Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Me, Marx and Engels

So graduate school started this Monday and I am already immersed in reading pages and pages of works that I have never, ever heard of, that are rife with complexities that I probably should know something about, but I dont.

I volunteered to do a presentation first in a class I know almost nothing about. This happens next Tuesday and I have to speak about Culture and Society, these two concepts are intimidatingly broad and intentionally ambiguous in my opinion. My strategy was to get this assignment over with, but I feel like I just jumped off a cliff and am going to splatter all over the ground at some point next week.

Here is an excerpt from something that I am reading, maybe you can give me some insight:

“The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that the production of the means to support human life and, next to production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into classes or orders is dependent upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged. From this point of view, the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in men's brains, not in men's better insights into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange.”-Marx and Engels.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Time Waits for No One

Today is my first day of school. As I waited for an elevator that never came the other day I thought all about the concept of time and of making the most efficient use of it, even in the face of uncertainties like the subway or elevator. How do we integrate these elements into our daily lives and how many risks do we take?

When you wait forever for the elevator, do you just get impatient and take the stairs? or do you think that you have waited so long at this point that taking the stairs would probably end up taking longer than if, for instance, the elevator arrived in a few seconds, as it might.

It takes 30 minutes to get from point A to point B by subway, but I feel like I should build in 1 hour to my traveling time, always, just in case something happens. Then I will be early most of the time and just make it safely in time if something delayed the train for a bit.

I have a theory that I take the local train if it arrives first and I stay on it the whole ride even if the express also stops at my desired stop. I only switch to the express if I physically see it across the platform and can make the switch safely and without much fanfare. I hate to wait for the express when at least I could be travelling forward toward my destination on the local.

I think I tend towards the conservative end when it comes to travel in New York. After-all I am the girl who takes the bus to work each morning, even if its slower, because I want a seat and to stare out the window and think about things, without having to transfer, or be stuffed into a subway car-that might be faster, but not necessarily.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Laboratory Ending

Today is my last day as a laboratory technician. I am going to be a Graduate Student next week and whether or not that is a step up or a step down, depends on who you talk to. I know that in my case it is a step up, but I cannot help but be treacherously sad at the passing of my simple, quiet life as a lab tech. This post is an homage to all things lab techie.

Walking in in the morning when no one is there, the quiet relationship that you have with the small colorless tubes before you, that can grow into something greater. Watching small amounts of liquids of varying viscosities mix and enjoying it thoroughly. The endless cups of coffee that are drank, while standing around talking about science, or other random things. Being comfortable somewhere, like at home, where you have a favorite pen and a collection of assorted small plastic odds and ends in your bench drawer. When something really unexpected works, when something you have been working on forever finally works, when you figure out the problem, when you figure out a better way, when things stay organized, when people heartily enjoy learning something, when eyes light up, when the orchids flower, when people are hard working, when people are getting it, when progress is made.

I feel like I am leaving here having grown tremendously from the graphic designer I once was. My brain works in different ways now, doors are opened, things have been learned, I feel more capable than I even knew I was. Its been a wonderful opportunity for me. I get sad and sappy when things end as you can see, but what I mean to say is, I will miss it.

Where are you from?

Is it possible for one to understand where everyone is coming from? Even if you dont actually know where someone is from? Is it possible to collectively understand why people have certain beliefs, tastes, habits, lifestyles etc?

How could we cultivate this kind of tolerance?

How could we truly accept each individual as a teeming agglomeration of experiences and influences and see them for that?

I was thinking about taste specifically in this case, because I like to think about what small factors make someone like something, like a color or a painting. Maybe it reminds them of something, maybe it helps them think about nothingness.

Along the same lines, if I could just really, really keep this thought in mind it would be wonderful:

"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one...just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 1

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Future Perfect

My blog-worthy thought yesterday was that wouldnt it be interesting to be the type of person who never, ever thinks about the future. Because, in a way it makes sense, the future is an illusion and it can only be accessed through the present.

For instance, I am stressing about school which is starting next week. But there is no reason to. I just have to make a commitment to do things well when they come along in the present and leave the future to unravel.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Good vs Chump

After having a few conversations and a few thoughts lately, I have come to the conclusion that one of the hardest things in life is to be a good person, find good people to surround yourself with and not to be taken advantage of. You cant just go around being good all over town, especially in this town, but then you cant get so hardened that you arent good to anyone else.

Sorry for the cum-ba-ya-ness of this post, but its just one of those things that occured to me as a challenge, if not THE challenge in life.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Question and Answer

On the brink of starting classes I have been thinking a lot about knowing and not knowing. I had this thought the other day that the person who asks a question that they dont know the answer to, but are humble and curious, really has a type of advantage over the wise person who already knows.

When you already know something there is a calmness that accompanies it, a sureness, an end, but the little flurry of adventure in the not-knowing, but wanting to, is a fleeting enjoyment that should be recognized, because it only emerges when its meeting its final moments.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Blank Blog

So you may be wondering what is going on with Petri Dish these days and why there are no new posts lately. Well, the truth is that I am still adjusting to post-marriage, post-honeymoon life and seem to be excessively tired all the time, leaving little time for blogging. But I hope to be back in action next week.

In the mean time, the ideas are piling up.

Friday, August 10, 2007


A great friend of mine gave me a framed poem called Desiderata (It is Latin for “Things to be Desired.”) that I have always admired, it hangs in her home. There are many wonderful lines to this poem including Be Yourself, Take Kindly the Counsel of Others, Strive to Be Happy. But there is one small simple line that really speaks loudly to me lately, as soon as I read it I knew this was exactly what I needed.

The line reads “Beyond a Wholesome Discipline, Be Gentle With Yourself.” In case you have not noticed through the reading of this blog, I have a tendency to be viscously hard on myself and I always associated this with what makes greatness, pushing yourself to new limits, never being satisfied, etc.

But instead of taking myself so darn seriously and being my biggest critic, it is time for me to be gentle with myself. It feels good to even type it out.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Delicious Diversions

We are back and I am just going to jump right into some blogging. (The trip was great in case you were wondering, the flight was long, the sun was strong and we relaxed wholeheartedly.)

You know when you are supposed to be doing something, like work perhaps, but then you sneak onto some website where you are looking for shoes or furniture or something? Although, this is not conducive to being a top Graduate Student, or a top anything for that matter, I am admitting that I do do this and that yes, I relish it.

I was thinking the other day about small somewhat benign things we do like this that are so alluring. I remember that some of the funniest jokes of my life have happened when I was in church, not supposed to be laughing. I dont mean this as some kind of organized rebellion against anything, or the pull of temptation seeping into anything serious. But I am imagining that with the tug of something else on your plate, it makes the detour taste so good and without the Excell spreadsheet you are ignoring, or the pages you are not reading, the notes you are not writing, these little things would not be so enjoyable.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


We have been in Kauai, Hawaii for 2 weeks. Will return Tuesday August 7th at noon.

Then back to blogging and working and being a New Yorker, but this time much more relaxed and tan.