On the Chopping Block

When I heard about the upcoming Reading Week, you could imagine my relief. Somehow, February seems so busy, that Reading Week was the oasis in the desert – the opportunity to go home, hang out with my brothers, watch a few movies, and get some well deserved rest.


The funny thing is, I got less sleep than when I do in school. 


You see, I’ve come up with a theory about Reading Week – it’s a trap. A very well planned, cleverly presented trap for students to fall right in.


Last night I was watching a program about a guy who takes his video camera, and documents his attempts to survive in the wilderness. A fellow resident informed me that this show features the traveler in places like the wilderness, the arctic etc. and that in one episode, the man was wandering around and a jaguar was following him – he just managed to save himself. Basically, its show testing this guy’s survival strategies in unusual circumstances. Anyways, in the show last night (I saw just a bit of it) he was attempting to hike somewhere, and was supposed to get there in the first day. Unfortunately, he didn’t, and after running out of food, decided he would need to catch some bait.


He decided to build a rock trap… it consisted of propping a large, heavy rock onto stick, and then attaching another stick with bait to the stick that was holding the rock up. When the animal is attempting to get the bait, the movement of the stick will prompt the large rock to collapse onto the animal’s head…thus dashing its brains out. Ew. I know.


I didn’t stick around to see if he caught any squirrels (that was his plan) but I thought the trap was brilliant. It was very unsuspecting, especially because it used the materials found in the habitat of the squirrel (rocks, sticks etc.), unlike a rat trap which has all those metal pieces. It provided the squirrel with a very ordinary situation – one that was inviting but not unusual. The problem was, once the squirrel went for the food, any sudden movement of the stick would result in death. Once the squirrel is in, its almost impossible to get out.


 Guess what?


 You are a squirrel.

 I’m serious.


You see, the Break, like the food, comes in a very unsuspecting way. We’re used to finding a Reading Week right along February – assignments are heavy, sleep rations are short, and the break is presented in a very ordinary habitat. Here is what we don’t realize – one of two things is going to happen to Student the Squirrel. Either you’re going to pretend you’re not on Reading Week, and work your butt off all week, studying, catching up on all those textbook readings, lectures and note-takings, or you’re going to fall bait to the trap of Reading Week, and relax on a well-deserved break.


Each option, in my opinion, has a deadly effect.


Not working at all – is like taking the bait. Get some good food, relax, no extra work for you. The threat is obvious though – once you get into that mode, its too late. You realize Saturday that you have one more day left of Break, and four assignments each worth 25% or over in different courses within the first two weeks you get back. In other words, your head is on a chopping block.


Problem is, the other option isn’t any better.


Working feverishly all through reading week is like not taking the bait – you don’t indulge at all. What does that mean? You don’t have any food, any break, any chance to unwind because your mind is telling you how much work you have to catch up on, and how many cleverly planned assignments are subtly placed right when you get back from the Break. It means you work extra hard, and it doesn’t improve the situation much, because you don’t get a break at all.


That is my issue with Reading Week, and unfortunately for all of us squirrels in the University forest, I don’t have a solution.


But I do hope that you had a fabulous Reading Week, that you made it out alive and that you are bright-eyed and bushy tailed, ready to finish the semester with a bang!


Until next Week!