Friday, May 21, 2010

The worst possible time to develop a sudden distaste for coffee

A few weeks ago, heady with anticipation of a long summer of part-time childcare and no labs to prepare for or grade, I found a little grant on the internet and sent an eager little email to two of the professors I work with.

"I think this project suits my experience and interests well and with your permission, I'd like to apply for this grant" it said. They were excited, we had a meeting! And as these things do, the project began to grow. And grow. And GROW.

But of course, I had made a teeny little mistake and the grant I had found was not exactly a good fit and heh heh, headpat, sorry, find something else. Maybe at NSF.

Which? I am terribly grateful for. The grace I have been shown at this school for all of my myriad mistakes (velocity instead of voltage anyone?) has totally blown me away. Makes my last department look more like the Citadel than the ivory tower. I was happy there too. But I also chewed a lot of Tums.

So off I went to the NSF website in all it's labyrinthine government agency glory. I found another few good contenders and once again, prematurely, fired off an upbeat email to all involved. Only to find a few days later that "Earth Science" in NSF speak refers to earth processes UNDERGROUND. I should have been looking at the "GEOscience" page, or the "ATMOSPHERIC science" page. Um. Duh.

And also? That first page with the frustratingly short summary of the grant? Has a cute little teeny tiny link at the very top? Yeah, that will take you to the ACTUAL GRANT WEBSITE where you can read such details like "Earth science refers to things INSIDE THE EARTH, dumbass."

So now I think we are finally on the right track and have a clear-ish idea of what we want the project to look like and I've been encouraged to develop some personal research goals so I can write a little bling into the proposal for my getting out of the house with big people time fund (known in the academic community as a postdoc) and now the Tums chewing has begun.

I will be thirty in ten days and I have never had a real job. Independence is scary. The thought that I willingly put myself in this situation is scary. But being on campus? I love it. Working with the students? Love it. Thinking? Doing research? Love those too. So this is what I have to do. This is what everyone does in their first academic job. I am lucky to be able to do it without the tenure clock ticking away. So, no matter how intimidating it is, I have to force myself to walk through it and learn everything I can (First goal, figure out the NSF website, complete! Second goal, find a campus vending machine with Peanut M&Ms, complete!).

Now I have to go fire up the crock pot so she can have MAH DINNER READY WHEN I GET HOME.

6 comments:

Alyssa said...

The good news about getting a "real" academic job is that it has all the best parts that you listed about grad school/postdoc without the annoying crap that you didn't list (e.g., papers on topics you don't care about). It is SO worth it!

Sarah said...

I just had a meeting with my old advisor (currently my department chair) about this very thing-- It is really cool to be able to do all the stuff you mentioned without having the tenure clock hanging over your head. BUT it is also really scary to not be accountable to anyone except my own professional development goals. She sent me grant application last week that made me throw up a little-- very intimidating. Nice work on the M&M quest.

Alyssa said...

Oh - good luck!!

I saw the above comment by "Alyssa" and could have sworn I hadn't commented yet! LOL!

Kyla said...

You're doing great. It all sounds pretty exciting to me!

Kim said...

"labyrinthine" is the best word EVER to describe the webpages for government grants. Seriously. It is perfect!

AJU5's Mom said...

I am glad you are loving where you are at and those around you are supportive! And umm... I think there is a good reason I decided I hated research and would never do any!