Grad School Summertime: Day in the Life

Two people asked me recently what my days are like, so I decided to pick one day to document on the blog.  It was fun to do, and it surprised me how much I pack into my schedule.  Summer days and schoolyear days look a lot different, but as you’ll see, summertime is still pretty hectic.  So here’s what a typical day in my life looks like, May through August.

6:00-wake up.  I don’t do this easily because I’m not naturally a morning person.  However, I like how much I can get accomplished when I wake early.  My slightly-too-chipper-in-the-morning husband helps me out by bringing me a mixed berry smoothie in bed.  I drink my smoothie, do some devotional reading, and check email.  I usually avoid checking email first thing, but there was a research team issue that didn’t get resolved the evening prior, so I check for updates.  I try standing up, but immediately fall back in bed (body says NO).  I briefly consider skipping the run and going back to sleep.


Mornings are running are not my thing, but I dig this view.

6:30-5k run.  I dislike running as much as I dislike mornings.  But as with early rising, I recognize the benefits of running, so I do it.  We’ve found a gorgeous loop of trails, complete with bridges, down by the river.  The morning light reflecting off the river, the smell of honeysuckle, and the leafy tunnels make the run not terrible.


7:30-coffee.  We come home and Tim makes coffee while I stretch.  He makes the best coffee I’ve ever tasted, and I get to drink it every morning.  We sit on the couch together and read and drink coffee.  I’m in the middle of a book that is a fascinating sociological/anthropological study of family life as it relates to material possessions in the 21st century.  Would highly recommend.  After coffee, I shower and get dressed in something that will do double duty for a research team meeting and a friend’s dissertation defense.



8:30-head downtown. My morning ride is the free MBus, which stops just 20 yards from our front door.  On the bus, I read a book by Deborah Brandt for my LangRhet reading group.  This book that will also inform my second year exam.  [Side note: I’m not currently working on my exam because my readers have it for review, and I’m waiting for feedback.]

9:00-more coffee.  Despite the a.m. run, I’m still dragging, so I stop by Sweetwaters for my favorite: the French Vietnamese Au Lait, which has sweetened condensed milk and chicory root. (SO. GOOD.)  I also enjoy walking around campus in the morning.


9:30-Skype with a colleague.  One thing we do at the Sweetland Center for Writing (which is where I work as a research assistant) is norm huge batches of essays as the first step in creating a program that will provide students with automated essay feedback.  Today, I’m doing a norming session with a colleague in Atlanta.


North Quad, where the Sweetland Center for Writing is located.

10:30-Sweetland research team meeting.  We have a long to-do list for our meeting today, including providing feedback to one person on her chapter for the anthology we’re writing, working out IRB details for the project we’re doing, planning for an upcoming team conference presentation, designing revision samples for an Ecoach feature of a software program, and a bunch of other stuff.  I take notes during the meeting, and I feel like Jim Carrey answering emails in Bruce Almighty with smoke coming out of my laptop.  Thanks, Mavis Beacon!


Stephanie slays her defense.

12:00-Stephanie’s defense.  I run (literally) across campus to the psychology building, where my friend Stephanie is preparing to defend her dissertation in social psychology.  She totally crushes it!  Brilliant, poised, articulate, and unflappable, she knocks her committee’s tough questions out of the park.  #disserationgoals I grab a cup of coffee at the defense and realize it is my third cup of the day.  Yikes.


2:30-lunch. I hitch a ride back to North Campus with a friend and pick up a salad at a cafe on campus.  I eat outside and read a novel.  It’s a beautiful day.

3:00-coding.  I am working on a chapter in the anthology that my research team will soon publish, and I spend the afternoon at a table with a lovely view in the Duderstadt library, coding 53 pages of interview transcripts.  It is interesting work, and I enjoy it, but by 5:00, I’m exhausted.  Packing up my bag, I discover a forgotten piece of chocolate.  This is a major highlight of my day.  I get back on the bus–it’s walkable, but I’m feeling super lazy and entitled because of the morning run.  I listen to a podcast called “Magic Lessons,” in which Liz Gilbert coaches creative people who are struggling to produce their art.  In this episode, she talks to a poet who has been rejected from 12 MFA programs.  One beautiful thing I get from this episode: don’t be overly focused on becoming the noun (poet).  Just focus on the verb.  Do the thing.  Write the poetry.  For me, feeling a strong dose of imposter syndrome most days and struggling with the loss of the noun “teacher,” this is incredibly helpful.  You may not be a scholar yet, but just do the thing.  Read the books.  Write the papers.  The noun will follow.


Northwood Community Center, where we hardly ever go.

5:00-errand. I stop by the Northwood Community Center to get a parking pass for my in-laws’ car.  They are arriving tomorrow, and picking up the pass increases my excitement for their visit.  I’m so looking forward to showing them where we live, and Ann Arbor is show-offy place in the summer.


Founders PC Pils.  Perfect beer for summer.

5:15-beer on the back porch. It’s golden hour, it’s warm, and I get a cold beer and sit on the stoop with Tim.  We talk about our days and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company.  This is our regular late afternoon ritual, and it is my absolute favorite part of the day.  (During the winter, we move inside, and the drinks are warm instead of cold.)


6:00-dinner.  Tim grills zucchini and portobello mushrooms, while I make smoked paprika quinoa, fried eggs, and sriracha mayo. I love to cook.  I put on a Netflix show, finish sipping my beer, and boil/mix/season/chop/fry to my heart’s content.


6:45-tutoring.  We both tutor on Wednesday evenings: Tim tutors a friend in Greek, and I tutor a sweet, smart 9th grade girl in rhetoric and composition.  On the way home, I stop by the grocery store to pick up a few things.  At this point, I’m feeling…pretty tired.

9:15-winding down.  I get home and put away groceries and wash dishes while Tim finishes tutoring.  When his friend leaves, he makes us each a cup of orange & spice tea.  We sit together and enjoy our tea and chat about our evenings and the next day before heading upstairs to bed.  We always watch an episode of a comedy before bed to keep our minds from running on other things.  Tonight, it’s The Office.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s