Stuck in a Hurricane – Don’t Know When I’ll Be Back Again!

Hurricane Sandy will go down in history for what it did to New York and New Jersey. But it will also be a story I will tell my grandchildren.


It’s stressful enough to move out of an apartment.  You have to sell or give away all of your furniture. You have to throw out all the detritus of a private life that you would keep using if you were still there – but which everyone else already seems to possess and doesn’t want more of: stainless steel pots anyone?  You have to clean the apartment thoroughly if you expect any of your deposit back. And you have to pack your entire life into 2 check-in bags (I paid extra and brought 3), one computer bag, and one “personal item”.


It’s also stressful to finish your PhD experiments (see my previous post: “Experiments – Done!!”). To simply circle a date on a calendar and say, “I’m going to finish this day and what I’ve got is what I’ve got. It is, what it is, and I’m going to write up and be done.” Particularly stressful when it gets to 3 days before you leave and you’re starting an 18 hour experiment and still have immunohistochemistry to work out, and to make sure you have all your files off all the various computers in the department.


And then: Hurricane Sandy. Oh, how I love you Hurricane Sandy. I’ve seen stronger wind and rain growing up in Albuquerque; and yet, for some reason, Washington D.C. completely shut down. I had just gotten back from my birthday/going away party on Sunday night, when they announced that the metro was going to be shut all day Monday. I therefore had a choice: I could either be stuck in the apartment with no way to get into work, or I could be stuck at work, with no way to get back to my apartment.  The choice was simple, I had an experiment that had to run overnight Monday to Tuesday. Either that experiment was going to be in my thesis or it was not. Also, my immunohistochemistry wasn’t working yet. I had to go into lab. So, I grabbed a set of pajamas, and hoofed it into lab.


I spent two nights in the lab.

The experiments got done.

The files were obtained.

The immunohistochemistry finally worked.

I ate the cheese, salami, and cracker platter leftover from the Friday birthday party from the lab fridge. I ate leftover pie.

Did I mention I spent my birthday in the lab with a hurricane outside?


Then I went home.

I packed everything I could.

I threw out everything I couldn’t.

I scrubbed every appliance and floor in the apartment.

I slept one night on an air mattress (a step up from the chairs in the lab).

Then I went to the airport and flew to England.


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