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The Great Academic War Part I: Before the Storm

Treat boxes from Pizza Hut cannot be delivered on Thanksgiving. I found this out firsthand over the most recent break. It was a reprieve from the heart of a penultimate battle before the final exam storm would come. T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" demanded a close reading essay, as well as Poe's "City in the Sea". A preface for "Let Loose" was also due. As much as I enjoy apocalyptic poetry and stories about spectral hands choking people out, there was much to do. These essays represented the last skirmishes for the longest phase of a great war. Matched by efforts due for Minskoff's journalism course and Dr. Kim's pre-modern civilization course, there was much to do with very little time.

The other side of a battle that was compounding quickly came from extracurricular activities. Pages for The Trail, obligations to The Coyote and The Coyote Uglies, graduate school, graduate school, graduate school. No amount of to-do lists would save me. It all came down to action. As I sat there, Thanksgiving Day, with nothing but a glass of coca-cola and some baked lays amidst the sounds of catching up on Narcos and Doctor Who, I started formulating a plan of action. More than a basic to-do list, I started looking at the different tasks and when I would be able to complete them in proper order. Each task had to be completed in full. Satisfying professors was the end-goal. It would not be enough to make an attempt to pass a class.

So it was, after mouthfuls of baked lays watered down by ambrosia, that an empty whiteboard became the arena for my counter-attack on the aggressions made by a tough semester. I would start with annotations and source garnering before making outlines and putting forward words. The moment I saw what had to be done, I began preparing. With my boston terrier at my side, and a house to myself for five days, I conjured forth a hurricane to answer the tornado that would come.

With a few days' time to prepare, I began crafting folders with directives. My satchel quickly became a map room for the coming chaos. Papers that once found themselves floating around carelessly were organized in short order. Articles found themselves covered in dripping highlighter wetness, torn to pieces with frantic scrawlings from shaking pens. Organization turned into my primary ammunition for the coming Monday. After some time with Pablo Escobar and The Doctor, I looked down to my payload and drove back to campus in my messy Subaru outback chariot.

As is the nature of things, plans are typically not worth making. There was wind and fury on the road back to Caldwell that should have been an indicator of things to come. My email, previously untouched for the break, was awash with concerns and duties that came out of left field. I attempted to respond to these immediate fires, which resulted in the master plan being delayed. This would be a frequent rhythm, with threats to my success splintering from the woodwork at completely inopportune moments. Words of wisdom came to mind, however, "When you are going through hell, keep going."

So I went, and so it went. Essay missiles launched themselves from mind and body. I do not know how these words formed themselves, honestly, but they did. Some of them struck right where they intended, with A's and A-'s worming themselves as a sign of hope. The day could be won yet. I was awash with warm peace when looking at these minor victories. At the end of that first week I took a deep breath and sat with friends in what I thought was peace.

Yet, finals sat on the over side of Sunday.

Austin Kirkham is a Senior creative writing major at The College of Idaho