This is what my roommate Megan would tell me as we’d savor every last bit of some nutty chocolate chip cookies one of us had brought home from our favorite French cafe. She was absolutely right. Cookies are SO important: for one’s well being, for bringing people together, for any type of celebration, and, as we both came to strongly believe by our last semester at NYU, for a
successful bearable late night finals cram session. (More on that last bit later!)
Unfortunately, cookies were the last thing on my mind at around 4PM EST on Wednesday, March 28th, 2018. What was on my mind, as I anxiously (obnoxiously?) spun back and forth in a thousand dollar computer chair on the 7th floor of NYU’s Bobst library, was Michel Foucault’s “Docile Bodies.” More specifically, I was trying to come up with something smart to say about it. I had an essay due in less than thirty minutes, and was still about two paragraphs and a bibliography away from wrapping up.
I stared at a gif of a mind blown John Cena that I had inserted into my notes on the Panopticon (*we become our own prison guards!?*), messaged my dance team co-captain/classmate in a very panicked state (“SREYA, WHY DO I ALWAYS DO THIS TO MYSELF?” “STEPH, DW YOU GOT THIS!”), and scrambled to get my citations in order (God bless the creator of easybib). Looking back now, I’m very grateful for those few hours of chaos: it was the first time in twenty seven days that my mind spent more than an hour thinking about something other than the results of an application I had worked on for a whole lot more than three hours.
Now, to digress for a quick bit from that moment in the library, I’d like to make one of those dichotomous “two types of people in life” statements. There are people who think that you can never know too much, and there are people who think the opposite. Before March 1st of 2018, I would say I fell in the former group. For the most part, I still do! Discovering a google spreadsheet that listed 150 countries’ Fulbright notification dates for the past decade, however, shifted my perspective about following my curiosities.
That spreadsheet made those first twenty seven days of March feel longer than the previous five months I’d spent blissfully not thinking about the results of my application. But when the first of March rolled around, as this marked the start of the three month range of finalist notification dates provided on the Fulbright website, I became curious for a more specific predictor. This spreadsheet was just that, and more. There was a page that functioned as a group chat, with other applicants who were much more anxious than I was, and who had grown impatient months before I did— I’d found a community of waiters (not the restaurant kind…) who had followed the same curiosity as me.
While I am grateful that this spreadsheet connected me to other applicants, I slightly regret finding it when I did. I became obsessed with the thing. I’d check it for updates before class, after class, during study breaks, during rehearsal breaks, during work, during meals, during time that should have been spent signing my service fraternity up for more projects… you get the point. It was insane. It drove ME nearly insane. It’s a wonder how I found the willpower to close the tab to work on my Foucauldian essay and promise myself that I would not reopen the page until the essay was complete.
One of the ten tabs I did have open though, was my Gmail account. And as I clicked open my browser to make a quick thesaurus search, I noticed the number in my Inbox had gone up from 7,837 to 7,838. So quite mindlessly, I clicked the tab, expecting another 40% off offer from MealPal, but instead, to my surprise read:
If someone snapped a photo of my face in that moment, I am confident that it would look practically identical to that gif of John Cena. All that slaving over my personal statements, all that spreadsheet checking, all that waiting, that existential crisis I’d had the night before… Holy Kamoley! This was the moment I never thought I’d see.
The anxious spinning in my computer chair finally stopped— I sat there frozen, shocked, mind blown for a good ten minutes. I refreshed the page about five times to make sure it was real (it was!), then texted my mom, my advisor, Megan, Sreya, my go-to essay reader, my recommenders, and would have texted more people, except that I still had an essay to finish! So I rushed together a three sentence concluding paragraph that was not good, but got the job done, and somehow managed to slip the paper to my TA as class finished.
Cookies were still the last thing on my mind as we came out of lecture, but they were the first thing on Sreya’s: “We must CELEBRATE!” It was the perfect excuse to grab a box of Insomnia cookies. (Though, had the result been the opposite, completing our essays would have been an equally good excuse!) We brought the box back to campus and found a spot in a Kimmel Center lounge to indulge.
I told her about the first box of Insomnia cookies my roommate and I shared together. We had been reviewing the process of swallowing for our speech pathology final, and both felt that it was essential to have some snickerdoodles to help us arrive at a better understanding of that process. Come senior year, we’d developed a talent for including cookies (or else, coffee) in our study sessions, though over time we’d upgraded our taste to that of Oprah’s.
So, to quote Megan again, “Cookies are SO important.” And they will always be on my mind when I recount that incredible, intimidating, mind blowing moment at 4:30PM on the 28th day of March.