I entered my second semester of college with the cocky assurance of a returner: I knew the rules, I knew the players, I knew the tricks—the game was mine.
My confidence only faltered when I realized that if I were wisened up to the ways of the world, I wouldn’t have much to write about in my first-year column. But the wonderful thing about life is that it always finds a way to hand you the answer while simultaneously kicking you in the balls. This, my dears, is an article about pulling my first, good ol’ college all-nighter. It’s going to be a meta experience because I’m currently in the midst of it. It’s 4:26 a.m., and time is ticking.
Speaking from my vast degree of all-nighter experiences (3/4 of one night and counting), I’ve come to see that a good all-nighter doesn’t just begin organically one night. There’s a good deal of preparation involved in taking the event off the ground. In my case, the preparation consisted of not doing homework for the first two weeks of the semester.
It definitely wasn’t my intention for things to build up the way that they have, but given the choice between shooting the breeze between class and rushing off to get ‘er done, I seem to have opted for the first option. All this homework was, I thought, Future Morgan’s problem. With her growing maturity and sense of responsibility, I figured she was better suited than Present Morgan in solving an econ problem set.
Thus, my all-nighter was born. If only tomorrow were just a day away, as Annie promised—instead of today at 4:42 a.m.—all problems would be Future Morgan’s to solve. I don’t think the poor orphan ever stayed up past midnight, or the whole theory would have been shot.
If Annie had pulled a “Cinderella,” she might have enjoyed observing her mindset go from crushing despair to euphoric triumph. I’ve definitely run the gauntlet from a cheerful “It’ll all work itself out” outlook around 8:30 p.m. tonight to an unprintable conviction around 12:45 a.m. that I was a snail, and a rock had fallen on my house. In snail language, it would look something like this: “!!!?$#**!!?*%$?.” Or, in other words, “Excel is a tricky little devil that should be outlawed due to violation of puppy slaughter.” I would never say things like this if I weren’t writing at 5:12 a.m.
I’ve managed to spend most of my night running between the Geology building to finish a lab, the dorms to consult a friend on an econ problem, and my room to shoot up on some Macklemore. Speaking of which, I’ve managed to do this whole thing caffeine-less. This is due to a weird aversion my body has to coffee, black tea, power drinks, and basically anything that could help me survive an all-nighter with some semblance of consciousness. I also might have missed the closing of the Coop Store, which is actually probably the main reason I haven’t poured two cans of sugar and caffeine through my digestive system at this point.
Without caffeine, I’ve had to be rather creative about staying awake. I’ve practiced my hip-hop class routine a couple times so I might actually remember to jump and stomp rather than look around a bit cluelessly next class. Living in a hall of insomniacs, I’ve been comforted by a hall mate who says that 2:30 a.m. is an entire hour before a reasonable bedtime and by another who says it’s really the second all-nighter that kills you.
I’ve always wondered how my cats thrived off of such sporadic hours of sleep, but taking a page from Panther and Matrix’s book, I’ve been catnapping on and off only to discover that it’s absolutely wonderful. Any time you feel like your mind might stop reminding your heart to pump blood, just crawl into bed for twenty minutes of dozing. Then, just when life starts to feel hunky-dory again, your alarm throws out some Robyn, and you wake up feeling like a new person, which is to say somewhat functional.
Unpleasant as all-nighters might be, there’s a magical feeling of knowing you can finish an undertaking you thought to be a loss. For one of the rare moments in our lives, time belongs to us. Sacrifice sleep, and suddenly the time you would have spent lying dead to the world is in your hands for you to shape it however you please.
Staying awake all night is not unlike how Rapunzel must have felt while looking around a room piled high with golden hay she couldn’t have spun. Sure, she knew that she was living on borrowed time, just as we all do, but, for a moment, we’ve achieved a task we feared to be impossible. We are giddy with relief and pride. So, as Rapunzel reveled in her bales of gold, I am going to rejoice in a California sunrise. Good morning, and good night.