Archive for December, 2012

Les Miserables. It wasn’t perfect, but it was beautiful in every way.  I cried like I have never cried before, and I fell in love like I have never fallen in love before.  So maybe I’m being dramatic.  The thing about Les Miserables is that Hugo created characters who are each strong in their own ways.  I was touched by Éponine’s sacrifice for unrequited love, Marius’ will to go on, Fantine’s devotion to her own child, and, of course, Jean Valjean’s dedication to becoming an honest man.  Each character had a story that held together the entire piece like the root of a tree—each and every single one.  I think that stories often have characters who take the backseat, without whom life would continue, but Les Miserables shows how every person has a history and every action has a purpose.

And then, there was the music.  I am rarely unaffected by music, and Les Miserables was no exception.  I wept with every piano in Fantine’s I Dreamed a Dream, as her voice tore with sobs and broken expressions.  Anne Hathaway brought to her character an overpowering poignancy that I doubt many actors could have done.  She basically changed me in that movie theatre.  To bring that type of depth to a character like Fantine is unimaginable.  To explain Fantine—she is a character who resorted to prostitution and a low life only to support her illegitimate daughter, Cosette.  I Dreamed a Dream was of the man Fantine once loved in her youth, the father of Cosette, and how her life had so drastically changed from what she had once imagined it to be.  And in that moment, Anne Hathaway brought all of her raw emotions to the stage.  Every single actor/actress sang live in front of the camera in one take, so every note, word, and emotion was natural.  Even as I write this, I continue to fall in love with the movie even more.

However, of all the characters, Marius and Éponine touched me the most.  I suppose it was because they symbolized what being young is about, and I relate to that. Being young is about being able to make a difference, like Marius did as a revolutionary who took a stand for something not-typically supported.  And at the same time, his character emphasized the value of people in our lives, especially in our dynamic youth.  He met and fell in love with Cosette at first sight (a love story I’m not a fan of), but also was the object of Éponine’s unrequited love.  Towards the end of the movie, he had lost his two best friends, Enjolras and Éponine to the war.  But together, it was clear that the losses and gains strengthened his character (All of this will make much more sense once you watch it, I promise).  Nevertheless, Marius’ entire story left me asking why?why?why? the entire time.  It didn’t have to be the way it was, but unfortunately literature can be cruel, and this is a lesson I must to learn as a writer.  Regardless of the story and of what people say,  I will forever be in favor of Éponine and Marius together.  I found Cosette to be a two-dimensional character who, while beautiful and all, didn’t deserve Marius.  Éponine, on the other hand, was rooted in her passion; she had devoted her life to her best friend and love.  And while the point of her character was to almost be a bit pathetic, I admired her wholeheartedly.  As she died in Marius’ arms and their elegant voices harmonized in A Little Fall of RainI had nothing but bitter hatred for whoever wrote the script.  But that is literature and that is life, and it only made the story stronger.  Like TR says, C’est la vie.  

I suppose the only way to explain Les Miserables is to call it a compilation of emotions that are meant to bring out the softness in every viewer.  I never imagined that I would be sitting in a movie theatre sobbing like a mad woman, but that was the sad truth.  Maybe you won’t react quite so strongly, but maybe it’ll change you.  I’m warning you: it’s not for the faint-hearted—but watch it and cherish it and love it.  It left me speechless, and I have a feeling it will do the same to you.

(I added Éponine to my hypothetical list of “dream roles”…..it’s listed just below Liesl from The Sound of Music and Tanya from Mamma Mia.  Maybe one day, I’ll work to play all three roles (and any additional that make the typically-exclusive list), or maybe I’ll just continue belting theirs songs from my car at traffic lights.  The latter is probably more realistic.)

Hope your Christmas (or whatever non-denominational holiday) was cheery and wonderful!  Keep your eyes open for a New Years post coming up soon.  Also, a quick shout-out to Mother Nature on behalf of both TR and me: WE LOVE THE SNOW!



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Giving and Giving

Merry Christmas Eve!

I understand that some of you might not celebrate Christmas; in that case—HAPPY HOLIDAYS!  I can never take offense in what people wish me, because I know they mean well.  I technically shouldn’t celebrate Christmas, though my family always has.  But rather than thinking of it as a religious occasion (though my mom went to a Catholic school), we use it as a reason to celebrate family, giving, and the year in retrospect.  I can’t think of a year that we haven’t had a tree festooned with lights and unique ornaments, early morning presents, and a special Christmas breakfast.  It’s been a tradition in this family, and always will be in my life.

However, Christmas has always, until recently, been centered around presents—both buying and receiving—and I’ve never had the experience to give back to the community, never felt the beauty of it.  This morning, my string quartet performed for an elderly blind man, Reverend Lee, and his wife; it was simultaneously the most heartbreaking and fulfilling experience in my life.    As we shifted through Mozart and Massenet and Haydn, the Reverend’s wife finally told us that while they don’t find many reasons to stay happy, this would last them for a long time.  And in that moment, I felt prouder than ever of my music.  This is why I play the violin: I play to change people’s lives, and I play to bring smiles to their faces.  I solo performed one of my favorite pieces, Meditation from Thaïs, and it was the first time I felt like I had touched someone with my music.  And I think that I would trade a thousand presents for this feeling.  You know you love something when you would do it over and over and over again–any time, any place, any day.  So, here’s to giving during the holidays, pursuing your passions, and  bringing smiles to people’s faces.

On another note, I can distinctly remember every Christmas Eve in the past six years.  Regardless of the year, age, time, or situation, I have had the same holiday excitement within me every time.  Christmas day has always started at 8 am with a family circle around the tree (Sam & Wookie included), and ended at midnight with a warm fire and holiday movies.  And every year, the snow has come through.  I’ve had an extraordinary amount of holiday spirit this year, but Wednesday will mark the first day of regular radio songs and mundane winter scenes since the start of the month.  I’m not ready for that yet, but for now, I suppose I’ll have to value the last 24 hours of this spirit for this year.  Until next year!

Merry Christmas everyone!  Or Happy/Merry/Joyous whatever you celebrate!  I hope you have time to spend with your family and friends, and to relax.  I will definitely be doing the latter.


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Hey guys,

I feel as if this post will be more of a rant than an actual post.  Writing has been dreadful for the past few weeks.  It’s been more of a chore than a pleasure, and I have found myself at my laptop for hours, staring at the same italicized words.  So much has happened that I can write about, but I think I’m going through a stage where my written words aren’t enough to capture my precise emotions. I’ve been working on a piece about Newtown for the past two days, but I have a feeling that it won’t ever be up to par with my momentary standards.

I suppose I have to start with the “duh” topic of the day: the Apocalypse.  Ta-dah!  The Mayans were wrong, would’ya look at that?  We do have 5.5 hours left in the day, and who knows what calamities could occur, but I have a gut feeling—an intuition, let’s call it—that we’ll live to see December 22nd [I must join the Facebook event!].  Most importantly, I’ll live to see the rest of my life: my high school graduation, college, my blossoming career, my wedding, my kids, my grandkids, my retirement—three cheers for that!  Let’s toast to the world not ending.

Second most obvious topic of the day: we are officially on vacation for 10 days.  Of course, we have midterms the week after we get back, and another arduous semester approaching, but at the moment, I am in complete holiday mode. The cookie dough & lights & sweaters have officially emerged.  I have an extensive to-do list regarding Chem exams, science fair, English, etc, but with a week of endless plans with friends, I doubt much of that work will actually be completed.  But for the months we have worked, I think we deserve 10 days to celebrate the holidays….period.  Hakuna Matata, no worries—what a surreal idea.

Regardless of this continuous black hole that my writer’s inspiration is sinking into, I have a series of New Year’s-appropriate posts coming up/in mind.  For the one and only time of the year, I think I’m going to openly embrace my cheesiness because—besides the champagne, poppers, smooches, and resolutions—New Year’s is about appreciating the year in retrospect, and awaiting new adventures.  In other words, New Year’s is all about clichés and how to best state them.  I have a theory that the beginning of a year can portend the rest of its course.  Therefore, I feel obliged to make this 31st memorable because 2013 consists of an abundance of important life events (cough, college apps, cough).  And maybe by “memorable,” I mean starting off with a mindset that will pull me through the year.  I don’t know if I necessarily did that last year.

As for 2012, there’ll be a reminiscing session in an upcoming post.  I have a lot to say about it (what else is new).  Side note: one of the main reasons that I’m glad the world didn’t end is because if it were to have ended, I would’ve had a lot of significant last words to say to a lot of significant people—and I don’t think I could’ve done that in 24 hours.  I suppose I just envisioned seeing the light of dawn on December 22nd: a sixth sense, you might call it.

Speaking of clichés, I’ve been watching a bounty of rom-coms that I’m not necessarily proud of.  Although Titanic and A Walk to Remember both engender a pool of tears, as both inspiringly portray the theme of appreciating life to every extent, I’ve found myself to be fascinated with other kinds of feminine-like movies too, though not exactly “chick flicks.”  One that comes to mind is The Art of Getting By, with Freddie Highmore (from August Rush), which can easily be categorized under my favorite movies list.  It’s about a slacker in school who finds no purpose in doing anything until he meets an artist and a girl, both of whom inspire him to believe that there is a purpose in life.  While borderline cliché, it’s beautifully made, and Highmore is one of the most genuine actors I’ve ever come across.  His innocence comes through sweetly in any role, though not all of his characters have the same softness.  I suggest you watch it!

In terms of books, I’ve been going back and forth between three novels, which isn’t good for the soul (note that this post has been written over hours, and that at almost 1am, I start sounding like a preacher).  My primary book is The Hungry Tide, which notes stories that take place in the Sunderbans.  I have a fascination with reading about places I’ve visited: it’s the perfect harmony between fantasy and reality.  Otherwise, I’ve started the Hobbit, but in all honesty, it is not my type of book.  I think I would’ve liked it three years ago, but at this point, I find no motivation to flip the pages.  The last book that I’ve been reading is On the Road by Jack Kerouac, one of the “core” members of the Beat Generation.  After World War II, the Beat Generation emerged as a new genre of literature that boldly expressed the hidden thoughts of society, the ideas the people would never address.  After one of my friends introduced me to the idea of this genre, I haven’t been able to stop researching and thinking about it.  One of the sites I was looking at defined it to be “in opposition to the clean, almost antiseptic formalism of the early twentieth century Modernists.”  Most famous of this generation is probably Alan Ginsberg, known for his poem Howl, which is a masterpiece, in my opinion.  I’ve read it before, but I really took some time to go through it today, and the amount of audacity it takes to speak so honestly is both unnerving and admiring.  Check out the link and listen to bits of it.  I’m not familiar with much of Ginsberg’s background, but I do know that Howl was overwhelmed by controversy, which acutally inspired a movie.  I’ve yet to watch it, but I can imagine that it would be interesting.  This whole idea of the bold truth is fascinating to me.  As an aspiring writer, I’m envious of the brutal honesty of beat literature.  If I could choose to have any attribute, I would choose courage—both as a person and writer.  I strongly believe that writing is about the explicit truth—no holding back.  I recently wrote a paper about freedom of speech/press for my English class, so I suppose some of my ideas are being carried through at this moment.  Nevertheless, it’s still a nice thing to think about.

Enough of my rants for a night.  Looking back, I’m glad I wrote this post.  I think it’s helped me combat some, if not all, of my writer’s block.  Sometimes it’s just about taking a step forward and continuing on without any stops.  Don’t worry–I’ll be back with more.  Happy start to the holidays!


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Yet Another Tribute

Someone remind me what blogging is, and how to go about it.

These past few weeks have been laced with tragedies all around.  In fact, these past few months have.  The events that occurred in Connecticut early this morning were atrocious, tragic, saddening, disgusting, heartbreaking.  There were 26 victims, 20 of whom were elementary kids. My body numbs at the thought of being a parent and losing your child, especially when you woke up thinking it was another ordinary day.  In the bustle of life, we forget to have those extra kisses or say our daily “I love you”s, but we never know which ones will be the last ones.  As a school, I hope this can bring us together.  As a country, I hope this  event can open our eyes, and be the last of what has been a series of violent occurrences this year.  While I’m grateful for the community I’ve become a part of, things like this come unexpectedly.  Our only solution is not to live in fear, but to continuously value who’s around us.  It’s easier said than done, but think about what your life would be without the people you love.  I wouldn’t be able to move from day to day without the support, the love, and the enthusiasm from my friends and family.  Lend your thoughts and prayers to the victims and their loved ones—they need them.  May you rest in peace.

This January will complete the two years I’ve been blogging on Translucent Roses, and it’s agonizing to think about the number of eulogies I’ve written.  From the suicide of a student at MMU to memories of a deceased peer to victims of car accidents to family members who have passed on—-death, unfortunately, comes all-too often.  And I don’t say this morbidly, but rather as an opportunity to realize that moments in life escape like lightning.  I don’t mean for this to be an overly-optimistic lecture about seizing every second of every day.  We are all pessimists at one point or another.  We all have our bad days (Daniel Powter, anyone?), and we all have moments when we just want to escape.  I think that’s human nature.  But it’s okay to tell your loved ones that you appreciate them, it’s okay to hug them unexpectedly, and it’s okay to want to hold them close.  I’ve realized that my worst fear is losing those I love.

It saddens me that my first December post is about such a tragic topic.  December should be about joy and carols, about presents and cookies, about fireplaces and snow.  Unfortunately, the latter has yet to come, and this is definitely unacceptable for Vermont.  December is never the same without snow.  I’ve missed sledding—swimming through feet of snow with clothes that drag me down, drinking hot tea and eating cookies afterwards, feeling like there’s no worry in the world.  In fact, the entire holiday season is like that.  Only one week left!

Once again, keep your thoughts with the victims & families of the tragedy that occurred this morning.  Also, be sure to tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them!  Dedicate this holiday season to valuing the love around you.  I know I will.

Happy holidays, everyone!


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