Homework and the little things

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I look forward to Mondays or Tuesdays, depending on which day I decide to blog. There’s something incredibly relaxing about settling down on the couch with my laptop. I tap away at the key board with a steaming cup of tea or hot apple cider next to me. I’m generally a hard-core chocolate girl, but when it comes to choosing between hot chocolate and hot apple cider, the cider feels decidedly more festive.

Some nights the writing comes naturally. Blogging can be a form of reflection, a way to get my thoughts on paper. Other times I have stories to tell of travels or horse racing or all the cities my mom and I have been lost in. But tonight I can’t bring myself to write anything overly reflective or adventurous.

Eight days of classes remain. Three papers, one project and two final exams stand between me and a 2 month break that I will fill with catching up on life and traveling, before I leave to study abroad. In 16 days I will be completely finished with the semester. It seems as though my life is a jumble of numbers and countdowns at the moment.

I’m tired of writing, listening, learning, reading and talking about class subjects. My problem is the same as nearly every single other college student out there. I’ve self-diagnosed myself with a case of “Burnt Out,” a disease that strikes at the end of every semester. Highly contagious but easy to cure with rest and relaxation, the disease is running rampant throughout campus, amongst my friends, and through my own body.

My list of “I’ll-finish-that-when-the-semester-is-done” tasks is piling up. A number of interviews to transcribe and articles to write has been glaring me down. Scholarship forms call my name, and random paperwork litters our dining room table, which has been transformed into my kingdom where I reside as Queen of Homework. It will all have to wait until Christmas break.

It’s just that time of year, I guess. Everyone is busy and the checklist never gets completely checked off. Entertaining family, attending Christmas parties, or in my case, writing papers and studying, gets in the way of enjoying the season.

Last night I found solace in what could have been an incredibly tedious task. Coding, which is one small component of what will be a 25-something page paper I’m working on. What is coding? – You might ask. In a nutshell, it involves speed-reading through selected issues of a communication medium, such as a newspaper, and determining how characteristics of the articles fit into different categories. Thankfully, I chose to code The Saratoga Special. For seven hours over the course of two days, I coded 18 issues of The Special – two issues per year between 2007 and 2015. It added up to approximately 628 pages. Coding is fun – says no one except my professor… ever.

I don’t enjoy coding, but I do love The Saratoga Special. As I scrolled through pages upon pages of PDFs from The Special, I savored the images of pristine equine athletes in pictures from races past. I gleaned articles quickly and read others thoroughly. Especially Sean Clancy’s “Cup of Coffee” column. There’s always something good to read in The Special, dated or not.

The snow fell silently outside the window as I worked. We made it all the way to November 30th without accumulating snow. And then the skies exploded and WALAH! The picturesque, Christmas-like scenery you see on holiday cards has arrived, with a side of treacherous driving. Christmas music hummed softly in the background. The melancholy notes of the Charlie Brown Christmas CD drifted out of the speakers. When it reached the final track, the disc changer switched to a jocular album with an interesting mix of unconventional Christmas and Hanukkah tunes. Nothing like a little “Happy Birthday Dear Jesus” and “I Have a Little Dreidel.” Exemplary illustration of diversity.

It really is the little things in life.

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