Friday, November 14, 2014

John Happel: The classmate project

My first photo project in grad school - the intro experience in my intro class to doing a story. It turned out alright.

John Happel is working on finding his place in his new life at graduate school, separated from his fiancé, the ocean and the all other comforts he had back home in Scituate, MA. The social and mental stresses surrounding school are the biggest hurdles he faces as he pursues his master’s at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo.

John waits for a beer at Quinton's while meeting up with fellow graduate students for their weekly get together on Thursdays when they indulge in discounted drinks and food.

The living room in John's apartment is bare. He bought a couch off Craigslist when he first arrived, but ended up returning it after the listing proved a little misleading - the couch smelled of cat urine. Another attempt was made to find a couch during a week when his fiancé visited him, but was also unsuccessful.

John shares a laugh over the phone with his fiancé, whom he talks to daily. The whiteboard on the wall shows traces of Tricia's last visit. Being separated has been hard for the couple, as they haven't spent more than a week apart since they started dating in 2010. Tricia grew up just half a mile down the road from John and "always thought he was cute," though they didn't start dating until after college.

"How did Trish do this?" John beats some frozen chicken in an attempt to speed up the defrosting progress. He was trying to replicate a meal his fiancé had made for him earlier this year. Tricia says John misses her cooking.

John manages a hangover, one from his weekly meetups with his graduate school friends, at Stephen's Lake Park while working on class readings. "Two day hangovers are a real thing."

John holds two of his many handmade flies. Boxes of feathers and other fly tying items fill a plastic shelf unit on the edge of his kitchen. Tying flies relaxes him and John often finds himself lost in the process.

After writing a couple different papers for classes, John went fly fishing at Eagle's Bluff with a friend for some fun on his 32nd birthday. Besides surfing, fishing is one of John's favorite activities, especially when trying to de-stress from school.

John's nightly routine ends with him turning on his T.V. and putting on its sleep timer. Having the T.V. on helps him fall asleep. This night he was watching news of the United States beginning to bomb ISIL in Syria.

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