“Caramela”

“Caramela, I cannot leave
You in the night—
Dark money, pay the girl
In dark money”

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untitled [Bryan]

I would like to be something more than a receptacle

for hunger and bad behavior. I would like

to not be so pliant or so transfixed by my own

damnable curiosity. I would like you to keep

your hands where I can see them. And I would like

to not be the thing that makes you unfaithful. Continue reading

a little failure and stupidity

You know, I think the most difficult things about graduate school (and becoming a scientist) are a) learning to be stupid, and b) developing a thick skin against failure.

It’s taken me two years, but I think I’m finally getting better at being stupid. I’m still working on the failure bit. My PI once called me “angsty and self-editing” and, while I think I’ve gained more awareness of myself in the last year, his assessment still holds true, and I still tend to take failure very personally. In some ways, that’s a good thing; it galvanizes me to work harder and perform better. In other ways, not so much: I begin to question whether or not I’m cut out for science.

However, after opening up to my PI and others about it, I’ve realized that the feelings of being stupid and of being a waste may never go away. I would wager that the majority of scientists have impostor syndrome. What’s more, failure is just a part of the scientific process. Things don’t work quite often, especially if you shun “safe” science. There are labs in our department that churn out papers with a surprisingly stead regularity, but they do this at the cost of lacking innovation. They perform the same kinds of experiments ad nauseam, almost, it seems, without thinking about what kind of impact they are having on science. If you want to do something really innovative, failure is going to predominate at least the early stages of the work. It’s learning to think of failure in a constructive way that’s difficult, and sometimes hindered by the attitudes of those around you.

There’s an article by Martin A. Schwarz titled “The Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research“. While it doesn’t really provide any answers, its comforting to know that, as isolated as one sometimes feels, I am definitely not the first baby scientist to wrestle with these issues.

But, I digress. Time to get cracking on my comps proposal.

 

Orthognathic surgery: my experience with maxillary osteotomy

Development, highly-organized cascade of events that it is, is not perfect. Most imperfections are slight, and do not cause us issues as adults; others must be corrected.

For myself, it was the latter case. As a child, my jaws grew disproportionately, my lower jaw (mandible) growing larger and faster than my upper jaw (maxilla), giving me what the orthodontist called a class III malocclusion: that is, an underbite. The problem was more-or-less corrected with some routine orthodontic care: a palate-expander and braces. However, even after my orthodontic care was complete, my jaws continued to grow just slightly, leaving me with a different malocclusion: an open bite.

I had the option, when I was sixteen, to have this fixed surgically. The orthodontist told me and my parents that surgery was not necessary at the time, but might be later in life. I, who was tired of having metal crap in my mouth, staunchly refused to have surgery. And that was that.

Or, so I thought. Continue reading

Hello, hello, 2018. Let’s recap.

In 2017, I:

  • wrote 63 poems and prose-poems
  • had 3 poems accepted for publication
  • published my first scientific paper
  • ran a half-marathon in excellent time
  • was accepted into a lab for grad school
  • had 2 projects fail on me
  • presented at a scientific conference

Not as much as I wanted to get done, but still fun stuff. My first great act of 2018 was to get my face rearranged,  but more on that later.

Best,

Lex