Run the Race as if to Finish

There are persons who shape their lives by the fear of death, and persons who shape their lives by the joy and satisfaction of life. The former live dying; the latter die living. I know that fate may stop me tomorrow, but death is an irrelevant contingency. Whenever it comes, I intend to die living.

– Horace Kallen

This is the end. How great a ride, an experience it was. Four years in Ithaca felt like one, and if it were any different feeling I wouldn’t have been as happy. As my friend who graduated last year pointed out, it’s a good feeling to not want to leave because the opposite, wanting to get out of Cornell as soon as possible, would mean that you made the wrong decision in coming here.

The diploma I just packed with extra care (as my mom says it’s worth $100,000), the tassel I lost then found twice today, the honor cords from CIVR, they all tell me it is time to go even if I want to stay. I will be on my way out tomorrow. It will be hard to leave. I depart, however, with the next three years of my life laid out for me (Teach for America then Master Public Administration at the Maxwell School at Syracuse U.) and hundreds of doors of opportunity open to me during a time in this world when certainty and security is a luxury. For that I can only be thankful.

As seems to always be the case, I tend to come away with different points, but never the main concept, from commencement speeches given to me. From high school it is the quote at the beginning of this blog, from David Plouffe: success means hard work, long hours, and dedication. But it is ok to turn away from work to pay attention to your family even though your family are the ones who will still be there when you forget about them, from David Skorton, Cornell President: though many people dismiss liberal arts because of its limited utilitarian value, the liberal arts are precisely what gives us the foundation to understand the world. Ethics as a basis for education is too often overlooked, and what one reads says volumes about who one really is. Want to know a person, ask them what they’re reading.

Thank you to my family, friends, faculty and staff at Cornell, Delbarton, and Far Hills who educated me, and those for whom I worked at the handful of internships I held.

Thank you Lisa for giving me the opportunity to write this blog. Thank you to those who read it once or a handful of times. Thank you to those who have consistently read each entry. Congratulations to the Class of 2013.

I guess this is it. If this entry were Dean Mathios’ address to the students of the College of Human Ecology, I would say I have just completed chapter 22 of the Book of Life. May the next scores of chapters be just as enriching, entertaining, educational, and edifying as the first 22 (may the use of my alliteration continue to impress me as well). And may I finish them with as much excitement, nostalgia, and reluctance as I have finished these chapters today.

I will miss these “good ole days on the hill.” To my Alma Mater: farewell.

Winding Down

Senior Week ends today. Parents arrive today. Graduation is two days away. My second to last tour (possibly my last) finished half an hour ago. It’s coming closer to a close. I don’t think it will hit until I make my way down to North Carolina to start Teach for America training, but the anxiety and nostalgia and bittersweet goodbyes have arrived.

Senior Week created an interesting orientation in terms of biological clock. No classes. No homework. Champagne brunch at 12pm Monday. Paintball at 2pm Tuesday. Carnival night. Casino night. Dinosaur BBQ night. Picking up the cap and gown. Looking at the maroon colored tassel for the College of Human Ecology. Finally hiking to Toughannock Falls. Attempting to see the Gettysburg Address in Kroch Library. Playing Jeopardy with friends. Trivia at Ruloffs. Star Trek Movie. So You Think You Can Dance premiere. NBA basketball. It goes on and on.

Penultimate blog. Finished. Cornell career. Almost. Having spell check tell me every sentence in this blog are fragments, annoying. No they’re not, they’re all complete thoughts.

Published in: Senior Year- I'm scared out of my mind! on May 22, 2009 at3:29 pm Comments (12)

A Random Thought

My mom reads my blog and I’ve never had to censor anything from her. This entry, however, I think needs some discreteness.

I couldn’t help myself from wondering about it out loud though. It’s just that every Wednesday this place has this special at night called Fishbowls. You and a group of friends literally order a fishbowl (the plastic kind you get in a pet store to put your goldfish or tetra in). The server fills it with 3/4 ice, half blue or red cool-aid, and the rest with this clear liquid-like water substance. Then he/she stuffs in a big plastic animal. You get to keep the animal and when you collect 18, you get a free fishbowl. It’s quite the marketing strategy.

Where the befuddlement comes in is that if you were to look on the counter in my apartment, you’d see a t-rex, elephant, and lion. Last night, my friend got a zebra. Where are the aquatic animals? The dolphin, whale, manatee, any other marine life. It can’t be that hard; just find a plastic Nemo or Squirt and throw it in the fishbowl. I just don’t see how the safari/Jurassic theme fits with the fishbowl, blue/red cool-aid vibe.

Published in: Senior Year- I'm scared out of my mind! on May 14, 2009 at9:47 pm Comments (10)

Is 38% Acceptable?

My ultimate final is approaching; 9am tomorrow morning. Studying for it has been extremely difficult. Distractions prohibiting the process of reviewing material so as to ingrain it in the short/long term memory area of the brain have been abundant. First, I didn’t log my time allocation, but I am almost certain I slept more than I studied in the library this afternoon.

I woke up from the nap to find a voicemail from my mom saying my sister has a ring (she’s engaged!). The first thing that came to mind was, “How big is it?”… is that bad? Then, I only maintained my excitement level by realizing I knew every song that was played on the chimes today. That’s a first! I missed the morning concert, but the afternoon chimes master showcased My Favorite Things from Sound of Music, Lean on Me by Al Green, and Apologize by One Republic. In the evening, while “studying” of course, I picked out The Rose by Bette Midler (Yes, I know I know, Bette Midler, don’t ask, I just know), Piano Man from Billy Joel, and the Cornell Evening Song played to the tune of O Christmas Tree.

Being able to name all songs in a chimes concert also allowed me to cross off one of the 161 things every Cornellian must do, which I also spent time today calculating how many I completed over my tenure on the Hill. Unfortunately, I tallied only 61, which includes the one from today. That’s 38%. I don’t know if I should advertise such an abysmal accomplishment or lack of one. Kristi said we could drive my car up the slope and into Ho Plaza knocking off another one. I have to weigh the consequence of being JA’d (Judicial Administrator’d) because of it. Oh that’s another one! Being JA’d. I guess I’d kill two birds with one stone…kind of like Willard Straight (tour guide joke).

Published in: Senior Year- I'm scared out of my mind! on May 10, 2009 at7:13 pm Comments (3)

He’s on Jeopardy!

It’s college week on Jeopardy. Seeing college peers answer questions that entertainingly challenge my college level brain are enjoyable to watch. Having contestants from rival colleges compete against each other is fun too. Watching the episode while simultaneously playing with my friends and keeping score is even better…and slightly nerdy. Slightly. But getting a facebook invite from my middle school friend to watch Tuesday night’s Jeopardy episode because he is making an appearance as a contestant sent me through the roof in excitement! Watching him beat the competition to the point where final jeopardy became irrelevant…not surprising.

It wasn’t too long ago when he was the one welcoming me to a new middle school by being my “buddy” (a classmate who made sure I was learning the ropes and meeting new people). We soon became good friends seeing we both loved sports and were both half Asian. He was actually the first half Asian person I met, besides my sister. It wasn’t too long ago when I met his sister, then in fourth grade and now a freshman at Cornell, who claimed both our mothers were long lost sisters. It wasn’t long ago when he took me to the Yankees game against Cleveland and where we saw the Yankees lose 10-9 only after scoring eight runs in the bottom of the ninth. It wasn’t too long ago when he used to play me in chess, let me hang around for a while, then beat me. This toying with my competitive nature happened consistently. It’s not too long ago that we both graduated from middle school, went to separate high schools, ran in the same cross country meet one time, and went off to different colleges. So it was enjoyable in many ways to see him on Jeopardy be the one schooling the other contestants because myself and all his other friends knew he’d be the one to do that since it wasn’t too long ago when we were in the same 7th grade algebra class and I was struggling with the distributive property while he was receiving special problems from the teacher (Ms. Fries) to complete for homework and not doing them at home, but finishing them at school the next day while some of us looked on in amazement. That’s the Scott Menke I remember, and that’s the Scott Menke I saw last night on Jeopardy. Well done Scott!

Published in: Senior Year- I'm scared out of my mind! on May 6, 2009 at11:10 pm Comments (3)

The Word: Last

It has begun. Seniors (more like juniors telling seniors) making statements about how today is their last time doing this and yesterday was their last time doing that. My last class was on Thursday. Ironically, it was a section at 8pm. My last tour guide party and formal was last night. My last tour will be coming up in two weeks. My last time seeing some friends will be in one week. My last slope day was on Friday. My last intramural sports game was a week ago today (and I still haven’t won a championship).

Thinking about the end of college in this manner is somewhat depressing and frightening. Unfortunately, I can’t escape that mindset, which might just be a testament to how enjoyable a time it has been at Cornell. Now real life with real responsibilities and real ramifications is approaching. Soon, the last day will come where I can consider myself in the bubble titled dependent. At the end of the last day, the bubble will soon pop and, hopefully, being released from it will be the first of a series of firsts that will lead me down the road of a successful and happy life…as an adult.

Published in: Senior Year- I'm scared out of my mind! on May 3, 2009 at1:55 pm Comments (4)

Audacity of Ignorance, Manipulation of Religion

It was only a matter of time before ignorance and closed-mindedness claiming the backing of God surfaced at Cornell.

http://cornellsun.com/section/news/content/2009/04/23/outcry-erupts-alleged-homophobia

It’s upsetting, as a Catholic Christian, to hear about the injustice and discrimination imposed on Chris Donohoe. I’m sure it takes courage to come out to a group you’ve been a part of for four years, is close to your heart, is part of your life, and know that they might not approve. While I’ve never met Chris, I have nothing but admiration and respect for his choice. I am ashamed that this story and ones like it are always how Christians make the news.

With comments like, “I think that a lot of times Christian organizations do get a bad name for taking a stance against homosexuality because it looks like we are condemning a person but I want to make it clear that we have nothing against Chris or another person for choosing to be a homosexual,” it’s hard to not look down in embarrassment, knowing that I am a Christian just like them, at the obvious hypocrisy. ‘We have nothing against a person for choosing to be a homosexual’ but we just have enough against that person to not let him/her be part of our group. That’s elementary reasoning. False logic. Idiocy. Stupidity.

The defense, “Because the Bible says so” doesn’t work either. So the Bible says in Lev 18:22 “You shall not lie with another male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination,” and goes on to say in Lev 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.” Pretty strong statements. Apparently some Catholics forgot that we see the Bible as a symbolic book divinely inspired by God. We forgot that we should be able to discern that an actual dragon with seven diadems which came down and ate first born children didn’t actually occur even though the Book of Revelation (the most entertaining and enthralling in my opinion) explains the event with such detail and suspense. We forgot that homosexuality and abomination are part of a culture described in the Bible that predates us, that accepts slavery and the favorable treatment of men over women.

Apparently we Christians, those who believe the Bible literally and those who believe it selectively, can pick and choose which “rules” to follow. We can take the two versus in Leviticus seriously and chastise, discriminate, and punish all those who are homosexuals (Emphasis on the fact that the word ‘choose’ is omitted. Danielle D’Ambrosio, when did you choose to be straight? Did you wake up one day in seventh grade, look in the mirror, and say I think I’ll be straight for my entire life?) but disregard the teachings of Jesus Christ demanding that the most important commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Ignore that Exodus 21:7 allows the father to sell his daughter into slavery. If my dad could do that every time my sister stole the tv remote from me, I’d have at least 20 different siblings by now. Ignore that Exodus 35:2 says those who work on the Sabbath shall be put to death. I would bet my life that at least one member of Chi Alpha has gone to the library and studied on Sunday. Or how about Leviticus Chapter 11 in its entirety, not being able to eat rabbit or camel or touch the skin of a dead pig. Ironic because how many of us love sports, especially sports with balls, especially sports like football. In fact, I recall Notre Dame being one of the most dominant college football programs (at least back when Lou Holtz was coaching). Should we declare all past and present ND football players unclean (at least those who played back when a football was literally a pigskin)?

Why is it that we come to ignore these arbitrary, outdated rules, but stand steadfast to the one about homosexuality? Why is it that a gay person cannot be ordained a priest? Why is it that Chris Donohoe can’t hold a senior position in a Christian group because he met a boyfriend? Why is it that Jessica Longoria believes that homosexuality is a biblically based sin and by committing such a sin one can’t enter the kingdom of God? Why is it that people still parade around on their horse to heaven, and in the name of Christianity, say if you’re gay you’re going to hell? Don’t they know they’re taking a way of life - an eternal belief that embodies and has represented an ideology of respect, empathy, high-mindedness, and self-sacrifice - throwing it on the ground, spitting on it, and rubbing it in the dirt, not to mention the dignity of millions of people?

Published in: Senior Year- I'm scared out of my mind! on April 23, 2009 at10:48 pm Comments (12)

Relax

The busy week that was fretted over the past two or so blogs is complete. One pre-lim…check. One lab practical…check. Two papers…check and check. Now I just wait for the results. In the mean time, I’m grading pre-lims in the class I TA and I sure hope these grades I’m recording aren’t the same ones I’ll be receiving.

It’s clear sailing now until finals week!

Published in: Senior Year- I'm scared out of my mind! on April 20, 2009 at10:59 pm Comments (1)

An Unwanted Invitation

Once again, I am writing as a means of putting off (not necessarily procrastinating) studying for my Politics of Violence pre-lim that is tonight.

I received an invitation in my Human Ecology student mailbox today offering me “to celebrate [my] last days as a student in the College of Human Ecology at Ice Cream in the Courtyard.” Really! Could they make it any more obvious!? They don’t think I already know these are my last days?! Why don’t they just hit me over the head with a 2×4! Their bluntness might just make me in the appetite for ice cream, a whole gallon of it (Bavarian Raspberry Fudge please!). And I might just down the whole thing if it weren’t for the 50 degree weather outside. C’mon Ithaca, it’s halfway through April, where’s the warmth? Last year it was 70 at this point in time, just give me a good last two weeks.

Oh and who schedules a pre-lim with two weeks left in the semester, might as well call it a final. Can someone get me that 2×4!

Published in: Senior Year- I'm scared out of my mind! on April 16, 2009 at4:40 pm Comments (1)

This Isn’t Good

I think it takes more effort for me to open my notebook and study than it takes to actually read the material. The two papers, one pre-lim, and one lab practical that I had mentioned in the previous post are still hanging over my head. I finished one paper (on the photograph in Life Magazine by Robert Capa of the dying Spanish soldier from the Spanish Civil war back in 1936), wrote the outline for my philosophy paper, and just wrapped up studying for the night on my Politics of Violence course. By the time I exert the oomph to open my book and review the material, I’m exhausted and can’t concentrate/ read a couple pages and call an intermission. My brain is so out of shape, gees. This state of mind brings back fond memories of senior year in high school. I guess I should cherish it now because it will never happen again…oh my mom is going to be so mad at me.

On another note, I found a $5 bill blowing in the wind on my walk up to my Ethics and Healthcare course. I figured I’d be ethical and put the money in the poor box when I go to church. Maybe that’ll give me the karma necessary to get a good grade on the test. Kant and his deontological argument would say that’s not very ethical whatsoever. Kant didn’t understand the concept of a senior slide.

Published in: Senior Year- I'm scared out of my mind! on April 15, 2009 at10:57 pm Comments (7)