Today marks the first day of a new year (in a way). No, it’s not the first day of another year at Bristol: it’s the first day of a new lab notebook. I’ve been keeping lab notebooks consistently since the start of my PhD, but I’ve only kept the ones since I moved to Bristol in 2017. I think the practice is very helpful; something about writing things down (not typing) helps me hold onto them more. And, so much of what is digital feels ephemeral, even if it’s recorded forever. This latest notebook spans from early 2019 through an incredibly busy (although somewhat productive) AY2019-2020 and throughout lockdown til now.
I guess the main thing I’ve realized is that it’s OK to be cyclical. Reading through the journal, there are flurries of activity and engagement, with attendent notes & comments in the book, and then troughs where nothing really reads right, and I’ve got no notes in the book. Especially this year, where my duties as “Weekend Family Quiz Answer Recorder” led me to commandeer many pages with trivia answers and scribbles between a spring spent kneading sourdough and chasing goats out of the field. I used to get frustrated with this cycle, thinking that it was either unusual or, at the very least, unhelpful. If I could only maintain the sprint, I’d be so much more productive!
But now, I think it’s starting to feel a bit natural… especially now that I’m getting a better sense of what is normal for people to expect of one another (both others of me and me of myself).