Humpety Hump Hump Day
Halfway through the week, and it's a mediocre day.
My friend who's had 2 interviews already got rejected from one of those places, so he's understandably bummed. I was feeling pretty good thinking I hadn't gotten any rejection letters so far this week, but then I got one after lunch. Meanwhile, at least 6 people in my lab asked me questions today about techniques, and I was able to feel confident about my answers to them. So that felt good. So it kinda balances out.
But yesterday kinda sucked. My advisor was in one of her moods. First she was complaining that nobody in her lab likes science enough and that's why they're not productive. She's stressing about grants, hence worrying that she doesn't have enough data (she doesn't). There's no point in trying to tell her they actually all really like science, and that it's her incredible negativity that makes them less productive, and that students and postdocs are much more motivated if they think their stuff will get published, than that it will go into a grant they won't be around to enjoy....
I made a comment about how perhaps getting people to be productive was the same in science as in any other field, and she responded by saying she can make her technicians and her administrative assistant do lots of work, but that you can't manage grad students and postdocs.
I wouldn't know how to begin to explain to her why I think that's ridiculous.
So to try to cheer her up, while simultaneously demonstrating that I had done an experiment she had suggested, I asked her about something I had done this week (that didn't work) and whether she had any other ideas for how to get at the question. But, she was in one of her condescending moods, and proceeded to claim that I needed to do more reading, specifically citing an observation I still can't find in the literature. At all. I think she was mis-remembering, but I will have to keep looking since it would actually be really helpful to me if she's right.
Anyway in the course of the discussion, I realized something. Maybe I'm just getting better at reading people, but I had the strong impression that there were two conversations going on there. One was the words coming out of her mouth, which sounded more or less like advice. The other was something I could hear, a little voice in my head, that was much more negative. I had the impression I could tell how she really felt about my project and my progress, and it wasn't good.
There is a saying in this lab that our advisor likes everyone who is new. She's nice to you for the first year, they say, but after that, beware. Well my year has been up for a few months now, and I think I see why they say that.