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On Like Donkey Kong

Thirteen days. 312 hours. 18,720 minutes. The countdown to my fifth semester at Metropolitan State University of Denver has begun in earnest. It’s that moment in a (well written & directed) film when the audience realizes the challenge that lays ahead for our hero. There is plenty at stake and a plethora of people depending on our svelte swashbuckler. The reality is apparent to both the character and his sympathizers in the chairs watching the flickering screen. The moment is at hand. The music slips into a familiar theme the crowd has heard but there is something interwoven that is new. It is a bright hopeful melody that is charged with a new energy and a driving heart that will take us along with our onscreen hero as they defeat The Big Bad that has haunted them throughout the movie. This is where I am now.

In previous semesters I was able to withdraw from certain classes without it having a direct affect on my graduation and degree requirements. It allowed me some room in which to breathe as the work piled up. I split my time between school and work. I fell behind a little each semester, but was able to summon from within that great intestinal fortitude that has so been my saving grace in the past. In that, I was like a onscreen daredevil who found a way to win despite overwhelming odds. The music would swell, I would slay the beast and walk off into a fade to black. I was playing a James T. Kirk-esque game. It was that character who said in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, “I don’t believe in the no win scenario.” Now, there’s plenty to unpack there vis-à-vis the sterling captain of the USS Enterprise and this attitude as it relates to life overall. I’m only going to focus (this time) on the idea that it’s mighty dangerous to make that your sole driving mantra in life and I feel that I was pulling too far into Kirk territory when it came to my classes of yore. I was believing that I could just withdraw from a class at the last possible moment and it wouldn’t cause injury. Sadly, it can but only if the “non-completion rate” hits a certain percentage. At the moment, the numbers are doing just fine but the danger is that if I choose to pursue such action as before, I only serve to wound my chances further down the line.

It also is a wake up call for this next semester. I have 18 credit hours and 15 of those are required. The three additional hours are tied up in a “Fiction Workshop” class that I desperately desire to retain. I diligently wish to write further in the creative realm and I figure this is a chance to do just that – while also opening up the chances I could teach a creative writing class in my eventual teaching career in either middle school or high school. It’s a wake up call that this next semester will require everything I have within and around me. I will be tasked in staying focused, staying ahead of my cornucopia of syllabi that threaten to bury me outright. It is yet another moment in which I am required to stop, collaborate and listen. While it is a lovely lyrical composition from Mr. Vanilla Ice, it is also completely true within my world. I have to take the time to assemble (not the Avengers, sadly) my materials, get the apartment space ready for homework and study sessions while also balancing the life of being a boyfriend to a girl and working part time. That means stopping to take a breath or two. Getting together with folks who are going to be on campus or have been recently to seek counsel on how they survived. And most importantly – listen. Listen to my body and how tired it can get without me noticing. Listen to the girlfriend, cause she’s definitely important and lastly – listen to my professors. They’ve done this a few times with loads of students before me – and I need to take them at their word.

So the game is afoot. The match is set. The moment is at hand.

Cue up the orchestra, Mr. Williams. We’re headed into it.

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