Poison Ivy

Stefanie Botelho's picture
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I went to college early in this century, when the drug of choice on campus was sleep deprivation. Students trying to do more than the day allowed would run their work into the night and brave the bleary consequences. Many boasted of two or three hours of rest; they often seemed like hopheads relishing a wild trip. I partook. Often, after classes, I’d rehearse with the campus orchestra I played in. Later, I’d go to the offices of the school newspaper, where it might be my turn to proofread the next morning’s edition. By the time the pages closed, it would be 3 or 4 A.M. I’d walk home, perch at my desk, and finish writing a course paper. A new day, somehow, had already begun. This was a great excuse to drink more coffee. Between lectures, I might visit with professors, meet deadlines for internships or fellowships, or (with a sense of wanton luxury) read through the hundreds of pages I’d been assigned. I had a federal work-study job. I wrote an honors thesis from archival research. Once, I woke up at my desk—or, more precisely, on my desk, face down, arms splayed out, murder-in-the-study style—with a caffeine-induced cramp freezing my left leg and the imprint of a notebook spiral winding down my cheek.

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