A Piece of My Mapping Mind

I did not understand the complexity of this assignment when I began to record the happenings of Tuesday, March 18, 2008 from midnight to midnight. I did not expect to have any problems with it, even though I have never created a map, to scale or otherwise, that did not consist of simple driving directions sketched on a post-it note or cocktail napkin. I also did not think that it would be terribly interesting or enlightening to track my movements across campus. With that said, I also did not expect this mapping assignment to consume my thoughts on March 18, 2008, but it did. I went through three stages while constructing this assignment. First, the simple documentation of my day, second, the construction of my original map, and last, but certainly the most difficult, the reflection on what was a very boring day.
In an effort to remember to accurately and diligently record my comings and goings on March 18th, 2008, I decided to write a reminder on March 17th. I wrote the words, “STATE CHECK,” on the inside of my right wrist. This strategy was something that I borrowed from a lucid dreaming technique in that its aim is to make an individual constantly aware of his or her existence with the expectation that it would carry over into sleep and thus create the awareness during the dream cycle. While lucid dreaming has no bearing on this project, the concept of being constantly present in location and time that is so present in the early stages of learning to lucid dream is exactly what I felt all day on March 18, 2008. Every time I looked at my wrist, I became aware of both the time and of my surroundings. If nothing else, this helped me remember to record what time I arrived and left venues.
I became very aware of what I was doing all day. I did not do much. My day consisted of mundane activities. I did not have a lot to do besides reading. I knew that I would most likely just sit in sorority court finishing my work. I could not help thinking, though, how boring that would look on paper. I then toyed with the notion of exploring campus, but I had no idea if I were capable of visually representing such a feat. Half way through the day, I forced myself to stop obsessing about the project by taking a nap, so unfortunately, from about three o’clock in the afternoon to six o’clock in the evening I was asleep and unable to make any gross movements. I then spent the next two hours continuing my reading, again not leaving my place of residence. At eight o’clock I left Alpha Chi Omega, however, to purchase coffee and subsequently visit with a friend who lives in Old Dominion Hall. I had forgotten to write down when I left the House, but when I paid at Wawa I saw my reminder. I’m glad I had enough foresight to know that I would not be able to remember.
I was ultra-aware of how I would visually represent my day. I was very nervous about how long the process of creating a map that both incorporated movement and time would take. I had never designed one before. I know that I do not have a very spatial mind, especially when representing real life proportions on paper. The map, though, was not as difficult as I had imagined. I think this is because each time that ventured someplace I decided to take a slight variation in route. Doing this is not difficult, as anyone familiar with the campus can attest, being that there are so many paths, shortcuts, and strange one way roads. I was able to visually represent each movement on the map using three different colors, blue, purple, and yellow. Blue indicated any movement back to my place of residence at 301 Alpha Chi Omega. The purple indicated any movement away from Alpha Chi Omega. Yellow was only used once to indicate a movement between Wawa and Old Dominion as I was neither coming nor going to my place of residence. I tried to represent the scale of the map using the time that it takes to travel there rather than the actual distance. I can justify doing so because my day is not structured by distance from place to place but instead by the time it takes to travel door to door. For instance, Morton Hall might be between a quarter and half a mile away from my residence, however, I know that my cutting through the Sunken Gardens and over Barksdale Field I can arrive in eleven minutes. Time dictates distance in my life.
The hardest part of the assignment in my mind, though, was deciding on what to include in my record. In the end I decided to be completely honest with myself and the class. However, being that I was recording myself any amount of self-censoring would go undetected. It was very tempting to remove the part where I arrive at home at 2:20 after celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with some friends at the Ludwell Apartments. I ultimately decided this activity is for my own benefit and not to be critical of myself. I also saw how boring the latter half of the day became and was tempted to add in different adventures, possibly off campus. However, again I did not because not being truthful becomes a detriment to the learning process, and then an honor code violation.


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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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