Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Farewell to 2008: a review

Apologies for a silent December; I was off in far-away states visiting family and some landscapes that I am deprived of here in Small Town. It was a good holiday, and since Partner came with me for the first time I had a lot more fun than I usually do - we got away for a weekend and saw some sights.

Now I sit here facing down 2009, and since I plan to be, you know, busy tomorrow night and into Thursday, I thought this might be a good time to look back.

2008 was potentially the most eventful year I've had so far. I spent the first month + (continuing from late 2007) in the field, finishing up one field project and getting almost nowhere on another. But I got enough data for the writing that ensued from mid February onward, as I wrote probably 3/5 of my dissertation between returning to the States and turning in my diss at the end of April. Needless to say, even with the majority of the data collection finished, it was a stressful spring. But there's nothing like a deadline to get the juices flowing, right?

In the meantime..

In February I went on a few campus interviews, lined up a few more. Had a fabulous time visiting SLAC and then sat around at home praying that I would get a phone call.

Then Partner asked me to marry him. This happened to occur on the same day that I received a phone call from SLAC offering me my current position (I gotta wonder if he was waiting for that job security...but then he did already have the ring at that point ;) - in his defense we had decided to do xmas presents once I got back from the field, and mine was the ring, but we hadn't gotten around to the gift exchange until the middle of the month). I made a lot of phone calls and sent a lot of emails over the next week or so - both telling people we were getting married and telling potential employers that I was no longer interested!

That was the high point, and the rest of the spring was a low - I had the "usual" last-minute failures of equipment and technicians while trying to get a few more pieces of data, my defense date kept moving around, etc. I let a lot of things slide, like exercise and eating well; I wasn't sleeping, and for a lot of reasons I hated where we were living. I had some rage at sources of ambient noise that was probably not good for my overall mental health.

In May I defended my dissertation and walked/was hooded. After saying goodbye to the family members who came to my graduation we packed up our apartment and got the hell outta there. Driving that Uhaul out of City took a huge load off of my shoulders. We dumped all of our belongings at Partner's parents' place for the summer and started looking for a place to live in Small Town. We originally planned to rent and see what we thought about buying later on, but rental options were almost zero, house prices were low, and I could actually swing a down payment. So we started looking, and found a place we liked in late June.

August 1st we closed and spent the first night in my/our first house. A few days later I bought my first washer and dryer, which I will admit have changed my life more than owning the house, and still make me happy on a weekly basis.

The fall was a learning experience - Partner learned that it might be a lot harder for him to find work here than we expected, and I learned that I really like what I'm doing and I don't completely suck as a professor (so far!). I got decent student reviews, got some research done, started writing a grant, got one of my dissertation papers published and submitted another two manuscripts. I'm learning the ropes and feeling more confident. I'm starting to spend my start-up and am planning some field work for the summer and winter of '09.

I hope 2009 will complete my transition from student to proffie in my own mind - I need to be more assertive and self-confident than I am, sometimes; I need to make sure I get what I need and stop trusting that SLAC is looking out for me (because it may be a friendly and supportive place but no one is looking out for me but me), and I also have to keep myself from putting things off just because it's still my first year.

This coming year will also hopefully give us a better idea of what we can expect for Partner - is this place going to be a wash for him? And if so, what do we do? Should I be keeping an eye on the job ads, just in case some sort of SLAC job opens up in a more likely location? Would I be an idiot to look for other alternatives before tenure, when I'm liking my job so far? Questions that can't be answered at this point, but I might be asking them with more sincerity around this time next year.

More importantly, I hope 2009 is more positive. Some of my experiences in City in 2008 really shot my faith and trust in people, and made me even more of a pessimist than I had been before. My students have already done a lot to revive my optimism, and I think being at SLAC will counteract my negative mindset if I let it happen.

Happy New Year and a positive 2009 to you! More blogging will ensue during post-hangover January.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

bandwagons part deux

Barring something useful to blog about, here is meme for you. No tagging, so if you haven't, go ahead.

Have done the following in bold.

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity (I would like to say yes to this, but I wasn't starving, so it probably doesn't count)
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped (this will never, ever happen)
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables (well, a tomato plant on a fire excape. Which the squirrels ate. But it totally counts)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch-hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (although...being a grad student and not working probably doesn't count)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon (this will also never happen)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language (or parts of some, anyway)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving (number three which will never, ever happen)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favourite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviare
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I've blogged this elsewhere before, and it's been on other blogs as well. So I'm not claiming any great discoveries. But I came across this link again tonight, and it's just as funny now as it was back in the fall.

Even funnier, now they have links at the bottom right to ringtones, mp3 files and WALLPAPER for your desktop. Random sciencechick standing by the ocean! Random guys in lab coats! Is this actually a good way to get scientists to buy your expensive machines? Apparently.

The slump may be subsiding; at the very least I've gotten some work done this week. So far.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


The term is over, my grades are done, and now is the time to get to all those things that were shoved onto the back burner, or just planned for post-term in the first place. I'm supposed to be writing, and collaborating, and preparing! Right!?

In theory. Except that I'm having a serious post-term slump in which I find it difficult to do anything more exciting than websurf or exercise - the latter takes a decent amount of willpower, but I've managed to keep it up. At least I'm doing that much, I guess...I'm also turning into an insomniac again, which is not good. I have some research meetings set up for later this week -- I'm hoping that by then I can get my butt to my office by 9 am.

Today I pulled out a syllabus for next term, and made some progress. But what I should be doing is slogging through the tome sitting next to my computer, which will tell me all the secrets of Method X prior to my meeting with Method X Expert on Friday. But am I reading it? No. At this rate I'm going to walk in there as unprepared as any undergraduate he's had, even though he's been nice enough to offer his services in Method X to a first-year ass. prof. I'm such a jerk (ass!).

This might be my downfall - barring serious deadlines I've always worked in spurts, with several weeks of really good productivity followed by a period of minimum motivation. But it always evened out, since I could work at my own pace once I was ABD. Now I can't ride out the sluggish periods, and it's no fun.

How do you beat the slump?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Also saw this recently: Nature reviews FemaleScienceProfessor's book! I have to get a copy.

somebody loves me

Hooray for email, which provides such an uplifting end to the lousy mood I've been in all evening for no good reason:

"Dear Liberal Arts Lady,

The paper you submitted to Journal X has now been edited, and I am happy to inform you that it is acceptable for publication subject to a few final modifications."

Dissertation paper number 1, done (pending a few grammatical changes)! And just in time to count toward my first CV review. Sweet.