Since starting my postdoc no less than 45 days or so ago I haven’t really commented on the subject, though I think I can now comment on, at the very least, the first 3 days (what with having all this time to reflect upon them and all).

The position of a post doc is a confusing one, to say the least.  You’re really not that much better than a 4th or 5th year graduate student, despite having additional initials after your name and, if you didn’t fuck up, you’re probably at a bit more of a competitive lab or a more impressive school (or it was, at the least. a lateral promotion to something equivalent.)  Either way, the people around you are fucking smart and ready to take you and everyone else on intellectually.  Now is not the time, of course, to retreat into your shell… this would be a mistake.  Instead, you have to toss yourself out there as simultaneously self assured and humble.  It is the postdoc, after all, that crashed into the delicate ecosystem of the lab and as the guest I find myself silently listening to world around me.

What is this madness that I have begun?  A group 3 fold larger than the one I left, I find each of us (that is, all the members) attempt to be unique snowflakes with varying degrees of success.  The office layout is horrible – the separation of the lab into multiple offices in different hallways has lead to apparent cliques and associations.  While, granted, my former lab was separated by floors, we were always close.  If I were to, say, go out to lunch with some of my group members, trash talking was more along the lines of “if so and so doesn’t get their shit together they’re going to fucking piss me off” and not so much the “I’m going to fuck so and so in the eye socket in front of her children.”  The cordial flavor of a provincial department has given way to the cutting edge of brutality.  I’m ensconced in brilliance, laziness and madness all at once and am supposed to be a leader of this ragtag crew and, while there is a clear thirst for knowledge and a love for science, there is also a dynamic that eludes me.  Make no mistake:  it’s a super group of the highest order and it’s sink or swim; I’m happy to be here and love everything going on around me but it’s overwhelming – daunting even, fuck… I can’t even remember everyone’s names.

So I sit quietly waiting for the first years to filter through, hopefully I can catch some of them and convince them to follow me on my own wild scientific quest for the latest in high science and high praise.  For now, I’m focusing on doing something major – a novel innovation.  It’s unbelievably difficult to come up with something novel, I appreciate that now, particularly when you have to keep it in the context of what the scope of the lab is doing.  I have some ideas, but they’re not ripe enough to pick from the tree…

So I sit, reading the literature for 10 hours a day… waiting for inspiration to strike me.

I hope it strikes soon…

UPDATE:  It struck.  And I’m off to the races…