Sunday 11 – Friday 16 March 2012
Term II: Essay Completion Week
I have realized that though I have been getting blogs posted in the last few weeks (okay two but that is really saying something that this point in the year) neither have even mentioned school because they were travel blogs and I focused on the place versus the texts I was reading. In Copenhagen I read Prester John by John Buchan for my Stories for Boys class which really was a phenomenal book, I highly recommend it, and in Alicante I started off with the famed short story by Kipling ‘The Man who would be King’ for Stories for Boys (guilty pleasure reading) and after finishing that working on getting further than 20 pages in the 560 page book Lanark a life in 4 books by Alasdair Gray that I have to have read for my final tutorial this Tuesday (April 3). By now it is obvious that I am following my typical pattern of late and not writing this blog until weeks have gone by, my excuse for this new found fad is that essay completion week seriously injured and abused me (a friend of mine refers to school as a ‘cruel mistress’ that sometimes caresses you and whispers sweet nothings in your ear making you think that things are all fine and dandy then when essays, exams and tests come around turns cruel and beats you to within an inch of your life, good simile if you ask me).
This term essay completion week was drastically different from last term, the main reason was because my motivation seemed to have evaporated into thin air and though I had started my research over a month in advance I found myself floundering with everything. I did not know where to begin on any of my three essays, which was terribly stressful because they were due a week from Monday. The only essay I had a slight hold on was my Scepticism essay; I had chosen to write on the topic of death and for my two texts I chose Shakespeare’s Othello (which was really a disappointing play if you ask me) and Marlow’s Dr. Faustus. Though as I was doing research for it a few weeks before I kept thinking in the back of my mind that the whole thing would flow and work much better if I tossed the plays and wrote on the two essays ‘Of Death’ by Sir Francis Bacon and ‘To Philosophize is to learn how to die’ by Michele de Montaigne. So finally I cracked and completely changed my tactic – which is something I never do because often it consumes time that could’ve been saved by staying with the original game plan- luckily this ended up being a good move and by the beginning of essay completion week (ECW) I had at the very least the vertebrae for that essay piled up –though nowhere near instillation.
My next and most stressful task was to look at my Stories for Boys essay (I left the Scottish Lit. essay until last because it was worth less and I have done very good on all of the others so far, the third year ones were what really needed my attention). I had read over the questions once before I started my research a month before and not being able to make hid or tale of them I decided to just choose the two texts I like the most (this ended up biting me in the bum a bit when I got my stuff together the Thursday of ECW). The two texts I chose where Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and though I found loads of sources on Conrad with regards to my original topic of masculinity I found scant nothing on Haggard. A week before ECW I discovered a piece of gold that saved my bum; it was a secondary source on Haggard, and some others, about material wealth in their imperialist stories. After reading this text (which was the final of my secondary sources) I sat down and wrote my outline because I had a strict plan to stick to: have essay outline done before meeting Dr. Irvine on Tuesday to discuss essay then return from meeting and write essay. When Tuesday rolled around I was pretty well set with my outline though it was good that I met with Dr. Irvine or else I would’ve gone in a bit of the wrong direction. My Stories for Boys essay, the one I fretted about the most, turned out to be the first one done and I was shockingly proud of it. Also my meeting with Dr. Irvine was very lovely, before it I had been scared of him but quickly grew warmer towards him after spending some one on one time with him. That is how a lot of professors are at Edinburgh; they seem a bit scary and imposing in class but when you meet one on one they can be really cool and ultimately helpful. I was told as a freshman at my home university to always make yourself known to your professors and go to their office hours to talk to them. And though I have been a bit of a fool in my classes this term I have made it a priority to go and discuss my essays with my professors because if they know that you have come and talked to them about it they will know for sure that you were serious about your essay and will take that into consideration when grading, plus they have a face to match to the writing.
I also met with Dr. Cavanagh to discuss my Scepticism essay and was similarly surprised at how lovely a person he is. Though I was sure that he was nice I was shocked at his avoidance of discussing my essay immediately when I entered his office; instead we spent about five or so minutes discussing Colorado and my other classes which was really nice because it relaxed me. Though I will admit that once we got to discuss my paper I wanted to fall asleep. I really don’t know what it is about him but he just puts me to sleep, pity I can’t have him around when I’m suffering from insomnia. Seems he may have gone into the wrong business, Haha.
Though things were moving well by Tuesday and Wednesday I was 100% convinced that I would not be able to finish my essays by the coming Monday because I hadn’t finished reading my newly discovered secondary resources for my Scepticism essay and I had done little more than look at my Scottish literature essay questions. By Thursday I was so panicked that I didn’t end up doing anything except laundry, go to the gym and I don’t even know what else though I had gotten up at half seven to have more time to work.
For ECW I had set up a battle plan for myself which followed this: get up at eight every morning, even when I didn’t have class (only had Scottish Lit. that week, third year courses are cancelled), work on essays until about two then go to the gym for an hour and a half during which I would watch a crime show like ‘The Mentalist’ while I did my concluding forty minute cardio, return from the gym at about four and take a shower, do some more work until about half six/seven, have dinner, and be in bed by ten to read The Bride of Lammermoor (which was one of the two texts I was writing my Scottish Lit. essay on, the other was the short story by Margaret Oliphant ‘The Library Window’) until eleven when I would go to bed. It was a very good pattern and worked great; I got to the gym every day and got lots of sleep so I didn’t crash like I had the term before after ECW.
Friday, luckily, I was back on track and working and had finished my Scepticism essay before my new flatmate, Laura’s, birthday/St. Patrick’s day party. While Laura and her over twenty friends (who all stuffed into our kitchen miraculously) partied in the kitchen, my fantastic flatmate Lindsay sat in my room with me proof reading both my essays and allowing me to use her computer so that I could submit them electronically which forced me to look at them no more and focus my energy on my third and final essay. My perfect pattern was broken Saturday night due not only to the ruckus being made by Laura and her friends in the kitchen but also by a plan that I had made with Lindsay to make a midnight meal after they left. As the time ticked on both Lindsay and I started to get anxious because Laura had said they would be gone no later than about half eleven and it was at that time about twelve. To make a game plan and get away from the deafening noise, I headed to Lindsay’s room where we waited for about ten minutes before the crowd finally dispersed. The silence was such a relief and our hunger was so great by this time that we weren’t even bothered by the fact that when we entered the kitchen it looked as if a Guinness cupcake bomb (someone made Laura Guinness and Bailey’s cupcakes) had gone off. In fact we both just immediately went into cleaning mode and Lindsay made me so proud when she just said that she was going to mop (I do believe in soul mates, sorry Robert – Lindsay’s boyfriend). After about thirty minutes the kitchen was in tip top shape and Lindsay had stuff out and ready to make chilli and I had stuff out ready to make a smoked salmon and onion quesadilla (which was indescribably good!). Though it threw off my sleeping and eating schedule it was a really fun night and a welcome break from my extreme stress.
I woke up the next morning about half seven even though I had gotten about five hours of sleep and decided that instead of working in my room I would work in the kitchen which was being warmed and glowing with the rays of the strong Scottish sun. Lindsay soon joined me and with her help I successfully finished my Scottish Literature essay by five that evening. Though it wasn’t a very good essay (well the Oliphant part wasn’t, the Scott bit was pretty good; I was writing on the use of the supernatural and superstition in the two texts) I was happy to have it done and shocked that I had successfully finished two 2500 word essays and one 2000 word essay in one week. Sunday was also Laura’s 21st birthday (hence the ‘St. Laura’s Day’ party the night before) and Lindsay and I had our presents and cards at the ready in the kitchen. Now Laura is a naturally late sleeper but since she had partied hard the night before at about noon when she hadn’t woken up Lindsay and I decided to place a bet on when she would get up. Lindsay said half one and I chose one, right after we made the bet I commented that it would be funny for her to suddenly get up right at that moment. Right then we hear her door open (because Ghaz was away at a Karate match we knew it was hers) and held are breath hoping she was just using the toilet and go back to sleep; she did go into the toilet though unfortunately it was not followed by her return to her room but rather her entrance into the kitchen. It was a good end to my essay panic that had started and lasted throughout the week.