Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Have I Returned?

New York Movie
by Edward Hopper, 1939.
Oil on canvas (The Museum of Modern Art, New York City).

Rough times, my peeps, rough times.

You all sit together in darkness while I stand hidden in bright light,
listening to you enjoy the unfolding story.


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  1. #1 Alon Levy
    July 15, 2006

    I hope I’m not asking an ignorant question, but what are you back from?

  2. #2 GrrlScientist
    July 15, 2006


  3. #3 Paco
    July 15, 2006

    If I’d known you were going there, I would have asked you to say hi to all my buddies.

  4. #4 GrrlScientist
    July 15, 2006

    you are such a bad boy. i wish i’d met your friends, too.

  5. #5 Craig Pennington
    July 15, 2006

    Glad to have you back.

  6. #6 sarina
    July 15, 2006

    do tell more!

  7. #7 Phila
    July 15, 2006

    Glad you’re back from Hell and points south. I sent you some mail yesterday and today…may have a bit of work for you, if you’re interested.

    Drop me a line…



  8. #8 Chardyspal
    July 16, 2006


  9. #9 Tabor
    July 17, 2006

    I also don’t know where you went but his post seems to say it all. I find this picture so beautifully sad and it definitely makes me think of you in so many ways. Wish I could be there to at least offer a cuppa tea.

  10. #10 pablo
    July 17, 2006

    Wish I could make things different for you. All I can do is hope life gets better. I love your blog and visit it each day, for what it’s worth!

  11. #11 heath claborn
    July 17, 2006

    I’m applying today at Colorado State University. I will be a 2nd degree student and hope to complete the chemistry I left off so many years ago. Your blog and Pharyngula are the only mostly science sites I frequent and you’ve both inspired me to get off my ass and pursue my passions. Thanks for keeping up this blog.

  12. #12 Bruce Thompson
    July 18, 2006

    This is late, but the mail here is slow. Hell may be hot but the vistas are beautiful. It’s been 110-117 all week in the desert and the night time temps. aren’t cooling off much either. The air conditioner in the trailer rattles constantly threatening to quit and the water tastes bad but the vistas are beautiful. Trying to drive anywhere is a nightmare of traffic jams with everyone jockeying for position but the vistas are beautiful. The dust storms can blanket the valley reducing the visibility to zero and the winds knock down trees and power lines but the vistas are beautiful. The water table is dropping and there’s talk of recycling waste water for drinking but the vistas are beautiful. Everyone’s moving here and it’s more crowded everyday, everyone loves the vistas, there beautiful.

    I think you went to the wrong part of hell.

  13. #13 GrrlScientist
    July 19, 2006

    thanks, everyone. i appreciate your kind words.

  14. #14 Caio de Gaia
    July 19, 2006

    It’s quite a painting. Makes you wonder what she is thinking about. Birds maybe?

    Glad you managed to come back from wherever hell is.

  15. #15 dr. fluffy jones
    July 20, 2006

    Hi Hedwig,

    I love this painting, too…and have always been fascinated with how he creates a feeling of isolation by cutting the painting right in two – on one side, the pensive usherette, on the other, the theatre, filled with people watching a movie. In the middle, a wall. I don’t know what’s going on with you, either, but i hope you’re doing ok. you’ve already read this, but here’s my poem (from the book) about the painting..I think this is about transformation, which might be timely…an offering to make you feel better.

    New York Movie: Edward Hopper, 1939

    What is it we feel, when in darkness a story flickers
    on a screen, flat but full of light? What is being
    whispered when salty lips touch warm necks and a story
    flows in dusty waves through a room darker still?
    What is thought in each small room between ear
    and ear and mouth, where each day falls down and down
    into a pool of its own, where each thought is turned away
    or put away, a torn ticket softening in your hand?
    Imagine the street beyond this cinema’s red breath,
    as we watch the story unfold: the man looks
    out a window at a woman who doesn’t see him, and outside
    the street is jeweled with rain just like the street
    behind this movie house where we sit, watching.

    We desire to be in more than one place at a time.
    Glass crushed beneath a boot in the street has found
    its fate, but the walker keeps moving and soon the man
    in the movie will know the woman; will love her or kill her–
    the woman will know him or not, love him or be killed
    by him. Or kill him. All this happens at the same moment–
    light ebbs to the shape inevitability brings. Bright screen,
    crushed glass, branches coaxing a song from dark panes, and a woman
    knowing that soon everything will change: light flows to darkness,
    glass crushed to sand, loneliness to love to something else
    entirely. What is it, she wonders, when we sit and listen
    to the trees tap tap tap upon the panes? What is that old song
    and what is the voiceless rain trying to say?

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