Seniors Look Back on Their Four Years

Mary Louise Kelly '93 was senior editor of the Crimson in 1992.

They say if God had been a Harvard student, he would have slept the first six days and pulled an all-nighter on the seventh.

That is, unless he were a senior at the time, in which case he probably would have asked his TF for an extension on the entire project.

There's something about Harvard--maybe it's the ivy, all the centuries of brick, or all the oldness around here--that seems to make time run slow.

Procrastination is a long-standing tradition among Harvard's undergraduates, dating from well before The Game and counting many more disciples than ice cream in the Union, sex in Widener and the Primal Scream. My classmates and I have done our best to uphold the tradition, starting off gently with a few late problem sets our first year and eventually blooming into full-fledged cases of seniorities.


I have spent this entire spring, for example, procrastinating on graduation. It's not an easy thing to do, since June 10 has a funny way of creeping up on you, no matter how hard you try to look the other direction. But somehow I thought I could hold it off a while longer by simply ignoring it.

This past month I've felt as though I were watching my last 30 days of childhood slipping by hour by hour. Granted, it's been a very pleasant slippage, viewed through a haze of Bloody Marys, long afternoons on the patio of Shay's and late-night stumblings back to Eliot House.

In the mornings this spring I would rise before the sun to row down the Charles to Boston and back, feeling the swing of the boat cast a therapeutic rhythm back into my days. I learned to tell Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 from No. 2; I fell in love with an Austrian expressionist named Fgon Schiele; I danced so hard the earrings flew off my head at a formal in the Fogg Museum.

Life at Harvard wasn't always this rich. It has been, at times, downright miserable. Only a few months ago I sat glued to my computer day after long February day, writing my thesis and watching dolefully as all remnants of sanity trickled out of my life.

The thesis experience is designed to bring out the extremes in a person, and I proved no exception. I hit bottom one night in the dining hall, bursting into sobbing tears for no reason except they'd run out of Crackling Oat Bran.

I made it through that night and the nights after that, returning to the keyboard to somehow reach deep inside my gut and spin out words I never knew I could write.

Looking back, I find it somewhat remarkable that 110 pages of anything could cause so much angst. Yet it seemed to have affected nearly all of us thesis-writers to some degree, provoking such bizarre forms of behavior that I wonder now whether we didn't all go a little temporarily insane.

When I had one week left until due date and one chapter left to write, the College was suddenly enveloped in the Blizzard of '93. Sunshine gave way within hours to black skies, hurricane-force winds, and foot after foot of snow and ice.

My roommate and I, always searching for new ways to procrastinate, decided not to risk erasing our theses by booting up in the midst of a potential electrical blackout. (Yes, of course, we could have saved on disk every few minutes, but it seemed too good an excuse to claim the gods had decreed no electronic work be done that day).

Instead, we seized upon a third roommate's copy of King Lear and, bundled head to toe in earmuffs, parkas and Bean boots, stomped into the middle of our courtyard.

Thigh deep-in snow, screaming to make Shakespeare's voice rise above the howling wind, we belted out Act III, scene II: