An Essay By Ben // 4/15/2003

"April is the cruellest month" for T. S. Eliot (The Waste Land), but for me it's going to be the calmest. Actually, that's not really true, not with the junior-project deadline approaching in early May. That's when I will find myself in front of all my professors answering their questions about "my" poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins -- you know, the poet I've supposedly studied all semester. So April won't be the calmest month for me. Still, we do get two and a half weeks of break from school. I will at least be at home even if I'm studying Hopkins half the time.

Luckily, I never study all the time. I relax both by accident and on purpose. In the room across the hall from mine there lives a computer. And on that computer there is a game called Metal of Honor. That's the closest form of distraction. After lunch, I find myself slinking into that room while the freshmen boys are at chemistry class. They find me, completely absorbed, in their room after their class ends. Computer games are an old habit for me. Then there's always the happy study idea: "I'll just go to Barnes & Noble with some friends and study there." And, forty-five minutes later, once I'm there, the equally happy idea comes to me: "I'll just go over to the music section and sample CDs for a little while." I also have a real problem saying no to most invitations. Right after I plan my whole day of study, I might end up going to the bar or out to lunch, or to bowl, or to watch a movie.

Half of these distractions are actually a godsend since I would go crazy if I worked constantly. I make time for other things too. On some weekends I drive the hour home and visit my family, which is a very welcome change from school. Some days I meet with another violinist and play a Bach duet together. Some nights I update and design apricotpie.com. Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday I serve at the mass we have here in our little chapel. And then I make time to play sports when possible, talk with anyone who visits me while I'm studying, write a little poetry, and daydream too often. Days go by without my realizing it.

Today, for example, I spent about six hours on the Boston College (BC) campus. How different Thomas More College is from BC! I went because their archive and manuscript library, the John J. Burns Library, has some original letters, photographs, and clippings from Gerard Manley Hopkins. I was able to hold letters he wrote to his family and friends in my hand. It was an unusual and -- shall I say it? -- inspiring experience. I also held a photo triptych that once belonged to his mother. It had fallen apart, but it was pretty clear that in the middle she kept a photograph of her son, Gerard, and on the other sides she had her father (I believe) and her husband pictured. A few minutes before the library closed, I also read the obituary pamphlet the Jesuits made for Hopkins and gave to his mother. The letters and the pamphlet I read today are heavily quoted from in the books and essays I have been reading, so I got to see the original, primary sources.

All in all, I have to say that April has actually been a calm month -- so far.

Yes - so far - back then! Now, April 15th, I'm a little more pressed for time. I didn't post this piece on apricotpie when I submitted it to myroad.com two weeks ago.


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