Jour 61: Say "fromage!"

Miss Laura and I had quite a Halloween!

Unable to construct the ant costumes we had been planning (we were running desperately short of antenna), we had to come up with something new. Referring to her hair as poodle-like, Laura decided to be a fluffy dog -- naturally, I had to dress up as her owner. In honor of her upcoming trip to France (and inspired by our matching Eiffel Tower necklaces), I took my best shot at "Parisian woman."

This was the result:

Amidst the glamor of our photoshoot, we stopped at times to acknowledge the ridiculosity of our idea. (Mama says neither of us has ever looked better.)

Only occasionally did we break our character of pouty Parisian plus prize-winning pooch to reveal our typical fromage-y personalities.

Happy Halloween to all, and to all a bonne nuit!

Day 60: Walk on the sunny side of the street.

After Sonnet 60 this morning, I dove into some fundamental rearrangement of my CLOSET!

In about 4 hours, I had boxed up all my summer attire, marked half of my wardrobe to donate to charity, and inaugurated a new closet just for Latin t-shirts:

I then moved on to different parts of my room . . . organization is so refreshing!

In the afternoon, Mama took Nani, Priya, and me to the mall. I browsed while Priya bought herself an early "Ratna's birthday" present. :) After a Panda Express dinner, we started to categorize and bag some of my old clothes to be donated.

I now plan to look over an adorable girlfriend's college application (to a pretty good school) before hitting the sack!

Day 59: Let's take this one today at a time.

Thank you so much for all your blessings -- I am feeling much better today!

After I read Sonnet 59 this morning, Nani and I finished up Roman Holiday. What a classy film with such a beautiful bittersweet ending!

Much sleeping followed.

In the afternoon, I really enjoyed a conversation Mama and I had with Mrs. Landy, the mother of Priya's friend Genna. Mrs. Landy and her husband are from England, and we discussed the differences in pace of life between the United States and other countries. We also chatted about the college admissions process -- the bane of any high school student's existence!

After a bit of jamming and a "bon voyage!" to Papa (who is going to Switzerland for a conference on The Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development), Priya and I prepare to settle in for a slumber party! Good night!

Day 58: My stomach sings as my eyes dance.

Today was an all-day sickie slumber party with Nani. Unfortunately, I do not feel well enough for the Geneva trip this weekend. But I will be revisiting Rome tonight -- by watching Roman Holiday, lent to me by Magister Chang. Gratias!

Day 57: Help the Homeless!

I am coming down with the stomach flu, so I won't be writing a full post today. 

However, I would like to encourage you all to participate in an upcoming walk to help the homeless!

To take part, please follow the steps below:

1.  Click here.
2.  Choose Sasha Bruce Youthwork as your beneficiary organization.
3.  Pat yourself on the back for supporting SBY and the work we do!


I would also like to thank the incredibly generous Doug Stevens and his family for their enormously generous donation to support the mission of Gyaan Ghar Learning Center. I don't have words to describe how grateful I am.


Have a blessed day and please pray for me!

Day 56: I can ride my bike with no Handel bars.

Happy Diwali, everyone! The students at Gyaan Ghar celebrated today by dressing up and acting out the story of Diwali in class. Photos and stories should be incoming! 

After laundry and Sonnet 56, Nani and I ventured to Tysons Corner Mall. I played the role of spoiled grandchild perfectly, buying everything in sight. (Well, not quite, but I purchased a lot by my standards.)

Between a sweet snack at Cinnabon and a lovely lunch at Coastal Flats, I searched for the perfect pair of boots for my upcoming trip to Switzerland (Saturday through Tuesday) -- I was successful!

Nani and I had a great time, laughing and joking around until it was time to head home and receive Priya from the bus.

Before her coach arrived, I started on the list of tasks I had on this day of working from home. I sent a number of organizational emails and made a few "administrative" calls.

My biggest job was to go through a stack of applications for a position at Sasha Bruce, and call all the applicants to see if they were still interested (it's been a while since they applied). Making 21 phone calls took longer than I expected! It was really interesting to chat with some of the candidates -- I got to narrate the whole history of Sasha Bruce Youthwork to one of them, which was a fun challenge! Having called each applicant and compiled their responses into a document, I alphabetized the applications and sorted them by the candidate's interest.

After picking up Priya, I made a very special phone call to the home of Birinder Uncle, whom I had met on the way to the art gallery on Day 50. Hardeep Auntie (his wife) sent me a "Happy Diwali" email this morning, so I was returning her greetings. I got to have a wooonderful talk with their daughter Sami about India and children and other beautiful things. This conversation was my encounter of infinite value for today. I look forward to seeing their family soon and getting to know them better!

As if good tidings would never end, I cracked open the CD that Dee Dee had given me to listen to when I went to collect Priya from the bus -- inside was the most touching note. I showed it to Priya, and we both teared up a bit.

With my heart very warm, I started to make sure Ratna will be warm in Geneva this weekend. I am proud to say I am DONE with my packing, with a night to spare!

My parents must be so proud!

Day 55: Pray a mile in my shoes.

My Starbucks-hopping missions were very successful this morning! Walking from 18th to Farragut West, I realized that I have started subconsciously praying very often while striding in the city. Perhaps the rhythm of my prayer goes well with the brisk pace of my feet?

I sit in the car and enjoy an elegant moon.

At the Farragust West Starbucks, I was deliberating between reading an Economist article on global education and another Scientific American one on urbanization. Since I really enjoyed my urban article yesterday, I went for the Scientific American. The article I flipped to was called Brains over Buildings: to rejuvenate urban centers, look to teachers and entrepreneurs -- I just can't escape the teaching profession, can I? :) Inspired by this article, I started to plan the lessons on which I will be focusing with my students at Gyaan Ghar this winter. Our first 2 units in late November are going to be "The Importance of Education" and "Environmental Conservation." Typical Sproutna.

I stand on the escalator about to emerge at Eastern Market.

After my train ride (made nautical by 1,000 Ships), I arrived at the "Sasha Bruce Starbucks." Here, I cracked open Ars Amatoria and said "salve" to Ovid for the day. Rather than just reading, I wrote out my translation this time, and even scanned a few lines. (Thanks, Mr. Chang!)

At the office, I got cracking in Vera's room, organizing files by program and program director -- I think I finally have a system!

The shoes are always the first to go.
 SBY Founder Debbie Shore came by the office at one point, and updated me on the Brazilian exchange program she had mentioned to me a few weeks ago. Staff members from the Brasilia office will be here next week -- I look forward to hosting them when I return from Geneva!

After oodles of office organization, I discussed with Melva the human resources work I will be doing from home tomorrow, as well as some further curriculum design for the Teen Outreach Program in which I am interested. I then ran up 8th St to Dunkin' Donuts and back with coffee for Vera and Melva (sometimes, I like to be that intern) before darting back up the street to catch the metro. 

Miraculously, I found myself at Flint Hill School! I headed to the AP Latin class and went over some literary devices in the Aeneid with Jake, Nizar, Nora, and Patrick in the last few minutes of the period. After school, I helped the Classics Club with some projects such as finalizing the newsletter, decorating the bulletin board, and recording cheers for Convention.

I then got to chat with Dee Dee on the way home! Talking to my bus driver was the wonderful way I ended each school day at Flint Hill while I was there for 8 years -- it was a great drive down memory lane. I had given Dee Dee print-outs of my posts from Brazil last week, so she had lots of questions and comments about my trip. I also learned that her sister used to work with youth in Anacostia, using theater as a way to keep them out of gang violence. I promised to put her in touch with Sasha Bruce to see if they can collaborate somehow.

The walk home was appropriately autumnal, and we paused at plenty of points to procure pretty pictures.

 Nature has a steady hand.

At home, Nani and I watched The Pink Panther for a while, before I received a call from my gorgeous hubby, Bryce. After conversatin' with him, I'm ready for a yummy meal before bed!

Pray a mile in my shoes.

Day 54: I count in Mondays.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at my favorite Starbucks this morning reading Sonnet 54, daily news, and a Scientific American article. (The last even prompted me to whip up a quick blog post on the metro.) Done with my daily reading, I received a text from my girl Jessie Conradi mentioning that she would be going to court this morn. I asked her if I could tag along, and succeeded in switching lines (egad!) from orange to red to meet her at Judiciary Square. While in the waiting room, I wrote a ~200-word blurb about Gyaan Ghar for a piece about Flint Hill alumni on which Marian Cavanagh is working.

In today's court case, justice was served! The 13-year-old being tried ("R") had been caught with a flammable concoction of household cleaning agents at school, and the state was pushing that he be put on probation. As both Jessie and the boy's mother explained, cases like this usually end up going against the client, and tainting his permanent record. Today's case was an exception. R had an incredible support system: his mother, father, aunt, and grandfather were present to advocate for him, and his two older sisters, who are in college, had written letters to the judge. After the prosecutor presented the case, the boy's family members and numerous counselors and tutors told the judge about R's lifestyle. He is a fantastic artist involved in a theatrical group, his church's youth group, and a tutoring program. He teaches young children poetry. He is "polite and mild-mannered," as one of his monitors said. While R is having some trouble in school, this is because he is a special needs child enrolled in "regular" classes. Having heard all this, the judge told R how lucky he is to have all these folks who believe in him. Very earnestly, he made sure the boy had learned his lesson and would never do anything to potentially hurt himself or his loved ones again ("I never, ever want to see you here again") -- and the case was dismissed.

R's family was euphoric. Jessie said this was the first time one of her clients' cases had been dismissed, and we were both very happy that this innocent child had received the treatment he actually deserved. Yay D.C. Superior Court!

Back at Sasha Bruce, I grabbed lunch at Subway, accompanied by Miss Jessie. We had an awesome talk (as always with Jess) about what it really, actually means to be true to oneself.

After doing some office work for Vicki van Heuven (Jessie's Program Director), I headed to Bruce House with Jill to set up for an event to take place this afternoon. Rita Williams-Garcia, the award-winning novelist of Jumped, was to present a book talk for Sasha Bruce youth about the novel. I helped Jill set up (she's a cookie artist) and got to talk to Erin, a resident of Bruce House. Erin had read the novel and really enjoyed it, saying that "it kept [her] attention, which is rare," and she could really relate to it. (I started the book on the way home, and you can now find it on my Gap Year Reading List in the sidebar on the right.) Unfortunately, I had to leave for home before Williams-Garcia arrived -- I had so wanted an autograph!

My metro ride home consisted of alternation between 2 songs -- Rachel Platten's buoyantly bouncy 1,000 Ships and Beyoncé's superbly soulful Best Thing I Never Had -- both are really worth a listen!

The taxi ride home from Vienna graced me with an amazing new acquaintance -- my driver, Uday Uncle, was from Nepal, and fluent in . . . you guessed it, Hindi. It was great to discuss everything from linguistics to community service with him. Uday Uncle even donated $10 to Gyaan Ghar! (Honestly, you all would be astounded to know how far a dollar goes in India. As a reference, today's donation was enough to purchase school supplies for all 56 students for half a year!!)

Once home, I went for a walk with Nani before settling down to write about this extremely enriching day.

From Rio to Mumbai

Reading an article called "Global Bazaar" in September's Scientific American just now, I came across the following beautifully rhythmic passage about squatter communities in two cities very important to me:

"Rio de Janeiro's 600 favelas dip down to Guanabara Bay and gallop up the steep hillsides from the famous beaches of Copacobana and Ipanema . . . Mumbai's countless jhopadpattis line the banks of the foul-smelling Mahim Creek, sit on the sidewalks of Reay Road and push against the tracks of the city's commuter rail lines."

Reading this article was super exciting, seeing as I was in Rio 2 Mondays ago, and will be in Mumbai 9 Mondays from today. (The favela pictured above is Santa Marta, which I visited with Patricia on my first day in Rio.) The piece itself was very positive and optimistic, discussing the innovation and value of small informal markets in developing nations. As microfinance is a field of interest to me (thanks to Resham Didi), I look forward to learning more about these markets during my stay in Mumbai this winter!

Day 53: If only life had subtitles.

She sports her fave sweatshirt ... from my closet.
After our midnight snack of Belgian waffles and milk, Jenny and I finally went to bed. This morning, we enjoyed a breakfast of French toast (my fave) before playing around with Photo Booth while listening to some great tunes.

When Jenny left, I read sonnets 52 and 53. In 52, Shakespeare describes the extreme happiness he feels in waiting patiently to be reunited with his sweetheart. Through 53, he insists that any artist's rendering of beauty of any sort is actually a sub-par depiction of Shakespeare's own lover.

I then read the news. God bless the families of the 138 dead in Turkey's earthquake -- let us pray for them.

Later in the day, I did some research to help Jessie with a new program she is starting for elementary age students. I explored the benefits of art therapy and play therapy for children between the ages of 5 and 8. I also requested from my friend Sonya Chartoff some information on music therapy, which she mastered during her Senior Project this past spring. What I learned was very interesting, and will help me with the projects I have been planning for the students of Gyaan Ghar.

In the afternoon, Nani and I continued to watch Mirza Ghalib. Then, I took a look at some projects for my varlets (wait, aren't they supposed to work for me?) including a publication one of them is in charge of, and college essays the other is working on. My daily jog turned into a hybrid of running and walking, as I was feeling rather tired. I plan to make tonight an early one, and now await the yummy Paisano's we have ordered for dinner!

Day 52: Autumn is louder than lovely.

Joke all you want about how chipper my blog posts are, but today's was a new kind of happiness. :) Homecoming. The word itself has a ring that invokes nostalgia, and, inevitably, warmth. Well, that was today.

The intelligent Arman Azad and his kind family picked Priya and me up so we could attend the event at Flint Hill. With Priya at the volleyball game, I headed to the Classics Club booth to help out (i.e. "socialize" and be a distraction).

When P-Sang and I had taken a look at his draft of the club's newsletter, Niz and I made a quick Starbucks run to visit our favorite barista (who paid for my drink before I could -- what a jerk). Laura's multitasking abilities are astounding, as she prepared delicious drinks (she really put her "heart" into them) while having countless photographs clicked of her. What a celeb.

Back on "The Hill," Varlet #0 and I had a very touching conversation about friendship (de amicitiā) and life in general. Thanks, Pat. We then "made the rounds," checking out the Alumni Tent and greeting many of the incredible teachers and parents who make our Flint Hill community what it is.

As the afternoon's football game began, I caught sight of the beautiful superstar Iman Karram! It's always a pleasure to see her.

I then received a phone call from my close friend Ryan Barbalace (who attends Wake Forest), saying he had arrived. Since Ryan (Rye Bread / Tiger / Barbie / BeardEncaje) refuses to read my blog, he insisted that I fill him in on my life firsthand. The next few hours were spent summarizing my existence from the beginning of the summer to now (speaking quickly is one of my greatest talents). Talking with Ryan is such a treat, as he's seen me through some of the tougher times in high school, and (somehow) manages to understand me so well.

Later, we got to freak out with a real friend who does read my blog, Aimee Marich!! We've done a good job staying informed about one another's lives over the last few months, but it was awesome to finally be able to eulogize in person! I hope to visit Aimee at school soon and see all the incredible Philly sights she describes.

After the game, we headed home, and Mrs. Azad checked out my blog, which Arman reads daily -- thank you, Azad family! I then went for a jog, as I had promised Ryan I would. I'm no runner, but I am sure few feelings can compare with that of running in Autumn.

I watched a few scenes of Mirza Ghalib with Nani before dinner. After our meal, we were joined by the cutie Jenny Kuhlthau for a slumber party! I wrote this post as Jenny and Priya played a flute duet, and we now look forward to watching a Disney movie together.

Happy Homecoming to all, and to all a good night.


I Laura Kambourian.

Day 51: FIRE!

I rolled out of bed at 11 this morning to a freezing house and a toasty breakfast. Nani sipped her green tea as I enjoyed my Tazo Chai and listened to stories of her childhood. After our morning chat, I attempted to put the heating on (let's hope it works) and unloaded the dishwasher while Nani organized Mama's spice cabinet. Before Nani bathed, I scrubbed her bathtub -- there's a first time for everything! I doubt I did a very good job, but it was like washing a big ol' dish, and I've been a fan of washing dishes ever since I was a wee one (I even wrote about it once:

After a phone call to Dadi to plan a Diwali celebration for Gyaan Ghar students, I hopped in the shower. Then, we were graced by a visit from my amazing Sathya Auntie! She already knew all about my days, as she has been keeping up with my blog (thank you!) but I got to tell her more about my travels, both near (DC) and far (Brasil) -- and hear about what my brothers Karthik and Babloo are doing in Philly and London respectively. Meeting Sathya Auntie always makes me very happy, so I left for Flint Hill in a marvelous mood.

The fantastic Fall weather did little to change this. At the ol' alma mater, I helped a bit with the Classics Club bulletin board (huge thanks to Grace Kim for helping out), and was later requested to cream Patrick at Certamen. Coach Andino gave Varlet #0's team a 125-point handicap before realizing that they would not need it playing me! Nevertheless, it was an exciting match -- I ended up winning on a "bogus" hyperbole question (admit it, Patrick).

After this scrimmage, Dr. Marchetti told me a "story" -- what this turned out to be was a lesson on his theory of how the discipline of mathematics may actually have been born from the study of music. (An art may have given birth to math! YES!) Needless to say, this was fascinating (see below), and I look forward to seeing how Dr. Marchetti will further flesh out his mind-blowing theory. We chatted about some of the classes he is teaching this year, before heading outside for the bonfire.

Before the gathering, I got to catch up with a lot of great friends like Bradley Johnson, Zane Homsi, Doug Stevens, Ren Simpson, Ryan Barbalace, and Mr. Cosby! Seeing everyone again is always so heartwarming. I also got to say "hey" to my new 9-year-old friend Sam (whom I met at Certamen) again -- his newest way of saying goodbye is "peace!" in a very gangster tone of voice.

The fire itself was beautiful. I'd never been to Flint Hill's Homecoming bonfire before, and it really is a great event. My favorite moment came when discussing deep existential questions with my best friend Bryce Johnson while peering into the flames. So deep, Bryce.

After the bonfire, we went out to celebrate Varlet #1's birthday, which was this past Tuesday. Nizar, Patrick, Natalie, and I had a great time at P.F. Chang's with Nizar's fun parents and brother Malek. (His mom Bassima is my best friend.) Highlights of the night included Natalie and Ratna freaking the boys out by giggling girlishly, and Ratna yelling the "happy birthday" song to Nizar over dessert. Good times.

After good conversation in the car on the way home, my lovely sister Priya greeted me at the door. We look forward to more Homecoming festivities tomorrow!

Day 50: It's easy to know me.

The 50th of 50 of the best days of my life was appropriately glorious.

I wasn't able to capture it in a photo, but the sky during our drive into DC looked like an impressionist painting.

This morning, I attended a clinical training at Progressive Life Center on "Ethics in Human Services." We went over the Code of Ethics as defined by the National Association of Social Workers, focusing on a number of areas such as client confidentiality, self-determination, and boundaries. We watched videos in which several real-life case examples were presented, and discussed them in smaller groups. What stood out to me most was how being "ethical" as a social worker does not always mean encouraging one's client to act in a manner concordant with one's own ethics, but sometimes requires recognizing the validity of everyone's belief systems. Many of the cases presented were very convoluted and ethically challenging, but I think our group got a feel for identifying situations in which certain actions are ethical, and necessary, at all costs.

After the 3-hour session, I was to meet up with the mediocre Laura Kambo at the National Gallery of Art. My taxi driver from northeast to northwest DC turned out to be not only Indian, but from LUDHIANA, my father's hometown and my hearttown! We had an excellent conversation about spirituality (as well as lighter subjects like our families), and learned that we will be attending weddings on the same dates in India this winter (though in different towns). When he deposited me at the West Building, he refused to let me pay him. Thank you so much, Birinder Uncle!

Once our initial "at-which-entrance-of-the-building-are-you?" confusion had passed, Laura and I sat in front of the gallery and enjoyed the a(vocado)bundant picnic she had packed.

Crazily enough, this was the first time I was seeing Laura since my visit to her heartland, so we had much to catch up on! After our delightful lunch, we caught a museum tour on Italian Renaissance paintings. Finding ourselves too unfocused, we slipped away early and I showed Laura my favorites by Fragonard before we headed to the French Impressionism gallery, where Laura educated me about Renoir and Cézanne.

"Little Dancer of Fourteen Years" -- Degas (A Howard Chang recommendation!)
We then rushed to the metro (not before a popsicle stop), where we conversed, amid the heat and crowd (hendiadys), about a heavy topic -- what the drug trade has done to South America. Hassan Uncle met us at Vienna, whence we sped home. We picked up Nani and visited "the Indian store," where Laura perused the shelves as my grandma and I shopped for groceries. Among our purchases happened to be various ingredients for brigadeiros, which are basically Brazilian truffles -- hm, what a coincidence!

Back at home, Laura and I ate. And ate. And ate. After this, we ate. Nani's food is just too good. I had asked Laura to bring her exercise clothes along with her today so we could go for a jog together, but we ended up eating condensed milk and tiramisu instead -- that counts, right? (I'll make up for it this weekend.) After lots of laughing and joking with Nani and Laura, I got to see Jennifer Kambourian when she came to pick up my sister. She promised to read about our day in DC on my blog. Thanks for following, Jen!

I started this post as Nani finished watching Mughal-e-Azam. May the next 316 days of this year be just as splendid as the first 50. Thank you, God. Thank you, World.

Day 49: I'll pay you a visit and my respects.

As part of Flint Hill's Spirit Week leading up to Homecoming, Miss Priya had Decade Day today. I helped her put together her 80s outfit (comprised entirely of my clothing) -- it is interesting to note the similarities between her "costume" and my daily attire.

Today turned into my day of multilingual car conversations.

In Mrs. Bergman's automobile this morning, I requested that she help me practice my Spanish. What resulted was a wonderful "lesson" in Argentine Spanish (arguably the most beautiful, and certainly the most quickly spoken, type). Once at in DC, I read my sonnet and the Times before doing some research about which author I will read daily after Shakespeare's 154 poems run out. I learned that Petrarch (the "father" of sonnets) wrote 366 sonnets -- reading his poetry would have been so convenient for my year, seeing as this blog's url ought to be However, the writing of anyone as obsessed as he was with one woman named Laura can't be all that interesting to read. :) I also read a bit about Ovid's influence on the sonnets of both Petrarch and Shakespeare -- cool.

At work today, I "womanned" the front desk while Gina and Carolyn worked next door to the administrative office. In between phone calls and other inquiries, I did some research for Vicki, searching for an evidence-based life skills curriculum which could be used to teach youth in the foster care system about health, education, employment, and household management. After searching for quite some time, I finally found a set of modules which I think will do very nicely! The introduction to the curriculum discusses the need to put this information on a website to make it more accessible to youth, so I contacted the webmaster listed and asked if I could help to enter the curriculum into a blog-based site for youth to reference. When Vera got in, I went over my fact sheets from yesterday with her, and promised to take fantastic notes at tomorrow's Ethics Training!

At the end of the day, I hopped on the metro, headed for home. At the Vienna stop, I met a cab driver from Afghanistan who had lived in India for 6 months and was fluent in Hindi! Driving from the station to my house, he asked me about the latest in Bollywood cinema, and serenaded me with music from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

While Cleaning
After Cleaning
Once home, I set up an "About Me" page on this blog (click the menu bar above to see it), crashed for 28 minutes, and fetched Priya from the bus stop. After saying "hi" to Dee Dee, I went for a jog in the neighborhood. As a cool-down exercise, I cleaned another monstrous corner of my room. I know Mama, wherever in the world she is right now (i.e. Bolivia), is smiling as she reads this.

I look forward to a relaxing evening with Nani and Priya, and can't wait for Gap Day 50 tomorrow!


Day 48: Time is a farce.

This morning was one of over-sleeping and Starbucks-hopping. My alarm rang at 6, at which point I dismissed it and went back to sleep. Imagine my chagrin when I received a call from Mrs. Bergman (who is driving me to DC these next 2 weeks) at 6:41, informing me that she had just left her house! I was out the door at 6:45 -- 4 minutes is definitely my my record for getting dressed in the morning.

Breakfast and make-up were left for my favorite Starbucks, on the intersection of 18th and H. It was here that I read Sonnet 48. I then hopped on the train and got a bit of shut-eye, thankfully not losing track of time during this ride. Once on the street where Sasha Bruce "lives," I sat in the Starbucks on 8th SE and caught up on headlines in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune, as well as It was then time to head to the office.

Waiting for Jill and Vera to arrive, I read more information about the Geneva Declaration, as well as the 2-page declaration itself ( I also spied a plaque describing Obama's visit to Sasha Bruce Youthwork on the day before his inauguration! (I learned the other day that Yale alumni visited SBY this summer as well -- how legit.)

When Jill arrived, she asked me to help her out in drafting letters to members of the Board of Directors thanking them for their donations to the Help the Homeless mini-walk taking place in early November. When I had typed about 12 letters, I headed next door to help Vera with some filing. During this time, I heard that Jess would not be able to go to a meeting on Ethics this Thursday, so I volunteered to go instead. It should be interesting!

After filing, it was time for more research! This time, Vera wanted information on 2 approaches to counseling -- Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and Multisystemic Therapy (MST). FFT seems like another way of framing Sasha Bruce's holistic competency-based approach, and MST strikes me as going a step further in terms of the counselor's role and availability (similar to intensive third party monitoring). To see the fact sheets I compiled, click the following link:

Printing the letters I typed this morning, I got to chat with my colleague Bart, who works for the Development Office. It was fun telling him about my reasons for taking a year off, and sharing with him my (amazing) experiences at Sasha Bruce thus far. (Bart's newest hobby is exclaiming, "she's going to Harvard!" every time he sees me conversing with anyone in the hallway.)

Once home, I caught up with Nani before going for a jog and welcoming Miss Priya home. I then learned that many of my recently-graduated friends are going to be in the area this weekend for Homecoming -- how exciting!

After taking a shower, reading an Economist blurb on education, and dialing some calls to India for Nani, I prepare for bed, hoping to avoid a repeat of this morning!

Day 47: My eyes aren't judgmental.

Today was dedicated to Fall Cleaning!

After packing Priya's lunch and seeing her off to school at 7 (as well as eating Nani's scrumptious French toast), I promptly fell back asleep until around 11. When I woke up the second time, I did some Classics Club organizational work before helping Nani prepare lunch. After a delicious meal, I commenced some major organization of my pigsty--er--bedroom. As anyone who has seen my room can imagine, this took quite some time. It was soon the hour of the arrival of Priya's bus, and Nani and I walked to the stop to pick her up. The weather was absolutely marvelous.

When the bus came, I ran on and gave the driver, who is a close friend of mine, print-outs of the blog posts I wrote in Brasil (Dee Dee doesn't have a computer). I was very happy to see her after so long, and we made plans to catch up soon.

It would have been a crime not to go running in this weather, and I'm no criminal! With my sneakers still stanky from my night in the Amazon and my nose still stuffy from the same, I went for a short jog to take in the autumnal splendor.

Upon returning, I set up two new blog pages for my writing (you can see them by clicking "My Prose" or "My Poetry" in the menu bar above). After a bath, I joined Nani and Priya for a lovely dinner. Having washed oodles of dishes, I now settle in to work on some research for my supervisor at Sasha Bruce, and then continue that Scientific American I started before Brasil! I also plan to do some reading about The Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, as I may be attending a conference on the initiative later this month!

Day 46: "You have a beautiful mind."

After packing the parents off to Peru and perusing a poem by a preeminent poet, Nani and I watched the dedication of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on television. I was very proud to have visited it, and very touched by President Obama's dedication speech. I particularly like how he appealed to many of Dr. King's ideals, such as a belief in the goodness (and oneness) of all people. I also appreciate his reference to MLK's conception of "isness" (the world as it currently exists) vs. "oughtness" (the world as it should be).

After Obama's speech, CNN aired Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech in its entirety. Watching this after just having seen our current president's oration was a great testament to how far we have come, and of course, a reminder of how much more we can do. I actually got chills when I heard some of the more famous lines spoken by Dr. King himself -- this was a really inspiring way the spend my morning.

Photo credit: the "just ok" Laura Kambourian
After some lunch and scrubbing of the kitchen, we three ladies settled in for our afternoon naps. Once awake, I received a visit from Varlet #1 Nizar Zahed. We had a good discussion about many things on his mind and a few on mine, once he had gotten used to my newest habit of taking notes all the time! This talk was very productive, and helped me apply the optimism I have learned from my job at Sasha Bruce. I look forward to Nizar's birthday on Tuesday!

After Nizar left, I helped Nani prepare dinner (we had the most delicious chicken), and then did tons of dishes (my favorite). I now plan to participate in a pretty pleasing piano party with Priya.

Diēs XLV: My heart is happy.

This morning was a BIG OL' LATIN FAMILY REUNION!!

The first Certamen** of the year is always a blast, and this year's proved no less, even for me, coming back as a graduate. (I, as is common, often say that an event or experience "makes my day" -- I had my day "made" on several occasions today. I will focus on 3 such encounters in this post.)

When I had read my sonnet and we had found the right Saint Stephen's Saint Agnes' campus, I "socialized with" (i.e. greeted) some fellow graduates before heading to the library to help Magister Chang do some final organizing for the day. Always my partner in crime, Woojin helped me read through Level I questions, making any last-minute changes as necessary, and discussing them with our fellow moderators. I never knew that such a painstaking process occurred just before the competition, in addition to the weeks and weeks that go in planning it ahead of time! As we read through the Level I rounds, Woojin and I got to see a bunch of our erst teachers and coaches, including Mr. Williams, Ms. Graham (felicem diem natalem tardum!), and Mr. Cavedo. Also in attendance were Ms. Smerke and the beautiful Whitney and Hailey! Though witty Whit wouldn't give me my hug, she gave "P is for Priya" an extra one to make up for it.

After being reunited with TONS of Latin community friends, it was off to the rounds! I selected room 113 and strolled in to find whom other than Jannah Trisha Babasa assigned there as a helper? Jannah and I refer to one another as soulmates -- we are each huge fans of the other, and have corresponded a lot via the interwebs in between Certamen competitions, but never get to spend much time together in real life. :( How lucky that we got to spend 3 rounds together introducing students to the art of Certamen, at which Jannah is quite a pro!

Reading questions (being on the other side of the table) was really, really fun. There was 1 team for whom I happened to be moderating for all 3 rounds. The first time my day was made was when, after the second round, 1 of the 4 boys (Alex) learned that he would be having me as a moderator again for the third round, and shouted "we love you!" as his team was settling in. I live for these moments.
After the 3 preliminary rounds, it was time to hear results and catch up with colleagues. This time was also when we had a little "photo sesh" and took some group pictures for our school and state publications. The second time my day was made was when I ventured to the far side of my room to say "salve" to Jorge Bonilla, my friend from Governor's Latin Academy. Unexpectedly, Jorge revealed that he had been reading my blog, and went on to make some superlative statements about my writing style. Jorge is very, shall we say, exacting, and such a compliment from him was really something else.

Rushing to my finals round, I ran into Professor Jim Duffy of Randolph College. Professor Duffy is so supportive and exuberant it is unreal. We met at last year's Flint Hill Certamen, and he has always been so interested in my Latin career, as well as my education in general. It was great telling him a bit about my work and travel this year, as he was enthusiastic as always.

In the Level I finals, I had the pleasure of moderating for 3 great teams, one of which consisted of 2 giggly young ladies I had just talked to in the hallway. Grace and Jackie are the most adorable (and intelligent!) 7th graders I have ever met, and meeting them and seeing them play was a treat.

The round itself was very intense, and went into "double overtime" (a.k.a. 2 sets of tie-breakers). Thanks to Ms. Henricks and Mrs. Shearer for their support! After making a fool of myself by leaving the score sheets behind in room 207, I finally got to touch base with Mr. Chang again and let him know what a great day I'd had.

I rode the Flint Hill bus home and got to chat with Varlet #0 Patrick Sanguineti (who really impressed me with his skillz today). As if life could get any better, the third time my day was made was on this bus ride. Mr. Andino's blessing of a son, Sam, was sitting behind us, and he drew a picture of me. We then started passing notes. Sam wrote me some of the sweetest messages I have received in a while, including a "1st Place in Cool" award and many, many "Thank You" messages (for when I would retrieve his notebook from the silly boys keeping it from him.) This is why kids are the best. So often, we forget to tell people how kind or cool we think they are, or how much we appreciate them, and kids can totally just do that. My favorite note reads "for you! from Sam -- nice nice cool nice <-- you are all these things." How many times have you wanted to tell someone that? I'll make it a goal for the next few weeks to tell my nears and dears that they mean "all these things" to me.

After dropping Christophe at his house, we arrived home, where I attempted to sleep for quite some time. When that didn't work, Papa, Nani, and I sat down to finish Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. What a film. The movie is about not waiting to do that thing you've always wanted to, not settling for that decision that seems most convenient or expedient, not fearing that adventure you've often dreamed of. Pretty standard "carpe diem" stuff, but it's presented really effectively. The subtitles were decent, and I'd recommend it to all my readers.
You won't get to live twice.
After quite a full day, I now look forward to working with Priya on an epic musical mash-up we've been putting together. Here's to a beautiful tomorrow.


**Certamen can be mundanely described as a "Latin quiz bowl competition." But I hope you now understand that it means SO MUCH MORE.