Still tired

In the morning I get up early. This is so untypically me. Strong coffee needed. Riding my bike to the train station. Buying more coffee at Segafredo. Vegging out in the train to Lausanne. Fribourg is mysterious with all the fog and a golden autumn sun in the morning. Usually I work on my private defense in the train. My presentation is still too long.

I have experienced quite a bit of instability lately. After I handed in my thesis I did not experience a magic happiness as I had been expecting. On the contrary, I got extremely exhausted. I felt heavy and got pulled down. At the same time I was shaken by existential thoughts. Big questions about life. Feeling lonely and more intensively. Convinced that I have no future I started worrying about the people in Gaza, and in the end I mostly cried.  It is difficult to slow down if you have been driving in the sixth gear for too long.

It is good to write about it now. For several days I could not understand what is going on with me. I repeated often that everything is too much to me. It felt like a huge wave that was falling down on me. I suddenly realized that it had been too much. I finally reached a point in my life where I can truly say, I did too much. With all my honesty, it is hard to admit that I actually do have limits. It is no nice experience to feel your limit. That moment when you are enjoying a fast drive with your SAAB. Faster than ever. Totally hyper. And then the road bends and for a little second you lose control. This is how it feels like. During this little second something triggers a reaction, a little cut.

Now it heals. It feels like a wound that needs to heal. I will let it heal. I just handed in my PhD thesis and I am not allowed to take a step back and look at it with pride. While I was convinced during the last couple of days that I have no future and that I did not achieve anything, my husband and our daughter convinced me otherwise. My future started yesterday and I will have to cope with it. I discovered my limits and the people working with me need to respect them.

I do not expect that I am able to change much. I am 30 years old and the last 10 years I developed my own surviving strategies. However, I am hurting and I do not want this to happen again. Taking care of yourself is much more difficult for me than I would like to admit.

Here are some simple rules:

1)   Sleep enough. Take those fucking naps if you do not sleep at night.

2)   Try to eat healthy. Even if it has to be cute little calves and innocent fish.

3)   Stay away from nicotine.

4)   Do not think that you will stop drinking alcohol or coffee one day. It is too tempting and my brain got used to it.

5)   Given that I have an awesome husband and the cutest and smartest daughter in the world, I have to pull the emergency break at the moment when I come home and feel unable to enjoy them. My little family is the most precious thing I have in my life and I want to always prioritize them. They will give me the strength to endure injustice and immoral behaviors at work.

6)   I try to challenge myself and reach new goals every day at work. However, sometimes I realize that my contribution to science does not matter at all. Reminding myself about the feedback I get after presenting my work helps. I see my job as a way to learn how to solve problems and answer questions. While I feel pushed and forced in different directions right now, I should remember that one day I will be able to decide myself which problems I want to solve.









Appendix: When darkness falls and surrounds you, when you fall down, when you’re scared and you’re lost – be brave.

I am coming to hold you. When all your strength has gone and you feel wrong like your life has slipped away – follow me. You can follow me and I will not desert you now. I will keep you safe. You can trust me. I will protect you, my love.

Working from home

With my job I can work from home. The fact that this is possible makes me very happy. Usually it involves a great deal of self-discipline, organization and cooperation from husband and daughter or other family members. In my case it works out fine.

The following points are important to make it work:


1) trust your partner that he/she is able to watch your kid.

Even if you can hear your kid crying, screaming, yelling, complaining – it is your partner’s responsibility now.

–> the same applies to other family members / babysitters


2) find a room in your appartment where you can close the door and concentrate on your work

This might involve ‘Boze’ noise-killing headphones. I put up several Campus maps of UC Davis and Stanford to motivate myself. I also put up some sand from Carmel and Seaside at Monterey. In the middle there is a little toy boat that my father carved. When I see that stuff it signals to my brain that it is time to work and give the responsibility for my daughter to somebody else.


3) Make sure that you have a functioning internet connection wherever you are

I end up using it all the time to get access to papers and look up how different R-scripts work.


4) If your babysitter or kid is sick, make sure that there is a corner in your working room where the kid can hang out and spend some hours on its own.

Linnea is totally fascinated by the following:

– cat food

– fish food

– cute baby dolls with cute faces that she can put down in a toy bed

– clothes to put on her dolls

– counting real money

– sorting playing cards

– sorting tablets for the dishwasher

– eating a joghurt on her own

– cleaning everything with a wet wash rag

– painting on herself and on the walls


Linnea plays in the background with her dolls and baby beds

Linnea plays in the background with her dolls and baby beds

From time to time she wants me to acknowledge her work and give her a hug. When I am too absorbed with my work she does not even try to approach me.


If she does not want to play on her own anymore make her useful to do some work for you.


5) When you get to a point where you are not productive anymore let yourself be distracted and do some housework


insulating the house

insulating the house

insulating 2 insulating 3

You are at home. Undone housework can be distracting. Do not fight against it. Little breaks from writing a manuscript can be very helpful to come up with new thoughts and ways for phrasing. Big projects such as insulating an old house or painting shutters are very rewarding projects to distract from work for a while. They make you feel useful and successful and this makes you work better when you are back working on research.


6) At home there is no 8h-days.

Working at nights is very efficient. It makes me feel good because I am at peace and I know that my family is happily asleep very close to me. Work whenever it is possible and you will anyway end up with more than 8h every day.


Photo booth – pictures from the last 18 months:

early working from home

early working from home

answering emails

answering emails

getting distracted

getting distracted

somebody woke up

somebody woke up


California love

This post is a mix of English and German, partly about work and partly about family life.

Linnea und ich sind vor gut 2 Wochen nach Houston geflogen. Die Reise ging sehr gut. Nichts kann uns aus der Ruhe bringen wenn wir zwei alleine sind. Ein tiefes Gefühl der Verbundenheit gibt mir Mut. Im Flugzeug, auf dem Londoner Flughafen, in der langen Warteschlange in Houston. Nach mehr als 12h non-stop Reise mussten wir 3h in Houston in einer Schlange stehen und warten. Grenzwertig. Ich am Rande des Nervenzusammenbruchs, Linnea völlig cool. Auch das haben wir zusammen überstanden. Nachdem ich ihr mehr als 12h geholfen habe, eine angenehme Reise zu erleben hat sie am Schluss mir geholfen, diese Unannehmlichkeit auch noch zu überstehen.

Über dem Atlantik

Über dem Atlantik

In Houston lebten wir mit Donny’s Eltern. Viel Schlaf, kleine Ausflüge und Spielen im Garten füllten unsere Tage schnell aus. Ich konnte immer schlafen. Eine tiefe Müdigkeit hat mich immer wieder und wieder übermannt. Zu müde zum Lesen, zu müde zum Schreiben und noch müder, wenn ich an meine Doktorarbeit dachte. So habe ich das Vermieden und die ganze Zeit mit Linnea verbracht. Spielen, Essen und viel Schlafen. Als Donny in Houston ankam fühlte ich mich ausgeschlafen und frisch.

Hanging out at Scribner

Hanging out at Scribner

With Donny’s parents I had a good time. We lived together and I tried to fit in. They convinced me to do some small activities and made me forget about my worries. Houston is so far away from small Switzerland that I usually succeed. Simple activities and a lot of sleep help cool down the fire in me. When Donny arrived I was cool enough to go out again. Donny always wants to go see friends, buy stuff and enjoy a lot of music and concenrts in town. I was prepared. And that was what we did.

My white horse

My white horse

Der Flug quer durch Amerika von der Ostküste zur Westküste verlief extrem friedlich. 4h, 2h davon zurück in die Vergangenheit. Donny und Linnea haben gemalt, Geschichten erzählt, geschlafen. Ich war nervös. Viel zu nervös. Voller Erwartungen. Völlig ignorant, was Kalifornien wohl zu bieten hat.

Angekommen in San Francisco haben wir ein grosses Auto gemietet, in der Grösse eines Lausanne Universtität Busses, und sind direkt nach Berkeley gefahren. Das Auto sollte für die nächsten Tage unser Zuhause sein. In Berkeley haben wir sogleich Beni zum Zmittag getroffen und uns das Städtchen und den Campus angeschaut, zusammen mit Beni – unserem Guide. Der erste Eindruck von Berkeley hat mich so überwältigt, dass ich nur noch eins wollte: weg. Das altbekannte ich in mir, das am liebsten immer sofort wegrennt und sich versteckt. Zum Glück hat Donny für den Abend schon entschieden nach Sacramento zu fahren für ein Kings NBA Spiel.

For the next couple of nights we stayed in Davis and made day trips from there. I met Bree Rosenblum at Berkeley and we discussed research. Donny, Linnea and I saw Ben giving a talk about the most interesting results of his PhD time at Berkeley.

We hung out with some Berkeley grad students and I had some more time to give Berkeley another chance. This time I was much more relaxed and extremely happy to see Emilia Huerta-Sanchez again. She is cool. Unlike most of the other people I met there. But I am a snail and I retract too fast into my happy place when intimidated, so I can’t judge so well. Ben is definitely cool. His talk was fun and I am proud to see the chapters he completed.

Check out their website.

Ben’s website

his current group

his future group

Almost happy to leave Berkeley we spent another night in Davis. I must specifiy here that I am highly confused and take everything very seriously. Donny fell in love with Berkeley and he would tell this story totally differently. It made me feel sad to see him secretely suffer about my intimidations. He thinks it is about time I start selling myself.

My two beloved ones at Berkeley

My two beloved ones at Berkeley

The next morning at Davis with Jonathan Eisen. Huge campus. A building full of light, miSeq sequencers, PacBio sequencers, and friendly people. Jonathan took me out for lunch and sent Donny with Linnea to the playground. On the way he gave Linnea a little frog to play with. Then we talked science. I immediately fell in love with that place. Back in the office Jonathan introduced me to a few people in his group. Most of them spent this week in Florida where they were supposed to send some microbes into space and sample the space station. I talked about my boring salmon eggs and Jonathan caught fire. I was sad to leave a bit later and Donny was confused when he had me back. I had changed so suddenly and he could not understand why somebody would prefer Davis over Berkeley. I got the impression that I could have a lot of fun with Jonathan and his group. I think he would let me go wild doing my own research and support it well. I wanted to stay at Davis and check it out more but he put me in the car and drove me away. Far away.

Linnea was allowed to keep the frog from Jonathan!

Linnea was allowed to keep the frog from Jonathan!

Die letzten paar Tage haben wir Kalifornien voll ausgekostet. Zuerst haben wir Sam Crow gesucht. Jackson and seine Brüder. Stockton, Farmington, Lodi und Charming. Ein extremer Kontrast. Biker Bars, Frittiertes, Hektaren mit Farmland. Bauern, Hell’s Angels und andere grimmige Gesichter. Nicht gerade eine Gegend zum Verweilen. Trotzdem haben wir uns in die Biker Bar in Farmington gesetzt und ein paar Biere getrunken. Linnea hat derweil die Servietten und das Ketchup neu arrangiert.

Ridin’ through this world
All alone
God takes your soul
You’re on your own
The crow flies straight
A perfect line
On the devil’s back
Until you die
This life is short
Baby that’s a fact
Better live it right
You ain’t comin’ back
Gotta raise some hell
Before they take you down
Gotta live this life
Gotta look this world
In the eye
Gotta live this life
Till you die
You better have soul
Nothin’ less
Cause when it’s business time
It’s life or death
The king is dead
But life goes on
Don’t lose your head
When a deal goes down
Better keep your eye
On the road ahead
Gotta live this life
Gotta look this world
In the eye
Gotta live this life
Till you die
Read more: Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers – This Life Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Nächstes Ziel: Monterey. Hungrig nach Ferien und nach schönen Orten die unsere Seelen nähren würden sind schnell weiter gefahren. Das Auto unser Heim. Und so habe ich mich in Kalifornien verliebt. Es ist schwierig, das in Worte zu fassen. Überwältigt von Eindrücken und bestätigt in meinem Wunsch, Forscherin zu bleiben, vielleicht mit Jonathan, habe ich mich völlig auf die Naturschönheiten eingelassen. Es wäre schade, noch mehr Zeilen mit Worten zu füllen. Ich zeige lieber ein paar schöne Fotos:

Unser fahrendes Zuhause:

Für Linnea und mich ist dies das erste Mal am Pazifischen Ozean! Linnea möchte alles untersuchen. Wenn wir unterwegs sind hat sie meistens ein anderes Ziel als wir und möchte Stunden mit kleinen Dingen am Boden verbringen.

Und jeden Abend haben wir uns irgendwo hingesetzt und zugeschaut, wie die Sonne im Meer versinkt. Zum Beispiel in Carmel. Oder Halfmoon Bay in der Nähe von Santa Cruz.

Now we are on the way back to Davis. We stopped quickly at Palo Alto. Donny is surprised and almost disappointed that I did not set up an appointment with anybody at Stanford. To make him smile again I brought him and Linnea to the Baseball fields where Rice beat Stanford. Let’s behave like tourists.

Tomorrow we will see Jonathan again. He will introduce his family to us, show us Davis a bit more and I hope we can chat some more about science.

Now I am also looking forward to go back to Berkeley and meet Stephanie Carlson soon and hang out with Sébastien. I am ready to give Berkeley another chance. I could not be more relaxed after the natural beauties I have seen during the last couple of days.

Pure California love. More about the Big Sur will follow later in my next post!

Pure California love. More about the Big Sur will follow later in my next post!



In der Tat habe ich letztes Wochenende mehrere emotionale Herzinfarkte erlitten. Zum Glück waren da Donny und Isidor, die mich immer wieder aufgefangen haben. Paulin isoliert uns den Estrich. Die Isolation selber macht er sehr gut. Leider sind wir nicht so überzeugt von seinen Helfern. In der Frühlingskälte in Surrein wäre es gut, dass man die Haustüre schliesst, das Licht im Estrich nicht brennen lässt, keine Zigaretten im Garten rumliegen lässt und einfach ein bisschen Sorg gibt zu dem alten Haus. Das Haus erinnert mich an eine schrumpelige, liebe Grossmutter die man behutsam umhüten sollte. Als wir dann auch noch eine Leitung im Boden im Estrich entdeckt haben, die rinnt, und zwar schon seit einigen Jahren (die Leitung ist nun schon fast 60 Jahre alt) da hat mein Infarkt eingeschlagen. Schlaflose Nächte, Diskussionen, Sorgen. Organisieren, telefonieren, regeln, in Ordnung bringen. Plötzlich ist man erwachsen und hat Verwantwortung. Ja Marc, Du hast recht, als post-doc wird die Welt ernst. Ich werde es mir zu Herzen nehmen.

Jetzt ist die Leitung ausgewechselt. Paulin wurde mehrmals zurecht gewiesen und Isidor hat mir viel von früher erzählt, von den Wassergraben und zwangsmässigen Bewässerungen zwecks Vertragsvereinbarung. Wir hüten hier nicht nur ein altes Haus sondern ein langes Kapitel Geschichte. Nur die besten Materialen sind dafür geeignet. Es liegt uns am Herzen, dass das Ganze nicht verstückelt wird. Die alten Briefe, Heugabeln, Bilder und Bücher gehören dahin und erzählen jedes ihre eigenen Geschichten. Donny ermutigt mich und unterstützt mich wo er kann. Er bestärkt mich im Glauben, dass Bubretsch seit Generationen von starken Frauen geleitet wird.

Morgen fliege ich mit meiner starken Tochter nach Houston. Eine lange Reise für eine kleine Person. Ich mache mir aber überhaupt keine Sorgen. Ich geniesse die Zeit mit ihr. Wir verbringen selten soviel Zeit miteinander und vermissen uns ständig.

Der letzte Schliff an zwei Manuskripten steht an und ein drittes sollte geschrieben werden. Wenn ich mir nur nicht soviele Gedanken über asymmetrische Ähnlichkeiten machen würde. Die rauben mir nämlich neben tropfenden Leitungen und stummen Schreinern den Schlaf. Und was hilft, die Nächte über die Runden zu bringen?

1) lausche Kuno’s Stimme:

Kuno L.

2) lese über Väter, Mütter und ihre Sorgen:



3) bilde Dich weiter, wie Du Deinen Partner zu behandeln hast:


Und hier noch ein Bild von meinem Abgrund:IMG_1976