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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    After midnight in the library of good and evil

    Walking past the odious library monuments – that cheesy statue of the woman and the doves, a trash-can spewing out smaller cans of various energy drinks, the pixilated photo of Manuel T. Pacheco – any time past midnight instills a sense of independence and self-loathing. You know you’re in for the long-haul. It will be tough, grueling and monumental. But even though you despise your situation, you’re hopeful.

    When I trudged up the steps of the UA Main Library the other night, I had a slight headache and an entire Thomas Pynchon novel to read. I left Coffee XChange because I quickly realized there was no way to concentrate with the three token java shop loudies at the table next to me, squawking about relationships for 20 minutes. Seriously, who goes to a coffee shop at midnight to talk? Go to a bar for godsakes.

    Anyway, I was hoping the library would give me the kind of public privacy I needed to stay awake. The fourth floor, or quiet floor, has a modest blue couch tucked away in an alcove, and more importantly a ghost-bathroom that, peculiarly, has the hinges of a bathroom stall door in front of the main door. So when you walk in, you feel like you’re in a stall. It’s hard to determine how or why they put this together, because there’s no indication that the real door was ever anywhere else. It’s quirky.

    So I propped myself up and began picking my way through “”The Crying of Lot 49,”” which is actually quite interesting if you’re not being forced to read it. But, like clockwork, 20 minutes into the book, your body begins to mould into the couch and the words on the page merge with your flailing thoughts. You struggle to fix yourself to the page. It drifts in and out of the room like the smell of a trash can, sometimes leaving for indeterminable amounts of time until it smacks you in the face and jerks you.

    You’ve got to get past this hour of agony if you want to stay in the game. It’s all smooth sailing from there, but this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Oedipa Mass and her Trystero paranoias faded away, and suddenly there were millions of grains of sand gliding through the air and taking up shapes. So serene, that sand, until I jerked up and realized I was snoring and there was a moth flying next to my face. How does a moth get up to the fourth floor of the library? It’s a freaking sanitarium in there! Did it lose its way? Is it insane? I know there’s plenty of filtered light inside the library at 1:30 a.m., but that’s a freaking Iditarod for a moth. Why?

    I needed a walk. I got up to stroll around, hoping to pass another human being and make contact with my species, but instead just found rows upon rows of unforgiving books. “”Closet Lighting in the 1900s.”” “”The History of Flossing.”” “”Cameron Diaz: A Life Story in German.”” “”How to Play the Dubreq Stylophone.””

    The top floors of the library have got to be the most desolate areas this side of purgatory. After browsing through the literature selections, I took to the hallways. So many study rooms, all requiring some kind of pass code to gain access. It seemed silly to me at the time, to use one of these rooms, as if the rest of the place wasn’t remote enough. Maybe if you wanted to masturbate or shave a dog or something, but not to read.

    After a few minutes, I entered a whole different breed of study rooms tucked away in a corridor’s corridor, behind a shelf. They had stuff in them! Books, Gatorades, sweaters. They must have been offices, but for whom? The most private offices in the world. Desirable or scary? One of them had a cross hung on the wall, for private worship after using the fax? I felt haunted, so I made my way back to Pynchon and plopped back down. The journey had worked. My mind was alert again, and I was ready to go. I sat there fiddling around in the couch for about four more hours devouring the book.

    At about 5:45 a.m., I could see the lights coming out through the windows. I had 10 pages to go, and the mountains looked hazy, pink and comforting. When I finished, I walked outside and heard hundreds of birds conversing. The drowsy significance at the beginning of the world, when the sounds pop out as symbols and themes and not just annoyances. It’s so perfect, except for that masochistic need to go to sleep, even though you’ve conquered it.

    Who cares, I’d read the book. I could afford some shut-eye for a few hours. The library had earned it for me. As I drove home, in love with the universe, I almost ran over a group of birds who refused to get out of my parking lot. Stepping out of the car, I paced toward them to see what they were so incensed by. They were gorging on a pile of detergent.

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