Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Crash and burn

11:58 AM - I'm hot on the trail of a new graph that I'm really excited about.  The parade of students/post-docs/faculty heading to share lunch at the dining hall usually starts a little after 12, so I'm in a rush to try to finish converting my ideas into code.  The function I'm working on is a intricate little thing, involving some subtle manipulations of numerical routines for differential equation solving, and I'm on top of my game enough that I remembered a particular case I needed to take into consideration in the code.  It's the kind of thing that if you don't think of it when you write the function, you'll end up spending hours of debugging time trying to catch it later.

*Buzz Buzz Buzz*

That's my phone ringing.  Still thinking/trying to finish off this idea before I lose it, I slide my phone out of my pocket, don't recognize the number, but answer it anyways.  *duh-oh*

It's potential advisor from School3, checking in to see how I'm doing, and if there's anything else I need to make my decision that he can help me with.  Gulp.

I am not skilled at communicating by phone, even under the best of circumstances.  Such as when I know several days in advance that a phone call will be happening, and I exhaustively plan out my conversation ahead of time, including making notes to have in front of me.  I prepared in a similar way for interviews.

In this case, I had no idea the call was coming (it took me close to a minute to figure out who i was talking to), I was lost in thinking about something else entirely, and became very flustered.  I'm pretty sure I sounded like a bumbling fool, and had no real response for this guy, beyond I think mumbling a few things that I liked about a different place I had visited (School2), but how I'd rather live at School3.  No questions or anything when he asked if there was any other info I needed.  About the only good response I gave was when he said to let him know if monetary issues were playing into the decision, and I told him that I rarely let such matters govern my decisions, which is true.


I feel awful, and worry that I might have made "potential advisor" feel bad, especially when, returning from lunch, I got an email from him apologizing for ambushing me, providing more info on what I think/hope was the only concern I expressed about School3 while mumbling, and worrying that he didn't do a good enough job of showing me around.  And now I'm worrying that I may not be giving School3 fair enough consideration.

How am I evvvver going to make a decision if I feel this bad after a simple conversation with a potential advisor, when to make a decision I will have to say no to 3 people that I really like?  My general approach to life is to help everyone I come across, and do my best to support them and make others happy.  Which presents me with a rather impossible situation here.

I sort of thought that my oscillating opinions were converging on a solution, but what does it say about the stability of such a solution if a simple phone call is enough to throw things wildly out of orbit again?

Double UGH.

*Phone just rang again and made my stomach flip, but it was Eugenie*

I need to decide soooooon so I can get all of this unpleasantness behind me, and maybe avoid similar phone calls from the other 2.  I wish also that I was invisible, because I spend all day walking around and working here at the station feeling like everyone is looking at me and wondering, often asking, what I'm thinking today.


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