Archived entries for Neurosciences Institute

serotonin

My brain seemed to have a lot of it floating around today. What an unexpectedly great birthday!

When I was younger, I used to have the best birthday parties. Always themed (i.e., shells, clowns strawberries, bird houses, Roald Dahl), my mom would cultivate parties that involved crafts, delicious food, backyard games, and copious usage of my playground and hammock. I also remember tons of lemonade and well-decorated cakes. I think my favorite was my clown birthday party, where my aunts all teamed up to paint the faces of the party guests in their preferred clown get-up. The craft involved making these snow globes using jars and these really fun, miniature clown statues. This is certainly a retrospective favorite because I don’t actually remember this party; I just watch the home video at least twice a year.

But my 21st was so great, too! Even though it would have been nice to see my family, my host family and my work friends made the day truly special.

7:30 a.m. – On my way down to the stairs to leave for work, notice a wonderful birthday balloon bouquet (BBB) from Jay and Penny. Yes!

8:30 a.m. – Found out that the IRB approved the study, and received a bunch of e-mails from NSI employees wishing me a happy day. Cute!

10:30 a.m. – Got TB test, but the nurse missed the first time (read: she stuck me with the needle, went to inject the fluid and it went all over my arm.) Ouch!

11:00 a.m. – Returned to Dr. Knight’s office to meet with Carol, a nurse practitioner involved with the study to find the office decked out with birthday decorations, an extraordinary cake (click “extraordinary” for onset of jealousy), a book I have been yearning to own but unable to afford, and a generous gift from the my coworkers at RCHSD! Amazing!

12:00 p.m. – Had lunch at NSI with Ani, John, and two women who are interested in starting a chapter of Dancing for Parkison’s in San Diego. Inspiring!

1:00 p.m. – Entered my NSI office to find a nice birthday message (on a beautiful postcard, no less) from Ani and a Putumayo CD called “From Mali to Memphis: An African-American Odyssey.” Thoughtful!

1:30 p.m. – Stopped by the office of Debbie Honeycutt, a member of the NSI Development Staff, who baked me the most delicious brownies I have ever eaten in my entire life. Chewy!

2:00 p.m. – Continued to amass and categorize articles about the effect of stress on neonatal brain development, how music can effect neonates, etc. etc. Knowledge!

4:30 p.m. – Tripped on the way out of NSI and opted to fall on my left knee instead of drop the brownie tray. Split my pants and my knee cap, but luckily there was a non-emergency-bound ambulance at the gas station so I could clean myself up. (Cute) EMTs!

6:30 p.m. – Ate delicious carne asada tacos at a Mexican restaurant with my host family and some family friends. Delicioso!

Overall, I realized today more than any other day how happy I am to be in San Diego doing exactly what I’m doing. In other news, Haverford physics professor and avid jazz saxophone player Stephon Alexander is joining Ani, John, Dr. Gall, and I for lunch tomorrow! Exciting!

(To update you on my sunburn, it has certainly faded to a tan and a pretty deep one at that. It impedes my wardrobe selection and I look like a fool in my gym shirts.)

i got a little more comfortable…

…with the Pacific Ocean on Thursday. (I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to post about it. Silly me.)

The drive from NSI down La Jolla Shores Dr. was a beautiful, winding journey, with a view of the ocean that I failed to capture on film but that is unlikely to leave my memory soon. Parking my (the Smith’s) Mustang under a palm tree and walking to a beach littered with surf boards and bonfires/cookouts embodied my most California-y experience here to date. Besides that traffic the other evening.

It was great to observe the various amalgamations of families and friends: those high school kids who I regrettably used to be (except they are much better off because their hangout is the beach), new parents introducing their child to the sea, that father who plays sports with the kids (in this case a lovely, portly, young dad who managed to turn soccer into a chase game, resulting in many a squeal from his daughters and nieces), and my favorite: countless duos of father-son surfers.

All that camaraderie warmed my heart but also made me feel pretty lonely, to be honest. I’ve been trekking to all these really great places that are relaxing when alone but they merit the company of someone close to you. On a scale of one to lonely, I was almost desperate enough to walk over to one of the cookouts and introduce my hungry self with the line, “Hi, I’m Genna. I’m new here. From Jersey. Not as bad as it seems. Anything you suggest I do in SD besides eat this hot dog and ear of corn?”

I withheld my urge and instead took to the sea again, this time motivated to take a memento or two. When I visited Torrey Pines Glider Port, I decided that I was going to collect something from each new place I visited this summer. Unfortunately for my luggage, this decision has amounted to a growing collection of (really sweet, neverbeforeseen) rocks. And one royal blue zipper pull that I almost threw back in the ocean until I realized that a seagull was probably going to eat it if I didn’t take it. And I kind of wanted it. And now I have it.

Oh, one more thing: after the beach, I finally went to an In-N-Out Burger! It didn’t quite live up to its name due to the length of the drive-thru line, but it surely lived up to its reputation. I got a Double-Double, Animal Style (on the secret menu), with a side of fries (ketchup too!) and chocolate shake. In retrospect, I really did not need that shake and I certainly did not need the ketchup for the fries. I said “Sure” when the cashier offered it to me because I am usually a fan of the condiment and always a fan of something to dip my fries in, but after employing the ketchup for its intended purpose, I realized that these fries were just too good to be tainted with Heinz. Away with the ketchup packets!

Excuse me while I ingest this bucket full of health.

One last thing: I’m going to include a song in this post that makes me feel better whenever I hear it, off an album that makes me feel better whenever I hear it. It is one of the only CDs from my adolescent period that I insist on keeping. I have kept a bunch of the music, but in terms of owning the physical compact disc, Bleed American is the only one that has persisted. Ladies and gentlemen, Jimmy Eat World’s “Sweetness.”

Summer Research

This summer Genna Cherichello ‘11 will be in San Diego, CA, working with Aniruddh D. Patel, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the Neurosciences Institute (NSI) and Gail Knight, M.D., Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Rady Children’s Hospital. Their collaborative project will focus on how music affects physiological measures of stress in babies recovering from cardiac surgery.



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