Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pulled over

Got a speeding ticket on the interstate yesterday. This one's a first. Making a sad face and pleading eyes did not cut a deal with the Sheriff. Damn!


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More fears (updated)

Had a tick clinging onto the back of my leg for 55 hours without my knowledge (or permission).

Will I get Lyme's disease?

Update: To answer the question about the 55 hours that so many of you had, I believe I know when the tick latched onto me. This was Sunday early afternoon. I was vacationing on a beach in North Carolina and felt something bite on the leg. I jumped up and shook my leg and saw a big beetle-like insect crawl away and assumed that I had been bitten by that creature. In retrospect, I think the beetle was just taking a stroll near me and it was the tick that had bitten me instead. But I was wearing long pants and did not see the real offender. And I did take a shower right after that and also after returning home and still did not see the tiny critter. It was the back of my leg, for crying out loud, and I did not feel a thing. And I do not have a full length mirror in my bathroom to preen in front of. Therefore....it went undetected until Tuesday evening when I took a shower after returning home from work. And the thing was still clinging on to me. And it was still alive! I have it trapped under a glass for identification purposes.
And no, I do not have a rash or fever or other symptoms.
But it is way too early to say. It takes atleast seven days for the disease to start showing symptoms.
Only time will tell.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

The fears

I have a cousin who never used the Calcutta Metro because he had this innate fear of being stuck underground and dying in the train. And then there is Professor T who will drive hundreds of miles to get to a conference rather than taking a flight for fear of the plane crashing. And my mom will never get on a boat because she is convinced that boats are meant to drown and she doesn't know how to swim. People have all kinds of fear. The all pervasive, predominant fear is of dying. No one really wants to die (except may be some lost victims of unrequitted love). And yet, no matter how we try to play it safe by avoiding cars and planes and ships and trains, we never know how things may turn out to be when the time comes. And the truth is one may try his/ her hardest by staying at home thinking it is safe and still be hit by a hurricane or tornado and die. Or just have a heart attack. And die.

Yesterday there was a multi-car pile up on the interstate when I was driving back home which resulted in delays that took upto two hours to get through. And as I sat there in my car wondering about the people who were involved in the crash I had the strangest feeling. What were these people thinking of right before the accident? Were they thinking about some unfinished work in the office? Were they thinking about their family and how much longer it would take to get home? Were they thinking of dinner? Of taking the kids out to the ballgame? Did someone try to cut across another car thinking it would make him go a little faster and end up being the cause of the accident? I have no clue. I don't even know how many people were involved and whether they were alive and okay. But I know of people, friends, who have had accidents on the road. And died. It happens. It happens all the time. And I had the sudden urge to rush back home. To be safe in the arms of my family. To be able to tell them that I love them and how much they mean to me. And that I try to drive safe. But sometimes things happen that you have no control over. People make mistakes. And they suffer. And they make others suffer.

And I couldn't help but think of what it was like for people who are involved in an accident. And what it is like for the family who hear the news. I remember when B was rear-ended on a state highway and his car went and hit the car in front resulting in a three car accident with his car being smashed up on both ends. I saw a picture of the car after the accident and it is unbelievable that someone could walk away unscathed from that. And yet, B did walk out. Unscathed. And I have never been able to thank God enough for that. But I remember the exact moment when I heard the news. And I knew they were taking him to the ER. And although B kept reassuring me that he was okay I was scared out of my wits, sick with worry that he wasn't telling me the whole story. And the only thing that seemed important at that moment was that I needed to reach him and be at his side. Which wasn't easy because he was in Virginia and I was in Chicago. But I did get a flight with relative ease that let me reach his side.

And I know how much B and my parents worry about me driving to work everyday. The rush hour traffic, the thousands of people trying to get to work and home as fast as they can, the cars cutting across lanes squeezing in what little space there is, and the constant stress of staying awake and alert. And I know taking the train is a safer and less stressful option. But I save almost two hours everyday by driving instead of taking the train and I'd rather spend those two hours at home with my family.

So I drive. And I try to drive safe. And I pray that nothing ever happens to me on the road. I pray for myself and I pray for my family. Because I don't want to die. I don't even want to be injured. Like that girl from College Park who had an accident last Thanksgiving and is still in rehab. Or R's brother who is undergoing physiotherapy to get back on his feet, four years after his accident. No, I don't want that to happen to me. Or my family. But one can only hope and pray. And I want my family to know how much they mean to me. And that I love them. Even if I don't get to show it to them as often as I would like. And that I've always wanted them to be proud of me. And not be a burden or a source of unhappiness to them. Ever. And even though there are times when I hurt them without realizing it, I would do anything to keep them safe and happy.

And I am grateful to them for making my life so complete.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Realizations and Celebrations

I've always questioned the need for a special day to celebrate someone. Why do we need to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries? Why do we have days like Valentine's day and Mother's day and Father's day and the likes? I never thought that I should need a special day earmarked to celebrate any of the persons who make a difference in my life. Why should I be restricted to any one day in the year to say things like "I love you" or "You mean the world to me"? And I refrained from celebrating the so called celebration days simply to prove a point. Therefore I never wined and dined on Valentine's day, never sent a card to Mom on Mother's day or bought a gift for Dad on Father's day. (And the rest of the "days" haven't even registered in my subconscious yet. )

But this year I am having guilty pangs about being totally self-centered. I just look at things from my point of view. I don't do these things because I am only trying to prove a point. But what about the people on the receiving end? May be they have a different point of view and different expectations. May be my Mom keeps checking the mailbox for a card from her daughter who lives across the miles. May be she stays home so that she will not miss the delivery guy when he brings in some flowers. May be she sits by the phone hoping that I will call. May be my Dad checks his email every hour for an email wishing him on the special day. May be they feel sad when they they see others getting cards and gifts and wishes from their children while they sit and wait for something that never comes. May be.

And that makes me such a jerk. For not looking at things from their perspective. For only thinking about myself and how I see things. True, I do not need a special day to celebrate my parents or my husband and my love for them. But I don't go about being very effusive about the way I feel on any of the other days either. So having a day set aside when you can show them with very little effort that you care about them, love them and are grateful for their presence in your life, might not be such a bad thing. Because I for one find it very difficult to say the things that I feel inside of me. I find it easier to write. Yet I can never show them what I write. No one in my family has ever read one line from my blog. And I am glad. Because I'd be too embarassed to write the things I want to say to them if I know that they are going to read it.

My family loves me too much to ever tell me that they are disappointed by my indifferent attitude on a day that they expect to be special. And may be all they ever want is me to acknowledge their presence in my life and wish them. That is not asking for too much. And I ask myself why after all these years did this realization suddenly dawn on me? Why have I never thought about it before? I know how much the little gestures mean to my family. And it takes so little to bring a smile, spread some joy and make someone feel special.

So this year I aim to make the most of the situation. My parents will be with me on both Mother's day as well as Father's day. I will celebrate the days and what they are all about by making my parents feel loved and special on the days that have been earmarked for them. I will never let another special day go by with having my loved ones feeling disappointed and sad. And as for B, it is our anniversary this weekend. I promise to make it up to him too.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

To Sir with love

PGO, this one's for you!

Had thought of doing a post on some of my favorite teachers a while back. The ones that left the deepest mark on my life, the ones that shaped my future, walked me through troubled childhood and adolescence and made me who I am today. But that never got written. So this post is essentially an off-shoot of that imaginary post (which I still intend to write at some point). This is my tribute to PGO, the person who has been my guide and advisor, encouraging me to find my way in unchartered waters. And most importantly teaching me how to love and embrace a subject that I had been totally unfamiliar with until I met him.

I met PGO in the Spring of 2001. He was warm, charming, enthusiastic about my abilities and wanting to work with him, and willing to take a chance on me inspite of my doing miserably in course work the previous semester. Not only did he walk me through my project and how he envisioned things in the future, he approached each step with an explanation of what I was aiming to do, how to go about it and what I expect to get out of it. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was treading on absolute unfamiliar territory here. Never been taught the subject in school or college, everything was a constant source of the unknown, more questions and non-stop bewilderment. Yet, PGO was patient, never laughed at my lack of knowledge, always encouraging me to explore and learn and teaching me to face failure and be able to find the path to success.

Graduate school is never easy. And I have seen my share of frustrations and failed experiments. I've quit on my project and my career a million times in my head over the course of the next few years. But I've never seen PGO give up. On me or my project. He taught me to think for myself, to analyze problems and learn to get around obstacles. I don't think I would have made it without his support, encouragement and advise. And every step of the way he never failed to tell me how good I was doing, and how hard I worked and to hang in there and everything would work out. And even though I may have been skeptical, somewhere inside a little piece of me wanted to believe in him. And myself.

And to my surprise I survived. And when I was ready to defend my dissertation PGO introduced me in words that I'll never forget. He called my research "ground-breaking work" and the "best science to come out his lab". And he had tears in his eyes when he hugged me and wished me luck. That was last year.

This weekend PGO officially hooded me at the Graduation ceremony. I don't think there is anything more rewarding than being able to don the graduation robe and walk with the person who has shown you the path.

Thank you PGO for all your support and help! This one's for you..........

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Breaking news

I received an email yesterday from a family friend asking me to take a look at a sonography report of his sister and give my opinion on it. I agreed to do so not knowing how difficult it might become for me. This person's sister is in Calcutta. The sonography report was generated out of a lab in Calcutta. As I briefly read the report I suddenly realized that I was looking at a report of someone with possible kidney failure. I did not have any lab reports to validate my suspicion but the report seemed pretty unambiguous.

To my friend the report made no sense. All he had deciphered was the kidneys were smaller in size bilaterally and that some tests were being suggested to confirm parenchymal damage. Yet with my limited knowledge it seemed quite apparent to me that the patient had some major renal damage. Which brought me to the question about how I wanted to tell our friend that there was something really bad going on here. Like I said before and also being mentioned here, I know the right thing would be tell the family exactly what was going on, so that they could get the much needed treatment. Yet, I find myself in confusion, hesitating about how I should break such unpleasant news. And I realize how hard it is for doctors to be the bearer of bad tidings. No matter how hardened you are and how the years have seasoned you through watching endless sick and dying patients, it never changes. You always have a hard time breaking bad news to the family. You feel obligated not to crush the hope that the family has put in you. People think doctors are miracle workers. That they can always provide cure. But there is so much one can do.

I wish I could tell my friend that all was well. But I could not. I had to tell him the truth. Sometimes I hate having to do this.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Sugar and Spice and all things nice

They say everything in this world is cyclical. What goes up must come down. And vice versa. Gloom, misery and depression cannot last forever either. And I'd be lying if I said that I was not happy. I apologize to everyone who's been here on my blog enquiring after me and how things were with me. I know I haven't been very communicative lately. And I never got around to answering any of the questions that were posed. Do forgive my silence and moodiness. Hopefully someday I may be able to come face to face with my emotions and be able to talk about it. Hopefully. Someday.

For those of you who expressed delight at my being "back": I was never away. Just spaced out. And trying to find some answers. And I appreciate all the good wishes since my last post, including this mention (thanks r.i.m.).

As far as whether my temporary hiatus had any effect: well, no. I did not achieve what I had hoped for. I never realized the dream that I was trying to reach out for. Am I disappointed? Of course I am. Am I giving up on my dream? Hell, no. I'm stubborn and I have faith. And I am going to keep on trying. And like I said before, I'll at the least end up landing in the stars. And I will know. I tried my hardest. And I'll learn to accept that. May be.

They say human beings have an uncanny ability of dealing with most every situation. All they need is to know what is happening. It is the uncertainty of a situation which is the hardest to deal with.

Right now, I am happy. Can't help it. My parents are here. I'm meeting my Dad after 4 years. Can you believe that? 4 really long years. And my Mom says you can actually see the effect this is having on him. Overnight he seems to have lost some ten years, discovered some secret source of youth and energy. He's happy. And content. Overjoyed at seeing me. And glad to be able to spend this time with us.

So now I can look forward to warm home cooked meals waiting on the table when I get home from work. Am I glad my Mom is here! I demand and expect. Without hesitation. Just pretending to be a child again. Knowing that this safe haven is not going to last when they go back home. When I will have to grow up and be responsible again. For decisions, for meals, for keeping house, for myself, for my family.

But until then.....I can take refuge and be ten years old.