Monday, October 25, 2010

Not quite the week I was hoping for

This past week was the last week before the Housemate leaves for Antarctica for three and a half months to study marine viruses in the Antarctic summer algae blooms. Back in May when we first found out that he'd be going to Antarctica, I could hardly contain my jealousy. Um, scratch that--I couldn't contain my jealousy. It's an exotic, unique and beautiful place that very few people ever get a chance to visit. And there are frakking penguins there. But now that it comes down to the point of him leaving, the jealousy is gone, and I'm mainly just sad.

I think I imagined that the last week before he left would be full of fun things. We could get lunch at a new Indonesian restaurant that opened on campus (the only Indonesian restaurant I know of on the island, believe it or not), go to our friend's Halloween party, see Paranormal Activity 2 in the theater, eat out at a fancy restaurant to celebrate our anniversary (since we never got around to it last month), and I even rushed to get my open water certification done so we could go out diving together before he left. Well, turns out we did none of those things.

He just had so much work that he had to do before heading to Antarctica. It's understandable, I guess, that there would be a lot to take care of before leaving for over three months. Last weekend, he slept over at school--twice. There was some experiment that he needed to check on every two hours, for over 48 hours, so he just camped out there. The second night (Saturday to Sunday), I slept over with him. We brought his inflatable mattress (either queen or double size, not sure), which just barely fit on the floor of my office, as well as blankets and pillows and pajamas. We ate takeout Thai in the lab, watched Star Wars on my computer, then went to bed. Yes, his alarm woke me up every couple hours, but I figured it was all fitting payback for my BioWare Bazaar nights. The bed was actually quite comfy, and the fact that my office has no windows, and thus no natural light to disturb us, allowed us to sleep in pretty late. I got nearly 11 hours of sleep--I don't remember when the last time that happened was.

This past weekend, we didn't sleep over at the lab at all, but he worked late. And I, anxious to spend whatever time I had left with him regardless of the venue, went to the lab with him. One night (I can't even remember which night it was...Friday, I guess) we stayed until 2 am. I helped him with samples from the ultra centrifuge (kind of cool--you could actually see viruses, concentrated into cloudy bands in the density stratified layers), but I was totally falling asleep as it got later and later. I tried to sing to keep myself awake, but I learned (fun fact!) I can apparently continue to sing "Giants in the Sky" even as my mind slips into a partial sleep state (my eyes closed and I forgot where I was or what I was doing, but I kept on singing). Two of the other nights, I washed dishes that he needed washed in the lab (big jugs, flasks, beakers, test tubes, etc.). The first night I watched The Daily Show and Colbert Report while washing; the second time, I got to listen to Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything on audiobook. At least that part was fun, and I got to wear a lab coat, too! It's funny how the public image of a scientist always has a lab coat (watch a TV ad that features a "scientist", and they're sure to have the white coat), but I don't think I'd worn one since maybe one of my undergraduate labs, if then.

Then there was the camera drama. The Housemate has had his eye on buying a very nice (and very expensive) digital SLR camera for over half a year, now, and the fact that he was about to travel to Antarctica (unique landscapes! penguins!) finally inspired him to get it. He found a good offer for the camera and a couple lenses on a website, but thanks to a sleazy sales rep and a naive and trusting Housemate (perhaps made extra vulnerable by the fact that he was calling at 3 am--as soon as the place opened on the East Coast--to make sure it would ship in time), he got totally ripped off. We didn't get the package until Friday afternoon, customer service was closed for the weekend, so the issue just simmered all weekend. On Monday morning we were able to get a discounted price, so now it probably comes down to a more "normal" price, though nowhere near the good deal that he expected. I still think they're totally sketchy, sleazy, disagreeable, and didn't give him what he deserved, and I wish he hadn't ordered from them in the first place. It was an added stress that he (and, well, we) didn't need the weekend before he leaves. So I would highly recommend you NEVER order from CentralDigital ( They suck &$%. And if you find yourself in the mood to prank call them (toll free at 1-800-896-4661) or email them computer viruses, that would be OK, too. All right, sorry, end of rant...

The Housemate was also busy finding and preparing for a subletter to take his room. Three months' rent adds up, so he couldn't pass up the opportunity to recoup some of the housing costs (it's actually quite a good deal for him, as he's going to Antarctica on the lab's grant and doesn't have to pay for room or board for three months while he continues to be paid). He had to clear out his room of possessions (a lot of them ended up in boxes in my room...), clean, and put an ad up and show the room to interested people. Luckily he did manage to find a subletter. She should be moving in on November 1 or so. So it seems to have worked out (so far), but it took a lot of time and work.

Anyway, it wasn't quite the romantic week I was hoping to spend with my boyfriend before he leaves for over a quarter of a year. But at least I got to spend a lot of time with him. Even washing his dishes made me happy, though not as happy as diving or dining out with him probably would have made me. As the week went on, I found myself increasingly blurting out "Don't go" to him. That, and "Can I come, too? I'll be your carry-on personal item." Sometimes when I say (or just think) these things, I tear up a bit, too, which of course gets me lots of hugs and kisses from him, which I like. What happened to me? It wasn't that long ago that I was little miss never-had-a-boyfriend. And now I can hardly think what to do without him. I really wish I had a research project in Antarctica, too. I hear they have a hot tub there.

To be continued, tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Antarctica, awesome. I knew a professor who worked there, arctic stream nitrogen processes. BTW - have you seen the lab coat PhD Comic? Too true: Why We Wear Lab Coats. Hope he has a great time, and you'll make it, no really! You'll probably have picked up three new hobbies and he'll feel all left out when he gets back.


Eleni said...

That comic is so true. My advisor where I was before Hawaii would always wear her lab coat when it got too cold.

Thanks :) I'll probably play a lot more computer games (it's too bad that The Old Republic probably won't be out until spring), and hopefully I'll get some good diving experience around the island so I'll know all the spots to take him when he comes home.