So I ran into a couple of old friends at the poster session tonight. They asked me how I was doing. This was not a question I wanted to be asked.
Let's put it this way: we changed our travel plans so my boyfriend could give a talk for his boss, who had to cancel at the last minute. We all know that PIs frequently have their postdocs do a talk in their timeslot, but usually you get more than 48 hours notice.
Now I'm going to badmouth Kinko's a bit here. THEY SUCKED. The last time I printed my poster at Kinko's it sucked, too. I don't think I would go back there again. Can anyone recommend a good alternative besides not doing posters??? Last time we did it at home and they were just incredibly slow, every step took 24 hours, and it took multiple tries to get the poster looking halfway decent... so even though we started a week before we left for the meeting, we barely got it done in time.
This time they were faster, but the proofs looked crappy so we touched it up and re-sent the file. But, their website was down. Their email address bounced and the server claimed the file was too big... it wasn't. We finally got the file there.
So we went to pick it up and it was actually worse .... I just stood there, I was too frustrated to make any decisions or say anything, I just said "I can't use this."
Finally they gave me a discount and the manager said they could print it yet another time... that was when we went back, checked the files and realized it was their fault.... It's incredible that they don't even look at it on the screen before they print it, much less check it on the paper before they put it in the bag....
It's incredible how much time I wasted on their incompetence.
But wait! That was just the first half of the day! The poster session was at night and it was supposed to be one of those mixer things where recruiters come by. Well, I had only one recruiter who actually wanted to hear my spiel. It was a royal waste of time considering what we went through to get the stupid poster. My boyfriend's talk went the same way, nobody asked him any questions afterwards. But, later we saw a few people in the hallways who said they thought he did a good job. So that was good for him. A little exposure never hurts.
So I still say posters are pointless and it's not worth going if I'm not giving a talk. At least, the meetings I've been going to, it has been several years since I've had more than a handful of people come to my posters. Plus I suck at making posters, I'm never happy with how they look. And it's really time-consuming, not to mention expensive, compared to doing a talk.
So I will make a vow now, no more posters this year... I've made this vow every year for the last 3 years...
Anyway there were almost 200 people in my session, all of them looking for faculty positions. Granted this meeting was not really my field, I was an outlier and I knew it. But they claim they want more people like me, ha ha ha.
I don't know how they could possibly know I exist if they don't even come to my stupid poster.
After last week and seeing my actor friends, I have to quantitate how this is all going. Am I really enjoying any of this? Because much as they say it's a hard life being a performer and they hate trying to get work, when they're working they're having a great time for at least the 2 hours a day that the show is going on, and maybe more than that if the rehearsals are fun. Can I honestly say I have 2 hours a day when I'm really enjoying my work? I'm not sure it even averages out to 2 hours a day. Lately it's just work and I can't seem to get far enough away from it to actually feel like I'm on vacation. I just end up feeling guilty.
In NYC they have this phrase they use a lot, they say that these new kids who come in and take the shitty jobs are "hungry." I heard musicians say it, and I heard film editors say it, "they're just really hungry." And it builds the CV. Those people make contacts and eventually they get good jobs. But I feel like I've being doing the shitty jobs for 10 years and I'm just not hungry enough to do it anymore.
It helped that I ran into a couple of other people who said they feel the same way. They said they're tired of being at the bench, that they have students who do the technical stuff and they enjoy directing the research and they're ready to move up. And they're the same age as me. So I felt somewhat vindicated.
On another note, I saw a friend who got married last year and he said his advisor was very unhappy about it. His advisor was afraid he'd spend all his time worrying about mortgages. Well now his wife is pregnant and he's afraid to tell his advisor. I guess I find the whole thing ironic because he's an evangelical christian, yes you wouldn't guess but we went to high school together. Anyway his wife doesn't have a job, nevermind a career... of course this guy is worried, he has to bring home the bacon after all. But the world I live in, where the woman actually has a career herself
and wants the chance to consider children without sacrficing her career
is something that doesn't even register with people like him. Needless to say, while I think it's really sad that his advisor is such a jerk, it's hard for me to be too sympathetic.
That said, I should go take a shower and go to bed. I haven't slept nearly enough, which is another reason I'm frustrated nearly to tears by this whole trip. But one final note: this meeting was vastly a white male majority. I forgot how bad that could be. It was totally alienating, and it didn't help that most of the older men were blatantly scanning me up and down. I wasn't wearing anything remotely sexy or revealing, but they were definitely checking me out as if I were anything but a scientific colleague.
Hard to take yourself seriously when you're alternately ignored and objectified. Definitely not a recipe for recruiting more women to science.