Burning the Midnight Oil

February 4, 2008, 6:00 pm; posted by
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My roommate, amazing and talented fellow Bweinh!tributor and non-New Yorker, Chloe, recently gave a mini-speech on college students who can’t seem to stay out of debt. Her introduction included a short list of “traditional college activities,” like eating bad cafeteria food, longing for the outside world, wincing at the price of books in the bookstore, staying up all night — well, perhaps her speech really only included the last two.

This comes to mind because when I woke up this morning at 5:00 — a truly ungodly hour — another one of my housemates greeted me as I made my way into the living room. Our exchange went something like this:

“Mwrffff . . . good morning,” I said.

“Hello, dear.”

“How long have you been up?”

“A while…” Her voice is definitely way too awake for this time of day.

“Did you get up just now?” Isn’t it wonderful how my brain doesn’t process information this early?

“No, I just started working last night and I thought, well, I might as well get this all done now so I don’t have to do it tomorrow. I didn’t exactly, um, go to bed…”

Ay, there’s the rub. That most noble of college traditions — the all-nighter — is hard to avoid over four years of higher education. Now, there are doubters (and good students) everywhere, but I think that the vast majority of students have, at one desperate time or desperate measure, deeply contemplated the question, “Is it really more important for me to sleep, or to do my work?”

Or perhaps this rationale: “If I do it now, I can get a TON of sleep tomorrow.”

This one is always popular: “I do have quite a bit of coffee in that decrepit old crate in my closet…”

Whatever the reason, I would like to celebrate all those who have felt the pull of the all-nighter. It really is rather romantic, in a strictly gothic sense, to stay up all night, working like an angsty madman or tortured genius. And oh, the completeness one feels upon finishing a project, whether it be a first (or final) draft of a paper, an outline, a problem set, or even a lab. There really is nothing like it.

So all of you — students and non-students, teens and twenty-somethings, adults and those who wish you weren’t — if you know what it is like to endure the long, lonely, thrilling hours of an all-nighter, I declare today as your day to celebrate.


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