Saturday, July 9, 2011

Make New Friends But Keep The Old

Today I spent the day with my friend Carrie. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, Carrie and I went to middle school together and haven’t seen each other since our 8th grade year. Meeting up with her here at Cornell has been a trip. So today we decided to spend some time together just the two of us to catch up. We slept in, or I did, and then decided to skip out on the ‘wonderful’ RPCC (dining hall) breakfast and so we headed off to college town to get CTB (Collegetown Bagels).

Instead of being lazy ‘college students’, Carrie and I decided to talk down to Collegetown. On our walk we made sure to stop and take the tourist-like pictures of the monuments and of the views.

Our plan had originally been to get our nails done as a early birthday present for Carrie who is turning 17 on Tuesday, however the nail shop was booked today and tomorrow, so we scratched that from out plans and took a short little detour back to the dorms. We walked on this small little path over a small bridge that was over the water. Having been told a million times not even to get close to the water, we both stayed as far away from the water as we could, but were very impressed with how relaxing the trail was.

After our walk we both headed to our rooms to write our respective essays. I, luckily, got my first draft of my second draft done before dinner. My TA had told me in our meeting that it would make him happy if I just rewrote my essay completely, not because the thought my essay was awful but because it wasn’t worth trying to reword the whole thing to fit with the themes I was trying to use in the first one. So I spent the majority of my day writing a brand new essay off of the comments that my TA had given me during his office hours. I am very thankful for the advice my TA gave me because I think it will carry over into the essay I will write my senior year. It was a lot easier to just start over because it was a clean slate.

Then Carrie and I met up again to get dinner together. It was really nice to spend the day with her. We talked about college and where we wanted to go. We talked about some of the people we kept in touch with after middle school and about how high school is treating us.

After dinner I skyped with some friends from home and then the ‘crew’ watched a movie to keep our movie watching streak going. Now I am doing laundry in the basement with some of the ‘crew’.

Until tomorrow, Over and Out blog readers.

A Berry Beautiful Summer Saturday

Ithaca hosts probably the coolest farmers' market around, and this morning I got a very delicious taste of it. The setting is beautiful,located on the banks of a lake, and shaded by mulberry trees (their fruits are incredibly yummy). It has all the elements of a good, wholesome country feel to it, and the food is sublime. The vendor stalls hold everything from hikame gooseberries to fresh-grilled Cambodian food. We experienced so many different colors of chard, purple speckled green beans, and samosas.

However, my favorites were the berries. Vendors had not only the summer blueberries and raspberries, but strings of pink champagne currants and a huge selection of gooseberries. The latter two are East Coast berries I've never experienced in California before, and not only are they packed with vitamins and antioxidants, but also intensely delicious flavor. Choosing which ones to buy was the most difficult decision of the day; there are hairy ones, hybrid Black Velvets, and strings of tiny pink ones which look like jewels. I devoured a whole half-pink of black raspberries in about five minutes and went back to get more berries. This was definitely a fresh and flavorful experience.

After the morning snack, we joined Genevieve, Joe, Nick, and a few other Summer College students for a trip to Buttermilk Falls. It was nice little workout hiking to the top of the forest-shrouded gorges, where we were treated to the awe sight of water falls, terraces, and secluded water holes. How awesome is it that an incredible age-old process of nature, this beautiful clear water flowing over the rock faces, has created this natural wonder.

We hiked back to the swimming hole at the bottom, where some sunbathed and some dived in. I spent my time attempting to swim and as saved from sinking into the depth a couple of times.

The perfect summer day was rounded out by a trip to Friendly's diner. I gorged on comfort food, waffle fries, and ice cream sundaes. I figured I could afford it after the load of metabolism-boosting anthocyanins from the berries and our little outdoor excursion, but I'm not so sure my coaches would agree.

Conditioning has started back home, and I'm kicking myself for being unable to be there with my team. But, it's summer days like these that make you set aside these emotions in your mind, including my sadness that our time in Ithaca is wrapping up, my eagerness to get into shape again, and reluctance thinking about the dreary summer assignments awaiting me at home.

Because, after Cornell, Hotel, and this whole experience, our high school lives and responsibilities just seem like a lifetime away, and I feel like there's just so much more out there beyond Hercules. College life and independence(or Summer College life at least) is completely immeasurable when compared to the high school humdrum. This has been pretty epic.

Buttermilk Falls: Take Two

The group posing in the grass before swimming.

Once was not enough for me to enjoy the glorious gorges of Ithaca (legally). Today, I made the trip to Buttermilk Falls State park a second time, as I had to go swimming in the delicious waters again to beat the heat- and just because it's that beautiful. We spent all afternoon there, tanning and swimming alternatively. I think this really is one of my favorite aspects of Cornell, and Ithaca for that matter!

I will never tire of such beautiful scenery, such as the sunlight reflecting off of the water running downstream under a bride that could have just come out of a fairytale. I hope you readers never tire of the pictures. While they fail to capture the life of the gorges, I have plenty more where it came from.

Here is a plaque acknowledging the death of someone who lost their life trying to save a friend in the gorges. It is very important to be safe and not take risks in a place that can have many surprises and fatal currents that people do not expect. It was nice to have time on my second trip to slow down and enjoy the walk- for I was not as excited and giddy, running up and down the trail- so Teri could point out such little nuances and I could take the time to pay my respects. It is always good to be aware of your surroundings.

After the gorges we went and got a bite to eat at the infamous "Friendly's," enjoying some ice cream sundaes. This evening was quiet; spent writing a second draft of my essay for Freedom and Justice, and watching a movie with my good friend Isabela. Tomorrow we are hoping to go to the farmer's market!

Buttermilk Round 2

Today was a good off day to gather my thoughts for the 2nd draft of my essay, and just overall relax. Today was my first real academic-free day (working on the essay aside of course) since I got here. We decided to head up to Buttermilk Falls again since it was simply too good for those who couldn’t go earlier to miss out on. We drove up with Ms. Neal at around 1:00, and a few of our friends decided to take a cab. It was just as beautiful as Vivi, Isabella, and I had remembered, and it indeed lived up to the hype we had given it. Joe, Terilyn and Kelly all thought it was amazing, and it was great to just have a day of relaxation at the water, in preparation for what will most likely prove to be a hectic final week starting Monday (and Sunday for the Hotellies, good luck!).

Anyway, after this great “hike” by Buttermilk Falls, we headed off to a Friendly’s, which I had only been to once, and had some fantastic ice cream. I also am about to go to sleep, so I can make the best possible second draft of my Plato essay, details of which I will write about tomorrow.

All Play and No Work Would Never Work

I bought organic lavender soap from them. They were dressed way too cool. :)
Kelly, Ms. Neal and I went to the Ithaca Farmer's Market today. It was everything I hoped a farmer's market would be. There were yummy fruits and vegetables and organic soaps and recycled wood necklaces. The atmosphere was so perfect and cozy and I loved talking to the sellers. Everything was very personal.

Happily eating mulberries

I am itching to see what's going on with the Hercules Farmer's Market. We used to hold the Farmer's Market at a place called Market Hall, which has now closed. Like I mentioned a few posts back, I really truly adore the closeness and the sense of community I feel here. Honestly, I feel like these things make a community stronger and make its people- students included- more involved.

The Farmer's Market also had a zero-waste policy. There were no trash cans because almost everything sold there was sold in containers that were recyclable or compostable. Everyone had their reusable water bottles and bags in tow, and the farmer who sold Kelly raspberries asked her to give the container back after, which she happily did.

Kelly and I had fun attacking a mulberry tree, too. We both loved the dark little berries.

After about an hour or two at the Farmer's Market, we picked up Joe, Nick and Genevieve to go to Buttermilk Falls. We swam around in the cold water and climbed over beautifully naturally-sculpted rock structures. I don't even know what to say about this except that my old dream of becoming a park ranger was reignited today.

It was nice to relax and watch a rendition of "As You Like It" by the Ithaca Shakespeare Company after such a packed day. The play took place in the Arboretum of the Cornell Plantations, between a circle of medium-sized trees. The little paths leading to the wooden stage were lined with different rocks. It was so adorable. This place seriously has everything. It amazes me that there is so much to do and so much to learn!

Tomorrow I will be working on a group project for Hotel Management. The assignment is to think about how we can be of service to other people, come up with a plan, and then do it. My group is planning on volunteering either at the local soup kitchen here or at a nearby Goodwill.

We don't have office hours tomorrow. When Mark announced this yesterday, the entire class clapped. I didn't quite understand it. We only have three weeks here- I want every minute I can get to absorb all that Mark and Reneta and our TAs have to offer. Even though I adore exploring the campus and Ithaca to no end, I feel that I am missing out terribly without these office hours. It's strange to me that no one else seems to feel this way.

Ithaca is Gorges

Today we ILC'ers payed a little visit to the gorges. Not the illegal ones that we're not supposed to go to, but the ones at the beautiful Buttermilk Falls State Park.

This was absolutely one of the best parts of the trip so far because I have wanted to go swimming since we got to Chicago!!! I was fairly upset when we found out that the Drake Hotel didn't have a pool, and I was extremely upset when the cab driver from the airport told us that the International Hotel had a pool, only to find once we were inside that he had lied to us. The water was amazing at Buttermilk, but the sights were what made it serene.

Overview of the Swimming Area

Main Swimming Hole

The ILC crew preparing for a glorious swim

It took only about 15 minutes to get to Buttermilk from our campus, so we may very well head back some time soon. The river was beautiful, the sun was shining, and the water just felt... well it was indescribable. I've been wanting to swim so badly, haha.

After that we went to a place called "Friendly's" for dinner. I had what was called a "Grilled Cheese Burger" (two grilled cheese sandwiches with a burger in the middle) and can honestly say that it was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. If I learn nothing else while in Ithaca, I will at least know that someone, somewhere, has a mind capable of creating pure pleasure with only a bun, some cheese, and some meat.

When we got back to Cornell however, I figured that it was about time to get started on the second draft of my Plato essay. I finished a good deal of it today. and will just have to put the finishing touches on it tomorrow before I turn it in. I really hope Simon likes it, because I tried my best to form it around his requests. If he doesn't however, then it's only a draft. I will still have time to make it perfect.

'Til tomorrow readers. Good night!

2-3, Cha-Cha-Cha!

If I haven't stressed it enough already, I love to dance. In fact, I actually brought my dance shoes with me to Cornell in case an opportunity to use it arises. After eating breakfast at RPCC, I decided I would stop by the Helen Newman Center and see if their rec center was open today as it was closed for Independence Weekend. Fortunately enough, the place was alive and kicking, and I went straight back to my dorm for a bit of a wardrobe change. Back with my dance shoes and "fitness" attire, I was ready to shake what can only be described as "what my mother gave me."

I was so ecstatic to discover this secluded dance studio.

For much of the day, I was fortunate to have much of the dance studio to myself! While I consider myself a very outgoing person, I have a tendency to hide many of my dance moves from other people, either because I am too embarrassed or unconfident to perform them. The case arose when a couple came in to utilize the dance space as well. Noticing their shoes, I knew they were going to do some ballroom dance, and after asking them what type they were practicing, it was actually the Smooth Waltz. While it seems that their expertise lies in the American style of ballroom, I was still very shy with practicing my Latin dances as I knew my technique is still touchy and I was obviously adding in choreography that is not deemed as "official." However, the more I danced, the more I grew comfortable with it.

Unfortunately, a trio also wanted to use the same space and requested that I move to a different area of the floor. There was one space tucked in the corner of the room, but I could tell the floor was so dirtied and abused by street footing that it was starting to damage my ballroom shoes. Then again, you always have to make compromises with public space and so that was just one example. Although it may not be ideal or fair, a group of three people who are practicing demanding samurai combat would probably need the place more than a simple kid practicing ballroom. Most people claim that I can be a bit of a pushover, and while they may be right, it was rather unreasonable to stand my ground in that situation. On the plus side, it gave me the opportunity to practice some fun hip hop choreography, which I am obviously no expert at.

While my other ILC cohorts explored the outdoors of Ithaca and Buttermilk Falls, I insisted on staying on campus as my asthma has been kicking in for the past week and on account of the fact that I simply don't know how to swim.

Do I regret not experiencing one of my only chances of exploring upstate New York? Yes.
But have I ever regretted dancing as my passion? I never have and certainly never will.

A Bit in Reverse

So, we are going to change up the formula a little today with a preview of what we are planning to do, though that in of itself is not really that clear right now.  Always part of the journey, I would think.

Today should be a nice, fun, relaxing day.  There are plans to head to Buttermilk Falls, but that isn't set in stone yet, and I am not sure I am going due to the fact that I have other plans around campus.  But no matter, any free time around here is always a good thing.

Tonight, I am planning to go to the plantations and see the Ithaca Shaakespeare Company give a free play.  I heard the area is quite lovely, and that the play should be very interesting.  The only problem is that I lost the sheet that said what the play was, so I am going to hope that it is something that is not all too familiar with me.  I like surprises.

On another note, I believe today, my group is meeting up to do a service learning project for the Hotel Operations course.  It is about showing proper etiquette and being courteous and kind and doing something good for ourselves and for those around us.  Sounds a little corny, I know, but it should be very nice to do.

Here's to a great day, and I will update this when it is over.  Till then, au revoir.


Well, Buttermilk Falls apparently did not want me to go.  Or time, or fate, or the transit system.  No matter what, I managed to see a lot of the surrounding area on the bus that was supposed to take me back to my dormitory.  Instead, it went to the outskirts of the area, which was good.

Once my friend Dylan and I returned, we set off on a cross-campus tour, to explore the parts of the campus that we had not yet traveled to.  It turned out to be a great experience, and we managed to see much of the West Campus, which is practically nonexistant to Hotelies due to its proximity away from the school.

Areas such as the War Memorial and the Bethe House showed that this part of Cornell was actually a lot more modern than the other areas of campus, aside from some of the architecture.  If I ever go to Cornell, I would definitely want to live on West Campus instead of North.

This evening, I visited the Cornell Plantations to see a rendition of "As You Like It" put on for free by the Ithaca Shakespeare Company.  The play was excellent and very funny, while keeping true to the material and remaining highly philosophical about the concept of love.  Not to mention the fact that the Plantations have some of the greatest plant life.  Though I had originally been there alone, Terilyn and Ms. Neal arrived to join me at the grove where the play was, and I hope they had a great time as well.

In general, today has been a day of complete misdirection and beautiful sights.  Then I realize that it was the last real Saturday before we leave.  Though I did not go to Buttermilk, it was great nonetheless.

There's still one more day left in this weekend, and I am determined to go to the Farmer's Market.  Hopefully the fun momentum continues.