Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Done, part one

Thesis committee meeting over? Check.

One big thing off my to-do list. I really didn't have a lot of time to stress about it. I caught a nasty stomach bug on Friday and was vomiting before I even left work. That knocked me out Friday and Saturday. And of course, just as I'm starting to feel better, Tim came down with it. He didn't really have it to the extent that I did, but this weekend was still full of the (relatively) healthy parent watching Sophie while the other one was sick. And Sunday was spent decontaminating the entire house so that we wouldn't be sick any more.

My actual committee meeting was yesterday. I didn't even have time to think about it. We had animal sacrifices right up until the beginning of my meeting. While it's nice that I didn't have time to stress about it too much, I always like to have a few minutes to review my presentation and refresh myself. Didn't happen this time. I was a little nervous in the beginning. You'd think I'd be a pro by now, but this is the first meeting on my new topic, and I wanted to show them that I've been working hard the last seven weeks.

One thing that did help my nervousness was that Dr. B, my old boss, wasn't there. He left a message on my new boss's voicemail saying he couldn't find the room (and I believe him). Really though, it was better to have this first meeting not muddled with strange history and tension.

The meeting itself was fine. It took me a few minutes to calm down and be able to express my thoughts rationally. After that, it was a good conversation. The vibe I got in general was that they are happy with how things are going, and they are happy that I am happy. We've all tried to be politically correct about things, but when I was asked how things were going in the new space versus the old, I replied that it had, "reaffirmed my interest in science."

That's basically a nice way of saying that I didn't feel like I had made a huge mistake in choosing to be in the PhD. So much of my time spent in Dr. B's lab had me feeling like I was completely incompetent. I don't think I ever felt like I was being mentored or taught how to have a career in science. Things in the new lab are very busy (in a good way), but for the first time I actually feel like this is something I could see doing in the future. I am being challenged, but instead of having my ethics and values challenged, I'm being challenged as a scientist in a productive way. It's made all the difference in the world.

After a long weekend of being sick and all the stress of the upcoming committee meeting, I was exhausted. To my surprise, I actually got almost an entire night of sleep last night. I woke up and thought, "So this is what it feels like to actually get some rest!" I wasn't leaping out of bed or anything crazy like that, but I actually felt semi-functional.

It just goes to show that my stress affects me more than I like to realize. And to that, everyone that knows me yells a big, fat, "DUH!" I know, I know. I do know that things have been stressful recently--I've said so on here many times--but I like to think I function in spite of the stress. Sometimes I need to realize I'm only human. We all need a break now and then.

I don't really see a break in my future. I've got to tweak some of my experiments, start some new ones, and write a predoctoral grant. And I have to plan my syllabus for teaching in the spring--that actually starts a month from today. Unreal. It's only 7 classes, but it's 6.5 hours of work per session. That's a lot. I'd like to have that all worked out in the next two weeks or so.

But, at least I can cross this thesis committee meeting on my list. Maybe that leaves a spot to add better eating and exercise to the list. That's a post for another day. I've been trying to not fixate on it without letting it get completely out of control. I've had mixed success, but honestly, I've just been too busy to get all crazy about my weight. I have days, but in general, I just don't have the time to ruminate about anything for very long.

That's the update for now. Sophie has her ENT visit on Thursday, the season of holiday parties starts on Friday, and I haven't even started decorating for Christmas yet. One thing at a time, I suppose.

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