Roof and Rats

I’m currently on STUVAC. Pronounced as stoo-vak, it’s a shortened form for study vacation in USYD. It’s basically one week of cramming and caffeinating for the exams.

Some of my friends take the first part of the oxymoron seriously. They camp outside the library one hour before it’s open to secure the best possible spot, far away from prying eyes and distracting noise. With their trolley bags packed with a carton of energy drinks, baggies of caffeine pills obtained from underground baristas (the pills are later crushed up and snorted), and neatly handwritten, underlined, italicized, bolded, and highlighted notes weighing 20kg for each subject (the poor trees), these people mean business. Vacation? That’s for the weak.

They are also the same people who are dragged out from the library screaming and hyperventilating five minutes after closing time.

Then you have the people who prefer to focus on the second part of the oxymoron. You never see them in the library. In fact, they’ll make sure that during the one week of STUVAC, under the pain of study pressure, not set foot onto the campus. Unless they have an exam scheduled on that day. Even then, some are so dedicated that they don’t even bother turning up. Rumour has it that these dedicated people book the first flight out of Sydney the moment the semester ends.

When it comes to crunch time, you see these people either staring into space, resigned to their death sentences, or begging the over-caffeinated people for a single morsel of useless answer.

The first group calls these people lazy bums, or losers who would never amount to anything. The second group will tell them to *beep* *beep* and take a chill pill. Not very good advice since the first group are already overdosed on caffeine pills. But then, maybe the first group of people will pop anything into their mouth that looks like a pill. Otherwise, how the hell do they stay still and shut up during the exams?

There is no third group. There is no in-between. Choose a side and take up your position. Embrace the yin-yang of STUVAC. Otherwise the oxymoron that is STUVAC will cease to exist and USYD will collapse like a house of cards.

Guess which side I’m on.

Talking about collapsing like a house of cards, the one week of non-stop rain in Sydney has wrecked havoc at my place. My kitchen is now a walking deathtrap.

 

Rainwater has been leaking through the roof and eating away at the thin cardboard masquerading as my kitchen ceiling. This is not the first time it happened. The kitchen roof has a tendency of leaking during thunderstorms. I called the landlord a couple of times to fix it, and thankfully, he swung by to patch up the roof. The last time he came over, he added a wooden beam to hold up the other end of the ceiling. But this is the worst so far. I mean, there’s a hole in my kitchen ceiling! And it looks like it’s about to split in half any moment soon.

 

Looks like Mr. Landlord has to come back and patch up the roof again.

 

So after snapping a few photos to prove that my housemates and I were not the ones who decided to take apart the kitchen ceiling just for the heck of it, I was looking through my old photos when I saw this:

 

I took these sometime last year. Apparently Pan and Bentley decided that sleeping perpendicular to the hammock was a very good idea. While Bentley looks comfortable, I was amazed that Pan could still sleep even though three-quarters of his body was dangling out of the hammock. But it’s normal though. Rats sleep in the most odd positions. And they looked so peaceful.

There were also a couple of other photos of Pan and Bentley. These pictures were pretty hilarious. I mean, the pictures are not hilarious themselves, but what took place was quite amusing. I’ll tell the story below (now with digital pictures!). But before I proceed with the story, I’ll need to tell you a bit of back-story to establish the context.

I was in my room when I realized I hadn’t seen Pan and Bentley. They weren’t in the cage since I let them out for a bit of playtime. Usually they were on the bed running around. But I hadn’t seen them for the past 15 minutes, which, in rat-time, is equivalent to about an hour or so.

I found that a bit odd, so I called out their names. Knowing Pan would just ignore me (as usual), I waited for Bentley to come running to me. Yet, after three seconds, even Bentley was a no-show. Hmm, that’s weird.

So I lifted up my blanket and saw this:

 

Pan and Bentley just had a butt-sniffing fest. Kidding. They were just sleeping. Like I said, rats sleep in odd positions.

So I was taking photos and just annoying the hell out Pan and Bentley when this happened:

 

Pan, in his typical “ignore Zareth” mode, just burrowed deeper into the blanket. Meanwhile, Bentley glared at me if to say:

“MAN, can’t a rat get some rest here? Seriously, cut us some slack. Be a champ and put the blanket where it originally was.”

I decided to repay Bentley for the times he jumped on my face when I was sleeping. So I continued to take more photos. Then five seconds later, this happened:

 

Pan dug deeper into the blanket. According to his logic, if he can’t see me, I can’t see him. And if I can’t see him, I won’t bother him. Well, he was just a few milimetres from achieving that goal. Meanwhile, frustrated with me, Bentley shot me an unhappy look as if to say:

“Screw this, I don’t need to take anymore bullshit.” Then he just upped and walked back to the cage. Where he lay perpendicular to the hammock and sulked.

I just laughed.

I miss my rats.

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