Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Is it vacation yet?

I was so stressed out and PMS-ing that I decided to work at home today. Needless to say I worked for about two hours on my grant (pretty productive two hours, but still) and then started doing stuff to get ready for this trip.

Traveling stresses me out, especially when I know the weather will be unpleasant and I have no idea what the accomodations will be like. I have this thing about privacy, clean bathrooms, and um, sheets. We're staying with my boyfriend's brother. I may have mentioned this before, but last time we visited him, he was living bachelor-style to the max: he was sharing a loft with four other guys and they had put up their own divider walls. We slept on his futon, which had, and I'm not making this up, no sheets. Gross!! And the bathroom was totally unusable for showering purposes. I have a pretty high tolerance for dirt if I know I'm going camping, but I am too old and too overeducated to be roughing it in the city. This time of month. Ugh!

warning, tiny rant here: I should be getting paid what I'm worth!!!

heh. Ok, I'm fine, really. We're taking him sheets as a 'housewarming' gift, isn't that clever?? I'm also going to bring my own towel, just in case. Supposedly he lives with his girlfriend now, which makes me wonder about the futon some more.... yuccccckkkk.

Then we're going to the wedding of my best friend from high school. It's going to be really weird, since she and all of her friends are professional singers and dancers and actors and clowns. She's sort of my alter-ego: I used to think I wanted to do that stuff, and part of me still does. But at this point I know there's no going back, so the fact that she's asked me to participate in some of the entertainment for the wedding makes it especially weird. Granted, I begged off being a bridesmaid, so it could be worse. But I think it's going to be a depressing wake-up call after all these years.

On the other hand, maybe I'll be relieved that I didn't go that direction. Maybe I'm just too introverted (ha ha, says the anonymous blogger). Maybe I'll be put off by all the diva antics and we won't be able to get a word in edgewise, so we can just go into anthropology mode and laugh about it later. Maybe I'll just think wow, my friends are so much smarter and more interesting than they would be if we were all professional musicians. Or something.

So since I'm going to be confronted with the fallout from this major life choice, music vs. science, I know this trip won't be relaxing.

I guess because of that I feel like I deserve a day or two off at home where I can just chill and have some privacy and do what I want. Is that really so selfish?

Meanwhile, I've sent >10 job applications so far, and got stuck having a long conversation with an administrative person yesterday who seemed to think I was doing "a lot" of applications. Most people just have no clue how competitive it really is. This makes me wonder, since she supposedly helped someone else apply last year (he ended up taking an industry position after having his top school's offer fall through at the last minute because he didn't confirm with them before turning down his other offer). So after this conversation I was doing some calculations, and here's what I came up with:

Average number of applications per faculty position at a research university in the biosciences: 300
Maximum number of people who actually get the job: 1
Chance per position I apply for ~ 0.3%
Number of positions I've applied for times the chance per position ~ 3%
Where I'd like to think I rank in applicants ~ on paper, maybe the top 10% of people at my level of experience, at best

(I'm not going to think too hard about this, since I don't have any Cell/Science/Nature papers, nor do I have a super-prestigious fellowship or a famous boss. I'm also competing with people who have 6-9 years of postdoc experience. Why that looks good I still can't quite fathom.)

Of course anybody who knows me knows I'm totally ready for a faculty position. What really blows me away are these people who say they're scared of it. I just can't relate at all. We're 30 years old!! When are you ready to be an adult and get a real job, if you're not ready now???

(But secretly I'm thrilled that they're scared, since it means they won't be applying this year, which means they won't be competing with me! )

mua ha ha...

Grand total number of positions I'd have to apply for to have a 10% chance of getting one: at least 30

So I have 20 to go before I think I can honestly say I covered my bases. I guess I'm hoping some more places will start advertising next month.

I'm also hoping I don't have nightmares about work every single night while we're gone. I actually really suck at taking vacations. The guilt is just too ingrained, plus if I'm bored I find myself thinking I might as well be working since at least that's usually not too dull. I haven't been sleeping well at all this week, which I'm going to blame on the raging PMS that seems to get worse the older I get. Why do I always have to have my period while I'm traveling???? One of these days I will catch on and start refusing to go on trips if they don't fit with my Schedule.


At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should note that you can reschedule your Schedule quite easily these days with the aid of hormonal birth control. You can even skip it entirely.

At 6:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that whole "only four periods a year" is scary to me - and I'm a guy! Could that be safe/normal for any woman? Well, it's none of my business anyway... hope you feel better.

Anyway, here's another article about what a bad investment a science career is, straight from CNN ;)

At 8:56 PM, Blogger utenzi said...

Ummm. I suspect that using statistics that assume a random population might not be in order here, YFS. After all, we all know you're more qualified than most. :-)

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

re: re-Scheduling,

I knew someone would say that. Do you really think I haven't tried that already??? Doesn't work for me.
So it's sort of irrelevant how 'safe' it is- I wouldn't care if it would work!

re: the article on CNN, that's amusing. I love how they originally made a mistake and understated the length of time to get a PhD.

funny, sometimes I think being a chef would be a lot of fun, and not that different from being a scientist...

At 4:50 PM, Blogger BotanicalGirl said...

Go to the wedding and relax and have fun. Don't second-guess yourself. You're a great scientist. Maybe you would have been a great actress too? But the choice is done at this point. Don't stress about it.

And no, having a day to yourself is not a selfish desire.

I hope the accomodations are better than last time.

Also, 10 applications is not that many at all, for ANY kind of job. I'm impressed you've done that many, what with all the various paperwork and different things they all require. Your ambition will set you apart from those 9 year post-docs and the people too scared to apply now.

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Forkhead said...

Its a tough gig. Year 5 here. I gave it a go last year and sent out 10-15 applications. Nothing, but some polite responses saying thanks, no thanks, all the best.

This year, I've been fortunate enough to get a publication in one of the big three.

I, of course, stepped up my applications, and I'm getting a much better response.

Not sure if this points to paying dues, luck, or hard work. All three I guess.

At 4:53 AM, Anonymous TimothyLMayer said...

I think every lecture at a college should be prefaced by "Don't try this as a career choice."


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