Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Stanford, ho!


I'm attending graduate school at Stanford.

That sentence still seems weird to me. I hope it stays that way.

My egress was filled with tears and many hugs with my wonderful and supportive family. I am so grateful for their presence. I wouldn't be the person I am without them.

The journey down to California was appropriately lengthy, giving me ample time to take stock of my new endeavors and past experiences. With some good music and privacy, I was able to freely and openly address my emotions. Spending nine hours in a car can work wonders for your state of mind (or wreck havoc, I would imagine).

Driving down south was mostly unremarkable. I-5 was quiet the whole way. Getting into the San Francisco area was stressful as the highway lanes narrowed and more cars appeared. These factors normally wouldn't be a problem except that I had a fully loaded car so that I couldn't see out my rear view or right side mirrors. Still, I made it to Elena's without incident where I crashed for the night.

Last night was my first night spent in my new room. Boxes cover every square inch of floor space. I get a lot of balance practice trying to navigate my way around boxes to get at a pair of socks, my computer, or a toothbrush.

The move-in process went relatively smoothly. Assistance by Elena proved pivotal in maintaining good spirits and speeding up the hauling process. I was concerned about what I'd do for dinner: I had no food and little energy to prepare a proper meal for myself. Ted stepped in to save the day. Calling me out of the blue, he wished me a good day of moving and invited my over to dinner in SF. Super-Ted to the rescue! Both the food and the company were a perfect welcome to San Francisco and a new phase in my life.

The meal included: excellent wine; tri-tip; grilled peppers with cream cheese (!), sage, thyme, salt, and olive oil; sauteed spinach, and rice.

Choosing prudence over recklessness, I opted out of attending Swig last night in favor of sleep; I had signed up for a 7am ride the next day. Returning home, I was introduced to the other housemates whom all seem like fine individuals. Grad students are so much more chill than undergrad. I think I'm going to like it here.

Shaking off drowsiness (and apprehension about joining a ride that would leave me in the dust) the next morning, I rode my way out to the appointed meeting spot. I joined two other men (Ken and Sol) for a brisk (read: 15 mph average) 30-mi ride around Stanford and its environs. With flats, a four-mile climb, and descents with challenging corners, this ride provided a well-rounded cycling experience. Being a small group, it provided a low-key environment to introduce myself to the cycling group and learn more about the Stanford club. I think I performed admirably, though I was clearly less strong than the other two riders. I did manage to keep pace, however, so I'm hopeful that I'll step it up by racing season next spring.

Returning to campus exhausted, it occurred to me that I still lacked food supplies. Damn! My ravenous hunger growing difficult to ignore, I made a quick search on Google to find a nearby cafe. (Thankfully I had set up my internet access the night before -- not sure what I would've done otherwise.) Refueling on a three-egg omelette with ham, avocado, tomato, bell pepper, onion, and cheese, I finally took a moment to gather my thoughts and write this post.

It's been a busy few days and I imagine the pace will only continue to ramp up. I am grateful for these moments that allow me to appreciate my situation.

Now it's time to return to campus, unpack, explore the school, and meet people. I have my fingers crossed.

"Hi! My name's Andrew Smith. Would you like to be my friend?"

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