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EL Pfister
An intellectual nomad.
Interests: running, weightlifting, taekwondo, snowshoeing, hiking, reading, biking, sewing, scrapbooking, science, gene therapy, drug development, fabric, american football, neuroscience, history of science
Recent Activity
From my spot on the couch I can just see a tiny bit of sky, just enough to see the color of the clouds. I'm tired, so tired. I was woken early again by the light in the bedroom and I crept down here so as not to wake the others. I close my eyes, but I wont sleep again and sleep doesn't seem to touch this tiredness. I don't dream. I watch the clock. It moves in fits and starts: 12:31AM... 2:48AM...3:02AM...4:12AM...4:26AM...4:38AM...4:48AM...5:02AM. I get up and go downstairs to lie on the couch. From my spot I can see... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
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In some way, I always wanted to be my father. Perhaps that is how I ended up in science, in the end. My father on a collecting trip sometime before I was born. My father when he was the beloved and quirky acting dean of Harvard College (it took me... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2017 at Mommy, Scientist
You would never know it from looking at me. You would never know it at all unless I told you, but my hair has a special meaning for me. Our relationship with our bodies is very personal. It makes sense. We walk around in them all day, every day. No one else has this intimate experience. We inhabit these bodies when they are sick, tired, excited, aching and able. We know them intimately and yet we find that sometimes there are still things to be discovered. Mine has seen me through all sorts of experiences, good and bad. Sometimes I... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
There is a weighing. A weight of challenges, emotional and physical, a weighing of the physical self. Will I measure up? I dive in again to the challenge, pushing further. I want to know where my limits lie. I want to fill my head with it all. I am empty. I am full up, until I am not. I want more. I crave the unknown darkness, inch closer to the fire. Have I ever truly been burned? Or is this searing memory only of a past life, before I knew fear or uncertainty. I was a child. They told me... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
Sometimes I consider letting things go, just to see if they are really there. Will they be there when I am gone? But then I hold on because I'm not really sure I want to know the answer. I may be as insignificant as it seems. What would I do if I did not do these things that I do every day? What new things would I find? Would I still see the sunrise? At sunrise, insignificance matters little. I hold on until things change and holding on is no longer necessary. I hold on until holding on is necessary... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
At 7:02 this morning, my son came down from his room. I was debating whether I should go run a sprint triathlon that started at 8. I had just decided that I would run my 8 miles instead, but somehow when he came down I became undecided again. I asked... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2017 at Mommy, Scientist
Occasionally, someone will ask me if I ever stayed home with my kids, or a stay at home mom will tell me how she wishes she had a career, but she really feels like she needs to be home for her kids now, or that they can't go out of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2017 at Mommy, Scientist
It's funny how hearing about other people's families makes you think about your own. Growing up, my relationship with my parents was difficult. I chafed under the weight of my mother's anxiety and my father's inevitable correctness. I wanted at the same time to be like my father, to be better than him and to be unlike him. He could be a safe zone. In most cases, you could count on the bubble of calm rationality, a safe harbour against my mother's emotionality. He could be cutting too. Quick witted dark humor was always a possibility and his opinions carried... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
A weird thing happens when someone says something and it surprises you, and pleases you, and makes you uncomfortable at the same time. This week someone referred to my ex as "abusive...emotionally abusive." I've thought this myself, at times, but I've never let myself think it for long. It is uncomfortable because I wonder, have I misled this person into thinking this? Perhaps this is the hard thing about emotional abuse. You are never really sure it happened. It would be easier if I were blameless. It would be easier if I had never yelled or thrown things or threatened... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
I was worried about what the disruption in my sleep schedule would do to me, but I thought I was ready for it. It's fine, I thought, one overnight in a van with a bunch of strangers. Maybe I'll get some rest, maybe I'll be tired, but it will be fine. And it was fine. That night was fine. I was great, actually. I was ready to take on anything. I was running fast and didn't need sleep. I was high on it even and got sharper as the night wore on. My second run was at 2:45 in the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
I've come to the conclusion that we all end up managing our parent's expectations in one way or another. This terrifies me. So, before we start, I thought I'd make a few things clear to my children. Dear Alden and Zoe, Here it is, my expectations: I expect you to be kind. I expect you to be brave, except when you are not. I expect you to make mistakes. I expect you to surprise me and to dissappoint me. I expect you to give up and to persevere. I expect you to fail. I expect you to be frustrated by... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
We are the stories we tell about ourselves, at least in our own minds. This is not my story to tell. Perhaps that is why I'm ashamed of keeping this. I've never figured out the story I should tell about it. He was not the first person I met at my first job out of college, but he was the first person to become my friend. In some ways, he was my first adult friend, the first person to treat me as and adult, although I really wasn't one. I've kept this picture all these years without really knowing what... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
Pain is constant, the price we pay for knowlege, incomplete, inaccurate and unreliable as it may be. This then is Eve's poisoned apple, the fruit which all those years ago my English teacher urged me to eat. I have not avoided it after all. The events which make us feel are unfathomable. No matter, the experiences shape us. We fall from grace. We fall from grace just like everyone else and return to it in our own time, only to fall again. We dream of escape only to learn that we are linked to our fellow prisoners. We are linked... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
I live in a 1730s farmhouse. The fireplace is non-functional because the windows of the house are original and some previous owner decided it was easier to install air conditioning than to figure out how to open the windows. We have spent the past two years with various windows missing as they all were slowly taken out and restored. I think they are finally all done. Now we need to replace parts of the roof, the porch, and various parts of the siding. The "barn" is also in need of repair. There is no way to keep the mice out... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
People have been telling me I'm naturally smart all my life (and sometime that I'm getting by on natural intellect) and I want to punch them. While it may be true that certain things are easy, for example, I have a natural ability to make connections, I have a crap memory for facts. I joke that I have use logic to arrive at the answers to questions that most people know by heart. Memory itself is so strange. If you tell me your favorite food (even in passing), I'll probably remember it a year from now. If you tell me... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
OK, I lied, the key to happiness is not actually found in a list of things that "they" know and "we" don't. There probably isn't even a key. It's all one big experiment and sometimes the only way, the best way out is through. Read it through: I DIDN’T make you know how glad I was To have you come and camp here on our land. I promised myself to get down some day And see the way you lived, but I don’t know! With a houseful of hungry men to feed I guess you’d find…. It seems to me... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
We accidentally left the windows open in the family room last night and now it is freezing. Usually this wouldn't be a problem, because I would be running now, but I also seem to have forgotten to bring warm clothes down for the morning and to be honest, I'd much rather lie on the couch and feel sorry for myself. I feeling particularly resentful towards coffee. It's like I need it, but I don't like it. Maybe it is just that we are incapable of making good coffee at home. I'd probably take it if Starbucks delivered. I have an... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
She learned very early to manage her sister's moods, to ride them, flow with them, give in to them, to tiptoe around and never offer an opinion. She learned to silently grip the seat when her sister drove too fast, to follow along with the avalanche of words, to pretend they could fly. She learned to act innocent and stupid, to keep everyone's secrets. When her parents sent her to search her sister's room for razor blades, she was innocent. When her sister showed up unexpectedly with fresh scars on her arms, she was stupid. She pretended not to notice.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
The pressure to be "strong" and independant is, well, it is something, isn't it? It makes us keep silent in person and hide behind the safety of a computer screen, it makes us shove our feelings deep down, where we think they can't hurt us. It makes us act as if we are, and maybe we are, numb to the world, just a little. But then when we find that strength is not going it alone, when something shoves us out of our comfortable denial, our avoidance, we find those feelings rushing back with such power and maybe we don't... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
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Full disclosure, I just flipped from depression to slightly manic. I suspect that my reluctance to properly deal with depression comes partly from the fact that I associate it with these high periods as well, although at times my thoughts can seem to go too fast. I asked my coach for a special birthday workout. In truth, I felt a little bit silly for asking. I also felt like I was asking to play and in doing so, I realized how important it is for me sometimes to let go of goals and progress and just do that. Play. In... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
I do not easily or lightly call someone "friend". In the early days of using Facebook (and even sometimes now), I found this to be problematic. I was accustomed to classifying people in other, less personal ways, "co-worker", "acquaintance", "teamate". This word, "friend" was imbued with extra meaning, a prickly, weedy, thorny thing about which I had to navigate. To call someone "friend", even in this limited and somewhat artificial context, required from me a level of emotional commitment beyond my comfort level, which would not necessarily be reciprocated. It could not be otherwise. I developed a new classification for... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
Depression is a funny thing. Mine waxes and wanes. I can be happy, I think. I think accomplishment makes me happy. Maybe I'm some sort of perfectionist adrenaline junkie, thriving on stress, craving the next hit. When it doesn't come I feel the crash. No matter. Maybe I always need to keep moving, keep active, avoiding the moments when I feel the vastness of the universe and my small size within it. Maybe I'm simply avoiding my own thoughts and fears. This right here today feels like meditation, feels like breathing, making space. Depression is a funny thing. I can... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
When I watch Alden out on the lacrosse field, he often looks completely lost. It's a new sport for him and I suppose this is understandable, but I notice it, because if it were me, that would crush me. I'd probably come home crying every single practice. He doesn't seem to care and I suppose in time, he won't be lost anymore. Maybe it is time for me to embrace being lost. That isn't what I set out to write. I set out to write about telephone poles and days, counting days. I set out to explore how counting the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
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The truth is, I don't know what the truth is. You grow accustomed to falling. You crave it. You grow fond of finding the spaces between. Fearless in those moments of trying to fly. You search for the moments when inspiration strikes and you are brilliant and alive. No one catches you when you fall. You live in the moments between, when you can't tell if you are falling or flying. You close your eyes and feel the wind in your hair and hope for a soft landing. Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
She carried them around in her head, images of everyone she'd ever met. They spoke to her. Sometimes, they were nice to her, offering helpful suggestions and hope. Then when they went silent, she wished they would speak again. They were there sometimes, even when she wanted to be alone, reminding her that she wasn't. Then she wanted them out of her head. It was monday morning. The dishes were washed and put away, lunch was made, and she had even made her bed. She twirled in front of the mirror, admiring again the movement of her skirt. She gave... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training