For the past two weeks I have been anxiously awaiting the results of a fellowship competition I applied for in September. This is how academia works. You are constantly trying to convince funding agencies that you are smart enough to get their money.
Applications are long and tedious and take up months of precious research time to complete. We wait a very, very long time to get results. Sometimes more then a year. Often, as in my case, these grants determine our future, even what country you will live in.
I am not a patient person. In fact, its my worst quality, so when April 15th, the designated "results day" finally came, I was on shpilkes. In fact, I had been compulsively checking the website everyday since the first of April just in case they released them early.
April 15th came and went and not a word from the funding agency. I called. I emailed. I checked the site again. Nothing.
On Friday April 17th, I was told that it was a technical glitch and that I would know the results by the afternoon. The minutes inched excruciatingly by and still the same blank page appeared when I logged in to see the results.
On Tuesday, I finally got an answer. But not the one I wanted.
There is a technical error with my research account, and while everyone else is able to access their results, I am not. The program coordinator told this to me over the phone. She laughed nervously when I asked her to tell me the outcome of the competition. "I am not authorized to give you this information", she said. "You have to get it online."
And so we are at a standstill. It is becoming increasingly Kafkaesque.
The results are available. She can see them. The technical people can see them. Other applicants can see them. But because of some strange and mysterious computer malfunction, I am the only one who does not know where I will be living next year or what kind of research I will be doing. If it weren't so ridiculous, I would think this is some kind of character lesson to teach me patience.
I have always believed that our over reliance on technology will lead to our downfall. My friends, family, colleagues, and students roll their eyes when I proclaim this. I am not a technological person and it's an ongoing source of ridicule in my community.
I think my purple leather agenda is the ultimate in sophistication and luxury. I don't have a blackberry or an iphone. I use a landline. The most complex piece of technology I own is a shiny, white imac, and its only because my older brother convinced me to buy it.
I am technologically challenged. And yes, I know I am not cool because of it.
Still, I don't understand why my neighbors email me instead of knocking on my door. I don't get why people text when they can just call each other. It's cheaper and it takes less time. And now, I can't get my head around why I can't access my own records because of a computer glitch.
I long for the days when you waited patiently for the mail to arrive with answers. The excitement of ripping open that envelope, the thrill of the unknown, the proof of it in writing, is unparalleled to any technological experience I have had.
I miss making plans and committing to them because there were no cellphones or devices to send messages changing the time, the location, or canceling altogether.
I want to go back to the days where coffee shops were for reading books, flirting with strangers, and musing about life with friends instead of work spaces littered with laptops and pagers.
Most of all, I am nostalgic for the time where common sense and humanity took precedence over technology. Where we shaped our equipment to suit our needs instead of our equipment shaping us.
Call me a dinosaur. Call me old-fashioned. Call me "out of the loop". Whatever it is, it's better than not being called at all.