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“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.” —Marina Keegan

One day, I’ll keep promises. I’ll keep my promise to post to TR every day, to give it my full love & attention, but for now, I’m enjoying what has been the most exciting year yet. Brown. Yes, there were moments when I missed TR and writing and being able to purge my thoughts out to this blog, but I think for once it felt good to experience moments rather than obsessively worry about how to portray them for you, my lovely readers.

But today, I’m back after months and, hopefully, here to stay for a bit. It’s May. Freshman year of college is over. I’m a bit awestruck, a bit exhausted, a bit curious and anxious as to what the future will bring. Brown, thus far, has not been easy. There have been moments when I have wanted to give it all up, come back home, pretend like I didn’t have a future to worry about. But what pulled my mind and spirit back each time was the people who have integrated themselves tightly into my life within these past few months, as well as the people who always been tied in some way. The minute I landed at Brown, I knew I would be intimidated by those around me. I still am today. And to be honest, I probably will be forever. The students at Brown are undoubtedly overachievers, but they’re fun. They’re passionate and loving and quirky in ways that I could never have imagined. They’ve taught me to ask questions and prod and never be quite content with the world around us. It’s oftentimes frustrating, but it teaches you to notice, to do rather than talk, to be stubborn when stubbornness is necessary.

In my last post, I wrote about Marina Keegan and the Opposite of Loneliness. I’m not at Yale. I’m not a senior. But it feels like her words are beginning to settle in and make sense. We’re so young. We’re so young, she wrote. And we are. And it feels, at times, like the littlest actions of destiny can make the world around us crumble, but we’re so young that we can build it back up in minutes. If Brown has taught me anything, it’s that paths are never pre-destined, pre-formed. There’s no perfect path or way of being. Am I different? Maybe. But to be thrown into a new place like Brown, where the most nuanced of personalities, opinions, and life experiences all merge to create a community—how can you not change? I’ve taken in people and stories and learned that to be honest, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I want to do. For high school me, this would have been absolutely unfathomable, but I think I’m coming to terms with this idea of letting myself take steps rather than leaps. I want to build piece by piece and just take it in. Nothing is permanent.

There are nights at Brown when I’m walking through the main green, and I stop for a moment to take it all in. Sayles stands in one corner majestically. In the distance is Faunce Arch. It’s nearly silent. Peaceful, almost. Yet, I know that inside the walls of the buildings are students who are not quite at peace—freaking out about some paper or exam or project. That’ll be me in a few moments. But somewhere else, someone is also smiling, laughing, feeling utterly at home. Because that’s what Brown has become. On those nights of serenity and those long walks to my distant dorm, Brown is home in some form. It’s not where I’ve grown up or where my family is, but it’s become this place that I’ve learned and molded myself to. A place that was once such a dream and has now become such a reality. The first place I can call my own by choice. I’ve learned its serpentine streets perfectly, mingled with friends in each of its nearby cafes, stayed up endless nights in its dorms gabbing about life and politics and love and all these abstract things that I couldn’t have imagined without having come here.

For the moment, that feels more compelling and more significant to me than planning my future. That’ll come on its own.

With love, B

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about almosts.

It started in Chicago.  Sitting in the airport early morning, I considered how I almost lived there.  Almost called it my city, my college town, my home away from home.  Almost prepared to travel miles away for months at a time.  They were just simple thoughts, mostly sparked by a sudden philosophical view of my life and the world.

But just a few hours later, I became thankful for my almosts.  Upon landing in Delhi, we received news of the MH17 flight shot down above Ukraine, an air path that we would’ve almost encountered, had we flown just a couple of hours earlier.  In the great scheme of things, that doesn’t seem so significant.  But when it comes down to the cause of the crash, it’s clear that it could’ve been any plane.  Our flight was the same size as MH17. It, too, consisted of hundreds of innocent people—going home, working, traveling on vacation.  And just like MH17, it could’ve been mistaken for an enemy plane.  To come so close to an incident like that makes it suddenly more tangible; it makes all of these issues we see about the world more striking and real.

There’s no doubt that our world isn’t in a good place right now.  Open up the first page of New York Times, and you’ll see infinite acts of terror, intimidation, war.  It’s heartbreaking to even consider the fact that an act of terror like the one on MH17 is so common today.  On top of that, there’s the war over Gaza—which has provoked large rallies throughout Kolkata—Ukraine/Russia, Delhi rape cases, large scale deportation in the U.S.  Coming to a place like India sheds light to so many other problems in the world—it’s a bit of a reality strike from the relative perfection of a place like Vermont.   We live in such a bubble.  Seeing this city makes our daily politics seem so insignificant.

DSC_0075Having said that, Kolkata has, for the first time, brought me total and utter peace.  After years of grappling with the city—the pollution, poverty, uncertainty—I’ve finally reached a comfort zone.  Everything is suddenly familiar.  I recognize little street corners, know distances between towns, notice subtle changes in structures. In a relatively progressive country, Kolkata is ages behind, and I guess, in some way, that’s what draws me to it.  It teems with tradition and culture.  And while sometimes it may seem unbearably backwards, it seems to me like a preservation of the past.

As I’ve grown older, the glitzy bits of the city have attracted me less and less.  We spent a few hours in the large, über-Westernized mall, South City, yesterday—a place where, instead of choosing the incredible fresh Indian foods (which I would honestly die to eat every day in Vermont), people opt for Pizza Hut, Subway and KFC— and nothing about the mall was interesting to me.  It felt like a desperate effort to try to be “Western.”  Instead, I find solace in those dilapidated street shops, where the shopkeepers write in scribbled Bengali script and speak with a rawness in their language. That’s what I’ve always known Kolkata as—why should it be anything different?

DSC_0112It surprises me how the young generation here is so influenced by what’s happening in the U.S. or in whatever English movies they watch.  Teenage guys suddenly wear snapbacks.  New Bollywood songs have more English rap than native languages. And if I wear a traditional Indian outfit out and about, I seem out-of-place as a teenager.  Being here, surrounded by everything, I’ve realized that neither India nor the U.S. is perfect; each have infinite flaws.  To aspire to be one over the other is a waste of attempts, and I honestly wish I could just tell every rapping, snapback-wearing teenager that.  But in all honesty, living away from Kolkata means that every time I come back, I expect it to be exactly the same, when, in reality, it’s rapidly changing.  I guess part of me is truly an old soul (I mean, what else is new), but nothing makes me sadder than seeing this beautiful, beautiful culture slowly disappear.

TheOppositeofLonelinessbyMarinaKeeganI just finished the book “The Opposite of Loneliness” by Marina Keegan, a Yale student who passed away a few days after graduating magna cum laude and a few days before starting a job at the New Yorker, and it was the perfect source of inspiration.  She was a brilliant writer, and so the book compiles all of her essays and short stories.  Anne Fadimanwho wrote the introduction, talked about how Marina was everything a writer should be—perseverant, bold, unafraid, open.  While her classmates struggled to enter the finance and consulting worlds out of sheer uncertainty and fear for the future, Marina had no doubts about her aspirations as a writer.  In her first essay of the book, which was published in the Yale Daily News, Marina writes, “We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life…We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time.”

I’ve thought about this a lot, and it makes me both anxious for the future and nostalgic for the past.  We are so young, but there is so much we worry about.  I question why, at age 18, I’m worried about post-Brown or what I’ll be doing ten years from now.  It makes me envious how optimistic Marina could be as a 22-year old, while I can hardly even conjure the optimism or inspiration to maintain a blog, forget about writing a series of short stories (I’m so desperately trying).  But more than envious, I am incredibly impressed and inspired; in such a short time, I have totally fallen in love with her writing—it’s raw and honest and vulnerable.  “The Opposite of Loneliness” has been the perfect pre-college read, and I highly, highly recommend it.

-B

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Love Affairs

I’ve spent about two months lingering on the TR homepage and wondering if it’s time for a new start.  I’ve scrolled through old posts, cringed at my terrible editing skills and utterly teenage voice, and, somehow, fondly relived some pretty good memories.  So, after weeks of debating whether to start a new blog along with my “fresh start” at Brown, I’ve decided to continue my days with TR.

I guess as much as I’d like to think so, I’ll never be able to start completely over, even if I do move to a new city in a new state.  And truth be told, I don’t want to.  Reading over my old TR posts, from the first one after New Year’s freshman year to my memories of Morocco, I’ve realized that I’ve documented every minute detail of my life throughout the past three and a half years.  Starting over would feel too foreign; I could never love something as much as I love TR.

IMG_0367In a week, I leave for India for the last time until who-knows-when.  I still remember my trip from sophomore year, and the subsequent revelations about how much Calcutta actually meant to me.  Those revelations led to several reflections and, eventually, my college essay.  They’ve inspired photographs and short stories, and sparked my curiosity about the history of my birth nation.  And soon enough, because of Calcutta, I’ll fall back into my trend of travel blogging, something that has always boosted my spirits and reminded me of my roots as a writer.  Every time I see something noteworthy, I know I’ll immediately think of TR, in spite of not having blogged in weeks. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  So, here’s to another chapter in my life and here’s to another era for Translucent Roses.

DSC_0060Clearly, a lot has happened since my last post.  For one, I graduated high school, and it was more or less as emotional as I imagined it would be.  Delivering announcements for the last time, walking the halls for the last time, parking myself in the library for the last time—all these lasts were terribly difficult.  And rightly so.  South Burlington High School has been quite the roller coaster ride, and as excited as I am to “enter the real world” and “embark on new journeys”, I don’t know where or who I would be without SBHS.  Thankfully, I had the chance to express all these sentimental ideas to my class at graduation, in what was the best way to end my years at SBHS as not only a student, but also announcer.   I love this school and this class, and even a month after graduation, I still wish I could go backwards in time.

Having said that, however, these nerves about college have finally begun to dissipate.  Seeing the infinite opportunities ahead of me only makes me excited.  At Brown, I can study French and Arabic and the Middle East and politics—whatever I want.  Not to mention, I’ll be surrounded by incredibly intelligent classmates and professors.  Yes, it’s intimidating, as is any new adventure.  But I think I’m finally ready—or at least, more than I used to be.  Vermont will be here for me whenever I need it, and that’s the most comforting thought I can take with me.

As for the summer, it’s been an endless cycle of golf, tennis, photography, and work.  When I started golf in early January, I never thought I would be able to stick with it.  But thankfully, it’s become one of the largest aspects of my life.  There’s nothing more relaxing than going out for a round on a gorgeous day, whether with friends or my family or even alone.  I’ve learned to take in the beauty of my home course, Vermont National, and channel my frequent frustrations (like my utter inability to putt) into opportunities for improvements.  This may be the first time I haven’t immediately given up upon first failure, and, in the process, golf has become my own little personal challenge.

At the same time, I’ve fallen in love with tennis all over again.  Every week, I find myself on the courts, loving the sport and the feeling of playing as much as I did at the beginning of high school.  A few years ago, I wrote a post inspired by Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Openabout my frustration about tennis, but taking a year off and going back with no strings attached has been the perfect way to re-enter the tennis world.  Plus, now I have more opportunities to play my Federer-inspired shots (the Wimbledon championship was totally unjustly taken from him, by the way).

DSC_0421When I’m not playing my aged/retirement sports, I’ve made it my goal to find some new photo destinations, so every week I try to explore and experiment with my photography.  There are people in my life who get frustrated with my constant photo-taking and my obsession with my camera, and I understand that.  But the other day, I read a beautiful quote by photographer Burk Uzzle: “Photography is a love affair with life.”  I couldn’t think of words that better explain the wonders of photography.  In just a few weeks, I’ve learned so much about the place I live in.  I’ve seen the beauty of the lake at sunset on five different nights, the subtleties of the pond I drive by every day on my way home from work, the natural and beautiful expressions of people on the streets (or my friends, whom I use as guinea pigs for my photo experiments).  My favorite photographs are ones that spur emotions within me, both when I take them and when I go back to revisit them.  I love that photography has begun to consume my life more and more—it always brings more opportunities for adventure.

DSC_0297 2So, this has been my summer—a love affair with life, let’s just say.  In a few weeks, after India, my friends and I are heading to Osheaga, a weekend of unexpected and exciting adventures.  After that, it’ll be a month more of working and preparing for college, and then comes Brown, which, believe it or not, still feels a little unreal, as I’m sure it will for a while.

So, as always, keep up with TR during my travels (and onward!).  While you’re at it, check out my latest HuffPost article, which was written out of pure passion and anger, the perfect two ingredients to change the world, right?

With love,
B.

 

 

 

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It still amazes me how well I remember the first day of my first orchestra rehearsal.  10 years old, newly initiated Presto member, and first-time experiencer of the Elley Long Music Center.  I hardly realized that day that I would be sitting in that hall nearly every week for the next few years.  That it would be the start of an era of music and passions and friendships.  Instead, I remember pouting at the black notes on the page, refusing to play, watching the clock tick until the hour-long rehearsal ended.  Three years later, when I joined Strings, I still felt the same hatred towards my violin, towards the VYOA for subjecting me to hours of something I never understood.

It was during my freshman year in Sinfonia that I began to love music.  It started with Beethoven.  I still recall the first note of the first movement of Beethoven’s first symphony, only because my conductor at the time had mentioned it over and over and over again until we realized its significance.  But as a 15-year old with a frustration toward her instrument, something about the note resonated with me.  It was like the first word of a long novel, a classic that has passed itself down generations upon generations.  It held, on its own, the weight of the beginning of its composer’s legacy.  It was where Beethoven started, and that meant something to me.

But it was the following year that represented everything the VYOA has meant to me in my life thus far.  As a member of the Vermont Youth Philharmonia, I became a part of an undoubtedly tight-knit community that still makes me nostalgic to this day.  The music and the people I experienced shaped that year for me, and, though I don’t mean to sound like your typical teenager “searching for her identity”, it felt like a place that I just belonged to.

For me, one of the most satisfying moments of being a violinist is the last note of an epic piece, a feeling I first experienced at the end of O Fortuna, the first movement of the famous Carmina Burana, which I played with the VYP.  In that single moment, the entire hall had stopped, as the last note reverberated through the artsy walls of the Flynn Theatre.  You could just sense the tension and the intensity that nearly every person felt at that moment.  And that’s what drove me as a violinist—that feeling, that moment.  And with that came everything else, from the insanely talented people around me whom I both envied and intensely admired, to the sense of home away from home I felt at Elley Long.

My past two years with the VYO have meant something else—partially dream-like, partially a hassle, but all around worthwhile.  I used to glance at the VYO musicians during their rehearsals and just dream of the day I would sit on that stage, a part of something beyond my own, individual musicianship.  And at the time, it felt like it would never happen, butit did.  Having said that, though, with junior and senior year taking a hold of my life, I put VYO in the backseat a little.  That’s not to say that I didn’t love it or that it didn’t impact me.  At each concert, I still felt that moment of utter amazement, of goosebumps.  Pieces like Elgar’s Nimrod Variations made me feel like I could stay on that stage and just bask in the silence.  I loved it, and I still do.

This past weekend, I played in my last concert as a VYOA violinist.  It was, without a doubt, bittersweet, as well as symbolic.  My dedication to the VYOA started with Beethoven’s first and ended with his ninth.  And while I had spent quite a few years detesting his ninth symphony, it meant something else to me on Sunday night.  The end of an era, of a childhood.  I suppose some of these sentiments come from just the general feeling I have right now of leaving.  But even more than that, VYOA is a special aspect of my life.  I blossomed and changed throughout my years with the organization.  I created relationships that I seldom acknowledged, but grew accustomed to.  I became overly familiar and in love with the Elley Long Music Center, to the point that it even inspired several of my poems and essays as a writer.  And leaving all that is beyond what I can imagine right now.  I don’t know when I’ll ever play in an orchestra again, or ever experience the thrill of the silence at the end of an epic piece, but what I know is that VYO will last with me.  I know I sound cheesy when I say that, but I mean it.  I think I can say that VYOA has been one of the most enduring and influential aspects of my life, and leaving that is definitely difficult.

But I will always, always remember it for introducing me to something I love.  And I will always be thankful for it, no matter how many times I woke up on Sunday mornings dreading the forthcoming four-hour rehearsal.

-B

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The past week has signified both an end and a beginning.  To start off, I found out I was accepted to Brown.  And then, I turned 18.

If you had told me four years ago that I would have been going to Brown, I probably would’ve cried.  Somehow, over the years, the dream faded in and out, but now it’s happening.  Yet, somehow, turning 18 has been more memorable.  Usually, I find myself excited for my birthday, but for the first time, I was nervous.  I mean, I’m an adult.  I went to the DMV and signed my own forms and registered to vote and became an organ donor, all on the same day that I committed to Brown.  Enrolling to college and becoming an adult in one week is quite overwhelming.

It feels like I’m on top of the world, but at the same time, I’m so worried about the next few years.  Leaving Vermont—SBHS—is starting to sink in, and I don’t know how I feel about that.  This past weekend, I went to the Dartmouth Model UN with some of my closest friends, and it all felt so bittersweet.  As we laughed and cried and all that jazz, I became so sentimental (granted, when do I not) about leaving them.  In fact, I’ve been friends with some of them for nearly thirteen years—how does one move on from that?  Even more, I still can’t wrap my mind around living in Providence for the next four years, learning its streets, people, places.  Or that I won’t be waking up every morning to the sound of my dogs barking in the yard or the sight of the same photos and stickers I’ve had on my walls for about seven years.  And not to mention, now that the whole college app thing is over, the next battle is figuring out what to pursue (there are eight concentrations I like at Brown…….).  Marine biology, business, international relations, policy, journalism, creative writing—everything sounds so amazing and interesting and I just don’t ever want to choose.  Can’t I do everything?

I guess for now, all I want is to take advantage of these next few months. My bucket list for the summer is enormous (and yes, I will actually try to accomplish everything…).  My friends and I just rented an apartment in August in Montreal for the Osheaga music festival. I’ve decided that these last few months at home should be unforgettable.  Unfortunately, getting outdoors is nearly impossible with the ice age-like weather.  April 4th, and the temperatures were in the 20’s this morning.   So, here’s to hoping warm weather hits us soon!

On another note, it totally breaks my heart that March was the first month since the birth of TR that I didn’t post anything.  Writing at least once a month was always a goal of mine, and now it seems like that’s all over.  I’ve also been toying with the idea of starting a new blog in August, but I guess I have a hard time letting go of TR—despite my sporadic absences—since it’s basically driven me through my high school years.  Decisions, decisions.

In the meantime—when I’m not thinking about my blog posts or lack thereof— I’ve been engrossed in writing a new short story that I started in Cabo in February, attempting to catch up on Oscar movies (Wolf of Wall Street, anyone?…yikes), and trying not to psych myself out about my future.

Last bit of shameless self-promotion: Rebelution has been getting more and more traffic lately, which makes me feel like a proud mother.  So, if you haven’t yet…check it out, post your constructive criticism, share it on every social media, submit a post, etc etc!

Lots of love,
B

 

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el Pacífico

DSC_0019

View from our room

Every day in Cabo, I sit either out on the balcony or poolside and read through chapters of The Paris Wife or write for a few hours.  Such freedom is new to me, especially since I haven’t been able to write creatively for months.  Sometimes, as I sit typing about Opal or read about Hemingway, I can catch sight of whales by boats in the sea.  This vacation has been absolutely perfect and well-timed.  I think it’s the first time I sincerely have no desire to go home after a vacation.

For the past few days, we’ve hardly done anything, and that’s been the best way to relax.  We either sit out by the beach or on our balcony, sometimes taking trips in the mornings or evenings.  Yesterday morning, we took a kayak trip out to El Arco, the trademark sight of Cabo San Lucas, and went snorkeling in one of the coves.  It was probably one of the most relaxing kayaking trips I’ve taken, and inspired me to even try kayaking more in Vermont.  At one point, we went out to a rock, where we could see several sea lions, barking and jumping in and out of the water.  By the time we got back to shore, my arms were fairly sore, and I was tanner than I had ever been (yes, even I tan), but I felt so at ease.

DSC_0386

Flies and I

A few days ago, we drove up to a local ranch about forty minutes out of Cabo San Lucas, and went horseback riding on the nearby trails and beach.  It was my first time on a horse, but a million times better than those camels we had ridden in the Sahara.  But regardless, I always get stuck with the most feisty animal.  In Merzouga, my camel nearly threw me off.  Here, my horse—whose name was very fittingly “Flies”—kept stopping in the middle of trails and occasionally weaving away from the group.  At the end of the trip, Flies was so sick of me, he started full out sprinting toward the ranch, and I was sure that was the end of everything.  But aside of Flies’ episodes, horseback riding, after a while, became serene.  We took trails behind the ranch, where cacti sprung up from the ground, surrounded by all sorts of rubbish, like tires or horse bones (blech).  Because of the gloomy skies, it all felt a little eerie, but exciting nonetheless.  We finally made it up to a rock overlooking the landscape, where the wind blew ferociously and you could see miles and miles away.  And it made me think of how much of a perfect place this would have been to just relax and get away, kind of in the way I use Overlook Park during the summer.  Afterwards, we walked along the sea on the beach, alone except for a woman doing yoga.  When we returned to the ranch about two hours later, I suddenly regretted having never tried horseback riding in Vermont (okay, so I was close to it once, but I chickened out).

One of the best parts of our trip has been the resort, which is so spread out that we have to take golf carts to go from point A to point B.  But because of its size, there’s always some quiet, secluded place to go and explore, and everything faces the ocean.  Our first day here, we discovered some large rocks that were the homes of tens of thousands of black crabs.  And although being there was slightly creepy, it was a sight that I haven’t really ever seen.  Otherwise, when I’m not exploring, I find food to eat, which is the best use of time.  And Mexico really knows its food.

Today’s our last full day here, and then it’s back to the dreary, cold weather in Vermont.  The good news is that March is almost here, which means spring is just around the corner.  Like I said before, I started writing a story again, and I’m actually fairly far, so maybe I’ll post that in a bit.  Happy almost March, and stay warm!

-B

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Lounging in Los Cabos

Buenos días from Los Cabos in Baja California! After nearly two months of unyielding gray skies and a wretched “polar vortex”, Mexico is basically heaven. We landed yesterday afternoon in Los Cabos International, walking into herd of hospitable locals who were trying to lure us into some deal or another. As we drove to our resort forty minutes away, I found myself thinking of Morocco, especially the pre-Sahara region, where the terrain was similar to that of Los Cabos– tall cacti, dry lands. Maybe some of that arose from me still trying to recuperate from Morocco.

Our resort, Fiesta Americana, finally fell on a hill, overlooking the Sea of Cortez. What we didn’t realize was how large the resort would be. Our apartment, a part of our time share, has a large suite with another attached bedroom (for me). It almost seems like its meant for families of 10, not 3. But waking up in my own room to the breathtaking views of el mar this morning made everything worthwhile.

Exactly a year ago, I was in Aruba, a place that immediately stole my heart, and I think I was expecting Los Cabos to be similar. It definitely isn’t, but it has it’s own charm. The landscape is rougher, and definitely more culturally-unique. The seas aren’t nearly as blue, but the waves fall with an intensity that makes me excited to swim. The waters are rife with whales and sharks. In fact, this morning, my parents saw a shark or a whale (unsure) from the gym.

My number one goal this week is to spot a celebrity, as Los Cabos (and even our resort) is a huge celebrity destination. Rumor is George Clooney regularly vacations here, so there’s no doubt I’ll have my eyes open for him.

Other than voraciously stalking celebrities, we don’t have many plans for the week. Tomorrow, we’re hoping to stop by a local ranch and go horseback riding along the beach. I would love to try diving again, before hopefully getting certified this summer. And of course, as always, food is a top priority.

Hasta la vista!

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