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Surviving back handed gifts of the group project

By Amy Nielsen

It’s midterm week and we are starting to get underway with the dreaded group project. There are eight of us this time. Not only is it a group project, it’s an hour-long, live group presentation in guise of a court case. Did I mention there are eight of us on the team?

Sweet baboons on a brick if I make it out of this alive I will have earned my blankity blank Master’s degree.

I learned a very important lesson today. I was awoken to the fact, yes fact I think now, that I am completely not the person I once was. I met her face to face today and I think I am very definitely not there anymore.

This project is being coordinated long distance and then culminates with the live group presentation the last day of class on campus. For the majority of the time working on this we are at our remote locations scattered around the east coast. Which means all communication is done via this little box in front of me.

I used to work in a highly technical field, lighting design. I left the field just as a huge technology shift happened, the blue LED was invented and the Silicon Valley tech boom got hot. I am – now – a died in the thrift store wool sweater, mason jar tea drinking, rural woods living, luddite of sorts. Which is terribly odd.

One might think I am going to say that I left the field because the tech got away from me. But the reality is that I left because the art went out of it for me. I’m an energy freak. I dig vibrational energy, be it sound waves from a grooving drum circle, the tangible waves of light in incandescent bulbs or fire, the heat waves on a still August day. Lighting before LEDs was a very different art because the frequency of the light was different.

LEDs, the fixtures they are housed in, and the programs needed to control them, are so above my frequency now that my little ole central nervous system says no, Ma’am. It messes with my circadian rhythm. Too much time on the computer and I go tilt. Inevitably I end up on here a lot more than is healthy for me.

So I left the art I loved because the instruments didn’t sing to me the same way. I got too wrapped up in having to learn new tech. When I left the field of lighting design, it broke my heart. I found my heart in the human body, how it works, and how it is so very cool. I moved away from that higher energy because it didn’t serve me to one that does.

What does this have to do with this exercise in stamina of a group project? Eight means someone becomes the defacto team organizer. She is undoubtedly extremely efficient in her role of herding us cats. She is very tech savvy and very much of this new web-based everything world that I just shudder at. Her energy is about nine thousand times faster than mine.

Now I am by no means a complete computer neophyte. I do manage to write this weekly blog, I have a very active Facebook account where I am often reminded that I overshare and crosspost, and I can manage complicated EBSCO database searches. I cannot, however, produce anything more than a basic word document.

I emailed the gal in charge of the slides for the link to where she wants me to put what I have worked on for the last two weeks. To which, rather than just giving me the link, she replies with all of the places she has already posted the link and why haven’t I seen any of them and shouldn’t I know better?

Asking much forgiveness and with great noises that I do in fact get her 7,000 notices, emails, texts, and message board posts about what she is waiting on from us, I asked her to please give me the link so I can try to figure out how to copy a slide into the thing she has already set up for us to use.

I feel like I am getting a side eye with an exasperated humph from my gmail account as I open the reply to see the link.

I click. Something happens to my laptop and it magically opens a window into her world I guess. I click on the file she has labeled for me. I see a slide. Something I recognize. So I do as I do in my presentations and I copy and paste a slide from my computer into that place.

Somehow all 22 I have created appear in the new window. It looks like confetti appearing on the screen to me. Kind of pretty in a mesmerizing way.

Wait, I was trying to copy one slide. Do I dare try to delete a slide? On hell no. I got them there. No going back now. I’ll just blow it up. Never delete on someone else’s stuff.

I can’t find a save button. It’s nowhere. I cautiously explore a drop down box. Nope, not there. Decision time. I’m a big girl and I must trust in google docx. I send up a prayer to St. Bartholomew, patron saint of bookbinders, and close the tab.

I count to ten. Don’t ask why. You do it too.

I open the tab.

The slides are still there!


I am curtly informed by our defacto Capitan that I am going to have to up my power point game if I want my slides included in the presentation, and by the way I only get ten. They are due by Friday, midnight.

I sip my chaga tea from my mason jar and shift my thrift store wool sweater around. I enjoy not running at that frequency anymore. If I make it through this presentation, I will have earned my Master’s degree.

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