Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Elli unleashed

De-lurking from the blogosphere to try and get a non-studying-for-quals life back.

This topic actually comes at a very apropos time - I have my qualifying exam in just a couple of weeks (less, actually...oh god, aah aah aah), and as a result I have been spending most of my waking moments studying or trying to reboot my sanity before/after studying. The studying itself has actually been kind of pleasant - I have an inordinate number of Useless Science facts crammed into my head but it's nice to see things coming together into stories, histories, big pictures, etc. The sanity-restoration is also nice. Dr. Superwoman is fabulous - she's on my committee, and half of her studying advice was "Go running. Eat healthy every night. Do yoga and practice relaxation techniques" (she knows I have a tendency to flip out like mad before exams) So that's actually been very nice. I feel very focused, and life has been pared down to one simple goal: my qual.

However, right now everything I'm doing is funneled into one of the hoops I must jump through for grad school. The studying, the running, the whole grain dinners, the yoga, is all good and healthy and oh-virtuous-me, but it's all pointed towards "pass your qual".

So at the moment I would like to be unleashed from my grad school bindings. I would like to not have a qualifying exam that stands, solely and strongly, between me and my Ph.D. I would really rather not have to slog through my last few classes. I would really like to be unleashed as a Real Scientist. I have scientific ideas that I'm excited about and would like to pursue, and that have been put completely on hold as I study for a test. I have collaborations I'd like to pursue, data I'd like to get, etc. In many ways I'm just anxious to start my thesis, but ideally I'd do this without all of the paperwork and hemming and hawing, and just applying for some grants or funding like the Grown-Ups so I can get going already. (I know that this opens up the wide and wonderful world of funding rejections, but at least I'd have only myself to blame rather than letting everything hinge on advisers or departments that can't get their act together!)

I suppose I should have a little more fire or rage or vim 'n vigor in here: I should want to be unleashed to give that sexist professor a good verbal smackdown, or to dress how I like and talk how I like in an apartment full of guys (i.e., none of this "skirts are unprofessional" business), or talk about unleashed my personal life from my professional life. But I'm a grad student. I'm a grad student because I really really really want to do Useless Science. At the moment I still feel like my hands are a bit tied by all of the trimmings of pre-quals grad school, and that by spending my days studying and pining wistfully after the research I like so much, I am simply treading water. I can't wait to finally get some forward momentum again!

The upshot of this is that the frustration does eventually turn into motivation - let's get this qual studied for and passed so that I can finally get unleashed from the pre-Ph.D. trappings of grad school and start doing science already!!*

*re: "doing science" - I really want the "Stand Back - I'm Going to Try Science!" T-shirt here.

1 comment:

Kevin Collins said...

Hi. I really enjoyed my brief visit on your site and I’ll be sure to be back for more.
Can I contact your through your email?

Please email me back.