So, the hell that has been my thesis proposal is essentially over. Getting mine approved took a few weeks longer than usual because I got FUCKING SANDBAGGED BY MY GODDAMN BOSS DURING MY PROPOSAL. But whatever, I’m (somewhat) over it now that I have a project that’s been approved by my committee. The project is damn near impossible and almost certainly not going to work, but it’s better than not having a project. I’m still going to have to throw out 8 months of research, but I still think things could somehow be worse.
For the first time in years I’m actually making time to have fun and meet people. I’ve been going on freaking boatloads of dates the past two months and am loving the chance to go out and meet new people. I do feel somewhat bad for the first half-dozen or so of the women I went out with since I was still just working out the awkward out of my system. Never going on a real date as an adult will do that to you. I was FULL of awkward. Like, to the brim. Okay, not that bad, but it wasn’t pretty. Sorry, first six or so ladies, I really am.
But even though research isn’t going well I’m not letting it bring me down since life in general is actually quite enjoyable. I still have a few friends who either can’t or won’t see the world this way and that is really beginning to rub me the wrong way. I’m just now beginning to realize that happiness is largely a choice for those of us fortunate enough to be in our situation. I mean we’re doing bleeding-edge medical research at one of the best freaking labs in the field, in one of the best cities in America, and we’re getting fucking PAID to get our degree. This is, of course, a very rosy view of our current situation, but it’s one that helps change a possibly shitty situation into one that is at least tolerable.
So, life is decently good and I’m happy. That is all that really matters right now.
A large portion of grad school is reading. Lots and lots of reading and doing what you can to synthesize the information into a whole and then do something with it. This is much more difficult than it may seem for a plethora of reasons, but when it really comes down to many areas of the literature the larger picture makes sense. Things are somewhat ordered.
This is not the case with the literature I’m reading for my project. The area I study seems to be nothing but a clusterfuck of randomness. However, the data is rarely presented this way which makes reading the papers that much more difficult. For instance, I just read a paper that had a very nice looking bar graph, but after reading the text I realized the data for that figure was only from ~15% of the cells they recorded from. I’m not saying that making the comparison they did wasn’t valid, it was, but it was also somewhat misleading since you kind of had to dig for the rest of the story.
This is really bringing something to light that I wish more people in my lab (really, just some of the higher ups) would recognize: the nucleus we study IS NOT HOMOGENOUS. All the cells share some basic characteristics, but that does not mean we can treat them as a homogenous group like we do. I’ve been fighting this stance since the beginning due to the literature and my own findings and while I seem to have convinced my peers the higher-ups still don’t apparently see it that way.
Science can be frustrating.
For the first time in quite a while the science is going relatively well. I want to write about it, but with science being the way it is (and my boss being the way he is) I shouldn’t go into details. What I will say is that the optogenetics work I have been doing is finally coming to fruition and the postdoc who made it seem so fucking difficult was clearly just trying to dissuade me since my first animal gave me data. Bitch…
Had a group dinner where the lady I’m kind of interested in was also in attendance Wednesday night. We were kind of segregated from the rest of the group and ended up talking most of the dinner. Not gonna lie, there were some awkward times but I would like to feel that they were overshadowed by the not awkward times. I don’t know what to do about this woman. Is this one of those carpe diem times or is it more complicated than that due to my divorce situation? I’m leaning towards the former since at this age amazing single women are becoming more difficult to find by the day.
Overall, good shit. I like life again.
Turns out that going without internet still sucks (I did this a few years ago when I first split with my wife), but going without gas is even worse. Yeah, the morons from the gas company shut my gas off instead of beginning to charge me for it. I knew they were dumb, but this has been going on for a week now and I’m getting real sick of it. Cooking is my stress relief, so thank god there’s very little stress in my life right now
On a more positive note the divorce paperwork is all filled out and ready to go. Turns out it’s just checking a few boxes and signing your name about a dozen times (as long as you’re getting an awesome divorce like my wife and I). Have to say it looked much more intimidating than it really was.
My apartment is coming along nicely since I got my bed on Friday. I’m at work now, but when I get back I plan to put up a bunch of pictures and paintings and really help make my place feel more like my home. Still need to get rid of those boxes though…
And science-wise things are progressing quite nicely. This Thursday will be a trying time since the mice I injected with Channelrhodopsin will be ready to use and, fingers crossed, I get a boatload of data. In theory I can knock out all the data I need with just a few healthy animals with unique injections. It won’t work out quite that nicely, but I still have hope that all my training will get me through this.
Some random thoughts/happenings:
1. I absolutely hate one of the techniques I must employ for my thesis project. It’s called stereotaxic intracranial injection, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. I hate doing it even though the animals don’t seem distressed and we give them excellent care before and after the surgery. I just hope I can get this working well so I don’t have to do it much longer…
2. Outreach has been big with the students of my program, but most of what we do doesn’t really teach kids that much, so a friend and I decided to do our own outreach. We got a small group of neuroscience students to just talk to kids about awesome science stuff in one of the more diverse middle schools in the city. This is exactly what we wanted to do, bring the excitement of science to more kids (especially women and minorities since they are remarkably underrepresented in the sciences).
We’re not doing this to turn these budding young minds into scientists, we just want to make them aware that science is not only fun and cool, but also useful to them in more ways than they can imagine.
I’m really looking forward to our second session tomorrow morning…
3. I’m having drinks with a pretty lady tomorrow after work. Really looking forward to it since she seems really cool. Getting back into the swing of things may be easier than I thought it was going to be. Only way to find out is to jump right in I guess.
Wish me luck.
Took my qualifying exam today, and in related news I probably failed my qualifying exam today. Stupid mistakes were made for sure, but I was able to catch quite a few of them.
Does it matter that I don’t know what CCK stands for in a classification scheme of hippocampal interneurons? Is that so basic that it disqualifies me from being a physiologist? Is it MY problem that YOU can’t seem to understand that the nucleus I circled on the board and mentioned several times is the only one I will be talking about is the only one I’m talking about?
An actual answer to these rhetorical questions will be seen in about a week. One long, drawn out week.
Fuck grad school.
I get a little depressed.
All I do anymore is read textbooks, papers, and everything else I can get my hands on to prep for a single fucking exam. Oh, and what little time I take off I spend thinking about how I can approach my thesis project.
My life is so boring. I need a hobby outside of research.