Busy, Busy!

6 Sep
Sometimes, when my bench (workspace) gets really messy and crowded, I like to take a picture.  This way, I can prove that I’ve been doing stuff in the lab, should anyone question me.  
This one’s probably a month old, but it’s a fairly accurate depiction of my life in science.  Get rid of the old IBM computer and put in a new MacBook, place a giant stack of papers to its left and a giant stack of x-ray film to its right and you’ve got the current state of the bench.  

In other words, I’ve been busy.

My 5th year of graduate school has now officially started.  With a lot of hard work, long hours, and dedication, I’m fairly confident that this can be my last year of graduate school.  It’s an interesting place to be, this 21st grade.  Hopefully I’ll be transitioning from student to PhD, getting a post doctoral position, and starting to put together a career plan.  It really is an exciting time in my life, but it’s also nerve-wracking.  
One great thing about graduate school is that you can easily put off “growing up.” I still wear T-shirts, jeans, and flip flops to school/work everyday.  I can show up and leave whenever I want (although sometimes I do have to go to work at 2:00 AM).  I put almost no effort into my appearance except when I’m giving presentations.  I also get to go to meetings in great places like Lake Tahoe and, if I were to stay in the lab another year, Oxford.  Not bad.
The bad part about all this? We students are never taught how to go out and join the work force. We have to learn, at the age of 27 or so, how to become adults with real adult jobs and real adult responsibilities.  We also have to figure out what we want to do with the rest of our lives.  This is a big one – most grad students choose more school because they haven’t figured that out yet.  
So here I am, wandering and wondering, trying to keep the stress levels and heartburn at bay.  Almost all of my energy is being focused on writing a paper, which upon acceptance will bring me one crucial step closer to graduating.  There has been very little cooking, or at least not anything worth sharing, thus the silence for so long.  If I slack, please forgive me and don’t delete me from your feed readers.  If I fail to comment on your blogs, know that I’m still reading, I just may not have anything worth while to say.  
I hope this doesn’t sound depressing.  I actually am really enjoying science and the scientific process right now, its just very time consuming and stressful. I’ll leave you with the two questions you should never ask the grad student in your life:
#1.  How’s your work going?
#2. When will you be done?  
While seemingly innocuous, these questions may cause us to either burst into tears or utter an impressive stream of expletives!


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