Amerika the beautiful.

Well, one week of the semester down and fourteen to go. How did two years (almost) go by this quickly? When you’re in the middle of something this intense, it seems like it’s lasting forever. But when things calm down, you realize how quickly time has slipped by. Cliché cliché. True, however.

For me, it takes about two years to get acquainted with a place, to establish strong relationships and a good group of friends. Now that this is finally starting to happen in Ithaca, it’s time to leave! Those are the types of fun tricks life likes to play on you, I suppose.

The other frustrating part is—how do I choose my final courses? Certain ones—the ones I know I need—are easy. But there’s so much good stuff here that it hurts when you must choose to not take a class. It’s a giant smorgasbord, and you can’t eat it all—unfortunately. I’ve taken so many finance courses that I feel one more won’t add any additional value. So, I think I’ll round out the experience by stepping back and fitting everything I’ve learned into the big picture. Let’s try some macroeconomic theory, a bit of urban land use planning and some intense discussion of affordable housing and sustainable development. I can’t leave without having some fun, though. So perhaps I’ll keep making photographs this semester (pure joy), and take the Hotel School’s wine-tasting course. Who can think of anything better than a university course in wines?

My last semester at Cornell starts today. Yikes!
People are starting to come back to campus after its brief winter sleep. It makes me happy to see younger students showing their parents around for the first (or second) time. There’s so much amazement in their eyes--it reminds me how beautiful this place really is. One gets used to things, you know? Not appreciating your surroundings is one of the small tragedies of life.
Have you seen the new Winter Sports postage stamps? They're very nice looking, in my opinion. I quite like them. In fact, I went so far as to purchase some yesterday.

Today I am thinking about how thankful I am for family and good friends. This sounds like a cliché, but really it’s an axiom: When you are surrounded by people who love you, the pain of life’s difficulties is diminished, and the joy of life is magnified one hundredfold.

After spending wonderful time with both of our families this holiday, Rose and I have now come to rest for a few days at our friend Suzi’s house on beautiful, gray, endless Lake Eire. Suzi is the kind of friend who gives even when she doesn’t have. There’s one word to describe her: unconditional. When you have people in your life who love and care for you unconditionally, you are truly fortunate.

We celebrated the new year last night at a restaurant in Tremont, the gentrified old steelworker’s neighborhood just south of downtown Cleveland. The restaurant, Sage Bistro, was created by Rose’s cousin Marisa, her husband Nick, and their friends Michael and Linda. The place did smashingly well last night—a fully packed house! We’re so happy for them. And of course our dear friend Bill surprised us by showing up just after midnight, placing his ice-cold hands on Rose’s neck to announce his arrival.

I think of all of my new Korean and Chinese friends whom I’ve met a Cornell. How much I’ve learned about their cultures! And what hospitality Rose and I have experienced from them! They are all so kind, genuine and gracious. (There seem to be so few people in the world who are truly gracious.) I take comfort and pride in the fact that I know that I will be friends with them for the rest of my life. I look forward to visiting them in their home countries.

There are many others I could mention that are just as important to Rose and me. The people here are simply the ones currently in my consciousness. I’m so thankful, and so happy. I pray that this feeling is a sign of things to come this year.