Editor's Note: The post is an excerpt from a journal of Colin Brock.
6:00 am. My alarm woke me this morning. All the newness of moving must have thrown off my internal clock. Got to get that back to normal, waking ten minutes before my alarm screams at me!
7:30 am. Breakfast done. Water bottle and healthy snack packed in my backpack. I’m heading now to my first class at Mistleton University. I’m not excited—and yet I am excited. Not my first choice for school, but at least I’m about to be immersed in the study of journalism.
9:30 am. “Your world is about to change in ways you can’t imagine. This ain’t the 90s anymore. It’s 2000! What you thought you knew last year—last century—is not what the 21st century will be. The times, they are a’changing.”
That’s an exact quote. He actually said, “ain’t.”
Prof. Preston also embarrassed me. He has this intense look on his face as he’s lecturing. During part of his talk, he stared directly at me. He said, “I’ll be your guide. If you pay attention in here, I’ll get you ready for the world out there.”
I felt every eye in the room turn toward me. I ducked my head and scribbled in my notebook.
Our brief break is about over. The syllabus! Can’t forget to write this. We will have one exam worth 50% of my grade. The other 50% is going to this lame writing lab for two hours every day. Preston said, “you will write and write and write. You cannot become a better journalist without writing.”
BUT I AM A WRITER. And I’m a good one. I spent four years writing for the New Hope Record! I’ve got the experience. I just need a degree. That’s the only reason I’m here.
It’s 9:40. Back to class.
12:20 pm. Home now for lunch. Monday lunch is in the microwave. Just enjoying the quiet.
Also picked up a copy of the Mistleton Times. Turns out that lab fire started at midnight. New York dropped a shiny ball. Mistleton blew up a biochemistry lab. This place is so weird.
12:40 pm. Labs start at 2:00 pm, so I have a little time to rest my eyes. I want to work at the Times while I’m in school. After this two-week J-Term, I’ll apply.
1:45 pm. My internal clock is totally broken. My 20 minute power nap turned into an hour and I have to rush to my writing lab. Not looking forward to this. And I hate rushing. And I could have probably saved a couple of minutes by not writing this.
3:15 pm. I made it to class—lab—on time. Literally on time. When I arrived, a grad student was handing out packets of stapled papers to everyone as they entered. She told us to find a computer and start working through the assignments.
My first assignment was to read three paragraphs of a fake news event and retell that story with an inverted pyramid. I guess I sighed a little too loudly. The people on both sides of me stopped typing and stared at me.
I flipped through the packet. Lots more assignments like that. And grammar lessons? You’ve got to be kidding me. I know how to write!
There was one bit of good news. The grad student told us when we finish the packet for that day, we’re free to leave. I’ve always written faster than everyone in every class I’ve been in, so I’m done for today.
I’m going to the quad.
7:30 pm. I learned two things this afternoon.
First, Mistleton University does not have a quad. They do have a large open space with a monument in the middle. Instead of a beautifully landscaped rectangle, the university has a treeless circle at least two football fields in diameter. The campus buildings are situated all around the circle with alleys between them.
In the center is a large circular monument.
The campus is like Stonehenge on steroids.
The area is so large that walking to the other side of the Circle was mind-numbingly slow. So I decided to run. I was a runner in high school. Running always made me feel alive in a way nothing else ever did—except journalism, of course.
But this is where I learned that second thing. As I approached the halfway point, I stopped—out of breath and exhausted. I haven’t run like this for two years.
I paused beside the monument. It is massive. It’s a giant globe, maybe 50 feet across. Impressive. When people think of Mistleton University, this is it. This globe is on every brochure and flyer.
After catching my breath, I decided to skip the trip to the other side. Saving that for another day. I slowly walked back to my side of campus.
Journals of Colin Brock