Ways to identify a postgraduate student

Posted by September Blue Monday, 3 September 2007

At half-past two this morning I was sitting on the floor with a ring-binder open on my lap, because as we all know, people sign up for PhDs because they can't be bothered with the heavy demands of the real world, in which you are allowed to sleep sometimes. (Or so I hear.) And it's strange what tricks your mind can play on you in the early hours of the morning. The world seems so empty, for one thing. You know you shouldn't be awake, and somehow you end up thinking that's some kind of rule, as if 2.30am exists for the universe to run maintenance checks and you're really not supposed to be watching. Tired eyes get bored with scanning through notes and start inventing flickers of movement just outside your field of vision. My house creaks and thumps in the night, or maybe my neighbours creak and thump in the night, and believe me, it's possible to come up with all kinds of ideas about what's making those sounds.

(I used to work night shifts. Same thing.)

So anyway, the whispery little voice inside my head which pipes up at times like this, the one that still thinks I'm living by a water-hole in Pleistocene Africa and dodging sabre-toothed cats on a regular basis, was working overtime. Thump. What's that? Was that outside? Did it come from the kitchen? Is there somebody in the kitchen? What would I do if there was somebody in the kitchen?... Oh, don't be stupid. And back to work, until ten minutes later, when: Rustle. What was THAT? All right, that definitely came from the kitchen. There's someone in there. Unless it was a mouse. Which it probably was. Unless, unless, it's a crazed serial killer looking for the knives, and I'm spending the last few minutes of my life flipping through a ring-binder... Wait, what am I thinking? Sheesh. And so on.

Until something fell down, I'm guessing outside, with the kind of crash that could not in any circumstances be reasonably blamed on a mouse. And instinct took over. Every cell in my body was listening to that whispery little voice, and for a moment there, I really, truly believed that something or someone was about to leap into the room and go for my jugular.

And my first response, on pure, reactive instinct, was to reach for the keyboard and hit Save.

I might get murdered by a knife-wielding maniac or eaten alive by a time-travelling saber-toothed cat, but so help me God I am not losing a single footnote of this chapter.

1 Responses to Ways to identify a postgraduate student

  1. Autumn Song Says:
  2. Oh, September Blue...

    PhDs are clearly designed to make us lose all perspective. I'd have 'saved' too.