An unenviable position

Currently, there is a student in the lab who is preparing to defend in about two weeks.  Then, in the beginning of June, she will be starting a position doing science outreach.  Which is fantastic.  Good for her.

However, she has taken to saying to me (in the presence of most of the rest of the lab) that she really envies me and that she wishes she could have had the option of finishing the way I am doing it (that is, take off from the lab to write her thesis) and how relaxing that would be, and how lucky I am, etc., etc.

If she says any of that to me one more time, I may drop a PCR machine on her head.

I have pointed out to her that she will be graduating long before me (even though she started a year after me).  I have also pointed out that I will not be getting paid while I’m writing my thesis–this is my last quarter to receive a stipend.

What I really want to say is something like this:

“Look, you stupid bitch, I’m not doing this because I have a real choice.  I’m doing this because I am sick in the head and if I don’t do it this way, I’ll never get my degree at all.  God knows when I’ll be able to graduate.  God knows if I will, in fact, be able to function as a normal productive member of society ever again.  So shut the fuck up.”

This is a little unfair.  While everyone in the lab knows I’ll be writing my thesis in California, most people do not know why.  And, it probably wouldn’t bother me so much except that I know this girl and I know that she is deliberately doing this to point out that she is graduating and I am not.  And, that I hate, hate, hate having this stupid disease and I hate that it’s affecting my life so much and I hate that I’m different from everybody else.  But most of, right now, I hate her.

I cannot wait to get out of here.

10 thoughts on “An unenviable position

  1. 😦 Some people just have to brag about themselves, no matter what.

    This is a tough situation though, since they do not know why you are doing it this way. It’s like saying “I wish I were dead” to someone when complaining about something, only to find out their mother had just passed away the week before. We can’t all watch every little thing we say for fear of offending someone.

    That being said, she sounds like one of those people who just have to bring attention to themselves…which is annoying even without the added situation!! Grr. At least she’ll be gone soon and you won’t have to deal with her.

  2. Even if she doesn’t know why you’re going to CA to write, it’s still a bitchy thing to say. In the end she’s graduating sooner and, really, she could’ve decided to “take it easy” as she wrote up. Instead she found a job with an early start date (granted, I know that jobs are hard to come by in this economy, still…).

    Maybe you could shoot pipet tips at her across the room?

  3. blechh..i probably can’t imagine the situation perfectly, but since you have an idea that her simpiness may have a motive behind it, maybe you could agree with her and match her attitude, instead of arguing with her. just agree with her about how lucky you are and be concerned about her mental state, “Yeah, I think this is the best way for me to wrap things up. I’m excited to get home. It sounds like you’re getting really stressed out by how you keep mentioning it to me. Maybe you shouldn’t have piled so much on your plate.” adjust as necessary as you know her best, but if you start going along with her, maybe she’ll shut up.

    i just defended and i wrapped things up in a similar way to how you plan to, complete with finally going to live with my long distance husband, although for slightly different reasons than yours. leaving the lab made the writing process one of the happier memories of my whole phd span, which i find especially nice, since so many people had told me it was the worst part of the process. i think people often try to combine too much benchwork with writing, but i had no choice except to only write.

  4. I hate her too!

    There are so many reasons you might leave to do your writing, not the least of which is to be near your husband, even if you didn’t have the depression thing going on. Some people even continue to get paid in such situations! I’m starting to think that very few people have the writing/defending experience that they’d envisioned (just like few people have the childbirth they planned). This person should stop be so self-important, and you should tell her where to shove it.

    I like It’s Not That Bad’s approach to the situation. If you try it, let us know how it goes.

  5. Just stumbled on this post and wanted to tell you that you WILL again be a productive member of society. It doesn’t feel like it, but you will. Once you leave the lab environment you’ll get a lot of space and distance (and sunshine! in CA!) and quit being so affected by the hyper-competitiveness of academic life.

    As for being “normal” it’s overrated anyway. Hang in there.

  6. Ooooh, you are too nice.
    You need to shut her up and FAST.
    I agree with commenter #3.. find a way to tell her, politely and in so many words… STFU

    Or you can just come out and say “Ok, we get it already, you’re defending in June. Good for you! Can I get on with my work now?”

    Sometimes you need to be bitchy to bitchy people to get them to shut up

    Good luck.. I hope it all works out and you can get out of that poisonous environment soon!

  7. Smack her with the PCR!!!! I’ve always wanted to take pipettes covered with TTX and jam them up one of my lab mates’ noses.

  8. As you’ve probably heard time and again: once you’re done you will be DOCTOR mrswhatsit. My community college students don’t call me Dr., but occasionally I get Dr. Mama from my 3 year old. It took me forever and a day, through serious depression, two children and a part time teaching gig, but as of December I am officially Doctor Mama.

    Yes, you’re doing it in another state. Yes, you’re under some different pressure. But hell, most of us are. I’m amazed at the number of people I’ve met who told me that finishing their phd was the loneliest, most miserable part of their lives. People who seem similar to the girl in your lab.

    On being normal: by having been in graduate school so long you will never attain normalcy — at least not in the sense the average person on the street thinks.

  9. Sorry you have to deal with this. If she brings it up again, I would just ignore her completely and change the topic. There is no reason why you need to engage her in her little mind-games.

  10. Stumbled upon your post. Nice blog. I completely understand your feelings about this colleague of yours. I too have a labmate who loves bragging about her “achievements” all of the time. She’s graduating earlier than many of us and never lets us forget it.The boss loves her because she has more papers than the rest of us.Sharing lab space with this braggart could have given even Einstein the imposter syndrome. I will be glad when she is gone.

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