Read With You (All Night), Study You Into Day (Sunlight)
By Michael Chin
Some of you may remember last quarter when I live-blogged my way through an all-night study session at the Gateway Study Center.
Yes, I’m back. It’s happening again. Is that a surprise? It’s not like the work of finals week will get any less intense.
Welcome to my now-quarterly all-nighter blog. This time, my only adversaries are the clock and seemingly infinite pages of literary theory. Simple, right? Maybe. I hope.
It’s now 1:30 at the beginning of my journey, a space that might be Tuesday; here the lines between days are blurred. Though the clock would tell us that, indeed, it is now Tuesday, I have personally learned not to trust that motorized dial. On the cusp of the personal health disaster known as finals week, it had the audacity to take an hour of sleep away from us. First sign of machine uprising? Possibly. Major inconvenience? Definitely.
With this in mind, I sit down intent, once more, on not leaving until the break of day save to get more caffeine.
1:47am: All-night studiers are an odd bunch. There’s that persistent group having taken over the back corner of Starbucks (the bastards!), who have covered an entire wall in green and purple post-it notes; there are the people camped out on those wave-shaped plush seats in the other areas of the Student Center (lumbar support?), who have all apparently having moved entire rooms worth of stuff into this public space, turning the Student Center into a all-nighter encampment of sorts. Past them, I have settled into my table at the Courtyard Study Lounge in the Student Center.
My new digs provide a much more friendly atmosphere than the Gateway, but this might work to my disadvantage. Will sleep take hold easier in this even slightly more comfortable atmosphere? We’ll see. More so than in the study center, though, time seems warped. The lack of windows gives the place the atmosphere of an underground bunker; from this vantage point the sun could rise and fall a hundred times without a change in the subtle flickering of my fluorescent sun.
2:25am: Starting things off on a spiteful note – I’ve been here an hour, and these two people have not stopped chatting. You would figure they’d want to go somewhere a little less solemn for an intimate chat about past relationships, etc., but you know, Study Lounge works too. Maybe they’re afraid Douglas would overhear them talking about him if they ventured to converse outside.
3:00am: Is the guy at the table next to me intently reading? No, he’s sadly fallen asleep on top of his book, snoring softly, perhaps dreaming dreams of Friday evening. Sleep tight while you can, good sir! (Aside: I suppose Incite writer Carly Lanning was right when she said she’d pass out if she joined me here. I suppose the constant quiet fussing of the air conditioning unit sings a lullaby after a while, even for the most ardent studiers.)
3:15am: Mr. Sleepy has begun to moan in his sleep. Not sure what he’s dreaming about anymore, but I hope it’s PG. People are starting to notice. How unfortunate.
5:10am: While food and coffee helped me last time, this time they might have only brought me down. I feel sleep creeping up behind me, slowly placing its thick, greasy hands onto the neck of my conscious mind. Not sure how much more literary theory I can take tonight.
5:16am: The cleaning lady walks around the studiers, sweeping up bits of paper and other trash. Lift, sweep-sweep-sweep, lift, sweep-sweep-sweep. It’s a rhythm that nearly lulls one to sleep in these hours. Those few left of us in the Courtyard are clearly on our last limbs. A student has apparently mistaken the opposite wall as a bed, leaned up against it and fallen asleep. How I envy his lack of resolve, his willingness to compromise with the skulking behemoth of slumber.
6:02am: I can feel myself nodding off as the night goes on, hypnotized by the silence save the whirring air and gentle sweeping. It is only with small taps on my mind’s shoulder, sudden jerks of consciousness, that awaken me mid-paragraph from some dreamt passage surely not written by Friedrich von Schiller. In other words, I am falling asleep.
7:00am: Nearing the end of the night portion of my all-nighter, I have some inkling that the outside world is teeming with the wakings-up of the natural world. Birds tweet-tweeting in their nests, the sun barely peeking above some far-off horizon, though in Irvine obscured by buildings… Yet I am inside, and nothing has changed save that there are a few more people milling about the Study Lounge. Here, dominated by artificial light, sunrises and sunsets go unnoticed. Day and night cease to exist. Melodramatic, sure – but nonetheless true. In this bunker of studiousness, people must be attempting to escape time itself.
I have finally my way outside, it is now 7:23am. I wait for the bus to take me back to my apartment, content with the amount of work I have gotten done tonight (today?). As expected, the birds outside are tweet-tweeting, the sun is shining through some trees on the edge of Short Term, but for us all-nighters these peaceful images have a different connotation: an end rather than a beginning, or at least for those of us fortunate enough to have a few hours before our next final. So as I wait to be taken back for the bare semblance of rest that comprises my finals-week sleep schedule, I salute those determined enough to brave the wee hours with a final waiting just around the bend.
Best of luck to you all, truly.