Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Small goals

Many, many moons ago, I was a long distance runner. If there is anything that running teaches you, it's how to use your mind to push yourself beyond what you think you can do. One of the most important things is to establish small goals along the way. You might be out to run a marathon (which I've never done, but would really love to do), but you tell yourself that you just need to make it to the next street corner. When you get there, you decide that you can make it to the corner store. One small goal at a time, and then suddenly you've run the race.

Graduate school is something like a 5 year race, only there's no set finish line. You just keep running until your advisor says you've done enough. Sometimes it's not so bad; things go smoothly, you make your deadlines, you feel like you're staying on top of everything. Other times, it's a sharp uphill climb, and it just seems impossible that you'll ever keep up the pace long enough to finish. And then, you set small goals.

Today was a small goal. Things have been crazy in lab. I'm applying for postdocs, had a workshop/conference to attend last week, and my new faculty orientation for the teaching fellowship was today. Our grant renewal is due July 1st, which means that everything is on super-high priority, and classes ended this week, which meant that I had finals to grade. Oh, and my group meeting was tonight, so that I could show everyone all the things I have accomplished in lab lately (in lab? who said I've been in lab???). For about a month now, I've been working longer hours with a lot more pressure than I like to maintain, and telling myself that it will all be fine if I can just make it to the 11th. Well, it's the 11th, and I made it. Some things slipped a little bit, but I didn't completely drop the ball on anything, and a lot has gotten done. Of course, the next goal has already been set, but at least this one is met. And I'm exhausted.

Of course, all of this means that I haven't gotten much knitting done. I finished the sock that I showed you last night, and it was tried on today. I don't know how, but it's still too short. Fortunately, I had decided to make it my first ever cuff-down sock, so it will be easy to pull out the decrease section and knit in another two inches. I really don't understand how it could be too small. If I add the 2-3 inches that it needs (according to trustworthy parent measurements), I swear it will fit my foot, not the 6-year-old's. I just can't believe that it's still too small. All I can figure is that the Tofutsies yarn doesn't stretch, and that my mental map of sock sizes is counting on serious wool stretching. It's all very odd. I'm casting on the second sock tonight, and will hopefully fix the first one when it comes back tomorrow (before going to the airport to pick up a friend who's in town for a week).

As I've only just begun to cast on for sock #2, there's not much to show tonight. But I made it to today, and things should be a little less insane around here now. And really, if knitting is the only thing I haven't managed to accomplish lately, I think I'm doing ok. Happy Wednesday!