Measuring Happiness- A Documentary

Hi Everyone!!!

I am so so excited to share my capstone project and site with you all!

When I was trying to decide what kind of project to do for my capstone, I knew I wanted to do something with film because I love making short videos. This whole process was very daunting to me because I had never made a video over 8 minutes long (and that 8 minute video was the first video I ever made- aka not very good), never took any film/editing courses, and did not have any other film related capstone projects to model after. I was exploring a completely new space for myself, and the Minor in Writing.

After a full semester of stress and running around with film equipment, editing, crying because I thought my documentary was going to be boring, and watching footage over and over until I could practically recite what my interviewees are saying– I am proud to say that I have gotten 15 interviews of over 3 hours and 30 minutes of footage, into a documentary under 41 minutes!

So if you’ve got 41 minutes, are bored over Winter Break, and/or are considering creating a documentary for your capstone project- check out my project!

All Things Must Pass, George Harrison

“All things must pass
None of life’s strings can last
So I must be on my way
And face another day

Now the darkness only stays at night time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good
At arriving at the right time
But it’s not always going
To be this grey”

Well, George Harrison, the most underrated of the Beatles (IMO) did it again. He somehow managed to capture a feeling and put it into words and match it with a beautiful melody.

The end of my time at the University of Michigan is so close. In fact, it has already started happening. I have silent goodbyes daily in my head, “goodbye 4am walk home from the library with my friend Matt, this won’t happen again, ever.” “goodbye bouncer at Mash, I don’t know if you will be working next time I am here so I am saying goodbye in my head right now.” “goodbye Fleetwood Diner at 1am on a Thursday, I probably won’t be here again, with this group of people, so farewell.”

There is no word to describe how saying goodbye to four years of your life—a place, being a student, working a job on campus, people, first apartments, dorm life, everything—feels. I thought I would be so happy to say goodbye. At least 2 years of my time at U of M were spent in an extremely depressed state, with me being on the verge of a breakdown 24/7. I remember almost dropping out many times. Calling my dad and saying, “I can’t do it anymore. I can’t be here. I don’t feel happy here, I want to just disappear and leave all this pain behind.” He would encourage me to come home, but something inside me told me to stick it out. To finish one more semester. And so I did.

I did, however, take one semester off. The fall semester of my senior year I spent in Norway. When I returned to campus in the winter, I was ready to face extreme anxiety and depression again, but something was different. I had randomly chosen to move into a student co-operative house on campus called “Vail”. This co-op I remembered from Sophomore year, I had come to Vail really drunk one night for a party and had a blackout breakdown in the laundry room on the dryer. I remember one of the house members finding me and calming me down. She was saying, “It’s ok. It’ll be ok. I feel very depressed sometimes too. You aren’t alone. Please, drink this water. Honey, it’ll be ok.” I had been to the co-op before, and at that time I was not aware of how much the co-op Vail would change my life for the better.

Moving in in January was the best choice I ever made at U of M. I was so ready to hate it, I prepared myself for the worst, for being isolated, for hating the messes, for hating my chores, etc. But my depressive expectations were not realized. Instead, I was greeted by 23 warm and welcoming housemates. I was invited to go dumpster diving. I was encouraged to play music by my new roommate. I found myself baking with my housemates at 2am, making art in the living room on Sunday nights, learning about new music genres, having South American dance parties, and more. My housemates told me that I made the house a happier place, and those words seemed to change how I viewed myself. Instead of viewing myself as a draining, sad, anxious person, I started to view myself as a creative, warm and loving person. Moving into Vail changed how I viewed myself and in turn changed how I affected people around me.

This story of the transformation my co-op ignited in me is the reason why I did my final project on Vail co-op. Yes, goodbyes are hard and parting with the house that changed me more than anything else at U of M will be really emotional. However, this project will allow me to reminisce on my house for years to come. I thank the writing minor for teaching me how to turn my emotions and opinions and memories into tangible projects and writing. I hope this project does my co-op justice.

All things must pass.

Making a Website, Yikes.

Well there are 7 weeks, or if you want to get technical 47 days, until graduation. I honestly could not tell you the sequence of events that has gotten us this far into the semester. We already had MLK day? We had the polar vortex over a month ago? Spring break is something that happened?

Seriously, this semester has been flying by and I can’t believe we are about to graduate. However, coming close to the end of my final semester at U of M is not as exiting as I expected it to be… With graduation comes finishing up the capstone. With finishing up the capstone comes making a website. With making a website comes an overwhelming amount of decisions related to format, color scheme, content, layout, etc.

I just made a rough draft of my website for the storyboard workshop that will be taking place regarding my storyboard tomorrow. It took a lot more work than I expected. I tried to make my website look like other podcast websites, with a more simplistic design, an easy to navigate layout of episodes, and some brief information about myself. The design looks more juvenile than I expected. I tried making it look similar to this: or this but as of now it looks like this:

Yeah, it has a long way to go. I realize the link you are clicking on (if you are clicking on this in the future) is not the same as the one I am referring to now. It might look a lot better by the time you get around to reading this post. But as of now it is a little unorganized, a bit incongruent, etc. I encourage any of you who have not started making your website to get on that soon, or to at least brainstorm what it will look like. Bon chance, good luck!

Challenge Journal #2 – Who is my Audience?

As I begin to finally put pen to paper and make progress on my Capstone Project, there is one question that continues to cloud my thoughts: Who is my audience?

The more I write, the more I feel that nobody will want to read what I write. Even when I can muster up an engaging and dynamic explanation about a particular food experience I have, my excitement is diminished by this fear.

Rationally, I know that my ideal audience is anyone that is interested in cooking. Adding modern media references and food trends might help me to refine this audience even further to a younger group of home cooks. However, I fear that this population is small — too small. Do you have any ideas on how to, perhaps, appeal to a larger group? Is this needed?

How do you combat the fear of not being read?

Capstone Challenge Journal 2

The writing games have begun. My project is two-fold in that there is a personal storytelling component and an analytical narrative component. Originally starting this project I figured the analytical narrative would be the easiest to write as it is the most interesting aspect of this to me, however, in me experience thus far it has been quite the opposite. While the personal storytelling has been hard to think back on, it has been easy to write about. Whereas, when it comes to the analytical component, I find myself more stuck. I believe this roadblock is because reflecting on these experiences analytically will make my feelings about them more real, which can be tough to deal with when they are emotions I oftentimes try to forget about. All in all, I do think this will be a therapeutic experience for me when everything is all done and I look back on it.

On a dryer note, I have created my website. I say dryer because I am not a very creative person. I find the content producing aspect of this to be the easiest while I wish the website would have just made itself. After 4 hours of obsessing over what would be the perfect design for this project, I think I am pretty happy with where everything landed. It is coming together nice with complementary colors working in my favor and the flow of where the content will live seems to be productive for the reader. 

As I continue on this journey, I know I will face more challenges, however, I am excited to tackle this current challenge of analytical reflection in the coming weeks.