October 11, 2006

Breaking Into a New Dimension

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Oh Fall Break, that sweet aromatic cocktail of fakery meant to disguise the fact that our beloved institution of higher learning possesses an inexplicable aversion to three-day weekends (i.e. Labor Day). Like the eye of a hurricane, it pleasantly infiltrates the first cycle of papers and prelims in an entirely disarming manner. And while the majority of you lucky lot might have interpreted this reprieve from schoolwork as a one-way ticket on a bursting-at-the-seams Shortline bus ride to Port Authority, I decided to see it a little differently. Yes, to the pity and shocked reaction of many (or maybe just my apartment mates), I decided to stay behind.
By noon on Friday, the entire parking lot in front of my apartment had been transformed into a barren wasteland of vacant space and parallel lines. By dinnertime, Collegetown had been reduced to a skeleton population of international students and West Coast kids. As I strolled down the streets, I noticed a different vibe. Where were the drunken ingrates eager to shout slurred sweet nothings at sporadic intervals? Where was the twittering army of champion weather rebels who would never let rain nor snow ruin their chances of wearing headband-length skirts with spindly heels? Ironically enough, the weather was also amazing the entire time. Huh, go figure.
What was going on? Had I actually entered another dimension? Even the gym seemed suspiciously lacking in its usual quota of a certain feminine hygiene product.
There were no hasty, time-obsessed sticklers who favor hovering as a means of showing their annoyance. Yes, I am sorry I cut 30 seconds out of your treadmill run. There was also a shocking lack of the usual gang at what I secretly refer to as the Mirror of Masculinity where the severity of one’s facial expression seems to indicate the true extent of one’s strength. It is also the sight of much eyebrow furrowing, self-examining and envious leering.
Even the outside world seemed suddenly transformed. Paris and Nicole were friends again? Happily Blackberry-ing it side by side at some to-be-seen L.A. restaurant under the warm glow of paparazzi flashes, it seemed that the once-dynamic duo were again on good terms. So what if Paris had accidentally flashed the press with some purse-side marijuana, or if Nicole was still playing the disappearing game; nobody’s perfect. What next? Aniston and Jolie as bosom buddies? The end of a numerical grading scale? Replacement Cornell ID cards for free? Kevin Federline as a TV actor?
Okay so the last one actually did happen and never before had I been more excited for an episode of CSI, probably because I don’t watch CSI. Nonetheless, the wave of refreshing harmony that now inundated the campus didn’t stop there. Even Olin, bastion of the overdriven, over-caffeinated Type A crowd, was surprisingly mellow. There were no conversations of interviews-internships-recommendation letters to be overheard and no vulture-like crowds of seat scrutinizers just waiting for the slight indication that one desk would soon be vacated (even I am guilty of this crime).
Oh, Fall Break, too late have I discovered your true allure. Though it may seem like I just wrote an entire column about how much I hate the student population, such is not the case. I merely hate most of you. Just kidding! Probably just the ones who make going to the gym feel like a death challenge in the world of Azeroth. Too long have I heard the numerous complains about this niche we must call home for nine months of the year. In reality, it’s not as bad as you might think, and escaping your usual one-track mind of class-study-test-get wasted really helps in finding this conclusion out for yourself.