Monday: The first day of orientation with actual professors present starts at 9:30 a.m., with refreshments preceding. Naturally, I want refreshments, so I'm on my bike and on the way to Lindley by 8:30. I show up to find that I don't have my keys, which I need to lock my bike. I bike back home to discover that my keys are locked inside my apartment. It is now 9:00 a.m. I stick my bike in the laundry room, walk quickly to campus, and arrive just in time for a long day consisting alternately of meeting intensely interesting people and doing intensely boring paperwork. I go home, rescue my bike, fail at breaking into my apartment, and call my rental agency, which, to my surprise, sends someone to come and unlock my door for free. I want to fall over, but I go for coffee and study until late.
Tuesday: Foundations exam, 9 a.m. I've had seven hours of sleep, I've had breakfast, and I'm as ready as I'm going to be. There are four questions on the test: one with one part, one with two parts, and two with three parts. Of the nine parts, I'm able to give full answers for five and partial answers for three; there's one I can't answer at all. I fill one blue book with writing and overflow another one with scratch. I'm the last one out of the room, rubbing my sore metacarpals and muttering to myself. I have little idea whether I passed. I go home, make split-pea soup, re-pot my ailing Gerbera, and relax.
Wednesday: At 9 a.m., I go to the Operating Systems qualifying exam. At 9:05 a.m., I realize that I have no business being there, turn in my blank exam, walk out of the room, and work on this for the rest of the morning. In the afternoon, we have a meeting with the Associate Dean of Students, who tells us about how a grad student got kicked out last year for plagiarism. I ride my bike home, through the pure chaos that is several thousand eighteen-year-olds moving into dorms in the rain, and eat my nicely thickened split-pea soup. Then it's off to my favorite store.
Thursday: After making my way from building to building jumping through bureaucratic hoops so that I'll be able to register for classes, I decide, nearly on a whim, that I'm going to go audition for choral ensembles. In the hallway outside the audition room, the music student on door duty squints at my audition form and says, "I didn't know you could get a Ph.D. in computer science." I think the piece I bring goes well, and the sight-reading's not awful, but they have hundreds more kids to see and I won't know for another week. I go home and eat ice cream while registering for classes online, then go to the Cinemat with Matt to watch Obama accept the nomination. When the speech is over, I bike the long way home. Despite it being 11:30 p.m., I make split-pea soup again (I need to get some higher-capacity cookware) and leave it to thicken on the stove before finally going to bed at an undignified hour.
Friday: I unintentionally sleep through the Women in Computing Breakfast, and it's afternoon before I manage to drag myself out of the apartment -- first to one campus building to (finally) get a student ID, then to another campus building to "activate" said piece of plastic so that I can get into the appropriate top-secret facilities, then to the grocery store so that there'll be food in the house when Alex oniugnip and my parents show up. All my errand-running results in my also missing the CS department's Movie Night, which would have been my second free food opportunity of the day. Clearly, I fail at being a grad student, and now it's dark out and I'm hungry -- but I have a plan. I stop at Mother Bear's on the way to the secret rendezvous point. When Alex calls to say he's in Bloomington, I tell him, "When you get off the bus, look up. You'll see a spotlight. Go to where it's coming from." Half an hour later, we're stretched out on a blanket at the base of the Light Totem, eating pizza. Yes.
Saturday: Alex and I walk over to the IMU to meet my parents, who present me with a cabbage and a big bag of tomatoes from my mom deepdistraction's garden. We all go to brunch, then wander around town and campus. I show them parts of Lindley; my dad plays with the big slide rule on the wall over the Abyss and tells us the story of how, when he left for the Peace Corps in 1973, everybody was using slide rules, and how when he got back in 1975, nobody was. As long as we're discussing 1975, I point out to my dad that I just recently discovered that "Negatory, Pig-Pen", which was a phrase he used frequently throughout my childhood to mean "no" (or, sometimes, "yes") is actually a reference to the novelty hit song "Convoy". My dad is astonished that I never knew this. In the late afternoon, we all head to a School of Informatics picnic at a park north of town. I play a long and gradually less awkward game of Frisbee with a whole bunch of CS and Informatics kids. I meet Lorelei and some other folks from the HCI/d program. I suddenly realize that one of the software engineering professors is the same person I keep seeing at Obama campaign events, and Alex suddenly realizes that one of the School of Informatics administrators is someone he knows from Tech. You know, the usual collision of worlds. Isn't Bloomington great?