Thursday, December 21, 2006

You can call me "Doctor"

Yes, it's true. I've finally jumped that hurdle. Granted, it's not been a clean break from my university and my crazy boss, but a major step in the right direction. My blood pressure has dropped dramatically, and I've been sleeping well.

Like the idiot that he is, my boss scheduled his flight the morning of my big public defense. He was supposed to land at 10:20am, get to campus around 11am, and be ready for my talk to start at noon. He called about 10:30 to say that his plane had to make an emergency landing due to mechanical failures, so he figured he'd be late. He said to go ahead and start without him.

Sweet. Totally lessened my chances for public humiliation. Always a good thing. Consequently I was much less nervous. I still wanted to throw up, but not at much.

The talk went well, I was able to keep most people awake and even fielded some questions. My boss walked in just as the first person was walking out. He'd missed the whole thing. Awesome.

Then started the actual "defense" where my committee sits around and grills me with questions about my thesis, my talk, and my work. It totally blew, but thankfully only lasted an hour (I've heard horror stories of 3 hour defenses - I consider myself lucky). Then the "please stay in academic science" talk started, along with "don't shy away from it because it's hard." Um, yeah. If I was that kind of person, I wouldn't be here, would I? And then they capped it off with bitching about a former grad student who is no longer in academic science, but an elementary school teacher instead. Yeah, she's so selfish, wasting her Ph.D like that. I mean, c'mon, educating America's youth? Pffft!

On the way back to my building, my boss says to me "I noticed your father didn't show up."

"That's because he's dead."

"Oh. Oh. So what did you mean by your dedication?"

"That I hope where ever he is, that he's proud of me."

"Oh, I thought that maybe he wasn't supportive of you getting a Ph.D so you were saying [assuming a snotty tone of voice] 'So there, Dad, I hope you're proud of me now [stick out tongue].'"

"Ah, no. Not at all."

"Oh, I see, because that's what it sounded like to me."

"That's because you're crazy," I said, to myself, in my head. Damn my better judgement!

Walking the half block to my building my boss proceeded to get winded and sweaty. I was doing better than him wearing heels and carrying giant cake. And yes, he was wearing his black (you know, "slimming") Member's Only jacket. Along with the ubiquitous maroon button-down shirt and khakis.

I declined his offer to get something to eat or a drink so we sat around with my Mom and my labmate and chatted. Come 3:30 he says he's going to head for the airport for his 6pm flight. I found out later he was spotted in the building at 5pm. He'd blown me off to go talk with professors. Whatever. I went home and took a 3 hour nap, then treated Mom to dinner.

The next day I tied up some loose ends and had an awesome going away party. I've made a lot of good friends in Cleveland, and it was nice to be able to say goodbye.

Yesterday Mom and I crammed as much of my shit into my little car as we could and hit the road to WI. I have a LOT of shit. The saying is entirely true that you don't know how much crap you have until you try to box it all up. I had to leave behind my plants, my cleaning supplies, and all of my food. Such is life.

Side note: my Mother is also crazy and has a very weird sense of priorities when it comes to packing. She kept trying to pack food and leave important stuff. I would also like the record to show that she WAY overpacked for the 4 days she was in Cleveland. If she would have packed like a normal, rational person, we probably could have fit most of what was left in the car. She had an overstuffed suitcase, 2 toiletry bags (one was a converted gardening tool bag, and one a fancy multi-pocket fold up deal), a wheely soft-sided cooler and about 7 pairs of footwear (shoes AND boots). Who needs that much stuff for 4 days??? [sigh] Whatever.

We had a pleasantly uneventful 11 hour drive home.

Today I did some laundry, some last minute Christmas shopping, and set up my utilities in Rochester. Yay! I'm so excited about my new place.

Now I need to finish up the corrections to my thesis, get my bosses approval of them, and upload my thesis to the university website (shounds straight forward but I garauntee it'll take forever). I also have to keep working on this second paper that still hasn't been submitted for publication yet. My boss decided last week on more experiments he wants done for the paper. Yeah, great timing. Glad I don't have to do them, but it sure it dragging things out A LOT. Plus I don't like him dumping on my labmates on my behalf.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Have I mentioned the bipolar?

My boss just caught me completely off-guard.

I asked him how he wanted me to get my laptop back to him. He's known to pass down laptops among lab members until they are completely unusable, and I figured he had similar plans for mine.

He told me (in front of witnesses in 2 states) that I can keep my laptop, and think of it as a graduation gift from him.


I asked him if he was sure he wanted to do that about 5 times. Lab lore tells of a previous grad student who had asked him if she could keep her laptaop, to which he agreed, only to later claim that she stole it. I didn't want that happening with me.

Not only did he tell me I could keep my laptop, but he told me that I should use the remaining funds on my fellowship to buy upgrades for it! This is completely out of character for him - telling someone to spend "his" money on something not going into collective lab use.

The stars must be aligned...

Monday, December 11, 2006

My new TV boyfriend

I have a new crush. His name is Bear Grylls and he’s the star of Man vs. Wild on the Discovery Channel. He looks a bit like Christian Bale, has a British accent and can survive anywhere. The shows I’ve seen have him going places where tourists have gotten lost or stranded and perhaps have died. He’s going to show you what you should do, should you find yourself similarly stranded. Much like Cash Peters, they just kind of drop him off somewhere and he’s got to get himself back to civilization. But he does know where he’s headed, and he’s got a few supplies (like the parachute he jumped out of the helicopter with). And I think he’s studied up a bit on the environment before he gets there because he’s full of useful tips and even gets himself into rotten situations on purpose to show you how to get out. He just jumped into a frozen lake to show me (yes, me) how to get out again. Once out, he completely stripped down out of his wet clothes and did some push-ups to “get the blood flowing again.”

Nice bum.

I’m smitten.

And yes, I can have the TV on in the background while I crunch numbers and grudgingly make changes to my paper per my boss’s “request.”

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The pinnacle of asshattery

My boss has started making corrections to my thesis.

He made fun of my middle name.

He also made corrections to my dedication... to my Dad... who passed away just over 7 years ago.

Please join me in hoping that he gets hit by a bus.