October 22, 2014

MILIAN | Shake Up Your Life: Tell Your Friends You Care

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By KEVIN MILIAN

I was thinking about what to write about for my column this week when an earthquake occurred.  It was during a slow moment in one of my classes, so I had said “please God, put me out of my misery” when he took things a little too seriously. As the floor shook and hysteria took over everyone in the room, I started saying “everyone calm down, it’s just an earthquake” a little too loudly (though I sounded much more composed inside my head). For some reason, I thought I was much more prepared than everyone and even had time to roll my eyes as the room started to empty. Breaking Rule Number One in natural disasters, I quickly packed my iPad and pen into my bag, but I couldn’t find my phone. That was the sole thing that held me back, my beautiful, unbendable gold iPhone 5S with the Lifeproof case that was probably earthquake proof. As I shuffled for it, I grimly thought “Heh, bet archaeologist are going to find my skeletal hand playing Flappy Bird. I’m so cool.”

Needless to say I found my phone on the floor, and we didn’t actually evacuate the building because 1) my teacher thought it was just the class above making a ruckus and 2) because I didn’t want to start a fight with said teacher. To say I was shaken up afterwards would be punny and accurate. Can you blame me? I don’t want to die in a room full of surly grad students, in a suburb of Paris of all places! The odd thing was that only my classroom experienced the tremors, no one else was panicking or heading to clear ground. It was like some Twilight Zone episode or Freaky Friday. I was craving Activia, my transformation into Jamie-Lee Curtis had begun!

During the remainder of class, I spoke to friends about earthquake safety. I vaguely remembered tips like “hide in your bathtub,” “stand under a door frame,” “go to a clear area with no buildings” and “staircases are the most stable part of a building.” I spewed them out as a clear expert on seismic activity. But here’s a question: Are we really prepared for these disasters? When is the last time we stocked up on canned goods for the zombie apocalypse? Are we truly ready for the skeleton war? Just this past weekend I went to shower during a fire alarm, since I’m used to false alarms happening often (and I wasn’t going to let some silly fire ruin my evening). Have we become desensitized to these warnings?

I’ve often wondered about the recklessness of our actions. From “Too Turnt Tina” to the “Do it for the Vine” mantra, I think we’re prone to more danger nowadays. One time, a friend twerked too much at a party, and the next day she was in crutches! Freak accidents aside, we feel naturally invincible from the age of 15 until some ripe old age (25 maybe?), and I think we take some form of hedonic pleasure in tweeting about it, or bragging with our friends. I’ve had my share of dangerous experiences — burned baked goods, slippery nights out in C-Town streets and trombone slides jutting dangerously close to my head — and Snapchatting it only makes it funny for the rest of your friends, not your pain receptors. While Ithaca prepares us for dangerous weather, it’s important to have first aid skills or friends who will take you to Cayuga Medical.

And no, I’m not going to continue ranting about natural disaster safety, y’all can read Gannett’s stick-figure posters for those tips or ask your nearest EMS friend. I’m going to talk about the possibility of final moments and what you choose to do. I chose to stay for my iPhone, meaning I value the Apple company, Steve Job’s rhetoric and my apps. My friends told me to grab their things in the next quake because they’d run out first, so they clearly don’t value me. Today was humankind’s (my) grim reminder that life can catch you off guard and so we shouldn’t hold back in basically everything.

When is the last time you told someone you’re their best friend? Called your dog? Hugged your mom? Bought yourself artisanal hand soaps? Like Donna and Tom from Parks and Rec say, “treat yo self” and treat others too. Tell your friends you appreciate them, message that special someone back on Facebook, apply to that competitive internship. Can you tell I’m learning the imperative in French? I won’t tell you what to do, because it’s different from all of us, but it’s time to take some effort and start living a little. Now’s the grueling time of the semester, so instead of watching How to Get Away With Murder during your study break, do other fulfilling things (not murder).

As I get older, I’m more aware of loss: loss of friends, loss of time and loss of life. While I’ve never been good at grieving, or expressing sadness in a way that doesn’t involve repression, this column goes out to all of us who’ve lost someone dear this year. It’s a reminder, to everyone, myself included, that we should take all the opportunities we have to tell people we appreciate them. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture — that might be awkward — but a simple sticker in a Facebook message, or the little :* emoji works just as well. No need to get morbid and serious (like I have in this column), but serious enough to get your point across.

Turns out the earthquake wasn’t an earthquake, apparently the 3rd floor of this building is unstably connected to another building. So the danger remains, minus the drama of being in an earthquake. However, if it happens again, I won’t hesitate to leave (with my iPhone in hand) run to McDonalds, order some nuggets and take a stroll through the park while texting all you loyal readers. So stop reading my column and go pet a dog! Drink every single Pumpkin Spice Latte on campus, and then do the same with the Peppermint Mocha. Tell your friends you love them, in a non-creepy way. Or be creepy — if they’re your friends, they’ll embrace it.

Kevin Milian is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at kmilian@cornellsun.com. Milian Dollar Baby appears on alternate Thursdays this semester.

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