So the other day I had an epiphany of sorts in the middle of the night and woke up and wrote a long rambling email about it to my boss- explaining how I thought one of the basic ideas in my project was flawed. Thankfully I didn't send it, because it wouldn't make any sense. Instead I haunted his office all day and as soon as he made an entry I burst out with my fears.
Turns out I had very good reason to be concerned. But the boss said that this was one of the limitations of our set up and its kind of the un-written assumption that everyone operates on for lack of anything better. It was like having that parent-child talk of "we have to make do with what we can get". Sigh.
Then yesterday I stormed into his office once more and went into rant mode- about how I thought I was chasing a unicorn or pot of gold or whatever metaphor u want to use for something that probably exists in only our fantasies. Again he gave me a patient listen, had another talk that almost sounded like a shrink session to me, and suggested that I explore other projects if I wanted, but not to give up on this yet. And admitted that yes, it was hard, and harder than it seemed.
I am not against doing difficult things- heck - that is where the challenge lies. However, I have been a bit burned by my previous post-doc and clearly a lot more cautious now- about trusting boss people who do not have your interests in mind, about chasing pet theories of others, and, above all, about wasting precious time without a back-up or more feasible project running simultaneously. And the worst part is, I began this project thinking it was reasonably straightforward- and that is why it is more frustrating that this is not moving forward. This was the easy-peesy project I had in mind- the other "Back up" is actually harder!
So I have decided to give this two more weeks. Step it up, test the hypothesis on several candidates at once, and see if even one emerges as a promising candidate. In two weeks, if I have spent all my time and not gotten a single lead, I am going to start pushing this on to the back burner and move on to the other project, which also I need to step up.
The good part is, at least, my boss is receptive to my concerns, respects my professional opinion, and is not entirely bereft interest in my well-being. Thats the only good thing I could glean from all of this.
Sigh. Onward and upward.