Hi, friends, I hope you're having a blessed Holy Thursday. I wanted to take the kids around town to the different altars of repose, but we discovered that our parish's Mass is far and away the earliest. Our pastor likes to go to bed at about 8pm, so...we drove through a lot of full parking lots outside churches where the altar of repose was still sitting empty, waiting for Mass to end.
One of the things that has been making my work a little overwhelming lately is that I'm applying for an external grant. This is entirely an optional undertaking. I will get bonus points for applying; there's no pressure to get external funding. It's a lot of work to put one of these applications together.
I'm motivated in large part by the desire to teach a little less. I love teaching; don't get me wrong. The sweet spot for me is two classes per semester, and the usual load at my institution is three. Seeking external funding is the most straightforward strategy I can think of for securing a course release and freeing up more time for research and writing.
So I'm writing a grant.
Today one of my collaborators sent me an unexpected email. She said, "Jamie, I can't bear to look at these reviewer comments on my rejected grant proposal. Can you summarize them for me so I have a bit of a buffer?" I said, "OF COURSE and also I will ask you to return the favor next year."
The timing feels 100% providential, because her reviewers are saying some of the same things about her proposal that they said about my last proposal. "...Oh," I thought to myself, "they would like it if I identified a mentor to walk me through this unfamiliar modeling strategy. And power calculations. They love power calculations."
So today I drafted an email to someone who has published using a version of the analysis strategy I'm proposing, to see if she might be willing to be named in my proposal as a potential resource. (She has appeared in these pages before, actually -- I'm asking Dr. No. We'll see if she lives up to her name.) I have been working on the letter of support requests, wincing a little as I send them off.
Tonight at Mass I kept having to yank my thoughts back to the church, to remember that God can transform humble elements offered freely. Bread and wine, absolutely. Also time, and hope, and effort, and uncertainty.