Rain brings out UCSD’s colors

    San Diego has gotten its fair share of rain these past couple months. We’re all familiar with it by now. Rain pounding on rooftops, sometimes so heavy it sounds like hail. There is the occasional roar of thunder and flash of lightning. Like a traveling circus, the storm theatrics pop in and then hardly leave any signs of their passage the next morning. Just call it the Taste-of-Life-in-Seattle Tour. Instead of the Space Needle, though, we get a layer of broken tree branches covering perfectly dry concrete, as if nothing happened.

    Most of the time, I don’t mind the rain so much. Getting caught without an umbrella, stumbling through the drops … all I need is some Dido in my iPod to turn it into my very own mind movie: drama by way of cold and warm fronts. Sleeping in on rainy days is pure, cozy bliss. It’s nice to know that even California has seasons.

    The sad thing about the rain is that it extinguishes life on our campus. Suddenly, the campus population seems to have dwindled from thousands to hundreds. Price Center is a dreary, gloomy mess, sending students scampering into the claustrophobic Cove. Library Walk booths are reduced to empty gray tables. The colors from a million student fliers bleed onto the ground and into the cracks. And the poor eucalyptus trees — once tall and glorious — lie helpless, rootless, on the dirt. The talking trees are more alive than they.

    Because of the preceding gloom, though, the sun shines all the brighter on our little Eden by the sea. Especially after a few days of wind and rain, a piercing blue sky and a steady 68 degrees are more than welcome. Sun is always great, but UCSD sparkles in the sun like Cinderella during the ball. Why? Because life is found everywhere.

    At a university known for its love affair with the study of life science, everyone complains or at least acknowledges its dearth of campus life. Yet to me, this quarter’s many rainy days have only accentuated the beauty and vitality of our campus during the sunny ones.

    Library Walk is a good example. Once simply the domain of scattered student organizations, the weekly Farmers’ Market has injected tasty energy into this main thoroughfare. Lines for crepes and mangos and tamales, people walking around with pita bread, creamy napoleons and flowers. And the heavenly smell of barbecue in the morning calls all UCSD carnivores to attention. Add in the quarterly Vendor Fair and Library Walk is transformed into a bustling avenue; it’s actually quite exciting to see everyone stroll around under the sweet sun.

    Stand still. There are people on the blocks. There are people with food and posters. There are smiles. There are friends. There’s life. There is a cheesy columnist grinning madly like a psycho at our quirky school. With all the commotion, one might forget that it is UCSD, except for Geisel Library protruding from the background.

    That Geisel, as weird as it looks, is also a source of pride. The mirrored glass windows reflect the white pillows of clouds and watery blue, a piece of art in itself. Plus, last week was the 101st birthday of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel). As in all the other years, UCSD pulled out all the stops with a giant inflatable Cat in the Hat, a giant inflatable pink birthday cake and 2,000 free slices of cake and fruit punch for all to enjoy. Throw in the Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra and staffers in tall hats, and it’s a short, yet delightful and whimsical respite from classes and the norm.

    Price Center is the epicenter of activity under the sun. The trees are blooming, sending petal confetti swirling with the slightest whisper of the wind. People congregate in the plaza, soaking in the rays and music with friends. Everything from the UCSD Gospel Choir to the band of the day to readings and lectures and dance performances has been displayed at Price Center. During the recent Fusion Kick-off, it was really, really hard not to shuffle your feet in quasi-dance under the table, or at least bob your head to the beat. As Usher sings, you get “Caught Up” in the performances and the music, even though Price Center music is always a couple of decibels higher than needed for pleasant conversation.

    It might be my senior-year mindset speaking, but UCSD really isn’t as dead as its reputation has it. Do you ever feel like something blooms right in front of your eyes; when you didn’t see all that much before? It’s kind of like that.

    So, sure, we don’t have the cultural vibrancy of Berkeley, or the ritziness of Westwood and UCLA. But let me tell you, I was a pretty happy camper eating my Dr. Seuss cake with my friend standing underneath a metal tree in front of the spaceship library next to a mini piano and harp on a perfect day. That’s UCSD, baby.

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