27 and a PhD

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Resolutions 2016

Hi all,

Thanks for sticking around. I know my posts have been very few and super far in between. Mostly it’s because I’m out of the office a bit more these days, and I’m slowly getting my feet wet again with blogging and tweeting.

I was thinking that, if all goes well, I should have some good things happen this year. Thus I wanted to share what I’d like to accomplish in 2016:

  • Two (yes TWO) debts should reach the end of their lives. If you go back to 2011, you’ll see that as I was thinking I was making headway in life and starting a new job, with decent pay, etc. Then I got the news of my life when it turned out that I was not only saddled with my own debt, but that of a family member for which I’d co-signed a loan. When they lost their job, the lender came after me. I’ve been slowly but surely paying this (I can’t give more details, but suffice it to say, the other option was bankruptcy). A part of that debt should be paid off by this summer!!! And, a debt I’ve been slowly but surely paying off (done exclusively by me, by getting credit cards in grad school that I shouldn’t have) should also meet its end this spring. I can see the end of that tunnel. After that, and with the snowball method that I’ve been following (more religiously during the past 1.5 years), I should be chipping in more money into the next debts in this series. In total, I have 5 accounts/debts on my shoulders, two from my family, 3 of my own doing. I can’t wait for this to happen!!!
  • Finish training (and feel confident in teaching) on a new tool in my¬† lab. I have some really snazzy toys at my current job, some that I’m familiar with, others that I’m not so well versed in. I envision that in the first quarter of 2016, I should be more confident in using one of the snazzy tools. Once I get to that level, I will be put in charge of another piece of equipment that is totes new to me. That is a bit scary but also cool. I am trying to become more independent faster and I hope that within the first 6-7 months here I will prove to be an asset (thus far I’m starting to feel like that).
  • Get a good (if not great) review …. and perhaps a raise. There was both a freeze in hiring and salaries at my previous job and so, I was not given a raise. But before that, when I was in NYC, I did get a raise (~4%, which looks to be within the norm). I was told that, so long as there’s $$ available, I could get a 2% raise. Now, I know it doesn’t sound like much, but to me, it feels like a fortune .. and it also feels great to have my efforts recognized and valued in some way.
  • Attend a conference, or at least a workshop. I had a fellow staff member approach me and remind me that there’s a national meeting on our topic of study … and while it’s in an up and coming city, I wasn’t sure I’d be “allowed” to go .. given that I’m a newbie. But he kindly reminded me that this that this is part of our job and we could be getting new ideas/techniques we could use and expand out repertoire here.
  • Have a mini emergency fund (ie. $1000) available before the end of the year.
  • Do our taxes ASAP (and find out IF we’re getting a refund). Based on my quick and dirty calculations, we should … but I’m always skeptical until I see the deposit from the IRS. Hon has his W2, I have one of mine … still waiting on the one from my old job … they usually come out around this time of the year … hopefully it won’t get lost like the time it did on its way to Canada!
  • Go home for Christmas. ‘Nuff said.
  • Appear on a publication, even if just in the acknowledgements section. Always a fave resolution of mine.
  • Get a couch, or at least a recliner … since mine were left behind in the move (boo).

What would like to achieve by the end of 2016?

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 60,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 22 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

So loooong 2015

2015 was a bad year (I’ll give you time to check out what little blurbs I had time to come up with while finishing the old job and starting the new one). My husband noticed I wasn’t as happy or excited about my job as soon as we got back from winter vacation. I thought it was pure BS. Then my ex boss told me I sucked. And that was all it took for me to go over the edge, emotionally speaking.

I went to EAP (employee assistance program) and got an immediate referral to start therapy and med management. I was able to take a break from the lab and take care of mental health issues. It had been way too long since I’d last seen a therapist and although at the moment I was doing it I felt like it was a lot of BS, turns out lots of things that my therapist (and the group of peeps I joined for group activities) was right. Besides helping jump start my emotional well-being, doing intense therapy, specially with the group taught me empathy … we rarely know the extent of the troubles and issues others have. Even when they smile, they may be experiencing hell inside. Had I not gone through this, I wouldn’t have learned to be a bit more compassionate towards others, and yes, to myself.

Once my emotional health was on its way up, I was able to articulate to my departmental head that in order for me to be an effective manager, I needed to have controlling-asshole boss as far away from me as possible. I spoke with confidence and showed the pattern of emotional manipulation this person was doing and said that things had to change for the good of the lab. Thankfully, the boss listened and he was able to spin things so as to let this person know that since there was going to be a big change above all their heads, I would report directly to the dept boss, instead of the controlling-asshole person. I think it worked well and I was able to spend a few months of bliss with little to no interaction with problem PI.

Then the hubster got a job offer, and my world spun again in a crazy direction. I realized that if the Mr was gone, I wouldn’t really have any ties to the city I was in. And having had a hell of a year up until that point, I decided to apply to jobs in the same area and within a 2hr radius around his area.

The cool thing about having managerial experience is that I got more call backs than ever before. I got calls (and interview offers) from both academy and industry and I ended up going to two of them. One was for a global-type applications position in my area of expertise and the other one is my current position. I wasn’t too excited about the location, even though it was geographically advantageous, but I interviewed any way. Having the 3 years I spent in hell fresh in my mind, I asked as many questions as I could about the management above me, who I’d be reporting to and whether there were layers of people involved. Turns out there are two layers, but only one is in charge of evaluating me. We get along well and for now I feel happy and accomplished. It’s weird to feel happy in a lab. It seems like a foreign concept to me. We’ll see how things progress, but for now, this place makes me feel appreciated.

I don’t have any major resolutions for 2016 other than taking a well deserved vacation somewhere nice (but not too pricey) and master a technique that’s done in the lab I work closely with. I’ve gotten some training, but I need a bit more hands on experience before I’m able to troubleshoot confidently.

I wish you and yours a great 2016! Hopefully you’ll see a bit more of me here and on Twitter.