Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Last Hurrah Of My Academia



Oh hey, my public space to craft written content.


Here I sit, at the corner of Jackson and State, preparing for this impending final in my Usability Engineering course tonight.

In an honest, non kiss ass-based statement (I doubt my professor reads this, but hey one can never know...though I did just hyphenate 'ass-based'...crap), I’ve very much enjoyed the content and thought processes presented over this summer. Got a chance to lay out a mobile app with a design-centered focus (compared to my spring course that dealt with more of a theoretical business approach to such) and I have to say it turned out very well. I got lucky and had a really cohesive group to work with, which never hurts, either.

Compared to every other class I’ve taken thus far, this one is housed within the College of Digital Media, compared to the comforts of Liberal Arts where my New Media Studies program resides. The majority of my classmates this summer are Human Computer Interaction majors, a program I also contemplated prior to enrolling, but felt I lacked the more technical background to tend to more computer-science focused courses that make up that masters degree.

What a mouthful. I clearly haven’t written for a public audience in awhile.

I feel that in a way, this NMS degree program is really an exercise of reiteration: I’m getting my masters in what I consider to be digital common sense.

Wait, lay things out in a way that takes your user/viewer towards the information you deem most important? Wha? Utilize color pallets that have a specific emotion tied to them to convey said feeling? Write content with purpose instead of aimless rambling? Weird! Oh wait..

My viewpoint is deeply skewed with the parent factor in play; art and design was an ever-constant presence growing up and it became inherent within my daily goings on. On the walls (or mainly frames five deep filling the floor of hallways, perpetually awaiting their chance to adorn the walls “one day”), trips to the AIC and other museums, cray-pas in hand creating masterpiece after masterpiece. I was a combination of Klee and Dali (you know, the guy who painted the melting clocks in my early years, so I was told. I can see it, too; space and shape maneuvering within a full array of color choices is something I like tinkering with. I just lack a mustache.

That’s a constant theme as of late across the spectrum of life (not the mustache-lacking…I hope).

The notion of personal internal pride and success feels like it ceased a long time ago, like I intellectually peaked at five. I suppose it very well could be true: I was speaking beyond fluent French and felt command of a visual medium in a way that I couldn’t claim to have now. Perhaps a slight difference between me at (gulp) 27 and post-toddler self (how does one refer to a five year old, anyway?), but I’d love to recapture that sense of control in any facet within my old raggedy self.

And it always comes back to running. It’s no different there. I’ve had pain in one knee that just won’t go away, despite icing and trying out a strap. I’ve succumbed to the notion that I will not be lining up for next month’s Chicago Half because I have no miles under my legs and a worse feeling when I try and get in a few. I know, I know: I’ve said that before and then done the exact opposite…a few times, now. It became my “thing”, and what a horrible thing to have. I can’t really do that anymore. Last year I had a gasp of fitness on my side, with a failed attempt of marathon training and some lengthy long runs to my credit. Not so much this summer. A perfected level of self-introspective rarely gets one down Lake Shore Drive and back, and it’s not worth a try. I know that now.

What’s odd in a way is how much effort I have put towards my studies.  High school and college were an endless no show of academic exertion, even in classes I loved with professors I adored. Not so much this summer, or the past three quarters of courses. Three-class quarters in the fall and spring were rough but a delightfully nice test of my juggling abilities with sanity collapsing at work (note to others: it’s HARD working on design projects on a bus whilst 18-22 year old girls giggle over White Chicks) and on the road. But I persevered.

Not only that, I relished earning good grades and actually got a bit sad when my perfect streak of As (rightfully) came to an end in June.

A scant few weeks until my penultimate quarter starts up and two courses accompany me along 11 weeks filled with media theory and web design. At the end, I can then lay claim to my middle class (though forever dwindling away into the ether) maintenance functioning piece of paper known as a graduate degree.

I’m sad the end is in sight, but am glad I made the decision to take it on last summer with some nice support from some pretty spiffy people along the way.

The next question is what lies in store with all this energy and effort once it’s done. I have forever presumed it would be running, with an excuse at the ready as to why I hadn’t been doing such currently but WOULD be, once “blah blah blah” transpired.

“Once I have more control of my schedule.”

“Once the weather warms up/cools down.”

Now I have that control and command and my body has other plans. Right knee is not having it. Hoping to quash that soon.

I’ll make an earnest effort to update with more frequency as the days grow even shorter and fall truly rears its ugly head. 

After all, doesn’t everyone start the year off with a great zest and zeal for scholastic greatness? Where’s my pencil box…