Wednesday, June 13, 2012

focusing on the non-negative side of things.

friends of mine have often accused me of focusing too much on the negative.  my previous post only gives evidence to their accusations, i suppose [1].

so in efforts to demonstrate my abilities at being a happy, well-adjusted member of society, let me focus genuinely on the positives of my "new" life:

i can plan my travels now.  it's a hard thing to promise anyone where you will be, if you don't know your base of operations.  now that i do, i can plan again.

i can accept a previous invitation to spain, another one to switzerland, which i've never been.
who knows? maybe i'll finally stop by ρisa,
invite myself into the scuοla nοrmale superiοre.

a boy can dream, right? (-:
i don't have to write another grant proposal, this september.  thinking about this makes me so happy.  words cannot express my joy at being free .. free from grant-writing.
free at last, free at last!

some days i wonder if i unconsciously chose the 1-year deferral, so that i wouldn't have to suffer the pain! and frustration! of writing yet. another. twelve-page proposal .. only to wait six. dreadful. months for the nsf panel to exercise their creativity in the only form they know how ..

.. which is finding new reasons for rejecting the application ..!

maybe i'm just a bad writer, incapable of any real improvement.
maybe i don't understand mathematical fashions and trends,
how to point out the strengths of a project (i.e. "sell" it).

i don't know; i'm just fed up with all of it.
i just want a year off from september grant-writing.
i even wrote a grant proposal last year, and i wasn't even in the states!  it's what's allowing me to stay happily abroad for the next year .. so i guess i can't be that bad of a writer.

to be fair, it was a lucky coincidence to learn about the academy of finland deadlines after arriving here and sorting out the particulars of a new life [2].  had i known about them beforehand, i would probably have been an emotional mess for months.
so yes, this is not so much a positive feeling as a non-negative one.
despite that, i assure you that you cannot know how happy i feel about it.

i have staved off "growing up" for another year.  maybe i hang around too many important senior people, but they always seem busy .. and i mean a different order of magnitude and shape.
i mean, i might be "busy" with finishing a research preprint, and in a few days i should think about writing that talk, get back to a colleague about an idea that i wrote them about .. and next week might be that deadline for submitting that long-delayed mathscinet review.

as for them, a single day could be: morning meetings with students, committee meeting after that (which might require driving to another site and back), preparing lectures, giving that day's lecture, rushing back to the office to meet with a visiting collaborator .. and after that work-session, there are probably several dozen emails that require some sort of reply.  peppered through it all are constant knocks on their doors, followed by reasonable-but-so-many little requests ..
in the words of ρaul graham, having been successful in their research and mentoring, they've switched from the maker's schedule to a manager's one.  most of them are also early morning people, i suspect, because it's the only time of day that they have to themselves.

i remember a slight taste of that kind of schedule in my first postdoc.  on teaching days, my life hardly felt like my own until i stumbled home in the darkness.  i felt like i never had time for any particularly good ideas.

that said, i feel more productive now than i ever have, before.  in another year, the novelty will probably wear off and the productivity will cease .. but until then, it's going to be a good ride.

so yes, this is another non-negative perk,
but surely it's reasonable to appreciate one's freedoms?

[1] never mind that this is an instance of the fallacy of the consequent, and doesn't actually prove anything.  this, of course, is further "evidence" to my non-FOL-savvy friends .. [sighs]

[2] this is also strange to say, but here goes: contrary to expectation, maybe it was a good thing that i didn't spend the fall semester at MSRΙ, where they had a thematic semester in metric geometry.  for the longest time i thought that decision might ruin my life.  my consolation at the time was that, being ever a man of poor judgment, i was bound to make an even worse mistake in the future ..

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