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The rebellion of waiting until the very last minute

It's almost the end of September and the Twins are only a couple games away from winning their division. Of course, there are only a handful of games left the play.

So everyone's stressing about the whole deal, wondering if their beloved Twinkies are going to pull through, and rightly so. While the Twins' bats are hot, the Tigers, the team that the Twins are trailing, are not playing so badly themselves. Not so badly at all, according to my last check of last night's Tigers game: Tigers leading 10-1.

They have fire in their belly and know that the Twins are at their heels. But it makes me wonder, could there have been a game or two in July, or maybe even May, in which the Twins could have used the same intensity they are playing with now, and won? One or two games. That's all it would have taken.

Why do they have to wait until the 11th Hour like this and keep the entire state of Minnesota hanging?

You see it everywhere in life. At our house, the last 10 minutes before we leave in the morning is a flurry of activity. The two hours in the morning leading up to that, however, are perfectly casual. People sit around, have pleasant little chats, read the newspaper, get into some coffee action. More gets accomplished every weekday between 7:15 and 7:25 than the previous hour and a half, and no one wants to do anything about it.

We all know people that stay up studying 'til the wee hours the night before every test. Those people -- and I am one of them -- are always available during the week to do something. We scoff at our stupid friends who carefully plan out their schedules every week and tell them they need to get lives.

Unlike these nerds, we have places to go, people to see, trains to catch. Come Thursday night, though, we're not the ones laughing anymore. Nor does that change when Friday's test results come back.

My dad consistently spends hours upon hours preparing for his trials, only to have them disappear at the last minute when the sides finally agree to compromise outside of court. All that work for naught. Sometimes, I think he wonders if there's even a point.

What is it about having our backs against the wall, the unmovable deadline staring us in the face, which gives us the impetus to go forward? Why is it that these are the times that we do our best work? Why is it that we can see our way to make compromises at that time that seemed like too much to give before?

Maybe, it's that we work best under pressure. Legend has it that the Gettysburg Address was written by Abraham Lincoln on the back of an envelope on the train to Gettysburg. Dylan dashed off Blowin' in the Wind, perhaps the most well known and moving protest song in history, in about 15 minutes.

Part of it for me -- the homework part anyway -- has more to do with some desperate sense of rebellion than any delusion that I'll do better work if I cram it all into one night. The school -- because of its undue leverage on my future -- can make me do its stupid assignments, but I'm not about to devote more than one night of my week to them.

As it is today, my column is due in this morning and I just sat down 15 minutes ago to start. That depresses me. I enjoy writing when it's not for school, my column makes me happy, and when I don't have time to give to those things in my life which I am passionate about, I wonder where my priorities are.

What's worse, there's this persistent nagging in my brain about some math problems that need to be finished and a test to be studied for so I can't work my best anyway.

For over two years, the rhythm of my life has been to have a column due on Friday morning. My editor tells me that will change to Tuesday mornings (with the column being published in the Wednesday paper), for reasons beyond me. There is completeness to having my column turned in and finishing the school week on the same day that I will miss.

But, by the same token, perhaps the schedule change will lend itself to weekend motivation and the flexibility to give my columns the time and energy they deserve.

It's only 7 a.m. Column is done. Still plenty of time to have another cup of coffee and some casual conversation with dad about last night's Tiger's game.

Nathan Kitzmann is a junior at Detroit Lakes High School.