Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Thoughts, Recent but Random

"This is incomprehensible," Adam said and I looked up from his notes on my presentation and frowned. I had worked and worked on those slides and our conversation thus far had been wonderful - constructive suggestions and much encouragement and even a few smiley faces scrawled in the margins.

"It is not incomprehensible," I argued, leaning forward to attack. "Just because it's not exactly what you would have written doesn't mean it's not good! Now I've done what you asked - even when I thought you were wrong - because I know you're stressed but this is ridiculous!" And I have had enough of my boss - much as I normally like him - lately. What with the urgent requests and late-breaking feedback, he has been making a challenging process even worse. But I keep reminding myself that I love my job and puttering away at all sorts of Important Tasks.

He grinned and pushed the paper across the table toward me.

"Oh," I offered sheepishly. "This is incomprehensible." And we giggled because the printer got confused at the end of my job and decided to place a bunch of symbols and shapes in lieu of my conclusion text. And I came across the same slide when I was making revisions this evening and laughed some more. I'm nearly done with this particular project and feeling rather good about the effort.


"Hi," I greeted the little girl at my door on Halloween. I grabbed several pieces of candy from my basket and deposited them in her plastic pumpkin and watched her touch one of my guard bunnies with her sword.

I raised an eyebrow at her mother and smiled and she shrugged in response. "She likes your yard ornaments," she explained, "and is trying to do magic on them - first the frog in your flower bed and now the bunny. I think she's trying to make a prince."

"That," I replied after laughing, "would be fantastic. Keep at it," I advised the little magician. "And have fun."


"No one without a neurological dysfunction is 'bad' at fucking, any more than they can be 'bad' at eating, or breathing, or walking."
- Credit withheld

I have been thinking about sex of late and found the above to be rather profound. I love the idea of putting intimate matters in the realm of preference rather than performance.


"I like your house," a little boy said after I gave him candy.

"Thank you," I replied politely, wondering if it was because I was giving handfuls rather than a piece of sweets. "I like it, too."

"Do you have a son?" he asked and I shook my head.

"A daughter?" he persisted as I distributed candy to his friends.

"Nope," I replied. "Just a dog who is trying to escape," I murmured under my breath.

"Do you have a husband?" a young girl asked, her expression earnest and concerned as she looked up at me.

"No, I don't," I said gently and smiled at her.

"I'm so sorry," she told me.

"It's really OK," I replied. Then I wondered if I would have been hurt had I not had plans for this week that have me feeling rather happy.


"Oh, I talked to Tom, Dick and Harry," I told Adam yesterday. "They had some interesting ideas, but it took four hours to wrap up the review."

"So you're all Dicked out?" he asked and I disagreed, saying Dick provided valuable feedback and alternate mechanisms to achieve the same goal.

"Dicked out," I repeated after I finished, shaking my head at him. "Don't," I immediately warned when he opened his mouth, eyes lit up in delight.

"What?" he asked as he chuckled. "I was just going to ask if you were still dating!"

"Goodness," I scolded. "I am dating, yes. But I'm not dignifying your opening statement with a response." I stood to leave his office and called over my shoulder, "and it's very sad that I think you're funny."


I had a google search for 'why is being a postdoc so miserable?' If said searcher was just curious, my response would be that it wasn't constant misery. There was a flexible schedule, being surrounded by intensely smart individuals, the potential for collaboration, the ego boosts of publication and some travel opportunities for conferences and the like.

If said searcher was suffering, I suppose I'd say I'm sorry. Because it is tremendously difficult at times to do a postdoctoral fellowship. Personally, I was recovering from a tough ending to grad school, fell for someone who was as unavailable as I was desperate, struggling to find my place in a very competitive academic environment and wishing I made more money. Or was prettier. Or had a chance to re-do certain decisions.

Remember that the point of higher education is to stretch - to take in knowledge and strive for innovation. To face funding and publication systems that are inherently critical and attempts that often fail. You're paid very little and asked to do a whole lot. For me, it made all my flaws obvious - put all weaknesses on display. But in that experience, you can find confidence and strength and, regardless of what comes next, find yourself remarkably well prepared for it.


Yes, I am awake at 3:38AM. I had thoughts. I also have an 8AM meeting so I'm going back to sleep.

1 comment:

Girlpostdoc said...

Remember that the point of higher education is to stretch - to take in knowledge and strive for innovation.

I love that. But I also think that its the point of life.

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