Oh man. If I had known that about half of my life would be spent trying to secure some kind of funding for the next year, I would have seriously considered staying a religion teacher, in all of its boring security, for the next 25 years. This issue of paying for (or, ideally, getting someone else to pay for) “further studies” just never lets up. There’s always a new crisis. And these crises almost appear myopically bigger than any other life crisis because the means of your livelihood just hangs tenuously in the balance on a year to year basis. One can only hope to be lucky enough to find some source of income that is renewable.
My history of the funding gods smiling on me is a happy one; I’ve been very lucky to have managed to string together enough fellowships to at least pay for my tuition and defray the costs of living, although don’t fool yourself…I still have a healthy amount of loans out there to be repaid at some point in my life. But, it just feels like every year, the month of February is so stressful; come May, that pittance check will stop arriving altogether and, whoa, I’m one step away from homelessness.
There’s a lot of reasons this funding game is a total mess. It’s political. It’s trying. It’s tenuous. It’s not enough money to live on. It doesn’t even address the ways I personally add value to my department. And I’m routinely made to feel like I’m not grateful enough for it. Which I am…grateful…but only proportionally grateful to the amount of money I get. I now also have to be grateful to my generous credit card companies who allow me to spend their money so freely.
There is more on this to come for sure, but I wish on this subject, I could have a sign-in so I could really be honest about how demoralizing and distasteful this whole business is. I wish we used the word “Merit” more and meant it. “Fair” and “Accessible” would also be nice words to throw around…maybe just once in awhile.