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.

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.

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).

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!

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.