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SONG | A Relationship Isn’t the Answer to Happiness

The first time my boyfriend and I talked about the definition of love, we were in a New York City apartment. The summer was humid and scented with moss, and in a crowded kitchen, we talked about what love means — argued about it, really. We quickly realized this word required a definition neither of us could grasp — a concept simultaneously as expansive as the city awake around us, yet as narrow as the mortar between brick walls. We haven’t talked about that definition in a while, but I hear it discussed all the time around me, in cafés, in classrooms, in libraries. And as Valentine’s Day comes around, there emerges a widening rift between those who are lonely and those who are not, those who are cuffed and those who are eating ice cream alone in their bed, those who are happy and those who are heartbroken.

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SONG | Keeping Up the Beginning-of-the-Semester High

I’ve been waking up these past few days with the same strange, rare feeling — I am at Cornell and feeling motivated. 
I call it the “beginning-of-the-semester high.” Anyone who is a human and studies at Cornell knows what it is: that feeling at the beginning of every semester when everything still feels possible, productive and hopeful. I’ve seen my friends (and myself) suddenly have the urge to make an omelet for breakfast and spend more than 20 seconds picking out the day’s outfit, then take the longer, more nature-filled route to the first lecture. Time and time again, I hear friends setting goals around this time of the semester, saying things like “I’ll go to class more often” or “I’ll coordinate chores with my housemates” or “I’ll try to cook more this semester.”
It’s strange how there’s a period of time when we suddenly feel like our lives are put together. Maybe it’s the freshness of a new beginning, or the promise of a rare week with no tests, but something in the air is different. Whatever it is, I like it.

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SONG | To Those Who Can’t Go Home for Thanksgiving

Every Thanksgiving before college, my mother and I used to prepare the dinner table together. She would bring out trays of ginger candies and sunflower seeds, and I would fill the teapot with Oolong. She didn’t believe in making turkey — our Asian family, like many others, has a mysterious aversion to white meat— so she would always prepare a roast duck. My sister and father would join us at the dinner table, and we would spoon pieces of duck on “bing,” piling on sliced cucumbers, scallions, black bean sauce and oozes of Sriracha. It was never cold in California, but there was always the same warm glow inside.

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SONG | I Left My Grandpa Behind in China

My parents packed all their luggage in one just bag when they came to the United States from China. That’s a story my family loves to tell over and over again — the layers of coats my mother wore so she could bring over all her clothes, the prized kitchen knife my father snuck past security, the Scott McKenzie song playing on the airplane when they first landed. But I never quite thought about what my parents couldn’t pack — the scallion pancakes from the shack downstairs in their province, my mother’s pink bike she rode for three days on a road trip, the Napa cabbage blooming behind their old home. All their brothers, sisters, cousins. Those were all faint elements I knew existed, but never saw for myself.