Precarious

Since coming back from my grandmother’s, I have been steadily feeling better.   In fact, a lot of the time, I feel pretty good.  And so, I foolishly thought I was out of the woods.  But, yesterday I found myself sitting at my desk, trying not to cry, and I realized that I still have quite a ways to go.

I’ve been trying to schedule my penultimate committee meeting.  At this meeting, you present what you have for graduation and your committee either says, “Go ahead, write your thesis and schedule your defense,” or, “You’re not ready yet, do these other experiments.”  I really need to have this thing before the end of the quarter.  So, I sent an email to my committee asking about specific dates and times and two of my committee members got back to me right away.  The third waited a day and a half, then told me he couldn’t possibly do it before April 27.  Well, the deadline for giving your committee a draft of your thesis so that you can graduate this quarter is April 29.  So, this means that there’s no way I can graduate this quarter even if I manage to get the experiment finished and all my writing done.

Mostly, I was just pissed off when I got the response from Dr. Problem.  Surely, the man had two hours to spare for my committee meeting sometime in the next month!

I forwarded the email to Advisor, explained about graduating, and Advisor didn’t think it was worth fighting over (because the chances of me graduating this quarter were so slim, anyway).  So, fine.   If Advisor isn’t worried about it, I’m not going to worry about it either.  I sent out another email about scheduling my meeting, but now Dr. Problem is out of town for a week so I won’t be able to work on the scheduling until he gets back (because he’s not answering his email).

Okay, so I’ve got this committee member giving me problems, but I was mostly cool with it.  Frustrated, but functional.

Then, after lunch, I talked to L, who is second author on my paper, about doing more tetrad dissections today and tomorrow.  I have 8 strains that need to be made and they can only be made via tetrad dissection and so far, I only have 1 strain.  L has been doing the dissections because I don’t know how (well, I know how, but tetrad dissection is a skill that requires a lot of practice; add to that the fact that dissection requires fine motor skills and my hands have a slight tremor to them and you realize why it’s a bad idea for me to try and do it).  Well, she wants me to test the other spores she’s dissected before she dissects more.  The thing is, there aren’t that many of them and, for various reasons,  I’m not confident there’s enough to ensure I have the strain I need.  So, I explained to her that it would be ideal to have more spores growing up while I’m testing the ones I currently have, just in case I don’t get the strains I need.  Still, she refuses.  She says it may be a waste of her time since I could very well already have the strains.

I can appreciate her viewpoint.  I really can.  The thing is, when I came back last week, Advisor told me that he spoke to L and she agreed to take over more of the lab work if I needed it.  Also, L is the one who will be finishing this thing up if it’s not done by the time I leave.  So, I was really not expecting her to balk at this.

Well, this little discussion with L just put me right over the edge.  Back to feeling like I’m being dissed by the very people who are supposed to help me.

I feel pathetic for getting so upset.  I know neither of these things is that big of a deal.  It’s not really going to delay me and Dr. Problem and L are not trying to hurt me and they sure as hell don’t know that I’m A Woman On the Edge.  And, if I wasn’t already a basket case I probably would shrug these things off.  But, dammit, I’m just. so. tired. of. this. shit.  I’m tired of fighting.  I’m tired of this place, this work, this situation, these people–all of it!  I desperately wanted to go home and crawl into bed where nobody and nothing are going to disappoint me.  However, I knew that would be a colossal mistake.  So, I held myself together as best I could, looked at a whole bunch of Lolcats to try and cheer myself up a little, and stuck it out until the end of the day when I hopped a bus to the yarn store.

The yarn store is becoming my happy place which is a little concerning because I always buy yarn when I’m there and good yarn is not cheap.  Still, it’s probably cheaper than going to the hospital.  I came home with three balls of yarn and a book of patterns for baby things.  I’m now in the process of knitting a sweater for Sister’s Baby (which was due yesterday).

I can’t wait to see what today brings.

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5 thoughts on “Precarious

  1. Uuugghhh – I hear ya on just wanting to get done 😦

    If that one committee member is not available, can’t you just meet with the others? Can’t he just hand over his decision to the other members if he isn’t available? I know that’s been done here – in fact, one of my husband’s committee members only showed up to ONE meeting (he was emeritus, and therefore never around).

    Not sure what to do about the other issue, but you’ll figure something out 🙂

  2. Um, L is being kind of a pissy little b*tch. Seriously. If you’re well versed in tetrad dissection, it really shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to do 80 tetrads. I think it’s really silly that she wouldn’t just go ahead and do the dissections so that you’re both sure that you have the strains you need.

    That is so frustrating.

    And it sounds to me like MCH might be right. At my grad institution, all you needed was a quorum at your committee meetings. And if someone was being a brat about scheduling, students often would just replace that committee member.

    I’m sorry you have all of this frustration when you don’t have enough emotional strength to fight extra battles.

    *Hugs*

  3. I’m sorry that you’ve got a committee member being a brat on top of everything else. Just trying to get done is hard, let alone when you’re having scheduling problems!

    I’m with Science Mama. L is not being very smart. It’s in her best interest to help you get things done (so there’s less for her to do). I hope she comes around *and* you get your strains.

  4. Thanks for the support, guys!

    Update on Dr. Problem: Found out from a member of his lab that the issue is that he has a grant due at the end of April and that is why he won’t schedule anything for between now and then. He has screwed me over for a committee meeting in the past for this exact same reason. I was trying to schedule a committee meeting for March and he told me he couldn’t do it until late May because he had a grant due mid-May. In that case, I had the committee meeting without him. But, because this is my penultimate meeting, I either have to have all of my committee members present or I have to petition the curriculum committee to have my penultimate meeting minus one committee member. At this point, I can’t replace him without for extenuating circumstances and I think that would also have to be approved by the curriculum committee. Dr. Problem is on the curriculum committee, btw.

    I agree that L is not being very smart. I will say that this tetrad dissection is a little harder than usual because this particular strain is not sporulating very well due to the deletions I have made. There is about one four-spore tetrad per 30 cells (lots of two- and three-spore tetrads), or so. So, you have to kind of hunt around for them. That said, it usually doesn’t take her all that long to do the dissections. So, I don’t know what her problem is. I could go to Advisor about this, but that makes me feel like a tattletale.

    Thing is, I’ve only got two more months in this place and I don’t want to cause more trouble than necessary. I’m trying decide which battles are important. So far, these don’t feel important enough to piss people off.

  5. Two thoughts:

    (1) Even under the best of circumstances, the end of the PhD road is extremely stressful and annoying and FUCK YOU GET OUT OF MY FUCKING WAY AND LET ME GRADUATE!!!111!!!11!!!! So be gentle on yourself for feeling exasperated and everything else.

    (2) Not being able to schedule a two-hour meeting with less than one month notice is not unreasonable for busy faculty members, and it was not great planning on your part to wait until only about 6 weeks before the submission deadline to start planning the required “go–no-go” committee meeting.

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