Every Friday the department hosts a guest speaker. Through various connections to our faculty, it is usually someone doing work very similar to one group in the department. This person is flown in to Tampa, and on that Friday they spend the day touring the research labs, catching up with whomever brought them here, being treated to lunch and extensive butt-kissing. At 4 pm the department gathers in the lecture hall for coffee and cookies while the visitor gives his/her talk on his/her research. Of course, in the winter months the talk usually begins with, "Dr. So-and-so really twisted my arm to come to Florida in January!" We all chuckle and settle in for ten minutes of intense concentration followed by fifty minutes of total zoning out.
A couple of months ago, my advisor flew in a professor from the University of Minnesota, my alma mater. I didn't know Dr. L when I was there. He works in my field which wasn't my field until I moved down here. Anyway, when Dr. L walked into my lab, I was immediately struck by an intense attraction to him. This is rare among fellow physicists as they are usually not known for their prowess with the opposite sex. I was tongue-tied, blushing and besides myself. He had piercing blue eyes that paralyzed me beyond my capacity to function. All this at 9 am. What was it about this man that I found irresistible? He looked exactly like Dean. Exactly. But he was a physicist. Specializing in magnetic materials. And he had a British accent. Dr. Hari described a project we're working on involving chromium oxide, which has been my pet project for a year now. Dr. L seemed to find this particular project very interesting because it tied in closely with some of his work. That week, my usual zoning out during the presentation was replaced with elaborate fantasizing.
Anyway, in a lab meeting last week we discussed plans for the APS spring conference in Baltimore. Dr. Hari informed me that I would be presenting work from that project in a special focus section. Organized and chaired by Dr. L. I could barely speak one on one with this man, how am I going to be a presenter in his focus session? Oh the drama! To top it all off, I got an email from Dr. Hari this morning letting me know that Dr. L ("You remember Dr. L, right? From the University of Minnesota?" Ya think?!) would be co-chairing the session with Dr. S, my personal hero. If I am a Magnetbabe, she is the Magnet Goddess. Her magnetic materials textbook is my bible. I've read all her papers. I totally stalked her at last year's APS in Los Angeles, too nervous to actually introduce myself and tell her that I absolutely worship her. I am nervous already and the conference is four months away! What if she tells me I'm a hack and my research sucks? What if she tells me to give up and go work at McDonald's? I'm going to be a wreck.