Life is crazy as a grad student, and maybe even more so when you are working to complete two degrees in the same number of years. It is an undertaking full of midterms, finals, group projects, and the never-ending studying.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in it and lose sight of the big picture. If I’m being honest, it has been so long since I saw the end goal that I can’t even remember what it looks like. Which is probably something to which everyone I’ve talked to in the last six weeks can attest.
But I digress.
One thing that has kept me (relatively) sane is joining the gym. Yes, there were gyms I had access to for free. The medical institute here has a gym with a weight room, a cardio room, and a group fitness room. But they emptied the pool in September. My main educational building has a gym with four treadmills, two bikes, and some weight machines, but no pool. So I joined the gym (with some financial assistance, I admit). And it has been an amazing thing.
Lately I’ve been swimming again. It still hurts my knee, but it hurts far less than the alternatives of running or biking do. And at a point where I feel constantly stressed and don’t know how to handle it, I’ll take what I can get.
Even if it is just twenty minutes in a pool.
Time spent: 11 minutes
The autumns of my childhood were notably different from the one I’m experiencing this year. Fall, back then, was rife with warmer weather, tank tops with jeans and flip flops, moaning about the lack of warmth that necessitated a light sweatshirt, and dreaming of the days when it would no longer be oh-so-cold at 62 degrees fahrenheit.
Today it is mid-November and I find myself on the other side of the country, wondering what younger me was thinking. It was 39 degrees fahrenheit when I woke up yesterday morning, and I nearly cried when there were no clean tights to wear under my jeans for the day. My morning consisted of a swim at the local indoor pool, because outdoor pools get drained in September around here, and then spending two hours at REI trying to get waterproof insulated boots and a down parka. There may have also been another trip to Nordstrom’s Rack to acquire more tights because having only four pairs is no longer acceptable.
But while the layers of clothing requisite for autumn this year are a bit of an ordeal, there are other parts of this new season that are so remarkably worth the hassle. There are colorful trees and a falling of leaves. Cold breezes that leave the air feeling fresh, even in the middle of the city. Wool socks to keep toes warm throughout the day. Down comforters to wrap up in at night. This autumn is being characterized not by the lack of warmth, but by the ability to curl up on the couch with a book, a mug of tea, and some fuzzy socks. There are scarves everywhere I turn, and cute hats that I wish looked even half as cute upon my noggin. Gloves, mittens, raincoats, umbrellas.
Oh, and tights.
Time spent: 9.3 minutes