This marks my seventh semester at Florida State University. I hesitate to claim that I was a stellar student in high school, but my GPA was high, and I never really struggled. For whatever reason(s), in college, I’ve had to fight a lot harder to achieve far lower grades. Each semester, I have worked increasingly harder to try and keep up with classes and a course load that (for me) continues to grow exponentially harder.
My three finals this week will help not only help to determine my grades for the semester, but my course track for the foreseeable future. As such, I was incredibly busy with studying, even as my coaching job continued at the pool. This Finals Week was also the closest I’ve ever come to a nervous break-down. Between a cup of coffee the other day, and my nerves – I was literally trembling: I couldn’t keep my hands from shaking.
These pictures – taken a few a day, helped to alleviate my stress, and although I’ve shared the majority of them on social media, I want to present them here, each with a slightly more in-depth description of what they are and mean to me.
Day 1: Saturday
This was the first photo I took for the series, while I was studying Programming at RedEye Coffee in MidTown. I really enjoy the colors, and this was one of the first times leading up to Finals Week that I also chilled out by listening to The Goat Rodeo Sessions – primarily “Attaboy.” [Funny side note, I may or may not have less-than-legally downloaded the album, and I just realized that the song titles are all skewed and messed up on my phone…lol]
Same point in time, I made good use of the depth of detail that the Nikon RAW files preserve in the shadows, as I way blew out the brights because of the back-light windows.
Day 2: Sunday
I was starting to get stressed by this point in time on Sunday, as I had my first two of three exams on Monday, but it’s always refreshing to be able to pet a soft, fluffy, puppy dog as comfort.
This was later in the day at the Starbucks near my house. I had walked in, and spent a good two or so hours studying, and this girl was there when I got there, and was still there when I left. While I claim this is a “candid” photo, I actually asked her permission to take it, as I didn’t know her, but I really liked the way the huge stacks of books on either side of her framed her studying figure, and made it seem as if she was “entrenched,” which was what I ended up titling the photo.
Day 3: Monday
The first two of my three exams were essentially back to back on Monday, and this was walking from the FSU Student Union to my first final: Programming II. This guy appeared to me to be hastily checking something on his laptop as a few other students wander towards their dooms…ahem I mean their finals with their heads hung low.
Just a quick snap of my camera, showing how I attempted to carry a rather bulky DSLR around with me for a week.
Pretty soon after my Programming II final, I had my Engineering Graphics final on E-Campus, and I was wandering towards it, not entirely too worried, as it was an easier exam. I had spent my first hour or so in between finals studying, but I was also looking for a shot. And lo, a shot presented itself in the form of an ethereal reflection through some artsy floor-to-ceiling glass. I decided to title this “An Ethereal Self-Portrait.”
This chalkboard caught my eye as I continued wandering towards my second final, and although much of it was literally a bunch of gibberish scribbles to me, it figuratively represented the mess that my brain had started to become.
Day 4: Tuesday
With no exams, and no class, I spent the day studying at home. Even though I was in the comfort of my own home, I was beginning to feel the heat of the looming Calculus III final…I decided to take a picture of the only jewelry/necklace that I own: a dog tag with Mac Crutchfield’s fingerprint. When life gets hard, I wear it to remind myself of several things: I’m blessed to be alive, and healthy, I’m blessed to be loved and cared about by a fair number of people – both family, and not, and that I do have friends and family in another place looking down on my and watching out for me. I really wanted to capture the emotional feel of heavenly light, so I aimed for an overpowering backlight in this image, and I got an even more powerful and thought-provoking picture than I’d imagined.
Again, even if the puppy dog is a lazy turd, at least she’s cute and reassuring.
Day 5: Wednesday
All of these pictures were taken as a sort of studying adventure: I went to Lucky Goat Coffee for the first time, with my coaching friend Chloe. It was wonderful, locally-sourced coffee, with a pleasant, open area to sit and study in. I was already planning on taking a few pictures of the store for this series, but I had forgotten that one of the mothers from the Serinas Synchronized Swim Team worked there, and she recognized me while I was wandering around. Based on our brief conversation, she had apparently been following this series, and asked me very nicely to make sure I did take some cool pictures. These are the ones! (If you were wondering…here in this shop, studying again for Calculus III, was where I almost had a nervous breakdown – something which I had never experienced, and not really believed could be real.)
Day 6: Thursday
Not really a picture – well, yes, a screen shot is a picture, but I didn’t really “take” it. But this was what I was listening to (in RedEye again) studying this morning, before my last (and hardest) final. I kept trying to reassure myself that my GPA doesn’t define me, and that [I think] I am a fairly remarkable human outside of school. But I really couldn’t shake the feeling that a bad grade on the exam and the corresponding bad GPA would define me…Will you still call me Superman?
Finally I made it to school, and was studying again; this time I was just outside of the classroom where the exam would take place. I found this inspirational gem.
After what was most assuredly one of – if not THE – hardest exams I’ve ever taken, I was walking despondently back to my car to head to the pool and coach, but I noticed this beautiful scene, framed perfectly through a brick window in the parking garage, and couldn’t help but to think that no matter how the exam had gone, this was still beautiful, and I needed to appreciate it.
Day 7: Nope
I had planned on originally doing a whole week of pictures, but I’m so toasted by finals, and excited about having the whole summer off from classes, that I cannot bring myself to focus on finals anymore, and am finally ready to bring my attention to REALLY training for ITU World Championships in September, coaching/teaching, and…something else that everyone should find greatly humorous.
Until next time!