It’s 11 o’clock in the morning. I’m startled awake by the heat from my eastward-facing Texas bedroom window. I’m lucky to be on central time, I think to myself. I grab my phone from the floor beside my bed, realizing I had once again slept through an optimistic 8:00 alarm I’d set late the night prior, swearing to “get stuff done tomorrow.” Unlocking my phone commences the first of 8-12 hours per day I will spend with eyes locked on a screen.

At 11:15, I stroll downstairs and drink coffee for breakfast—I’m never hungry in the morning anymore. For the next 45 minutes, I ponder my priorities for the day. Which of my 5 rotating assignments will I begin? Will I finish it, and when? Will I maintain motivation in the short hour I have between each of my Zoom calls?

At noon, my first class begins. I park myself at a table—yes, for once not my bed—and transcribe audio from my laptop’s speakers onto a Word document. As I do this, emails begin to pour in from the upper-right corner of my screen. More things to do.

By the time I hear everyone’s sign-off “thank you’s” at the end of the lecture, I’m starving. Just enough time to wolf down a meal before I have to search online for my next Zoom link. After this cycle is rinsed and repeated once or twice, I’m free. Finally I can focus on what I really want to do, my homework—the only sense of accomplishment I will probably experience today. For the next few hours I pour my last few precious drops of sanity back into my laptop in order to meet deadlines.

Submit. Ah, at last I can rest. Around 8-10 PM I can finally make the transition from work screen to fun screen! I watch TV, play a video game, and check my social media, until before I notice it’s past midnight. I set an alarm for 8:00 because I’m gonna get stuff done tomorrow.

Derek Jones

Derek Jones

MAJOR: Industrial and Systems Engineering YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Los Gatos, California PRONOUNS: he/him/his INSTA: @dmannjones On campus I have conducted environmental engineering research on water distillation methods, and you can currently find me serving as Vice President of my social fraternity and playing on the club volleyball team.