i'm slowly, but surely, pulling myself out of the abyss.

after the pity party thrown by some friends, i decided enough was enough. i started small. with cooking.

cooking is a joy of mine. just the simple act of chopping a carrot can be very relaxing. there isn't a lot of thought involved (which, after a day of chemistry publications and syntheses, i welcome) and the melodic tapping of the knife against the cutting board is very soothing for me. but i hadn't cooked since shit hit the fan. in fact, i was afraid to see what science experiment had cooked up in my Le Creuset, since it had been sitting on my kitchen prep table since my birthday. yeah... i'm trifling.

but, if i ever want to get back to the things i enjoy, i have to start at the beginning and clean my damn kitchen. and i hate cleaning. one of the things i miss most about my ex is that he loved to clean up after a meal. but, like Lil Wayne, i'm single. i should have worn a face mask with all of the mold that clouded my sink, but i had good music blasting so i didn't even care. Bilal and Corinne Bailey Rae have that effect on me. the transformation from dark and dank to clean and sparkly really lifted my spirits.
Thursday's dinner: sausage & kale ragu with linguine

Sunday's dinner: shrimp with tomatoes & haricot verts

i feel a little bit better. actually, a lot a bit better. i think i'm one more home cooked meal away from tackling my next feat: starting yoga or tennis again. the main reason it has taken so long is because the classes are really late. call it SADs, but seeing the sun set before 5.30p makes me wanna crawl in bed and stare into space, otherwise know as Teen Mom and Jersey Shore. there are some in the morning but doing yoga in the morning, or anything outside of trying not to brush my teeth with my bowl of Frosted Flakes, is an impossibility. however, since the days are getting longer and warmer, i think i can do it. i just don't wanna crash and burn. i get out of lab at 7p, yoga starts 15 minutes after until 8.30p, after prime time and i have to figure out what to do about dinner... no matter how calming it is, i do not wanna be chopping veg at 9p. besides, i can't eat that late. and tennis is the same story; the club meets really late. and i think i want to get into better shape BEFORE i start tennis. weird but i just know that my large boobs and belly will make me feel uncomfortable chasing the ball.

it'll work out because it has to... because i want it to.
i'm in a dark place. and i can't see my way out.
they say the third year is the toughest. imagine you're crossing a bridge on a foggy night. you can't see the end of the bridge, but the beginning is enough to have you believe that there is a new and exciting place on the other side. and all you have to do is start driving. now... imagine the middle of the bridge. you're surrounded by fog. you can't see where you've come or where you're going. all of the confidence that you had when you started is gone and you wanna turn back, but who knows... if you just go a little bit farther, maybe you won't feel as lost or you've just dug yourself deeper. it's a dark place.

i've found that i've lost myself. i've been trying so hard to keep myself, that i've almost forgotten who i am and where i wanted to go. i've been holding on so tight, i've been forgetting to breathe. and i feel like i'm dying. it hurts.

all of my old pleasures feel like chores and all of my chores are a constant reminder of how trifling and disgusting i am. i don't have time to eat or dream because i am so tired. so, all i've got now are 11 hour days, 6 days a week, and Sundays spent cleaning out my DVR but not my house, which would command more attention and physical exertion.

but i'm constantly getting wider. i barely eat, but because i barely move, i am steadfastly getting heavier. ah well... i'll just add it to my list of complaints which, thank God, is expanding faster than my waistline. maybe if i get rid of all of my joy, i shall come to appreciate the suffering, and isn't that what life is about? if i get used to it now, the idea of struggling will hopefully become second nature.

i used to be a happy person. and now i barely recognize myself. and if i've totally lost myself, what's the fucking point?? i've gotta get myself back. that way, when this is all over, we can have a huge party where happy me and her disfigured twin can laugh and cry and fight over whether i should have been more cutthroat or more appreciative of the moments where i slowly but surely became a philosopher of foggy futures.
as i've mentioned before, i'm a guy's girl. growing up, most of my closest friends were guys. my best friends were usually girls, but my larger group of friends are dudes. i'm not really clear on when and how this happened, but as a child i was really tight with my father while my mother played the disciplinarian, "i'm your mother not your friend" role. from that, i guess i generally wanted to mirror the bond i had with my father.

forcing relationships with girls was inevitable though. my mother felt more comfortable with me being friends with girls, which is ironic because she claimed to have hated girls in high school. and everything you did in formal school was split between the sexes. but, that just made it that more obvious to me why my friendships with men were "easier". i experienced first-hand the difference between the catty competition amongst the girls and the easy going tough love amongst the boys. and, because i didn't play their game, the girls would try to shut me out a lot of times. that was cool with me though; i always got the last laugh when a girl who bad mouthed me one month would play nice with me the next month when she was trying to hook up with one of my homies. ha! i kinda hate women.
yeah, that happened. only, i didn't play basketball and i had better hair.

i'm going to go ahead and say that most women hate women. not necessarily hate and not necessarily all women, but... in general, most women don't like the characteristics that are connoted with being a female and the fact that sometimes they are group in with the masses. i can easily say that i hate women because we are generally perceived to be blindingly emotional and catty to no end. my best friend Adam, when talking about women and relationships, will always start out a statement saying, "y'all women kill me because..." a statement which he will quickly amend by saying, "i don't mean you Sarah, because you're different". BUT, for a split second, i am "y'all women" and it burns me up.
anywho, watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta Reunion last night helped me to really understand the dynamics of female relationships. some women really don't go for that bullshit, while others say they don't when their actions admit that they might thrive in it. also, there seems to always be the alpha female. the one who everyone either loves or loves to hate. women, i see, tend to belong to four categories.

women who hate women and hang with women
see Phaedra. these are the worst types, if you ask me. and i know you know more than a few. check your Facebook feed/Twitter timeline. these are the type of chicks who, from Thursday-Sunday, are claiming that they are hanging with their gurrrls at happy hour/the club/brunch, call them their bitches or "ride or die chicks". but, from Monday-Wednesday, those same women will have statuses along the lines of "i hate bitter drama filled chicks! keep my name out your mouth and i better not catch you staring at me in church service! Lord help me!" yeah, that happens. they love the drama that comes along with being a woman and seem to thrive in it. and they hang with women just like them in order to keep up this vicious cycle.

women who hate women and hang with men
see Kim. this one you have to be cognizant of... the woman who shuns women in favor of male relationships as a ploy. this is kinda the type of woman you mother warned you of. she seems to have no close relationships with other women mostly because she has no girl code. this is not always true, of course, but even i can't go without at least one female friend, because who are you going to complain to about your man?? certainly not another dude... cause either he won't really care (ahem, Adam, cough) or he will see it as a very real chance to slide in an open slot... so to speak. no girl can go through that, unless it's a part of her set up.

women who hate women and hang with women who hate women
see Kandi, Sheree, and NeNe, only less crazy.. these are women who generally accept that they have to deal with women because they have the body parts that classify them as so. i tend to fall in this category. like NeNe, i would say that i only have a couple of really close female friends. and i'm cool with that, because my close female friends are like me. they think women as a whole are batshit crazy and would rather limit their interactions. i'm in a sorority, but i have to admit that i'm in one that offered the lowest probability of drama. most of the women were like me, easy going and cool. but, when the drama pops up, as it inevitably will, we don't hesitate to cut it off at the knees. i remember when i first started undergrad, at a women's college ironically, i rolled with a large group of female "friends". by the end of the year... there were just three still standing amongst the ranks of friend. at a women's college, you find out quick whose all about the drama, whose a chronic liar, and who is batshit, whatthefuck crazy.

women who find solace in female relationships
see Cynthia. these poor things. they see rainbows and butterflies when really there are some snakes in the grass. their only hope is to somehow find another girl just like them. my bff Tiffany was like this when we first met. she was sooo sweet that sometimes i couldn't talk to her when i needed that tough love. but, now after 8 years of friendship, she can give it to me straight no chaser. but, then i see the other types of female friends she has and am glad that she has someone to skip with when i don't have to resolve to do so.

one thing i will say is this... going to a women's college has been a real eye opening experience. you really learn about the complexity of the female spirit. this is why i do keep a few female friends, because we are a special and resilient breed. we go through a lot because we are women but are expected to never complain like a woman. i love being a woman for this very reason, although it's extremely taxing. and, the older i get, the more i understand my own mother. as we forge a closer friendship together, i'm really getting to know what a spectacular and haunted character she is. i'm getting to know that we have a lot in common, much more so than the fact that we both hated girls in high school.
just like with the Superbowl edition, i did not watch the Grammy's this year. in fact, as a rule, i don't watch awards shows. i feel the real reward i bestow upon celebrities is that i listen to their music, watch their movies/TV shows, and spend a half an hour a day getting familiar with their unique brand on crazy on TMZ. i'd rather not watch a group of them pat themselves on their backs.

anywho, i rather like seeing men in nice suits. i used to work at the Gap while in high school, where i was the  men's specialist, meaning i can help a man find his ideal cut, size, and color of jeans and khakis while coordinating them with a shirt and belt combo. in undergrad, i worked holidays at Nordstrom in the men's shoes department. along with way too many years of retail experience under my belt and being the fastest cashier in the east came a real appreciation for men's apparel. in fact, one of the real joys i get out of being a girlfriend is being able to dress my boyfriend up like a human sized, anatomically correct Ken doll. in fact, my ex enlisted my services after we broke up when he needed work clothes for a new job. that good.

this year, at the Grammy's, pickings were SLIM. it's like there was a memo for the men to try to hard to look as if they weren't trying hard at all. i'm looking at you Usher, with your blazer, ringer tee, spatted boots ensemble. the scruffy faces i'll forgive, because frankly it turns me on just as much as ashy hands (no joke), but i digress.

Mario Lopez
the best accessory Mario is giving the gunmetal gray slim suit with retro black tie are those dimples. ain't he cute?!

LL Cool J
he's mostly on here because, i mean, it's LL! his suit is fitting a little snug on his arms, but that only points out that fact that his biceps are that freaking juiced.

Lil Wayne
okay wait. before you say anything, let me just remind you that PICKINS WERE SLIM. okay, now, i'm actually feeling this look from Weezy. i lurve sweaters on men because they highlight the shoulders, the sexiest part on a man, and the cut and color of this cardi is working well with his white tee and tats. still not buying it?? well, his swag on a hundred though!

Jesse Williams
all of this is working for me. the style and color combo of the suit, the white Oxfords, and that face. yeah. McSexyFace.

Tinie Tempah
okay. so, i know that this isn't his look from the Grammy's, but it was some variation of this and i don't care. he is sexy. and i love that blazer on him. and the glasses cover those rather large, but silky, eyebrows. i also love retro glasses on a man. in fact, i'm feeling this whole 50s suit trend going on right now. let's hope it stays along with horn-rimmed glasses.
remember those MySpace surveys? in fact, remember MySpace at all?? what the hell happened to MySpace? oh, yeah... Twitter. which i'm not on. i can only take one or two social media obsessions at a time. one is Facebook; the other is natural hair blogs. but seriously, twitter kicked MySpace's ass, whose only victory is that they absorbed imeem.

not until i get a smartphone, buddy*

but anyway, the lame thing about Facebook and Twitter is that it's platform is not conducive to the famed MySpace survey, which itself originated through email. sort of like incredibly vain chain letters, these surveys asked personal questions and then threatened you with bad omens, usually of the romantical variety, unless you too shared your personal experiences and forwarded them to at least 12 or so friends. with a groan, you did so, because you did not want to be cursed with bad sex for the next seven years...

my favorite memory of doing these surveys is one particular question: what's your favorite flower? my answer is orange lilies because orange is one of my favorite colors and lilies rock harder than any other flower. so, i sent it off to my friends and waited to see their responses to the questions. my boyfriend at the time sent his back and i zeroed in on the line "what's your favorite flower?: sarah". and i swooned. since, this has been my motto.
friend: Sarah, can you help us carry this case of water?
me: no bitch. i'm a flower.
and also, i loved naming the survey, either with a random line in one of the answers or with Sir Veh...

when i made the transition from MySpace to Facebook, it was swift. my school finally approved our presence to Facebook, i reconnected with way more people, and it didn't inundate me with band invites and stranger danger. but, the sacrifice was the ever loved survey. for a while, i would go on MySpace just to do them, but, alas, many of my friends were making the leap and my bulletin box was getting skimpier. some folks tried to bring the survey over to Facebook. but it seemed so contrived and desperate. you have to do it as a note AND you have to tag people to the note, basically asking them to pay attention to your witty and random answers. with MySpace, there was the whimsy of the survey hanging in cyberspace for folks to read at their leisure. afterall, MySpacers were desperate for such attention whereas Facebookers, with their collective college degrees, didn't do such things.

but, those surveys rock. and i wanna bring 'em back, for old times sake.

First thing you wash in the shower? my arms
What color is your favorite hoodie? i don't wear hoodies anymore
Would you kiss the last person you kissed again? even though i said i wouldn't, i would because he's that good of a kisser
Do you plan outfits? only 5 minutes before i put on clothes
How are you feeling RIGHT now? tired, outcast, hungry
Do you say aim or a-i-m? aim, but no one uses this anymore... sort of like MySpace
Tell me about the last dream you remember having? last night, i dreamt LeBron James wanted me and i was wearing a pretty dress, and my old band members were unfriendly statues. then i got married and had the reception in the same room, which is tacky. and my bridesmaids dresses were better than mine.
What are you craving right now? chocolate
Do you floss? not as often as i should
What comes to mind when I say cabbage? sukiyaki
Are you emotional? not right now
Would you dance to the taco song? what the hell are you talking about?
Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it? lick it... that's what she said
Do you like your hair? i love my hair
Have you ever met a celebrity? plenty
Do you like cottage cheese? don't gross me out
What are you listening to right now? vacuum pumps
Would you go sky diving? i have a fear of falling, mo
Do you rent movies often? i don't pay for movies
Do you own a gun? no, but i want a taser
Can you count backwards from 74? yeah, but why would i waste time like that? i could be filling out a survey or something more important.
Who are you going to be with tonight? labmates, friends, artistic folks
Do you own something from Hot Topic? what is this, 2003??
Ever been on a train? i lurve trains
Ever been in love? sigh
Are you too forgiving? prolly, but i hate stubborn, prideful people
Do you use chap stick? only makeup i wear
Can you use chop sticks? i grew up near Chinatown
Is your hair curly? something like that
Last time you cried? idk... a few days ago. i have to let the tears flow from time to time or else i'll have wet dreams.
Favorite time of the year? autumn
Favorite color? orange, blue, purple
Do you have any tattoos? i wish
The last person you held hands with? my bff Tiffany
Do you like your life right now? it could be filled with more happy
What is your favorite animal? birds
What was the most recent thing you bought? food... always.
Could you ever forgive a cheater? yes
Do you have a job? as a PhD slave grad student
Can you handle the truth? most times

Feel free to repost in the comments!

*don't ask me why i don't have a smartphone, unless you're my mother and you're willing to pay.
are you ready for some football?!
well, i'm not. i don't watch football. i don't watch sports at all really, except for the occasional tennis match. but, i do watch sports players. back in the day, i dated football and basketball players exclusively. not really by choice, but i've always been attracted ΓΌber tall and muscly men and they usually turned out to play some sort of sport. now, i tend to lean towards more hunky and husky, but i still like 'em tall, since i'm kinda tall myself.

but, to kick off my man candy series, which i'll do every week, i thought it would be appropriate to feature some football players since the season just ended (inner smile).

Ray Rice
standing at 5'8", this 24 year old running back for the Ravens is the best thing about Baltimore. though he is the same height as me, i'd gladly wear flats when i'm out with those biceps.

Ed Dickson
there is plenty tight about this Baltimore Ravens tight end. all 6'4" and 249lb of him can get the business... even though his is only 23 years old.

Patrick Willis
great Scott! everything about his upper body is making me want to drive to San Francisco right now, since he an inside linebacker for the 49ers. this chocolaty masterpiece is 26, 6'1" and 240lbs.

Mike Neal
congrats boo! i hear you just won the superbowl. and at the tender age of 23. but there is nothing tender about those biceps, which are just as big as those weights.

Golden Tate
aww, look at that smile! this southern boy is a wide receiver for the Seahawks. even though he's 22 and only 5'10", i'd be allllll over that gorgeous face of his.

Braylon Edwards
last, but not least... Lawd amercy, look at those shoulders! i can barely compose myself. i don't really want to have kids, but if they'd come out as beautiful as this masterpiece, who is a wide receiver for the Jets, i'd do it au naturale. he's 27 years old, 6'3" and 214lbs. that makes him beyond perfection in my book. especially with that Come F*ck Me stare he has going on.

well, that's it for this edition. check back next week and feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments :)
so, i've mention this before, in passing. but, i didn't get into a lot of details about it. frankly, it was embarrassing and depressing. here goes...

i am a grad student in chemistry in a good program. i am studying for my PhD under an internationally acclaimed chemist. i am one of three black women in the entire department. none of these things do i take for granted. ever. i feel immense pressure everyday. i struggled in the beginning about doing it for myself versus fighting the good fight, based on the statistic that less than 1.56% of chemistry PhDs are awarded to blacks (the statistic itself was so low that it could not be broken down into male or female demographics and the percent error was high). there were a lot of people who wanted to push me out or leave me behind because they felt i could never hack it as a chemist just by looking at me. a lot of people never gave me a chance.

my boss did. we already had a rapport since i had taken a couple of classes with him. he thought i was charming and showed a lot of promise. he dug my inquisitive nature, as most PhD students tend to have a lot of bravado when it comes to how much they know. the chemistry was a little different than my own interests, but it was groundbreaking and respected. so, we gave each other a chance.

those first few months were gloriously hectic. i researched a lot, getting to know a whole area of chemistry that i had initially brushed off, and i spent long hours in the lab doing tedious extractions and purifications. i tend to be a real stickler with that stuff and i take pride in being very precise. but, i was also enjoying my new environment and colleagues. until the newness wore off.

i no longer enjoyed the long hours and the "friends" i had in the lab. i missed my family, my city, my real friends. i missed my old body, before it was wreaked by weight gain and constant stress sickness. i wanted a boyfriend, even if just to have some one to tell me at the end of the day that everything was going to be okay. it was too much to sacrifice. and i wasn't enjoying myself or my 20s. consequently, i wasn't enjoying the process of grad school anymore.

about 4 months ago, the hammer came down. a girl in my lab let it slip that she wasn't doing her due diligence of writing in her lab notebook everyday. our advisor demanded we all turn in our notebooks for inspection. much to the surprise of nobody else but him, all of our notebooks were a disgrace. but it really set him off. many of us were placed on thin ice with him and i no longer enjoyed an easy rapport with my boss. it became a contentious one, one where i would lose a lot of respect for him over the things he began to say and do.

the irony of the entire situation is that the girl who started it all escaped any real trouble. she neglected to tell our advisor that she keeps virtual notes on her laptop. she felt a tremendous guilt about this (in fact she just called me at home because i'm sick today... again) and has offered advice to those of us really feeling the heat. it didn't work fully because one guy, probably the coolest guy in the group, decided he couldn't take it and left the program. what's even sadder is that he had, at most, one year left. also, if you do an inspection of most notebooks of grad students, you would seriously contend a lot of published research.

but honestly, i did lose a lot of the fire i had from the beginning. all of the sacrifice was getting to me and i just wanted myself back. i wanted my happy back. i tried to take it, but as with most things, the shift in the balance meant that my studies suffered. but, from the moment i knew my future as a PhD was in jeopardy, i snapped back into reality. there were no more questions or doubts. i had to fully commit myself and my time. as a consequence, the road trip i had planned is canceled. i also decided to leave my post as social chair of the graduate representative organization. and, maybe i don't really have time for a relationship right now. but, i would come to appreciate what i gave up just to have that much more for myself in the end. i only have about three years left and i want to make my community proud, my family proud, but mostly i want to be proud of myself. there is a small part of me that believes the naysayers...

there's a lot of struggle and sacrifice in grad school, but the payoff is supposed to be that much more rewarding. you give up the best years of your life, in hopes that you are setting yourself up for an even more fantastic future. but i still wonder... when will i know if it was worth it?