May 20, 2015
I got nothing. I’m tapped out, dried up and without an original thought in my head. For the past two years, I’ve sat down at my computer every week (except two) to bang out an editor’s note that projects some sort of theme and ties current features together. I’ve written 102 of them about everything from commencement and research to chocolate and falling out of my chair. Some weeks are more challenging than others (like connecting jelly beans, math, medical school and a nun) but I’ve always managed to pull together something that (hopefully) makes sense — until now.
Maybe I’m tired or overworked. Maybe I can’t focus because my office is currently a chilly 60 degrees. Maybe I need a vacation. Or chocolate. Whatever the case, I’m out. Consider this my Seinfeld edition — a column about nothing. Somehow I’ve lost my focus and my thoughts are all scattered. I’m not sure what to blame, but I’m sure I’ll think of something.
Maybe it was the fact that I got stung by a wasp this weekend and was left with a swollen, itchy finger. A few years ago I had my first localized allergic reaction and was horrified to find out that you actually get MORE allergic each time you're stung — and that was two stings ago. I’m well on my way to an epipen, I’m sure. I have a colleague who says he’s never been stung. How is that even possible? It’s not like I go around poking nests or lathering myself up in honey or trying to catch them with my bare hands, but I’ve been stung at least a dozen times in my life.
At least the pain of the wasp sting took my mind off the pain in my knee that suddenly came out of nowhere to remind me how old I am. It’s not totally debilitating, it really only hurts when I do stairs. Did I mention that the elevator in my building is being replaced and I’m on the top floor? For the next three months I’ll be hiking it up 99 steps just to get to my desk. And that doesn’t count the 24 steps up and down to the restroom or the conference room. Or the 54 steps I climb every day in the parking garage.
How do I know there are that many steps? Because I count them. I count steps every time I go up or down them. Every. Single. Time. Yep, I’m weird that way. I also get frustrated if I lose count and sometimes consider starting over. I told you, I’m weird. I also swing my foot in the shape of a cursive “L” when I have my legs crossed…I’m actually doing that right now. Definitely weird…but at least I own it.
So while I was busy counting steps in the parking garage today and pretending my knee didn’t hurt, I somehow got something in my eye. With all the construction around here, it could have been anything. In fact, it was probably the tiniest speck of dirt or an eyelash, but it felt like a toothpick or a needle. Seriously, it hurt so much I actually threw off my sunglasses, dropped my bag and started furiously digging at my eye. Which is always a cool thing to do on your way into work when you don’t have any backup mascara with you. So now, I kind of look like this.
Did I mention my thoughts are scattered lately and I have no focused plan?
Kathy Doig is a professor and director of the clinical laboratory science program in the Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics Program and she definitely has a plan. In fact, she is great planner who is an expert in creating curriculum. But while she might excel at planning, she says she actually got into the field partly by accident. Read her FACULTY VOICE: Designing Curriculum is a Bit Like Jazz, to learn more about her and how she found her focus.
Lorraine Weatherspoon, an associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, is another woman who is focused. Her research shows that online games that promote unhealthy food contribute to unhealthy behaviors in kids, but she’s working to change that. Watch the short MSUToday video feature, Game Over, to learn more about her work.
Sometimes, not having a set plan is absolutely fine. Rebecca Carlson is an Honors College junior majoring in chemical engineering and Chinese. When she started at MSU, she didn’t have a set goal in mind or any idea of how she’d get there. Even now, she hasn’t found a single passion, but she hasn’t let that stop her. She was recently awarded a very competitive Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and will be interning at the National Institutes of Health this summer. Read her STUDENT VIEW: What Else is in Store? to learn more about this impressive student.
So there it is. I sat down and stared at an empty screen with no idea what to write and yet a few hundred words later, I’m finishing up my editor’s note. I am truly a Spartan. Spartans find a way to finish what they start and never give up no matter how daunting a task seems. Even if they have nothing to start with.
Photo by Kurt Stepnitz