Extended stays in libraries have never been an activity to which I am particularly inclined to — stuffy, dimly lit, sonically displeasing, these places of communal study are typically places I avoid. It was with this predisposition that I decided to take on the assignment of enduring ten hours in UCR’s Orbach Science Library. What I sought in this endeavor was a place to immerse myself in my work and completely focus on my studies. Instead I found madness and anxiety within the claustrophobic walls and shelves and nooks of Orbach which I should have fled from immediately upon my arrival.

Arrival — 8:12 a.m. — Zero hours elapsed

Despite my aversion, I have remained optimistic upon my beginning of this unrighteous journey, headstrong in the face of my discomforts. Walking through Orbach’s automatic doors, I was prepared to face this collegiate demon of mine. Upon a quick survey, I came across adequate seating on the third floor of the library near a large window, which came to be a beacon of hope in this long expedition. Determined and ambitious, the soul of this journey is alive and well in these early, fleeting moments of my extended stay. 

Spiral — 10:31 a.m. — Two hours elapsed

Already these beige walls and clinical white lights have begun to pull the life and energy from my being. My breath is being stolen from my lungs by the thick air that inhabits this strange unworldly zone. I want to focus on my essay. I want to go to Homecoming Odyssey tonight, but alas, I have eight hours left to go. My laptop’s artificial display darkens my vision as I focus ever more into its precious reprieve from these dull surroundings. This location is truly beckoning dark and maddening energies into my deteriorating soul. 

Sloth — 12:07 p.m. — Four hours elapsed

As high-strung stress fizzles into numbing defocus, my surroundings seems to simplify. The sounds around me have become quieter, the walls and lights less unnatural and the chair less uncomfortable; but this escape is not peace. Rather, my soul writhes unbearably, unable to force my fingers upon this accursed keyboard. I am unable to hear my consciousness speak, a deafening silence in my head. A morbid energy spills from these shelves around me, emptying the thoughts of my mind. My writer’s block is amplified by some dark, malevolent force.

Repetition Compulsion — 2:21 p.m. — Six hours elapsed

Throat dry, hands shaky, head spinning: I feel as if I am glued to the reel of a slot machine, bound to the hapless, impulsive will of a gambler pulling the lever. Incognito apparitions appear within the tunnels of my eyes as I gaze into this evil box of a screen which I write this very text on. Sitting in this library, my ambitions of a well-conducted study melt away before my eyes, inducing an inescapable nausea which serves to intellectually disable me. I want to leave this place, escape this pedagogical penitentiary which has so far bound me from efficient work.

Equilibrium — 4:03 p.m. — Eight hours elapsed

From numbness to a sort of mental equilibrium, this library has proven to be a valuable location of study. I have come to a runner’s high of sorts, a clear rhythm developing as the clockless inescapable walls of my esteemed institution surround me; this academic casino has brought me homeostasis, a perfect prosaic flow state. I have become unaware and uncaring of my surroundings, only focused on the pursuits for which I came. The outside world has left my mind.

Expiration — 5:44 p.m. — Ten hours elapsed

With only fifteen minutes left until my journey ends, I am left to reflect upon my experiences in this foul study. Although I eventually found focus here, I will never return to this library to study alone; this place has drained the life from me. As I write this, I feel no motivation any longer. Even thinking seems too high a task at this moment. No matter how loud I play techno music in my headphones, my will to keep writing and thinking steadily declines. I will say goodbye to Orbach, never to return — a doomed affair over in only ten hours.