I arrived in the mountain town of Boone, North Carolina, five days ago, my little red pickup Baby loaded down with everything I'd need to start a new Official Graduate Student life here.
Then the kick-ass housing situation I'd been counting on fell through.
Don't panic. Meet grad students, sleep on their couches, join couchsurfing.org, buy beer for your hospitable hosts. When the couches run out, decide to go camping at the last minute. Keep looking for the right place to live. DON'T PANIC.
Yesterday I was in class with a lot of uncertainties. We're writing a proposal for my university to compete in a Big Important Prestigious-As-Hell Competition. The rulebook is an inch thick. We have almost no idea how we're going to get the proposal done in time.
As I am wont to do, I kept raising problems I could foresee. How are we gonna transport this thing a thousand miles without damaging it? How much of the fabrication will we do in-house? Finally one of the profs said something to the effect of, "Don't panic about that. We'll figure that out."
I realized that every job is subject to these tensions. Do we make it ourselves or outsource it? What tolerance can we get away with here? Do we build it to last for generations, or just to last long enough?
Some part of me has been hoping that these issues would disappear one day. That eventually budget would cease to be a concern, so I could stop worrying about how much things would cost and just focus on how it's made.
But these things never go away. Everything costs something. The job is to deal with these factors, these tensions, without panicking.