Citation: iskra. "All-Nighter for the Essays: An Experience with Amphetamines (exp75143)". Erowid.org. Jan 29, 2013. erowid.org/exp/75143
Here's an intro. Read it if you want. Don't if you don't.
So, I'm a college student. First quarter of my first year in college, and I'm admitted conditionally, meaning that if I fail to get full credit, they throw my punk ass out. I am far from home here, and I have fled from the past, I have abused the greyhound system and I have self-medicated with flight from my numerous failure and partial successes. Well, who can blame me? What did I have at home? I was unemployed during a recession, the cops in my town all knew me for a criminal, my father and I weren't speaking, and half the kids I grew up with were junkies or tweakers, and those who weren't were consumed with ennui and poverty. I couldn't bring myself to succumb to the decay. I can only save myself, I thought, and I went into self-imposed exile from my old Midwestern home, and set out to make a life for myself in the great Northwest. That's where I got into college, see.
Like many Slavs, I was born to tell stories, but if you know a damn thing about stories, you'll realize that things are rarely so simple. That doesn't bother me. If everything went according to some predetermined plan, well, frankly, life would be boring and stupid, so for all its inconveniences I'm thankful for chaos. That's what got me into college, after all. Chaos. Chance. Luck.
Well, as luck, chaos, and chance all would have it, I don't get into the class I wanted to take. In fact, I get put into a class that I'm barely qualified for. I can barely keep up, and to make matters worse, my nasty smoking habit develops into bronchitis and I end up missing a whole month of class. By now, it's 3/4 of the way through the quarter, I'm hopelessly far behind, and as the days go by I cannot move myself to try and catch up; I am consumed by anxiety. I have more or less accepted my failure as a student, until, one night, I find myself at the bottom of many bottles, and there's some weird feeling in my guts, something akin to spite: 'Who is anyone to tell me I don't belong here?' The next day, I set out to do whatever I have to. It's Monday. I have class the next day at 9:00 AM, and I have two essays to complete. I bought a few stacks of Adderall about a month ago, and I've been saving them for a special occasion. No time like the present, as the cliche goes.
[T+0:00] I take two 30mg tablets at around 10:00 PM. I've already got a decent start on the first essay. I eat a little bit of pizza and I drink black chai for the caffeine.
[T+0:30] I'm irritable. I'm overstimulated. I feel cranky and sleepy, and I can't even think of a thesis. My friends (A, D, & S) are helping me think of something and they're all talking at once and it's really pissing me off. I want the addies to kick in.
[T+0:43] I start to put on my coat to go have a smoke and it hits me like a brick to the jaw. There it is. My thoughts speed up, but I can still keep track of all of them. I am able to concentrate on many things at once. I sit back down, start cracking my knuckes. There's an itch in my brain. *crack.* I'm starting to piece things together. *crack.* I look at a page in a book, I look up. *crack.* There it is, I've got my thesis. I go out for a congratulatory smoke.
[T+0:46] I'm outside now. The cold air is exhilarating. I'm talking a lot. Fast. More and more things keep occurring to me. A man I talk to observes that I'm shaking like a leaf. I become aware of this. It's true, I'm twitching. I keep grinning too, I'm really happy that I've found such motivation in a chemical. I announce to my fellow smokers what 'a fucking great paper' it is that I'm working on. I'm grandiose, I'm outgoing. I crack jokes. I notice that I'm grinding my teeth. I decide to go back to the room and chew some gum.
[T+1:12] I've typed close to three pages in the last twenty minutes, and it's not too bad. It's a little disjointed but I'm just getting the words out. Editing will be the easy part. I feel pretty positive of this fact. The spite I found in my guts after a few drinks last night has shifted into a sort of 'fuck-you' pride. I'm not cocky. That's the wrong word. I'm still quite aware of all the work I have left to do, and that I can't fuck around. I have a realistic grasp on my situation, and I'm confident as hell that I'm going to handle it. I'm also really fucking thirsty and I've been continually drinking tea since I first dosed. I switch to a caffeinated soda. I'm still really thirsty. I get used to this pretty quickly.
[T+2:12] I'm getting distractable. I'm still sure I can finish in time and I feel no desire to sleep but I've left my cigarettes somewhere that I can't figure out and it keeps coming back into my head when I'm in the middle of an important thought. 'Where's the cigarettes? Where'd you leave your cigarettes? Hey, hey (self), I think you lost your smokes somewhere! I notice myself losing track of other things as well: I leave my keys on S's desk when I go to get an ethernet cable out of my room. When I get to my room I forget why I went there in the first place and stand in the middle of my room pacing for about thirty seconds before I figure it out. I realize: I'm fucking around. I have work to do. I go back to S's room.
[T+2:37] A is going to bed, she's had too much to drink. D and S are still in S's room and I go back to writing. I'm beginning to have more and more doubts about my essay: do I have enough information? Should I draw a parallel to the French Revolution here? Or there? Does the paragraph I'm writing have a damn thing to do with my thesis? I ignore most of these thoughts but there's no doubt I'm beginning to slow down. I catch myself writing sentences, deleting them, then rewriting virtually the same thing. I'm using the thesaurus a lot. I'm having some trouble translating the fully-automatic-assault-rifle-stream of ideas into my paper. I repeat words a lot. I repeat words a lot. I'm getting nervous. I take 1/2 of another Adderall pill and wash it down with more black chai. “Oh, by the way, self, you smoked all your damn cigarettes.”
[T+2:58] Another little rush and I'm feeling more confident. I blow through another page and then I hit a wall. I keep looking up articles online, my paper keeps getting more complex. 'I'll edit it later,' I say, but the passing of time is becoming more real. Nonetheless, I take little breaks. I become curious about what I look like right now and whether my perception of aesthetics is different than usual. I mean, I'm more partial to using psychedelics but I'm getting an itch in my brain right now, a little curiosity, and I figure it's not as if it'll go away if I ignore it so I indulge my recreational impulse about my high which I'd so far only considered a means-to-an-end: this is what I'm going to do so I won't flunk out of college.
[T+3:06] That was a good idea. I take a few photos of myself and play around with some image software for a little bit. My sense of aesthetics isn't really that different, but it satisfies my craving for some fun. The skin on my face is starting to feel funny and my typing is getting kind of jerky. I tap my foot rapidly, moving my leg up and down. I switch back and forth between legs. It's automatic but not involuntary. The desire to play with images is gone. I go back to writing. And hey, here's my backup cigarettes. They're my backup cigarettes because a hit of acid exploded in the pack when I put it in there. I smoke all but one of my backup cigarettes; I do not trip. I'm thankful for this.
[T+3:41] I'm getting distracted again but in a real peculiar way. I'm writing both of the essays I have to do at once, alternating between two different OpenOffice windows, and I'm jotting down ideas for plots, titles, and character names to use in short stories with my left hand while typing working on the essays with my right. And I still have enough free brain capacity to wonder how the fuck it is that I'm doing all this. My back is starting to really hurt from sitting at S's desk for so long, but I'm quite intent on staying where I am until I'm forced out. I'm concentrated and distracted at the same time. I become more and more reluctant to move. I put a sock over S's smoke detector and open the window so I won't have to go outside to smoke. 'It's wasting time, I'll just end up getting distracted and talking to people again.' I'm absolutely fixated on everything I'm doing. At the same time.
[T+4:22] I suddenly find myself bored and slightly paranoid. I hear noises in the hallway and I can't keep myself from thinking it's an RA or a cop come to bust me for smoking in the dorm. I walk outside to get some air and refresh my head a little bit. The air is cold and I notice this but I still don't mind. It doesn't feel as renewing as the first time I came outside but it's not uncomfortable. I notice several police outside near to entrance to my dorm. 'Slow down and pretend to be normal,' I mentally growl to myself. I fail to reassure myself and the more time I spend outside the more anxious I become. 'That cop just looked at you. He looked at you and now he's talking to another cop. Shit. Shit. Shit.' I stand there doing nothing. Deer, headlights, what have you. I shake it off, 'You still have a whole bunch of fucking work to do.' I go back to S's room. S has fallen asleep.
[T+5:32] Uh oh. I'm working on everything except the essays. I look something up in a book or online and I read it, then forget why I looked it up. I figure I'm in a rut, so I write other stuff for a while. This consumes more time than I expected. I get nervous. 'Fuck. I have to finish. This isn't an option. Get back to work.' I'm still running through a forest in my head, determined, but I'm picking up burrs that stick to me: doubt, fear, panic, desperation. I lean back from the keyboard for a minute and check no fewer than five times to see whether I'm remembering to use footnotes. I am. Check again. Yup, still using footnotes. All of this is getting counterproductive. I'm almost out of gum and I start to worry about running out and grinding my teeth. More thoughts keep invading like this.
[T+5:44] I'm having trouble keeping up with my head now: I'm writing down words that should appear later in a sentence. 'Get back to work.' I'm getting angry at myself and the quality of my work seems to be deteriorating. 'I should have done more when I took the first dose. I should have taken the does earlier.' Fuck. 'No, there's nothing I can do about it now. The only thing I can concern myself with is finishing what I started. Whatever it takes.' I tell myself this. My eyes dart from the screen to S, asleep a few feet away from me. 'I wonder if he resents me for staying in his room all night. He must resent me terribly.' More obnoxious self-doubt but that's all it is, obnoxious. Distracting. It's not profound. It's all the thoughts that are usually moving too slow in my head to rise to the surface. None of these little anxieties ring true and I'm not upset or scared, they're just slowing me down and pissing me off fierce. I go to the bathroom, and splash some cold water on my face.
[T+6:12] “Fuck, fuck, fuck, I'm never going to finish.” This thought is reoccurring. I am beginning to believe it. I close down everything else I'm working on and focus on finishing the two papers. I'm a hell of a lot more confident about one than the other and I begin to think I may have to prioritize between the two of them. “Stop thinking. It's slowing you down. Work. You know how you'll get it done? By getting it done. Work.”
[T+9:43] I'm cold and my head feels hollow. I've been writing nonstop. Like in a trance. I've slowed down considerably since I've started and I'm thirstier than ever, but I'm not sleepy. I can't think, my head feels hollow, but there ain't no way I can fall asleep today.
[T+11:14] More of the same. Hollow head, cloudy thoughts, body awake. I am late for class, the whole reason I did this was so I'd have my essays for today. Well, I'm not standing up until I'm done. Even if I miss class. Like in a trance. I maybe just need a smoke?
[T+11:16] You know what's fucking weird? Going outside to a place that was dark when you last saw it, and you come back hours later, and it's light out, but you haven't gone to sleep. Weird thing. Whatever. I light the cigarette. My last cigarette. Ahh. Nicotine. It does whatever you think it does, wakes you up, puts you to sleep, cures your headache, gives you a headache, makes your bad day better, makes your good day better.
[T+11:32] I sit around in the designated smoking area. The cigarette made me feel less hollow. Like I said, cure all, but now I want more. There's nobody around I can bum off. I walk to the corner store, knowing full well that it isn't open yet. As I am walking, I realize that I feel cold, and I remember that when I went to my room yesterday, I saw my scarf and considered picking it up and taking it with me. Funny now.
[T+11:38] The post office is right next to the corner store. I check my mail and I am greeted by the words 'past due.' A phrase which has made my guts turn with a vague and confused fear all throughout my childhood. I fold up my past due bill, unfazed. I have lapsed into a funny kind of nihilism. I didn't finish my paper. I won't go to class. I think I'll be okay though. I keep thinking, it'd be nice to talk to somebody, but the only people around are working and picking up trash. I feel out of it. I'm really fucking thirsty. I am writing my report on the envelope from the bill.
[T+11:50] Time's still moving funny. It's pissing me right the fuck off. I just want some more cigarettes. I sit down on a couch by the post office and I try to draw a picture on a flyer for a poetry slam that was yesterday night. My motor skills suck right now. I feel shitty. I want a smoke. I'm also now quite aware that I smell pretty bad, and that I'd like to do laundry. I still don't feel like eating or sleeping.
[T+11:53] Holy shit, a water fountain. Thank the indifferent gods. My throat feels like it's made of snot.
[T+11:57] I go to the ATM for no particular reason. I'm looking for ways to pass the time. I press the button so I can do my transaction in Spanish. Yawn. S shows up. Good. I'm out of it but I perk up now that I'm talking to S. We talk until the corner store opens.
[T+12:09] I buy cigarettes and frosted flakes in the corner store. Ahhh. I smoke my cigarette. That's nice. I try to eat the frosted flakes. I take a bite and lose interest. Too bad. Well, I don't want to eat or sleep, if I can stop fearing death I can go head and quit being a human. I feel awake and alert and calm, all zen-like, sort of like the feeling after an acid trip ends and you can't sleep, but hell, you don't want to.
[T+12:13] I work more on my essay with S. I keep having these inexplicable heinous farts. Like, really bad. Decaying corpse bad. My ass is spewing mass-grave smelling farts. Eew. I still don't want to eat or sleep, but cigarettes make me feel all right.
[T+14:00] I have had 'eye of the tiger' stuck in my head for about 30 hours now and I am singing it in an elevator because the elevator is boring me. I get my guitar. I go back to the designated smoking area outside the dorms. I play 'eye of the tiger' and sing badly. I am unable to hide my hick accent. It's funny. My sense of rhythm is a bit off. Nobody cares.
[T+14:30] S got out his hookah. Fuck yes, I feel so much better now. Concentrated fucking nicotine, yes. I'm perking up a bit more. My back hurts from sitting in the chair all night, and my wrists are killing me from all this writing. I dig it. K is in the designated smoking area and so is A. A is pissed because I'm emailing my professor my essays instead of delivering them in person. “He already hates you,” says A. “just go to class and fall asleep so he'll kick you out.” I shake my head. “I can't fall asleep.” I laugh. “I'm also not done. I'll finish tonight.” A looks pissed. It's funny. K offers me another Adderall pill. I trade her a cigarette for it. I'll take it later if I need it. Everyone from the smoking area goes back to S's room to eat leftover pizza: N, T, A, M, K, J, and others. I play 'eye of the tiger' on guitar again but I change the lyrics to make it more about myself: “just a slav and her will to survive” in the first verse, and I talk shit about my professor throughout the second verse. The third verse, I start falling off, and I name everyone in the room who's eating pizza. Everybody laughs. I play 'rock lobster.' Everybody laughs. I'm feeling musically inclined now, what can I say.
[T+15:33] S suggests to me that when I'm still in college at the end of the semester I make a music video of my version of 'eye of the tiger' and send it to my professor. I like this idea more than I care to admit, but first I have to finish my essay. I'm feeling better, I have all the cigarettes I need, and a backup plan. I'll talk to my professor on Thursday when I have class again, since, hey, I've been up all night, give me a break. I buy a bag of chips and some juice and I think about eating them, and then don't. Maybe later.
[T+16:15] I'm a little dizzy. I think the caffeine I consumed last night is leaving my system or maybe I just should have been eating. Well, I feel like finishing my essay. I'm un-bored of it. And I have a backup plan, too. I'm good to go. I feel like this 2-day stretch is the first of many. I'm okay with this. I had fun, after all.
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