It’s been a loud semester, a constant stream of noise alternately shouting at me before reducing itself to the constant, low hum of white noise that’s occupied my mind since the semester started.

The sound of accuracy checks and unanswered phones. My own voice, strangely assertive, asking people to answer it. Lectures, lectures, lectures that I can’t even seem to remember because they’re mixed in with the stream of life-chatter. Emails answered and unanswered. Voice mails and calls back and the perpetual stream of negotiation. Deadlines and due dates and a 10-page honors paper on T.S. Eliot. Fixed commas and restructured stories. The perpetual stream of questions that runs through my mind. A million little things to worry about. A hundred different scenarios to consider. And when all else fails, the quiet hum of the scanner.

Thanksgiving break has essentially started, and I’ll be camping out in Columbia for a few days before heading out to a family reunion. I thought about taking advantage of my few days off by shipping out to go visit people, an attempt to ease the somewhat guilty conscience that tells me I’m not as good as I should be at maintaining the relationships in my life.

But in the end, I decided to stay. I mentally scanned through the last few months in my head, and I realized I’ve been working on something just about every day since classes started in August. Five days a week in class and at the Missourian. A copy desk shift Saturday nights. Sundays spent caught between exhaustion and sheer willpower pushing me to finish everything I put off the week before and everything I won’t have time to do in the coming week.

I still have work to finish over break. A lot of it. But even so, I’m looking forward to spending a few quiet days in Columbia with a quiet house and a quiet town. At least one actual day off from real obligation. A chance to sit and work uninterrupted, without much external noise to distract me.

A moment of quiet in the midst of a lot of noise.

I’m looking forward to it.

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