Thursday, August 31, 2006


I'm back to doing it. Thank you for the well-wishes for my meeting. A bit about committee meetings:

By committee I mean my Thesis Committee. The people who decide whether or not I will graduate. Our program requires meeting with your committee once a year so that they can haze you you can get their opinion on your work. The idea is that by gathering their input, you will have a better thesis project. Near the end of your graduate career, you have what is known as the penultimate committee meeting (the ultimate one being your defense) at which time your committee says, yes, you have done enough, you may start writing your thesis now (up until this point, it's all been lab work). Today was not the penultimate meeting. But it was the meeting just before the penultimate meeting--the pre-penultimate meeting if you will.

I had been feelling pretty good about the thing. I had been working hard and was tired, yes, but I had some solid data (which I've never had before), and it was the kind of data that you build a thesis around. Then, I stupidly did another experiment earlier this week. Dumb, dumb, dumb! I should've known the results would contradict some of my previous results. It's Murphy's Law of Labwork. Anything that can go wrong will, and at the least opportune time.

When I got my result, I freaked out. I almost started crying. I was two days away from my meeting and now I had to rewrite everything. I had, in fact, already given my committee my report which contained the erroneous data. After talking to my advisor (who thought I was getting a little too carried away), I started to realize that it wasn't as bad as I thought, but I was still up a creek with a teaspoon.

Then, I went to a baseball game.

Not because I find baseball particularly soothing, but because it was a lab event and the tickets had already been bought. So I sat and knit and tried to relax.*

I spent the entirety of yesterday putting together my presentation. I put a sign on my bench chair that said, "Do not disturb except for tea or chocolate," (we don't have offices, just the desk attached to the lab bench, and if you're sitting at your desk, people just come and talk to you). I spent hours in Powerpoint, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator. Making figures, fixing figures, putting together slides, practicing, running things past other members of the lab to see if I was being coherent. All of it. I forgot to eat lunch. I remembered around 3:00. I forgot supper and managed to find two pieces of bread to eat. I lost all track of time. Twelve hours later, I had a finished presentation. I was dead tired. John came and picked me up, and I had a bowl of cereal and a banana because I was feeling nauseous.

All of that stress for nothing.

It was fine. They liked my experiments, wasn't worried about the conflicting results and think it's reasonable for me to finish in March. Such a waste of perfectly good hysteria.


  1. Good girl!!! Sorry I wasn't around to send supportive words beforehand... (My committee meeting this year won't be much fun, but I'm not quite expecting the level of stress you went through.) I expect to be calling you Dr. Elisabeth next spring!

  2. See? I told you you'd be fine.

    (She says with such authority, as if she wouldn't have been freaking out in your place. Pft.)