The breakfast of shame

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    Tea: What got Jessica through the morning. Photo by House Of Sims on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

    It’s 8:15 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 5. I’m one of around 25 people sitting in Sargent. The only other morning diners appear to be freshly showered athletes and kids, like myself, sitting alone and trying appear occupied. I walk to the hot water spout and casually pull out a crumpled up tea bag from my pocket. A groomed and sweatered student watches me do this, and I realize that now I’m that creeper girl who stashes tea bags in her pockets. Fantastic.

    My early morning trip to Sargent was the product of my first college all-nighter. After finishing my history paper at 7:30 a.m., I anticipated a 10 a.m. class and worried that squeezing in a two hour nap would leave me feeling like I would after being run over by an eighteen-wheeler. A trip to Sargent was my only viable option.

    A good face washing and 45 minutes later, I can’t tell why the other denizens of Sargent keep staring at me. I can’t tell if they’re doing this because they also pulled all-nighters (likely), because I inadvertently made my face look blotchy while attempting to deliriously apply make-up (also likely), because I have a booger hanging out of my nose (which it kind of feels like), because I look cute in my baggy sweater and glasses (impossible) or because I’ve awkwardly been spacing out at them for more than the socially acceptable five second stare window (most likely). I really hope it’s not the booger.

    I pass the starers and sit down at a table only to realize that the table is forcefully vibrating. I ask a guy sitting at the table next to me if his table is vibrating and he says it isn’t but that the tables just do that sometimes. I’m relieved that I’m not hallucinating but still disconcerted that the one table that I happen to be sitting at is vigorously vibrating. I switch tables.

    Now the guy who witnessed my creepy tea bag withdrawal and with whom I’ve made prolonged eye contact several times is sitting directly across from me, one table away. We continue to make occasional awkward eye contact the rest of the meal. I can’t decide if he’s dorky or normal, and I can’t for the life of me begin to guess why he’s at Sargent so early. He’s too clean to have been an all-nighter survivor but isn’t wearing enough Northwestern gear to be an athlete. Why is he here so early? Should I be embarrassed or flattered that he keeps looking over here?

    I notice the guy who, while inebriated, groped me and my friend a couple weekends ago. He sits down with my stare buddy and they start talking. I’m too tired to continue people watching, and I’m dying to figure out whether or not I have a booger hanging out of my nose, so I leave.

    Before coming to college, I had heard of college students experiencing an abundance of morning after “walk of shames.” Although I had yet to experience the infamous walk of shame, I experienced my first dine of shame that morning. This less-than-average breakfast experience was one of the many consequences of a college all-nighter.

    Some people can function without sleep. I can’t. My all-nighter caused me to slowly deteriorate. Peripheral effects of my all-nighter included deliriousness throughout the weekend and, come Monday, spontaneous mental breakdowns. On Monday, my Arabic teacher noticed my dilapidated state and sat down with me to plan a schedule that would afford me more sleep. Together, we designated meal times, study times and even bed times. This helped me tremendously.

    In a past column, I claimed that sleep is optional and that struggling through obscure and unbearable hours of work is the key to college. Through my all-nighter experience, I learned that neither of these things is true. The real trick to tackling college is to make each hour count.


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