Is it strange that I have been counting the days until dead week and finals? Getting to this light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel period of two weeks meant the end of 4 hour Organic Chemistry labs twice a week, those labs that managed to begin just as the sun began to warm the morning chill from your skin and end as its golden rays kissed the horizon goodnight. Dead week meant the end of two weekly lab reports of 20 pages, the end of midterms that should be labeled progress-exams-every-3-weeks. I cannot remember the last class I took in which the professor only gave one midterm. Getting to this point meant the end of leaving my room at 9:00am, rushing from here to there, and not returning until 8:00pm after dinner.
Don’t get me wrong, I am studying. With a final paper for my Honors Seminar, and separate finals for Physics, Organic Chemistry and the Lab, Spanish 100, and Spanish 25, I have enough to keep me busy.
But for someone who spent the entire quarter stressed and sleep deprived, I feel like I am in heaven. Finals week means cozy late-night tea, the sound of ocean waves crashing below the cliff through my open window, sleeping in until nine-thirty, studying in the comfort of my bed or desk all day. The serenity of a quiet room. These are the weeks I rediscover my love for knowledge, my desire for the ability to explain scientific phenomena, my relentless hunger to know “why” — I unearth the buried reasons why I challenged myself to graduate from college and pursue higher learning in the first place.
Plus I take a few minutes of the day to read one of many novels (The Forgotten Garden at the moment) who patiently waited —unread — on my shelf throughout the quarter as I trudged along through classes and worked long hours in my research lab.
Maybe everyone else will find this confession to be bizarre, or maybe just unexpected. I see it as a celebration of living in the moment – however dire the circumstances may be – because compared to the past, this optimist is thankful that the storm is over.
On a low note, the mounting of celastrol stainings of LC3B and Hsp70 that I mentioned in the last blog went horribly. The paint brush I was using was too large for the delicate procedure, but it was the only one available to me at the time. Only about 75% of the tissues were perfectly aligned for optimal microscope analysis. However, the actual staining with LC3B looked clear and distinct under the microscope with definite trends corresponding with the level of PHF-1 stainings (phosphorylated tau) observed in previous experiments. The fluorescent labeling of Hsp70 was not as successful, so Israel and I have been looking for alternate antibodies for the one we are using now.