Despite this being my fourth time taking finals, I have consistently seemed to forget about them by the time the end of the semester rolls around. Especially at the end of the year, when the weather is finally nice and EC Beach is open again, (not really a beach, just the entire student body sitting on blankets out on the quad) everything speeds up. One week I’m trudging through snow with a syllabus in-hand and the next is filled with teasing sunshine and half-finished papers.
Finals week is stressful. The week leading up to finals week is stressful. Everyone, including me, is frantic, desperate to fit in one last weekend of fun with friends before the year is over. It’s an impossible feat when that once obsolete syllabus is burning a hole in your backpack with test dates.
I would offer suggestions on how to manage finals stress, such as breathing exercises and ways to effectively manage time, but to me, those tips are obvious and over shared. I know that getting a good night’s sleep will help me keep my stress levels low, but what about that heart racing in-the-moment stress?
Enter the Clamless Bake. I’d seen the flyers for it. The emails. Overheard talk. But like a lot at the end of the year, the event seemed to completely slip my mind when I woke up that Sunday morning. The only thing I was focused on was my math presentation. And my advertising exam. Oh and another paper.
The week had barely just started, and I could feel myself fall into the pit of finals blues. In an effort to stabilize at least a little sanity, I gathered my things to head outside and do my work in the fresh air. Fresh air. Breathing. All factors contributing to the effort to bring me back down to Earth.
Instead of finding a quiet table to bury my head in my laptop, I walked into a party. The Clamless Bake was in full swing and lines of people around the quad told me it was a good time. I paused for a second, adjusted the straps on my backpack, and watched a girl in a bright coral shirt spin a wheel to win a pair of Red Sox tickets.
When the live music started, I gave in and headed towards the center of the action, where buffet lines filled with your typical go-to BBQ foods (pasta salad, hamburgers, hotdogs, watermelon, the works) were stationed. I filled a plate alongside my roommate and wandered off to the side to watch two guys atop inflatable pedestals whack each other repeatedly with giant stuffed weapons. A good hit sent one of them toppling over the edge. We gave the inflated jousting a wide berth and found a place on the quad, close enough to a machine twirling wisps of cotton candy that it finally smelt like summer. Goodbye bitter wind chills and the musty smell of the Fenway T-stop.
To my right was an oversized hamster ball and pins. Human bowling. Do I have to say anymore?
The real stars of the Clamless Bake though were not insane lawn games and the promise of free food. With their new hit song “Weak” and previous popularity with “I’m Ready,” AJR took over the front of the Jean Yawkey Center with a level of enthusiasm that had been missing from my finals consumed life. Quicker than a blink, a massive crowd formed in front of the band to scream and jump along to their quick tempo and catchy lyrics. Being there was like being at an intimate concert or a dance party with all of your friends.
I might have quickly become a bandwagon fan, and I’m sure I’ll get some hate from AJR’s long-time supporters, but those two hours at the Clamless Bake let me completely relax and forget about the weighted stress on my shoulders. So forget talking about my problems, exercising, and slow doing. This last hurrah at Emmanuel made me realize that sometimes it’s best to live fast for a bit.