Yet despite the change in character, my story has followed me to Ithaca. It reminded me of a key fact of my life: you can leave the wetlands, master the English language and run as far as your heels and heart can carry. Yet, the story runs with you.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters has awarded three Cornell alumni with architecture, fiction and music awards for 2019. With the intention of sustaining literature, music and fine arts, the academy honors over 70 people who have dedicated their life craft to sustaining those very components.
I peaked when I was 10 years old. I know that sounds ridiculous. And whenever I mention it out loud to someone — my friends, parents, professors — they roll their eyes and laugh it off. To be quite honest, I don’t blame them. How many times have we heard this clichéd story before?
I’ve been reading Fog Over Tolbiac Bridge, a classic French comic by the great Jacques Tardi, recently reprinted by Fantagraphics. It’s an adaption of a detective novel, and it is good. Tardi has a way of telling hard-boiled detective stories with this loose, springy style that brings another level of joy to the work — picture Shel Silverstein let loose on film noir.
I’m taking Intro to Japanese (six credits). My German, I now realize, is significantly better than I thought. I have an ongoing collection of observations that I’ve made of this stunning campus and all its life. They are in disarray, just like my overstuffed email inbox. Yesterday, while parsing through a word document, in which I store all my potential stories, I discovered that over 60 (!) pages were devoted purely to good words that I had come across.
There was a recent article that ran under The Sun’s news section, titled “Cornell Student Critique Culture of Careerism.” It was published in news, but given the collective shrieking of students and parents alike, it might as well have been an opinion column with a taste for blown fuses. In it, Erial, a classics student talks about the financial high wire act she’s embraced the moment she switched from studying chemistry and anatomy to Latin. She cites her apathy towards medicine, and the fact that she can’t even stand blood, which is a bit like a computer science major saying they don’t like computers. “That something I’ve accepted for who I am: I am not meant to be a doctor, but it’s okay,” she says, with a sniff of defiance. To be honest, I found it refreshing.
I’ve been telling people for a while now that I fear I may be outgrowing my column, and that fear was almost confirmed in the early stages of writing this one. As I rummaged through the dozens of pages in my “Sun Columns” document, I found that many of the ideas/thoughts there failed to strike me with any kind of zest or zeal for transmitting them to print. It’s as if the would-be incisive ingredients of my metaphorical ink had been reduced to a sparse collection of watered down pencil shavings and stale, rehashed themes. I realized that — in spite of all the demons I’ve exorcised using the style on which I have relied for over two years — the time had come for me to slough off some of my inhibitions and mold the medium into what I needed it to be… or else I would soon become unfulfilled. And so, Editor willing, I will commence with doing just that.
If someone were to misread one of my pieces, they might mistakenly assume that I am an angry or unhappy person. Yet anyone who knows me must know, I hope, that this couldn’t be further from the truth. While I certainly have every right to be or feel angry (and let’s not get that twisted), I am actually just an unflinchingly honest person — or, at least, I try to be. I harbor no bitterness in my heart, only an irrepressible impulse towards love and truth — love and truth, I reiterate, because the former is incomplete without the latter. Please, let me explain.
It’s been a journey. There’ve been ups and downs and many exciting moments for me as a staff writer in the Arts & Entertainment section of The Sun — ranked #1 among college papers by Princeton Review — and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it for anything. For the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of sharing my thoughts and opinions on my favorite art form in the world, cinema, with a community of intelligent, media-savvy people who actually enjoy art. There’s no finer school in which to have a dialogue about artwork with your fellow writers, professors and peers. I made some of my best friends while covering the movie beat (still trying to match you for prolificness, Zach Zahos ’15, and you for enthusiasm, Sean Doolittle ’16) and got to participate in something very special.