Monday, December 19, 2005

May you live in interesting times

To the Anonymous Commenters, I find it telling that you don't want to include your name. Perhaps you've been here before and had your wrist slapped. Or perhaps you haven't read many of my other blogs? Or perhaps Botanical Girl is a bit biased, since I'm always better at cheering other people up. I can be optimistic, really I can. Just not so much about my own life.

So I'm going through a crappy, whiny time right now. I think everyone has these sometimes, and anyone who has been through and academic job search agrees that it's justified. One of my friends who has a job now actually told me she spent most of the month of December crying - and then ended up getting a job just a few months later.

So yeah, to quote Fiona Apple, "I am likely to miss the main event/ If I stop to cry and complain again"

I was brought up not to feel too sorry for myself. Something to be said for my family's approach: just get over it.

That said, I haven't got a lot of good stuff to say lately. Here's something: we had a lab holiday party today- who didn't, really? Lots of good food and we played secret santa. So that was kinda fun.

But the holiday season is hard. I don't follow any kind of organized religion, and don't want to. I'm not into the fanatical capitalism that sends people flocking to the malls this time of year. I get enough of that to suit me, and don't feel the need to go overboard just because it's what- some arbitrary date the Catholic church chose? Give me a break.

So I don't feel like I'm missing out on any of that- and here's where the complaining comes in- I just hate people constantly asking after my well-being, like it's oh so sad that I don't have any big holiday plans.

What they don't understand is that I'm looking forward to spending a few days by myself, just trying to clear my head. This is my favorite, quiet time of year here. Most people go out of town, most things are closed, so there's a lot less traffic and noise in general. It's great.


At 6:56 PM, Blogger post-doc said...

I'm already bracing myself to receive my first pithy comment on my blog, so I winced a bit when I read the ones on your last post. I don't have anything profound to say - a job search was rough for me, and I've had times when I felt like much more bad than good was headed my direction. It sounds like you're doing great to me though. I hope you enjoy the quiet you found for the holidays! And for what it's worth, I rather enjoy the honesty I find when reading your posts. It hasn't all been bright and happy lately, no, but it's good stuff to know.

At 7:44 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Thanks, Post-Doc.

Pithy comments are welcome, in general. Negative ones criticizing my negativity... well that's just hypocritical! or should I say, hyper-critical?

Anyway if you dig through the archives, I had some real flamers at one point. I started deleting their stuff when they got really offensive, and they got more offensive, and then they went away.

I've tried to make it a policy to leave the criticism up there, unless it's really idiotic and long-winded.

It's not much but I figure it goes to help me toughen my skin a little more. And most people who know me consider me pretty tough.

Anyway I think I am doing pretty well, because I feel like I have plenty of options.

At 8:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


New to your blog...visiting through wampum.

Your posts can be depressing but at least you can say that your eventual job will be intelluctually stimulating. Most non-academic jobs are very boring, unless one works in companies with huge R&D budgets. So who cares that today's posts are a downer. Didn't someone famous say "Sorrow shared is sorrow halved"?

As a side note some of your blogposts are right out of PhDComics. That's creepy.

I am not sure what else to say since words of encouragement always sound banal. But I am really do the hope the best in your search.

As always take Care,

At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for a while and I always enjoy it. Isn't writing supposed to be cathartic? Write about what you need too and don't worry about the naysayers!

At 8:32 AM, Blogger BotanicalGirl said...

I didn't mean to imply that you're *always* negative. My feet tend to wind up in my mouth (or fingers, in this case?) And I certainly don't think the negativity is unwarranted either. If you can't vent on your blog, where can you vent?

Holidays for me are based on following family traditions which (to me at least) are more secular than anything else. Sure, I have a Nativity scene, but it's tradition and a gift from my mother both. An excuse to go see my whole family together. I hope your time to yourself is rewarding.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger wildvineyard said...

From reading your blog, it strikes me that you are in an incredibly competitive field. Mine is not like that. I don't think I would function well in your field. I'm far too trusting and willing to give people whatever they want (data, loaner equipment, etc). In my area it seems to me that if you are a dick and steal other people's work, everyone will figure it out sooner or later, and it will come back to haunt you (for example, when you apply for NSF or NIH funding and some of the reviewers are people you've screwed. they hold grudges FOREVER and they DO act on them). On the other hand, if you are always willing to help people out, you will get a good reputation as someone who is pleasant to work with. The only problem is that it can take that big wheel o' karma what seems like a very long time to come around. And when you are looking for a job, you can't wait that long. Just don't take it all too seriously. There are more things to life than science.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger PhD Mom said...

As far as your last post, I once made the mistake of checking my email thanksgiving day. What do you think I found, but a lovely missive informing me that my paper had been rejected at that my advisor felt it was because of my ineptitude, lack of dedication to the project, and not putting in enough hours. What a holiday gift! I was sour the rest of the weekend. Now I don't check mail at home or on vacation unless I am mentally prepared to be sideswiped.

As far as your negativity...well I think you almost HAVE to be a little mentally unbalanced to want to pursue a career in academia. I mean this a career where the majority of feedback (peer review) involves other telling you how lousy your ideas are. You have to have a rather thick skin to take all of that and sometimes it can just get to you. Not to mention that experiments, at least for me, tend to work about once every 3 months. That's a lot of days of misery to get to the coveted publishable result. Honestly, I would much rather you share with us, than jump off a building or something. Hang in there and hopefully soon you'll be doing the happy dance of experimental and job success!

At 11:06 AM, Anonymous YellowIbis said...

Hi there,

I was just 'passing through' and came across your previous posting with the 'Anonymous' hostility. Honestly, don't take those comments to heart. That person is clearly not a scientist, and especially not one who has worked in a competitive field. I once worked a job where it was necessary to lock my lab books even before going to the bathroom, or else one my labmates would try to sabotage me. He did manage to steal other things anyways to purposely set me back. So I'm sure you can imagine what the competition was up to. One time someone from outside even tried to hack us.

I do agree totally with the other posters who said you shouldn't distribute important information or property without a written agreement. I've found that keeps everyone honest.

So no, you aren't a whiner, you're not paranoid, and you're not nuts. But, maybe you want to think about what field you ultimately want to end up in? A closer-knit, lower-stakes field is a much more enjoyable experience, especially from the personal and/or work environment side of things... Do you really want to be locking up your lab books every time you go to the bathroom for the rest of your life? :)

Sara @ Yellowibis

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous YellowIbis said...

As Marshall McLuhan said, "The medium is the message". Blogging is all about relevance, directness, and the emotional genuineness that comes from off-the-cuff honesty. Would Ms.PhD verbalize her feelings the same way in a planned, thought-out letter to her coworkers? Probably not. But then we probably wouldn't be as interested in reading her blog. I think you need to take everything in a larger context...

At 1:19 PM, Blogger K said...

I see nothing wrong with encouraging others while at the same time taking a little bit of time to complain about your own situation. I know Ms. PhD has posted previously about mentors in science, and I (with my menial experience) think that it is good *practice* to be able to complain in order to be a good advisor someday. Even if that complaining involves blaming others for whatever. At least through that blaming of others, you get a good idea of how the academic world works.
And how often do you actually "suck it up" when someone tells you to?

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Joolya said...

YFS, I like your sometimes-cranky blog. It lets me know that I am not the only one who is grasping at the straws of her sanity in a difficult, frustrating, and often unrewarding but ultimately cooler than other jobs field. (Academic research can be very isolating, and part of that is the feeling that everyone else is doing well while you suck and wind up spiraling downward, etc.)

PhDMom: some fun comments on academia/mental health here. ;)

Rock on and best of luck with the job hunt and evil season of joy.


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