Monday, August 10, 2015

Week 7: Postdoc update

Wrote this last week then forgot to post it... busy week.

I submitted a fellowship application within 6 weeks of being here! It was intense and difficult to dive into the literature of a couple of new fields, synthesize that data, and propose aims to test my hypothesis... using some techniques unfamiliar to me. My PI was extremely helpful and we went through several rounds of revisions, which was so awesome! Now that I have a handle on what my project will be I've started getting things rolling in the lab. I love this part! But it means I need to schedule in time to continue reading the literature and to think more deeply about my project and what my results will mean if they aren't what I expect (and if they are). I did a little of this with the fellowship app, of course, but I need to do more.

Getting to know my labmates is fun. There are more people in this lab than my grad lab so I'm actively trying to keep their projects and hobbies and other things we talk about straight. Believe it or not, for much of my life I was a very shy person and making new friends was difficult. One of the things I learned about myself was that I would get anxious in conversations and not ask questions. It seems silly now that it wasn't intuitive to me that those awkward silences could be filled with me asking questions about what they've been up to and are looking forward to then making it a point to remember to follow up on it later. This works both professionally and personally, of course, and those relationships are often somewhat intertwined. 

I love that I get to pick up a project that the last postdoc left behind instead of immediately starting from scratch. It's related, of course, but the bulk of the work is done so I can jump in and do the techniques I'm already familiar with while learning new ones.

Not as fun... new listservs! There have been few Reply All issues but the number of emails can get overwhelming, especially when most don't pertain to me. 

My personal anxiety level due to all the stressors of moving is finally decreasing. Getting all the health insurance stuff straightened out helped but I'm still dealing with the repercussions. I need to call all the places I've been seen to give them the insurance info and to get official receipts that I can then submit for reimbursement. Then I get to pay my portion of the costs.

Another source of stress was my cats. They have been so very annoying probably due to their stress about the move, getting used to me being gone all day again, and not having as much room to roam around. I *think* they're finally settling in too because the last few days have been better but I don't want to jinx it so shhhh. There were many little steps I took to try to get them acclimated (i.e. shut the hell up and not meow all day and night) but I think the biggest was getting my couch finally. If I had known this I would have prioritized it more but I was waiting to have a paycheck or two first. The automatic feeders are finally doing their job* and there is much less meowing for food at me for an hour before feeding time. I also don't have to feel guilty for working late and not feeding them on time. It's cute and funny how they run to the feeders as soon as they hear the motor start. 

I can now drive to and from some places without Siri and without the stress of potentially taking a wrong turn and getting lost. The streets here are not on a neat grid-like system. Street names change without warning and suddenly you're driving in the wrong direction. You can be at a stop light and if you turn right the street name is one thing and if you turn left the street name is something else. It's bizarre but I'm getting used to it (i.e. consolidating my spatial map). 

The grocery store layout is starting to make sense or at least I'm getting used to it.

The bus system is no longer a big mystery and I take the bus to work almost every day.

Drinks and hanging out with new friends! has been helpful on the friend part though I've yet to hang out with anyone I've met through it outside of an official meet-up.

I've had a little homesicknesses in the past few weeks mainly due to missing a wedding, a death in the family and the funeral. Not being there for the big moments is hard after living near my family for most of my life. My son is still managing to stress me out even with all these miles between us but I'm away from the day-to-day drama and that's helpful. He recently got his own self a cell phone plan so people can call him (though he won't answer... this seems to be a millennial thing) and text him (though sometimes he won't answer but it's better than when he only had wifi service).

Skype is still awesome. I'm able to feel connected to my friends back home and in new places (one just started a postdoc this month). It's amazing how seeing their faces and having group conversations makes such a difference.

I'm still not making/ taking/ having enough time for my hobbies and, frankly, sometimes they just feel like a chore. Dealing with all of this personal crap feels like a part-time job and then the idea of adjusting a pattern to sew a dress when my brain is overtired and I just want to veg is... not pleasant. I'll get there.

*FFS one of the feeders is broken. Every few feedings the motor sounds all whiny and it spits out double the amount of food it's supposed to. No wonder they're not meowing as much; they have nice, full bellies.

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