I…I miss the lab

There. I said it. I never thought I would.

But something going on right now, Real Time Chem Week, is making me jones for my chemistry lab days a bit. For those of you who don’t want to click that link, Real Time Chem (or rather #realtimechem) is a hastag people are using to tag their tweets about doing everyday chemistry. Or rather, the chemistry they do every day. It’s mostly chemists doing the tweeting, but anyone who’s doing any kind of chemistry is welcome to play. And reading them is really filling up my nostalgia beaker. Here are some of the ones I think are the funniest/most representative/most relatable so far:

https://twitter.com/cjsobers/status/326511862697062401

And it’s only Monday night! But it’s pretty fun so far. And, as I said, making me miss the lab a little. For me, this is really saying something because my grad school experience/lab work was on the miserable side. I have narrowed it down to what I really miss, though.

Problem solving.

I really miss figuring things out, especially stuff that nobody knows the answer to.  I’m actually right now thinking fondly of that project where I had a beautiful clean NMR that made no sense (right number of protons and everything!) that I could. Just. Not. Figure. Out. Until I did. (It was a perfect 1:1 ratio of 2 almost structurally identical porphyrins, and some of the peaks overlapped perfectly. The paper’s here if you’re interested. Check out the subdat for an assload of amazing 2D NMR. If you’re into that kind of thing.)

MY POINT is that I don’t really problem solve any more. Sure, science writing and editing makes me use my brain, but it’s not the same. And I am still only working part-time, and doing the child rearing thing the other part of the time. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my kid. And it’s challenging and rewarding and takes a lot of patience, but it’s not exactly stimulating to the intellect. I’m doing more crosswords now to help fill in the gaps. It works, to some extent.

So Real Time Chem people–I am living vicariously through you. Don’t let me down.

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