Friday, April 29, 2005

Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves

As she nears the road's end, she perceives something ahead, blocking her way. She slows to let the dust screen settle, to see the faint shadow before her a little better. She squints her eyes, overwhelmed by the afternoon heat and exhausted from countless-restless nights, and tries to make out the lines in the horizon. Then, it hits her. It strikes her with such force that, for a brief moment, everything goes black. Sometimes when a period of your life is drawing near the end, it folds in on itself, forming a neat little package. The end is quiet, the transition bumpy but smooth at the same time. This is not going to be be one of those moments.

A figure appears before her--she is not sure if the form is real or a ghost of her mind's creation.

The figure stares at her for what seems like an eternity. It whispers as it speaks, yet the sound of its voice is deafening. "Two men enter, one man leaves."

She furrows her brow. Although deep in her heart she knew it would come to this, she now finds herself unable to believe the truth in those words. Her voice falters as if the words have latched onto her throat, afraid to let go. She thinks, "I don't understand why it has to come to this."

The figure sighs impatiently, as if it hears her thoughts. "Two men enter, one man leaves," it repeats with a silent roar.

Welcome to Thunderdome.

--Leaving here is not going to be easy. I've felt the tension building for some time now. Although I knew it would come to this, I think some part of me wanted to believe that things would end calmly. In theory, my mentor is excited for me to leave. I'm his first student, I will have generated three publications for him, and he needs me to go on and do well. So, on the surface, he's excited to have me leave in a timely fashion. He has not yet realized, however, that every benefit has a cost. When he figures this out, I know that he will want the best of both worlds, but that won't be possible.

He is taking students for the fall, thinking that I will train them, supervise them, and continue doing the ordering and day-to-day lab duties. He refuses to see that I will not be at the bench. Hell, I probably won't physically be in the lab that often. I have a thesis to write, tons of data to crunch, and manuscripts to get out. It is more efficient to do these things when removed from the chaotic lab environment. Even now, he prods for results and finished text while at the same time poking me to invest my time in tasks unrelated to my thesis.

He is stubborn and has a habit of seeing what he wants to see, and he wants to see himself glorified and being served. He does not like to be told no (especially by a "girl"), and he can't separate being a mentor from being a boss. This is going to get ugly. I have the benefit of having a second, tenured mentor who understands this process, but she is not around enough to see what's going on. She usually involves herself after things have gotten out of control. Believe me, they get quite out of control.

I have to do what's best for me and for my future. I can not get sucked into random lab duties because my main priority at this point is publishing, finishing my thesis, and getting a job. That is what is best from a training perspective, and I'm here to be trained. That is what he should want for me. He's is going to struggle with this, he's going to resist, and he's going to stomp and pout (sadly, I'm speaking literally). I just have to remind myself that I'm not his mother, not his daughter, and not his employee.

Thank God I have a great committee.


At 10:32 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

This can't be easy but it sounds as if you know exactly what you have to do. Good luck.

At 10:44 AM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

Thanks. It's not the academic or research part that's hard; it's dealing with the politics and personalities. Ah, such is life;)


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