Monday, July 29, 2013

Reclaiming my identity

I have posted many pieces of my private diaries in the last 2 months, which gets me used to coming here to talk randomly to myself.  Thus, this is really for myself and I don't find any value in random farts from reading other people's websites.  So go away as fast as you can, but if you decide to stay, feel free to give few skills that you want to reclaim.

In the next few months, I plan to do the following:

1.  Catch up with grant submission.  Do you guys know that we scientists don't have real vacations?  Vacations to us usually mean we work without being bothered by seminars, lectures, faculty meetings, or needy students and postdocs.  But this past vacation, I postponed my grant submission deadlines; failed to prepare my lectures; and even not called the lab to ask about the progresses of any ongoing research projects.  Well, that really means that I had a real vacation and now it's time to get some work done.  I am fed up by my slackness and I have decided to make a significant change!  So if you read here occasionally, be my eyes to watch me beating the following deadlines: Aug. 30, 2013, Oct. 5, 2013, and Nov. 5, 2013 for 3 research grants!

2.  Catch up with paper publications.  My job as researcher and the lowest grade of professor is not really attractive.  However, I truly enjoy reading and writing good papers and I've only published well-written and highly visible and citable papers so far.  I must say here that 80-90% of scientific papers are poorly written nowadays, either because people don't have the time to perfect their manuscripts as they need to spend all their precious hours writing research grants, or the majority of new scientists simply don't have good training in writing scientific reports - again, due to the fact that their mentors are too busy (on writing research grants) to fulfill mentors' duties!  I am not a native English user thus the time for me to write anything worthy of publishing is long.  I cannot even use editors to help because I can't stop changing what I write until the deadline, which means that I need give myself extra time.  My goal for the remaining months of the year is to submit 2 papers.  Again, give me some push here.

3.  Catch up with sleep.  This seemingly fights against both of the above points, but I have to list it here because sufficient sleep allows me to think and write much more efficiently.  Of course, sufficient sleep brings me other benefits too, such as helping me to stay in a good mood!  Fortunately, compared to Fabrice, I sleep at least 1h less per night.  A good night sleep means 6 hours for me.  So I'll try my best to hit the bed at 11 pm and to fall in asleep at midnight so that I can get up at 6 am or so.

4.  Claim/reclaim my independence.  Many married people have experienced what I am about to say - losing the ability to live alone.  One of the couple becomes more and more dependent on the other and vice versa, meaning they become symbiotic.  Fabrice has disabled me.  How so, you say?  

Well, our regular day goes like this:

Morning - Fabrice gets up early to prepare his own coffee and then works an hour or so.  Then he wakes up the kids and prepares their breakfast.  While he is in shower and the kids are eating their cereals, I get up to finish breakfast together with the kids.  Then he drives us all to our respective schools.

Lunch - Fabrice and I have our work date - yes, we date every lunch time.  Boy, this reminds me a funeral that I just attended early this summer.  A husband of my friend who was only 41 died from brain tumor.  When people gave his eulogy, one of the many evidence that he loved his wife was that he had lunch with his wife every single day, which put me in tears instantly.

Evening - Fabrice drives the car to one of the kids' schools and I walk to pick another and then we meet at one of their schools.  Then he drives us home.  I cook as soon as we enter the house and he takes care Zhuzhu's homework as much as possible.  After dinner, I wash dishes and he showers the kids, takes are of Zhuzhu's remaining homework, if needed, and then puts them to bed.

On weekends, we are much busier than regular working days.  Here is a typical weekend:

Saturday morning - Fabrice gets up to enjoy his morning alone.  The man loves to eat his breakfast alone.  Then the kids get up, which wakes me up.  We, the kids and I, eat our breakfast when the daddy is taking care of the yard.  At 9:40, Fabrice joins his swimming team and I take the kids to swim beside them.  After a short pool time, I leave Niuniu to him and then drive Zhuzhu to her Chinese dance class.  Fabrice cooks lunch with Niuniu's "help" and together they wait for Zhuzhu and I to come home.

Saturday noon - poor Zhuzhu and I have only 5-10 min for our lunch because her Chinese school starts at 1 pm!  After dropping her, I swing by my office waiting to pick her up 2 hours later.  That counts as my uninterrupted alone weekend hours.  Fabrice usually takes this time to do his man/boy shopping at Lowes - he loves to support hardware stores with his earnings!  He even does grocery shopping at the Costco at this time most of the times because it's on his way to Lowes.

Saturday evening - Party time - we either cook for our friends or they cook for us.  Saturday dinner is usually the most relaxed meal for our kids because it is the only meal at which they can do whatever they want with their food.  They usually eat at their own little separate tables with their own friends.  We adults generally don't monitor how much and what they eat.  

Sunday morning - Fabrice gets up early to cook French toast, pancakes, or whatever he is up to cook with the kids.  He likes to have a family homemade breakfast - I feel like a queen on Sunday mornings because he usually does not wake me up until the hot food is on the table!  After that, it's my supervising Zhuzhu's Chinese homework time and boys' get their own bonding time.  I do few loads of laundry at this time frame also.

Sunday noon - If the kids have no playdates/birthdays, Fabrice usually grills us some delicious lamb/beef/chicken/fish.

Sunday afternoon - Fabrice goes to soccer games.  The kids and I cheerlead his team.

Sunday evening - Fabrice cooks dinner, feeds the kids, and then puts them to bed.  I go to my Chinese dances - I've only started this a few months back.  Prior to this activity, I played piano almost every night after dish washing.  

Are you bored so far?  

I get to the point in a minute.  

We still have few extracurricular activities for the kids - I attend Zhuzhu's piano and ballet weekly lessons.  She will add art weekly lesson and Niuniu starts his soccer lessons this coming Fall.  I will drive Zhuzhu to this art class and Fabrice promised to drive Niuniu. We shall see how that plays out.

Obviously, this schedule applies to school days only.  For non school days, like now, well, we are still at our learning phase.

Looking at what I listed above, I cannot believe how much housework in which Fabrice is involved, I have not even lifted a finger about our rental property, which is completely under Fabrice's control.  What I wrote so far almost makes me to decide not to get mad at him ever again in the rest of my life, even when I am having my periods - yea, right, ha ha, no way.  I have no control over this matter, sorry, hubby!

But this is not the point of this post.  The post is about how his diligence has crippled me.

First, he made me a bad driver.  Apart from the fact that he does not allow me to touch the wheels while he and I both are in a car, he does not understand why people ever drive, instead of fly, anywhere requiring more than 2 hours on a highway.  This reminds me one day when we still lived in Texas, I asked him to drive to the Big Bend with me, he said why we would not fly to the closest city like Del Rio and then drive a rental car to continue the journey.  I said it would be easier to drive our own car.  Then he said okay but he would prefer to take a plane and to meet me at Del Rio.  Then I told him to have a nice fly-everywhere-life and goodbye.  Now he is still in my life albeit has missed the chance to see the magnificent national park - I visited there in my little green beetle with 2 other friends of mine while he was out of town attending a scientific meeting.  I was that independent then, where is that girl now?

Anyway, I don't just want to get back my abilities on a highway, I want to have my "quickness" in responding to dangerously situations back, which I realized that I'd lost recently.

A week from last Friday, I car-pooled with a girl to our Chinese dance practice which was held at a studio 5 miles further than our usual one.  When I picked her up, she was quite happy and trusting.  But as soon as she got in the car and I started to drive, she lost her composure, which followed by giving me driving lessons constantly!  Can you imagine that I, a driver of 20 years in this car-dependent country, had to receive "instructions" from a girl who bikes to work and has only come to this country from China 3 years ago - I am not even sure whether she owns a car!  When she criticized about my driving once again later, I asked, "Are you calling me a reckless driver as my husband does to me?"  She answered bravely, "I must admit that I am quite nervous here."

I could have asked her to walk home or I could also drive safely.  Clearly I wisely chose the latter.  Truthfully, her gentle reminders have made me decide to retrain myself to drive better.  I need to insert driving on a highway into my tight schedule, 20 min/week, minimal, regardless what Fabrice says!

The second skill that I have lost is working independently!  Well, let's face it, I run a research lab and I decide what research projects are.  Fabrice and I started our independent jobs almost at the same time and we used to have our joint lab meetings together.  Thus, we are used to giving each other suggestions, which means that we disagreed with each other often.  But after a while, we had decided to separate our lab meetings because our labs expanded.

This is good, why I am complaining here?

Well, here is the thing, I used to be independent and original thinker and my hard working had made me a "go to person" when Fabrice and I worked in the same lab as postdoctoral trainees.  He might be a well-qualified "go to person" himself at that time except he was a baby and did not have the guts to claim the title.  Ever since I promoted him to be my husband, he has quickly grown into my skull and squeezed my mojo out of it.  Now he replaced me.

What the hell has happened here?  What is that talented and helpful girl?

Sure I could blame my kids; sure I could blame the bad economy; sure I could blame my female hormones; sure I could also blame my Asian race...

But I don't want to, because that would not change a damn thing.  I must swim against all these limitations.  I have always been a female Asian ever since I was born.  If I could do well before, why I cannot make it now?  Plus, she has done it with RA, and her sister has done it with cancer, what my excuses are?

Alright, Fabrice is my husband, I could take his help for granted.  But no, my friends, the price is too high - I rather keep my independence!  The best thing one can do for her/his brain is to use it.  I am sure that you understand that the brain is part of our physical body and it needs constant exercise!  Thanks to my grant reviewers who have constantly and mercilessly criticize my research approaches, discounting completely my productivities, I've realized it's time for me to "catch up" with modern technologies.  I need to claim my identity back!

Even this means that I have to say goodbye to my blog site!  Well, I am not too sad because I really have no followers, so I consider this decision has no impact to anyone else but me, am I right?

So good luck to me?

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