Thursday, February 02, 2006

Oh... shit... shitshitshitshit

It's 3:00 PM and I can already officially say that today was a bad fucking day.

I had it all planned out. Today one of my lab members was giving a talk for the weekly MNI (Montreal Neurological Institute) Research Discussions at 11 am. I wanted to run out the large SDS Page gel (a technique used in biochemistry and
molecular biology to separate proteins according to their size - click here for more), which takes about 4-5 hours. I have an aerobics class from 5pm - 6pm, so I knew that if I started making the gel at about 10:30, it would be ready by the time the research discussion was over at noon, then I could run it and be done before aerobics.

All nice and fine - theoretically.

Making the gel requires funneling a liquid that will solidify into a gel in between two glass plates. You have to fit the plates together and anchor them to a stand - the trick is to make sure the bottom is properly sealed against a sponge barrier so the liquid doesn't leak and go all over the place.

So of course, the gel leaks on me. I curse profusively under my breath, remake the liquid, wash the plates, and attempt to try it over again. 11 am is approaching and I'm starting to hurry to make sure it's ready to go. Gel attempt #2: it leaks AGAIN. At this point I'm pissed and frustrated and annoyed because I know it's basically all over. I can't miss the research discussion, and now I won't have enough time to run the gel and make it to aerobics - and I don't miss aerobics.

After I calm down a bit (with the help of Starbucks), I realize it's not a huge deal and that I'll just run the gel on Monday instead. A few days later than planned isn't the end of the world - it just generally annoys me when things don't go as planned.

At this point, I'm pretty much over it. After Ikue's presentation, we were walking back to the lab and some other lab members ask me if I have to give a talk this year. I'm all "oh no, thank god, but next year I have to". I'm petrified of these talks because they're all biochemistry, and I'm a Psych student. I very rarely understand what's going on during the discussions because I have zero background in biochem.

Turns out I do have to give a goddamn fucking talk - on April 27th. NO ONE TOLD ME, I had no bloody idea. I was told you only have to give talks during your second year of your Masters degree.

I essentially tried not to immediately break down and start crying. I don't think I was doing a good job of hiding the absolutely core-shaking fear and dread I was feeling, because Linda and Carole were like "oh it's okay, you have plenty of time to prepare!".

It's not the goddamn preparation I'm worried about - it's the nonsensical questions I know I'm going to get asked in front of all the really smart biochem people. People ask such anal complicated questions every week, and I know I'm going to get reamed out - and have absolutely no idea how to respond. I barely understand what I'm doing, it's not what I thought it was going to be. On a daily basis I can walk around and pretend I know what I'm doing, but the reality of the situation is I'm up the fucking creek without a paddle, and I've never felt this way before.

I think my iPOD felt bad for me on the way home because it was playing all my favourite songs one after another. I think I need to go out and find a shirt or something that reads "Before you ask - I have no idea" and wear it during my presentation.


At 6:13 PM , Blogger John said...

Bad surprises are terrible, and added to the fact the gel didn't work can see it wasn't a great day.

You can do the gel another do, and you can prepare your presentation.

I've done a lot of presentations, (for Army, Uni and in front of school kids), and as long as you know what you're talking about, you can't go wrong.

If they ask you a question you don't know, tell them you don't know. If you should know, tell them to see you afterwards, and you'll explain it then. That always works a treat!

Relax, I'm sure you'll be fine. With all the big words you confuse me with you can't go wrong!!

At 7:08 AM , Blogger Richard said...

Take some deep breaths stress-girl :P

John has a point - then when you meet them afterwards, kill them and hide the body in a large and rarely used piece of lab equipment :)

At 10:12 PM , Blogger Joanna said...

Exactly. I've given tons of presentations, and I really don't have a problem with them - because normally I DO know what I'm talking about.

Now, I don't know what I'm talking about. And what can I do, say "see my afterwards" to every question? heh, that would be buckets of fun.

At 6:31 AM , Blogger Chorna said...

Happy Valentine's Day, Jo. :) You'll be FINE. :)


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