The last minute is basically my only real skill. In college, (and high school, and since I can remember) there must have been things I occupied myself with in the hours between when I left class or left a social event and when, at 1am, or 3am, or 6am, I sat down to start work. But mostly what I remember is those frantic hours, the world around me silent, tunneling to the forced singularity of focus. There was a street lamp right under my dorm window, five stories down. It came back on at 5am, and at least once a week I would watch it spark to life, as the morning leaked back into the world, and I would feel like I had acquired some substance, like whatever was coming next would be survivable, like this version of myself, awake, capable of driving the work of two weeks into two hours, was worthy of praise. I felt tangibly good at something, the way I imagine athletes feel. I liked writing, but I liked at least as much being able to say "I wrote it in an hour" about something I’d written. I still do. At this point, after many years of operating this way, I can see the seams, the flimsiness of it, but I have been relying on the last minute for so long that I don’t know how to do otherwise.

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