Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cleaning up, saying goodbye

There is a certain devil-may-care thrill in the clean-up that precedes leaving a lab. In my case, I am not pitching boxes of plasmids and spent reagents willy-nilly into the trash; instead, I am throwing papers--lots and lots of them--with abandon into the recycle bin. Pitching pdfs like this always carries a thrill of doubt--will I need these papers again? Will I ever want to look them up? But that old doubt is now assuaged somewhat by one of mankind's great developments: Mendelely. Thanks to Mendeley, my pdfs are all saved to the "cloud", stored on the Web and accessible from any computer at all. Progress is indeed great.

I am leaving the Institute for now, but I am hoping to be back. I'm counting on it, actually. After all, they just opened a fancy new cafeteria with a panini station (saving us the three-minute hike across the street to the hospital cafeteria).

A few weeks ago, I submitted a grant with a rising star of PI. Unlike the other grants I worked on this year, this grant application was for myself. If it gets funded, I will have up to three years of funding to work in the lab of this amazing PI. I think we have a good shot on this one--it's not a typical peer-reviewed grant, but an adminstratively reviewed career re-entry grant which suits my situation to a T. We should know of the official decision in April, although my (potential) PI hopes to get word of "intent to fund" before that time. If the application is not funded? I'll deal with that then. More I don't want to say right now--but I do really really want to work for this guy. I officially interviewed with his lab this past summer; since then, we've met multiple times to map out this grant application and plot out a research project which perfectly marries my past research experience with the current interests of his lab. It all meshes so beautifully--one would think that I'd planned my career steps to lead this way.

But it's goodbye for now--goodbye for at least a few months. Friday will be my last day. I wasn't kidding when I wrote once (a long year ago) that the camraderie of the scientific community is what I truly missed most during my time at home. And again, it will be what I miss most this time around, too.


I turn 35 on Saturday. 35 sounds so old. I take comfort that my husband will be forever older, and somehow age doesn't seem so old on him. But still. 35. Jeez.

I have white hairs at my temples. A body that betrays a slowing metabolism and the birth of two children. I am nowhere near where I dreamed I would be professionally back when I was a callow grad student--more than eight long years past.

But other dreams did come to pass--dreams I didn't even know I had. And as for the future? I am a cynic and pessimist at heart. And maybe still a dreamer, for all that.


ScienceGirl said...

I should take writing lessons from you; you have described everything beautifully. I hope the grant works out, it sounds like the perfect fit. And Happy upcoming Birthday!

Alyssa said...

Wishing you tons of luck that you get the funding - it sounds so perfect. And Happy Birthday! Just think, in a few years, 35 will sound wonderful ;)

ScientistMother said...

Happy birthday! I am always happy to celebrate birthdays, its means I'm lucky enough to be alive for another year. Its amazing how different are lives are from what we imagined when we were younger. I never would've dreamed of being where I am today, its weird but nice to know I've taken the road less traveled. Sounds like you have too. Good luck with the grant and enjoy the holidays

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

"the camraderie of the scientific community is what I truly missed most"

Me too! I came back to it, and you will too, in one way or another!

Good luck with the grant and the birthday. I turn 33 this year, and I've decided that that's quite old enough, can I stop here please? (Mr E Man is 6 years older. The first of his friends turns 40 in May. The horror!)

aurora said...

Happy Birthday. You are 35 years young. Hope you have a wonderful holiday season filled with warm memories.

chall said...

Happy Birthday!! it will all be fine :)

I hope that the grant gets granted (it's morning and I'm trying to be witty)... and that you get to work with great PI!

As with the expectations of the young self vs reality; well, I sure don't think 35 with 2 children and a PhD is slow progress.... but I know what you mean.

(and thanks for the cheery comments on my somewhat sadder sounding posts. I'm not that sad, just confused ;) )

The bean-mom said...

"35 years young." I like that =)

Thanks, everyone!

(and chall, I hope the holiday break gives you some time to process the recent life changes... and yes, exiting academia and taking on a new job counts as a BIG life change. I think some confusion is perfectly normal.)

ScienceMama said...


I hope your time away from the lab will be brief. Keep us posted!