Monday, September 29, 2008

So... hard... to keep... up...

I'm trying not to lose it as I spin the teaching plate along with everything else. I know, boohoohoooo you'll all say--get used to it, suck it up, this is your life now. I still like it, I just need a minute--just a minute. I haven't had time to sit down and think for a while, and it shows. I need to do a lot of writing: we are trying to submit an R21 for Oct. 16th (mostly just for the heck of it, because you gotta start sometime, but for other reasons that are about a training opportunity for someone in the lab). It could be a pretty cool little project, so I hope we get some money for it. But if not, we're still okay for now and I have the K99/R00 in place to tide me over until I get my first R01 through the works. There are also a couple of internal small grant opportunities coming up in the next few months, for which I have some ideas that I have been talking to others about and gotten some encouragement.

The EQUIPMENT part of the lab is pretty much all set up. Now it's PERSONNEL setup time. I've been training the (great) undergrads in a few experimental jobs, and getting the grad student up to speed on some things. The lab manager started today, and I have high hopes that he will be a godsend. Very capable person, takes initiative and just sorts stuff out. Interested in the research too, and looking forward to helping me with experiments.

We started growing cells last week! We will hopefully be doing our first assay on Thursday unless the cells die! The cells are the easiest part of things to get going fast. We have done a pretty good job of setting up our operation though--it's kind of like one of those time-lapse movies of setting up a circus or a fair. I wish I had a good snapshot of "before" in the lab, though, to show everyone the contrast between then and the "after" state we're in now. I really am proud of it, we got an awful lot of large, highly technical equipment set up within the space of a month. And as stressful as teaching is right now, I still feel like this was the time to do it. Life is spinning out of control anyway, there might as well be one more thing going on. The discipline of studying organic reaction mechanisms and stereochemistry is good for me, and kind of Zen--I can meditate on R/S nomenclature and chair/twist-boat transitions (and how to help pre-pharmacy students soak up a real understanding of them) while I drive my ridiculously long drive to and from work. Yeah: did I tell you all how I live an hour and fifteen minutes drive (84 miles) away from my institution, AND have to go across a time zone where I lose an hour in the morning? Yeah. Hah. /cry

I have very little insight about all this, only that it is all flying past me at a million miles a minute and I need to keep trying to learn my strategies for getting actual work done and keeping my mind focused. It's happening very, very fast. And boy am I glad I went to all those orientations, because they were the last time I remember getting a chance to THINK. I need to make sure I attend more seminars, so I can do what everybody else does and use them to plan my own work.


Candid Engineer said...

Congrats on all of this. You have a lot going on.

An 84 mile commute?!?! I couldn't handle it. I currently have a 50 minute commute and am counting down the days until it is no longer. You are a wonderwoman for doing all that plus the travel time.

Arlenna said...

Yah, 84 miles. Whenever I step back and realize that I do one of those crazy laughs, and twitch a little. STILL it means that I get to live with my husband, and he gets to stay at the job he enjoys. So for now, it is the best option. My car disagrees.