Friday, September 07, 2007

Hard Work, Dedication, yada yada yada

It's been a while since I've felt exhausted from stress and intellectual work, not just daylong manual labor.

My pectorals are still sore because I finally found the secret gym tucked away in the Ashdown basement last night, and performed a few too many presses for my underprepared arms. It was the last weird room I'd yet to find, mostly because it's in the basement and unlabeled, except with a white sheet of paper that reminds people to lock the door. A turn with the common room key and I found the underground muscle factory. Best part -- it leads to a room with complete dance studio, mirror wall and all.

Mostly, though, weekends are seriously necessary at MIT. I know that I can handle the workload in front of me, but there's so much to get done here that the days just seem to go by quite slowly. It's only been a week and a half, but it's already tough to imagine that I haven't been here forever. Even tougher than imagining being an MIT student while I was roofing a house for a living. My wallet and my chest send up thanks again that it's only one year.

It's not even work-work yet, just formulating ideas for the thesis, beginning to prepare for other assignments and reading for my elective. What make MIT different than a lot of places is the formal declarations of its insanity, and I'm not just talking about the T-shirts at the university Co-op with equations on them, worn with pride on the student body. They list their courses as a series of three numbers, the first being class hours per week, the second lab hours and the third expected out-of-class hours. My program's seminars are 24 total apiece, so plus the 12-hour elective we take to fill out each semester, there stands a formal mathematical declaration that I should be busy 60 hours a week, at least. This is the standard at many graduate schools. But all of them write it down.

For all that, I don't really mind, besides the occassional exhaustion. At UNL I think I would feel overwhelmed my all this, even now as a grad student. But one comes up here knowing it's going to kick you in the ass; hey, you signed up for it. So I feel better about devoting huge chunks of time to working, and working ahead, and studying first and going to the pub second. Hanging around all these brilliant people and privleged students gives you the feeling my association that your work is important and something will come of the long hours and short nights.

The important thing is to remember those deep breaths now and then. Before the pressure cracks you. If it does, go sailing.

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