Friday, January 25, 2008

Such a Week

Ever since finals finished last December, I've been working like crazy to try to get ready for a paper manuscript that was due January 15th. I took two or three days off around Christmas and New Year's Day to spend some time with the family, but all in all, my "break" consisted of a lot of lonely days in the lab, the building abandoned by all but the most desperate graduate students, with a spicy mix of urgency and guilt churning around inside. Urgency because I needed to get good data for the paper so I can publish so I can graduate so I can get a job in academia so I can work really hard ... never mind, I'm going to terminate that line of thought for the present moment. Guilt because my poor dear wife was home alone going crazy taking care of three wonderful, bright, energetic children and wishing I was there to be with her to help out and spend time together. Spicy when I start feeling angry about graduate student abuse... You get the idea.
When January 15th rolled around and I still didn't have good data ready, My Advisor got us an extension until the end of the month (next Tuesday, if my reckoning is right). This high lights one of the downsides of graduate school and doctoral research: previously, with classes especially, if a deadline got too tight, there was always the option of what I called "academic euthanasia." I could always just quit with a good effort and accept a few points off in exchange for release from the torturous finishing effort that has always been such a challenge for me. Now, that is not an option. I don't really have a choice about finishing up this project. The stakes are higher and the scope is much bigger.
Thus, this week found me spending long days in the lab trying to tweak this and modify that in an attempt to get things right so that the plots will come out just right. When my advisor left yesterday after 5PM with the announcement "well, I have to go," i was (mutually, I think) at a peak of frustration and without a clear idea of how to go on.
Last night, we had the home meeting at our house, and I was somewhat recharged afterward, but this morning was a long frustration, too. Eventually, I was on my own for a several hours, and I decided to make a few command decisions. When Prof cam back in around 3:30, I was well on my way to a solution, and when I left at 5:45, I had usable data in hand. Phew!
There's still the slightest chance that there will still be a problem that I'll have to fix tomorrow, and the paper still has to be written, but I have the exhausted satisfaction of knowing that I have done all that I could. And Frankly, I'm Wiped Out. I'm going to bed.
PS. That's Thumper up there.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

OK just reading that is giving me nightmares about my own slave student days. Eeek!