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2007-10-25 - 3:20 p.m.

... BETA MAN saves my sorry pregnant *ss?...

I need to learn. I still need to learn that there is a time and a place to make comments, and a time and a place to keep my mouth SHUT.

I somehow got involved in an interdepartmental proposal. It started over a year ago, before I had even arrived at this university - I got a phone call and was asked if I wanted to be part of a proposal about climate. Sounded cool to me. I gave them a copy of my CV and wrote a few sentences about myself and what I wanted to do - and bam I was there.

The proposal wasn't funded.

And then when I arrived at Mountain, I learned - not entirely surprisingly - that there was a political history behind this thing. That in fact the members of my OWN department had submitted a proposal (in which I was NOT involved) on the same topic. There was a small caffuffle about whether or not the two proposal groups should join forces. The group that had asked ME to participate declined the offer to join forces. So two proposals were submitted on a similar topic, NEITHER was funded, and the funding committee questioned why two such similar groups were not involved with each other. hmph.

Awkward. and I was in the group that was NOT part of my department. I showed up on the scene and have been tangentially involved with the outside group ever since. We've met and knocked a few ideas around on a couple of occasions - but I've never really felt like my ideas have been particularly useful to them - or rather I've felt a little bit like my ideas have been, well, ignored. So I haven't really felt like putting that much effort into advancing the proposal for the current round.

Well, so this time around, it was decided that the two separate groups should join forces into one proposal, therefore putting me onto a proposal with members of my own department. I've been keeping my head down - partly because I'm struggling to keep up with my schedule as it is; partly because I haven't really felt like my ideas have been particularly useful up to this point anyway; partly because I'm a little nervous about being in a crossfire between two groups whose dynamics I don't entirely understand...

But then enter the proposal, and a long email from Prof. Type A Guy in my department, telling 'us' (the 'other group') how lame our proposal was - nicely phrased, of course, but this was the gist of it. So now here was my dilemma. If I continued on the same path-of-no-involvement, then a Type A Guy from my own department - one who would be judging my tenure package - might start to think that I'm a lame-o.

Once again, I was motivated NOT by my desire to produce excellent science, but rather by a need to avoid embarrassment and look good. (ahem - it's the sad truth - but it is indeed the truth about what frequently motivates progress in the hearts and minds of academics).

And so I sat down and read through the proposal draft, and spent a couple of hours thinking about how I thought it needed to be revised. I sent out a very carefully worded email with my suggestions about two days ago.

Type A Guy from my department sent out a near-immediate, positive reply to my email, agreeing with my suggestions. Phew. (Because you know, this is really all I was after....)

And then this morning, in came (another) lukewarm response from Type A Lady From Other Department who is running this whole proposal show. It seems that every time I've tried to contribute something in the last year, she's cut the contribution down or out - explained that I've "misunderstood" or something. hmph. I don't know if she means to do this to me each time, but that's how it has felt.

So this time, after I'd spent quite sometime composing my ideas and already received agreement from Type A Guy...she wrote an email to the whole group in which she agreed with the Type A Guy, said she would use his comments, and COMPLETELY IGNORED that I had provided any input whatsoever. Hmph.

(well, okay - so this was kind of irritating, but truthfully I'd achieved my goal in getting agreement from Type A Guy from My Department.)

About 30 minutes later, another PI wrote in and commented that she agreed with BOTH me and Type A Guy. (oops, am I back in the picture again?)

Another 30 minutes later, another email came in from Type A Lady From Other Department in which she said, "since teranika seems to have a vision of how she wants to do this, I propose that she rewrite the proposal." GULP. okay.

Okay, apart from the fact that I'll be away for the next three days, and I'm fanatically writing lectures for this class, and I'm struggling to keep up with my students and committee work, and fighting to get things organized in my lab...I'm also seven months PREGNANT, getting less sleep than normal, tiring out more quickly, and averaging 1.5 medical appointments per week. Yeah, I'm a GREAT choice to spearhead a proposal. There is no way I could even begin to touch this thing until next Wednesday, and my Wednesday is already full up with three student meetings and writing two lectures.

Another 15 minutes passed - and Type A Guy came to my rescue! He suggested that the most efficient way to proceed would be for all of us to MEET and agree on a path of action.

I'm beginning to appreciate that Type A Guy, although occasionally irritating, is actually a good egg - maybe he's advanced from an alpha to a beta version - now worth testing. That's IT! I misjudged him! He's actually BETA MAN!

Anyway, BETA MAN has proposed that we meet next week - which at least temporarily gets me off the hook. In the meantime, I am going to find my tightest and most pregnancy-revealing outfit - in fact, I may go out and BUY something - I will be sure to wobble into the room and I will wear makeup that enhances the dark circles under my eyes. I am not above putting on a show.

Now perhaps I should delete this entry...

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