Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Five lessons I have (inexplicably) learned more than once

  1. It will always hurt if you clip a binder clip to your nose. Or anywhere on your face. Or really any part of your body. Always and very badly.
  2. Don't stick your finger in the back of your kid's diaper if you suspect poop. Particularly if you're out in public. Without wipes. In fact, don't leave the house with your kid without wipes. No matter where you're sticking your finger.
  3. When you've been swimming, you are wet. And thus, when you sit on one of those paper toilet seat covers, every damn one of those shreds of wet tissue paper are gonna be really hard to scrape off the back of your thighs.
  4. There is no reason to try to eat an entire toothpick skewer of food at once. Even if you're hungry and you know that all the wee skewered bits on it will all taste really good together. You look greedy, but more importantly, it hurts terribly when you stab yourself in the back of the throat.
  5. Trying that "easy eyeshadow trick!" you read about in Glamour five minutes before you have to leave the house is never going to end well. Never. Especially if you aren't someone who wears eyeshadow in the first place.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Interrupting pirate

So every once in a while someone will ask me how the writing is going.

And then I feel like a dick. Because the writing. The writing. The writing is sort of going and sort of not and it varies greatly with the week and the moon and the tides and thank goodness we finished House of Cards and the vicissitudes of my children and oh, look, a squirrel! And so on and so forth.

Or sometimes a dear friend will not ask how it's going, but will say something amazing to me that both encourages and terrifies me.

Like that they genuinely cannot wait for me to finish my book, because they are so excited to read it. Or that I have to write a book, because I am that talented. That they believe in me and they know it's going to be amazing. Do I actually know how terrific a writer I am?

And let me tell you, I am not one to avoid a compliment. I pour myself into them like a bath. I put them on and mince around in them like a new pair of shoes. And then I fold them up and tuck them in my treasure box, to be pulled out when I need them.

Also, it occurs to me that some might think treasure box is a euphemism, but it is not. I don't tuck them into my ladybits. I have an actual box of treasures. 


But being complimented on something that I or feel like I should be doing more of or doing better...

Of course it makes me feel good. Of course I'm insecure about something that is so personal and that I want to do well and that necessarily relies on other people enjoying. But then I fear I am going to be a huge disappointment. Because the writing? The writing.

Here's what happened.

I started writing this suicide book, you know? You know.

And then I got so pulled down by all the suicide. It is perhaps ridiculous to even say that thinking about suicide daily is really depressing.

After a while, rather than writing because I was excited to write, I would dread it. I would procrastinate not just because I am an expert procrastinator, using a talent I have honed for years, but because when I sat down to do it, it felt bad.

I didn't want to be pulled into the suicide swamp every day.


So then I sat myself down and asked myself why I was doing this thing that I've been so excited to do if it was making me unhappy? Rather than feeling like catharsis, or feeling energized because I was crafting a good tale, I felt heavy and tired and sad. It was making me feel worse.

I gave it a little more thought. Because you know I spend a lot of time in my head and while I'm not always thinking deep thoughts, my head is a very loud place.

I thought about what I enjoy reading. And while the list is varied, one of the ways I myself enjoy escaping is diving into a good romance. An intense love story. Or maybe not even love but passion. And sex. Love doesn't hurt.

Or sometimes it does. But that's part of it.

Yah. So then, then I started writing a romance of sorts. Because oh, that is fun. A really fun project. A sort of off-beat or anyway not pure normal woman and an intense kind of man and I am still figuring out who he is. And maybe who she is, as we go along.

It's all fiction, of course. Because I have nothing to draw from.

And have I ever told you the interrupting pirate joke? No? It's for the best, because my timing with jokes is abysmal, plus I never quite remember how they go.

It's supposed to go like this:

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting pirate!

Yes. But I never remember that. So then I'm all, "Knock knock!"

And you say, "Who's th..."

And I invariably wind up saying "Arrr! Interrupting pirate!"

Then I realize. "Oh! Wait...no. Let's start over. Knock knock."

So that's where I am. There are currently two parallel stories going and never the twain shall meet or maybe they shall intertwain and twine but for now I'm really not sure. And so how's it going? Um.

If that makes any sense or not. Arrr!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Imaginary friends, the Love Hand, swans of death and the Queen, and Bradley Cooper.

When I was in Philadelphia I had the pleasure of meeting my beautiful imaginary friend Coleen.

We've been virtual friends for nigh on five years now. She's the one who used the phrase "imaginary friend," and I quite like it.  At some point she started reading my blog and commenting and her son and I share the same birthday and it seemed we were destined for friendship.  We exchanged messages and became FB friends.  And so from afar know all kinds of things about each other.

And now we are real-life friends as well.

It's an odd, wonderful world out there.

So we met on Rittenhouse Square and it felt like meeting up with an old friend. Coleen and her delightful husband and son treated me to a yummy lunch at a French bistro on the square. They are smart and funny and interesting, and we had a great time.
Our server very kindly took the picture. I didn't care if I looked like a tourist. 

Now, I think my kids are the cutest things I've ever seen and I firmly believe all parents should feel this way about their progeny. But I will also say that Declan is just beauutiful. Like, such a delightful dollop of little boyness that you just want to gobble him up.

Plus, he says these things like, India. "Oh, that's where the Taj Mahal is. I want to go there." Cambodia? Angkor Wat. He has an interest in monuments.


He had made me a sticker-filled card. He held my hand.  He has these lists of people he loves that he keeps on his hands, and he put me on the girl hand. I made the Love Hand! Here he is showing me my location. Would that not just melt your heart?

So at some point we were talking about Coleen's dress, among many other things, and Declan referred to the birds as ducks and then someone (me? I can't remember) pointed out that they are swans, and then I said that swans are, in fact, on my Fear List because they are killers.

Do you know this? Swans will take a person down and drown them dead. Seriously.

Yes, they are beautiful and elegant and you might think oh, but they're so pretty! How could they be evil and deadly?

You don't have to take my word for it. Read this and this.

I think swans are probably kind of like Bradley Cooper. I mean, I don't know him in person, but look at his eyes. He's so good looking, but his eyes? Glinty and mean.  He smiles and they do not.

I'm not saying he's calculating how to beat you off your kayak and drown you in the lake. I'm just saying: very attractive, possibly evil.

Also! Did you know that all the swans in England belong to the Queen? Yes. It's illegal to kill one, as you're destroying royal property.

Boy, am I full of random facts for you!

I don't know if other royalty have claimed other animals.  Like all hedgehogs belong to Prince Charles or some such. I only know about the swans.

Imagine. You wind up in court for killing a swan and you have to explain that it's because you were kayaking and then you got attacked and it was self-defense.

That is, if you're not drowned dead by the evil beast. In which case, well, you know.

(Also, let me just point out the importance of commas. Because the title could look like swans of death and the Queen and Bradley Cooper.  When in fact the swans are not Bradley Cooper's. Just the evil eyes. Little grammar nerdiness for ya!)

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Why, that does sound refreshing, now that you mention it

I don't know how you feel about getting into a hot car, but I don't mind.

Especially when it's a little chilly out and your car has been sitting in the sun. It feels delicious to me.

But even in summer, it's fine.

My son, on the other hand, acts like you're asking him to dive into boiling oil. Hot car = drama trauma. It's easiest to cool it down before you even suggest that he stick a toe in.


I can't remember if I've told you about our new house rule that you have to be wearing pants or at least underwear when guests are coming over.

No guests unless you have your undies on.

(I might mention here that while it applies to everyone, the only household members I have to enforce it with are under four feet tall.)

We get in the door and within minutes or sometimes only moments, they are all, oh good lord I have to take these cumbersome pants off off off! And I need to poop, so could you help me with this shirt as well?

So. Much. Better. Naked.

Or nanga punga, as our friend Gud says. Nanga punga!

So we have all this nudity in our house and are very casual about it, and they're very comfortable talking about their body parts.

So yesterday we were out running errands with the car, and I'd gotten the car started and all cooled down before His Highness deigned to sit down. I'd left the grocery cart next to the car so I could get everyone settled and then put things in the trunk.

I was standing outside of the car leaning across my seat to plug in the GPS.

Betty said, "Hey, Jordan, your mama is has her bottom sticking out of the car."

And Jordan said, "That's not her bottom! Girls don't have bottoms. MAMA IS STICKING HER KAGINA OUT OF THE CAR! Hey, Mama, you want to put your kagina in the car so it can get cool?"

Friday, July 04, 2014

By the donzerly light

One time when I was little, a series of flight delays caused us to be on a British Airlines flight from the UK to the US on this particular day. I sobbed, "I bet they don't even know it's the fourth of July!"

Uh, yeah.
Although I was born in India, I have always had an American passport. And while I knew I was American, we didn't live in the US until I was 10. So I had no idea what being American meant.

I still don't, actually. America is so vast, and so vastly different depending on where you live and who you are. I don't know if there's a way to sum up being American.

What's America to you?

To me as a child who would visit grandparents in North Dakota and Minnesota, and sometimes an uncle in Texas, besides family, America mainly meant:
  • Running around barefoot outside, because you didn't have to worry about hookworm.
  • Ice cream! In fact, dairy products from any old source, because they were all pasteurized.
  • Drinking water out of the tap. No boiling.
  • Fireworks and sparklers (which I still find magical).
  • Television. Had we ever seen anything so amazing as Captain Kangeroo? Or Saturday morning cartoons?
  • Birthday! I'm an August baby, and one year I had three birthday parties - including three cakes - because we were in three different cities right around my birthday.
I mean, yes, it was more than just these things, but as a kid who visited in the summer, if you'd asked me those would be my answers.

(Whereas when one of my parents' American friends asked me what I thought of Bangladesh after we'd been there a year I said, "Good. But it's weird to see dead people on the side of the road sometimes." When I asked my mom about it she said, "Oh. I didn't think you saw them.")


Right before I started college, my family moved back to the US from India. I headed down to North Carolina, and I will tell you that if my family had been anywhere but in the US, I'd have packed up and headed "home" - wherever that might have been.

In college, to me America meant:
  • An acute awareness of race. We are white and they are black. Did you really go on a date with him? Oh, wow! Because, you know, he's...well, he's black. (In fact, I did. And he's still one of the best looking guys I've ever gone out with.)
  • A lack of awareness and interest in the rest of the world. If you were from Charlotte, you came to school with so many of your Charlotte Country Day friends, and India? Did you mean Indiana?
  • Sameness. So much sameness. No interest in differentness. Yes, I know it's not a word.
  • Jingoism. America is the best and really only and everyone else should do what we want.
Obviously, this is not the whole picture, nor does it accurately sum up Chapel Hill. Thankfully, I had an incredible roommate, and I met some amazingly smart people, and people from different countries, and people who had traveled and were were interested in visiting and changing the world.

But for the most part I hated college, and I hated living in America.


In the George W. Bush years, I was so embarrassed whenever I traveled to other countries. I made it clear, once people knew I was American, that I wasn't that kind of American. That I was as horrified as they that he was president.


And now, I'm still not that kind of American. I'm not jingoistic. I am enraged by the gun lobby. By those who would control my uterus. By those who fight against gay marriage.

Just as I have a fear list, I have a rage list. It goes on.

But! As an adult, as a woman, as a mother, I feel very lucky to be American. 

It's a safe, stable, beautiful country. We have it good here.

There are so many services that we take for granted. Of course we have potable water. We have a fit when we have to boil the water in our community because of a water main breach. We expect government to work. We get angry when our Internet isn't fast enough, or when cable isn't working.

I know DC is a vary particular place in the US, and I love it. I love where we live, and I know that we have lives here that we couldn't have in many other places on the planet. I love how diverse our community is.

Jordan's classroom had kids from a wide variety of cultures and economic circumstances. Our fourth of July celebration today includes people from Spain, Mexico, and India. When we have parties, people have interesting things to talk about, and there are usually at least two languages being spoken.

People have come here from incredibly different circumstances and built a life and settled in here. I know this is easier to do in American than in so many other places.

I don't know if I'm doing a good job of conveying what I'm thinking. Maybe it's because I'm not quite sure what I think.

America for me is so complicated, and as mentioned, there are a number of things that downright enrage me, that I think are unfair, that would incite me to violence if I had a penchant for it.

But there are a hell of a lot of positives, and they far outweigh the negatives.

I believe that for the most part, people are good, and Americans believe in equality and fairness, and are willing to work towards those things.