Of stimulants, all-nighters, and Irish poetry

I distinctly remember my one all-nighter in college.

In fact, when this infographic makes me think of using stimulants in college (a concept that occurred way after my time), I’m reminded of one of their original uses, which is to fight narcolepsy. I don’t have narcolepsy, but the idea of an attack of sleepiness brings me back to that moment.

I had been working steadily on a paper on Irish poetry due on Monday. But it became clear to me by dinner on Sunday that my own paper’s center could not hold, as Yeats himself would have put it. So I decided to pull my first ever all–nighter, and rewrite the thing from scratch.

Figuring I now had an extra eight hours in my life, I spent my post-dinner time flirting with someone who would turn out to marry my close friend, attending a yoga class in addition to my stairmaster routine, and inviting all and sundry to join me in my late-night literary labors.

Around 10:30 PM I got serious. One would need sustenance for such an ambitious undertaking. Without a car on campus, I proceeded to walk the mile to the nearest store, where I purchased the necessities: 4 cans of Diet Coke, a jumbo bag of peanut butter M&Ms, and a box of Pop Tarts.

Around 12:10 I assembled with my two closest friends in the computer lab. We compared and traded goodies – and one friend revealed that another was currently leading on two of our male friends, and she had had enough of it.

This was a serious topic. Two hours, four cans of Diet Coke, five Pop Tarts, and most of the bag of M&Ms later, we seemed to have talked it through, even if we had reached no solution.

I, who never went to bed past midnight, was thoroughly finished by this point. I dragged myself to a computer, brought up my paper on the screen, and tried to go to work, with–I thought –the new insight I had prepared into those very first lines of Seamus Heaney’s “Blackberry Picking”–but the fatigue hung so heavy around my neck, and my eyelids just wouldn’t obey my brain, and I knew, I just knew, that if I put my head down–for just a moment–on the keyboard I would be fully rejuvenated. (And, in the back of my head filled with Irish poets, I heard Heaney yet again: “I always believed that whatever had to be written would somehow get itself written.”)

When I received this infographic for posting, I thought – imagine how different all–nighters could have been with these drugs around?

And then I thought–yes, but students are using them all the time, not just at night.

There better be some darn brilliant expositions on the Irish poet these days, that’s all I can tell you.

Getting High for an A: Stimulants as Studying Aids
Image source: www.bestmastersineducation.com

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