Spring Break!

Spring break!

Spring Break has arrived at Penn State. So it’s arrived for State College Area School District, too. The cart follows the horse. Get crazy, kids. My community is in the throes of Spring Break.

The University of Washington has cancelled classes indefinitely. Seattle is in the throes of COVID-19. There’s been a few formal emails from the powers that be at The Pennsylvania State University about preparing for such calamity, but nothing is officially cancelled yet.

So Spring Break has started. We’ll see if it ends or, instead, becomes an ongoing quarantine. Stasis. Until the pandemic goes away. Don’t worry, friends. There’s always dark powers and principalities at work. Such is the nature of things. But there’s goodness, too. Health and life to be found and had. And whatnot.

I’m being facetious with my exclamation mark above. Spring Break(!)? No, more like Spring Break, (sigh).

Spring Break, at this point in my life, means only one thing: Keeping the boys busy. There’s no real respite from work. No real peace and quiet. Just two energetic, loud boys who need to be entertained.

Would I like to be on a beach? Lounging in a speedo? Drinking something with rum? Reading a book? Suntanning with some COVID-19 enzymes? As my Norwegian Great-Grandmother from Minnesota might say, you betchya. But alas. I’m a 39 year-old college professor in Pennsylvania. With a six-year-old and a four-year-old. And a cat to boot. Somebody’s got to feed Yara.

So Spring Break will be a staycation. A little time to get caught up on the work I can’t get to when I’m teaching during the week. Being a tenure-track professor is silly. There’s literally never a moment when I finish all of my work. Always more stuff to do. And it usually involves staring into a screen. Conjuring some words or reacting to words. What a profession, baby.

But Spring Break has arrived. The birds are starting to chirp. The sun is starting to shine. And The COVID-19 enzymes are breeding like rabbits. Or college kids in Cancun. Spring Break, sigh.


I only played the Spring Break game with an exclamation once. My first girlfriend left me when I was twenty. Came to my house on a Sunday morning and told me she didn’t love me anymore. After four years of puppy love. High school love. I was a sad Sam, so it was easy to convince me to do things. Because who cared about anything?

My friends Erik and Hindu convinced me to join them in Hawaii for Spring Break. It must have been 2000. Or 2001. It was a different time. COVID-19 enzymes confined themselves to bats. Presidents didn’t tweet threats to their political opponents. There were still polar ice caps. What an age!

Anyway, I agreed to join my friends. I write some pretty funny stories about the experience in the third book of my memoir trilogy. I drove a moped through Honolulu, scorched my pale, white skin, and lamented the loss of innocent love.

I did not do what the kids do. I wasn’t twenty-one, and my mother was an alcoholic. So I didn’t get drunk. And I had no interest in chasing bikini-clad-babes, as was the thing to do when you were a white male college student in 2000 or 2001. I was too sad for lust. Instead, I wandered around Honolulu, basked in the sun, and wallowed in heartbreak. What a sad sack. A sad Sam.


My life has been organized by academic calendars. First as a student. Then as a high school teacher. Now as a college professor. Spring Break has been a regular part of my routine for nearly 40 years. I don’t go to beaches. But I do play video games. Sleep in a little bit. And, now, I try to get caught up on work. And keep my children alive. And entertained.

I could really go for a beach. And some solitude. A little R and R. But I’ll take what I can get. A family friend is coming to visit. Natalie will spend some time with the boys. With us. That’ll be nice.

And we’ll try to outlive COVID-19. Outrun those frisky enzymes. Masks and toilet paper? Hand sanitizer? I don’t know. Do what you can to live through the pandemic. I’m pretty scrappy. I’ll be ready if the dead start walking the streets. Isn’t that what usually happens at the end of these things? I’m going by Walking Dead of 28 Days Later here. Those seem as reliable sources as the Twitter accounts of our fair politicians. The messaging machine.

Anyway, get crazy people. Spring break. Sigh.

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