Thursday, 19 May 2016

What my husband sees

A propos of many things preoccupying me right now.

My husband doesn't see the stalled papers, the floundering analysis, the discovery of unforeseen sources of error that send us back to the drawing board. My husband doesn't see that the first trial of new experiments to yield the preliminary results for my grant didn't quite pan out. My husband doesn't see the deadline get skipped, the need to do a second batch of experiments unplanned between now and the all hands on deck summer.
My husband only hears second hand the balancing act of resources between projects: the grant that pays me, the project that may be my own grant, the preliminary data for my PIs new grant. My husband isn't there for the meetings to plan what happens next, to allocate time, to discuss overcoming setbacks, to distribute tasks. My husband doesn't feel the continuous, ever present feeling that there are not enough hours to do everything. My husband isn't there when my PI and I have long, frank conversations about what I need to do to get hired, and how to balance that with what I need to do for the grant that pays me.
All my husband sees is that I have worked most weekends in the past two months. All my husband knows is that I asked to move our first year anniversary weekend trip by a few weeks to put in those few extra experiments. That almost all weekends between now and mid august are booked, taken by science. There'll be no back country camping trip, or trip to the beach, this summer. All my husband knows is that every get together with friends starts with a list of evenings I can't. "You go, but I have pigs. Maybe I'll join you later".
My husband also sees me exhausted, and defeated, when things go wrong. He sees me after I've been kept awake for hours wondering how I'm going to get everything I need to get done done. He sees me work long hours, then come home and always be tempted to run to my office to do an analysis, or read a paper. He knows when I'm going to negotiate a Saturday morning at work. He sighs wearily when I say "I'm taking my laptop with me on the weekend".
My husband has been with me since grad school, and he understands that I need to work hard. He understands this is a grueling game I'm playing. But in his eyes, I already put in more hours then I should. In his eyes, my work is already everywhere, like a Virginia creeper that needs to be watched and fought lest it stifle the house.
I'm currently working very hard on eliminating counter productive time sinks from my nine to five, to maximise what I get out of the day. Partly, it's for me. I need to be more productive, I need to use my time better. But partly, it's for him. I've begged and borrowed and stolen enough hours from us. There needs to be a limit.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Good advice I received

It's been a tough couple of weeks for me of late work wise, mostly of my own doing. I don't deal well with screwing up, or disappointing people. But amidst it all, I received some very good advice from my sister, who is a very wise woman:

"Don't be ashamed. Embarrassed maybe, but not ashamed. It is noble but unnecessary. You have broken some regulations, no ones limbs. Or hearts."

Learning to respond reasonably and proportionally to your own mistakes is also a skill, and for those of us who pride ourselves on our rectitude, not an easy one.

She also recommended good chocolate and a run. She was right on both counts.