The first thing you should know is that my dorm room is 81 degrees. This is with the windows fully open, two fans going, and the lights off. My roommate and I refer to it as “the furnace.” At best, my sleep is fitful, at worst, sweaty and non-existent. The second thing is that I am senior—but not just any senior. Jane Austen might declare me as having “no prospects,” i.e. no job or job offers. Unlike my many already-employed peers, I must still labor under the illusion that my grades might actually count in my TBD future. Third, as a consequence of the second thing, I spend an inordinate amount of time in Firestone—“Harvey S.” or “F-stone,” as I affectionately call it. Like a squirrel hiding away nuts for winter, I have a cache of study spots on every floor, plus back-ups. I spend so much time in the library that, when one of the guards I know joked that he was going to marry me, I wondered for one moment too many if marital privileges would get me after-hours access to my carrel.
Due to the above three facts about my life, I require more and more naps, and these naps tend to happen most often in F-stone. While I am always on the prowl for new napping spots, unfortunately I am a bit of a Goldilocks when it comes to napping conditions. My needs include, but are not limited to, a space that is: not too hot and not too cold; not too dark and not too light; relatively sequestered from the public eye; and readily available. Oh, and, did I mention it must be comfortable, too?
In light of the current exam season now under way, I thought I might tell the story of my quest for the perfect napping spot. Along the way, I will share my accumulated wisdom about Firestone, its several environs, and their inhabitants.
Our first stop is the Trustees Room, that large and airy study space just off of the main lobby. Despite the intrusion of a few oblivious graduate students, this is truly the kingdom of the well-heeled and upwardly mobile among us. The room’s set-up is perfectly arranged for social observation. Its bi-level structure provides great viewing angles for the Trustees’ citizens to observe the casual-chic fashion statements of their neighbors, while the glass wall separating “Trustees” from the more plebian lobby allows for the monitoring of who is coming in and out of the library that day. I personally never go there except on good hair and outfit days—and I wouldn’t recommend otherwise. For those of you thinking of bickering come February, here is a study spot that will complement your all-important social maneuvering.
Unfortunately, napping in Trustees is really out of the question. The clatter of heels and printers; the public scrutiny; the many windows; the occasional but loud humming of wild-haired Paul Anderson: the room fails to meet any of my requirements. In order to find some beauty rest, we must look elsewhere.
Before descending into the salt mines that are the A-C floors of Harvey S., let’s take a brief turn on the oft-neglected third floor. Here is the total opposite of Trustees: quiet, dark, and musty, with only the soft footsteps of a dying breed breaking the silence. In carrels and desks pushed up against walls, you will find them in their aerie above the fray of the rest of the library and, indeed, the post-Byzantine world: the classics majors. Their Old World discipline imbues the place with a solemnity that would seem to create the best nap atmospherics, except for one thing: a lack of readily available and comfortable spots. Perhaps classicists would rather adopt the Spartan approach to napping, plopping their weary heads on the pillow of their Plato or Plutarch instead of a couch. In any event, the only comfortable chairs are in the well-lit, well-frequented African-American Studies room, and I think we can do better.
As we make our way downstairs, we can peek at the reading room at the back of the main floor. Unlike the third floor, the sleeping arrangements here are almost perfect with an array of squishy couches and chairs to choose from. This room and its accoutrements, however, are no secret, and it is tough to find an open spot during peak times. Furthermore, this area seems to be a hot spot for any number of strange community auditors, including the aforementioned Mr. Anderson, who likes to use the computers right outside the reading room. As nice as the couches might be (when they are available), I rest uneasy there, afraid that some old person will sit on my head by accident or Paul will have a conniption fit nearby. Normally, after a brief glance into that room, I keep going downstairs to the lower levels of F-stone.
I must admit. I have a real fondness for the B-floor, especially since my carrel is now there. I know many seniors despise their carrels, but I think it is all a matter of how you use it. Mine is like the grown-up version of my junior high locker: a holding spot for all of my books that is decorated with pictures and memorabilia from my life on the outside of the library. Plus, I can play music and videos with no headphones! I don’t do much work in my carrel, of course, but that’s not the point. Instead, it is a sanctuary, a refuge.
Surprisingly, this refuge is none too good for naps, for the same reason as the third-floor: lack of comfort. Though the privacy factor is huge, I have found that I cannot curl up on two metal chairs and sleep for more than about two minutes. Since my optimal naptime is 25-30 minutes, this is clearly unacceptable. The rest of the B-floor is also fairly barren, populated only with desks, tables, and stacks. One oasis exists—the Holden Room, across from the Scrivener Reading Room—but even then the pickings are slim. Often, the Holden room is occupied and its sleeping spots militaristic, with skimpy cushions over hard wood.
Below, the C-floor is even more inhospitable to a well-earned rest. Over the break, I watched a lot of the “Planet Earth” series on DVD, and I realized that the C-Floor is like Firestone’s version of an arctic tundra: cold, uncomfortable, and subject to vast migrations during January and May. Here is where the truly studious (or desperate) reside. If you are going to walk down all of those stairs and forgo natural light, you are not going to waste your sacrifice on a nap. Accordingly, the place is filled with the same array of desks, carrels, and tables as the B-floor but without even the puny oasis of another Holden Room to provide shelter from the bleak habitat all around. No napping to be had here.
It seems like we have exhausted almost all of the options in Firestone, without much luck. But, wait, you might say, what about the A-floor? What about it, indeed. For a long time, I discounted this whole floor, filled, as I saw it, by those students who like to study such silly things as “graphs,” “data sets,” and “concrete, practical research.” The Reserve Room and the Social Science Research Center seemed perfect for these boring people, both rooms resembling the cubicle-littered spaces parodied on “The Office,” but without any of the quirky fun. The harsh florescent lighting and rows of desks are not conducive to peaceful sleeping.
Right when I thought I had F-stone all figured out, however, it suddenly surprised me. On the hunt for a particular World Bank report for my term paper in my first (and only) Woody Woo class, I found myself dumbly wandering the far reaches of the A-floor stacks, a place I had never before explored. As I turned a corner, not entirely sure where I was, I saw it: my napping Holy Grail. There, by the Hellenic Studies Graduate Room, were two over-sized and over-stuffed armchairs. Moving closer, unsure if the decades-old dust was playing tricks on my eyes, I realized that here was the culmination of all I had been seeking. The place was just cool enough for a cozy jacket- or scarf-blanket, dimly lit only by some natural light coming through a window, clearly out of the public eye, and, hallelujah, when the two chairs were pushed together, it was comfortable. With a sigh of pleasure, I instantly abandoned my book search and curled up for the perfect 27-minute snooze. As Goldilocks herself might have said, this place was just right.