Project 250-2

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” 
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

Quarantine continues. When the shelter in place orders came in early March, it was an estimated three to five weeks to flatten the curve. It’s been close to three months, without an end date in sight. Meanwhile, life is on hold. Promotions, pay raises, conferences, networking events are on hold. Exam dates postponed indefinitely, promotions canceled. Today’s been particularly hard for me. My NCARB test, the last one, got postponed from March to April, and then to August. Meanwhile, not to lose the momentum, I decided to take the CASp test, even though it fell on my birthday. Now that‘s canceled too. Staffing for the month isn’t looking very positive with canceled projects. I was supposed to attend the A’20 Conference on Architecture this month, and network with my architect friends from all over the country, but that’s canceled too.

The cancel culture is strong with 2020.

Powerless, I sit at the dining table with my laptop open, staring down the living room carpet, mourning the lack of physical private space to address every thought on my mind. The pause is hurting. Life at this point feels stagnant. I can cook and bake all I want to, but until I talk to the voices in my head and respond to every question, no matter how negative, I will not be a sane woman. It’s hard, not to have a place to connect to yourself without sharing the thread of your thoughts with everyone around you. The solitude is dead, and I am lonelier than ever.

But, to keep the momentum on Here is to embarking on a “Project 250”, a personal project based on Michael Sorkin’s Two Hundred Fifty Things an Architect Should Know.

249. Low Tide

Tides are cyclical. Every 24 hours and 50 mins, there will be two high tides and two tides. Although for an architect, the tides need to be talked in context with climate change and global warming, today’s mood is about the cyclic economies, changing market conditions and sustaining professional development in the times of COVID. I am at my low tide today, and although life is built on hope of tomorrow, I am unable to unsee the vast uncovered ground in front of me, along with the glaring holes and gaps that could have been filled to level the field when the time was right.

For an immigrant woman of color without the letter credentials, it will be a long road to recovery. I will be busy paying the immigration tax, foreign education tax, color tax and motherhood tax while my peers will whiz past ahead of me again, like they did after the dot-com bust, the great housing depression… The recurring effect of the cyclical economic setbacks will leave me frazzled and broke, and a few steps short of my goal always. With the last recession still green on my mind, I am not ready for this, I am not prepared mentally and emotionally.

Time and tide wait for none.

Tests are canceled, career is stalling, but there are a thousand other things I can do to set myself apart from others as things slow down. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to schedule anything that requires in person appearance and proctor participation, but there are a million skills that can be gathered and mastered remotely, without stepping away from the discomfort of my dining table. Tide is low, and I am thankful I can see the gaps and holes that need to be filled so that I can prepare to ride the high tide ahead…

Where am I going with taking a perfect list of 250 things an architect should know, and butchering it with the stream of my thoughts? Nowhere. While life goes nowhere, I want to make an attempt to know myself through the lens of Sorkin’s list.

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