28 April 2005

"In a hole in the ground lived a law student...."

I hear that's how J.R.R. Tolkien started on the Hobbit and whole Lord of the Rings endeavor, except instead of law student he wrote, of course, hobbit. I doubt he would have produced such a volume of material had he actually written "law student" instead. Even David E. Kelley couldn't wring that much material out of the topic.

The title refers to the fact that in about, oh, ten minutes, I'll be going into official Exam Hibernation mode. I call it hibernation, even though I won't be sleeping, and my heart rate definitely won't be slowing. But it feels like a hibernation. A sort of disconnectedness from reality. We could go to war, and unless mid-Michigan gets bombed, I wouldn't know it. Starbucks could go out of business, and I wouldn't know it (I wouldn't anyways...). Nicky on Young and the Restless could become a stripper again, and I wouldn't even know that. All I know is that Victor would be peeved, but slightly turned on.

I'm exaggerating, but only slightly. When studying for exams, its all about getting as much information as possible imprinted on the engrams of your brain. The Temporary File engrams, that allow you to disgorge the information over a three hour time frame and then conveniently forget it. It's about mapping out your time, knowing exactly how much Evidence you can tackle in a fifteen hour day, knowing when to start doing your final leg of studying to make sure it's all sorted out before going into the exam room. Knowing when to eat and how much to maximize your alertness. Knowing how to keep your potassium levels high with strategic Gatorade drinking and banana eating. It's a marathon, people. A marathon.

Again, I'm slightly exaggerating (a lot).

I really don't get that bent out of shape, but a lot of people do. They show up looking like ghosts of their former selves. And they pretty much perform no better than the people who show up looking like they've actually slept and maybe watched some TV recently. But I wonder--what if at some point I just put everything off a little too much (it's been known to happen), or underestimate the difficulty of my classes? What if I start panicking too (at least more than I normally do)? Could it happen to me? Could it happen this semester?

Maybe this will be the semester that during finals I let my cleanly-shaven face become adorned with a full, luxuriant beard, and wind up looking like a used-car-selling Leprechaun. Maybe I will abandon all metrosexual tendencies and arrive at my exams wearing my faded grungy jeans with a nice rip on the right knee and my faded BVD t-shirt. Maybe I'll start a caffeine addiction, or start pulling all-nighters--I wonder if I could pull off the blood-shot eyes look. Maybe I'll start eating only Lean Pockets and whatever snack foods I can find to save time.

Or maybe--nay, probably--not. Anyone reading this who's going more than justifiably spastic about exams: don't worry. It's not worth all that fuss. I understand where you're coming from, I've been there. Bad grades suck. GPAs are important. It's all true. But panicking won't get you anywhere, so calmly clear off that desk you never use, or head to the library. Then, calmly take your textbook, and kiss it goodbye. And then calmly start begging for every outline you can from someone who got an A in that class last year.....

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