True Purdue senior Aaron Knott whispers to senior Kayla McCurdy before the Nearly Naked Mile on Thursday, March 21, 2013, on the Purdue campus. The event, run by Purdue Alumni Student Experience, supported Lafayette Transitional Housing. Alex Farris
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2013.12.30
It's common at the end of a year to put it into a neat, clearly defined box. It's never really possible, of course, because the year is made up of so many unique moments spanning nearly the entire continuum of emotions and experiences. We're human, though, and our brains have gotten good at finding patterns to help us learn lessons from the past. To put complex things into one simple box is something we do almost without thinking.

Even if I think about it, though, I can't put this year into a box. This is quite a different experience compared to previous years. With some effort, I can find boxes for 2010 ("I love new things!"), 2011 ("Can I keep all these old things? I don't like new things anymore."), and 2012 ("I have to build my own new things, don't I? Oh, wait, turns out I CAN do that."). 2013 is something else entirely.

How do I define a year with so many distinct parts? This year contained one week of Spanish translating work in Guatemala with Operation Walk, six weeks of daily photojournaism at the Journal & Courier in Lafayette, eight weeks of learning how to do school again in that wonderful place called Bloomington, two weeks of frantically mapping out and registering for the start a wholly new career, a semester full of science classes at IUPUI, and the filling of every spare weekend possible with assignments from The Indianapolis Star. Not to mention hours of website coding, a weekend of best-manning a friend's wedding, one late night spent at a bar in Lafayette talking with a Purdue professor about the merits of getting a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology, two days of agonizing waiting before I found out I got straight A's, and five seconds of my brain processing the translation of a patient in Guatemala telling me she would name her next son after me.

The best thing to do here? Accept that 2013 can't fit into a box. In a year full of moments that don't fit together (save that I was the one who experienced all of them), it's a fool's errand to force them into a metaphorical cardboard cube with a label written in black Sharpie. They should simply be enjoyed as they are: moments, sometimes singular, sometimes fitting into a line, sometimes hopelessly disjointed.

Here's my attempt to explain a year that was wonderfully undefinable, told through words and captions.

Happy 2014, everybody!

Flip the light switch
We\'ll go roughly in chronological order, but before that, let\'s start with some of the faces of music I found this year. // Grace Potter plays the piano during her concert in the Egyptian Room at Old National Centre (but in my heart, it will always be at the Murat) on Jan. 12, 2013. Face type: Intense rock. We'll go roughly in chronological order, but before that, let's start with some of the faces of music I found this year. // Grace Potter plays the piano during her concert in the Egyptian Room at Old National Centre (but in my heart, it will always be at the Murat) on Jan. 12, 2013. Face type: Intense rock. Alex Farris
Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell performs during May Day at Klipsch Music Center, Saturday, May 11, 2013. Soundgarden performed in Indianapolis for the first time since 1996. Face type: Subdued rock. Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell performs during May Day at Klipsch Music Center, Saturday, May 11, 2013. Soundgarden performed in Indianapolis for the first time since 1996. Face type: Subdued rock. Alex Farris
Miss Mess of Thee Open Sex performs during the Cataracts Music Festival in Garfield Park, Saturday, August 24, 2013. The festival featured over 40 musical acts on four small stages around the park. Face type: Couldn\'t-care-less laced-with-ironic-disinterest oh-so-many-adjectives uncategorizable genre. Miss Mess of Thee Open Sex performs during the Cataracts Music Festival in Garfield Park, Saturday, August 24, 2013. The festival featured over 40 musical acts on four small stages around the park. Face type: Couldn't-care-less laced-with-ironic-disinterest oh-so-many-adjectives uncategorizable genre. Alex Farris
The Rev. J. Peyton performs during Hoosier Night on the Marsh Free Stage at the Indiana State Fair, Friday, August 16, 2013. Face type: Intense bluegrass (with beard!). The Rev. J. Peyton performs during Hoosier Night on the Marsh Free Stage at the Indiana State Fair, Friday, August 16, 2013. Face type: Intense bluegrass (with beard!). Alex Farris
In early January, I felt like using my new-at-the-time remote camera trigger and Super Clamp at my old high school. Just to see if I could do it, I took photos during a basketball game Jan. 4 between alma mater Cardinal Ritter and Monrovia High School. Pocket Wizards are great, aren\'t they? In early January, I felt like using my new-at-the-time remote camera trigger and Super Clamp at my old high school. Just to see if I could do it, I took photos during a basketball game Jan. 4 between alma mater Cardinal Ritter and Monrovia High School. Pocket Wizards are great, aren't they? Alex Farris
I started kite aerial photography in earnest last year, but this year, I only did it successfully one time (and unsuccessfully two other times). This successful photo was taken near Soldier Field in Chicago on Feb. 17, during a visit with some friends there. I started kite aerial photography in earnest last year, but this year, I only did it successfully one time (and unsuccessfully two other times). This successful photo was taken near Soldier Field in Chicago on Feb. 17, during a visit with some friends there. Alex Farris
This accidental self-portrait was taken earlier on the same trip that produced the previous photo. If I ever turn this hobby into something big, I might use this as the author photo for a book. This accidental self-portrait was taken earlier on the same trip that produced the previous photo. If I ever turn this hobby into something big, I might use this as the author photo for a book. Alex Farris
Dr. Merrill Ritter, an orthopedic surgeon at the Center for Hip and Knee Surgery in Mooresville, Ind., and head of Operation Walk Mooresville, reviews potential patients with other surgeons and staff at Hospittalia in Amatitlán, Guatemala, on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. Operation Walk brings orthopedic surgeons to underserved parts of the world to perform surgery and teach local doctors. Dr. Merrill Ritter, an orthopedic surgeon at the Center for Hip and Knee Surgery in Mooresville, Ind., and head of Operation Walk Mooresville, reviews potential patients with other surgeons and staff at Hospittalia in Amatitlán, Guatemala, on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. Operation Walk brings orthopedic surgeons to underserved parts of the world to perform surgery and teach local doctors. Alex Farris
This kid was playing an iPad game with Dwight Ritter, the brother of my boss and Operation Walk team leader, Dr. Merrill Ritter. This happened right before he went into surgery for both of his feet. This kid was playing an iPad game with Dwight Ritter, the brother of my boss and Operation Walk team leader, Dr. Merrill Ritter. This happened right before he went into surgery for both of his feet. Alex Farris
This was one of my favorite patients. She was almost considered unfit for surgery, but she was cleared, and she cried tears of joy when she could walk on crutches after her surgery. She gave me a big hug, and the next day she called me her son. This was one of my favorite patients. She was almost considered unfit for surgery, but she was cleared, and she cried tears of joy when she could walk on crutches after her surgery. She gave me a big hug, and the next day she called me her son. Alex Farris
Guatemala was wonderful, as I try to show in these Instagram photos. In the far bottom right are two new passport stamps; Guatemala City joins London, Madrid, Liverpool, Paris, Dublin, Marrakech, and Athens in my collection of international travels. Guatemala was wonderful, as I try to show in these Instagram photos. In the far bottom right are two new passport stamps; Guatemala City joins London, Madrid, Liverpool, Paris, Dublin, Marrakech, and Athens in my collection of international travels. Alex Farris
After Guatemala, I started another new thing: six weeks as a staff photographer at the Journal & Courier in Lafayette, Ind. It was my first stint in daily photojournalism since college, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. // Lafayette Boxing Club\'s Tate Sturgeon watches as Kate Mane and Kyle Siple trade light jabs during a workout Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at the club building in Lafayette. After Guatemala, I started another new thing: six weeks as a staff photographer at the Journal & Courier in Lafayette, Ind. It was my first stint in daily photojournalism since college, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. // Lafayette Boxing Club's Tate Sturgeon watches as Kate Mane and Kyle Siple trade light jabs during a workout Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at the club building in Lafayette. Alex Farris
Jeffrey A. Parsons, known as \ Jeffrey A. Parsons, known as "Jeff the Coin Guy," shows off jewelry sold during the Electronic BuyBack Event on Monday, March 4, 2013, at the Comfort Inn in Lafayette. Parsons owes up to $500 million to sellers whose checks didn't clear and in other debts incurred at trade shows in Illinois. We didn't know that at first, but I asked somebody else his name, and it didn't match the reporter's name for him. A few calls and the Internet showed us exactly who he was. Alex Farris
Purdue center A.J. Hammons fights for a loose ball with Minnesota guard Maverick Ahanmisi during an 89-73 victory over the Golden Gophers on Senior Day, Sat., March 9, 2013, at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette. Purdue center A.J. Hammons fights for a loose ball with Minnesota guard Maverick Ahanmisi during an 89-73 victory over the Golden Gophers on Senior Day, Sat., March 9, 2013, at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette. Alex Farris
Purdue guard Anthony Johnson sits in front of the scoreboard during an 86-83 loss to Santa Clara University in a College Basketball Invitational tournament game, Purdue\'s final game of the season, on Monday, March 25, 2013, at Mackey Arena. Purdue guard Anthony Johnson sits in front of the scoreboard during an 86-83 loss to Santa Clara University in a College Basketball Invitational tournament game, Purdue's final game of the season, on Monday, March 25, 2013, at Mackey Arena. Alex Farris
Griffin Weaver shows excitement for the upcoming St. Patrick\'s Day Walking Parade on Saturday, March 16, 2013, on the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge between Lafayette and West Lafayette. Griffin Weaver shows excitement for the upcoming St. Patrick's Day Walking Parade on Saturday, March 16, 2013, on the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge between Lafayette and West Lafayette. Alex Farris
Retired Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva shows his prosthetic leg to students and guests Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at the Cordova Recreational Sports Center at Purdue University in West Lafayette. Alva, who is gay and was the first injury of the Iraq War, advocated for the repeal of the U.S. military\'s Don\'t Ask Don\'t Tell policy. Retired Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva shows his prosthetic leg to students and guests Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at the Cordova Recreational Sports Center at Purdue University in West Lafayette. Alva, who is gay and was the first injury of the Iraq War, advocated for the repeal of the U.S. military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. Alex Farris
Agustin Wachs, age 1, listens to the Passover story as read by Elana Salzman with his father, Juan Wachs, during Parent-Tot Time on Sunday, March 17, 2013, at Temple Israel in West Lafayette. Passover, which celebrates the story of the Israelites\' escape from Egypt, began at sunset on March 25. Agustin Wachs, age 1, listens to the Passover story as read by Elana Salzman with his father, Juan Wachs, during Parent-Tot Time on Sunday, March 17, 2013, at Temple Israel in West Lafayette. Passover, which celebrates the story of the Israelites' escape from Egypt, began at sunset on March 25. Alex Farris
Purdue senior Aaron Knott whispers to senior Kayla McCurdy before the Nearly Naked Mile on Thursday, March 21, 2013, on the Purdue campus. The event, run by Purdue Alumni Student Experience, supported Lafayette Transitional Housing. Purdue senior Aaron Knott whispers to senior Kayla McCurdy before the Nearly Naked Mile on Thursday, March 21, 2013, on the Purdue campus. The event, run by Purdue Alumni Student Experience, supported Lafayette Transitional Housing. Alex Farris
Lorenzo Gutierrez carries a wooden cross as Julio Avila spits water at him during the Living Way of the Cross on Friday, March 29, 2013, outside St. Boniface Catholic Church in Lafayette. The church\'s annual Living Way of the Cross portrays the fourteen stations of the story of Jesus\' death. Lorenzo Gutierrez carries a wooden cross as Julio Avila spits water at him during the Living Way of the Cross on Friday, March 29, 2013, outside St. Boniface Catholic Church in Lafayette. The church's annual Living Way of the Cross portrays the fourteen stations of the story of Jesus' death. Alex Farris
Don Grau, who has Alzheimer\'s disease, picks up his drink and looks at Scrabble letters arranged on his placemat on Friday, March 29, 2013, at his daughter-in-law\'s home in West Lafayette. During visits from IU Health Arnett\'s Charmin Smith in the Aging Brain Care program, Grau spells words, identifies figures on cards, and talks with Smith and his caregiver, daughter-in-law Peggy Grau. Don Grau, who has Alzheimer's disease, picks up his drink and looks at Scrabble letters arranged on his placemat on Friday, March 29, 2013, at his daughter-in-law's home in West Lafayette. During visits from IU Health Arnett's Charmin Smith in the Aging Brain Care program, Grau spells words, identifies figures on cards, and talks with Smith and his caregiver, daughter-in-law Peggy Grau. Alex Farris
Jashawn Hicks, 6, throws a bean bag through a hole in a wooden tooth cutout during the third annual Ivy Tech Dental Assisting Easter Egg Hunt & Sidewalk Carnival on Saturday, March 30, 2013, at Ivy Tech in Lafayette. The event raised money for the Judy Buckles Scholarship. Jashawn Hicks, 6, throws a bean bag through a hole in a wooden tooth cutout during the third annual Ivy Tech Dental Assisting Easter Egg Hunt & Sidewalk Carnival on Saturday, March 30, 2013, at Ivy Tech in Lafayette. The event raised money for the Judy Buckles Scholarship. Alex Farris
Hunter Frank, 8, examines an egg by the light of the sun during an Easter egg hunt on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, at the Beck Lane Boys and Girls Club in Lafayette. During the hunt, children were told to gather a maximum of 10 eggs and that two eggs in the hunt contained a quarter redeemable for larger prizes. Frank made sure not to get too many eggs so that he could pick up an egg with a quarter. Hunter Frank, 8, examines an egg by the light of the sun during an Easter egg hunt on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, at the Beck Lane Boys and Girls Club in Lafayette. During the hunt, children were told to gather a maximum of 10 eggs and that two eggs in the hunt contained a quarter redeemable for larger prizes. Frank made sure not to get too many eggs so that he could pick up an egg with a quarter. Alex Farris
Jared Barker spits a cricket for distance during the cricket spitting competition at Purdue University\'s Bug Bowl on Saturday, April 13, 2013, on the Purdue campus. The Bug Bowl celebrated its 23rd year of entomology and education in 2013. Jared Barker spits a cricket for distance during the cricket spitting competition at Purdue University's Bug Bowl on Saturday, April 13, 2013, on the Purdue campus. The Bug Bowl celebrated its 23rd year of entomology and education in 2013. Alex Farris
Shelby Allen reacts as Gracie Russell puts a cricket in her mouth during the cricket spitting competition at Purdue University\'s Bug Bowl on Saturday, April 13, 2013, on the Purdue campus. The contest debuted in 1997 and is sanctioned by Guinness World Records. Shelby Allen reacts as Gracie Russell puts a cricket in her mouth during the cricket spitting competition at Purdue University's Bug Bowl on Saturday, April 13, 2013, on the Purdue campus. The contest debuted in 1997 and is sanctioned by Guinness World Records. Alex Farris
Purdue Ph.D. student Adam Salyer built a roach motel for the school\'s annual Bug Bowl. That\'s Adam in this making-of shot, putting the roaches in position in the hotel foyer. I used Pocket Wizards to fire the flash you see at the bottom and another flash for the outside walls (held by voice-activated light stand Lauren Sedam, the reporter for the story). This and the boxing photo were the highlights of my lighting experiments at the J&C. Purdue Ph.D. student Adam Salyer built a roach motel for the school's annual Bug Bowl. That's Adam in this making-of shot, putting the roaches in position in the hotel foyer. I used Pocket Wizards to fire the flash you see at the bottom and another flash for the outside walls (held by voice-activated light stand Lauren Sedam, the reporter for the story). This and the boxing photo were the highlights of my lighting experiments at the J&C. Alex Farris
After the Journal & Courier, I started getting Star assignments more consistently than I had in the past. I\'m sure it was because of a mix of having done journalism every day for six weeks and learning the Gannett photo-uploading system in Lafayette. // Students reach for fake money thrown into the air during Perry Meridian High School\'s prom, themed \ After the Journal & Courier, I started getting Star assignments more consistently than I had in the past. I'm sure it was because of a mix of having done journalism every day for six weeks and learning the Gannett photo-uploading system in Lafayette. // Students reach for fake money thrown into the air during Perry Meridian High School's prom, themed "Moonlit Memories," on Saturday, May 4, 2013, at the Indiana History Museum in Indianapolis. Alex Farris
Carmel attacker Sophie Kelner swipes toward Culver attacker Olivia Rabbitt during Culver\'s 9-8 victory over Carmel in the Indiana Girls Lacrosse Association state championship at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 1, 2013. Carmel attacker Sophie Kelner swipes toward Culver attacker Olivia Rabbitt during Culver's 9-8 victory over Carmel in the Indiana Girls Lacrosse Association state championship at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 1, 2013. Alex Farris
For how great the six weeks at the Journal & Courier were, by the end I knew I didn\'t want to devote every day to journalism. I like science too much to set it aside for something else! So, to see if I could do the school thing again, I took an introductory chemistry class in Bloomington. For eight weeks, I was back home again, and by the end, I decided to do medicine and research. For how great the six weeks at the Journal & Courier were, by the end I knew I didn't want to devote every day to journalism. I like science too much to set it aside for something else! So, to see if I could do the school thing again, I took an introductory chemistry class in Bloomington. For eight weeks, I was back home again, and by the end, I decided to do medicine and research. Alex Farris
I still took photo assignments, of course. I didn\'t get paid to go to school, and I still liked taking pictures a lot. // Heidi Shackleford twirls a glow-in-the-dark ghost puppet during Peewinkle Puppet Studio\'s annual adult show in Indianapolis, Friday, June 7, 2013. The show featured performances by puppeteers controlling renditions of Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Punch and Judy, and others. I still took photo assignments, of course. I didn't get paid to go to school, and I still liked taking pictures a lot. // Heidi Shackleford twirls a glow-in-the-dark ghost puppet during Peewinkle Puppet Studio's annual adult show in Indianapolis, Friday, June 7, 2013. The show featured performances by puppeteers controlling renditions of Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Punch and Judy, and others. Alex Farris
Evan Cork and Deborah Magga try to solve a problem on her iPhone while in their period clothing during the Omni Severin Hotel\'s 100th anniversary party on Georgia Street, Friday, August 23, 2013. Evan Cork and Deborah Magga try to solve a problem on her iPhone while in their period clothing during the Omni Severin Hotel's 100th anniversary party on Georgia Street, Friday, August 23, 2013. Alex Farris
A member of the Naptown Roller Girls cringes as she wipes feces on a painting during the Art vs. Art competition at The Vogue in Broad Ripple, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. The competition pitted 16 paintings against each other one-on-one, and the piece with less audience support was destroyed by chainsaw, feces, and other means as determined by a Wheel of Death. A member of the Naptown Roller Girls cringes as she wipes feces on a painting during the Art vs. Art competition at The Vogue in Broad Ripple, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. The competition pitted 16 paintings against each other one-on-one, and the piece with less audience support was destroyed by chainsaw, feces, and other means as determined by a Wheel of Death. Alex Farris
People dress in costume for a Halloween party at Tin Roof in downtown Indianapolis, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. This is one of many in the usual slew of social assignments that is my bread, butter, beer, brew and... gasoline... at The Star. It\'s weird: before every assignment like this, my introverted self sees a mass of people having fun and feels out of place, and I pine for a quiet place. Every time, I work through it. People dress in costume for a Halloween party at Tin Roof in downtown Indianapolis, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. This is one of many in the usual slew of social assignments that is my bread, butter, beer, brew and... gasoline... at The Star. It's weird: before every assignment like this, my introverted self sees a mass of people having fun and feels out of place, and I pine for a quiet place. Every time, I work through it. Alex Farris
Jackson Bertoli of Terre Haute South reacts to winning the boys\' race of the 33rd IHSAA Cross Country State Finals in Terre Haute, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. Carmel High School won both the boys and girls team titles. Jackson Bertoli of Terre Haute South reacts to winning the boys' race of the 33rd IHSAA Cross Country State Finals in Terre Haute, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. Carmel High School won both the boys and girls team titles. Alex Farris
Hoosier players watch the pre-game highlight reel before their game against the University of North Florida at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. IU beat the Ospreys, 89-68, in my first Hoosiers game at this holy place of Indiana basketball since my IDS days. Hoosier players watch the pre-game highlight reel before their game against the University of North Florida at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. IU beat the Ospreys, 89-68, in my first Hoosiers game at this holy place of Indiana basketball since my IDS days. Alex Farris
This semester there were plenty of opportunities to take pictures through a different lens: a microscope. Clockwise from top left: Lily anther cells undergoing meiosis; two-hour-old zebrafish embryos I dechoriated in the Marrs lab; root tip cells undergoing mitosis; red blood cells in a hypertonic solution, shriveled up from losing water to the solution and clumping together. I hope to take a lot of photos like these in the future. This semester there were plenty of opportunities to take pictures through a different lens: a microscope. Clockwise from top left: Lily anther cells undergoing meiosis; two-hour-old zebrafish embryos I dechoriated in the Marrs lab; root tip cells undergoing mitosis; red blood cells in a hypertonic solution, shriveled up from losing water to the solution and clumping together. I hope to take a lot of photos like these in the future. Alex Farris

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I rented a 70-200 from BorrowLenses.com for the Super Bowl before I got my own. I liked them; I think you will, too.