If you know me, you know that I love me some strong coffee, particularly Americanos. God, I love it. I want one right now…anyhow people (typically just my mom and Big Baby Bryan) always tell me that I drink too much coffee. ”That’s why you can’t sleep,” they say. Or “that’s why you’re buggin’ out.” And in reply I typically say something along the lines of “No, I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough!” or “I can stop anytime I want, I just don’t want to!” Well, this week was an opportune time to prove that I can, in fact, quit anytime I want. Although, if we’re being completely honest here, it was mostly a matter of luck. Uncle Brian hosted a killer party with Baby Ketten Karaoke last Saturday and we didn’t leave until 4am, so by the time I woke up on Sunday it was too late to drink coffee. Then Bossman Gowans, my primary enabler/pusher, was out of the office for most of the week so it was relatively easy to avoid temptation. So anyway, last week was an experiment to discover if I am even capable of fully functioning as a human without several Americanos a day.
The answer is “yeah, I guess…kind of” and I’ve made a few interesting observations along the way. The first is that most herbal teas taste like straight garbage (see sad face above. Photo credit: Elissa Brown). Second, I felt like I’m slept a loooot more. Bryan, who’s been off caffeine for months, commented that he was surprised that I wasn’t more fatigued, but that is easily explained by my going to bed at 9:30 and waking up at 7:30. Weirdly, my dreams were unusually vivid and memorable and I felt like I tossed and turned a lot more than I used to. Wednesday night, I swear I was having a dream in which I snapped my finger, dropped the mic and said “PEACE I’M OUT!” only to find that I had woken myself, hand still in air and actually did snap my finger and drop the mic!
I’ve been wearing this silly Jawbone UP band for months and can actually measure whether I slept more, slept better, and slept more better. It turns out that my during my hellish, caffeine free week I did appear to have a slightly higher proportion of deep sleep to total sleep, and deep sleep is good I guess. Jawbone also provides a measure of “sleep quality” that ranges from 0 to 100 and is based on…something. I also had higher average sleep quality while I was off caffeine. Even cooler, my typical number of nightly awakenings was higher while off caffeine, a result consistent with my feeling that my body was more restless during sleep.
So, with some preliminary data suggesting that perhaps being off the caffeine is better for my sleep and thus better for my health, am I going to keep it up? Uh, no. In fact the only thing keeping me going last week was the prospect that I could slam a bunch of Americanos on Monday (which I promptly did). For me, I love everything about drinking coffee—the flavor, the ritual, the Ladies of Ladro, but I do have a greater appreciation for the effects it has on my body and also of the value of personal data collection. If only Jawbone could measure my pure joy every morning when that sweet, sweet coffee hits my lips.
This week a ton of awesome things happened. First, my paper “Network motifs provide signatures that characterize metabolism” was officially accepted for publication! You can read it in the advanced section of the Molecular BioSystems online journal.
Second, I accepted a position at BigDoor, a Seattle-based tech start-up that gamifies websites to increase user engagement. I’m now a software engineer focusing on all things data. I’m puuuumped to get started and thrilled to reach the happy conclusion of my 6 month job search. Hopefully no future job search will be quite as grueling.
But enough about me! Big Baby Bryan accepted a postdoc at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He’ll be continuing his infectious disease modeling research, but now in the domain of reproductive health. Of course I’m welling up with pride at the thought of him contributing to vaginosis research. Lets put this pest to rest, am I right ladies?!
I’m done! I officially turned in my dissertation to Rackham today so I am officially official, scientifically speaking.
I thought I’d share with you an excerpt from page iii:
Thank you to the people, academic and otherwise, who made it possible for me to complete my PhD studies and research. Specifically, Conner Sandefur served as a mentor, therapist and friend throughout graduate school, and was constantly supportive during my career search. Likewise, many thanks to Ethan Obie Romero-Severson, Grant Meadors, Ian Spicknall, Meghan O’Grady Milbrath and Bryan Mayer (Collectively known as The Edit Club) for the Oxford commas, tense corrections, and many, many beers. I am also indebted to Tanya Salyers, Brian Beck, Dave Ziegler, and Chris Hesse for the career advice.
My research was made possible with the financial, academic and mentoring support I received from my two advisors Chuck Burant and Santiago Schnell. Thank you both for hanging in there through the ups and downs of my thesis projects. Yu Chen and Nina Lin provided 60 metabolic network reconstructions that were essential to my third chapter, and for that I am grateful. Thanks are also in order for those who contributed to the creation of this handy LATEX template. You guys saved me a lot of stress.
Above all, I absolutely could not have completed my PhD without the love and devotion of my partner, Bryan Mayer and my mother, Caryl Carver (Mamakita). Countless nights of debugging and trouble-shooting would have been insurmountable trials if not for Bryan’s patience. Likewise, my mother was always a source of emotional support and encouragement. Thank you all for your kindness and patience during my thesis work.