Challenge Journal 2: When Disaster Strikes (or am I just really dramatic?)

My last journal was about my tendency to procrastinate and my hope that I could confront that impulse while still creating the honesty of work written against a deadline.

Well. I kind of did this, and spent my incredibly boring spring break trying to stay on top of the production plan deadlines I missed. I tried out seven or eight different online mapping softwares, testing for what could be closest to what I wanted without making me pay or learn a complex new interface. I gathered data about racial demographics in Detroit and planned developments, sourced archive photos of where freeways were built to create before and after photos spanning decades, and played around with different mapping perspectives. I know the mapping and visual aspects of my capstone will be the most time-consuming, so I tried to give myself time to experiment.

So you can imagine my panic when I could only find one of these maps when I went to upload them to my site — after an hour of desperately searching and calling every technology adept person I knew, I had to give up and just mourn the loss of my work.

Luckily, this didn’t happen in April, because I probably would have just laid on the floor to scream and given up completely, but it still totally sucked. But it also reminds me that, in writing and in life, there are a lot of things you can’t control and you just have to get up and get it figured out (even if it’s not by your content workshop deadline).

In my immersion memoir class, my final paper about “political bubbles” was initially dependent on interviews with students and professors. But when people didn’t respond to requests/didn’t have the time/didn’t actually have anything to say, I had to choose a different direction – one that might utilize the interviews, but was not centered on them. This shift in direction actually helped me to realize what I wanted the paper to be – not a forced attempt to exit whatever political bubble I was being told I existed in, but a reckoning with my own frustration with the shame I was expected to feel.

Here’s an excerpt from the final paper, where I am 1.) very dramatic and very bitter (as always) and 2.) annoyed, not just with what I felt people were telling me to be, but with the way that I had automatically agreed with them:

“It was a fact that, at first, filled me with some shame. Was I not doing my part? Was I causing our democracy to deteriorate? … [but] Why should I change my tune from a battle cry to a peaceful, heavenly choir, singing with earnestness, “Respect the results! Give him a chance!” I had given him a chance – in exchange, I had gotten a stark reminder that hate was not only an abstract that I was dealing with, but an actual threat to my communities, and a sudden glimpse in to what the next four years would hold.”

That’s not really the paper I was expecting to write, but when things didn’t go as planned, I think I created a piece that was more honest and genuine than what would have been written otherwise. I’m still going to re-create the maps and work on my visual depictions, but I hope this experience will also push me to think through what I really wanted the maps to do and what I’m really trying to accomplish with this capstone.

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