Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Tao of Lucy & Ricky

The institution of marriage comes up a lot these days with friends who are in various stages: newlywed, long time wed, much too long wed, finished one and looking for next, never been wed.

So, we go through these discussions of what marriage is supposed to be.

I have this Lucy and Ricky magnet on my fridge. My friend Heather gave this to me years ago because I was a "I Love Lucy" fan. I looked at it the other day and thought about Lucy & Ricky as a good example of married couple.

Forget the real life Lucille & Desi stories when they got divorced. Think of the characters. Forget that Lucy & Ricky had twin beds as a married couple and still had Little Ricky.

There's something appealing about this couple and they have a place in our collective hearts.

1. They are a visibly loving. They are as kissy-face and affectionate as permissible by TV censors. No need to go overboard to prove anything or be possessive. Just enough to show they're comfortable with each other.

2. They fight all the time. Lucy always wants to be in the show and he's too embarrassed by her lack of talent. They will battle it out. It's ok to disagree and argue.

3. There is a lot of humor in the relationship. At the end, they both forgive each other and laugh off their stubbornness.

4. They have Ethel & Fred as their support system. You gotta have friends. Even if it is a Mertz. You need girlfriends who will listen and go out on a limb for you (in Lucy's case, literally!) Ricky and Fred seemed kinda odd pair, but you know, you don't always click 100% with your spouse's friends' partners, do you? But you find a middle ground.

5. They're total opposites. They have different cultural backgrounds since he's a dark Cuban and she's all-American redhead. They accept these differences. Not always easily when he starts going on in Spanish and she starts her own cackling.

Well, just a snapshot of another type of "reality" TV. Stay tuned for more in depth psychoanalysis of other magnets on my fridge! We have a "Sound of Music" one. My next blog might be "The Von Trapps : A Well-Adjusted Blended Family or a Case of Nannies Gone Wild?"

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

A few years ago, my sister and I had the opportunity of a lifetime to be in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. Yes, we were in it! My sister was a Macy's employee and signed us up to be clowns. The other option was to hold balloons, but that seemed too intensive.

Our day was to start 4 am by taking a chartered bus from NJ to NY. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the bus or her colleagues. We panicked and decided to drive ourselves to NYC and go to the meeting location. Later, we were happy since we were able to leave immediately after we were done. I remember driving in the dark hours and seeing a falling star.

We went to a hotel where we were given our costumes. We were to be part of "Martian Madness" and accompany this fuzzy character (I don't recall his name). To be a Martian entailed having our faces painted down the middle or diagonally - red on one side and blue on the other. We had these sock-like things to wear over our heads and some antennas. We had worn layers of t-shirts, sweatshirts and socks, plus gloves. To be honest, we hated our costumes. They weren't as cute as others and people would ask us "What are you?? Teletubby?"

They bussed us to where the parade started. It was 6 am and parade would kick off at 9 am. The weather wasn't so bad, but the prolonged exposure and not doing anything made it worse.

Once the parade started it was awesome! While we were waiting for our turn to jump in, we saw every float upfront! We cheered and waved to all the celebs on the Sesame Street float and I had my picture taken with Barney. We saw Al Roker interviewing folks and celebrities like Jill Hennessey.

Once we started walking, our job as clowns was to pump up the crowds and accompany our fuzzy friend in a little car. So, we had to run around, high-five everyone, yell and cheer! Even though kids didn't know what we were, the majority of people were excited when we'd come running up. They would lean over just to give a high-five. By the way, with all the running we did, we were quite warm. And, it was a long damn walk!

The most exciting memory I have is walking towards Columbus Circle and seeing hundreds of people! For a moment, I felt the high that Britney and Janet Jackson talk about when they perform in front of people. It is totally exciting! (Ok, the Sesame Street float was in front of us, so obviously that generated more excitement than our fuzzy-forgotten-name character).

By the way, we did not appear on TV. They did announce us "Coming up, Martian Madness" so our friends and family were all tuned in. So, yes we did come up next - but NBC went to commercial.

One regret I have for that day is not bringing a camera. We weren't sure how we would carry it and later saw lots of other clowns with cameras. Macy's photographer did take a picture of our group and it was available online for purchase. And, the photo was quite lousy.

Anyway, we had to return the costumes and left by noonish. We were so exhausted and just ready to go home and crash. That Thanksgiving was more memorable because the family member who was going to host dinner canceled due to a sick child. Therefore, around 4 pm, my sister and I were at Acme trying to round up some stuffing and gravy for last minute dinner!

Seeing the parade in real life is exciting, and being in the parade is an even better experience!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Catalog Wisdom

Tis the season for catalogs! Amidst the visually sensual and seductive Harry & David catalogs, I found Signals. This is definitely targeting artsy-fartsy people like me because I wanted something on every other page - jewelry with Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare quotes, unique Harry Potter paraphernalia, abstract figurines in metal, jewelry reminiscent of ancient artwork and symbols, Asian-inspired decorative artwork, etc. I'll admit, some of the items are too much for me (e.g., the "I love Mr. Darcy" sweatshirt)

What caught my attention were quotes on jewelry and sweatshirts. Since I wouldn't wear these (I am always looking over my shoulder for Clinton and Stacy), I thought I'd share them here:

National Sarcasm Society Like we need your support
Never Judge a Book by the Movie
She is too fond of books and it has addled her brain - Louisa May Alcott
English Major You Do the Math
There are only 10 kinds of people.
Those who understand binary and those who don't.

(Whew! In spite of my professional geekiness, I'm glad I missed that 10 = 2 in binary!)
Not all who wander are lost
Patron Saint of External Optimism:
Rely on her to help you see your cup is half full and that there's a silver lining in every cloud
and tomorrow is going to be a better day.

(I think my readers might bestow this title on me!)
(my favorite..)
Careful, or you'll end up in my novel.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For..

I had an interesting discussion with someone close to me. We were discussing the challenges of being a single person and finding the "right" person. She said her new approach is to identify what she wants, the desirable traits. If she finds someone who meets these points, then she would pursue the relationship and they could work through the other not-so-desirable points. (By the way, there are some traits in the No-Compromise Zone; I'm referring to those that can be worked through a compromise).

Too often, people work backwards - eliminate based on the undesirable points and do not look further. So, they feel all they've found are people with undesirable traits. Of course, if you are looking for X, you will find X. So, why aren't you looking for the positive traits instead?

Now, I'm going to stretch the context of this theory further and let it adapt to different circumstances. Let's say there's a new project at work and along the way, there will be problems along the way. It's only normal that there will be human error, communication failures and other unforeseen issues. You can look and you will see all of those. The project looks absolutely riddled with failures! You can moan, "We never win."

However, if you set your milestones - the desirable points - you may find you have met them. And, you can add those 'failures' to your column of "Challenges Faced." Then, you would be able to forecast how to avoid them in the future.

OK, still not buying this theory? When people have a negative attitude, it filters out everything positive that they could see.

"Let's go out to lunch. Italian?"
"No, it's too heavy."
"No it's too spicy."
"No, it's all that MSG. There's nothing to eat." (Sigh.. woe is me..)

Or, you can look at it "I can get a nice fresh salad with olives and balsamic vinaigrette, if we do Italian." "Or, "hey, they have a good crunchy pad thai" or "That Chinese place has excellent vegetable dumplings steamed in banana leaves."

Life is about making choices and we make choices on how we look at things. So, we can't complain that we never find what we're looking for. The problem is that we're looking for the wrong things.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Unlocking the Shackles

Don't ask why, but my office has archaic telephones. They are the black, corded, touch tone phones. No redial. No mute. Voice mail indicator? Are you kidding? Nothing. These are a total flashback to 1975.

We always complained, but no action was taken. The managers said they would approve the orders. Finally, two months ago I took it upon myself to order simple, cordless phones for my team. Seriously, we should be toting Blackberrys, but we've heard there are a lot of hoops to jump through to get those.

Anyway, our "Blackberry Lites" are working well for us. They really changed the dynamics of how my team works. We're more responsive to customers and colleagues. The speakerphone allows us to have a quick conference call no matter where we are. Voice mail is still an issue, but that's alright. We can speeddial the voice mail box. We feel like we're in 1995!

Recently, I was on a long conference call and I couldn't sit much longer. I paced within my cubicle, and then just walked around the office perimeter. I can run to the printer while still on the call; in the past I used to email our admin and ask her to get me a printout if I was stuck on the phone.

Later, I thought of a story about baby elephants I read. The keepers used to chain baby elephants to a post so they couldn't wander far. When the elephants grew larger, they took off the chains. The elephants didn't wander because they thought they were still shackled.

This is how I liberated I felt with my cordless phone. I wasn't shackled to my desk anymore. I should be able to explore and multitask better.

I'll take this analogy up a level and say that there are many parts of our lives where we impose the shackles on ourselves. We've been released, but we don't realize it. It's a matter of recognizing our freedom of movement and actually using it.

Last year, I had someone moan to me that he felt he was in a prison. I told him he may feel like he's in a prison, but he has the key to the door. Fortunately, I can say this person is out of his "prison" and is looking towards a more positive and promising future. For him, one critical change needed to occur, which gave him the confidence to move forward.

So, if there's something that is frustrating you, see what needs to happen for you to be free. Look down at your feet. You'll see you don't have shackles on them like you thought.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

One Way of Defining Myself

In the two years that I've had this blog, Mermaid is the first person to ask me why I chose "Indigo Bubbles" as the name.

The Bubbles part is spelled out in the blog header. Writing is meditative and liberating. My blogs are like bubbles that are being blown all over the world. Like a child, I look in amazement at every bubble and enjoy what I can bring to others through my writing.

The Indigo part is more frivolous and memory-based. I always liked the word "Indigo" because of my 4th grade science project. My father helped me create a prism, discussing light and colors. He explained the colors that make up the rainbow as VIBGYOR: Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red. (Ironically, American teachers taught it in reverse as ROYGVIB.)

I was always trying to identify this elusive color Indigo, that didn't exist in my Crayola box. In college, I was fascinated by the stories of the Latin American farmers who suffered indigo poisoning.

I also like the Indigo Girls.

Then, if you want to be really crazy, you can dissect Indigo as in Indian-American.

Addendum: Last night I realized that my wedding china is Noritake Indigo Waltz!

Online Workshop

I have a manuscript of poems that I've been peddling this year. So far, no luck. However, I did receive two comments this year that some of my poems could be workshopped further, enhance the endings.

If anyone would like to form an online writing circle, please contact me directly. I've found the online writing groups that I've done in the past helpful. Ironically, I've read drafts of work that have been published novels. (A bit frustrating because the author had ignored the group's feedback!)

It's hard to find poetry enthusiasts, but I like to write poems that anyone can understand. My intention with my poems is to reach the people who are intimidated by poetry and have them say, "I get it!"

I have no predefined purpose for the group, but hoping to see what kind of participation and interest I receive!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What Not to Say Rule #2 & #3

Do not ask a person about the number of children they have or don't have. I don't understand the intention of asking someone "Why don't you have a (or another) child?" or on the flip side "Another one!?"

What is it to anyone else outside of the couple?

There could be a plethora of reasons for a family's decision to have or not have children; some people may be in the process of fertility treatments or had complications with their last pregnancy. That's not cocktail party conversation, is it?

If for whatever reason you choose to ask, accept the person's answer. Don't provide arguments. Give the person some credit for having thought through their family planning decisions. Exactly who is raising the child/children - you or them? And, do you seriously believe you can convince them otherwise via a cocktail party conversation?

By the way, my Rule #3 is not to ask single people why they are not married. Unless you are a marriage counselor or a wedding planner looking to drum up business, there's no reason to inquire. Again, the information is so useless to you and you cannot change that person's situation.

I know single people think married people were born married and are unsympathetic, but we've been on both sides. So, when I crossed over to being a Married, I promised I would never ask anyone about their relationship status. I've been pleasantly surprised by lots of friends who announced they were getting married when I didn't even know they had someone.

In short, let people make the lifestyle decisions they have made for themselves. Unless it directly impacts you, no need to inquire or argue.

More Random Positive Energy

In my post "Happy Heart," I wrote about strangers approaching me positively and my friend predicted this would happen to me more. I have to jot 3 separate incidents. First of all, it's important to understand my personality, which is hard to convey virtually. I'm an extroverted Introvert. I can be very animated, super friendly and chatty among small groups or one-on-one. However, I don't reach out to people if I don't have a reason or context. I am happy to stay within my own boundaries. There are time when I have to psyche myself to take a step outside.

An interesting example is that I've been a member of my gym for 4 years, going up to 3x a week. I go in, work out, and leave. I say hi to the receptionist, but I don't talk to anyone, especially avoiding eye contact with trainers lest they try to loop me into some promotional deal. My husband joined the gym 6 months ago. We went to lunch at Baja Fresh and the gym people had a promotional table set up there. My husband approached them with a "Yo, man, how's it going!?", laughing and shaking hands with the manager. Then they asked me if I wanted to be a member!!

Anyway, these are the three situations of random positive energy that have come my way.

1. A few weeks ago I was walking around the neighborhood where my daughter takes her dance class. I found a thrift store and looked for some books. I chatted with another customer about a whole range of topics. A few hours later, I ran into her again at the Indian store, which I had recommended to her, since she was interested in all-things-Indian. We ended up chatting for good bit of time, exchanged emails, etc. Very positive experience meeting someone randomly!

2. Yesterday at the gym, I had some extra time to indulge in the sauna. I noticed a cell phone and eyeglasses were left on the bench. I thought the cell phone would get damaged in there, so I placed it on the counter in the locker room.

An older woman came out and asked me "Did you lose an earring?"

"No, I'm good," I said as I checked my ears.

"It's a shame to lose such a pretty earring. I found it by the shower."

"I know.. you know, I found that cell phone and glasses in the sauna." pointing to the counter.

"Oh my God! that's mine!" she said. "I can't see a thing without these. Oh my God, thank you so much!" as she grabbed the glasses and cell phone.

She was extremely relieved and we chatted a bit more. She ended it by saying, "The world needs more people like you."

Really? I thought that was such a generous compliment for something so ordinary and intuitive. Would another person just take the cell phone?

3. After the gym, I went shopping. At the store, there were two lines to purchase. The first line had 4 people with medium quantity of items and the second line had 1 person with a lot of items. I decided to take the line with 1 person. I knew I'd have to wait as she had many items that needed to be hand-wrapped up.

My sister called and I spoke with her for a minute or two. I browsed the sunglass display. I took off the hangers on my items. I looked at the woman's purchases and wondered who she was buying all these things for? Grandchildren? Daughter-in-law?

When the salesgirl rang up the other customer's order, the customer fell short in cash. So, she had to write a check. Sales girl is ringing this up. I'm just hanging out. I checked the other line and people were still waiting. So, I would've been waiting regardless of the line I chose.

Finally the woman was done with the packing and paying. She said to me, "I am so sorry.. thank you so much for your patience. You deserve a medal!"

Really? I'm just waiting here. However, I can imagine more anxious people pacing up and down, loud sighing, making noises of exasperation, calling someone on their cell phone to complain "omg, this line is taking foreeeeeverrrr!"

Maybe I'm just starting to notice these compliments and interactions. Life is freeing my attention to look externally, outside of my own space. Maybe they are coming my way for some other reason.

Either way, I'm happy that I could make someone's day a little nicer in an ordinary way, and they made my day extraordinary!

These moments are like sparklers - brief flashes of light that delight and amaze. Happy Diwali!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

On the Job Training - Motherhood: The Results Episode

I'm excited these days with my 1st grader. I can't believe what a difference it is between 5 and 6. I think at 5, kids look at the world with magical goggles. At 6, they're taking off these goggles on their face and questioning them. They'll put them back on for fun, but it seems more fun to look at the world without them. I see more logic and analysis happening, as well as more eavesdropping!

One exciting event for us is her enthusiasm for reading. I remember trying to teach her to read last year and all she did was improvise or memorize the books. I knew that was ok, but I was worried because it felt like we were inching on a long road. Now, I can see persistence paid off.

I remember when she was 3, she didn't ride her tricycle well - I had to really show her how to pedal. At 4, we're still working on the "remember to pedal!" while my friend's son the same age was whizzing around on his bike. I was quite anxious at the time wondering if she'll ever ride a bike. I remember complaining to a parent of older kids, and he waved off my fears by saying once kids see other kids do it, they learn. Now, she's still on training wheels, but she enjoys riding. Again, this is the importance of patience and persistence.

I watched her tie her shoes the other day and I was amazed! We started last year by practicing on her bathrobe. The belt was thick and I could show her how to make bows. It's not easy, but it helped illustrate the process. She wanted to tie her shoes by herself, but we're in a perpetual state of rush, so I would just say, "Here let me do it." even though she wanted to try. I couldn't believe when she tied 2 shoes perfectly the other day. I just want to cheer for those moments.

Annika is still in Suzuki violin classes, and it's a bit harder this year because the class has only 2 students. The other boy is quite good, which shakes her confidence. I know Annika can be up to par if she practiced regularly. Usually, she chooses to chat, goof off or whine during her violin practices. When she chooses to focus, she's awesome! (Honestly, our violin lessons are 60% drama and 40% actual practicing).

So, when she gets down on herself for her violin or swimming or reading, I wish I could explain focus, persistence and patience to her. That in time, she will be able to handle this as deftly as she has everything else. Obviously, this means nothing in her world. So, it's more important for me to adopt that belief and attitude so I can calmly lead her (and not freak out, compare her to other kids, etc.)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Under My Umbrella

I'm not a Rihanna fan, but I like this song "Umbrella" a lot. With lyrics like these, I think a singer like Dido or Jewel could do more justice to it. There's a message in the emotions of this song, despite the catchy "ella, ella" parts. And, even then Jewel could do some of her vocal fluctuations on it.

The umbrella is such a vibrant symbol - shelter and enclosure, coupled with freedom and movement - think of Gene Kelly dancing. As a symbol, it can be stretched to represent protection from any harsh circumstance. We can all run through the rain without one, but we know we just end up sopping wet. Sometimes you have to open up your own umbrella, or accept an invitation to walk with someone under theirs.

Umbrella - By Rihanna

You have my heart
And we'll never be worlds apart
May be in magazines
But you'll still be my star
Baby cause in the dark
You can't see shiny cars
And that's when you need me there
With you I'll always share because

When the sun Shine
We shine Together
Told you I'll be here Forever
Said I'll always be your friend
Took an oath I'ma stick it out till the end
Now that it's raining more then ever
Know that we'll still have each other
You can stand under my Umbrella
You can stand under my Umbrella (Ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella (ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella (ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella (ella ella eh eh eh)

These fancy things, will never come in between
You're part of my entity, Here for Infinity
When the war has took it's part
When the world has dealt it's cards
If the hand is Hard, Together we'll mend your heart


You can run into my Arms
It's okay don't be alarmed
(Come into Me)
(There's no distance in between our love)
So Go on and let the Rain pour
I'll be all you need and more


It's raining
Ooh baby it's Raining
Baby come into me
Come into me
It's Raining
Oh baby it's raining