Saturday, February 02, 2008

The bad gets worse.

“There are always workarounds,” I reminded myself. “And it could always be worse.”

And so went Friday. I talked to people and moved files around. Found new software and emailed more people to ask questions. I know have Plans A, B and C to make this experiment happen. I will get my way. But the lip still twitches. I was going to spare Charlie the rant on our phone call last night - especially as he makes some effort to read my blog and we haven’t been talking often at all - but I couldn’t do it. So my language deteriorated and I whined and cursed and fumed.

But there is a way around the problem and I will implement my plan after I talk to my patient again on Monday. We’ll figure something out.

“The good news is that I’m looking forward to my upcoming trip,” I told him, striving for something that wasn’t in the continuing theme of ‘oh, poor me.’ “I haven’t been back to grad school for a long time and those last few trips were unpleasant.”

“Is it an interview?” he asked, as he’s been rather in demand after a bout of meetings lately.

“Nope,” I reported happily. “Just a chance to go back and see some friends. Meet with Advisor and his group, give a talk I enjoy, wander around campus again. Not that I’d turn down a chance to go back to work, I think, but I told him not to twist arms to force people to meet with me. It should be an easy trip.”

I had a dream the other night - one of many that are vivid and memorable of late - that I went and was talking to Advisor before he introduced me and there were many people in the room, waiting to hear me speak, and I walked up, waved my hand and shrugged. “It’s not that important,” I said. “Nothing you really need to know, I’m afraid. So you can go home early.”

I felt disappointed as people filed out of the room. I wondered why I hadn’t given my pretty talk about my exciting preliminary results. Why had I come at all if I wasn’t even going to try to make my work seem important and interesting?

“Workarounds,” I muttered as I tried to reassure myself while brushing my teeth. I speak very well, I’ve given this talk before and it’s kind of cool and very relevant to this audience. It’s good work, I told myself firmly. It forms the basis of two of my papers out for review and I’m hopeful that both find homes in their current journals. Please, reviewers? The study does have obvious flaws, but it’s still worthwhile. Still good.

“Oh, no,” I breathed when I opened my email after waking from my afternoon nap today. Both abstracts I submitted for our annual meeting didn’t make it in. Not even one. Not even for a poster. And while I could offer excuses (Upwards of 6,000 submissions or something! And, um, the particular subfield I chose is quite overpopulated!), the only real conclusion is that they weren’t good enough. And I really thought they’d both get in pretty easily.

I’m shrinking into myself. This too much rejection and too little encouragement and hope. I don’t battle back well in these situations. I’m good when I’m winning - when people give me what I want and think I’m charming and smart. But when they seem to think I’m inadequate and lame, I nod with heartbroken agreement and shuffle away, head down in shame. I know this about myself. Which is why I wrote the following to Friend earlier this morning:

OK, so I have a problem. This SPB thing made me realize that the emotional fallout will be considerable if JobOfChoice passes on me. I'm trying to prepare for it and I know the likely outcome is a rejection, but still. It's going to crush me, I think.

So my idea was to send out more CVs so that I had possibilities out there rather than having waited and done nothing, only to end up nowhere. But I look at the possibilities and think that I really don't want them. Some would be steps down, others steps in the wrong direction or with the wrong people. So that's just depressing.

My plan - because it’s all about the workaround - was to wait until the annual meeting and peruse the job boards, impress people with my abstracts and take meetings until I found the right job. Given that I’m not even sure there’s enough money for us to go - especially those of us who don’t have abstracts to present - I now need a workaround for my workaround. Currently, that plan involves drinking and crying.

Friend, bless her, asked if she could do anything.

Sure. Have a conference and accept my abstract. Give me money to do the experiments I want. Find me a job I want to have, then give it to me. Acquire a man I could love (and who would love me to distraction) and leave him on my doorstep.

In the interest of kicking me while I’m down, SPB just sent email that indicated Boss would provide the money I needed. No explanation of why he jerked me around or how I irritated him enough to take something from me that he has freely available. (Case in point? I went to the experimental area on Friday and nobody was using it until 3:00. 9AM-3PM = completely free. But I still can’t have it.)

So, curses and swear words and much pouting!

I suppose it’s good I only finished half of that bottle of wine the other night. Now I want the rest while I weep over my failure. And lack of ideas of good workarounds. (In all honesty for those of you worried about my drinking of late, I actually have a couple glasses while I clean or watch television, then I go to sleep. It's sad, yes, but not worrisome.)


Anonymous said...

so sorry things are not looking up. i hope the trip is fun, sounds like it will be, and that things improve soon!

Propter Doc said...

I clean. I clean frantically when I'm pissed off. The lab has never been so tidy, and home is sparkling right now. I'll move onto wine once the sun goes down.

I hope things get better soon. With reference to the post before this one, I get really annoyed when people try to get me in trouble with my boss, and go over my head like that. Makes me very cross. I clean more then.

Anonymous said...

well, poop!

PhDLadybug said...

I am sorry to hear things aren't working out. But don't give up.
I had a rejection from an internation conference I really wanted to attend. They didn't accept my abstract. Then when I think about it, I can understand why: my theme was touching the main subject but not in a way that could be of interest. Or at least, the way I wrote it (with little time and honestly frantically) was not good enough.
Sometimes I need to take a step back and think to clear my head on all those negative thoughts (I am not good anough, I am incompetent) and just admit that it didn't go the way I wanted but I still have to give it a try. And keep going. I have to leran how to be resilient (and also pissed off!) Sometimes is not the final destination that's important but how you get there.

A big hug!

Brigindo said...

The constant rejection is the hardest part of the job. It is so so difficult not to take it personally but remember everyone gets rejected even the superstars.

I find having something always in the works (job application, abstract, paper, grant, whatever) helpful. As for not being excited about any other job prospects all I can say is you never can tell. The job I'm in now, which I adore, was going to be a safety and practice interview, if I got it. I got it and loved them and now I'm here.

Just saying, ya never know.

Alethea said...

Ow, ow, ow. I feel very much for you. Don't know what to say otherwise, but you still write really well and some things will (I promise) turn around and you will have the feeling that it's too much at once. I hope that happens really soon.

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