Sunday, August 31, 2014

Four of Four

I look up from my phone. There’s a British man scribbling in chalk at the bottom of the  auditorium, pushing Fourier transforms into our reluctant brains, which are mushy from waking up a mere  ten minutes beforehand. I am utterly bored, for I already have learned to make functions as a product of sines and cosines the year before. My brain turns off. I try to turn it back on. It turns off again. I turn it on. It wanders…

I can’t do this.

The southwest stairwell of the Green Center fills with the echoes of my sandals climbing the ugly stairs. So many times I have climbed those same stairs up. Year One, for freshman Calculus. Year Two, for field theory. Year Three, for everything geophysically imaginable. And now, Year Four. For the end.

The days and nights spent in the Green Center blend together now. So many times I have climbed not knowing when I’d see the light of day again. So many descents after those long hours, with my brain relieved, tired, or both, my eyes tired from squinting at my code, laughing, or both.

These years have been piecewise continuous. Each has its own flavor. The setting is mostly the same, the cast of characters slightly adjusting with time, but the story has only one more chapter left to be written.

Chapter Four of four.

The room on the northwest corner and second floor of the Green Center is frigid.  The geophysics seniors have gathered there for guidance on the capstone of our undergraduate career: senior design. “This course is filled with pitfalls,” our professor and department head begins.

I can’t do this.

But after we walk out of the frigid room, maybe we feel slightly more prepared for the future. Or at least senior design.

Still, the future seems like a cold and scary place, and sometimes I’d much rather stay in my bed than travel towards it. But then the future nudges me, “Hey, it’s time to wake up and get dressed. You should probably read those scientific papers for senior design. And put together a spreadsheet of potential grad school advisors.”

I can’t be a senior. I still sleep in a bunk bed. And to think next year I’ll be a grad student?

My eyes are still blurry as I stare at errors in my code at the Linux Lab. Indices are funny things, my coffee-deprived brain remembers.

Chapter 0 of N. Where N is the number of years I am in grad school and is equal to about five or six. Or possibly more. I don’t know the setting or the cast of characters. But Chapter 0—the searching and application process—has me excited.

Chapter Four of four.

They overlap. One story wraps up, another waits to begin, despite my simultaneous resentment and welcoming of it all.