Cat Wisdom Wednesday

So I’m going to try and put a new Cat Wisdom up every Wednesday (for any rss readers, it’s a feature on the sidebar of my blog that I change periodically).  From Duncan Sheik‘s song, Home:

And then I’m with you,
No longer alone.
When I’m with you,
it feels like I’m home.
And you are with me,
No longer alone.
How can it be?
It feels like I’m home.


Today I’m feeling kind of down.  Not really about anything in particular, but just … meh.  Things are looking up, in general – we got a check for Husband’s work and the money will be available in our bank account on Friday.  Not a whole ton, but enough to be better for a while.  I took my last midterm today, so I don’t have any looming tests.  But really tests aren’t such a focus for me right now, and there is still a project and homework sets and all the different things I want to work on in my research.  Papers to read, data to analyze, people to meet with, some new equipment to learn.  There are so many things to do – so many things to be done – and I just want to lay around and watch tv.  Or curl up in bed and sleep…maybe I should do that soon…it’s getting late and I’m getting up early tomorrow to sit for the kids.

Aiming for healthy

Well, I’ve officially lost 3 lbs on the “We’re f*cking broke” diet. You might think that doesn’t sound so great, but I’m pretty happy about it – it’s helping me to get used to only eating until full, or sometimes being a bit hungry, and I think helping me to get back on to a healthier schedule. We’ll have some money again this Friday, and then the broke part will go away (we’ll switch broke out for poor), and then I’ll get to eat healthier, more balanced foods. But hopefully I can stay on track as far as overeating and exercise – sometimes losing just a few pounds is enough to get me more motivated again.

Overall, I just want to be healthier. Right now, I’m overweight – at a BMI of 30.4, I’m technically considered obese, but I don’t think you’d call me obese by my appearance – I have really strong leg muscles from my days as an athlete, and I wear a size 14 largely because of my chest (a large chest runs in my family). I have high cholesterol, but much more good cholesterol (HDL – high density lipids) than bad (LDL – low density lipids), and my blood pressure is always in the completely normal range. Here’s a picture of what I look like today:

Me, today

As far as exercise, on a weekly basis I walk everywhere (to get around the city) and I run around with the kids. I go to the gym to bike, use the elliptical, or take a yoga class, but that varies a lot more. I also continue to practice a sport I was competitive in as a kid – but usually only once every few weeks (it’s been even less frequent lately) – as it’s tough to get to the training center for that.

Why do I want to be healthier? Well, it has little to do with my appearance. Unlike when I suffered from bulimia, I now am much more ok with my body. My husband finds me sexy and I’ve learned to buy clothes that fit my body type. As many of my readers know, however, I hope to have children in the future, and we’re not really talking that far off. Right now we’re thinking we might start trying to get pregnant in the Spring of 2009, which is about a year and a half away. And I want to be healthier for my future pregnancy, and for my future children, and yes, for myself. There are a lot of pregnancy complications that are more likely when one is overweight, and I think since I have lots of time to plan, I should do whatever I can to put myself in the healthiest place I can be before I decide to rent out my womb to a tiny little being. One of the largest factors of that will be losing weight. Another will be to exercise regularly, some of which should be in activities that can continue throughout pregnancy, so that I can exercise during pregnancy as well.

Getting healthy, for me, is part of pre-conception planning, a practice that has become more common in the past few years. I really found the book, Before Your Pregnancy: A 90 Day Guide for Couples on How to Prepare for a Healthy Conception, to be helpful. It includes a section on diet and exercise, with recommendations for a diet and activities that focus on the nutrients and muscles that are needed for a healthy pregnancy.

Spiderweb cupcakes

I made these spiderweb cupcakes for my Halloween/Anniversary party last weekend. They’re actually red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting – mmm.

Here is the recipe I used:


Red velvet cupcakes w/cream cheese frosting

2 1/2

cups all-purpose flour


teaspoon salt


cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2

cups sugar




tablespoons cocoa powder


ounces water


ounces red food coloring


cup buttermilk


teaspoon vanilla extract


teaspoon white vinegar


teaspoon baking soda


cream cheese frosting

1 (8

ounce) package cream cheese, softened


cup unsalted butter, softened


cups powdered sugar


teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 cupcake cups or line with paper liners.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and blend well.
  4. Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring and add to the butter mixture.
  5. Sift flour and salt togethr into this mixture.
  6. One at a time, add the following ingredients: buttermilk, vanilla, and water.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and the baking soda. Fold it into the cake batter. Make sure it’s incorporated, but don’t beat it.
  8. Pour the batter into the cupcake cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and onto a rack to finish cooling completely.
  10. Cream Cheese Frosting: Blend together the following: 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Blend until smooth.

Project 365?

So I’ve seen a decent number of people doing a 365 blog, where they take a picture every day. I think it seems pretty cool and would like to try it out, except that I don’t think I’ll get to posting everyday, and I really like Flickr, so I think I’ll just post the pictures there but maybe have a group for my Project 365 which will contain only 1 picture from each day, with a title and description when I have time…Do any of my readers do this? How do you like it?

It’s dark outside

And I’m getting ready to head out to watch the kiddies.  They are so cute, every day I come home and tell my husband about how much fun I had watching the baby and toddler.

It’s been a rough time for Husband and I – we’ve been very broke.  Not just “we’re not paying some bills and we’re budgeting our weekly groceries broke,” but “oh crap we can’t afford that whole prescription” and “beans and rice, again?” and “I’d come down to campus for the free pizza event, but I can’t find $2 for the subway fare to get there” and “Con Ed we need more time before you shut off the electricity on us, I swear we can pay it next month” kind of broke.  We’ve been in this situation in the past and we’ll be here again in the future, I’m sure, but it is tiring.

Oh well, gotta run!

Great post on atheists and anger

This is a wonderful post over at Greta Christina’s blog: Atheists and anger.

An excerpt:

Condom_packageI’m angry that women are dying of AIDS in Africa and South America because the Catholic Church has convinced them that using condoms makes baby Jesus cry.

Coat_hangerI’m angry that women are having septic abortions — or are being forced to have unwanted children who they resent and mistreat — because religious organizations have gotten laws passed making abortion illegal or inaccessible.

GalileoI’m angry about what happened to Galileo. Still. And I’m angry that it took the Catholic Church until 1992 to apologize for it.

Christian_marriageI get angry when advice columnists tell their troubled letter-writers to talk to their priest or minister or rabbi… when there is absolutely no legal requirement that a religious leader have any sort of training in counseling or therapy.

Random thoughts (of varying length)

Do you think my cat understood when she meowed at me and I told her “I’m sorry, Fluffy, but we only have enough wet food for one can a day and I gave you your can this morning”?


When I’m feeling alone about my work-life balance concerns, in particular my strong strong STRONG desire to become a mom and how I might manage to still become a scientist, I find my blogosphere friends to be so comforting. In particular, I love to read the archives of PhD Mom, because she had her first children in grad school and her husband, like mine, is in computers, and I like to read about how that worked out for her. Thanks PhD mom, for having written so many great and honest posts that help me feel less alone!


My husband rocks. I had already talked to him earlier about how I was feeling down, but now I talked to him again for a bit more, and he’s just so supportive, I couldn’t ask for anything more. We talked about the different options I have (I’ll be getting my master’s in January), and basically about how it’s up to me what I want to do. If I want to drop out of school, get some other sort of job for a while, and work on having the baby as soon as we are healthy enough, fine. If I want to stick it out until I get my PhD, that’s fine too. If I want to try and have a baby before finishing the PhD but stay in the program, fine, but I just need to make sure that I’m not putting more on my plate than I can realistically handle and setting myself up for a major meltdown. If I want to stay at home with the baby after I graduate and take time off from the work force, we’ll work it out. If I want to find a part-time job, we’ll work that out. And if I want to stay in academia full-time and continue to pursue a professorship, he’ll be there for me as well, my teammate and coach and best supporter. But it’s up to me, and I need to do what makes me happy, and that’s what he thinks too. And it’s so great, to know that I have this wonderful partner who will do whatever he can to help me achieve my dreams and my happiness, while I do the same for him. I love you, Husband.


On this week of last year, I had just gotten over the scariest incident of my life as of yet – that in which my fiance didn’t return home from his bachelor party. It was 9 or 10 am on Saturday, and finally I gave in to my inner desire to stay calm and hope he’d call me back, and decided to call his friend. “Friend, is Husband crashed there with you?” “Flicka, is this a joke?” “No, Friend, he’s not home yet” “Oh god. I put him on the subway to go home 4 hours ago. Oh my god, flicka, where is he?” …silence, as I begin dry-wretching.

A long, long 45-60ish minutes later,

  • after a visit from some cops who think I’m some dumb wifey whose husband-to-be got cold feet,
  • and after our male friend took them in the hallway to explain that yes, even he who had been at the bachelor party with the husband-to-be is worried about him and that he wouldn’t have just run away,
  • and after those same cops, incidentally, while they were here, found some smoked…ahem, illegal substances… and then hid it in the corner for me, telling me I shouldn’t leave that stuff out when I invite cops over, (Yes, Officer, I’m so very sorry, Officer, I was just so stressed out about my fiance who disappeared, very drunk and alone, in New York City during the night that I didn’t think to hide that, I’m so sorry, Officer),
  • and after yet another winning moment wherein we think we’ve found him at a hospital but it turns out it’s his father (who shares his name) who’s in their records,

finally, finally, my husband-to-be arrived home. With a bag. In which was a toasted bagel. Yes, toasted. Because it hadn’t occured to him that me and his friends were all freaking out, and he thought, mmmm, yes, please do take the time to TOAST that bagel for me. As it turns out, and as we had suspected after many hysterical moments, he had fallen asleep on the subway. On the wrong subway, as he was too drunk to notice that the express was running local. And he had been robbed, of his cell phone and whatever money he had (he got the bagel with a few quarters from his back pocket), so he couldn’t call when he woke up, 3 hours after boarding the train, about an hour and a half from our home and on the wrong subway line.


Also, at this time in general of last year, I was in twice as many classes as now, but doing less research, studying for midterms, managing to turn in homework sets, and putting the finishing touches on a very do-it-yourself wedding. Our anniversary is coming up this Sunday. Imagine, a whole. year. of marriage. Wow.

Women in science clubs

I went to a meeting today for women grad student scientists at my university, and I came away feeling a bit down. Somehow, I’d gotten it into my head that I might actually meet people there who were also concerned about work-life balance and were maybe thinking about having children. Jangor (a fictitious lobster god my friends and I all pray to) only knows why. For some reason, I thought: Hey, I’ll be meeting grad students from other science departments, even departments that are part of the larger university but not part of my particular school. Surely in this larger, more encompassing community, someone there will also be thinking and wondering when she might have a baby soon, and how that might work out, and what the school/program/adviser’s response will be.

Well, silly me. A whole new group of scientists, but why would they be any different than the ones I’d already met in my own school? Of course none of them have children, or even know any others who have children (I asked the group’s leaders if they knew anyone who had a baby or child at home, and they thought and thought and all they could come up with was a pregnant post-doc.)

I’m at a top research institution, and most of the women here are completely career-oriented. And anyone who’s not (like me!) probably hides it when they are on campus, so realistically speaking I shouldn’t have thought I might even find someone there with whom I might have this baby fever in common. Just because the group was unknown to most students of my own school, to them they were still with colleagues and coworkers amongst whom the professional appearance is important, and the decision to have a baby is a private matter. Even if any of them there were thinking about such things, it wouldn’t necessarily come out at the meeting. And if there are any female grad students at my school with a baby, they certainly wouldn’t have been at the meeting, since they would have rushed home after the day’s work to see their child!

So in retrospect it was silly of me to feel sad about not having found a new instant friend at the meeting, but the clear career interests (workshops, job panels, etc.) over enthusiasm about the work-life balance programming was enough to sadden me. I know I’m not the only person who cares about work-life balance in the women in science community at my school, but no one wants to talk about it much, and in the end I just felt so completely alone. Late this evening, I found myself staring up at the building I work in, thinking about what the university was for and whether I belonged there. I felt like in this large research institution, there was little old me, stuck in the wrong place, perhaps fooling myself into thinking I might be able to have a family with multiple children and a career in science.

I do feel better now, that I’ve had time to think about it, and I have not given up on the idea that I can have a family and a science career. I just don’t know how to go about finding a community of people with whom I can talk about my concerns and we can help each other through the decisions and the work involved. I mean, aside from the lovely blog community, which is great. But it would be nice to know some real-life women at the university too, the kind that I could see in person and smile at and even get a hug from on a tough day. How do I find these people? Any suggestions?