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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


Not-so-random ramblings

I'm not even really sure what to write...so this may be disjointed.

This past week has been insanely busy. I worked every day (except for tuesday), averaging 9-14 hours a day. Last night I almost burst into tears at work because it was midnight, I was exhausted, there was no end in sight to the work, and I had no way of getting home (my bus had stopped running). Luckily I got to go home shortly after that, and was told to take the next two days off.

For which I am thankful as I have been getting sick since tuesday of last week. One good thing about working in the lab is that it is super duper warm. One bad thing is that you are not allowed to eat or drink there (not totally sure why, Lucy, do you know?). Thus, I get super dehydrated, which isn't good when one is sick.

I'm still grateful for this job, but being so desperate for money makes me vulnerable to doing more than is healthy for me (like working when I know I am exhausted and getting sick). Like today I am supposed to have the day off, but my supervisor called me and asked if they could send me some stuff to edit from home (thank goodness it's from home at least). I really need the money, so I am doing it. I also have a huge need to be helpful, and because they are so appreciative there, my desire to help is even more activated.

For this job, I am doing a lot of editing, which I enjoy. But, most of the time (although this is decreasing as I get to know their research more, and as they trust me more) they want me to make edits on hard copies. This is problematic for two reasons: first, I really write better on a computer - it's faster and easier to edit and move things around and play with wording, etc.; second, I have impossible handwriting, and I am very sensitive about it.

I made it clear from the outset that I had completely illegible handwriting (so illegible I can often not read it), yet they insisted I make edits in writing. Yesterday, my supervisor commented that I must be writing super fast as it is hard to read my writing. One of my co-workers then asked me to stop using a certain pen as it made my writing hard to read. Honestly, it does not matter if I write at a snail's pace with the perfect pen; my handwriting is beyond my control. I think people really don't realize that some people cannot control how bad their handwriting is. I really really cannot, and I have tried ever since I was a little kid.

This is one of the reasons I hate grading. Invariably students will complain they can't read my writing and get grouchy at me for it (and yet, I bet they never complain to a male prof about their handwriting; it seems more gender-schematic for men to have bad handwriting than women). I then start to feel like making any comments on papers is useless because they won't be able to read them anyway, and it's a vicious cycle.

Another difficult thing about editing is that the head honcho guy has very, ummmm... idiosyncratic phrasing and word usage, and is resistant to my suggestions (at times). Problematically, he uses very flowery language in a way that is obfuscates his meaning, and that is distracting (you pay attention to the language and not the meaning). There was one sentence he wrote that I just hated because it was just trying too hard. He wanted me to "pretty up" the section, I wanted to make it clearer. I rewrote the sentence so it made sense, but still used "big words" (which he likes), but he got frustrated and told me he was trying to make the writing complex, but I was making it too simple.

I know I too can often get very attached to certain phrasings and words - and I also know that when that occurs, it usually means I need to let go and change it. I think he and I may share our strange attachments to words and language.

Editing is hard too because I simply do not *explicitly* know the rules of grammar. There are many things I just innately know. I think I learned how to write well through reading a ton, not through education. Thus, I can tell when something is wrong, and know how to fix it, but I cannot explain why. I know when a sentence is passive and that it feels weak or confusing, but I cannot explain why it is not good. And oh do those passive constructions proliferate science writing! I swear half the sentences in their proposal have these super long lists of complicated things , ending with "will be considered." By the time you find the verb behind all those nouns and adjectives, you are too exhausted to go back and try to parse the meaning of it.

A difficult thing, unrelated to editing, is that I still don't know when I will get paid and how much that check will be. I have worked a lot of hours so far, but it looks like my first paycheck will only be for the first day I worked. I'm really hoping that's not the case.

I'm also having major qualms about working in a place where animal experimentation occurs. After the procedures, the animals are always "sacrificed." I hate this. I hate it with the mice, and I hate it even more with the other animal they use. I keep telling myself this is only temporary, and also that it is really important medical research. But, it is simply not something I support, and it feels dishonest to me to continue to support it by working there.

I guess desperation for money makes one at times compromise their values.

Yesterday one of my co-workers learned that I was a vegetarian. I really hate talking about my vegetarianism with non-vegetarians. For me it is a personal belief system that is really important to me. I do not proselytize, I never criticize, and I don't comment about others' meat eating. Yet, people still think they have the right to criticize or call into question my beliefs (and the discrepancies between my beliefs and some of my behaviors). This frustrates me as it is simply not any of their business, and I don't appreciate being interrogated. It always devolves into, "Don't vegetables have feelings too?" And this annoys me, if for no other reason than that whenever people ask that, they think they are so clever and that have "caught me." I'm not into debating. My beliefs are private and personal and strongly scaffold how I am in the world. They do not cause me to judge (except when I see people wearing fur, which I loathe), and I don't appreciate others' judgments. I fail to see why my private behaviors and beliefs seem to raise so much ire in others.

I had no idea this post would be so cranky. I'm not actually feeling all that cranky - I think I'm just exhausted and sick.

Tho', I will say this is making me cranky: I never got invited for a second interview. This really worries me for two reasons: 1) I really wanted that job, it seemed like a great fit, and I've found few other jobs for which to apply; and 2) I'm worried this means one of my recommenders gave a less-than-good recommendation.



At 2:56 PM, Blogger Ianqui said...

I'm sorry the job has been difficult of late. I hope the money does make up for that a little...

On the vegetarianism issue, perhaps you can use the environmental angle (which I assume you'd agree with, even if it's not your primary reason for being a vegetarian). This is my main reason for being a vegetarian, and I've found that very few people can argue with it. There's nothing you can say to counter the fact that raising livestock in factory farming conditions is massively contributing to water pollution and global warming. These are scientsts, right, so they'll get it.

The only thing that I've had to endure as criticism, then, is when people say, "Well, wouldn't you eat organic or local meat?" And the answer to that, for me, is technically yes, I guess, but I've never liked preparing or cooking meat, so I don't see why I'd go out of my way to buy and eat organic/local meat.

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Lucy said...

You're not allowed to eat/drink in lab because there are so many chemicals and other icky things around. Did they make you do all the health and safety training before you started? They usually spend hours getting you paranoid about even touching anything in the lab.
I hate the animal and vegetarian stuff, too.
I'm sorry aout the other job and I hope you're feeling better, soon.

At 4:00 PM, Blogger collaboratrix said...

My handwriting is also bad so I have students submit all papers electronically then I respond to their work using Word's comment feature.

At 4:47 PM, Blogger Anastasia said...

I'm not a vegetarian but I find the whole "don't plants have feelings" argument really weak and lame and I absolutely hate to hear people use it. it's irritating. and like I said, it isn't even my belief system. ugh.


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