Sometimes you don’t realize how compressed you are until after the fact, when you deflate. Case in point: after a long semester of working on and thinking about nothing but the Bronx Blog Project — obsessing over the web site’s design and functionality, shooting, editing, and compressing video, slaving with Flash for over a week for a minor component of the site, coordinating shoots, battling administrative bureaucracies, and constantly rethinking the PR aspect so as many people as possible “got” it — I was completely burnt out.
I’m in an MFA program, which in our case means that we have to present our work at a “crit” twice during our tenure. So last week, as I feverishly prepared a Keynote presentation (Keynote is kind of like Apple’s answer to Powerpoint, and it’s very fun) that used the brilliant insights I made in my Social Software for Social Change essay to contextualize the work I did in the Bronx over the last few months, I realized that my precious, precarious mental state was becoming unbalanced. I wasn’t alone; Nicole was glued to her papers and computers all weekend too, working herself into a frenzy of public-healthified indignance. Cries and whoops could be heard from time to time as she came across more and more evidence of the fast-food industry’s nefarious hold on minority consumers.

Meanwhile I worked hard on a presentation that included pictures like this:

I might have gone a little overboard on the cartoonishness, but it was fun.
All I wanted was a break from the project, and some kind of closure. Then I presented to a welcoming and supportive crit panel, who had loads of positive things to say and very little criticism. For the first time in months, I felt people got what I was doing, and they seemed to understand why I thought it was important, and they might have thought it was important too. In part, that could be a result of my Tony Robbins-like presentation style, in which my body language seems to be telling people that, if they just do what I say, their lives will improve forever.
Anyway, after I left school that day, I felt an amazing sense of well-being and realized that I hadn’t felt that way without the help of beer in months. A cloud had lifted that I didn’t even know was there. I’d been tied in a know knot all semester and it became untied. Cliche after cliche entered my mind. Only after I finally had some closure on the project did I feel unbound by it.
So I’ve been listening to the new Walkmen album constantly all week, rocking out and feeling free. Yay.

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  1. I know the exact feeling you’re talking about. It’s glorious. Hang onto it for as long as you can before jumping into the next ambitious project.

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