Wednesday, December 5, 2007

finals road rage

Oh finals week, that special time of the year when I vacate my normal place of residency and move into Addlestone library. As I sit here not studying, hopped up on caffeine and in full sleep-deprivation mode, surrounded by my fellow caffeine crazed, sleep deprived students, I thought I'd share some things I've learned about unacceptable finals behavior. This is my seventh go round at this whole shindig so I feel like I have some authority, right? maybe? anyone?

1) If you are going to listen to headphones in the library, that is fine, but you must, and I repeat must, keep the volume to a minimum. I know some people bring headphones to the library to drown out noise, yet if those same people really thought about it, how kind is it to drown out noise while in the process creating noise for the people around you without headphones? Yesterday for example, I was in the third floor study room and a girl two seats down from me was listening to her music loud enough for me to hear a repeated saxophone blast. I'm not even going to ask why she was listening to music with saxophones in it if not for the purpose of swing dancing. But the last thing I need when I'm trying to concentrate on African political theory is saxophone!

2) So this is one of my biggest pet-peeves. It's the last few minutes before a final. You've spent the last few days (or hours) studying. You get to the classroom, pencil ready, doing your mind stretches or whatever, and there will always be a couple of people loudly and frantically going over the material. I understand that for some this is reassuring, hearing themselves say it out loud. Maybe they are missing interior monologues. For whatever reason they feel the need to rapidly run through all of the information in a voice audible enough for all to hear. Yet one of these people will undoubtedly say a piece of information that is new to someone, or different from how someone studied, and bam - panic spiral. And then you start taking the exam and the panic spiral becomes a panic paralysis, and it's all just a panicky downhill slope from there. If you really need to speed study in the seconds before a final, do it outside the room far from innocent bystanders who just want to at least maintain the illusion that they are prepared.

3) Library gawkers. Okay so this one I probably do myself. But it's still creepy. People are at the library for hours on end. They get bored and distracted and a little on edge. So the first shiny object or random person that appears is going to get attention. But when the library is at full capacity, and you have to walk through it, all of those ope-mouth stares=un...comfortable. But again I'm sure when I'm in library catatonia I am the same exact way, so tis a bit hypocritical of myself, I will admit.

4) The rest of the world. Yes, you heard me right. I am making the claim that during finals week the entire rest of the world is unacceptable. And maybe this can only make sense to those in the midst of finals insanity, but whenever I venture out to a place that is not a library or starbucks during finals, and find myself suddenly surrounded by glowing, rested, showered people going about their lives, I always find myself taken aback and wondering how can this be? For during finals week we college students suddenly become a different species, jittery and nocturnal and unsure how to handle sunlight. We stumble around in our sweatpants or yoga pants (really pants at all is progress) clutching enormous cups of coffee, loaded down with an entire semester's worth of text books and notes, rubbing our bleary, usually contact free eyes. Yet in the confines of our world, we are not alone. We run into similar creatures, and nod and smile because we alone understand each other's plight. Far be it from us to judge the girl passed out on the library chair. We were her just the other day. Guy standing expressionless in line at Starbucks, like he somehow went in there by mistake. Check. We literally feel each other's pain. And so when I find myself at these times thrust into the real world, around people who coordinated their outfits that morning and haven't forgotten to brush their hair in three days, I just feel like these people, these people without pencil indentations on their fingers, belong to a different world than I. It is not until I find myself again in the safety of the library, watching the guy in front of me let his head droop ever so closer to the table, that I am home.

Or at least the florescent-lit, always freezing, overcrowded home that I have come to know (and well if not love than at least be on very polite terms with) these past few years.

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