Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Independence!

It turns out that LL has spent the past several non-crawling months plotting out exactly what he would do once he learned to crawl. He has been mobile for less than 72 hours, and much of that time, he has been asleep or out of the house at daycare. Nonetheless, in the past three days, he has managed to:
  • run the closet door over his foot;
  • defeat the lock on our entertainment center;
  • slam his fingers in the drawer of his dresser;
  • attempt to eat a plastic garbage bag;
  • pull on a tuft of carpeting, unraveling a good chunk of it;
  • chew on a gel insert in a tennis shoe;
  • have a go at the safety plugs in several electrical outlets;
  • pull a wine bottle off the wine rack and give it a good whack on the tile floor;
  • angrily shake the safety gate keeping him out of the office, then immediately zero in on the latch that opens it.
And those are just the activities that rate in the moderate-to-high danger zone. He has also discovered a totally safe love for dirty laundry and old VHS tapes. Still, we should probably get cracking on the last of that baby-proofing.

With his brain now free of the all-consuming puzzle of figuring out locomotion, LL has turned to more intellectual pursuits. Yesterday, he drank several ounces of milk through a straw, something that we've been working on for weeks. (His normal behavior was to either blow bubbles, or to suck a little liquid into his mouth and then immediately spit it out. Anything but suck on the straw and actually consume what came out.) This morning, he suddenly mastered the arm movements for "How big is LL?" and giving high-fives. By the end of the week, he should be ready to learn how to drive.

LL is not the only one who has new-found independence. I am happy to report that my grad funding situation is resolved. AdvisorA's final comment on the matter, a week or two ago, was that she had no money for me anywhere, she had no plans to look for more money, and I was completely financially on my own. If I wanted help with funding, I should talk to other people, but not her. End of story. So I had a chat with my department's financial manager, Pepper, who had heard about the situation from AdvisorB and was horrified by what had happened, but pessimistic about the chances of finding a good solution. Pepper looked around, and then called me to her office to tell me that she had found some money for me. How much? Enough to fully fund me for the entire academic year, all the way until my planned graduation in June.

I was dumbstruck. I mean, I had given up all hope of finding funding for the year, and had resigned myself to being a TA in the fall, and taking a leave of absence while I finished up after that. Instead, I'm completely out of the financial woods.

A windfall like this one doesn't just happen, so you just know that there was going to be a dark side. I was a little hesitant to find out, but I just had to know: where did the money come from?

It turns out that AdvisorA has a slush fund. Or rather, the lab that she and I belonged to had a slush fund, contributed to by many professors over the years. As the lab shrank, and many professors retired or left, the slush fund became the sole property of AdvisorA. The money is available for absolutely any purpose, except that it has to be spent at my university (where AdvisorA is no longer employed). When AdvisorA left my university, she couldn't take the fund with her, but nobody else had rights to it, so she hid it. And cleverly forgot to mention it when I, and AdvisorB, and Pepper all independently questioned her about any money she had access to that could be used to pay for me. (And before we give her the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe she really did forget about it: Pepper said that AdvisorA is still charging things to the account on occasion, as recently as a few weeks ago, when expenses come up that she can reasonably charge to this account.)

Pepper found the account, and discovered that it had more than enough money in it to fund me for the year. (At least an order of magnitude more, in fact.) Then she went to the Department Chair and suggested that the Chair transfer money out of this account into the department's overhead account, then use the department's overhead account to pay for me. Everything was approved, the transfer was done, end of story. I am now fully funded.

The one glitch: nobody told AdvisorA. I'm not going to be the one to do it, because it will look a lot like I convinced the department to steal money from AdvisorA. And Pepper and the Department Chair both feel like this account shouldn't really be AdvisorA's anymore anyway, that the entire account should have become the property of the department as soon as AdvisorA left, so why should they have to tell her when they spend their own money? And AdvisorB thinks that there's so much money in the account that AdvisorA will never notice the missing money, so why draw attention to it.

For now, I'm staying out of it. I talked with AdvisorA on the phone, and when she asked what class I was going to TA, I told her that the department found money for me. Then I played dumb and said that I didn't know the details, she'd have to ask Pepper if she wanted to know more. Given how little she cares at this point, I doubt she'll follow up. If she does, Pepper and AdvisorB are both prepared to lie through their teeth and tell her that I didn't know where the money came from. My only risk at this point is that she does find out, she does get pissed about it, and she takes it out on me by delaying (or preventing) my graduation. (She is still on my committee, and trying to remove her at this point would hurt me more than just dealing with whatever she decides to throw at me.)

Even though I know that there might still be some fallout, I am elated that I can stop worrying about money and just focus on finishing my research. And writing my thesis. And finding a job. And planning LL's first birthday party. And babyproofing the house.

6 comments:

  1. I can so relate. We're even gotten creative with babyproofing like taking the handles off the end table drawers so that Jillian can't get them open but we can. Any bumps or bruises yet?

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  2. hoo-ray for mula! Glad you no longer have the money worries, and hopefully the backlash at the defense will not be so bad (i mean it was inevitable right? she was gonna be bitter about it all and it was gonna play a role during defense, so my advice is to cross that bridge when it's time).

    Also, it does sound like LL had a list of things he wanted to touch first: laundry (check), tapes (check), outlets (check)...dog's tongue. please tell me you do not have a dog? That was my bf son's first of many fascinations, much to the discomfort of our dog!

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  3. Elizabeth's main crawling goal is dog bones. And computer wires. Obviously she had been staring at them for months, just waiting until she could get them.

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  4. I am so glad you have been able to resolve the funding issue. That is truly awesome -- what a load off.

    As for the babyproofing, we have, to some extent, given up. Harry is obsessed with anything that belongs to the dog - his toys, his food and water, his face and tail. And we can't really get rid of those things or lock them away without, well, harming the dog. He also delights in pulling up the interlocking foam tiles covering the floor in the playroom and chewing on them. And I can't think of anything we can do about it. The one thing we will do is get rid of the playroom TV -- we don't watch it, and one of these days he's going to yank on a cord and pull it down on his head. Yikes.

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  5. Yay for money! I'm really glad that it all worked out. I was going to have to ask about it soon. :-) It must be such a relief!

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  6. Hooray for funding!!! I am so excited for you!!! I can't believe AdvisorA, I really just want to give her a stiff slap. The nerve.

    The kiddos do have a special knack for getting into exactly what they aren't suppose to, don't they?!

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