Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Thunder has sounded sporadically for days. It warns of an upcoming storm – one that might bring precious rain for my flowers and unmowed lawn - that never materializes. So Chienne hides in the bathtub and I eagerly glance out windows in hopes of seeing soothing water fall from the sky. Though it has darkened a bit, I’m losing hope that any precipitation will come.

Likewise, my motivation threatens and thunders, then dissipates before anything substantial happens.

Cleaning supplies litter my bedroom and bathroom – a vacuum in the former, a steam cleaner in the latter. There are paper towels and garbage bags and dirty laundry. Clutter is scattered through the living room and kitchen as well. I thought – hours earlier – if I started in the bathroom, I could use the empty garbage bag there to pick up the trash everywhere else. Then I could vacuum, put that away, then steam clean the closet again. Yet I tend to walk to the bathroom, sigh, then return to the living room.

Demanding much of my attention – compulsive as it is in at least one respect – is the Penguin Project. I am listed as third author on a paper that – though much delayed in its submission – is rather impressive. Since the primary findings are outside my scope, it makes sense that I slid down the author list. This, by the way, is why I dislike working with some junior faculty members. Penguin is still trying to get first author papers and when working with students, that’s not ideal. Therefore, he and his student are sharing first authorship and I come next. So, fine.

Yet my findings are interesting in my field, I think. I rarely get datasets this large – I can do real statistics! – and can’t seem to let myself completely move on. I used a sensitive histogram metric to measure this feature. Then I found another method while working on a different project and thought I could apply it to this dataset. Which I did. It sort of worked! If I use a one sided statistic, I can get a significant p-value! And – based on my histogram results – it makes sense to do so. So I made a figure yesterday, thinking that if I could visualize the results better, I might come up with some compelling discussion for the paper I can’t resist writing.

Then last night I decided that I could change some of the methods to get at the true question I’m asking. So I dropped Friend off to get her car this morning, then returned home to work on my precious data. After making the appropriate correction, I slowly made my way through the patients and finally calculated statistics. And one of them remained significant – 0.033! – as persistent and real as, I think, inexplicable. I wanted to confirm or deny Penguin’s arguments, but find I lack the confidence to do either. But I do think there’s something here. Something worth publishing and discussing. A line to put on my CV in an attempt to validate the time I spent here.

But I’m flat – perhaps tired, maybe worried. I don’t want to attend the retreat and leave Chienne at home without me. We’re conquering the peeing inside problem with careful attention. I drag the dog out – fireworks or thunder be damned – each night to potty and insist that she does so before returning to the safety of her bathtub. Yet I’m resigned to my fate as the retreat looms ever closer. I have my poster printed and my abstract book sitting menacingly on my desk. I found someone else to drive and I much prefer riding – with my book or laptop in hand – than driving. He even found enough people for his car to get reimbursed for the trip, which means I don’t have to contribute for gas. And I like staying in hotels and should learn a considerable amount while there. Yet I pout.

Mom is doing better, becoming increasingly independent and sounding strong a larger percentage of the time. She still has her moments of sickness and miserable pain, but I’m exceedingly proud of how well she’s coping. And I hate that I’m so far away and can’t pop in for a visit. Hate it. I talk to my parents twice a day, but it’s not the same as being there and helping out.

I don’t know. I don’t know what’s wrong. Friend thinks I might need more anti-depressants, but I refuse wholeheartedly. I want to move north with a desperation that continues to grow. I like people who – when unhappy – work to change their circumstances. But I also admire making the best of what one has. I am here for the near future and while I’ll continue to watch job listings carefully, I don’t want to hurry my post-doctoral time and leave valuable projects unfinished. So I want to make this time happy – productive and focused and lovely.

So I’ll clean my house a bit – that always makes me feel better. Then I’ll shower – another nice trick to relax and calm down. Perhaps I’ll make a grilled cheese for comfort dinner. Cuddle with the dog and see if Sprout will let me pet him without playfully but painfully biting me. Then I’ll call Mom and mull over my data some more. And fervently hope that the upcoming retreat provides fodder for blog posts more interesting than this one.

1 comment:

Joy said...

I hope you have relaxed tonight. I love grilled cheese sandwiches too. Yummm

Btw, don't forget to remove my blog from your blogroll. LoL You know what I did? I wrote and asked the new blogger if she/he would change their url address. LoL Not really needed but it'd be nicer if people wouldn't thin that was my blog now.

LoL Make me a grilled cheese too, okay?

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