stereotypical San Francisco nights, when the weather has an edge of cold to it and one can feel the air constantly moving, whispering in one's ear. The clouds were gray, the street was dark, and there was no one walking in the street. The night looked sleepy and it was strangely quiet, almost mute. The peace of the nighttime was deceptive, however; while it seemed sleepy and peaceful, it was actually one of the most hectic weeks of my entire life.
I had just started my fourth semester at the university, and was in a difficult class with a demanding teacher. There was a project due the second week of class, which left me only one week to do the work, as well as to understand not only what the teacher was teaching, but also to try to guess the teacher's expectations for the project. Everyone was working incredibly fast. In fact, it felt like we had no time for talking, chatting, or even things like eating. Furthermore, although the professor did not seem to acknowledge the fact, that was just one of several classes. However, because the class was a studio class, I knew that I had to do well in it. So, I attempted to muster as much energy as I could and focus on the project at hand, hoping that I could master, not only the material, but also the professor's intent, in the short period of time I had been exposed to the class. Unfortunately, that cold, damp, sleepy San Francisco weather seemed to be working against me; it was mentally and physically difficult to muster the energy to tackle the project with enthusiasm, when the weather made me want to curl up in bed and go to sleep. The push to complete the project contrasted against the pull of sleepiness, and, frankly, I was worried that I would not up to the challenge.
Complicating matters was the fact that it was a group project; each group consisted of two partners, which meant that, in order to do any work, we had to coordinate our schedules. Sometimes I dreaded group projects because of the burden of coordinating with others, but I found myself partnered with an excellent match for the project. He was good at drawing the axis, while my strength lies in drawing the floor plan, so that between the two of us, we had the project covered. Perhaps more importantly, the goal of the class was to help build our overall skills. The group project provided us with an opportunity to teach our classmates and learn skills from each other. However, while the combination of the two of us meant that we had all of the skills we needed to complete the project, time was not on our side. In fact, it seemed like time was our enemy and my partner and I needed to figure out what we could do.
The first weekend of school, we decided to meet on Friday in order to plan the project. My partner and I did not know much about each other prior to getting assigned to work on this project together; all I knew about him was that he had a great personality. Therefore, I assumed that the first meeting would provide us both with a chance to assess our individual capabilities. We also turned it into a planning meeting. Not only did we outline the requirements for the project, but we also gathered the things that we would need to complete the project. The first meeting was incredibly productive. I did one of the four drawings that I would need to complete for the project. My partner got a good start on the drawings that he would need to complete for his part of the project. All in all, we did about twenty percent of the work that we would need to do for the project. While it was a good start, we had to finish the project by Monday, which meant that both of us had to commit to working hard over the weekend and getting the project finished.
While I felt like the weather was working against me before the Friday meeting, on Saturday my partner and I both wrestled with a different foe: recreation. Saturday was my birthday, and, like most students my age, I wanted to go out and party with my friends to celebrate my birthday in a memorable way. My partner was not celebrating a birthday, but was from China. That Saturday was Chinese New Year and he had been invited to a party to celebrate the New Year. Both of us knew that we had to put our commitment to school above our social lives and finish the project.
College students may be known for pulling "all-nighters" to finish projects or to study, but my partner and I pulled an "all-dayer." We worked from 8am until 11 pm that day, because we needed access to the building to finish the project and it would not be open on Sunday. We were so focused on getting the project done that we did not even stop to take a break to eat anything, and we had only stopped for a single cup of coffee by 7pm. However, our diligent efforts seemed to be backfiring against us. I had only managed to complete 1 1/2 drawings by that time. I needed to finish the drawing I was working on and complete a whole new drawing by the time the building closed at 11pm. My partner had finished 60% of his drawing and had to finish almost half of it in four hours. We were both stressed out and worried that we would not be able to complete our project, while being simultaneously relieved that the project only required a drawing and did not require us to build a model. By 10pm, I had finished all of my drawings, and, by 11pm, my partner had finished his as well. We were both happy with the work that we had accomplished.
On Monday, we took the project in to the teacher. We pinned it on the wall so that the teacher could provide constructive feedback. While we were both pleased with our work, the teacher was less pleased than we were and told us to change many things in our drawing. We both felt like we were being told to change things simply to change them, not because the changes would necessarily enhance the design. However, we were not daunted by these changes; we had already done the base drawings and assumed that we could trace them, making our revision drawings faster and easier than the originals had been.
Unfortunately, our optimism was short-lived. Mid-week, we went to the art supply store to buy supplies for the project. It did not have the paper that we needed for the drawings, so that we were forced to wait until the following weekend to complete the project. Both of us needed to do some coursework in our other classes, but realized that the studio class and its projects needed more time than the other classes. We decided to go ahead and begin building the model for our house. About three hours into the model-building process, I cut my finger, which made it physically difficult for me to continue to work on the model. I knew that I needed to work as hard as I would have if I had been uninjured and that I would have to spend the entire weekend working in order to make up for the slowness that resulted from my injury.
As it had the week before, the weather continued to work against us. The sky remained gray and overcast, with rain coming down seemingly all day and all…