Every year, there is a Big Annual Meeting for everyone in my field. The first one I went to was really euphoric, because it was the first big meeting I had been to of any kind. I got tons of great feedback and attention, for the first time, for my work. Great fun! Almost glamorous!
Since then, it has been, on the whole, a lot less fun. For a variety of reasons.
I swear the science gets worse every year (or am I just getting smarter?).
I swear the politics get worse every year (or am I just getting a clue?).
I swear they keep adding more sessions and starting earlier and ending later, every year.
I know I'm getting older every year. I can feel it.
The weather is ALWAYS bad. Make that awful. AWFUL.
Since it's really expensive, I usually stay far from the meeting and commute.
All of that means I don't get to do a lot of socially-important drinking, which I don't really enjoy anyway, because I'm too tired and have to worry about driving or missing a train. I'm also exhausted from the already long days combined with having to get up earlier and travel, sometimes for up to an hour, in freezing weather, cursing the whole time, both ways.
But today I was looking at my calendar, thinking how I'm dreading this meeting but how I really have to go and network network network...!
...and then I realized yet another reason why I always hate this meeting. I don't know why I never made this connection before. Maybe it just hadn't been enough years yet for me to see the pattern.
Yup, you guessed it. I ALWAYS have my period the week of this meeting. Or at the very least, extremely severe pms. You know, the kind of pms that comes with pre-cramp cramps. The kind I never had until the last few years.
New study: Scientists used to believe that reading too much decreased women's fertility. Could it be that becoming a scientist makes your periods worse? News at 11.
Nevermind that the meeting isn't always exactly the same days. Though, I don't actually know which gods of science decide which days it will be. For all I know, they're using a moon chart to pick the schedule! Somehow, when this meeting rolls around, I am always in the same part of my cycle.
The sucky part.
I know I can take Midol + vicadin or whatever it is they sell these days.
I also know can drink special tea, wear a bulky-though-mood-saving thermo heating pad thing under my already uncomfortable business casual attire.
I know I can schedule my day to make bathroom trips at the right times, and wear dark skirts or pants so I won't care if I'm leaking blood onto dry-clean-only.
I know I can skip more sessions than I used to as a grad student, and drink in the afternoon if I want to, since I actually have been going long enough now to actually know some people who would be happy to join me for prolonged postdoc kvetching sessions.
I know all of this, but I can already imagine the cramps just thinking about it. The back pain, the headaches, the fatigue that never fades.
It's really hard to smile, give your spiel, and network network network when all you want is to go home, curl up in a ball and wonder what you did in a past life to deserve being born a primate female.
If it weren't career suicide to do so, I'd wear a Carl's Jr. shirt with a picture of a big cheeseburger, fries and a coke that said:
Leave me alone, I'm menstruating.
And I'd dance everywhere I went, singing maniacally....I'm singing in the rain...