Day 273: "Never let your arms be an afterthought."

After meditating on Marina for quite a while this morning, I read a selection in The Power of Now. Over breakfast, I contacted a future Gyaan Ghar intern to discuss what her role will be during the students' summer vacation. I look forward to the contributions Raina will be able to make in improving the students' confidence in speaking English. Before leaving the house, I laid out the cosmetics I would need to get my sister and her girlies dolled up tonight!

At school, I attempted to organize Latin Convention forms for students (though I'm usually not even able to handle my own). This ended in a wrestling match with the copy machine, which I'm sad to say I lost.

This afternoon was host to an event I'm been looking forward to for a long time -- a ballet class taught by Miss Aimee! I of course can't dance at all, but being in the room with Aimee teaching (and dancing!) was such an experience. I've always marveled at her talent, but it was evident to me today more than ever how a year at arts school has changed the way she looks at things and experiences herself. Her four students were constantly exchanging amused glances over the adorable way in which she explains things, and Jennifer and I were absolutely in awe of her amazing eloquence and poise. Our jaws just dropped at the way she explained even the simplest actions, and the confidence she's gained this year (as though she wasn't confident before . . . ). I was just so happy and honored to be there, and at one point in class, a chill ran through my spine as I realized that "Aimee Marich" will soon be a household name as she pursues her brilliant dancing career -- and I will be able to say I got to take a class with her!

Back at home, my work was cut out for me: to make three young ladies look spectacular for the 8th grade formal tonight. Not trying to toot my own horn or anything, but they do look fabulous!

Papa and I went to drop the girls off at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens for the dance, and returned just now, to the 8th grade parents' dinner, which is being hosted at our house this year. I unfortunately am not feeling great (surprising?) so I'll rest awhile before mingling with the parents. Au revoir!

Day 272: I can't think with my eyes closed.

The skies mourn Marina in the morning.

We go about our business, dressed in black v-necks, organizing documents.

We love our lunch spent reflecting on this year and predicting that the next one could be lonely.

On the bus, we talk about trees and children.

I rest my swollen eyes now, before packing for my next escape.

In Memory of Marina

She was one of my best friends and I never met her.

I can’t tell you how many times I have read and reread her poem “Bygones” -- my favorite piece of written work in the world, by far. Type in “Marina Keegan” for a burst of inspiration any time of day, any day of the week, no matter what. I had told all my friends about her, too.

This poem, right? I just happened to be watching it five minutes before I got the news. Bowled over by her words all over again, I posted a link to it at the end of my blog post earlier today, quoted from it for my post’s title (I quote Marina often), and hit “publish” when a friend sent me the article.

“Marina Keegan ’12, a prolific writer, actress and activist, died Saturday afternoon in a car accident near Dennis, Mass. She was 22.”

Are people like Marina even allowed to die? Are people who live the way Marina did even allowed to die? She lived only to be the purest and the happiest she could be in this world. She savored every moment. She wrote, "I want enough time to be in love with everything."

Her literally breathtaking poem ends with the line, “And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.” Well I watched the video of her poem again today, before I got the news, and I wondered at the fact that the camera cut to a black screen just as she uttered her last word, cutting out what I’m sure was a grand standing ovation. I was going to ask her permission to perform it.

I fell in love with her school when I visited and saw her perform -- I emailed her asking for college advice. She refused to answer my email but instead called me that very instant to give me a breathless five-minute version of the “why Yale is better than Harvard” talk. Who does that? When I ended up choosing Harvard a few months later, she wrote to me, “Harvard is despicable, but perhaps less so for your attainment.” I rejoiced over this line and shared her words with everyone I knew.

When I asked her for her opinion on taking a gap year, she replied, “taking a gap year is awesome and amazing if you have something awesome that you really want to do (aka travel.)” She had travelled the world. She had known herself. She had lived.

I am proud to know her, though I barely knew her, and there was so much to know. All I can say is how much her words have helped me through tough times. I expressed this to her this once and she responded, “I can't tell you sincerely enough how much it means to me that my poetry has helped you. It's really an ultimate goal of mine and I'm so happy you can relate to some of my concerns and anxieties and quandaries and happiness'!”

Let us fulfill this ultimate goal of Marina's, and learn to live from this indescribable woman.

I idolize her as a writer, knowing fully well and embracing that I can never be the writer she was. And so I close with her own words.

“So I went to Yale.
So I got good grades.
So we beat on
birds flocking south until we
circle round and realize maybe,
maybe all that running wasn’t worth it.”

-- Marina Keegan, sister, role model, angel

Bygones -- by Marina Keegan

I had a dream the other night that I was checking my email.

That dream sucks.

And woke to woes of seniors writing

love songs for tomorrow and

Tomorrow and the melodies

That flirt us forward, whispering

the next thing and the next thing

and  – so we beat on

birds flocking south until we

circle round and realize maybe

maybe all that running wasn’t worth it.

Maybe we should build a cabin.

Or teach high school.

Or use our hands.

My palms are smooth as words –

Weak with fashion and double spaces.

I want everyone else’s club and job and class

The grass I sleep in always browner than

Than that around erasing dreams

To sit and breathe because you

Only bank for two years then it's over

And twenty two is nothing new

It’s just another chance to build

For when we’re twenty three

And twenty four

And time begins to sell for more than

Any 9 a.m. to never.

We’re not stuck.

That's the thing, we're not stuck.

We owe no one our nothings.

Yale will be what it was,

Gothic dreams of lucky, of amazing

Not a staircase or corner office contract.

At home, I walk in forest fields,

Orange light and dry trees,

Becoming slowly sleepy,

And disgusted with my vintage shoes

And the thinness of my skinny pants,

my florals laughed at by the flowers,

whispering, hip. Whispering, there’s no

sidewalk that cares.

But let me tell you, I look cool at parties

And success sufficient to make men fall in love

As we smoke again and open wines

And text to leave because the here is never

Good and I heard that thing on Chapel was fun, well do you wanna leave soon?
Who’s there
Do you wanna leave soon?

I want to bake my blackberry into blackberry pancakes

And live wire-less,

With a husband who runs in the mornings

And lots of books

And a baby who I raise…

To be anything – or nothing

Because that’s okay too.

Because working in a bookstore and having babies

And nothing and being in love is okay too.

Ambition is a choice.

Ambition is a race we chose to run

So we could get here so we could

I don’t know so we could save poor

People or invent something or be in charge.

Last winter I slept in word counts

Face pressed to table tops until the

Snow came and the sun rose

And a man came in to vacuum the floor.

And I’d be tired.

Not just sleepy, but tired.

Tired until all I wanted to do was put on something

Acoustic and romantic and vacuum castle floors.

Why do I feel like I can’t do that?


I’m not sure anymore if I want

To schedule meals and be late

And delegate because that’s what

Good leaders do.

And I’m tired of justifying with tomorrow’s bliss, because

Yesterday’s tomorrow is today and

Someday the sun is going to die

And then the human race will end and

I’ll still be texting to see if that other party’s better.

Do you wanna leave soon?

No, I want enough time to be in love

with everything.

We’re too smart to sell our time

For cocktail moments of

This is what I’ve done

And summers lost for

Three lines on a document

That can’t contain the time

We got high on pancakes

And built a snow fort.

We’re not that young.

We’ve always been young

But now we’re not that young.

And the world is so beautiful.

And this is what we’ve got, you know? This is what we’ve got and we’ll just keep flirting forward, shrinking fonts and grays in love songs to future companies who may decide they want us on their team.

The middle of the universe is here, is tonight,

And everything behind is a sunk cost

Lost in our oceans and our oceans are deep.

So I went to Yale.

So I got good grades.

So we beat on

birds flocking south until we

circle round and realize maybe

maybe all that running wasn’t worth it.

Or the snow comes, and the sun rises, and the vacuum starts,

And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.

Day 271: I want enough time to be in love with everything.

My reading on the power of listening today meshed perfectly with the morning's coffee with Woojin, where he revealed to me his discovery that "TIME IS THE MOST PRECIOUS THING A PERSON CAN GIVE TO ANOTHER."

I was happy to have time with the other half of my syzygy today, carrying out Chang orders and playing Certamen. In the morning, I allowed Woojin some quietude as the photogenic Jenny and I worked in the beautiful gazebo outside.

After hours of vocabulary work with PSang, I settled in to play against Varlet #0, with Woojin botch--er--reading the questions.

The real fun came, however, when Woojin asked me to read history and literature questions to him, for him to compete against no one to answer them. Sometimes, we just miss Certamen too much.

After this tomfoolery, I sat down to copy to my computer the Ingrid Michaelson albums Mr. Chang had brought in for me, to which I attempted to choreograph a dance upon returning home.

After an abbreviated meditation session, I enjoyed another rigorous workout (to which I had been looking forward immensely all day). My energy wanes; I haste me to my bed.


Poem of the day (and forever):

Day 270: Ambition is a choice.

I started today with something I've been meaning to do for a long time -- I learned the proper breathing patterns for Surya Namaskara. (In the process, I also discovered that I've been doing the yoga positions wrong.)

Mama and I tidied the basement before I met with Michael for lunch. We spent our three hours pondering his future, catching up on the latest in the Latin world, and discussing my future as a coxswain for Harvard Crew.

Mike also told me about the process of being selected for, preparing for, and delivering the Latin address at Harvard's graduation ceremony this year. I felt like a bad friend when I had to admit that I hadn't watched the entire oration, and viewed the video when I returned home. I have included it below in an effort to ease my guilt.

Next, I enjoyed a one-hour workout so tiring that it made me dizzy! (But it felt so good . . . )

Mama and I were preparing to attend a baby shower when we realized that we had gotten the date wrong and it had already taken place! So instead, we threw ourselves into our cleaning and decoration of the house, and I took breaks to help Priya study for her Latin exam tomorrow.

In the evening, we grabbed some Memorial Day coupons and Mama got me a special pair of shoes I've had my eye on for a while!

I'm home now and it's time for a shower and some yummy Lebanese food.

Day 269: It's all because of you that I'm through.

I did some minimal yoga this morning before catching up with my g-parents (Nani, Nanaji, Dadi). Dadi and I discussed our plans for Gyaan Ghar during the students' month of holidays, and I spent some time after our call contacting potential volunteers who would be interested in working with our students during this time.

Next, I caught up on a bunch of minute tasks -- making a massage appointment for Mama and making an optometrist appointment for Priya and making cell service changes for the three of us.  Mama and I then worked on reorganizing the wires around our TV cabinet -- this task led to some minor mechanical machoism on my part, as I was proud to have unplugged and rewired our wireless router. But barely!

The three of us later sat down with my laptop for a mini shopping spree on Amazon. Eight assorted iPhone cases should be in the mail any time now!

I meditated for an hour after lunch, before working out in the basement. We washed up and went out to do some errands, and before we knew it, it was time to get dressed for tonight's surprise party for Panneer Uncle -- we are on our way now!


Song of the day:

Day 268: "No need to wonder when you have words!"

I started today with ten minutes of meditation and two pages of Tolle. This picture represents the rest of my morning:

Decked out in Indian dress, my siblings and I hit old town Vienna for the Viva! Vienna! fair. Funnel cakes, trampolines, and lots of loving ensued. We were joined by Jenny K. for lunch (with a scarcity of sitting options) before our brother had to depart.

As we waited for Iman's family, my talented little sis and I had a beautiful heart-to-heart in the grass.

Soaked in sweat, I returned home expecting to be incapacitated for the rest of the day. This prediction seemed to be coming true until Priya convinced me to go outside with her for a jog. A three-hour workout followed.

String is the new muscle.

After an hour and a half of cardio, we returned to the basement for push-ups, sit-ups, planks, leg lifts, splits, and lots of stretching (not to mention manly opportunities for Gill Junior to show off).

Everything is impermanent, but today has been pretty glorious thus far.

Day 267: I LOVE VERBS!

Today has made me breathless!

I started the morning with a conversation with Ms. Noojin that was so good I didn't want to leave her office! I eventually had to depart, though, and headed back to B-235 to start grading the exams taken by the Latin II Honors class. Doing this task actually filled me with glee -- the students performed so well on such a challenging assessment! Yet another testament to Mr. Chang's magic.

After the morning exam block, I got to work training Patrick intensely for this year's state Certamen tryouts. Although many parts of my day were spectacular, this was my favorite. I AM IN LOVE WITH GRAMMAR. It's not even funny how happy it made me to flip through the Compendium and drill this kid on the most obscure language concepts. I love words. I love Latin. I love grammar.

After 4 hours of our studying (!), Mr. Chang read questions for Patrick and me to play against one another and work on speed. This got me in my edgy Certamen mode, which felt good! I can't really compare any feeling to that of competing in this crazy intense esoteric competition.

Post Patrick practice, Nizar came to school to interview Mr. Chang for an article he is writing in Virginia's state Classics publication, the Forum. I'm surprised I've never sat down with Mr. Chang and listened to his life story, but I got to do that today and it was so interesting and only increased my respect for him. That and he went to Governor's School with Jason Mraz. Just saying.

This interview continued at Starbucks with Lindsay "Rufus" Ellmore, an FHS alumna and good friend of mine. It was fun to have another person to help us ridicule (and judge) Chang.

Nizar and I hurried slowly to the mall after this for some quality VarleTime with PSang. The evening got off to peculiar start when a huge lump of frozen yogurt randomly fell out of the sky and into my hair, which wasn't looking that great to start with. The night only got better (and more hilarious) from this point forward, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending some solid time with my besties.

On the way home, I forced Nizar to listen to the newest original song by Melvin Taylor, Matt Christian, and me. I would now like to exhort you all to do the same by clicking here!

I am so tired but I would willingly trade every ounce of my energy daily for this feeling.


Song of the day:

Day 266: "It's tough being in two places at once."

This day has historically been my happiest in high school -- the day of the FINAL LATIN EXAM! It was interesting to be proctoring the exam today instead of taking it, and surprising to see that this year's students ask far fewer questions than I used to!

After three hours of observing Chang-Lamont antics and making the rounds were up, I retreated to the Language Hallway (yes, this location is a proper noun) to start grading the tests! I spent most of the school day doing this, incorporating intermittent "socializing" with victims such as KAndino, Victoria "Ginge" Flagg, and Mr. Grissom.

At the end of the day, Magister Chang returned from a meeting to present to me the most thoughtful gift of two awesome books -- On the Outside Looking Indian and Peter Bogdanovich's Movie of the Week -- and a super special digital device...

That's right -- Mr. Chang and I are now USB TWINS!! He got me a handy-dandy flash drive to match his sine qua non of the same variety, and signed it with pax tēcum so I can bring purple and gold peace with me wherever I go! Gratias, Maaagister! Certainly the highlight of my day.

After work, I went to the doctor, wrote a poem on my phone (lame), and accompanied Mama to her office. There, I got to meet her newest clients and some of her colleagues, about all of whom I have heard so much!

Today has been remarkably "zen" already, but I'm hoping to squeeze in a meditation sesh before turning in for the night!

Day 265: Now you're just somebody that I used to know.

Long and lovely day.

Wrote key for Latin II practice exam and graded Latin IV final projects.

Bagged candy between Reading Day questions about Latin.

Framed certificates between candy and more questions about Latin.

Edited resume under auspices of Howard Chang.

Met with incoming eighth grader about taking summer Latin.

Attended Alumni Back-to-School Night!

Prepared piece with Mama Maddox and rest of musical gang.

Caught up with Mr. Fred and other treehuggers.

Practiced posture with Aimee.

 Had lesson undermined by Kenneson.

Drove home with JennPenn and answered student's Latin questions in car.

Good day. Sensory overload. Good night.

Day 264: All I do is words.

I did not miss productivity for long this morning! Soon after waking, I re-read the section in The Power of Now that basically backs up Vipassana. I then headed to school where, after skipping around his office with excitement that I was well again, Mr. Chang started listing projects for me to work on for the rest of my internship. Among bagging candy, framing certificates, and taking screen shots were scattered more exciting tasks like designing a flier advertising Castra Latina!

My cold-afflicted eyes watered only minimally today, and I was able to bear the sight of my screen enough to work at a fairly steady pace. For Mr. Chang's last Latin II Honors class of the year, he had prepared a game to encourage students to learn the sequence of events leading to the founding of Rome through art depicting the same.

Students were given 16 pieces of artwork, and instructions to order the works in chronological order according to the narratives they have been reading on Rome's founding. I remember doing this activity as a freshman, so it was rather special to be administering it as a "13th grader." In fact, that's what's been special about this whole internship -- getting to be on the other side of this process that I've long benefited from, and that too alongside my teaching idol!

The last class of the year went very well and it was a lot of fun to watch Mr. Chang teach again!

We distributed yearbooks to various faculty members after school before I finished up one of the aforementioned projects (outlining a curriculum for a student Mr. Chang is tutoring) before hopping on the bus.

Dregs of my sickness still do remain, as evidenced by the fact that I keeled over for a 4-hour nap upon my return home. I just got up and have been meditating and reviewing Zane's final history project with him since then.

Pumped for Reading Day tomorrow!

Day 263: All else comes naturally.

I went to bed last night determined to go to work today, but when I woke up this morning and didn't have the strength to lift my toothbrush to my mouth, I didn't think I would be of much use to Latin students.

I literally collapsed back to bed and got up briefly at one point only to meditate. One great thing about being sick is how much easier it becomes to just focus on one's body. My reading in The Power of Now today was about inner body connectedness as a path to enlightenment, and posited that focusing on what one is feeling at any given time takes some strength away from the judgmental mind-chatter that tends to make us unhappy. I experienced sickness' role in this when, at my meditation retreat, I fell sick on Day 4 and felt much more focused, because the days became more of a struggle to get by rather than a time to ponder everything.

Meditation led to another lengthy nap from which I awoke to help Kenneson find a summer job. Know anyone looking for a Latin/Greek/German/English tutor? Just let me know!

And please wish that I be able to work tomorrow -- I miss being productive!


Song of the day:

Day 262: Love would be if we didn't have to tell anyone.

Today was just uncomfortable. This was my view for most of the day, as I lay on my side trying to "sleep off" this nasty cold.

We stepped out briefly and I dragged my feet around the mall looking for shoes for Priya to wear to the 8th grade formal.

We found the perfect glass slippers at last, and Cinderella and her sicksister returned home for more rest.

The highlight of my evening has been filling out some atrociously large forms. But it will be worth it for the joy of national Latin Convention!

I need my sickie sleep. Good night!

Day 261: "I'll take you to something you will love."

I spent all day restin' (readin', meditatin', nappin') in anticipation of tonight's party, celebrating JoJo's graduation from medical school.

Priya and I "finicked" over our appearances before we frolicked around the garden.

People partied by the peaceful pool.

Uncle posed while procuring plenty of pictures.

Priya and her pal played with a pooch.

Jovially, we joined the joyful Jojo in jubilation!

The evening was a wonderfully warm one for all. Congratulations, Joey!