So much to do, so little ability to focus.
It's funny how the things we most love about research can also be the things we most hate.
I'm having the problem right now that the variety, the endless possibilities, the irregularity that I love most about working in a lab.
There are too many things I could do, and I am really hating it.
No one thing stands out as having much more potential to be fun or insightful than the others, and I am particularly bothered that none of it seems potentially fun at all.
Usually data cheers me up, but I don't have any right now. None of the things I need to do is likely to lead to exciting data anytime soon.
And so I am debating what to do. That is another thing I can do- take stock, plan, collect supplies.
This week, I am wishing all I had to do was collect pieces of flair and go through the motions.
Sometimes I want that assembly-line job where I could just tune out and go on auto-pilot.
When I feel like this, I usually try to line up something reasonably mechanical or repetitive to do, but right now I don't have anything like that going. Getting to that point in any of my current activities will require more thought and creativity and supply-getting.
This is when I guess if I were a PI, I would be sitting on committees and troubleshooting for my students. I'd like to think I would be enjoying it, because focusing on other people's problems usually helps me with my own (sort of like reading blogs).
Meanwhile, because I don't want to be a postdoc forever (or at all), I have been doing these interesting career exercises where you are supposed to write out what your perfect job would be like. You're supposed to visualize.
My perfect job would be like FSP's, and I would like to be every bit as serene as she seems.
But since I am a postdoc, my best options for taking a step back (while still showing up to work) are things like going to seminars and reading. I tried reading first, but I can't focus, and it's just adding to my feeling that everything I do is just a drop in a giant ocean of scientists, so why would anyone care.
Usually, going to seminars can be really good for breaking the monotony or giving me ideas, but lately it can also be a bit heartbreaking when it seems like all the talks are for graduating students (getting on with their lives) or "peers" interviewing for jobs (the job I want, also being forced to watch other people getting on with their lives).
More or less heartbreaking, too, are the seminars from senior profs who are presenting the work of a lifetime, and I am still debating just how badly I ever want to get to that point.
When it's this much sacrifice and daily misery, you have to ask yourself, how much is this really worth to me? Haven't I already paid enough?
Speaking of, did you see Southpark this week? I feel like that, where Stan gives his money to the banker and the banker takes it and says:
"And... it's gone. Thank you, please move along."
I was reading Dr. J & H's idea about a karma bank, re: the idea of making your own luck.
I really do believe that's true, in terms of data. Of course, nobody will know about it if you can't figure out how to make it into a story. But still, basically true that the more experiments you do, the more data you will get.
It's just not true in terms of jobs. Politics, against all logic, are not really tit-for-tat.
Especially when you're dealing with soul-sucking parasitic PIs.
So I'm not sure what I've been making all this time, karma-wise, but I would really like to cash it in for some kind of consolation prize if I can't get the stuffed bunny I really wanted.
I would like that consolation karma bunny now, preferably stuffed with cotton candy.