The Cancelled Project.

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Andddddddd I’ve got nothing to show for it.

Okay, I’m being a little bit dramatic. But, rightfully so.

As of 5 days ago, all of my work from the past 8 weeks came crashing down. The project that I intended to complete for the capstone course is no longer possible. It’s frustrating to realize that I spent so many hours of work on something that will no longer come to fruition any time soon.

*sobs*

Good news? It’s nothing I can’t handle. Honestly, I do my best work under pressure. AND…I’m actually falling in love with the new idea for my project as I spend more time developing it.

I am terrible at asking for help. I hate admitting that I can’t do something on my own. Learning to accept the help of others is something I am really trying to work on this year. On Monday, I realized that a seemingly small conversation can turn into something amazing. There is something about T that makes you feel like you can do anything. My favorite brainstorming sessions have been when I am sitting in a seat opposite her and her creative mind. Then, taking the conversation even further with my classmates led me to discover interests that I had never realized existed in my mind.

During our draft workshop on Monday, I had walked into class with a vague description of my new project. I felt so behind as I listened to everyone updating the class on how far along they were. But, by the end of class I felt confident. Confident in my idea, confident in my ability to execute it, and confident that I’m surrounded by some of the coolest, most creative minds ever.

I would compare my experience on Monday to making a snowball. You grab a chunk of snow, plop some more on top of it to make it full enough, and then you round it out into its final shape before you’re officially ready to launch it. I started with a basic description of what I wanted to do. Amy helped me add more depth to the project by giving me a ton of ideas that built it out even further. Then, Brianna dug deeper, asked some meaningful questions, and helped me make the necessary connections to visualize a solid form for the project. Now, I have somewhere to launch from, and I am ready to go. Not only am I ready, but I am excited.

Memory. A faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information. Something remembered from the past. A recollection. Thank you, dictionary.com.

My new project will focus on the theme of memory. What is the drive behind documenting, recording, and collecting memories? What purpose does this serve in our lives presently and in the future? Why do some people collect and record memories but others don’t? When do we reach a point where our brain can’t hold all of the memories that we want it to, so we are left with no other choice but to write them down?

My senior year of high school, I was struggling. A lot. I felt broken, damaged, like I was going to be perpetually sad. I spent a lot of time wallowing in these feelings. One day, I decided to start keeping track of the good things that happened. Maybe, just maybe, I would realize that even though it wasn’t obvious or happening in abundance, there were still good things happening around me. Thus, my “jar of happy things” was born. I bought a jar and a package of sticky notes, and I went on my way. I would fill out a sticky note, include the date, fold it up, and place it in the jar. On New Years Eve, I would open all of the notes from the previous year to celebrate all of the good things in my life. After looking at them all, I put them in an envelope with the year written on the outside, toss them into my box of important things, and start the new year with a fresh jar. My first ever entry? I made it through a day of school without crying. Not your idea of a typical “happy” memory, but baby steps I guess.

To date, I have sticky notes from 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. While working on this project, I am really excited to go through all of my happy memories again. I’ll get to see how my life and my values have changed over the past few years. Who used to be mentioned in my jar a lot that I don’t keep in touch with much anymore? Who has come into my life and made a significant impact? What was my favorite memory from 2017? Well, I’m about to find out. I am really excited to be focusing on the positive, happy aspects of my life.

While I’ve been building out this new project, I had an inkling that I had written about my need to document memories before. Then, it hit me.

“Our relationships with others help define who we are and how we live our lives. Are we compassionate? Are we envious? Are we lovable? Are we lonely? Family or friend. Platonic or romantic. Long or short. There are countless combinations of the types of relationships that we can have in our lives.

I write to maintain mine.

Sending a birthday card to my aunt who lives in the Dominican Republic, writing a letter to my mom&dad when I’m at summer camp, or writing a text message to my sister who moved to North Carolina. I can communicate with those who matter most even though they are 1,559 miles away.

It’s not enough to make these connections. What’s the point if we cannot remember the intimate details of our encounters with those we love?

I write to remember them.

The girl who paid for my coffee as a random act of kindness. Celebrating my birthday. Going on vacation with my family. Having a movie night with my best friends. The first time my boyfriend told me he loved me. Getting a puppy. My first job. Getting my license. The last thing I said to my grandpa before he took his final breath. My first kiss. The day I moved away to college. The taste of a home-cooked meal. The events that led me to find my passion in life. Millions of memories, big and small, that I never want to forget, but my brain does not have the capacity to hold on to. When I’m 40 years old and have kids of my own I want to be able to tell them what I was doing on January 14th, 2018.”

I wrote that two years ago in my “Why I Write” piece when I was a student in the gateway course. My desire to journal and keep sticky notes stems from wanting to remember the intimate details of my encounters with loved ones. But, where does that desire come from? I am going to ask myself this over and over until I find a deeper meaning behind this habit of mine.

My current worry for the project is that I am 8 weeks behind. That’s never a good feeling. I don’t want to feel rushed to get things done and sacrifice quality. To mitigate these feelings, I plan to dedicate all day Sunday and Tuesday to catching up on this project: new proposal, research list, production plan, rubric, and of course drafting content.

I’m slowly, but surely building up my research list right now. I’m looking into scholarly journals about the functions of our memory, articles about the rise of degenerative diseases leading to an increase in the desire to document our lives for when we can no longer remember them, and I’m looking into my own personal items such as old journals. I truly think that the capabilities of our brain are fascinating, and I am enjoying learning more about it. The most interesting piece of research that I have found so far is a Ted Talk called “One Second Every Day”. I find this piece to be so interesting because the man has a very similar desire to mine, which is to document important moments in life so that I don’t forget them, but he does it in a very different way. It opened my eyes up to all of the different ways that people achieve the same goal. Yet, that underlying goal is still the same. They don’t want to forget. But, what is it about forgetting that is so scary? I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

That’s enough out of me. I’ll be journaling if you need me.

Jess

4 thoughts to “The Cancelled Project.”

  1. Jess!! I love that your capstone is going to link to the very first thing you did for this minor- your “why I write.” How fitting is it that your project is about memory and you have this memory of the gateway informing your passion and interest.
    I’m a very nostalgic person, so I am so excited to see what this project becomes. It makes me think about how I love to literally just go through my photo roll or snapchat memories to elicit those feelings that I felt when the photo was taken.

  2. I completely understand how you feel about sacrificing quality but I truly believe that the steps you are taking and the plans you have will allow you to catch up and that your work will still be of the utmost high quality!! I have no idea what the Ted Talk is on but the name makes me think of an app that I have on my phone- Lead Second. I record one second every day or at least try to remember to. These are my memories, how I choose to document my days 🙂 I am so glad that this project idea has snowballed and that you are so excited about it- I am excited for you too!!

  3. Starting completely over with a project, though always terrifying, is a much easier process when you care deeply about the subject. And it’s obvious that you do! The delay isn’t ideal, of course, but your plan to catch up is as good as any. I’m glad the class discussion helped so much. Please don’t hesitate to talk things through as your project develops. We’re all rooting for you!

  4. JESS!!!! Jess that blurb from your “Why I Write” is absolutely beautiful. I think a lot of self-reflection will do this project good, and I’m so excited to see where this is going. Talking to you in class last, I definitely could see that spark in your eye. Definitely look into where this obsession with memory comes from, it’s a very human trait. And it manifests in so many different ways–pictures, voicemails, videos, writing, art, hey, maybe even architecture. Memory is all around us, manifesting in so many different ways.

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