Thursday, February 23, 2006

Crabby Old Bitty

Once in a while I get into these moods where I get all cranky about my lab mates. I usually wrap up my rants by confessing an obsessive fear that I’m going to end up a stereotypical bitchy female scientist. Guess what folks? It’s that time again!

Okay. Here goes. It is just about 10:00 here and I am the only person in the lab. I wake up every morning at 6:30 to work out, and then I get ready and get into the lab around 9:00 or 9:15. I’m ALWAYS the first grad student here. Inevitably people start wandering in about 10:30 or 11:00 complaining about how tired they are and how it is such a struggle to get here so flippin early in the morning. Today we have a nobel laureate visiting the lab at 3:00. One of the grad students who I’m not particularly fond of thought it was yesterday and came flying in the door at 3:15 and then got all upset that he had “rushed here” to make it by 3:00. I went off on him.

I know I sound extremely grizzled when I bring this up, but it just seems like the newer grad students in my lab spend all their time whining about how busy they are. How they can’t have a life outside this place. How so much is expected of them. I’m sorry, is grad school supposed to be easy? We all go through the same thing. Your first year you take three classes and teach three classes. You have little time for research but you can pretty much count on being here 8-10 hours a day. And you can forget about a life.

My lab mates and I have the best advisor ever. I’m not kidding. His only requirement is that when we have liquid helium in stock with which to run our giant magnet we keep experiments going around the clock. Since we have several experiments that can be left alone for 8 hours or more, this requirement isn’t unreasonable. Other than that, he never complains when people don’t get here early in the morning or stay late. He never complains when I take off for a few days when my parents are in town or when I go to Minneapolis a couple times a year. He will pull people aside when he doesn’t see enough productivity, but other than that he leaves us alone. I follow a structured regimen because I am 26 and one of these days when I have a grown up job I know it will be required of me. The sooner I get used to that, the better. Sure, once in a while I sleep in and roll into work at 11:00 and it feels good. But I just think doing it everyday takes advantage of our easy going boss. Any other boss in the department and in all departments around the country would expect much more than our advisor is getting.

I know in my heart that people reap what they sow. I will be a better scientist for having the discipline to work long hours when I could get away with less. I’ll get my PhD in a timely manner and get a good job. But in the present I can’t help feeling snarky about it.

Now comes the part where I worry about being a bitchy female physicist. To detour a minute, I read an interesting article about a phenomenon where people become so afraid of fulfilling a certain stereotype that it affects their performance. I can’t remember what it’s called. Something about threatened stereotyping I think. I’m pretty sure I suffer from that. I suffer from being a cranky old bitty who is destined to rub it in how easy people have it and I’m pretty sure I’ll bust out with “Oh yeah? Well when I went to the University of Minnesota I walked six blocks to campus everyday. Sometimes through the snow and in below zero temperatures.” I’ll spare them from the assertion that it was uphill both ways.

8 comments:

brainhell said...

I think only a physicist could figure out conditions where it would be uphill both ways.

Anonymous said...

So I shouldn't complain to you anymore about how grad school is such a taxing experience on me.... (grin)

Runner Girl FL said...

Not to mention Target is out of just relesed movies and some people who show up very late and have very stupid comments on other people's projects!!! I think we should find a designated driver for dinner on Friday night. Oh wait I have to be up early. Well I'll D-Drive if you want and have just one beer. :)

DearOldDad said...

You know you're getting old when your kids are complaining about kids these days - geesh!

Scott said...

I get into work at 7AM sharp every morning, and I could run naked through the hallways for all anyone would see me. It's nice for me; I enjoy the privacy and solitude the morning affords me. You remind of Jodi Foster in Contact. You do all the work but someone else is going to get the credit. I don't blame you for being cranky. Embrace it!

magnetbabe said...

brainhell-
Is that a challenge? Here goes. When I was an undergraduate, I had to walk to school away from a gaint, slow moving object so massive it warped the fabric of spacetime. The kinetic energy I normally would have expended walking to school was greatly enhanced trying to escape the graviational field of this massive object. While expending a tremendous amount of kinteic energy, I was also increasing my potential energy by distancing myself from this graviational field. After school was done that day, the same massive object had made its way to the physics building so that once again I had to spend more kinetic energy than usual and incur an increase in potential energy. Looking at elevation as a measure of kinetic and potential energy, I walked to school uphill both ways. And it was Minnesota so it was cold.

anon-
Complain away. If you get an RA and a boss like mine hopefully you will change your tune.

runner-
Don't get me started on all that mess. That's a whole different post. Instead of spaghetti dinner, how about you just carb overload on beer with me before your marathon tomorrow? A glass of water and an aspirin before bed will be a necessity.

dad-
You are far from getting old. Age is in your attitude, and this week I am much older than you...

scott-
I am naked at work right now. Too bad nobody is here to witness it.

You remind of Jodi Foster in Contact.

Thanks! That's easily one of the top five complimetns I've ever gotten ;)

dancingo4 said...

Something I'll never understand is how people can run so late. A few minutes once and a while is one thing but the people who walk in 30 minutes late and ask what I missed drive me crazy. Isn't there a clock on every single gadget ever? Phones, cameras, tvs... pay attention!
I feel your pain and will laugh when the people who get to work at 10:00 will have to get a real job. I often have 7:00 AM meetings and 7:00 PM meetings in the same day. A ha ha ha (that is my evil laugh)

mom said...

welcome to adulthood honey, and i had to walk uphill 10 blocks both ways in the winter, and go to CATHOLIC SCHOOL.