The year 2011 was a really big year for me, in several respects, and it had the feeling of the “best-of-times/worst-of-times“. I might as well go approximately-chronologically.
In January, I started my first “solo” TA position, by teaching vector calculus. I worked with an instructor who had very high expectations of me, of which I probably did not fulfill during my first time around. I frequently went into the recitation sections and/or office hours underprepared to teach, and got chewed out about it on a regular basis from the instructor. Though I thought it as a “worst-of-times” at that point, it really provided a wake-up call, and improved my teaching from there on out.
In February, “Snowpocalypse” hit to close Northwestern for a day. This wasn’t really an extreme, but there is always some sort of childish excitement when snow closes your school or place of work. It also gave me a chance to prepare for the teaching so that I wouldn’t be chewed out again.
Socially, I really bloomed during 2011, and I think that my increased participation in Hillel activities strongly contributed. At the end of February, there was the KOACH Kallah, which was a retreat for Conservative Jewish students from all over the country. It gave me an environment to attempt to expand my Jewish network, and find common ground. Though I don’t stay in good contact with any of the non-NU attendees of that weekend, it is still the beginning of a stronger social life.
Indeed, in that February, I also applied for Birthright Israel, and after the trip, I started my blog! That trip was also somewhat of a microcosm: the greats of the קיבוצים (kibbutzim), fun hikes, peaceful שבתות, old and new cities, the Western Wall, the desert, and the trip in general, yet there were trials at יד ושם (the Holocaust memorial), on מצדה (Masada) and the uneven day involving the military cemetery.
The good over that summer as well: training for the Wrigley Field Road Tour! With that and Israel, I was definitely lacking in productivity for research, but at some point, I do have to have some fun :). The worst part of the WFRT was the fundraising, which I am not very assertive or enthusiastic about.
A few of my good friends, like Matt, Neil, Sarah, Mark, Dina, Melissa, and Eitan, I had met in 2011, either in or shortly after Israel. That year was probably my highlight of social activities with the graduate-student Jewish community at Northwestern, as well as a realization that I can be quite a socialite.
For every to, there is a fro. The good of the year nearly was wiped out (literally) on November 22, with the car crash. Although I turned out perfectly fine from it, the mental damage was far worse than the physical damage. I have mostly recovered from it mentally, and fully physically, but I still hold fear of that intersection. Something must have been watching over me on that night.
It was fun during December of that year to head back to Lincoln for the annual winter break trip, but unfortunately at the end of the trip, it ended in a funeral as my Dad’s mother died. This was both bad and good–better that it happen while I was still in Nebraska so that I could easily attend the funeral, but bad because… well, it’s a death!
So, 2011 was fraught with emotion on all ends of the spectrum, was a year of growth professionally and socially, and really was somewhat of a microcosm of my graduate school experience.
Today is the three-hundred and thirty-sixth day of M.M.X.I.V. That makes forty-eight weeks.
Today is the three-hundred and thirty-eighth day of Mission 441. One hundred and three days remain.