Oddballs

Since graduating I have mostly interacted with non-scientists.  Husband is a scientist, of course, and sometimes we go to his work parties, but by and large, nearly everyone I know here is not a scientist.  In talking to these non-scientist friends, I have discovered that not everybody has the same types of conversations that we have.  Two recent examples spring to mind:

1.  Most people, upon setting up an ultrasonic humidifier in their daughter’s room think merely in terms of making the air easier to breathe while their daughter has a cold.  Apparently, they do not have lengthy conversations about how an ultrasonic humidifier actually works, and they certainly don’t discuss the nature of temperature and what you are actually measuring when you measure temperature.

2.  Most people, when giving their daughter a bath, make words with the little foam letter bath toys that you stick to the tile and they probably put away the letters after the bath is done.  They do not keep rearranging the letters each time they use the toilet such that they have a silent argument about which is better:  PV = nRT or PV = NKT.

I’m sure there are more examples, but since I see nothing unusual about these conversations, I don’t realize that non-scientists don’t talk about these things until I tell a non-scientist friend about the conversation (they find these conversations highly amusing).

What if?

What would doing research be like if I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I was ever going to graduate?

What would it be like to be in a lab and know, if it all went pear-shaped, I could quit without losing everything I had worked for the last 8 years?

Would a string of experimental failures be as crushing as it once was if I was actually sane and had a good support system?

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Hello?  Anyone out there?  It’s been so long since I’ve posted anything at all here, that I’m not sure anyone is paying attention.  Actually, it’s been so long since I had anything to do with this blog and the email address that is associated with it that I had trouble logging into both accounts and had to prove to Google and WordPress that, yes, indeed, I am the owner of these accounts that have been dormant for so long.

It would be difficult to tell you everything that has happened in the past couple of years in one post and I’m not sure it would be particularly helpful or interesting.  The short answer is that I’ve been staying home with my daughter, Monkey, volunteering in certain places, teaching some at home science classes, and trying to figure out what to do with my life when/if Monkey starts preschool.  I will want/need to re-enter the workforce at that point but the question is, what sort of work will I do?  What do I want to do?

Among other things, I’ve been considering looking for a lab job.  Not a post-doc, some sort of senior technician/lab manager sort of job.  Something 9-5 with benefits.  Does such a thing even exist for people with a PhD?  I dunno.  Do I really want to go back to that life?  I dunno.  Although, I’m starting to realize that, in fact, it wouldn’t be going back to the kind of life I experienced in grad school.  The stakes are different and not nearly as high.  And, frankly, I care less about what people think of me and my intelligence.  I’m not sure when that happened or why.  I suppose graduating helped me with that, in a way.  It’s not like top tier schools hand out PhDs like candy, I must possess a fair amount of intelligence and tenacity or I wouldn’t have graduated.  What I forgot while I was there was that I always had that intelligence and tenacity or I never would have gotten in the program in the first place.

So, what would research be like without the constant pressure to prove myself, the overwhelming loneliness and desire to just finish already so I can get on with my life?  Maybe it would still suck.  But, maybe, it might be interesting or even fun.  It might be worth trying to find out.