Well, here we are. The end is breathing down our hunched, scrunched necks. In just a few days, it will be reading recess, with the abyss just beyond. At this point, we've all been there once. Already, however, we're starting to act weird (or weirder than we usually act, anyway). Perhaps you are outlining for one class during another. Perhaps you are not going out. Or perhaps you are just grunting instead of using your words. I personally would not know anything about these behaviors, of course. Erm. What I have noticed, though, is that my energy levels, by necessity quite high throughout the semester, are finally pooping out on me. I am exhausted. This, combined with the escalating levels of stress, yields all sorts of uninteresting effects: meandering, distracted conversations; a flatter tone of voice; the occasional mind-racing head trip. The part I like best (by which I mean detest the most) is where when I'm not studying, I think about how I need to be studying, and then when I am studying, I employ every device and excuse known to humanity to avoid studying. Granted, I've followed that pattern since my undergraduate days, if not high school. The difference is that here, this pattern is a bit of a liability.
And yet, there is a silver lining to all of this. While I concede that I'm in a bit of a pre-exam funk at this moment, I also know that in a few more days, the adrenaline is going to kick in, and the creative strategies for getting everything done that needs to get done will emerge. I sort of get a charge out of staying up disgustingly late, to be honest. Granted, I prefer to stay up late for reasons other than outlining (or memorizing outlines), but there's something about stepping outside at 2:30 in the a.m. for a breath of fresh air that makes me feel like I'm living my life.
Did you find that at all convincing? I confess the part about the adrenaline is true. The 2:30 thing used to be true, but now, if I am in fact still up at that hour, I usually just go to bed instead of reflecting upon how I'm living my life.
Let's try this for a silver lining: there's the camaraderie that comes along with exam time. Whatever else you want to say about exams, we are all in this together. If you hang around any of your peers during the next few weeks, you are guaranteed at least two experiences involving deranged laughter triggered by contextual jokes few other human beings would understand. It's kind of nice-it breaks the tension, or at least gives you a different way of working out the caffeine jitters (or whatever other jitters you may suffer from).
How did that one capture your fancy? Search your inner feelings-you know it to be true.
Yeah, so, let's see what else we've got in the way of silver linings for the next two-ish weeks. We'll soon have 24 hour access to the building! You can deny it now, but we all know the truth is that there has been at least one evening this semester when you found yourself wishing you didn't have to leave the law school at 11:45-January 25, for example (please don't ask). In this narrow regard, your troubles will soon be over (they were, of course, already over at 11:46 on January 25, when you could have simply walked over to Gelman...but what good does it do us to split hairs at this late hour?)!
So, check it out. At least three simple exam-time pleasures. Enjoy them while they last, kiddo!
At the same time, these simple pleasures maybe don't exactly outweigh the downsides, right? So how about this: the fact that we're all teetering on the brink right now is a sure sign that it will all be over and done with in but a few short weeks. Yes, that's scary, but think about what comes afterwards: Year End Party. Two of them, even! And we all know what happens at year end parties: dance offs, at the very least. We should all be so lucky as to get into one or three of those once we hit April 30 and/or May 1. And if not, there's always a Jumbo Slice around the corner, waiting for you to spill grease all over yourself, after which you can take your shirt off and wander around Foggy Bottom hollering at the undergraduates wandering back in from Georgetown. I personally would not know anything about that sort of behavior, of course.
And that brings us to the close of this year's column. Be sure to tune in next year!