Of Rats and Recess

This late October midterm period, the whole campus seems to be running on empty. And worse than running on empty, some are actually losing gas they don’t have as they go along, which is kind of like vomiting as you run.

Today I walked by two people mid-breakdown in the two-block walk from my room to Old Campus, and they didn’t look like they had the tears they were vomiting to spare.

Were you one of these two people? Do you identify with their #yalepplproblems?

Then surely you have a lot to learn from rats. Haven’t you heard how much learning can go on outside the classroom? Among the wisdom they have to spare: how to live and learn with lactose intolerance; swiftness over stealth when stealing food; and why Yale’s first October recess, scheduled for this time next year, will serve as a much-needed cushion for your broken tailbone of a season (I’m looking super sternly at you, sophomore slump).

Rats get it, as do those who have been stationed in the wild and happenin’ zip code of 06511 these past four weekends as friends from every other school glance pityingly at us on their way to New York/Boston/Aruba. (Even Deep Springs has a week-long fall break, guys).

A psych lab that gets a four-day fall break found last year that rats undergoing new experiences — like learning new mazes and hooking up with hotter, younger mice — couldn’t fully process them as they were happening. The lessons and memories of that one red hot mama mousie could only be made permanent when the rats took a break from their adventures.

Which they did.

Because they are sane.

And because it is natural to.

Just because Yale somehow maintains a 100 percent Type A quota year after year doesn’t mean our brains are somehow invulnerable to this basic, intuitive truth. This isn’t my opinion, it’s what the facts — what the rats — just have to say. How are we supposed to track our literary adventures when we can’t remember them? And don’t even ask us about our scientific adventures. Which is why, a year from now, we’ll be on our five-day October breaks. (Except for you, seniors, who’ve felt the dense matter where the hole of fall break should be for four years! Lots of memory-establishing to do post-graduation for you guys.)

The three months before Thanksgiving break is a time when the leaves they are a-changin’ for everyone on campus: freshmen revel in that constant hyperstimulation mode we all love to hate, professors are brought out of their summer solitude and squirrels adjust not so gracefully to new neighbors. Some might even dare to call these new experiences.

So, if you forgot about a reading response, if you’re inexplicably restless, if you’re generally feeling the absence of fall break: you are not alone. The new break is not too little and it won’t be too late.

Vassar lore holds that their fall break’s debut on the academic calendar reduced the number of fall semester nervous breakdowns by 70 percent. When there’s such an obvious overall mental health dip at this jolly time of the year, we’ll gladly sacrifice two days of our reading periods for a week of re-remembering: we can’t run on empty forever.

Anyway, you’re getting vomit in your running shoes.

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