I'm going to a conference next month. This conference is one of my favorites, but I haven't been to it in 2 years. It is always a great group of people. Plus, this year it is in a fabulous, exotic location.
This year, I am competing in the best student talk competition. I've done this sort of thing before and have enjoyed it. One side effect is that the talk itself is better. Being comfortable giving talks is an asset but that also means that sometimes I don't practice or prepare as much as I should. When I know that there is more on the line- being judged, being in a special session, money (!)- I prepare and practice a lot more. Depending on the meeting, participating in these competitions can also give you leverage for networking. If there are limited numbers of students, either through an application process or just because few bother to apply, there is a greater chance someone important might take notice of your name, see your talk or be more receptive to your intellectual advances later.
My ex-advisor thinks I am all cutthroat about winning because I've done these competitions. Maybe he doesn't realize that I put my participation in them on my cv! I admit, there were a couple conferences where I was all about winning, but I was required to go to these and really just wanted some prize money to offset the cost of travel. This upcoming one is the last one I will do as a student and at this point in time, I am really in it for the game instead of the prize. That doesn't mean I'm not going to work my ass off to give a good talk. But I will be happy knowing that I've done my best and will value the indirect benefits (like the networking) and experiance more than a prize.
It looks like it is going to be a beautiful weekend...that I am going to spend working. I am on track to finish one task (my data) before the Monday deadline but I have slacked on the other (my writing). Trading this beautiful weekend for my time at home the past few weeks is easy and completely worthwhile. Plus, most of the people I know in Postdoc City are travelling this weekend so I won't even be tempted with fun distractions.
The only question left is where to work? My options...
1) Apartment. Not much natural light, but it is quiet, comfortable and I have a fully stocked kitchen. Plus crafty distractions if I need a break!
2) Lab/office. My chair sucks but it is open and airy with giant windows. It should be quiet (no one else in my lab comes in on weekends) and being on the campus network will help with easy access to papers. The major drawback is well, it is the lab and I'm there most days.
3) Elsewhere! I don't have a go-to coffee shop in Postdoc City yet and it might be time to find one! Of course, I might spend more time finding one, trying to get there, getting lost and then enjoying it than actually, um, working.
Any other suggestions for where to write on days like this?
I guess I have been suffering a hooding hangover. It went well and it was nice to see ex-advisor for a few hours. He couldn't put his own hood on beforehand and put mine on upside down. Better than backwards at least! While it was good to take part in the ceremony, it was a little weird. Like a bridal shower. I'd encourage others to go to it, but I didn't get the tingly I'm-really-a-Dr-now feelings from it that I was set up for. There was free-flowing champagne afterwards though which was a lot of fun. It made me really miss my old lab. Well, part of it anyway.
After my Mom went back home, I got down to work. It is really more likely that I am suffering from a data hangover. The analysis I'm doing is intensive and mind numbing. It is going about half as fast as I planned. Working from home is great, but after 5 hours of analysis I can not even see straight! Still, spending time in my own house with the pets and being all domestic-like with dinner ready when Grackle gets home from the lab has been lovely. It feels like a break but I am still getting more done than I would in the lab!
Both Grackle and I are coming under the gun and have to prepare data for conferences that are within a month. Today, he is at the lab and I am analysing. It isn't all work around here though. We are headed to the drive in tonight! Yay! I hope everyone is having a good holiday!
I tried to talk myself out of getting anything new to wear to hooding. I made a cute, new skirt (with lemons on it- so summery!) but then didn't have a non-t-shirt top to go with it. A t-shirt seems a little casual for hooding and sooooo my mom talked me into getting a new dress (it is prefect for 2 weddings this summer too). I also got some new kicks since no one will see the dress anyway!
The semester is wrapping up at Postdoc U. The rotation students are finished, my undergrad had her last day and the normal services (like the coffee place) are starting to decrease their hours and will soon be shut down for summer. Except for the lack of coffee, Postdoc U seems like it will be a nice place for the summer. I'm forming a writing date group and am looking forward to finishing up current data and starting new projects. It is all going so fast!
I am back at the homestead (yay!) for my graduation ceremony this weekend. I am going to the hooding ceremony but not the actual commencement. It seems like a nice ceremony which is always followed by lots of champagne...
My mom is flying in today and we are having a little party afterwards. Things have been so busy with the new lab that I haven't seen any of my school friends since February...
I picked up my regalia this afternoon. They are just rentals but I hope to buy my own fancy set someday when I get a job and have my own students. Those things cost more than my rent! The day they are delivered, I am going to put on my wedding dress and my robes and just hang out around my house in the most expensive outfit I will ever wear.
When I moved to Postdoc city, it was important for me to have a place where my pets would be welcome when Grackle had to travel for work. He is travelling this week so both cats and the dog are with me in my small apartment. Things seemed to be fine until the landpeople showed up this morning and now I am held hostage in my apartment. This is the first time that they have been here since the pets have been here and of course, they rang the doorbell and are very loud in the basement so the dog is going nuts. He is barking for the first time all week, whining, and running around. I was planning on going to lab and for a run but now as soon as I walk out the door the dog gets even louder and fairly annoying! When I was down in the basement with them, the landlady said that my dog must be clawing at the door. First, he is well trained and doesn't claw at doors. Second, he is 100 lbs and could break down the door if he wanted to.
So, here I sit, trying to keep my dog quiet and waiting for the landpeople to leave so that they don't freak out about noise or worse, come upstairs to see the zoo! Good thing I don't have to go to lab today...
With my PI on maternity leave, the definition of my postdoc position as not-student and not-faculty has become obvious. Most of this come from intralab interactions. The students come to me to discuss experiments, get papers, ask questions, etc. instead of constantly emailing Rt-H.I even sign their time sheets! While it is great that I am getting a bit of mentoring experience, the fact that I am not faculty means that the students don't have to listen to me and have on a few occasions ignored my suggestions completely. Rt-H and I usually have the same suggestions so the students end up doing what I said anyways, but it is frustrating to be pestered by them all the time when they don't trust what I have to say.
I'm also relied upon by Rt-H for experimental design assistance. Reading over a protocol, I found an error that would result in a fatal flaw in the design. After pointing this out to her and the students, there was a big email flurry to solve the issue. Since I am not the students doing the experiments, or the advisor I was not in on the solution. It took me two days to track down a student and get the story on the outcome.
These things are just small annoyances really, but they make it clear that my position in the lab is very well, un-clear. Defining my place in the lab by all these things that I am not has got me me wondering exactly what I am in the lab...On a related note. Geez, grad students take up a lot of time!
I finished all my data collection on time. It is so good to be done with that portion of the project. Up next, my deadline to analyze all that data is the end of May.
I had to give a journal club presentation about a topic that I really don't like. I was volunteered for it against my will. It went alright, I think. This journal club is so weird. There is never any discussion. It is really just a space for students to practice presenting by presenting other people's papers. My topic required discussion and was far removed from the theme of the journal club. I think this made it more enjoyable for the students but it all made me very unsure of myself. I didn't know if the profs would dislike the sudden change in format. It was the last meeting of the semester so at least we ended with some fun discussion.
There is another presentation coming up this week. My big, 5 months late introduction to the department by way of research seminar! I am really, really excited to share what I did for my diss with this department. It is very different from what I do here and no one really does anything similar. Hopefully that will make it a fun talk. I am planning on giving my dissertation defense talk with a few slides added to tie in how I got to the lab I am currently in. Can't wait for Wednesday! Oh, and my PI is coming in for the first time since she had her baby!
The Grackle is currently in the deep south doing work. A 100 lbs dog, two cats and I are all smooshed into my tiny apartment for the week. My downstairs neighbor doesn't hate me yet, but let's see how she feels by Friday!
The circle of friends from work that I have fallen into continue to amaze me. They all do so much more stuff than I ever did as a student. Pretty much every day that I am in town, someone is doing something. Be it potluck dinner parties (once a week), rock climbing (once or twice a week), crafting (usually weekends), meeting up for certain TV shows or this mornings' farmers market there is always something to do. I am enjoying the company and doing new, fun things but I have no idea when these people get work done!
So many postdoc-ing things going on in my head. Please, stay tuned!
* I really need to figure out how to blog regularly or give this up. I hate the cycle of not posting, then feeling guilty for not posting then postponing posting even more. Ugh. It sucks. I'm going to try to post everyday this week. Hopefully that will snap me back into things here.