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Showing posts from July, 2012

Day 334: Isn't this even a little bit good?

After World Series and the dance last night, we attended our state's last fellowship meeting for this year's convention. Our president Evan Draim did his best to drag out the meeting as much as possible, and it was "with great reluctance" that he finally dismissed us around 1 am.


This morning, I caught one last breakfast with my Latin family, with Mater Hattemer at the head of the table. I started the bus ride home by blasting way-too-loud Reggaeton as my colleagues tried to sleep, followed by a texting storm with both my varlets, who were sitting right in front of me. We stopped for lunch at McDonald's, where I ate a number of desserts that will go unnamed. Post prandium, I exchanged notes on Convention with PSang, of whom I didn't see much this week. I look forward to spending lots of quality time with my Latin sibs during these last few weeks before the countdown to college!

Back home, Priya and I gushed about Convention until we were breathless, as we d…

Diēs CCCXXXIII: I just want you to know who I am.

I got up at leisure this morrow and grabbed coffee with my siblings Kenneson, Nizar, and yes, Priya, at Starbucks to debrief about Convention and mourn the fact that Priya wouldn't be playing in this morn's finals. Full of java chip frappuccino, we dragged our feet to the theater to watch the intermediate and upper level finals. After two stressful matches, each of our teams placed third in the national championship. A particularly emotional moment came when each of the upper level players "dedicated" their round to one of the novice team members. Erika spoke into the mic: "I'm Erika Weiskopf from Virginia and I'm playing for Priya."

After the nail-biting excitement of these rounds, my mind was hungry for some meditation, which I enjoyed for a few hours before changing into my "stola" to match my soror, dressing my sister, and setting out for the Roman procession. As the Virginia delegation cheered away, our "Chang family" had an…

Diēs CCCXXXII: "I like your progressive feminist bob."

Today was a highly emotional day. I sprang from my bed this morning and raced to the food court to meet Priya for a sister talk before her semifinal round.

Let's just skip to the round. It was a mess. The most stressful and contentious round of certamen perhaps in history, Virginia left the room more than a little bit lachrymose, after having lost by one controversial question. The kids played classily though, and they have abundant accolades in their future. I am happy to announce that both the intermediate and the advanced teams made it to the finals!!

We needed some comic relief after the nail biting that came with watching the novice team play, so over lunch, Kenneson helped Michael draft the matrimonial that will be published in the Convention Ear tomorrow to set my arranged marriage to a "dapper Harvard student" in stone. Much laughing could be heard, as usual.

From lunch, we went to GA, where my level of exhaustion finally hit "euphoria" level and caus…

Diēs CCCXXXI: "Isn't she magical?"

This morning, I woke to the happy news of the arrival of two of my favorite friends -- Velchik and Kenneson! This in itself made the day much brighter, and, having lunched, we headed to the first novice certamen round of the day.

This match was spectacular! Not only did Priya's team earn 300 points overall (there are 400 total in a round) but my lil' sis answered both a history and a mythology question, which are outside of her primary category, grammar!

Rumors about this whiz kid were flying as Kenneson, Michael, Ian, and I went to the food court for a second lunch, where Velchik attempted to arrange my marriage on the spot.

Kenneson and I escaped to General Assembly all too willingly, and were ecstatic when Nora's scrapbook for Virginia won first place! After GA, we enjoyed the most hilarious luncheon with Morgan, Nora, and Niz, during which we laughed harder than we ever have in our lives. Kenneson's antics paired with the 'tude of these girls had all in hys…

Diēs CCCXXX: "Your sister is phenomenal."

Sometimes, you have to start your day twice. I arose reluctantly at 6 this morning to moderate for open certamen, only to arrive at the designated location and learn that the number of helpers was already sufficient. Grumbly at having woken up so early, I dragged my feet back to my dorm and slept for somewhere between another two and four hours.

Eleven seemed like a good enough time to head out for lunch with some SCLers before the first General Assembly of the Senior Classical League. When some serious secret SCL business had been discussed, I wandered into Starbucks with Taylor and we caught up on our respective Convention experiences thus far.

It was then time for the Spirit competition, a torrent of noise and surprisingly coordinated motions which was even more spectacular to observe from the balcony overlooking Wait Chapel. At the end of the assembly Taylor and I hurried to submit our entry to the JCL texting competition. I may have forgotten much of my Latin, but my thumbs are…

Diēs CCCXXIX: "Travel, if only in your mind."

I got up pretty late this morning by Convention standards, and meditated for a few minutes before doing some yoga and starting my day at beautiful Wake Forest.

After an oatmeal-and-coffee breakfast with my siblings, Nizar and I headed to intermediate Certamen practice to train with the team. We enjoyed a fun few hours with Ms. Graham and the players before lunch. Then came time for the first General Assembly of the year.

GA is a time for creeds to be spoken, songs to be sung, announcements to be made, and awards to be presented. The one and only Mr. Kim led today's long and ever-so-exciting assembly, which was followed by a meeting for the chaperones and sponsors, which revealed to me some of the sweat and tears that go into the making of this magical convention.

It seemed absurd to eat dinner at 4:30, but that is what it took to be fed and ready for my first duty as a member of the Senior Classical League -- proctoring a test session!

I currently sit in a sea of scantrons and …

Diēs CCCXXVIII: "I know who's driving the bus of this conversation."

Priya and I got up at 6 today to get ready for the unpredictable one-week adventure that will leave me little time to write, and the luxury of only one photo per day -- National Latin Convention!

We set out for Winston-Salem with a Wawa break for me to stock up on all the sugar and caffeine I could and a Burger King break for Mr. Andino to comment on how I, as my mama says, "talk more and eat less" at meals.

After I'd caught up with Varlet News and watched Priya dominate some grammar tests, I tried in vain to sleep . . . for four hours. My efforts were fruitless and I arrived at Wake Forest a "wasted toddler."

The sight of my room blew my mind. The SCL dorm, South Hall, resembles a hotel, complete with marble floors, flawless air conditioning, and super fancy towel racks!

After settling in, we set out for dinner, which I ate twice with two different groups of Latin people. Post cenam, Wooj and I went in search of a room for novice level Certamen practice b…

Day 327: I see the sunny side too soon.

I started this morning by working with Alex some more, doing "reps" of what we've learned so far, and adding some adjectives into the mix. This guy is getting so fast!


A highlight of my morning was the "teaching injury" that I sported at the end of it, a finger gashed open from hitting my hand on a sharp corner of the board while drawing an over-enthusiastic arrow. I also enjoyed admiring the shirts being decorated by Priya's Certamen team.


During lunch, I compiled a key of the opening lines of several of Catullus' Carmina, to help students remember which numbers match up with which key words and ideas.

In the afternoon, I played against the upper team as Evan tried desperately to get me to take a photo of him for my blog (eventually unsuccessfully).

Back home, I tried for two hours to sleep, but my brain just wasn't feeling it. Perhaps I was too excited to see my favorite artist, Ingrid Michaelson, perform at Wolf Trap tonight!


Ingrid's voice …

Day 326: You do the melting.

Today was quite a busy day at Castra! As the Certamen teams went out on a movie field trip to socialize, I slogged away, tutoring and actually getting some grammar questions against the intermediate players. Alex and I discovered the predicate nominative today, and reviewed some more familiar concepts.


After a day's worth of work (including playing on the "rust belt" team with Woojin), I was rewarded by Zane Akhi, who dropped by FHS just to say hello!


We gushed about our summer adventures, I about Colombia and he about a program for business and entrepreneurship in which he recently participated. I'm so happy I got a chance to see my little brother!

Today must have been fictive kin day! As Zane drove away, Tierney picked me up and we went out for my second Cosi Bombay chicken salad in . . . two days. Talking to her is always inspiring and comforting -- I quaked over college qualms as my big sis spilled about her awesome (literally) job in the operating room at Inova…

Day 325: "The world belongs to you guys."

Priya tore me out of bed this morning to help rinse the Kool-Aid from her hair, but was dismayed to find that her hair was as un-purple as ever!

We trudged around for a walk (and Latin talk) for a while before we were both winded and I came in to wash up and prepare for a Latin lesson for a special kid!


Alex Smith is a friend of mine and an awesome Latin student. He's been at a lacrosse camp for the last four weeks, and understandably forgotten a bit of Latin. We reviewed conjugations and declensions by making sentences and fun of Priya.

I had grand plans to work out this afternoon, but my body would have none of it. Priya and I passed out for two hours, before I got dolled up for three people who wouldn't mind if I was dolled up or not.


I met with my varlets and sister in Reston Town Center and we argued extensively over what to eat, before we settled on Cosi for me and Potbelly for the others (not really a settlement).

Our dinner soon turned into Laura and I gossiping a…

Day 324: Look at the pack on your back.

Some days just have trouble starting. Priya and I woke up crushed by fatigue this morning and politely enjoyed our hot cakes from McDonald's. We spent much of the morn in limbo, with Priya attempting to study while I tried to meditate myself out of my funk.


We finally ended up going to the mall with our cousin Divya! Highlights of our spree were chocolate-covered strawberries and four pairs of pants for Priya.


When we dropped Divya off, we got to see the adorable Tia and Taj. Backbends, handstands, and hilarious hula hoops resulted.


We made a stop at the grocery store on our way home, to pick up some Kool-Aid for our task of the night -- dying the tips of Priya's hair.


I'd been looking out to working out all day, so I did a zombie-jog on the treadmill before beginning this post. Time to paint Princess Priya purple!

Day 323: Where's the proof in you?

I arose this morning to another day of Castra, the highlight of which was when Michael, Priya, and I competed against one another over grammar questions. We were soon joined by Mrs. Schearer, Mr. Chang, and Mr. Williams respectively, which made for an exciting match (Adam and I were creamed decisively).


The upper team and I also went over the "research" I had assigned them on tantum singularia, tantum pluralia, monoptotes, diptotes, heteroclites, heterogenous nouns, and irregular comparison of adjectives.


In the evening, Priya and I took a lengthy nap, went for a short walk, and went shopping! We found cute "toga dresses" and stuffed our faces at Panda Express -- a successful excursion!

My sister now requests to embark on a grammar adventure, but all I want to do is sleep. Some things never change!

Day 322: I'll be there.

I made the executive decision this morning to take a preemptive sick day in anticipation of the unpleasant news the tickle in my throat could bring me if I didn't heed its warning.


Early in the day (as in at noon, when I woke up), I received my housing assignment for next year! I will be living in Greenough 311, with Eliza Chang as my roommate!


The next quite-a-while was spent connecting with other people in Greenough Hall and in the Class of 2016 -- what a fun way to get excited for school! The only way to get even more excited was to take a mathematics placement exam.


This fortunately didn't take me long, as I remember little of math beyond algebra (and even that's a stretch) from school. After the test came lunch, mindless television, and attempts at rest. When I found myself exceedingly exhausted but unable to sleep, I decided to bring some life into my life by taking my placement exam in biology!


I finished this 1.5-hour exam in 30 minutes, again due to having comple…

Day 321: People are my hobby.

After last night's intense and slightly wacky workout, I awoke this morning sore and worried -- about having to compete against my Latin robot of a sister at Castra today!


We played on opposing teams in the morning and when she had answered 4 grammar questions to my 1, I thought it best to stomp out of the room rather than burst into Latin expletives!
Varlet #1 made the morning a bit brighter by visiting his Latin family wearing a t-shirt that happened to match that of Varlet #0 exactly. 


I gave it another go against the Priya Monster in the afternoon and didn't really perform much better. I'm so proud of this kid. 
I went from Castra to the metro to head into the district and meet up with Ben Roth! We enjoyed lattes and bygones as the clouds threatened another crazy storm. 


The skies improved their mood though, and we perched cautiously on wet benches in DuPont Circle to watch people walk by as we chatted about Colombia, China, and college. Can't wait to see this kid again…

Day 320: Life is funny.

After staying up late yesterday discussing the meaning of life with Laura (and waking up laughing in the middle of the night), I woke up this morning pumped for Castra Latina! This literally means "Latin Camp," and is a two-week program during which young Virginia Latin students get together to share a wealth of classical knowledge and intellectual energy.


My morning pushed me to switch hats from Spanish student to Latin teacher right away, working with Emily, a rising 8th grade student, on the difference between a predicate nominative and a direct object. The work I did with her reminded me again of the importance of repetition when learning a language, now from a teacher's point of view rather than the all-too-often reminders of this fact that I received while working with Mario.


After this "book learning" from 9 to 12, the fun starts at noon, when novice, intermediate, and advanced teams convene in their respective classrooms to practice Certamen, the class…

Day 319: Old tensions take on new dimensions.

I decided to stay home today and do the responsible thing by finishing my expository writing placement exam for college before diving into the world of Latin, where I often lose myself.


I woke up this morning and had coffee and cupcakes with Mama before meditating shortly and plunging into my third reading for the paper, one on commodification of body tissues. I decided that the best way to start the essay was just to start it, and would like to quote from my embarrassingly shallow product a sentence inspired by Colombia:

"It may be the childish and somewhat capricious echo of a gap year spent in countries home to natural beauty beyond measure, but there is something about flying over the mountains of Bogotá and the wrinkles of the Magdalena River that makes one forget about the ecological services offered by the ecosystem and just think, 'wow, we need to protect that.' Certain types of beauty weren’t meant to be questioned or calculated, and therein lies the problem with…

Day 318: The world is all talk and my brain doesn't stop writing.

Today started (and is ending) with my work on Harvard's placement exam for expository writing, a requirement of all incoming freshmen. The assignment is humbling at best and terrifying at worst, an essay on commodification, or "the moral limits of markets."


This tedious toil started soon after my preparation of Colombian coffee for the family, and went on until we embarked on an exciting outing this afternoon.


Cirque du Soleil's tribute to Michael Jackson was a marriage of French creativity and Jackson's lifeblood. The troupe left me in awe of the human body, while Michael's music moved me to the bone. The second half of the show had an especial "let's-save-the-earth-and-abolish-racism-while-we're-at-it" message, which was very welcome to this little hippie. After the spectacle, we paid patronage to Mama's favorite place on the planet . . .















. . . and wandered through other parts of D.C.























I have little to report about the rest of our eveni…

Nothing to Declare

They question me at Customs:

How long were you in Colombia?

Five of the most unassumingly lightning-fast weeks of my life.

What was the purpose of your trip?

To drink in a culture, to fall in love with new friends, to bask in Spanish tongues.

What are you bringing back with you today?


The heat of Cartagena, the views of Iguaque, the streets of Bogotá. A home to return to.

Did you receive any gifts while you were there?


Remarkable Rosario, darling "Dijana," mirthful Mauricio.

32% improved Spanish proficiency. Food that made me smile. Music that opened my eyes.

An aunt. A sister. A mother. A river.

Well welcome home, Ms. Gill!


Gracias. Muy amable.


Día 317: "Empezé quererte."

I had a most peculiar night. While Rosario and Diana worked away at the office, I did my best to call a cab, as the sun had set and I was not in the mood to walk the spooky ten blocks home in the dark. Because it was raining and a Friday, no cabs were available. After almost two hours, lots of frantic phone calls, and a few tears as I took one last look at the conference room, my “Colombian Mama” came to the rescue! I got to give her a big hug before leaving, promising to be back soon (with tears in my eyes again . . . ).

Our salsa plans were scrapped as Elena Auntie and I experienced the extreme exhaustion endemic to the unabashed Energizer bunnies that we aim to emulate. We put our efforts instead into magically packing my five maletas’ worth of stuff into one check-in suitcase and one burdensome handbag. This must have taken over an hour, and we crashed just before midnight, with our Osaki take-out eaten.


It seems that the bar of soap in my shower counted down my time in Colombia …