Updates from the trenches: Dr. Babysitter.
I often find myself the repository for random bits of information, some of which are crises I can really do nothing about. Sometimes I can help.
The blog helps me cope with both.
1. The friend-of-a-friend grad student.
Her 2nd-ish year qualifying exam is coming up. She did the right thing and met with each of her committee members before the actual exam. But it kind of backfired. One of her committee members called her advisor and said he doesn't think she has what he called "sufficient logical thinking ability."
Point here: Nobody does this kind of thing to male grad students. Ever.
Silver lining: Her advisor disagrees with the guy. (At least for now.)
If I hear any more about the outcome, I will blog it.
2. A grad student friend.
The first chapter of her thesis completed, her advisor is coming up for tenure soon, he decided to send it to Two-Name Journal.
She has never written a paper before, never published before. Still keeps getting the journal name wrong because she doesn't really care that much.
Over a month later, paper comes back un-reviewed. She's thinking, fine, we'll send it to 2nd tier two-name journal.
Advisor instead wants her to do the same experiment 10 times more with different samples and resubmit to the journal that wouldn't review it in the first place.
So this is already fucked up, right? Especially since it's not really what she and her committee agreed would be her thesis project.
But it gets better. When she said look, this is going to take forever and there's still no guarantee it will get published, he said "Look, I'm the PI here, I get to decide."
She says she feels like her spirit is broken.
3. Unemployed friend.
You'll all be glad to hear I offered to teach her everything I know. She has a lot of time on her hands and is going a bit stir-crazy. I think she's going to take me up on the offer.
Point here: I realized I do have time to help her, and there is something in it for me, so I don't feel like I'm being a martyr.
4. Postdoc friend who wants a job in industry.
Has been asking what he can do for me in exchange for me teaching him one of my more unusual, yet coveted skills. We're still negotiating what he can do for me and when I can teach him.
But I think it will be very funny if he and #3 both get jobs in industry while I'm still struggling. Although honestly, the economy looking the way it is, I doubt they're going to get jobs all that soon anyway.
Looking into getting a therapist. Yeah, it's time. I burst into tears at another unsuspecting coworker yesterday. I can't go on like this. I don't know if it will help, but damn if I'm not going to spend all my benefits while I have them.
I also made a dental appointment. So there.
6. My PI.
PI is apparently feeling a bit defeated.
Here I thought, I picked this person with all the experience, I thought by the time you reach that level you're more weathered and better able to deal with setbacks. Maybe even view them as just a small part of the job, you pick yourself back up again and keep going.
Right? Because it's part of your job? You can't wallow in self-pity and anger for more than, I don't know, a month each time something gets rejected?
As it turns out, we are going to have to take turns being each other's cheerleaders.
I dislike this part of my job, aka Leading Up, but I think I can do it now that I understand that's what I have to do.
Apparently it is my turn to keep my advisor going, because I DO believe in my work, I have to be the Obama here and keep chanting Yes We Can.
But I have to say here, something is seriously wrong with this system where EVERY PI I have ever worked with required me to SIT with them and make them read my manuscripts. Because otherwise they will not do the job.
And before you say it must be because I'm a terrible writer (blog popularity notwithstanding!), everyone in the lab does this babysitting nonsense.
It not matter if you are a postdoc or if you have published several papers already.
I did it as a grad student because I believed that, like most grad students, I would learn something in the process.
But as a senior postdoc? It's not only an enormous waste of time, it's degrading, stupid, and makes me wonder how any of them ever got to where they are now.
Who made them do their work when they were younger? Their PI? Their mother?
Yes, I am laughing at this ridiculous situation. I can't help it. It's just so unbelievably stupid.
It makes me think about those ultra-mature little kids who take care of their alcoholic parents and call 911 when mommy passes out on the kitchen floor and hits her head. I seriously can't think of a better analogy.
The good news? Advisor likes to work on manuscripts to avoid other more onerous tasks (yes, this is mature time management at its best!).
So the bad budget news? Other irritating chores? Working in my favor.
Helping me is a day at the beach compared to that. Especially when I'm chanting Yes We Can. Yes We Can. Yes We Can.