Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Giving (Christmas) Spirit

Now that the Christmas season has past (or maybe it last until the New Year), I'd like to take some time to reflex on my experience.

I have trouble purchasing gifts for people for a number of reasons.
1) I don't like crap. To clarify, I don't want things I don't need and therefore find it hard to purchase something for someone when I think they don't necessarily need it.
2) I hate shopping
3) I think Christmas and life in general is too commercialized. We have too much stuff.
4) I don't feel good about buying items from most companies but don't feel educated enough to know where to shop.

So, this year I really didn't buy much and what I bought was small and simple. I bought the most stuff for my sister and she picked it all out and I wrapped it. She is 11

But then on the 24th I watch Santa Clause II on the Disney channel at my husband's grandma's house. At one point in the movie Tim Allen is at this lame teacher party and he decides to use his magic to make gifts appear for all the guest. These gifts turn out to be things that the teachers had wanted in their youth. All were excited and the party went from dull to fun. The lesson I learned from this scene is that people like presents. People like to received gifts, it makes them feel loved and it makes them happy. So although I'm not the kind of person who likes gifts most people do. I became sad that I didn't come up with more thoughtful gifts for my friends and family.
Maybe this movie tricked me into buying back into the consumerism life, but is it really that bad to buy presents for people you love? Just because they may not need the gift doesn't mean I can't buy it anyway.
I talked about this with my husband and he disagreed. He said someone needs to take a stand against consumerism. While I agree with him, I'm still sad and next year I plan to think ahead of time and purchase nicer gifts for friends and family.
Maybe I'm weak, but it's not like I'm poor and can't afford gifts. I just feel like I've been lazy about it.

So besides this little dilemma I have the holiday was nice. In retrospect I feel like I saw so many people but didn't get much quality time. I don't really know how anyone in my family is doing. I've decided to write nice New Year letters to everyone, maybe they'll write back and I'll get to hear more about their lives.

My husband and I are also debating if we should come out to see family next Christmas. It's of course 365 days away from now so who knows, maybe we will live in home state again next year. But I think it would be more fruitful to visit with friends and family without all the holiday rush going on.
We also invited everyone to come visit us in the Midwest, so hopefully that will take the burden off us always doing the traveling.

I hope everyone else had a nice holiday experience.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What have you done with my adviser

Yesterday I had my weekly meeting with my adviser. I called him because it seemed he didn't get my e-mail on Monday. I hate checking/sending e-mail through the web but can't get lotus notes to download on my laptop. Anyway we had a phone meeting instead of skype.
If you don't remember, the last meeting with my adviser I spoke my mind and didn't seem to get my point across and my adviser said finishing my dissertation (or maybe just this resubmit) is like making fine wine.
Well, this same person yesterday told me that it shouldn't be a problem to graduate by May. Wow. Maybe my sticking up for myself helped? And maybe the fact that I told him how awesome I was at the conference helped. His simple statement has made me regret all the mean thoughts I've had towards him in the last year. He also said that this resubmit will be the most difficult manuscript to write. It is on a subject that is well established and we are saying HEY try evaluating this subject in a brand new way. The other 3-4 manuscripts I'm writing are on a different subject, one that only began in 1998 and is recently still gaining understanding and incite, thus my papers will be a large contribution to the field. It is this subject that I presented at the recent meeting where everyone said "oh you are Jennie."

So I'd like to retract everything I've said previously about adviser that was negative and say, "my adviser is great!"
let's see what I say next week :)

On another note, I haven't gotten very much work done this week, between being sick and now being bloated I don't feel like working. I did call a lab today since we are confused about the data they sent us (for the resubmit). They were going to check the lab notes about the dilution factor. And I pretty much am still waiting on bits and pieces for the other manuscripts so I don't feel too guilty about slacking off since there isn't a whole lot to do. I could probably look up journal articles and reread my intro for the dissertation.
I'm going to pick up my sister from school today. She has a half day, and she's in 6th grade if I haven't mentioned this already. We are going to do some xmas shopping, I have yet to buy one present, well maybe one, and then we are going to make granola bars. These will be my home made present this year. I've decided I'm only buying real presents for family under 18 and everyone else gets a gift card and/or granola bars. Although I'll likely buy something for my mom's car, brakes or tires.
I just don't feel like I see my close friends enough to know what they want/need. It's sad. But I'm really just happy to see them and hopefully if I stop buying things for them they will stop buying things for me. Last year my husband got a power drill from my best friends husband. Um, we already have one. Needless to say we re-gifted it. I've always been a fan of this and usually call it recycling.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Conference and Catch Up

I'm having such a wonderful time on the west coast.
The conference went well. I think I could have missed out on Monday and Tuesday besides the fun lunches. Wed. was a great poster session and Thursday was my oral session. Oh and wed. night about 15 people from my session all went to dinner. It was good time. What I found really cool was that people said "oh you are Jennie, you are the one who measured that really cool piece of science." I also think my talk went well and I had a great conversation after the oral session to help someone sort out the details of his new project and we are going to keep in touch. This man also asked me several times during our conversation when I was going to graduate. I found this strange. He ended our conversation with this question again so I asked if he was hiring. He said no but that I should tell the organizers of the session so they could keep their ears open for me.
Strange. . .
My husband said his poster session went really well and some big names came by and liked what he had done.
Oh and this conferences does free beer everyday. Great fun.

Thursday night my husband and I drove to his home town, where we met as undergrads, less than two hours from conference town. Friday we had breakfast with his dad, went for a run, had lunch with his mom, soaked in a hot tub and sauna then hung out with his mom some more. I woke up this day with a sore throat and even though we tried to kill it in the sauna I was feeling pretty bad by the time we got to his mom's house. Being the hippy that she is she had lots of natural supplements to give me. I took all that I could and passed on dinner with a friend in favor of passing out around 8pm.
I had hoped that my nasal problems all week were due to our very dusty accommodations at husband's grandma's house but it didn't seem so.
I'm feeling much better today, go hippy mother in law. My throat has gone from, it hurts to swallow, to just an annoying feeling. I was able to run around today shopping with my mom and sister and we saw Alvin and the Chipmunks. It was cute. Then we finished decorating the Christmas tree and now my sister and I are just surfing on our laptops.
My husband went back to the Midwest this morning and just called me even though his flight landed 5 hours ago and I asked him to call me when he got there so that I knew he wasn't dead, ect. He didn't remember this promise, of course. He went to his groups holiday party once he arrived and then called after he got my message.
The plan is for me to stay here in this beautiful, warm(ish) beach town and work this week. My husband will join me again this week-end and we will commence crazy-see-everyone holiday week-end. Then we will have until Jan 1st. to relax and visit.

I love this time of year it always takes me from some cold, miserable place to a happy, sunny place.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Tagged I'm it

I have been tagged another meme. As much as it is difficult to do these it's nice to get tagged because it means someone is reading my blog. Yeah.

Seven Random Things Meme from Mrs.WhatsIt

1- Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

(1) I've had three fathers. My biological one died in a motorcycle accident before I was born, my "dad" since I was 3yrs old died from a heart defect he was born with when I was in 5th grade. My third dad and my mom divorced when I was a sophomore in college. He is however still in my life since he is my sisters biological dad. *sorry to start on a sad note*

(2) I still have a great grandma who is alive (more positive) and knew two other of my great-grandmas. The positive side of so many dads is lots of grandparents.

(3) I've failed one class. It was an undergrad course that happen to be with the professor my now husband did his undergrad thesis with. I went to the professor for help and she told me to do A and B and come back to her office. Every time I went back she wasn't there. She wrote about this in my narrative evaluation. (I went on to ace the class the second time around-with a different professor)

(4) I didn't get grades as an undergrad, we did narrative evaluations.

(5) I started a new women's rugby team, which is now operating decently with out me.

(6) I interviewed on the phone today to teach a course this spring

(7) I had a stuffed bunny that we put out every Easter Eve. This bunny would turn into the easter bunny and hide my eggs for me.

That was fun. I'll tag people later.

Aren't we smart enough

A previous TA of mine and a now colleague of my husband stayed the night at our house last night to attend a workshop where my husband works. My husband worked with TA (as I will now call him) as an undergrad, as such they have kept in contact. TA is now at an institution near to us where he does teaching 75% of the time, research 25% of the time, sits on committees and obtained tenure in less than 5 years (he said it's common at his university to do it in 6). He advises no graduate students but conducts research with a lot of undergrads. All of the data he writes as first author. The university has zero to few graduates.
Anyhow, now that you have a little back ground on him I wanted to mention that multiple times in our conversation last night he said "if i was smarter," "but I'm not smart enough"
WOW. I know he received a pretty distinguished post doc position and here is this man talking about if he was smarter. I say man because I've heard so much about women generally feeling this way.
In essence everything he said could have came from my mouth.
He said he's not very passionate about his research but loves to teach, if he was smart enough he would change disciplines. I tried to be pc and instead corrected him and said he wasn't determined enough to change disciplines. He said this is a reason he is glad not to advise graduate students because he doesn't feel smart enough to train the next generation in his discipline.
He talked about some research he does which is on the outskirts of his previous knowledge and again mentioned not being smart enough to yet figure it out.
Besides him not being smart enough, we had a great conversation about the process of applying for positions. He helped me convince my husband to apply for a certain position because it's a brand new department hiring 25 faculty members so I think there is chance both of us could get hired. He gave hints about writing the teaching statement. He also told me I should apply for positions even though I don't think I'm qualified since the process of applying only get easier as you go so your first application shouldn't be to your most desired job. Basically once you have a good template it's easier to go in and revise as papers get published or tailor it towards a different position.
He also said really nice things about my qualities as a faculty candidate that boost my ego some. Of course these compliments came from someone not very smart . . . j/k

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Graduate Student-0==Distinguished Professor-Infinity

Yep, the adviser won the argument again. The fact is that I think he’s pretty meager I just have a bad time arguing my point because I’m not 100% confident that I’m correct, and my adviser makes such good points.

Me: I’d really like to graduate soon
Him: No need to rush, no one is going to care how long it took you, and how long have you been here?
Me: Almost 6 years
Him: Well it takes most students 7 years when they get their masters along the way

I know think I set him up to make up an arbitrary number after he heard how long I’ve been here

Me: I think the paper is ready to resubmit
Him: I think it needs more figures
Me: The reviews said we had too many figures and tables
Him:Well we can’t sacrifice the good of the paper for an arbitrary figure number, besides most people just glance through the paper and look at the figures. Even if someone decides they don’t like your model you have so much data here, more than most (any) other manuscripts on this nature. The papers good for that, so focus on that more.
Me: True

Me: I’m loosing my motivation and feel like nothing has been accomplished this past year
Him: What are you talking about? You collected all that marvelous data that professor at other university said was great and you got the almost invited talk at big conference and instead of submitting a short communication coauthor said WOW this is great data make a full publication
Me: Yeah, I guess
Me: I want to graduate
Him: These things take time don’t rush we are making fine wine here
Me: Well maybe you have time for fine wine but I’m happy with cheap wine. I’m not trying to be hasty or lazy I would just like to graduate
Him:In good time, in good time. . . .

We also discussed the weather, the holiday party I missed, my talk for big conference (he won’t be there) and my next visit back to dissertation town.

My adviser said he was happy with my progress and my writing is getting better (I asked him about it). He loves to tell examples of really famous people who get crappy reviews and students who complain about how long things are taking but then get big awards for papers.

I feel like I got my point across, and that my point is wrong. But I’m happy I got it off my chest. My hopes for a May graduation are down the drain yet I’m still going to keep trucking along and see how things go.

I’m happy my adviser had actually read the paper before the meeting. I should have said that to him. We will meet online again after the big conference next week and I foresee the paper resubmitted this year. He said he’d like to see it again before I resubmit but finals are the week of the 17th so hopefully now that he’s heard my side of the story he’ll be efficient and give me feedback quickly.

GOAL: E-mail adviser revised version of manuscript by Dec9th before I fly to conference state. I think this is a reasonable goal, 3 or so days.

My husband is awesome, ect.

I've decided to steal this title from Dr. Brazen Hussy, since I was contemplating what to call it anyway.

Background information:
Yesterday was suppose to be the day I told my adviser that I'm submitting this resubmit because I think it's good enough and I'm tired of putting it off. I've been working really hard on it. I need something to show from my efforts and while my adviser is a distinguished professor and 70+ years old and has all the time in the world I don't. I've been working on my dissertation for 6 years and have one manuscript, plus a sh*t load of abstracts but abstracts won't help me get jobs.
I made a list of things I wanted to say and was nervous all morning. Then adviser changes meeting time to today and sends me a revised abstract. The abstract was nothing like mine and it made me loose all confidence and I decided I could no longer go through with my speech.
Then husband comes home and reads both abstracts and starts to tell me why mine is no good but it turns out since he didn't know which was which he thought mine was my advisers and vice versa. Exactly, my abstract is better than my advisers! My husband published 8 first author manuscripts while a PhD student so I'd say he's a good judge on the subject. (we are both in same discipline but different subjects). He then proof read my 25 page manuscript and gave comments and told me to submit it. In addition when I woke up this morning I noticed he had put the dishes in the dishwasher away. What a guy :)

But now today, I have to decide if I still want to go through with speech.
These are my main points
1. I am not being lazy by not wanting to work on it more.
2. The reviewers will do a much better job critiquing it then we can
3. It is my paper. I am the expert. (this one is scary because I'm afraid it will say I know more than adviser)
4. I am loosing motivation
5. I am not super busy, i.e. I want to finish my projects and move on
6. Do you think I am improving as a writer? Do you think I am ready to graduate?

I think number one and number three are the ones that keep me listening to my adviser when he says it's not ready. Although I really feel he says this because he hasn't read it yet. I think it's hard to argue with him because it makes me feel like I'm saying I'm smarter than him, but I don't think this is true.

My husband has been really supportive and reminding me that I am smart and hardworking.

Writing is my least favorite thing to do. I loose all motivation and confidence and it depresses me. I wonder, "where the hell is that smart, athletic, confident Jennie I know?" She was around during grad school years 0-5, but she's slowing becoming fat, self-pity Jennie. I don't like this Jennie, but this Jennie always seems to win. Yesterday instead of running I made Kahlua coffee. Now it's a snowy mess today and I can't run.

I read this interesting article about how to raise smart kids and I think it applies a lot to my life. It talks about the difference between thinking being smart is something innate or something that you can become. Those that think it's something you can work at are more likely to think positive when faced with a challenge. Those who think being smart is something you are born with decide that if something becomes difficult to do it's because they are not smart enough, they then tend to give up.
I think part of my depression (dissertation blues?) stems from this feeling of helplessness. Like either I am not smart enough to do something on my own or the helplessness of waiting for others to help me complete something.

If I can only train myself to see life's difficulties as challenges I can work though and conquer I think finishing my dissertation and corresponding publications will be 100% easier. And not easy because I am smart but easy because I will work hard and have a better attitude about things.

Lets hope for the best

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Which Spice Are You Test

Your Score: Cayenne Pepper
You scored 75% intoxication, 75% hotness, 75% complexity, and 50% craziness!

You are Cayenne! You're known for your dry wit, saucy remarks, and ability to stimulate (take that however you want). People in hot climates like you for your ability to make them sweat, but you're also quite good for people all over the world. Just don't mention your cousin, deadly nightshade.

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Sunday, December 2, 2007

It's over

The writing challenge is over. I didn't want to see my word bar up in the corner anymore but didn't feel like deleting it. So here it is.
I'm happy with my progress. I didn't meet my goal but I think I got a lot more done this month than I would have without the challenge.
Check out the results of the competition here.

Now it's time to move on and move forward. I need to convince my adviser that the resubmit is ready and that I'd like to do this before the Dec. conference, which I leave for on Sunday Dec. 9th. I mention this in our meeting last Tuesday and he said it wasn't possible, but I'm done with making his changes and I def. think it's ready. Wish me luck in changing his mind. It's been four months since we got the acceptance with revisions letter and although it is an entirely new paper and I'm glad we've made the changes we really need to be done with it already. It's hard to say this without sounding like you are being lazy but enough is enough.