Yesterday, I didn’t bother to write a blog post. Quite simply I just had a good day. I had such a good day in fact that for the first time since Luton Airport I had the nerve to actually pick up the phone and talk to my parents safe in the knowledge that I wasn’t going to melt down.
The morning past smoothly enough with a light amount of work being achieved, in-between some A-grade chat in the office. In the afternoon we had a little group get together as the Romanian collaborator was departing midway through the next day after 2 weeks and she’d bought us all cake. And what afternoon isn’t excellent with a fine collection of cakes and cheesecakes? As things were wrapping up, myself and the boss mutually signalled a “good-time-for-a-meeting” gesture.
What followed was a solid 2 and a half hours straight, devoted, one-on-one with a world leader. A world leader that literally wrote the text book. Someone, not 2 years ago, I didn’t think I’d ever be good enough to talk to in passing at a conference. In the course of the meeting there we are and she’s chatting and joking and liking my ideas. Granted this means I’ve now got enough work queued up for the next decade, but c’est la vie!
And when I got home, I was so invigorated, I even managed a 40 minute conversation about being a Hindu in Southern India when I got home.
Compare that now to today. Some days you just get out of bed on the wrong side. Some days, just have that intangible feeling.
New mosquito bites. Nothing new there, but the blighter had placed them about a centimetre from the ones the day before, they were also immediately itchy as hell unlike the previous ones I’d largely ignored. Breakfast revealed that now is the time that my remaining wisdom tooth really wishes to announce itself. The previous 3 all came through rather slowly, allowing just enough for me to get food with, but not so much as to be effectively cleaned – ultimately leading to cracking ulcers that reduced me to eating yoghurt and muffins for a week. Right now, I’m at a throbbing ache, which is perfectly manageable so long as I dont move my mouth or jaw on the right hand side.
As I got to work however, all the motivation that I had walked away with the night before had completely de-materialised. Rather than doing anything too intensive immediately, I thought I’d crack on with some background reading. After an hour of reading I realised that I had only actually got as far as line 6 on the page. Worse still, though I knew I was on line 6, I couldn’t remember those that had preceded it, as my attention span and retention limit was seemingly about half a line or about 8 words.
In the afternoon I fruitlessly returned to it. Whilst with additional caffeine, time and nutrition my attention span was up to a few lines. Everything I was reading, I read with total apathy. I could not care less about any of it. And the very thought of having to go into the lab and do something with it swung between aversion and repulsion.
Suddenly, all of those thoughts that I’d desperately tried to suppress for the last year in Norwich came rushing back. When times had been tough, it became really difficult for me to distinguish whether I was miserable from the hands-off supervision, the working in a vacuum, the facilities and general mentality of the university or whether it was something more fundamental. What if it was just a case that I did not enjoy research science in an academic environment? That last question always terrified me. In part as there is no empirical way to test it, and partially because what I’m doing now is exactly what I’ve been aiming for, for as long as I can remember. And questioning a dream more than 15 years old, gets really scary.
Of course, this could all just be consequential fall-out of events that have me sleeping consistently for more than 10 hours a night for the first time since I was 8. But I know there were times in Norwich when I was ready. When I was done. Ready to pack it in and just do something else. But the romanticist in, kept me hanging on in, not willing to give up on the dream. Whilst I hated it at the time, one of the major reasons for taking this position was that if I can’t be happy with a world leader boss, world leading equipment and some of the best funding in the world – then it aint going to happen. But at least I could then gracefully bow out, safe in the knowledge that I gave it a shot.
That was a line of thinking that I’d all but forgotten about – but today, it all came rushing back.
At least, I’m not doubting whether I have the nouse.
Still come 6 o’clock, I called it quits. I needed to hit the supermarket as tomorrow I’m at a workshop entitled “Relocation – Tools to ease the Transition” and failing to shop now would leave without food across the (still feeling horribly wrong) Jewish weekend. However, after the bank saga, I was without cash. But I had today received an email from the telephone provider saying that their billing was actually set up for the 8th of the month. So, I thought I could remove the 150 NIS (~£30) that I’d put in the bank and avoid another drain on my UK account. I walk over to the bank on campus with ATM sat outside with it’s screen showing some little advert in Hebrew with a happy, smiling family that Hollywood would be proud of and next to that we have the card slot with it’s little green LED blinking away in delight.
Unsuspectingly, I insert my 36 hour old card into the machine.
The happy green LED, goes away.
The whole screen turns white.
I give it a minute.
A minute passes.
I press the Cancel button. Nothing. I then proceed to hammer every button on the dammed thing. Nothing.
The happy LED isn’t coming back and I’m not going to see those happy smiling faces again.
Now, I know that I’m new to this country and there are many cultural things that I’m not going to understand. But to think that I had the nerve to use my own bank card at the bank where it was issued. Well what was I thinking? I must be an idiot.
Reduced to desperation, I’m now bent double starring into the ATM to see if I could fish my card out again. Oh no! The card slot as got a little drop down door on it, specifically designed to stop people doing such things.
So I walk across campus to the other ATM. Use my British HSBC card, with no issue, withdraw cash and then go and assault the supermarket – today entirely staffed my what I can describe as part-time street performers that are practising for the upcoming living statue contest. I essentially buy squash, rolls and chicken. This takes an entire hour. In the largest supermarket in the town, a shop little bigger than a typical Tesco Metro.
If things kick off in the Middle East in the next week, you will know that my going back to the bank tomorrow morning has gone badly.