A CHS Veteran's Day/Weekend

I have a penchant for ambiguous phrases, which is why I call myself Chigaijin and why this post is so oddly titled. Even if the presence or absence of the slash sorta indicates which side of the ambiguity the meaning falls on.

This weekend was my second visit back at CHS. (I’ve been home but haven’t interacted with my old high school and friends until now.) I should spare a few thoughts for last week’s choir concert (the day of the earthquake, no less). Mr. Aron commented that he didn’t realize Cantos (Adv. Women) was “earth-shatteringly good.” (I think he meant “earth-shaking” but whatever.) But the real stars of the show, as always (sorry, other choirs!) was Cappella, the Advanced Mixed Choir I was in during the last two years. They were amazing, performing (as usual) more songs than any other group, and with the addition of a music shell I think they were actually better than the UC Men’s Chorale.

And really, that’s not an insult to us but a testament to the amazingness of Mr. Aron, who I owe a lot of my current singingness to.

This weekend the other half of CHS Performing Arts came out. (I skip band because I’m not a band person but I hear they owned a few weeks ago too. Anyway.) The fall show this year was The Laramie Project, a true story, based on interviews, about a small town in Wyoming that, a little less than a decade ago, captured the attention of the world with the brutal robbery, beating, and murder of Matthew Shepard. I won’t go into plot description because you can look that up yourself. Instead, I want to focus on a few highlights of the play.

  • Throughout the whole play, I could only say that it was real. Real, something amazing and tragic being created or recreated in the CHS theater.
  • I don’t even know her, but Maithy V. did an incredible job as Aaron, the student biker who had found Matthew in a coma. She sounded as if she was reliving the moment right there, sitting on the edge of the stage. (Someone pass this along to her?)
  • Thalia M., as the CEO of the hospital. For most of it, she was her usual self, which is still being a great actress. And then, recounting the last medical report, she completely, totally broke down, so realistically. (Afterwards, she told me she saw me in the audience at some point and was excited; I was still in a somber aftershock from the play. Heh.)
  • Sinan Z., the father of Matthew Shepard reading his ultimate decision about whether or not to seek the death penalty. The room was so silent. We were hanging on to his every word. Sinan is one of those who has to go on in drama, because it’s his life…just like one of the other characters he played.
  • Visual effect: on the day of the funeral, hearing how there were people filling two churches, and the park outside. And there were people in front of the fence and behind it as well, carrying black umbrellas.
  • Did I mention the fence? The entire play was set in front of a fence, the fence that Matthew had been tied to for 18 hours. As Eiko put it, “it was haunting, the whole show.”
  • Director’s choice: when the Muslim student…whose name I sadly forget like everyone else’s (also played by Maithy, though) said “We have to own this”…and in response, everyone takes a step back. Again, so real.
  • And finally, the play itself. It’s a real issue, doing something like this, especially in a high school. I know people who are homosexual, and I know people who think homosexuality is wrong. And…both are my friends, but the play has me thinking, more and more. Apart from that issue, which I’ll talk about later, I think I really respect Mrs. Conrad, and the actors, for being able to do this, and so well.

And apart from all that, I was sad, sorta like I was after One Acts last year but more so, because I’ve left and gone and they’ve continued on without me. Way back in June I posted something which felt like closure just before graduation, severing ties as neatly as possible and letting people go on. Slightly egoistic but there you go, that’s part of the purpose of a blog. Anyway, in seeing Cappella last week, and even more so seeing Laramie this week, I was sad at how completely they’ve managed to go on without us, without me. And I wish I could be in that group again.

Amazing job, Laramie cast and crew. Because I think I may have actually taken something away from that.

Which brings us to a total change of subject. On Sunday I got to spend some time with some old Speech and Debate friends, Ivy, Kellie, and Flora. Ostensibly this is the group that’s doing NaNoWriMo back in Cupertino…in actuality, only Ivy was at all productive, and that’s because she’s amazing and crazy and can write at blinding speeds. Flora and Kellie were…distracted most of the time, as was I. (I only got 700 words done then, the other 1300 from my daily goal I did later, at home.) But more then anything, it was good to see them again.

We were, in some ways, back to our old patterns. We went around in a circle, taking turns as to who got to play the next song from our mediocre laptop speakers. We laughed and teased each other again. Flora and Kellie critiqued my Mandarin (neither of them has the Beijing accent that we’re absorbing from Xiāo Lǎoshī) and Kellie’s mom actually remembered me from Speech two years ago—ironically, from the Berkeley Invitational.

It got to the point where Ivy actually started (mis)transcribing what we were saying, and Flora was avoiding me taking a cell-phone picture, and Kellie called them いじわる when they were arguing, and I had put on Fauré’s Requiem when Ivy was talking about her characters dying (Flora’s died shortly after). And (something I don’t do that often, surprisingly) we were all singing along to the music when we knew it (except Ivy’s, which we complained about). This is what I remember, not the writing. It was almost like being back for real, but (very symbolically) after the sun had set I had to go.

This entry was brought to you by Flora, who says that all three of the other “NaNo Gathering” members already posted on LiveJournal. I think I prefer Ivy’s “NaNo Gathering” to the standard “Write-In” myself.

Other news:

  • I accidentally deleted my (received) e-mails for about the past six months. Yes, this is the computer genius, the CS major, who’s talking. *sigh* At least I still have sent messages.
  • I go back up to Berkeley tomorrow (Monday, even though technically it is tomorrow at the time of this post), but I’ll be right back home again at Thanksgiving, and then it’s only a few short weeks until finals and winter break. Time really flies, doesn’t it?
  • NaNo Word Count: 25136! That’s more than half-way done, officially, and the story itself is…about half-way done ish. Wish us writers luck as we continue on in our 50,000-word journey!

Good night, everyone.