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.
When it comes to relationships of all kinds – family, friends, romantic – it takes a lot for me to become annoyed if the relationship has already been established. However, I’m human, and as such do have a few pet peeves that I have found can in the long run ruin my relationships. One of those mortal sins is the guilt trip.
Guilt. That ugly, base emotion we all feel at one time or another is never considered a good emotion and by its very nature shouldn’t be a common feeling. But when a friend uses guilt as a weapon to curry favor or force you into something a line has been crossed. This has happened to me numerous times in the past, but one of my lab mates has this line of “friendship” down to, well, a science.
Take Sunday night as a typical example. I went in to lab on Saturday to knock out an experiment early in the day so I could still go out and have some fun that night. I had WAY too much fun and didn’t wake up until noon Sunday. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to be making it into lab that day like I thought I would. No worries, I thought, I still have plenty of shit that needs to get done around the apartment, I needed to get a decent workout in, et cetera. Essentially, my way was full.
Enter Steven (clearly not his real name). He texts me saying he’s going into lab around 9PM and wanted me to come too. That’s fine and dandy most days since I actually like midnight recording, but I really wanted to get a decent night sleep and do what I could to get back on a quasi-normal sleep schedule so I played it diplomatically and said, “maybe.” I get, “so that’s a no. Sleep man. I would like some company. But I’ll be fine.” in return.
I know that doesn’t seem like much to someone else reading it, but it means quite a bit coming from this guy. This was him saying, “I clearly don’t mean as much to you as you do to me.” I don’t deal well with that type of attitude in any person, let alone someone I truly consider a friend. However, considering I’ve dealt with this type of passive aggressiveness before I’m willing to do it again to just push off the inevitable one more day. There are more pressing issues at hand.
Like getting laid.
Companionship, internet, a bed…
Break-ups, especially long ones, are particularly difficult in the early stages. This is something I have been living for the past few days since I moved out of the residence my quasi-ex-wife (still working on the paperwork. We’re lazy) and even though I’ve been though a similar situation in the past this time is particularly difficult since I know there is no possible chance for a reunion. We are both very happy with the outcome, but that does not mean that the transition to true single life is going to be an easy one. So far it’s been fine, but it’s also novel and that alone is enough to keep me happy for the time being. The problem with novelty is that it is by definition temporary and will at some point be lost and I will have to deal with the mundane existence that is the dating/single life.
For some reason I find this both exciting and terrifying. I find it to be exciting since this very situation forces me to meet new people, and that is something I like to do that my previous life actively kept me from. And to be quite honest, I simply love meeting women. The chase is an amazing game that I at one time loved to play. This is also what scares the living bejesus out of me. I have a number of friends who have been in the dating game for a long time and who have had absolutely terrible outcomes with multiple relationships. Mind you, these are the tails of the normal distribution and I completely realize this, but it still frightens me.
However, I do have an advantage in this whole situation: my attitude. I’m going into this new stage of my life with a completely rational attitude. If I ask someone out with someone and she denies me? No problem and no hard feelings, that’s just the way things work out sometimes. So be it, no reason to waste a possible friendship due to hurt feelings that really weren’t there to begin with. I understand this may seem like a naive perspective, but the people who know me understand that if anyone can pull it off I can. Another reason I feel this way is that I’m a relatively good looking, relatively young, goddamn neuroscientist living in motherfucking Chicago. If I can’t find someone here in my situation then that’s my own goddamn problem.
I’m still optimistic about the whole situation and I feel that is good at this point. We shall see how long it lasts, but at least it’s how I feel right now and that type of outlook has to count for something.
Projects keep piling up and I simply don’t have enough hours in the day to take care of them all. This is partially due to being unfamiliar with certain aspects of science and also the extra responsibilities I now have that are becoming more demanding by the day.
For instance, right now I should be studying for my qualifier. Or looking at my morphology data. Or looking at the physiology data. Or planning new experiments. Or… You get the idea.
Anyway, back to the grind.
How exciting a life I lead
I honestly don’t really know what to write about. So much has happened/been happening that it’s hard to figure out even where to begin. I guess since it’s freshest in my mind I’ll write a little bit about grad school first. For the past few months I have been working in a lab as a temp because my grad student status doesn’t officially begin until September 1st. Unfortunately, that means I have to stop working in said lab at the end of August. Even worse, it means that I have to get my ass in gear and write up a lab report summarizing my research so that this will count as one of my mandatory three lab rotations (though I’m going to do four). This is a problem because in addition to all the work involved in “my” project my boss has made me take over parts of three other projects that no one wants to do (I’m decent at a particularly finicky and tedious technique that involves a lot of front end work that no one else wanted to do).
Because of this situation I have a very odd problem. I’ve been generating data like it’s my job (literally and figuratively… wait, nope, just literally) but I haven’t learned anything new. I’ve missed the big picture. I feel like a lab tech again. Such feelings are not good when one is in grad school. So for the past week I’ve been trying to play catch-up and figure out what my results have added to this particular field and while I’ve been having success in doing so there’s just so much more I need to learn before I feel comfortable with it. Maybe it’s a lost cause and no one really expects me to know all that I expect myself to know, but since those people aren’t telling me otherwise I am just going to assume I do. Well, grad school is off to a fantastic start! Can’t wait for more of this!
Sarcasm aside I actually can’t wait for the school year to begin. I haven’t been intellectually stimulated in years and very much look forward to the challenges that await me in classes that range from how to build a patch-clamp rig so we can study individual ion channels on the surface of an axon to how large-scale neural circuits underlie complex behaviors. It’s gonna be awesome and I am truly excited for the long term, but now is all I know and now sucks. Oh well, it will get better soon. It always does. In the meantime I’ll just listen to a little M83, Drive-by Truckers, Broken Social Scene, and MGMT to get me out of this funk.
I nearly forgot what it was like to move out of an old and disliked, yet comfortable, place into completely different one. It throws your whole life off, as I have been for the past week. In a sense I have felt a bit manic depressive due to the elation I have felt unpacking all of the stuff I have accumulated over the past few years into my new apartment while feeling an overwhelming sense of loneliness. It’s weird, I haven’t lived with Emily for six months now, but for some reason living in a place where we had once lived together had fooled me into believing that I wasn’t alone. My new place doesn’t have that history and now, finally, I feel alone.
Being alone sucks.
Thankfully, I still see Emily fairly frequently which has helped immensely, but coming home to an apartment still full of semi-empty boxes just doesn’t feel right.
On the grad school front I’m nearing the end of my first rotation and attempting to set up my next three for the upcoming year. So far I’m zero for three of my top picks (one “no” and two haven’t replied yet) which is beginning to worry me a bit and now I have to spend a lot of time making a back-up list of profs I would possibly want to spend the next six years with. Fun stuff.
Also, one of the forgotten joys of moving involves eating a lot of crap because your kitchen isn’t completely unpacked and situated the way you like it. Throw in the recent Chicago heat wave and I’m left to eating prepared foods from the supermarket or anything cold I can get my hands on. I feel like crap eating that stuff but I’m so hot that I don’t want to cook anything. Talk about a rock and a hard place.
I’m going to do what I can to get most of the rest of my junk unpacked tonight just so I can begin to get my life in order.