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MetaEzra Holiday Contest: 161 Things Every Alumna/us Must Do

Last weekend I partook in something that every Cornell alumna/us must do at least once in their lifetime: I marched down New York City's famed Fifth Avenue with close friends from undergrad, from Rockefeller Center to the Cornell Club, as part of the bi-annual Sy Katz '31 Memorial Parade -- apparently the shortest parade in New York City.

On top of being able to reconnect with many old Cornell friends who I haven't seen in years (who were too lazy to make it to Ithaca for Reunions or Homecomings or the stray hockey game), the parade reminded me of a project I had been working on but had since placed on the back-burner -- creating a list of 161 Things That Every Cornell Alumna/us Must Do before they die. This would be a 'Far Beyond Cayuga's Waters Bucket List', so to speak, to complement the widely publicized 161 Things Every Cornellian (Student) Must Do first published by the alumni magazine in 1995 and is now refreshed annually by the Daily Sun. That list has inspired interactive websites and many YouTube video and has permanently become an enduring Cornell tradition.

Now, loyal MetaEzra readers will no doubt recall that I've bemoaned many of the changes that have happened to the list over the years as it's progressively become less educational, diverse, and uniquely Cornellian in its aspirations, instead devolving into a list of alcohol and libido-fueled tomfoolery that can be found on any college campus. Because, really, Richard Farina is so much better than Four Loko or whatever the kids are raving about these days. So part of the goal of this new alumni-centric list is revert to that earlier, more genteel mindset, but at the same time, we don't want to sound too much like the organ of the University. This is an independent publication, after all.

Of course, 161 action items is a long list to make, and we will not be able to complete this project without a little help from all of our Cornellian friends: meaning you. So this year's MetaEzra holiday contest encourages our alumni readership to submit their top five choices for things that every Cornell alumnus/a must do. Be creative and funny, wistful, earnest, or sarcastic. Or some combination thereof. I have a hand-picked group of judges who will help to sift through the submissions to both a) compile a finalized list and b) select the submission with the best five entries.

Please email your five submissions by Wednesday, December 22nd to editor(at)metaezra.com with the subject line '161 Things Submission'. Winners and the finalized list will be announced in early 2011. An as yet to be determined prize will be awarded at that time.

And to whet your appetite a bit, I've proposed 25 possibilities below. Enjoy!

1. After graduation, stick around in Ithaca for a few days, weeks, or even years. Become a townie, even if just for a little while.

2. Try to get your senior thesis published. Pass yourself off as a graduate student, or better yet, a professor, to the journalís editors.

3. Date a current student while youíre out in the real world. Tell everybody you meet who is still a student that they have no idea how good they have it.

4. Enroll in a graduate program. Realize just how well your Cornell education prepared you.

5. Attend your 5th year reunion. Hit up the Palms, party like you did when you were 21, and realize that youíre not so young anymore.


6. Get involved in the Ivy-Plus groups in your town. Meet alumni from MIT and Dartmouth and Penn. Try not to come across like Andy Bernard in your love for Cornell.

7. Return to campus for Homecoming. Wonder why there arenít more students at the football game. Then consider the insignificant number of football games you attended as a student.

8. In between jobs or school, move back home and live with your parents for a little bit. Appreciate your freshman-year roommate all that much more.

9. Set up an account on eLynah.com. Marvel at the encyclopedia-like knowledge that some alumni have for the Big Red hockey team.

10. Return to Ithaca for your 10th year reunion. Stare in disbelief at the number of your classmates who brought along children.

11. Field a call from a student calling for the Cornell Annual Fund. Explain that youíre broke and still paying off your student debts. Screen your calls when they call you back and go on an expensive vacation to the Caribbean that winter.

12. Read the Cornell Daily Sun while bored at work. Get into a big argument on the online comments section.

13. Find yourself getting interested in an obscure topic matter far outside your expertise -- like ornithology or Greek history. Realize that Cornell offered courses in that field and you should have taken more classes outside of your major.

14. Return to campus and realize that the distance from Collegetown to North Campus is not nearly as far as you once thought it was.

15. Debate about registering for your 15th year Reunion, wondering if you have the time to make it to Ithaca. Register at the last minute, not telling anybody you will be attending. Surprise them all and party like you are a sophomore again.

16. Read a book written by a former classmate of yours. Wonder what you're going to do with your life.

17. Go to a Harvard-Cornell hockey game in Boston as an alum. Pretend that youíre a student and do all the cheers with the pep band even though you have gray hair.

18. Show up randomly at your fraternity or sorority. Emphatically tell everybody how much better you kept the house back in your day.

19. Randomly bump into a classmate you havenít seen since graduation. Make awkward small talk about nothing.

20. Bring your whole family to your 20th year Reunion. Take them canoeing on Beebe Lake and zip-lining over Fall Creek.

21. Start collecting pieces of Cornelliana. Wedgewood plates. Athletic jerseys. Old yearbooks. Insist to your relatives that the collection is really valuable, even to non-Cornellians while you secretly have your doubts.

22. On a work-trip to a city that youíve never been to before, reach out to the local Cornell Club and realize that as a Cornellian you have friends all over the world.

23. Watch Cornellís basketball team make the NCAA tournament.

24. Encourage your son or daughter to apply to Cornell. When they are accepted, tell them that thereís no pressure to enroll at Cornell -- they can go anywhere they like. Be elated when you drive them to Ithaca that August.

25. Attend your 25th class reunion. Balk at the size of the gift that your classmates ask you to give, but make it anyway.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on November 23, 2010 (#)

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