Wednesday, January 20, 2010


In a desperate last push to get a smidgen more data that my advisor wanted for his paper, (which I already did a bunch of work for), I was working yesterday afternoon with my labmate. Things weren't going well - I didn't have the right pipe fittings (despite having a whole drawer dedicated to pipe fittings), I couldn't find the parts I thought I'd ordered, and just generally I was getting frazzled.

And of course the more you get frazzled, the more mechanical things don't work. The cords were tangling, the retractable swivel hoses wouldn't swivel, and the hex key I needed was all the way across the room while I was entangled in cords behind the workbench.

"I just," I thought, "am so TIRED," frantically tugging away a a stubborn bolt, "of TAKING THIS APART."

I set down the wrench, took a step back (managing not to trip of any of the cords lying around), and just took a moment. For my master's degree I built a machine. I expected when I built this machine that over the course of testing it, working with it, etc., I would be taking things apart several times. But I thought that at some point, the thing would be pretty much DONE and I wouldn't ever have to undo everything again. And yet there I was, undoing all sorts of fittings and bolts and sliding things around.

It all just felt like three steps backward. Can I not just be DONE with this project? Two and a half years is long enough.

And it occurs to me that now is the point I should be writing my PhD proposal. It's time. I'm ready to move on. There is nothing new to learn with my Master's project, it's just undoing and redoing what I've already established.

So. One more time.

I undid the stubborn bolt, collected the data I needed. Today I put my machine back together. I don't have any desire to work on this project any more. I've lost the motivation. I don't care.

Please, let me just work on something new.

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