2017 was a year of accidental second chances. And by that I mean I’d be on a brink of some disaster, only to be saved by the kindness of some outside force, family, or friend. Maybe grace is the right word to describe that.
At the end of January I moved in with someone who turned out to be a classic white supremacist. At 11 PM he tried to fight me after arguing for concentration camps. Lucky for me, he had a broken back and all I had to do was sidestep him. I drove away and slept on a beanbag in the design lab, thinking I could just hide out there or crash on friends’ couches until the research project ran out of funding.
Then Colleen’s family stepped in. “You can’t sleep in the lab”, she said. So off I went to live with her mom and daughter for the week, where I got spoiled with love and home cooked meals. And ice cream. I went from feeling like 0 to 100 in less than 24 hours. Then when the week was over I slept over at Jake’s couch like old times.
My last days in San Diego were spent at Colleen’s, where again, I got spoiled with love and home cooked meals. And alcohol. (Don’t worry, I made sure to refill her wine supply). What did I do to deserve any of this? I remember feeling like the luckiest bastard in town. I still do.
During the spring I got rejected by all the Ph.D. programs I applied to. That’s not the end of the world, but it does stink when you have no immediate job to return to and support yourself. I moved back home to San José feeling silly. I was 22 (now 23), and had this impression in my head I would be out in the world carving my path, not hanging out and feeling lonely in the same suburb I grew up in. Ah, if only.
Then again, it’s also given me the time to hang out and understand my family as an adult, which is an opportunity that gets rarer and rarer the older everyone gets. In San José, I am spoiled again with love and home cooked meals. Dad doesn’t drink, and my brother isn’t old enough (har har), so I usually just drink wine or beer with mom.
I also have the flexibility to drive and meet people with fascinating lives and perspectives for lunch or coffee — people who just days earlier I only knew from emails or their LinkedIn profile.
I’m floundering a bit professionally, but maybe it’s a sign I should be focusing on growth outside of research. I ran the San Francisco marathon with an old friend from elementary school, learned how to be a proper barista at Peet’s (latte art included–at least the hearts), and took up speedskating again. I kept a 183-day writing streak on 750words.com, and then broke it for a reason I don’t remember. Today will be my 21st day in a row.
I’ll leave this here for now; there’s a New Year’s Eve party with family friends to tend to!