Hello, honeys, how are you doing? I. am. bloody. knackered. And yet here I am posting another missive from the depths of my bed at midnight. Why am I so destroyed? Because exam hell is upon us. Yes, the birds are singing, the weather is indecisive, and I am doing hard time up in the library, my fortress of solitude.
It turns out that ivory towers such as Senate House are extremely conducive to a productive work environment. If you want to get something done, seriously, stop playing about in coffeeshops or procrastinating over the glories of your laundry and go to a no-bullshit library. I don’t mean one of those naff public libraries where people are to be found talking on their mobiles and surfing for porn, heaven forfend. I availed myself of a University of London alumni membership and now I will be set for life with access to an academic library…with free wifi and proper peace and quiet. And now I am quite happily locked in my ivory tower, thankyoumercibeaucoup.
And what weapons do I arm myself with in my quest for higher knowledge?
This is my magical bag of tricks, which is quite heavy and burdensome these days. The backpack I use is a Howies Hand Me Down (tumblr), which is ironically not made anymore. I needed something durable and able to take on my Vespa, and this fit the bill. It seems that retro waxed canvas backpacks like mine are having a bit of a trend renaissance, judging by posts like this by Glamourai. I’m not surprised since people have often stopped me to ask me where I got it, both in London and NYC.
My backpack contains the usual suspects: My ipad with all of my notes and some textbooks, along with my favourite fountain pens and a few composition notebooks (roughly one for each subject). I have really grown to love using composition books over the years. I have always been a notebook junkie but the really nice ones are just too intimidating to actually write in. Comp books are lovely and approachable and cheap…but sadly not available in the UK. I go to the States to fetch mine, and word to the wise: the ones made in Brasil have the best paper. I also use Clairefontaine cahiers, quad-rule, for similar reasons.
The downside of the library is that it is terribly English and cold and drafty, so I always make sure to have a scarf (and often wear my Uggs, yes yes). It also seems to dehydrate me, so I always have my Nalgene bottle on hand, topped up with water and a squirt or two of Sweet Iced Tea flavour Mio. Seriously, that stuff is amazingly similar to the taste of real actual ice tea, with no sugar and none of the effort. I also stockpile this from the the States. To fend off dehydrated skin, I take hand cream and keep lip balm close to hand, my current favourite being Clarins Hydraquench.
Hours of studying makes me terribly hungry, and I know it’s not just me. It turns out that it is just your brain freaking out from glycogen depletion from taxing itself, and that you don’t actually need to eat more to refuel it. It’s a trick! It will pass! Therefore I have some mints on hand to shut the beast up. I also take a salty snack like pistachios to eat on breaks because it keeps my energy levels up and keeps the POTS in control.
Speaking of breaks, I used to firmly subscribe to the Pomodoro Technique, thus the tomato timer (yes, there’s an app for that, I don’t carry an actual timer), but now I am just submerging without worrying about blocking off my time. In fact, what I do is put in my earbuds and play Autechre’s Amber album on repeat. I try and see how many repeats I can get through, which is sizeable since it is a 75 minute masterpiece. I do this because I have studied to this album for years, and this way I don’t get distracted trying to pick the perfect soundtrack, and the music itself is meditative and most of all non-obtrusive. It is one of my favourite all time albums ever, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I have listened to it a thousand times over the years — and it is incredibly shocking that it is nearly two decades old now.
So far, this is all serving me reasonably well, but I am still really tired, as can be expected. The only thing for it is to keep on, and apply frequent touchups of Touche Eclat to the dark circles under my eyes.