Thursday, April 5, 2012

This night, long ago

So it's late right now. Late enough that I should either be asleep or smiling. But instead I'm deeply involved in a PowerPoint. This is how too many of my nights have been recently.

Here's the flashback that just hit me:

Me, in the Planning building computer lab. Grad school. A cool 3 a.m., probably. A crumpled-up wrapper from a Frontier breakfast burrito beside me, definitely. Headphones on. Indigo Girls: blasting. Who listens to the Indigo Girls loudly, you're asking? This girl does, when driving alone and fast or when up way past her bedtime on deadline. So there's me, the work, the burrito wrapper, and the Girls. But a couple of computers down, there's also my girl Mikaela, my ultimate all-nighter-in-the-computer-lab partner in crime. I need a break. Headphones come off. We take a few minutes to do that thing we do, which is discuss relationships or politics or gossip or who the hell cares because we know each other so well and we really don't need much besides the smallest distraction from the sentence that is slowly becoming the run-on from hell (like this one). We stretch our legs, go out into the courtyard. We feel the cool night air on our faces. Mikaela is probably smoking (I'll never tell your daughter, M, promise). We make each other laugh. We bounce ideas for each other's work around. Then we go back in, and we hunker down. We finish. Of course we do. We're good at this. We nailed those nights.

I miss that kind of flow. I'm getting glimpses again these days of how sure I was that I'd only do this profession until I was bored with it, then I'd have my creative career. I was sure I'd be writing by now.

But instead I'm PowerPointing. And not in the cool way, either, with Mikaela beside me.

And that's okay. This is okay. I believe in these bullets.

But tomorrow I'll send them out for dozens of people to review, and we will tinker and talk it to death and finally we will present it to the community, and it'll be fine. I'll still believe in those bullets.

But I don't believe in this process as much as that process, the one with just my brain, a friend, a burrito, and a blank screen.

Time to cue the Indigo Girls. Time to send my old friend a hug across the Internet.

Also: time to plan my annual return to New Mexico, where I'm certain everyone else is still having those resplendent 3 a.m. strikes of inspiration without me.


  1. This totally reminds me of my undergrad experience. Some of my greatest work was done after 11:00pm in the computer lab on the 3rd floor of the Science building at Salem. That's when the creative juices were flowing. I miss those days, too. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Shout out to all the kids still holdin' it down in the lab. -- Jessy

  2. love this post. I did all my best grad school work with a box of cereal and a gin and tonic at 3 am hahaha.

  3. Teary over here. You're so damn good at whatever you put your mind to, that it's easy for me to assume you never needed company! But I'm glad that's your memory of those times. I think you're the first person I ever worked with who I could trust to have the Midas touch and improve (ok, PERFECT) whatever we worked on together. What a great experience to trust that trust! I think whoever you work for, however you work, is so lucky, so beneficial for all your teammates.

    I'll admit I'm starting to feel more like a professional these days and less like a just-out-of-school newbie. That's terrifying and oddly calming. Becoming an adult at 36? Really??? Long time coming...

    Love you, Mags. Love you as a friend. Love you as a writer. Love you as the unique being you are. Thanks for YOU!

  4. I also spend my days powerpointing. Bullets are changed 100 times and we always seem to end up with what we started with. It's oddly reassuring that I'm not the only one. Powerpointing can't be our calling in life! :)

  5. I listen to Indigo Girls loudly!

    And I was the queen of all-nighters, a task I can't even imagine doing today...

  6. I listen (and sing along) loudly to the indigo girls in the car quite often.

    I wish I was enjoy my grad school process as much as you. I am not. I have no burrito buddy. Just a full time job and a tiny room in my parents tiny empty nest (sorry for boomeranging guys) house.


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