Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Not a response to anything, just a post.

Today was, despite all my venting yesterday, a pretty okay day.

My student is improving. That is fun for me and saves me work and time, so it feels like progress. It almost feels like I am getting twice as much done (although the reality is probably not... but I am about 25% less tired).

I am, despite myself, getting some ideas for Christmas presents for people. Some years I am very inspired about this. I don't know why. This might be one of those years. Maybe it's because today I both

a) did an experiment and
b) got data that advances my project.

That always makes me happy. In fact, I can't think of a single time when I got useful, progress-provoking data and thought "yeah, whatever."

Nope, that has never happened.

Not to jinx anything, but I have been on a bit of a data streak the last week or so. I am hoping it lasts. I am trying very hard to enjoy the science part of science for science's sake. And it is mostly working!

It helps that we haven't had so many meetings of the lab. Lately I hate meetings of the lab. Maybe because we have a lot of arrogant little fuckers in our lab right now. I'm waiting for them to realize that arrogance gets you nowhere. It could be a while.

Oh and to answer the person whose comment I deleted (again, this post is really not a response to comments), re: telling people not to join large labs with 20 postdocs. I TOTALLY see where you're coming from with this. I used to think this, too, actually. But it's not that simple. In some fields, there is nowhere else to go from which to get a job.

In fact, there are some fields where the ONLY way to get your papers published and get a job is to go through certain gates, and those gates happen to be guarded by two-headed dogs .... and they are labs with 20 postdocs (or more).

Meanwhile, my visit with my therapist this week was helpful, and progress was made, in the sense that I FINALLY got through to her -although apparently not to everyone who reads this blog- that

a) Most days, I just really really want to keep working on my project.

b) I can't take my project to a "smaller" place, because there are a limited number of places where I could actually do it.

c) Industry is non-appealing first and foremost because I would have to give up my project, and the trade-offs are not worth it to me (more money, but other than that I have a hard time seeing how it's going to be so much different). So that's what I mean when I say lame-ass. Sometimes.

And my therapist was like, OK, I think I finally get it. You don't want to give up your project!

Aha! Houston, we have signal.

In other good news, I am making some progress on networking, I think. In theory I am still kind of on the neverending hunt for a 'mentor', although I have to say at this point I think the likelihood of finding a soulmate type of mentor is about equal to finding a unicorn in the chemical hood, but I guess you never know.

(aside: I think the unicorn reference came from the pegasus skit in Robot Chicken this week. Anybody catch that?)

To answer JaneB's question (although this post is really not a response to comments), no, I am still not applying for jobs.

I am trying to rationalize this by knowing that there's no point in applying until my CV is competitive (I did that experiment already, see the earliest posts from the archive, obviously it does not work or I wouldn't be blogging what I'm blogging...).

And I rationalize waiting because continuing to cultivate my network in the meantime means that I will maximize my chances when/if I do apply.

And maybe the economy will be on the upswing. Or something.

Re: setting a deadline, that has already been set. Not by me. I have been working with a known expiration date for a while, which is, yes, adding to my stress and general state of mind (or lack thereof).

However, I don't see any viable alternatives at this point but to soldier on and try not to worry constantly about what happens when we get to the point of lemming-ness and have to say "What next?"

Today was, in fact, such a good day that I was seriously wondering if there's something to this Positive Affirmation stuff. The idea of changing your negative thought patterns, I can kind of understand it from a cognitive science perspective, that replacing pointless worrying with positive sentiments could be very uplifting.

So I have been practicing my positive affirmations. Want to hear them?

Of course you do. They're things like this:

I deserve to be heard.

I make important contributions to science, and I feel fulfilled.

I floss, and it makes me feel virtuous.

There are some more, but I can't remember them right now. I guess I better practice until they're ingrained in my ears, on my tongue, and the inside of my eyelids.... and to try to shut up the little font person who says yeah, but nobody cares.

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At 8:13 PM, Blogger quietandsmalladventures said...

ok, so i guess what i would try to figure out and add to the affirmations is what conditions would make this situation more bearable?

btw, love your affirmations :) mine are: 1) i am smart enough to figure out these problems and 2) i am capable enough to get good data

every little bit helps :)

At 8:40 PM, Blogger Ambivalent Academic said...

I floss, and it makes me feel virtuous.

Me too! And it also makes me feel virtuous! Especially since I was w/o dental insurance for a few years and the next time I went in for a "cleaning" my HMO and prescribed dentist tried to take me to the cleaners. I left without their "services" and now I am much more religious about flossing regularly.

I've been reading for a while and have been at a loss about what to say about your situation...I felt that the "chin-up, soldier" response probably wouldn't have been helpful and that commiserating might have made things even more miserable.

I'm really glad to see that you are having good days too! I hope they continue for you.

And I love your affirmations.

At 9:18 PM, Blogger Phagenista said...

Continue flossing, and continuing doing science you believe in, Ms PhD.

At 11:34 PM, Blogger JAC said...

Having a project that you love is a major benefit. You need to find things that inspire you and use them to get past all of the BS that life can throw at you.

Good luck and happy hunting in the quest for answers. :-)

At 4:08 AM, Blogger JaneB said...

That makes sense, and glad to hear that the science is going well - you're right, some science has to be done in places with BigShineyMachines(TM) which tends to mean big clusters (which can then be a pain...).

It's useful for me as a reader that you've reiterated that your priority is not giving up your project - it's not been clear lately since so many of your vents have been about the things that make it harder to get faculty positions, so it's easy to read here as if that's your goal, and therefore make suggestions/comments as if that's your goal.

At 5:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is more important to you at this point - your project, or your career??

I tried very hard to hold on to my project because I liked it, I had publications in it so it seemed like the logical step to build on to try to get a job.

But my PI wouldn't let me take my project with me. He wouldn't let me claim "ownership" of it beyond writing papers. we had a falling out and are not on speaking terms anymore. (He initiated the falling out, I was happy to maintain a cordial professional relationship but he cut me off completely. I guess he was threatened by me. He is a pretty young rising star PI and trying to build himself up, go figure.)

I started a new project with a different PI and completely ceased to care about my former project now that I have something new to develop. It's amazing how quickly one can stop caring about something once you have a different thing to focus on... The new PI is not that great or interested in 'mentoring' but at least he is not a friggin' paranoid control freak. yeah it stings that my former PI is still working off my old project and claiming total ownership of it (he just hired new postdocs to take over where I left off). But since I have new territory to work on, and our paths don't cross, I really don't care that much about what I left behind. I just moved on.

At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flossing makes me feel virtuous too!

Floss on!!

At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As to the soulmate mentor: never going to happen. And I don't mean that as an insult to you or your prospective mentors. Think about it though - can one single friend be your everything? Or do you have science friends and non-science friends. I tend to think of it like any other relationship. Asking one person to be everything is too much to ask, and will doom the relationship. Would you ask a partner to fill every need in your life? Watch them run to the door!
There are people I discuss science with, and people I talk personal things with an quite often, they aren't the same people.

As an aside - I'm happy to see an increase in positivity in your blog. I must admit in the past there was so much negativity that I had to look away. Here's to positive affirmations!


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