Surviving winter break: tips from a veteran

Austin Biehl, staff writer

Winter break can be a trying time. Yes, the comforts of home are seductive: consuming meals that aren’t mild laxatives, sleeping in a bed without listening to your roommate snore, and getting to torment your parents just a little are some of my personal favorites. But Winter Break is also four weeks, which is otherwise known as a long-ass time. And after a few short days, I sometimes (and by sometimes I mean constantly) find myself wondering, “How the HELL did I live in this midden heap of unevolved civilization for 18 years?”

After controlling my hatefire with whatever is left of my rapidly deteriorating willpower, I take a moment to breathe deeply, think calming thoughts and then significantly lower my expectations for the coming weeks.

At Whitman, it’s easy to forget that you don’t suck, since basically everyone is smarter, more talented, and more involved than you are. To combat these feelings of inadequacy, I enjoy taking time out of my winter break to periodically visit the local McDonald’s to see high school burnouts that I hated. I observe them dispassionately, feeling a certain sadistic pleasure in watching their lackluster labor. Obviously I go through the drive-through because I’m too afraid to actually enter the building and risk an interaction, and I wear a baseball hat pulled down over my face lest I be recognized. But still, the thrill when they hand me my order and I rapidly drive away is incredible. Does this seem sad and pathetic? It is. But remember, it’s all about adjusting your expectations. Sometimes the cheap thrill of the McDonald’s drive-through is what you need in order to power through winter break. Also, the fun size M&M McFlurry is bae and you can safely get McDonald’s at home without feeling judged by all those goddamn health conscious Whitties.

Another tip for making winter break tolerable: exploit your parents’ insecurities. While you’ve been raging away at college, your parents have been counting down the days till you return home so that they can re-forge that ever so tenuous relationship that you share. Agree to go to the requisite family gatherings, attend those afternoon walks with your parents, but be sure to do so with barely concealed contempt. This will help keep your parents safely in the palm of your hand. That way when your mom asks,  “What would you like for dinner, Austin?” You can respond,  “Oh, probably this $30 dollar bottle of wine that I would never buy for myself under any circumstances,” with the confidence that she’ll buy it in order to win your affection. Additionally, the wine can make the mind numbing finance lectures delivered from your dad seem vaguely tolerable and can also provide some holiday spirit which is otherwise unavailable.

I scarcely feel I even need to mention the necessity of Netflix in surviving winter break, but it’s such a large feature that it needs to be reiterated. Just be careful, as an innocent venture to Netflix can rapidly transform into a dark, terrifying pit that you fall into and never escape, sort of like those sinkholes in Florida that occasionally devour a retirement home. For example, sometime in early January I find myself alone in my room watching Disney’s Maleficent and fantasizing about having Angelina Jolie’s bone structure sans demon-fairy/Lady Gaga cheekbones, whilst simultaneously stuffing a large slice of chocolate torte into my mouth. It was not a good moment, and I felt like Angie could see me and was not impressed. Here’s to hoping that none of you quite got to my level during the four weeks of crushing boredom that is winter break.