So far, the hardest year of my life was my first year in graduate school at Stanford. I have never felt so stupid, defeated, and stressed out. But I came away from it having learned much.
1) to run
I never studied on friday or saturday nights in high school. Nor in undergrad (except for once when I had a big math project, but that was secretly fun so it doesn't count). But that stopped in grad school. I studied. I remember one saturday night about 9 pm I got really mad--at my homework and that I was stressed enough to be studying on a saturday night. So I decided to run to let off steam. I ran the campus loop, which is 4 miles. In hindsight, I realize it was stupid to go running in the dark late at night, alone. AND stupid to run 4 miles when I hadn't run at all for at least 6 months. But it made me feel better. I kept on running the campus loop while in grad school. I love running. And it all started one saturday night.
2) to read
I read in high school in undergrad. But I didn't read all the time. And I certainly didn't read feverishly. Stanford taught me to read feverishly. The most beloved item I purchased for my room at Stanford is what I call my medusa lamp. (Below). I could twist each section to point wherever I wanted. And I put flourescent bulbs in it so it would be SUPER bright. I love lots of light to read. I read 150 books that year (which was a lot for me!). I read mostly in the middle of the night. I would do homework until I felt like stopping, and then would read until 3 am to escape. I really needed to escape. Some nights I didn't get to bed until 4 or 5 am, and I think 6 am once. And then I would sleep:)
(I've often thought that if I slept from 3 am to 9 am NOW, I'd get sick. I can't believe I managed that sleep schedule without getting sick at the time.)
3) to use itunes. And to discover Miles Davis.
I never used itunes until I moved to Stanford. I lived in a graduate apartment building on campus with everyone on the same network. Thus, I could listen to music that was shared on the network through itunes. I listened to Snow Patrol a lot, but the thing that I really loved was Miles Davis. I never listen to him now. And I never listened to him before. But for that first year at Stanford, I listened to him every night for hours and hours when I would do homework. I found it soothing, and it helped me to focus and get through many long nights. In junior high, I would listen to music while I did math (and I also used pen. As if I would need to erase:)). But in high school, math got a little more complicated and I needed all my concentration (and a pencil)--so turned the music off. But I discovered that it was just the words that were distracting. And so itunes helped me to discover Miles Davis. No words. Sort of jazzy. Good memories. Maybe someday I'll listen to Miles Davis again, but for now I prefer to think of him as a blanket that I no longer need.