Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Year End Meme

  1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
  2. Gave a talk at a national conference.
  3. Did you keep your 2013 resolutions, and will you make more this year?
  4. I did not. I made a general theme of trying to thrive instead of just survive. In some ways I did that, but others I did not.
  5. Did anyone close to you give birth?
  6. A friend from grad school did.
  7. Did anyone close to you die?
  8. Thankfully, no.
  9. What countries did you visit?
  10. Japan
  11. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
  12. Better career prospects.
  13. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
  14. Conquering New and Mercurial Technique.
  15. What was your biggest failure?
  16. Losing my temper. I hate snapping at people and, yet, I ran out of patience a lot.
  17. Did you suffer illness or injury?
  18. Nope.
  19. What was the best thing you bought?
  20. iPad air
  21. Whose behavior merited celebration?
  22. Kiddo's. He does cool things every day.
  23. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
  24. Congress
  25. Where did most of your money go?
  26. Daycare
  27. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
  28. A. Happier.
    B. Fatter. I was still nursing Kiddo last year.
    C. Richer. I got put on a training grant, which brought my salary up to the NIH pay scale.
  29. What do you wish you'd done more of?
  30. Sleep. I miss sleep.
  31. What do you wish you'd done less of?
  32. Procrastinating.
  33. Did you fall in love in 2013?
  34. Super cheesy, but more in love with Dr. Man.
  35. What was the best new book you read?
  36. The third book of the Song of Fire and Ice series.
  37. What was your favorite film of the year?
  38. Warm Bodies. It was hilarious.
  39. What kept you sane?
  40. Enough sleep and exercise. Both of which were in short supply this year. So, sane didn't really happen.
  41. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
  42. The saying "Put on your own air mask before assisting others" is very true for me. I'd been laboring under the delusion that I was exempt. :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


With the good news, comes the complication. I was appointed to the T32, which is wonderful, but it spawned a series of errors involving my reclassification that resulted in the loss of my university email for about 30 hours. To get this corrected, I had to explain over and over again why this was a problem for me and why it should be fixed. (As an aside: I feel like this should be obvious to anyone. While I am a lowly postdoc, I do correspond with collaborators from other departments and universities. This is my contact for all official university business, etc. I'd love to use personal email for this stuff, but it's not allowed by university policy. So, yep, obvious.)

Of course, I tweeted about this. I was debating about walking to the building where the admin that could help me was located, but I was hesitant to bother her. I got an overwhelming DO IT from everyone. I was about to answer back something along the lines of "But it's not nice to bother people!" when @SciTriGirl tweeted.

And I realized that I am always* too nice. I never want to bother people about something that I want or even need. I'd rather figure out a way to do without. A few months ago, the lab had to spend out a bunch of money. I had been eyeing a piece of equipment that is relatively inexpensive (~$600) and would make my life easier, but I wouldn't normally spend valuable grant money on. I carefully brought up buying this piece of equipment with my PI and before I even finished speaking he told me to get it. Even if we didn't have the excess money to spend, I should have gotten it. And that I should think bigger (we had a lot of money to spend).

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I always try to say "yes" to everything that people ask. Want me to reconcile some grant accounts? Yes. Write this abstract? Yes. Proofread something? Yes. Add another project to my list? Yes. I don't want to let anyone down by saying "no."

I'm careful about asking for things for myself-- even if I know the other person would be happy to give or help me. I feel selfish when I go for a run after Kiddo is in bed because I'm making Dr. Man solo parent with a sleeping child. (I don't know want to be misinterpreted. Dr. Man doesn't think it's selfish and looked at me like I had two heads when I mentioned that tonight.) I feel horribly selfish that I accepted on of my BFF's offer to babysit Kiddo for my birthday. (She called me and asked if she could do this for me.)

As I was out on my run this evening, I was thinking about all of this. It dawned on me that I don't feel like I deserve to say no to things or to ask for things for myself. I don't feel like it's *nice* thing to do. I shouldn't bother people and I should know my place. WTF, Brain?! Where in the world did I get that idea from? And here I thought I somehow escaped the societal pressure to conform to being a lady.

*Always is hyperbole, but it sounded better than "the majority of the time."

Monday, August 12, 2013

They're all going to laugh at you

I keep hesitating about posting here. I feel like I should start with a big catch up post, but I can't come up with an entertaining way to do it. So, what, you may ask, is the thing that is prompting me to post here again? Answer: A case of feeling like an impostor. 

I have had a rough few months fellowship-wise. I submitted a couple of fellowship applications that were denied for funding. It was a case of close, but no cigar. I whined on twitter and got over it. Recently, though, I've gotten some good news. My abstract that I submitted for an international meeting was invited to be a talk (over a poster) and I got a Young Investigator Award for the meeting. Then, just last week I was selected for my institution's T32 (there is an actual selection process). So, yay (minor) good news!

Of course, I immediately start to invalidate all of those things. The Young Investigator Award, well, everyone gets one of those. The talk, well, the organizers were probably desparate for younger speakers or something. The T32, well, I'm sure there was some political thing or I was able to fool them or something.

Dr. Man keeps trying to counteract my thinking. Not everyone gets the award. Not everyone's abstract is raised to talk (I know, I have examples). I'm insulting the PI on the T32-- by implying that they're corrupt or stupid.

I don't know why I completely swallow all the criticisms and dismiss all the compliments.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

That sound you heard was me screaming FML

I'm behind on NaBloPoMo already. Oh well. After Friday I needed to take some time off. From everything. Let me set the stage....

After months of working on optimizing this brand new assay, I finally have it working(ish-- the assay has to be optimized for each cell line, but that's not as technically challenge as getting the thing to work in the first place). I spent the month of October gathering data using this particular assay for a departmental talk I have to give to my new department this coming Thursday. This data will also be used for my EB abstract that is due this coming Thursday (edit: I just saw an email saying the deadline has been extended until the 13th, but I think my abstract still has to be done by the 8th to apply for travel money). Last week was spent analyzing the data I had gathered.

On Friday I was in our collaborator's lab, who furnishes us with a reagent (it's relatively expensive and it's a trade agreement between our labs). I was talking to the technician who makes up this particular reagent and we were discussing a strange result someone else saw involving this reagent. In the course of this conversation we realized that she used the wrong bottle when making this up. Completely invalidating my data and another lab's data. Ruining 50% of the data I was going to present on Thursday and put in my abstract. 

I was rather unhappy. However, the tech was almost in tears. The tech completely understood the magnitude of hir mistake. I just couldn't bring myself to get mad at hir, since the tech was obviously so upset. Instead I complained about hir on twitter and about how much my life sucked. 

Now, I'm no saint. I ranted and raved to Dr. Man over wine about how awful this was and used extreme foul language. And I'll ask the tech to help me with some data processing this week. Ripping zie a new one won't help get me new data, but using the guilt to get another pair of hands will help. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

RBOC:NaBloPoMo Edition

  • Ack! I completely forgot about NaBloPoMo this year. I really wanted to attempt it this time. Le sigh. I suppose I'll just start it a day late. I mean, what's going to happen? Is the national blogging police going to come after me?
  • Double Ack! I forgot my blogiversary... again.
  • Triple Ack! Yesterday was my two year defense-iversary. I can't believe I defended two years ago. Time does fly.
  • I'm frustrated by things at work right now. It's mostly because I've reached my project-limit and my PD PI wants to add more to my plate. Well, technically I suppose this project has been on my plate-- it's just been the last priority. I was going to do Extraneous Pilot Project the week before Thanksgiving. (It's a logistical thing. I won't be around Thurs-Sun that week. So I'll kill off my cells and won't be performing any assays. This would have given me the perfect window to perform Extraneous Pilot Project.)
  • Kiddo was super cute during his Fall Festival at daycare. His favorite thing was the "hayride" (a wagon full of hay that I pulled him around in. His second favorite thing was staring/tentatively touching the pumpkins, which he insisted upon calling bubbles.
  • Kiddo's vocabulary includes: Daddy, doggy, di-er (diaper), ba (ball), boo (book), baooo (balloon), apul (apple), ca (car), go, baaaa (said at a high, excited pitch means bus), a possible towel and blue, as well as various signs.
  • Kiddo's vocabulary does not include: Mommy and no. The latter may be forthcoming, though. I'm still waiting on the former.
  • Kiddo told what I think was his first joke the other day. We were "playing" one of his favorite games. In this game he points at something and names it. In this particular itteration we were sitting in the living room and he was naming his toys (there was lots of ba and some ca). He pointed to Dr. Man and said "Dadddy!" He then pointed to me, said "Doggy!," and then proceeded to collapse in a fit of giggles.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Logistics: My Schedule

I remember reading way back in March a call for posting about logistics for/with working moms. At the time I was falling apart. It was generally a stressful time and I didn't feel anywhere close to having it together. Now I am about as together as I think I'll get. As such, I have decided to write a series of posts about the logistics of my life. I know that most of this is an exercise in navel gazing, but I think it's important to share the details of how we all manage to be working parents. I'm going to start this series with my current schedule of how an average weekday goes in my life. However, it is only an average weekday and there are a variety of things that might affect it. Say, a cold that causes Kiddo to wake up at 4:17am, 5:07am, and 5:30am, which may or may not have happened last night. So, as one might say in a paper: "The below is a representative schedule of an N of approximately 322 days."

Note: Kiddo is just over 15 months old now.
6:00am Wake up with alarm. If Kiddo hasn’t woken up during the night (praise God!), then go check to make sure he’s still alive.
6:05am Make oatmeal and coffee. Pack lunch. Feed dog. If diapers were wet the night before, stuff/pack diapers (we use cloth diapers like this).
6:15am Sit down for breakfast with coffee.
6:30am Crap! I’m late! Start negotiating for bathroom time with Dr. Man. (Yes, I realize this would be alleviated if I used the other bathroom, but neither one of us wants to lug stuff back and forth across the house. Yes, this might make us lazy.)
6:45am Get Kiddo up and dressed.
7:00am Leave the house for daycare.
7:15am Drop Kiddo off at daycare/get him started on breakfast there/talk with morning teacher
7:30am (ish) Arrive in lab (we have onsite daycare)
Work like a fiend
Noon(ish) Grab lunch either with Dr. Man (he works here too now!) or by myself
4:28pm Alarm goes off reminding me that I need to wrap things up. I frequently lose track of time and will look up from work and realize it’s late.
4:45pm Ok, I really need to pack up. Right after I finish this last little bit…
5:00pm Dr. Man calls asks if I’m ready to leave. Pack everything in a hurry inevitably forgetting something.
5:15pm Arrive at daycare. Gather up Kiddo’s stuff and talk with afternoon teacher.
5:45pm Arrive home. Unpack Kiddo’s stuff. Start/heat up dinner.
6:15pm Sit down for dinner as a family, but then get up a zillion times to get stuff for Kiddo.
6:45pm Dinner is done either because we’re done eating or Kiddo is done. Bath time!
7:00pm Done with bath. Now, time to get Kiddo ready for bed.
7:15pm Bed time story
7:30pm Bed time for Kiddo. Dr. Man may leave to go work out.
7:35pm Start Laundry
7:45pm Do Dishes. Prep dinner for the following day (this can involve getting stuff in the crock pot for the following day or making the entire dinner so it’s ready to go in the microwave the next day).
8:15/30pm Clean up kitchen. Mop dining room floor—Kiddo is a messy eater.
8:30pm Get laundry from dryer. Switch laundry if it’s done. Start folding laundry
9:00pm Usually done with folding and putting away laundry. Get all bags packed for the following day.
9:15/30pm Either read papers for the Review That Never Ends on my iPad or boot up computer to do some data analysis.
10:00/30pm Start to goof off.
11:00/30pm Bed time for me (hopefully! Sometimes I decide to stay up longer and then I suffer for it in the morning.)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Some thoughts about being a working mom

I’ve been a parent now for a little over a year and a working parent for about 11.5 months now. I have thoughts on these things, but seem to have a perpetual problem organizing them. Therefore, for the 3 people left who read this blog, you get this.

I had way too high expectations when starting back to work. I expected to return to work at my normal 100% after having Kiddo. I failed miserably at that and, in retrospect I laugh at myself. When I returned to work at about 8.5 weeks post-partum, I was averaging about 5 hours of highly broken sleep a night. I was new at this pumping thing and still a tad hormonal. The idea that I would be able to work for 8 hours straight, breaking only to feed Kiddo at lunch and pump, was and is ludicrous (I should add that it’s ludicrous for me—I’m sure that other people can work sleep-deprived with absolutely no problems). With the sleep deprivation, adjusting to all my new responsibilities, and the general stress of having to start looking for a new job (that postdoc was over at the end of spring) I was overwhelmed. My brain just was too full. Granted I came up with ways to compensate (endless lists and strict prioritization), it was a huge adjustment and I just wasn’t my best. It pains me to admit that because I never wanted to be that parent. You know, the one who is all scattered because of having a kid and doesn’t return to work at the top of her/his game.

At about 10 months in, I felt like I was getting my groove back. Now, at 11.5 months I feel like I’m back to being super productive and making smart decisions. This is because Kiddo is starting to sleep more (only waking me up once or twice a night! Instead of 5 or more!) and I’m adjusting to getting everything done.

By everything done, I mean the normal day-to-day of living stuff. Prior to Kiddo, it was relatively easy to get all my chores done in about an hour. Now, it’s much more difficult, especially since recently the only person he’ll let hold him is me. Dr. Man and I are getting better at dividing up the labor appropriately. We now sit down to dinner together (as a family—including Kiddo!) almost every day of the week. I’m rather proud of that.

I suppose that I wish I could tell the me of almost a year ago that I need to just lower my expectations and recognize that having a baby is a huge freaking deal. That I shouldn’t minimize it and realize that it’ll impact all aspects of my life.