institute for documentary studies

{Week 5: Photo}

Week 5: Photo

This week, out of my roommates, Mike took a wandering country drive up Route 1. Emily went to Boston for a weekend with friends and family. Erika and I stayed home.

When you feed off a regular diet of day-old coffee and panic, constantly caught up in repeating waves of despair for not having found your final project – or one satisfactory enough – it is nice to, as Mike puts it, “go outside.” And sometimes, even if you can’t get yourself out the door, the very least you can do is give yourself a break to watch and complain about the inconsistency of ‘Girls’, season two.

It’s a real blessing that for those times I don’t make it outside — choosing instead to stress purposefully from the living room papasan — I have the company of my roommates. Salt students live in the other apartments that make up our complex, and for me, our weekly dinners are a source of relief and comfort. It’s the only time in the seven-day cycle when I get a properly made meal, and I revel in the intellectual discussion (i.e., our collective crush on our multimedia instructor). And it’s an opportunity to nerd out in a totally judge-free environment: The other day, a flashing cop car pulled up in front of our building; two housemates rushed outside with their cameras, wanting to capture the “beautiful light.”

But for me, the moral of the week is to check out. Take a walk or a run (or a cookie break), because until you get your story, the regular research and cold call schedule can become a slog. There’s nothing like that particular feeling of dread, when your personal project has been rejected on the phone all morning, and your list of calls to make is still a foot long. Step away from the list.

This week has had its triumphs, too: Erika and I turned in the final draft of our Doc In A Day piece, and I have to admit that I’m pretty pleased. As total novices, we’ve created a finalized piece to add to our portfolio – and I’m not even all that embarrassed by it. I also heard back from a possible story subject today, who seems ready and on board to work with me. Could it get any better?

Probably. Call me shortsighted, but it’s sometimes hard to remember the good when you’re also subject to the inconsistent emotional highs and lows of a stressed-out Saltie life. But while the story-finding process is part good luck and part persistence, I’m finding out that I can at least relieve the burden, too, even if it’s just by closing the laptop, and stepping away.