Thursday, July 14, 2005

Mass hysteria!

Okay, so I am writing from my boyfriend's lab, where I am camped out trying to finish this trivial little cloning project I started earlier this week. I'm doing this here because my thoughtful, considerate labmates didn't actually have a plan or a schedule for packing, so even thought a few of us had experiments planned up until tomorrow, they started packing the agarose gel boxes, etc. right out from under us.

I think they figured out that if they were packing, they could have a respectable excuse not to be doing any other kind of work. So then the frenzy started.... et voila! Mass hysteria. It's funny how stress is catching when there are 10+ people running around with scissors, bubble wrap and packing tape.

Worse than that, the company that came to move our buffers took EVERYTHING off our benches. This happened literally while my back was turned- I was there in the morning, went to drop off DNA for sequencing, and when I came back, all my buffers were gone. Now, my current (soon to be ex!) benchmate is NOT a very considerate person, although she's very sweet. She's the same one who left a package of mine sitting on my bench at room temperature whille I was out of town. It needed to go in the freezer. You know the type.

Anyway so after my buffers disappeared, I turned to her and said, "Did you know they were doing this?" And she said, "Oh, yes" in that befuddled, "Gee-I-never-thought-to-say-anything" kind of way that she has. Well somehow I missed the memo, probably because there was only one and it didn't contain any warnings like: BEWARE, YOUR STUFF WILL BE GONE IF YOU DON'T MARK IT OTHERWISE. This is what I would have written, but I guess I'm used to a certain level of communication where INFORMATION is ACTUALLY EXCHANGED.

So I had a mini-meltdown and went to see my advisor, who is not feeling well, but she was no help. She was overwhelmed with moving budget stuff around and said the lab manager should know everything, but the lab manager wasn't there (not being there when the moving kicks into full swing... not good).

Instead my poor student had to help me move a carfull of boxes, and then I sent her home early because I just didn't want to deal with trying to come up with things for her to do. This whole moving experience has made me worry she's either a little too timid or not quite smart enough to really be a self-starter, but I keep hoping she'll catch on if I just wait, what, a little longer? I keep wondering how she's ever going to make it into/through med school if she doesn't start to be a little more proactive. This is where I'm torn. I could a) tell her to take a hike and find another lab, and get myself a new student, b) stick it out for a year and try to be Super-Mentor-Woman who subtly helps her work on the areas where she's weakest without ever hinting that I think she's slow, or c) give her a stern lecture, and then write an honest recommendation letter when the time comes, no matter what happens. Or some combination of these. This is all new to me, so I probably should go read some books on being a mentor, or whatever.

I'm here at my boyfriend's desk, waiting for my transformation to incubate so I can go home and ice my feet, which are killing me. The people here are really nutty. The lab manager talks to herself incessantly. I talk to myself a lot in lab, or at least I used to, but people gave me a hard time about it in my last lab so I think I do it less now. This girl is 10x worse than I ever was. Then one of the techs is singing random snatches of songs all day, which sounds really endearing, but it's kind of distracting if you're not used to it. My friend who committed suicide used to do that, too, so it just reminds me of him, which is still a bittersweet thing. Plus it's exactly the kind of thing no one in my current lab would ever do. I don't know, this lab feels like it has more younger people. Maybe just nuttier in a different kind of crazy than my lab.

My boyfriend, meanwhile, just left for the equivalent of the company softball game, so I probably should whip out my laptop and work on my grant, or something. I'm inclined to surf the web or go looking for some of my other friends who work over here 24-7. That is one thing my current lab doesn't have: after-hours culture. Most people just go home, and the ones who stay late are not the friendliest ones. I really enjoyed having people around when I worked late in grad school, because it wasn't crowded, but you weren't completely isolated, either.



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