I got another grant proposal submitted this week. Not only that, I found mistakes that The Grants and Sponsored Projects and Funding for Research Office did not. (I worship the G&SP&FRO. You should too, irrespective of age, generation, gender, species, trophic type). This project is a marvelous project. I almost always feel that way about them when they go in (You should too. There is no reason to dwell on the defects, there is nothing you can do at this point, so you might as well rejoice. on the inside).
But what hit me yesterday, when it was finally uploaded to the great NIH maw in the sky, was how jaded I have become. When I was young, and frisky, and irritated by the previous generation, and the leading edge boomers, who had money, and wouldn't 't share, submission was a cause for celebration. Beer, or even a good bottle of wine. I'd buy myself flowers. I'd go out to dinner (a big honking deal in those days). I would take a mental health day and go to the zoo. I still remember a grant I put in with my friend Hal (not his real name). He had come from Very Far Away to give a talk (so that we could work on the proposal), and get the sucker submitted. It was a cool project. It was the days of paper submission and Xeroxing of 22 copies, before color copying. It was the days of collating 6 sets of your publications (the paper versions). It was the days of 25 page limits. We finished, waited for FedEx to show up and take it away. And then we went and had ice cream sundaes for dinner at the local ice cream place. I had cherry-chocolate chip ice cream, with hot fudge sauce and whipped cream. This place's chip ice cream was incredible because they didn't use pre-made chips, but made their own chocolate which they stirred into the ice cream as they made it so the chips were irregular shapes and often quite large. We went home, fell into diabetic coma and I slept for 12 hours. Hal got up and ran sometime in the morning. The grant, needless to say, did not get funded.
I realized as I went to the gym to lift weights last night that I didn't even think of celebrating. It didn't occur to me. It was just another grant proposal submission. Partly, even for me, boomer who controls all the money, jobs, grants, and the very life of those miserable X-ers & Millennials, I still have to write lots of proposals to get funded. I did in the Olden Dayes, too. I run a one-R01 shop, and this is the big renewal.
But also, proposal writing & submission has become something I do. Like department meetings. Like staying out of the line of sight of senior administrators. Like getting a flu shot. I teach once a year (but intensively). I go to dept meetings every month. Writing grants is more often than the former, and not as often as the latter, but more fun than either. Still. Its developing ideas. Its nailing down the experimental design to really get the answers I want. Its the possibilities of science.
My hair is still on fire when I think about doing the science. And I have never really wanted to be young again. I have wanted to be as strong as I was when I was 25, but I sure as hell do not want to be 25 again. But I don't know if want to go have ice cream after every submission, but I think I'll buy myself some flowers today.