Monday, November 19, 2007

Check! (And a story)

The car is packed, house is clean, laundry nearly done. My paper is out to co-authors, last batch of the huge project is starting to analyze, and book is coming along. I have a list of things to get done while home and hope that my parents have a relaxed holiday planned so I have time to sit with my laptop and work from there. In short, I'm feeling rather pleased with myself and ready to travel home. I just watered plants and paid bills, so if I can catch the cat in the morning, we're good to go.

While I have been checking the job announcements semi-regularly, I've yet to apply for anything else. I seem to have my heart set on the position for which I'll soon interview. Luckily, most of the work I'm doing lately will be included in my seminar. I wrote the abstract today and while I'm going to wait a couple days to send it (in case I decide to edit a bit more), I feel it's strong. I hope it's strong. I'm ready to leave here and think I want to go there. It'd be nice if everything fell into place.

The only problem, I decided as I loaded a few more dishes in my dishwasher and anticipated watching CBS sitcoms tonight, was that I didn't have a decent blog post in mind. Then I remembered I do have a recent story I haven't told yet. I'm rocking the to do list lately.

I wore my hair down on Friday. I straightened it and clipped back a few locks so they wouldn't hang in my eyes. I decided to wear black since it's slimming and I actually took care brushing on powder. The reason I decided to look nicer than normal was that I'd be meeting someone new.

Dr. Icing introduced me to Clark via email. And since the same Dr. Icing did me a favor by providing a resource to DayByDay, I quickly wrote to Clark to ask what I could do for him.

Hi Katie,
Thanks for following up. I am a [descriptive] postdoc in [Semi-related department], and I am interested in [reasonable project]. I have a background in [reasonably impressive information]. I met with Dr. Icing to see if I could be involved with his patients in a clinical research capacity, and he presented [work Katie hoped to do].

It would be nice to meet with you and speak about the project more, and for me to get a better feel for the boundaries and where I may apply my background best. I will be gone next week, but I could potentially meet this Thursday or Friday, or the week following Thanksgiving. Please let me know if any times/days are best for you.

Thanks very much. I look forward to meeting you.


It made sense for him to meet me and I was happy to provide help. So I composed a quick reply.

I can absolutely make time to meet tomorrow or Friday. Honestly though, we hit a wall with recruiting patients. So if Dr. Icing is thinking he might find some folks for me to study, I have an IRB and funding to do so. You're more than welcome to apply a couple of extra experiments - [stuff where I prove I know his field].

The alternative is to work with [one of the polar bears]. I'm almost positive she does all the [stuff Clark wants to do]. She's outstanding and has been a big help as I set up and tried to interpret my results, so meeting with her might be wise too. I've cc'ed her on this email and hope she can find time to touch base with you soon.

But I'm also happy to help personally. If there's a good time to talk, just let me know.

Thanks and good luck,
I felt good about the whole thing. I'd been honest yet helpful and offered him another avenue should my assistance fail him. And he wrote back right away.

Thanks for your reply. I think it would be great just to meet you and to speak. Would you have time this Friday between 11am and 1pm? I have meetings before and after that, but if you have a few minutes to spare, I can come to your office. Would that work?

Thanks for forwarding that email to [other polar bear]. I did my PhD work here, and I remember her, but I do not know her well. I think it would be great to meet with her.

I look forward to meeting you, and I would be very interested in hearing more about what you are doing. If those times on Friday work, please let me know, or if not, I am sure we can meet the week after Thanksgiving.

Thanks Katie.


I read somewhere that you can tell when someone likes you if he uses your name. I tend to be fond of people who like me, so I made time to write him again.

I try to go to a seminar on Friday afternoon, but am otherwise free. So anytime between 11 and 1 would work well. My office is in [Department] in [general location]. I think the room is [some number that ended up being close but not right]? But I'll check on that tomorrow. It's right [more convoluted but specific directions]. If you'd like to meet there, I can show you some results and give you some documentation on our plans. If it's more convenient for me to come to your offices, I really don't mind doing that though. I'll look forward to meeting you either way.

(And if you'd rather wait until after Thanksgiving, that's fine too. I've been here 2 years and got a very slow start, so when I meet people starting new research projects, I tend to be extra excited since I was so disappointed in my early work. Feel free to tell me to calm down.)

See how I was being extra friendly?

Katie, honestly, this is my second postdoc, so I know what you mean about a slow start, and I was at a place previously where there were lots of resources, but I could not access them, so I am excited about starting things here. I can tell you more when I see you and we can share war stories.

I know exactly where your office is. I have a meeting from 9:45 until about 11, so I will come over to your office after that, maybe around 11 or 11:10. Will that work for you?

See you soon,

He used my name again, so I decided we could probably plan a wedding for the Spring. I also looked him up online and sighed with relief when I saw that he's very average looking. I get all flustered in front of people who are too attractive. But I told him that time would be fine and I got all pretty (or as pretty as I'm able lately) on Friday morning. I arrived early and started working on my current obsession until 10:45 then pulled out files and printed a couple of documents so I'd be ready for Clark.

First, he's married. Second, he was terribly sweet and we did share war stories. There are resources you can't use? Me too. You worry about being supported completely by soft money? Me too! You left your last position early because it just wasn't working? I interview next month! So we laughed and talked and discussed the difference between a good idea and a feasible plan. He said he hoped we could work together before I left - I was so friendly and smart. I offered to introduce him to a few more of my favorite collaborators in the hopes that he'd find a couple little projects that would earn him publications.

The moral of my story? I think it's hard. Doing research, getting trained, developing networks, becoming independent. I was thinking this weekend that it pleases me to work though. To finally see the pattern and to retest and find it just might be correct. To make a figure that's just perfect. To find papers that are very relevant even though it's taken months of searching to get to them. There must be something worthwhile that keeps so many people tied to a lifestyle that is often uncertain and frustrating and consuming.

Perhaps part of it is meeting a new person, sharing war stories and feeling as though you've found a new friend.

1 comment:

Quiche said...

This was such an entertaining story Katie. I love the way you write, and how stories flow! Too bad he's married though... ;)

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