Archive for September, 2012

Weeks Like These

So it’s been quite the week.

Mr. C on Monday—the days passed, but the grief still remained.  We were united for the week, and hopefully it can last for the year, maybe even for a few years.  I never truly realized how incredible of a person he was until I saw the impact he had on everyone.  He was the idealistic person on all levels—as a teacher, friend, colleague, father, and community member.  I’m living vicariously through stories and words and tears, but I will always remember him as the teacher who changed South Burlington—our own superhero.  A Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco in his early years, he had ways of changing the world too.  It goes to show that the worst things happen to the best people.  But his laugh still reverberates throughout the halls of SB, in our minds, in our hearts—it’s the one thing I distinctly remember, even if I didn’t know him that well.

Later in the week, a student at Rutland passed away as the victim of a tragic drunk driving accident.  She was an adept violinist, as well as the concertmistress of her local youth orchestra.  Many of her close friends are in the VYO.  Yesterday, the VYO had their annual school tour, doubled with a fall concert.  As we were primarily in Rutland, the day was dedicated to Carly.  At the concert at Castleton State, we sight-read Elgar’s Nimrod from his Enigma Variations in Carly’s honor, a piece that I did not realize was so moving.  Elgar has always been my favorite, for the emotion in his work is unparalleled to that of other composers.  Nimrod struck me as I played, sending me back into all these thoughts I’ve had this entire week from everything that has happened.  At the end of the beautiful movement, our conductor held his baton, his breath, his stance.  Not a soul moved.  And if I could capture that moment in words, I would.  It was one of the most powerful moments I have ever had on stage.  Music is emotion, no doubt—but this piece was played with sincere emotion: it was for Carly, for Mr. C, for anyone in our lives who had passed on.  It was more a cry releasing itself in the form of Elgar.  I’m posting the link—never have I felt so in love with a piece such as this.  RIP Carly, RIP Mr. Cannon—two incredible people who have had tremendous impact on their communities.

Yesterday was most definitely the longest day I have had in a while.  We started off at 7:30 am at Elley Long, went to Rutland for two school performances, and headed to Castleton State for our fall concert.  The day lasted for a solid 16 hours or so.  At the Rutland school, we had about two hours of downtime, sowe decided to go to a coffee shop “around the corner.”  What-seems-like-hours-later, we walked into some far-off coffee shop (NOT around the corner), drenched from head-to-toe, laughing uncontrollably.  “VYO takes Rutvegas by the storm,”  “This is a replacement of our Russia tour,” “Don’t get too emotionally attached to the menu, we’re about to leave,” “Rutvegas is kind of nicer than I imagined; I thought there would be like straw huts or something.”  So many great moments that remind us how much we love orchestra.

At the school, we had to introduce all the instruments to the kids.  As the bassoon player held up her instrument, a wave of “whoa’s” travelled through the elementary-schoolers.  They stood on their tip-toes, wide-eyed, struck like cavemen discovering fire.  I wish someone would’ve videotaped the moment!  Before the concert, as we were warming up, many of the kids were evidently disturbed by our sounds, as they covered their ears and squinted their eyes in pain.  I mean, we’re not that bad, are we?

In other news….early this week, I had a short story published on VPR.  What’s been exciting about it has been everyone telling me they’ve been hearing my name on the radio—one step closer to larger audiences reading my work!

It’s already October (well on Monday).  It seems like just yesterday that I was in Boston for SJWP or sitting in bio in early June.  And to think—next comes November, THEN DECEMBER!  Holiday season, shopping, cookies, presents, ugly-sweaters-that-are-never-out-of-fashion, Christmas music.  The latter never stops for me, though.  In fact, I was just listening to Believe by Josh Groban from The Polar Express.  It never gets old.  Granted, it’s not technically October yet, so I am getting a bit ahead of myself.

9:00 on a Saturday night—I think I’m going to start my homework.

If you’d like to hear some epic music, come to the VYO Fall Concert tomorrow at the Flynn at 3:00!  Tickets are sold at the door or online, opening seating, hour-and-a-half, lots of fun—WOO!



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On Grief

Early this morning, our entire school found out about the death of one of our beloved chemistry teachers, whose sophomore son is reputable for being one of the nicest kids around.  On this Monday morning, I can’t look anyone in the eye.   Teachers I’ve had for the past few years are puffy-eyed.  On the announcements, I hold my breath, repress sobs, find solace in my hushed whisper.  And walking into the library, people grasp my shoulder, ask if I’m okay.  Every eye has a tear—some more prominent than others.  Every prayer is with Griffin, his son, and his family.  Every mind has drifted to the thoughts of family members, loved ones—how grateful we are.  The minute I heard, I called my parents.  It was more that I wanted the comfort of hearing their voices than telling them the news.  I never had Mr. Cannon as a teacher.  But the thing about a community is that every loss hits you, and every tear is like a bullet you cannot evade.  The school is somber, and the mildly gray skies are not responsible for this.   The library is a quiet that creeps on uncomfortable because the silence is a whisper, is a prayer, is a memory.  We will always think back to this day and remember our hushed tones as a symbol of who we have lost. 

A few words on Mr. Cannon—I never had him as a teacher.  But I do know he was one of the best, one of the happiest, one of the brightest.  His son resembles him in terms of personality, and it’s almost angering to think that they did not deserve this.  Nobody does.  I didn’t know him, but every time I think of how Griffin is coping, I feel broken.  I would be broken in his place. 

I have never felt as grateful for this community as I have today.  I see a girl in the hallway who I haven’t got along with in the past, and I wish I could go hug her, tell her that it’s okay because we’re in this together, tell her that I don’t care about differences when life is so precious and when we have spilled blood, sweat, and tears to build this community.  I want to tell her that it doesn’t matter—we would be nowhere without each other.  I see tears, and I can’t handle them—they cause a chain reaction.  Every teacher tells us they’re here to talk, that guidance is there, but all I want is to be by myself, with those I love—I want to hold on to them before I ever lose grip.  And suddenly, today, I feel as if there is no hatred in my mind, no conflict; there’s just this feeling that I hope will last with even past the grief of this loss. 

My thoughts are completely with Mr. Cannon and his family, as well as his colleagues, students, and this entire community.  I am happier than ever to have these shoulders around me, ready to catch me as I fall, and I am happy to lend a shoulder.  Because that’s what family is about and that’s what friends are for and that’s what community is. 

R.I.P. George Cannon. 

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Fall Shenanigans


So, it feels like eons since I’ve blogged.  I mean, it’s probably good for you, as you haven’t had endless emails about what Sambo posted on TR….but I feel empty.  I feel like a part of me has been missing—TR has been missing!

As evident from my recent post (okay, well a video post doesn’t really count as blogging), I performed my writing this afternoon.  It was simultaneously nerve-wracking and the most incredible experience I’ve had yet.  I love to act.  I mean act as in straight acting, not frilly musical theatre (though I love watching/respect that).  Acting out my owns words was a whole new experience.  There’s something cathartic about reading your own writing.  It’s like exposing your entire identity to the world, like spilling every secret.  Hence the nerve-wracking part.  It’s probably one of the bravest things anyone could do.   The piece I read, inspire me, was actually inspired by someone.  It wasn’t just words I had written. It had meaning behind it, a purpose—I didn’t need to divulge into the piece, I was the piece.  It’s kind of rare for me to have a distinct purpose in my writing, but inspire me is just one of those rare exceptions.  I am inspired by people and stories and I didn’t need to do much to convey that to the audience.  I did make someone cry, which was fulfilling (in a non-sadistic way).  It’s always heart-warming to know that I’ve moved someone, that for a moment in their life, I have impacted them—inspired them.  They say that anyone has the potential to change the world, but obviously most of us scoff at the cliché and impracticality of this.  Yet, we do.  For me, it’s by writing, maybe playing music—for others, it’s by volunteering, inventing, discovering, existing (well, solely existing can only do so much).  I guess we do have the potential to change the world, though maybe not in the most obvious ways.

Prior to the performance, a renowned acting coach, Robin Fawcett, led us through energizers to free nerves, and I rediscovered how much I love acting.  Robin’s most important goal was to make us comfortable with ourselves, with the idea of being a “fool”.  We did activities that would be outright humiliating in public—but in the moment, it didn’t matter.  Being free to be foolish is like unleashing every worry, every need to fit in, every struggle.  Let’s face it—so many of our daily troubles arise from this need to be accepted.  But if we can be ourselves, if we can be foolish and free and spontaneous, then there is no feeling parallel to it.  It takes years, maybe a lifetime, to realize that the most comfortable and stress-free moments in our lives are when we are solely ourselves—also to realize that people respect us more when we are ourselves.  These are little things that are never evident.  “Fitting in” is this illusion that slowly ruins our lives, so why is it even worth it?  Daily words of wisdom from TR, I suppose.

Honest-to-God, I cannot remember what has happened in my life in the past 11 days.  I’m going through my phone calendar to discern any exciting life moments—instead, I find calendar events like “Pack socks for fitness walking” or “Put up posters for French club.”  I suppose it’s exciting that iOS 6 is out, and, as everyone who has seen me since its release knows, I am obsessed with panorama.  It’s like I’ve never used it before (I have).  Every moment is a perfect for a panorama.

My first VYO concert is this coming Friday!  I’m not as excited as I used to be for concerts—it may be my lack of enthusiasm for our repertoire, or maybe I have lost my love for performing (just kidding, this could never happen).  Nonetheless, I’m psyched to spend some quality time with my orchestra friends, who I haven’t talked to much except for 15 min. breaks every Sunday.

I’ve read more books in the past two weeks than I probably read all summer.  I find the ideal times for everything, really.  Instead of French or Chem or English homework, I weep at Augustus and Hazel Grace in The Fault in Our Stars (the only reason I won’t get into this is because I wrote an entire post in July….but it is still just breathtaking, and I could go on forever) or divulge into The Namesake for the umpteenth time or scorn at Peeta’s lack of manliness in The Hunger Games (sorry, Peeta lovers).  I’m most definitely hesitant to read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (same author as Kite Runner), as I fear unhappiness and sadness at such a fine time in my life.  But I will most likely cave and end up finishing it, drowning in a pool of tears, depressed from words on a page because sometimes they can move me more than reality can.

UPDATE ON SAM: Sam is doing great!  In fact, he’s doing a little too good—he’s basically back to his usual shenanigans.  The only problem is that his leg is injured (torn ligament, I surmise), yet he still insists on sprinting across the yard, chewing on Wookie’s leg, barking at the neighbors.  Sometimes he is downright frustrating.  But I’m so happy that he’s home and okay—more than happy….I’m ecstatic!

I have kind of forgotten how to blog, or maybe my life just used to be more interesting before.  I’m scrolling through old posts, ones from early January and February, simultaneously nostalgic and envious of how I used to blog.  I have a lot of instances in my life when my present-self is envious of my past-self—a sort-of inception. [Side note: I take this back.  One of my January posts mentioned “Fred”…pathetic].

This weekend, we have some family from India visiting, which means bringing out the strongly-accented, rusty, close-to-embarrassing Bengali.  I haven’t spoken a word since early January in India, but these breaks always come to an end at some point or another.  Sometimes I’m more comfortable speaking French than I am speaking Bengali, though both are equally sweet-sounding.  I always find it interesting how you can know a language fluently by ear, but be unable to clearly construct sentences.  That’s always my trouble.

Okay, time to read between the lines in the book I’m on….which I, unfortunately, do not like.  I’m trying to speed through for the sake of finishing it because I like finishing everything I start.  Except for Mockingjay, that was just unbearable.

Happy Fall!



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It was so nervewracking, but so much fun!  

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I had my 11th moment of silence for the 9/11 attacks today.  Even 11 years later, the moments are fresh in my mind.  Over the years, the stories have built up, one by one, person by person.  And even now, it comes back to haunt me.

The smell of the room I was in that day is a daunting one—it brings to mind corner TVs and screams that can’t seem to escape my mind.  I watched the recap of the day on CNN last year, my first and last time, and the raw emotions came back in flashes.  Most prominent in my mind is the collapse of the second tower, as the CNN reporters silently realized the weight of the situation, that this was more than an accident.  It’s heart-wrenching to think that together, the nation watched every minute unfold, helpless and hurt.

My feelings about 9/11 have slowly progressed from an initial shock to grief to a resolute anger.  I hear stories from my friends of how they were affected, stories far more touching that any I have from an isolated room behind a TV screen.  But regardless, it leaves scarring memories for anyone.  The seconds after moments of silence carry a dismal air to them, the hallways filled with a tapping of the feet and beating of the heart.  And every fresh sheet of paper with the date is another reminder of a few things—

  • Life is so precious–such a clichéd thought, and yet this is undervalued so much.
  • We’re a community—our school, our town, our nation.  It seems as if every moment of silence brings us together.  This day brings us together—it allows us to push away our differences for a bit and remember what’s truly significant.
  • Some memories will stick with us for years.
  • We should be thankful to everyone who fought, pay our respects to everyone who endured a loss, and remember those who lost their lives.  Words we see every day, but it seems like this day, in particular, seems to emphasize what they really mean.

These past few days have been roller coaster rides that never seem to end.  Today has been a sort-of resolution—the last of the worst, hopefully.

Russia/Estonia/Finland, the VYO trip, has been called off.  I was initially devastated, and now, I realize it’s not worth lingering over.  The organization was struggling with finances, and the trip itself received mixed responses.  The entire orchestra is immensely disappointed, but I guess all we can think of is the events that will keep us together and occupied.  Maybe one day, we’ll have the chance to go back in our individual lives.

Sam, my older dog, was hospitalized for serious health issues yesterday.  They didn’t know if he would make it through.  It’s not worth going into details, but the doctors were both frustrated and frustrating.  I came home from school yesterday, unsure of the state Sam was in, unsure of his chances, unsure if I would see him again.  And this is a feeling I hope nobody ever has to feel.  He might be a dog, but he’s had the same impact on me as any other family member.  Anyone who knows me knows that my dogs are two of the most meaningful things to me.  The feeling is a combination of being broken and feeling like there’s literally no hope in the world.  But Sam underwent surgery, and he came home today.  The minute he started barking at a neighbor, I felt the weight of the world escape my shoulders.  I can’t think of old summers without remembering every moment spent with Sam—-chasing down the ice cream truck with a puppy Sam tucked in my arms, cuddling late at night, enduring endless puppy bites.  It’s like there was no childhood without him.  But he’s back, and that’s all that matters.  All I can think of is what I said about 9/11….how we should value life.  Even importantly, we should value everyone around us—even pets—-because we never know when they might disappear.

Wookie, on the other hand, is completely healthy, but has been in a state of serious depression.  It’s awe-inspiring to see the way dogs interact, how they’re so much like humans.  Last night, Sam spent his time in the hospital, and Wookie isolated himself to the corner of a house–not moving, not eating, not drinking.  Today, when Sam came home, the two had a bonding moment that lasted for 10 minutes.  They were like humans.  Wookie circled Sam, checking to see if he was okay, examining every battle wound.  Sam endlessly wagged his tail, getting up to see Wookie even though his leg was in a cast and he was limping, kissing Wookie all over his face.  It was heartwarming, to say the least.  My family is finally relaxed, and everything is progressively moving back to normal.

On a happier note, the temperatures are dropping, which means beautiful autumn colors are approaching.  I was chosen to be a Millennial Writer through the Young Writers Project, so I will be reading my piece, inspire me, in front of an audience on September 22nd from 2-3 at Main Street Landing in Burlington.  I would love, love, love any support, and it would literally make my day to see friends there!  I promise it’ll be really cool to see all the writers.  Other than this, I’ve been re-obsessed with the Sound of Music lately, and nothing can make me happier than belting “The Hills are alive!” over the house like Julie Andrews (also, I’d like to say she’s my inspiration, besides Meryl Streep).  I also realized while watching the movie for the 50th time or so that I have every line memorized.  Every line.

I realized that I rarely every post pics.  Here’s one of Sam!  He’s such a beaut.

And here’s Wookie!

Hope school and life is going well, otherwise!


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I haven’t written one of these letters in a few months! It feels good to come back to Opal & Oliver, though. It’s like I can trust them with my writing no matter what. Inspired by the incredible after-storm skies this evening—Vermont continuously makes me fall in love over and over again.


These rainy days make me wistful for our childhood days, long before the storm that swept us apart. The smell of the lingering rain after a storm passes is a striking reminder of August afternoons in my kitchen with vanilla milkshakes and broken puzzles. It used to drift in through open windows in a lilting rhythm, coddling us with all its warmth. Sometimes we would lean against the windows, chasing the last raindrops across the mesh screen and sprinting onto the wet grass to watch the grey skies clear away. I remember the awe that would strike us from the gradience of colors directly after a storm, finger paints that delineated the swells of clouds. Over time, the skies would progress into countless stars that assembled into familiar shapes. There was something special about standing side-by-side as the world unraveled its charm; moments like those spawned a certain intimacy between the two of us, a certain maturity in our relationship. It was one of these after-rain days when I first felt myself blushing. Yet, even deeper, I felt flowers of emotions blossoming. It was almost as if standing beside you under those ravishing skies made me realize your true beauty. It’s funny how inspiration can do that.

I remember you used to be quiet—you still are. You were never shy; rather, you spoke with your eyes, and now you speak with your written words. On those rainy kitchen-counter days, I found more comfort in the look of determination on your face than I ever did in vanilla milkshakes. You were fascinating, in the way the lines of your temples would loosen at every bond between puzzle pieces, the way they would tighten at every lost moment. Once in a while, you would gently glide the puzzle away and look me in the eyes with a half-sigh. Yet, you never gave up. I’d come downstairs on summer mornings and find you caught up on the same puzzle, waiting for me to start our quotidian adventures—never speaking, never smiling; yet, whenever I appeared, you were a whole new Oliver. I like to think that the puzzle-solving you was a person I happened to stumble upon—unintended for my eyes. I found myself to be lucky in this way, to be able to really know you. And yet, sometimes I still feel like I don’t know you.

By the end of that summer, I was alone, and there was an unfinished puzzle on my kitchen countertop. It stayed that way for a year, until I couldn’t bear the thought of picturing you every day, borne with a resolute face that induced all sorts of shades of love within me. I see the same expression in class—the same Oliver. But I am not the same Opal.

Oliver, sometimes mistakes are made and relationships fade, but wilting petals deep inside are more tender than anything else. This wall I unintentionally built between us has pushed petals to the ground, but the stem will always remain. And that is love, for me, Oliver—our relationship in its entirety—waning in its beauty, yet powerful in its roots. But roots have the strength to pull us back together, Oliver—that, and the stars.

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Imagine (Cover)

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