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.