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All the Things?

26 November 2012

I have a lot on my plate right now. First, looming up like a big thing that looms is my job interview at PECMC. I am nervous as hell. In fact, I don’t recall ever being so nervous about an interview. Now, I’m not worried about being nervous. My nerves for things like this tend to spike immediately before showtime (so, like 10:58 am Wednesday), and then utterly vanish as the time for the event comes. Once I am in the situation, giving a talk or being interviewed, my nerves turn off and I am able to focus on what I’m doing with a clear, lucid intensity. I do my best work under intense pressure. Of course, I can’t sustain that for any period of time, but for a few hours on the day of, even a few days, I can do things which looked impossible to me only moments before.

So I’m nervous about having four hours of interviews and giving an hour talk. Really nervous. But I’ve done it before (My original exploratory visit with ECU back in 2009 – which led to open-ended paid work and an academic appointment of which I’m very proud – was eight hours and included giving the same talk to different groups of people about 6 times.). But nervousness fades, and then I go collapse. Sadly, I will not be able to just collapse when this interview is over, I’ll have to fly home in the evening. But I’ll be ok. I will need to sit on the floor and rock back and forth and cry. Especially if it goes really well. If it’s a disaster, the grapes will sour fast.

Also on my plate right now is finishing up my R01eq. It’s not as good as it would have been if I were not in fear for my position and fervidly looking elsewhere. That’s not how I work, usually. I do my best work under pressure, yes, but not under existential pressure. “Do this fast and well or you’ll be fired” does not motivate me. It makes me want to work elsewhere. And it fills me with bitterness and anger at the administration, which makes me want to start bridge-fires. And I have ideas about glorious conflagrations as I fiddle my way to a new place*.

*This should all be read metaphorically. I will not be starting any actual fires.

Because the chances of getting funded on a first try is so minimal, and because I’ve been so distracted about looking for other jobs, this grant is not, frankly, my best work. It’s not terrible. It’s a reasonable effort, but there are definitely holes in it. However, I feel that there is almost no chance it will be triaged (haven’t had a grant triaged in years). So hopefully, I’ll get a constructive review and then if I need to resubmit – if I don’t have another position – I’ll be guided by reviewer comments. It’s not the best plan for getting funded. But it’s not the worst either. My nightmare scenario, of course, is that I leave with the grant under review, and then it hits, which would eliminate my need to have looked for a new job in the first place. But the fact is, as much as I like the research I’m doing here, I hate the support environment. A new job is very, very appealing. And, frankly, it would be absolutely wonderful to have these people not be able to accept a grant because they wouldn’t support their only productive researchers. Bye bye, three-quarters of a million dollars!

I also have a poster to make. And a grant final report to submit. I was going to write about those too, but UGH.

I have tomorrow and Wednesday off work. My interviews start at 11am EST Wednesday. They’ll be over around 4pm EST. I’ll try to put up tweets during bathroom breaks about how things are going. If you have my phone number, please don’t call or text during that time period, in case I stupidly forget to turn off my ringer. I have a lot to write about, and no energy to do it right now. I have the nerves of all the things. But I will do all the things. Right after I drink all the coffee.

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