Monday, March 31, 2008

Journal of a would-be blonde with a limited income.

Chose "caramel" colored highlighting kit. Got ORANGE CHUNKS.
Dyed blonde to off-set the orange. Got strawberry blonde hair.

No activity.

No activity. Starting to see roots.

Bought blonde highlighting kit. Successful execution of instructions. Got blonde highlights.

No activity.

Starting to see roots. Chose to dye hair again, hoping for blonde hair. Chose dye color called "champagne fizz." Got strawberry blonde. Again.

No activity. Cheap orange hair bringing out acne.

March 30:
Planned to highlight again. Bought different highlighting kit. Executed instructions. Got brown roots, orange hair, and hi-liter yellow highlights. Looked like cheap hooker.
Dyed hair brown; said "screw blondes."

Friday, March 28, 2008

The gospel of shallowness

Once in a while I like to take personality tests, even though the answers usually don't come as much of a surprise. I'm a person who is driven by a need to understand things... so I guess it's natural for me to spend a lot of time trying to understand myself, and mainly how I relate with other people (because there is no shortage of things I don't understand there).

According to the Briggs-Meyers personality test (which I've taken multiple times-- you have to account for fluctuating moods, trends in maturity, and other random error in order to get an accurate reading. duh.) I'm an INTJ, or "mastermind." I think the assessment's pretty accurate-- all the profiles I've read over have some really poignant observations about, um, my people or whatever. It's a flattering title, but it's got a dark side: (my commentary in orange)

  • "Social 'niceties' often seem unnecessary and perhaps even ungenuine to the INTJ, who is always seeking to improve their substantive understanding. " In essence, small talk: I don't get it. But I've learned to mimic it so I can be easier to get along with. I can't for the life of me understand why you care what I ate for lunch. But I'll still go along with it.
  • "May have unrealistic and/or unreasonable expectations of others " I'm afraid this is true, but it mostly applies to people I feel I know pretty well. Not that that makes it okay.
  • "May see so many tangents everywhere that they can't stay focused on the bottom line or the big picture" Yet another reason I can't focus on a specific career path.
  • "Masterminds do not feel bound by established rules and procedures, and traditional authority does not impress them, nor do slogans or catchwords." Word. Slogans are lame. If something's worthwhile, it speaks for itself.

Anyway, I wanted to bring up a point about a type of shallowness I fear I give off. I think in my dumb quest for understanding and getting along with other people, that I just end up resorting to conversational brush-offs so I won't blow my cover as a closet misanthrope (or so my personality tests would have me suspect).

As in, I find myself using a lot of dismissive phrases like, "whatev," "enh," "you know," and the like to keep my conversations shallow. Why do I do that? Maybe a lot of us do, but I hate to speak for anyone else. But really-- why? Maybe I don't think that anyone honestly gives a crap about what the end of those thoughts would entail (hey, I certainly find myself glad the person I'm talking to elected not to go on some useless bunny trail... I just expect others are the same).

I mean, shallow conversations are so EASY. I can totally navigate the shallow convo formula.
A: "movie quote!"
B: "ha ha, another movie quote!"
A: "and that one time? with the thing and the guy and the place?"
B: "ha ha, yeah I know. that was hilurrious"
A: "good times."

And then, when other people have real things to say, I usually just let them talk because I like to listen. I'm interested in the things people say, because then I can understand them more. And I tend not to want to add my spin on what they're putting out there.

As a result of those things, I often find myself wondering when the last time was that I had a real conversation about something that matters. It's a little exhausting.


It's a widely-accepted scientific law that physical matter in the universe tends toward entropy (disorder). Things with higher structure or order require more energy. The easiest/most natural thing to do is tend toward a state that requires less energy, and thus less structure.

Dare I say that human interaction is shifting toward entropy? I can attribute my natural aversion to discussion and debate to all kinds of things (e.g., my personality type). But I bet it's just as much a factor of energy and efficiency. For example, after writing this I imagined myself having the supposed "useful" conversation with any number of my friends. And I already felt bored and frustrated. Just from imagining a discussion of, like, politics or something.

Did I miss a crucial stage in development where I was suppsosed to learn to be an effective conversationalist? I mean, obviously I can think and write cohesive thoughts and arguments. But for some reason when I'm with people, there's no instinct to really communicate verbally. It's times like these when I wonder if maybe a little part of me is autistic.

approves. (some people suggest Dr. House has Asperger's, and some further suggest he is an INTJ...)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Twenty years later, MacGyver STILL saves the day

Jamie and I stepped out for ice cream on Tuesday, a couple of hours before her flight home. Upon returning to my apartment, however, we discovered that I had definitely locked us out: out of the apartment, out of my car, out of everything. Tiffany (my roommate) was still at work. I didn't have my landlady's number. And we don't keep a spare key under the mat.

Luckily for us, this Christmas I received none other than The Unofficial MacGyver How-to Handbook. With two bobby pins (courtesy of Jamie's purse) and a secret third tool, I PICKED THE LOCK. (Thank you, thank you-- you can have the trophies and gift baskets sent to the delivery entrance in the alley.)

Some little girls wanted to be princesses. I wanted to be a spy. I think it was all that Cold War hype. My brothers camped in tents in the backyard, hoping for a reenactment of Red Dawn. We had MacGyver on the tube, who was always stickin' it to the Iron Curtain. No helpless damsels in my house, boy.

And we're gonna look into changing the locks, BTW.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The quest to take back the 90's

Epic weekend, folks.

One of my best friends, Jamie, came to visit and we had a great time together.
To start with, there was the 90's Party we threw for Jocelyn's birthday, better known as Joc Jams '96. That morning, six of us girls went to Goodwill to hunt for appropriate vintage attire. The best find, by far, was Jamie's dress, which you'll see in a following picture. Other great outfits included Lindsay's purple crushed velvet, off-the-shoulder party dress, and Laura's one-piece, zip-up sleeveless shorts jumpsuit. Participating partygoers also donned jean shorts, spiked hair, flannel shirts, and birkenstocks.

I was able to do the hair for a number of the girls. Alison wore a knit headband, not unlike the type I wore every day in middle school. Rebecca let me do the teased, multi-ponytailed Jessie Spano hairdo on her. For Lindsay, we tried to do a deep side part with a lot of mousse, a la D.J. Tanner. I went for an Elaine Benes bouffant, with one tendril pulled out in front and spiral-curled. For Jamie, I just double-fisted with Aussie Sprunch and Insta-Freeze style spray and went nuts on her natural waves.

Andrea and Jamie in 1990's finest.

Anyway, there was a lot of dancing. And a killer playlist. We did the Runningman, the Hammerman, the Roger Rabbit, the Jessica Rabbit, the Kid N' Play, the Cabbage Patch, the Shopping Cart, the Lawnmower, the Sprinkler, and (natch) I pulled out the Elaine.
If you've ever watched When Harry Met Sally, you may remember the line where Billy Crystal mentions the "white man overbite" -- the natural position one's mouth takes when one is an untalented dancer trying to bust a move. Jamie and I decided we had our own versions of the WMO, because we kept making the exact same faces when we were dancing. Ours were sort of puckered-lip underbites, though.

So, those of us who are close to my age (24) tend not to look back on the 90's with a great deal of fondness. I, for one, try to block most of the decade out of my memory. It was a time period rife with awkwardness, attitude, acne, betrayal, social outcasting, and all such horrors that come with most people's puberty experiences. I can mostly only speak for myself, but I know at least Jamie and Lindsay were in that "eww, the 90's were not good for me" bracket with me. That said, this party was our way of exacting revenge on the 90's. It was our way of taking one night and redoing an era the way it ought to have been done in the first place-- with great panache and much more self-confidence*.

*I am a firm believer that there is a positive correlation between one's confidence and the size of one's hair. Bigger = better.

Andrea, Rebecca, and Jamie at the party.

More on the weekend at another time.

Friday, March 21, 2008

ho-tel, mo-tel, holiday inn...

I'm back from the ICEID 2k8, and sorely disappointed by the lack of free pens, highlighters, keychains, and lanyards. I had big plans for all those Beckman Coulter and Bio-Rad freebies I was expecting.

I did get a handsome tote bag emblazoned with the ICEID logo, though. So that's nice. I mean, I hate to go to a conference and come back completely empty-handed. If we want to be all mature and professional about it, we can say that the real thing we're supposed to take away from scientific conferences is the knowledge and networking opportunities, but I think if we're really being honest with ourselves, we know that a conference without free pens is really just a week ill-spent.

Speaking of networking opportunities, this fall I received no less than 500 business cards with my name, title, and work contact information on them. I brought a healthy stack of them with me to the conference, with all grand intentions of handing them out to the leading scientific minds of the world.

"Doctor Lipkin," I'd say. "I was absolutely riveted by the presentation on your work with the high-throughput sequencing and MassTag PCR. Allow me to introduce myself. Andrea Lorenz, Emerging Infectious Diseases fellow. My card." And I'd whip it out with great flourish.

Right, then what? I don't have any conversational objectives for those kinds of interactions. I know, I know, CONNECTIONS. NETWORKING. Whatever. I feel like a royal tool giving my CARD to a "real" scientist. So I didn't give any out. I have no natural talent for being a social or career climber. I need someone to do my PR for me (provided, that is, I have some sort of skill or product that is actually worth marketing-- jury's still out on that one).

Anyway, I'm glad to be back. I can only take so much of a.) crowds, b.) being with the same people all the time, and c.) being obligated to stay in the same place. In this case, I was obligated to stay with all three by virtue of the conference being in the hotel in which everyone stayed.

More on b.) ... It's gonna be a real hoot if/when I get married, because even the most innocuous little personal tics and habits tend to drive me up the wall after I've spent a LOT of time with someone. I bet it's different if you're close friends or in love with them, though. I just kinda maybe hope I marry someone who doesn't have a little sucking/slurping/shivering breathing noise they make all the time because they never try breathing through their nose...

Friday, March 14, 2008

maybe rho and epsilon were taken

Happy Pi Day, everyone. 3.14.

Another perk of working in a lab with fellow nerds is that we get to celebrate things like Pi day. People actually brought in pies this morning.

One of the scientists, whose mother is a teacher, told us about a Pi day activity that blends the happy worlds of Math and English. It is the Piku: where pi meets the haiku.

In a haiku, the syllable/line formula is 5/7/5; whereas in a piku, the syllable formula is 3/1/4/1/5/9 and so on, for as long as you want to go. See, that's the beauty of pi: it never ends.

And naturally, some of us here at the lab wrote pikus. Here is mine:

3 radius
1 arc
4 diameter
1 o!
5 my circumference
9 of three hundred and sixty degrees
2 constant
6 help us, Archimedes
5 so irrational
3 yet so real
5 a Greek character
8 encompasses so very much
9 twenty-two divided by seven
7 to infinite decimals
9 to illustrate the sphere and circle
3 concisely
2 why pi?
3 tasty snack
8 crispy, flaky, golden-brown crust
4 also is round
6 an endless metaphor

And one Toothpaste for Dinner pi webcomic for good measure.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

catch up

Sometimes, when I'm driving to work, I see daddies walking their little kids to school or waiting for the bus with them. It always makes me happy. There is something special about fathers doing things with their children-- even the menial tasks such as waiting for the bus.

In other news, I'm going to the ATL for a few days next week for a conference. Most, if not all, of the other fellows from my program will be there (obviously including Missy, who works with me). It will be nice to catch up with them and see how their year has been.

One of my best friends, Jamie, will be visiting me next weekend. I can't wait to see her. I've missed my Ohio people a lot lately. I've really missed all my little nieces and nephews, too. I'm okay with being away from grown ups, because things don't change too much with your closest friends. But being away from the kids is just a bummer. They're only little for so long....

On that note, I'd like to give a warm welcome to little Ellah, who was born this morning at 4:30 to my old friend Tamar. Welcome to the world, babe. You're gonna love it.

Another thing on the menu today: this evening I'm scheduled for my first haircut since July. Big thrills, here. I'm not even getting a lot of it cut off, so honestly, why am I writing about it?

That's all for now.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Rant time.

I sit at a cubicle. The cubicle wall height is about 4 feet, so it's not very private. Or soundproof.

There is a woman in an adjacent cubicle who sits there and SNORTS incessantly. We're just sitting here, working, in an otherwise peaceful environment, when the concentration will be repeatedly shattered by one of the most impolite, grating, and yet entirely controllable bodily noises.


This woman is not ill, by the way.

And there is a vast difference between sniffing and snorting.

Sniffing is what you do when you have a cold. It's when something is about to run down out of your nose and the only method of prevention is a rapid nasal intake of air. All the action is in the anterior region of the nasal cavity. Sniffing is a necessary evil. Unless you're a coke addict. Then I wouldn't really call it "necessary." But I digress.

Snorting, on the other hand, is when the rapid intake of air is with the intention of disrupting and dislodging matter in the posterior region of the nasal cavity. If you've got stuff building up in there, for the love of God-- go blow your nose. If it continues to build up in there, medicate. Or see a physician. They make specialists for just such a predicament.

But under no circumstances, on any planet, is it appropriate to sit there and snort repeatedly. Every day. I don't care how old you are. It is not okay. It is GROSS.

There IS a way to surmount the nasal inflammation brought on by allergies and ill-tempered air conditioning that does not involve regular snorting. I promise you this. I further suggest you develop this skill.

That is all.

king me! wait, no. wrong game.

You know what I'd really like to do? Learn how to play chess.

I would like for somebody to teach me more than just what the moves are-- I'd like for someone to invest some time with me and teach me strategy and stuff. People tell me I'd probably be good at chess, so... I wanna find out.

I'm off to check craigslist for local chess clubs. If... they exist.

Friday, March 7, 2008


I changed my profile picture on MySpace and, almost immediately, I had four complete strangers send me messages and/or ask to be my friend.

Three of them were women. My age. One told me I was cute. *BAWL*

I have since changed my picture.

But let's talk about this for a minute, okay?

I'm not going to re-post the picture I had up, because I really don't want to focus on it any more, nor do I want anyone else to scrutinize it. But it was not what I would call a particularly "cute" picture of me. In fact, I looked girthy and mannish with a large chin, if I may say so myself.

I just thought it was a well-taken photograph. And it was recent.

Since the inception of my MySpace profile, I have sporadically had complete strangers ask to be my friend (presumably, based solely on my profile picture/information-- such motivation I will never understand).

It doesn't bother me when the strangers are men. I don't add them as friends, I don't reply to their messages, and I always wonder WHY they add me ("You're a 45 year old married man in Georgia. Really? ....really?"). But I chalk that all up to that ever-present (low) percentage of the male population who doesn't seem to have a problem with putting it all out there and flirting down a dead-end street. Similar to the goob on the street who says "sup-hows-it-goin" and keeps walking. Those dudes are always out there. That's fine. Whatever.

But it DOES bother me to get questionable attention from strange females. I like to think of myself as an open-minded person, but shoot. I have limits. All I could think when I got the friend requests was, "Do I really look like a dyke in this picture or something!?"

Sorry everyone. I'm human. I have enough romantic relationship problems as a straight female that I would REALLY not like to be mistaken for a gay one. Call me insecure.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

My petticoat's getting in the way again

I have a new favorite thing, and it's this article. Including whoever wrote it.

Before you go and read it, let me warn you by saying it's got a couple of, um, unsavory metaphors. In fact, all I really mean by that is: Mom, seriously-- don't read it.

That article had me cracking up with how well it was written, in a deliciously sophomoric fashion. I think, if I were a guy, I would just kill to write like that. The word plays... the mental imagery... *swoon*! What a gift. He weaves man-humor and 80's nostalgia into a robust tapestry. A tapestry I'd be proud to display on my wall.

You may note that I said, "If I were a guy," I'd want to write like that. That's the key, there. I could put those kinds of words on a webpage, but I'm a girl. And a morally-conscious one, at that. I'm all for busting the glass ceiling, but you can't be crass and be a lady at the same time. And "being a lady" is definitely part of my five-year-plan.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Just keep beating.

One morning I just lay in my bed, letting my weltschmerz and existential anxiety get the better of me. (seriously... google "weltschmerz"-- it's a great term.)

The way my arms were crossed allowed one of my hands to rest in the middle of my ribcage on one side. My thumb laid snugly right against a vein. Everything was silent in the room, including my mind, at the moment. I just felt the vein beating.

I started to think about something else. When that train of thought finished, I noticed the beating of the vein again. Still going. It just kept going whether I paid attention to it or not. Each beat was as strong as the last one. Somehow, that made me feel hopeful.

If I want to be a scientific wet blanket, I can attribute it to automatic, involuntary nerve tissue and acetylcholine receptors and the like. Looking at it that way does nothing for a frustrated outlook on life.

And yet, even with that knowledge in the back of my mind, it doesn't keep me from feeling just a little comfort and strength from the perseverence of that little vein. It's like... sometimes I'd like to stop going and just fade into an easy repose. But my vein doesn't stop. It keeps going. It beats again and again.

Maybe it knows something I don't.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The fabric of our lives

Some people in life are blessed with a personality that lives to be fascinated. Further blessed are those fascinated by simple things.

This weekend was a great retreat with my church people. We went to a state park out near Williamsburg. The house in which we stayed was right next to a COTTON FIELD. Having lived exclusively in Ohio until recently, I was fascinated with the cotton field. Since it's March, there wasn't any fresh growth-- just leftover dead and dried plant matter from the harvest. But mixed in with the plant matter was cotton: big clumps of cotton, just sitting there.

I'm no stranger to farmland, now. I grew up a brisk walk away from corn and soybean and dairy fields. But cotton! It's like I could dump out a bag of cotton balls in a field, come back after a rainy day, and find what I saw this weekend. Blows my mind. It's not food growing out of the ground, it's clothes. er... sort of.

I took a walk in the cotton field, just admiring the different soil and plant life. It's interesting how different things can be on the earth in such a short distance. I'm only two states away from the ecosystem I knew by heart, but here-- new things. New animals. New plant life. New soil (it was kind of sandy).

I was pickin' cotton. I got down, turned around, and picked a bale of cotton.

And then we got down, turned around, and picked a bale of hay.