Swingin’ Round to 2016

The second half of 2015 wasn’t all that great. You get into these deep troughs sometimes where there isn’t an easy way out. Something has to snap…or you’ve just got to plod on through the trough until the descent turns into a gradual inclination, then eventually (you hope) you’ll get back to the above-ground terrain.

It happens. I can’t really blame anything. Random circumstances, minor shifts or life changes that you wouldn’t even bother to mark on a calendar.  All add up to make things seem unhappy. At some point late in the year I became just that little bit more proactive; that little bit more forgiving; that little bit more organised. The path became smoother.

I’m also at the mid-point in my PhD, which plays a role on a philosophical level at the very minimum. Starting out, it didn’t take me long to form ambitions and assess my goals. What did I want from my PhD? What was realistic to expect I could get in terms of funding, recognition, contributions to the scientific literature. I got off to a strong start with my PhD-level research. Of course, it helped on one level that my first project was a smaller one that built upon successful research already well-established in our group. My second project was a lot bigger and with scant precedent. In fact, I’ve got 12 months of research behind me that testifies to stalled progress, dead ends and discouraging scientific data. Naturally you wonder what the rest of your PhD studies will look like: struggling blindly with no end in sight, or a plethora of datum to mine. Could go either way. Well, it looks like I’m on track with the general trend in my lab of getting your first sizeable, original project moulded into a publication somewhen during year 3. I’m doing fine. Still on track. No serious cause for concern.

There are plenty of things that I am thankful for in 2015. Of course, some other events that I hope to sweep under the rug and pretend never happened. As it goes for everyone.

My apartment continues to make me happy, despite its position on the upper limits of what I can afford, rent-wise. My hope is that I can stay put for the next 3 years. Even though my disposable income has gone down a notch from my first two years in the States, I feel that the benefits from having my own place, having this place outweighs that. And I’m willing to do the work to make the in-out spreadsheets balance up a little nicer.  Is it a logical, sensible decision? Just about. I like waking up to sunlight streaming through trees. I like candlelit baths, dishwashers and a large kitchen space.

I’ve made an effort to keep up with current events and culture in the latter half of the year. I’ve bought more books (mostly non-fiction). I’ve studiously kept up to date with the latest Serial season. Over the Christmas break I finally ventured back into the cinema of my own accord to check out Star Wars and The Big Short (both depictions of an evil empire with bottomless greed, it must be said). I remain amazed at how shitty American cinema food is, but will try to see more movies in 2016.

I don’t really have an resolutions for 2016. I always try to remain healthy, work hard & smart, do interesting stuff outside the lab. At this point in time I feel optimistic about the short and long term. I’m keen to move on with the new year.

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