Drip guilt trip

I think I’ve said before that I don’t want to do a post-doc, don’t want to do research at all once I finish my PhD.

I guess this makes me a drip (from the leaky pipeline of women in science).

Thing is, sometimes I get the feeling that research isn’t so bad and things are bound to get better after grad school. Everyone says that the end of grad school is a miserable experience. So, then I start thinking that maybe I could handle a job at a small liberal arts place with a small research program. But part of what makes me think I should try this is guilt.

I feel guilty for being a drip.

This is ridiculous, I know, but I feel like I’m letting down womankind by leaving research. How are we supposed to get more women in the upper echelons of science if we all just keep leaving? It makes me feel like I’m part of the problem. I should suck it up and stay.

But, I get the feeling that I would be miserable.

First, because I hate the failure associated with research. A large portion of what I do fails on a daily basis with no real explanation for why. That used to depress the hell out of me, but I think I’ve developed a thicker skin over the years and now it’s just frustrating.

Second, because I want to have children. Now. I just don’t think that being pregnant and giving birth would be conducive to getting a lot of research done as a post-doc. And, I’m 34 years old; I can’t afford to wait until I finish my post-doc, get a faculty position, and get tenure in order to have children. I know that doing all of those things is hard work, requiring long hours, and I don’t want to miss half of my children’s childhoods because I am always at work. And then, there’s childcare to think of. It’s damn expensive. Could we afford it? I mean, being a post-doc doesn’t pay all that much.

Third, because I see how hard it is to get a faculty position in the first place. Do I really want to go through a post-doc or two only to become a drip out of the pipeline because I can’t find a faculty position? And, let’s say I do find a faculty position. Would it be at a place where my husband could get a job? He’s an astrophysicist and has no interest in becoming faculty. That means he needs to be at a place with a large enough program that they hire staff scientists or at a NASA research facility. Those are few and far between.

Fourth, because I have lots of interests outside of science and I want time to pursue them. These days, I get up in the morning, eat breakfast and go to lab, come home late at night, eat a small supper and go to bed. I’ve been trying to leave weekends partially free so I can do things like laundry. This leaves little time to do simple things like read a book or knit a sweater or, well, just about anything (including spending time with my future children). I want free time, I guess I’m saying. I want a couple hours in the evening that I can do whatever the hell I want. I grew up seeing my parents work ridiculous hours just so we could survive and I thought if I got an education I would not have to do that. But, I guess I overshot on the education front because it seems that now I have so much education I’m expected to work a ridiculous number of hours, not so that I can make enough money to feed and clothe my family but for the fun of it.

So, when I look at all of those reasons, logically I know that I am making the right choice for me.

But, I still feel guilty.

Moving forward

So, my experiment has gotten to a place where, while not ideal, is manageable and I can get some data from it so I’m moving forward.  I should be ecstatic about it, but instead, I feel as if I failed somehow.  I cannot get the thing working at its former glory and I’m not sure I’d ever be able to no matter how long I worked at it.  So, there really isn’t any option except to move forward with what I have.

I guess, I feel like I’m putting something out there that is subpar.  Logically, I know that’s not the case.  The data is good and the conclusions are sound.  But, the pictures are not pretty because the staining is not pretty.  I may never publish another paper again, depending on my ultimate career path, and I want it to be the best that it can be.  I don’t want to show crappy pictures, I want to show beautiful ones.  But, crappy pictures is all I’ve got and all I’m ever going to get and frankly if I can’t make this experiment look more beautiful then nobody can.

But I just can’t be happy about it.

No difference

Well, I rinsed and re-autoclaved all of the flasks and remade media in rinsed and re-autoclaved bottles and beakers and all that and there was no difference.

I don’t know if I should be relieved or disappointed.

Run that by me again?

Last Friday, at lab meeting, Advisor calmly states that he has been informed that the dishwashing machines have not been working properly for “quite some time now” which may or may not explain some of the problems the lab has been having with contamination.  When asked how long quite some time is, he replied, “Several months.”  Several months?  As in, possibly as long as my experiments have been wonky?

“Yes.”

AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why are we just finding out about this now???  And, is dirty or soap-residue filled glassware the reason my once beautiful experiment looks like crap??????