Sunday, March 29, 2009

“if you were stranded on an island…”

if somebody were to lock me up in a lowes home improvement warehouse with the novel “breakfast of champions” by kurt vonnegut, the film “indiana jones and the temple of doom”, the album “on letting go” by circa survive, and a limitless supply of arizona green tea bags and chinese food, i would be happy for the rest of my days.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

tattoos and social interaction 101

so you dont have any tattoos, and are in the general vicinity of somebody who does. perhaps youre being introduced, or perhaps youre both at a social gathering, and theyre simply standing near you. and the simple fact is this: youre not quite sure what to do. what should you do? what should you say? should you say anything?this example-based approach will teach you—who do not have any body modifications, or who got them to impress your friends—how to interact with other human beings who do have body modifications, and take quite a bit of pride in them, such that everybody may feel respected; such that everybody may have a grand old time; and such that you dont look like a total doucheass.

1. lets say, for example, a person who has some calligraphy tattooed onto them walks into a party, and their ink is clearly visible. should you:

a. not do anything.

b. stare at them.

c. demand of them, “whats that say?”

d. comment on their artwork, and then inquire as to what it says, and perhaps follow that up with, “what does that mean to you?”

e. none of the above.

if you selected choice “a”, thats a pretty good start. what the heck does it matter if somebody has got ink or not? if you selected choice “b”, that would make you pretty lame. if you selected choice “c”, then that would make you look like quite a doucheass. if you selected choice “e”, then perhaps you should take the introductory 100-level course. however, if you selected choice “d”, then you clearly understand that it takes quite a lot of thinking and commitment for somebody to get something tattooed onto them (that is to say, on them for forever), and you want to respect that person and be respectful of something so very permanent, like somebody’s own child, say.

2. lets say you know somebody who has got some tattoos, and youre introducing them to your friends from home. do you:

a. introduce your friend or acquaintance this way: “hello, id like you to meet my friend; hes got tattoos.”

b. introduce your friend or acquaintance this way: “hello, id like you to meet my friend.”

if you selected choice “a”, then, that would simply make you look like a fool to everybody around you, and as though that wasnt enough, that would make you look like a major doucheass to your friend or acquaintance. however, if you selected choice “b”, then you clearly understand that whether somebody has tattoos or not should not impact an introduction, nor should it necessarily be a topic of discussion. perhaps you understand that it is your friend or acquaintances choice as to whether or not to bring up their body modifications in conversation, and that something like that shouldnt necessarily be called out by you. for example, it could be said to be as inappropriate as saying, “hello, id like you to meet my friend; they have a feeding tube because they have acute digestive system failure and are pretty much near death.” its just not necessarily something your friend or acquaintance would like announced to planet earth, im sure.

that concludes todays lesson. hopefully you are now better-equipped to handle what seems to be such a difficult social situation for some people: interacting with those who have respectable body art.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

i dont ever want to forget again

so saturday night at a party, i sprained my ankle pretty bad. what can i say? i dont mess around. so my friends took care of me until my dear friend carrie and her roommate came and picked me up. shes an EMT. so they brought me to their house, she inspected my ankle, put some ice packs on it, and wrapped it up. the next morning, her parents arrived to visit and pick up her kitten. her mother iced my ankle, while carrie cooked me eggs and toast. she then took me to the ER where i got an aircast, crutches, and a prescription for vicodin. she took me back to her place to get some of those fancy ice packs, and then she took me to fill the prescription, which for some reason, she paid for.

later that night, my roommate andrew helped me with laundry. my dear friend shelly bought me dinner and snack foods. yesterday afternoon, the SCI1 secretary activated the SCI1 elevator for me; dr. vogler activated it again so i could go back up to the first floor after class. the PSCI secretary instructed me as to how to use the elevator in the PSCI building. the mills staff instructed me as to how to use the mills elevator; they also helped me carry my lunch to my table. last night, glenn bought me some more food, and he did this morning as well.

over the past three days, i have been helped by many people. i do not like asking for nor do i like accepting help from others. i am too proud of my independence. however, i cannot say by any means that i am not appreciative of the aforementioned help during this trying time. because i am. incredibly so.

however, i think that i got too used to this. not the treatment, or the help—per se—but the fact that people were around. i think being able to have people around to talk to and check in on me helps the depression that follows receiving a debilitating injury. it keeps your mind off of it.

and now, my friends are out partying it up all night long. but me? i am alone, stuck in bed with my leg propped up, coked up to the ears on narcotics. at first this depressed me further. part of me didnt want to be alone. i wanted my friends around. i wanted to be out enjoying my favorite ‘holiday’ of the year. and im not.

but, after giving this some thought, i reflected upon how i felt and realized the aforementioned—that some part of me simply wanted people around so i didnt have to be alone to have the time to think about being injured.

but fuck that. i know that i am truly happy when i am alone, when i am taking care of myself—no matter how difficult it may be. i know that were today any other day, id just as soon be alone working in my lab, or alone in my room reading, etc. or even if i were perfectly healthy today, i wouldnt care if i were out at bars drinking with everybody, or alone in my room drinking irish coffee, say—as long as i had to opportunity to ‘celebrate’ (sad, but true. dont judge me).

and when i keep that in mind, i realize that someday im going to break my face or something, or start puking my brains out with some stomach bug, and nobody is going to be around to buy me food or clean my dishes. and although it is wonderful to have such great friends offer to do that for me, it doesnt mean that i should want it, or be upset when that commodity is not there—because it is not always going to be.

over the past couple of days, i got so caught up in my misfortune that i forgot about what was truly important to me—my independence, my seclusion. and ive been doing a lot of complaining and bitching about how on this most glorious ‘holiday’, i am stuck in bed. but now that everybody is out for the evening—i have exactly what is truly important to me—once again. peace.



ps. a saint by the name of dr. allen anderson—my physics II lab instructor; a person i visit often when i am bored on campus and trying to kill time in between classes and experiments—has found his old cane that he used when he had a leg injury last year, and has stowed it in his car. tomorrow, carrie will retrieve it for me so i can get off of these damned crutches that have ravaged my underarms. hopefully, my ankle will have healed enough such that the cane is suitable for walking. at least then i could finally get around and carry my own meals. i cant wait.

Friday, March 6, 2009

march [on]

this time of year always seems to get me a little bit. and with good reason. the past has never given me much of a break when it comes to the snow melting. but despite whatever my stupid brain thinks, i refuse to let years past taint my enjoyment of the scent of melting snow and cigarettes. not worth it.

i am tired this afternoon.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

back the fuck up.

okay. lets get one thing straight. you dont know me. i dont care who the fuck you are. understand that.

second of all: dont tell me ive fucking changed. and dont you dare tell me ive changed for the worst. want to know what it is?: your perception of me has changed.

you claim that, ‘im not the ryan palumbo you knew.’ yeah. the ryan palumbo you knew was a weak dumbass who drank himself into the front seat of a car every night with the hopes of getting the drunken balls to ram it into a tree or telephone pole. what fun! the ryan palumbo you knew had no ambition in life. how impressive! he was restless and anxious and lived everyday in the hopes that the next one never came around. how exciting!

the ryan palumbo i damned well fucking know i am is someone who is not suicidal, thank you very much. and who is incredibly ambitious despite any hardships that come my way. and i shrug them off. they are nothing but hurdles no taller than a curb. i am strong. i am happy. i can hold my own.

protect the hive from enemies. be careful—love with caution. i would rather lonely along the way.

ring a bell?

i am also an adult. i am finishing up college. i am graduating. i am in the midst of transferring to a graduate school (hopefully; my confidence in that area has been reduced dramatically). i am in the lab every morning. i go to class. i am in the lab until late at night. i am close to contributing data to a new type of antimicrobial defense system against gram-negative bacteria called a bacteriostatic, which could significantly impact public health and the battle against the growing number of resistant ‘superbacteria’. what does that mean? it means that you might see my face on the cover of time magazine by june as the person who universally cured bacterial infections. wouldnt that be something?

and what else does that also mean? it means that i cant be slaving away on aim, or myspace, or facebook, or on the phone talking to every human being i know telling them all about my life like i could when i was a bored kid in high school with nothing to do but masturbate and sit around with my thumb up my ass. so, dont accuse me of being a bad friend or wanting to lose all of my friends or of not caring about my friends. my true friends understand that i am busy doing what it is that i do. and most of my friends are just as busy as i am doing what they do. and id like to say that most of my friends understand that you dont need to be in constant contact to be best friends. being best friends means you can go years without talking, and pick up right where you left off like you had been separated for mere minutes. a person of utmost importance taught me that long ago. that belief is religious to me now.

best friends are people that you have for forever. they are relationships that need no cultivating, because they exist ambiently. yes i made that word up. but it fits. best friends are just there. floating around. they will float into your life. they will float out. and so will you. but the beautiful thing is this—while the two come together, it will be magical while it lasts. that doesnt happen to fair-weather friends. you have them for a while. and then they disappear. never to be found again. best friend will always meet up again, somehow. because thats just how it works.

and if you think im a fair-weather friend, then it was nice knowing you. and im sorry you that dont believe what i believe. and im sorry you wont be floating my way someday. and im sorry that you wont let me float back yours.

and if you think im a best friend of yours, then theres a good chance that i feel that youre a best friend of mine.

and we’ll be back together sooner than you know. and it will be magical.

Monday, March 2, 2009


if there is one thing that i have learned, it is that its no use thinking about or pondering ways to change the unfortunate circumstances that i sometimes fall into. and so today, when i received my official rejection letter from the university of california irvine’s molecular biology, genetics, and biochemistry department—aside from starting to panic—i decided that i will put the letter into an 8x11 frame, and hang it on the small wall perpendicular to my bench in my laboratory. and i will do the same with the rejection letters i am most certain to get from the university of pennsylvania and the tufts university sackler school of biomedical graduate studies (if i dont make it into a state school, how the fuck could i think id make it into private schools?). and they will serve to remind me over the next 2 and a half months that despite any optimism i have about my ability to think, question, and conduct research, that i must surely know nothing about the aforementioned (the uci mgbg departments words: the committee attempts to determine the likelihood each applicant has of becoming an independent scientist. if they—the learned doctors—dont think i can, how can i?). and those letters and those words will also serve to motivate me to continue to try to expand the skills required to do what i love to do, in the hopes that i may someday become what it is that i want to become.

i have an interview and tour at the state university of new york at albany next tuesday. i have about as much confidence for that as a piece of shit in a suit would—which is exactly what i feel like right now. except that i am far less dressed up. and when i bomb that and get that glorious piece of paper telling me to take a hike, theres only one other question left for this so-called ‘scientist’ to ask:

now what?