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Marching on

Yesterday after church I met with one of my good friends, and we talked and prayed about the things going on in our lives. We both have some major things coming up, so we both appreciate the moral support! After discussing how February was somewhat passive for both of us, we both had the same philosophy going into next month…being aggressive and intentional to confront the obstacles ahead. I said we were going to march forward in March, and we both laughed and thought that was the perfect watchword for both of us.

The first thing that came into my mind was the line in La Marseillaies, the French national anthem, that says, marchon! Marchon! That is, “let’s march, let’s march,” as into battle. Le jour de gloire est arrivé…”the day of glory has arrived!” Well, my day of attaining this PhD has arrived, and I’m going to march toward it with intention.

I really, really don’t enjoy the writing, the revising, the searching for data, the worrying that I’ll have to go take more data, the arranging of dates and rooms, the constant weight on my shoulders. It’s not surprising that I let myself get distracted from writing and getting things done…it’s uncomfortable, and I want to divert that feeling, even momentarily. However, I don’t have much time now…just six weeks until the defense, and I have to have the thesis ready for my committee before that. I could continue to shy away from the discomfort and difficulty, or I can decide to meet it head-on and just get the thing done. I am serious; it really is a struggle for me to stay focused, but I really have to pull out some major willpower to overcome this constant urge that I’m always giving into. I just have to.

While primarily referring to a greater spiritual struggle, I feel this Scripture also relates when thinking about a temporary burden to be soon surpassed by something much greater..not even just a degree, per se, but the personal change this whole thing is making inside of me:

2 Corinthians 4:17: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

This Scripture also comes to mind–it uses the imagery of a runner who makes one last push with all his energy toward the finish line and the prize:

Philippians 3:14: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

The message here? Just like La Marseillaise…..march on, press on, the day of glory has arrived!

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Momentum into the weekend

The week ended on a good note; while it started slow, I managed to pick up speed through the end of today. I never thought I’d say this, but too bad it’s a three-day weekend. Ok, I typed that and I still can’t believe I said it. :p

Yes, Monday is Presidents’ Day, yet another federal holiday that I technically get off of work. In fact, this is one of the few that DH actually gets off, too. While it’s always good to rest so I don’t go absolutely crazy, I probably don’t need to rest three whole days. I’m taking some work with me to try to do at home, and I’ll probably come in anyways on Monday. Hopefully my new-found momentum will carry over. I guess I can have vacations and holidays when I am done.

But regardless, it is the weekend, and I do have plans for some fun. Saturday night we’re having dinner with my fellow cohorts in pain, I mean, my other two friends who are frantically working to finish up their PhDs soon. According to the wife of one of them, we all look like we need a break. 😉 I also have super nice dinner plans with DH tonight. We’re celebrating belated anniversary, Valentine’s day, and some good news we got this week. Can anybody say prime rib?

Speaking of prime rib, DH is on the way to pick me up right now, so I’m off. Hope you all have a great weekend, too!

A very romantic anniversary

I finally made it through the last week of the semester and am now on Christmas break. DH and I weren’t sure when we’d leave om the drive home, which is about a thousand miles and 16 or so hours–we can do it in one day, but it’s definitely one long day. We had sworn we were not going to drive on Saturday, which was our sixth anniversary;having an anniversary one week before Christmas Eve, we have often found ourselves driving on it. We always joke about our romantic dinners at Taco Bell. 😉 We had lots of plans to not do that this year and go out for a nice meal, so, of course, Saturday morning we found ourselves scurrying around the house packing, grabbing a bite out for lunch, and packing up the truck. We decided driving a ways Saturday night and not have so far to drive Sunday would make the trip much more bearable.

We spent the night in a budget hotel…nice but no frills. We got there after midnight, and DH dragged us out by 6 am. Plus I woke up at 5:30 with the dog lying next to me. Our dachshund isn’t allowed on the bed, nor is he even able to hop up on a normal height bed anyway. However, a low-to-the-ground bed at a budget hotel was no match for him. Hence, a very romantic bedfellow on my anniversary, albeit one with very bad breath.

Fortunately we left when we did, since it’s now all snowy between home and here. We also have plenty of time for family visits and relaxing. And when we head back, we’ll make up for the anniversary dinner we originally planned. It’ll be a nice event to look forward to in the bleak midwinter after Christmas, too. Any day is a good day to be romantic. 🙂

Two thousand years from now

Today I wrapped up two of the little fires I had burning this week. I went up to campus with the group to eat lunch with our new postdoc who just came in today (if you read Wednesday’s post, you see that I made a great sacrifice for the team here!). From there, I dropped off my extension petition letter and then headed to the Engineering, Math, and Physics library to find the paper I was looking for. Fortunately, it was easy to locate.

I am still marveling that even in 2011 I still had to search out a library book to find information. Most papers I ever need to read are available online, so I am a little bit spoiled. I at least am not so spoiled that I can’t even find a library book if I need to, at least. I did scan, though. How twenty-first century of me.

I was marveling just yesterday about our world 2,000 years from today. If society changed drastically, nobody would know anything about us because we have practically zero physical copies of information that would last. Yes, we do still have books and newspapers, but most of them are kind of flimsy and volatile. How long would they take to decay? If there is no way in 2,000 years to retrieve digital information, nobody would know anything about our culture today. If you think about it, ancient cultures with stone tablets could theoretically be the best preserved civilizations due to the longevity of their writing media. I realize there are a multitude of other considerations to preserving civilization as well, but that was my particularly interesting thought yesterday. I do have some occasionally.

All the walking to and about campus, paired with a bunched-up sock and shoes that I don’t often wear, subsequently lead to a blister on my right heel. I seem ridiculously prone to blisters for some reason, so I couldn’t even muster some shock and offense. I just limped back to the bus stop, got off back at work, and unscrupulously took my shoes off as I walked up the sidewalk and back into my office. My officemate was very kind to get a bandaid for me out of the machine shop (I didn’t care to walk in there on my own, sock-footed with all the aluminum chads and shavings); she’s the best! Maybe I will show my appreciation on Monday with some home-grown squash, as we can’t possibly eat all of it ourselves and she really appreciates fresh produce. 🙂

So, the short week was productive in that I got my fires put out and made preparations for some measurements I could do on Monday and Tuesday. It was less productive in that the down-time between little fires was not as efficiently spent. I can’t afford too many of those days, so hopefully I can overcome the distraction to which I am quite prone and keep making progress. And hopefully on Monday and Tuesday I’ll overcome my inertia of sitting at my desk and get back into the lab, which is by far shaping up to be the most challenging part of my thesis.

How will you remember?

I was just barely awake when my roomie came in from her morning trip to the dorm bathroom on that Tuesday morning. I didn’t have to get up yet; my physics lab wasn’t for a few hours, but I could tell there was some sort of buzz going on around our floor. It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. We halfheartedly sat through physics lab that morning. In my Calculus 3 class, we were supposed to have a quiz, but we couldn’t do anything but watch the TV that was in the room as it showed the same video, over and over and over again, of a plane flying right into the side of the World Trade Center. Events were cancelled, including the football game for the following Saturday; nobody knew if the stadium full of people might be a target for some other devious scheme. People lined up at gas stations in fear that there might not be any to be had in a day or two. People flocked to churches for the first time in a long time. Everyone called their moms to tell them they were okay.

I can’t believe that was almost ten years ago now. For one, I can’t believe it’s been that long since I was a sophomore in college. A lot has happened in my life since then. I went from a rather clueless student doing my homework and playing guitar, not thinking much about world events, to finally figuring out a few years ago that I really should pay attention to what’s going on in the world. Regardless of who you are, it’s undeniable that this has changed how we live and how we think about things.

It’s a week and a half until the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. It’s only now starting to sink in that this is coming up quickly. There’s an increasing amount of TV coverage and advertisements about specials being aired about it. There are events planned and vigils to be held. Since it’s a Sunday, there will likely be some sort of commemoration during our church service. But what will I personally do or think that day to remember?

I could remember where I was, what I did that day. I could spend a lot of time in prayer, asking for strength for the families who lost loved ones and for guidance for our nation, for her to stand strong in her beliefs and values. Maybe I’ll watch something on TV. But over the coming week and a half, I really do want to think about it, to ponder what it means for me and for us as a nation, to see it in perspective and in the context of the events of a decade. Then, when it’s over, I plan to get back to my normal routine, knowing that things aren’t the same, but we certainly don’t let the enemy win over us…we keep forging ahead and holding on unfaltering to what we believe.

Public Transportation

This morning I rode the bus into work for the first time in quite a while. As a student, a bus pass is included in my student fees, and that allows me to ride the extensive local and regional bus system all school year for free (or, more accurately, at no additional cost, since I did “pay” for it out of the student fees). I can buy one for myself during the summer months, but I didn’t do that this year, so I’ve been without one since May until just a few weeks ago.

My house is about 13 miles from work, and it takes me half an hour to drive. It’s not a terrible drive, but it is on side roads, not the highway, and there is quite a bit of traffic, especially now that school is back in session. Plus, drivers around here are incredibly rude and obnoxious, and I really get tired of putting up with their crap. Therefore, riding the bus is a nice alternative–I can sit back, relax, read or knit while someone else deals with getting me to work. The down side is that it takes at least twice as long from the time I leave my house to when I arrive at work, so I have to leave a bit earlier.

It’s also invaluable if I need to run up to campus or into Boulder proper for anything; the university and most everything of interest in town is just up the same street as my work, and parking is very difficult otherwise.

However, the most useful reason to ride the bus is to avoid driving during a winter snowstorm when the roads get bad. The short trip to the bus stop isn’t as highly trafficked, and some days DH will drive me there and pick me up in his 4WD. I would much rather let the bus driver negotiate snow-packed roads than risk an insurance nightmare if my car hit another one, regardless who was at fault. And the way people here drive in the winter like they are invincible in their precious Subaru…well, don’t get me started. All I can say is that, while four wheel drive will help you get going on snow or ice, it isn’t going to do a DANG THING when you try to stop. Friction, people….take a physics class or something. Sheesh.

ANYway. I have two options for riding the bus. There’s one that comes to the corner of my neighborhood. It takes me between five and ten minutes to walk to that stop; then, once I get on that bus, I have to transfer to another bus to take me directly to work. I’ve done that a couple of times, but each time I do, I remember why I say I’m not ever going to do that again. It just seems to take forever. My other alternative, as I alluded to above, is to drive about four miles to a Park-n-Ride and catch a bus that drops me off directly in front of the lab. This is what I normally do when I ride the bus. It takes less time to drive down there and wait than it would to walk to my nearest stop plus the time to wait for a transfer later down the route. Plus, if I need to stop at the grocery store on the way home, I already have my car in town to do so.

Since my pass is essentially paid for, I get a win on gas if I ride at all. If you have to pay for your own bus pass, then there’s definitely a threshold to cross for it to be worth it, especially since time is money, too, so to speak. If I take advantage of the time to do things I would normally do at other times, then that isn’t such a big deal, either, particularly when I am driving and can’t do anything else at that time, either.

One big downside to the bus is that it’s extraordinarily crowded at peak times in the mornings and evenings. Lots of people commute from the ‘burbs for two big reasons: 1. it’s very expensive to live right in Boulder, and you can buy a much nicer, newer, and bigger place a few miles out, and 2. parking downtown and at the university is non-existent unless you want to pay a fortune. So, as the bus drives through the  surrounding areas, it picks up quite a few older commuters. Then, when we get in town, college students get on in droves. At our first stop in Boulder this morning, there were literally at lest 20 college kids that got on just at that one stop. They were standing in the aisle all the way up to campus. I realize that’s just part of riding the bus…you ride it with other people. However, since I get off just before the campus, it can be quite difficult to crawl over everyone to get out. When I leave in the evenings, the bus can already be quite crowded with college students, and sometimes I am the one standing for a while until enough people exit at their destination for me to take a seat.

All in all, despite a few downsides, the bus is a nice alternative if I have a little extra time in the mornings and evenings to spare for it. If I get up too late or have something I need to do right after work, particularly if I need the car to drive somewhere, then I just pass for the day and am happy to drive myself. But I think the amount of stress that I don’t put myself through by driving in traffic or in the snow will probably add days to my life, maybe weeks! That certainly seems worth it to me.

Being a responsible working adult today

It’s Monday again, which seems to happen every week without fail. DH and I had a great weekend hanging out with his mom. We did some shopping, including our first trip to Ikea in Denver. Of the three of us, only I had been to one before, so it was even more of an eye-opening event for them. The place is still crazy busy even having been open for a month. There is even a 150-person parking crew hired from a private special events company to help with the flow of traffic. Ikea is certainly an experience like no other, but I think we all had a good time and were entertained by it, if a little overwhelmed at times. Plus we got some ridiculously cheap wooden clothes hangers for our closet and a ninety-nine cent mouse pad for the church office for less than ten bucks. That’s definitely a cheap activity.

I wanted to take today off and hang out with DH and his mom some more, but I kind of had to come into work for a meeting to discuss the results of our measurements from last week. I also have violin lessons this afternoon and wouldn’t be able to go out of town for the whole day anyway, so I just decided I’d be a responsible working adult and do the normal Monday thing. Maybe I can take off after lunch Friday to start my long weekend a bit early. We’ll see how that goes.

I will have a better idea of my Goal of the Week after my aforementioned meeting this morning. We will assess the results of my measurements and see what our next step should be, and I’ll probably get started on that either this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

At home, I haven’t even begun to think of a goal. I’m seriously considering “being lazy” as my goal for the week, as I think this week will finally be a bit calmer after the last two. Okay, I don’t actually want to be lazy, but I definitely want to take my normal routine at a much more relaxed pace. The only other thing on the agenda is shopping for a particular item that DH and I are interested in purchasing. I’ve done a lot of research online, but we might actually have some time to go look at one in person this week or over the long weekend.

Yes, the long weekend….as I keep alluding to, next Monday is Labor Day, the last hurrah of the summer! I’m very much looking forward to the day off plus a weekend with no plans to finally play some catch-up. This will be my reward for making it through this coming week. 🙂