Monday, June 29, 2009

Texting the News

During my recent travels, I had limited internet access. I have trouble breathing and feel a bit faint if separated from the internet for too long, and this sporadic internet access was particularly difficult for me because I was waiting to hear news of a proposal. Whenever I did have internet access, I quickly scanned my inbox hoping for (good) news about the proposal. I last checked my email at the equivalent of about 1:30 pm on a Friday in the program officer's city. Nothing.

Later that night, after I'd turned out the light to try to sleep, my phone vibrated with a text message from my co-PI: "xx funded!". My daughter woke up, I told her the news, and she offered to roam the city with me looking for an internet connection so I could get more information. This was kind of her, and I was briefly tempted, but I decided that would be a bit too insane.

I replied to my co-PI and sent a text message to the postdoc whose funding depended on that grant.

I was very happy and relieved. Even so, I had anxious dreams that night:

- Maybe I had misunderstood the text message? The 'xx' in the text message was a 2-letter abbreviation that had seemed unambiguous when I first read it, but what if my co-PI meant something else?

- Did "funded" really mean "funded" or was it a "I hope this proposal will be funded" kind of message?

- Would the budget be cut substantially? What if the email from the program director actually said "I am going to fund the research except for the postdoc." I had already texted my postdoc with the great news. What if that was premature?

And so on. I am not an extraordinarily anxious person under normal circumstances, but I was very worried about this proposal for various complex reasons that had nothing to do with the intrinsic merit of the research proposed.

I also thought that this proposal was one of the 2-3 best proposals I had ever written. If it had been turned down in this year of supposedly abundant $$ for research, I would have been more devastated than usual at the rejection of a proposal.

Proposal anxiety certainly did not ruin my family vacation, but it was always there at a low to moderate level, not far from my mind, with occasional spikes of more intense anxiety.

Checking email the next day confirmed that the proposal really will be funded at close to the requested level. Now I know that the grant really will exist, the postdoc funding is intact, and all is right with the world. And now I have a new idea for another proposal.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

You go girl!!

Text machine said...

Do you normally text (use texting to communicate)?

Isn't texting like sending emails....

Always have a backup plan...But aren't you on vacation???

Susan B. Anthony said...

I remember being very panicky about internet access while job interviewing, because I didn't want to miss the next interview invitation or be out of touch if some department chair wanted to discuss something important with me. I spent a lot of money on airport wifi that spring. But it was worth it -- I got my offer over a pay phone in the Atlanta airport!

Congrats on your grant -- wonderful news!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, FSP! I hope you had a good vacation despite the lack of internet, and congratulations on the funded proposal. I missed your posts.
MM

Alethea said...

Congratulations on your grant! It feels so good - as much if not more than getting a good paper published.

"If it had been turned down in this year of supposedly abundant $$ for research, I would have been more devastated than usual at the rejection of a proposal."

Yeah, that's me this round. :-(

Anonymous said...

Your daughter sounds really nice. :)

Mrs. CH said...

Congrats, FSP! Hope you had (or are still having?) a great vacation!

Odyssey said...

Congrats on the funding!!! Even in a year of supposedly abundant $$$'s too few people are being funded.

zoelouise said...

I once got an email with a journal response while on vacation...it was so hard to decide whether to open it or not!

I did, and it turned out to be the best set of reviews ever. What a releif. A rejection or harsh criticism would have put a cloud over my beach time!

Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

woo! Congrats. Our lab just heard about our NSF, too... what a relief!

Anonymous said...

I find that in this year of supposedly abundant funding, new investigators are still struggling cos all the funding is being lapped up by those with established track records. So, no different from the past when it was less abundant.

NJ said...

I'm surprised you don't have a Blackberry or iPhone - most of the PIs I know are totally addicted to theirs.