Friendship is a strange sort of alchemy of character.

In other words, two distinct people can randomly come together and discover an incredible compatibility. Alternatively, they can be as compatible as oil and water.

This short story is about the first situation, about someone I met at the beginning of summer through work. See, in the interests of improving Europe in general and participating globally, we have developed a partnership with Macedonia. The Macedonian team was visiting beginning of June, and I was invited to come along to a few social events due to my superior English (someone’s afraid to practice). Anyway, I met a new friend, quite unexpectedly. Me, the self-proclaimed pinnacle of anti-sociability. She was the interpreter, I was the language specialist, and we found strange but welcome common ground. During conversation, she discovered my art hobby, mostly through the series of small cat pictures I did for the lab going on two years ago (they hang on the walls in the new lab, I’m quite proud!) and was the first person to actually offer money for my art, specifically – for a reproduction of one of the pieces. She said the cat looked like an alchemist, and I like that naming. I had to overcome a few hang-ups about people paying for my art, as I’m used to creating randomly, as gifts, but she has insisted, and in this case I have come to the conclusion that it would be impolite to refuse, plus I’m very flattered. And from the alchemy theme, I altered the background and overall theme of the piece. Anyway, this is finished piece, slightly larger than the original (the wonders of technology!), and in a different colour scheme:

Alchemist cat!

I have titled it “The Alchemist”, and it is still small, about 15cm x 20cm. I rather like it. Next week I travel to Macedonia for the week and will have the opportunity to hand it over in person.

Anyway, as social as I can be (and it turns out I like putting on The Face and shmoozing at conferences, because there’s a lot of interesting people out there – minus a few creeps, but the biological sphere seems pretty balanced where I’ve hung out, so they are rather few), I am prone to bouts of something resembling depression and, as mentioned, being very anti-social. I like my alone time, a lot. I like dark music, I like melodrama, I like unhappy endings, never mind that I’ve managed rather well with my own life and situation. I’m always afraid that, once people discover what I’m really like, they won’t like me. So as contrast, here is Coheed and Cambria’s (we’ll be seeing more of this group) Dark Side of Me, a song that speaks to me on the unrevealed side of me. Oddly enough, it’s music like this that makes me feel better and can get me out of a funk.

(And check out dude’s hair, I went to their concert way back when and one of the distinctive things I remember is that mass of hair emerging out of the fog during the opening song.)


  1. dakotagreasemonkey says

    I think the Alchemist is a beautiful piece of art. Well done! Clean, Beguiling, Symbolic. C would have loved it.
    Same with the Coheed and Cambria, She would have blasted that through the house at top volume for days!
    Thanks, rq.

  2. rq says

    I don’t know if I would do it again. I was stuck between insisting that no, it’s a gift -- I don’t need the money, and realizing that this person honestly wanted to pay money and might be insulted if I refused. I’ve decided to compensate somewhat by bringing other gifts.
    (She also told me I should do an art show of some kind, just to publicize my work, but -- heh -- I don’t have enough pieces for it, I do art when I feel like it and it’s usually very person-specific, I don’t use professional-grade supplies, and my cat paintings are firmly glued to the wall. I guess I can understand her sentiment, and it’s a compliment, but honestly? My work isn’t that good. I’ll settle for making birthday cards for my colleagues and random friend-inspired works of art that go directly to the inspiration. By the time they’re worth millions, I’ll be dead anyway!)

  3. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I like the painting, and I’m sure the Redhead (degree in art education) would approve. I, as a retired chemist, recognize the equipment the cat is magically using.

  4. Nightjar says

    Oh, a pipetting cat!! I love it! And frankly, I would gladly pay for it too. It is so beautiful.

    I know what you mean about needing alone time, and also about sometimes needing dark music to get out of a funk. In those cases, the band I most commonly resort to is probably Neurosis. Sometimes this is just what I need.

  5. Nightjar says

    Oh and…

    new lab

    Great! I seem to remember many years ago we had a conversation in a different place about Bad Lab conditions, in which IIRC I had rain and you had cats (!) dropping from the ceiling? Because I have a new lab too! With no rain!!

    Not that we don’t have other problems now, of course. I should tell you the story of the room with the laminar flow cabinet plus ultra-low freezer minus air conditioning. Initially we had called it the “culture room”, then it became the “sauna room”…

  6. rq says

    Oh my, Nightjar, it looks like we can still exchange Bad Lab stories, and not least because due to a minor ‘insurmountable!!!!’ detail, they ‘couldn’t’ set up the rooms in proper workflow order, so we criss-cross the hallway, full plates in hand…
    (I did choose the right office, though -- in the part WITH air conditioning, very useful this summer, as everyone else had “sauna building”.)

  7. Ice Swimmer says

    A beautiful piece.

    It’s a lovely stylized cat and the pipette does look familiar, but as a student I didn’t get to use them very often. One of the original types of pipettes like that was developed here in Finland.

  8. Nightjar says

    rq, I see. New labs, new Bad Lab stories. :D

    Yay for office with air conditioning! The new office is much better too, if nothing else because the old one had an extraordinarily noisy ultra-low freezer inside it (that ‘couldn’t’ be placed anywhere else because ‘reasons’) and this one doesn’t. Oh the silence. It feels so good.

  9. rq says

    Ice Swimmer
    I believe it is the one called the Finnpipette? :D

    Unfortunately, we’re still expected to double the output with the same number of people. Apparently with this ‘reorganization’, we should be twice as productive, never mind that the issue was never really equipment as such, and the actual chokepoint part of the lab has not been doubled…

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