Sometimes, I don’t manage my time in a manner that could be termed “optimal.” I’m usually pretty good about it, but every now and then I end up playing with my iTunes settings, or reading through old emails, or buying a smiley face Mylar balloon so that I can amuse myself by hitting it, or distracting my long-suffering roommate, before trudging off to McCabe, the Beit Midrash, or the fire escape to force myself to focus. This kind of thing doesn’t happen often, but it happened this past week, which unfortunately meant that it coincided with a week wherein I had two big assignments due.
So I spent quite a bit of time in McCabe late at night, still wearing whatever gross clothes I had worn to the gym, with my hair looking like the aftermath of a bomb detonation, bleakly pondering my work. Crazy things tend to happen in hotbeds of intellectual pursuits, especially when people get tired and frantic about encroaching deadlines, so as I sat and typed and tried to remember how to do Chi Squared tests in Microsoft Excel, I kept an ear open to the people around me. Amid unnecessarily dramatic wails that the printer was broken (it wasn’t; at least, not for long) and the agonizing groans of people who had gone to get coffee only to find there was none left, there were more uplifting interactions. I had a long conversation with the guy at the computer next to me about the material on his psychology midterm the next day, and I solicited the help of strangers to figure out Excel. Something about the atmosphere of exhaustion and despair really lent itself to community spirit.
Another example came earlier in the week, on Tuesday. I’d been having a bad day for no particular obvious reason, but when it got late enough that I knew I should go to bed, I realized I really didn’t want to end the day without being anything but miserable since waking up. So I called Susanna, who goes to bed later than I usually do, and asked if she might be interested in baking with me. “What are you going to bake?” she asked. “I don’t know,” I said. “Baked goods.” So we used the Parrish 4th kitchen and my baking materials, and I took out my frustration on the dough we made, and we kvetched until long after I should have been asleep. When I woke up on Wednesday, I was tired, but I felt much better than the day before, and not being so irritated made being everything better.
Being awake when you shouldn’t be can be wretched. But in the week that just passed, those times were surprisingly full of fun and bonding.