Until it’s gone

My gosh, so much happens in a week.

So, I got evicted (not my fault, although now I know that I have to keep tabs on the people I rent from, too), started *really* whaling on my internship (partly why I haven’t been posting lately), and played out in public. Granted, I sucked, and I’ve been out of practice for about a week (and my god, why can’t they leave a grand where I can get to it, and let me at it when I can get to it?), and there wasn’t anyone around to hear it, but it’s the thought that counts! Right? Right…

But since real life is boring (at least until I start finishing projects, which are all in varying states of incompletion, aka don’t expect anything soon), I’ll be talking about something that I’ve slowly come to realize. It’s been a feeling that’s been with me around a year, starting as something innocuous, but I’ve only recently figured out what it actually means (I know, it’s kind of late, so my word-smithing is somewhat off. Do forgive me).

I realize just how cool of a place UPS was, and I wish (in a way) that I could’ve stuck around for a little longer, or maybe gone back and done some things differently.

Of course, I only realize that UPS was a delightful place to be when I’m leaving it, as such things are apt to happen. In this case, the relationship is not entirely coincidental: getting to know how other schools do bureaucratic work gives me an appreciation for the close knit-edness of us around UPS. For instance, I just need maybe 2 days to a week in a machine shop to finish the mechanical bits of my Mendel. The fact it’s not finished doesn’t mean that I’m lazy, just that it’s nearly impossible to get permission to wrangle around in a machine shop here at Calpoly. I can see why (not a student, summer quarter, safety up the wazzoo (although I think that everyone should adopt metrix:createspace’s liability release, hehe)), but it’s frustrating to be right in the middle of an engineering school and not be able to engineer something. So, I’ll have to use up part of my week back home to hack at it, or figure out how to navigate Columbia quickly and get access to a machine shop there.

But so what? No one cares about how Universities handle machine shop access. Rather, it is indicative of the larger ways and methods of how things are done, and it is with regret that I now know I haven’t been using my professors as much as I should have been. Now that I actually know that, I fear that Columbia is going to be a much different sort of place. Maybe not quite so different: professors that are enthusiastic about teaching are everywhere (the converse is also true, unfortunately). However, Columbia is big enough to have TAs teaching classes, rather than having professors teaching every single class, all the time. Time lost getting to know the actual prof.

Then, there’s the geekiness factor. But Nathan! you may be thinking, Isn’t that one of the reasons you didn’t like UPS? Because geeks that you could engage with were few and far between? True, but not being surrounded by geeks means that I’m not completely cut off from the larger world, that I can have a direct impact on the world of those around me just by being geeky, especially being enthusiastic about being geeky. Of course, I missed this sort of chance to really engage people, although I really wasn’t quite geeky enough most of the time back then… so I guess I’m only partially off the hook. Cause, you know, a real geek would have already been geeky enough.

And there’s some of the usual suspects: leaving behind friends, a familiar place, a familiar admin system, and a campus small enough to sprint across in less than 5 minutes. That last one was still causing me trouble up until last week; this last week of work has been me coming in and working until I get too hungry for dinner, so I haven’t been strictly keeping tabs on getting to work on time. Gonna have to fix that before I get to Columbia.

So, didn’t know what I had until it’s gone.

Mind you, I’m really anticipating a different flow in New York, a new chapter in life, and a whole lot more learning, so I’m not going to change my mind about moving. These are just some thoughts about what insights hindsight has given me concerning the past few years.

Enough rambling. Guy is still playing with his flash editor on the couchahemmy bed, so I guess I’ll get him to move.