Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Life, Lately: Newsy Edition



Despite the awesome dinosaur above, I’m feeling pretty down today.  This morning I found out that my NRSA fellowship did really, really badly in the review process, which I’ll tell you a little more about below.  Other than that, things are fine with me, but I admit, I’m pretty devastated by that piece of news.  But we rally and we move on, and I will attempt to end this post on a more positive note than this.

Life.  Sigh.  Let me tell you a little about the NIH review process as I understand it.  After each round of applications is collected, there is an initial screening during which the worst applications are pulled.  This batch is not discussed by reviewers and not assigned a score.  That’s what happened to my application—an absolutely terrible, failing grade, so to speak.  As of this writing, I have no information about why my application did so poorly, though I have a few ideas about what may have happened.

To be honest, I’m pretty stunned that my grant did so badly that it didn’t even get a score.  I didn’t expect to be funded right away—that would have been unlikely, given that most grants are funded only after a round or two of revise-and-resubmit.  But I had been looking forward to reading reviewer comments and to plotting my next move based on the reviews.  My new next move is to speak with the program officer to see if I can gather any more information about what went wrong with my application.  It’s a huge blow to my ego that things went so badly in review, and I’ve been crying on and off all morning.  I have a tear-and-snot-filled napkin as proof.  I’m also kind of angry.  After all the work I put into that application, all I get back are the words “application unscored.”  Um, thanks?  Thanks for nothing, I guess. 

Love.  But all is not lost.  I still love my colleagues and working in this lab.  I’m still plodding along on my experiments and still hoping to submit a manuscript sooner rather than later.  In a sense, my work, my real work, remains unchanged.  My advisor and I still have another grant proposal out there, so there is still hope that we’ll get funding through a different mechanism.

Of course, I still have all sorts of other good things in my life, like my writing, my running, and all my loved ones.  I have all of that, and so much more.  I’m down but not defeated.  I have another rejection to add to the pile, which will make success that much sweeter.  What doesn’t kill me makes me…cry sporadically and curl up into the fetal position.  And then get on with my life.  (Though I reserve the right to mope for two weeks, since I spent a solid two weeks working almost exclusively on that fellowship application!)

Food.  Okay, let’s switch gears now.  First of all, have you had any raspberries yet this year?  They are fantastic—I hereby declare 2012 Year of the Raspberry.  I like eating them plain or with some whole-milk yogurt and a swirl of maple syrup.  Yum!

Rice cakes!  They are delicious and unfairly maligned as diet food.  I’ve been eating mine slathered in peanut butter (what diet?) or with cheese.

I was pretty excited by some of the options at my hippie foods store (Brazos Natural Foods) on Saturday.  Loose organic cherries so you could buy a handful or two instead of two pounds!  Incredible strawberry-rhubarb yogurt on sale for 99 cents a tub!  And all the usual organic goodies—I took home a pretty great haul for about $30.

Finally, I’m enjoying Ashley’s series on buying organic groceries.  (Here’s her intro post, and here is the first update on the project.)  About 75% of my groceries are organic, so I’m used to paying the bills for a mostly-organic approach to eating.  I won’t get into all the whys and hows here, but suffice to say that Ashley’s bill this week is right on target with my own weekly grocery spending if you divide her bill by the number of adults in the household.

Happy eating, friends!



Chrissy (The New Me) said...

I am so sorry to hear about your grant! That's terribly disappointing and seems so unfair - at least tell you WHY they didn't like it! Ugh. Having done a brief stint in the grant world, I will say two things. 1. Never again, and 2. It is so arbitrary and convoluted and weird and nonsensical, that I am surprised anyone ever wins anything.

Put it in your rejection pile and solider on, friend. I know your day will come!

Raquelita said...

Ugh! I'm so sorry to hear this, friend! Hang in there. All of us who apply for grants get rejected repeatedly. I haven't won one in a while, which definitely sucks.

Rosiecat said...

Ha! Chrissy, your comment made me laugh. The grant world is brutal, and I am a delicate flower. I'll bounce back, but perhaps not this week ;-)

Raquelita, you are good to remind me that rejection is part of the process, but it still hurts, you know? I think if it didn't hurt, we'd be more like robots than humans.

I do have a little update, too: I will receive a summary statement with some information on why my application was rejected. I'm not really looking forward to reading it, but at least I'll get more than "application unscored" to explain what happened.

Thanks for both your comments--you lifted me up on a rather disappointing day. xoxo

Shannon said...

oh, but you should by organic cherries by the 2lb-full ;)

so sorry to hear about your grant :( i hope you gain some good insight from the program officer!! what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? i always learn more from my mistakes... hope today is a good one for you <3

Rosiecat said...

Ha! The organic cherries are $5.59 a two pounds is almost twelve bucks. Eek!

And thank you, Shannon, for your kind words and encouragement. I have a few ideas about what may have happened; for example, perhaps my grant should have gone to a different institute within NIH. But to be honest, I've got so much work I want to do toward my manuscript that the grant rejection is fading in my rearview mirror. I suppose that's a good thing!

I hope all is well with you. :-)