It worked! (and no, I'm not referring to an experiment there).
I posted a very nice note on upstairs neighbour's door. I signed it with my name, and also said it was a polite request telling him/her (although i am tempted to guess it is a guy stomping around) to be mindful about the noise he made when he walked about, and that i understood that the bad soundproofing in this old apartment building was mostly to blame.
Well- I just got home an hour ago- and can already feel the difference! I can actually feel like I can hear more restrained movement, instead of my shelves and china rattling and walls vibrating. I am so kicked! May be i'll write him a thank-you note now. :p
That brings me to something that just crossed my mind- how come I am not complaining that much about experiments not working? It is not due to lack of experiments not working, that much I can tell you. It is a lot of things. I think work pressures have gotten less disproportionate thanks to other significant events in life, thanks to living in a city where there's so much more to do and distract myself with, and also, thanks to a very considerate boss. We discuss my stuff every few days and he is aware that I'm struggling to make some things work, while moving ahead with some others. He may not have the best troubleshooting tips- but at least he is aware of my progress, my roadblocks, and is encouraging, always.
I think I have definitely set a lot more achievable goals for myself in this lab- and one might argue that they are not stellar or nature-paper material - but you know what, I am getting something done. I have spread myself over several little projects, so that something or the other is moving ahead while others attain back-burner status. And the piecemeal approach is working very well- while at the bench, I am viewing each mini-project as just that- so it doesn't overwhelm me. But the bigger picture that I hope to put together when all of these little ones work will indeed be some cool work. Something that nobody has shown and something that nobody I know is pursuing. I always had a penchant for the obscure - it worked in my favour during my Ph.D. - even though getting there was more painful than if had a chosen some more tried and tested paths, I see myself taking a similar path here. My eyes are not set on a Nature paper - just to fit pieces of the puzzle that I am curious to answer.
I find a lot of my grad-school level of motivation and enjoyment towards science coming back now- coming up with ideas in the shower- enjoying discussions with my boss and my overall enthusiasm for my stuff. I don't remember feeling this way at all at my previous post-doc- the whole thing was just one single pall of gloom, always bringing me down- and yes, my goals were set a lot more higher. Both the projects I was working on then were tough, high-risk ones- and I suffered from absolute lack of advice and help- and intense pressure and the feeling of being incompetent. I am so glad I got out of there before it made me a wreck.
The trauma stayed with me for a while, though. It is only 9 months since I left that place, but every now and then I'd think back to those days and it would bring me down. Recently- I bumped into an old acquaintance from there. I thought seeing him would serve as a reminder of those horrible times- the times I worked until 2 AM and the times I dragged myself to the lab- but it was actually very different. I was so glad to meet him- he was one of the nicer people I knew there- and it just felt good to catch up with him and realize how, both of us, who were unhappy in our respective labs, have moved on since then, gotten out of our unhappy situations and seem so much happier now.
Yeah- this experiment seems to be working too! :)