I've been stressed lately. I guess I'm a bit overwhelmed with everything. It's an enormous change over the conditions I had been in for years. I'd say it's good. Certainly I prefer this state of things to the misery I felt sending off one faculty application after another.
But it's stressful nonetheless. I recall an old cartoon -- I think it was "Bizarro"-- several years ago, which featured a cocktail party of uber-rich complaining about their plight in terms like, "I'm so miserable: I couldn't even get the waiter to swizzle my martini for me." The funny thing for me was the realization that misery is an objective measure of conditions relative to expectations, not an absolute measure of anything. And what's more, it's real!
Now, I'm not about to argue that societally we should regard the complaints of some Wall Street broker who's pressured to return part of a $2.3 m bonus in the same light as those of a widower with four kids who just lost his job and house. But psychologically, their plights might be similar.
I feel a bit better having just started writing this. In light of what could be (and what has been), I'm doing fine. I'm stressed: I've got a subcontract to negotiate (or to abandon). I'm not quite as much on top of my game today. The dance I described continues, but in silence. We left it that the other CEO would arrange for me to talk with his technical chief to discuss more details about what I'm asking them to do. It's been more than a week, and I've heard nothing. I'm inclined to simply let the time pass, let him make the next move. But that puts me in a position where I need to be prepared to abandon the negotiations before they've properly progressed, and more importantly to seek alternatives.
Do I look for another subcontractor, or do I plan to hire in and prepare the work directly? Would that take me from the core of my work? My hope all along has been to partner rather than compete. But the choice may not be mine.
I did accomplish a good deal so far this week. I spoke with the lead on my Stage 2 contract. She's yet to fully review my proposal, so we didn't talk much. I also followed up on several financial/accounting issues. It's not clear whether they've actually begun processing the second part of my first contract, meaning it's likely still four months before I get paid again! I interviewed a second post-doc I'd like to bring on. But hiring has to await funding. Frustrating. Finally, I've done quite a bit of advocacy on issues directly relevant to the sorts of funding opportunites that have so far supported my business, and which I think much to offer others like me, and much to offer the broader economy in terms of jobs.
But, I'm feeling a bit of postpartum. It's been intense preparing so many proposals and applications at once. And now, I'm back in wait and see mode, even if the wait is expectedly short. This too shall pass.