The paper is due tomorrow at 10 a.m. The right hand corner of my MacBook reads 10 p.m. Six prompts stare back at me from the glaring white sheet of paper. Each prompt is only one or two lines long, but they all call for four to five pages of double-spaced analysis. With 12 hours until the deadline, I may be experiencing the perfect combination of fear, anxiety and pressure that just might produce the B+ I am hoping for on the second paper of my 400-level English class. Ready, set, go.
It wasn’t always this bad, was it? After an hour of Facebook stalking and watching my favorite songs of the week on YouTube, I am convinced I used to have better study habits than these. I was such a good student freshman year. I even took notes on readings. When did I get to the point where all-nighters were inevitable, the point where I simply accepted the cruel fate I had dealt myself?
At 11:03 p.m., I blame social media. Why does Facebook have so many things to click on? Why is everyone putting up Blowout pictures now? Why are there so many pretty places to study abroad and so many pretty pictures to post about it? Why can’t I just log off?
At 11:46 p.m., I blame journalism. That year of being a section editor and finishing pages at 3 a.m. two nights a week ruined me. I only think well in the middle of the night. I think best when I know I am hours away from a deadline. At least I am preparing myself for my potential future career.
At 12:02 a.m., I get serious. The three best hours of writing are ahead of me. “Feels So Close” by Calvin Harris provides the soundtrack for my first couple of paragraphs. A sketchy outline written in loopy cursive guides me through some opening thoughts. Quotes from the book begin to fill in those thoughts, and a paper forms. Or at least something that resembles a paper.
3:18 a.m. calls for a conclusion paragraph and a Wawa break. Choosing to write my paper in a lonely classroom in James Blair Hall means I will get locked out of the building as soon as I vacate the premises. It’s a sacrifice I am willing to make for some much-needed caffeine.
As I leave Blair, I am greeted by the silence of an empty campus. This is why I am addicted to the all-nighter. I can blame procrastination as much as I want, but I love the silence, the stillness and the empty walkways. No one else is around, and 3 a.m. seems like the only time to actually make sense of my thoughts without getting distracted. Plus the coffee always tastes better at 3 a.m.
Crossing Richmond Road, the light emanating from Wawa feels just like the warm welcome of coming home. The smell of food and the sight of other people moving around me are refreshing. Wawa Pam stands behind the counter, ready to ring up my 24 oz. French vanilla coffee that may be more creamer than caffeine.
At this point, relocating to the Tyler Hall computer lab is the only appropriate choice. Time to re-read the five pages. Make the argument sound semi-coherent. Try not to fall asleep to the sound of my own typing. 6 a.m. rolls around, which means it’s time to take a nap before I start what is supposed to be today but still seems like tomorrow to my overtired brain. Walking back to my dorm only takes five minutes. My comforter has never felt so soft or so well-deserved. A 9 a.m. wake up call doesn’t really seem all that bad.