Friday, May 30, 2008

Random Thoughts

Everyone should get a breath of fresh air sometimes. I definitely got one this week in a bit of an extreme way; by flying across half the country and visiting a different university. Now I'm sitting by the nice indoor pool at a hotel, wishing I'd had the sense to bring my swimsuit. What was I thinking? Hmm. Probably the answer to that was that I wasn't thinking.

We get so engrained in our own problems that we forget other people have problems, too. And it's amazing, but the fact is that sharing our problems with other people and allowing them to share their problems with us somehow makes the burden lighter.
Two examples of this really hit home for me this last week.

Example one: The postdoc I was working with at Mizzou does the same technique as I, which is why I was working with him. The acronym for this technique is FISH. It stands for Fluorescence in situ Hybridization, but FISH is much more fun to say. Unfortunately, my graduate adviser at BYU and I are about the only people in Utah, as far as I can tell, using this technique, although it is fairly common in the molecular biology world. In any case, I was feeling incredibly stuck, and to be honest, rather like a hopeless case who wasn't cut out to be a scientist. This is a hard thing to admit to people.

Most of this despair and discouragement stemmed from the fact that I was so secluded, there was no one else to talk to who could relate directly to what I was facing and offer either perspective, hope, or advice. So it was such a relief to visit another lab in another state where FISHing is done routinely (isn't it a fun acronym?), and to hear someone with a lot more experience than I acknowledge that there are many pitfalls and snags and that he sometimes can't get things to work, either. He very kindly told me that he would be willing to be my long-distance tech support when I return to Utah (or as he put it, my base with reality). This knowledge alone would have made the trip worth it, although I am very hopeful that it will pay off in other dividends, too. I'll keep you posted . . . I am carrying around tubes of fluorescent DNA with me now that I labeled at Mizzou. It kind of makes me giggle for some reason. All my little double helices . . .

Come to think of it, example two probably shouldn't be posted on the internet. Suffice it to say, I think that there is a very good reason that God gives some gifts to some people and some to others; we need each other; we need to serve and help and love each other, to bear one another's burdens and comfort those who stand in need of comfort, and the sooner we figure that out, the happier we'll be, both from gaining more opportunities to serve and from discovering again and again by sharing our woes with our friends that we are not alone in our struggles and that everyone has suffered.

Okay, now on a lighter note, here are a few more of my random thoughts:

You know how certain smells and sounds and tastes just remind you of different experiences in your life? I've been pondering this lately, especially the smells, I think. Some smells
are just ingrained (what's the correct word, here? My spellchecker doesn't like "engrained," but "Ingrained" doesn't look right to me. Hum.) into my mind and are, I think, forever associated with distinct memories. For example,

Whenever I get a large whiff of the dieselly smell that goes with tour buses, I automatically think of marching band tour in high school.

Gardenia scented candles make me think of my first crush- I think I had one when the crush was ongoing.

The smell of water, like the smell you get around indoor pools or indoor fountains, doesn't have a particular memory associated with it, but it always makes me feel happy and relaxed.

The smell of distant raw sewage makes me think of Morocco. Fortunately, I don't smell this one too often.

The smell of coffee makes me think of the airport. Also, I associate the smell of cigarettes with vacations- notably Disneyland. I think this is because really the only places I smelled these smells growing up were when I went on vacation, Did I grow up in Utah or what?

Also, when I was driving across Missouri today, I put on the Newsies soundtrack and listened to it while I drove. It reminded me of the last time I had a rental car, which was a happy memory. My friend Danielle and I rented a car and drove from Minneapolis to Nauvoo, Illinois. I wish she was here now- it would be a lot more entertaining if she were. I much prefer to have an exploration buddy when I go on trips- it's so much better if you share with someone.

Also, I passed multiple signs for a town called "Forrestell" on the freeway, and for some reason, every time I saw one of those signs the first thought I had was that the town was called "Fahrenheit." Don't ask me how I got "Fahrenheit" out of "Forrestell."

Also, I passed several signs for rest areas, which thoughtfully provided information on how far it was to the next rest area. Then I passed a sign that said: "Rest area 1/2 mile. Last rest area in Missouri."

I know that what they meant to convey in this sign was that the next rest area travelers would encounter would be in another state, but my mind suggested to me that all the other rest areas in Missouri had been cruelly and systematically destroyed, leaving this lone survivor, the last rest area in Missouri. This thought made me laugh out loud. I was glad no one else could hear me. Also, I'm glad no one else could hear me sing along to Newsies at the top of my voice. I guess there are some advantages to traveling alone.

However, eating out alone is not one of them. There are few things that make me feel lonelier than going to a restaurant, ordering, and eating by myself. I'm debating if I'll do that tonight . . . or splurge and order in. Either way will be pretty lonely. I'll be glad to return to Provo, where I do not often feel lonely.


Danielle said...

You're such a nicey. I loved that trip too.

Rebecca said...

I didn't know you were on vacation.

The smell of cheerios reminds me of eating breakfast on Sundays and listening to Music and the Spoken Word or classical music.

Ross & Amanda Goodman said...

The first time I hiked Mt. Timpanogos I saw a sign that said "No Drinking Water on the Trail" and for a few seconds I actually thought that they had outlawed people from drinking water while on the trail. I was so upset and confused for a moment until it dawned on me what it really meant.