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The Eleventh Hour
by Yvonne Liu

It's 2 a.m., and you're still awake. The hours you spent playing games on your Playstation before dinner are only a distant memory now. The time you allotted for a pizza and a beer in front of the TV was relaxing and at any rate killed a couple more hours. Then your best friend called to see how things were going, and you remembered to call your study buddy back to ask to borrow his Advanced Biothermal Physics textbook. The two of you gossiped a bit, and then he asked the question: "So, have you finished your term paper yet?"

Your ears perk up when you hear the words "term paper." And then your life flashes before your eyes. After a silence that feels like eternity, you squeak out a tiny yes and hurriedly make an excuse to hang up. In your mind, you're cursing yourself like there's no tomorrow, wondering what the heck you've been doing all night, all week, and for the month since your professor assigned it. Luckily, the library will be opened for another hour, and you don't think anyone will write on the topic you've chosen, or so you hope. But it doesn't really matter what you write on at this point, as long as something gets turned in by noon.

Have you ever experienced this scenario? Do you like to put things off until the last minute? If so, don't be alarmed. Americans have a term for this widespread disease, which affflicts millions of students across the nation - procrastination. We all know someone who procrastinates, if we are not procrastinators ourselves.

As a lifelong procrastinator, I can only speak from personal experience why it's so hard for me to change my ways. As a writer, my life is controlled by tight deadlines to turn in articles--articles I write hours before they are due. But for me, the added pressure of racing against time forces my mind to turn quickly, finding the exact words and setting them down on paper. I work best around or after midnight, when my only solace for a long night of playing catch-up are granola bars, Mountain Dew, and the silence of normal people sleeping. And when dawn hits as I finish off the last pages of whatever it is I'm writing, a sense of pride and exhilaration sets in. Yet every time, I curse myself for being so stupid and wasting time in the first place, for making myself stay up all night when I could have easily prevented it.

There is no known cure for procrastination, nor do I know of studies being conducted to find ways to curb this practice. Perhaps the only solution is imposing strong will, changing study habits, and learning to seize the day. Those are all tall orders, I know.

Yvonne Liu is a resident of sunny Southern California and a recent graduate of Scripps College, Claremont. Currently, she is working as an associate editor for an automotive publication and is still trying to pay off her student loans. When she's not sleeping or eating, she can be found typing away at her computer (e-mail, of course).

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