May 11, 2009
I have been home in St. Louis for four days, and I am exhausted. I’m breaking myself of a serious addiction to Mountain Dew.
I started guzzling two MDs a day in late April, when I pulled two all-nighters in a row. The next week I essentially pulled one long all-nighter for five days in a row, with some naps here and there. And then finals started. This trend culminated last Monday, when I wrote an 18-page paper in twelve hours, with the help of a two-liter bottle of MD. My hands are practically still shaking from the caffeine.
Basically, this was the hardest semester of my life. (…As evidenced by the lack of posts for the past few months.) A few possible reasons:
- It was a very writing-intensive semester. In my 200-level politics course, I wrote 34 pages. In my 200-level English course, 21 pages. In my 300-level history course, 30 pages. And in Creative Writing, phew! I must have written dozens of drafts of my four final essays over the course of the semester. I hope you’re not jealous that I wrote so much for my professors and so little for you.
- It was a very emotionally taxing semester. Between American Literature & the War on Terror; The Iraq War; and U.S. Foreign Policy, practically all I thought about was war and death and the way America has abused and squandered its international influence. I hadn’t paid much (OK … any) attention to the Iraq War before this semester, and all of a sudden it consumed my life. I started having nightmares, until I got too busy to sleep enough to dream. I had thought that Creative Writing would provide some nice levity, but I was wrong. I ended up writing about my two final essays about my dad’s life-threatening illness and my failed attempts to be Mexican, both of which were quite difficult to deal with.
- I got used to the Mexican lifestyle. My semester in Mexico was far from easy—but only because I held myself to high standards. My classes in the International Studies department were serious, but students rarely paid attention in class, let alone did the reading. When the professors assigned out-of-class essays, they would urge the students not to hacer copy-paste (plagiarize). This semester was a rough transition back to reality.
I spent most of the past four months in the computer lab of Bailey Library. I thought about lobbying for showers and beds to be installed there for me and my fellow nerds. In fact, on Tuesday night, after I had joyfully completed my last final exam but before I had moved out, I wandered back to the computer lab just to check my e-mail and play around on Facebook. First of all, the wireless Internet at Huntington Apts. still sucks. Plus, I just didn’t know what else to do with myself; it felt unnatural to sit at my apartment and relax.
Over the course of four months, I transformed from semi-calm, siesta-lovin’ gal to Mountain Dew addict. I went from never having watched a war movie to having seen a five-hour documentary on the Iraq War. I went from not knowing what the CIA was to knowing all about George Tenet and Curveball and the famous Sixteen Words, and Guantánamo, and ….
I gave a public reading of one of my short stories, called “International Relations.” I learned to cook with How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. I went on my first Odyssey-funded trip and was granted funding for a second trip. I served on my first Hendrix-Lilly Mission Trip. I went to my first St. Peter’s Dinner and became a devotee of the free weekly meals there. I didn’t watch a single minute of television. I became friends with the international students and cried when they left. And I hosted my third-annual, and definitely the most successful, Cinco de Mayo party. And I got straight A’s!!