My finals are over. The music is blasting. Yesterday I had beer and for the first time in a month. I can't even procrastinate. Procrastination is a luxury of those with something to do.
The marathon of finals, papers and insomnia has a fun factor of zero. It comes every semester and inevitably things start to unravel. My whole mindset changes: The fear of God replaces a usual carefree attitude, night becomes day and day becomes night. Music with a slow beat has no place in this world. Sleeping patterns become distorted, eating patterns even more so. I walk past people I would have once said "hi" to without saying anything at all. The library becomes my Mecca, water replaces enjoyable beverages, and sometimes, I go jogging in the middle of the night to keep my heart rate up.
Now, I learn my most important lessons. This is where priorities are sorted out, unimportant persons are ignored and unimportant tasks are left alone. All of this is done in the face of the most wretched enemy of humanity: time. Time is everywhere. The clocks on the wall mock me with their constant motion and each morning the sunrise is a painful kick to the face. Sometimes the clocks win. Most of the time, I emerge triumphant.
Looking back, I have to say a few things:
The 24-hour library is a friend to the student. Here, our cursed lot congregates to read, write and study with ever increasing urgency as December rolls to a close. A fascinating pattern is followed each night at the library, clearly scripted by human nature.
First, there are wide eyed rookies who for the first time in their lives are facing the impersonal bureaucracy of the university. Massive class sizes prevent them from getting comfortable enough with their professors to ask for anything, much less for an extension. Those who learn well will soon become veterans.
The veterans are not afraid. They look tired and burnt out in their CJSW hoodies but they peck away at the keyboards with laser-like focus. Sometimes an all-nighter is pulled. These brave souls know what they have to do and are well aware of their capabilities. Not only do they get their stuff handed in, they can usually predict their grade with uncanny precision. At their stage, marks are mostly a function of effort, not ability.
I fall somewhere in between the terrified first-year english student and the clutch seven-years-to-get-a-poli-sci-degree veteran. The rookies are afraid they won't be able to make it. They sit there at midnight with a blank expression, looking like they're ready to cry. Their problems seem laughable to me. "I have a journal to do," they cry, "and it's like six pages." I can smell their fear.
At around 2 a.m. the giggling begins. Management students working on group projects start laughing. All of a sudden, finance and human resources become hilarious. Everyone left at the library gets pissed off, but the presence of a cute management girl in the group makes my anger subside. Groups made entirely of male students do not giggle.
Some people like me wander around the library at around 3 a.m. By now, staying awake is maintained through occasional motion. Usually, the end of the night is in sight but productivity decreases. Sentences start to require thought, chapters are read and forgotten.
Somewhere around 4 or 5 a.m. it clicks in that the date has changed. By now the people studying for exams are gone: they need sleep. Group projects are also complete. After about 3 a.m. it is nearly impossible for most to function in a group atmosphere. Sometimes, I catch myself humming a tune. The library has become mine.
Through it all, things get done. Referencing is completed and the walk to the stapler is like the stadium portion of a marathon. Most papers are finished by 7 a.m. The liberating feeling when you're done is hard to describe. It's kind of like the feeling after sex--it's happiness, but it's not off the wall. I'm too tired for high fives and big smiles. Besides, those would be somewhat inapropriate.
Leaving the library is a pain. New students are already arriving on campus and if for some reason you leave after sunrise, the first ray of light is torture. So is fighting morning traffic on the way home. If you live with your parents, the feeling of coming home to an empty house sucks. That's only a great feeling if sleep, sex, or crazy partying took place during the night.
Everything is slow now. There's no time for introspection--right now, there's no tomorrow. Head hits pillow. Last thoughts are fuzzy. Nothing matters anymore. Finally, sweet bliss...