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I’m doing…

…uhhh, a lot. When I started this project five(!) years ago, I wasn’t sure where it was going, and I still haven’t finished some of the pieces it started with—I should probably at least finish the article for The Treaty of Paris since that page apparently comes up in organic search once in a while. But hey! I know what that means now, so I haven’t been wasting all of this time. I remain unsure of where this project is going, but I don’t want to give up on it yet. It is, after all, my first website, and it’s a project that is meta in a very Jerrika way. I’m a bit attached to it.

In 2013, I maybe expected to be in Boston by now, but I didn’t think I’d be here for a master’s degree, and I didn’t think I’d be here alone. My heart’s been broken in a few different ways in the last few years. I wasn’t counting on that, and it was a myriad of disappointments. I don’t know if I really got anything out of the heartbreak itself, but it happened. Say what you will about lessons learned and the journey of life or whatever—and I’m someone who believes strongly in not dwelling on regrets—they were not experiences I wanted, and I don’t feel good looking back on them. I try to capitalize on them creatively, if nothing else, but I don’t hope for more of that kind of pain for me or anyone. One of my biggest takeaways from the last five years is that people you trust will let you down. Not always, but your favorites will fuck up, and they won’t always come back from it. In my case that’s been… okay, I guess. It turns out I don’t need them to come back from it, because apparently I can take care of myself better than anyone else will.

That said, to say that I’m “alone” isn’t true in every sense here. Although “learning who your real friends are” is a bit of a cliché, I can say I have, and, again, it wasn’t a test I was looking for, but I am grateful to the inordinate number of people who have stepped up in my life whether I asked them to or not. I’ve made so many outstanding friends, before Boston and in it, and I’m frankly overwhelmed most days by how much I love and admire the people in my life. I feel things all the time.

My family is growing and dividing and redistributing, and I’m blessedly and distressingly at least six hundred miles away from all of it. I’m going to be an aunt in July/August, and whatever tensions are in my immediate family seem to be in some kind of a stasis, but beyond my parents and sisters I have a handful of concerns and relationships that either stay on my mind or disappear long enough to collect a healthy amount of guilt to offer when they return. I feel things all the time.

Alone isn’t true in every sense because I’m not getting enough time to myself these days either. I’m frequently in public or professional spaces for twelve or more hours a day (which may be normal, but I’m not sure, and either way I don’t like it), I don’t think I can remember the last time that I spent two days on my own, and if I’m spending time with one/some of the aforementioned many people I know, I am probably investing a lot of it because I try to form deep connections. One of many facts pointing to a misguided sense of self-preservation is that, despite cultivating significantly more relationships than people around me seem to do, I am an introvert. I like my company, and I like being left alone for extended periods of time. I prefer it. I miss me very much right now.

I don’t know how much of any of it is anyone’s business or interest, but I’m doing a lot. Maybe not by some standards—I have a lot of unpacked boxes in my house here like I did when Non Finito Spaghetti started, I don’t eat well most days because it’s easier to not, and I post a lot more pictures of my cat than I used to post—but it’s certainly a lot compared to my past productivity levels, and I’m tired. I’m getting a better idea of what I have to offer, but I don’t know what to do with it, so I started saying yes to everything to see what would happen because fuck it, if trying to be careful will still land you by yourself (but not alone), why not? That sounds dramatic—rest assured no one’s offering me anything particularly dangerous so far; it’s just that it all adds up. I’m tired.

Samhain gets some good sleep, though.

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Busy busy

Literally only making a post to link to this website I built. I guess I’ll add a picture of some incredibly impressive balancing thing I did with my rings, too.

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Please hold your applause, or they might fall from the vibration.

Hibye.

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Introductory Blog Post That All Who Pass Through This Place Should Read Before All Other Things

Hello! Welcome to Non Finito Spaghetti, a project in which I, Jerrika L. Waller, seek the means to conquer my inability to finish things.

I have an About page explaining the origin of the project, you should definitely check it out.

During this project, I conducted interviews via Skype and research about other people’s unfinished projects, and have created a page for each project. Peruse them at your leisure, and if you have any thoughts about any of them, please leave a comment!

I plan to update semi-regularly in the future regarding the completion of other projects I’ve started, but for now this project’s content is primarily in the pages across the top, so please focus on and discuss ideas there.

The other blog posts are also relevant to the project; feel free to comment on those as well.

Thanks for visiting!

P.S. I made and photographed that spaghetti on the left there myself. I am very proud. I can personally confirm that spaghetti does stick to the wall when it’s done.

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Comments on Accomplishing Nothing

I expected that when I started telling people about this project, someone would strike upon how “funny” or “ironic” or whatever it would be if I didn’t finish my project on unfinished projects. I was not disappointed; my Facebook post requesting interview volunteers got a “hah, it would be kind of hilarious if you never finished this project of interviewing people who never finished their projects,” and one of my interviewees also commented that it would be “ironic.” While I can see the humor in this prospect, my first reaction was always to laugh and say “yeah, that’s my biggest fear with this whole thing,” trying not to take it personally while knowing that, really, that is my biggest fear with this whole thing. I’ve never completely fallen off the accomplishment wagon, but I’ve spent a lot of time toeing the line for how much I can get away with not doing because I don’t feel like it.

Deadlines help for a lot of things, when I’m being productive, but I already know I am capable of watching critical deadlines go by without caring too much. I almost didn’t graduate high school because I didn’t finish a major project for my English class on time; the teacher pulled me aside and told me I would fail this very necessary class without turning it in, and said I could work on it over the weekend to turn it in on Monday, even though the due date was well past. I responded to that opportunity to finish the project by blowing it off, again. My teacher was–justly–furious, and the guidance office contacted my mother to inform her of this threat to my graduation. I don’t remember what deal we worked out, but I did finish the project with a third deadline that I absolutely did not deserve, and graduated like I was supposed to. My diploma was tinged with guilt, but it was over. I moved on.

My main point here is that not completing this project has been a very real fear for me because I have very real evidence that I will not do something if I don’t feel like it. I’m approaching the same point in my college career that I was in my high school career when I said fuck it to anything I didn’t want to do. What’s stopping me from doing it again? Technically nothing. I remember an awful book one of my friends had in middle school, Conversations with God for Teens, and one of the questions was something to the effect of “Why do I have to listen to my parents?” “God” replied that “You don’t have to do anything. You are free to choose to do whatever you want.” Although it completely ignored the commandment to “obey thy mother and father,” I don’t remember if the book put too much emphasis on the consequences of doing whatever you want.

Either way, I spend a *lot* of time thinking about what would happen if I just didn’t do some thing I’m expected to do. I could literally and easily do none of my homework. Mighty Odin will not smite me. The government will not track me down. My professor will probably not even track me down. If I wanted, I could stay in my bed until I starved to death, and absolutely nothing could stop me besides being forcibly removed from that place. I know a lot of people who would cry “No! I can’t stand sitting still and not doing anything or getting anything done!” Perhaps I’m just on my own here, but I’m pretty sure it’s easier than they think, especially when the momentum isn’t there. It is not a challenge to do something you’d rather do when the alternative is something you don’t want to do. I would say that these people should try it, but having seen the consequences of that behavioral pattern in my own life, I think it’s something that should be suggested on a case-by-case basis.

People force themselves to do things they don’t want to do all the time. They get out of bed, they study, they make small-talk with annoying people, they let the dogs outside at obscene hours. None of these things *have* to happen. The world will continue if they don’t. These things are only required when an “if” comes into the situation, when there’s a desired outcome. I have to feed my cat IF I want her to shut up and quit trying to open her food container on her own at 8 in the morning. I have to read a play for class IF I want to contribute and earn any participation points. I have to finish this project IF I don’t want to fail Multimedia Composition.

I also have to finish this project if I want to prove to myself that I haven’t lost all my drive to the internet, pride, and apathy. I have to finish this project if I want to know that I am capable of finishing something worthwhile.

Through working on this project, I have learned that, though not everyone is necessarily on my level of non-accomplishment, there are points on which all us non-finitos can relate.

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In my case, this project has helped me realize that talking to people about projects I’m going to do helps create some of the pressure I need to get things done. I work better if I have a schedule, and although I didn’t follow the schedule I’d created for this project, listing out everything I would need to do by when helped make the project seem a little smaller and more doable. I made more progress getting this rather bigger idea done than many of my smaller ideas from the past few years.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I made any particularly groundbreaking discoveries throughout this process as far as how to get things done. You just have to work. A number of factors play into completing projects, and the only thing I noticed in common with all of them was time—spending too much, not spending enough, spending it in other places. All of my interviews mentioned how important this factor was in what they had tried to accomplish.

One thing in particular that stood out to me throughout this project is the effect one unfinished project can have. Dave commented on the domino effect of home improvement projects, noting that one completed project can suddenly render something else an unfinished project by comparison. Ryan’s project spills over into other things he participates in, such as his role-playing games. The Treaty of Paris, 1783 is significantly more memorable to me because it isn’t finished, and the unfinished creations of Donatello and Michelangelo have inspired other things long after work upon them had ceased.

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