Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bored Bee

One of the reasons I joined the lab of Magnum PI is that I would learn many new techniques. In fact, aside from the basics, it appears that almost every technique used in this lab is something I only know about (i.e. I don't actually know how to do it.) This is unfortunate for two reasons:

(1) I need help with everything, especially the big, scary, expensive machines.
I hate bothering people and interrupting their day, but I really can't avoid it. I read up on everything so that I at least understand the concept, but that doesn't tell me which buttons do what. It is a difficult transition going from graduate school lab where I knew everything about everything and I could work with total independence, to being a post-doc in a lab where I don't know how to do anything by myself and I am completely dependent on others to show me how to do things.

(2) I am not busy enough.
This is somewhat intertwined with point 1. Since I don't know how to do most of the things, I can't really work at the speed that I am accustomed. It is frustrating because I feel like I am not making enough progress to satisfy myself. At first it was OK because I was reading and trying to plan projects, but now that I have a general game plan, I am ready to go. Unfortunately, I can't. Right now everything is two steps forward and one step back. At least I net one step forward!

I don't know why, but I never considered this aspect of the transition. I was prepared for the first few weeks being kind of slow while I was getting everything up and running. However, I don't think I factored in the obvious fact that I wouldn't know how to do anything beyond the basics. I'm not sure why, but the slow pace and the inability to work completely alone really started bothering me this week. It's probably because things have finally settled down since all the wedding insanity. Before that I think all the wedding-related errands were filling my need to be over tasked and now that they are gone, I don't have enough to do. I am not sure how much longer I can move at this slower pace before it drives me absolutely in-fucking-sane. Someone tell me where the fast-forward button is.



10 comments:

PhizzleDizzle said...

Hang in there MXX. I think I read Physioprof say once in a comment that you don't grow unless you're doing something that makes you uncomfortable. Think of that, maybe? Of course it is frustrating from going going from the top of the heap to the bottom, but that's the way all transitions go, and eventually, you'll run like a well-oiled machine.

Could you maybe take a day to just set up appts, one after another with everyone relevant to show you how stuff works, so you get a one-day crash course in all of it?

transientreporter said...

Does Magnum PI have a Ferrari of a lab?
It's always difficult getting adjusted to a new lab. My doctoral PI was a bit of a control freak, and his lab was meticulously organized. Every bottle, tube and box was labeled, cataloged and put in its rightful place. He was also willing to kneecap anyone who strayed from the rightful path. On the other hand, my postdoc PI's lab was a disaster. The -80C freezers were basically giant piles of frozen eppendorf tubes. I had a hell of a time adjusting.

Nobody likes a Nazi boss, but a chaotic lab is worse.

microbiologist xx said...

PD - You are absolutely correct and that is what I keep telling myself. :) Unfortunately, a one day crash course is not an option, but that would be awesome.

TR - LOL! Magnum PI does not have a Ferrari of a lab. He doesn't have a porno mustache either.
Your post-doc lab sounds very similar to mine in terms of the mess and I agree, I much prefer my organized grad school lab as far as this goes.

transientreporter said...

He doesn't have a porno mustache either.
Okay, so I guess your PI isn't Francis Collins...

Mad Hatter said...

I switched subfields when I did my postdoc and had the same experience with not knowing how to do anything and having my project move at a snail's pace. I spent a month or two feeling like I was making no progress and being extremely frustrated. Then one day, I was having a conversation with some colleagues and realized suddenly that I got it--I wasn't struggling to keep up with the conversation, I knew what I was talking about and was actually making intelligent contributions to the discussion. So hang in there...you'll make it out of this stage soon!

microbiologist xx said...

Mad Hatter - Thanks, it is nice to get reassurance from people who have been through it. This weeks actually been pretty good. I actually had to multi-task two days in a row (gasp).

Rhea Miller said...

I can't wait to read a post where you are kicking ass and taking names...as i know it will happen. I have been warned about how small people feel in their postdoc...good luck getting your feet under you...

ALSO, btw, how was your wedding?!?!

microbiologist xx said...

Rhea - The wedding turned out great even though the month leading up to it was freaking INSANE. Everyone had a blast which was exactly what I wanted. Once I get all the pictures I will post some. How are things going with yours? How much longer now?

Rhea Miller said...

I am SO glad that your wedding turned out how you wanted it to! I can't wait to see some pics...

As to your Q: July 18th = the date...I am trying so hard not to get too crazy. I absolutely despise women that use weddings as an excuse to become mega bit**es. But I am learning that the whole thing is totally overwhelming?!?! and that it's ok that its a little overwhelming. eeeeeeek...I sure hope that mine turns out like yours...allllll i want by the end of the day is to be married to my honey and for everyone to have SO MUCH FUN.

microbiologist xx said...

July 18th...it'll be here before you know it. Go ahead and schedule insanity for the entire month of June. :)

I think you have the right attitude. Really, if you end the day married AND everyone has a good times, what else really matters. Everything else is just details.