Trinity University Press

Terra Firma: Trinity University Press blog

Posts by Eddie Kolbinskie

All Hail to Trinity!

Aug 15, 2014 (2:36 pm)

Late-night cramming sessions! Naps in between classes! Shortages on cash! For Trinity University students, school starts up again in less than two weeks. For some of us, it may be just another ordinary school year. But many others are dreading it because it will be our final year here. The next ten months will be filled with trips to Career Services to try to figure out what we want to do with our lives, an overwhelming pile of transcripts, resumes, and essays that we’ll try to compile into grad school applications, or an immeasurable amount of hours spent prepping for the MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, or GRE. Whether it’s the agony of having to abandon the small sense of freedom that we have left or the stress this final year inevitably brings upon us, it’s certain that leaving Trinity won’t be easy.

Unlike many of my fellow classmates, I’m actually looking forward to it. Although there are many bittersweet feelings that walking through this beautiful, green campus for the last time will bring, it’s important to realize that there are greater things ahead as we prepare to leave the great people and memories behind.

As I reflected on my final year at Trinity, I tried to think of what I would miss most about this school. I came to the conclusion that there’s way too much to love about this place (except for Mabee, of course) to select one thing. Instead, here’s a list of the top five things I love (and will miss) about Trinity University.

1) The traditions. Every university has its rituals that differentiate it from the pack, but many of the traditions we have at Trinity really make it special. Murchison Tower, which stands at 166 feet, is one San Antonio’s tallest and most recognizable monuments, and the tradition of climbing to the top on the night before the first day of classes has become something everyone looks forward to. Another favorite (or least favorite) is the birthday fountain dunk, in which our friends kidnap us from our rooms at midnight on our birthdays and dunk us into Miller Fountain. Also, who can forget about petting the beloved Trinity cats (Trinicats) that are always roaming through campus?

2) The convenience. While many students at LPUs couldn’t imagine going to a liberal arts school of our size, I think that is the reason everyone at Trinity really loves it here. There are only around 2,500 of us on campus, and it’s easy to run into someone we know and have a quick chat. Because we’re a small student population, the size of the actual campus is great, too! The walk to class is easy, and sometimes we even have time to grab a snack in between. There’s no need for buses and shuttles to take us to class, since most of our classroom buildings are only one (large) staircase away.

3) The professors. The professors truly do give their students the attention and assistance they need. In my three years at Trinity, not only have I had all my questions fully answered by my professors during their office hours, but I’ve also had the chance to work with them outside the classroom and develop great relationships. I’ve bonded with some professors so much that I’ve even taken certain classs just to be able to have them a second, third, or fourth time, and I know I speak for many others who have done the same.

4) The student involvement. I don’t know a single student here who isn’t involved with something on campus. Whether it’s Greek organizations, academic organizations, intramurals, work-study jobs, or volunteer groups, there is something that everyone can get involved with. I’ve had the pleasure to meet some of my best friends through these organizations, and I know my experience at Trinity would not have been the same without them. It’s refreshing to see how much students enjoy staying involved and keeping busy.

5) The sense of community. The thing that sealed the deal for me and many others is the sense of community students feel when they’re walking through campus. The previous four qualities shape this sense of community and define what it means to be a Trinity student. It’s an indescribable feeling that I can’t sum up in words. This final quality speaks for itself.

Now, let the year begin!

RIP Robin Williams

Aug 12, 2014 (3:06 pm)

If you’re like me and browse social media feeds waiting for something interesting to start trending, then you, too, probably found out about the unfortunate death of Robin Williams through an online news source as it went viral.

Robin Williams was the type of actor who was so talented and recognized that he was easy to take for granted. He left us with timeless classics like Good Morning, Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, and one of my personal favorites, Dead Poets Society. It wasn't until I read what happened and rewatched one of his films that I realized what we'd lost and, more importantly, what a tremendous person we had in Robin Williams.

While there is much good for us to remember about Williams’s life, there is also much that we should take away from a tragedy like this. Out of respect for his family, I won’t acknowledge what is believed to be the cause of his death. I will say, however, that his passing was stunning to many who were unaware of his struggles with depression. We hear about it all the time. We hear about the hotlines, counselors, and therapies that are supposed to prevent this type of thing. But it isn't until we see it happen to someone we care about that we start to realize how important it is to discuss.

Depression is serious. Admitting to having a mental illness takes strength and courage. Regardless of how tough it is, it is critical to talk about it with someone—a friend, family member, therapist, or even a stranger. Being the outlet for someone means so much more than we realize. As we mourn the loss of a beloved actor, let us remember to be kind to everyone we meet, because anyone, even the funniest person on the planet, could be struggling with something more substantial than we realize.

When someone dies, it’s important to reflect on that person’s life, not his death. Williams's death certainly serves as a lesson for us all, and I, personally, have received some of the greatest lessons from his films. Growing up with divorced parents, I always loved Mrs. Doubtfire because it provided a comedic outlook on a tough issue families deal with. Attending an all-boys' school and having the pleasure of being taught by some of the most inspirational people, I always admired Dead Poets Society, especially Williams’s character, Mr. Keating, for his advice to stray from conformity, appreciate literature and poetry, and be our own selves.

Mr. Keating’s message that the themes we find in poetry—like beauty, romance, and love—are "what we stay alive for" is one of the reasons I've come to love reading so much and why I love working at the press. From Williams's comedic roles in lighthearted films like Aladdin and Flubber to more serious roles in dramas like The Fisher King and Good Will Hunting, there is such a range of messages that it’s hard not to find one we love and relate to.

I want to end this post by remembering the inspirational person Robin Williams was to millions and by quoting one of his most memorable lines: "Carpe diem. Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary."

Rest in peace, Robin Williams. You will be missed.

Viva la France!

Jul 11, 2014 (2:37 pm)

Now that it’s been more than a week since we grilled burgers and enjoyed fireworks for the Fourth of July, it’s time to celebrate a different red, white, and blue. Bastille Day, also known as French National Day, is this Monday! While I don’t have any direct French descendants, how could I pass up an excuse to practice my elementary French and indulge in gougères and macarons? 

Just as Americans celebrate the Fourth to commemorate the declaration of our independence from the United Kingdom, and Mexicans celebrate 16 de Septiembre to honor independence from Spain, France’s Bastille Day is observed to celebrate the beginning of the French Revolution, a period in which the French broke free from monarchical rule within their own country. 

Bastille Day traditions in the states are usually more low-key than those that honor our independence. However, if you’re lucky enough to celebrate in France during the holiday, you’re in for an amazing weekend. Parades and festivities are held nationwide and more closely resemble the ones we have here in the U.S. If you’re like me and don’t have the time to travel to Houston or Dallas where huge French festivals are being held on Monday night, then you make up your own celebration! 

Eat at a quaint French bistro. Sport a snazzy beret. Break out those leftover sparklers. Or crank up Phoenix to channel your inner-Francophile. Viva la France, San Antonio!

 

Summer Reading!

Jun 24, 2014 (11:03 am)

Things have been hectic in San Antonio. We've been preoccupied with the madness surrounding the Spurs’ fifth NBA championship and the World Cup, the release of blockbuster films like The Fault in Our Stars and Maleficent, and the lake, river, and beach (OH MY). As temperatures rise, here are some great titles to check out when you're ready to take a break from the heat.

Two of our favorites are from Rebecca Solnit, author of our forthcoming The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness. The first, Men Explain Things to Meaddresses the cultural phenomenon in which men believe that what they have to say always takes priority over women's opinions. It's a serious topic, but Solnit manages to get the point across while putting readers at ease. The second, Solnit's collection of memoir-heavy essays, The Faraway Nearby, is a must-read for anyone who enjoys storytelling.

The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, a novel from Bob Shacochis, author of Domesticity: A Gastronomic Interpretation of Love, shows that war is essentially never ending. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride, which won the 2013 National Book Award, tells the story of a boy who meets abolitionist John Brown in a tavern and recounts his historic raid on Harpers Ferry.

Finally, we recommend The Keillor Readera compilation of Garrison Keillor's work, including some of his best-loved essays and monologues and never-before-published poems.

Happy reading!

Book Expo America '14!

May 30, 2014 (2:43 pm)

Every year around this time, publishers, authors, and book retailers look forward to an event that gives them the opportunity to showcase their newest titles, network with people from other companies, and celebrate the successes that they have had that year. That’s right; we at TU Press have left for the Big Apple to attend Book Expo America. As we look back on this year, there are certainly many things that we have to be thankful for, most of which are our five forthcoming books this fall that we have the pleasure to showcase: Mark Menjivar’s The Luck Archive: Exploring Belief, Superstition, and Tradition; Rebecca Solnit’s Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness; Gary Snyder and Julia Martin’s Nobody Home: Writing, Buddhism, and Living in Places; Peter Turchi’s A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic; and Carter Wiseman’s Writing Architecture: A Practical Guide to Clear Communication About the Built Environment. While they all differ in their content and purpose, our books for this next year all have a sense of uniqueness about them, in that these authors truly think outside of the box to create informative, innovative, original books.

An interesting take on the realities of luck and superstition, The Luck Archive is told through a series of photographs and a variety of different perspectives, so that the reader understands just where these superstitions come from. Mark Menjivar addresses a greater issue here than merely good luck and bad luck. By examining these people and their actions, he addresses the extent to which personal belief influences our decision-making.

Further demonstrating her versatility as a writer, Rebecca Solnit compiles essays covering different themes such as history, justice, war, and peace into a wonderful, diverse collection. Solnit writes about art, landscape, politics, memory, and life in general as the collection moves through many unique places, such as Mexico, Haiti, and Iceland. Moreover, through her writing of Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness, Solnit proves that in addition to being a talented writer, she is also an activist of land, human, and anti-war rights.

One of our more distinguishable books, Nobody Home, takes the form of a conversation through a series of interviews and letters. Authors Gary Snyder and Julia Martin develop a close relationship which serves as the center of the book, exemplified through their discussions of the changes that they have seen in the world around them and in their personal lives and through Snyder’s portrayal of the theme of Buddhism, an equally important theme.

Every writer and reader know that with both telling and reading a story comes the element of surprise, existing at both ends of the spectrum. This idea that a sense of magic exists at the heart of all stories prevails in Peter Turchi’s A Muse and a Maze, as he presents the metaphor that the craft of writing is the same as making and solving puzzles, due to the sense of mystery that not only the readers face, but that the writers face, as well, as they try to figure out their own story that they are telling.

The final book that we are showcasing this year is one with a more specific target audience, but it still very enriching, nonetheless. In Writing Architecture, Carter Wiseman proposes that writing about the process, methods, and value of architecture is a tough job for young architects because of the necessity to master the fundamentals of clarity of thinking and expression. Thus, his purpose is to teach these architectures the skills of effective writing by using excerpts as different perspectives.

Flourishing Optimism for Memorial Day

May 23, 2014 (2:52 pm)

This Memorial Day weekend, most of us will spend time remembering loved ones or simply relaxing with friends and family. As I reflected on the holiday, I noticed a copy of Kenneth I. Helphand’s Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime near my desk. After reading a few chapters, I was reminded of why it’s such a wonderful day of reverence for those who have served in the Armed Forces.

In the book, Helphand explores the idea of "defiant gardens"--basically wartime gardens created to help alleviate the severities soldiers faced. The book details the harsh living conditions soldiers endured during some of the most brutal events in history and shows how these gardens were a source of hope and a representation of the beauty that exists in the world.

On Memorial Day many people will reflect on cherished memories with family members and friends they've lost. We at TU Press want to remind those who have suffered the loss of a loved one through military service to stay hopeful. Through all of the darkness in this world, there is a lot of beauty that surrounds us. Just as these defiant gardens signify soldiers' optimism in extreme conditions, this day should represent joyful memories as well solemn ones, an acknowledgment of both the sacrifices and the light.