Friday, December 19, 2014

Finals Week

It's finals week which means I am tired. Except saying I am tired is like saying Colin Farrell looks decent. I am not tired; I am EX.hausted, and Colin Farrell does not look decent; he looks DE.lightful.

Can I get an Amen?

For me, finals week has a habit of holding all sorts of strange happenings. Last week, I told my exhausted and overwhelmed freshmen that my very first college finals week was like something out of the twilight zone.

One night that fateful finals week, I was in a sleep so deep it might have taken Prince Charming's kiss to awaken me had a bunch of unruly college guys not pulled the fire alarm in my dorm instead. That alarm did the trick and woke me up in a disoriented stupor. I sat up, my ears ringing, and noticed thick smoke hanging in the room. This is it, I thought with panic. I am going to die in a fire on the second floor of my freshman dorm. On cue, my heart started racing and adrenaline charged through my body, and then, just like that, I stopped breathing. My very first panic attack.

Prince Charming's kiss would have made for a MUCH nicer story.

A few seconds later, the smoke I saw disappeared. It turns out I hadn't awakened fully when the alarm rang, and I had dreamed up that smoke. The panic attack evaporated about as fast as the imaginary smoke, and I filed out of the building onto a grassy field adjacent to the dorm with a few hundred other girls, where we remained for thirty minutes — until about 3 AM.

The next day I studied and ran my little heart out, and then, after dinner, while I chatted and laughed with the girls on my hall, my breathing suddenly grew labored and I struggled to swallow. When my symptoms didn't subside, my R.A. called campus safety and had them take me to the emergency room.

By that point, it was almost midnight, and I was scared and tired. Thankfully, my roommate accompanied me to the ER so I didn't have to be alone.

Freshman year in the dorm: my roommate is the brunette on the right

By the time we arrived at the ER I could breathe more easily, and by the time the doctor saw me I was back to normal.

"I think your body is still experiencing the effects of the panic attack you had last night," he speculated. "Go home and get some sleep and you should be fine."

So the campus safety officer — a seasoned officer in his forties — drove my roommate and me back to our dorm where we fell, once again, into a very deep sleep.

A few hours later, there was a knock at our door. My roommate stumbled out of bed and opened the door to find the campus safety officer from the night before holding my phone. "Sarah left this in my car last night," he said. He held out the phone, but before my roommate could take it, she fell on the floor in a dead faint and began having a seizure.

For a moment, the officer stood there watching her twitch and writhe on the floor, her eyes closed and her face sheet white. And then — and this is the point in my re-telling of the story where I laugh until I wheeze — he looked at me, his head cocked and his finger pointed at her limp form, "Is she okay?" he asked.

I looked at him incredulously, rushed to her side and responded, "NO! She's fainted and is having a seizure. CALL 911!" So he did, and minutes later the paramedics were there, leaning over her as she came to.

I had finals and couldn't accompany her to the ER, but when she returned she was okay and all was well. She was wearing the same yellow ER bracelet as the one I'd gotten the night before. We have a picture of the two of us wearing our matching ER bracelets, our hair in a state of disarray, our sweats rumpled and baggy. I'd post that picture now except it's buried in a box in my closet and I am too tired to fish it out. Because: finals week.

Finals week. It never ceases to be the bearer of... good fodder for future stories, or, at the very least, weird happenings.

Last week, the night after I told my students about my very first finals week disaster, there was a storm warning in my area. Because some people were told to evacuate the hills near my house in case of fires caused by fallen electrical lines, I checked my fire alarm before I climbed in bed, just to be sure it worked in case of a fire in my hills. It did work, and I fell into a deep sleep.

A few hours later I was awakened by an alarm that sounded like a banshee being tortured. This is it, I thought. The lines are down and my house has caught on fire. Finals week and fire alarms are like cookies and milk, Lucy and Ethel, salt and pepper, Jack and Jill, peanut butter and jelly.

I flew upright and quickly assessed the exits in my bungalow, looking for an exit that wasn't blocked by growing flames. But there was no sign of flames and no smell of smoke...

I looked around, perplexed, and noticed my cell phone flashing on the window ledge next to my bed. The screen read "Flash flood alert" and the banshee alarm was coming from my phone, kindly alerting me at 3 AM that I could drown if I decided to go driving that night at 4 A.M. I sleepily silenced my phone and went back to sleep.

The next night, I was awakened by a stomach bug. And a couple of nights after that, I was awakened by lightning and thunder. So yeah, not getting a lot of sleep over here, but I've also not had a single trip the ER, which is a finals week victory.

Water, water, everywhere!

And all these storms are doing wonders for our air. They're scouring it, removing every patch of smog so it is crisp and clean. The view of the ocean from my backyard looks like it's been upgraded from SD to HD.

We southern Calfiornians aren't used to all this water, though, which probably explains why I found this boat lying by the side of the road on my walk this morning:

Someone took that flash flood warning very seriously.

Merry week before Christmas, my friends!


© by scj

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