Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Compression; Relaxation

After spending all of Monday and Tuesday studying away, I got up bright and early Wednesday morning to cycle to Blackrock campus south of UCD for my third final. It wasn't too bad a ride, except that it was uphill a lot of the way in the beginning, and my pant leg got stuck in the chain at one point. The exam was similar: unpleasant to do at the time but ultimately successful. I then took the unexpectedly long cycle to the other exam center at RDS, to the north of UCD. I got there about an hour and a half ahead of my test and met up with a few other people from the class. They made me feel a bit better about it by appearing to be at least as unprepared as I felt, though ultimately I'd say they turned out better results. I just couldn't find enough to write about for the essays. Oh well. Cycling back home was pretty miserable, too, because I was so tired. I hadn't slept well the night before; I kept waking up from dreams involving cheese. At one point, I'd woken up at 4:41 thinking I'd overslept, calmed down, went back to sleep, was sleeping pretty soundly, and woke up again (still dreaming of cheese) to find it was 4:45. What the heck?! Whatever, at least I managed to unwind a little when I got home by watching Pulp Fiction for the first time. What a good movie!

I was feeling pretty good about Thursday's exam. I got ready in plenty of time to grab my notes and catch the free UCD shuttle to Blackrock campus. I arrived at around 12:30 for my 1:00 exam, strolled to the exam hall...where there was a test going on. I wondered why no one was around waiting, and pondered the likelihood of there being two exams scheduled back-to-back in the same hall. Eventually, I discovered at the reception desk that my exam was in fact scheduled for 3:00, and I am just a nincompoop who can't convert 24-hour time into 12-hour time properly. So I went Christmas shopping at the nearby shopping complex for an hour and then returned to continue studying. Another test well-taken. And when I got home (after walking a while and picking up something for dinner), I checked the time for my final the next day (which it turns out I'd also gotten wrong).

By Friday I was pretty freaking excited to be nearing the end of my ordeal. Little did I know what the day would bring. I spent the morning reviewing and taking care of last-minute business, since it was my last day in the country until I got back for the spring semester. I tried to drop off my registration sheet with the JYA office, picked up a last nosh at Centra, and was off to grab the 2:40 UCD shuttle to Blackrock (again). I was at the stop ten minutes ahead of time and waited with a few other girls. 2:40 rolled around, then 2:45, then 2:50...finally, just before 3:00, we caught sight of a bus pulling into the parking lot. The group of us breathed a small sigh of relief. The driver unloaded his passengers, but as we approached gave us a look that clearly said, "What the hell do you want?" He told us he wasn't due to head off until 3:20. We inhaled our sigh again. We explained the situation, but the driver remained unmoved. We called four different cab companies, all of which were booked up. We got to the stop for the public bus just as the bus we wanted pulled away. We decided just to wait for the shuttle. I tried not to cry. All I could think about was that the exam I was currently missing made up 100% of the grade for that class (Minoan Bronze Age of Crete - one of my favorites of the semester). After maybe 15 minutes and some conversation between a couple of the shuttle bus drivers, the first one took pity on us and agreed to leave early. We arrived at our exams half an hour late. The good news is that I spent my remaining hour and a half writing steadily, so I think I did pretty well...but I could've done better if I'd had those extra 30 minutes.

And then I was free! Well, except packing. But that was accomplished handily, especially when accompanied by Lynchy arriving earlier than anyone else and chatting with me while I freaked out over things like what shoes to bring home. I ended up having a pretty chill night of drinking in my apartment, rather than going out and ravishing the city, but mostly because the people we were waiting for before leaving showed up just as the last bus was leaving campus, and I wasn't about to take a taxi into town. Luckily, we found a place to order in cheap beer.

I took a nap for a couple hours before being rudely awoken by one of my guests so I could be sure to catch the AirCoach in time to get my flight. I made it with all of my belongings to the airport and experienced hell on Earth waiting to check in my bag while so dehydrated I thought I might pass out. Luckily, I arrived at my gate in plenty of time (plus an additional half-hour delay) and was able to nap a bit more and thus regain my ability to function. The flight was uneventful, as I slept through much of it, as well. The middle-aged Irish woman seated beside me had clearly never been on a plane before, as she didn't know how to adjust her seat when the flight attendant asked her to put it up before takeoff. (That particular flight attendant, appropriately enough another Tommy, was quite a ham, but went about his antics in a way that to me suggested a need to relieve his own stress as much as entertain his passengers.) The food was edible, the movie (No Reservations) watchable, the length barely doable, but I made it to the ground okay and recovered my suitcase with minimal hassle. I met my dad at the gate, which was GREAT...

...and the rest is a story for another day.

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