I have been a delinquent blogger all summer long, but I don’t think my time of academic musings has come to an end. Come fall, venting and exasperation are likely to resume with renewed vigor.
It’s been a busy and eventful summer. The main news is that my (pretty insane) grant-writing efforts from this winter paid off, because I have received recommendation of funding for multiple grants. I get to keep my group members happy and funded for the next few years, and I get to bring on a couple more students. Realizing I’d be going from rags to riches has been surreal. I wish there were peers IRL with whom I could honestly discuss just how relieved and elated and incredulous I am at the news. I have to keep my cool with my colleagues because showing just how fucking happy I am makes me look like an amateur, or worse — someone who could have conceivably become one of the untouchables, a penniless piece of academic deadwood at a research university.
But the funding is real, and it’s more than a relief. For once, there’s actually joy and excitement at the end of a stressful grant-writing period.
In other news, we’ve moved labs, which has been its own ordeal. I ended up paying, from my personal funds, a moving company to come haul some of the heavier pieces of office furniture. I just couldn’t handle being given the runaround by those within the college who were supposed to help. It was a problem I could solve by throwing a little money at it, so I did.
There is also the Saga of Three Overpriced Office Chairs, but that epic, frustrating, and ultimately tragic (for my nerves and discretionary funding) tale will have to wait for another occasion.
I’ve had some instructional duties this summer, which have kept me extra busy, but now I have cool videos for a course, which is pretty neat. The department is ramping up its summer offerings, so while summer teaching is not going to be a regular thing for any one faculty member, people will be expected to occasionally step up and do it as we go forward.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to complete the sequel to Academaze. That will have to wait for some time when I have more bandwidth to go through the blog archives. I have, however, put down 50k words of a novel and written+published a bunch of flash fiction (might’ve even leveled up a little in terms of my craft). Overall, I’ve been working but not killing myself, reading a lot, writing some, and just trying to feel human again.
How’s your summer been, academic blogosphere?
Congratulations on the grant success! I can empathize how big of a relief and accomplishment it can be in the current academic climate.
Yay – congratulations!! That is super awesome news and obviously well deserved. May your existing students write many exciting papers and your new students bring energy and enthusiasm 😉
I am curious to hear your opinion about the ever-increasing number of papers in the literature. It has become so insane – it’s essentially a system about gaming the number of papers/citations one has. At some point, this type of system has to break.
Congrats on the grants! That’s awesome news! And I so hear you about the relief from fears of deadwood. I went from no telescope time or money last year to co-PI of a large program with my main facility and funding to hire a postdoc, and now I feel like I can go up for full without shame in a couple years. It’s an immense relief, though I can’t say I love the boom-or-bust cycles of grants. (Still no recent NSF funding, though… should probably do something about that.) In addition to the problem of boom-or-bust, there’s also the problem in my field of coordinating time and money. I got extremely lucky this year that someone hooked me up with a private foundation that’s going to let me hire quickly to work on the large program. NSF really should be funding it, but even if I apply successfully this year, I wouldn’t be able to hire until next year, and then it would be too late for a postdoc to work on the project.
Summer was way too short. Time goes faster and faster. As new students arrive on campus, I realise that the second 20-ish years of my life feel like only a fraction of the time that the first 20-ish years of my life seemed to take. My postdoc feels like yesterday and then I run out of fingers when I calculate that it was more than 10 years ago. If we keep going at this speed, I will reach retirement in the blink of an eye. While buried in e-mail and admin without even noticing.
TLDR: Summer gave time for reflection and I do not like what my brain has come up with.