May 7, 2004

Facing the Future

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Around mid-March, my friend and colleague Matt Janiga came over to my apartment and showed me his new online playground, He was excited to find that the girls he had messaged on the site were actually replying to his inquiries; in his opinion, only adding credence to his argument that rather than asking for someone’s “digits,” we should all in fact look to pocket that magical screen name. In any case, Matt’s still single (no wonder) and at the time, I paid no attention to his ridiculous Xanga/Blog-esque ripoff of a site.

Fast forward to two weeks ago.

I was down at The Sun’s offices trying desperately to finish my column so that I could get home to watch Game 1 of the Avs-Sharks series, when the chirping editors around me kept talking about that darned Facebook again.

“Hey, Jake Lehman just added me as a friend. I’m so cool.”

“Ooh, let’s see which girls in Greek letter, Greek letter, Greek letter sorority are on this. Wow, she’s hot.”

And on. And on. And on.

Amidst all the clamor, I quickly logged onto and registered for the service. Why?

Well, why do teenage kids cut school and smoke cigarettes? Why do boys leaf through their fathers’ old collection of porno magazines? Why do girls “borrow” their moms’ makeup and jewelry? Curiosity and peer pressure, I guess.

And after two weeks of “membership” on the Facebook, what have I found? Not any romance (as Matt still seeks … ladies, please do the poor kid a favor), or even any new friends. But there’s one common thread among the “friends” that I do have in that little piece of cyberspace — I’ve met most of those fine people through The Sun.

Over the past three and a half years, I’ve done my fair share of whining and moaning about working for this crazy college paper. As those who have had to work with me will attest, I must’ve said something to the tune of “I’m going to quit” or “I hate this damn place” every single night I was on duty. Having to work an average of 40 hours per week on an extracurricular activity in addition to the rigors of classswork can really get to a man. But then I look at something like the Facebook and realize that sacrificing those nights of sleep, sacrificing a few tenths on that GPA, and sacrificing what some might deem a “normal college social life” were all worth it. For better or for worse, The Sun has defined my college experience, it has given me some of my best friends, and it has made me a better man than I otherwise might have become.

* * * *

This being my final column, I’m supposed to reveal the meaning of my column moniker. In this case, however, there are two meanings … you can take each for what it’s worth. I’ll start with the cleaner, G-rated version.

Despite pleas from my parents during my formative years to pick up a book or a magazine, there was only one subject matter that I deemed worth reading. Every morning before school, I’d grab the San Francisco Chronicle before heading out the door and dive directly to the Sporting Green to catch up on the latest happenings of the Giants, Niners, and Warriors. It didn’t matter if I had a bowl of cereal, or buttered toast, or even a glass of juice. Some people need a cup of coffee, but all I needed was a healthy dose of sports. And that’s what I’ve aspired to provide to the readers of The Cornell Daily Sun. Instead of that cup of Joe, reach for that column of Ip (okay, so maybe not). As for the secondary meaning of the moniker … some might find it a bit juvenile, others a bit offensive and vulgar — but what can I do? That’s just how I am.

During junior high, we had an annual magazine subscription sale to raise money for our severely under-funded public school. As an incentive to actually sell these overpriced subscriptions, students were given rewards based on their salesmanship. There were the cheap jump ropes, stuffed animals, and the like. But I had my eyes on the top prize, an afternoon riding around in a limo. So beg and grovel I did, with family members, neighbors, virtually anybody that I could stop on the street.

All of this brought me to Mrs. Bullington. A childhood friend’s mother, Mrs. Bullington laid down the $15 for a subscription to Nintendo Power just to stop me from getting on my knees and begging even more. As she began filling out the paperwork, though, I heard a snicker. Then a laugh. Before I could comprehend what was going on, the middle-aged woman was on the floor rolling around in laughter.

In between cackles, she asked, “Hey Alex, did you know that your last name is spelled ‘I’ ‘P’? Really, where do you pee?”

Haha, really funny …

I stood in stunned silence. I mean, what else is a little sixth grader supposed to do when he’s the target of a urinary joke?

Now, 10 years later, Mrs. Bullington, I’ve got the answer to your silly question. In Your Cup.

* * * *

I’m not very good at writing goodbyes or thanks (when friends asked me to write something sentimental in their yearbooks, I always only wrote “See ya around” or “Nice knowin’ ya” but I have a feeling that won’t cut it this time around). After all, the long goodbyes are a Sun tradition, and I’m not one to break tradition. So in no particular order, because I love you all equally, here it goes: Growing up as an only child, I never had to share — anything. I always had my own bathroom, and never had to clean up for others. On the downside, I also never had anyone to play video games with, to watch a big game with, to play foosball with, to just hang out and relax with. Ben, Fran, Chris, and Greg, I hope you guys have enjoyed living with me as much as I have enjoyed rooming with the four of you. I might not have biological brothers, but you’re as close as they come.

Aaron, Dan, and others in that apartment three doors down … it’s been fun.

Softball head coach Dick Blood — thanks for being the most candid coach at Cornell … While most coaches adhere to the “just give reporters fluff” rule, you never beat around the bush. If someone hadn’t performed up to par, you’d say it, and as a journalist, that’s all I could’ve asked for.

Mike Schafer ’86 (wow, I always felt ridiculous putting the year after the name, but I’ll do it one more time for old times’ sake.) — like coach Blood, I could always count on you for a good quote. More importantly, though, you and your team have provided me with some of the favorite memories of my undergraduate career here at Cornell. I’ll always remember Sam Paolini’s ECAC-winning slapper, Matt McRae’s double-O.T. winner over B.C. in the NCAA quarterfinals, and that magical trip to the Frozen Four.

To all the other coaches past and present at Cornell, I can’t thank all of you enough. Without your cooperation, understanding, and willingness to talk to The Sun’s reporters, our paper would be nothing. Although we’re students working for a small college paper, thank you for always treating us as if we were professionals.

Laura Stange, Jeremy Hartigan, Brian Kelley, Carmie Zink, Elli Harkness, and anybody I might’ve missed in Athletic Communications, thanks for the first-class help. After taking many road trips this year and encountering incompetent staff after staff at other Universities, I realize just how lucky I am to have had your help over the past several years.

Mr. Bill Moore, the sage of the press box. Our little chats at halftimes of football games over a Shortstop sub, or during the intermissions at hockey games, meant the world to me. Maybe one day, we can catch a football game out at the old Coliseum in Pasadena.

Now onto the Sunnies …

J.V. Anderton — I can still remember the first time I met you. You were the outgoing sports editor, and I was a nobody — a little freshman who had just finished writing a women’s tennis story that you were moments away from copyediting. After ripping my writing apart, we had a long conversation about The Sun, about what it meant to you. You proceeded to tell me that instead of playing for the golf team, you ended up spending 48 hours a week working as the sports editor at the paper. Deep insid
e, I snickered … how could anybody be stupid enough to spend that much time on The Sun? Two years later, you convinced me to do the exact same thing. I’ll never be able to thank you enough for that pep talk.

Shiva Nagaraj — ah, the little man who loved the veggie specials from Shortstop Deli. I would’ve been content to go through college as just a staff writer, but you saw something more in me — something that I didn’t see myself. You saw an Assistant Sports Editor. Thanks for believing that I could do the job.

I remember the first day of my “hell week” during my editor compet. There I sat in front of a Mac, with no clue how to operate it or use Quark XPress, the layout program we use at The Sun. But in stepped my favorite Texan, Charles Persons, who showed me that the Mac wasn’t evil, just different. Every time I design a page, I thank you Charles. If you weren’t there that first night, I might’ve quit on the spot.

Gary Schueller. You scared me. You hurt me (you’re twice my size, and really, chest bumps are painful). But you were one of the main reasons I joined the sports staff as a freshman. You were the first person who greeted me at the old office on Cayuga St., the first person to assign me a story, the first person to copyedit my first story. Your passion for Cornell sports was infectious. It made me want to write.

One of the reasons I ended up being the sports editor this past year was because of Amanda Angel. I just didn’t want to let you down. You brought the section to new heights during your tenure. All I wanted to do was to keep it from suffering a precipitous drop. I hope I did my job.

Alex Fineman, your encyclopedic knowledge of sports and random trivia never ceases to amaze me. I could always count on you to lighten the mood in what can be a stressful environment at The Sun with your wit and humor. Thanks to your father, as well, who is one of the most generous men that I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.

Kristen Haunss, once upon a time my favorite sophomore, then junior, then senior, and now favorite Columbia journalism student — you made me the reporter that I am today. Thank you for tolerating both Scott Jones and I that first softball season, and showing us the ropes.

Staff writers — from fellow seniors Per Ostman and Matt James down to the talented group of freshmen — you all made my life easy. An editor is only as good as his writers. You were all some pretty-darn good writers.

Lil’ Bobby Sinovsky and Rob Bonow — my two favorite photographers on staff. Bobby, the human mapquest, you’ve matured so much in this past year, it’s unbelievable. Even if you’re a little long-winded, paranoid of highway patrol, and crazy about Mahopac, I wouldn’t have had as much fun on those road trips without you. And you take good photos now, too. Rob, you’re by far the most talented sports photographer I know (even though I don’t know too many). Whether your calling is in building race cars or in photography, I’m sure you’ll do great.

Schroeder, Linda, Nigro, and now Rob — I know the paper prides itself on independence from the University, and to a degree, independence from adults. Thanks, though, for lending that guiding hand … it keeps us in check.

The 120th and 121st Editorial Boards of The Sun — I sure as hell didn’t like all of you, but I didn’t hate any of you, either. We all had plenty of differences during this two-year run, but I leave feeling pretty good about all that we accomplished.

Chris, Kyle, and E.J. — I know I was extra hard on the three of you, and maybe constantly reminding you of your stupidity wasn’t the best training method in the world. But I’m sure you’ll all do a fine job in the coming year. Try to make Owen’s life easy.

Matt Janiga and Owen Bochner — how did we do it? I had two thoughts as we started working together last March … one kid is crazy and the other one is anal. I was right on both accounts. I can never thank either of you enough for the amount of work that you put in. Because of the two of you, the time spent at The Sun never felt like work. I probably learned as much, if not more, from the two of you, than you did from me. I could go on forever, but I’ll stop it here.

Scott Jones, Scott Jones, Scott Jones. How am I supposed to put into words what you’ve been to me over four years? I wish we had more time to play basketball, more time to watch sports, more time for everything. Have two writers at The Sun ever covered the same beats in semesters? I always enjoyed going to the games because I knew you’d be there sitting in the press box or stands beside me. Just your presence made the weight on my shoulders seem a little bit lighter.

And finally to my parents … I know I didn’t earn the grades that you probably wish I had after spending $150,000 in tuition over four years. But working at The Sun meant a lot to me. Thanks for understanding that and allowing me to pursue my interests.

Well, I guess that’s it … onwards to a fun-filled career in investment banking.

Alex Ip is a former Sun Sports Editor and Sun Assistant Sports Editor. In Your Cup has appeared every other week for the past two years. While he may not have always loved the work, what he was able to contribute to The Sun is invaluable. Alex, you’re a true professional. Thanks for everything.

Archived article by Alex Ip