pause.

It’s funny as soon as I decide to blog every day, noticing the moments, I get too busy living them to give them thought. Pause. It’s my last week at Carolina. Must enjoy. Must think about it. Here we go.

Sunday early morning, Annie, Natassia and I rode the p2p for the last time. This is the circle, from our first year. Back to those many times between Franklin and Hinton James. The notable p2p driver Benjy Downing was driving. The music and funny announcements. He tells us that he’s written a book about his times driving us around for four years and the proceeds go partly to the Eve Carson Scholarship, which is a cause so close to my heart. He’s distributing bookmarks to advertise it– go to the site and preorder it!

In the morning, I was awake trying to study GRE vocab flashcards in anticipation of my upcoming test but I gave up when I got the word “Natty” and I was staring at it, thinking, and the only thing I could think of was “light.” I went back to sleep instead and slept until 2pm, at which point I put on a French playlist and burst into tears. The song by Mozart Rock came on “C’est Bientôt La Fin.” It’s almost the end. It’s almost the end. It summarized everything I feel about my last week. So, have you ever tried to get ready for work, put make-up on, with tears streaming down your face? That was me on Sunday. I made it to work intact, however, and worked through my last wedding, got sentimental at the first dance (why do I do that? they are strangers, dude), and in the end, realized I’ve been at over 70 weddings these past 4 years, seen so much love and marriage– so many toasts, so much cake, endless champagne. Dedication.

The rest of my week has been hectic, running down to the end, filled with actions and hardly room for thought– GRE, dentist, doctor for camp physical (camp! camp! camp!), friends, dinners, packing, moving out, planning my trip to Europe (leaving in 5 days!), catching up with loved ones, my sister arriving from Texas with my brother in law and 2 nephews, getting a text from my little sister who finally made it back from Nepal and crying when I received it (she’s safe and home!), transitioning with the new co-chair of Project Dinah, saying goodbye to Project Dinah, driving to Greensboro to see Sami for the first and last time in months, banking, errands, boxes, sore arms, no sleep, some of everything and not much of anything at the same time, breathless.

The two most notable things I did this week (besides drive like a crazy fool all over the Raleigh-Chapel Hill area) was Wednesday:

I spent 7 hours in the computer lab in the basement of Graham Memorial finishing my documentary. 2 years of growth compressed into 13 minutes. I started this project with an idea in January 2009 and by April 2009 I had the project IRB approved and was conducting 10 hours of interviews with staff, administrators and students from across the entire campus. Have you ever tried to write an IRB research proposal? Mine was rejected twice, millions of pages, and I went through 2 ethics courses over these two years to stay approved, all this… rigorous. Have you ever listened to 10 hours of interviews and tried to edit them to 10 seconds each? After my interviews were done in 2009, I went abroad and the project went on hold. When I got back in January, as part of Bob’s WMST 290 class, I worked on the project with another student Ashley and for months we dragged the huge camera around to parties, classes, to our friend’s houses, to Franklin street, to places around campus. Months. An embarrassing large camera. We intruded, requested to film people, pushed and took our tapes and logged for hours in the lab.

After the semester, I had a 26-minute film. I submitted it to some administrators’ whose opinion I respected and wanted to hear. The reviews were mostly positive but at the same time, the constructive critiques were enormous; I felt I had so much work to do to improve it. But by then, it was summer and I was traveling 4 countries interviewing 40 women’s rights activists across Europe (also an IRB-approved project that I  am still working on– there’s hope I’ll have time to work on it next year), so again my project went on hold. When I returned for my Senior year, I screened parts of the 26-min version of the documentary for the first time at an NC Fellows program and the evening was so incredible. I saw for the first time the impact my film could maybe have on an audience. However, at the same time, Project Dinah was trying its best to keep me busy: we were doing film screenings, Take Back The Night, and creating an entire sexual violence photography exhibit and initiating a Violence Awareness Week. The semester was over before I had a chance to film or go to the lab. Over the next semester, my last semester, I got determined to actually finish it. I enlisted a male narrator– my friend John– to voice parts of the documentary, filmed a new interview on bystander intervention, and finally got scenes I had been wanting to get filmed and put in as visuals for a long time now. Then April hit and hit hard. Sexual Assault Awareness Month — and we were coordinating not only countless events but thousands of students to participate in those events. Thus, it took until May for me to get into the lab and edit the film. 7 hours this Wednesday. I didn’t move from my seat in front of the computer. No water. No food. No thought. Just endless concentration. Finally, I burned it. Put it online (a password protected version for educational use only). And thought, it’s over. 2 years. About damn time. The sad part is, I cannot watch my own film anymore. It makes me sick to watch it– I’ve pored over it so many times and hated it and agonized over it that I’m simply finished. There is nothing more in me that I can give to this film and who knows why I cared so much about this project but I believe. Simply. I believe it gave me many things and taught me so much, it made an impact on the people involved in its creation, and it potentially will have an impact on others one day in classrooms and trainings at UNC about sexual violence. If you are interested in seeing a copy or using it, let me know!

The only other notable thing I did this week? In cleaning out my house in Raleigh, packing my life into boxes and throwing memories away, I found a picture of me when I was 10 years old. I was wearing my brother’s Carolina robes and have this great grin on my face like: I’m destined to be a Carolina grad! He was graduating from UNC at the time and I– in my cuteness– took his shiny Tarheel blue cap and robes, put the cap on my head and zipped into the robes. Picture snapped. 12 years later and I’m wearing my own robes in 4 days. Destined!

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