WILK | Following That ‘I Don’t Belong Here’ Feeling

Google Maps was my first friend at Cornell. I was so scared of looking lost freshman year that I never went anywhere without company, and before I knew anyone, my typing that brought the app to life was close enough to a walking partner. Together, we studied campus cartography with the kind of obsession that comes from intimidation and also adds it — the kind teenage girls teach each other to survey social scenes with. At 18, my college career could’ve been cut short more than once, all because I had my nose stuck deep in the paths on my phone screen rather than keeping my eyes on the very real roads around me. After four years, I still find myself craving direction when trying to find any of the places I haven’t been, but I guess crutches never claim to teach you how to walk on your own. 

I’m just now learning how nice walking on your own can be.

WILK | In (Self) Defense of Accomodations

Last Wednesday, about Cornell 700 students were sitting in front of screens at around the same time. We were taking the prelim for HADM 4300: Introduction to Wines. Time-slotted within the mosaic of countless other prelims last week, it was joke material. 

The 135 question exam opened and closed in under two hours. And after, I felt a selfish comfort when my roommates looked as shaken by it as I was, but as we were debriefing, a difference dawned on me. Confidence aside, they had at least completed the exam.

WILK | Winter Breaking Bad

Every interlude between semesters starts and ends the same: with the stress of doing it right. Coming face to face in class and on campus means tiny talk about big plans. That’s something I understood after just my first season of breaks, and in anticipation, I’ve been sharpening my reflexes to kick away questions of how I spent it — like a single dollar I couldn’t stretch. 

I still don’t know how to break like a Cornellian, people whose pauses come only with the promise we’ll get busy again. So many of my pauses have left things in a pile to be picked up where they were left, a load no less precarious or heavy. Even without the rigor of academics or internships, relaxation can’t find its way in.

WILK | Here Lies Learning, With Success in its Wake

But this place isn’t for just staying afloat. It’s for jet-propelled water hoverboards, and then the covert uses of the technology those take. If we’re honest, nearly none of us here came just to get by.We’re in this for worlds more than that

WILK | Faking it Until You Don’t Want to Make it Anymore

I was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society in seventh grade. Our mentors were eighth-graders seasoned by nothing more than hours of community service that most either forged or substituted for familial favors. Following their footsteps, we were to stand in the middle school gymnasium and be introduced to the families of spectators in the bleachers, ending with our career aspirations. I was freshly thirteen and my future plans were far from concrete.

WILK | The Paradox of Election Harm Reduction

Around 2 a.m. on Monday, my roommate and I were going through a slideshow of quotes from Joe Biden and then Donald Trump, in desperate need of entertainment. Our aimless procrastination had us following her mouse to online galleries that burned into our eyes with the unsavory clumsiness of the two men who were competing for the prestigious misnomer of leader of the free world. It was supposed to be funny, and for a bit, it was. Until their words stopped painting an image of their indiscretion, instead telling ugly truths of their aptitude to cause suffering. My laughter was interrupted by a lump in my throat.

WILK | On Settling: What happens to a vote deferred?

Four years fill up fast and hold a lot. Namely: A rough presidency, personal growth and the mind-numbing confusion and chaos with which each has been punctuated. Growing since I was sixteen has taken the trajectory of a balloon. I lifted off to a path that promised to float higher and higher, expanding my perspective and peering over an ever-widening landscape of myth and knowns and unknowns, but then all too suddenly touched back down in inevitable deflation, landing me squarely up the steps from the Oak Ave circle, staring at some well-intentioned chalk art that I couldn’t help but meet with a sneer. And a sigh.

WILK | Breakup With a Small Town

Coming to college made me conscious of the problem of having an introduction prone to misinterpretation. Every “where do you live” since my first introduction to my freshman year roommate has made me wonder if my graceless attempts to illustrate the distinct small town-ness of where I was raised give people an entirely wrong impression. I grew up in an oxymoron. Rural New York is a descriptor so pitted against itself that it almost cancels out, diffusing into a vast Middle of Nowhere that disappears off mental maps when you’re tasked with telling someone where you’re from and where that is. My jumbled words between ‘um’s’ and ‘have you heard of’s’ could never capture the character of my piece of upstate in an icebreaker-friendly time crunch, so what follows is a hunch that feels like an itch that strangers walk away thinking of charming shots of green and hay from Hallmark movies instead of the slightly less magical reality I knew.

WILK | HIST 2020: Unlearning American Lies

Before the whir of life-changing events and the unprecedented-ness that has characterized the past six months, I was bent over my notebook for Black Radical Tradition in the U.S., taught by Professor Russell Rickford, Africana and American Studies,  rushing to sloppily jot down his last sentence: “Americanism is ahistorical.”

More recently, sitting on my couch instead of a desk and staring not at slides but the rolling credits for Spike Lee’s most recent war drama, Da 5 Bloods, I heard an echo of Prof. Rickford in the back of my head. And since then, I’ve been reminded of those three words so often that I now hear them in my own voice, as I read people’s denialism about the United States’ militant capacity to conquer civilians. Specifically its own citizens. Over videos of federal agents deployed on the streets of New York, Portland and Chicago, Homeland Security Investigations officers brutalizing protestors and plainclothes cops snatching people into unmarked vans, outrage and shock have been weirdly focused on where this is happening, and whose citizens it’s happening to, rather than the simple fact that it’s happening. These reactions reveal a need to create distance between America and the evidence before us, and to pretend that distance is as geographical as it is ethical: “A little graffiti and some toppled statues and we turn into freaking [Al]Fallujah.