By Dave Coonan, Former Editor-in-Chief
As my eyes open, still heavy from the sleep, the sharp rays of the morning sun pierce through the half-tinted window and directly into my cornea, momentarily blinding me. I take a deep breath and lift my head up to a sound not unlike duct tape being ripped from human skin. My cheek is tender, so I touch it, and feel the indentation left by a large textbook, which has acted as a pseudo-pillow during my slumber. I look at my watch, curse the morning, grab my book and head to class.
Like a zombie I move across campus, slowly, dragging my feet along the ground, head tilted slightly to one side, staring straight ahead, craving human brains.
No, scratch that.
Like a zombie I move across campus, slowly, dragging my feet along the ground, head tilted slightly to one side, staring straight ahead, craving…a croissant and some coffee.
As I approach my building I look at my watch again; class will begin in five minutes. I'm on time, no problem. It is 7:55 on a chilly Thursday morning. My body is extra sensitive to the cold due to my lack of rest, and the only thing I can think of now is that in 90 minutes I will be able to go home to my warm bed, relax my eyes, and rest my brain so that it's sharp again and not this bubbling heap of warm pudding. My lips curl slightly into some semblance of a smile. Glorious.
I see someone who looks familiar. "Good morning, how are you," is what my inner monologue is preparing to say.
"Merrrrnnnah hiiiyaaaaawo" is what comes out. And I'm talking to my reflection.
I enter the classroom and cozy up into one of those comfortable stone and metal uni-desks. Just remaining alert is a struggle. Regardless of how interesting the subject is, how dynamic the professor seems or much this class will affect my GPA, I can't concentrate. I start to lose consciousness with my eyes still open.
The professor's voice is omnipresent; it is echoing behind me, in front of me, to the side of me, like his spirit is moving all around, trying to taunt me in my weakened state.
My notes are no longer in a straight line, but diagonally across my page, making no sense whatsoever. I move my pen in a circle to show I'm awake. I shift in my chair. But I don't dare participate for fear of what may come out of my mouth.
Class ends. Finally.
After 90 minutes of hieroglyphic-like notes, 37 leg crossings and three trips to the men's room, I am finally free to run back across campus, get in my car, go home and cash in the remaining 6 hours and 15 minutes that I have left on my full night's sleep.
I am a mere 15 minutes away from dreaming about gum drops and sugar plums when my cell phone rings. I answer it, listen for about 30 seconds, and then mutter the four words that haunt me every Thursday morning:
"I'll be right there."
After throwing a public temper tantrum and yelling at the squirrels, I begin the hellish trek back to my headquarters. I walk up the hill in front of Alliance Hall, turn to the right, and see the sliding doors of the Student Center controlling the two way traffic of backpack-clad academics holding textbooks, binders, coffee cups and cell phones. I approach, watching myself in the glass doors as my image grows larger and larger, until it is life-sized, and I cross the threshold back into my voluntary prison.
I enter the room, which smells like a combination of old newspapers (of which there are millions) and deteriorating, toxic photo developing chemicals (that can kill you). Being the good leader, and one who cares deeply for his job and staff, I ask about the problem or problems that have kept me from attaining the sleep that I so necessarily need and deserve.
"Blah blah bh blah color blah blah blah blah blah blah separations blah blah blah blah date is wrong blah blah blah page 7 blah blah blah old pizza blah blah my boyfriend dumped me blah blah delivered at 6 blah blah blah blah," is what I hear.
As I work solving the world's problems, the minutes, and then hours, tick away.
One solution leads to another problem. One reassurance of "it's not you it's him," leads to "there are other fish in the sea," "yes, you're pretty," and other necessary clichés.
One "it's ok, I'll wait for the answer, you can call me back" leads to "sure, I'll send the file over," which leads to "which file," "sorry that's the wrong one," and "page 7 is corrupted?"
The upside, of course, is that I'm able to spend this time with the members of my staff, who are also my close friends. They, too, are completely sleep deprived, eating the chicken and rice bowl from the cafeteria, and smell funny.
Problems solved. I pat myself on the back, down the rest of my coffee, and tell my staff that I'm going home to relax and take a nap before the board meeting later on this evening. I will need my strength, because as the Chronicle's Editor-in-Chief, it's my job to command the attention of my 22-person strong editorial board, sleep or no sleep.
As the sweet, sweet late afternoon air of freedom wisps past my nostrils, my cell phone rings. Reluctantly, I pick it up.
I listen.I sigh.
"I'll be right there."
Dave Coonan ('04, '07) was the editor in chief of the Chronicle during the 2002-2003 school year. His column (featured here) ran from 2000-2004.