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Football Saturdays

Judging by the fact that this is being posted in the hours leading up to Michigan’s (hopefully) victory over Northwestern, I am not in the Big House right now. I love Michigan football, but unfortunately I came to the conclusion many years ago that I am far too short to enjoy a game in the stadium.

I can never see the field over the heads of the six-foot-something people who are inevitably standing in front of me and instead spend the whole game staring at the jumbotron. So instead, I sit on my couch at home, perfectly comfortable with my air conditioning/heater set as desired, with easily accessible food and a bathroom that does not have a line of 50 people out the door. And then I can enjoy the game.

I love fall in Michigan, when the leaves are turning, the temperature is cooler than in the throes of summer (my perfect temperature is about 65) but still warm enough for flip flops. I love flip flops. Not being able to wear them may be the saddest part of winter for me. But I also love football Saturdays, where everyone is having a great time cheering for our team. And we finally have something to cheer about. My senior year of high school was Lloyd Carr’s last year, so my undergrad experience was mostly Rich Rod. Yeah… I’m thrilled Harbaugh is here too.

One of my favorite things about Harbaugh (outside of, you know, building a better football team) is his mantra of “liv[ing] each day with enthusiasm unknown to mankind.” It helps to remind me of why I always seem to overbook myself – because I love what I do and therefore I want to do it to the best of my ability.

For example, my Chinese homework (especially memorizing all the characters) takes up more time than I’d like, but you couldn’t convince me to drop the class. I love learning Chinese and hope to keep taking classes well into my PhD.

Another idea Harbaugh has mentioned is the notion of getting 1% better every day. I love this idea because it means that the true goal is just to improve a little bit over time. And eventually that 1% will lead to something great. I’m noticing this with my attempts at becoming ambidextrous – my stats professor talks more slowly than I’d like (I really miss the ability to 2x lectures) so to keep myself from getting bored I practice writing the alphabet with my left hand. I’m still paying attention and my mind isn’t wandering, so win-win all-around. And, my left hand is getting better at it. I might even try learning cursive soon.

My Learn-To-Row classmates and instructor

Although the 1% notion can be applied to anything, I’m also noticing it in rowing. I’m now in the Technical Row program with the Ann Arbor Rowing Club, since I graduated from Learn-To-Row. I love it and it’s great to feel my strokes slowly getting better over time. Sadly, we only row through the end of October, so I’ll have to content myself with the erg (rowing machine) until April.

Well, guess it’s time to go enjoy my football Saturday. Go Blue!

Down the Rabbit Hole

I find myself a bit bewildered to realize that I have now been immersed in my PhD for a whole two weeks. Since Step 1 study period started, I’ve been looking forward to this period where I would have a chance to slow down and take a breath. Not that I expected my PhD work to be easy by any means, but I assumed that I would enjoy the chance to be free of imminent deadlines and the constant pressure of studying.

And so the months of March, April, May, June, and July passed, as I looked forward to the MSTP retreat and, right after that, my return to lab.

View from the MSTP Retreat (Higgins Lake, MI)

And I came and jumped back into my project and realized, with no little sadness, that while I sat at my cubicle and stared at my computer, my (former) classmates were starting a new rotation. My track mates were starting their first days of Neurology, seeing patients, while I sat in my cubicle and coded. Certainly a different kind of coding.

The first few days back were … odd. There’s really no other way to describe them. I wanted to be back with my classmates, despite the fact that I had been looking forward to this moment. I enjoyed working on my project but still felt slightly adrift. I jumped off a high-speed train into a field of grass and then didn’t quite know what to do with myself.

Except keep working. And as I did so, things started to feel more natural. Don’t get me wrong, this all still feels like a dream from which I will soon wake; but the oddness is fading. I’m falling into a new routine that I enjoy. I’ve even started a new hobby, as I learn to row on the Huron River.

My life is very different from what it was a month ago; I have the chance to re-invent myself once again. New classmates, new labmates, new experiences. It’s a bit like January 1, including the resolutions, but without the cold. Time for a New Year, a new me. And I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.