winter craziness

I apologize to all those of you who asked me what I was doing/what I did over Christmas. There was, and still is, no short answer. But now, I can show you pictures!

I left early in the morning (3:30 AM from my house, to be exact) on Saturday, December 14th after turning in my last assignment Wednesday night and working Thursday and Friday and boarded a plane from Sacramento to Grand Rapids, MI via Chicago O'Hare, which was pleasantly decked out for the holidays.


I spent two and a half all-too-short days in Grand Rapids catching up with old roommates and friends and having an absolute blast. Oh, and there was lots of snow!




Then I took the train down to Chicago to visit a childhood friend who just finished graduate school, too. (Congratulations! and thanks for the picture, Elizabeth.)


Next up, flying to Ohio to meet Laura, helping her pack up all of her stuff, loading it into the van, and driving to Kansas by way of friends in Indianapolis and a stop in Iowa.


We drove through all sorts of weather: rain, fog, and ice.




We made it to Iowa and checked another state off our list - we're both in the mid-30s now of states we visited!


Oh, and of course we decorated the car for Christmas to make sure we were in the holiday spirit, complete with stockings, a mini tree, streamers, and paper snowflakes.


We met up with my parents in Kansas to spend a few days and Christmas with my aunt and uncle and cousins - and we had a white Christmas! Now I know this may seem perfectly normal to a lot of you, but we're used to going to the beach on Christmas afternoon. It's a bit different. It was great to all be together again after a few years of not having all 10 of us together.




We left on Christmas day to drive back to California (and stopped at Dorothy's house on the way), celebrated Christmas again on the 28th, and had an altogether wonderful week together as a foursome (including a visit to see the Rose Parade floats and and going to an amazing performance of The Lion King in Los Angeles) before driving me back up to Davis and spending a short time with my grandparents.




So there you go! A grand tour of where I was this winter.

wait, what? you're done?

Well, everyone, this post is (quite) a bit delayed, but I've graduated! I finished my last quarter of my master's program on December 13th. Yes, I'm done done.

Looking back my time in grad school, I'll share a few thoughts (if I didn't you'd probably ask me anyway). Let's get the first bit out of the way - it wasn't all I dreamed it would be. It wasn't a beautiful basket of roses and learning and expanding my knowledge just how I wanted it to be. Now, to clarify, I didn't expect everything to go perfectly - that's just not how life works. But classes were cancelled, didn't turn out as planned, or just didn't exist. My plans to find the perfect amazing research project that fit so well with my interests (that I couldn't quite pinpoint, of course) fell through. The research I started didn't turn into a thesis, so I ended up doing a report instead. I didn't become best friends with all the students in my program and hang out with them all the time. I didn't find the perfect church community right away and I didn't fall madly in love with the quaint little college town of Davis.

I struggled. I knew I was where God wanted me to be, so clearly he wanted me to put effort into my education, but I really struggled with how to balance doing well at school and living for him and acting how he wants me to be acting for his kingdom while I'm at school. Prioritizing things was difficult, and I'm still working that out and probably will be for the rest of my life. Well, minus the school part. That will switch to work.

All of that said, I am glad I went to graduate school, and I'm glad I went to school at UC Davis. I made some great friends, though not hordes of them - a few in my classes and a few from church. I eventually ended up in a great church community full of new friends and potlucks, and made some of my best friends here from the first church I was at. I learned a lot more about all sorts of topics - life cycle assessment, computer modeling, environmental organic chemistry, and of course, water and wastewater treatment. I had excellent opportunities to work with professional engineers and attend conferences on current water quality issues, especially those specific to California. I found an internship with a local city full of a variety of experiences and a wonderful group of coworkers. And I'm still so thankful for God's provision of my amazing housemates.

So if you ask me about grad school, I won't be waxing poetic about it. And I definitely won't be saying that I'm continuing on for a Ph.D. (Really everyone. No.) But it did change me and I did learn from it and I'm thankful for that.

And no, I don't have a full-time job yet, but yes, I will be staying in California. I'm currently still living in Davis and working for the nearby city of Vacaville as a part-time engineering intern in the Utilities Department, which I started last July. Going on seven months now, I'm very thankful for the work there and my coworkers. We get along very well and I've gotten to work on all sorts of different projects, and a couple of the larger ones are getting close to being wrapped up, which is an amazing feeling. In my spare time, I've also finally gotten reacquainted with the local library and am loving delving back into giant stacks of books!

Oh, and I flew to Grand Rapids for a crazy three-week visit with friends, a sister and family road trip, my first white Christmas, and a bit of time back in California before settling in to the fact that I'll probably won't have such a long break from work for many, many years. More on that trip in a bit.

Also, this blog will probably undergo a few changes soon because I've graduated. I'm not quite sure what it will entail and how the blog will change in the future, but there will probably be a name change. You'll find out when I do!

Other questions? Leave me a comment below or check out a typical conversation with me.

quotable october

Professor quotes are back! The best of October:
"I have only one regret. No, I have two. But I'm only going to tell you one."  
"There are many ways to do this problem. The way I'm doing it on the board is the 'on the fly' method, which is not a very good way."
"If you have nothing to do, if you have no friends, then read this paper." 
 "If, in ten years, you want a reference to get a job or to get married, I'll remember you." (On why we should do an optional part of an assignment.
"'Non-linear' should strike fear in your heart." 
"It's a yucky place, so they acronym it to sound almost like a smurf."

summertime and back to school

The highlight of my summer was a visit from my family during the first week of August, timed to coincide with the weeks during which my sister graced the great state of California with her presence. I hadn't seen her since Christmas break - seven months apart! I think the longest we've been apart from each other before that stretch was six months, so we were very, very happy to see each other.


We spent some time on the northern coast (per my request) in the quaint town of Gualala. We visited Fort Ross, the southernmost Russian fort on the West Coast, and spent our limited hours together on beaches and playing card games. It was so refreshing to spend time all together again and I'm so thankful that the timing worked out.



My summer internship at a local municipality's utilities department has been wonderful. I really enjoy my coworkers and am definitely learning more about all the scheduling and communication and paperwork that goes alongside every engineering project. And I get a hard hat and safety vest (and maybe even rain gear for this fall/winter)! I'm happily continuing on working there during this quarter for fewer hours per week.

I've officially started my two courses for this quarter: Life Cycle Analysis (you may have heard of a portion of it as the "cradle to grave" philosophy about packaging) and Computational River Mechanics (including computer programming in FORTRAN). It's my last quarter! I'm quite excited to be graduating and adding some letters after my name, but also curious to see what comes next. Yes, I'm staying in California. No, I don't know where yet.

In my little bits of spare time, I've been getting back into a few more art projects, which have been really enjoyable. I've also been settling in to life at a new church - themed potlucks and a women's dessert night have been the highlights of that community so far - and doing a bit of baking to use up some persimmon puree. The persimmon muffins were delicious; the pudding was a failure. Frosting's up next.

on summer and stability

Right now, it's hard to imagine that at some point in the near future, I might actually be settled somewhere where I'll stay for more than a few years. I've become accustomed to moving apartments or rooms or cities and the idea of being somewhere for a longer period of time is quite appealing. Settling in at a long term, real grown-up job. Living in an apartment it might actually be worth dragging a giant bookshelf into so I can surround myself with stacks and stacks of books and craft supplies. Being motivated to be involved with the surrounding community, knowing that I'll be able to volunteer for a longer period of time than the training.

I crave stability - I think most of us do - and I've seriously been learning to deal with the absence of it at grad school. But the brief taste of it so far this summer at a real job in a real office? Oh, it's nice.

Sometimes it's nice to pretend that the house I'm in is mine and check the mail after I get off of my full day of work, check the garden out back with the hopes for some fresh tomatoes, pick a sunflower to put in a vase on my desk, and maybe find some fresh peaches down the pathway in the mini neighborhood orchard. I can sit down with a book I checked out from the library (finally got a library card), have a cup of homemade iced tea with dinner, and be perfectly happy doing it all over again the next day.

Though I'm looking forward to the future, I'm also intentionally working at appreciating the experience that I'm having right now. I'm sure I'll reminisce in the future about the days of grad school and the things I was able to do in the days with less responsibility and summer vacations, so I'm trying to take note of the things that are unique to this time in my life and appreciate them. Perhaps I'll share more about that in the future.