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Life on my own #29: All-nighters

Is it an oxymoron to have completed a Bachelor’s degree without the aid of any all-nighters?

There I was, a 4.0 student, walking across the stage of my college’s beautiful chapel (seating 3,000, every one of them filled with sentimental families). Even had the little braids to prove my academic excellence. But I had missed one proud badge of college success:

The all-nighter.

One of my relatives – Mom, maybe? – said she pulled at least one all-nighter in college to write papers. One of my good friends, another honors student double-majoring in English and history, regularly wrote papers on as little as 3 hours of sleep. I’m nearly certain my college roommate pulled an all-nighter or two while I slumbered.

Me, I can remember two nights in my life when I got less than five hours of sleep.

Until the evening of the glorious Perseid meteor shower.

I kidnapped one of the gals from church and we hightailed it on down to my cousins’ house. My cousins, as you might recall, live on a farm way out in the middle of nowhere – perfect setting for stargazing, don’tcha think? And those Perseids! It’s a tradition of mine to go watch them every August on the night they’re most active. (I admit, that was easier to work out when I worked overtime on second shift.) My young friend had never seen a meteor shower and my young cousin didn’t start college classes for another week, so we decided to stay up late watching them.

Passing the time before the peak hours of the shower, we read poetry. Ogden Nash was never so funny as at midnight.

Then around 12:30 or 1 a.m., we ventured out onto the dewy wet grass (getting dewier by the moment) to join another cousin watching the meteor shower. It was kind of chilly. We had blankets to lay on but we had to retreat indoors to retrieve some more… we were sandwiched between layers of fabric by 3 a.m.

Sixty-some meteors later. Ahhh, the bliss that enfolds you when you’re curled in a blanket, staring at one of the natural wonders of God’s creation. I don’t understand meteor showers… I can’t imagine what it would be like to ride a meteor across the universe and into the atmosphere. I guess that’s part of why I enjoy them so much.

Around 2:30 a.m. we were trying to convince ourselves that it wasn’t too cold to stay out another half-hour. I don’t know how we got from that to the topic of all-nighters, but we did. (Minds work rather strangely after midnight. Must be that Twilight Zone magic of la madrugada (the wee hours of the morning).

And suddenly, I found myself mouthing phrases like “I’ve never pulled an all-nighter.” “Wouldn’t this be a fun night to pull one?” “No, it wouldn’t be too bad in the morning, certainly not much worse than getting only four hours of sleep.” “Sure, I can stay awake all night, and I’ll prove it.”

Or something like that.

Suffice it to say, come 5:30 a.m., my cousin and I started chatting about anything and everything just to be able to stay awake. Rumored heartthrob Heath Ledger (RIP) did his best to keep us alert until then, but the silence of the laptop speakers and the darkness of the void left by the laptop screen led us dangerously close to slumber.

(What? You don’t regularly watch DVDs on a laptop? What are you, a freak?)

Chatting, chatting, for an hour. I don’t remember a word of what we talked about.

And then a hot shower to wake up. Oh, right. I didn’t fall asleep! Well then, a hot shower to… banish that feeling between asleep and awake that sometimes steals over you while you’re driving. Not a good thing. And I was driving the half-hour back home with a poor, sleepy high-school friend in the passenger seat. Definitely need to be the alert driver.

But I made it. I made it through praise band practice – playing the guitar – and through coffee minutes and through Sunday School and through praise band during church and through the sermon. I even drove home without drifting into la-la land and the left lane.

Oh, and know what else? I tried napping for about two hours. Fitfully. Isn’t pulling an all-nighter supposed to make you dead tired the next day? Mine failed.

Not that I intend to pull any in the near future. Just that one time – to say I did it.


da_baum said…
I remember multiple weeks where I was going on 5 hours of sleep max... Pretty sure I pulled two all-nighters my last finals week back in May (though to be fair, I went to sleep the next morning on one of them). Longest I've ever been up is at least 41 hours straight, and maybe more. It's just about the best thing to ever happen to me...

Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta get back to staying up late finishing my college life...
Guitarlady said…
Yep, I definitely pulled all-nighters in college to write papers. Pulled out the typewriter, put on a pot of coffee (this was before I liked it so much) and typed away while everyone was sleeping. Then in the morning I turned in the paper. More recently, I can remember a couple of nights that I only got about 2 hours of sleep, so that was pretty close to one (and I was above 40 by that time so it was harder ).
Guitarlady said…
Well there was a smiley at the end of my comment that did not appear....
Sarah said…
John: aaah! I know of a couple nights when I had less than six hours' sleep, but they were always followed by terribly foggy and grumpy days. I need like seven hours minimum, preferably eight, to function decently well. I do not understand how you could manage 41 hours straight...

Mom: thought so! I'm glad I never did that. I would have been sooooo out of it the next day.
LittleChai said…
I did indeed pull several all-nighters while you slumbered :-) ... some of my best work was done in the wee hours of the morn! I'm glad you finally crossed this all-nighter threshold! It sounds like a lot of fun!
Sarah said…
It was! Tons of fun!! Except I didn't appreciate the whole weariness aftermath. :P
da_baum said…
I pulled an all-nighter on my last day EVER of college classes Monday night/Tuesday morning last week. It was a very fitting way to end college. :P
Sarah said…
Fitting indeed. May you never EVER have to pull one again. :D
da_baum said…
I did happen to accidentally pull an all-nighter the Saturday night following that all-nighter, due to being sick from the original all-nighter/long nights... :P

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