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Day 121: "End 2011 on a good note and then just walk away."

I woke up today about to embark on an anamnesis of this year when I received a rather startling email from my sister in France. She had remembered our erstwhile vow to get contemporaneous haircuts this year -- and voila!

Even six time-zone-hours apart, Laura and I are still twins.

Shakespeare had a tough time following this act, but I read Sonnet 121 before giving Ruby Chachu a big ol' "happy birthday and new year" phone call.

Mama and I were then planning to go to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (prettiest place around) for a walk, but when we stepped outside and found the weather rather blustery, we headed straight to Tysons for some minor freaking out at Forever 21, some major dining at the Nordstrom Cafe, and a wonderful movie!


The Adventures of Tin Tin is a treat. From the romantic animation to the endearing protagonist, this movie is super cute. I would give it 5 stars for sure, and certainly encourage anyone looking for a relaxing afternoon to watch it.

It was also …

Smarter. Greener. Better.

Sooo I know I said I was off to bed about an hour ago, but I am proud to announce that I just read the last three articles in September's edition of Scientific American, a special issue all about CITIES! This is the first time I have read a magazine cover-to-cover, and I am feeling accomplished and enlightened.


Most recently, I enjoyed the feature piece where urban leaders and readers of the magazine were asked what innovations they think would make a city substantially more livable. The last blurb on the two-page pastiche is about Participatory Budgeting, which I was able to observe firsthand in Recife this October!

From an environmental standpoint, it's crystal clear that efficiency in cities is going to be a big hurdle -- and also a fun challenge. I can't wait to jump in. Wait up, World! I'm coming. :)

Day 120: If only you were watching.

Extra! Extra! Hear all about it! The latest Melvin Taylor and Ratna Gill original is now out. Click here to hear "Lost and I Like It" -- please leave a comment and let us know what you think!!

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After reading Shakespeare's crassly calculating Sonnet 120 this morning, I set out with Priya for an outing with two Jennys and a Jacob.


The five of us had a great time at the mall, our day spent primarily on eating (with intermittent breaks for materialistic leanings).

Jacob's characteristically crazy Coldstone combination turned out to be really good today (and, as I just noticed, totally matched my outfit!).


Additionally, our little family discovered that we all have an affinity for argyle.


In the evening, the Js dispersed and Mama met Priya and me at the movie theater for the new Mission: Impossible film. I expected to be writing to tell you all that I confirmed my dislike for action flicks by watching the movie, but Ghost Protocol changed my mind. It has the perfect ble…

Day 119: But here I am, and here we go again.

Today was my Woojin day!

Awaiting my best bud this morning, I read Shakespeare's 119th sonnet. As I was about to head downstairs in search of something to eat, he arrived in time to introduce me to Panera's "Pick 2" special (and run some of Priya's personal errands, including collecting her glasses from the optometrist and fetching her lunch from Chipotle). I got to hear all about Hopkins from Wooj over our meal, and we discovered the purpose of life: to live. (This conclusion took longer to reach than one might think.)

Back home, Woojin and I had coffee with Priya and Genna (an opportune time for these three to ridicule my hair) before an extended jam sesh. Here is a sample, made possible by the wonderfully creepy team of little sister and little sister's friend:




Everyone already knows this, but today reminded me just how beautiful Woojin's voice is. Seriously, he's incredible and should be famous. Listening to him sing and having the honor of harmon…

Day 118: "Just breathe."

I woke up before noon today (egads!) and got ready to spend time with two of my favorite people. Michael Kenneth "Ranula" Velchik and I met Erik "Pep Talk" Fredericksen at Panera for coffee and long overdue catching up (too bad Imran "Errand Boy" Husain couldn't make it!). These two gave me some of the best college insights I've gotten, and really prepared me and pumped me up for Harvard next year! I now know what Freshman Seminar I'm taking, what clubs I'm avoiding, and what books I'm adding to my reading list. These boys have been my role models since I was a wee one, and it's awesome to always have them a few steps ahead of me, looking out for my next move.


After Mike dropped me off at home, I inhaled some lunch and read Sonnet 118, another one of Shakespeare's sorry excuses for cheating on his lover. Luckily, Katie rescued me from this literary misfortune by taking me over to the studio. The crowd there had very mixed feed…

Day 117: I just haven't met you yet.

Priya and I awoke early this afternoon to a call announcing a surprise visit from some close friends! While waiting for Jennifer and Ingrid to drop in, I read Sonnet 117, page 17 of Ars Amatoria, and one of Grace's college essays. I then called Grace on Skype to review my suggestions.

Just as she and I were wrapping up our talk, my PennPals arrived! It's always great to spend time with Jen, it was awesome to see Ingrid again after so long, and I also had the pleasure of meeting Max, Ingrid's older brother! We enjoyed some nice honey-full tea and had a hilarious conversation ranging from college life and American literature to awkward people and pink ponies.

Having bid them farewell, I rushed downstairs for an eight-minute sprint on the treadmill before going with Mama to drop Priya off at a friend's place.




Back home, I concluded my workout at a less frantic pace before tackling some organizing, both online and in my room. I first published two emails Papa had sent me, …

Day 116: Every second is a highlight.

4:39 PM -- I currently wait at Hair Pair as my bro KenChen gets his hair cut.

After breakfast with Mama and my daily reading of William and Publius this morning, Kenneson and I went to Chipotle for lunch and a debrief on the various vicissitudes of our lives. It was great to have an opportunity to just talk, and of course enjoy our usual warbling wordplay.

We then drove into Vienna for haircuts, and when we learned we'd have to wait about an hour, we chilled in the car and poured out our minds some more. During this conversation, we learned that we are both the same Myers-Briggs personality type, and found an eerily accurate description of our respective temperaments which accurately and ironically explains many of our recent experiences. As our appointment time approached, we took "before" shots of our hair for posterity!


7:23 PM -- Priya and I are now recording a song for Jessie Conradi in our basement.

After KC and I belted out some horrific harmonies in his car, we…

Day 115: All I want for Christmas is Ū.

I arose today to morning yoga and an intense, all-encompassing Christmas prayer. (If you are reading this, I probably prayed for you.) After Sonnet 115 and a page of Ovid, Priya and I watched a variety of Christmas specials on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.



Feeling marginally less lazy now, we rearranged some furniture in our living room to make Priya's piano more central -- new sibling music videos to come!

Mama and I then embarked on a "click-and-run" drive through the Town of Vienna, collecting photographs for her Facebook page called "Live in Vienna, Virginia" -- y'all should "like" it! Driving around for more than an hour on zero fuel and even less engine oil was quite an adventure for our nerves.

Back home, I spent a few fun hours writing questions for the Flint Hill Certamen before a relatively rigorous workout and personal preparations (primping) for dinner tonight.


The Christmas dinner we attended was a pink-and-blue-themed party at the …

Day 114: Don't want no paper ganster.

I woke up wonderfully sore this morning (I love being sore) and Mama and I headed out to find me a pair of reading glasses! I was diagnosed in high school with computer vision syndrome (a fancy way of saying that I spend too much time staring at a screen everyday) and have finally ordered some glasses to lessen the strain on my eyes. In no time at all, I identified a pair that is sufficiently geeky, and we were all set!


Back home, Mama and I trekked around our neighborhood passing goodie bags out to our neighbors. I make such a good elf!


After thawing myself, showering, and reading Sonnet 114, it was off to Cosi (again!!) for a late lunch with RAckerman and Sienna.


We had a great time, and when Ryan got jealous of me teaching Sienna Latin conditionals on the sheet of paper used to line my tray, he gave me a lesson on Spanish subjunctive and imperatives. Gratias, Raeane!

Next, back at the ranch (i.e. my house), I worked out with Priya and then read enough Ars Amatoria so that my Ovid r…

Day 113: All we had for sustenance was that song.

Today was literally my "lucky day," as the number 113 is my favorite number! (As you will see from the photos in this post, I have a bit of an obsession.)

After I had read Sonnet 113, Mama and I spent the morning at the doctor's office, where I got a flu shot and learned more about the nagging headache I always seem to have. Hoorah!

While waiting to be seen, I started the chapter on Plato in The Story of Philosophy. However, my somnolence soon overcame my scholarship, and I ended up napping on the couch in the waiting room for a good hour or so.

Back home, I wolfed down some lunch and some Ovid before sleeping for a short while (yes, again) and then getting ready to record with Melvin this afternoon.

Mrs. Pope picked me up and we headed to the studio, where my challenge for today was to write lyrics for a new upbeat Melvin Taylor original about traveling the world -- how totally gap-year-a-licious! We were all feeling tired out of our minds and rather irreverent today, so…

Day 112: I'm still waiting in line.

Last night, I finally finished Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol! His books are great because they supply an encyclopedia-worth of information on history, language, and culture while also including blood-boiling suspense. This should go without saying, but these books really should be read at a stretch. (I made the foolish mistake of taking a multiple-day break just as the plot was reaching its climax. Oops!) The ending was great though, and zoomed out from the vicissitudes of the action novel to apply the book's themes to humanity as a whole. It's definitely worth a read, especially for DC-dwellers, and you'll fly through it if you're not silly like me!

Today, I got to see my girls Jennifer and Aimee. Each attends the perfect college for her -- Jen is studying nursing at the University of Pennsylvania while Aimoo is a dance major at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. They both love Philly, and their adventures in school are beyond amazing -- after being regal…

Playroom

I love
when little boys and little girls
stand at the threshold
of the playroom full of toys in our basement.

They all have that same look of something beyond amazement
and it makes me smile
because I wonder if anything will amaze me that much again.

Day 111: "I just play the blues and pay my dues."

Priya and I ended up switching from our Spanish film last night to one centered around Hispanic culture, though not in Spanish. From Prada to Nada is totally a chick flick, but is very well done, and based on Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. I really enjoyed the smattering of Spanish, the choice of lead actor, and the happy ending -- but I'm a sucker for romantic comedies. Objectively speaking, I'd give it 3.5 stars, but it was the perfect movie for the night.

This morning, I read my daily dose of Shakespeare and Ovid before finishing up my lyrics for the original song Melvin and I were to record later. Since half of the song is in Spanish and my Spanish is hopeless, I enlisted the help of my bud Ryan Ackerman. Thanks, bro!


As I was concluding my consultation with Ryan, Katie Pope picked me up and we went to lunch. After briefly catching up, we headed to her house-cum-studio, where I recorded the vocals for our new song.

Melvin then added some brilliant layers of guita…

Day 110: No, there is nothing perfunctory about it.

I rolled out of bed pretty late this morning, and prepared to have coffee with two very special people -- my bros Nizzy and Woojin. Varlet #1 wanted the wisdom of Poppa Wooj and Momma Rat as he navigates the rather rollercoaster-like college admissions process. The get-together was fun and lighthearted, and gave me a chance to get on Woojin's nerves, as usual. (Of course, he and I coincidentally ordered the same drink -- syzygy status!)

Looking forward to seeing them both again soon, I returned home, where I read Sonnet 110 before finding my sister Laura online! We got to catch up for the first time in quite a while, and both dumped the latest and greatest of our lives on one another via Skype before it was time for her daily French lesson in Pallier.

Priya and I worked out after this, and just as I had scrawled a piece about Starbucks this morning and was about to crack open my Ovid as a cool-down exercise, I received an exciting surprise visitor -- the infamous Mr. Chen! My bff…

Holiday Roast

At Starbucks, I excuse myself for a moment to use the restroom. En route, an obstruction presents itself.

The arm of a woman who just can't decide. She reaches from her spot in line to a nearby shelf, admitting guiltily, "I keep switching between these two!" In her hand lies a small-sized package of Starbucks Christmas blend coffee; on the shelf now rests a newly-deposited large one.

She doesn't know she's talking to the queen of indecision. I couldn't number the times I've "switch[ed] between...two."

Between two schools.
Between two languages.
Between two loves.

"I feel you," I laugh affably, and continue to the bathroom.

Day 109: Mujhe bhi iss baar hua.

After I read Sonnet 109 this morning, Papa, Priya, and I headed into DC for a visit to the bank. A wonderfully warm representative helped us, and I learned that he too took a gap year after high school! Andrew spent his year teaching English in Madrid. After he had helped us with our bank work, he gave me some suggestions on how to polish my Español, including watching movies in Spanish, and frequenting a website called Livemocha. ¡Gracias, Andrew!

With work out of the way, we lunched at Rōti, which Priya and I have classified as the Mediterranean version of Chipotle. It's a great quick place in northwest DC -- I encourage y'all to try it. We then checked out the new World Bank fitness center, which is glorious.


Back home, the Gill sisters "catnapped" before I read some Ovid and enjoyed a fun workout (during all of which Priya ridiculed my choice of floor exercises). 
After quick showers, our family set out for Bull Run Park, where there is an annual lig…