Pulling an All-Nighter

So for those of you who don’t know, and I’m hoping that’s none of you, pulling an all-nighter is when you stay up aaaaaalll night into the wee hours of the morning, and then either crash sometime during the day (beginning the cycle of slowly becoming nocturnal) or stay up until it’s nighttime again and then you sleep. Or you’re in a lab or being tortured, and you just keep pulling successive all-nighters until you go totally insane…

These usually happen because of one simple reason: you procrastinated. Whether it’s that lab report, or your six-page paper, or that monologue you just haven’t gotten around to yet, you know that unless you stay up all night working and turn it in the next morning, all bleary-eyed and zombielike, there’s no way it’s gonna get in at all. And it’s like 15% of your grade or something, and you just really need to get it done and you should have started it way sooner, but OH WELL, here you are.

Unless you’re me.

In which case, you pull all-nighters seemingly just… because you can. When those two or three people are holed up in the dorm lounge, and around five thirty a.m. everybody just needs a break so they start commiserating, talking about formatting their diagrams, or why concluding paragraphs and titles are even remotely necessary, or how they just can’t get that one line right, you’re just sitting there like, yeah, I have nothing due tomorrow, I’m just kinda here.

So this was essentially me yesterday. Or… today. Or whatever. It was somewhere around midnight, and my friend… eh, let’s just call him A. for now. So A. said, sometime around like midnight when he and Jess and I were getting hot chocolate that he was planning on pulling an all-nighter to finish his lab report, and we were both like, cool, come to our floor’s lounge, we can all stay up together. And then Jess bailed like three hours into it. BUT NOT BEFORE she could share a lovely compilation of poetry conmigo (it was the Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society’s 87th volume of their publication the Rectangle), where I found two quotes from poems by somebody I don’t know anything about other than her name, which is Amanda Blythe.

The lines that really stuck with me were these:

“When she stopped sleeping altogether at the age of twenty-five, she filled the thick inky nights with milk tea and white chocolate and the light touch of frost on the leaves and the trees and her notebook paper.”

“Just as he will know how to tether me back to him, with the promise of debate, courting my refusal to be at fault. Just as he will know how to cradle my head in his large hands to make me feel pleasantly small.”

Now, I know you don’t have any context, but these are just plain beautiful lines. The first just conjures up such beautiful images and emotions in my head, and the second one I like because when I read it the first time I had that feeling you get when you suddenly remember that other people can feel the same things you feel. That sounds weird, but you know when you read something, and the way it’s written is just so exactly the way you felt about something that you pause for a moment and wonder if you and the writer aren’t like long-lost siblings or Feelings Twins or something? That’s how I felt.

And on top of discovering those two beautiful things, as well as the series of three poems, or the poem in three parts, that those lines are taken from, I also got to read Virginia Woolf. I was supposed to read it for class, but I didn’t, and then while I was bullshitting my way through a discussion of the book, which was To the Lighthouse, I realized that I actually did want to read this book. So last night I got almost halfway through it, and I really like it, and the point I’m sort of trying to get at is that had I not pulled that unnecessary all-nighter, I would probably not have read any of it, unless I decided to write my essay on it. And I probably wouldn’t have written these two haikus.

This first one is for the usurper who I actually grew to quite like as the night progressed into morning:

Chex crunch bag rustling

Five A.M. too late to care

Fucker took my spot

This next one I wrote about A., and the backstory is that he’s got Pandora on and is failing to realize that I’ve just made him a cup of tea.

Hand on chin, eyes scan

Mumbling lips curve, humming songs

Jasmine lingers cold

So as much as adults and sane people deride all-nighters, I still think they have some merit. While I don’t recommend making a habit of them, in college or in life, they are definitely something you should try if you have a friend or two to stay up with and keep you company.

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