Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's not my fault....

This is nothing more than a pure, unadulterated rant. Not about science, not about funding, not even about the fact that I still don't have any comments back on my fellowship and the freakin' resubmission date is only 10 days away!

No, this is a rant about the lack of personal accountability people have in almost every aspect of their lives. That and how the consequences of our actions is what really causes people to grow up and become responsible.

I have noticed, and it seems to me to be a more recent thing, the lack of personal accountability people have. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is ever their fault. It is always something or someone else's fault, but never ever due to their own inadequacies, stupidity, ignorance, or (brace yourself) laziness. And maybe I am noticing this more and more because it is pissing me off more and more, but seriously people, step up, bite the bullet and take it. And by it, I mean the fallout for whatever it is that you somehow managed to screw up, be it equipment in the lab, financial woes, a job, anything. Just for once, swallow the "It wasn't my fault", suck it up, and say "yes, I did it, I am sorry, let's fix it." All I am looking for is a little freakin' humility, a touch of humbleness, a whole lot of sincerity, and a plan of action so this never ever happens again.

Now, I understand that shit happens. I am fully well aware that there are extenuating circumstances beyond someones control, and the "Its not my fault" sometimes is warranted. BUT, in those cases a "Its not my fault..." can be and should be followed up with a "but here let's fix it this way" not a "its not my fault so I completely wash my hands of everything and you can deal with it because...well its not my fault."

At first I thought this was something I saw happening in the lab. You know, younger less experienced members come in and use new equipment which they have no clue how to run. Rather than asking for help, or even better, getting trained and then getting careless, they royally screw up common equipment and then "forget" to tell someone it happened. Honestly, I won't be pissed if you come to me and say "Hey, I am having problems with ten-thousand dollar piece of equipments, I think I seriously FUBR'ED* it, can you help." Now, I will sigh, and maybe huff and puff and possibly lecture a bit on the need for being careful, but I will be a lot less pissed than if I go to use the equipment, dick around with it for an hour, find the problem, hunt you down since you were the last person to use it, and you tell me "I don't know what happened, but it messed up when I was using it." And, to forget said details of what you were doing, thereby compounding the troubleshooting problem pisses me off even more.

But, and here is the thing I realized, that this is not just a problem in the lab, but a problem that is now seemingly permeating every aspect of myl ife. Lost your job, oh no its not your fault. Not your fault that you couldn't get up in the morning for work, not your fault that you couldn't get out of bed after a night of drunken revelry, not your fault that you are a tool. Nope, they had "it out for you". Yep, big giant freakin conspiracy.

So, that brings me up to my second point. A person with no consequences never becomes responsible. Ever. Responsibility is not, in my humble opinion, dependent on age. It is dependent on the consequences for you irresponsibility. The more the severe your consequences are for screwing up, the less likely you are to screw up again. By having people always bail you out, having someone always there to trow you the lifeline, never being allowed to fall flat on your face, you loose some part of yourself, or it is never allowed to develop and you have no real consequences for anything that you do. Then why bother changing, why accept any responsibilities for your actions? And seriously, how bad are the consequences. So, now, say you screw someone over, honestly what is the worst they can do? Unless you are in with the mafia, which unfortunately I have no connections to, the worst someone will really do is ice you out. BFD. No really, if you didn't really care that you were screwing someone over by being irresponsible and lazy, then you sure as hell are not going to care if that person never talks to you again.

So, there it is my friends. A big huge rambling post about nothing, but something that I had to get off of my chest before it exploded. I seriously cannot believe, sometimes, the crap people say and the crap that they pull. Really, people never ever cease to amaze me.

*FUBR- F***** up beyond repair

Monday, November 24, 2008

5 things that make you go hmmmmmm.......

Five things meme

Five things that I was doing ten years ago:
1. Second year of undergrad
2. Realizing that I loved chemistry more than biology
3. Working full time as a waitress at the local Bar and Grill
4. DRIVING (I had just gotten my driver's liscense)
5. Sinking money into my first car (a 1985 Cadillac Seville)

Five things on my to-do list today:
1. Work on my paper(s)
2. Tutor (in about ten minutes)
3. Set up controls for some new, cool experiments
4. Do dishes (home dishes, not work dishes)
5. Catch up in my labnotebook (at least from the last few days)

Five snacks I love
1. Chocolate
2. Dark Chocolate
3. Did I mention chocolate yet?
4. Popcorn
5. Ummmm....chocolate covered peanuts

Five things that I would do if I were a millionaire
1. Pay off my student loans/MrDrZeeks medical bills
2. Give a bunch to the fam
3. Buy some toys for us (ohhhh, think of all the books from the used bookstore)
4. Another trip to Alaska
5. Cancer/MS/Diabetes research

Five places where I have lived:
1. A house (that we actually owned!)
2. 7 different apartments in an equal number of years
3. A college town
4. A semi-major city
5. On one of the coasts

Five jobs I have had:
1. Bartender
2. Waitress
3. Short-order line cook
4. TA
5. Post-doc

And I am not tagging anyone because everyone has already done this thing. I just needed to kill a few minutes before hitting the bus....

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Figured you out....

I have a manuscript to write. Maybe two. I have all the data (with the exception of one minor experiment we are doing to confirm stuff from a previous paper), all the important references, an outline of the results and the main points for the discussion. So, why am I sitting here blogging? Why am I putting off just getting words down on the page? Why am I cleaning my lab bench, organizing drawers, and just in general doing everything in my power to put this off?

There are multiple reasons why I procrastinate, but I think the biggest one has to do with my own personal impostor syndrome (and yes, I did just send you to Wikipedia- I know, bad form). Now, my PI knows I can write, knows I can do the experiments and knows that I have a great story to tell. Problem, I feel like I cannot do the story justice, that I cannot push this where it needs to go, that, I in not so many words, suck. Stupid, no?

I didn't realize how pervasive the impostor syndrome was, or that it even had a name until the TA coordinator called me on it when I was in my last semester of grad school. He was giving me a hard time for being too critical on myself during our TA self-evaluations, and in retrospect, he was probably right. But where is the line between self-deprecation and having delusions of grandeur? I tell myself that I am smart (OK, somewhat smart, not Einstein smart, but I can hold my own) and that I got my job not just because on of my committee members knows my boss, but because he saw potential, but do I honestly believe that? Hell no. And no matter how much faith people have in me, no matter how well I do, no matter what I can accomplish, I think there will always be that tickle in the back of my brain, warning me that I will let everyone down, that I won't exceed expectations, that they will figure me out...whatever.

All I know for sure is that I work my ass off, I do what I do, and try to do it well. That's all I can do to get myself through the day. As for writing the paper, well I think I am going to rack some tips, organize the sterile culture tube drawer, maybe autoclave some trash, do a load of dishes, sort my mail...then maybe I will open the manuscript.doc file and play around with the font and formatting. God, I am horrible sometimes!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The waiting game...

How in the world am I supposed to resubmit my fellowship application on Dec 8th without first having seen the comments as to why it scored so poorly (49 percentile..well, at least it got scored and didn't get triaged)? I have become obsessed with checking the era commons for my review sheets, just like I was for the fellowship scores. In fact, I really hope they don't keep track of how many logins you have in a day, because they would probably look at mine and laugh out loud. And, by the time the April 8th deadline rolls around, I'll have been in post-doc lab for a little over a year-and-a-half, which means my chances of getting funded in a "new field of interest" are going to be zilch. zero. nadda. Its not so new to you after you have been doing this for awhile and hopefully have two papers in press at that point.

Maybe I should just ride it out on the RO1 grant for the project (which the PI is more than happy to let me do), but there is always that line in faculty job applications "must be able to secure external funding" or have a track record for securing external nationally recognized blah-blah-blah--- where the University is making sure you can bring home the bacon. That little line makes me wonder if I should not try to find another fellowship, not so much for the extra money (which would be nice- although from what I have been hearing/comparing, my PI pays on the higher-end of the post-doc salary scale), but for the line or two on the CV. I mean, I can't tell the hiring committees that I helped write the RO1 grant and things like that, it doesn't matter what you help to do, rather what you yourself does.

Maybe I will take the long weekend (after partaking in turkey and stuffing and all the yummy goodness that is Thanksgiving at MrDrZeek's family) and do some hunting for other fellowships. It will be a good way to procrastinate on the two manuscripts that I have uber-data for and a really good story to tell- it just seems a tad daunting at this point. The coffee is done brewing and I have a bajillion graphs to start making, but maybe I will go check the era commons one more time for my review sheets.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Science and laundry and dinner oh my!

I would think that for a first blog post I would come p with something prolific and profound to say. Something. Blogging sounded like a good idea, especially with all the fantastic, blogarific, female-science bloggers out there that I aspire to be like, but after playing with the colors and the templates and all the pretty buttons, my mind can find nothing to blog about. Let alone anything interesting that anyone would want to take pause and read.

So, here I sit, procrastinating on writing my first first-author paper in new post-doc lab, wondering when my new boss is going to figure out I am an impostor, when my old advisor is going to revoke my PhD, and when MrDrZeek is going to pull the laundry out of the dryer (we are an equal opportunity household- I clean and do dishes, he does the laundry. I hate doing the laundry, and cooking, well we split that up).

I have no LittleDrZeeks running around, and really never plan on having them. One of my biggest pet peeves, though, is when people tell me (well, us really since MrDrZeek does have some say in the whole birthing process) that we are being selfish. Selfish, for not having children. That I, as a woman, will not be fulfilled until I have children. That my self-worth will be decided, not by how many first-author papers I have or how much really cool science I can throw down, but by how many little pups I have in tow.

Now, please, before everyone gets in arms, I have a huge amount of respect and support for women who choose to have children and a career, especially in academia where there is such a stigma and poo-pooing on having children. If you can balance a career, do incredibly awesome science, and still look hot doing it (Yes, if you are reading Dr. Isis, I mean you), more power to you. I applaud you, I respect you, I admire you. But that does not mean that I am any less of a woman because I choose not to have children. That I choose to focus on my career, on my husband, on doing the things we want to do, which, I am sorry mom and dad, does NOT include having small DrZeeks running around the house. Does this make me less of a woman? Nope. Does this make me selfish? Maybe, if MrDrZeek wasn't on board.

One of the things that I find ironic about the whole thing is that motherhood is the big white elephant in the room, that it is frowned upon by those in the "old boys club," but choosing not to have children is met with a similar sort of disbelief, shock, and almost horror. Like there is something crossed in my wiring.

Anyways, I have babbled on long enough about this, just something to think about. Now I really should be looking at some data, getting things ready for tomorrow, and maybe helping MrDrZeek fold the laundry. Tune in next time for a slightly more coherent post, maybe with some pretty pics and figures- I am after all a scientist.