I recently learned about the Bechdel Test (ironically from a male friend, but so it goes). In essence, the test measures women’s representation in fiction and requires that two women talk to each other about anything other than a man. And that’s when I realized very few moments in my life would pass the Bechdel Test. Anytime I’m talking to a female friend for more than a few minutes, the topic of boys typically comes up. Sometimes we’re ranting about a male professor.
I’ve been taking it easy lately. Last fall, I realized I wouldn’t graduate a computer science major if I didn’t load up on classes. Now that I’ve reached the end of the tunnel and have time to relax, I started playing a game. It’s called Tinder; you’ve probably heard of it. Tinder is part dating app, part middle school sleepover party and part ego booster.
I feel as though I am losing the core of my identity in one fell swoop, on the morning of Dec. 17, in Bartels Hall, in a ceremony rife with pomp, circumstance and vaguely unflattering gowns. I chose to graduate early for several reasons, none of them quite good enough to dissipate the pangs of doubt and nostalgia I’ve been feeling for this place in the recent weeks. Ithaca has been my home for much longer than four years (I’m what you might call “fairly local”) and Cornell has been a goal of mine since I was old enough to spell “Big Red.” Granted, I’ve lost a fair amount of faith in this school in the past year watching election tension divide people and feeling the pressure to join what I fondly refer to as the corporate career conveyor belt. But graduation goggles are setting in, and I am sad to see my days as a student here end. Leaving something certainly forces you to remember it.
I spent roughly one hour and 10 minutes twice a week for an entire semester discussing the body. I’ve thought that after the amount of time spent reading about this physical entity — and believe me, even English classes about the body know how to work you — and pondering over its purpose, I thought I would come closer to understanding what this thing I’m living in is. The body to me is such a beautiful thing. The unique aspects of each and every body fascinates me. I think it’s lovely the way skin folds and smooths.
Nothing reminds me how disgusting I am like the common cold. When I get sick, both my entire body and everything I touch become covered in a thin layer of mucus in some really twisted and slimy version of the Midas Touch. I get breakouts from cold sweats. I put what little hair I have into what can only be described as a “man bun.” I am physically repulsed by the thought of putting on pants that are not pajamas. When my nose is runny, I have to carry around an entire box of Kleenex and a plastic bag.
A couple weeks ago, I met my hero in my own living room. He was in his early 20s with a tacky outfit and and a cheap haircut, sitting in a chair by the window. After eavesdropping on his conversation, I gathered that he was from Texas, so I, having grown up in Dallas, decided to introduce myself. Half-an-hour or so into our talk, I was able to piece together the story of who he was and how he found his way into my house:
Months ago, he graduated from a small college in rural Texas but didn’t yet want to join the workforce and sell his soul to the highest bidder. Instead, he decided, he would sell everything he owned, change his phone number and travel the country until he ran out of money.
There’s a quip that goes, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” It took me a while to sort through the implications of that statement when I first heard it. “Why would I ask someone that already has too much on their plate to get something done for me,” I scoffed. And then I got to college. My freshman year I struck up conversation with some kid in some introductory 500 person class Cornell conveniently forgets to mention they have in their pre-frosh handbooks. He was a sophomore chemical engineering major taking 23 credits and not regretting every decision he’s ever made.
The presence of life on Earth is tied in multiple ways to the presence of one substance — water. Water is the biggest component in most living organisms and has the power to leave a long-lasting impact on the environment. It is no surprise, then, that astrobiologists have long focused on understanding how exoplanets could develop the right conditions for life. What happens when dynamic cycles of activity are present without water? That is the question that first arose in the mind of one Cornell scientist.
Summer has come to an inevitable end, but conversations about what happened during that time never seem to. Aside from internships and jobs, a widely talked about subject that always seems to remain is travel. When people come back from trips abroad, it’s not uncommon for me to hear them say, “I’ve changed. No one here understands me.” And that’s something I’ve been guilty of numerous times in the past. It makes sense: nobody has gone through exactly what you’ve been through or felt what you’ve uniquely felt. An acquaintance of mine who seems to spend more time on a plane than in school went to social media to describe his numerous travel experiences and how wonderful it was — how blessed he felt — to travel to different countries.
With only around three weeks of freshman year left — and that includes the study period and finals — the nostalgia is real. Even though I’m only a freshman and I can’t imagine what the seniors are going through, there’s something special about the first year at a university; there are some things that happen freshman year which will most likely never happen again. Will I miss the lack of air conditioning in my dorm room? The buffet-style dining halls that make me eat far more than necessary to make up for the over-priced swipe? The cramped living quarters that make catching a cold all-year round inevitable?