A Blog about Career Changes, Madness, and My Awful Brain

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Looking Glass Self

It's funny how things never work out like you expect them to.

When I started this blog, my intention was two-fold. I wanted to get out some of the feelings I've been keeping cooped up inside me, and I wanted...well....I just wanted to DO something. Sure, looking for a job is supposed to be your full time job when your not employed, but it isn't something you can do for 8 hours a day. Well, I can't anyways; being continuously rejected for jobs you don't want, and not really getting paid for it (or being paid really shitty for it if you count EI) is less a full-time job and more of a soul-sucking mind fuck. And really, for my soul-sucking mind fuck needs I much prefer watching Glee or Jersey Shore than job searching.

What was NOT my intention when starting this blog was to start connecting with other people or to start changing how I saw the world. I hoped people might like it, and I hoped I might get some positive feedback, but that's about it. My hope was not very strong, though....I'm not sure why, but I thought that exposing some of the things I went through would turn people off. What I expected was that what you would see in me was weakness; for all I know, some of you do. I was fully ready to lose friends on facebook, and maybe even in real life, because I thought that people might see me as pathetic.

But nothing could be further from the truth. I've already received a lot of feedback on my blog, and to my surprise, it was extremely positive. Hell, I've had 3 people call me "brave" and I was even told I was"amazing". HA! The last time someone called me amazing was in grade 3 or 4. I got a certificate with a smiling egg on it that said I was Grade A Amazing. Lol...a compliment in pun form? Fuck, i'll take it.

My biggest suprise, however, was how I felt. I had a feeling of complete freedom when I hit the Publish Post button. It really got me thinking about some things....

When I was taking one of my sociology classes in University, I came across an idea written by sociologist Charles H. Cooley called the Looking Glass Self. Basically, the theory is that what we think of our self is a reflection of what others see when they look at us. Instead of giving you a clumsy defninition, I'll just give you an excerpt of the wikipedia article:

"The looking-glass self[1] is a social psychological concept, created by Charles Horton Cooley in 1902 (McIntyre 2006), stating that a person's self grows out of society's interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others. The term refers to people shaping themselves based on other people's perception, which leads the people to reinforce other people's perspectives on themselves. People shape themselves based on what other people perceive and confirm other people's opinion on themselves. It also leads to expectancy effect.

"In a very large and interesting class of cases the social reference takes the form of a somewhat definite imagination of how one's self--that is any idea he appropriates--appears in a particular mind, and the kind of self-feeling one has is determined by the attitude toward this attributed to that other mind. A social self of this sort might be called the reflected or looking glass self:

'Each to each a looking-glass Reflects the other that doth pass.'"

This concept really "fit" with my experiences. It's not exactly revolutionary...I've always realized that I was a different person depending on who I was around and I'm guessing you do to. When I'm around some friends, I'm a gregarious, clever, funny guy. When I'm around others, I'm a little more serious and less prone to making jokes. Sometimes, when I'm around certain people, I love the person I am and feel a little more "real". With others, it seems I can't be that guy I love even though I'm sure they would have no objection to him. In essence, this leads me to questions about who "I" really am and why I can't always be the person who I want to be. I think that the Looking Glass Self is at least a partial answer.

Think about it...has it ever happened to you that you've met someone under a certain set of circumstances and that it's colored your relationship with that person for the rest of your life? Have you ever been labeled by a person and behaved in the manner you were labeled, even though you know that the label isn't accurate? Have your parents or friends told you were smart, "not school smart", practical, good with your hands, sickly, tough, cheap, nice, athletic, non-athletic, strong-willed, a delinquent, rebellious, good, bad, responsible, unorganized, etc? Think carefully....were those labels accurate because they described who YOU are, or because you lived up to them? Did you want to be somebody else, or feel like somebody else, as you did what they expected you to?

The reason I'm discussing this is that because when I hit the Publish Post I realized that the person who wrote those posts was ME. The person who I am, and the person who I want to be. I know that a lot of people post only positive things on their facebook pages or on their blogs. They post things that make them look good to other people. In contrast, I generally feel like the person I am on facebook. The person I am when I post on this blog. I'm not trying to be something I'm not, and I'm not trying to impress you. And the sense of freedom I got when I opened myself up to you....that's the freedom that comes with introducing your real self to the world.

I know that a lot of you have conceptions of who I am, and that the things that I write on this blog or on Facebook may not mesh with your ideas about who I am. I may not seem like the person that you know. Maybe the me you know is not very funny. Maybe the me that you know is not very emotional. Maybe the me that you know seems cold and rigid. In that case, I want to suggest to you that the person you know in "real life" is not the person I am, but a simple reflection of the person I believe that you think I am. My Looking Glass Self, so to speak.

If that is the case, then let me introduce the real me.

Hi, I'm Dan. It's nice to meet you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

No. More. Regrets

And so the story continues........

I've already told you about some of the worst experiences I had working for the boss from hell. The position I held was a one year term; at no time during this term was it suggested to me that I would be considered for an extension. That may sound like a bad thing, but the honest truth is that that was about the only thing that kept me going. I knew that no matter how horrible I was feeling, it HAD to end at some time.

Well, the fact of the matter is, I never made it the whole year. About 10 months in, things came to a head. I had other stressors in my life at this point, the biggest being that someone who was close to me was very sick at the time. The boss knew it, and was fairly callous about it, and there came a point where I just couldn't handle her bullshit any more. I didn't blow up on her like I had previously, and instead just walked out of work, and sent her an email giving her my two week notice.

Alright...not the most professional way to handle things, walking out, but I rationalize by pointing out that it was unfair that I was expected to be professional in a workplace that was anything but. It's not exactly professional calling one of your colleagues retarded, is it? She was quite livid, and when she confronted me when I came in the following day, I told her in a very calm voice that I didn't care what she thought, that I no longer cared if she found my work unsatisfactory, and that as far as I was concerned, this job was over. The two weeks was really just a courtesy...I told her that if she raised her voice one more time, I would just walk out.

I was proud of how I handled it, and I still am. She did end up making me a deal a couple of days later (I guess that's how long it took her to calm down, lol). She said that if I stayed until the end of the following month, she would "lay me off" and it would be easier for me to get unemployment. I agreed, I bore her passive aggressive attitude for the next month (trust me, in some ways it was worse that her plain ol' aggressive attitude) and left with a spring in my step.

I'm not sure how many of you have dealt with unemployment before, but for me it was really bitter-sweet. My self-esteem was about the lowest it had ever been. I felt useless, I felt like a burden on society, I felt like a failure. At the same time, there was this excitement...I felt like their was a spark inside of me that had almost gone out, but now had a chance to flare up again. There was still a nugget of optimism buried deep inside that told me, "Dan, now it's time to rise up once again. You are at your lowest, there is no where to go but up."

And then two weeks later I got hit by a car.

I had just finished meeting a career counselor at Siast and I was brimming with ideas for the future. I was walking to the downtown area to catch a bus, and as I was crossing the street, a car trying to quickly take a left turn before traffic reached him hit me dead on. I hit the hood hard, cracking my elbow, badly spraining my wrist, and smashing my face. I was laying on the ground and turned to get on my knees. There were droplets of blood dripping on to the concrete, and an excruciating pain in my head. I managed to stand up and walk a couple of steps before people in other cars who had stopped to help convinced me to just lay down until the ambulance came. I wish I could say that it was a blur, or that I can't remember what happened. But it's not true...I remember every detail. I remember the wait for the ambulance. I remember the shocked looks of people on the street as they slowly drove by. I remember the one guy saying, "holy shit, look at that goose egg. Don't touch it." I remember it all, and I wish I fucking didn't.

And so the breaking of Dan was complete. I think back to that time, and I can honestly say that it felt like the universe had some vendetta against me. I know now that it's a really silly thing to think, but at the time, I don't think you could have convinced me otherwise. I realize now that a lot of people deal with really shitty circumstances every day, and that I don't have it any worse than other people (okay, maybe a little worse, lol, but purely by chance).

I think the worst thing that that car did was knock any remaining ambition right out of me. I just didn't give a shit anymore. About anything. The world lost it's colour. I was looking so forward to travelling with my newfound free time, and I could no longer do it because I was busted up. I was looking forward to playing guitar, and I could no longer do it. Every single plan I had was ruined, and I am not sure I even cared that much.

I know that a lot of people thought I was going through depression again. Maybe I was. But it didn't feel the same as last time. This time, it felt more like deep, all-encompassing apathy. When I was depressed, I still cared about things....in fact, maybe I cared too much. But it was different this time. I didn't feel bad. I felt dead.

Lucky for me, I have one of the greatest people in the world as my girlfriend. She never let me completely withdraw. How can anyone completely withdraw when you see that smile of hers? She has helped me in more way than she knows to re-engage with the world. I'm feeling a lot better these days. In truth, I think that in many ways the accident may turn out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. I did get a kick ass new pair of glasses out of it, after all.

In the last couple of weeks I've gotten a new feeling....a feeling that maybe the car didn't really knock out all of my ambition. If you've read some of my previous posts, you know that many of my ambitions were superficial and not really all that good for me in the first place. I think that one ambition survived the accident, and it's a damn good one. I don't want to regret my life anymore. I'm tired of it. We often live our lives at the mercy of circumstance. We work at occupations that we don't really want to, in order to buy things that don't make us happy. We do what other people expect us to, for reasons that don't make sense to us. We are afraid to be REAL, because we are afraid of what people will think of us. Well, enough of that!

I'm going to change my life. Because I fucking have to. Because I'm tired of the one I've lived so far. And it may be a mistake, and I may end up peniless and on the street. Who knows? I don't know what I'm doing. I still have a lot of shit I need to work through and I don't know where my next job will be, or what career I will go into. In the end, I'm gonna do my best to live without regrets, and see where it takes me.

And maybe, with some luck, I'll dodge the next car with my name on it's hood.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bullied at Work: How I lost my Mind

As some of my friends know, I've had a pretty tough couple of years. I can't lay the blame on my career, although it certainly didn't help. I started this blog with the purpose of getting out some of the feelings I've been holding in, and in the process, have given quite a bit of personal information. Not "this is my real name and address" kind of information, but real information about my life and my thoughts. Maybe the type of information most people don't share publicly. I've even gotten some feedback asking me if I'm sure I want to share this information with others.

I've thought about it, and it's why I didn't make a post yesterday. My answer? YES. Yes I do want to share myself in this way. I think a big part of the problem of our modern life is that even though we share more information about ourselves than ever, most of the "real" us stays hidden in a way that is really detrimental to our psyche. Maybe other people have close confidants, and can share of themselves in a healthy way, while putting on their fakes smiles for the rest of the world.

I can't. In a lot of ways, I'm an all or nothing sort of person. I can be fake or I can be real. There is no in-between switch for me. There never has been. I either build a fence that keeps everyone out, or I just open the gates and let everybody in on my thoughts. And you know what? I'm getting really tired of the fences. I find the process of writing extremely cathartic, and I really want to share what I write with people. I tried a journal, but I can't stick with it, because there is no feedback, no life, in that outlet.

Here's what I figure...anybody who reads what I'm writing and learns who I am and doesn't like it, can stop being my friend or reader. If they liked a person who I never was, why would I want them to stick around? If they read what I write and some of the things I've read and feel superior or inferior, why is that on me? It's not.

With that being said, let me just say that for the past three or so years I've been dealing with what I think is a low grade depression. My "depression" was nothing that I thought I needed drugs or therapy for (it didn't seem that bad). It wasn't really something that hampered my ability to do my work or enjoy my hobbies, but it was there. It mostly manifested itself as a pessimistic viewpoint that wasn't quite normal for me. I've never been a trembling with excitement pollyanna, but I was always pretty happy go lucky, albeit with an ocassional bit of anxiety. After I finished grad school (and maybe even during grad school), I started getting a little dissatisfied with my life. I was looking for a job, and wasn't having any luck, and it got me down. I worked for the next couple of years at the university, and even though I somewhat enjoyed the work and loved my bosses, I really wanted to get out of there and start my life.

And then I got my first real job. And I moved to a new city. And my mind fell apart.

A lot of you reading this know about the problems I had with my new job and new boss, but I don't think any of you realize just how bad it really was. A big part of it is because of my habit of using humour to deal with my problems; if I'm laughing on the outside, I'm probably crapping myself on the inside (I was going to say cry, but I neither cry on the outside nor inside lol). How bad where things? Well, I'll give you a quick and dirty list that in no way describes EVERYTHING I went through.

-I was called a retard several times, an idiot occasionally, and a bad worker almost daily.

-My boss's micro-managing was total: every minute was to be accounted for. If I went to the bathroom and was missing for more than 3 or 4 minutes, my boss would ask me what I was doing and insist there was work to do. If I 'acted smart' and apologized for needing to use the bathroom (which I did when it got to be too much), I was yelled at and asked why I "didn''t just do what I was asked to do".

-I was told everyday that I had accomplished nothing. Even if an experiment was sure to fail, and it wasn't my fault that it failed, I was still somehow personally responsible for failing.

-Positive feedback? What's that? There was none. Ever. Even when I would come up with a great idea, or got good results, or impressed the hell out of visiting business people, I didn't get a single "good job".

-If I left late, I would get yelled at for not getting stuff done on time. If I finished on time, I was 'trying to get out early and didn't care about my work'.

-Yelled at every day. Often, in front of other people. Sometimes I would answer questions completely honestly, and would be accused of sabotage, or being smart mouthed. Occasionally, I would have a tantrum thrown at me.

-My second day at work, she showed me a recipe I was to use to make media. I was asked to calculate the amount of buffering agent to add while she was standing watching me, without a calculator. When I hesitated, she said, (and I quote). "Look, if you can't make a buffer by now, we are both screwed.".

-My second week, she told me that if I worked a lot harder, I may someday be an average tech.

-At one point, she was so frustrated that she choked me. That did not end well for her, but I don't think I went far enough in dealing with it. At various points, as some of you know, I absolutely blew up on her, told her to go fuck herself, and quit. She would convince me to stay, then be nice to me for about a week, then go back to being her nasty self.

To deal with all this bullshit, I had to go on some heavy duty anti-depressants. I was actually ashamed of it at the time, but it was absolutely necessary. After the doses got higher and higher, I obviously suffered a little bit of "brain fog" (though it went away with time). When I told my boss about the anti-depressants being the reason I was a little more absent minded that usual, she wanted me to quit them because they made me a "crappier lab tech".

I know what you're thinking because I would be thinking it too if I were you. WHY THE FUCK DID YOU STAY AT THAT PLACE???? You know, I can't really give you an answer. I'm off the meds, feeling better, and slowly regaining my self esteem....and I really can't tell you why I stayed. At the time, I thought I had legitimate reasons: it was my first real corporate job and I didn't want to fail; my fiancee was going to school and I wanted to support her; I was in a new city and I didn't have any contacts to get me a new job; I spent close to a year trying to find this job, what luck will I have finding another?

So I stayed, and I lost my mind. I'm better now, but I still have some issues I'm working through. Although I know that science isn't my thing, and I knew it before I got this job, I always wonder what effect that job had on the feeling of anxiety and terror I get at the prospect of being stuck in a lab again.

I also wonder how well this post well be received. Will people think less of me that I allowed myself to be bullied in this way? Will people think I'm a whiner, a weakling, who can't deal with having a job? Will I get sympathy or scorn? I don't know. I hope people understand what I went through, and if any of you want to share some stories in the comments, I would love to hear from you.

As to my next post..... Well I wish the above was the worst of it, but there is more misfortune to come. What happened after I left the job....

Stay tuned kiddies for the fantastic conclusion. Same bat time, same bat channel!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Top Ten: Reasons a Science Career Rocks

Okay, I admit I've been bagging on science, and how it's a terrible career choice. I think I've been a little unfair, so I'm going to give everyone some great reasons to consider a career in science.

Top Ten Reasons Why Science is a Great Career.

10) Mates - You will meet some great, interesting people in school and at work. Passionate people who love what they do and bitter people who are funny as hell. Fellows, you will meet some of smartest, most beautiful women in university. You won't go out with any of them, because they'll be going out with a construction worker or rig pig who makes about five times more than you will ever make right out of high school. But still, you can look.....

9)Jeapardy - Seriously, you'll clean up at the science categories. You will then smugly look at the people in the room and tell them the question was a joke. Stupid contestants, you learned that in first year! And then you will feel guilty that you're watching tv, and will excuse yourself. There are papers that need reading.

8)Delayed adulthood - You may think it sucks that you can't buy a house right away or get married or have children because you are too busy with your ten + years of school. But honestly, you'll probably be getting married and buying a house at about the same time as your non-science friends are getting their first divorce and getting their house foreclosed on. You don't have to worry about divorce or foreclosure for at least another five or ten years.

7)Conferences - Boring speeches and substandard food or crazy drunkeness and licentious encounters? Depends on whether your supervisor is present or not. But still, in what other lines of work do you get to travel, usually on your employer's dime, to other countries to meet interesting people, do tours, and attend fancy banquets?

6)Impressed friends and relatives - Everyone thinks you are smart. Always a plus. You can feel good at the look of utter confusion on their faces when you try to explain your research, and laugh at their insecure manner when they ask you questions about science.

5)Uncover the secrets of life - You can play god, and bravely uncover the underlying structure of life and reality. Well, 99% of the time you'll actually be either banging your head against the wall, or repeating some lame experiment someone else has already done. But that 1%...well, that 1% is gold, even to cynics like me.

4)Make a difference/lasting impact - Even if you do nothing more than uncover the function of one gene, or map a tiny portion of the chromosome of some obscure organism, at least you've done something. You've helped add to pool of knowledge of humankind. You have to admit, it's better than just moving some money around in a broken economy, or selling people something they don't want. Yeah, hedge-fund managers, bankers, and politicians will make more money than you ever will, but at least you aren't a fucking douchebag leech ruining everything that is good and right.

3)You'll develop skills - People think that scientists learn nothing but technical skills, and that isn't even close to true. You will learn how to present information, orally and in written form. You will learn how to teach. You will learn how to solve problems, think outside the box, and improvise. If you get a phD, you will learn how to beg for money better than any preacher or street person. You will be good and ready to sell out and make money in some other career when you decide that you want to actually start owning stuff.

2)You'll develop outside interests - Guaranteed. Go to work, then come home and drink yourslf to sleep while watching TV? Unlikely. You get so used to living a full and busy life, that you will probably hold on to these habits when you finally do get a job. Most of the scientists I know have a wide range of interests and hobbies.

1)You'll never stop learning - The best thing about being in science is that your brain will never atrophy. If science is your passion, you will learn something everyday. Some of that learning will come from mind numbing papers, sure, but most of it will be a result of having to deal with some problem in the lab. It may occasionally be stressful, but you won't ever feel like your not being challenged.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Women in science, dumb men.

I was sent a very interesting link by a friend of mine. In the article, a fellow named Philip Greenspun makes an interesting case as to why there aren't more women in science. Read it here:


Now, I'm not going to go into to much detail about the issue of women in science. To be honest, I'm not extremely well read on the subject, even though it is an issue that is important to a lot of my friends. The fact is, there are a lot of women graduating with science degrees from our universities (way over 50% in the biological science), but they are under-represented in academia and industry as senior scientists and PIs. As to his argument that it's because women are smart enough to stay out of those positions...well, I'll let you make your own mind about that. What interests me are his points about science as a career, and how well it goes with what I wrote in my last post. Specifically this:

"Pursuing science as a career seems so irrational that one wonders why any young American would do it. Yet we do find some young Americans starting out in the sciences and they are mostly men. When the Larry Summers story first broke, I wrote in my Weblog:
A lot more men than women choose to do seemingly irrational things such as become petty criminals, fly homebuilt helicopters, play video games, and keep tropical fish as pets (98 percent of the attendees at the American Cichlid Association convention that I last attended were male). Should we be surprised that it is mostly men who spend 10 years banging their heads against an equation-filled blackboard in hopes of landing a $35,000/year post-doc job?
Having been both a student and teacher at MIT, my personal explanation for men going into science is the following:
  1. young men strive to achieve high status among their peer group
  2. men tend to lack perspective and are unable to step back and ask the question "is this peer group worth impressing?"
Consider Albert Q. Mathnerd, a math undergrad at MIT ("Course 18" we call it). He works hard and beats his chest to demonstrate that he is the best math nerd at MIT. This is important to Albert because most of his friends are math majors and the rest of his friends are in wimpier departments, impressed that Albert has even taken on such demanding classes. Albert never reflects on the fact that the guy who was the best math undergrad at MIT 20 years ago is now an entry-level public school teacher in Nebraska, having failed to get tenure at a 2nd tier university. When Albert goes to graduate school to get his PhD, his choice will have the same logical foundation as John Hinckley's attempt to impress Jodie Foster by shooting Ronald Reagan.

It is the guys with the poorest social skills who are least likely to talk to adults and find out what the salary and working conditions are like in different occupations. It is mostly guys with rather poor social skills whom one meets in the university science halls."

Uh...wow. Okay, it's a little stronger than what I wrote, but it does make a lot of sense, even if it makes me feel like I've been kicked in the nuts. I really didn't do my research when I chose this career. And although I think it's unfair to continually castigate myself for the choices I made in the past, I wish that I had been a little more realistic about my chances of succeeding in a field where passion is a necessary criteria for success. More than that, however, I wish I had realized that even with talent and passion, success in science is still a crap shoot. Even the most successful scientists really lag behind when you consider where you would be if you "succeeded" in another career. What would 10 years of school get you in another career? I guess for some people, some minor advancement in some specific field IS a big success. Who knows?

Dan Evoman

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Skinny

In my last post, I intimated that I would write a little bit about how I got to this point. This 'point' being how I ended up in a career that I believe is unsuited to my character, to my interests, and to my abilities.

And I have an easy answer. I'm smart and lazy.

Well, maybe not that smart. Smart people supposedly make good decisions and are able to achieve goals that matter to them. After all, can we really call a person smart if they consistently make the wrong decisions in their lives?

However, before I explain that easy answer, let's back up a little. Most of my friends (and possibly the only ones who are reading this blog) know my basic educational history. After high school, I went straight into University as a pre-med student. I found out pretty quick I didn't want to do that, so I transferred into a degree program and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry. The very next fall after graduating, I got into the Biology graduate program. About 3 years later, I walked out of the University with my Master's degree in Biology (with a concentration in Genetics, Phylogenetics and Evolution). Ok, I didn't actually walk out either literally or metaphorically, since I spent the next two to three years working at the University. But you get the idea.

Now it all sounds pretty good, doesn't it? From an external point of view, I may look like a very high achiever. Not only did I manage to get Federal scholarships to support me during my summers as an undergraduate student and during my entire time as a graduate student, I also published two very well received papers based on my work. But internally, these achievement mattered very little to me...every single goal I accomplished were ones I did for reasons outside of myself. Oh, they fulfilled some of the needs of my ego: I was driven by the need to BE BETTER than other people. I always had something to prove. However, I didn't really care about my accomplishments as much as I cared about what other people thought of my accomplishments. My family, my supervisors, my friends...what they thought was more important.

Which takes me back to the point I made above. I'm smart and I'm lazy. At some point in my past, someone in my life decided I was smart. It's not hard to see why, even though I deny that I am intrinsically more intelligent than your average person. When I was a kid, I liked to read. No, I loved to read. And obviously, if you love to read, it's going to help you in school, which is what we use to judge children (school or sports, you better be good at one of them). So I did well in school. And that meant I was smart. And once you internalize that, it's game over.

I'm not saying that being smart is a bad thing. I'm not even saying that some people aren't more capable than others at intellectual pursuits. What I'm saying is that being smart, to a large extent, is a skill that you can improve and is a lot more fluid than people think. Read more, learn more, and COMMIT yourself to an intellectual goal, and you too can be 'smart'. However, when you internalize 'being smart', it becomes a finite quality. It's becomes something you ARE, instead of something you work AT, and your life becomes an never ending quest to prove you HAVE it. "I am smart, and I will do things smart people do." If you really believe it, you stop challenging yourself because you don't want to be one of those dumb, mediocre people.

Of course, some of you may have been similarly labeled and resisted the trap. You may have used your smarts to do what you wanted to. Well, good for you. Fuck off, this post is about me.

So I finish high school and now I have to make the first real choice in my life. What do I do know? Well, in high school, you certainly aren't aware of all the options available to you. I wasn't anyways. So I thought about what smart people do, and I did it. I enrolled in premed. Keep in mind, I had no interest in medicine. It sounded good, it made my grandparent happy, and doggone it, dumb people just didn't become doctors (I know better now, lol).

Well, like I said above, I realized pretty quick that medicine wasn't for me. I hate body fluids (wait, no....I hate MOST body fluids, wink wink). Hell, I'm emetophobic. Look it up. Sufficed to say, I now had a decision to make. But I already had some science electives finished, so the lazy part of me didn't want to change into another program. Besides, science is something smart people do. I am smart. I will do science. After all, what are my alternatives? Business? IDIOTS. Arts? MORONS. Fine arts? GREAT PLACE FOR THE MORONS AND IDIOTS THAT COULDN'T HACK IT IN ARTS AND BUSINESS.

Alright, don't get too pissy. I don't think those were the exact thoughts running through my head. Maybe more like unconscious feelings. Besides, by that time, I had gotten to know some people in science and, doggone it, I had to prove I was as smart or smarter than they were. It didn't matter that I disliked most of my science classes. It didn't matter that I put off reading my bio textbooks so I could spend extra time on reading social theory. It didn't matter that I couldn't wait for my sociology, philosophy, and anthropology classes, because I loved discussing topics with my teachers and writing essays. I was smart. I was in science. Science is where smart people go.

Grad school? More of the same. I got the opportunity to do my graduate studies, and I did it because I was too lazy to look for an alternative and I'm smart. Smart people go to graduate school. I'm smart. I'm going to graduate school.

My master's subject was a bit different in that I actually sort of liked my research. There was molecular biology involved, sure, but the topic was grand. Evolution, Astronomy, and Geology have always been interests of mine, simply because of their grand nature. I'm not a detail person. I could care less about what some molecule or enzyme does. Screw that. But give me a grand purpose, and it's bees to honey. It didn't hurt that my supervisor was one of the greatest guys I know, and working with him was an absolute pleasure. Still, I sure didn't feel like I fit in with other grad students, especially at conferences. Every conference I went to, I much preferred speaking to the spouses of the scientists, because they also seemed as tired of listening to science research talk as I was. At one conference, I spend about 2 hours talking a political science professor about her opinions on American foreign policy, while generally avoiding her husband who was one of the leading researches in my field. I felt uncomfortable among science types, because...well...they always wanted to talk about science.

So that's the short and skinny of it. Here I am now. Do I regret my life so far? Well, it isn't that simple. The truth is, I've met so many awesome people that I wouldn't have if I had made other choices, including the love of my life. I don't regret the knowledge I've gained either. I can't say I didn't enjoy some of my science classes. Some of the things I learned were pretty damn neat, and I've had great experiences in my lab classes. I love science, just not in that 'career' way. But there are always regrets....

In future posts I will talk about my work outside of the university, and how it cemented my need to get out of science. I also want to talk about how and why my perspectives on being 'smart' have changed so much. I'm not the same person I was five years ago. Hell, I don't even think I'm the same person I was two years ago. I've let go of every phony aspect of myself (have I?), and I aim to be as authentic and true to myself as I can be (am I?). I also hope I don't give the impression I used to be shallow. I don't think I am or was.

One more point before I go. I fully expect this post to be full of syntax, punctuation, and grammar errors. I don't care. I didn't proof read this at all. So don't complain if you find mistakes. In fact, kindly fuck off and stop reading it if it bothers you so much.

Buh bye.

Dan Evoman

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Beginning

So, I've finally decided to start my own blog. I may even post in it.

I've always resisted adapting to technology. Not that I don't like gadgets or the internet, but I've always been wary of using new tools, like the internet, to express myself. Hell, I haven't even completely mastered the use of the old tools, like writing and talking, to express myself. I just got my first cell phone two years ago (and still have the same cellphone), and I still hate to use that thing.

But then I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon and realized that, hey, I actually like this. It lasted all of 5 days, of course; Facebook then changed something arbitrary and unimportant, and I hated it. Two day after that, I got used to the change, and liked it again. This cycle would go on to repeat itself numerous times. The point is, though, that I actually started enjoying communicating with people, writing jokes, and saying outlandish things without the burden of disapproving faces when I took it a step to far.

The next step, naturally,would be to add my voice to the mediocre chorus of pasty internet nerds, bored housewives, business jack asses, and self-help gurus. I'm going to elbow my way amongst the elite of the internet, with their 5 views a month and 2 person subscriber lists.

But before I begin, I need a catch. A hook. Hell, I need a point. What makes me different? There are a list of things: I'm a disaffected employee in the sciences, I'm going through a career change, I'm overcoming some workplace and outside of workplace psychological trauma. I also make a mean spaghetti sauce. In the end, I think I am going to focus on "Finding a New Career and Everything Involved in a Search For a New life". That way, I may be able to use this blog to get help from other people undergoing similar changes. Maybe I can learn something and teach others. Eventually, I may give out my spaghetti sauce recipe.

If it turns out in the end that I just use this blog to rant to an empty audience....well, that's okay too.

My next post is going to describe my professional life as a science tech and some of my thoughts on why things didn't really work out for me in the field. Stay tuned.