Saturday, August 05, 2006

Time on my hands...

... and I guess that's why they call them the blues.

For everything... there is a season.
I suppose for me this is the season of existential crises.

Not all is bad. I feel we still, as a family, are on the cusp of something, some big change. But you can only trim the sails, according to the wind. There are some things we have no power over. The winds are still unsettled, and our course is yet to be charted.

The inlaws afforded the Rocket Scientist and me some well appreciated (and I think well deserved) time to take our next sailing class, together for once. We took a private lesson, just the two of us with an instructor, two full days (9-5) on Thursday and Friday. The tests were yesterday morning, and we both passed.

We're now certified to sail (and operate) a vessel about 30 feet in length. On Sunday, we take the whole crew out (the boys, the inlaws, the au pair and one of her friends) on a 42 footer. I guess the folks at the sailing center trust we'll do well enough to rent a bit above certification. It should be nice.

But then, the time passes, and I'm back where I am, wondering which path to tread. There's a postdoc opportunity in the mountains far away from here. It's similar to the one I was recently passed over in the UK. I checked the airplane commutability of it, from the nearest airport to Rocket Central (assuming, of course, because we've yet to hear anything official!). In my strange fantasy of a world, it's manageable (if I could work only 4 days per week on campus). Possible.
Dear Steve,

I just noticed your posting on My PhD is in [Field 1] and [Interdisciplinary Field] from the University of Paradise. Currently, I am a postdoctoral Visiting Scholar in [Field 2]. My research interests focus on [Research Focus].

My work has included a great deal of study of the neuroscience and psychology literature, however I've yet to engage in hands-on imaging myself. Moving my research directly into the realm of brain imaging has long been my intention. This post-doc could provide me the perfect opportunity to develop those skills and experience, while contributing to the field through my background and training in [Field 1], [Field 2] and [Interdisciplinary Field].

I attach my current CV. You may also visit my research website at [URL], which includes several research proposals. As an indication of my background in these areas, see in particular my [Relevant Annotated Bibliography] listed in the sidebar.

Please let me know if [your lab] would welcome my application for this post. I thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

You sound like you have an interesting background. I'm looking for someone with neurobiology background, but your research approach might be applicable. I've also attached a couple pdf's so you can read up on some of my lab's recent work. If you think this might be within your sphere of interest, by all means send in your application.


I'm reading. But the more I read, and the more I think about moving into the science end of my interests, the more it feels right to me. I'm saddened by the thought that I have wasted much of the past six years, pursuing a degree in the wrong field. But then, in sober moments, I realize my true field is amorphous. I know what I'm studying, it simply doesn't fit squarely within the confines of an established university discipline. That's alright. I've chosen my area of research, because it is what most interests me. And, frankly, while I admit it's within the realm of considerations, I'm not really planning to go to medical school next year. What can I do as a post-doc, starting where I am, to most efficiently get where I want to be?

When I mentioned the prospect of a long commute for me to Young Mountain City, my wife proposed that she of course could look for work in that area. Ah, yes. That's our plan, our goal: find meaningful work for both of us in the same geographic area; find someplace that we can live and settle for the next 3-5 years. Can't ask much more than that for the time being. Nothing is certain. But it's a goal.

Which way to turn? That's the question.

[Here's from a colleague, someone I admire and respect who happens to work in my research area from the science end. He had written to congratulate me on my recent publication, and this is the result of the ensuing email exchange]:
Hi Articulate,

I guess one fundamental choice you have to make is whether you plan to stick to [Field 1] or move into [Field 3]/ [Interdisciplinary Field]. If you choose the latter, you'll probably want to consider getting some training (e.g. at least a Master's degree). Probably more school is the last thing you want right now.

You have a strong background in [Field 1] and I imagine that you are a gifted teacher, so my personal advice would be to look for a position in that field.


[Sent to another lab director, whom I met at an SII conference a couple years ago, and with whom I've kept up occasional contact]:
Dear Karl-Heinz,

I am currently on the market for appropriate research opportunities. I very much wish to move more into the realm of imaging studies, and to develop my skills in that domain. I would like to inquire as to what opportunities there might be for me to serve as a post-doctoral researcher in your lab. Attached please find my current CV. For further information about my interests and activities, you may visit my research website at [URL]

Best regards,


1 comment:

post-doc said...

OK, this is one of those times when you keep mentioning brain imaging and I finally can't resist anymore. I do brain imaging! Functional MRI, actually, though my training included some PET and ERP.

I really don't know why I felt the need to share. But there you go. :) I hope very much that things work out for you - that you land in the right spot for your training and your family's happiness. Good luck.