Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Welcome to Academia

For those of you in academia, or who have had any kind of brush with the academy, you understand the mythical nature of funding. If you look at it too closely, it may disappear. If you keep your faith strong, and put that faith into action, you may be lucky enough to feed yourself, your family, and your research for another semester or so. For faculty (and graduate students), grant funding is like a magical beast: much sought after, exceedingly rare, and frustratingly elusive.

This week has truly been an initiation. After finding out (rather last minute) about a Request for Proposals that fit some of my research interests, Rachel and I decided to go for it and submit a letter of intent. Submitted at the eleventh hour, it did actually all work out, and now we’re working on the proposal. I never knew just how many offices and individuals had to look at/approve/sign/wave sages over and dance around proposals before they could be submitted. I’m somewhat convinced that there is a unique kind of mysticism that surrounds funding proposals for the following reasons:

1. The deadlines continually change. This can only be because some kind of spirit has shifted the ether slightly.

2. No one seems to really be sure what is required. This can only be because there are, in fact, no fixed requirements. The letters on the page swim, begging me to miss some size 6 font requirement.

3. Proposals seem to be due in threes. I suppose it is possible that this is only right now, but I don’t think so. I currently have three things due early next week. Rachel, my advisor, has two that overlap with mine, as well as one (much larger!) of her own. I think that this unsurprising coincidence suggests a much deeper superstitious reality.

Wish me luck!

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