New Year, New Me.
I look forward to writing these every year, because time just flies by and I don't have much chance to take a step back and let life sink in. I am particularly savoring the opportunity this year because it has been an eventful one.
Table of Contents
This Year in Numbers
250 Github contributions (back on the decline, but that's ok)
700 miles ran (including 1.5 marathons!)
324 New York Times daily crosswords completed
1 musical attended (Jagged Little Pill at the Golden Gate Theatre)
1 cap and gown 🎓
This was the first January in 16 years that I did not have any classes. A short-lived respite; my classes start again next Tuesday. I ran 79 miles and got my first PhD program acceptances. Also found out about Wordle (what a moment that was.)
February, though short, was also eventful. I ran 79 miles, got my first Covid booster, and traveled to Madison, WI. It is a neat city with pretty buildings, a cool art museum, and a lake that you can walk on! Towards the end of the month, I flew out to LA with some friends, which leads us into...
March was the month of travel for me. I ran 106 miles, including my first half marathon, and flew for probably a few thousand more. It started out with the LA trip; we went to Joshua Tree (who knew the desert could be so pretty), Pomona (who knew a college campus could be so pretty), and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (who knew Studio Ghibli films could be so pretty(A lot of people, actually)). March was also the month of grad school visits, so a week after getting back from Los Angeles, I flew out to Switzerland for the EPFL visit days (and for Switzerland). It was a really great experience, and the entire country is so picturesque. After Lausanne, I visited Jungfraujoch and Zurich. The day after returning from Zurich, I drove to Ithaca with my parents to visit Cornell. It was gorges, and snowy, even by my Michigan standards. Two days later, I flew out to Berkeley, CA, which had neither gorges nor snow, but did have some beautiful sunsets.
By comparison, April was a bit more relaxed. I walked for graduation and ran 148 miles.
May was the same way, largely spent in Ann Arbor and at home, just taking a break and running (for 157 miles). I did, however, spend about a week immersing myself in Hayao Miyazaki's directorial oeuvre: I watched, in the following order, The Wind Rises, Lupin III, Nausicaä, Laputa, Totoro, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo. I had watched Kiki's Delivery Service a few months earlier, in LA.
In June, I went backpacking for the first time, hiking around 20 miles in two days. In the future, I will bring more camp activities and spend less time walking. It was also the month of the Banff Marathon, which I had been training for the whole month. My parents and I flew up to Banff (absolutely stunning), where we visited Lake Louise, picked up my packet, and prayed for the rain to go away. The race was a totally unique experience; I saw several rams along the route, and it was just breathtaking the whole way throughWhich, granted, is not idea for aerobic activities.. After the race, I limped all the way to Seattle, where I visited some friends.
I officially moved out of my room in Ann Arbor in July.
In August, I moved to California and started school. There's a lot to say about that, but I will leave it at that for now.
September and October flew by. I got my California ID, my parents came to visit, and I submitted another GRF application (second times the charm??)
I saw Jagged Little Pill with Isabelle in November. We also went on a hike in Marin (that lasted a bit longer than expected...). I celebrated my 23rd birthday (oh my god) and went on strike. For Thanksgiving, I flew to Seattle to visit some friends and we took a weekend trip to Portland (also a great city, with a massive bookstore.) Michigan won The Game. I took the Amtrak back from Seattle (unfortunately, most of the trip was in the dark) and continued strike action.
And finally, in December, I came home for the first time since I left for California. I watched the World Cup finals with my dad, who is a massive futbol fan. Now I am sitting on the couch, into the last week of break, wondering where all the time went.
I've had a harder time writing this post than in previous years. Last year, I wrote
"I'm temporarily stuck looking ahead into a bright cloud of complete uncertainty."
In many ways, much of that uncertainty is gone. This time last year, I didn't know where I would be living in a year. Now, I know where I will be for the next five or six.
But, like a new pair of shoes, I have stepped into a new life in which I'm not yet comfortable. There is the nagging rigidity of preformed expectations: the program milestones I need to achieve, the ideas I had about what grad school would be like, and what I thought my twenties would entail. At the same time, it feels alien: moving to a new place, adopting a new habits. Right now it feels like an awkward fit, not yet broken in.
I have a pretty good idea now of what the next few years will be like -- of what I will be doing and where I will be. The Berkeley iSchool has a pretty comprehensive guide on the timeline to do a PhD. But in between those milestones will be thousands of ephemeral moments (and a handful of defining ones) that are entirely unknown to me, and it is those that I look forward to the most. These moments are the wrinkles and creases and scratches of a well-worn shoe that shape it snugly around my feet.
Breaking in a new pair of shoes can be frustrating and sometimes painful. I am not the most patient person. I find myself sometimes yearning for the comfortable, lived-in, familiar past. But I know that this feeling will diminish with time, as I settle into the rhythms of this new part of my life. There's no other way to break in a shoe than to just start walking.
So happy new year. I guess I'll get going now.