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Braving Spring allergy invasions

By Steve Schwartzman
On April 17, 2014

Dead Week is in four days. Now is the time to brave through the calm of the storm, holding on, knuckle-white, before the academically motivated juggernaut that sends every college student into end-of-year anxiety levels so intense, they haven’t felt anything of the like since the ending of “Air Bud.” It’s crisis and pandemonium all wrapped in scantrons.

Yet, in all of that hysteria, all I can seem to focus on is the well-known fact I haven’t been able to breathe out of my nose in six days.

For a grand mass of bystanders, spring means dusting off tank tops that informally note swagger being rather expensive and any form of activity that involves loudspeakers and a frisbee. For myself and many others like me, however, it means enduring olfactory-attacking pollen levels, an itchy roof-of-mouth syndrome that has never made any sense and sounding like Chuckie Finster from “Rugrats” in front of your professors. There is no spring for Steve Schwartzman. There is only allergy season.

Now, I understand fully that this time of year breeds two populations of frustration: those who complain about braving allergies and those who have to brave those who complain about braving allergies. We get it, folks, it’s annoying; and we’re sure all of the sniffling is distracting you from watching pirated episodes of “Game of Thrones” on your laptop. But sincerely, the hype, or lack thereof, is accurate. The panic is very real.

I’ve recently heard tell of dealing with allergies being likened to an alien invasion — the mere intrusion of unwanted sensations and beings that alter your way of living and weaken your personal resolve — and I realized just how on point that observation was.

Not following? Let’s take a look at the some of the same things you’d tell an allergy patient and a community of potential alien hostages.

“Whatever you do, stay inside.” — Out there? That’s where they are. That’s where they rule. You head outside and you stand no chance at surviving. Stay where you know you will be safe until the time is absolutely right.

“Don’t trust anyone.” — We don’t know yet, or at least keep forgetting, if what they have is contagious. If you join them, if you even touch them, you are on a train ride brim full of pain and confusion about why you can only taste mustard; and trust me, you don’t want that.

“Do whatever the intruders tell you.” — Don’t be the hero. You can’t outlast it. If they tell you to stand down, hunkering down and hoping for the best is your only choice. However, if they tell you that you are free to go watch your back, they pride themselves on attacking when you least expect it.

“This is totally a plot from an M. Night Shyamalan movie.” — “Signs” is the obvious one here. As for the other, I am still convinced Shyamalan made “Osmosis Jones.” You can’t prove me otherwise. I’m stonewalling this.

“Don’t run. They will catch you.” — Sincerely, no physical activity whatsoever. If you wish to breathe again, go about this conservatively.

Finally, and most importantly:

“Take everything you can. Leave nothing unturned. If we believe, you will stay alive.” — Anything can act as an emergency tissue, and anything not covered in dust can act as a fresh air fan. Stay creative and stay strong. You have more power than you know.

With any hope and faith, this war of our immune system worlds will end in peace. Until then, remain calm, look to the skies, look again to any newly sprouted plants and remember…

… there is irritable life out there.

Steve Schwartzman is a senior finishing a degree in communication studies. With eight years of column writing and improvisational comedy under his belt, he lives to make you laugh. Send thoughts to or hit him up on Twitter @SESchwartzman.

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