Sunday, April 20, 2008


Yesterday was Saturday, a beautiful, sunny, warm day (which we in Cleveland have not seen much of since, oh, October). It was also my 28th birthday. And where was I? At work.

Yep, I had to go into the lab on a perfect spring day, and my birthday none the less. Last year, I would've been pretty upset about it. This year? Eh, not so much.

Not that I like lab. And not that I have any confidence that the work I did yesterday will lead to some sort of fruitful result. For whatever reason, no one in the lab (which I guess means me and Kim) has had any sort of usable data for various reasons in some time.

So, yesterday was probably worthless. But that still doesn't bother me.

I've gotten a lot of peace related to the lab in the past few months. I can't really tell you why. Nothing has changed. If anything, things are more stressful now than they ever have been. Our grant is empty, the lab will be non-existent by the end of this year, we've scaled down from about 10 people in the lab to two, none of my experiments are working, and the new physiology chair has been scheduling about 5 seminars a week (on top of journal club and my VA clinic) so scheduling anything sucks. But, I'm ok.

It must be me. At some point I realized that Dr. B isn't being nasty to me. That's just who he is. He's not a bad guy--if anything, Kim's helped me realize he's a bit quirky, and she's fond of him because of it. I'm not going to go that far, but it has helped me realize I'm not at war with him. Lab sucks. That's just the way it's been for me. Not one thing at any point has come to me easily since starting the PhD phase full time. That's been a lesson in itself. But Dr. B, while not particularly helping me, isn't trying to destroy my life either. He isn't a good mentor because he doesn't know how to be. He was never taught, and my institution has no method of teaching him. He does what he knows, and that's it.

So while he's not my best friend, Dr. B isn't my mortal enemy either. And I don't like the lab any more than I have, but it doesn't turn my stomach in knots every morning like it used to.

I think I've just accepted that lab isn't my life. As much as my PI, my program, and my department want it to be, it's not. It's finite (hopefully), I'll go back to the clinics in the next year, and I'll never have to set foot in another lab if I don't want to. And that's that.

Yes, I'm still there every weekday and nearly every weekend. But like yesterday, a lot of times Sophie (and Tim) come with me on the weekends. We kill some time while my media for my cells warms up. Tim amuses Sophie while I am busy. Or, like two weekends ago, maybe a kind soul from a neighboring lab (Chep, in this case) has some down time during a gel and plays with Sophie for a half hour or so. It works out.

Sure, I'd rather not have to work as much as I do, especially with nothing to show for it. But, I also have some flexibility (if I assert myself). I don't love having to move my schedule around, but if something comes up, I can. That won't be the case once I'm back on the clinical side. So I might as well use it while I can.

Yes, yesterday should have been lab-free for so many reasons. But it wasn't. And there will be many more beautiful days eaten up by work. That's not going to get better as I progress through my training. So, better to suck it up and see the positive in life--it's not snowing anymore!, Tim let me sleep in another hour on my birthday while he took Sophie!, I had a wonderful family dinner planned for after lab!--than focus on the negative. I can't change the fact that I have to be in lab. I can change how I feel about it.

I think having Sophie has really put my life in perspective in ways I couldn't have imagined. Things are busier than ever (hence the break in posting--I'll work on that). But I feel like I am finding new ways to adjust. Tim and I just commented the other day about how, now that she's almost six months old, we feel like we finally have our head above water. It's not the end of the world to figure out how to pack her (and ourselves) up to leave the house. W were so worried about forgetting something, or having her scream, or just not being able to handle a situation. Now? Heck, we'll wing it.

We don't have it down by any stretch, but it's so much better than it was. Sure, we don't leave the house after 8, ever, because once she's in bed, that's it. But that's why we tivo Design on a Dime and 30 Rock (and Futurama for Tim). Number 1, it's not like we ever have 5 minutes when she's awake to watch TV. Two, it's so much better being able to skip commercials. And three, it's always nice to know we have a stash of mind-numbing TV to watch whenever we need it.

So happy birthday to me. Tim promised he was going to pick out a card to show me at Target for my birthday, but he forgot when we were there today. Oh well, maybe he can show me two next year :) Really, an extra hour of sleep was probably the best gift I could've gotten. That, plus dinner with family, made the day just about perfect, lab or not.

1 comment:

  1. Happy birthday a day late! Here's hoping everything works out for you in lab - it's such a great feeling to be finishing, finally!