Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pharmacokinetics of a novel FAAH inhibtitor, AM 3506

Before I explain my experiment, I need to explain my coworker's experiment (all the references are on the poster above :) ).

The psycoactive ingredient of marijuana is THC. THC is a cannabinoid and binds the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The body has its own natural cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. A couple major endocannabinoids are anandamide (AEA) and 2-AG. The only pathway known to break down AEA is the enzyme FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase). It has been found that inhibiting the enzyme FAAH leads to anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and antidepressive effects (along with a bunch of other things).So, a laboratory in the NIAAA synthesized a drug, AM3506 to inhibit FAAH.

Lots of different experiments have been done with the drug, but the lab I work in looked at the drug from a fear perspective. A post-doc in my lab did experiments to see if AM3506 increased fear extinction learning. In PTSD people have impaired fear extinction learning. So think of a solider who associates a certain noise with a horrible outcome, when he/she returns to the US, that noise should not be scary anymore. But, the noise still causes them to freak out because they are unable to learn that the noise is no longer associated with a horrible outcome. There is a strain of mice that also has impaired fear extinction learning (129S1) so they were used for the fear experiments and my experiment.

Fear Conditioning: An hour before the experiment, the mice are injected with either the drug or a control (no drug). After an hour, a mouse is placed into a box (I think the experiment lasts a little over 3 minutes) and a tone is placed 3 times, at the end of the tone, the mouse is given a foot shock. So, the mouse associates the tone with a foot shock. A measurement of fear in mice is freezing. When a mouse freezes, they stop moving completely except for breathing. So during this experiment we record every 5 sec if a mouse is freezing.

The next day we do fear extinction. This is a horribly boring experiment. It takes around 30 minutes PER MOUSE. So we place the mouse in a new environment and play the tone (I think it's 30 times, I can't remember) but there is no shock. While this is going on, we record freezing.

TEN DAYS from the first fear conditioning experiment, the mice are put through "retrieval". For this, the tone is played 3 times, WITHOUT a foot shock and freezing is measured. My coworker found that the mice that were given drug were statistically freezing less, so it appears that the drug facilitates fear extinction learning.

OK, now MY part of the experiment for my poster.... since this drug potentially has therapeutic uses, we wanted to do some preliminary pharmacokinetics. Pharmacokinetics in easiest definition is what the body does to the drug. So, I used groups of 3 mice at 6 different time points (2 for zero hour though). Zero hour vehicle (a control where the mice were only given the liquid that drug goes in, NO drug), 0 hour, 1 hour, 2 hour, 3 hour, 6 hour, and 24 hour. We administered the drug IV (through the mouses tail into a lateral vein = NOT easy) and orally (I used a needle looking thing that had a round ball at the end. So I went in the mouses mouth and down to the stomach to directly deliver it to the stomach).

So at the time points that I listed, we sacrificed the mice. So for example we would give the drug and 1 hour later sacrifice the mouse (1 hour time point). Now, in humans this is normally done by drawing blood at multiple timepoints in 1 human, but I needed the brain and plasma at each timepoint, so we had to use lots of mice). Once all the mice were sacrificed, I extracted the plasma from the collected trunk blood and cut the brain in half because I was using half the brain for part of the experiment. I did lipid extraction (takes FOREVER) and my coworker's husband (also a pharmacist who works for the NIAAA in a lab, cute huh?) ran my samples in mass spectometry.

RESULTS of that part: The drug is only detectable in the brain and plasma at the zero time point for IV delivered dose. So, we think this is because the drug when given orally is highly metabolized by the liver so it is probably in the body as a undetectable metabolite. Also, the drug irreversibly binds FAAH, so it is probably undetectable because it is bound. So rewind back to anandamide (AEA), we measured the AEA brain levels. Basically the results are very interesting because the AEA levels increase (as hypothesized because FAAH is inhibited) but then decrease around 4-6 hours. This is interesting because the effects of the drug (fear extinction learning) are still working, so there must be either a metabolite or downstream effects that are affecting behavior! 

My coworker did some radiolabeled experiments with the plasma and brain as well (I would do it, but I'm not on the protocol to handle radioactive materials) to measure FAAH activity. Long story short (I'm getting sick of typing this), we measured FAAH activity to see if it was inhibited, look at my graphs if you can see it.

Further studies: we are doing intraperitoneal injections and Monday I'll be doing lipid extraction again. We also have lung tissue to do lipid extraction to see if we can detect any drug in the periphery.... Hope I didn't confuse you all too much, I tried to break it down as much as possible.

Oh, and I presented my poster at the NIH on 8/4/11

Thursday, July 28, 2011

FANTASTIC trip, interesting ending...

            After many weeks in DC, I had the impulse decision to fly to Kansas to see my boyfriend.  Come to think of it, I’m not even sure I mentioned it to my parents because it was so impulse (surprise, I just got back from Kansas!).  Charlie and his cousin’s were playing a mini concert at a bar/restaurant, so with the help of his parents, I decided to surprise him.  I bought the ticket earlier this week on a whim, and got on a plane on Friday morning.  I went down to Union Station and caught the MARC train, thinking it would be faster.  I think I accidently purchased a ticket on the Amtrack, so it was $14 and I had to wait (this is a common trend in my life, trial and error).  The night before leaving for Kansas, I thought it was a brilliant idea to go out to Cactus Cantina with my volleyball team after playing… lets just say a few too many margaritas made it not a pleasant morning. 
The margaritas came back to haunt me around 8 am when I got on my first flight from Baltimore to Philadelphia. Small plane + hungover + I get motion sick = nausea at its best.  When I got to Philadelphia, I decided to eat my hangover away.  I ate an insane amount of food.  My layover in Philly was a couple hours and instead of doing my homework the night before, I  had gone out with the volleyball team. So, during my layover, I started working to get my online homework done.  Thankfully, I got most of it done before boarding my plane to Kansas City.  On the plane I wrote some of the paper that was due, but I needed the internet for some of it, so I stopped and went to sleep.  Once in Kansas City, I was picked up by the “Seaport Airlines” and they took me to a different airport that was about 10 minutes away.  While in the van going there, I asked the driver how big the plane was.  The response, “9 passenger.”  UM WHAT!?!  All I know about planes that tiny, is that they tend to crash and EVERYONE DIES.  When I got in the little building to check in, I was amazed by the procedure.  It went as follows-
Worker: “do you have any hazardous materials, firearms, or anything else that should not be on a plane?”
Me: “um, no”
Worker: “ok please place your bags on this scale.”
***Notice there was ZERO security.  I did not even walk through a metal detector.  So not only am I getting on a TINY plane, I could be getting on a plane with a psycho that has a gun, or a bomb, or something crazy in their suitcase because NO ONE LOOKED!!!!!!!
            I got in the plane and said a prayer that was something along the lines of “please God, do not let me die.”  In addition to the utter lack of security, you are allowed to use your cell phone and electronic devices during all times during the flight.  Um, what?!  The flight went fairly smooth until we began our decent.  We hit turbulence that was frightening.  Once again, I said a little prayer.  I have never been to thrilled to reach Salina, Kansas.  Charlie’s mom picked me up from the airport and took me to a hotel.
 While at the hotel I got the rest of my homework done. Around 8 PM, Charlie’s cousin picked me up and we went to grab some food before surprising Charlie.  This whole time I was texting him to “break a leg.”  I’m so sneaky. They began playing at 10 PM, so around 10:15 PM I walked into the restaurant/bar.  IT WAS PACKED.  It was awesome to see how many people came out to watch them play! I didn’t want him to see me before I was closer, and I didn’t want him to see me while he was in the middle of singing a song, so I hid behind some tall guy for a little bit.  During a pause during a song, I popped out from behind the tall guy and tried to make eye contact.  When he saw me, his jaw literally dropped.  He took a double take and sat there dumb-founded. J He got up from his chair and made his way through the crowd to give me a hug.  It was adorable!
That night is when life threw me another curve ball… around 4 am, the hotel fire alarm began going off.  It was not your average loud fire alarm, it was BLASTING.  I FLEW from my bed.  Once I opened the door to my hotel room, I glanced around and everyone on my floor was also in the hallway.  Then the alarm went off.  I went back to bed… only to be awoken AGAIN anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.  It went off for maybe 10 seconds, then turned off.  After about the 6th time that this happened, I called the front desk, FURIOUS!  I asked them if the alarm was going to stop going off.  I also said that it was ridiculous and that I should not have to pay full price for the hotel room.  The front desk woman took half off my hotel room, and I went back to bed.  Pam, Charlie’s mom had booked the hotel for 3 nights for me, but after the fire alarm fiasco, I decided to check out.  I went down to the front desk and told them that I should not have to pay for breakfast either (Pam had bought me breakfast in advance).  So, the hotel took half off the hotel room and I got free breakfast.
Saturday and Sunday I spent time with Charlie.  As usual, we ate a lot of food (I have been informed he gained 5 lbs while I was in town).  It was a really good time.
Monday… things became interesting.  The day started off normal.  I woke up and watched a tv show while Charlie prepared for a video interview.  After his interview (which lasted 1.5 hrs!!!), we began our drive to Kansas City for me to catch my flight.  All seemed well, it was a sunny day and traffic wasn’t bad… until we hit a detour that had us pull off onto a one lane country road.  I 70, basically the ONLY way to get across Kansas, was closed!!!!!!  Closed for 20 miles!!!! We were only going 5 miles an hour because traffic was horrendous on the detour.  I started freaking out at this point because we had planned exactly as much time as we needed to get me to KC.  I called the airlines asking what happens if I missed my flight.  They informed me that it would be minimum $175 to change my ticket.  We realize there is no way that I am getting there in time for my flight.  So we turn around and I start calling airlines to find out if anyone has a flight to the DC area before 9 am Tuesday morning (I needed to get to work).  I find out that the reason I70 is closed is because some INSANE Arkansas man decided it would be a fantastic idea to leave chemicals in a hotel room in Junction City, Kansas and call 911 to say that he left them there.  The highway was closed because they pulled him over on the interstate and brought in the FBI, robots, and the bomb squad to make sure he didn’t have anything hazardous in his truck.  IDIOT.
Anyway, we end up stopping at a McDonalds to try to figure out what to do.  Should I fly to KC from Salina?  Nope, I would still miss my flight.  Should I fly out of Wichita?  Well, there was a flight to DC, but it would take 12 hrs to get there.  Charlie calls his dad who is amazing at travel planning.  He looks up flights for me to fly into DC, which is funny because he was already in DC for a medical convention.  He finds me a flight out of Kansas City at 6 AM Tuesday morning to get me into Baltimore at 9:30 AM (NOT CHEAP).  So I stay at a hotel and fly out at 6 AM.
Chris, Charlie’s cousin, picks me up from the Baltimore airport and drives me directly to Rockville to work.  So I rolled into work wearing Capri sweats and a t shirt looking like hell.  I had not showered, hadn’t put in my contacts, or put on makeup.  I wanted to go to sleep, but went into work and stayed until 7:30 PM.
Overall, it was a fantastic trip with a very interesting ending….

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Holocaust Museum and work update

Since last time a I posted, I have been busy!  I had a couple friends come to visit so we hit up some of the historic things in DC.  My favorite thing we went to was the Holocaust Museum.  It is unbelievable.  The building has a dark, solemn feeling.  People do not speak loudly and everyone acted in a very respectful way.  We spent about 2 hours in there reading everything.  The room of shoes is what most people find the most moving.  There is a room that has piles of shoes that were taken from a concentration camp.  Before people were killed, they had to strip down and take everything off so the clothing and shoes could be reused.  It's a very disturbing room and it still has a funny smell to the room.  There is a train car from one of the trains that took people to the concentration camps in the museum.  The train car is very disturbing.  I stood in it and tried to picture what it was like to be cramped into a tiny car with very little air, no food, and people dying from the heat and exhaustion.  Towards the end of the museum there is a wall that has people who helped Jewish people hide and escape Nazis.  I respect those people so much to stand up for what is right even though they were often murdered for doing the right thing. I'm glad that I took time to go the museum, even though it was depressing to see what humans are capable of.

 So I am the data queen.  I copy and paste into excel like you wouldn't believe.  But, seriously.  Besides doing lots and lots of data analysis, I have been doing more tail snips and PCR (genotyping mice).  Next week I will be starting a new project with a post Doc to do my end of the summer poster on, "the Pharmacokinetics of novel drug AM____".  It's a drug that has potential to be used for PTSD.  I learned earlier this week how to do IV injections.  The problem with mice is that they do not have an arm I can just stick a needle in, you have to find a vein in their tail.  This is unbelievably hard!!!!!!  Every time I got the needle in the vein, the mouse would move and the needle would come out of the tail. I also learned how to do a gastric lavage.  So basically I still a like needle like thing down the mouse's throat into it's stomach so I can directly insert the drug into it's stomach to simulate oral ingestion of the drug.  This is SOOOOOO much easier than IV.  I'll be practicing IV lots today so I can get this down....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Reasons you know you are working in a lab...

1. you stop wearing makeup to work because you realize mice do not care what you look like
2. stop trying to make your hair look good-for the same reason listed above.
3. You've wondered why you can't drink distilled water in the lab - Isn't it clean?
4. You cannot function without your first cup of coffee in the morning
5. You speak to mice. ie: hey little fella, please don't move!
6. When you learn that company reps are coming to the building, you first find out if they have food, then the location
7. You constantly think your hands smell like mice... or smell from your gloves.
8. You find shooting the tips off your pipettes fairly amusing... they do go quite far.
9. You have used Kim Wipes as kleenex
10. You don't take a lunch.  Lunch occurs at your desk while you work on data.

These are just a few things I though of today while doing 9 hours of data work....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Monday, June 27th
My mom and sister, Alisha came to DC.  They got to my house as I was leaving for work.  Alisha had never been to DC and my mom hadn't been here since she was little.  The plan was that I would go to work and they would do all the tourist stuff during the day.  We ate so much food.  We ate at Floriana in Dupont.  If you are in DC and like Italian... eat there.  We had a Bruchetta appetizer followed by a Mussel/Lobster bisque and some sort of beef pasta stuff.  And a 1/2 liter of Sangria. I had never tried Mussels before, but since I am on a culinary voyage this summer, I tried them.  I like mussels!!! Who knew?!?

Later in the week we ate at Meskerem.  It is a Ethiopian restaurant that is well known in DC. The food is served family style and you eat with your hands by using a pancake like bread.  The first few things we ordered were pretty good.  The last thing... not so much.

To sum up the week, I worked all day.  Mom and Alisha walked all day.  Then we all ate and drank. lots.  It was very nice to see them! :)

*I'm skipping a few days here*

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Charlie flew to DC to see me! He got here in the morning so we walked around the National Mall at the Folk Festival.  We tried to go to the dress rehearsal for the concert that plays on the 4th at the mall.  We got in and sat down.  We watched some of the banjo-playin music... but it was unbelievably humid and hot that we left before any of the "stars" performed.  I think we lasted about 20 minutes.  After cooling down we went out to eat at a place called Neisha.  Neisha is a Thai food place that is not far from where I live.  I had the pineapple fried rice.  YUMMMMMM.  The rice had shrimp and chunks of pineapple and it was all placed in a hollowed out pineapple shell.

July 4th
Charlie and I went to his cousin's house for a BBQ.  His cousin's girlfriend had flown in from Hong Kong and is an excellent cook.  She made SO much food.  It was awesome.  After hanging out all day we drove to Hain's Point to watch the fireworks.  Unfortunately the fireworks had moved from previous years so our view was obstructed by trees.  It was still a good fourth because I got to spend time with Charlie :)
**yes I know I write about food a lot, but I'm good at eating :).  Plus the rest of my day is usually almost the same everyday.**

I have quite the list of things I need to do at work.  Unfortunately most of those things require PCR tubes (a type of tube) and we are out.  So today I spent all day working on data analysis for one of the post Docs.  I was sectioning some brains for the same post doc, but I broke the tray the brain goes on and had to make another.  OOPS!  So tomorrow I'll be sectioning two brains, doing data analysis, hopefully "digesting" more tails to run PCR, and snipping some mice tails to do more genotyping.    I need to put in some extra hours tomorrow and Thursday because I have friends coming on Thursday evening and I really want to go on a Capital Tour with them on Friday.  Which would require me to leave work early.  Sooo, I need to do work tomorrow!!!  I'm going to try to go in early and stay late if necessary. 


Once again, I am behind on my blogging.... ((I typed this on my iPad, so sorry if the formatting is odd.))

Friday, June 24th, 2011
I left work early so i could catch the eastern bus from Chinatown to NYC. I met Shruti
and we began our very long bus trip to the city. The trip was supposed to take 4
hours... so naturally it took 6.5 hours. On the trip I had to use the bathroom and I would
pee my pants, so I gave in and used the bus bathroom. EW. There was no light in the
bathroom, the toilet paper was in a puddle on the floor, and there was some graffiti on
the wall. When i went to flush the toilet, the window of the bathroom like few open!!! I
honestly thought the window was falling off the bus! There is a possibiilty that the car
next to us got a free show. I walked out of the bathroom laughing so hard- partially
because i had a heart attack when the window opened.

When we finally got off the bus at Penn station, my phone was about ready to turn off
(as always), so Shruti and I walked into Starbucks to charge it for a couple minutes.
We parted ways and she went to her cousins. I began walking north. It was so nice
out that I walked for a little bit before looking for a cab. When i started looking for a
cab, i couldn't get one!!! After a few more blocks I finally got a cab and made it to my
cousin Tim's street. He came downstairs to meet me with his daughter, Lulu. It was
good to see him, I'm pretty sure the last time I saw him, was 5+ years ago! One of his
comments was that I was tall.... Haha.

We took the elevator up to the 7th floor to his place. It is AMAZING. I am so used to
seeing 20-somethng's apartments that i was shocked to see how big and nice it was. I
guess I expected it to be a lot smaller since it is in the city. The decorations were super
cute too thanks to his wife, Bernie. Unfortunately Bernie was out of town on business
so I didn't get to see her. When I got to Tim's we ordered takeout and relaxed in the
living room. Lulu watched a cartoon and I caught up on my emails and read the news.
Lulu was nice and let me sleep me sleep in her room.

SATURDAY, June 25th

I woke up at 9 am, which is early for a Saturday! After I showered, Tim, Lulu, and I went
to a cute little diner for breakfast. After eating, we walked to central park. I bought two
photos that i thought were really cool. I saw the famous boat house which was neat to
see. We made a stop in the Central Park zoo for Lulu. It was awesome! We saw seals,
penguins, a polar bear, and other random animals.
Lulu and I in Central Park

Lulu and I in the Central Park Zoo

After the zoo we started walking toward Rockafeller Center. Once there we bought tickets to go to the top floor called, "Top of the Rock.". It is 67 floors up so it gave us a fantastic view of the city.
After taking in the sites, we returned to ground level and we walked to Times Square. I
don't see what the big deal about Times Square is. I thought it was kind of gaudy!

At this point we walked to the Wintergarden which is near Ground Zero. The Winter
Garden has a large glass roof and Tim told me that when the first tower collapsed on 9/
11, all the glass was blown out. I looked out at Ground Zero from there and you could
not tell that it wS were the Twin Towers were, I guess i expected to see statue or
memorial or something. There is a new building being built. When the building is done,
it will be the tallest building in the US. From there we took the subway down to Chinatown. It was my first NYC subway experience! I expected it to be way dirtier. It
was strange how so many lines are connected once underground. Also, their subway
not so underground like DC's is, there was only a couple sets of stairs unlike DC which
has huge escalators for the metro. We walked around in Chinatown, then walked
through Little Italy. In Little Italy I bought a canolli which was yummy! At this point, it
was around 4 pm.  We went back to the apartment because we were all tired.

At 11 PM I met up with a group of people from Drake that are in NYC (living there for the summer or have a job).  We went to the Hudson Terrace Lounge and were on the rooftop.

Drake Girls!

I met up with a couple of people that I had met in DC that also happened to be in NYC.  We were in Chelsea.  After only a couple hours I had to run back to Penn Station to catch my bus back to DC.  When getting on my bus, I had to walk over the subway grate thing... and naturally had a Marilyn Monroe moment.  The bus driver seemed to enjoy the free show.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Marines, Falafel, drag queens, and dance clubs

Friday night I went to the Marines Evening Parade in the Eastern Market area with my friend, Shruti and some of her other friends.  In order to go to this you must be a member of congress or work on the Hill (term used for people who work at the capital).  One of Shruti's friends worked at the capital so he got a bunch of tickets for us to go.  It is basically a presentation of the Marine Band and drill team (or whatever you call people who spin guns).  It was cool to see...  but I wish they did more of the gun spinning and a little less music playing.
Marine.  I would rotate this, but I can't figure out how!


More Marines
After watching the "parade," Shruti and I rode the metro to Adam's Morgan.  This part of town is rowdy!  It's like Court Ave on steroids (Des Moines reference).  After the bar, we went to a place to have a falafel. I had never had one, but EVERYONE kept telling me that I needed to try one.  It was surprisingly good!  Here is a little definition (thanks Wikipedia): ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and/or fava beans. Falafel is usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as lafa. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces.
As strange as that sounds, it was yummy!  After eating my first falafel, I went to catch a cab.  At this point I discovered that cabs in DC do not accept credit cards.  This presented a problem because it was 4 am (bars close at 3 am) and the metro stops running at 3 am.  Luckily, one of the guys in my group lent me $20 so I could catch a cab home instead of walk 45 min or more back to my house.

I woke up around 11 am and my housemate and I decided to go to a pool.  First we both needed food, so we went to an Indian restuarant called, "Masala Art."   This was my first time eating Indian food!  It was good!!!! I ordered the Tandoori Chicken and it was the perfect amount of spicy.  After eating we went back to the house to wait for his friend to call him so we could go over there.  I went back to sleep.  I am very good at napping.  Not even napping... going into hibernation.  So, I skipped the pool and slept all day (oops!). 
Later in the day I went to Columbia Heights to meet up with friends.  It was a friend-of-a-friend's birthday, so they ordered bottle service at a club.  A rather large group of us went.  I had a blast!

Morning was not pleasant.  I got home around 4 am from going out and woke up at 9 am.  I had told some other people that I would go to brunch at Perry's in Adam's Morgan.  The place is very popular because on Sunday mornings they have Drag Brunch.  Yup, drag brunch.  So it is a buffet of food and after everyone has settled in, drag queens give a performance.  I was with a group of girls so it was a blast!  The drag queens were mostly lip syncing to music and dancing around.  A couple of them used the microphone and told jokes and made fun of people.  They also tend to single out the straight men in the audience because they are usually the most uncomfortable in these situations.
Drag Queen #1

Drag queen #2

Under that drag queen you can see Kendra

This is what happens when straight men go to Drag Brunch!

After Drag Brunch I walked around Dupont for a while....
epic weekend.

Last week

Wow, I'm behind!

June 13-17th, 2011

Starting on Monday I was helping one of the post Docs do a fear experiment.  I placed the mice in a room with a white noise maker for an hour.  Then we injected them with a drug that hypothetically treats PTSD or a saline injection (done at certain time intervals so that two mice are used in the experiment at a time).  After another hour, the experiment begins!  The mice are placed in a small box.  For the first three minutes of the experiment, nothing happens.  Then a 30 second tone plays followed by a small foot shock.  The tone plays three times, and the mice are shocked three times.  A measure of fear is when the mouse "freezes."  So over the course of the experiment I mark down every 5 seconds if the mouse is "frozen."  It's a little mind numbing after a few mice... and we had 14!

Tuesday is when we do fear extinction.  For extinction, we use a different room (different odors and environment).  This one LASTS FOREVER.  I began around 8 am.. .took a break around 11 am.. then was done about 1:15 PM with all the mice.  In ten days from the first day (Monday) we do another experiment called "retrieval."

The rest of the week I was not very busy.  I did some work with data for a different Post Doc... Did another PCR for a post-bacc.  Otherwise, I didn't do too much else.  Slow week.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

DC epiphany

So this post is more about my thoughts rather than events. 

Until this summer, I never did things that were out of ordinary.  I lived in Wisconsin, moved to Iowa for college, and then worked in Iowa.  Now, I'm living in a city that I came to not knowing more than a handful of people.  It was strange to move here and not have my social network.  I have had to make friends and  navigate my way around this new city.  The part of town  I am living in is called Tenleytown.  Basically my exposure of DC was mostly seeing men wearing plaid shorts, khaki shorts, or pastel colored shorts (knees showing) paired with a polo (often in a bright color).  Lets just say, I have felt out of place in this part of town.

On Tuesday evening I met up with a friend (one I met at a party I went to with Jinae, my sister's college roommate) on U Street.  Being on U street made me feel like I finally found my part of town.  It is diverse, hip, and urban feeling (no one wearing pastel polos).  It is were the famed Ben's Chili Bowl is.  After walking around a little bit on the street, she showed me Malcolm X park. WOW, the park is amazing.  It is so beautiful.  From there, I began walking to the Woodly Park metro station.  For once, it was a cool evening with low humidity.  When I reached Woodly Park, I decided to keep walking.  Connecticut Ave is wonderful.  I jumped on the metro at Cleavland Park since my phone was dying.  This was the first time since I have been in DC that I felt like this city is a place I could potentially return to.

Malcolm X Park

View from Connecticut Ave

Another view while walking on Connecticut

June 10-12

Jazz in the Garden with new DC friends! (from left to right,Isaac, Gaelle, me, Shruti, and Sanjay)
The weekend started off on Friday, June 10th after work.  There is a fantastic event held in DC on Fridays called Jazz in the Garden.  There is a sculpture park near the federal triangle and on Fridays it is completely full with people eating, drinking, and socializing!  It is FANTASTIC.  After that we went to Nandos.  It is a peri peri restaurant (I don't really know what that means, but the food is South African).  It was GOOOOD.
Deanna Bogart, a performer at Jazz in the Garden

On Saturday my friend and I decided to go to the 3 story Forever 21 (yes mom, I may need to mail stuff home at the end of the summer, oops!). Afterwards we decided we needed to experience the DC gay pride parade.  It was definitely an experience! Lots of... lets just say it was an experience.  And, blue body paint is not a suitable substitute for covering the male bottom half.  People watching is an amazing thing to do at those things.

Sunday, June 12th
I wanted to do brunch but a lot of people were out of town.  So my housemate and I decided to go to 2 Amys which is a Sicilian pizza place.  It was good, but I don't know what all the hype was about. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Busy week!!!!

This week I have been getting assigned various things to do.  So this week has been very busy:

1. I have been doing PCRs.  Basically we cut off the tips of some mice's tails to help determine their genotypes so basically genetic makeup.  It takes a couple days to do this.  I don't mind doing this but it takes a lot of focus to make sure I don't mix up anything because there can be many samples. 

2. Experiments: I'm helping out with the PTSD project by helping with a few experiments.  We inject the mice with a drug and an hour later we run the experiment.  For the experiment the mice are placed in a little cage.  After time a tone is played.  The next time the tone is played the mouse gets a little shock.  Over time the mouse will stop moving, or "freeze" which shows that it is scared.  The freezing will eventually occur to just the tone.  This is a Pavlovian type experiment.  I'm learning how to "score" the freezing this week because next week I will be running 16 mice by myself through this experiment. 

3. Data: One of the experiments had electrodes on a mouse's head so whenever neurons fired at various points, data was collected.  I have been helping the Post Doc rearrange the data. So basically I do a lot of stuff in excel.  I copy and paste between 3 different documents to get the end result.  I believe I finished the last data project for a while.

Tomorrow I will be doing Day 2 of the experiment that was started today.  After that I will be doing another PCR followed by sectioning brains (slicing brains). 


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another lost adventure

Friday, June 3rd
After work one of my housemmates and I jumped on the metro and went to Truckeroo. Truckeroo is a fantastic event held once a month in dc that brings a bunch of the food trucks to one area. I ate at the famed Lobster Truck. For $15 i got a lobster sandwich... After waiting about 30 minutes in Iine. It was soooo good!!! Worth it! After getting my lobster roll, I met up with a few other friends that had gotten a table. After sitting there'd for a while we rode the metro to Georgetown so one of the girls could change.

We went to Dupont because it was within walking distance and right off the red line ( the line I use to get to my house).

Saturday morning I woke up a little late, but went to work out first. A friend from grade school was having a BBQ in Alexandria, VA so I began on my adventure. First got on the red line and rode to Chinatown. Once there i was supposed to get on the yellow line... But I accidentally got on the green. After going one stop I realized I was going the wrong way. The weekend metro wait times suck. The trip was supposed to take me an hour... so naturally it took me 2 hours.

Once I got off the metro I realized the bus number I wrote down was not right. I had NO idea what bus to take. Since I have learned my lesson to not talk to strangers, it was convenient that a police officer walked past (they don't count as strangers). I asked him if he could help me because I did not know what bus to take. He then said,"you will have to get in the back.". At first i was really confused, then I realized he was going to drive me in a cop car! So after about a ten minute drive, I showed up to my friend BBQ.... in a cop car.

In the morning Charlie's aunt picked me up and we drove to Virginia to go to church. I am lutheran but we went to a Baptist church. I was my first time going to a Baptist church. It was very different because the order of things are different and the music is different (not in a bad way). I liked the music, especially when two sisters got up and did a duet. They were amazing! I think I prefer Lutheran because it is what I'm used to so it's easy for me to follow what is happening which allows me to get the most out of my experience. I will probably go again this summer.

After the service we went to a country club with the church for brunch. The meal was so good; roasted chicken, green beans, Mac and cheese.... Yummmmmm!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lab update- desk work and perfusions

5/31/11- 6/3/11

So I have been procrastinating and not posting.  For a lot of the week I helped one of the post-docs (a person in the lab who has received a doctorate degree and works in a lab for a short amount of time before moving onto something like teaching at a university).  Most the work for him was "desk work" which means that I sat on my computer on excell for a very long time!  I had three documents open, one with the data, one with the equations, and the final document to copy and past things into.  There is a TON of data.  Basically electrodes were placed into the mices' brains and fear experiments were conducted.  I'm going to get fairly scientific here: the electrodes measured the action potentials before and after certain events.  Specifically during fear initiation, fear extinction, and I think fear reversal (I can explain this to anyone if  you actually want to know).  Graphs are being made from all this data and hopefully everything works!

Later in the week I had to help with perfusions.  We call this "sacrificing" the mice.  I won't get too graphic, but it was definitely kind of sad.  I injected mice with ketamine (helps prevent pain and basically knocks the mouse out).  I then handed the mouse to someone else who then perfused the mouse (if you really want details, google it).  So that was definitely an experience, not necessary a pleasant one. 

Tomorrow and the rest of the week I am supposed to be doing some sectioning of brains.  Sectioning means that I take a device called a vibratome and slice the brains into thin slices so we can stain it and put them on a slide.  We are then able to use a microscope to look for differences between the control animals and the ones who received different treatment.  It sounds gross, but sectioning is not bad at all!  I did it some last summer and it's not bad as long as you don't think about it too much.  The slices sort of look like snot (haha- seriously).  So I would MUCH rather section brains than sacrifice.  But, you can't really have one without the other! This week I think I am helping with some sacrificing again, but it will be done in a different way than previously explains (I will once again spare you all the details).

SIDE NOTE: All sacrificing is done in a humane way to minimize any pain or discomfort so please don't go PETA on me.  Plus without research on animals there would not be nearly as advances in science!

Hope I didn't gross any of you out with this (sorry family!).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A weekend summary

Saturday, May 28th
  When I get bored, I have a horrible habit of shopping.  After working out I decided to go to Target... then Marshalls.  I took the metro because I have not figured out the bus system.  So it took me about 25 minutes to get to Target when driving only takes about 7 minutes.  OOPS.  After buying myself a pretty dress I headed back to the house.  I met up with the Drake Alumni I met the previous week to go to a concert.  We went to see Jason Trawick Group (don't worry, I had never heard of him before either) at the 9:30 Club. We accidentally arrived WAY early to the concert, so we left and went to a bar called "American Ice Co."  In the Midwest we drink light beer, in DC everyone drinks regular, expensive beer.  So if I come back to Iowa 10 pounds heavier, I blame beer.  Anyway, we made our way back to the concert.  It was an alternative/soft rock like show and then they brought out a local rapper and began playing rock/hip hop fusion music.  The fusion was AMAZING!!!  After the concert around 1 AMish, I was tired so I went home.

Sunday, May 29th
   I had planned on going to church, but I woke up too late.  So after working out and hanging out in my house for a little bit, I met up with a couple new friends to see the movie, Bridesmaids.  It was SOOOO CUTE and funny!  After the movie I went with one of the girls to Trader Joes (grocery store) to buy a few things for a BBQ.  We then walked from GEORGETOWN to ADAMS MORGAN.  So 45 minutes later (covered in sweat) we arrived in Adams Morgan to my former coworker's place.  We grilled some yummy burgers and he had a little get together.  It was fun!  I also met another girl from Wisconsin.  I keep getting told that there are many Wisconsin people living in DC, I haven't seen it yet!

Monday, May 30th
  I met up with a couple girls and we went to the pool in Bethesda.  It is ALWAYS so hot here.  We would go in the water, then get out, then back in once we were hot again.  So during one of the time that we were in the pool, the pool staff began yelling at everyone to get out of the water... a kid had vomited in the water. cool. So they had to close the pool (naturally)... we left.  We ate at Taylors, which is a sandwich place Bethesda that has everything named after Philly stuff (I ate the Rittenhouse).  My sandwich had chicken and pesto which was good.  I ordered that because I am fairly naive when it comes to many types of food... and well that was the only item that I actually knew what all the ingredients were (I'm trying!).
  Later I spent the rest of the evening watching TV and relaxing, which was pretty nice.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Thursday, May 26, 2011
It was just a regular day at work.  I started the day off taking the mice out of the alcohol chambers as I have done all week.  For some reason there was a shortage of tasks for me, which was a bummer.  I would rather be super busy doing things and learning (yup, I'm a nerd) because that is why I'm on the east coast! 
It was the last day for one of my coworkers, so I went to happy hour with him at Front Page.  It is a restaurant that has free pork or chicken tacos and two dollar Coronas for happy hour on Thursdays (that is a STEAL in DC).  Plus the tacos were really good!  So I met another researcher in my building that also does research on alcohol, but she approaches it from a different direction than the lab I work in does.  I met a bunch of really awesome people!  One of my housemates met up with me at the bar and we all moved to a different bar called Sign of the Whale.  I loved this place!  It has such a dive bar feel, it was fantastic.  It sort of reminded me of Peggys (Drake neighborhood bar)... only triple the size and equally as packed.

Friday, May 27th, 2011
As soon as I got to work I was busy.  I had to take the mice out of the alcohol chambers as usual.  Then I had to help a coworker inject mice with pentobarbital or ethanol.  We were doing the same experiment I talked about early this week called "loss of righting."  We were timing how long it took to get a mouse "messed up" enough to roll on their backs.  Once on their backs we timed how long it took for them to roll back over (>40 min).  As I was trying to get a good hold of a mouse the DAMN thing BIT ME!!!!!! Do not be fooled, little mice still have very, very sharp teeth!  He latched onto my knuckle for the longest 15 seconds of my life!  Needless to say, I was not pleased.  My sorrow of sticking a tiny needle into such a tiny creature was quickly gone and I felt zero remorse injecting that mouse!  Especially because his bite probably hurt me more than the needle hurt him!!!!!  After I was done helping inject the mice, I had to go cut feed for mice on a restricted diet.  By the time I was done feeding the mice, it was noon. 
Once back in the lab, another coworker asked me to help cover slip slides (the little pieces of glass you put on a microscope to zoom in on something, we have to cover it to protect the specimen from air).  Once we were done with that it was time for our weekly lab meeting.  After the lab meeting there wasn't much that I did.
  Currently it is 4:55 PM and I am about to go drop $90 on a gym membership for a month.  In order to get my money worth, I will be there A LOT.  Time to get my fitness on.
  Later, weather permitting, I am meeting up with a researcher in my building and her friends that I met yesterday to go see Jazz in the Park... *wish for no rain*

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Networking and hypothermic mice

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
  Busy day!  When I first got to the lab at 9 am, I helped take the mice out of the alcohol vapor chambers.  Once I was done with that I had to start cutting feed for mice that were on restricted diets.   Mice are put on restricted diets when they will be doing tasks that are motivated by food.  For example we have touch screens where there are two images.  If the mouse touches one of the images, food is released.  Nothing happens if the mouse touches the "wrong" image.  Basically we do a lot with learning and memory.
  After that I helped with "loss of righting."  Mice hate to be on their backs, so they will roll over as soon as possible.  When "drunk" or on pentobarbital they loose the ability to roll back over.  I guess the lab has already done the loss of righting with ethanol, but we were using pentobarital to prove something (I think it was that the drug we mixed in with the ethanol to slow the metabolism wasn't affecting the "righting" ability of the mice).  So I injected mice with pentobarbital and waited for the drug to take effect so I could roll mice on their backs.  Basically you grab the tail and roll them over.  It took about 45 minutes for all of them to be back upright. 
  Then I did the alcohol chambers again.  So injected mice with either ethanol or saline and placed them in the "air chambers" or "ethanol chambers" accordingly.
  When I got home from the lab I decided to check out a gym nearby my house.  When I got to the building I realized it was not marked where the entrance was for the gym.  Being from the midwest, I find asking strangers questions socially acceptable... and I found out why it is not in big cities.  Soooo, I was confused.  I asked a guy in the parking lot that was wearing dress pants and a button up shirt if he knew where the entrance was to the gym... our conversation went like this:
Me: "Hi, do you know where the entrance to the gym is?"
Guy: "ohhhh yeahhhh I know where the entrance is"
Me: "uhhh, can you tell me where?"
Guy: *staring at me*
Me: *nervous laugh*
Guy: *starts walking* "ooooo-eeee baby you look so good I just want to hit on you NOW!"
Me: *awkwardly walking, hoping to just get inside the building*
Guy: "I'm being a bad boy!  I will be around here later, you should come find me"
Me: "ughhhh, thanks for showing me the entrance" *RUNS INSDIE*

Once inside, I have to take an elevator up to the gym.  It is CRAZY nice.  The staff starts talking to me.  I mention the creepy guy in the parking lot to them.  Anyway, I get my workout on which was awesome.  So it's $90 a MONTH to work out there.  I paid $125 to workout for the ENTIRE summer in Janesville, WI like 3 years ago.  When I was done working out, I ask the staff if there is any other exit that I could take to avoid the guy.  There wasn't so one of the guys walked me outside and decided to talk to the guy.  I basically ran away because I was embarrassed.  But, the next day he left me a voicemail telling me how the conversation went down.  When he approached the guy he asked him if he had talked to me before and the guy denied.  The staff member then said that what he said to me was inappropriate and that if he sees anyone that looks like me or anyone with brown hair, NOT to talk to them... or even look at them!  Moral of the story: I may be paying $90 a month to workout because the gym is awesome and the staff has my back (haha). 

After work I met up with a Drake Pharmacy Alumna that I was connected with by emailing the dean of students for pharmacy school (I don't like mentioning names because I didn't ask her if I could blog about it- Dr. Phillips, she knows you!).  She picked me up and we went to Matchbox for dinner.  We went at 5:30 PM which in DC is the early bird/elderly time to eat.  So we got two small pizzas: chicken with pesto, and a cheese one with sun dried tomatoes.  The chicken with pesto was TO DIE FOR!  While waiting for our food I asked her questions about herself and the jobs she has held.  She told me how most of her jobs she got through connections with the Iowa Pharmacists' Association.  She had worked for APhA, some random pharmacies, is doing MTM stuff, and is now teaching some classes at a university.  I had a BLAST talking with her.  I am actually meeting up with her on Saturday night at the 930 Club to go to a little concert thing!  I'm really glad I was able to connect with her because not only is she fun but she also has had different experiences with pharmacy than just a traditional retail.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
I got to the lab and began to help take the mice out of the alcohol chambers.  When I was taking one of my mice out, I noticed it wasn't moving very much.  When mice hunch their backs and don't move, it is a sign of stress or sickness.  My coworker, also had a mouse that was doing the same.  This is very unusual to have two mice that potentially were affected by the injections.  Especially since I injected one and he had injected the other.  Also, mine had gotten saline and his had gotten ethanol.  We took the mice into the animal storage area so the veterinarian could look at them (YUP, we have vets for the mice).  They were diagnosed as being hypothermic (which alcohol does lower your body temperature) and having ataxia (basically like I was saying how their movements were abnormal).  When this happens the mice cages are placed on heating pads and they are usually given extra calories to help them recover.
  I once again cut the mouse feed for the restricted diet mice then went back to the lab.  For some reason nobody really needed my help.  I kept asking other lab staff if anyone needed help with anything, or if I could do something.  So, I sat on my butt reading journal articles about behavior.  I just want to do things!!!!  I would have even been happy being assigned to count neurons (quite possibly one of the most boring things you can do in a lab.  You count the black dots on the screen = neurons). 

Later in the day I checked on the two sick mice.  My mouse was moving around and looked fantastic.  The other was looked better but not 100%.  I went and got the veterinarian so he could examine them and tell me if we could put them back in the alcohol chambers.  A big measure is to test the temperature... which is done rectally.  The mice were not pleased with this!  The mouse that was the sickest had a temperature earlier of 31 degrees Celsius.  When he took it again at 4:00 PM, it was up to 34.4 degrees Celsius.  A good temperature for mice is 36-37 degrees Celsius.  These mice are being used by a researcher who is out of town at a neuroscience thing, so I called her to make sure she wanted us to use both mice (I didn't want to mess up her experiment).  Since they were both looking alot better, she wanted them used because if they didn't go in, she would not be able to use the mouse anymore.  Before putting the sickest mouse in the chambers, we put a hand warmer (like the ones you use for hunting to stick in your gloves) in its cage to help keep it warm.

After work, I was picked up by the same Drake alumna that I met with yesterday to fill in on her softball team.  WOW, I have problems hitting a softpitch softball!  What happened!?!?! I used to be good.  After two strike outs, I finally hit the ball and got on base.  Then the next time I hit the ball it went directly to the pitcher.... I need practice.

Monday, May 23, 2011


The news tells me every day that it is going to rain.  So everyday I take my HUGE umbrella to work.  AND everyday... it doesn't rain when I have it.  Moral of the story is, I'm going to go buy a tiny umbrella to put in my purse, and only take my huge one if it is actually raining.
When I got to work I had a pleasant surprise... I'M ON THE PROTOCOL!  This means that I am FINALLY able to touch the mice.  Unfortunately not many people have asked me to do things yet.  One of my coworkers had me do a PCR with him just observing (which is basically "cloning" DNA).  It was nice to get to do something.  Later in the day I had to help with the alcohol chambers because two of the researchers flew to Colorado today for a Neuroscience convention.  So two of us got everything ready to put the mice in the alcohol chambers.  GUESS WHAT?!?!  I got to inject mice with alcohol (*Thanks Dr. Wrenn for showing me how to do intraperitoneal injections because I did some TODAY!).  So after giving the mice a little buzz, we put them in the chambers to inhale alcohol overnight.

Weekend Continued

Saturday, May 21st I met up with my sister Kayla and Jinae to explore DC by foot.  We met up at a metro stop and began the walking.  We first walked to the National Mall and then to the Smithsonian Museum of American History.  Of course our first stop was into the First Ladies exhibit.  There were many pretty... and many ugly dresses.  Next up was the Washington National Monument.  From there we walked to the World War II Memorial.  Kayla and I took a picture in front of Wisconsin!  My favorite stop was the Lincoln Memorial.  Following that, we walked to Georgetown to get food.  Next we walked around and took pictures in front of the White House.  For some reason I thought it would be bigger!  At this point, my legs were KILLING!  I road the metro back to Tenleytown to shower and change to meet up with Kayla and Jinae to go out.

Sunday, May 22nd
We woke and up and POWER walked to McDonalds because Jinae and I really really wanted McDonalds breakfast.  In Wisconsin breakfast stops at 10:30 AM, here it's 11 AM!  After that we all road the metro to the airport to rent a car.  Finding the car rental place was in similar fashion to me finding my way around the NIH... we made many wrong turns, asked multiple people for directions... THEN found it.  Kayla and Jinae were doing the Warrier Dash in Maryland so we had to drive there.  Basically the Warrier Dash is a 5K obstacle race (including jumping over fire and climbing through mud).  I took the pictures and did not run :).  Afterwards we drove back to DC, returned the car, cleaned up, and went to dinner around 9:30 PM (WAYYYYYYYY later that my normal 4:30-5 PM dinners in WI and IA).  After that I was soooo exhausted from walking sooooo much this weekend, I went home and went to bed.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


On Friday morning I had my medical evaluation on the main campus.  So I went to the main campus and there wasn't a shuttle there, so I started walking because I thought I knew where the clinical building was... NOPE.  So, once again, I got lost on the main campus.  Surprised?  After getting directions from someone I made it there and had my medical evaluation. Then I needed to stop by building 31 to get my smartpass to work (for the metro).  I got directions from the nurse.  After walking out of the building... I got lost again.  NIH 4, Caitlin 0.

I finally found building 31.  My smartpass works.  Then I walked back to the metro station and rode up to Rockville to work.  Nothing too eventful.  My coworkers are brilliant and when they talk about neuro stuff and behavior, I feel soooooo behind. 

After work I met up with some of my housemates and some of their friends at Madhatter in Dupont Circle area for happy hour.  It was reasonably priced.  Sam Wilder, a girl who went to Northside and maybe middle school with me met up with us at Madhatters.  After that we went to some pizza place (can't think of the name).  Then we hit up Dirty Martini.  It was a pretty classy place with really good martinis... until I saw my bill. $30 for 2 MARTINIS!?!??!?!?  SERIOUSLY.  So we left there and headed back to Madhatters to end the night. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Drunk mice and fighting cabbies

  Last night I ended up getting a ride all around DC picking up things for my bedroom and bathroom.  I hit up the target in Columbia heights... YOU HAVE TO PAY for parking!!!!!  AT TARGET!?!?  DC also has a new law that every plastic bag is 5 cents, so you bring your own bag.  I'm actually a fan of this because it encourages people to bring their own bags, saves the environment, and saves Target money.  After Target I was shown where the grocery store near my apartment.  After being stocked up on food, toilet paper, kleenex, hair product, conditioner, I was STARVING.  I ate at a place in Dupont Circle area called Bistro Bistro.  YUM!  They have fantastic dinner rolls that they bring around and there is a pesto and a tomato/cucumber/olive oil mix that was amazing.  I ordered egg plant parmesan and it was SOOOOOO good.  Afterwards, the serve brought out a desert for free.  I highly recommend this place is anyone is in DC!

I went to bed with occasional sirens because I am a block away from the fire station.  Living in the Drake neighborhood has made it weird NOT to hear a siren during any given night.  So thanks Drake 'hood for preparing me for DC!

This morning I woke up bright and early to get ready for work.  This time I actually had soap and shampoo, which was fantastic.  I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but my bathroom has astro turf/golfing green as the floor.  It is heinously ugly.  I placed a pretty white bathmat down to help cover some of it.  But, it seems that spiders enjoy the ugly green because I have killed two in the bathroom so far (hazard of living in a basement I guess).  After being ready, I began the few block journey to the metro.  I witnessed my first cab vs cab fight.  I don't know what happened, but one cabbie got out of his car and ran up to the cab in front of him and began to cuss him out.  It was INTENSE and involved many expletives.  Then I continued my way to the metro.

Getting to work was a piece of cake.  From the time I leave my house to the time I walk into the lab in Rockville, it takes me about 45 minutes (which in DC is not bad).  At work I am still trying to get all my training done so I can actually do stuff.  I am almost prepared to work with the mice, but I have to have one more orientation on Monday to do that.  So, I basically followed one of my coworkers around learning how to run the alcohol vapor chambers.  In layman's terms, I learned how to get mice drunk so we can replicate an alcoholic (binge and withdrawal).  It involved many steps and she had it all memorized, but I will definitely follow the protocol by reading it every time... step by step.

So now I am back at the house.  I met another roommate.  I'm pretty sure he at first thought I was someone breaking into the house.  Apparently he has not realized I have lived in the same house as him for the past 48 hours.  Which I'm going to take as a compliment that I am quiet!  Not sure if I'm doing anything eventful the rest of the day... if so, I'll post about it tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

1st day of "work"

Woke up this morning and realized I didn't have a bath mat, shampoo, body wash, hair product.  The worst aspect of this was the lack of hair product.  Crazy curly hair + DC humidity = AFRO.  I have never used so much hairspray in my life trying to make it look half way decent (I use mousse to make it look all pretty normally).  So I "showered" (the best I could do without shampoo OR soap) and realized I didn't have food at the house either.  I decided it was more important to get to Rockville on time than attempt to buy food in Tenleytown, so I headed to the metro wearing nice black pants, a dress shirt and kitten heels (which are itty bitty high heels for those unaware to women's footwear).

I make it to Rockville pretty uneventfully.  I get to the building and am directed downstairs to meet up with the person showing me around.  This is when the excessive walking began.  I was taken to the building next door for some paperwork.  She then informs me that I need to go to the Main Campus which is in Bethesda.  So I walk back next door because some other people were going to the main campus.  We then walk the 2 blocks to the metro.  Once at the NIH they just walk in because they have badges.  I, on the other hand, go through airport-like security.  The only I didn't have to do was take off my shoes.  Once through there, I begin walking.  I think I need to go to building 2... FAIL.  Nope.  So then I try walking around to find building 31 thinking that is where I need to go... FAIL. NOPE.  Then I find out I REALLY need to go to building 10.  I take a bus (YUP, the NIH is so big, they have buses  to take you places) to building 10.  I get my name badge FINALLY.  Which back to the beginning I mentioned that I was lacking hair product... this resulted in a frizzy looking photo.

After getting my badge, I needed to get my SmartCard for the metro.  Which I then realize is in building 31, the one I had JUST been in.  So I hop BACK on a bus and go to building 31.  I realized the people I asked for directions to building 10 from, where the people giving me my SmartCard.  After getting my metro card, I am distressed.  Honestly, I walked so far in those darn kitten heels.  I thought they would be comfortable. NOPE.

At this point I call the lab in Rockville and ask if I can go home to do the required online training at home instead of at the lab.  So I have finally gotten back to Tenleytown.  A little sweaty and with many blisters from my NIH Main Campus adventure.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011


OK. I made it.  My flight was delayed in the air for an extra hour so it took 3 hrs instead of 2.  I was a HOT MESS once at the airport.  Lugging two suitcases, a tote bag, and a bagpack in DC humidity made me sweat my ass off.  Alla, my fabulous new roommate met me at the airport to help me get all my stuff to Tenleytown. 

So I am currently sitting in my closet sized bedroom.  Funny how $650 a month gets you SO little in DC, but I would have a BALLER apartment in Des Moines for this much.  But, I have my own bedroom, my own bathroom, washer and dryer on site, multiple fridges, and a full sized bed.  So I will stop complaining now!

I have to unpack all my stuff, locate a iron, and figure out how to make my twin sized sheets fit onto the full sized bed (oops!).  I start my job TOMORROWWWWWW!!!


TODAY is THE day.  I went out last night in Whitewater with some friends as a Going Away/Alexa's Bday/Kelsey's Bday/Matt was home/Derrick was home party.  Pretty sure I went to bed at 3 AM, but I woke up at 6:30 AM this morning to drive home.  I literally woke up with my heart pounding (which I am going to assume is because I'm so excited!!!!). 

I have rearranged my carry-ons and added more to my suitcases about 800 times.  I have had to weigh the them after every item I put in since they are both at 48 lbs and 46 lbs...  so hopefully the airport's scale is about the same as mine!  The orange bag has only shoes in it.... oops!

My flight is at 2:30 PM from Milwaukee straight to DC.... EEEEEEK.

Monday, May 16, 2011


I LEAVE TOMORROW!!!!!  I am PUMPED.   I woke up at 6:30 am this morning because I couldn't sleep any longer.  Plus I need to finish unpacking my car from moving back from Iowa.  Packing my car sucked. Unpacking my car sucks.. but packing for DC is HORRIBLE! I packed, then unpacked... removed items.. repacked.  Now I think I'm changing from a small suitcase to a big one and just checking 2 suitcases.  I have big feet... Therefore, my shoes take up a lot of space! Walking around an airport and metro station will be interesting with two HUGE suitcases.....

:)  I'M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Monday, March 14th
I just finished my first visit to dc. It was nothing like I had imagined. Before going to dc, all i was told was that dc had a high crime rate and a whole lot of homeless people. Instead I found a beautiful city rich with history. I flew out of Chicago and met up with Charlie, who was kind enough to show me DC, in Cincinnati, and flew together into dc international. After a much needed nap at his grandma's house, we decided to catch a free show at the Kennedy Center. Assuming taking a cab would be faster, we started walking to look for one. After a few blocks, it was apparent that there were no cabs in the area. So then we thought that catching a bus may get us there. Then utilizing wonderful GPS technology, Charlie realized we were only a few blocks from the Colombia Heights metro. We headed to the metro, my first trip on the DC metro... And we got on the wrong train. We realized we were on the wrong train when we reached the first station, so we got off and waited to head the opposite direction. Lets just say, by the time we got to the Foggy Bottom area, there was NO way we were going to make any show. So we began walking around the area and headed to the Georgetown area. It was amazing. That area is unreal nice. Once we were in the Georgetown area, we did what any self respecting college student would do.... Stopped and got a beer. When I handed my ID to the bouncer, he stared at it for a very long time, then took it to the back to look at it more. That has NEVER happened to me. Trust me, my picture is not good and if it was fake, I would definitely have a better picture than that! After our beverages, it was getting late so Charlie an I begun to head back to the metro. Realizing how far we were, we grabbed a cab. In the metro I saw the most impressive flat top haircut ever. I'm talking about two inches from his forehead flattop. I wanted to take a picture but decided that could be a bad life decision. Overall my first day in DC was amazing.

Tuesday, March 15th
Day two in DC began around 8 am. Charlie decided to help me find my way to Rockville. Rockville is where I will be working over the summer doing research with the NIH. Charlie's grandma told us that taking a bus to Cleveland Park metro station then taking the red line to Rockville would be the best bet, so that's what we did. Once outside the Rockville station, i pulled out my directions and begun to read them, "at the Twinbook station.." which was not where we were. So back on the metro we went. OOPS!! That was my bad. Once the right station, we begun the hunt for the right building. Problem being that I did not write down the building address and apparently government buildings do not have big signs announcing what they are. So after going to a few wrong buildings (another reason why I am switching to a smart phone with email and GPS), I decided to call the lab. After going to yet ANOTHER wrong building, my lab contact came outside the building to meet me. It was a few minutes after 10 AM at this point. Once inside the building i was taken to the lab were I was introduced to the other lab staff. Everyone is so smart!!! I need to do some mad studying on enzymes and cellular level things to i feel up to speed once research starts in May. I spoke with many different people in the lab about all the different projects that everyone has. For the most part, everyone does different things, but helps each other. Plus the projects tend to overlap. One of the lab staff is a pharmacist from Turkey. I am excited to work with her because she used to teach some during her time in Turkey, so i feel i will be able to learn a lot from her. It appears that I will be helping out with putting mice in alcohol chambers (to simulate chronic alcohol abuse) and working on a novel drug for PTSD that has similar properties to the active ingredient in Marijuana, THC. I am very excited to begin in the lab, it seems like the experience will be very challenging and mind stimulating. So after 4 hours speaking to people and checking out the facilities, I finally left. My brain was legitimately exhausted. I called Charlie who is amazing and hung out in Rockville for 4 hours waiting for me. We met up and headed back to his grandma's.
I took a fabulous nap. After feeling refreshed, i checked my phone and and it was a little past 5:30 pm and I had a missed text from Jinae, my sister kayla's friend who has been helping me with DC stuff. Charlie dropped me off at the Cleveland Park metro and i rode up to Tinleytown to meet Jinae and some of her friends at Guapos for dinner. The escalator steps going out of the metro were broken. Meaning I walked up steps for about 100 meters. I was 100 VERY STEEP METERS!!!! I was slightly winded by the time I reached the top. Jinae and her friends were fantastic! I was shocked at how much more expensive the restaurants are than in Wisconsin or Des Moines! Our pitcher of margaritas was $30!!! Dinner was good, even though I had some sticker shock.
Some of girls that were at dinner live together in a house and there will be an opening in the summer. So after dinner, we walked a couple blocks to their place and I looked at the available bedroom. It is a small room in the basement and a bathroom just outside the bedroom. Normally i would not be a fan of living in a basement room, but I will not have much with me over the summer and the basement could be nice. Plus the rent is very reasonable. After dinner I rode the metro back to Cleveland Park and met up with Charlie and his wonderful grandma. Back at her house, we drank some wine and listened to stories she had to tell which was a nice ending to my final evening in DC.
This morning I packed up all my things, and was dropped off at the Colombia Heights metro. I took the yellow line to the airport. I am glad I took time to fly out to DC and see the town. Moving here without visiting would have been majorly stressful, and this helped relax me. I met some great people, found a place to live, and saw where I am going to work for the summer. It was worth the time and the money. I cannot wait to return in 2.5 months!!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Alright. So t minus 5 days i will be in DC to accept my Summer internship with the NIH. I have begun looking for somewhere to live over the summer. WOW rent is crazy expensive there!!! I contacted an ADPi alumna that lives in Foggy Bottom.... $1200 a MONTH IN RENT!!! How do college students afford that? So hopefully I can find something UNDER $700 a month that is not a completely horrible apt or in a bad area.

This brings me to my next point, public transportation. I am from a fairly small town in Wisconsin, I drove EVERWHERE growing up. Even being in DES Moines at Drake, I drive everywhere. When I get to DC on Monday I need to figure out the metro, because that is what I will be using all summer. So I decided to finally be a big girl and get a smart phone. Well, look into getting a smart phone. That way, when I get on the completely wrong train, I can use my handy GPS on my phone.

Wish me luck on my first public transportation adventure!