February 18, 2021

STELLA | Most of You Suck, There’s No But

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I can say that now with only a few short months left here. To make you feel better, most of you would think the same about me. I’m an ever-forgetting, grammar correcting, vinyl collecting, mirror gawking guy who watches Shrek four times a year. But we find them – the people that see these attributes as endearing, and who we can’t help but want to see everyday.

As with any place, we’re going to find people we would enjoy to see slip on black ice in the winter, but so too will we find people that we never want to leave. So the idea of walking away from Cornell, but more so from our friends, makes us turn on some R.E.M. songs when they leave us alone in the apartment to go work out at a gym whose membership we didn’t want to pay for. 

These are the people that surprise you on your birthday, bring craft beer up from New York City, joke about how funny their jokes are and make you your favorite dinner. Cornell provides us with the opportunity to connect with people in this world that we can be ourselves around. Even though we won’t live in a four bedroom apartment for our entire lives, debating whose turn it is to swiffer, we know we’ll always have them. Hell, we’ve all gotten used to Zoom by now – whether they’re studying law in D.C., making investments in New York or taking photos in Colorado, we’ll stay connected. And once travel resumes, we’ll see them in their own elements (I invested in American Airlines; I suggest you do the same).

It’s not just the friends we love that we somehow find in this maze of a campus (where’s our basketball court?). It’s also the advisors (or mentors- you pick) I’m fortunate to have had two of them during my time at Cornell. The first taught me apocalyptic fiction and films, Shakespeare, crime fiction and how to look like a badass with a witty sense of humor. 

After he deservingly retired, my second taught me poetry (while I was both intermediate and advanced) as well as a similar meditative approach to things beyond sonnets. We’ve all had the professors that actually make us want to wake up for that 10 a.m. (no one can make a 9 a.m. look good). 

There’s the anecdotal accounting professor that seemingly lived three different lives, the English professor that brings the best cookies we’ve ever had melt in our mouths. I have never quoted anyone in an article before, but as the prophetic Remi Katz ’21 puts it, “I had a funny human bonding teacher once.” And we thank her for that enlightening extract.

Cornell has many flaws ––the lack of punishments for people continuing to throw parties during a pandemic that has taken more American lives than World War II, the enforcement of class attendance in negative 30 degree weather, the ridiculousness of the prices for parking on campus and that damn swim test. This isn’t a Disney cruise, I don’t see Goofy. But as with people, Cornell has some gems if you know where to look.

For those of you who have the time to keep searching, part of the fun is stumbling upon those gems on your own. But I’ll rob you of that fun temporarily to give you some ideas. Juniors – rent a study room and stream the new HBO Max release in the lecture hall like a movie theater. Sophomores – work four lines of dialogue from Mike Myers’ “Wayne’s World” into that final paper. Freshmen – make a batch of White Russians in your Hydro Flask and take it into bowling with you. You’re not living if you’re not living the life of the Dude. 

Whether it’s the late night walk after a prelim along Fall Creek suspension bridge, the dumplings from Franny’s, the performances at Schwartz, getting drunk in Wines or seeing the humanities professors chain smoking Marlboro Reds outside Goldwin Smith, Cornell’s got class (I’ll be here all week). Although I wouldn’t speak to most of you in an elevator, we’ve all got something in common. Whether we were early decisions or came here after getting rejected from UPenn, we’re spending three to four years on the campus that Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Kurt Vonnegut walked before us. 

We like to self-hate, tell self-deprecating jokes about our attendance to this university, but the truth of the matter is: there’s something about calling yourself a Cornellian that puts a smile on your face (other than the fact that the word itself sounds funny). I’ve got one more semester to enjoy it before I tell this school, get that Corn(ell) outta my face.

If you didn’t recognize that last line as a quote from Nacho Libre, you’re proving my point that most of you suck.

AJ Stella is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]. Stellin’ It Like It Is runs every other Friday this semester.