Alcoholism runs deep in my family's veins. Alcoholism and it's concomitant risks of suicide. Straight down through the Scots blood on one side of our family tree is a thick vein of violent alcoholic depression and suicide.
I have faced those demons myself; both as a child with the terrifying spectre of a drunk and violent person, much larger and much, much stronger than I lashing out wildly with no regard for who or what gets hurt. Until later, when it's far too late to heal the wounds sustained. The constant fear of doing, saying, or even looking wrong, always wondering how bad it might be this time.
And, because like-breeds-like I have faced it from the working end of bottles of whiskey, cheap and dirty scotch flooding my belly and my brain with fire. And loving it. Feeling such rage and hatred for everything that all you can do is lash out.
And I've stood on that precipice, literally and figuratively, wondering if it wouldn't just be easier to let go and drop. Knowing that no matter how painful the landing, it will at least be a brief pain compared to the constant pain and torture of the present.
A long time has passed, but memories like that don't fade. And I still lie awake at night thinking and wondering and regretting. But now, as an adult, I can recognise symptoms and signs and heed warnings I was too naive, or too fucked up to notice in the past. There is no "slippery slope". That's a fucking scapegoat fallacy. There is just a step. One too many without care and it's too fucking late to back to where you were.
So, recognising those steps those feelings and those emotions, I made a resolution. Stop, before you look down and see a familiar, well trod path beneath your feet. Stop before it's too late; because it will be one day, far to late. And you don't have nine lives anymore old son. You've burned too many bridges, too many times to keep thinking that it's "gonna be OK".
I've been trying to keep it on the quiet, like. Publicity doesn't help. I assumed everyone would figure it out soon enough anyway; I mean, all I hear from acquaintances and drinking partners is "are you here every night?", or "Shall I see you next week? Oh, of course, you're always here."
I thought it should be pretty obvious why I'm not around as much. Enjoying a weekend with my girlfriend, but avoiding certain places, and people, like the plague during the week. Leaving early from events, canceling dinner plans, or returning concert tickets. I didn't expect much in response, but I certainly didn't expect the levels of disrespect I'm receiving from some quarters.
In the last couple of weeks I have been called, even to my face, a loser, a drunk, a failure, a quitter and been told in no uncertain terms by a couple of folks that I can "fuck off then!". And I have. That's the point.
Curiously, other people have been more supportive. "Good for you,", or "No problem. Let me know if you fancy a quiet beer at the weekend", or even "How about a coffee then".
To those then, Thank you. To the rest, Thank you too, for helping me open my eyes. I suggest you try the same thing one day.
You wanted to be a Faculty member, and just like all postdocs who aspire to that lofty perch upon the alabaster tower of academe, didn't really believe all that was expected of you could really be So. Much. Fucking. Work.
Well congratulations sucker, welcome to the nest. You might not yet be full Faculty rank, but you're doing your damnedest to get there, and you're as close as you can be without actually having to teach as well.
Find attached the Internal Funding Opportunity grant application you have been volunteered to review. Because this is your first "study section" be sure to have plenty of sleepless nights panicking that you're screwing it up somehow. Try and have two copies of the review at all times, so if you feel you've been to kind you can work on version A, if you've been too harsh, version B. Also, make sure that your self-confidence is at an all time low, and personal paranoia is at an all time high, when you walk in that review room.
Yes son, they *are* all talking about *you*!
OK. Crack on then. And don't forget about the grants you need to write, and the staff you need to manage. And the meetings that need to be arranged, and the supplies that need ordering. Don't forget to keep an eye on your position on the totem pole (watch for splinters, and try not to slip).
Stop sitting there feeling proud/sorry for yourself son! You've got a 1PM meeting to prepare for! (and you'd better get over to PubMed and start reading those references...)
God damn it all to ever-loving fuckeration! Why do people insist on acting like children?
My programmer just asked if he could go back to India; he hasn't been back for 2 years. Well, for a start, just ask, don't add stupid qualifiers. I have gone 4 or 5 years without visiting my homeland, so i don't care about this supposed hardship. Suck it up. You chose to work in the US, and with that come "responsibilities". Because you've added a qualifier to your question you're assuming or expecting a negative reaction and this concerns me. It means there's more to the question than meets the eye. At first listen.
Fuck you. My blog. My metaphors.
We are busy as all hell at work right now. Summer is drawing to a close and students are turning up en masse, Faculty are making the usual outrageous demands of our systems, and Admin are just cluttering the place up and slowing down meetings. The summer was blissful, quiet and almost boring.
I greet the question with a raised eyebrow, this is mistaken for a suggestion for him to continue.
"If I don't go now, I will be unable to go for one and half more years because of my visa status..." Once more stumbling to halt.
Still making excuses, and still not giving me all the information I need. I point out that I can't stop him, and of course I don't want to be mean (in public).
It transpires there is just a little bit worse to come. The "now" in the above sentence means, almost literally, now.
"I found a flight for just one thousand dollars..."
For fuck's sake. Act like a man and make the fucking request!!!
"It leaves on the 25th."
that's 6 days. Less than a week's notice that you need three weeks off at the busiest time of the year. Timed perfectly to coincide with us renewing your contact and picking up your tuition.
Godamned, selfish bullshit. And coincidentally his supervisor is off until the end of next week and also off the grid, so i can't double check his workload and schedule.
This post is a redux of a post from the old “Some Lies”, now locked and hidden for many good reasons. This was first published in April 2006. I’ve neatened it up, and added a couple at the end. The re-post is for two reason. One, is I promised Microbiologist XX more of the old tales. The other is the sickening realization I’m back at year 1 of the cycle…
What cycle…oh, dear reader, read on…
…So last night after band practice, me and my good mate and bassist William “The Beast”-“Lefty” Wallace (a man whose nickname is now almost as prodigious as his bass-work), were having a chat down the pub. Somehow the conversation steered to broken bones. We were likely talking about all the blokes we’ve beaten up and all the birds we’ve shagged. Cos, as rock stars that’s what we do. Or at least, we tell outrageous and grandiose lies about it.
Anyway, it occurred to me that this is year1 of my ‘about 3 year’ cycle. And that sends a shiver through me bones…cos they’re about to break.
See, ever since I was a nipper I have managed, through sheer bloody minded incompetence, clumsiness and stupidity, to break a bone on average every three or four years. There have been in betweenies too, and I thought once or twice I’d broken the cycle (along with my nose) but, alas, no. It might, however, make a nice blog post…
1986. Age 11. Broke: left wrist. Backwards running race at the school sports day…yeah. Which fucking genius thought it was a good idea to have a bunch of skinny and uncoordinated 11yr olds sprint backwards? Walked home after school carrying my school bag (briefcase…fledgling geek) in the bad hand (fledgling idiot).
(in betweenie: “dislocated” elbow and (unrelated) eye surgery)
1989. Age 14. Broke: left wrist. I fell off my bike. Funny thing is, the day I got the cast off, I was chasing my brother to give him a bit of a hiding for something, when I slipped on a comic book and fell back on the arm and tore all the tendons in the wrist. How I laughed as I went back to the emergency room less than an hour after leaving it.
1992. Age 17. Broke left wrist and hand in 5 places. This time I fell down some stairs in Cham, Holland while on a youth hostelling tour of Europe. They had a brand new hospital and I was the first patient in X-ray. Which really made up for everything. Funny thing that tour…me and few of my mates on a church led trip. Priest in charge (and no he wasn’t a kiddie fiddler, so don’t ask), but I fell down the steps and by this point in life had a fairly good idea of what a broken bone feels like. I landed and yelled and then went into shock and started muttering, “I’ve broken my fucking arm. I’ve fucking broken my fucking arm” (being in a great deal of pain, you see). Priest tells me off for bad language. Cunt.
in betweenie: two major concussions requiring hospital stays, gashed hand requiring micro-surgery. Gashed forearm and elbow requiring blood transfusion (nice humeral arterial tear), and microsurgery.
1997. Age 20. Can’t remember. I did a lot (I mean a fucking LOT) of drugs in college. Sorry. Three or four years are completely gone. Bit of a bummer really cos I was too stoned to take photos. I did break my nose a couple of times, I remember that…
2000. Age 25. Broken tailbone. Fell off my mountain bike. I was riding standing up on the pedals going down hill and slipped. Dropped right onto the pommel of the saddle. Went camping in the woods two days later and forgot my sleeping mat.
in betweenie: broken finger. Boomerang related injury. Say no more.
2003. Age 27. Broke 4 ribs, two major concussions and my right knee. This was a good year for The Tideliar.
I broke two ribs in a snowboarding accident right at the start of the season. Both breaks were on my left side. A couple of weeks later, me and my good friend Shar get in a massive fucking car wreck a few miles outside Pittsburg. I knocked the passenger-side window out with my head. I’m really that fucking hard. I drove the rental car back home (4hr drive) cos poor Shar was too freaked out. It really was a very bad accident. The witnesses said they figured us for dead, for real. Anyway, I was nearly blind in one eye and completely uncoordinated two days later. About three weeks after that I’m at a party and a fight kicks off. Being the Super Ninja of DeathRock that I am, I waded in and got another two ribs broken.
Thankfully they balanced me out, cos they were on my right hand side. About two weeks after that I was snowboarding again…It was perfect, two maybe three feet of fresh powder. Your beloved Tideliar (albeit with perhaps one too many beers in him…it hurts to snowboard with broken ribs) finds the one patch of ice on the whole fucking mountain. It was right as I came out of a turn and my weight was on the toes of my back leg. I dropped my full weight at high speed onto my right knee. Ouch. I tried to stand, but the pain was quite amazing. I collapsed, but fearing landing on that knee I gracefully broke my fall with my head. Good job son! I was re-concussed and stuck a thousand feet or so up a mountain.
in betweenie: Broke a rib. My mate Big Jay gave me a bear hug. He isn’t called Big Jay for nothing. My band went on tour that summer and I had to play with a broken rib. See. Told you I was well hard.
2006. Age 29. Things accelerate now. I started Muay Thai (Thai Boxing). Broken ribs. Again. I got my ass badly whooped in the parking lot outside our “gym” and managed to pop a rib or two. I may have torn my diaphragm, but I have been known to exaggerate…
Also, whilst goofing during Muay Thai training, I also demonstrated my advanced training in clumsiness. I went to Thai-kick the kick-bag, for that is it’s purpose in life; it looked lonely, I was bored. You know how these things go…I now train in bare feet because my shin-pads have an instep guard that makes wearing shoes uncomfortable, and training in bare feet makes me concentrate on my kicks more.
However it also makes one’s feet slippery because of the dust. I didn’t check my stance, swung my right leg up and out, rotated at the hip and then my left foot slipped and allowed me to finish my rotation with the addition of a rather cool double back-salco onto my arse. Unfortunately the middle toe of my left foot stayed firmly planted and I rotated around it.
Looking down it was immediately apparent why my foot was numb. My toe was pointing off and to the left at a decidedly too jaunty angle. I have a fair amount of medical training and knew there was but one recourse. I sat down and used my hands to force my toes into a “fist”. I felt the toe slip back into its “socket” with a satisfying click. Being a super-hardcore motherfucker I just taped my toes up and finished training, which thankfully involved loads of kicking.
Stupidly I didn't go to the Doctor about this one. It's healed OK, but looks nasty still. The joint are misshapen and it still points to the left. It also aches a lot. Twat.
In betweenie: dislocated finger (this time I did go to the quack), broken nose (twice), a couple of mild concussions.
It’s now 2009. We’re halfway through already…do the math.
By the pricking of my thumbs, Something painful this way comes.
After 23 years of The Curse, I know there is no fighting it. I’m hoping the constant stream of violence and aggression I enjoy is keeping me mildly injured to the point where those beings from another astral pain plain, those behind this Curse, accept my sacrifice as worthy. I somehow doubt it.
Why does my professional society keep changing their goddamned log-in instructions? It has changed again, from having just been changed just before they organised our annual meeting, and from when it was changed again at the end of last year around the time we all had to fucking renew our goddamned membership.
My username has gone from my Firstlife Surname, to my work email address, to my Firstlife full name, to my work username. My password has wandered from my 9 fucking digit membership number, to my email address and back again, as well as being, briefly, something of my own choosing.
Every time you get a new CIO you do NOT need to overhaul your fucking User Interface system. Fucktards.
Goddamn your fucking idiocy. And now I'm getting emails because they have the wrong motherfucking address on file! The quarterly newsletter, that had been coming to my NEW OFFICE THAT I'VE BEEN IN FOR 8 MOTHERFUCKING MONTHS is now being returned undelivered.
Two questions. Or statements. Your choice.
1. My old department know exactly where I am, so why don't they send it over? I am in the building next door you mentally crippled, ignorant fucksticks. Literally, laterally, 400 feet from where I was for four fucking years.
2. Why has my "address on record" suddenly reverted to my old lab address? Not three weeks ago I registered for the annual meeting. I had to confirm my current address and re-enter it three fucking times during the entire, overly complicated, marketing-dollar driven, miserable fucking experience. You shouldn't even have my OLD ADDRESS on file you fucking morons.
From my esteemed blog-colleague, Prof-like substance, whom, I assume, 99% of my readers read anyway. Contact him, not me. We'll let PlS coordinate the mayhem. as he's actually a yank and everything...
The NFL preseason starts this Sunday. I'm not kidding, you can look it up. That means that we are little more than a month from the NFL regular season, which also means this summer has flown by way too quickly. However, rather than focus on the pending doom that the school year brings, I am inviting my fellow bloggers to join in an NFL pickem' pool. For those who have not been involved in something like this before, the rules are simple - pick which team will win each game. To make it a bit more complicated, we will be picking which team will when when the spread is taken into account, but the idea remains the same - if you give the team expected to lose an XX point handicap, who will win the game? The weekly results will be posted here on Tuesdays during the regular season and we will come up with some way to recognize both the overall and weekly leaders (like the Tour de' France... but different).
Now, in order to keep the numbers reasonable and to facilitate the shit-talking, let's start by limiting the participants to those with running blogs. If this motivates a couple of regular commenters to start up a place of their own, great. You've got a month. So, I've started a yahoo group for people to login and enter their picks. Email me (proflikesubstance at the gmail) for the login info and let the shenanigans begin.
I am scientist by training, inclination and temperament. However, this is a blog, not a lab. The title reflects my passion for hyperbole, so don't take me too seriously. I don't. I am PhD trained scientific jack-of-all-trades. I write about science that catches my eye, making the transition away from the lab bench, and the slightly odd and moist boundary where science culture meets the public. I am an Englishman by birth, an American by temperament and if I were you I wouldn't lend me money.