Am I really atypical in having had a decent post-doctoral fellowship? Is it a feature of the University of Washington or of my PI?
But when I read bitter stories about bad experiences then I wonder if this is a "there but for the grace of some powerful entity I go".
I think one issue is that people expect a lot at the end of the PhD (and not without justification -- the PhD is a long and difficult process). But the reality is that the PhD is the license to do research -- meaning you get to start at the beginning all over again. After 12 years of schooling (and an outside career in the financial services industry) that can be rough.
I'm lucky to have found a supportive place and I am pleased that I am moving forward to a good position (although quite sad to be leaving the state of Washington). Here is hoping that academic work is as unexpected pleasant as post-doccing turned out to be!