Friday, March 10, 2017

Some credit, maybe an "attagirl" might be nice...

Time flies when you're not having fun, doesn't it? I have mixed feelings about writing blog posts as of late. On the one hand, I believe that it's good to get my complicated feelings out on "paper" to maybe help me work through them more effectively. On the other hand, I'm so afraid of offending someone that I often just keep my thoughts to myself. Perhaps I'm doing myself a disservice by holding everything in, just to spare the feelings of a person / people who may or may not be reading what I have to say. I don't know. Perhaps I'm deluding myself into thinking that I'm so important that everyone is hanging on my every word. Ha! Who knows?

So the thing that's bothering me the most today (it disturbs me that I have to triage what's bothering me on a given day. It can't ever just be one trivial thing. Sheesh.) is I just learned a few hours ago that my boss was finally awarded an RO1 grant. This is the gold standard of federal science funding. It's an awesome accomplishment and I'm really happy for him. So what's the catch? Well...the catch is that the project being funded is basically zebrafish as a natural host model for cholera - my project and the basis of the dissertation that I am struggling to write currently.

What's wrong with that?? On the face of it, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It validates everything I've worked so fucking hard on for the last several years. And that should be a great thing all by itself. The problem is that I was the last fucking person to know that he got the grant. Even though the RO1 is based primarily on all the work I've done since about 2012 (presumably, since I've done about 95% of the relevant fish experiments in the last 3-4 years). I also got him the collaborator who I think is named on the grant (I don't even know this for sure, which is crazy!).  No acknowledgement, no thanks, no fucking notice at all. The only thing I've gotten is admonishment that I'm not writing my dissertation fast enough. And yes, I agree that I'm not writing fast enough (after all, I want to get the fuck out of there as of yesterday). But still...

My paid appointment as a graduate research assistant ends on March 31, and that's only after I raised a stink about the department planning to terminate me at the end of December 2016 (which I only learned about at the departmental Christmas party, two weeks prior). After that date, I will not be getting paid, but I will not yet be done with my dissertation. I know this. Yes, I suppose it's my own fault that I'm in the situation I'm in. Funding is damn hard to come by and there simply aren't enough funds in the department or in my own lab to keep me on. I understand that. It sucks balls, but I get it. What I don't get is why my boss can't throw me a fucking bone and help me not feel like the scum of the earth because I'm not a fast writer or because I wasn't able to complete all the experiments we both wanted me to.

You know, I had a rough time at the start of my PhD studies in the fall of 2011. I thought that as time went on, things would get easier. Unfortunately, they never did. It's rare that situations align with the worst possible scenarios I have built up in my mind. These last six years have been the most difficult six years of my entire life to date. And if I had known at the beginning what I know now, I would not have continued on. Sometimes, the not yet tired trope of "she was warned, nevertheless she persisted" isn't a good thing. The process of going for a PhD has broken me. I don't yet know if what is broken can be fixed.

We shall see...

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