Friday, October 26, 2007

D'yer Mak'r

The inner dialogue: confessions of a Friday evening.

This postdoc's inner dialogue tends to be frenetic. "Was that 12 or 14 microliters? 12? no 14? How much did I add? ???? Sh*t forget it, its X.03mM instead of XmM" "Okay finish finish, Next Postdoc is signed up to start in the hood in ten minutes. Do all those cells really need to be split yet? Can all those cells be split in ten minutes? F*ck no way. So f*ck it, these cells will survive overgrowing better than those, so be it." "Ugh only halfway through the injections, ten more to go..." "F*cking A, the meeting with the Boss begins in three minutes, can I process three flowjo layouts in three minutes??" "F*ck f*ck F*CK"

And so on. There are calendars and to-do lists to remember, mice to take care of, experiments to design, papers to read, meetings to be gone to, socializing to be done and the special people to see and talk to. The average postdoc treadmill, and I love every minute of it-surfing deadlines, the pace, the multi-tasking, the nearly constant motion.

That said, the best inner dialogue is the silent one. It's 5.30 on Friday evening. The postdoc picks up all her detritus from the hood, puts it away. Mops up her bench, puts the media away. Sits down at her desk, collects all the little yellow stickies with cell counts, concentration calculations, dates of births and general experimental miscellanea and pastes them into the current lab notebook page. She looks at the calendar on the cork board in front of her, and everything is crossed out. The to-do list is similarly complete. All the mice are happily asleep or running around in their cages. The fluorescent lights hum, the lab is nearly empty, the radio plays on, for once not the driving rhythm of work but just music in the background. And the postdoc squirrels further into her chair and just listens to the sound of silence, the inner voice quiet.


Mad Hatter said...

LOL! I have a very similar inner dialogue when I'm in lab. You'd think that after all these years, I would've learned how to accurately estimate the time needed to complete any given task. Thank God for FlowJo's batch functions! :-)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

that harried questioning about 12 or 14 uls always haunts me! nice post. one of those that'd pick me up on a down day...i should stick it on my desk somewhere.