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in this coming year we run by Amber V. '24

and rest and make and keep up the relentless pace

In review — it’s been a good year. In reverse-chronological order, I…

  • full sent a project, which was cool
    • No one in my life has heard about this at all, but this fall I was in 2.009 [link]. We sent that project, lived in lab night and day. I’ve fallen deeply into projects before, but never one with this many team members involved, nor with this many moving parts. I loved the camaraderie of people all grinding to finish their part of the project — there were vital sections of the project that I never touched, and only knew about because someone else was sweating over it. Seeing everything come together was so rewarding. I love the feeling of having a complex system in my head, understanding one part of the puzzle so deeply. I’ve been wanting to have this group project experience at MIT for a while, and am glad it happened the way it did.

me speaking

  • I spoke in public a LOT of times: for MIT Monologues, where I wrote and memorized an 8-minute monologue; for a club where I teach oral storytelling; and for 2.009, where I presented a solid five times, usually with about one hour’s worth of preparation.01 not the final presentation, though. That had at least two hours. I used to have a fair bit of social anxiety. I still struggle to be appropriately formal sometimes, but I like to think my lack of formal diction is relatable and shows that I’m comfortable with the material I’m presenting. Likewise I haven’t become not awkward, but I’ve learned how to use my awkwardness in a cool fun relatable way, which is a more powerful tool for me.


  • I love b1, my dorm community. Bonergiving was the cutest event, and I felt so warm and loved. When I moved onto floor, I hoped I would learn from everyone around me in new and different ways — that I’d be inspired by their fashion and their social energy, their wide variety of interests both social and academic. And it’s worked. I recently got a jellyfish haircut that Kyna suggested, copied low-cut jeans and folded-over jeans from people on floor. I encourage the free food culture on floor to thrive — we always arrive first to Burton Connor free food events.

me and some friends

  • I love my friends. They are so good. This was true last year but it continues to be good this year so I am gonna put it down.
    • I also feel happy with my friends-work balance. What hours of sleep weren’t lost to 2.009 were lost to hanging out in one friend’s room, or on another’s rug, or in the flounge with lots of people dropping in and out of conversation. Those delirious hours are precious, more so because they are hewn from the mound of work we all shoulder. They’re the best part of this semester by far, and I appreciate all the people who pause from their work and spend time together with me.


  • I feel like an engineer. Impostor syndrome rears its head sometimes, but this semester proved to me that I can get it done. 2.009 pushed me hard. I had to build a model in seven hours in October, with barely any notice, and I got it done. Its mechanism worked. Before Contour, I’d barely touched software and electronics at a deep level. Then I led the design and validation of the electronics, and those worked, too. I feel much more confident in starting a project I don’t know how to do; I can figure out how, via YouTube and bothering experts around me, and the greatest learning will happen when I cobble those resources together and make the thing work.
  • I am maybe in less pain now? After taking a month-long vacation of doing almost entirely nothing? I spent the summer in large intense amounts of pain though so maybe it evens out. 
  • I travelled a lot (mostly on MIT’s budget).
    • I took an IAP class that brought me to Brazil, where I studied Brazilian culture and history, made an informal study of trying every type of food I could find on the street, and went up a lot of mountains. The class left me with a lot of thoughts about culture and community, and reminded me to make space for connecting with my cultures more deeply, even — especially — during the rush of MIT.
    • I went on a self-funded trip to Ciudad de Mexico, where a friend of mine has family. We visited her family and explored the city, trying every type of food and lots and lots of tacos. I had a lot of thoughts about the closeness and the distance I felt from Mexico, the nation, as opposed to the Mexican-American / Chicano culture in southern Arizona where I grew up. My Spanish could be better. I want to go back for longer, perhaps for a season or a year, long enough that my Spanish improves, that I can start to melt into the culture.
    • Then I applied for a grant through MIT to travel around Ireland and learn about folklore traditions there. I hiked part of the Kerry Way [link], an ancient walking path that cuts through private pastures, as is apparently tradition. I also saw the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a great gathering of artists, dancers, comedians, circus performers, and more from all over the world. The streets were full of tourists. It felt like REX, but for art: too many events to possibly see at once, some cool and some weird and most a mix of both. The best way to experience it was to go with the flow. 

tiny concert

All told, that was lovely. Which brings me to my intentions for the coming year:

  • get more rest. I pushed back a lot of responsibilities to make sure that 2.009 happened, and the minute it ended, instead of getting to collapse, I had to write two final papers, an application essay, and more. I haven’t been getting the 10 hours of sleep that some teammates got, and I can feel myself running out of steam.
    • I tend to spend my days at MIT working through a haze of sleep deprivation and pain — and in some ways this is unavoidable, see also ‘pain.’ But the sleep deprivation part can be improved. I want to rest.
  •  full send more things! I want to find a project (either job or program) that I am as passionate about, that I can fall deeply into. I’d like a team as fun to work with, too.
a tattoo shop labelled tattoo

The name is not false advertising. I got a tattoo here.

  • Push myself athletically. Try to physically Die more often.
    • I think I only (figuratively) physically Died twice last semester: once after trail-running a 16-mile hike in Rio, Brazil, and once after walking across all of Rhode Island [link] (30 miles, but 33 since I went the wrong way. Walking from the end of the trail to the train station was the worst part by far). I also went on some hikes that were kind of hard, like the Kerry Way one (50 miles in 3 days),  and a 14-mile one in New Hampshire that knocked out 3 of the 48 4,000-ft peaks. 
    • The funny thing about hiking with a group as an endurance athlete is that the people around you tend to be suffering more, even thought they enjoy suffering less than you do, so really everyone is unsatisfied with the distribution of suffering.02 in Rio I was definitely suffering more. Josephine, my hiking partner, was not even suffering.
    • I want to push myself harder athletically, especially on long hikes and runs. I enjoy the feeling of thinking I can’t do something, then pushing through it. And the best beer / yogurt / weird microwaved ‘Mexican’ pizza I’ve ever tasted were eaten right after intense hikes.
me and josephine and jesus

One of our less intense Rio hikes was to see Jesus

  • engage with activism more. I am not sure how much I am allowed to write about this, but activism has always been a core part of my identity. After the most recent election and after moving to Massachusetts — a very different environment than Arizona — I let my commitment to activism lie fallow. I’ve been re-engaging more over the past year, and intend to devote more time to this in the coming semester. 
  • think about Pain. Could I get away with taking a month off every year? Would this perhaps make me sad. Or unemployed. How will I do everything that I want to.
  • keep up the high energy / relentless pace. Is this antithetical to the ‘rest’ point above? Yeah totally but don’t think about that too hard. I love everything that’s going on — the classes I’m signed up for, in precision engineering and Yiddish short stories and fantasy writing; the UROP I’m going to finally have time for; the weeknight hangouts and weekend adventures with friends. I love keeping afloat in the rush of it all, living as much life as I can this last semester.

a suffering-free hike. Pretty though.

  1. not the final presentation, though. That had at least two hours. back to text
  2. in Rio I was definitely suffering more. Josephine, my hiking partner, was not even suffering. back to text