In which I officially start grad school

Today marks the first day of the rest of my life. (Again.)

It didn’t start auspiciously – I went for a terrible, short run without my contacts in and ran into a tree, plus discovered that I have some poison ivy, then I was too hot and grumpy to pack food for work AND the cats had dumped a shelf + plant onto the floor overnight, so there was dirt all over the carpet, AND THEN at work I realized that I had forgotten my laptop charger so the day was basically a lost cause. Oh, and the evening prior, this happened:

The truly ironic part: the guy from whom we got the couch worked for a company that – get this – does 3D modeling for fitting things into tight spaces.

…so when today rolled around, I wasn’t feeling excited or even like today was anything out of the ordinary. Just another day in lab, except that a dozen things had gone wrong already and I had to go to class for the first time in a while.

I chose to stay on at Michigan for a reason – it’s an excellent school in a town I quite enjoy, not to mention the fact that the benefits here are head and shoulders above the rest – but it’s been too easy for me to fall into a mental trap of feeling that everything is the same. I’ve been working in the lab that will be the site of my graduate study for a year and a half already – which is great, research-wise – and I’ve spent roughly five years on this campus already. I have to work a little bit to get myself out of that mindset – to allow myself to be excited about this new phase and, perhaps most importantly, all the new people who have just joined the department. Over the past year, I’ve watched pretty much everyone from my class move away and on to other things, and have been looking forward to the influx of new faces for a while now. But even with this, it wasn’t until after I got home from the (four hour) orientation session this evening that it kind of hit me – I’ve just begun a four- or five-year academic journey. That’s not inconsequential. And it won’t be the same as my time here as an undergrad.

Today, I officially start my PhD program. By 2021, I will either be a Dr., or I will be living in a van by the mountains. Or, if all goes exceptionally well, both will be true.

– b