Saturday, March 20, 2010

Seeing Red

This is my fiftieth season as a Cornell basketball fan. I checked today; I remember seeing Ron Ivkovich play, and he graduated in 1961. I don't know how this is possible (since I usually don't remember my phone number), but I remember the score of the first game my parents ever took me to: 84-80, Colgate wins, two overtimes, 1960-61 season. I remember all those years in cavernous Barton Hall when hardly anyone went to see Cornell play basketball; I didn't miss a game for ten years. I remember the Cracker Jack and Cornell orange drink in the little cartons that always tore wrong. I took road trips, two consecutive years, to Penn and Princeton when each year we just had to win once to win the Ivy League and we lost all four games. And all the years when Cornell never came close to winning the title.

So you can see why I wasn't going to miss the first-round NCAA tournament game against Temple. No matter that it started at 1:30 a.m. Korea time today. I went to bed at 11, set the alarm for 1:15, half-woke up when it went off, and drifted back to sleep till 2. By the time I woke up and lumbered to my computer, we were up (!) by seven with seven minutes left in the first half. I didn't miss a second the rest of the way, and Cornell (seeded 12th) dominated Temple (seeded 5th) the rest of the way. We deserved to win by more than the 13-point margin that went in the books.

It was a surreal experience, sitting alone in my apartment in Korea at 2:30 and 3:00 and 3:30, eggbeatering my fists in the air with every three-pointer and layup, not wanting to make any noise because of my sleeping neighbors. The game just got better and better and I loved every second, though I wish I'd had someone to share it with. I was so wound up when the game ended at 3:33 that I couldn't fall asleep till 5:00.

Still so tired. But 50 seasons of happy trumps one day of tired. And we play again Monday my time, when I have planning periods all day except for 90 minutes.

The rest of my day turned out really well, too. This is my month to pick places for the Seoul Veggie Club to eat, and today was the first trial. As I headed out at noon, the weather was very dark, cold and windy, and spitterspattering rain. I was afraid nobody would come to the Dubai restaurant in Itaewon; I had made a reservation for 15 people. But, as it turned out, 16 showed up, most of them newbies, all of them really nice, and it worked out great. Good food (baba ghanoush, falafel, hummus, and yogurt for me), new friends, and I, who have always defined myself as shy, managed to not stammer or wet myself while talking to 13 people I'd never met before.

Then it was off to Insadong to scout out a place for next weekend. Insadong and Itaewon, while both attractions to foreigners, are completely different. Itaewon is all bars and restaurants, US soldiers and Turks and Africans and Arabs, very  busy and pushy. Insadong is full of art galleries and traditional shops, and it's completely devoid of cars. One is a mini Times Square and the other a maxi Ithaca Commons.

Anyway, I arranged for dinner next Sunday at a traditional Korean (but vegan) place in Insadong-- which, in my case, will mean 90 minutes of dining and 30 minutes of getting up off the floor cushion-- and came home.

So... life is good. And the Big Red takes on Wisconsin in two days. (Badgers? We don't need no stinkin' Badgers!)

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