My job isn’t so bad

I’m writing this on a Sunday and kind of feeling the Sunday night blues. So I decided to make a list of things I actually like about my summer job as a research assistant.

The people I work with are bright, curious, and passionate about science. We spend our lunch hours talking about cool biology stuff and looking at the bugs and birds that swoop by. I actually feel like I fit in with the group, even though I’m the newest hire.

When I tell people about my job, they think it is cool. It may be nerdy but it’s undeniably more glamorous than last summer’s job (wrangling kids and cleaning toilets at a campground).

I get paid to go to seminars – more cool bio stuff – and sometimes there are swanky events with appetizers.

I’m learning a lot of stuff that might actually help me out in my classes this fall.

It’s so white collar that I don’t have to punch a time card.

There is air conditioning. I’ve never lived in a house with AC, so I don’t take it for granted.

My boss is the sweetest woman alive, and she’s patient with me despite my awkwardness and clumsiness.

I can listen to music all day.

I’ll be glad to get back to school where I can be my own boss and do my work at midnight and snack on marmite toast whenever, but there are definitely worse jobs out there.



Yesterday I went to Hillside music festival and it was great.

As soon as we got off the shuttle bus we knew it was going to be hippie-tastic. There were hand-painted signs everywhere. Stalls sold tie-dyed long johns, dream catchers and handmade jewelry. The air was sweet with sage smoke. People walked around wearing rainbow kneesocks, kaftans, and John Lennon glasses with zero self-consciousness.

The food was great. I’d expected your classic festival fare like hot dogs and burgers, but instead it was a smorgasbord of foodie delights. Whenever there was a lull in the schedule of bands we wanted to see, we’d go foraging for food. I had a truly good coffee and a giant PB cookie; an Ethiopian lunch with ingera, lentil stew and slaw; some spring rolls; a mug of drinking chocolate; and a hot corn tortilla with a melty chocolate filling.

We saw some great acts too. My friend was excited to see Aidan Knight, and I hadn’t heard him before but I enjoyed his soulful voice. I loved watching him sing because he has such an expressive face, and when he smiles you can really see the joy breaking out. We also took in some reggae, a workshop or two, laughter yoga (the best thing ever), and a poetry slam.

Unfortunately the heavens opened just after lunch and we spent about an hour huddled under an umbrella, trying to make ourselves as small as possible to keep dry. Then the umbrella started to leak.

We took refuge inside to watch Yamantaka//Sonic Titan and then the Darcys. The last act we saw was Yukon Blonde, who came to town earlier this year and rocked. They can drum up so much energy in a crowd with their hooks and crazy hair-shaking maneuvers. Just great.

Normally I’m kind of self-conscious about dancing at shows, but that didn’t bother me last night – I wasn’t the craziest dancer there, not by a mile. Also  I’m starting to realize that nobody cares how you look when you’re dancing because they’re either a) grooving to the music or b) preoccupied with their own awkward dancing. This is making me a happier person.

At the end of the night, of course there was a torrential downpour and we had to wait an hour for the bus back to town… but it was worth it and so much fun. My little hippie soul was filled with love and light (which will probably last until about 9:05 a.m. on Monday) and I can’t wait for next year’s Hillside.

How do you collect your thoughts?

How many notebooks do you have?

As runner-up to the world’s least organized person, I have about three bajillion.

I have a very official-looking lab notebook, embossed with my school’s crest, that stays in the lab at all times.

A dream journal that has a distinctive scent, like strange perfume. It showcases my handwriting at its worst, since I write down my dreams as soon as I wake up and before my hands work properly.

A clipboard that holds my notes during the school year. I drew a fantastic picture in red sharpie – a rib cage with one side bursting into flowers – but you can never see the drawing because of the pile o’ notes on top.

Diaries from all the times in my life I’ve decided to keep a diary: One from about ages 6-10, another from grade eight, and one from the French exchange I did. It’s painfully embarrassing to read them.

An honest dozen of random cheapo notebooks stuffed with half-finished stories and poems, unfulfilled resolutions, sketches, interesting words, running logs, song lyrics, and quotes. I’m kind of addicted to dollar store journals.

Pinterest. I use it as a notebook, but for pictures instead of words.

And last but not least I have a document on my laptop called “Who is normal.doc”. This is where I keep my weirdest thoughts. e.g. at one point I refer to this famous painting by Botticelli as “Venus on the half shell”.


(via Wikimedia Commons)

There’s a story behind that document’s name. When my brother was little, he had this cat costume that he would not take off. He’d even go on errands with my mom and go into stores wearing it. He also always took off his shoes when going into stores (because we had been trained to take off our shoes at home). So he could often be found walking sockfooted around the grocery store, wearing his cat costume, with a button that someone had given him that said “Who is normal?”.

I think we still have that button somewhere.

I warned you I was disorganized…

Goodnight everyone.

All this for twenty bucks



So I hit up Chapters yesterday to spend a gift card I had leftover from my birthday. They had a sale on – pretty much a dream come true for me. Usually visiting bookstores is torture because I see so many books I want but can’t afford. But those gift cards turn it into a wonderful adventure.

What I got:

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – because my cheap paperback copy had been loved to pieces. This was the first Dickens I ever read and I’m rather attached to it. Now I have a durable and nicely bound hardcover edition.

Company magazine – a progressive British fashion/lifestyle magazine. So I can read up on the state of feminism and this summer’s hottest festi-fashion.

What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes – I just thought this looked good, and it was a toonie.

Portrait of the Addict as a Young Man by Bill Clegg – I’m 3/4 done this one already. Don’t do drugs, kids.


The circle of compassion

Today I found a blog that represents everything that is good about the Internet.
It’s called so i wrote and the blogger creates personalized sketches for people who are going through illness. You can comment about someone you know who needs a lift, tell a bit about them and the artist will make an original drawing for them.

I love that this blogger in Mumbai will take the time to help people across the world. If you have talent, you might as well use it to make the world a better place. But of course you can’t make the world happier; you make people happier, one at a time.

This blog isn’t about helping Parkinson’s sufferers or mental patients; it’s about an old man who loves Coca-Cola and vintage cars, or a young girl who just left the hospital. It’s a way of humanizing people with illness. These people are often pushed to the side. They’re  looked upon as passive sufferers or just a uniform mass rather than real individuals with complex lives. This is a way to help bring them back into the circle.

The drawings are deceptively simple silhouettes. They’re created in Paint with a computer mouse, which takes skill. It’s hard to draw perfectly smooth lines like these. Maybe it helps that the blogger is a software engineer.

There’s a quote in this post that I love:

i read somewhere that “Life is on an incline; you either go up or you come down”. Fully convinced of this, i am trying to use my spare time in creating a path up this incline for others. Maybe, the positivity that is generated will create an upward path for me too.

What a good attitude.