Tuesday, March 27, 2007

On Killam, killer sun, and a good cup of tea

I am, and always have been, a creature of habit. Luckily, most of my habits are good (other than my chocolate addiction), because I'm very slow to change them, and I don't enjoy trying in the least. Some habits I've had forever (colour coding my day planner, putting on my left shoe first, always eating hot dogs with the same toppings), but others get added as my life changes. This year, I've cultivated my Killam habit, which I'm quite particular about. For all of you non-Dal people, Killam is our ridiculously ugly, fortress-like library, and as my home office consists of a desk in the living room that I share with the hubby, I spend a lot of time working at Killam. Here's how my slightly OCD ritual goes:

  • Walk into library
  • Get cup of tea (English breakfast, one milk) at Second Cup- totally necessary
  • Press up button for elevator
  • Take elevator to the fourth floor
  • Choose desk directly opposite the women's washroom & water fountain facing out into the atrium
  • Set up my desk with my computer, mouse, files, books, twelve colours of highlighter, requisite cup of tea, Nalgene bottle, headphones, etc. -and yes, I carry all of this around in my backpack with me everyday. I'm a Haligonian sherpa.
  • Get to work
Now, however, is prime library season, and if you get to Killam any time after 11:00 AM, you will have a fight on your hands for a seat. So today I had to get a desk on the opposite side of the library, which just sucked, for the following reasons:

  • The sun was shining right in my eyes, and my computer had that glare thing going on
  • It's far away from the water fountain
  • It's right in front of the doors to the stairwell, where people enjoy tromping up and down, coming in and out, and talking really loudly on their cellphones
  • EVERYONE knows where I always work, and if someone was looking for me, they wouldn't be able to find me
  • I'm obsessive-compulsive and couldn't feel properly productive because I was on the wrong side of the library
Literally, I tell you, I waited until I saw someone leave the other side of the library (if you can picture it, there is an atrium in the centre of Killam that goes all the way up to the fifth floor, and so the hallways, where the study areas are, are all organized facing out toward the atrium so that you can see directly across from you through the glass), and then I moved. I'm neurotic. But I also managed to read about 15 essays on Northrop Frye in the past three days, so I'm doing pretty well. Just don't cross me if I'm stuck on the wrong side of the library and jonesing for another cup of tea. I can't guarantee what will happen to you.


Purple Mangos said...

I think grad school makes people compulsive (or in most cases, more compulsive than they originally were, since you pretty much have to be compulsive already in order to get in). My theory is that it fills our heads with so much information, that we don't have room left over for everyday details. This is why we set up systems that take care of the details for us. Like how my keys have hung on exactly the same hook every day for two years. Or how my expenses get entered into a spreadsheet, according to colour-coded category, filed into accordingly colour-coded files and transfered into a similarly colour-coded graph for ease of future reference. (If you don't already do this, I highly recommend it. Makes taxes much faster.)

Melissa said...

I think you're right about grad school making me compulsive. I've never been this way about studying/working in the library, and it does take a whole set of behaviours out of the question when it actually comes to thinking. And I think it does make me more productive. Have you see the study where researchers found out that high school students did better on exams if they wrote them in the classroom where they normally studied the subject? I feel the same way; it's like the learning/productivity vibe has seeped into the walls in that one spot and keeps me going.
JPMC is in charge of the spreadsheet, and my mother still does my taxes (because she claims most of my tuition credits), but I'll keep your system in mind when I start organizing my own. Sounds right up my alley!