This is the first week of classes for spring semester, the final semester of my time as an undergraduate. I’m trying to look ahead, but I’m struggling to accomplish everything I want to in the now.
In between classes I’m writing a feature for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences biannual magazine. This means cramming interviews with eight different professors between my classes. Fortunately homework is still light. But it means that I’ve had very little time to reflect, or breathe.
Tuesday I was running from lunch to my next class. On the radio in the cafeteria I listened to Joe Biden take the oath of office. Then as I walked through the chemistry building I wove my way through a crowd of people watching Barack Obama swear to preserve, protect, and defend. My skin tingles, but I’m am late to class. Then in the building where class is, I pause before the auditorium, where people are watching the inaugural speech. I think this is incredible. The entire university, while making it a policy not to cancel classes, was still watching with excitement. I feel nervous, hopeful, and even elated. Most of my consciously aware life has been the Bush administration. It is dizzying to think that I can think of the President of the United States without wincing, grimacing, or feeling sad. It may not last. I may find my optimism misplaced, but for now, President Obama seems to be like a superhuman.
But life goes one. I race across campus. Crystallize some benzoic acid, read Natalie Angier, marvel at neurons, scribble a drawing in the margin of my notes, return to the campus store to get another notebook, and try to learn.