I’m playing along with a little down-the-line interview meme! Not long ago, Scientistmother posted her answers to five questions Cath at VWXYnot? asked her. Now it’s my turn to answer Scientistmother’s questions! Care to play along and be interviewed next? Read on!
1. What is your favourite season?
It may sound corny, I know, but generally whatever season is next! I find things to love about each one. Yup, corny. When the novelty of winter has worn off, I look forward to cherry blossoms, daffodils, warm sunshine and cool breezes. I enjoy them when they come, but then start to look forward to the heat, sunshine late in the evening, cool swimming pools, having the windows open, wearing light clothes and not needing a jacket. Fall comes, and I love the gusty winds that swirl leaves off the trees, the first frosts, Halloween, hearty and rich food. Then there’s winter’s magic of the first snowfall, dark evenings bundled up in blankets to watch a movie, fireplaces, Christmas, and general coziness.
2. What is your idea of a perfect weekend?
Right now? Being totally alone, knowing that Cameron is well cared for as I retreat to a nice hotel in the off-season so it’s not crowded. Swimming pool, hot tub, a couple of spa type things. Watch a movie in my room, in a soft robe while munching yummy food, alone. Heaven. But ask me again in a little while and I may give you a different answer – hiking to the perfect camping spot, or a weekend of fun and play where Cameron doesn’t whine once, or someday I may even answer a getaway with a cute guy. Maybe.
3. Do you miss working at the bench?
Yes. I miss working at the bench when things are going well! I only sort of miss the troubleshooting of a flopped experiment. No way in hell do I miss the drudgery of weeks of nothing working and not knowing why. I miss the puzzles – those fun ones where you have to figure out what the question is before you can start to figure out how to answer it and you have to fill three chalkboards with multi-coloured drawings and notes before you can even get a hint at what question you should be asking. I miss designing an experiment far more than I miss actually doing it. The good news? If I can ever get the ever-growing stacks of paper filed where they’re supposed to be, and whittle down my to-do list, I’ll be able to do some benchwork again. I’ll have to fight for benchspace. I have a project waiting for me, and even if it gets handed off I’m sure there will be others.
4. What were you doing 10 years ago?
I don’t like to remember ten years ago very much. Not until May or June, that is, although February was a turning point for me.
In February of 1999 I was slowly coming out of a long depression. I lived in a relatively cheap ‘funky’ and ‘fun’ basement suite that had puddles under the carpets due to the rainstorms of that record-setting winter and a crack in the foundation. In the summer it was great, but winter really sucked. In retrospect, I should have packed up and gone home – Dad and Janice put money in my bank account every month so I could pay rent and eat, in the hopes that I’d come out of it soon. I had given up on antidepressants, and was ‘self medicating’ with alcohol every night, not getting drunk but just continually having a glass of wine. I would stay up until three or four in the morning, terrified of the dreams I would have when I closed my eyes.
On one dreary, rainy evening I was heading home from I don’t know where, and there was a new women-only gym opening in the new hotel. A large banner outside advertised their monthly rates, and the gym’s windows were warmly lit. Whatever was going on in my head, for a moment I was able to understand that it was wrong of me to be spending so much money (that I hadn’t earned) on wine, and for the money I was currently spending on wine I could get a gym membership and /still/ drink too much. I joined. I went every single day. Slowly, I started drinking only two glasses of wine in an evening, then one, then not every evening. At the same time, I managed to get a resume together. I managed to print it off, a big step for me at the time. It still took some time, but eventually I carried that resume outside. The first time I applied for a job at the university I currently work at, I remember I practically threw the paper in the box at the HR desk and fled, fighting tears. Ten years later I still feel the impulse to run when I’m on those stairs. I didn’t get that job. Nor the next. Nor the next. But in May or June I landed a position in a lab at the university I had done my undergrad at and had already worked at (the position ended due to lack of funding), in a lab I never thought I would be considered ‘good enough’ by the PI to work at. I braved rejoining the Evolution Group, PIs and grad students from both universities who met monthly to discuss research papers, even though I was no longer a student. There, I spoke with a PI I had always respected (with a bit of awe thrown in) who I never thought would give me the time of day, and in a matter of months was in her lab as a grad student.
5. If you could invite any person (living or dead) over for dinner, who would you invite?
Oh, I hate this type of question! Always, I feel pressure to come up with some historical figure of significance – Jesus, say, and ask him what was really with the fish and the loaves, and walking on water, and all that, or maybe Gregor Mendel, or Charles Darwin. Or maybe some hot Hollywood star and make some crack about what would be on the menu.
But the person I would really like to invite is my Grandma. I can still hear her voice singing if I close my eyes, hear her laughter at Mimi’s comments about football player’s ‘tushies’ on the TV, see her sparkling eyes. I remember the house, the creaky wooden floors upstairs, the scents of her powder and the dust and old wood, the landing on the stairs where you could watch the adults in the living room, the closets full of matching purses, gloves, and shoes in the attic. I would love to ask her about her life, to have the chance to hear her stories about her childhood, marriage, motherhood, stories of Dad and Mimi when they were young – like I have heard from Nana. She was trained as an opera singer, but wasn’t allowed to take the opportunity she was given, though I’m not sure I understand why, or what that opportunity really was. She lived in Chicago during, I think, the thirties. I can’t help but think she must have had stories from then! I’m told she had a temper that would send her kids running – perhaps I could find answers to my own new-found temper in talking with her. She raised her kids with a husband who was often gone for his work, and her mother lived with them, a mother I understand was the ruler of the household. I’d love to hear her thoughts on that!
Unfortunately, during the last years of her life I was a typical teen, self-centered and with little understanding of the life my grandparents had led. Grandma was there, always had been, and always would be. I didn’t like going to visit her any more – there was nothing to do, nothing to talk about! All the same, I loved her, and she loved me, and we both knew it. She knew, when I left for school, that she would likely not see me again. She told me … and I scoffed, saying I would see her in May. She was right. So I would love to have the chance to have her come over for dinner, and get to know her.
Now it’s your turn – want to play?
If you do – here are the rules:
1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me” AND leave your email address (or blog link) with the comment!
2. I will respond by emailing you (or commenting on your blog with) five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions. (If you don’t have a blog, I can post your answers here).
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.