Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ready or not, we're leaving today.

There never seems to be a good time to go on vacations. This is another situation when the 80% rule applies. Or better yet, the Nike philosophy: Just do it. I sincerely thought this time would be different, that it would be a relaxing transition between one postdoc and the next. However, we couldn't travel on the last two weeks of September, so we decided to go a few weeks early. My thought was that I could finish all my experiments before the vacation and just focus on writing up the papers when I got back. Wishful thinking...

As the departure date approached, the unexpected hit. More experiments came up, I lost a huge batch of cells because they didn't differentiate. When experiments need to be planned two weeks ahead, it's very easy to over-plan. How many experiments can I realistically get done in a week? At least I'm not pregnant... The last time I tried to "finish everything" I ended up on bed rest for preterm labor. I was the grumpiest person in the maternity ward. The nurses couldn't understand why I wasn't happy to have an excuse to stay at home. 'And do what? Knit?' My husband tried to calm me down while I ranted that I couldn't do my experiments at home.

The week before our departure date I started prioritizing, planning every day to the max. Setting up experiments for the last few weeks on the job, when I get back. Making sure all the important experiments got done. As I'm not moving to a different town, just across campus, I can always stop by later to complete a missing experiment. I had every day planned by the time I heard the weather forecast. What a great time for a tropical storm! I figured I could work through it, it's not a hurricane, right? When our children's daycare suggested that they were thinking of closing at noon on Thursday I almost had a heart attack. My cells! All 60 plates waiting to be collected that day. My husband and I exchanged pleading glances. Who gets to work? He needed to finish planning his field so the rest of the lab could plant while he was gone. Fortunately the lab gods heard us and we at least got Thursday. So I got to collect the membranes, and blot the 5 gels I had run the day before. I just didn't get to see if the experiment worked... do I need to plan to repeat it when I get back?

Home with the kids the day before leaving on vacation. Packing our bags (at least we have time for that now!) and watching the rain. We don't even know if the flight will be canceled... This seems crazy, but I actually woke up at 4 am wondering if I could make it to the lab if the flight was delayed. I'm sure I will relax once we actually get going. I tend not to worry about work when I'm miles away. Hopefully the weather will be better, the storm will pass and we can set sail. It's not the end of the world, I'll be back in two weeks...

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