This Is Nothing

Insane Graduate School Edition


I just donít do Mondays

Today I learned that no amount of sleep or relaxedness can prevent my weekly Monday morning anxiety. I went to bed early last night. Finished my book. Went to sleep at a decent hour. Woke up only a little early. The minute I walk into this darn building, Iím already starting to clench up and feel overwhelmed. I get into lab and of course my bacterial colonies never grew: the experiment, once again, didnít work for mysterious reasons. The experiment I spent a great deal of the weekend checking in on and working my schedule around. Down the tubes.

This is the part that drives me crazy about scientific research: I get my act together and do my experiment, and depending on some sort of mysterious life force it works or doesnít. I try to be patient. I try to examine the variables. I try to remove all emotional attachment from whether or not the experiment works, but find that impossible. The sooner it works, the more is done for my paper. The sooner my paper is done, the closer I am to graduating. Ugh.

Iím just sooo ready to not feel on edge like this. To actually feel like Iím doing enough, and making progress that has a direct relationship to how much effort I put into it. To feel smart. To feel competent. To feel helpful and appreciated. Blargh.

Itís just one of those Mondays. Soon the week will pick up and Iíll have plenty to keep me busy and moving forward. But until then. . . yuck.

Okay, to brighten things up a bit: One of my career books asked me to imagine my ideal life, and Iíve detailed that on here before (It basically boiled down to a house with trees and pets, and time to read and dance). A smaller version of this exercise that I like to think about before bed is not ďthe ideal lifeĒ but instead ďthe ideal afternoon.Ē So here is my ideal afternoon:

Itís summertime, when the weather is warm and the undergrads are out of town. In my ideal afternoon, Iím sitting at the Union Terrace with a good book in handólately I see something slightly literary like a Faulkner novel. I love the terrace in the summer: everyone is escaping from somewhere to slip off to the terrace for a beer with friends. The people-watching is fantastic. Iím sitting on one of those cheerful metal chairs with my book and a cold beverage, looking out occasionally at the sailboats out on Lake Mendota. Iím wearing a cute strappy sundress, sunglasses, and usually my hair is in short pigtails. Iíve got some cheery nailpolish on my toes, and I can wiggle them in the warm air. At my feet is a dogósometimes itís a cute pug and sometimes itís a sleek lab. In my ideal afternoon Iím waiting for Andy to show up from somewhere, but thatís the only time constraint. I think to myself: maybe the dog and I will take a walk along the lakeshore path in a little while. Or maybe weíll just sit here. When Andy shows up weíll get some Babcock ice cream.

Thatís my ideal afternoon. Itís usually a variation on location and outfit, but the relaxing, reading, and having little to do remains the same. I encourage anyone to think about their ideal afternoon: itís the nicest thing to think about before drifting off to sleep.


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