My goal is to alternate Tuesday posts between “content” (like I posted last week– sometimes longer, sometimes shorter) and “origins,” or the stories behind some of the things I write/post/etc. Since I don’t have much content posted yet, I thought a good place to start would be to give a little more background on myself and this site. So, in the spirit of starting that process, today, I’m breaking down the banner on the homepage!
Let’s start with the first fundamental question: Why “Abstract?”
To answer, I’ll refer you to the tagline, which provides two very different definitions for the word ‘abstract’ (there are, of course, a few more). It reads: /ˈabˌstrakt/ 1. (n.) a summary of the contents of a book, article, or formal speech. 2. (adj.) existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.
The first definition refers to my scientific side. In science, abstracts are concise summaries of research articles, posters, oral presentations, and sometimes grant proposals. They’re ridiculously important, because they’re the first thing a reader sees when viewing and judging your work– and first impressions, as in most things, can make or break you. Scientific abstracts often have a certain structured order about them, which is surprising considering the concept’s stark contrast to the second definition I have listed here, which rejects the very idea of structure.
“Creative” is one of the first adjectives consistently ascribed to my childhood self. As an only child, I made up a lot of my own entertainment. Board games were rarely of use to me unless I changed the game and made up a story with it. The neighbors I played with growing up were significantly younger, so I was usually the one setting the scene.
My mind, as I state in the header, operates consistently on both planes. When I take those “which side of your brain do you use more?” quizzes, I score smack in the middle. Thus, the banner shows my head (in emoji form) in the middle of my two complimentary passions.
The background of each side is writing, as that is not only the goal of this blog but ultimately of both passions as well. On the left, you’ll see the opening of an actual abstract I’ve submitted to conferences, introducing my thesis project on breast cancer. On the right, you’ll see a pivotal poem written by a character in that ongoing novel series I mentioned last week. It’s upside down and multi-colored because, y’know, it felt abstract.
Now for the actually fun part: the emojis I chose to feature in both sides.
On the science side:
- The microscope: This isn’t true of all scientists, but I do actually use a microscope on a near-daily basis. It’s how I look at my . . .
- Cells in a dish: The vast majority of my research thus far has been in cell systems. I may have no green thumb to speak of, but I can keep millions of cells alive, happy, and growing at all times!
- DNA: This is a nod to middle-school and high-school Calley who wanted to be a geneticist. While that’s not quite where I ended up, I still work with DNA a fair amount. Hopefully that makes my younger self happy enough.
- Pill: I do research on a drug commonly used to treat a certain subtype of breast cancer. My whole project is centered around figuring out how to make this drug work again when it stops working in some patients.
- Graph: But really, most of science is data analysis . . . and I make a lot of graphs that look like that.
- Test Tube: Honestly, this one is just for fun. I don’t use test tubes with bubbly green liquid in them. However, given that it’s a pretty universal symbol for science, it’s a good image for what my family thinks I do.
- Teacher: The last thing you should ask a fourth-year graduate student (in ANY field) is what they’re doing when they graduate. This is equally true of me. But the shreds of what I’m sure I want all lead back to educating, in some way. Granted, that doesn’t necessarily mean lecturing in front of a hall of glassy-eyed students, but perhaps in the form of a . . .
- Newspaper: Scientific communication, for example. That’s the ultimate goal. One common branch of scientific communication is science journalism, and that’s likely where I’ll start.
On the writing side:
- Pencil and Paper: Unlike the microscope, I don’t often write on pencil and paper. I did for part of Camp NaNo 2014, when my laptop was down for a week after I dragged it through a ferocious deluge to– wait for it– a writers group.
- Quill Pen: The wonderful people who make emojis, concerned with diversity as they are, added a couple of writing implements angled as though they were held with the left hand. Surprise! I’m a proud southpaw!
- Wizard: I had a borderline unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter for many years. I get bored in D&D if I’m not playing a magic user. Every video game I’ve ever played, if it has a mage option, I’m that one. Even the stories I write in other genres tend to have fantasy elements. The wizard emoji just felt like a kindred spirit.
- Turtle: Anyone who has known me for longer than 5 minutes can likely tell you that my favorite animal is unequivocally, vociferously, passionately the sea turtle. Turtle stuffed animals? I have boatloads. Turtle music box? Got it from a friend. Turtle artwork? All over my bathroom walls, matching my turtle soap dish holding decorative turtle-patterned soap. Want to make me happy? Show me a turtle, or . . .
- Paw Prints: OR A PUPPY. I am a loving dog mom of a four-year-old lab/border collie mix named Rosy. She’s beautiful and rambunctious and stubborn and hilarious and cuddly and vocal and mine.
- Skull: Fun fact: I moonlight as a horror writer on occasion. I discovered a strange penchant for it during a writing contest, and now sometimes I write stuff about voodoo dolls and magical fruit punch and people diving into other people’s minds.
- Rain Cloud: I love the rain. I grew up in a place without much. Now, I enjoy it every chance I get.
- Speech Bubble: If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a pretty verbose person in general . . .
- Books: While I’m not quite the bibliophile that I’d like to be, this stack of books in particular holds a special place in my heart because of the colors. Why? One day, I’ll explain that novel series of mine, and you’ll find out.
So, now you know more about the crazy inner-workings of my brain, and where all this came from! Thanks for reading!