SoCal-apalooza, or "this place does not suck"
I should start by saying, in bold letters (and maybe even a bit of underlining), that I love what I do. My job is awesome. I love academia, I love where I am seeing my career go, and I love being able to work closely with the best people in the world. I am being afforded such amazing opportunities, day in and day out, and I just can’t believe it.
Last week I was able to head to cool and sunny San Diego to attend a workshop related to my research. I got in on Tuesday afternoon, which was nice since the workshop didn’t start until midday on Wednesday. What did that mean? I got to get outside and enjoy the sunny SoCal weather, and I even got to make a new friend.
My coach hooked me up with his buddy who works near UC San Diego, and I was geeked to have a guided running tour of the area where I was staying. This dude was too cool, and I got to know him pretty well while we ran for nearly 10miles up and down the coast (and up and down the hills). I gotta say, his personal tour was pretty rad, and I learned all sorts of things. Like, for instance, that the library at UCSD was named after Dr Seuss (Geisel Library), and the trees that line the road to the Scripps Oceanography Institute look just like the ones in Dr Seuss books!
Morgan convinced me to take the route toward Torrey Pines State Park the next morning, so I rolled out after the sun came up and headed north. Lucky for me, the weather was great for the entire 10.5miles. But I guess, since it is SoCal, that’s not uncommon. I ran through UCSD’s campus and then through Torrey Pines, which was absolutely gorgeous.
Part of me was much too excited about the beautiful, temperate weather and the green-ness. The ocean, the cliffs, the big waves. The birds soaring, the running paths, the bikers, the bike lanes. The hills, with the climbs and the descents. At first, I thought, I’d be worried about living in Southern California and having a job. Mostly because I’d be worried I’d be able to keep my job. Wake up, its 60F and sunny, guess I’ll go ride my bike for a few hours! Oh, its still nice… hmm, maybe a swim in the outdoor meter pool? Well its already noon, might as well eat lunch, take a nap, go for a run. Before I know it, it’s 5pm and I haven’t gone to work yet. G-d, I would love it.
But then I got to thinking (logically). How much more balanced would my life would be? Now that it’s spring here in St Louis (I guess?), I am really excited to have the longer days. I’m excited to see the trees blooming and the grass growing. And although being excited about being outside does not help me to get into the lab, it does help me stay focused, make lists, stay organized, and get less distracted. It helps me to get my work done in an orderly fashion as opposed to dawdling or staying until all hours of the evening to keep getting stuff done. I feel like, by moving to St Louis in the dead of winter, that I put myself in kind of a bad place. I think I was a little burnt out, and I also allowed myself to get sucked up into the unbalance of work-work-work and lost focus of what makes me a strong person, because I didn’t have any desire to go out and run in the snow/sleet/ice crap or didn’t have anyone to go with. I know this sounds strange, but I think I do better, perform better, work better, think better, when I am also training better. I get on a bit of a runner’s high when I hit my good workouts and that makes me want to do other things well, too. Getting into the groove was hard when I moved. I don’t know if its worth making excuses, but I’m going to anyway. The days were short. The weather was terrible. I had a new boss who had big grants. I wanted to impress him and the people I work with. Of course, I still want to impress them. I still want to do the best job I can. Uh, duh. But I know that I can do the best work that I can when I can focus, and not run around like a crazy mouse in a cage. And not running around like a crazy mouse in a cage means running around outside in the blossoming trees and sun and spring. Running fast miles and up hills and biking for hours on the weekends.
It’s time to get out of the cage, my friends.