Not to get too cheeseball or anything (remember, the collective emotional state of the Class of 2008 is a little bit nutjobesque right now due to the abrupt change in lifestyles and surroundings), but you know that old saying about Cornell being the “easiest Ivy to get into and the hardest one to graduate from”? I don’t think that refers to academics (although, given the Close Call of the Century that was my academic record, maybe that second part holds true for the curriculum).

See, I think it refers to the community and the people here. It was SO easy to make friends when we got here. Remarkably, I have, more or less, had the same core group of best friends — especially best girlfriends — since the 2nd day of freshman orientation. And leaving Cornell, because of the experience and because of them, was one of the most heartwrenching things I’ve ever gone through (hey, shut up, I’m only 21). Like the end of an 80’s movie, I’m going to put together a “where are they now” epilogue. ME FIRST:

  • I ended up landing a FANTASTIC job. After all that searching and interviewing, I was hired as the Assistant Editor at HotelChatter, the hotel news/reviews web magazine where I interned last summer. After deciding to pursue writing, I was looking around at a lot of print magazines and some PR firms; but ultimately, I love and respect both the editor and publisher at HotelChatter and I know my writing style fits in well there. There are tons of exciting things happening with them, and I could not have come on board at a more perfect time — it’s been a great experience so far. Plus, I mean, hotel reviews, a flexible schedule, 4-5 published articles a day and cool bosses? Who could ask for more? I’m working from home right now and I’m going to be moving to NYC on August 1st. I’m also working on a few freelance writing projects, small and large 🙂
  • Brett is moving to Las Vegas; since the day I met her, she has talked endlessly about her dream of one day running a Vegas casino — and now she’s going into the leadership training program at the Wynn Las Vegas.
  • Jordan is heading to NYC to work at Sirius Satellite Radio, a bit of a change from his original dream of being a meteorologist. But while at Cornell, he became the general manager of the local Ithaca radio station and, well, he found his calling.
  • Ashley graduated Phi Beta Kappa and is heading to UC Berkeley to pursue her PhD in Performance Studies.
  • Danielle has a million different options and has been traveling (like we all should have been doing) before she chooses one.
  • Nick is heading to an NY TV station to be a weatherman!
  • Tim is going to Boston to work in the management training program at his favorite hotel.
  • Ian is off to DC to work for a hotel brokerage, which probably allows him to utilize his skills as the world’s best BSer.

I will tell anyone who is worried about Cornell’s size this much: these people, over the last 4 years, became my second family. My girlfriends and I fought like sisters, but together we weathered the various storms that took the form of boyfriends, apartment troubles, the Greek system and, well, growing up — and I can say with confidence that those girls will be bridesmaids at my wedding (however, I cannot say with confidence that I will ever bother to get married).

The Series Finale.

I’ve been avoiding making the final updates to my blog because, well, every time I sat down to write, I was reminded of a fact I wasn’t quite ready to face: I GRADUATED.

No, I KNOW, right? I am a Cornell graduate. That’s me in that photo on the right. At graduation. I have a diploma, which I made my parents take away so that I would neither destroy the most expensive piece of paper I will ever lay my grubby fingers on nor be forced to look at the tangible evidence that the best years of my life thus far have come to an end.

I will say this: I made it out of the Hotel School with not one single credit to spare. Ha! But I passed finance (with a D, but that is neither here nor there) and knowing I worked my ass off this semester really made the Commencement festivities all the more satisfying.

Now, Senior Week was a sloppy mess. I literally could not have spared a single moment to sit down and reflect on anything, and I think that’s the reason why there’s a big space between the last day of finals and Commencement weekend — the idea, I suppose, is to let all the seniors drinkgraduateregalia.jpg and party so they don’t have any time to realize that in a matter of days they will be thrust into the vast, mythical nebulous nothingness that is the Real World. Or maybe that’s actually the reason we were drinking all week. Meh, who knows. Point here: it was GREAT.

Then came Commencement weekend. Maya Angelou, in all her crazy awesomeness, was a fantastic speaker on Saturday during Convocation, but nothing she could have said and nothing I could have ever imagined could have prepared me for the experience of Sunday’s Commencement ceremony.

Words could never do justice to the things we all felt during Commencement. We all cried more than once that day, and nobody was able to articulate what they were feeling or whether the tears were happy tears or sad tears. We had this unfamiliar knot in our stomachs; a bittersweet potent cocktail of enormous pride, overwhelming happiness and debilitating terror.
That morning, in all our funny graduation regalia, three of my best friends and I walked toward Schoellkopf stadium from the Arts Quad with the rest of the Hotel School. Along the way, we passed the Board of Trustees and President Skorton, cheering and smiling, and almost all the Cornell Faculty members who had these huge proud-parent type grins on their faces, calling out to congratulate each one of us as we walked by. As we got closer to the stadium, the entire Statler Hotel staff was there to cheer us on. I can say, without much doubt, that the Procession is something I will remember forever and one of the best moments of my life.

And then we walked into the stadium and saw the crowd and it was all suddenly so real.

The following days were the toughest. Between hoeing out my apartment, shipping all my crap, and saying goodbye to the people who had, more or less, become my second family over the last four years, I was left bewildered and shellshocked by the end of the whole thing. And all I could think was holy crap: I am a Cornell graduate.

Sending love to Columbia because finals week over there seems as soulcrushing as finals week over here.

I’m sure I’m going to piss off half the Ivy League by comparing Cornell to Columbia, but let’s pretend–just for a moment–that all Ivy League students are comrades as we wade through the treacherous final exam periods at our respective fine Northeastern institutions, okay?

Bwog, an awesome blog over at Columbia, went around and took pictures of various students’ workspaces in Butler Library (what I assume is Columbia’s Uris equivalent). What they found looks at lot like what Cornell students have been seeing & experiencing this week. Also awesome:

“A boy, having noticed our camera, went up to Bwog and informed us that somewhere on the fourth floor, a creature was dwelling who had taped pictures of her family on the walls.”

The post, aptly titled “A Dark Night of the Soul”, and more photos like the one below, can be found here.


Senior Prom(s)!

First, I am alive. Sorry for the lack of updates, but I literally need every single credit to graduate on time, and when you’re dealing with finals and/or papers for seven (!!!) classes while trying to navigate the senior-class event & celebration schedule, well … little luxuries like sleep, showering and blogging must be sacrificed in the name of passing Finance class. In hindsight, I should have taken half the courseload and would have been better off taking an extra semester here — because, much to the dismay of my parents, I refused to give up any of my on-campus activities. But all that is another story for another day, and extra semesters ain’t free. Anyway, I’ll be back in full-force soon.

Ah, Hotelie Senior Prom. As the Hotel School has long been teased for its high school-like structure — small size, intimate classes, lockers in the hallways and a healthy gossip circuit — the seniors [independently of the school!] have thrown themselves a Hotelie Senior Prom to appropriately celebrate their reputation as well as their own awesomeness. I could fill an entire book with the events that transpired at Hotelie Prom last week, so I’ll sum it up by saying that taking all the senior Hotelies — who, individually, are traditionally the life of any party — and throwing them together in one room with formal wear, music and refreshments results in … the world exploding. Below, a shot of the girls (and the animal print makes an appearance once again):

And last night, another prom! The Class of 2008 started a new tradition, a Cornell-wide Senior Class prom held in the incredible Duffield Hall atrium space. Open bar + charity + pretty outfits = amazing, of course, but there was more to the experience than that.

I was on the Prom Court (giggle!) and the dozen (or so) of us on Court went up on a balcony overlooking the whole prom for the King/Queen crowning ceremony. As soon as we got up there, though, the entire place busted out in the Alma Mater together and from where we stood, we held hands and looked down to see the whole graduating class singing our school song together. It was just so … moving.


I recognized so many faces in the crowd and realized just how much this place has given me, how profoundly Cornell has changed me and how truly unforgettable every moment of the last four years has been. It was a sad moment, but, truly, a fitting end to my four years here. I guess it’s ironic that this moment occurred while I was teetering on my high heels, wearing a dress and standing on a balcony inside the atrium of an Engineering building on a Saturday night, but it was a memorable moment nonetheless. I understand how potentially lame and Tour-Guidey this may all sound, but feeling such a connection with my Cornell graduating class was one of the most heartwarming moments of my college experience. . . even though I didn’t win Prom Queen. 🙂

Aborting the Mission


So, here’s the deal: I have been actively searching for a job since October. And when I say searching, I mean checking MediaBistro every single day, sending my resume to everyone and anyone that I might even consider working for, and networking like crazy. I haven’t really dropped the ball or stopped looking at any point, and I’ve put a lot of my focus and energy into making sure my clips, resumes and cover letters are the best they could have been.

But now it’s April and I literally have zero offers. At this point, I am officially the only one of my hotelie friends who has no idea where she will be living or what she will be doing six weeks from now. As my classmates sign leases and start checking out IKEA furniture for their new urban apartments, I’ve found myself staring out onto what is nothing more than just a big, black space that lies beyond May 25th. As one might imagine, it is probably — likely — one of the scariest things I’ve ever been faced with (hey, come on, I’m only 21). And yo, incoming freshmen: the prospect of moving far from home to come to college is nothing; just wait ’til you’re a Cornell senior!

It’s been no secret that the job market is especially tough for this year’s grads, the state of the economy is terrifying and media — a fairly unpredictable industry to begin with — is changing rapidly. People are getting slashed from newsrooms all over the country and, this summer, staffers at my favorite magazine (Jane) walked into work one day to find that they no longer had jobs — the publication had just folded. It happens.


I have been lucky enough to find something I’m passionate about (and trust me, I know that apathy is probably far worse than uncertainty or unemployment) and even more fortunate to have parents that support their children who have both decided to ditch their respective educational tracks to be Alaskan Mountain Guides (my brother) or writers (me). I consider myself fairly savvy when it comes to new media (and therefore employable), but — let’s get real, there’s a whole city full of equally-savvy, comparably-educated media types who can interview for, get hired into and start working at the job I’d want in the time it takes for me to even get down to New York and interview for the open position (let alone the time that would pass between my landing the job, finishing up my degree and moving out there).


I never thought it was going to be a piece of cake to use my Hotel School degree to pursue something outside the scope of a traditional hospitality or financial job, but JC — I would have never imagined it would be this difficult or emotional. I think I did a really, really crappy job of managing my expectations throughout this process (let’s just say sista got a little full of herself) . . . but, then again, when you’re at the most prestigious hospitality school in the world, you watch employers banging down your classmates’ doors, and so some part of you expects them to do the same to you. Also, more often than not, I found myself having to defend my decision to major in Hotel Administration in all my media and publishing interviews — and I wasn’t prepared for that, either.

Anyway, since I need to graduate, I have to pour my energy into my massive courseload and just stop searching now. I still have a couple of balls in the air, but, at this point, I can’t reach out to anyone new because, hey — if I do get a job and then have to stick around Ithaca for an extra semester just to finish my degree anyway, that job won’t do me too much good, will it? =) Today was the deadline that I’d set for myself; I promised myself that if I didn’t have a job offer by now, I would turn my full attention back to my schoolwork.

Right now, the plan is to move back to Dallas and look for jobs from Bromberg HQ. Word on the street is that the computers, printers and broadband connections are much faster there than they are in my yucky college apartment, anyway. If anything happens between now and then, you, my dear fabulous readers, will be the first to know.

Somebody from Cornell University Loves You!

Dear Newly-Accepted Class of 2012,

Congratulations & welcome to the Cornell family! Four years ago today, I was in your shoes and received the most important news of my young adult life — and I made the right choice. I hope you do, too.

Oh, but I hope your day turns out to be less embarrassing than mine: I received the news in the morning, went to school super psyched about the whole thing, and at the end of the day, I walked into my crowded high school parking lot to find . . . my car had morphed into something new. It had become a hybrid of sorts: it was all at once a Volkswagen Jetta, a Cornell Spirit Mobile. . . and a mortifying display of my mother’s pride.

On the windshield: a giant posterboard with the words “YAYA CORNELL!” written in gigantic letters (visible from space). On the door handles and mirrors: red and white streamers. And the piece de resistance? Roughly 50 packs of Big Red cinnamon gum taped all over the car’s exterior. It was cute, but I sincerely hope none of your parents did this to any of you.


Anyway, congratulations — somebody from Cornell really does love you!

Another Spring Break adventure; this time: a fire!

I think the city of Miami and I just aren’t meant to be.

After last year’s grand adventure that went down with notable vacation-ruining contributions by Royal Caribbean, US Airways and the city of Miami, I was certain that my travel karma was golden this year. I figured things would be perfect since we were going straight to Miami and back again; no cruises, no connections, not a whole lot of room for complications, getting stranded or general unpleasantries.

And yet.
12 of us (10 hotelies plus my two non-hotelie roomies) planned a trip down to Miami and booked 2 rooms at the Sea Coast Suites. Being savvy hospitality students (in fact, the savviest of savvy hospitality students — the student GM of the Statler Hotel — was with us), one would think that a $300ish bucks for 6 nights would be enough for a little red flag action in our pretty little heads, but no. Really, we figured we could deal with a slummy hotel and spend all of our leftover cash at bars and nice restaurants. And trust me, we did — and we had an AMAZING time on South Beach and even our flights with JetBlue were excellent…. but the hotel? Questionable. Very questionable.

The hotel was, like — a mixed use development, if you will — half condos that people rent year-round and half hotel rooms. We were Spring Breakers, so we weren’t really asking for all that much — a couple beds and some towels and we would have been all set. When we checked in to our HUGE rooms with full kitchens and 2 bedrooms and a balcony with an ocean view, we were happy campers. We even had a refrigerator to store our adult refreshments and big bottles of water! Awesome!

On Thursday morning, our happy camper sunburned, boozey sleep was interrupted at 9 am by something faint and annoying that sounded like an alarm clock down the hall. We opened the door to our room and, turns out: a fire alarm! Good one! We were plenty pissed to have to walk down 15 flights of stairs, but then when smoke was billowing into the stairwell around floor eight we picked up the pace a bit. We stood outside with the fire hoses and all that mess, some of us in ratty, gross clothing that was not really fit for public display, and we watched as a big ol’ chunk of the building (on the opposite side of the fire, no less) fell off and landed inches away from some other people. Oh, ok then.

Apparently, the police and firemen who were dealing with the fire also decided to do a little checky-check on other things around the hotel — and found out that hi, this was actually not licensed to be a hotel at all! Never had been! So hey, guess who had to legally peace out of the hotel the next morning? Yes, all the hotel guests. They moved us to a more expensive hotel down in South Beach and refused to pay for ANYTHING — we actually ended up paying more for that last night and weren’t compensated for, you know, having to pack up all our stuff and lose a whole day at the beach while we were busy a) fighting with them b) being told we were very aggressive when we were fighting for some sort of, like, explanation and c) watching a front desk agent cry (I told them I was a hotel reviewer, which, you know, is sort of true; they did not enjoy that).

I mean, okay. The story of the discussions that transpired between a group of 10 hotelies and a couple of assistant managers (who refused to speak to us until one finished her meeting, which we later found out was a scrumptious solo feast of chicken and rice in her office) is actually sort of hilarious. Another story for another time, kids.

But aside from the fire and the building falling down and being evicted because oops they were running a hotel illegally, Miami was AMAZING. Here we all are, being happy:

Which is Worse: Moaning On Stage or Crying On Stage?

The Vagina Monologues were a RIDICULOUS success. Our Friday show sold out entirely and we had to awkwardly turn people away from the door; our Saturday show in Statler (a venue that seats 715ish people) was pretty much filled to capacity– which is MAJOR, considering we were competing with the Harvard hockey game and some sort of basketball game that seemed to be fairly important.

The exact amount of money we raised hasn’t come in yet, but I can tell you that everything worked out perfectly production-wise: I have received nothing but glowing reviews from audience members– the actresses were absolutely incredible. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to work with such mazing, amazing women.

Last year, I was an actress in the 2007 VM production and felt all kinds of awkward when I had to moan (uh, sexually) on stage . . . but that was NOTHING compared to this year. In front of 700 people when I was making my directors’ speech and saying thank you’s after a standing ovation, I cried. I CRIED. Who cries? Who even does that? It was the combination of how amazingly well the show went, the standing ovation, my friends’ faces in the audience, the enormous weight lifted off my shoulders, and seeing my mom (who came all the way from Texas for the occasion) in the crowd. I was a hot mess– but not as much of a hot mess as my flower-allergic roommate is going to be when she gets home and spends some time hanging out with the 7 bouqets of flowers in the apartment. 🙂

Here, I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Here are some photos.

Performing “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could” (Yes, that’s Life on the Hill’s very own Nikki 2nd from the left!)

My Mom and I with a stuffed vaggie after the show.

200ish Chocolate Vaginas = True Friendship

I have been super stressed these past few weeks because the Vagina Monologues are rapidly approaching. Like, very rapidly. As in… they’re in 3 days.

The acting in rehearsals has been blowing me away; the cast is absolutely incredible and as director, I really don’t know what to do with myself because these women are so talented. But that doesn’t change the fact that a bajillion things need to be done, from the “Give Your Lips a Voice” t-shirts to the lighting and sound. As executive director/organizer, part of my job is to produce the chocolate vagina lollipops we sell at the shows (yes, you read that correctly). The idea here was to outsource this to a loyal band of KD sisters this evening, but the life-ruining “wintry mix” (i.e. the sky puked snow and rain for 10 hours without relent) sort of foiled my plans to leave the house after 6 p.m.

And thus, a herculean effort was underway. My mission: make 200ish vagina-shaped lollipops out of melty chocolate and some shady vagina-shaped molds. With the help of my beautiful, fabulous, supportive roommates, we were able to churn out a good chunk of them before I had to retreat to my room to write my Daily Sun column for the week. We were nowhere close to finished with the Vag-Pops, but I had to move on so we all gave up for the night.

12:30 am rolled around, and I surfaced from the cavernous depths of my pink boudoir seeking caffeine from the kitchen. And there’s my roommate, Danielle, standing all alone by the sink, cleaning out one of the chocolate molds. I thought she’d gone to bed, but instead she had finished every single vagina lollipop for me because she wanted me to have one less thing to worry about, even though she had class in the morning.

I was totally floored. She isn’t involved in the Vagina Monologues at all (in fact, her sitting through it last year was an enormous gesture of goodwill because she isn’t into this sort of thing), but she just wanted to be a supportive friend. I guess it’s true what they say: you don’t come to Cornell to meet your husband– you come to meet your bridesmaids. Love you, D.

What happened to senior year?

A day in the life of a second semester Cornell senior:

7:00 am: Wake up and do edits on finance research project.

10:00 am: Finance class. Lots of this is sounding familiar. Probably because I heard it last year…

11:30 am: Venture into Olin library for coffee. Startle friends who have never seen me in a library before. Startle self by successfully finding the coffee place.

12:20 pm: Derrida and the Philosophy of Hospitality. Or, a two-hour Arts and Sciences seminar with 4 A&S graduate students and two professors. Lots of sitting in silence for me; lots of insightful commentary for them.

2:55 pm: New Media Writing class. In here, I talk so much that I think everyone hates me. I am ok with this because I am geeking out.

4:15 pm: Preliminary interview with a paper that’s interviewing me for a web video thing about Valentine’s Day tomorrow. I sound awkward.
4:30 pm: Hold Hotel Ambassador info session for prospective new members.

5:00 pm: Meditation class. Nothing is better than sitting in silence for a long time in the middle of a crazy day. Except maybe getting physical education credit for literally sitting and doing nothing.

6:00 pm: Dinner and wine at the Regent Lounge in the Statler. There is a bar attached to my school.

7:30 pm: Desire class, in which we watch “Deep Throat.”

9:30 pm: Trudge through -6 degree temperature to return home and embark on a 6-hour marathon of writing my Daily Sun column, reworking my cover letter into something that will see the light of day, and writing a freelance piece about Valentine’s Day.

3:30 am: Bed.

the hotelie life

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