Tuesday, June 9, 2009

One finish line, more to come

I feel like a sprinter who reaches the tape, only to realize it's not a finish line, but the start of a cross-country race. Am I up for the challenge?

Here's an image from two dreams I had recently:
I'm behind the wheel of a car. It's drifting slowly backwards. I'm not paralyzed, but I can't lift my leg to step on the gas or the brake.
In the first dream, there were cars behind me, trying to back out of my way. In the second, one of my sons was behind or beside the car, and I worried about hitting him. But I just couldn't move my leg. I've dreamt before that I couldn't open my eyes, but it's novel for my legs to be immobile.

This is very powerful image for me. Those who've been reading me for a while will recognize that sitting in the driver's seat is a favorite image of mine. It represents being in control of my life and its direction. So, there I sit, in the driver's seat, and yet I'm not quite in control. It seems realistic (though scary), since I remain dependent upon others, like those who hold the purse-strings that serve to seed my company and research. And I depend on my family in other ways, easily as important as funding.

I submitted one new grant proposal on Sunday, let's call that one [Industry Standards]. Their website says it may take six months for a decision. Yesterday I started in earnest working on my draft proposal for the Stage Two contract. We'll call that one [Speedometer]. I'm going to try my best to finish that today. I worked up a good draft of the budget (quite a feat for someone who has no training in accounting). In the draft, I hire three post-docs and an administrative assistant in Year 1, and yet another employee in Year 2. Wow!

Today, I want to write up the 4-5 page SOW for [Speedometer]. That should get the ball rolling, and get me that six months of transition funding on the books (though it'll be three months before I see a dime, since my next report and invoice will be in two months, and payment comes a month later). Then I have a furious dash to one more finish line, with a looming deadline in about a week for another smaller grant proposal. Let's call that [Compression].

There's a possible grant application to a different division of the agency where I sent [Industry Standards]. That deadline's in July. I think I'll pass on that, because it's a different sort of mechanism than I'm familiar with, so the IP protections differ, and I'm not sure I can come up with a proposal that'd be differentiated enough from [Industry Standards] to warrant independent funding. I haven't decided definitively yet. Then, there's another proposal I want to submit to different agency in August, [Accessibility Standards].

Meantime, I've budgeted about two-thirds of my time to the transitional period of [Speedometer], which begins as soon as the draft Stage 2 proposal is processed. That leaves me only about 12-14 hours a week to work on other proposals, and business administration. For now the administration won't be a huge burden. By the end of the summer things will heat up, as I look to buy or lease a building, and hire three or four employees, as well as equipment and furniture.

That means, I have to be efficient with my time now, and not squander it. I've got work to do: see you soon.

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