April 17, 2012

Existing Assumptions.

I couldn't think of a single place I wanted to be when I was wrapping up work today. Or more to the point, my options seemed to be to stay at work longer (always more to do), go home (like I do most nights), I guess I could have gone out for a drink or something, but that wasn't compelling either. I felt very stuck in my life and extremely unsatisfied with just about everything and had confidence in nothing. I'm mostly over it now, but it's something I face fairly often. I suppose it's a sign I need to change things in life and give myself very compelling reasons to go home at the end of a day. It would keep me more focused to get things done at work and give me something to look forward to at the end of the day. I'm only slowly addressing the issue, I'm brewing my own beer (though that's a hurry up and wait kind of past-time). Today was just a day where going home did not sound appealing, but I didn't want to stay at work or go out and couldn't figure out what to do with myself. I ended up going straight home via the grocery store, and my new periodic table shower curtain was waiting for me. I had dinner and had a conversation on twitter. I'm trying to be optimistic about things, but it gets hard in the face of apathy about what I do.

While thinking about all that, it occurs to me that I make a lot of assumptions about how my day will go each day. I wrote a friend joking about how I was in a hurry shaving this morning and missed a small spot just under my lip, which wasn't really noticeable, unless I was to get kissed; that woman would notice I'd missed that spot. Funny, maybe, but it also occurred to me I wake up every day assuming nothing like that is remotely possible. I assume I won't meet new people. I assume work will be fraught with problems and I can count on being interrupted. All these things, except the last one, might be probabilistically unlikely, but I shouldn't assume 'never'.

I think I'm going to try going into tomorrow without assuming how my day is going to go (outside of my already set to-do list).

April 14, 2012


I had the opportunity to go to the Montshire Museum of Science Science on Tap event where a researcher from the psych and brain sciences who talked about risk behavior in teens. It was interesting, and afterwards I got to build a contraption to try and protect an egg from cracking by enclosing it in some basic materials- mine failed, but creative destruction can be fun. 

This event made me think about myself as a teenager. I didn't engage in much risky behavior and in fact, to this day, I am very hesitant to do much of anything; I think anything I do will come back to haunt me. I am doing somewhat better, but I'm trying to think if it's just my nature to be this late bloomer who doesn't seem to know what I'm doing in so many ways because I didn't take advantage of having many novel experiences when I was younger and presumably would have made some big mistakes, but would have realized a lot sooner that many mistakes aren't fatal. 

I was at a friend's house tonight having dinner and a drink and watching the NHL playoffs and some of the other postdocs and I were talking about science and our research experiences and challenges in graduate school. When it comes to talking about things like this it inevitably brings up what I feel are my complete shortcomings in the research world. I don't know if there's a general feeling amongst researchers about sharing what they don't know (a lot), but I always feel like admitting I don't know and need help (or just comparing my terrible research to anyone else's, which I think is great more often than not); well I have a hard time being vulnerable like that. I think some of it is hanging on too tightly to the small shreds of confidence I do have rather than putting myself out into the world and getting torn apart. 

I need to break my cycle of being afraid to admit I don't know, trust more people (I don't like thinking people are out to get me- but I think it's true sometimes...especially the ones I don't know), and just ask people to teach me things. I WANT TO LEARN. From you. I'm curious, but like I was as a teenager, I have a very powerful mechanism in my head that will quash any impulse I have to do anything- that I am now, at 34, just breaking out of in some small ways. I'm getting a lot better at using microscopes, though I'm still a rank amateur. 

I don't know if there's anything to this, but Aisha Tyler interviewed Baratunde Thurston on her Girl on Guy podcast, and he was saying, as a Virgo, he had the need to do everything himself, whether he knew what he was doing or not and had a hard time letting things go. Aisha readily agreed...as a Virgo herself. I'm one too, and while I don't think astrology is real in any way, I do think there's something to personality of when you're born; maybe being born in the fall means you're tendency is to be more introspective because you're trapped inside over a long winter and have to entertain yourself rather than exploring the world outside. God, I wish I was as accomplished as either of those people. 

I don't know if Chris Hardwick is right in 'The Nerdist Way' about confidence being all about options, but I can see how that could be the case. I don't feel like I have a lot of options currently and need to expand my world; I'm workign on it, but I feel like the task I'm undertaking is exploring the world like a (normal) teenager would, but with my adult, 34 year old brain and body..and I'm trying to force it to happen as fast as possible. Anything I've done lately that's good though seems like a small drop in the bucket of what's going to be necessary to even feel like a moderately confident person. 

That's enough rambling for one night. Even writing things like this in a blog is probably good for me; forcing myself open in a way. Of course, I'm also extremely worried that this will come back and haunt me. Hopefully by doing this, probably a mistake, I'll learn, realize it didn't kill me and move on, a more confident human being capable of interacting with anyone without worrying so much about it. 

April 11, 2012

I'm back. And different

I know I'm a horrible blogger- no posts in over a month. I won't attract followers by blogging so infrequently. But that's OK by me. That's not why I started this blog anyhow (who am I talking to now? Maybe I'm a crazy person).

This last month, I've been transforming into a more satisfied postdoc in some ways. I started using the don't break the chain method of productivity. It is working, though i'm finding I don't always have all the time in the world to specifically devote to each task. The goals I'm following are all in the broad category of getting myself out into the world; at work, in a job search I haven't had a lot of time to do and cleaning my apartment, one little bit at a time. It, like me, is a constant work in progress.

I'm also reading "The Happiness Project" which has some good points to make, though the life the Gretchen Rubin is absolutely different from mine, it is illuminating to see an actual human being go through the struggles of becoming happier.

I also ordered, framed and hung this poster on my wall, which I hope will serve as inspiration to me for the rest of this year. The opening line is "This is your life. Do what you love and do it often.

I ran a personal best in the Shamrock Shuffle 5k last month on St. Patrick's Day. I completed a teaching series workshop and have seen, by reviewing a video of myself, a huge improvement in my teaching and presentation style. And science is interesting again- my science and that of others. I'm trying to get a story together still and am feeling more motivated to do that (though the energy is still missing a lot of days).

So I'm back. And better. Many challenges remain, it still doesn't feel like I've really moved the Earth under my feet just yet, but hopefully good things are still in store for this year; and I'm going to attempt to blog about them more often, if only for myself. For some reason, I find writing this fun. I'm doing this instead of my dishes (or working- even though I'm exhausted and it's 11pm- always more work I feel I should be doing).

Since I'm probably the only one who reads this, you can look forward to more frequent updates from my brain.