Friday, January 17, 2014

One Too Many Blows to the Head

Your job is to defuse a bomb. If it goes off, it would splatter the walls with the entrails of your career. Oh and incidentally, walking away from the bomb would do the same. This post is about remaining cool and steady-handed while dealing with the bomb. 

Also, you have P.

Get back into the ring
But I feel like these gloves are glued to my knuckles

You need to be able swallow a lot of crap as a scientist. You're going to take some unbelievable kicks to the groin in paper reviews. And you'll be told by more than one study section that you're not productive enough to be worthy of a discussion about your grant. The people who tell you that you don't publish enough, the people who tell you your papers aren't good enough to publish, the people who make you fearful to try to publish without being perfect, the people that say "what the fuck is wrong with you? why don't you just publish something?", and the people who tell you your papers aren't in good enough journals, are the same people.

You see, it turns out there are a lot of shitheads standing around telling you you're never going to defuse the bomb. That you never should have been given the job of defusing the bomb in the first place. Are we seriously going to waste precious time placing more trust in this shaky-handed clown?

There are also some people who are telling you you can do it. They think. (you can do it, right? seriously don't fuck this up.)

Then there are rare people who honestly know you can do it. They tell everybody to shut the fuck up and let you focus on the bomb. Keep them close. Also, you are one of those people. You have to be. Seriously, if you're defusing a bomb you need to have ice in your veins. You need to know that your bomb defusing skills are strong. You need to know that your bomb defusing plan is going to work. Keep your head down, shut out the shitheads, and believe in yourself.

Sometimes, you pull out a key wire and everybody heaves a breath. And the shitheads start to pay attention. You haven't finished defusing the bomb yet, but you know you've got this.

I'm asking you Mary, please
Temper my hatred with peace
Weave my disgust into fame
And watch how fast they run to the flame


  1. The title and first lyric refer to "One Too Many Blows to the Head" by The Dismemberment Plan. The closing lyric is taken from "Help Me Mary" by Liz Phair.

  2. That Liz Phair lyric brought me right back to freshman year of high school. Great post.

  3. College!! Freshman year of college.

  4. Hi! I am a young scientist whose grandmother and father also had/have P. I try not to think genetically which are the chances for me, otherwise I'll go crazy. Anyway, I just want to say that you're a very inspiring person for me. Please, do not let the shitheads let you down. They're everywhere and do not deserve so much atention. Keep working and writing here everytime you can.