

Saturday, October 18, 2008



Thursday, October 16, 2008


It's been a day for having interesting things said to me.

From professor feedback on my first intensive writing assignment:
"Enjoy the highest score in the class. Not that you haven't had that little enjoyment on many occasions before this one."

After a passionate argument over the bell curve grading system:
"I'm sorry I called you a fascist."

In other news, I received my first perfect midterm score! Yep, I aced my first bio exam, even pointing out a test error to my professor. :-) College = sweet. I have another calculus exam tomorrow, and I'll devote my weekend to studying chemistry before my next chem test on Wednesday, which will hopefully go as well as the last one did.

My schedule for next semester:
PDBio 220 (anatomy with lab): 3.0
PDBio 494R (mentored research): 1-2.0
Neuro 205 (neurobiology): 3.0
Chem 106 (inorganic chem): 3.0
Chem 107 (inorganic chem lab): 1.0
Engl 252 (literary criticism): 3.0
Rel A 122H (honors B of M): 2.0
Hon 292R (honors lecture series): 1.0
= 17-18 credits.
I'm thinking of...eliminating my lit class?? But...I love lit...
We'll see.
Maybe I'll just be as insanely busy next semester as I am this semester.

Monday, October 13, 2008


~(Thanks, Lee.)

3 names I go by:
* Jessica
* Jess
* Jen/Jenna (my bio professor can't seem to remember to substitute the "n" for "s")

3 restaurants I love
* Los Hermanos (smothered burrito + oasis bliss + fried ice cream = divinity + three extra pounds)
* Macaroni Grill (caesar salad + chicken marsala + lemon dessert = heaven + fat)
* Zupas (tomato basil soup + panini + chocolate strawberry = not as guilt-inducing)

3 trips to plan on this year
* Thanksgiving in SLC (I honestly, totally and completely love my family.)
* College football bowl game (BCS, hopefully!)
* Hopefully...study abroad in Jerusalem (I'm considering applying for spring/summer semester)

3 things I want badly
* My first university 4.0
* To be accepted to either the BYU Jerusalem Center or a research internship for the summer
* Eh, maybe a guy friend or two

3 pets I've had
* Skittles, the cannibal rabbit
* Mabel, the one-eyed dog
* The water frog that froze to death in the winter

3 things I did yesterday
* Saw "Dial M for Murder" with my writing class
* Froze at the football game (21-3!)
* Went home and held my baby sister :-)

3 things I ate today
* Macaroni
* Burnt brownie bits
* Frozen peas

3 fears
* Mediocrity
* Small, repeating, three-dimensional patterns (holes, especially...*shudder*)
* Wasting time

3 things I plan on doing today
* Finishing this blog post
* Brushing my teeth
* Sleeping (what can I say; "today" is essentially over)

3 things I plan on doing tomorrow
* Attending a seminar at the business school
* Attending a bio test review
* Restarting PCR on my DNA samples

3 favorite holidays
* Christmas
* Thanksgiving
* Easter

3 favorite beverages
* Jamba Juice, "Berry Fulfilling:" 150 calories and relatively low sugar/fat.
* Raspberry water (mmm)
* Normal water

Sunday, October 12, 2008


"As the moon kindles the night
As the wind kindles the fire
As the rain fills every ocean
And the sun the earth
With your heart, kindle my heart."

Watch this movie. It's one of my all-time favorites; I bawl uncontrollably every single time. One word: heartwarming. The soundtrack is exquisite; I bought it last night and haven't stopped listening.

So, um, eloquence. Remember that? I think college has vacuumed out what little I had. I've undergone an emotional D&C, a procedural term that in medicine doesn't have the austere, sacred feeling it does in religion. I think in alternating streams and fragments,


Hand me that green spatula.

Patients, when I can't see your cervix, but your doctor can, I ask, "Green or white?" The doctor pretends to think for a bit, making his choice seem entirely spontaneous: "Let's go with green today." Really, though, I'm asking, "Large or small?" and he's replying, "Give me the biggest one we've got."

methylated cap and poly-A tail
introns out
exons in

I got 99% on my most recent chem test and 105% in calculus with the curve.


I'm beginning to think that dreams are continuous. Think back to a time you were so exhausted that it seemed every single molecule in your body was focused on staying awake. Forget about being functional; at this point, keeping your eyes from rolling back in your head is like climbing a mountain without oxygen, and you strain every single fiber in your possession to tighten those extraocular muscles. It doesn't work for long, though; your eyes snap back crazily every few seconds into the dreamscape of your subconscious, and for a second, you're dropped in media res into a complicated plot you know and understand--something with no semblance of logic or order, yet it's somehow...perfect. Snapping back just as quickly catapults you into the real world with half a second elapsed, and in fear and awe you wonder at the fragments that glitter just below the surface: nonsensical scenes from a mad art movie or the mind of a painter savant, smudged around the edges with sweet LSD. My subconscious doesn't rest. It's complicated there, in the regions I can't access unless I'm devoid of conscious control, and every so often I see the things I'm constantly creating and destroying. Maybe one day I'll fall there entirely.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I'm in a weird mental position right now, like my brain's training to be a contortionist, but it keeps getting all tangled up in itself like this guy.
Let me just say this: I'm not used to not being the most competitive applicant. I'm not used to knowing less. Granted, the students I work with now are four and five school-years more advanced than I am, but it's still maddeningly difficult for me not to have something to contribute.

More than anything, I want to participate in the scientific discussions and ideas that go on in my lab, but everything moves so...quickly. And if you know me, picture me honestly repeating that last part. It's as weird to me as it probably is to you. I zip through the professor's words with my extensive memory for Latin roots (seriously, no background's been more valuable to me) and try to compartmentalize them into coherent concepts. Despite my best efforts, I can barely deduct what the charge on a proteoglycan has to be before they're on to how it affects hemotoxylin staining and the immunohistochemical indications of said stain, leaving me to connect the (Lewis) dots. I need organic chemistry. I need microbiology. I need molecular biology. I need biochemistry and electrical physics and cytology and pathophysiology and everything else these seniors and grad students have taken! What is probably most strange to me is the fact that I can't just read up on these things and magically understand, like usual. These students have been working for four long years on science I've never seen, and when I try to follow it, I get insanely frustrated. I want to have all that background knowledge. NOW. It doesn't help that in my biology class, we're learning transcription and translation. Honestly. The conflict kills me. I am expected to understand all possible realms of university science in one sphere, and expected to be asking questions about DNA base pairing in another.

Lab: "Therefore, in the disproportionate micromelia samples, murile electron microscopy indicates hyperdilation of the rough endoplasmic reticulum with excess collagen-2, preventing it from forming a functional complex with collagen-11 in the extracellular matrix."
Bio: "Wait, C bonds with...A? T? Oh, this class is SO confusing."

I'll just say it: I'm used to being the best, and you have no idea how difficult it is to comprehend the fact that in places where it matters (bio, for one, doesn't count) I no longer am. This feeling has been exacerbated by my desire to apply for a research internship this summer. For me, applications have always been no problem; I've always known I was competitive. With my perfect GPA, my string of AP 5s, my national awards and honors, and my extensive service involvement, I was the perfect all-around applicant, and, riding on my solid resume, I won far more positions than I lost. Now, I'm a first-year college student with a GPA of "zero" or "not applicable," because I haven't officially finished any courses yet. No one cares whether or not I'm a National Merit Scholar or a medical terminology medalist. To them, I'm a freshman, and that makes me not good enough. As I look over internship applications, it's maddeningly frustrating to see how many of the boxes I honestly cannot fill in...

"List all collegiate biochemistry courses above general level." Um, zero.
"List all collegiate physics courses above general level." Zero again.
"List all math courses..." Yay! I have...one. Calculus 1. Embarrassing.
"Overall GPA." Not applicable? I'm getting As so far...I swear...
"Science/math GPA." Please.
"Please provide two faculty recommendations." Okay, I've only known these people for a month, and I'm just a second-row face in their 300-student lectures. There is NO way they can write me decent recommendations, nor should they have to.

IN CONCLUSION, you should take me on a summer intern because...I like science?


I hate being...young! inexperienced! noncompetitive! AUGH!
and knowing it will be years before I regain the application-confidence I had.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Things I Currently Miss:
The Friendship
Having a literature class
My new baby sister
Leisure time
Music (playing and listening)
Real food (I eat Wheat Thins, yogurt, spaghetti sauce, pickles and granola)
You (probably)

The increasing physical and emotional distance between the Friendship members seems to accentuate our differences; last weekend, when a few of us got together for the Oktoberfest, I got a glimpse of how entirely opposite we are. Our coming together as functional friends occupies such a small probability--we were the one chance in a million where something like that works, and I don't think we even realized it. Now, we're living like the people we've always been, but since our lives became our own, we've had far more control in shaping our time, and we're turning out as photographic negatives of each other--everything in reverse. It's both fascinating and sad; we aren't the same anymore; we never were. I hope we don't drift far enough apart that the Friendship dissolves entirely.

I miss people.
I'm a natural workaholic, so leaving me to my own devices doesn't always turn out so well. These days, I work. That's it. I push myself to the limit every day and fall into bed at two in the morning, exhausted. I thrive on wearing out every inch of the day I'm given before being blessed with a new one. I've lost ten pounds since starting college; often, I honestly don't have time to eat. I pride myself on being so good with balancing my time, but I'm starting to think that I'm just on the 'acceptable' side of sucking at it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I've been in a time lag all week, catching the seconds as they drip from the clock in order to make sure I have everything accomplished. Today, I finally caught up. I found myself with an unexpected two-and-a-half hour surplus, which I exhausted blissfully by consuming an entire novel, and I'm happy to report that things are at equilibrium again.

I read a shared blog today by an anorexic support group, and I looked down at my own arms and thighs, feeling kind of disgusted. The girls' photographs showed bundles of acute angles gilded with perfect sheaths of flesh, and I was almost jealous. I mean, I try and eat under a thousand calories per day for controlled weight loss purposes, but these girls are going on seventy-five to a hundred. I know enough to calculate all the ways that isn't healthy, but still...

In the lab today, I made a 4% agarose gel to definitively genotype my samples and ran it all on my own. It's kind of tricky; you have to supersaturate the buffer with the agarose while keeping all of it in the flask (it bubbles over extremely easily), but it went as well as can be expected. I'm getting tons better with a pipette, too; my hands don't tremble as much, and I can load my gel beautifully every time. My favorite part of running gels is loading the samples; I love watching the tiny drops of golden loading dye transform into royal blue solution as I add the PCR product, pipetting up and down to ensure homogeny before sucking up all five and a half microliters and transferring them into the tiny gel slits.

In academic news: I haven't gotten my calculus test back, but I think I might very well have aced it. I mean, after a math test, you kind of know, which is nice. My second chem test went equally well, but I may have missed a couple points on the theoretical explanation behind Schrodinger's wave equation...we'll see. (Quantum physics...it gets me every time. I like intuitive science, with changes I can measure and observe, so with quantum, I have to reduce it to memorization, or I get caught up in why it shouldn't work.) I had a Book of Mormon test today, too, which was more difficult than expected. It asked for many precise references, and there were a lot I didn't know/was unsure of...augh. I seriously ran to the bathroom and cried after that one, especially because it's worth one third of our entire course grade. I'm praying to see a percentage prefixed by 9; otherwise, I don't know what I'll do. I mean, I'm sure med schools aren't going to care if I fail Book of Mormon, but I don't need my GPA to drop because of it. I wish I didn't have to take religion classes, but it kind of comes with the territory.