While my book chapter abstract sits neatly written and initially revised on my laptop, the grant is silent in its folder. I know what needs to happen with the revision – I even know how long it will take. I had an entire list that I could have made my way through as time went by. Instead, I focused on other areas. Got Project M ready to go. Finished up papers. I even have Project X theoretically ready for recruitment. Moving forward with research was important!, I insisted to myself as I stubbornly ignored the grant draft.
During my brief meeting with Boss yesterday – in which I glowed and fluttered over my professional accomplishments of late – he brought up the grant again.
“Oh.” I said, grimacing. “About that. Um… Huh.” I stumbled, trying to think of a way to make myself sound good. There wasn’t one. So I went with honesty. “I think we should wait until June to resubmit.” I admitted, ducking my head then lifting my chin to meet his concerned gaze. “I haven’t worked on it – decided to focus on other areas – and so…there’s not much progress. It’s not ready. I haven’t done…well, anything.”
“Well,” Boss paused to consider. “let me see what you have and we can evaluate it together.”
“But if we wait until June, then we’ll have preliminary data.” I tried.
“But you don’t need to have done the work for this mechanism. You just need a plan. And you have a plan.”
“OK.” I said, thinking that while I do have a general plan, it certainly isn’t written out and described.
"If we need to wait, we'll wait. But I don't think we've decided that yet." He said with a reminder to send what I had.
I considered it today as I decided to stay and work from home. I feel good about work! The papers, the possible opportunity to contribute to a book, the plans and progress. Why won’t I take steps to drastically improve my career by focusing on this grant?
If you’ll remember, I submitted the last one a year ago amidst much complaining and moaning. Anything that takes me back to that time – the blissful, ‘I’m so stupidly in love!’ months before the terrible, terrible depression that followed - is scary. I can write the good parts when drafting my book (um, not the real book, but my weird, little hobby), but when I reach the beginning of the sadness that so occupied my life, I just get stuck. And I don’t want to repeat that – the steps leading up to it, the slow decline that slowly transitioned into my world falling out from under me. That sounds terribly dramatic, doesn’t it? I know there are many, many people with far worse problems. But the grant is associated with those times and I can't get around it.
I can do it in June. That’s different than last year – I can work on it as the weather warms and grows uncomfortably humid. But staying home to focus on the text while the weather is still cool and rainy feels too familiar. I want to prove I’ve made progress. These projects can’t wait while I do more planning or arrange more funding. Let’s go forward with what I currently have! No more waiting or hoping or wishing for the ideal – let’s just get something going and see what happens.
Likewise, I don’t want to fall for someone right now. I don’t want the rejection or the euphoric musings that this one might be one I get to keep. It’s all about being different. Going to therapy, taking medication, being focused and stable.
However, I can get nervous with too many changes. While Friend is a non-objectionable presence and I rather enjoy having her around, I stayed home today to enjoy the pure freedom of my empty house. Ownership of every room. The ability to eat all the food I wanted without considering which half was fairly mine. It’s all mine today. Be noisy if I want, have perfect silence if I can make the cat and dog quiet down. I was utterly lazy for moments, then very productive for others. I just enjoyed the space, the time.
I also marveled over the difference. When someone paged me, I didn’t delete the message and wallow in guilt because I wasn’t at the office. I just called back – told Jill I was working from home and returned whatever message she had for me. I had all of the good parts – staying in pajamas, watching Judging Amy, ordering pizza and breadsticks and snacking all day, taking a nap when I was tired – and very little of the bad. No guilt or worry or dread of returning to the office tomorrow. I’m just taking a bit of time to recharge and connect with my motivation.
Said motivation simply doesn’t extend to the grant. I opened it to find references for my book abstract. Then I frowned at it, wondered where to start and put it away. I just can’t do it right now. I’ll have to find a way to articulate that to Boss and feel OK about my limitations. I’ve always been curious about how people can strive to do better – be more – and remain peaceful with the current incarnation of themselves. I only glimpse it – the satisfaction and pleasure in the current moment even while I plan to improve in the future – but in those seconds, it’s lovely.
This, I think, is progress. Even if the grant sees none of it right now.