It’s a balmy Friday afternoon, Canberra is dead silent and the student populace of ANU perform their personal procrastination rituals in hushed unity. A naïve first year, head still throbbing from a drawn-out night at Mooseheads, climbs the scuffed stairs of the Murray’s Express bus. Falling into the familiar leather caress of well-worn coach seats, she makes a vow to herself that this weekend will be different from the others. She has written her to-do list, printed off her readings, downloaded the relevant lectures from Echo and is all but ready to begin her catch-up journey.
The bus ride will provide a good head start for what is surely going to be a couple of productive days. Alas, overcome by built-up sleep debt and an overwhelming hedonistic desire to avoid the pain of actually having to think, she falls into the warm embrace of a mid-afternoon kip. By the time she returns to her childhood abode four hours later, she is coping with a bizarre concoction of over-napping fatigue and dehydration (definitely not a hangover). It would be pointless to begin her endeavour now, and possibly set off on the wrong foot by working unproductively. No, she won’t allow risk that possibility, and so instead indulges in some reality TV binging. She’d have get up to date with the Bachelorette’s latest pursuits at some point anyway – so why not now? By midnight, her eyes can no longer focus on the contestants’ contrived job descriptions and so, despite having completed exactly 0 tasks, she quite willingly succumbs to sleep. But no matter, she will be effective tomorrow, she promises herself…
By the time she rises the next afternoon, it is already too late to begin that essay – as she had previously calculated that getting the whole thing done would take an entire day. Rather than disrupt the creative flow and risk reducing her grade mark by handing in a lower quality assignment, she begins half-heartedly scanning some of week 2’s readings – highlighting random sentences that could potentially have some significance, not that she could tell. Her mind flits in and out of academic mode and slowly drifts away into thinking about her grandmother’s home cooking at the family dinner planned for that evening. Her mother yells up the stairs that she is leaving to run some errands, and without a second thought, the girl drops her Stabilo marker and offers to accompany her.
Next thing she knows, it is already 4pm and only an hour until she must head over to her grandparents’. The dog looks like he needs a wash, and she really is the only one who knows how to do it properly – that would be a good use of her time, she decides. The meal chases all thoughts of study out of her mind and leaves her with a sense of fulfilment that only spending time with family can bring. Why put a dampener on that by doing work – after all, weren’t people always telling her to take some time out for herself? She goes to bed yet again 90% content, but 10% guilty – as though she is deliberately denying her responsible self.
She wakes up the next day and suddenly remembers all the tasks that she can only complete while at home, and swiftly sets about backing up all her electronics, repairing a hole in an off-season top using her mother’s sewing kit and going through her year twelve notes to find that worksheet that vaguely related to a lecture in week 5. Whilst she’s doing the latter, she decides she might as well file and colour code her uni work for the semester while she’s at it. All this productivity has made her hungry, so she spends the next half hour closely examining the contents of her fridge to prepare herself a meal made up of all the things she cannot afford as a student. The thought of food suddenly reminds her of her reduced oven access back in Canberra, compelling her to bake for the first time in years at the prospect of not being able to do so for the next month. Being a serial burner, she cannot leave the appliance’s side, and by the time the cookies are done, it’s time to stuff everything back into her bag and drive to the station to head home.
Sitting back down on the bus once more, she is filled with a sudden rush of regret topped off with just a dash of cheeky satisfaction that she has allowed herself some time off over the past few days – it’ll be good for her in the long run, she reassures herself. Now is not the time to face all the work she didn’t do – that can wait until she gets home – so, once again, she leans against the coach window and welcomes sleep with open arms…
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