Monthly Archives: April 2011

Heart attack. On. The. Spot.


So, I was gonna take it easy here… keep it light, after my rant of last week. Get back in the routine, I almost even had a post prepared and all. In my head, obviously (who writes drafts, anyways?).

And then this happened.

Dear ———————-

I am happy to inform you that your application for an EMBO long term fellowship has been selected for an interview and sent to:

Dr. Gideon J. Davies
Department of Chemistry
York Structural Biology Laboratory
University of York
York YO10 5DD
United Kingdom
Tel +44-1904-328260
Fax +44-1904-328266

Please contact your interviewer directly to arrange an appointment.

You should use second class rail to travel to your interview or, if a one-way journey is longer than 8 hours, an economy air fare. If you travel by car, please include an estimate of the cost of the journey by second class rail; this will be the amount reimbursed by EMBO. The daily rate EMBO pays for accommodation and meal costs during an interview in the United Kingdom is EURO 75.48. If an overnight stay is involved, EMBO will pay a complete daily rate, up to a maximum of two daily rates.

If your travel costs are likely to exceed EURO 500, please contact the EMBO office before booking.

Please note that the deadline for the interview is 13 May 2011.

Best wishes



So, to provide some context – in science, at university, you rarely get employed by university itself, rather you are paid externally by grants, foundations, … which you apply for and which provides you money for yourself, for a project, … . The money can be for a few months, for a year, but never (rarely?) more than 4 years. So basically, in science you are constantly balancing searching for scientific answers and searching for money.
My money runs out in august, and thus last February I applied at 2 organizations (success rates are somewhere between 10-30%, so you kinda have to bet on several horses). One of them, EMBO, is a highly competitive one (good money, if you know what I mean…) and for this call the first round consists of a written application, and selected applicants then go through a second round: an interview with an expert on the topic.

In all fairness, I didn’t expect much from it. It’s the first application I ever wrote – in under 5 days, at that – and as there are literally 1000s of people applying… no way. Just… no way.

But there you go! I miraculously made it through the first round and get to interview! It just made my day until I saw the name of my interviewer…

Gideon Davies.

Gideon Freaking Davies.

That is… daunting.

Imagine you’re applying for a grant in English literature, and your interviewer would be Jane Eyre.
Or for a grant in Applied Physics and you have to defend your project to Albert Einstein.

Thát kind of dauntingness (<- proof I never took English lit, lol).

I'm not even belittling myself for the sakes of getting encouragement, I'm just stating a fact here – I have. no. chance :o.

Gonna be fun though ;).

You know you have neglected your blog for way too long when…


… you can’t remember your username to log in to WordPress :o.

It is a serious crime, I am well aware.

It might of course have to do with the fact that my sleep pattern is heavily disturbed lately (so I pulled 2 allnighters in a row. what? there’s so much STUFF on this internet-thing), or the fact that I’m stressing out about my beloved PhD-work which has still not been published and because of which I may or may not be scooped by a Japanese group (don’t they have more urgent stuff on their mind? like a melting nuclear plant?) (and shouldn’t I have finished this ages ago instead of blaming the Japanese and trolling the internet?).

It may also have to do with the fact that my parents are coming to visit tomorrow. That’s good, right? I mean, I haven’t seen them since January. Damn, I have barely heard them. Literally. I called once to wish my dad a happy birthday. That was it.

I have called my parents once in over 3 months.

Now, I’m one of those forgetful people. Out of sight out of mind, you know. It’s not that I am so busy or I got a lot on my mind. I don’t (I should, though). It’s just… I get easily distracted. So yes, when you don’t contact me, chances are there’s not gonna be contact at all. Working quite unsuccessfully on that one, I promise.

So my parents call me. Biweekly, more or less, I’d say. Or well, they used to. The reason for that? Well…

I mean, of course, me and my mum… we’ve never been best friends. Something, somewhere went wrong, I don’t even know what, ’cause really, we’re both nice people. And we’re a lot alike, I hear. But I guess we’re just too different on those little things that really matter. And it doesn’t work. Her and me. Of course, the fact she didn’t talk to me for 3 months when I confessed my relationship with T didn’t help. We’re doing better now, but still… not BFFs. That and I’m not sure she knows how to work Skype yet.
My dad on the other hand… he is was my hero. He’s like… MY DAD. I know you’re not really supposed to have this admiration for your dad when you’re 29 years old, but I do did. As with my mum, I’m actually not really sure why this came to be, but I guess my dad’s just this cool guy, who’s a DIY-expert and helps me out and just generally supports me whatever I do.

So in short – my dad doesn’t call anymore. Because he is very well aware he’s lost his hero-status.

Last December, my dad was given a pacemaker because he has been… fainting, I guess. It appears his heart just… stops… once in a while, causing him to faint. It only happened 3 or 4 times, but when you know one of those times he was driving, you know something needed to be done. Hence, after many tests and checks: pacemaker.
And then, in January, he had another car accident. Let me align some facts on this particular incident.

  • it was a total loss
  • I was e-mailed (!) about this almost a week after it happened
  • although my dad admitted to having drunk ‘some’, he made it appear as if the main suspected cause was his heart

This already pissed me of, but only now we’re coming to the fun part

  • he had almost 4 times the allowed amount of alcohol in his blood

Now, I’m not sure I have mentioned this before, but I have a BIG problem with alcohol abuse. I cannot deal with drunk people. I simply cannot. I see no reason to spend a lot of money on an excuse to act irresponsibly and not remember any of it. And be proud of it, at that. I don’t even know why I feel so strongly about this topic, and I don’t really want to go into this here either, so let’s just keep it at that: I am strongly opposed to alcohol abuse.

(Between you and me, I’ve long maintained I feel my dad has an alcohol problem. He drinks on a daily basis, several glasses, and he gets cranky if for some reason he cannot have his drink at night. It’s the one flaw (that, and the fact he smokes. secretly.) I have had trouble with, but nobody shared my opinion – my dad was just a social drinker (really? while watching tv on his own?) and had it under control.)

And then my dad goes and crashes his car in the middle of the night having close to 2 promilles of alcohol in his blood. That should NOT happen. It míght happen to an 18-year old going out for the first time and (terribly) misjudging his/her alcohol intake, but that is about as far as I’m willing to take it. No excuse. At. All.

Especially not if you try to cover it up as if it had a different cause.
And you don’t mention it for a week.

I’m overreacting. I know I am. But I just cannot read an e-mail from my dad anymore without thinking “you ass”. I cannot think of him without my blood starting to boil. I can’t look forward to their visit, to show them around in my life here and have dinner together because I don’t know what I’m gonna do if he orders a beer to go with the meal. As if the whole picture of my dad has crumbled and fallen apart and there’s nothing left.

“Who’s this guy and what has he done to my dad?”

I don’t know how to deal with this. I don’t want to mess up my parents’ visit by being a moaning jerk. But I don’t want to let it slip and pretend nothing’s wrong either.

I’m picking them up at the airport tomorrow morning at 8h30. Between that and passing by the lab before, I have some 3 hours of sleep left. I better get to it, or I will be too tired to be able to play pretend even if I wanted to ;).