Friday, July 3, 2009

Science Nirvana

It takes seven and a half hours to drive from Baltimore to Woods Hole, and about the same amount of time to drive to BWI airport, get through security, fly to Boston, wait for a bus and travel to Woods Hole. We left the house at 8:30 and had drive back to pick up the violin and again to put out the garbage ( I am not sure if it is garbage day on a holiday). The plane left on time, and the bus came on time, but the traffic was heavy and we arrived at the ferry at 4 PM. It is simply a long trip, and perhaps that is part of the charm of the place, it is not easy to get to.

Eric's colleagues were practicing a skit they had prepared for the students and faculty of the NS&B course (neural systems and behaviour). I have seen the skits each year and they are always entertaining. Eric always plays a big role both in writing the script and adding the soundtrack and computer assisted background and side effects. Maya and I saw it 'in the raw' and it had great potential but required alot more work. It was transformed over the next couple of hours, while Maya and I practiced violin and Eric slept. I felt antsy and took a bikeride to Falmouth and back and felt much calmer. The sun was still shining at 6:30 PM and the bikepath runs along the water, and the view and the seasmell and the breeze are lovely. The ride back was burdened by failing tires. I need new tired or repaired tires; after pumping they last about ten minutes before they flatten.

The skit was very funny and entertaining when performed after dinner and drinking. The MBL is truly nirvana for scientists. They think, dream and breathe science. I found myself in the midst of discussions about science and research and contributed minimally to the conversation. It is like speaking a new language, when it is easier listen and not speak, understanding only snippets and extrapolating from there. I knew not to say anything too stupid.

These are neuroscientists. They study electric fish, albino tadpoles (the inside of the brains are visible), crabs, worms. Many spend their entire career studying a small part of the brain of a small animal. And they are very excited about what they do. It would be difficult to devote one's life to a few neurons in a particular part of a fish brain and continue to be excited about it.

Eric is happy to have us here, and we will spend some time together. He is more available now that the 'fish cycle' is over and he has a break before the 'song bird' cycle starts. When the course is in session he is working eighteen hour days every day except Sunday, and he does look exhausted. I wonder if our presence is a burden to him. If we were not here he would sleep all weekend. Instead, we are eager to be out and about and appreciating our weekend mini-vacation.

I am so relieved not to be packing for now. Eric tells me how boring I sound these past few days, repeating the same themes and essentially sounding stuck. Of course I have been stuck and bored with packing up the house night after night. I would rather be doing anything else. I have finally finished Tara's room. I found myself lingering over her belongings. Who is this child of mine? Her teenage years rushed by and I am not sure I paid much attention. Her room is the top floor of the house and she spent alot of time avoiding the family and hiding out up there. It seemed to be a good idea at the time, to set her up in her attic, away from the rest of the family, but it also isolated her and removed her from us. I now believe it would have been better to have her closer and more connected. I tried to respect her space and did not spend much time there. She left her room in great disarray when she left a few weeks ago and I have been dreading sorting through her things. However, taking care of her room has given me the opportunity to learn more about her, and who she was at several stages of her life. I want to know more of her now.

So if my writing has been boring, it is because my life has been repetitive lately. Work, Maya, packing, avoiding packing, a break from packing and a return to packing and not wanting to pack.

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