Archive for the 'Map Diary' Category



Map Diary

My first thought when I began tracking my movements on March 12, 2012 was how similar it would appear to my everyday travels about Williamsburg. The beginning of my twenty-four hour day began at my friend Clint’s apartment at 1535 South Mount Vernon Ave (I specify a 24 hour day because this was at midnight).  I left at approximately 12:25 am and arrived at my apartment by 12:30 am. I then slept through the night and left my apartment for Walgreens around 9:30 am. My trip to Walgreens was brief (I only needed a pack of cigarettes) and from there I headed to Swem Library where I remained until my first class at 1:00 pm. My 1:00 pm class is in Morton; it ended at 1:50 pm and then I had a class in the College Apartments until 3:20 pm. Having finished classes for the day, I headed to Jefferson to meet a friend and together we walked to Wawa and then to 207 Matoaka Ct. I have friends who live there and I played board games with them until about 4:45 pm when I left to get food from the Caf. I remained there until 5:45 pm when I made a second trip to Jefferson and Swem. I remained at Swem until 8:00 pm and then made a brief stop at Hunt Hall before heading back to 207 Matoaka; I did not arrive there until 8:50 pm. I then made a brief trip to Food Lion and returned to 207 Matoaka at 9:15 pm; I remained there until midnight. This schedule is generally representative of my typical Mondays; though instead of visiting friends at Jefferson and Matoaka, I often visit Dupont or Lake Matoaka instead.

Since I live off campus, I expected my day to consist of only a few activities on campus. I had pictured my day on campus consisting entirely of class time. I had forgotten (as stupid as this may seem) that Swem and the Caf were buildings associated with The College of William and Mary; I always simply used them as if they were staples of my community: a public library and a cheap restaurant. Because I associate these buildings with my community and not simply the College, I have proven that while I am a resident of Williamsburg, I am foremost a resident of the College. I had never truly realized how detached I am from the City until this epiphany. Normally I would have merely shrugged off the idea and moved on but while the day was still fresh in my mind I thought over my interactions with the people in each environment. At first I found nothing odd but slowly realized a subtle change when dealing with people not associated with the college; I became quite guarded. On campus I try to be as friendly as possible but off campus I am reserved. I don’t think I can do the phenomena justice simply by describing it; luckily, I have an example.

When I was entering the checkout line at Food Lion, a man entered the store with a cigarette in his mouth, sunglasses on, and tattoos on his face. I was immediately suspicious of him. The sunglasses and the cigarette were unnecessary and the tattoos reminded me of prison tattoos I had seen on television. Perhaps it is my previous experience with crime in Williamsburg but I expected something bad to happen. Some would argue this is a situation where I should have reservations but if I were to describe some of my friends on campus I think only the tattoos wouldn’t be included. The campus has become a pillar of security in my mind, a place where I feel comfortable even when I perhaps shouldn’t.

The map I created to represent my day proves my connection to campus as well; I managed to cover most of the campus in a single day but was only off campus to sleep, visit friends who are students, or to do brief shopping trips. None of these activities really submerse me in the culture of Williamsburg (the closest I come is when shopping and even then I am in chain stores).  The paths I take throughout the day also show my relationship to the different parts of campus. Since I do not have a car, I am consistently trying to find the shortest footpath; this leads me to constantly see every part of campus.  The campus is an integral part of my day-to-day existence, even though I live off campus. It is so important, that I see every building even on days when I am only required to enter two of them.

Before actually thinking about my daily geographic movements, I would have probably said I was well acquainted with the City of Williamsburg. After tracking my movements however, I have begun to understand how removed I am from the Williamsburg community. As a student of the College, my life revolves around the campus. While I would like to think I am a part of the town, I will always be a part of the gown community, unless until I graduate.

Too Busy to Reflect

For background purposes, it is helpful to know that I am not the typical William & Mary student.  Not only am I older (turning 30 last June), I am also married with a very active two and half year old daughter. On top of that, my husband is also a student (studying both law and business), with both of us slated to graduate in May. What this means is that my days mostly revolve around juggling studying and familial duties. Although I likely come into contact with more aspects of the Williamsburg community than other students, my contact with the W&M student community is very limited. For the most part, I am studying, taking care of my daughter while husband attends classes, or interacting with similarly situated mothers who I have come to know through my local church.

For me, Monday was not a particularly busy day. It started as it usually does with a pitter patter of footsteps rushing from the adjacent room and our door suddenly slamming open: “Mommy, I need to go potty,” proclaimed my daughter, Esme. This is our typical alarm clock.  On this day, my husband agrees with her, as he always does, that she should definitely go potty. Eventually I drag myself out of bed and hurriedly put a quick breakfast of cold cereal and fruit together.  The problem is that I still need to study for my Spanish quiz.  After taking a quick shower, I am able to get in a solid 30 minutes or so studying before rushing out the door, while my husband stays behind to look after Esme.

Luckily, I live very close to campus in a small house on South Boundary Street, just down the street from our classroom.  This is a good thing because I can get practically walk anywhere on campus within ten minutes.  In some ways, though, I wish my morning walks took a little longer because they give me time to be alone and think. This morning, I pass the same girl I see every morning walking with her breakfast, just as she usually does—though we have never said so much as ‘Hi’ to one another.  I guess we’re both in too much of a rush to get to where we are going.

I arrive to my Spanish class in Washington Hall right on time, though we have a substitute who kind of throws things off.    Our fears are misplaced, however, as the class finishes up without any stressful exercises. I then rush to my next class, United States History before 1877, which begins just ten minutes later.  My last class of the day is United States History after 1877 located in the same building, giving me time to converse with the two girls who sit next to me.  This limited conversation is really the only interaction I have with my fellow William & Mary students.   These two classes are interesting, but I only took them because they fit my schedule, which is very much configured by my husband’s school schedule.  After my third and final class for the day, for instance, I rush home so that my husband can then attend his classes at the law school.

As has been the case this winter, Monday is unseasonably warm, reaching 71 degrees with plenty of sunshine. Sensing the nice the weather, Esme insists on playing in the backyard where she spends almost an hour exploring the grass and various flowers. Because this day is not as busy homework wise as others, I am able to actually play with her instead of watching from the kitchen table. On other days I might read or bring my laptop out just to get some work finished.  The nice weather makes me lose track of time, though, and I have to rush back inside to feed Esme lunch and get her ready for here afternoon nap. After fifteen minutes of rushing around, I am able to feed her and put her down for a nap.  Finally, silence reigns.

I study for the next two hours before Esme wakes up, at which point we take a walk to the Williamsburg Library where we browse around the children’s section.  We look at numerous books, talk to librarians and other children, and play games on the computer like Arthur’s Catapult the Dragon.  In actuality, though, most of my time is spent trying to make sure Esme doesn’t get into something she is not supposed to get into. In this environment, I kind of lose my student identity and feel like a typical mother.

Esme and I finally go home where I quickly make dinner.  My husband then returns and we all eat together.  After dinner my husband goes up stairs to study in the office and Esme follows, which allows me to do little bit of homework before I leave to do some shopping and meet some friends from church for my monthly “Mother’s” Night Out .  After picking up some milk and few other necessities, we meet at the Baker’s Crust for dessert. There are seven of us, all of similar age, and married with children.  We get only dessert (as many of us are on student budgets) and talk about anything that comes to minds.  At the end of the day, I end up on the couch with my husband and our laptops out as both of us prepare for our Tuesday classes.  We get a few moments to talk about our day and what the upcoming week entails, before I migrate to bed exhausted, waiting for the pitter pat wake up call.

Looking back on my mapping experience, what I notice more than anything is how busy my daily life is.  Even on a moderately busy day without big tests or papers on the horizon, the time I had for myself was with my daughter in the backyard and with some friends for an event that was planned well in advance. I also noticed that I probably do more traditional community activities, such as shop, go to the community library, and attend my local church than the average W& M student. This duality as a student and more traditional resident illustrated to me how unique and busy my life truly is.  I really do not have time to reflect on my day, not to mention my place within my community.  With my frantic pace, Williamsburg has become more of a tool, or means to an end, within which I run around trying to fulfill all the tasks that will help my family.

Dual Locality: Being Present In Absentia

I found this project stressful to complete as a non-traditional student since I live over a half hour away from campus and interact with the “place” of Williamsburg only when I attend classes three days a week.  The challenge was to represent myself in one place while being in another.  I was tested to move beyond my comfort zone in order to complete this assignment because I was not on campus that day as part of my routine. As a single parent and a full-time student I have many things demanding my attention and time constraints are always an issue.  This project seemed an imposition beyond that of a “traditional” assignment and I had difficulty at first opening myself up to its creative requirements.  As I am fully aware of my issues, I first had to overcome my concerns about not being physically present in Williamsburg on a Monday to complete the task as described, and shift my attitude enough to get the work done.  I ended up enjoying the process of finding a way to represent my presence and my absence simultaneously on campus in Williamsburg.

As it happened Monday, March 12th was the first full day back to my studies after Spring break.  I was preparing for a mid-term and a presentation that week and was captive at my dining room table; I left that spot that day on only two occasions for extended periods.  For the past two years that behavior has not been unusual for me.  My time at William and Mary has required me to turn my dining room into a kind of academic hovel in which to dwell for shall remain, except for Monday, March 12th, countless hours on a regular basis.  The room is well-lit by natural light and a three light chandelier, it is quiet, and has a kitchen, bathroom, and communication devices in close proximity.  While seated at the table I am surrounded by stacks of papers and books with my laptop as a focal point situated upon an overturned empty Clementine crate that is precisely the right height to take the stress off my shoulders as I type.  The chandelier is turned on in the early morning hours, usually around 4:30 or 5:00 for several hours and is often on for several more hours later in the evenings until about 11:00.

Fortunately for me on the morning of March 12th I slept in until 6:00 which was unusual.  The mapping of my day concentrated on my activities in Yorktown since I live and work there and my dining room was the point of origin for my activities.  I use that room as a kind of nexus through which I moved myself mentally between my required activities for school and my household life: I have elaborated here in detail about the environment of my dining room because it is literally the center of my academic universe and is the focal point of my “handmade” visual map.

Seeing other WDP students’ maps in class helped me get over the issue of not being on campus and contributed to freeing my mind for the discovery of a graphic representation of my day.  I decided that a Venn diagram worked best.  In practice I found creating a visual representation easier than having to abide by the constraints of a pre-printed map because I had flexibility to determine how I and the places I went would be represented.

On the campus map I simply had to mark the time and places where work was going on at home on my projects and sync them with the places where they would eventually be turned in, but this process didn’t allow for much detail.  It did provide me a way to artificially locate myself at a location somewhere in Williamsburg even though I was not actually there.  I think this is an important realization that even though one can be actually absent from a place, in one’s mind being in that place, or “from that place” has as much validity as actually being physically present there.  It is a “virtual” place, but in simply calling it up in one’s memory it transfers in the mind as “the place”.  While working on this project I was aware that it would eventually be physically located in the place from which it originated.  The locations for which I was creating my other assignments, while working within the parameters of one day, were also no less real to me in my mind than if I had been actually sitting in the classrooms with my professors on campus.  Just because I was not there physically did not mean that what I was creating was not a part of the place larger place known as Williamsburg.  This project allowed me to understand how it is possible to be in two places at once.

Mapping a Day in the Life

When I first thought about this map assignment, I thought it would be a pretty simple thing to do. Mondays are usually my least eventful days so I thought my map would include my room, Swem, my three classes, the rec center and perhaps a dining hall or a friend’s dorm. However, what people will see in my map diary is not representative of a day in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever been to the rec center that many times in one day, I don’t ever go to McGlothlin-Street Hall, and, though I visit my friend in the Randolph Complex often, it’s not usually four times in one day. As a result of the many events of the day, it was incredibly hard to map out all of my movements, especially on the campus map. Though I tried to make it understandable, this particular map ended up being extremely hard to follow since paths cross each other several times. Despite my lack of artistic skill, I’m very thankful that we had to make the handmade map since that will make the day’s journey much more clear for the average reader. I’m also extremely relieved that the mapping project stopped at midnight on March 12th, 2012 or I would have also had to fit in a trip to the ISC, a trip back to Swem, two trips to my friend’s dorm in the units, and back to my room. Knowing that my campus map could have been even more complicated to follow makes me extremely relieved.

While trying to draw a map that would both explain my day and be clear to future readers, I realized how different circumstances can dramatically affect one’s day. For example, my friend and I thought that people could buy Fitwell Passes with a debit card so we went to the rec center with these objects in hand. Little did we know that Fitwell Passes could only be bought with check, cash, or William and Mary express. This simple little misunderstanding led to two extra trips to the gym and one extra trip to my friend’s dorm so we could each return to the Rec Center with checkbooks and buy our passes. Also, I believe that the fact that March 12th, 2012 was the first school back after Spring Break played a factor in changing my day as well. All the extra trips at the end of the night were due to wanting to see one of my closest friends who had just gotten back from break. If this circumstance was not the case, I probably would have seen her some point in the days before and none of the trips would have happened. My day would have looked much more typical if it wasn’t for these interesting changes.

Despite the large number of movements that I made on Monday, March 12, 2012, the thing that most of them had in common is that they are on campus. I do not typically travel to places off-campus unless I have errands that I have to run or I’m going on some adventure with friends. In all honesty, I really can’t go off-campus all that often, because I don’t have a car and I’m so busy with things on-campus. However, making the map diary cemented my view that I really do not know what most of Williamsburg looks like. I keep myself so confined to the William and Mary campus, Colonial Williamsburg, and the surrounding area that I don’t even know the basic geography of Williamsburg. I can’t tell you where Toano starts or where various landmarks are unless they are on Richmond Road. My sense of place is hindered by my lack of mobility around town which contributes to my theory that Williamsburg is really three separate worlds. As a result, it will be interesting comparing my map diary to those of my classmates since everyone else either has a car and/or lives off-campus. While I had to struggle with making my movements fit into the tiny roads on the campus map, they had to figure out how to portray all of their off-campus journeys. Our senses of Williamsburg are completely different due to these circumstances.

I can’t help thinking about what Glassberg said about one’s sense of place being due to a feeling of attachment to those places. Though I have only been at William and Mary for a year and a half, I still feel attached to all of the places that were charted on my map journal. Most of the places, including the movements off-campus, are places I go frequently to go to class, run errands, or do work. Even movements that I make less often are still places that I’ve frequented before. For example, I don’t go to McGlothlin-Street Hall much anymore, but I still have an attachment to that place, because I had my geology lab there during my first semester at William and Mary. Though my sense of place is generally lacking, I still feel that the map diary accurately represents my sense of place and my sense of Williamsburg. On the map diary, readers can see the places that I see and visit every day. Thinking about it now, I’m realizing that if I had gone somewhere further off campus than Staples and Bloom, the map diary really would not be representative of a typical day in my life. A map that shows that I spent most of my time on campus is truly reflective of how I usually spend my time and shows to which buildings I’m particularly attached. Being a sociology major, I have many classes in Morton, I prefer to study in Swem than anywhere else, I go to the rec center since I want to stay fit, and I’m close to the friends that I visited that day. Though I usually do not go back and forth as often as the map demonstrates, it still shows the places that I feel best define my attachment to both the College of William and Mary and the city of Williamsburg. Though Monday, March 12, 2012 may not have been a typical day in some senses, readers will get a glimpse into my life at the college. For that, the map diary was a great success.

Reflections: Map Diary

A Day in the Life of a Tree Hugger Map Reflections: Williamsburg from a Collegian Perspective

After recording my activities for the day, I noticed how my choice in path on and off campus is typically in the woods. I grew up in the suburbs of Richmond, not quite full of “nature.” However, when I retraced my steps of the days activities, I saw that almost every path I took, I deliberately moved to be either in the woods or closer to the nature walks around campus. To me, Williamsburg is one of the most beautiful places I have lived in. While I was remembering where I had been throughout the day, I had a sudden surge in appreciation for the locale in which I am situated. I live in a gorgeous apartment complex off at 1200 Richmond Road, two blocks down from Dillard St.

I started my day in City Green on Monday, March 12, 2012 as if it was any other morning, as I wanted to show how I truly spend my days. I woke up around the usual time and did a half-hour of self-practice yoga. Williamsburg actually brought yoga into my life – I started practicing at Body Balance (now conveniently located in Merchant’s Square) three years ago. After a quick breakfast in my “eco-friendly kitchen,” I went for a jog, my usual route. The fitness trail behind the Rec Center is four miles long and finishes up by the freshman dorm, DuPont. While running, I realized that I rarely run on the road, something that I had always done prior to calling Williamsburg home. I finished my run at the Rec Center, and walked to Swem. My walk to Swem also caught my attention. I always take the route behind the Commons, usually referred to as the “Caf” through the woods, past the Botetourt Complex towards “New Campus.”

With regards to “New” and “Old” Campus, I started thinking about the ways in which I move around Williamsburg on different days of the week. I typically spend Tuesdays and Thursdays on “Old Campus” and even “Ancient Campus” (the Wren Building) and my Mondays and Wednesdays on “New Campus.” The ways in which these buildings are categorized has to do with the time period in which they were built. Moving from the old to the new never mattered much to me until today. When I was walking into Swem Library, I looked back, towards Andrews Hall. I saw the sundial and the students reading on the small sections of lawn. I thought of the Sunken Gardens, and how aesthetically, I preferred that portion of campus. Those made me wonder if I preferred the “Old” to the “New.” I usually enjoy modern architecture but I felt that being in Williamsburg made me appreciate buildings and landscapes that had permanence.

Class at 2 PM was in Andrews Hall, directly across the way from Swem, and is a fairly static building, but being the art department’s main building, it has a unique interior – literally. The walls are lined with different perspectives on similar objects, typically sketches from the 2D art classes. What I love about this is that is an evolving process. The building may appear drab from the outside, but the inside is constantly changing. Following Harlem Renaissance, I switch gears to the building diagonal from Andrews, Small Hall. Small is an interesting building because it has undergone serious changes since I’ve been a student at the College. My freshman year it was drastically different and this year, it looks brand-new. My classroom has clear, fluorescent lighting and large windows. Around 5:00 PM I exit the building towards Ukrop Way, walking home in the similar path I made coming to new campus. I walk behind the Caf, past the Rec Center then through the Matoka Woods onto Matoka Court, and then arrive back at City Green. Most during the week I try to finish whatever work remaining at this point in the day, make dinner and try and get to bed at decent hour. However, with Daylight Savings it was much lighter out than usual and I decided to go for a walk down Richmond Rd. after dinner.

While walking down Richmond Road, I focused on the buildings around me, and tall trees that accompanied them. Not only was unfamiliar with the older brick around me, coming from a relatively new suburb of Richmond (when compared to something as traditional as Williamsburg) but also the landscaping. Where I am from in Glen Allen, everything looks lovely yet perfectly mapped out. When I was walking down Richmond Road, I saw history not just in the homes and buildings (Hospitality House, Alumni House, Blow Hall, etc.) but also the natural environment around them. I realized during my walk how much time I had spent in the natural setting, something that perhaps I longed for and had to “go back in time” to find.

There is nostalgia to this place and I feel that perhaps subconsciously I chose to take the natural paths because I was situated in a place where they were not only available but I could actively seek them out while moving to and from campus.

A Day in the Life of Laura

Monday, March 12th turned out to be a fairly average day for me.  For people who might be looking at this in Swem years later, you’re getting a good idea of what senior year was like for Laura Murray at William and Mary.  I ate lunch with friends on campus, went to class, and went to work.  The only few places I frequent that are not represented are the Rec, Williamsburg Presbyterian Church, my friends’ apartment in Ludwell, the delis, and the grocery store.  The church and the delis are both within two minutes of my apartment on Richmond Road, and I only go to the other places about once a week.  Since I live in a nice apartment and have friends in other apartments in the building, I do a lot of socializing in Tribe Square without traveling anywhere.  I go to the church several times a week for my fellowship group, rehearsal with a musical ensemble, and volunteering with Girl Scouts.  Proximity to the church is one of the main reasons I pushed to live in Tribe Square, competitive lottery and steep price tag and all.  I run errands around campus and in the surrounding area of Williamsburg as needed, but what this map represents is fairly standard for me.  Even the temporary morning freak-out about parking is standard, as I have one about every other day.  Parking is difficult.

What is apparent to me on the map, if not apparent to everyone, is where I don’t go.  I spend almost zero time on new campus, and I never have.  Since I never lived over there I never really ate at the Caf, and when I go to the Rec for fitness classes now I usually drive down Richmond Road and then cut over to park in the Hall lot.  I avoid eating in the Sadler Center and really only enter the building to check my mail once or twice and week and play Late Night Trivia once a month.  I also stay on campus most of the time.  Despite the fact that I spend a decent amount of time ‘off-campus’ doing non-college activities, they are all right next to campus and I generally see other W&M students there as well.  A note on the campus map is over top of where my job is, but the store is effectively on the map.  The church is two doors down from Tribe Square on Richmond Road, and I passed it twice on Monday even though I never went in.  The delis aren’t marked but are definitely within the borders of the map.

Tracking my movements on the map was easy, which showed me how little ground I cover in a single day.  Thinking of a creative way to visually represent my movements on the blank paper was more difficult, but mostly because I’m not particularly creative.  As much as I’m a visual person who absorbs information best via graphs, maps, and pictures, I am partial to words when I am trying to express something.  It took me a while to think of something to do that wasn’t just writing down my movements, but I think the end result is still pretty wordy.  Fortunately I went to Chinese Calligraphy class on Monday, so I did some more calligraphy practice on the paper to represent that time in a more creative, visual way.

I think I seem relatively boring, which is probably true.  I go to class and to work and I eat away from my apartment a lot, but I spend a lot of my ‘unstructured’ time in my apartment.  Even though it’s my last semester and I should be doing fun, crazy things in my last months of college, I tend to hang out with my roommate.  We watch TV and do homework.  A friend in an apartment on the same floor tends to barge in without knocking and talk to us until he gets bored.  I’ve watched most of Friday Night Lights on Netflix this semester and I spend a decent amount of time on the Internet applying for things to do when I graduate.  I watch hockey, football, and baseball a lot.  As I’m writing this I’m flipping back and forth between hockey and preseason baseball.

I realize as I sit here and jot all of these activities down that they are fairly disconnected from Williamsburg.  The shows that I watch are only USA-specific, if that.  The sports I watch are regional to Washington, D.C., which actually reminds me more of home than of anything Williamsburg.  The friends I see daily are from outside Williamsburg, with most of them being from outside Virginia as well.  I could have had friends from New York, Ohio, and New Jersey at plenty of schools.  My job connects me to the tourists in Williamsburg and some townies my own age, but I only spend about twelve hours there per week.  Otherwise I spend the great majority of my time in the College bubble or online.

Thinking and writing about my relationship to Williamsburg reminded me of our earlier reading by Glassberg, who mentioned how academics and historians can become trained to have a sense of placelessness by necessity.  While I know I am a student, I rarely think of myself as an academic.  My practical side doesn’t have the patience to be a professional student after I graduate here, so when I originally read the article I did not think that students’ dissociation from place should apply to me.  I think of myself as interacting with the community often, but when I consider my daily life I’m very much in the campus bubble.  I can watch network television anywhere and I would rather be watching DC sports in DC with more fans.  My connection with Williamsburg is linked pretty much only to William and Mary.  While I have enjoyed my time here I know I would not have moved here otherwise and I do not plan on staying when I graduate.

 

Map Diary

My March 14th was a lot like my March 15th and my March 16th. I didn’t really go off-campus (except to a friend’s house to study, but it’s barely off-campus since it’s next to the College Delly) at all. I went to my classes, I went to Swem Library to type a paper because my computer’s broken , I went to my room a few times to eat, I went to a Native American Students Association Meeting, and I went to study with friends (and eat pie, because Pi Day is apparently celebrated by all William and Mary Students…only at this school!). My day wasn’t really out of the ordinary (except for the pie. I do not often eat that much pie at one time). I usually spend a little more time with my boyfriend, but we both had to study for midterms. My route was pretty typical of a resident student’s. I have a car, but I didn’t drive anywhere on Monday. Really—nothing special.

So in drawing my route on my map I realized that this campus has a lot of buildings and walkways that I never use or think about. I stayed pretty much in the central Old Campus/New Campus areas on Monday, as usual. I rarely have cause to venture up the hill to the Randolph and Caf areas—I don’t have many friends who live there, I don’t have a meal plan, and I don’t use the Rec Center. The only time I’m up there is to park my car if I can’t find a space closer to Landrum. There are a lot of buildings in other places, too, that are owned by the college but not really used much by students, like along Richmond and Jamestown Roads. I didn’t know the College Apartments existed until I had this class. So looking at all these places my route never takes me, I got to thinking. Do I have an exact inverse here? That is to say, is there a student who ONLY uses the routes I never use and has classes in buildings I’ve never been in? Maybe someone who lives up in the Units, eats at the Caf, goes to the Rec, has classes in the ISC and visits friends in Taliaferro? Not unlikely, right? I’d like to meet that person (or people). Of course, that’d be a problem if our routes never intersect. I recognize some of the faces on my way to classes, just from passing them often. If one day they were all different, would I even notice? How many people know my face, too? I always think this school is sort of small, because everyone you meet (or look up on Facebook), you find out you have a mutual friend or two. After doing this exercise, though, it sounds more like a vast collection of strangers. Not to sound weird and bleak. There’s just a lot of people I’ve never met and never will, even though we live within a few hundred feet of each other. And that idea applies not just to campus but to the larger area as well. A lot of students’ routes are as limited as mine was Monday, I think. If you don’t ever go off-campus, you don’t see who lives in Williamsburg. Real Williamsburg (Realliamsburg?), not Colonial Williamsburg. So there are tons of people who live within a mile of me whom I’ll probably never meet, who have problems I don’t even know about. The campus is isolated in a lot of ways from the rest of the town. We’re not always subject to the same pressures, so it takes some issue that will really have an impact on student life to make us aware of problems (cough cough, three-person rule). I think it’s important to be aware of issues that not only affect you, but the people whose work facilitates your lifestyle (say, the custodial services staff or post-office employees).

I also really got thinking about the ways in which my map and my visual representation were different. My map shows where I walked and what buildings I used, and my visual is sort of a comic about the activities I was doing each place. It’s like the map is an objective standard measurement and the visuals are about what I did and how I felt about it. It occurred to me that the visual is sort of like an oral history—it doesn’t necessarily reflect accurate details about the precise time and location but it shows what was going on in the mind of someone who was involved there. And those are probably more interesting to look at than the maps—there are a limited number of places and paths one can represent on the campus map, but there’s no end to the activities and perceptions of people. It’s good that there are maps—otherwise you would not have any context for the events reported by an individual—but it’s really the personalized visual representations that give you a sense of what the conditions are like. In the same way, you should spend plenty of time researching, finding out what the dominant narrative is, exploring the coverage of an issue by media outlets, investigating the loudest voices—but if you really want to find out what people were thinking and saying about an issue or event, or what the social and political climate felt like, you have to ask them yourself. They may not always be truthful or correct (for a given value of “truthful” and “correct”), but there is value even in that. Comparing their narrative (visual) to the dominant one (map) might reveal something important about the way people perceived something and the way it actually functioned—or the way others reported it functioned.

This experience was eye-opening in ways I hadn’t thought about before. I realized just how many people I live close to, and how both parts of the assignment really reveal something about why we do oral histories in this class. I didn’t step far outside of the William and Mary Campus boundaries on Monday, but I think I can take a valuable message away from the work I did on the map diary: there are lots of people around me, and everyone’s stories are valuable. Sometimes it just takes a personal visual aid to really drive home a point.

(Also, I had a ton of fun drawing my comic. I have not drawn for fun in years and I miss it.)

I Promise I Actually Leave My Room

This map diary was actually one of the hardest things I have ever been assigned, and I am still trying to figure out why. It sounds like a simple concept and it really is, but my map is sketchy at best. I am certainly no artist, and I do not think matters were helped when one of my two classes got canceled that day and I had a midterm on Tuesday so I spent most of my time studying in my room. It really got me to thinking about how much time I spend outside of my room on other days, and I realized that I am actually in there a lot because it is where I prefer to do my schoolwork the majority of the time. Making the map itself was a challenge, although that was mainly due to my complete lack of drawing skills. I suppose it could have potentially been more effective to represent my movement and activities that day in a different way, but I had a hard time getting the idea of anything outside of a more conventional map out of my mind, although cartographers would be horrified at my scale.

The map diary also made me realize how little I interact with Williamsburg outside of campus. Seeing the map of just a little slice of campus even was odd, and as I got to thinking I had to acknowledge that even on days when I have no work or am procrastinating (for example: most Saturdays), I still spend the vast majority of my time on campus, and I tend to be in the same areas – where I live or where my friends live. Sometimes I will make a venture off the map, so to speak, in the form of a trip to Wawa or maybe even Colonial Williamsburg but those trips really are few and far between. It makes me want to make a more concerted effort to experience Williamsburg in a broader sense.

I found the use of a map to represent where I was lacking in a few respects, but perhaps my lack of physical movement colored my feelings. The map sort of made it seem, I feel, as though I am a bit of a hermit, chained to my desk and computer. While I do spend a fair amount of time there, I would like to think that I am also a social person who is very familiar with different areas of campus. Representation of just physical movement does not seem to do enough to tell the whole story of a person’s day. I could have taken a three hour call from the President of the United States while sitting at that desk, and the map would have done nothing to reflect the subjects discussed or the personal importance of the event. Representations of physical movement are certainly interesting, especially if someone is a traveler, but it gives an incomplete picture in my view.

Location is never really something I reflected upon before, unless I was in a very unusual place. I suppose I do not really utilize Williamsburg to its fullest potential as the space where I live most of the year. Having a car would, of course, make exploration more possible although it could also simply be termed as a lack of convenience and a bit of laziness on my part. I wish this assignment would have been assigned on a day when I spent a little bit more time outside of my room or in the outside world/the rest of campus because I do not think I got the full experience of tracking everywhere I go in a day. As far as the location of my dorm on campus goes, it never really seemed to be on the fringe to me until I realized that if I drew the other buildings in the surrounding area I would just show the rest of the Randolph Complex and some other dormitories.

Keeping track of time also made me realize how small the space I occupy tends to be. I was always less than ten minutes away, and one of my trips was under five (and that may have been delayed a bit, as I was talking to a friend). I am an exceptionally fast walker, which I suppose I have to take into account a little bit, but I do not think I can really argue that had a significant enough impact on my traveling time to make the overall area I covered greater than it appears. The times I in transit between my room and class or my room and dinner really show how little I traveled on Monday.

Map Diary Reflections

Beginning this assignment, I figured the actual mapping process would not be too difficult.  However, as I started to track my routine on the map, it became a little more complicated.  This assignment was interesting to me because I realized maps are not only visually and spatially limiting; they can also influence our interactions with and thoughts about our communities.

This semester my Mondays have typically proven to be fairly uneventful.  I began the day at my apartment, traveled to the library to print some papers, and then headed to Washington Hall for Spanish class.  Afterward, I walked across campus to the Rec Center where I worked out before returning back to my apartment (at Ludwell) via Ukrop Way and Jamestown Road to shower and start the afternoon.  Later in the evening, I set out on foot again to a small group meeting at the Wesley House on Jamestown Road, and ended the night at a friend’s house (she picked me up in her car) located just a few streets from campus, before returning to my apartment for the night.  On this particular day, I remained on campus most of the time.  It’s clear that on any given day I have a different interaction with Williamsburg based on where I travel.

One of the most intriguing ideas about this assignment was that it allowed me to think about how each day we follow a routine unique to our particular responsibilities, needs, and feelings.  We all have regular activities and obligations that occur on a normal basis, but you never know when something unexpected or out of the ordinary might pop up—including simple things like a quick trip to Bloom to buy milk that is absolutely necessary because you, also unexpectedly, decided to try out a new cookie recipe.  These unique routines form our interactions with the Williamsburg community and guide our perceptions of the area based on what we do and do not get to see each day.  Similarly, it was interesting to chart my path on a map because it made me consider my physical spaces from a visual perspective that is very different than actually walking past buildings and turning onto pathways.  Sometimes it was difficult to discern one building or unmarked road from another on the map.

For my own visual representation of my day, I wanted to create something that symbolized more than just my physical locations.  Because I am a “people person” who believes that places often acquire significance based on other people and experiences (i.e. what you actually do there), I decided to incorporate drawings that represent the things I did and people I was with for each place throughout the day.  For example, the time I spent at my apartment consisted mostly of sleeping, eating, studying, or getting ready (dressed, etc), so I drew some pictures representing those actions.  My time at the library on this day was only to use the computer and printer, so I drew those.  I drew a building and wrote Spanish words for Washington Hall, because that is where I take Spanish class.  For my time at the Wesley House, I wrote lots of laughter because that characterized the two and a half hours I spent with my small group that night.  The drawings are all very straightforward, mostly because my artistic ability where that is concerned is limited, but I think they provide a nice addition to the traditional map because you are able to see what characterized my time in each place.  Despite the limitations of various maps, visual depiction of a daily routine, rather than a written explanation, often provides a more expansive, or certainly different, view of the community and one’s interactions with the physical landscape.

I found the William and Mary campus map that we were given to chart our routines to be limiting because it does not include the rest of Williamsburg or even the entire campus.  This made it a little difficult to track all my stops and starts.  Additionally, sometimes when I am walking (which is my usual means of transportation throughout campus) I forgo the main roads and take pathways or short cuts that don’t appear on the map.  As I thought about this when I made notes on my map, I realized that these left out spaces are similar to the many areas in Williamsburg that, as students, we often don’t interact with or ever even drive through.  While they exist and may often prove to be very helpful, because our socialized routines don’t take us through those spaces, our minds gradually begin to ignore their existence.

My project this semester on teenage pregnancy and parenthood is one that’s often considered to be controversial in many communities, which sometimes can force those who are identified as part of that issue (i.e. teen parents) to be pushed aside into the edges of both the actual and theoretical community or society.  When we recognize the various spaces in the Williamsburg community, we also recognize the various groups and individuals which live and work in those areas.  This map diary assignment shed light on the importance of being open to our communities, and reminded me that sometimes taking a literal step out of our comfort zones can be influential and even enlightening because we may discover aspects of and people in our communities that we never knew existed.

Map Reflection

Going though day to day activities is something I do without so much as even giving a passing consideration to the sequence of my actions. I do what I need to do, giving consideration to little else than what is immediately coming up next in my agenda.  It is sad that by many an afternoon I cannot remember what I have had for breakfast, much less dinner the night before. Doing this documentary map assignment forced me to consider where I do the things I do, and the great distances I travel in doing them. Ultimately I felt very proud of myself for not only doing so many (6) things, but also according to Google Maps, walking a combined total of 1.71 miles without even know it! Noting all the things I do on an ordinary Monday was powerful in that it forced me to actually consider why I was doing everything. Why do I walk to the U.C. twice in a 6 hour period? Maybe I should get a take out box the first time and eliminate a trip? On the other hand, my hand drawn map from the day indicates that I am highly efficient in my traveling between locations. Even including my commute to and from school, my journey follows several small and compact loops between a handful of buildings. According to my “list of places travelled to” I am concerned primarily with three things; eating, “learning”, and resting. The consumption of food occurred on four separate occasions according to my record. Though I did not list it on my documentary map, I did eat breakfast at “the apartment” before leaving for my first class in the morning.
Overall, I would say that I enjoyed creating my own map of my Monday travels. It gave  me a sense of just how little there is for me to do here other than learning. Aside from getting gasoline and making the occasional trip to the bank, I may not go into a single Williamsburg building for weeks or even months. This fact has forced me to reflect on my collegiate experience and why it exactly it is that I came to this place. Sadly I do not think that I have gotten what most people would call “a college experience.” This is not to say that I expected 4-6 years of drinking and general idiocy from those around me, but that I wish I had been able to embrace Williamsburg as my own place. I’m ashamed to say that were one to ask my opinion on weather to visit my college town, years from now, I would have to caution them against doing so. Though the educational environment of which I am apart is perhaps one of the best one could hope to be in, college today is more than just school itself, it’s an experience designed to expose young people to the world, and foster among them a common identity and to see and try new radical things. I’m not a partier, and on the whole I am really quite lame, but I can’t help feeling like opportunities for what makes up about 50% of the cities population are severely lacking. A few sandwich shops, a couple of shitty bars, is that really the best we can do? I’m not sure what direction I would like to see the college go in, other than that it should be more open to the “extracurricular” needs of it’s students.
I eagerly await the posts of my fellow classmates. I predict that Monday’s for are boring across the board for most of us. Perhaps it is more a function of the day itself rather than us as students.

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About

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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