October 17, 2002
Willow switch

I talked to my parents (who were both on the same line) for quite a while the day before yesterday. We wandered over all sorts of topics, and then eventually got to how things were going in the lab. That's when I mentioned that I wasn't feeling very happy in the lab.

(This entire section is paraphrased, but you get the general idea)
"Did you like working in the last lab?" asked my father.

"They were fun people, but I hated the benchwork," I answered. "In fact, I've discovered that I dislike all benchwork. Doing the same experiments over and over and over again just doesn't excite me. I want at least a little break in the monotony. It's too bad that the field I'm in is nothing but unrelenting benchwork. Maybe I'm not working towards the right goal. Maybe I'll have to start all over to find something that makes me happy." I spat that last bit out in one breath, finally putting voice to doubts that have been worrying and depressing me for the last few months.

There was a few seconds' silence on the other end of the phone.

"Gosh, now wouldn't that be a tragedy?" said my mother, sarcastically.

That was a pretty big bombshell. I've been trying not to disappoint my parents for quite a while. In the past I've gotten the impression that they're not so keen on quitters, so I think I unsconsciously put big changes out of my mind, because to me it would seem like quitting. But suddenly, just by talking about it, I discover that they don't have that view at all. And in retrospect, it seems so silly that I thought they valued my perserverance over my happiness.

So during these next two rotations I'm going to try out structural and computational biology labs, which are radically different subfields of MCB than I've previously been involved in. And if I don't feel at home in one of those labs, maybe spending the next 5 years chugging away towards a Ph.D. in a field that I'm not totally happy with wouldn't be right. What a ground-breaking idea, eh? Sometimes my own stubbornness amazes me.

Posted on October 17, 2002 11:52 AM

damn. brave jacob. you go! you go be a poet in el salvador! i will support you! but not financially! stop this punctuation right now!

Posted by: didofoot on October 17, 2002 05:12 PM

Good god man!!!!! Computational and structural biology?!? Even thinking about rotating through such mathematically intense types of labs makes my head spin and then catch on fire. True they might be less repetitive, but, as Paul from David Lynch's version of Dune would say, "THE PAIN!". I just got back from my first cumulative exam and my brain feels like a recently wrung-out sponge. I never want to hear about ubiquitin and its role in regulating methionine biosynthesis again... It is now time to enjoy beer. Keep me posted on how your rotations are going.

Posted by: Doug on October 17, 2002 10:04 PM

beer schmeer. it is now time to finish soy granola and discuss the concept of an orgy with sleater-kinney... oh, wait, wrong site. sorry.

i applaud your reconsideration, and i speak for the humanities in general (oh, the humanities!) when i say you're welcome here any time those terrible sciences aren't treating you right.

well, ok, the social sciences. but who ever says, "oh, the social science!"?

Posted by: dianna on October 17, 2002 10:12 PM

You've *already* had an exam?! But...you started months after I did, and I just had my first exam only a few weeks ago! Something fishy is going on, here....
Which classes are you taking, by the way?

I've been thinking about it a lot, and I really think that Cell Bio just isn't the place for me. I'm feeling more and more like I'm just cataloging things with no thought about what they actually *are*. Sure, I know that GPI-linked and palmitoylated proteins will preferentially dock into lipid raft microdomains, and I know why each will do so. But who cares? What does that tell me about any deeper meaning? It's just factoid after factoid....
But with a structural or computational project, I think I might feel a bit more in touch with what's going on. After all, if you can accurately preduct what's going to happen in a cell with a computer, then you've gotten deep into the heart of what makes that cell tick. And when looking at protein structure/fxn. relationships, you're really digging into the heart of what makes it all tick. Rather than "A binds to C, which then binds to D, which phosphorylates Q, which then represses A again."

Am I bitter? I'm bitter. Am I jaded? I'm jaded. Yech.

And THE PAIN really isn't so bad. I just let the Fourier Transforms wash over me like they were gentle waves. It's too bad they're waves made of fire.

Posted by: Jacob on October 17, 2002 10:17 PM

serious solid. do what makes you happy. because this stupid shit is just not worth it.

p.s. your mom makes me so happy. hwee.

Posted by: michele on October 18, 2002 08:33 AM