Letters from Andy: 3 (grad school)


So after getting accepted to study graduate physics at six schools, I somehow ended up back here. Could have saved a lot of time on applications if only I'd known. Can't get enough of this place I guess.

At first I didn't really like the idea of staying at the same university another four years. At a certain point, shouldn't I outgrow this school? But I'm hoping it won't be like my undergrad experience. I've got a new house in Bloomfield with Arthur and his friend Mabel. I honestly love our neighborhood. It feels like I'm just a citizen of Pittsburgh who happens to go to CMU, not a college student who happens to live in Pittsburgh. I think it'll be different this time.

I was talking with Arthur last night and apparently, him and Sammy have been hooking up — which is very odd. I told you about Sammy, right? She was that weird girl from orientation week. I suppose I'm glad Arthur told me, since she and I have… history, I guess you could call it. But it doesn't make any sense. He was the very first person I told my story to, and he was the one who told me all those concerning things about her. I tried reminding him about all that, but he insists she's changed. I flat out told him I don't want to see her at our house, and that if he ever brings her over he's gotta let me know in advance. He seems to respect that, but I can't figure out how his brain makes that make sense.

Last week I went to a physics colloquium over in Pitt where I had a really great conversation with two other grad students. On Saturday the three of us went to get coffee out in Lawrenceville, and guess who I saw? It was Clair, that girl I used to say hi to on campus all the time. I went over and chatted with her, because, I mean, what are the odds? I saw her in passing all the time, and I think we incidentally got dinner together a handful of times, but otherwise she was like a D-list character at best. But we hit it off super well for some reason, and I guess I was feeling bold because I asked her out. I feel like she was kept in my life for some reason. Whenever we reached the point where we might stop waving to each other on the Cut, we'd hang out with a mutual friend by chance. So she'd get bumped back up to getting a wave, and so on for years and years.

We got dinner yesterday, and I have to say it went really well. We took a long walk through Schenley afterward and had a really great conversation about our undergrad years. Our social circles were always pretty adjacent, we just talked a lot about how our friends were doing. It makes me happy to hear that people are figuring it out.

Classes have been pretty rough so far, I can't lie. Penco, the old M&I professor, is teaching a class on quantum field theory that is just absolutely killing me. I'm doing big league physics now. Last week I was having trouble studying, so I went to my old favorite table in Sorrels. I don't think I belong there anymore though, because I felt like an old man hanging out at a middle school. I miss my Sorrels friends — the nameless regulars who studied at the high tables with me. Back in the day it was exciting, because any one of those people had the potential to become a character. But I think it's best I leave that kind of fun to the kids now. How did we not realize how young we were?

The research has been going really well. I haven't had the chance to truly invest myself in a project like this since I did robotics in high school. Nothing I did during undergrad comes close. I stay at the Mellon institute for hours and hours, because my brain is just buzzing with activity. I forget to take breaks because there's always more things to code and more tests to run. I don't really even go out that much, because all the bars in Oakland are crawling with undergrads anyways. I go to Union Grill like once a week with Mabel and her friend to get their $2 cocktails, but that's about it.

You, on the other hand — seems like a weekend doesn't go by without some excitement on your snap story. What's it like being a carefree youngster living it up in New York? Are you and Cynthia a thing now? Now that I have my car in Pittsburgh, I can drive to visit whenever I want. Next week I have Monday off, let's do something fun that weekend. I want to meet Cynthia, make sure she's good enough for you.

I'm sure she's great though, you tend to pick the good ones. Look at us go.