Let me set the scene:
Today was a beautiful early fall day; the sun was
shining, there was a light breeze, and nearly everyone on campus was playing
outside. I left my house bright and
early, and I swear I could hear birds singing and babies laughing as I bicycled
along my merry way to work.
So, you can imagine how devastating it was that the
Fulbright deadline was last night—18 pristine applications were waiting on my
desk as I walked in the door this morning, all of them waiting for me to make
ten copies of each, stick them in an envelope, and deliver them across
campus. Naively, I set about my task,
looking wistfully out my window at the golden leaves fluttering in the sky. How long could ten copies take? Surely, surely, I would finish before
studio and have time to enjoy the fresh air.
After all, only ten copies. . .
And so I began copying the first application, carefully
arranging the materials, stapling neatly, and organizing everything on the
floor (since we still don’t have a table in that room). Some applicants had stapled their applications,
so I laboriously pulled the staples out so I could feed the copy machine each
leaflet of paper. After the copies had
been made, I paper-clipped each packet with brightly-colored paper-clips and
stacked each one neatly on my desk. I glanced
at my watch.
It had been an hour, and I had copied only three
At that rate, I would be lucky to be halfway through by the
time studio started!
I picked up my pace. The
next two hours are a blur to me now. I remember
only getting into a rhythm of copying, sorting, stacking, copying, sorting,
stacking, copying, sorting. . . .
Again, I checked the time—CRAP! I had to be at studio in 15 minutes! And I was just finishing up my ninth
application! As quickly as I could urge
the copy machine, I finished up the application and brought all the materials
back to my desk. I was lucky: today in
studio we were doing workshops; an hour learning, and hour off, an hour
learning, and hour off. . . I would have time to come back.
I went to studio, which was in the Map room of the library
(quick aside, that is possibly the coolest, most interesting room on
campus). After about an hour, I peddled
quickly back to the Honors College to resume my task. Again, same rhythm, same timing—I completed
three more during that hour. I returned
After another hour of studio, I went back to complete my
task. Six applications still reared
their ugly teeth at me, daring me to complete the copies in time to enjoy the
beautiful day Muncie had produced. I gave
up stapling the copies. I found ways to
print faster. I became a machine.
As I was finally wrapping up the last application, I noticed
that it—unlike ANY of the other applications—had been printed
front-and-back. Exasperated, but happy I
had found the mistake in time, I fumbled to insert the missing pages. Then it was back to my office to put the
applications in an envelope to be delivered to the committee members.
Half an hour later, I had completely lost hope of playing
outside, and was now in a time crunch to make it to my night class. With 25 minutes to spare, I sealed the last
envelope and began clearing my desk.
And then it happened.
I found a stack of applications on my desk that I had
forgotten to put into envelopes. As quickly
as I could, I corrected my mistake.
Then I realized that EACH application needed a cover
sheet. I bustled back to the copy room
to make 180 more pages. Then I had to
un-stuff and re-stuff each envelope in order to add the sheets.
Finally, after hours of labor, I completed the Fulbright
copies. All the offices were closed, so I
had to stack the envelopes on my desk. Delivering
these epic documents will be tomorrow’s challenge.
Numbed, but triumphant, I mounted my gallant steed and rode
off into the sunset.
And I was only one minute late for my class.