Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I Must Be Insane

Here I am sitting at work at quarter to nine during what has to be one of the worst blizzards I have ever seen. Aside from the M.D. who is required to be here, I am the only person on my floor who decided to work. Well let me back up, there is a story here if I can glean it.

My current thesis adviser informed me this October - on the day I returned to work from a week and a half bout of H1N1, no less - that come June she was leaving this institution and accepting a better position at another institution. Having only been in her lab for a year, and after all the crap with my former adviser, I silently screamed, then had a heart attack. But we have a plan. The plan is, well, my work is going well so we need to get published ASAP. The hope is to at least be have the manuscript accepted and in revision by June. Ideally revisions would be completed by then and I could start writing my thesis while some other PI babysits me (this school is not huge on students doing things independently without the official, watchful eye of a faculty member). If not there are labs I can do my revisions in; we'll just make sure to order all the supplies I need before she leaves.

The upshot of this is that I've been working my (somewhat sizable) ass off since then to the exclusion of all else. I'm surprised my hair hasn't started falling out yet (I kid I kid). So I planned three huge and costly experiments for this week, taking multiple days each but the most work and expense culminating on the last day. It's called flow cytometry, and at my institution, we have a group of people who, once you've prepared your samples, will run them through the cytometer and do basic sorting and analysis for you. I have completed two and today is the last day of the third, which would conclude this chapter of my research and be a nice, pretty little graph in my manuscript.

Cue blizzard.

10 inches of snow and still coming for at least 16 more hours.

With some vestiges of hope packed into my wee grad student heart, I got up at quarter to seven, showered, tucked my jeans neatly into my boots, wrapped myself up good (I imagine I looked somewhat like Randy from A Christmas Story) and opened my front door. Except I didn't because it was snowed shut. I leaned and pushed and managed to displace what felt like 30 pounds of snow, against the wind. I stopped to catch my breath, then looked down with trepidation. The four stairs between my front door and the sidewalk had disappeared completely; the snow covered them in an even slope. Grabbing the rail I was certain would detatch if I actually slipped and needed its stability, I plunged one foot down, down, down into the depths of white fluff and miraculously, fully landed on the first step. I repeated this procedure until I ran out of steps, then waded the 100 feet to the corner in snow that was perilously close to reaching my crotch. Finally I was liberated by a plowed street, made my way across to wait at the bus stop at a plowed gas station. As I waited, I saw nearly every car that passed me skid and slide, and worried that the buses were shut down. But my bus came (and on time!) and I was shuttled somewhat safely to work.

So here I sit by my lonesome, wondering if the people who run my samples are even here today. It all may have been for naught, experiment-wise I'll have to repeat the whole four day procedure next week. The upside of this trek is that now I can claim to be hardcore (shhh, don't tell them that I'm really a wimp!).

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