Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dear _______,

Dear Friends Who Are Getting Married,

Please realize that if you send me your invitations less than 2 months in advance of the event,

with no other warning that you're planning this,

and it would require me flying long distances,

and you don't respond to my emails asking how badly you want me to come?

I'm probably not going to come or send you a gift.

It's just that simple. I don't think I'm being unreasonable about this. I understand that you're busy, but so am I.




Dear Energy Levels,

I have been battling with you lately. I was sick a couple of months ago and couldn't really get you back up to normal. Then I tried a few new things and I've been starting to feel a little better. But today I just want to stay home and do nothing.

I do not have a meter to measure you, so I have to guess what will help or not help. I don't know if I am tired and need to rest, or if I am just being lazy.

Please just understand that I need you to be up during the day, and off at night. If you could launch me out of bed in the morning, ready to take on the world, that would be great (but I'm not holding my breath).

That is all.



Dear PIs,

When I give you something to read and you don't get back to me, I have to wonder why you are so rude.

Would it fucking kill you to tell me you're

a) busy
b) going to be out of town?

Or if you've already read it and you think it's

a) awesome, doesn't need any further work
b) complete crap


Otherwise I can only assume that you are going to

a) steal my ideas for your grant
b) tell me later that you forgot and never looked at it and can I please print it out.

How long do I wait before I ask? I am tired of having to be a pest.




Dear Laundry,

In the absence of Rosie the Robot, I am still wondering why I have so much of you so often. Why you do not pick yourselves up off the floor and sort yourselves into baskets like any other self-respecting dirty clothing should do?

You make me wonder if I shouldn't throw most of you out and get new clothes that are not so lazy. But that would require shopping, which I hate. I used to love it; now I hate it. Maybe it's because I have no money? And trying on clothes makes me feel fat.

Laundry, I know you need washing and my issues with you are mostly about other things, but I am tired of you staring at me from the pile that never seems to go away.

I love going out of town because it means I don't have to look at your dirty face for at least a few days.

So there. You will miss me and beg me to take care of you when I get back. But I'm not going to promise you're not going in the trash!



Dear Holidays When Everything Is Closed,

You bore me. I do not celebrate you, and you make it so I can't do anything I would normally want to do.

I wish you had less of a stranglehold on our culture, so that we didn't all have to close up shop just to acknowledge your boring passing every year.

Seriously. Go away.




At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like how cathartic your blog is... Get it out... yes... working in science can suck... we're in the same boat..

At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a regular reader...but mostly anon, so we'll just call me PhD D for now.

Love the silliness of this post and the TRUTH behind the Friends Who Are Getting Married. Those not in science just don't understand that it's not feasible to pick up and leave with like 5-6 weeks notice. I got married during my first year and gave most people at least 6 months notice of date so they could plan porposals, defenses, experiments, conferences....

Why doesn't everyone do this??????

At 2:16 PM, Blogger Unbalanced Reaction said...

I can't wait to have my own washer and dryer.

And a great big WORD to your wedding invite letter. I am so tired of what I can only refer to as "fishing for wedding gifts."

At 5:00 PM, Anonymous dionne said...

Dear Ms PhD

Hi my name is Dionne Payn, and I've been following your blog for some time. As a female scientist myself, I can certainly identify with some of the issues that you've raised - most recently your post about the 35 hour work week. I won't rant about it here - I left a comment on your post to do that.

Anyway, the reason I am contacting you is because I would love you to be involved in a project I am starting which is a series of teleseminars with successful high profile women in science and business. Rather than focusing on the negative issues around women in science, this project aims to do three things:

Promote the achievements of successful women scientists;

Support the career progression of women in science

Inspire women in science through forming networks with other female scientists worldwide

During the first stage of this project I'll be running a series of weekly teleseminars to explore the challenges facing women in science, and interviewing high profile scientists and business coaches who will talk about strategies that we can use to overcome them.

The teleseminars start this Tuesday 14th April and are free to take part in. Participants can either phone in or listen to the interview live over the internet. There is also the opportunity to ask questions during the call.

To get the details for the call you'll need to register at:

So I'd like to invite you to join us on the call, and I would be honoured if you would promote the teleseminars to your blog readers.

Please feel free to email me at if you have any questions.

Kind regards


At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, to all the letters. I feel exactly the same way. Let me know if communicating via letters worked because nothing I have tried works.

At 10:22 PM, Blogger GirlPostdoc said...

Sometimes you just crack me up, MsPhD.

At 12:16 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Dear madscientist,

I deleted your comment.

As for what you said about being a busy PI who is also a person with other responsibilities:

It's not my problem that you have other things to do, and you may or may not have a family who also needs your attention.

All I'm asking is that you communicate with people in your lab, at least to say if/when you will get back to us, as that is part of your job (much of which we already do for you).

I don't really care to hear all your excuses about other things you're doing, much of which I do, too. Most of things you do are NOT unique to a PI's job vs. my job as a postdoc, including but not limited to teaching, paperwork, writing grants and papers, organizing seminars, and speaking at meetings.

If I don't get back to you immediately when you ask for something, I'm in trouble. I think the same should go for you.

If I can manage my time effectively, so can you. If you can't, you should just say so. Not communicating at all is just LAME. The least you could do is have an automatic email reply that says something like "I know I'm being a flake, I promise I will get my shit together by X date."

And if you still can't understand the purpose of a blog, maybe I need to spell it out for you: NOT ALL POSTS ARE SERIOUS ONES. Especially the ones tagged "silly".

Thx so much. Enjoy your nice PI salary, not to mention getting credit for everything I publish (as if any of it was your idea and you didn't fight with me every step of the way!).



At 6:36 AM, Blogger Danielle said...

Ah yes, dear energy levels.

The only thing that got me to spring out of bed when I was getting my PhD was the knowledge that I had to catch a train to get into lab. And if I missed the train, the next one was 45 min later. Yes, 45 min. Believe me, that was enough to jolt me out of bed.

Now, the knowledge that I'll get stuck in rush hour is enough to give me somewhat of a nudge. But not as much as I need some days.

As for the PIs and getting back to you about papers. My PhD advisor always got drafts back to me by the next day, so I count myself VERY fortunate. Oh right, except when I was writing my thesis. Then it took, oh, about 2 weeks. Doesn't that make sense?

My postdoc PI would at least give me estimates. Not that he met them, but it at least made me feel like he noticed and remembered.

So, yes, being a semi-pest who says things like "I was wondering when you think you'll be able to get comments back to me on my paper" is, unfortunately, necessary in some cases. Good luck with that.

At 7:19 AM, Anonymous bsci said...

Sure this post is labelled "silly", but I can't tell how annoyed you are about your friends getting married. They very well might have reasons for such a short window (i.e. the only time key relatives would be able to attend, before the baby is born, ...) They might be thankful for friends that drop everything to attend, but have no issue with friends who can't do so. Have they given any impression that they'd be hurt if you didn't attend?

As for as gifts, I really don't see how that is related. If the wedding was 6 months in the future and you couldn't attend, would you mail a gift? If you think they invited you and knew you couldn't attend, but wanted a gift, that's an unlikely, but different story. Why not just make a donation somewhere in their honor?

At 4:32 PM, Anonymous geek said...

I must be an even bigger geek than everyone here (which is saying a lot since this is a science blog)...but I thought the "energy levels" being addressed were those of atoms and molecules. I was wondering, why would you write a letter to the energy levels in atoms, what problem could you possibly have with them?? that is, unless unless in your experiment you're having a hard time measuring their transitions (as I am).

At 4:01 PM, Blogger madscientist said...

All I have to really say is "Wow".

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Arlenna said...

I recommend 1000-2000 IUs a day of vitamin D for the energy levels and motivation. It changed my life last year when I was coming around the bend of depression and despair. I still take 1000 IUs every day.

At 2:32 PM, Blogger butterflywings said...

Ha, great post :-)
And what IS it with that? Can't get up, can't sleep. Aaaargh.

At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Peter Pruyn said...

This was brilliant.


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