Monday, July 31, 2006

Inlaws visiting

Hello Friends,

Just a quick check-in. My inlaws are visiting, the Rocket Scientist and I are still waiting for the offer from Rocket Central, and for any other news that might come. I did get a couple more "we hired someone else" letters this week, including one from Tough Commute University. Back to the drawing board.

I contacted a Career Coach, whom I'll be talking to for an initial consultation this week. Started reading a book on academic publishing. I'm pushing ahead. Articles, conference papers, a book or two. But, this week is mostly vacation. My wife is taking off from work (though she remains "on call" if they need her), and the inlaws are here. I'm trying not to hibernate. Enjoying my wonderful family is an important reminder that life indeed is good.

Be well, I'll be checking in as I can, and I'm sure I will have much to say, as the silent contemplations of this week settle in.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Can anyone explain to me why the trial of Saddam Hussein has now adjourned until October when he'll received his sentence, except for one itsy bitsy little tidbit? Um... isn't October just a month before the mid-term elections in the U.S.? Gee, a conviction (assured) could be touted as some positive news coming out of Iraq, eh? I mean, am I just paranoid, or are the manipulations that transparent? I really can not fathom why a trial of such magnitude would adjourn for FOUR MONTHS between the conclusion of evidence and arguments and the issuing of sentencing.

ooh, some good news

I'm pleased and proud. My "dissertation distillation" article is now online! And I'm tickled that it is the first article of this journal (3rd issue) to incorporate multimedia elements that help justify the online nature of the publication. There are some things you simply can't do in static print. Anyone who's truly interested, drop me an email, and I'll send you the link.

Got working today on my next article submission. I haven't forgotten my goal to submit four articles this summer. I took a look over the submission deadlines for several conference calls for papers. I've got a feeling I'll be doing quite a bit of travelling next year. Once I've satisfied myself with immediate article submissions (whether it's four or two), I'm going to get serious about a book proposal.

Remember that search from the publisher? See, I met with their [Field 1] editor a few years ago, when I organized and chaired an unusual conference panel in Belgium. I was surprised and pleased to receive the email from the editor requesting a meeting at the conference, to discuss possibilities, but at that point, I was barely ABD, and needed to take care of my dissertation before I launched another project. If they're still interested enough in me to wonder what I'm up to, I might as well cultivate my interest in them.


The inlaws arrive tomorrow, for a week. The Rocket Scientist will be taking time off. It should be (another) good break from things, just to enjoy life. I'm feeling a bit better about it all, trying to remember that "three year fellowship" plan. Reading over my article on line, and the rest of the journal, reminds me how happy I really am in my work. I need to get back to it. Job applications be damned, if need be.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Everyone believes...

Last week, I heard back from a friend, an assistant professor in [Field 1], who herself spent several years looking for a faculty post before landing one.
Hi, Articulate,
...Sounds like you have been very busy with activities that will place you in a good position for your dream job. It is such a precarious business we're in, but don't lose heart. I'm sure the perfect job is out there (or will be soon). As you probably know, there are so many factors that go into hiring, some over which you have no control and really can't prepare for. Just continue to do your best and send out applications religiously. ...
Wishing you all the best. Greetings to your family.
I wallow too much in self-pity. I've been a poor citizen here in the blogosphere, writing my posts (infrequently) but falling way behind in my reading of others, almost silent in my comments to their travails. I apologize, my friends. In some ways I feel quite selfish, self-indulgent. I tire myself out with all the bad news and disappointment. Of course, I have little control over receiving it.

But, why do I continue here at all? Why do I post these things, many so personal? In part, it is because I can't believe I am alone in this. To my mind, I suffer unnecessarily. My talents are wasted in surreptitiously applying for jobs. If my dream job is out there, it is not for me alone. Neither am I the only one worthy of such a dream job, nor would I waste the opportunity to accomplish good with it.

Ah, but what does that mean? There are so many ways to accomplish good in this life, so many ways to practice tikkun olam. Indeed, there is great suffering in the world today. Should I go into politics? (I tried that: for four years 12, 14, 18 hours a day; when I was 17 until I was 21.) Could I go back to what I was before? (You can never go back.)

No! I must go forward, in whatever way that means. I know it's time for a fresh start, a new way of doing things, a renewed energy. Does that mean I will leave this all behind? No. This work, these dreams are a part of me. I will still apply for faculty and post-doc jobs. But I can not let it rule me so much. Soon, soon enough we will get the offer from Rocket Central, and we can see what that will mean for us, whether they can help land me a position at the university, research, adjunct, admin. We shall see.

Mostly, I need to forge ahead, look with horse-blinders at the road in front of me. Everyone who got where they are, started where they were. Strive for excellence in all things that you do. I look to my sons, and see their wonder, their trust, their curiosity. I wish to give them a world where these things are rewarded. I must believe in that world.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Foreign service

I discovered this morning who was behind the Oslo, Norway search of my name. It was an old friend of mine, who now works in the foreign service, somewhere in Europe. It would appear that Norwegian embassies worldwide are routed through Oslo. It's always nice to hear from old friends, to know someone is thinking about me.
Hi Articulate,
by a chance I saw somewhere your name and then I found your email address. (I hope it is you:)) how is your life going? we really haven't been in touch for a long time and i hope you are doing well...with all your ambitious and life spirit:))...

What a joy to hear from her! Our story is not quite the tale recently recounted by Prof. Me, but it is a fond memory.

Yesterday, I listened through a segment on NPR on life in the foreign service. (Here's Part I, and today's Part II segment). There is something attractive to me in the foreign service. And yet, I fear the mediocre foreign policy of the Clinton years (now, just how many civilian casualties did WE cause in bombing Kosovo? And how many Balkan war criminals are still at large?) and the ABSOLUTE DISASTER of foreign policy during the Bush years (which makes the errors of the previous administration appear like tripping on the sidewalk and skinning a knee, next to butchering a village... repeatedly!) have poisoned the image of America abroad for the next two generations.

It is an economist's view that risk should be balanced against potential benefits. The risk to an American serving abroad today is absolute; the benefits (certainly under the current administration) are likely negligible. I grow sick to my stomach every time I hear Bush or Condaleezza Rice pontificate on how we aim to mold the world in our own image ("We need always to be ... cognizant of ... and looking to ... what kind of a Middle East we are trying to build...").

Don't these people get it? We are not the great overlords with unchallengeable wisdom to match our power. We are a people, a nation, flawed and imperfect as we are inspired and capable. We must respect others, listen to them, understand them, challenge and chastise when we see fit. But we must be partners in the world, not rulers. True leadership is not bullying. They are not the same.

We must accept difference. Above all, we must rout hypocrisy from our own ranks and policies. We can not argue on the one hand that we oppose tyranny, yet make open deals with tyrants. We can not on the one hand claim we fight for the spread of democracy, yet arm and sustain those whose policies are undemocratic. In short, the world is not black and white, the only colors this administration sees. If we must be pragmatic, we must also be honest.

So, I guess the foreign service is out for me, for the forseeable future.

...and so it goes

Dear Jocelyn,
I just wanted to follow up. What's the decision schedule from here on?
Dear Articulate,
I was about to write you an e-mail; you will also shortly get mail fom the office. Unfortunately, I have not short-listed you for this position, depite the fact that I found your application very interesting. I got several reasonably strong applications from candidates from within the EU, and given that we could only appoint a candidate from outside the EU if there are no equivalent EU candidates, the chances of you getting a work permit would be slim even if we did appoint you.
I am very sorry that I couldn't be more positive.
Best wishes, Jocelyn
I guess this means I won't bother applying for any more jobs in the UK. What's the point?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Random searches?

Just a tidbit from life in the world of Articulate Dad. Looking over my statcounter pages for my soon-to-expire graduate student webpages, which contain a great many articles and papers, as well as personal information about me, of the last 100 pageloads, the following are the searches for my RL name, or the hits with no referring link, meaning the web address was typed in by hand. (Granted, some of the searches could have been for the Astrologer in San Francisco, the History Professor in Toronto, the IT specialist in Canberra, or the Rabbi in New York). But, here goes:

Maharashtra, Mumbai, India
Oslo, Norway (Norwegian Central Governmental Offices)
England, London, United Kingdom (Ashgate Publishing Ltd)
Skane, Lund, Sweden
Illinois, Chicago, United States
Hawaii, Wahiawa, United States
District Of Columbia, Washington, United States
California, Berkeley, United States
North Carolina, Mooresville, United States
California, Los Angeles, United States
New York, Staten Island, United States
Ile-de-france, Paris, France
New Jersey, Mt. Laurel, United States
Distrito Capital, Santafé De Bogotá, Colombia
Catalu?a, Barcelona, Spain
Texas, Plano, United States
New Jersey, Princeton, United States (Princeton University) <--[Field 1] Dept.
Tennessee, Memphis, United States
Washington, Redmond, United States (Washington School Information Processing Cooperative)
Czech Republic (Fulbright Router)
Washington, Everett, United States (Washington School Information Processing Cooperative)
California, Azusa, United States (City Of Hope Medical Center)
District Of Columbia, Washington, United States (Latham & Watkins) <--Law Firm
United Kingdom (National Health Service)
United Kingdom (Edinburgh University)

Of those, the following also visited my PRW:

Maharashtra, Mumbai, India
Oslo, Oslo, Norway (Norwegian Central Governmental Offices)
England, London, United Kingdom (Ashgate Publishing Ltd)
Catalu?a, Barcelona, Spain

and, finally, from:

Massachusetts, Cambridge, United States (Harvard University)

This is a search for [my area of research] at The University of Paradise, which would be truly odd unless they were searching for me, since I am the only person studying this area ever to have graduated from this department.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Precariously Vicariously yours

I read of Professor Me's transformation into the role of professor, and I smile, vicariously, at her success. And my wife. Ah, my lovely, successful wife. While I wait, precariously, expecting rejection, or perhaps worse, mere silence, she has been diligently penning thank you notes to all the various interviewers she met last week. Here is what she's just forwarded me:
Thank you for your e-mail. It was nice meeting you. I hope that you will seriously consider employment at Rocket Central and specifically in my group. It would be a great opportunity to expand your technical capabilities while infusing our Section with dynamic expertise.
Thanks, we enjoyed talking with you too. I don't have the detail, but I do know that you will be receiving an offer to join Chantelle's group. As you probably recall, her group is responsible for [area my wife is most interested in]. If you decide you would prefer to get some complementary experience, there would be no problem moving to another group.
No telling what time and patience will bring, but my money is that we'll be moving soon, and not likely to the UK.

On the edge, on the cusp

My life is constituted by waiting, and the times in between.

I've been away, as I explained, spending a week being Dr. Dad full time. It wasn't as hard as I had expected. Quite pleasant mostly. But then, I knew my full-time duties would end after a week. Having a time frame (for anything!) helps. Now, I'm back, in a sorts, trying to pull my life together, and to catch up on all my bloggy friends. No surprises from Ianqui recounting the news that many bloggers blog about their life struggles, rather than as an outlet for their reportorial dreams. (Shock!) So, here's some more from me.

The Rocket Scientist and I spent a good part of the last several days, talking through all the possibilities in our lives. It's really good having a partner, a real partner in life. What we've both realized is our principal goal at the moment is to find a place where we can both pursue our professional lives, where we can settle, at least for 3-5 years.

Paradise seems in ways for both of us a dead-end. The atmosphere on campus is for me a bit poisoned. My lunch with Dean Michael Horowitz went well. Nice to have someone in his position find me worthy of taking lunch with, of talking to, of encouraging. He closed the lunch with the request that ten or fifteen years from now, I take him out to lunch to tell him all my successes. He made it clear that he has always found me someone who thinks "outside the intellectual box," with a great breadth of interests. It was nice to hear.

From his take, it sounds like I'm doing all the right things, pursuing the appropriate avenues. He did see me moving more toward [field 3] (which happens to lie under his purview, rather than within the humanities), or at least developing stronger ties and collaborations with researchers in that end of the spectrum. He suggested, though: success goes to the bullshitters, meaning... it's all a question of marketing. Get the job, then do your thing. Once you've got a post, no one assesses you on how well you fulfill the job description; they assess you on how well you accomplish what we academics do: research, publish, teach.

He intimated that chancellors and deans are not the ones to contact, that I really need department chairs to pull for me. I realize, here in Paradise there's really no one in those positions who will pull for me, not in my [field 1] or [field 2]. [Field 2] is a smallish program here, where they have difficulty getting enough enrollment in the standard fare, which they've already enough professors and grad students to teach.

The [field 1] department on the other hand entirely lacks vision (corroborated by Dean Horowitz). I told him the tale of my meeting with The Leprechaun, recounting his take on the hiring process. Horowitz said, that's perhaps how mediocre departments work, but not how outstanding ones do. My mother would say, I've yet to encounter an outstanding department. Be patient, the right place will find you. Patience, ah patience.

Of course, I applied for the brain imaging post. The latest in that saga is this:
Dear Jocelyn,
I am definitely still interested. I see the deadline has passed. I am heading out of town in the next hour, and won't be back until tomorrow. I would be pleased to send you my application by email once I return. I hope that works for you.
Best regards,

that's absolutely fine. I was told that the closing date was inconsistent between different advertisements, so I was planning on drawing up the short list on the 24th. Take your time; it was my fault you are late, anyway!
Best wishes, Jocelyn

Dear Jocelyn,
Please confirm that you received my materials. The email with attachments was overlarge, and I know some systems will reject emails over 1 MB.

Dear Articulate,
ideed, it looks like everything is there (three pdf attachments). Will get back to you on Monday.
Many thanks, Jocelyn

Now, for you readers following along at home, you may have noticed... it's Monday. Monday, monday, dah dah... so good to me, dah dah. Indeed, in the UK it's late in the evening. Someone from that university visited my PRW. I can only imagine it was Jocelyn or someone on the committee (assuming there is a committee). Hours ago... I wait. I so want something positive to turn out. Some recognition that my hard work is worth something to somebody.

And, we wait to hear back about my wife's anticipated job offer. Will we move? Will I have a job, a real job, come the fall? Will we be able once again to buy a house, a house we can expect to live in for the next three years or more? The wife and I have agreed to think about the 5-10 year time frame, and worry less on the today and tomorrow. That should help us get through this next period. I feel very strongly that we are on the cusp of something, some big change. It is exciting, and still scary. I fear the worst, while I hope for the best.

Stay tuned. The rollercoaster rides.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Everything is up in the air, but at least the movements afoot should land solidly in the next couple weeks. Tuesday afternoon, just before loading the family in the van to head to the town where my wife was to have her interview today, I checked my email:

Dear Articulate,

I am terribly sorry; I thought that I had replied to your e-mail, but now I realise that I probably haven't, because I can't see your application anywhere (I think I have confused you with another applicant by the same name). Yes, your background sounds very relevant and if you are still interested, I would be delighted to receive your application. ...

Best wishes, Jocelyn

Dr. Jocelyn Brotbaum is a program lead for a brain imaging unit dealing with aspects of my research, at a university in the UK. I had written to her three weeks ago, when a post-doctoral "career development fellowship" came up on one of my job searches. I had sent her a CV and a brief description of my background, training, and interests, along with links to my Personal Research Website.

No response, so I let the deadline pass. She wrote me after the official closing date, which indicates a certain degree of interest. In her response to a follow up email I wrote to this one, she indicated that I should simply email her my materials, and that she plans to draw up a shortlist next week. Hmmm. It's a three-year post-doc, squarely on the science side of that fence I keep sitting on. Of course I'm still interested. Brain imaging seems to be a lot sexier these days than other aspects of my research. Brain-based humanistic studies seem to be up-and-coming. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. We'll see.

The Rocket Scientist's job interview went well. Actually, she interviewed with FIVE different sections, meaning essentially she's got her pick of jobs, then they'll come up with an offer. Yikes! What a world. I wish I lived in it. She'll likely hear back from them in the next week or so. And, as it turns out the place she'd possibly work at, while a governmental unit, is officially run by a local university. Hmmm. Well, damn right we should negotiate if they want her: Um.... you see, my husband is an academic. What can you do to affect an appointment for him at the university?

Well, that's the update for the moment. Life is a rolling stone.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Another sleepless night

3:00am: the Painter comes into our room, as he has nearly every night for who-knows-how-long. He crawls into bed. I try to sleep. 10 minutes later, I fold him in my arms, carry him to his bed, kiss him, say I love you, good night, then climb back into my bed, tossing and turning.

All I can think about in the middle of an interrupted night is my foundering career, about having to ask my recommenders yet again to draft up a new recommendation letter (or at least, to take the 6 seconds it would take to paste a new date at the top of the old one) and forward it to my campus reference letter service. I contemplate whether I'll be asking my dissertation chair to draft up individual letters again for many of the jobs.

Who wants to read file letters? But I just can't see asking my writers to pen so many more. This will be my third real job cycle, I'm heading into. I feel guilty asking for letters. I hate this hate this hate this hate this! I hate being in this position. DAMN IT! I deserve better.

I deserve better than to be kept up at nights by these thoughts, these worries, these concerns. It's not my son's fault (though I really really really wish I could simply get him to stay in his own bed ALL NIGHT! At least if I'm not awakened, perhaps, I'd get a good night's sleep). Patience... patience and perseverance.

I crawled out of bed around 3:50, figuring it's better to stare at my computer screen, than suffer the din of my night-time tossing thoughts. Perhaps this way, my wife can sleep. It's been 45 minutes. I wonder if I'll be able to get back to sleep before daylight.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The dream trickles away

Drib by drab, slowly, relentlessly, like the mossy, moldy, minerally liquid on the walls of a cavern, glistening in the manufactured light brought in by gawkers, it flows ... downward, downward, downward, seeking bottom, a resting place, the dream trickles away. I've always known what I wanted in life, at any given moment. It's a question I have visited often, returned to, turned over in my mind, controlled. No more. I'm lost and confused, saddened, depressed. But always borderline.

Sometimes I wish I were an alcoholic, or bipolar, that I lived under a dictatorship, or a racist regime, something to point at, something to blame. I've got nothing, though. Only confusion. I simply don't understand. If I were incompetent, or lazy, but I'm not. I'm just me: passionate, driven, enthusiastic, engaging. Am I just missing it? Do all those people secretly despise me? The people I know from conferences: do they roll their eyes in disgust, once I step away, at my arrogance or foolishness? What about those senior scholars: do they wish I would simply go away, fade into absence?

I simply can't tell. But I know what I'm capable of. If I have the motivation (and the funds) I could give a half dozen lectures in a half dozen countries as soon as I could schedule them. I know. The invitations are open ended: Lithuania, Finland, Estonia, Croatia, Germany, Czech Republic. I could plan the flights tomorrow.

Greg penned a remark on my last post that I should pour my energies into articles. Yes, indeed. Sage advice, I believe. I should. I should simply steer my ship toward welcoming shores. But I'm so afraid!

I told my wife last night that I feel like a boy in a Chinese circus (I have a vivid image from an episode of Sesame Street), spinning plates on sticks: once I get to the end, I know I must run back and start the first one spinning again, before it drops. So many directions, so many options. Options Paralysis. Isn't that what Douglas Coupland called it?

There's a part of me that wants to walk away. I did in fact. Three job applications sit on my desktop, partially completed. They're all due tomorrow. They won't be sent. It felt too much like going through the motions, like a gambler heading back to the slot machine, or a drunk heading back to the bar, not out of any real desire, but simply out of habit. I'm addicted to job applications, and just now I prefer the jitters.

I've already sent out too much of my soul, too much of myself in so many tiny pieces, licked and stamped and sealed away in those envelopes. I imagine those little bits of me, gasping for air, when department or human resources staff deigns to unseal the envelope, untuck its contents, stamp them received, place them in a folder, and file them away, to be handled, all too briefly, by the fingers of distracted, overburdened, unimpressed faculty. 50 times over that has happened this year. 50 committees have overlooked my work, my worth, my life, neatly replacing my file in the stack. Not what we're looking for...

Nothing personal to all those committees: I'm too good to be treated that way! I've got too much to give, to be brushed aside.

Starting tomorrow, for the duration of a week, I'm Dr. Dad, full-time. The au pair has the week off. Maybe I need a week off too. A week to enjoy one part of my life that is... really and truly wonderful, amazing, inspiring. It's the patience and the commitment to let go of this other part of my life, even if it is just letting go for a week, that will be the difficult part.

Oh, and I've got a lunch appointment with Dean Michael Horowitz next Friday. Wednesday is the Rocket Scientist's job interview out of town for a possible new gig. She'll spot me a couple hours on Friday so I can go have lunch. Who knows what will come of this week, or next? I may not say much this week. But you'll understand. Be well. I'll catch you on the other side (or whenever I can steal a few moments).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Energy wanes, in waiting





... Um... uhh...

... NOTHING...

You know, the wait is interminable. So, what the hell am I waiting for? Godot?
I got some energy last week to push ahead with things. But my plan was to push ahead with contacting people to see what might come up. I'm still waiting on people, other people, letting them rule my life, my energy, my time, my spirit. Not the best of plans, eh?

So, I've spent a lot of time researching investments. When you sell a house, at a profit (even if it's much less than you'd have liked), and you'd owned the house for 7 years... well, there's a lot of cash (by my standards) that I've got to divvy out. Some went to pay down student loans, and some goes into new investments. As long as the investments are beating the loan interest rate, I buy more. If not, I pay lumpsums to reduce the debt. Simple plan. But investment research has been a big distraction for me (in many ways, a welcome one). At least when I'm handling the family finances, I feel useful.

What else could I be doing? Hmmm. there are a few more fellowship and faculty posts in the UK that I had been thinking of applying for. Deadline this Friday. Haven't done that. The Rocket Scientist will be going for a couple job interviews at this new place (two different groups vying for her attentions) just as soon as they can schedule it. UK not her first pick; my career foundering; her's flying skyward, contrails flashing, no damage from falling foam. And, I got a boost of energy to pursue things locally, to push ahead with my projects, to seek my own funding.

Little incentive therefore to chase pie in the sky on the other side of the pond. Oh, I may still apply for the jobs. It's just that my expectations have gone out the door. It feels too often like just going through the motions. How I felt last week, it seems like this new plan is the way for me to go, forge off on my own, mark my territory, dig my niche.

So, where's my energy now? I need energy. I need drive. I need to find a second wind, and forget about the feelers I've already sent out. They may go nowhere. Intellectually, I understand the premise that my job is done once the application, or article, or what have you is sent out. That is, my job is done unless or until they follow up. I get stuck at that point, hoping, wishing, wondering, ruminating, theorizing. Ah, chuck it.

Actually, there's been some goodish news lately. I've been in touch with the editor of the journal that is publishing my dissertation distillation article. It should be published by the end of the month. It's a fairly new online journal in my field, which straddles the humanistic and scientific divide. It's quite exciting to be a part of that development. It's a home I really wish to claim. Mine will be (by far) the longest article they will have published (about twice the next longest), which in itself only tells me that, despite the length, they found it worthy of publication. I didn't set out to write a long article, merely a good one. I'm glad they deem it such. More importantly, mine will be their first article to incorporate multimedia elements. It's nice to be able to justify the online nature of the publication in this way. So, that's positive.

I'm still hoping something will come of all this. I'm not yet ready to walk away from the research, but the energy (as always) seems to ebb and flow. I'm at lowtide right now. Here's to watching my tide come in.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Schmoozing the outskirts

My [Field 3] is not a part of the Humanities, rather it's on the other side of the fence I was talking about the other day. In ways, it's a field that's quite important to my research, its relevance, and to aspects of the methodology I use. When I was a graduate student and an officer of the Grad Student government, I had occasion to rub shoulders with much of the upper administration at the university, making acquaintance (or friends) with some. Michael Horowitz, Dean of the the university's Division for Mathematics, Biological and Physical Sciences, under which [Field 3] is housed, was one who fell under the friendlier category. Among my recent email schmoozing, I sent him the following note:
Dear Michael,
As it turns out, I'm still here on campus, post-PhD, plugging away on my research, and seeking opportunities to continue and expand it. I've enjoyed our occasional talks in the past, finding in you an always sympathetic ear for my cross-disciplinary forays.

If you might have some time in the next few weeks to sit down over lunch or a cup coffee to offer some of your sage advice and guidance, I would be most appreciative. To get you up-to-date on what I've been up to, I attach my current CV.

Also, please take a look at my personal research website [URL].

Best regards,


To which he responded:

Dear Articulate,

I'd very much like to take you to lunch. I'll ask my assistant Jacques Verde to find a mutually available slot for us to get together.

Best wishes,


Oh yeah! I do so like the schmoozing. :)

Email Schmoozing and Commitment

Well, it's been all one way so far. Sent out quite a few emails in the past day, mostly this morning, to follow up on my discussion yesterday with Pedestrian Organ regarding research support and funding. It being Friday, I may not hear back from anyone until next week. I've written to center directors and deans to see what interest I can drum up. Who knows? As I put it in one of the emails "I'm one of your own". Maybe they'll have some attachment to me, some commitment to the success of one of their graduates. What I'm asking so far should cost them very little in terms of funding, resources, and energy. I'm seeking a means to render my research self-sustaining, and in the process enhance the research of the university.

Sure, it's self-serving, it's a question of survival. But none of this is simply about me. If it were, I would have gone into another line of work, for sure. Deep down, I believe my research is meaningful, not just for me, but beneficial for society, for the growth of our knowledge and understanding. Isn't that what we all believe, those of us committed to the life of scholarship? It is what I truly believe, and what keeps me plugging away, keeps me committed to withstand the continued insults of rejection that pummel me.

This is worthwhile. This is true. This is me.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Branches, update

Good meeting this afternoon with Pedestrian Organ. Now I have to follow up with some of the suggestions. Looks like my first line of action is to 1) wait and see what Biker has to say about what they can do for me; 2) contact the dean of humanities and see what they might be able to do for me. If I can get (as Pedestrian put it) "a door" that'd be great. I've got minimal affliation at the moment: a title and letterhead, a library card, and a place to plop my laptop. So, the question is can I up that status to say an official appointment (even if it's a 0% appointment), and an office? Can I finagle some start-up funding for my own center, or at least affliation with an existing center that would buff up my profile, and thus my potential for external funding? Meantime, I need to follow up on as many internal funding sources as I can.

And, the Rocket Scientist has an interview coming up for a possible job a couple hours from here. So, we might be moving, but still within commutable distance, if I wound up getting an appointment here. Nothing certain, but it's worth looking into. So, things are up in the air, but in a good way. Keep tuned.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Branches, onward

Dear Articulate-- I've forwarded your email to our new research development coordinator, Pedestrian Organ. He should be in touch shortly.



Hello Dr. Dad:

Verbena Anxious forwarded your request to me and I'd like to set up a meeting with you to discuss your [Longitudinal Project]. I am the Research Development Coordinator here at [Campus Humanities Center], which is the less direct way of saying that I am here to help people turn good ideas into funded proposals. Maybe we can talk about your project and kick around some ideas for future funding. I read over quite a bit of your website and found it quite interesting. [Particular Research Areas] are topics I have pondered quite a bit. I'd love the opportunity to hear more about your research and brainstorm some possible funding agencies. Maybe you have some time tomorrow afternoon? Maybe next week on Wednesday?

-Pedestrian Organ

Meeting scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Onward and upward!

I've talked about my 5 year plan to be Director of a Center for Research in [Area 1] & [Area 2]. Why wait five years? I've got time on my hands right now.

Branching out: movement afoot

Dear Biker*,

It was good running into you the other day at Trader Joe's. You suggested that I contact you if there is anything you could do to help my career get going. I've got some ideas. If you have time for lunch or coffee sometime soon, I'd be glad to sit down with you and hash some of them out. If your schedule won't allow, let me know, and I'll write up what I'm thinking.

Here's the executive summary:

I graduated with my PhD in [Field 1] (with an Emphasis in [Interdisciplinary Field]), June 2005. Currently, I'm a Visiting Scholar in the [Field 2] Department. My research focuses on [Area 1] and [Area 2] studies, in particular on [More Details]. I am looking to expand this work into a Center for Research in [Field 1] and [Field 2]. You can check out my Personal Research Website [URL] to get a sense of the work I'm engaged in. I've got one grant proposal under consideration (with the NEH), and a second one under preparation (likely to be submitted to the NIH).

I have years of experience in fundraising and development, so I'm confident, with the necessary push, that I could make this project self-sustaining. I'm hoping there are possibilities for greater affiliation with the University than my visiting scholar status allows, which might facilitate me in establishing the center, and in raising funds and garnering grants to support it. Please let me know your thoughts, or if there is a time we can sit down to talk.

Best regards,


* [Executive Asst. to the Chancellor]

Dear Verbena*,

I am currently a Visiting Scholar in [Field 2] at the University of Paradise. I received my PhD in [Field 1] (from U of P) June 2005. I am seeking opportunities to continue and expand my research. Any support or assistance the [Campus Humanities Center] could offer would be greatly appreciated. The project I am currently seeking funding for is called the [Longitudinal Project]. A draft proposal is posted on my research website at [URL]

Let me know when is a good time to stop by for a chat.

Thank you,


Edited to add: *[Assistant Director, Campus Humanities Center]

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Don't make the boss regret it

I had a realization today, as we were playing with the boys and cleaning the house (purging to make us more limber): As my wife is supporting me at the moment, I suppose she's doing so, in order that I can gain greater satisfaction out of my life than I would, say, if I took a job as barista or book shelver. So... I really ought to do what I can to see to it that I'm actually more satisfied in life than I would be otherwise. Otherwise, what's the point?

So, in my convoluted, baroquely reasoned way, I guess it's high time I just start enjoying where I am, and stop grumbling quite. so. much.

That's all. Go back to your weekend doings.