Another semester is well under way. School campuses everywhere teem with eager and already-weary students. Disciples. Learners arrive early in the morning, sit through morning classes with their droning instructors, grab a bag of Corn Nuts or stop by the eatery for a refreshing caffeinated soda, then sit through a round of afternoon classes. Instructors stand in front of their classes appearing to teach. Lectures, they call them. Professors’ voices may penetrate 30-60% of student skulls, depending on attentiveness and head placement relative to the desk. If my head was down during a class, I had every intent of going to sleep. But of course, if I sat upright, that did not guarantee alertness or even consciousness in any way.
After a whole day of classes, students flock to the library or return to their eclectically decorated or otherwise messy apartments to do at least 17 trillion hours of homework. An estimated 2 hours for every credit hour. I came home to read about 100 pages every night from sundry novels that my various English classes assigned. Then I would have to write stuff or think about term papers or work on a group project. Then I’d do my assignments for French, which involved stumble-reading 20-40 pages, writing in a journal, and doing grammar exercises. Three sets of 20, with a 30-second rest between sets. I was up until 1:00 or 2:00 every night, only to wake up four to five hours later for another day.
I understood the importance of homework; I tried to make my brain achieve balance in learning between lectures and homework. On any particular day I had no more than four classes – four hours. But then came the eight hours of homework. Sometimes it felt that all I ever did was homework. But I also tried to make room for a social life and reassured my friends that I still loved them. When I started dating Reilly, I still did homework, which involved a different type of juggling that I wasn’t used to, but I still did the reading and writing and tortuous French grammar études. When I started dating Reilly more seriously, of course I spent more time with him, which meant there was less time to accomplish everything else. I got the same four to five hours of sleep, so it seems homework was compromised.
We got engaged before my last semester, and I knew that I had to restore my discipline if I were to finish well, or at least with my GPA intact. Our relationship had progressed enough, or maybe we were mature enough for him to work on his lesson plans and for me to do homework while we were in the same room. Sure, we would take a break and make out every once in a while, but most of the time we acted like adults with academic focus.
Is it possible to have an academic focus for making out? Admittedly, there were days after school that I had to tell Reilly that I just had to go home and do homework by myself, else all I would do is gaze into his eyes and admire his handsome visage and distract him from lesson plans with little, teasing kisses.
With Reilly’s help and encouragement, I made it through that last semester, and BYU let me graduate, most likely because I had something like 652 credits, 550 of which came from a science major from my early days at BYU before I wised up and changed my major to English. BYU was happy to be rid of me and all my credit-hoarding.
Don’t even get me started on the science homework.
So, I graduated and got married. Then there was no homework. Just like that. No term papers, no French grammar. I read for fun, though. The whole summer. I decided that I would look for a real-life job before summer’s end, and I started working the same week Reilly headed back to teaching. And the nature of my job doesn’t require homework. Sometimes I stay at the office a few extra hours each week, but I never bring work home. Every day, I study, read, write, edit, and revise. I get to work in groups to prepare presentations. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that my job is just like homework, eight hours a day, . . . wait a second.
Academic focus. The differences are that I really like work, and – again – I get to leave it at the office, and I can come home to the best campus ever and do whatever I want, which is usually reading or watching television or fun house projects or surfing the internet or distracting Reilly while he’s creating lesson plans. He’s even entering grades into the computer right now.
I should go kiss him.