21
May
2007

Signing off for the Summer0

“I’ll be back.” -Arnold

Sorry it has been a bit since I’ve checked in here. Three formals, two finals, two papers and one Slope Day later, I can say it has been a pretty eventual last few weeks, and that is not to mention moving out out of my apartment (all of my belongings typically fill our ’94 Suburban, a fact I am not necessarily proud of, but have finally accepted). Throughout the year, I have acquired a few entries I never posted of fully developed. Below are some thoughts I wanted to touch upon before I sign off for the summer.

Tomorrow, (eek!) I’m off for the summer to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to work for the U.S. State Department. I’ll serve as the Public Diplomacy intern at the Consulate in Belfast for ten weeks – I’m not really sure what that means right now, but I’ll soon find out. The power sharing government and politics in general of the region are pretty interesting, so I think it will be quite an adventure – aside from the fact I’ve never traveled to Northern Ireland, lived abroad and only have housing for the first few weeks. I’ll also have a little Ohio time sprinkled in there too, so all and all, it is shaping up to be a great summer.

I’m a bit better with hellos than goodbyes – goodbyes seem so terminal. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes saying so long can give me a feeling of relief and is very necessary. But sometimes, goodbyes are kind of hard too. When I say farewell to a place or a person, I usually do it with the hope I will see them again at some point. The path of life ahead of me is pretty undefined (ie where I’ll be sleeping in three weeks) and I’ve learned no matter how much planning is put forward, the most unexpected can still occur. So maybe I’ll never see these people or places again, but then again, maybe I will.

Nevertheless, good luck to everyone in the Class of 2007. I didn’t have the chance to wish you all well, but enjoy your post Cornell days and keep in touch. You all will be missed.

But no matter where we are, our thoughts were, are and will continue to be with VA Tech. The events of this tragedy were hard to understand and I am impressed by the way the students, faculty and all members associated with the VA Tech community handled the situation. I think we can be inspired by their strength to reach out to our peers and support each other. Poet Nikki Giovanni wrote, “We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly. We are brave enough to bend to cry, and sad enough to know we must laugh again.”

Going back a bit, much thanks goes to The Student Blogging Project. I appreciate that Cornell is brave enough to give six college students the ability to choose subject matter, language and anything else they please and link it to the university’s website. The people behind this project are like those really cool parents who support their kids through the tough stuff, but never set a curfew. You all rock.

I started this blog when I began working at the Supreme Court of the United States, an experienced I could have never envisioned. It was, in a word, awesome. The Court requested that I abstain from blogging about my time as an intern for privacy and safety reasons. Understandably, I respected their desires, but unfortunately could not write about some of my most exciting experiences. But just to give you an idea, I can tell you this from first hand experience (and with photo documentation to prove it). As my 5’8″ self in 2″ heels shooting hoops on the Highest Court in Land, with the exception of the swing vote, I would tower over pretty much everyone riding the Bench. Got that? If not, do a little civic research.

And finally, a thanks to You. Apparently the other bloggers and I receive thousands of hits a month on these pages. I know those all can’t be my grandparents Mimi and Poppy. Without your interest, this project wouldn’t keep running. So if you have any feedback, thoughts or want to let me know who you are, feel free.

Everyone, please enjoy a wonderful, safe and adventurous summer. “I’ll be back,” and before you know it.

30
April
2007

21, Here I Come0

“All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece, but not too much.” -George Harrison

At the stroke of midnight, I won’t be rushing home from the ball. You won’t find me crouching behind a bush on the Arts Quad to see if old Ezra and A.D. really do come down from their stone posts and shake hands.

No, instead I’ll be heading into an establishment that honors a notoriously intelligent and criminal man with a big brain.

Yep, I’m turning the big 2-1. And in celebration of my legality, I’ll ring it in with the typical fanfare – an hour at Rulloff’s with some friends. After 60 minutes of enjoying my legal status, I’ll be kicked out with last call (1 am) and put myself to bed to make it to my 10:10 am class tomorrow morning.

I’ve heard a mixture of reactions from friends who are already in their 21st year and beyond. Some call it “a huge disappointment” while others claim it to be “life changing.” I’m pretty sure 21 will not be my Nirvana, but I think I’ll enjoy it – I’ve always been one to live up the birthday.

I suppose some feel under whelmed due to the fact 21 is the last big birthday until, well, 40. About the only thing 21 and 40 have in common is the the word “black;” at 21, people worry about blacking out while at 40, black is a symbol of impending death – but heaven knows it is better than grey, which is probably the most feared color of the crowd heading over the hill.

I wouldn’t call myself a “partier,” and the privileges some of my peers salivate for when turning 21 won’t be life altering to me. Nevertheless, I’m a social person (my nickname in high school was “The Social Butterfly”) and I have a lot of friends who are older than me. My historically underage status prevented my presence at some pretty cool gatherings. So, if nothing else, I’m looking forward to hanging out with whoever, wherever.

And I have to admit, when I passed Dunbar’s on my walk home today – which is a sketchy establishment even on the sunniest afternoon – there was something beckoning about the bar. I’m sure it’s the unknown and the inability to access what is inside, even for only a few more hours. But I have a feeling after witnessing a Group Therapy night there (an event noted for revelry and little remembrance) the allure will be long gone.

So big Ithaca bar scene (a bit of an oxymoron) get ready. This one is legal now!

29
April
2007

The Thaw0

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.” -Doug Larson

The gorges are rushing with water. The jackets are off and the spring skirts are on. The frisbee, soccer and football games are in full force on the Arts Quad. The bbqs are cooking up a storm on the few blades of grass and left over beer boxes called “lawns” in Collegetown.

Even the sun is out.

Everyone, everything looks and feels beautiful.

Ithaca, sometimes you actually can be gorgeous.

27
April
2007

Countdown with Nikki Gusz1

“Get busy living, or get busy dying.” -Andy Dufresne

105 – Images I cut out to study for my art history test.

64 - Ounces of caffeinated drinks I consumed in the last 24 hours. For a girl who usually doesn’t do more than 20 a day, I’ve got more than three times the craziness . . .

35 - Pages (size 12, Times New Roman, doubled spaced) my little fingers banged out over the past two weeks for various papers and applications. Carpal tunnel syndrome, here I come.

23.5 – Pounds I’m supposed to pay per night for housing this summer. I’ll do the conversion for you – yep, that equals $50 a night. And you thought your Midtown Manhattan splurge/Ithaca sublet was pricey. Motel 6, you might be leaving the light on for me . . .

10 – Watermelon colored toenails on my feet after my pedicure last week – one of my few recent hours of relaxation.

4 – Days until I can buy you a drink. Or, maybe you can buy one for me? (currently winking and flashing my brightest, whitest slightly broke college girl smile :)

3 – Recent interactions with former flames that affirm their inherent awkwardness and my inherent awesomeness . . . obviously!

2 - Hours of sleep I had last night; I’m well on my way to fulfilling my goal of never pulling an all-nighter at Cornell.

1 – Day until my roommate Ash and I throw ourselves a birthday party. Well deserved.

0 – Minutes until I begin my nap on my feather mattress pad. Yeah, I’m pretty excited.

13
April
2007

So Long to a Legend0

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” -Kurt Vonnegut

A farewell to Kurt Vonnegut, one of Cornell’s most memorable students.

11
April
2007

Maybe we should put all of our eggs in one basket.1

“The only time I’ve ever heard of a ‘T.I.’ is in dealings with a calculator.” -Sarah

Last week, the headliner for Slope Day and the Convocation speaker were announced. Slope Day – our last day of class celebration – will be graced by by rapper T.I., of Hustle and Flow and “Bring Em Out” fame. Graduating seniors will be wished well into the world by Soledad O’Brien.

Now, my guess is some of you have heard of our new friend, T.I. Others may have seen O’Brien strut her stuff in the AM with her (unrelated) co-anchor who also has the same last name, both of whom are moving out of their morning spot. But many haven’t heard of either, and just a few have heard of both. After all, we live in Ithaca where it’s hard to find rap on the radio and few televisions are on before 9pm, let alone 9am.

Over the past few years, I think many of the students have been under whelmed by Slope Day performers and Convocation speakers. Clearly, it is impossible to please everyone, but I think there are some options that would make more people happy.

I understand the dollar signs weigh heavy upon this situation. Big name performers and speakers can run in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. As an institution, when it comes to delegating money to events that last only a few hours or to students who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to study at a world class university, the decision is a tough one.

However, this brings me to my next point. Maybe we should try to redistribute our funds around this time of year. As I see it, a few philosophies exist.

#1. Slope Day rules! It’s the end of classes, and we work really hard as Cornell students. We pay thousands of dollars to be lectured to about Socrates, gravity and how to make the perfect souffle. How about we put a few bucks towards some fun? A big part of college is the experiences you have with your peers, and four years is a limited time slot in life. After all, isn’t Convocation just a time to impress Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad and make everyone feel all cushy gushy?

#2. Convocation – the speech of a lifetime! Slope Day is a time when many people aren’t totally themselves, if you will, and music isn’t the highlight of the day. Convocation is one of the last messages that you’ll have from Cornell before going off into the big, wide, scary, unknown. You’ll always remember your Convocation speaker as a person who provided advice at a crossroads in your life. Slope Day, on the other hand . . . well, some people just don’t remember.

#3. Save us all a few bucks on tuition and can them both. You’ll find them all on YouTube anyway.

#4. Pay the cable bill. (This applies specifically to my apartment, where we seem to struggle with this challenge). Watch CNN and MTV, where both of these faces will show up at one time or another. 24 hour networks were created for a reason.

#5. Don’t change anything. Barry Manilow for Slope Day? (But who for Convocation? He’s a talented man – two birds with one stone! Maybe I should have made this #6 . . .)

2
April
2007

I refuse to be a tourist . . . sometimes. Paris, take two.1

“The best of America drifts to Paris. The American in Paris is the best American. It is more fun for an intelligent person to live in an intelligent country. France has the only two things toward which we drift as we grow older – intelligence and good manners.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

One of our big goals while in Paris was not to look like we were American. Alex gave us detailed wardrobe directions before we left (no tennis shoes or bright colors, scarves are a must and black is always in, even with navy and brown – gasp). Sarah and I got pretty excited when people would speak English to others in line, and then talk to us in French. However, it usually didn’t last long considering our vocabulary consisted of “Bonjour” and “Merci.”

From frat parties to foreign countries, this is a phenomena that I wouldn’t call out of the ordinary. However, I think we more often concentrate on appearance when trying to fit in then on other cultural identifiers.

With the advent of “Freedom Toast” and “Freedom Fries,” it’s undeniable the France haven’t been number one America’s best friend list of late. Say what we like about the French and their past, I can understand why they don’t like us sometimes. They’re small and quiet. We’re big and loud. Some people say the French are bitter their country isn’t the imperial powerhouse it was historically. We’re often called the leaders of the free world, but we can act pretty imperialistic when going to foreign countries – we expect them to know our language and adapt to our cultural needs while there.

Now don’t think I’ve gone and changed my citizenship or anything – I am an American Studies major, after all. Undeniably, Americans pump millions of dollars into the French economy annually (and I did my part, for sure). But sometimes, it seems we should keep the goal of our travels in mind. Shouldn’t we be going to a different country to enjoy their culture, not ours’?

I’m as guilty as anyone – talking too loudly on the Metro, having a (very, very) limited French vocabulary. Spring break was the first time I had ever been to a place where English wasn’t the language of choice. My family had enough trouble with the Scottish brogue (“It just is so hard to understand them sometimes . . . ” “Mom, they are speaking English.”)

Although I begrudgingly sat through uno, dos, tres semester of Spanish to fulfill my language requirement at Cornell, now I see the importance of it. Not knowing French didn’t have a huge impact on our experience, but it definitely limited it at some points, particularly in museums (Yes, this is the cue to push up your black rimmed, humongous glasses. But as a history lover, didn’t you expect I’d like to read the fine print?)

Really, in the end, most of us want to be accepted into our surroundings, no matter the apartment number or continent. All we’re trying to say is, “We just want to be as cool as you, so we’re hoping you’ll confuse us for one of you.” It is fun to try on someone else’s shoes for size, especially when they are maroon, pointy and fabulously in fashion.

Nevertheless, My Fellow Americans, it’s up to each of you how you want to live your life. But do yourself one favor. Eat Big Macs everywhere else in the world – just don’t do it in Paris!

1
April
2007

The City of Love, The City of Light, The City of . . . Paris!2

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” -Ernest Hemingway

I’ve been putting off writing a blog about my spring break. Not that I didn’t have an amazing time – I went to Paris with Sarah to visit our friend Alex, who has been studying there since September.

But seriously, how can anyone summarize Paris?

I’ve decided it is about as impossible as scaling the side of the gorge with your bare hands. This, for those of you who have yet to buy an “Ithaca is Gorges” shirt (aka you’ve never been to Ithaca since everyone who comes here gets one) is like trying to climb – well – the Eiffel Tower.

And now that I’ve seen it in person, I can vouch that is pretty hard to do.

Besides some hairy travel situations (the experiences on Air India are worthy of a best selling novel) at minimum five modes of transportation each way (I lost count somewhere in the Newark airport) and really working the social network to get to all of our locals, the trip was everything I could of asked for and more.

What was great about going to see Alex was that I felt I was able to experience Paris, not just visit. Yes, I dutifully made sure we saw the top ten sights according to the guidebooks (you can probably name most of them from memory). And yes, they were all amazing – although at times, pretty crowded.

To experience Paris is not to do all the hustle bustle top ten though – one must lounge in cafes talking for hours about the practical to the outlandish with good friends. In fact, this can be repeated several times a day and is actually highly recommended. Spending less than two hours on a meal (unless it is a crepe or a panini purchased on the street – oh, do I ever miss that kind of fast food) is sinful and saddening.

This is how one must experience Paris. Alex encouraged us to get lost in the neighborhoods and winding streets of the city. We took her up on this advice – and the language barrier helped us achieve it not so purposely once in awhile. So many sections of the city have a unique charm and attitude that makes for never ending adventure and great people watching. This seems to be a favorite pastime of the Parisians too – we actually had a pretty chilly week there, but Alex pointed out how the outdoor venues were still packed with people huddling under heaters while cuddling their cafes.

I can’t start to summarize our incredible week, but I definitely want to mention some of my favorites.

  • Art Museums l’Orangerie and the Centre Georges Pompidou. Don’t get me wrong, the more famous Louvre (think Mona Lisa) and Musee d’Orsay (lots of impressionists) are great, but these two less crowded museums were more to my liking. And no doubt, both have some phenomenal pieces of art. l’Orangerie is a small gallery that has 360 degree Monet water lily pictures – one of the few things in life that has made me speechless. The gallery is a very manegeable size, with several other works of art; as Sarah said, they were, “Less famous pieces by famous artists.” Meanwhile, the Pompidou is home to modern art, and has one of the best views of the city from the top two floors. The building itself is quite unique in that it is built inside out (the elevators, escalators, pipes etc. are exposed on the outside).
  • Montmartre For some reason, this neighborhood was one of my favorite in the city (the Marais was also extremely endearing). The highest area in the city, Montmarte was historically home to windmills, a reason today we see the red windmill on top of the Moulin Rouge (which is also located here). Traditionally home to artists, Monmartre has retained much of its charm, although it is also a bit of the red light district. However, one of my favorite sights was Sacre-Coeur, which translates to Sacred Heart. Sarah and I hiked to the top of this memorial for soldiers in the Franco-Prussian War. We were well rewarded with a breathtaking view of the city.
  • Food I think this pretty much goes without saying. Whether we dined in or splurged on meals out, this was probably the second best eating experience of my life (after your cooking of course, Mom!) And I am officially addicted to Nutella.
  • Friends Another great thing about Paris was that I was able to experience it with so many wonderful people. From nights out on the town to breakfasts in bed (which is pretty much all we had room for in Alex’s adorable but very efficient apartment) I shared this great place with friends from Hudson to Cornell, old and new!

So there’s my two cents. Over hundreds of years, many more notable authors have tried to take on the challenge of describing this amazing place. I hope you get your chance too.

31
March
2007

You’re In!0

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!” -Dr. Seuss

Class of 2011 (and a few from 2012) ya’ll know who you are now! You have the opportunity to embark upon an incredible journey. My advice is to seize this chance – take a risk! From Appel Commons to apple orchards, Clocktower Pumpkin to Construction Cookie Crunch, prelims to papers, slope days to swim tests, you have the chance to experience amazing adventures. Trust me, you’ll never imagine where they’ll take you!

So dive in!

(Literally! Don’t worry, the swim test is only three laps. And using a ladder to enter the pool is totally a viable option. Floaty arms not included.)

31
March
2007

You’re In!0

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!” -Dr. Seuss

Class of 2011 (and a few from 2012) ya’ll know who you are now! You have the opportunity to embark upon an incredible journey. My advice is to seize this chance – take a risk! From Appel Commons to apple orchards, Clocktower Pumpkin to Construction Cookie Crunch, prelims to papers, slope days to swim tests, you have the chance to experience amazing adventures. Trust me, you’ll never imagine where they’ll take you!

So dive in!

(Literally! Don’t worry, the swim test is only three laps. And using a ladder to enter the pool is totally a viable option. Floaty arms not included.)