The days are pure October—the air crisp and brimming with sunlight, the trees aflame under a brilliant blue sky. I barely see any of it. I’m in the lab all day, in a room with windows that look out only into the hallway. I catch glimpses of autumn as I drive in to work, as I pass under tunnels of leaves that are red and gold and rust. “Look,” I tell my girls. “The trees are so pretty!” They take it for granted, yet another of the inexplicable marvels of their world.
“Did you have a good day?” I asked Bean-girl as I picked her up from after-school daycare today. She came running to me across the playground, her jacket off as usual. (She is always taking her jacket off and even trying to leave it behind, for all that I’m always trying to put it on). I already knew that she’d had a great day: today was the day that her class had a field trip to an apple orchard, followed by a school-wide fundraising hike around the block (the school’s big annual fundraising activity for the year.) “Today was a play day!” she exulted. “It was nothing but play! And mom—“ her voice lowered dramatically—“we had cider and doughnuts!”
Her backpack was full of apples that she had picked at the orchard, as well as a small pumpkin. We met Husband and Legume at home and went out to dinner at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. Why not make Bean-girl’s day absolutely perfect? Dessert was ordered—little glass cups of lemon custard, chocolate mousse and tiramisu. Chocolate mint sticks with the check.
Bath time. Story. Sleep.
I feel the days rushing past. I wanted to make the most of the summer season—to take the girls to the beach, the park, the pool. But the pressure of this autumn season seems even more intense, and the season yet more fleeting. There seems just this brief window to fit it all in—apple orchards and cider and Halloween fun houses, pumpkin patches and corn mazes and jack’o lanterns and walks and bike rides before the season turns too cold. It’s near the middle of October already, and it’s all going by too fast.
Things at work are going by way too fast. The data is pouring in before I can properly analyze it. My lab notebook is a disaster. My desk and bench are disasters. I am seeing awesome cool phenotypes in my system. “Fucking awesome,” I kept repeating under my breath at the microscope earlier this week. “Fucking awesome.” It’s gone better than I could have dared to hope when I first re-entered the lab this past June. But I’m running too fast for comfort. I’m hooked on experiments, but I need time to read and think.
And oh, yeah—I have this review I’m supposed to write. By December. On a field which is integral to the lab, but which is only tangentially related to my own current line of research. And I need to take the time to work on that, but I’m rather resentful because doing experiments is just so much fun.
So yeah, time is fleeing away here. I feel a forced rest in the lab coming soon—we’re scheduled to take a family vacation to Far-off City in two weeks. Which just puts more pressure on me in both the lab and in outside life. (Halloween costumes? No, haven’t bought any yet. Bean-girl’s upcoming birthday party? No plans made. And I haven’t even mentioned Legume’s potty training—or lack of—and her defiant “I-am-three-hear-me-shout-“NO!” phase.)
I love it. I’m tense and exhausted.
And tonight, I feel happy.