I defended my PhD thesis in early October, to an audience of my peers, superiors, friends and family. The closure of a certain long and arduous period of my life was wonderful and at the same time almost unbelievable. It was particularly appropriate that those people whom I relied so heavily upon for support were there to share it with me. Looking at the audience and sharing dinner with certain members later in the evening, my heart was filled with joy rivaling that originating from my life transition that day. To have maintained these friends despite time, distance, and even disagreements reminded me that they were not friends of circumstance, but people who truly cared.
That night at dinner I also found out that I had been offered a job as a post doc. I was overjoyed. I'm still happy and grateful to have the job. It's not everything I wished and hoped for in terms of research topics, but it's the next step on my career ladder. I'm not going to complain.
It hasn't solved all of my problems, though. I was looking forward to leaving all of the shortfalls of my graduate institution behind, but that, alas, has not been the case. The isolation I felt in graduate school, which I attributed to the small graduate student population and the liberal arts focus of the institution, has followed me to my new job. The post doctoral community's size is equally limited here. In addition, I work in a lab with only two other graduate students and no other post docs- plus, the lab is considered a biosafety hazard and the door must remain locked at all times. Kind of puts a damper on casual socialization.
Have I mentioned that one of the grad students is a masochistic self-centered know-it-all who actually knows nothing about laboratory science?
Still, I'm enjoying having new surroundings and challenges. Transitioning from a 3 minute to a 35 minute commute has been interesting, but my new apartment is lovely and makes me feel both peaceful and energized. I'm happy to be back at the bench (lab bench) after spending months and stupid months writing. My new boss is funny, genial, and I think I can learn a lot from him. Another unfortunate aspect of this place is that there are very, very few female roll models (i.e. tenured professors). I guess these are just more challenges, more obstacles, which I will surmount as needed.