Hi I’m Katy and welcome to my Olin Crib
Two weeks ago, I was sitting in the Student Life office, commiserating over my lack of Katy’s Korner submissions, and wondering just what I could write about. I looked at our wall, covered in old notorious issues, and a flood of articles came to my mind: riding the Circulator for five hours straight, sitting in Peacock Diner for 24 hours and going to the Church of Scientology. While on this trip down memory lane, the thought came to me, “What masochistic thing could I do to myself, in the name of an interesting story?”
When I think about the most accessible place on campus, Olin Library always comes to mind. It’s a safe haven where you can study until 4 a.m. when you’re the kind of person who watches Netflix for four hours straight in your bed after saying, “I’m just gonna go study in my room”; it’s where I personally go on campus to nap; and most importantly, it’s where Whispers Cafe is! Oftentimes, when people say they’re having roommate troubles (or are being sexiled), I’ll recommend they go sleep in the basement library stacks, or B-stacks—it’s totally feasible. No one’s ever been like, “Yeah sure I’ll do that! Thanks, Katy.” Nevertheless, I’ve always thought of it as a reasonable option.
A place with 24-hour access, five floors of space, running water and sustenance that can be bought with meal points. I smell a challenge. A challenge of survival. When I spun my chair around and announced to the office that this was my next story, I was met with enthusiasm, incredulity, confusion and also some dissent in the form of “someone’s already done that”—a sentence that a Scene writer fears to hear. After doing some digging, I found the article from 2012.
Essentially, this person attempted the same thing I was planning on doing: sleeping in Olin for a week without going home. The kicker is that he did a terrible job! He broke so many of his own rules, and he made so many mistakes. This made for an entertaining article, but it left me wanting. And really, it left me with that tiny competitive, perfectionist voice in my head yelling, “I could do better than that.” So, I decided to go for it. For the story, for the pride, for the sweet victory of beating someone else.
• Do not enter my dorm from Monday morning until Friday morning
• Carry all of my belongings everywhere the entire week
• Only eat and drink products provided and sold in Olin
• Sleep exclusively in Olin
• Spend the majority of my time (outside obligations like class and meetings) inside Olin
• Appear to be a functioning human
What I packed:
• An oversized backpack
• School supplies and bare minimum amount of materials for class
• Chargers for phone, laptop and headphones
• Toiletries including toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, perfume, deodorant, detangler and various makeup items
• Two sets of undergarments, five shirts, one winter coat
• A water bottle
• An eye mask for the fluorescent lights
• Tennis clothes along with tennis shoes
Monday, Feb. 26
The night before this inaugural day, I made a plan. I was going to wake up an hour and a half before my 11:30 a.m. class, pack my Olin bag, shower to start the week fresh, do my homework for the 11:30 a.m. class because I’m a trash student and embark on my journey.
Things did not go as planned. I set my alarm for 10 p.m. instead of 10 a.m. and ended up waking up at 11:00 a.m., wildly brushing my teeth, grabbing just what I needed for the day and running out the door while doing the reading I had put off until the morning. A mental image would be me power walking to Seigle Hall with a tennis racquet in tow while I tried to annotate a manuscript with legible enough writing that it was still helpful. To explain the tennis racquet, I am currently enrolled in Beginner Tennis, and Monday was our first class of the semester after various weather cancellations.
When I did eventually leave—after taking a luxurious nap and showering the grime of shame away—I knew I had already set myself up to have some interesting issues for the rest of the week. I had not preemptively done laundry. In truth, I had not been doing laundry, period, for approximately the last two and a half weeks. I had a very limited amount of underwear (two pairs), and a very limited amount of sleepable pants (one pair of mildly dirty sweatpants). I didn’t really have a plan to fix this, so I just blacked it out of my memory for comfort’s sake. Along those same lines, I straight up forgot my towel on my bed, which would have been used to shower in the Danforth University Center or the Athletic Complex.
My first meal of the day was a BLT arugula salad from Whispers for dinner. I know—not a very functional eating schedule for my first day there, but it wasn’t a very functional first day. And I did unceremoniously pour Reese’s Pieces down my throat after tennis, so that has to count for something. I paired this cold, boxed meal with a large iced tea and a bag of baked chips. I was happy sitting next to the window in Whispers, freshly showered, bubbly, talking to friends who passed by, trying to ignore the fact that I was never leaving here.
That night at around 2 a.m., I scouted out a corner on the third floor to make my bed. Many people recommended the B-stacks to me, and I was interested, but upon seeing the construction materials scattered around when I walked down the stairs, I decided it might be best for my health and sleep if I located somewhere quieter and less populated. In this third floor corner, I shoved two couches together with an ottoman in between, put my bag in a corner so I would wake up if someone tried to grab it, plugged my phone in beside me, draped my winter coat over my front, covered my eyes with my eye mask and tried to go to sleep.I probably woke up around five times that night, each time very cold, which I attribute to having picked a spot so close to the windows on a chilly night. I had nightmares about my winter coat being destroyed by nefarious friends, so I guess that reflects my deep-seated trust issues and huge need for a blanket.
Tuesday, Feb. 27
What a way to wake up. I woke up at 8:30 a.m. to two maintenance workers moving around ceiling tiles about five feet away from me on a ladder, while I scrambled to turn off my obnoxiously loud alarm. I was not ready for that much human proximity or mild facial interaction with strangers only seconds after waking up. After shrugging my shoulders past that strange occurrence, I packed up my belongings and sluggishly made my way to the bathroom, past the psychos who go to Olin at 8:30 a.m. in the morning and decide the best place to study is just a couple of feet away from a girl passed out in the corner. There are five floors, guys. Were you just waiting to see this hot mess of a person wake up?
Upon entering the bathroom, I changed underwear (such an underrated thing), gritted my teeth, put back on the same sweatpants and threw on a tank top. As I went through my morning routine in the public restroom, brushing my teeth and washing my face, various people walked into the bathroom. One woman took a massive dump not three feet away from me, walked out of the stall, realized I witnessed the whole ordeal, thin-lipped smiled at me, washed her hands and walked out. I felt closer to humanity in general after that. At this point in my journey, I still appeared fairly normal—other than the fact I was carrying around a winter jacket on a relatively warm day and my backpack could probably hold a German shepherd semi-comfortably. One key detail, though, was that I was getting sick. I had a scratchy throat, runny nose and sneeze that just wouldn’t stop, along with a wet cough. Could I be allergic to the library, or was it just the sleep deprivation? Although the odds were stacked against me, I remained positive.
Honestly, the only reason this was a challenge was because I don’t own a plain black shirt (which I painfully realize every time I go out with trendy friends), so I had to finesse my way into borrowing another friend’s, then try to explain to the photographer why my hair looked like I slept on a couch and my makeup looked like I did it in a library bathroom.
From there, I got another boxed salad for lunch, went to the mailroom, got a package that I ended up storing in a friend’s room (borderline cheating), went to my last class and promptly went home to Olin. A marginally successful day, but riddled with small failures.
This night, I found a new home: the second floor. When exploring the deep tundra that is Olin Library, I came across a gold mine of a setup. Low key, I think I stole this from someone who was studying at a desk right next to it—I’m judging from the side eye—but it’s every man for themselves in the wild. The setup was two ottomans squished between two cloth couches, with a stolen cushion from another couch serving as a pillow. I dove into sleep and only woke up around three times. I can’t tell if I was warmer, or if I was just much more tired.
Wednesday, Feb. 28
I woke up a little less perky on this day. The walk to the bathroom was less self-conscious as I openly glared at the multitude of jerks who decided to study around me at 8 a.m. This was the first day I went sans underwear in the name of not re-wearing an old pair. If that makes you uncomfortable…me, too. This was a real morale blow and colored my day. Once again, I went into the bathroom and did my morning routine, fighting off the judgmental side-eye from each person who entered the bathroom. I started to smell myself more this day but was just hiding under a thick layer of heavily applied deodorant and a thick film of Pink Sugar perfume. I grabbed a parfait, worked on a poetry chapbook I was trying to submit for a competition by that night and mentally prepared myself for Beginner Tennis, though I thought it may be cancelled soon because of the rainy weather.
I proceeded from there to go to production night for Student Life—the night before an issue where one writes, designs and has long academic and plain stupid talks into the wee hours of the night—and this is when my mental state began to crumble. I vaguely remember sitting beneath a table for approximately five minutes while trying to hold a conversation with an unknown other and escape the cursed fluorescent lights at the same time. There are no light switches in Olin. I watched Vine compilations for a solid 45 minutes, then convinced my section to write a staff list for costume ideas for a Vine-themed party. All good things. I ended up designing a little bit, writing a lot and submitting my first work of poetry. So productive but leading into a swift decent to madness.
When I walked back to my home, sweet Olin, I decided to try and find the mythical, dark and cushioned meditation room because I gave up on studying after accidentally googling “Olin” instead of “blackboard wustl.” Passersby saw me walking by shoeless with my hair in a gross knot above my head as I visited friends, showed off my home and found a bathroom that was completely private! By the time I was alone and settled in the meditation room, the night was looking to be bearable. It was finally just dark. But then, a security guard walked in. I freaked out and, without him saying anything, evicted myself from the room. The room isn’t supposed to be slept in, so I was already having a moral issue with it, and I have a great fear/respect for authority. At this time, I realized that I had just started my period, and this was just not OK. I began to shed a few tears as I found a new and unappealing couch bed on the third floor, and I sat there and willed myself to go home. I. Just. Wanted. To. Go. Home.
But I couldn’t. I’m a woman of my word, and I would stick it through. After falling asleep, I woke up to someone collapsing into the couches next to mine, loudly watching some YouTube videos, so I would just like to tell that guy: You are the worst thing to ever enter Olin.
Thursday, March 1
I woke up, attempted to have a FaceTime interview while continuously getting kicked out of peoples’ “reserved” study rooms and went to class. I wore my tennis outfit in an effort to combat the smell of my dirty clothes, but I ended up freezing every time I walked outside. This day was relatively busy, so the only off time I spent in Mallinckrodt Center because I just really wanted phone service. I had class and a meeting for a job, and then, I mediated the SU presidential debate.
When I left that debate, I decided it was over. I was calling it off. The jig was up, and I was done. I walked into Subway to get a Footlong meatball sub and a Dr. Pepper for my first hot meal of the week, then I walked my butt back to the South 40. I ran into my suite, went into my suitemate’s room, laid on the ground and laughed until I cried. Then I showered—while dancing and singing—and it was absolutely glorious. Distance really does make the heart grow fonder.
I came out of this week happy and appreciative. Olin Library is truly a terrible and wonderful place, and I’m glad I got to know it better, but I definitely was not more productive while staying there. I also am now fully convinced that I’m allergic to the plethora of couch dust that resides in Olin. My final take on it would be: If you have to sleep in Olin, you’ll be fine, but if you can go home, do it.
And stop studying next to people who are asleep; it alarms them when they wake up. And fix the phone service—we pay so much money to use this library; you’d think we’d have service to take our successful student business people calls. I also would like to take this time to thank everyone who kept me sane this week, and to tell everyone who just said to themselves, “Ohhhhh that’s what she was doing” that yes—this is was what I was doing. And to all of those saying, “Oh, that’s so fun,” you get me.