Somewhere in the making of modern academia it became common for every assignment, every test and every speech to be due on the same week. This pressure seems to accumulate during the days leading up to finals where you find yourself in a sort of hysteria.
Life becomes dreamlike, and you may feel mentally unstable due to the sleep you’re not getting and the Red Bulls that you are. Showering might not be a top priority and you may feel bloated and nauseous from TV dinners and frequent 7Eleven runs. Most of your stress is probably due to procrastinating and if you are not stressed out, then you are most likely anxious for the semester to end anyway.
The above symptoms are common for the typical college kid before finals, but art students are a rare breed and attending one of the largest art schools in the nation, there is a sense of heightened craziness especially at the end of the semester. I speak from experience.
Yesterday I woke up a half an hour before class. I immediately ran to the kitchen and made a pot of coffee, throwing all of my second draft papers into my book bag before running down Michigan Ave. alongside rush hour traffic.
In my first writing workshop my professor told me that a friend of his was releasing an EP and was wondering if I wanted a copy. Not one to turn down new music, I decided to take him up on that offer. In his class I read a couple pieces about my recent fascination with time machines and felt slightly embarrassed for stuttering over my handwriting’s heightened sloppiness while my peers’ eyes glazed over and shut with final’s fatigue. I tried not to take their excitement personally. One of the songs off of the EP was coincidentally about time machines and I think that might be a sign that I’m up to something.
In my next class, which is largely memoir based, one of my pieces was sung aloud. Usually, I steer away from writing anything sappy, but to my mortification, this was. I had forgot I turned it in or wrote it at all until my professor handed out copies to the class and asked them to sing it. He asked me if I wanted the lead part and I declined, horrified. They ended up making up a tune as they went, serenading me with my mediocre poetry about the jealously I had when my boyfriend moved to the city and I was stuck commuting to a liberal arts college the size of my high school for a year. Needless to say, it was an embarrassing experience. My professor did say that it took guts to write a song, but I think it takes more guts to listen to your class sing it.
We read some heart wrenching (but not sappy) final pieces in the same class. There was one memoir that I had the pleasure of reading that was intentionally hilarious. There is a part in it when the narrator steps on the front porch of his childhood home and his mother asks him, “when are you leaving?” as she opens the door. I thought this was so funny at the time that I started laughing so hard that I cried and nearly had to excuse myself.
After class, realizing that I had 50 pages of writing to complete for next week in total, I could have cried again. But instead of writing, I ran by Trader Joe’s to make a meal for my boyfriend whose week might be more strenuous than mine with an exam this week, 30 hours of work and a friend coming into town, all on top of finals.
After making pumpkin ravioli and sharing a bottle of sparkling lemonade, I began to break out in hives, which is something I have only been known to do when I walk into Barnes & Noble for whatever reason. One time, I got such a bad reaction that I had to go to the hospital. They hooked me up to an IV and the hives went away, but a day later they were back and my whole body looked like a red cauliflower the week before I moved to Chicago. Seeing a new outbreak, I was distressed. My boyfriend and I argued about big agriculture and organic foods to get my mind off of my hives, but they grew worse. I took Benadryl and had to leave because my argument was becoming sloppy with my speech. And I left shouting, “GMO is class warfare!” He walked me home despite me losing my mind.
Needless to say, it was a strange day for procrastination and I ended up passing out on the couch sitting up, sleeping through the next day’s alarm, foreshadowing another strange day.
My hand now looks like this and I think it is from writing too much:
And the finals week hysteria continues…