There it is.

Right there, as the bus you're riding on passes between a fabric store and a dentist's office; the deferred weight upon your eyelids, the vanguard of sleep. It was somewhat predictable, especially since you only got a mere two hours of sleep last night, working on that group project, your part of which you hadn't so much as rubbed two sticks together for until yesterday afternoon. Your usual gambit has cost you; you can feel the area underneath your eyes darkening already.

The gambit in question involves procrastinating until the night before a given project is due, then working on it in one long, sleep-deprived stretch. The stretch includes fooling around on the Internet while you should be doing your work, and at around 3:30, after several hours of Herculean effort, deciding that the grade isn't worth the trouble and half-measuring the rest of the assignment. This time, however, is different.

This time, you're not only letting yourself down.

The other two members of your group had their parts done well ahead of shedule. You had become the de facto leader, the master cog in the well-oiled machine that was to create a comprehensive set of documents for a fictional company. You knew jack-all about motorcycles, but went along with it anyway. In fact, you didn't understand the necessity of doing a group project; after all, you are a programming major.

You did the Powerpoint presentation—all but completely stifling your sense of good design, as required to use the program— and slapped on a few quick charts. The Access database was a little harder; you could think up a few dozen customer names at that time of morning, much less the required several queries and formes, or your planned idea for a frequent shopper program. And how the frick does one "design an application" in Excel? Isn't it a spreadsheet program? Nonetheless, you did less than the minimun, burned it to disk, and spent the remaining 45 minutes to your normal wakeup time putzing around on LiveJournal. Today was the last day of class, and there was no way for the teacher to return the work. With luck, they wouldn't know who doomed them.

You always vow to do better, to take notes, to actually, y'know, study. And you've been saying you'd delete those two dozen Megabytes of porn from your family's laptop—ironically, donated to your father by the church for 25 years as a pastor—but you keep finding youself, in the wee hours of the morning, staring at some 23-year old liberal Bisexual Wiccan's views of the Harry Potter fandom, with a piece of tissue paper jammed down the front of your pants and your right hand smelling distinctly of nuts.

Recently, you came to the conclusion that you hated your life.

Not hate as in "suicide", hate as in "My life sucks, and I need to change it." You spend far too much time on the computer, you have no real friends, and you've exhausted almost all of the books in the house. That leaves writing, drawing, watching TV, and talking to your parents. One of those things is not like the other.

At this point, even basic conversation with your parents has become painful. No, scratch that, you can handle basic conversation. What really grinds is the conversations with your parents about how little you're talking to them. Ironically, these tend to start with them asking why you don't talk to them, and you telling them that it's because they somehow manage to turn everything into a one-way gult trip to the blame festival. Then they defend guilt tripping as a valid parenting tool. You rebut that it should only be used as a last resort, if at all. Once again, you neglect to explain that it makes one want to act simply to get the guilt to stop, instead of any belief that action needs to be taken, or that the action itself is right.(Much like the Catholic church, eh?) At this point, they usually employ a gult trip. Fortunately, long exposure has given you a measure of immunity.

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