Tuesday, May 26, 2009

reading/finals period (posted to Facebook on 5/16/09)

these are the times that try men's souls...

Times when the names of the days have no meaning. Your brain is exhausted enough to make "moNEesDaY" and "thEdNesDay" make some sort of linear sense. And when the weekend comes, you have no recollection of Friday's existence.

You're sitting in a dark cell, surrounded by the knowledge They told you to make a part of you (Who are They, you may ask, as if you've forgotten? The Man,The Woman, The Power, The Friend, The Roman, The Countryman, The Philosopher, The Poet, The Scholar, The Force). You sit at your desk, wishing--praying--that when you lay your head down on top of your book, something--anything--from inside its covers will enter your mind.

Spring has come forward, but all you want to do is fall back into bed. You can't feel the sunshine anyway. The bare beige curtain is blocking any light from coming into your window. Perpetual nighttime as you pore over words you were supposed to have read weeks ago. Dark, unsettling solitude as you attempt to try.

The digits on the clock look like that foreign language you'll be tested in on Saturday (or was it Tuesday?). AM and PM look the same from this vantage point anyway.

All you can think of is dread. The horrible task lies before you, an intellectual dragon of sorts. They are expecting you to survive at most twelve hours of this perennial beast (of course, They tell you the time is divided into three hour blocks) when all you have is a pencil--a calculator, maybe, a couple of pages of notes, if you're extremely lucky.

As you work your way through mountains of practice problems, you catch word of the freedom of others. For those, the heavens have opened, time is restored, and life in the sun can continue. Your heart fills with envy (or perhaps more dread), for once again, you will be the last to emerge from this inevitable dungeon. How many days, or weeks, or years, will it be before that happens, again? The question is practically pointless; your brain can't wrap around time.

On your first, second, third, or even fourth day of reckoning, you walk slowly, as if to the tune of a dirge, to the place where your wit will be tested. You have donned the metaphorical warpaint, sharpened your metaphorical weapon, and said a very literal prayer. You may be prepared, you may not be. All you really know, other than the information you coaxed into your mind only a few hours before, is that your fate now lies largely in the hands of a group of people whom you've seen all semester but who may or may not know your name.

You sit down, making sure to leave space between you and the others who are subject to Their rules. Soon, your beast is revealed to you. And come what may, you're ready to attack it the first chance you get.

And so it begins. This battle is a quiet one, at least to any who might observe it from a distance. For you, the silence is loud...but the blankness of the piece of paper where your essay is supposed to be...that's even louder.

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