Monthly Archives: June 2013

PSA: Newark is the devil

Full disclosure: my last post began with a big fat lie. I said it was high time I catch ya’ll up on what has been my I’m-just-glad-my-head-is-still-attached life over the last few months…and then I cracked up at my own joke as I was in the process of flying back to MN for my little sister A’s wedding. Truth be told, I was only getting onto the plane when I so foolishly typed that statement. After composing that most witty and even lengthier update I AM STILL ON THE FOTHER MUCKING GROUND!!! First, before this all even started, we waited 2 hrs at the gate for our plane to show up — how nice of her to join us, right? Then there was a 1 hr thunderstorm delay…and then a 2 hr tornado delay. And now we have been informed that the crew has timed out and we will be returning to the gate!! x-(

Fast forward 5 hours…

The good news is that I’m small enough to sleep layed out totally flat on either my back or my stomach across four airport chairs and underneath their very hard, immobile arm rests. The bad news is THAT I KNOW THIS!!!


Fortunately, even better news is that after our flight was finally canceled last night an absolute godsend got me on the first flight out of Newark this morning while everyone else was being told the earliest they could leave the northeast was at 3 pm out of La Guardia! So with that, my sleepy but thankful and optimistic ass is firmly planted in (an exit row seat!! …a godsend I tell you…) 12C finally about to depart for Minneapolis. So Anna, it looks like I may make it to the wedding after all! 🙂

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From defending to New Jersey (but not yet defending NJ)

It’s really high time (literally, I’m trapped in an airplane for the next 3 hours! …hahaha…never mind…) that I fill in some gaps that I’ve left, well, gaping, over the past few months. Per my most “recent” (think loose definition of the word here boys and girls), however untimely, post we re-hashed the lovely experience of my PhD defense. As of May 31st it was official! Dr. Trot has her PhD in something besides finding her own jokes entertaining and bad story telling (it is in chemical engineering to be exact…and yes, this does help explain the aforementioned odd sense of humor and questionable social skills). This information was happily received by moi en route to Princeton, NJ. So what the hell happened between May 3rd & May 31st, you ask? That’s a very good question! Thank you for inquiring! Let’s take just a second to catch you up to this point then, shall we?

So after the defense and after party on May 3rd, May 4th was spent with a monumental hangover and cruising around the Festival of Nations in St. Paul with Dr. Wil, Katie (who was part of a number of irish step dance performances…which, PS, are VERY cool!) and Krsna. Sadly I have ZERO photos of all the fun foods we tried. The only real don’t-need-to-try-this-again was the Tibetan coffee (which I think is actually supposed to be consumed more like a soup) that was made with cream, salt and butter. You could distinctly taste each and every ingredient. BLEH! After the FoN we hit up the Minnesota Historical Society (Katie is a historian here and totally hooked us up…also, fyi, she will totally whip your trail every time in a who-can-recite-more-fun-facts competition…) for a Civil war + Abe Lincoln exhibit.


Krs, Dr. T, Katie, and Dr. Wil…errr….I mean two brave Civil War soldiers and two beautiful women from the late 1800s…all looking damn good for their age!

Very cool! We wrapped up the day with a walk around the beautiful St. Paul cathedral and a stop for coffee. Heading home I was finally starting to feel like a normal human again!

Ov the next few weeks there were too many celebratory lunches, happy hours and hours and hours… and dinners to recount them all. Let it suffice to sat that it was great spending overdue QT with a lot of peeps that I’m really going to miss :-/ Let me also note a couple of particular outings that warrant special attention…

1. Lady’s night at Alma with Ladies A & A
These two have been my friends since before I can remember. Ironically while I have lived within 100 miles of my home town my entire life, both A & A have lived all over the place. Now though, they are both back in Minneapolis, and I’m leaving! Yeesh! Anywho…on one delicious/generous Friday evening, they took me out to a local French restaurant, Alma, for their 5 course tasting menu. AMAZING I had been here once before an am now wondering why the hell it was only once. The place is speedy (let’s be honest / point out the obvious) but it is damn good. After dinner we went to the Marvel Bar for cocktails and atmosphere. This place is totally hidden in the basement if an old building in the wear house district. You have to go in the back, basement door and down a hall to an unmarked door. You open the door…and…SURPRISE! there is a spunky, charming, cocktail bar filled with out of the ordinary. It was a great way to spend the evening with two very above ordinary women!

2. Rooftop wine and sushi
May 23rd was a rough day. This is when it really hit me that I was leaving this MInnesota graduate school ChemE world, that has been my whole world for the last 6 years, behind and starting up something totally new, totally alone and totally far away. I was hit by this ton of bricks as I watched (and video taped, like the very good friend that I am) my close friend and favorite groupie Dr. K defend his PhD thesis. We have seen each other just about each and every day for the last five years. We’ve helped each other with the personal and professional bullshit of work/school/life and enjoyed our successes side by side. AND THEN BOOM!!!! IT’S ALL OVER!!!! Or so that was how I felt. Maybe Of course I was being a little over dramatic. We all move forward in life (obviously this is a good thing) and we will continue to stay in touch and be part of each others lives as good friends do. Now, what the hell does this have to do with rooftop wine and sushi? My buddy Mr. M and I decided to celebrate the this process of moving forward by doing something that both we (and coincidently Dr. K) have very fond memories of, rooftop wine and sushi at Seven. Two glasses of wine, a nice breeze, agedashi tofu, a summer roll and a winter roll were exactly what I needed.


Agedashi tofu (read: heaven)


Winter and summer rolls

Never mind that afterwards we strolled over to The Local Irish pub for some Guinness and a dessert sampler platter (meant for at least 4). Waddling home fat, tipsy and happy was fantastic.

3. Smack Shack snack
One place Mr. M and I wanted to go for a special night out before leaving Minneapolis was the Smack Shack. To celebrate my moving half way across the country to be all by lonesome wonderful post-doc opportunity on the east coast we went out for a very crabby dinner 🙂 We split the famous crab cakes, lobster roll and lobster mac-n-cheese (stop judging, it was delicious) and washed it all down with a couple glasses of wine.


Crab cakes


Lobster mac-n-cheese


Lobster roll!

This was sooooo my kind of Sunday night!

In addition to pigging out at every opportunity, I also had to pack up my entire professional and personal life for the 1300 mile relocation. NBD, right? Wrong.

Thanks to my awesome group mates, passing work stuff on went as smoothly as one could hope for. I will miss the Kaznessis group loads though.

Packing up the personal life though…man…that was tiring and expensive! I was quoted between $900 (for essentially a Fisher Price tent) and $3.5K (for what should include restoration services for my items in addition to their relocation) to transport my belongings to NJ. In the end I argued a lower-end-of-the-cost-spectrum company down to $1,400 from their original ~$2K for a 7x8x9 pod to pack all of my precious material items into. Let me just say two things: 1) Dr. Trot has a lot of shit aforementioned precious material items, and 2) 7x8x9 is the size of a small bathroom! Have you ever tried to move all of our stuff into the bathroom? I wouldn’t recommend it! First of all, it’ll make using the toilet a serious challenge and damn is it a lot of work! Thankfully, I have the world’s most amazing friends and brother and we worked it out. Everything besides the second hand Ikea couch and shitty Target kitchen chairs made it in!


Lady A (from dinner at Alma) even helped me with the cleaning (and may “helped me” read : did just about all of, and a better job than I would have). Everyone was awesome. Seriously awesome!

My final food-and-drink-centric farewell party was at the Loring Kitchen and Grill the evening before I left. I would totally not recommend planning things this way as it is just that much more exciting to be on an additional self-imposed time crunch during endogenously (ask Google) stressful processes. Again, it was a night filled with totally awesome company that make leaving a whole hell of a lot tougher.

Thursday morning, departure morning, came very bright and early (true to form after a late night of farewell partying). Mr. M and I had the car loaded (precious Bianchi and all), tires pumped, oil checked, kitties off at Miss Kookie-the-Kitty-Sitter’s and were on the road by 8 am.


Truth be told, this is nothing short of a miracle. Subsequent miracles include making it through Chicago with only one Dr. Trot screw up by mid afternoon and then to Callehan’s in Elkart, IN by dinner time. This is my adviser’s family-in-law’s family restaurant, just off of the IN turnpike at exit 42. We were advised to stop in for steak and eggs (M mixed it up and got the Greek chicken) and ask for Kostas.



May the record show that Dr. YK was a very good adviser in this matter. The atmosphere was charming, the food was delicious and Kostas was second to none.


…and after.

If you are ever making your way though Indiana, in the vicinity of Notre Dame, do take a side trip to Callehan’s. Turnpike…Elkart exit 42. Now we/mostly I were bound and determined to make it to Cleveland by the end of day 1. An extended dinner at Callehan’s + the dark + the rain + the 15 hours since we had left home all conspired to convince us to pull over for the night about half way between Toledo and Cleveland. Over all a freaking expensive Holiday Inn Express good decision I believe. Dr. Trot, Mr. M and the precious Bianchi all slept like babies.

Day two started a bit later, 10 am, and was only an 11 hour day of driving. Ohio is boring, Pennsylvania is beautiful and New Jersey, for better or worse, is home now. And this brings us back to May 31st – when I, (officially) Dr. Trot, (officially) moved to New Jersey, yo!

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Work trot

So yet again, I found myself at work for a good part of the day on Sunday. At least there was a long incubation time in my protocol for me to get a halfway decent run in, right? Maybe. One thing I detest about NJ is this armpit of a state garden state’s inability to properly label their GD roads!!! (At this point you can probably assume what happened.) Now this isn’t just a problem of labeling (multiple road names for the same damn road, no indication of any of said names at intersections, etc…) but it is also the annoying detail that nowhere in this land of sprawling suburbia do two roads come together at a 90 degree angle (never mind anywhere being laid out in anything close to a grid system). Moral of the story: Dr. Trot got damn lost.


6.8 miles

107 min (note: does not include time wandering around street “corners” –PSA NJ corners are at 90 degree angles — trying to figure out where the eff I was)

90 F (at least), sunny and humid

I was damn hot and mad — but considering the pressure cooker of a day it was and the stupidity of NJ civil engineers, it could have been worse, I guess.

Threads: Champion tank and skirt & shorty socks

Treads: Mizuno Wave Creation 11

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Tow path trot

After a week of being up to my ass in lab, Dr. Sami and I made it back out to the Tow path (more on this later) for a hot run on Saturday morning. We did an out-and-back, along the wooded, canal-side path.


4 miles

40 min

80 F, sunny

Threads: Champion tank and skirt & shorty socks

Treads: Mizuno Wave Creation 11


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Work trot

I am quickly realizing that this new job is a 7 days / week sort of gig.

Bad news = IT’S A SEVEN DAYS / WEEK SORT OF GIG!!! x-( 

Good news = I’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore trails around my apartment and around campus. Joy. 

Today was the first work trot, and it was quite successful if I do say so myself. I found a new route that I haven’t run before, it has hills, I didn’t get lost, and I can totally extend it for a number of longer runs. 🙂


34 miles

32 min

80 F (at least), sunny and humid

The first 1/2 was a wooded trail and a nice long decline. Sooooo, the second 1/2 was returning up the long incline on the sidewalk right next to the road for all to see me struggle. Oh well. The sidewalk actually wasn’t SO bad and everything felt very good – lungs included 🙂

Threads: Nike tank, Nike running skirt and shorty socks.

Treads: Mizuno Wave Creation 11

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Buddy trot

So my running (among numerous other much less healthy activities) buddy Dr. Sami has recently also relocated to the lovely garden state! I am absolutely sure her move was motivated by her need to keep misbehaving running with me on a regular basis. Our first run was today, after our first lovely Friday NJ evening (but that’s a story for another day :).


3 miles

30 min

80 F, sunny

Nice rolling hills (same course as the other day) and a surprise trail after turning off Meadow Rd. I think the new goal should be to find a new trail or part of a trail with every run (only being allowed to return home after completing this mission).

Threads: Nike tank, Nike running skirt and shorty socks.

Treads: Mizuno Wave Creation 11

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Treadmill trot


3.7 miles

35 min

~70F, calm and 1% incline, treadmill run!

It was pouring rain out but I was home from work before 9 pm so I had to do something. Considering I now live in an apartment compound (no, I don’t mean “complex,” I definitely mean “compound…had I meant “complex” that is what I would have said…) with a fitness center, I guess I had better start making use of it! Now I detest treadmill running. I’d prefer being out in the cold, rain, snow, whatever, than run in place in a stale stinky room with unchanging scenery for what feels like eternity. Unfortunately, I also detest getting lost in the dark and eaten by black bears. So, the damn treadmill won.

Now it does really pain me to admit this, but it really actually wasn’t all that bad. Boring? Duh. Yes. Of course. Horrible? No. Will I do it again? Yes, definitely. Not everyday. Maybe something like once a week. Definitely not my top choice, but bearable, especially for shorter, faster runs or runs where pace is important (and runs when you get home early and the weather is wicked bad out). The one and only thing that I am a little worried about is the tight/sore shin sensation that began ~10 min in and is still present. I will rub and stretch them out and keep half a brain cell remembering them. Hopefully it’s nothing and they’ll be back to normal in no time!

Threads: Champion tank and Nike running skirt and shorty socks.

Treads: Mizuno Wave Creation 11

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Trotting from bombs to blue jays

Unfortunately there was a campus-wide bomb threat today and as of 10:30 am everyone was to evacuate Princeton and not return for at least the rest of the day. Not cool. What is cool though, is the opportunity of getting in a midweek run in the middle of the day w/o feeling like you should be in lab!

I went on another investigative trot in the opposite direction of Sunday, to Blue Jay Way and back. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon!


4 miles

37 min

80 F, sunny, windy.

Nice rolling hills were a nice surprise and will be good for mixing it up as the summer goes on.

Still a bit tight from Sat & Sun but feeling good and the lungs were good!!

Threads: Nike tank, Nike running skirt and shorty socks.

Treads: Mizuno Wave Creation 11

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Exploratory trot

I went on my second NJ trot today! (Yes, we can be done counting with #2.) Considering that I put in almost 8 miles yesterday after nothing for a month today felt pretty good. Also, considering that I had no idea where I was going and found my way out and back without getting lost so much as one time, today felt really good!

6/9/13 workout

29 min

3.5 miles

Warm (80 F), humid and calm. Legs were a bit tit after yesterday, but really not bad. It felt great to get a few quicker (for me…Dr. Trot…not Dr. Sprint…) miles in.

Threads: Nike tank, Nike running skirt and shorty socks.

Treads: Mizuno Wave Creation 11

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Dr. Trot, PhD

Now that things are a bit more under control than they have been in the last few months (and since I have no friends to hang out with in Princeton yet…but never mind), let me fill you in on the major events of the last handful of weeks.

First off, Dr. trot now has her PhD!!

I defended my thesis, Gene expression control and antimicrobial peptide production by haute couture bacteria, on May 3rd. The PhD defense process for our department is quite similar to the way most programs work (I think…).

First, there is a bunch of time sensitive paperwork to first scavenge from a number of ambiguously described niches of the interweb, then fill out and finally submit to a variety of seemingly unrelated (however, all apparently somehow very important to my graduation) offices.

Next is the fun part, the actual defense. So the defense is technically an exam. However, it’s also really a celebration and feels a lot more like this then like an exam. When you’re ready to defend you’ve already done all of the work, run all of the experiments, crunched all of the data and written all of the papers. You have become the expert on your work and are given a stage from which you can arm-twist your family and friends into being a captive audience for 45 min to hear about what has consumed the previous 4-6 years of your life (and a damn good excuse to dress up in a shirt with crazy frilly sleeves and pointy, paten leather, red heals :-). During the first ~45 min, you present your work to your adviser, your 4-person faculty committee and the family and friends who prefer NOT to receive lumps of coal in their Christmas stockings next Dec. whose schedules are flexible enough to allow them to attend in the middle of the day. Next, the floor is open to questions from anyone. This usually lasts 20-30 min. Last, the public (friends and family) are kicked out politely asked to leave, and you are left with only the committee to continue closed door discussions for another 20-30 min. After this, you are asked to step out of the room so “the committee can deliberate.” This is really just a formality though; I have never heard of anyone even coming close to failing. After a brief wait in the hall, your adviser comes to fetch you and your committee parades out the door, shaking your hand and congratulating you along the way.

At this point you have a very precious piece of paper work that you have to submit (w/in 24 hrs of your exam, or something crazy like this) to the graduate school and then it’s PARTY TIME!!!

One other very important point to note is the defense food. When you defend, you’re responsible for providing snack for your committee and audience members. My family’s arms were double twisted into coming AND bringing food, and a good choice by me (if I do say so myself) because the snacks they brought were amazing! They brought a butt-load of homemade sweet breads (banana +\- chocolate chips AND nuts, blueberry oatmeal, and chocolate) and savory bread (zucchini cheddar), fruit, coffee and water. It was all absolutely wicked good. This is important as both students (whose behaviors towards their colleagues are very food-mailable) and faculty (whose moods/senses of humor/empathy towards lowly graduate students are easily influenced by good/bad grub) hit up the snack table first thing as they walk in the door. So, T, F, & L, thanks so much!!!

Our department tradition is that the new Dr. takes their family and friends hour for happy hour(s) at a local establishment of their choice. You basically hand over your credit card with the lowest interest rate and assign someone to making sure you reunite with it at the end of the evening and make it home (rather than to detox for example) in one piece. (Thank you SmAdj 🙂 No one wants this tradition to end. 🙂 I had my defense party at the Kitty Cat Klub, the same place I celebrated passing my qualifying exam (10 days shy of ) 4 years earlier and woke up without a plastic ID bracelet (thanks again A 🙂


While I’m in the business of thanking people, I also need to thank Sir. K, one of my very good friends from undergrad who came all the way from Chicago to attend my defense and spend the weekend in Mpls. Thank you!

After nursing the defense weekend (yes, weekend) hangover, the final steps in wrapping up were to make a few final thesis edits, print and bind the friggen expensive thesis, complete exit paper work and pass my work (lab samples, supplies and reagents, files and papers) on to my next of kin. It’s funny how a month seems like so much time to get all of these things done, until you’re living in that one (what the hell was i thinking?!?! month. :-/

And with that, ready or not (hint: one never says this if they are ready) I was off for NJ!!

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