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A DAY - DISSERTATION HAND-IN

It's been four months. My MA dissertation has officially taken up a third of my year and I have barely any recollection of it. I can't remember any of my initial ideas or any moments of epiphany and frustration. Time has erased everything aside from my final submission. I should have kept a journal, I realise that now, which is why - in one last bid to preserve something, anything, of the experience other than a stack of A4 pages - I've chronicled the day of hand-in. 

5:27 - Bed
It's back. I can hear it through the open window, c-oo-OO-oo-oh. Again and again and again. I throw the covers off, reach for the curtains and slam the window shut before climbing back into bed. I hate that pigeon so much. 

7:00 - Bed
My alarm clock bleeps. It's a horrible high-pitched sound that gives me palpitations, but I'm sticking with it because I don't like my phone to be the first thing I touch in the morning; it's actually the second thing I touch. Baby steps, right? I get up after allowing my eyes to adjust to the light. 

7:16 - Desk
I take a few sips of my tea and eat half the bowl of porridge I've just made, quickly scrolling through Twitter and Instagram on my phone before responding to a couple of messages. As soon as my laptop has fired up, I open the browser and check Facebook; then I check Twitter again. I spend the next hour fixing the half-assed conclusion I wrote last night. It's still not great but it'll work. 

8:45 - Kitchen
There's a new oven in the middle of the kitchen floor, all wrapped up in polystyrene foam. The dog is circling it, sniffing every corner. As I wait for the kettle to boil, I think to myself: 'That's the kind of protective casing I'll need if I'm going to get through this day.'  

10:23 - Desk
I've finished editing, at last. I want to catch the 11 o'clock train into London so I have approximately 10 minutes to check page numbers and compile 5 different pdf files into a final document. I'm thoroughly panicked.

10:42 - Front Door
I'm stuffing my back with books as I run through my checklist out-loud. I give the dog a quick kiss and tell her to wish me luck, then head out of the door. My dad yells 'you can do it, mate!' as I scramble down the garden path, adjusting my t-shirt and tucking my phone into my pocket.

10:53 - Greggs
I've given myself shin splints from walking so fast, but at least I've got some extra time to stop off in Greggs before I reach the station. I pick up a bottle of water and some kind of caramel filled, sugar covered donut. I Instagram it, what else? 

11:07 - Train
I've bagged a window seat so I'm pretty pleased. After replying to a few 'good luck' messages I plug in my headphones; I'm listening to My Dad Wrote A Porno because it makes me laugh and I'm enormously anxious. A guard checks my ticket after about 20 minutes but other than that my journey is uneventful.

11:50 - London Waterloo
I've missed my connecting train by a few seconds, so I wait for the 12:03. It's really hot. 

12:36 - Library Cafe
I need to take a moment. I'm sitting on a purple sofa drinking tea and eating a cheese and onion sandwich, the same spot I sat in just over 2 years ago, but I was with my housemates then. We'd been surviving on a diet of cheese toasties as we prepared to submit our BA dissertations. It would have been cool to share the MA with them. I'm trying not to get sentimental so I listen to another episode of My Dad Wrote A Porno and write a list of all the things I need to do next.  

14:34 - Student Office
After battling with printers and binders, I hand in my dissertation. Various pieces of paper are stamped and I watch as the past 4 months of my life is dropped into a cardboard box, wrapped in green-coloured plastic. That's it? 

15:06 - Corner Shop
I call my mum from outside the station to tell her I've done it. I feel a bit spaced out, so I nip into the corner shop for an ice cream. There's carpet on the floor which isn't as gross as you'd think. The whole shop smells like pick'n'mix and I feel like I've been transported back to my childhood. I resist the urge to stay there and head to my platform to catch my train.

15:56 - Train
I wake up after falling asleep against the window. I have a few messages from friends congratulating me and asking if I feel relieved. Weirdly, I don't. I feel stressed, tired, and a little sad. These moments are always quieter than expected. No confetti, no heart-pumping soundtrack, but that's ok. For now, I just want to get home and have a lie down. I'll toast to my achievements tonight.

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