Today was the first day since my lab moved to San Francisco without me that I really felt like I was in over my head. Up until now, it’s been okay. Hell, it’s actually been better for me – the guy I’m working with now knows a hell of a lot more about biochemistry than my old boss did, and he’s easy to talk to and ask for help – which is something I’m not great at doing. He’s been absolutely great at getting me settled in, as has everyone else in that lab.
But it’s still an absolutely new environment. I still don’t know where simple stuff is. I hate having to bother people to ask where something is when it turns out it’s right under my nose. I hate asking people to show me how to use something that I’m 99% sure I know how to use, but don’t want to risk breaking.
I feel like I’m a first year graduate student all over again, who doesn’t know shit. I’ve broken tubes in the centrifuge. I’ve wasted time on the confocal microscope by having to hunt around for someone who knew the password to the computer. I wasted a few hours autoclaving LB agar and pouring plates before finding out that the lab has a common stock of plates. I even had to have someone show me how to use the (ancient) autoclave.
Basically, what it boils down to is that I still don’t feel at home. And today, that was compounded by me doing something really stupid – I forgot to loosen the caps on my bacterial cultures when I put them in the incubator last night. Bacteria (at least E. coli) need oxygen to grow. I starved them of oxygen, so they didn’t grow so well. So when I tried to expand the culture this morning, in order to induce them to express some antibodies that I need to purify, it took hours longer than I had planned on it taking. I basically lost a whole day. Because of a fucking rookie mistake.
I wish I had the kind of job where this shit didn’t affect my daily mood. But it does. I don’t know a single grad student in science who doesn’t get down in the mouth when their experiments aren’t working. I also don’t know anyone that doesn’t get super excited when they finally get decent results. It’s a roller coaster, and you’re never really able to get off of it. Not until you get the Ph.D. and find some normal, 9-5 industry or consulting job. Even when I sleep I have dreams about doing science. It’s fucked up.
Time to queue up a movie and a big bowl of ice cream. And then start the fun all over again tomorrow. Sigh.