Today was a pretty good day. I was impressed with my happiness levels. I awoke, sat in traffic for an hour due to the rain and terrible weather, and picked up ES cells from PBRC to plate on feeders.
Hopped on over to my first ever Grad-level course, had a good lecture, and went to lab to study. Had an apple and coffee. Studied with interest.
Unfortunately, my back pain has returned. I had been interested in the 200 squat challenge, so as a substitute muscle workout I tried this. Got to 150. It’s really more of a conditioning thing, but finally towards the end slight muscle fatigue occurred.
Drive back home. Had ‘eh’ soup and cottage cheese with berries. Nothing spectacular, but I felt good about things for once because I am in a good environment – a biotech. company – and my classes are engaging.
Today was a decent day, as days go. I woke and, to my pleasure, was able to destroy my legs with my close friend who was back in town from Michigan Law for the break. Did some deep, deep squats. The highlight was a set with 25 reps.
This was followed by a trip to the local sushi buffet. Training was fasted, so everything was amplified in taste and ostensible nutritional value. A feast for sure.
So after this ordeal, I ended up seeing some really old friends from high school. Honestly, it served as a reminder more than anything else. I was reminded of my failures. I was reminded that I had done everything in my capacity to change what I found unworthy in myself, and I was still deemed unworthy in every capacity. The friends I had met were not. There were content and pleased to pursuing those same dreams I had. No one barred their search for knowledge. They were happy to party and delude themselves into thinking that their ambitions were for greatness.
I mentioned to my lifting friend as I drove him home that these were the sort of self-satisfied people that I have tried so desperately not to emulate – they are the sort of person I used to be. I think these people don’t see past the façade of society, however that that could be an unfair generalization and is not the main point I am making here. These are the people who go to school for the exact reasons of prestige and money. They have some beautiful end-goal plastered to the inside of their heads and they are desperate to achieve these goals for what I personally think are the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong. These people are needed in society. For the most part, I think most medical schools are populated by these sorts of people, and these people go on to live that dream of wealth and responsibility. They serve the society and are perfectly happy being part of a sprawling, expensive service industry. But from what I’ve seen, these people are not pushing the limits of human knowledge. They are doing an exquisite job of maintaining things. There is no thirst for novelty and sharp ideas; there is a thirst for pride, money, and respect: for a maintenance of things.
I know my ordeals have sharpened my focus and made me stronger. I see past the immediacy of things. But I have the right reasons for going into medicine and research. I crave that burden of responsibility that comes with being a physician, being responsible for the life of another and using my knowledge and experience to alleviate its problems. Above ALL, I am focused on pushing both myself and what I am presented with to the limits.
I have this thirst and hope to retain it for my entire existence; never quenched. Below, I’ve posted an abbreviated comic [source] that really serves to remind me what drives me at times. I know I waver between things, but hopefully my actions speak to my true motivations.
Today, I am pretty sure I got everything right on my exam except the question about ETC sites. Completely drew a blank. Sat there for a good 30 minutes before I took a guess. I vaguely remember looking at the slide but truly had not idea that ETC stands for Extra-TFIIIC . These are sites that were found in the eukaryotic genome that exclusively bind TFIIIC but not TFIIIB or RNA Polymerase III. This was done via a micro-array analysis. Fun stuff.
In other news, I had a long pep-talk with my mentor Dr. Samuel. Basically, he said chin up, chest out, and make the most of your situation. We also discussed publishing another paper (this time about Spironolactone). After that I passaged cells. Now I need to identify a good neuronal marker. We shall see. I might use MAP2 to stain again, but I’d rather do some RNA analysis. Something definitive.
Then I came home and practiced handstands. For real this time. Apparently I have no core strength. Turns out, life is about getting better at and mastering things you have conveniently pushed away when they confronted you in the past (why? because they were ‘too hard’). For me, these are two patently glaring things on my transcript I now love: genetics and anatomy.
I say this because the first progression I was told to practice for the handstand was something called the hollow body position. Could not hold it. It’s basically laying you your back and holding up your legs. The key is that the small of your back must stay on the ground, magnifying the difficultly. I hated doing this in the past (why? because it was hard) but now I recognize it’s a key movement I should master. I know it’s going to take time.
Anyway, that was that. I waited for Parth (my brother) to get home and we (by which I mean I) went to town on some deep, DEEP squats. Moved up 20 lbs on the bar also. Literal progress. Also, time to make that squat rack. We almost died when I was done with my max and we have no idea how to get the bar off my back safely. I ended up waddling to the bed, slowly sitting down and leaning back to release the weight. Yeah, that was dangerous.
Current status: Legs dead, stomach full. I am content and motivated to start working on the next big project with Amar (and work as a scribe for the next few days).