Monday, June 05, 2006

Sporking it

Stick a fork in me, I'm done. I'm so done that you could actually stick a spork in me and still get to see the meat falling off my bones. You had better hurry, though, because the line of scavengers picking at my parts grows by the second. They are relentless; they are ruthless.

The dilema of the 110% person is common enough. You give 110%, you are asked to give more. You give more. You become the go-to person, the reliable rock. People begin to believe that you are strong, that you love to spread yourself so thin that you drip over the edges. They forget that you are human. They do not see you crying--they do not realize that you can't sleep at night because your heart hurts and your mind is racing. They forget that you have bills to pay, errands to run, a life to keep track of.

I'm sitting in a hotel room right now, staring at the waves lapping at the shore. I just sent an abstract off for a meeting in the fall and am now working on some random lab stuff. Everytime I open my email, there is another "one more thing to do before you leave". I'm watching the people walking by, happy and relaxed. I've been here 3 days and have yet to feel the sand between my toes. There is so much to do in the next few weeks, and I don't know how to make it happen. This trip was meant to get me out of the house so that I could finish up my corrections in peace, but the list of things to do in addition to my corrections has turned into a monster that can not be tamed.

I'm tired. I'm sad. I feel cheated. I wanted just a few days to enjoy my accomplishment, to relax and reflect. I defended on Friday and then was bombarded by emails on Monday. So many things to do that I really shouldn't be asked to do, but over the last 5 years I became the go-to girl and now the lab is in a state of panic so they keep asking for another drumstick.

You had better hurry.


At 6:10 PM, Blogger Lucy said...

stop checking your email. Sorry, that's all the advice I can think of. I hope you get your revisions done soon and are free of the incessant demands.

At 6:14 PM, Blogger Breena Ronan said...

I completely agree. Sometimes you have to just be "out of contact." When you are ready just reply to the messages and say, "sorry, I was out of town and wasn't checking my email." People will learn to deal.

At 9:26 PM, Blogger apparently said...

I had the same problem (called me "Lab Mom") in grad school. I thought the whole lab would collapse when I left. But it didn't. So my advice is pretend you've left. Say no. Do not feel guilty. The lab, dept, etc. will not stop functioning.

At 5:42 AM, Blogger Pink Cupcake said...


I'm sorry about all of this. I don't have any better advice than to put an 'out of office' auto-reply on your email for a couple of days. I'd think you are more than justified in doing so given you've only just defended and have been working on other stuff for your lab pretty much ever since.

I really, truly hope that you find a little time to relax. :)

At 7:42 AM, Blogger Katie said...

I agree with all those above comments! Stop checking the email and don't reply to your email!

Lastly, close the laptop, yes, you can do it, and go out there on the beach!

Close the laptop and go!!!!!

At 10:04 AM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

Thank you all for your advice. My problem is that I feel a responsibility to tie up loose ends, but I can't determine where to draw the line.

Being so tired doesn't help me make firm decisions, either.


At 11:26 AM, Blogger 21st Century Mom said...

What Apparently said. Just don't jump up and say "YES! I'll take care of that!" If you feel you must say something say, "I'm working on my corrections now and I'll get to that if I can. If you need it done sooner you might want to ask someone else to take care of it".

And then quit checking your email- really. Next time you feel the urge to check just close the laptop and head for the beach. 3 deep breaths, cleanse the mind.. walk on.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger William the Coroner said...


The graveyards are full of indespensable men. Really. You're enabling them (I know, I've done it myself) They don't know what to do without you? They'll learn. Get your stuff done, don't check the e-mail.

Remember, what the people in the lab will say five years after you've left. "Falter WHO?"

Take care of yourself, girl.

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Murky Thoughts said...

Christ, I forgot all about that phenomenon. I guess with the earthquake and Darfur and the tsunami I got distracted. My sense, sadly, is it's going to take awhile for the UN to get around to this one. Strain and turn it into soup.

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Sherry said...

Dear Falters,

I just came across your blog today
for the first time. Your most recent enteries struck a chord in me, because your current situation is similar to what mine was roughly three years ago when I was a research physicist based at Fermilab, employed by a ruthless chauvinst slave-driving dick of a boss. I ended up having a bona-fide nervous breakdown, and have never been quite the same since.
I am no longer a physicist, and I struggle every day to cope with life. I've given up hope that I will ever be the same take-charge, give 110% at all times person that I used to be, and I am still in the process of learning just to make it through each day as it comes.

Your recent blogs exhibit a precarious state of mind that has me very worried about you.
Crying through American Idol is truly not a good indicator of a healthy outlook on life.
Please, go see a doctor...a doctor can't fix the stress in your life, but there are good medications that can help you cope a little better.

And consider taking a month (or more) of sick leave, and for the entire month don't even look at your computer.
Hopefully there is some way you can take paid leave, but if not, seriously consider taking time off anyway.

Just my two cents worth.


"been there, done that, and now I am a mere shadow of my former self"

At 11:37 AM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

Thanks everyone. Murky, you crack me up. I get it:)

Sherry, I think that the tone of the last few blogs entries reflects the huge changes that are occurring in my life right now, but not necessarily any altered biological state needing medication. I grew up in a trailer on my grandparent's farm and dressed in Salvation Army clothing. Now I'm graduating with a PhD from a prestigious university and starting a job with a wonderful lab doing something that I know absolutely nothing about. There's a self-reflection factor during these types of things that can result in a very sentimental state (i.e., the crying during American Idol).

I'm sorry for what happened to you, and I see it happening more and more in science, especially given the current funding problems and job instability in the field. Thank you for your concern.


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