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Friday, August 27, 2004

Once More, With Feeling
Orientation today, or for me, re-orientation. A day when we got our new laptops, seat assignments in grad studio, and eight new, first-year Master's students: six CPID, two interaction design. They seem like a nice bunch: a little wet-behind-the-ears, but eager. I'm looking forward to getting to know them.

It's amazing to me that I'm starting year two of school. My first orientation only seems like it was a few days ago. And now my last year of school--probably my last year of full-time school ever--begins. Being back on campus today for the first time in months and seeing my professors and classmates today really has put me in the mood to start up again. I forgot that I like school, as challenging as it is, and that there is still a lot to learn and do.

And so it begins again.

posted at 09:04 PM in classmates, student life | comments (2) | trackback (0) | link


Friday, August 13, 2004

Two Weeks Notice
The weather in Pittsburgh is oddly cool and autumnal. Which is odd for August, but it matches my back-to-school mood. My summer internship freelance work is coming to a close and while wrapping up my projects, my thoughts can't help but flash forward to two weeks from now when Fall Orientation happens.

I am so not ready to go back. I've gotten used to working regular hours again and (gasp!) getting paid. Unlike last year, when it was new and fresh and thrilling, I now know what the demands of graduate school are. School is very rewarding, but it'll eat up as much of your life as you let it, and you can't help but let it eat up a lot of it. To quote Carl DiSalvo re: grad school, "It's your $60,000" so you want to spend it wisely. You're paying a lot for it, so you want to get a lot out of it, and that involves giving a lot to it: your time, your attention, your passion.

I just need to get my head and heart back into school mode. In the same way I had to lay school aside to go back to work, I have to lay work aside to go back to school.

posted at 12:50 PM in student life | comments (2) | trackback (0) | link


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

School's Out for Summer
Today was the last day of school for the 2003-4 school year. My paper is turned in. My project is over. My poster is finished. My thesis paper proposal is approved. My thesis project proposal is approved. My grades are in for the class I taught. My library books are returned and my thesis research books are on order from Amazon. My keys to my classrooms and grad studio are turned in. My fall class schedule is decided. I've got a summer job working at a local software design firm, MAYA Viz.

The only thing left to do is watch my friends and classmates graduate on Saturday and the year will be over. It's a bittersweet feeling.

posted at 08:16 PM in cmu, student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Sunday, May 2, 2004

All Over But The Fireworks
Spring Semester 2004 is drawing to a close. Classes are finished and the next two weeks are filled with final presentations and the turning in of papers and posters and such. It's hard to believe a year of classwork is nearly done. Graduation for the second-years is fast approaching. New students are visiting and accepting (or declining) offers to come here next year and be the new first-years. Summer is close enough to smell.

posted at 04:07 PM in classes, student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Saturday, April 10, 2004

One Day at a Time
Last week was (like many of the weeks of this semester) one to be lived one day at a time. There were things due every day of the week, including a first draft of my Seminar paper and there wasn't a day I went to bed before 1:30. It was exhausting and now I'm totally burned out and sick.

Next week's not going to be any better either.

posted at 05:30 PM in student life | comments (1) | trackback (0) | link


Saturday, March 20, 2004

The Student Circle of Life
They've chosen next year's Master's students and have sent out acceptance letters. Now it's just a matter of who will accept the offers--and who will show up once classes start. We got slightly less applicants this year (probably because the economy is marginally better), but it was still over 40 applicants for each program. We're all curious about who our classmates will be for next year.

Meanwhile, the second-year students are scrambling to finish their thesis projects and, at the same time, find jobs (or wait for PhD acceptances, if they are so inclined). Bilge Mutlu was already accepted to CMU's HCI PhD program. It's a hectic time for them. And frankly, I don't want them to go. I rely on many of them for their friendship and advice, so I will definitely feel it when they are gone.

For the first-years, it's time to decide on thesis papers, projects, and advisors. It is tough to pick something you want to work on for a year. You don't know what topic is going to be so interesting and rich that you'd want to spend a year of your life researching, writing about, and designing it. I've worked on year-long projects before, but never one I've chosen for myself. It's an interesting dilemma because it can be a hell of your own making.

posted at 08:24 AM in classmates, cmu, preparation, student life, thesis paper, thesis project | comments (1) | trackback (0) | link


Friday, March 5, 2004

Spring Break 2004
Spring break already. Hard to believe spring semester is already half over. In some ways, it seems like it is only beginning. It's been a lot harder to feel fully engaged this semester, for some reason. I have a lot of work to do when I return: essay for Seminar, lots of miLife project work for Studio, and my music map for Mapping & Diagramming. Not to mention teaching my students about designing look and feel, finding advisors (and settling on topics!) for my thesis paper and project, and finding freelance work to do over the summer.

But I do get a handful of days in The OC, so that'll be nice. Although I'll be doing some generative research for miLife while I'm there, and gathering data for my map too. Oy.

posted at 08:34 AM in student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Working on or at something intensely, like I've been doing with schoolwork for the last eight months or so, makes you take too many things too seriously. You begin to feel that everything is personal, even when it isn't. Your skin becomes thin, and offhand remarks take on a personal sting. Critical comments about your ideas become personal affronts. You become irritable and overly-sensitive.

My totally impractical advice: drop everything for a long weekend, like I just did. Let it all go. Drink some, laugh a lot, sing if you have to. Don't do any work. Don't even blog. (Horrors!)

You'll feel much better afterwards. Trust me.

posted at 08:33 PM in student life | comments (2) | trackback (0) | link


Thursday, February 12, 2004

Second-Semester Slump
A second-year grad that I'll call "Debbie" warned me about the Second-Semester Slump: when all the adrenaline from first semester (when everything was new) has burned off, and you start questioning what exactly you are doing here at school, and, additionally, you are on demanding, long-term projects. The second semester (naturally) also comes before the second year, when you are mainly working on your own pet projects, in the form of the thesis paper and project.

You watch slowly as your bank account drains. You start fantasizing about work and making money and having your evenings and weekends returned to you. Your enthusiasm waxes and wanes, and your mood can be erratic.

The Second-Semester Slump is apparently a common phenomenon.

I'm totally feeling it.

posted at 12:42 AM in student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Thursday, January 8, 2004

Enough Already
Ok, I am so over winter break. Four weeks is a long time to be away.

posted at 02:50 PM in cmu, student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Friday, December 12, 2003

Winter Break 2003-4
It's with a mixture of sadness and relief that I close out the first semester of graduate school. It's been a tough semester: emotionally, mentally, and even physically. As Dan Boyarski warned us at orientation, CMU is intense. You can burn out easily. You can get so deep into schoolwork you can warp. Small things take on a heightened importance. Your liver can take a serious beating. I am ready for a break.

But I've done a lot of stuff, learned a lot of stuff, made a lot of friends, and, all in all, it's been well worth my time being here, which I was really worried about. A few of the things I've learned have been things that I've always wanted to but never got around to (ActionScript), but some things I wouldn't have even known where to begin.

So now, my final paper has been turned in. It's time to put down the mouse and the (power)book, and recharge for next semester, which promises to be equally interesting.

I wish you all the best holiday season and a happy new year. I hope you've enjoyed reading about my exploits this past year. I'll see you in January.

posted at 10:00 AM in classes, cmu, student life | comments (3) | trackback (0) | link


Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Fall 03 Finals Week
It wouldn't be the end of semester without one prerequisite all-nighter in grad studio, working on a final project. Outside, it is dark and freezing cold. A full moon. Inside, weary people toil on.

posted at 02:28 AM in student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Monday, December 1, 2003

Last Week of Fall 03 Classes
This is one of those weeks that needs to be lived and taken one day at a time. I have something due every day this week. I can only think a day in advance or else it is too overwhelming. As always, the last 10 percent is the hardest. One day at a time. One day at a time.

Friday I plan to get good and stinking drunk though.

posted at 11:46 PM in student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Sunday, November 16, 2003

Über Alles
I've thought a lot recently about something Graduate Student Assembly president Matt Cronin told us at orientation: the importance of having allies. I've become convinced that graduate school would be hellish without a set of peers with whom you can blow off steam, complain to, roll your eyes at, eat lunch with, have drinks with, spread gossip, admire and trust.

It's very interesting to watch these circles of allies--cliques some might say--form. To be honest, I'm not sure what allies a person to other people. Is it a similar approach to life? A mutual level of respect? Similar senses of humor? It's hard to say.

When John Maeda was here, he compared grad school with a vending machine that sells life-long friends. I hope it's true.

posted at 11:03 AM in classmates, student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Grad Studio, 3:00 am
It's almost 3:00 am. I'm in grad studio with Jeff, Kerry, and Mathilde. We're eating Halloween candy and working on our project for Interface class, due tomorrow at 1:30. Oy.

posted at 02:44 AM in student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Thursday, October 2, 2003

Busy Boy

Christ, this has been a busy week. Some weeks of school are fine, normal. Other weeks are just pockets of activity and work. This is one of the latter. It's one of those weeks to just get through.

I'm starting to really love Thursday nights. Sunday-Wednesday nights aren't my own: I'm just doing homework. But since I don't have class on Friday, Thursday nights are mine. Some weeks, Survivor can't come on soon enough.

Here's how busy I've been: I got a new CD (Interpol) on Monday. I haven't listened to it yet. For me, that's pretty much unheard of.

posted at 07:48 AM in student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Saturday, September 27, 2003


It's 10:30 on a saturday night. I'm doing homework.

posted at 10:36 PM in student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Night Off

No seminar tomorrow. Studio work is done. No classes on Thursday thanks to the Wats:On Festival. It's a rare night off to do nothing, just like in the days when I was working. A typical night for me now is to put my daughter to bed, then go back to work for another 5-8 hours, reading or doing projects. But not tonight. Bliss.

posted at 10:30 PM in student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Sinking in

I was told it took a few weeks before school got really busy. How come it's week two and I'm already deeply enagaged? I have (at last count) four projects due in the next week, two movies to watch, papers to write, more dry...I mean, thoughtful, academic papers to read, and at least three party invites for this weekend.

I'm a student again.

posted at 10:29 PM in student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Friday, August 22, 2003


We had orientation yesterday, where the design faculty welcomed us, the ninth class to have gone through the Interaction Design program and our sister program, Communication Planning and Information Design. There are 14 of us first-year grads: six ID and eight CPID. Ten women, four men.

Orientation was led mainly by Dan Boyarski, head of the Design school, there was a lot of talk about the intensity of CMU and to prepare ourselves for that. He also implored us not to be too hard on ourselves while going through the program: there will be things we're good at and things we'll have to work harder at. And one inspirational message: writing and design together can change the world.

We also got to pick our seat in the graduate design studio and were assigned our assistantships. I got the unusual (for me) assistantship of tech support for the Smillie Lab, the new digital imaging lab. I'm also going to be doing a semi-TAship for Bob Swinehart's Corporate Identity class.

Refreshments were served.

I also managed to crash the HCI program's orientation party last night. Fun fun fun!

posted at 10:34 AM in assistantships, classmates, cpid program, extracurricular, faculty, hci program, student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Sunday, June 29, 2003


First day of school tomorrow! First day of school tomorrow! First day of school tomorrow! My mood (if you couldn't tell): nervous, excited, scared, hopeful, happy, thrilled, curious. And about a dozen more adjectives.

posted at 08:58 PM in student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link





All straight lines circle sometime. - The Weakerthans