Transitions

A little more than a week ago, I graduated from college.

I am still in denial.

But there are enough reminders, and I think it is finally sinking in. A first of those was an email stating I must move out of graduate housing the day after I graduated, (though I did have the option of extending that through the summer. I did till mid-July, I found out yesterday that someone is moving in 4 days after I leave). I had a few library books I needed to return today. Usually, the turnstile at the library opens with a satisfying click when I swipe my card. Today, I was greeted with a tiny red light that informed me that I no longer had access. I had to wait for a few minutes while someone had to come to the entrance to take the books from me. I now get limited alumni access, and of course I can pay to be able to borrow books. Only a matter of time before I lose my access to the d.school. I was thinking of going to the gym today, but maybe I will go for a run outside instead (knowing that my card won’t allow me inside the gym). I should probably add something to my email signature, letting people know they won’t be able to use my university email address any more. We recently found a place to stay in San Francisco. Google maps tells me I’ll have to change two trains and spend over an hour to get here. So I can no longer plop out of bed 10 minutes before class starts and get there just in time (but then again, I don’t have any classes to get to.)

It’s not like I haven’t had transitions in my life before, or I am some fukru who doesn’t want to pay the (discounted) alumni rates to get access to university resources, but somehow this one seems, for the lack of a better word, ‘harsh’. Maybe the other transitions were easy: When I went to college in India, I was a 40 minute drive away from home. When I got my first job, my office was 15 minutes away. Eventually I started a company that operated out of my house’s basement. Even when I was moving to the US, somehow the transition did not seem that hard. Perhaps because I had a year to plan, and be prepared for it. I was excited. I was traveling with only two suitcases full of stuff. Now, I have no idea how I amassed the mound of boxes that I know will have when I move out. Worse, I came to a place where you learn how to “make stuff”. Some of it I can part with, some carries too much emotional value to give up.

In one of our classes here, we do a project called “Themes and Bridges”. We are supposed to take two or three contrasting themes and then bridge them. A lot of us didn’t get it the first time. We had contrasting themes but we didn’t have well articulated bridges, or we “cheated” (like using a black fadeout between two frames of a video). On our second attempt we did better.

One of my friends build a “Z” shape out of a piece of aluminium, a nicely finished piece of wood and an unfinished piece of wood.

Tom's Themes and Bridges
Themes & Bridges by Tom Cohlmia

The bridge between the two wood pieces was visual: dovetail joints, and conceptual: the material of the wood itself. The bridge between the finished wood piece and machined element again had two parts, the visual: bolts and conceptual: the finished rectangular piece of wood and machined rectangular aluminium. Our professor emphasized that we need to work hard on our bridges, our transitions, because that is the stuff we don’t pay attention to.

Even as laymen, we know bad design. When we see something that has not been bridged well, we get a sense that something is ‘off’. Having spent some time at design school, on some occasions I can identify what that “off” is. This feels like one of those times, there is something “off” about this transition. Given that as an alumnus, I am valuable to my school, I wonder how they can make this transition better (or maybe I should just grow a pair and stop being a whiny little bitch).

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