Giving up

I suppose I have given up on this blog in my mind about 20 times. It’s like with other hobbys when you’re a scientist: you pick them up; you are fascinated for a month; then you start attending to them less and less often; then you start feeling guilty…

Now, once you started feeling guilty the merciless self-perpetuating vicious circle starts, where the more guilty you feel about not doing something you planned to do, the harder it gets to ever do it. You feel bad about not keeping up with your own agenda, and not keeping promises to yourself. About starting and not finishing. About another side project of your life that gave in to lab and science (and, yes, sitting on couch staring at Netflix the rest of the time, but science works better as the ever-fitting excuse for why nothing works in my life).

I still haven’t mastered the art of taking it easy on myself. I joke around and try to emanate slightly ironic attitude of a person who’s seen it all (works especially well in lab as the medium-stage post-doc attitude: you’ve just started trusting you actually got the PhD for something and you feel you know so much stuff those poor students have no idea about…). But so often I catch myself feeling as if the matters of my life are matters of… well, life, or death. Practising distance to life while desperately wrapping my arms and legs around it… that seems to be me!

Conclusion, if not apparent, is: I will try to care less. And instead of dramatically quitting this blog because I rarely write, I will rarely write. I don’t have to become the next internet guru. And while more visitors would be fun, hey, some day maybe.

Meantime, the post-doc life is holding up some surprises. Literally: things are changing, and I don’t even know which way they’ll turn tomorrow. Two-body problem, torn between academia and the great unknown world of industry – all the old dear troublemakers at first-hand experience, closer than ever. Stay tuned…

Want to write? Write.

Busy days, finishing another grant, this time working hard against the dealdine, that mercilessly approaches every day and… you know what? I feel almost ready! Having just written the fourth grant in a row to get funding for my project, I feel like I can describe it in so many ways now and approach my own work from different angles.

Well, despite what people tend to think, science is far from being carved in the stone – it’s a dynamic beast, changing every day you go to work! The art of research is to tame it, to give it a name, feed some warm milk, and after months of patience (intertwined with despair) finally have it crawl up your lap and purr – then you know you’ve got it. You got that project right.

But back to grant writing. The obvious truth, probably not unfamiliar to any blogger, is that the more you write, the better you write. Months of writing my grants (and before that my PhD thesis and papers) have made their impact and even if it was a slow process, I do think I’ve improved.

Hence, conclusions are simple today: if you want to write – write. Write regularly, write frequently, write, write, write. (And yes, they will still edit you, no matter how good you get 🙂 ).

Big labs are like big cities – on flexibility

Big labs are like big cities – you may feel lonely sometimes, but they grant you the anonymity.

I come from a little village, but living in a million-inhabitants city now actually feels good. I love to walk a busy shopping street and realize that nobody, not a single person, knows me! I feel FREE. The childhood nightmare of saying hello to any person in the street is over (most of the time I didn’t know who they are, but everyone in a small village knows the local teachers and their children; I still sometimes wonder how my parents take being such “public” people in that little, gossipy society).

Now about the lab. The bigger your lab is, the easier it is to hide. Or to stay home to work on your writing. I work in a small group now, 5 people and the boss, and I feel strangely exposed. Even though our boss never even mentioned the working hours, everyone seems to feel obliged to show up at lab.

Trouble is, my writing sometimes suffers, because there is just too much going on around me and I cannot reach a proper focus to achieve my writing flow state…

As a PhD student, I worked in a slightly bigger group, and if there was no meeting that day, I could safely stay home, given I actually had work to do. It was not welcome to do it all the time, but it was somehow easier to schedule your own time anyway.

Conclusions? No conclusions today. Just hope that my current boss will understand 🙂

When the boss comes back…

Somehow when your boss is back form holidays, you suddenly feel all much more motivated to spend your hours at lab, isn’t it? That’s what seems to have happened last week. Also, my two-body-problem, aka my partner, returned from a 2-week trip over ocean (mostly conference of course). All in all, it’s been quiet here, but worry not – it is Science Anyways! Planning to be back with a post (still before my own holidays 🙂 ).

The reflections of a young blogger, part II

I guess part I was the post on writing an anonymous blog, and how it should be an exercise for all of those complaining about their networks.

It’s been such a good feeling the past 2 days to finally see some people wandering by here! And although the truth is it is not my own success, but rather the heated discussion about the “Getting noticed…” piece that brings you here, it feels great that my words do not all fall into the darkness any more.

So, just taking the opportunity and saying hi! to anybody that wanders by!

Meantime, Science Anyways changed its layout. It suddenly became obvious to me that the previous font was small and gray, hardly readable. Why hasn’t it occured me earlier? No idea. Learning curve. But this is certainly the thing I’ve been realizing all along this little writing adventure: at every step there is something new you need to tackle and learn. But ah, we scientists love all the tackling and all the learning, don’t we?

Happy almost-weekend everyone 🙂