Wednesday, December 17, 2008

nocturne without naiad, or, why am i still up?

I have been fighting sleep, staying up far later than I ought to, many nights during the last few weeks. Trying to stay on top of all the things I want to read (Google Reader is deceptively simplifying) and all the things I want to hear (surely I've mentioned my NPR podcast problem). And I have so many things that I want to write, and now, but the trouble is that I'm so tired that I can't manage to complete but a few of the half-thoughts that I have scribbled in a score of draft posts. But my reading list is not what is keeping me up. That's just a convenient excuse, I think.

Then what is it, you ask? Well, I have a theory, and it is that somehow, just below the surface of consciousness, my person is wholly convinced that, being as it is mid-December, I simply ought to be undersleeping and overintellectualizing. That's just what I do at this time of year, right?

This is the first autumn that I am not a full-time student since, well, since I started going to school twenty years ago. Twenty years! Okay, okay, so nursery school wasn't really that intense. But I think it can be argued that five consecutive years at university could have sufficiently conditioned my mind and body to expect the reeling, brilliant, sickening, prolific, anxious, exhausting, bizarrely beautiful stop-motion speeding chaos that is the closing phase of a school term.

Many of my friends are currently in grad school, and several of them have recently on their blogs discussed their sentiments or at least mentioned their frustrations as they struggle to tie up the ends of the semester or quarter. The general consensus is that they hate it. Of course they hate it in the moment; we all do. The way you feel when the clock is tick-tocking-telling you that you have twelve hours to write twelve more pages, and you can't figure out what you're trying to say, and oh NO what if, what if you don't finish on time? what if you fall asleep... that sounds nice... but you must finish! you can't go to sleep! not yet and you pour another tall glass of Diet Coke with Lime, no, Mountain Dew this round, and scrape another lemon bar from the pan, gooey sticky sweet and almost gone and you bring one to Claire, too, and it makes you feel ill, you've already had too many, but at the same time it is strangely consoling and the sugar should give you some energy at least, and you're back to the page and Sufjan is singing this time of year you always disappear and you think if i can just get this done and turned in then maybe i can squeeze in a nap before the next one and it's AWFUL! But don't you see? It's some sort of crazy wonderful, too. Sweetened at the end, of course, when you finish everything and slip the last paper under your professor's door and you feel like maybe you've accomplished something meaningful and now you can finally put your weary, frazzled little self to bed.

What's that you say? Do I miss it? Now why would you say that?

(I didn't think that it would happen so soon.)

Good night. Good morning. (It's all the same at this time of year, anyway.) And if you're still writing papers or preparing for exams, good luck and take cheer. Odds are I'll be right back there with you, sooner or later.


Jared Blanco said...

great post. I just finished with 3 papers this end-of-quarter and have to admit this was probably my roughest writing attempt so far. After I clicked the send button yesterday, however I was missing that sense of was more of, "what do I do now?"

rantipoler said...

I'm waiting until I graduate to agree with you, but I know I will. Eventually. :) I agree with Jared. What do we do now?

Claire said...

Thanks for the nod in the title and in the story. Man, that took me back to our fun years in G5.