Spring break or back break? It’s time to take inventory

Breathes there a man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself has said,
Spring break is the break I really dread?

What, do I really dread spring break? How can I say that? I can because spring break, far from qualifying as a real break, remains nothing more than a fleeting moment to take one deep breath before being flung into the maelstrom of studies once again.

Spring break is too damnably short to accomplish any therapeutic healing of soul and body. It passes as quickly as a single hiccup. Yet it is long enough to inflict me with guilt feelings about all the things I need to catch up on during these few available days. As a further negative, spring break comes in the middle of nowhere. Still on our heels presses the stress and fatigue of winter term, while around the next corner looms spring term, promising more of the same.

Sure, if you live on the East Coast and can get drunk in Florida, spring break may represent a glorious interval. Here, given our unseasonably sunny weather this winter, you may find balmy days on which to chuggle up at our Oregon beaches, but don’t count on it. More likely will be days where the fog doesn’t clear until afternoon and then, after only a couple of hours, the chill of night descends.

Of course, you could go to Seaside and risk getting beaten up in a riot on Main Street. Getting drunk is no solution for me, personally. My skin is so sensitive to my alcohol allergy, I can’t even sip Nyquil.

As for skiing, spring break week sees the sport fading into nowheresville until next winter. The snow is still okay at Mount Hood, but the romance of ski season slips away with the advent of approaching spring. All the beautiful people are moving on and by this late in the season, the moguls are fierce. It’s really too early and cold to water ski. This year, it is also too dirty, if you’re talking about the Willamette river.

Actually, what I have to look forward to is a week of frantic catching-up activity. I have to visit the PSU bookstore to see how much damage my pocketbook will sustain from buying next term’s books. Then I can look forward to standing in line to buy them.

The food court and Subway will be on short hours, so I need to plan my restricted hours for nutrition accordingly. I have contracted to appear for appointments with two different doctors, necessities I postponed until now. Depending on their verdicts, I may be spending time and money filling new prescriptions. Happily, I don’t face for another two months that periodic dental checkup to have the plaque ground off.

I’ve scraped through the frantic timetable of winter term executing a minimum of laundry, just enough to keep me respectable in underwear, shirts and the like. No pants got washed or cleaned unless I spilled something on them that a washcloth rub wouldn’t disguise. Now, with the white insides of their pockets showing unmistakable signs of toil it’s the turn of the pants to meet the detergent challenge.

I can’t put a thorough laundering off any longer – during spring break I have to clean out my closets virtually to the wall. I need to process tubs and tubs of wash in those quarter-gulping machines, to revitalize that voluminous inventory of garments which accumulated too much musty residue of winter.

And my apartment! My aversion to hurried vacuuming has left my carpet looking like the aftermath of a confetti shower. To give my rug the proper Hoovering I will need to rush to the store for a fresh supply of vacuum cleaner bags. If my average luck holds, I will break at least one vacuum cleaner rubber belt and have to shop for a replacement.

My bathroom presents another gloomy and time-consuming prospect. Naturally, my tub has accumulated a high water ring. The faucet also dribbles a residue of rust, meaning I must obtain a new supply of Zud to dissolve the accumulation. As for the toilet, it long ago ceased to show blue water, meaning I need to acquire more of those little bleachie tablets to drop in. The toilet itself needs something done about its chronic tendency to run no matter how much I jiggle the handle.The new brighter sunshine of spring reveals a set of windows abysmally streaked. That means the bucket, the squeegee and a workout with the Windex sprayer. The same spring light shows how thickly the dust has stealthily accumulated on all my interior surfaces, even the vertical ones, like the screen on my television.

My white telephone shows fingerprints. My flashlight grows dim. The numbers on my digital watch are fading away, reminding me it’s time to get down to Radio Shack for a new battery. My smoke alarm is emitting those little intermittent beeps which announce it wants to get recharged. Is there no end to the burdens of spring break?

Although the weather this winter has been a delight, I fully anticipate spring break will give me a typical March – wet, cold, blustery. I have read that March is the most lethal month. More people who have survived through the gloom and despair of winter finally give it up in March, their bodies no longer willing to struggle on, though relief would seem just ahead in April.

Still, there are those who say April is nothing to look forward to, even with its expectation of burgeoning spring. Sure, Persephone has been released from her winter exile in Hades, to rejoin her mother, Demeter, in the upper world, and joyful mom is turning the earth fertile again.

But some poet, (was it Shakespeare?), said April is the cruelest month. For years I never understood that, until I discovered a critic’s explanation. In April, the stimulation of spring inspires people to anticipate a great year ahead, with renewed ambitions, revived hopes, perhaps even the thrill of a new love. By autumn, these April dreams have died. The population, me included, faces months of the same old same old through the gloom of another seemingly interminable winter. And more dirty laundry.