Posts tagged winter break
High school reunions aren’t supposed to happen until at least five years after graduation, right? Little did I realize that my alma mater Punahou’s “College Previews Program” would be a mini-reunion itself, even though it’s been but a year and a half since the class of 2010 received little blue diplomas in Honolulu’s Blaisdell Arena.
As I admitted to both the Punahou Alumni Network representative at the check-in table and the other fellow (A&S ’15, Punahou ’11) running the Cornell table with me, I didn’t even attend the College Previews program when I was a student, and therefore wasn’t really sure what to expect. Fortunately, my partner and I were well-matched: he was a biology major willing to talk to prospective students about science and sports, while I provided a perspective on Cornell’s programs for humanities and the arts.
Though we certainly didn’t get as many truly interested visitors as Creighton University next to us did (for some reason, Creighton is particularly popular among Punahou grads), we still received more than, say, Reed’s or the University of Wisconsin’s table. You’d think, then, that some of these students would be interested in something other than pre-med.
Sadly, I ended up awkwardly deferring most of the kids to Mr. Biology. With the exception of one girl interested in attending art school who asked about theatre and another who actually wanted to be an English major (thank you both! You made me so happy!), I had nobody with whom to share my love of Cornell’s medieval literature studies program. In fact, most of the major-related questions I received were from parents speaking those dreaded words:
Well, if you don’t mind me asking, what do you PLAN TO DO with that English major of yours?
The last man who had the gall to question my major (and not, of course, Mr. Biology’s) was a relatively innocent-looking fellow, but I was irritated enough to give him my entire hyperactive spiel.
Hey, at least they can’t say that we’re not passionate.
The bias against my field of study has haunted me throughout high school and college. It’s reached the point where English majors are almost expected to postscript their “Hello-my-major-is” speech with “…so, you know, I’m going to live in a box.” Even the Cornell Daily Sun thought it would be clever to end their “Heroes and Villains” segment in the Opinions section with a worn-out joke about how “HEROIC English majors will be occupying their parents’ VILLAINOUS garages after graduation.” Oh man, anonymous Sun author. You truly provide the most cutting edge and witty humor.
Plus, English majors would be so much more likely to succeed if they spent less time bemoaning the apparent pointlessness of their degree and more time writing. In fact, I think I’ll go do that myself.
I love you, Ithaca–really, I do–but Honolulu beats you out. Every time.
That’s where I could be this Christmas Eve, and…
‘Tis the season when it’s most awesome to live in Hawai’i (though I’m
dreading my inevitable return to the cold).
(Photos from top to bottom:
Kahala Beach, my feet in the Pacific ocean, a dolphin at the Kahala Resort and another view
of the beach.)
After a disastrous journey from Rochester on Wednesday (“disastrous” here meaning “Keely had so little time to make her connection that United booked her on a different flight the next day, not realizing that she had actually hopped on her plane after all”), I have now safely returned to my tropical home.
Given the tragic death of my computer, I had to resort to that crazy, archaic “reading” thing as entertainment while traveling. I’d purchased a copy of Faery Tale by Cornell alumna Signe Pike over Thanksgiving break, which, combined with Wildwood, Decemberists frontsman Colin Meloy’s first book for children (starring, unsurprisingly, two ‘tween hipsters on a whimsical and quirky adventure in Portland), was enough to keep me from watching reruns of Cash Cab and The Big Bang Theory for nine hours straight as I flew home.
First of all, have I mentioned that Signe’s name has a pretty awesome (at least in the sense of “awe-inspiring”) etymology? My final exam for Old Norse involved translating a passage from a section of the Volsunga Saga called “The Vengeance of Sigmund.” Essentially, a Volsung king has a whole bunch of kids, including twins Sigmund and Signy (see where I’m going with this?). Signy is married off to this dude Siggeir when she’s twelve or something, and at some point in their relationship, Siggeir kills the king and ties up all Signy’s brothers in the woods, where Siggeir’s lycanthropic mother devours them one by one. Gotta love Norse mythology.
I’m realizing that it would actually take me a really long time to explain this entire story, so let’s keep it simple: Signy is pretty rockin’. I mean, sure, she does order the deaths of two of her older children before disguising herself as a volspa (prophetess) in order to conceive superior offspring with her brother Sigmund (ew), but her revenge succeeds and she dies a proud and dignified woman.
While Signe Pike fortunately doesn’t seem to have a life similar to Ms. Volsung’s here, Pike is just as strong and courageous (if less, you know, homicidal) as her namesake. Heartbroken over her father’s death, Pike leaves behind her job, fiance and new home to hunt down faeries (she picked that spelling because of Spenser’s Faerie Queen, you know, which pretty much makes her the coolest person ever) in the British Isles.
It’s basically like Eat, Pray, Love except actually interesting.
Though I was thrilled by her eerie encounters with black dogs and a murderous blue jacket (that’s all I’m going to say–you’ll have to read it yourself) on the Isle of Man, what excited me most about Pike’s narrative were her occasional references to my own darling Ithaca. Last year, I read Archie Ammons’ modern epic(ish) “Garbage” for my Major Poets class, and couldn’t stop from grinning as I reached the part describing the Ithaca Farmers’ Market.
My affection for Cornell authors’ mentions of, well, Cornell, doesn’t exist solely because I’m such a fan of my alma mater. Rather, I think reading books that mention Cornell in passing inspire me on some level: if these Cornellians–these people who know about the market and Willard Straight and Risley and Goldwin Smith (and even, in Pike’s case, Cornell Outdoor Education) like I do–can get published, then maybe I have a chance at it as well. Therefore, my primary goal for winter break is to send off some of my short stories and poems to various online and printed publications before I return to the East Coast.
Once I’m done looking for Hawai’i's faeries, that is.