In which Sci gets Inked

May 03 2010 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

We all have different ways of celebrating big milestones, like getting a PhD. Some people pop open the champagne. Some people (the really, really LUCKY people) get to take a few weeks off and recover. But for those of us who can do neither, well...Sci got a tattoo!
And you all want to know what it was, don't you? Of course you do. Pics below the fold!

sci tat 2.jpg
You like? Sci thinks it's really really awesome.
Let's get a closer look:
sci tat 1.jpg
As you can see, the molecule is caffeine. The tattoo itself was lovingly designed (to Sci's very very annoyingly exacting demands) by Glendon Mellow of The Flying Trilobite. I think he did a fabulous job! The water droplets are oxygens, the N's are obviously nitrogens. Sci loves the whole thing, from the lovely curves of the bonds to the water droplets and the vibrating nitrogens. I think the nitrogens give it a little extra energy. The whole thing is about 6" across and sits in the middle of Sci's back.
Did it hurt? Well, as Glendon told me, now that I've got a tattoo, when people ask me if it hurt, I have to saw "naw, whatevs."
So naw, whatevs.
So why get a tattoo? Well, I've always wanted one, and I love interesting ways to celebrate milestones. And why caffeine? Well, that's a little more complex. There are several reasons:
1) It's awesomely geeky.
2) Sci finds the way we draw molecules to be incredibly graceful and beautiful.
3) Sci spent a lot of time in her youth (pre-SCIENCE) as a barista. I developed a true love of coffee then. I love the smell (it took me longer to love the taste), and I now find something incredibly special in a good cup of well roasted coffee (if you have any recommendations, pass them along!).
4) Sci has spent the last few years getting her PhD and studying drugs and their effects on the central nervous system. I will always have a fondness for the classical CNS stimulants like cocaine, but I have always found caffeine to be especially intriguing. It's just not like any of the other stimulants. While most stimulants increase dopamine in the nucleus accumbens (see here, here, and here for more detail on that), caffeine doesn't seem to have much of an effect there, though some effects have been reported in the cortex. It's an adenosine antagonist, and so its mechanism of action is very different. And the effects are different as well. Sci's always been a little different, and so she identifies with this.
5) I have also spent the last few years studying various neurotransmitters and chemical agents. I am moving soon to a new post-doc position where I will study OTHER neurotransmitters and chemical agents. While my research interests may change, favorite molecules and brain areas and drug may some and go, but caffeine, it's here to stay. Though every paper, every grant, every obscenely long day in the lab, and especially through my dissertation, caffeine has been there, in coffee, in sodas, in chocolate covered espresso beans (OM NOM NOM). I hope we will always have each other's backs.
6) And finally, the most personal reason. Someone once told Sci that having her as a friend was like a nice, hot cup of coffee: warm, comforting, witty, vivacious, and stimulating. Sci thought this was possibly the best thing that she had ever heard. It is the type of person and the type of friend that I want to be. What else could I get?
And I love the result. Every time I catch it in the mirror, it looks like it belongs there. And now, if you see a chick walking around in a Big Huge City with a caffeine molecule on her back, walk up and say hi. It might be Sci you're talking to. ๐Ÿ™‚

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