So many days have gone by since starting school and it’s all a blur to me. I think this is what happens when something–in this case, studying–is so consuming as to nullify any awareness of the world around you. On one level, this perception of the passage of time is a good thing, as I want nothing more than to be out of the classroom and in my clinical rotations, learning how to do the stuff I actually want to do; but on another, every day that goes by without so much as registering in my consciousness feels like a waste of a day. And days aren’t exactly an infinite commodity.
There were ways to slow things down that I used to do a lot of. Write. Take pictures. Only nowadays it seems like I don’t have time for that because of school. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I could make the time, but I need to improve my studying discipline: it presently sucks.
I think I’m going to try to write more in addition to this (and I’m definitely going to have to make sure I’m on the ball with my studies), but because my earlier Project 365 seemed to work brilliantly, here goes one for 2012. And because 2012 is a leap year, it’s actually a Project 366. The aim is the same, though.
So. Let’s begin.
On my last day of being a twentysomething, I thought perhaps I should try to make the 365th photograph somehow meaningful. I drove through the neighborhoods in which I spent my childhood, thinking the familiar might spur my imagination, trying to picture in my mind that last image…eventually coming to the conclusion that I was trying too hard. This wasn’t what I had set out to do one year ago. A photograph I took on that day of an El station seemed to connect nicely with the first photograph I took for the project; but after some thought I figured that I already had enough images of public transportation. In the end, this is what I chose to represent this day, ordinary on one level but with some serendipitous significance, hints of a tangential nature to an as-yet unwritten future. That this project concluded in the same city where it began is no accident; it is the city of my birth, the city I think will always be home.
In between, it was not altogether uninteresting; though there were times where the decidedly uninspired photographs reflected the ordinary, mundane days underlying them, quite a bit happened on both ends of the emotional spectrum. 29 was not without its moments of sorrow and grief, losing an old friend to cancer and having another friend go through a tragedy of his own, but in the realm of things I can control, I can say that 29 was the year I finally, successfully, made my ultimate career move. I think that this year, straddling two chapters of my life as it were, catalyzed a fair amount of introspection that no doubt informed many of the photographs that made it into the project.
On a personal level, I like to think I’ve managed to improve my skills a little along the way and also inject some narrative into the imagery. Having a decent camera on the iPhone helped immensely in keeping up with the demand of generating a photograph each day; using something with considerably fewer controls than what I’m used to certainly forced a different dimension of creativity.
When I began, I said that if I could say I lived and experienced each moment of every day, then I will have been successful. I dare say this to be true. To those who followed this project to its end and offered your comments and support, you have my thanks.
It’s probably a good sign that I haven’t felt much need to post anything lately. Were it not for the end of the third quarter of year 29, I might have let November go without a post and kept October company.
Probably all that needs to be noted (and it’s old news for anyone keeping up with my Facebook status updates) is that my long national nightmare of disposable income now definitely has an end date (see the Countdown to Freedom in the blog sidebar). The anxiety of “will I get in somewhere” has since been replaced by “will I have a choice of where to go,” which is at least less stress-inducing but still admittedly tied to feelings of self-worth, however irrational it may be—yes, the applicant pool is beyond saturated with qualified candidates, but I wouldn’t be human if I said my ego doesn’t bruise at least somewhat from rejection.
I suppose all that’s left for this last quarter before I turn 30 is to have fun and enjoy it, but I’m hard pressed to remember a winter that wasn’t colored with some sort of melancholia…
The midpoint of year 29 kind of snuck up on me. I suppose that’s because these last three months have been a whirlwind of activity: with med school secondary apps (19) and Red Cross shifts (100+ hours) on top of the usual work responsibilities, it’s been busy, but in a good way. (Well. I can say that now, but in the thick of essay-writing, I think I had different emotions.) It has given this latest quarter a different quality than the one before it, feeling more purposeful and less like merely treading water. There are glimmers of hope for the future, maybe from proofreading my secondaries numerous times; they are tempered by doses of realism, but in the end, optimism wins out, buoyed by the sense that I’ve found what I want to do.
Maybe it’s fitting that this past weekend I hit the ground running to start this third quarter, logging some not-uneventful hours at Irish Fest, but the tone for this quarter will be set by the folks on the various admissions committees and whether they like what they read…
I started my 29th year trying to make the most of every day. I wish I could say that I have, but at least I’ve been somewhat successful. Maybe it’s unrealistic to do that with every single day; the weekdays, for instance, are hard, and it’s tough to stay motivated when I’ve got two major focuses in my life–work and school, one of which is more out of necessity and the other being what I want to do. Spending my free time with friends and family, in creative pursuits, and in service to others does bring a measure of fulfillment, but it isn’t enough for a net positive feeling. And losing Fred on the heels of losing Scott–well, Scott would have used the adjective “tenderized” somewhere.
At least I’m making some progress towards the future.
So far, I’ve been trying not to shoot too many photographs so as to avoid having to choose one that gets the “official shot of the day” title; but I couldn’t avoid it for today’s post. Between a photograph with more meaning and a photograph with more visual appeal, I chose the one with more meaning.
The sticker appeared on that pole in the last week or two. I was struck by its economy of message–a black-and-white print of a nondescript, if somewhat creepy, face paired with a simple statement that people who encounter it are free to interpret as they wish. (Geez, doesn’t that sound like I’m reading too much into it.) There’s little question that I wouldn’t have paid it much attention were it not for my own struggles with goals: not so much that I lack them, but rather that I’m hard-pressed to make any progress towards achieving them. The situation is such that there is but one logical path I can follow–only one choice to make–and it may or may not lead where I want. The reasons for this could occupy their own blog entry, but I will, in the interests of time and discretion, leave them unwritten.
One foot in front of the other, I suppose.
On an expedition through the old neighborhood after Mass with Mom and Dad, I tried to resist going into Unabridged Bookstore, thinking of the books on my shelves that have sat, neglected; but I failed, driven perhaps by nostalgia for days past in New York spent browsing the many miles of books at The Strand.
Inside, the simple cover of No One Belongs Here More Than You beckoned me closer, testified to by a staff member’s positive, handwritten review posted on the shelf. The title, too, held a promise all its own, hinting that within its pages might be found a resolution to, or at least some brief sanctuary from, my own unshakable feeling of I Belong Somewhere Else: when I lived in New York; I belonged in Chicago; in Pittsburgh, I belonged in New York; and now, in Wisconsin, I belong… anywhere else.
Six years is a long time to be someplace you don’t belong. But–and I’m reminded of a performance of one-acts I did in college–everybody has to be someplace.
A certain milepost of my life having been reached, I have kicked off my Project 365 [local | flickr | facebook], in which I hope to, as a side effect of the actual goal of the project, make the most of my last days as a twentysomething. Though the project itself is rooted in the present, some days’ images will be more introspective, springboards for reflecting on where I’ve been, how far I’ve come, or how far I have yet to go.
I invite you to join me in finding out where this project takes me.