Rip Van Winkle

It’s almost as if I went to sleep and woke up 20 years later. For the first time in my Cornell career I got sick. This wasn’t the cough and need tissues sick. This was a stomach virus sick. Apparently it’s going around campus. From Tuesday night until early afternoon Saturday (though technically my stomach is still recovering even though the rest of my symptoms are gone) I was victimized by a fever, sore head, dehydration, stomach cramps, chills, and diarrhea. A visit to Gannett took place; so did nights of 12-15 hour periods of sleep. Wednesday was like walking in a fog and going nowhere. Thursday was sleeping all day. Friday was missing one class and tirelessly navigating my way through the last two. Saturday I could see and eventually got to the light.

I mention this experience because for the three weekdays and one weekend day I was inactive, on the DL, it felt as though I missed 20 years of things to do, and unfortunately, twice, missed out on my last opportunity to attend an event as a Cornellian.

Going into my sickness, feelings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had surfaced on campus with a non-human protest using black flags was sponsored and created by the Islamic Alliance for Justice, which elicited a response of vandalism by certain individuals, a condemnation of that vandalism by President Skorton, and a statement by a couple of Jewish student groups saying they condemned the actions, but also protested against the protest. I was skeptical my generation could be the one to make progress and inherently change the course of violence when as far away as Cornell, students in their ivory tower up on the hill couldn’t get past a protest and a “misrepresentation of numbers”. (When it comes to violence, there are no right numbers.) During my five days away, apparently there had been an about face. One panel discussion that took place on Wednesday, which turned into trench warfare with professors taking sides and another on Thursday, which represented all the characteristics of a higher education: enlightened discourse, stating actions, intentions, and goals of each side, what is to come, and what possible answers to the problem are. Basically, elitism at its finest. So now waking up from my sickly slumber I again feel hopeful…until I read on BBC that Benjamin Netanyahu has been asked to lead Israel’s government. C’mon Israel are you serious! Again, picking him again! You’d think the corruption scandals were enough to do in his political career. That’s like us saying well the economy is really bad, lets vote for George Bush and give him another try; there are other political opportunities out there (read Tzipi Livni) but we’ll just elect someone who already tried…and failed. Unless Barack Obama is God, I think I’ll choose my 20 year nap again.

As if Israel and Palestine and Cornell Hillel and Islamic Alliance for Justice weren’t enough I also missed two hockey games (one being senior night, which means a lot to me since I’m a senior), A Capella Night Live, the play The History Boys, and the Ithaca Chili Cook-off (this was the last chance for me to do this). Oh and skiing too. Inactive for five days felt like missing one month…or 20 years…and in reality, three blog posts. Hopefully this one made up for it.

One thought on “Rip Van Winkle”

  1. This note is not from RIP but from a student whose naps were disturbed by the dinosaurs that still roamed the Hill. I have never thought of myself as a particularly robust person, but I missed only one day of school in the 9 years that covered high school and Cornell. I can only conclude that the “flu” and assorted other viruses are an unwanted concomitant of free trade and universal air travel, and for that I pity your generation in general and you for your particular encouter. Glad you are feeling better.

    In the early ’50s, it was not the Arab/Israeli conflict, nor yet Civil Rights, that prompted demonstrations, but rather issues growing out of the Cold War. Card tables in front of the Straight sought signatures to save the Rosenbergs, and to defend Alger Hiss against the Pumpkin Papers. Unfortunately, attitudes incubated then crystalized into life-long perceptions. Just this week I saw, embedded in a larger discussion, an aside that cast doubt on the charges against Hiss (the prototypical Ivy Leaguer vs the lumpy and disheveled Chambers).
    Whoever wrote it had an attitude frozen in the ’50s and apparently was willfully or accidentally ignorant of what came through the window temporarily opened into Soviet espionage files in the mid-’90s.
    This web site, picked at random, shows a sample. Similar items from the files indicate that the Rosenbergs were paid heads of an intelligence-gathering ring well before they got interested in the Manhattan Project. You either have or still will hear the Rosenbergs/Hiss cases cited as evidence of Cold War hysteria or McCarthyism, generally by folks who took a half-Rip nap through the ’90s.

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