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Sunday May 09, 2004

Happy Endings

Friday was my last day working at the lab. In my year and a half as both a student assistant and the director, I worked on some hot research, made a few amazing friends, and learned more than I ever thought I could while get scratched up and peed on by legions of furry little rats.

Yes, peed on.

I've had lots of other jobs in my short lifetime. Most of them really sucked. Actually, all of them really sucked. I've folded clothes at Target, rung up toilet paper at Marc's, dealt with nasty monthly members at the YMCA, spackled and sanded walls at an art gallery, played lab monitor in a graphics classroom, shelved books at a library, taught private art lessons for little kids, and produced web sites for some small businesses and organizations. Seriously, all of my jobs have sucked (even that last one... clients can be a bitch). And in the tradition of having sucky jobs, I figure that my position as lab director would probably suck, too.

And the first few months really did.

I started out last year feeling anxious about my new responsibilities. The research we did provided me with more opporunities to screw up than I was comfortable with. There were so many things to know and remember, and I forgot them all right after my training period ended. It also didn't help much knowing my supervisor was none too thrilled to have me around. Every day gave me another reason to worry.

September was probably the worst month of my year at work. The most loyal of Sonafide readers might remember me writing about the evil lab experience that bummed me out more than watching my beloved pet rat deal with his urinary incontinence. A summer full of mistakes and anxiety climaxed in a single disastrous day.

Evil, evil September.

In the midst of that last panic I had no idea that things would get better. A lot better, actually. It may be because I figured that things could get no worse, and my futile attempts at giving a perfect performance had hopelessly backfired. I had left perfect behind long before then. Actually, I killed perfect, stuffed it in a trash bag and dumped in the Lake Erie gutter. It got pretty ugly, to be fully honest. But somewhere between September and May things changed. I'm not really sure how or why...

The many little things I had such a hard time remembering I finally remembered. Repetition works wonders for those kinds of things. And so all the details I worried myself over were no longer to be worried over, and I started focusing on other things. Bigger things. And in doing so, I started learning things. Important things. The kinds of things that change everything.

I look at where I am right now --grad school shopping, looking forward to presenting research at conferences, having a ball while being loaded with responsibilities... and I think about how much this (now completed) job of mine has completely changed everything.

On Friday, the lab group had a little going-away party (did I mention how much I love the labbies?) which made me feel so appreciated. Even the big kahuna, who came ohsoclose to not even hiring me in the first place, gave me the greatest words of encouragement. And a really nice gift. I wasn't really sure how to respond to all of that (as I suck at those kinds of things) but I knew what I wanted to say... the gift in the gold-wrapped box was very nice, and I really loved it. But the best gift I've been given was the opportunity to work in the lab. It's been the greatest experience I've ever had, and I'm so appreciative that he invested so much in me.

How kick-ass.

So Friday was the last day. I dropped off my keys, felt a little bummed going home, but woke up the next morning excited that I had finished what I started... in spite of the difficulties I had all the way through the year. And tomorrow morning I'll wake up on my first official work day away from the lab feeling no less than utterly grateful for the last year I've had. But my first lab retirement day won't be spent in leisure...

I've got some grad schools to look for.


Drina-bina, do you remember what I told you last September?

Come on, who's right?



Alison on May 10, 2004 04:20 AM

Congratulations, Drina! How good it must feel right now - even though there are always those sad kinds of thoughts after all you went through. Good luck finding a grad school! How exciting :)

kc on May 11, 2004 12:03 AM

don't you just love the feeling of accomplishing something you didn't think you could do? congrats on a job well done :)

theresa on May 11, 2004 02:39 PM

Congrats~! I hope everything goes well ^_^

Kait on May 12, 2004 11:25 PM

Congrats Drina! :)

Michelle on May 15, 2004 02:55 PM