Remember how?

I’m an individual who has heaps of hobbies.

Don’t laugh too hard, I bet you know a “hobby heap-er” or are one yourself… You know, one of those people who seems to dabble in a little bit of everything. Those people who tell you they’re going to a quilter’s convention, then two weeks later you go on facebook and see pictures of them at a yoga retreat, and the following week when you  visit their house they offer you a glass of their home brewed beer (that’s one of my, “I-want-to-have-that-as-a-hobby” hobbies….brewing beer. I’m convinced that is a great idea).

I don’t think being a “hobby heap-er” is anything to be ashamed of. I mean, if you think about it, it often makes conversations with complete strangers exponentially easier because you’re bound to find something you can both relate to. On top of that, it can be fascinating to hear that an individual is interested in or has some particular hobby – like rug weaving or model train – when you least expect it.

Maybe you know this or maybe you don’t — but one of my hobbies is knitting. It’s something I’ve been doing since kindergarten and that isn’t an exaggeration. My Mom actually taught me when she was teaching my older sister Danielle. Well, maybe I should say trying to teach my older sister Danielle… You see, I can kind of be a pain in the butt and at some point in time Danielle threw in her needles and called it quits in the knitting world and stubborn me plodded on. Maybe knitting just wasn’t her thing, or maybe the fact that her little sister was now joining in on her lessons was enough for her to loose interest.

wool.pngNow don’t jump to any conclusions, knitting IS cool. I’ve made some pretty sweet projects and have even been able to travel simply because of my knitting. I knit a little black dress once (although since 6 foot tall me was wearing it, it was everything but little as seen in the picture on the right) for the WI Make it With Wool Competition that I won and then competed at the national level in Nashville, Tennessee. No I didn’t win at nationals, but I did come in 2nd runner up which is pretty cool 😀

I haven’t made any massive time consuming projects like that in quite some time. Most of my recent knitting projects have been of the baby-hats-to-donate-to-the-hospital variety. Nothing overly laborious, and honestly, they’re things I can practically knit with my eyes closed.

I guess in some ways, knitting is kind of like riding a bike. Or like driving. It takes a bit of time to learn how to do it – a few times face planting on the side walk, a few (or more) jerky stop and go’s – but once you have it figured out, well you have it figured out and you’re good to go.

If you’ve never knit there are (what feels like) a bajillion different stitches you can make. It allows for a lot of versatility, but can make things a little bit complicated. I had knit this really epic rainbow colored scarf while I was in college, only it wasn’t typical knitting stitches, it was a form of knitting called brioche. It was simply gorgeous but it was also pretty time consuming because you in essence knit every row twice using two different strands of yarn for a single row instead of just one.

Needless to say, that scarf was made out of wool and may have accidentally found its way into the dryer. If you’re familiar with wool and drastic temperature changes in a washing cycle, you understand that my once long, soft, and beautiful scarf quickly shrunk into a much shorter and less soft scarf. So I decided to re-knit it. But again, it’s not really knitting – it’s those really strange stitches I had learned just to make that scarf over five years ago and haven’t thought about since.

scarfNeedles in hand and tangled-up yarn on lap, I cast-on and began my re-knit/re-brioche process. It didn’t take long and after just a few rows, I felt that familiar muscle memory kick in as I brought the yarn around the needles, slipped stitches from left to right, and worked my way back and forth across my slowly growing scarf.

Muscle memory is such a wonderful thing. It’s one of those things that simply seems to kick in. No effort at all and it’s just there like you’ve been doing whatever it is for forever and never stopped in the first place. I definitely don’t think muscle memory gets the credit it deserves.

But to be honest, sometimes I worry about muscle memory NOT kicking in.
About NOT remembering or NOT being able to do something I used to do.

I mentioned in this blog post that I interviewed and got accepted to medical school. The acceptance into an MD/PhD program at such a great school is exciting, but when you make the official decision to enroll and then matriculate there, well, it’s a whole new level of exhilaration. Needless to say, that’s where I’m at. I have officially accepted my acceptance to the MSTP program at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.

To give you a bit of a sense of what that even means and what that looks like for my future, here’s a mini briefing of the program. You typically begin the program sometime in May before the start of your M1 year (M1 = your first year of medical school). The earlier than typical academic year start is for a short rotation in a research lab on campus you’re interested in possibly completing your PhD. After that summer lab rotation, you have M1 and M2 years with some more lab rotations thrown in. Then you put a pseudo “pause” on med school and do your graduate training to complete your PhD (3.5-5 years depending on the lab and project). After that you return to medical school to complete your last year and a half of clinicals, interview for residency, and other odds and ends. Of course this is a a pretty simplified version of the curriculum, but at least you get an idea…

Now since I only sort of know what kind of research I want to perform and don’t have a ton of commitments (besides driving my mother nuts) here in Wisconsin, I actually plan to start school a tad earlier in order to do extra/longer lab rotations to help figure things out. A tad earlier, meaning sometime this March. Meaning March 2017. Meaning, in like 3 months.

Um. Woah.

I actually recently took a trip down to Chicago to meet with some faculty and take a look at some housing options. I left Chicago with better insight into where my research interests lie as well as the apartment I’ll be living in. Yep, you read that right, I officially have an apartment in Chicago.

Um. Woah.


I guess you could say this whole, “you’re-going-to-move-3.5-hours-away-and-spend-the-next-bajillion-years-training-to-become-a-doctor” thing is becoming pretty real. I’m extremely excited, but I’m also undeniably terrified.

You see, I graduated from undergrad in 2013 and haven’t been in a challenging academic situation (excluding studying for the MCAT which was something I did at my own pace anyway) since then. That whole muscle memory thing I was talking about before? Sometimes I worry that I’ll have forgotten how to do the whole “school” song and dance. I worry that maybe those “stuff-all-this-new-knowledge-into-your-brain-while-still-managing-to-be-a-real-person-and-enjoy-life” muscles have disappeared.

True, worrying is useless. It won’t change anything and you’re basically just wasting your time. Yet in the next breath, it sure is hard NOT to worry over a transition as big as this one.

Worry and fear are irreplaceable emotions of the human condition that are certain to make an appearance during the lifetime of an individual. In some cases, I wonder if they’re also a sign of humility. Of approaching something new and unknown with respect, humbly accepting your modest position of newcomer and acknowledging you have a large hill of learning and uncertain experiences to climb. Then again, maybe I’m just trying to assure myself that my worry is only semi-misplaced energy.

So yea, my start date is 3 months away and yea, I’m already a bit nervous. I guess it’s a good thing I’ve always been pretty capable of filling my schedule with plenty of things to do to keep my mind busy and help prevent it from taking up residence in the dangerous land of “what ifs.” I’m not gonna tell you what some of those activities are now, but follow along over the next few months and I’ll keep you in the loop 🙂

Memory (even muscle memory) can be touch and go, but passion is a very different story.

Passion is that vehicle we find ourselves strapped into, driving down the road without complete knowledge of our actual destination.
We can’t reach our destination by fueling that vehicle with worry, but maybe setting a little on the backseat as a reminder is okay.

I’m sure my vehicle will need some repairs along the way and I certainly don’t expect the road to be pothole or accident free.
But man, I sure do expect to put on some mileage driving that vehicle, driving and pursuing that passion, to places I had never planned on visiting.

5 thoughts on “Remember how?

  1. Tassie Tagarelli says:

    Hi Sam,

    I am a friend of your cousin Lisa Brennan and have been following your blog.

    All I have to say is……………you are one amazing human being!

    Congratulations of your new adventure and I can’t wait to read all about it.

    There is a great Chinese place in Evanston, Hunan Spring that delivers. i think they have the best General Tso’s chicken anywhere. the chicken and green beans is great , too. I used to visit a friend in Evanston who loved that place, too.

    Good luck and enjoy Evanston!

  2. Mary Raeth-Knight says:

    Sam –

    I just wanted to send a big congratulations on acceptance to your MD/PhD program. I am so happy and excited for you!

    Have a wonderful holiday season –


    Dr. Mary L. Raeth Assistant Teaching Professor University of Minnesota Department of Animal Science 317C Haecker Hall 1364 Eckles Avenue St. Paul, MN 55108



  3. Janet says:

    Dios mio, Sam! You just keep outdoing yourself with this writing thing! This is beautiful! Sorry for all the exclamation points but darn, girl, you are good. If this whole MD PhD bit doesn’t work out (yeah, right. This is Sam Schroth we’re talking about), you got yourself some options!

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