Standing on the corner of 43rd and Market with my weight in canned food sitting like a ton of steel inside my housemate’s hiking–sized megabackpack, my spine caving into an awful kind of inverted “U,” I truly began to understand the concept of the sophomore slump. It’s year two of my college career, it feels as though someone’s hammering a railroad spike into the base of my skull, I’ve got papers on papers to write and Armageddon in the form of Hurricane What’s–Her–Name (Sandy? Mandy? Ann Romney?) is barreling up the East Coast to bitch–slap my dilapidated old frat house and probably leave us with no option other than to pee in our dilapidated old garden.
The little ones probably see the coming natural disaster through the rose–colored glasses of freshman year as a romantic, exciting “Class of 2016 Memory!!” waiting to happen. Juniors are old and off–campus and probably already drunk. Seniors really just don’t give a shit about anything. But we sophomores, scattered all over Penn, on–campus and off, still adjusting to the weirdness of being back at Penn without the double–edged sword of college infancy in our belts, are definitely NOT ready to weather ANY storm. It’s hard enough to get our feet re–planted firmly in Ben Franklin’s pee–soaked (sorry, second urine mention) soil, and a gust of 70 mph wind is the last thing we need.
Being a sophomore means having to declare a major. It means having to finally forfeit freshman ignorance and raise our OCR binoculars toward this scary “real life” thing everyone’s talking about. Sure, I know that juniors, and probably a lot of seniors, feel the same way, but at least they’ve gotten used to it. After a few blocks, that thousand–pound hiking bag of fruit snacks, water jugs and canned “chipotle peppers in adobo sauce” (My best friend is a Mexican/Armenian experimental chef. Ugh.) doesn’t feel so heavy anymore. The slump’s become a stable state of scoliosis and the awful burden fades into dull pain. But when you step out from Supreme Shop n Bag and heave your apocalypse–preparedness kit over your shoulder for the first time, it can seriously knock the wind out of you.
Whining about it (see: this column) will only get us so far. The only way to defeat the slump, if you ask me, is to accept the unnatural curvature all that pressure’s putting on your poor spine and to get walking. The storm’s gonna come no matter what, and we’re all gonna end up declaring Communications majors anyway (guilty). I guess our best bet for now is to just keep trudging along and hope the load starts to feel a little lighter along the way.
That or our shoulders go numb and our back snaps completely and we fall into the street, paralyzed and helpless and waiting for Sandy to strike us into oblivion.