Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kriti Festival in Chicago

If you're in the Chicago area, I hope you'll come to Kriti Festival June 11-14 at University of Illinois.

The best reason to come is to meet me!

Ok.. there will be other writers there too. For those following my side passion for writing, I'm extremely excited to be a panelist at this conference. I've attended many writing conferences over the years, and this is the first time I'll be on the other side of the table.

I'm also looking forward to meeting some extremely talented South Asian writers.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

The Big Parade
- 10,000 Maniacs

Detroit to D.C. night train, Capitol, parts East.
Lone young man takes a seat.
And by the rhythm of the rails, reading all his mother's mail from a city boy in a jungle town postmarked Saigon.

He'll go live his mother's dream, join the slowest parade he'll ever see. Her weight of sorrows carried long and carried far.
"Take these, Tommy, to The Wall."

Metro line to the Mall site with a tour of Japanese.
He's wandering and lost until a vet in worn fatigues takes him down to where they belong.
Near a soldier, an ex-Marine with a tattooed dagger and eagle trembling,
he bites his lip beside a widow breaking down.

She takes her Purple Heart, makes a fist, strikes The Wall.
All come to live a dream, to join the slowest parade they'll ever see.
Their weight of sorrows carried long and carried far, taken to The Wall.

It's 40 paces to the year that he was slain.
His hand's slipping down The Wall for it's slick with rain.
How would life have ever been the same if this wall had carved
in it one less name?

But for Christ's sake, he's been dead over 20 years.
He leaves the letters asking,
"Who caused my mother's tears, was it Washington or the Viet Cong?"
Slow deliberate steps are involved. He takes them away from the
black granite wall toward the other monuments so white and clean.

O, Potomac, what you've seen. Abraham had his war too, but an honest war.
Or so it's taught in school.


The most memorable line from this song is "How would life have ever been the same if this wall had carved in it one less name?"

One name has many names and faces and lives behind it. We are so connected to each other. We have a military loss in our family from almost 40 years ago, and the impact of the one death permeated the lives of family members. Critical events occurred that would not have had he survived.

We went to Washington DC last month to see the Cherry Blossom Festival. We walked towards Lincoln Memorial, passing through the World War II Memorial. We went to the Vietnam Memorial, which I've seen every time I've been there. And it's always shocking to see the sheer number of names present.

However, I got chills this time. What is the Iraqi War Memorial going to be? How many names are we going to see?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

How great is eight!

What a difference a few months makes. Annika's "Mother" phase has long since ended. The speaking in monotone with minimum lip movement is quite common, as are the enthusiastic stories.

So, she was looking in the mirror making faces, pulling her cheeks up and down. I told her, "Stop doing that."
"Because your face will get stuck that way?"
"No, because you'll stretch out your skin." (I don't like to lie and would rather teach good habits early)
"Oh, your skin will become droopy? Like yours?"
"We have a bus to catch! Let's go!"

So, it's April, sun is shining, bees are busy, blossoms in bloom and pollen is thriving. Once year, I get a big allergy attack. My eyes get swollen, possible hives.. and other things that qualify as TMI. I made it through dinner, barely through homework and then just gave up. I took a wet napkin and put it on my eyes and lay on the couch in my agony.

Annika picked up the phone and went to the fridge. "Mommy's lying down. She needs cucumbers for her eyes. We don't have cucumbers. Mommy, do you want salad?"

When my husband came home, I forced myself to lie in my darkened bedroom. My little nurse came upstairs.

"Here's your phone. In case someone calls you from work." (Please, if someone calls me, I can't even open my eyes, let alone talk!)

"Here's a bowl of carrots. Carrots are good for your eyes." Excellent logic!

We still needed to practice violin, so she played it for me. Since I couldn't open my eyes, I let her play on. I could hear where she had missed notes, but I couldn't say anything. She struggled, but she kept at it. After the concert she said she really liked it because I didn't interrupt her.

My daughter has been a fashionista since she was 2. I remember buying stacks of purple clothes because that's all she wanted to wear when she was two and I was tired of arguing. I walked into her room when she was 3 and saw her with a pair of scissors and the bag of new summer clothes. She was cutting off the tags. Dressing for school has always been a struggle as we try to find middle ground on clothes. There have been tears, tantrums and explosions.. and sometimes she gets upset too.

There was a 50's day at school and she wanted a poodle skirt. I told her we can't get a poodle skirt, but fortunately we have enough poofy skirts and dresses (thanks to a steady supply from my mom and her sisters). She looked adorable with her hair in a scarfed ponytail and pink dress that had stiff petticoats underneath.

There was a Health Day at school with dentalcare presentation and she instructed me to pack a healthy lunch. First, she asked for a salad. I convinced her a turkey sandwich was equally healthy (when do 2nd graders eat salad only for lunch?) Then, she asked what should she wear for health day. Come again? I told her to wear green because it sounded like a "healthy" look. She liked that idea and wore a green top.

She's also my personal stylist. My sister always guided me on clothes. Then, my husband guided me on shoes. And, now I have my 4' child picking out my jewelery and outfits. I've seen other shoppers smile at us, when they hear this child announcing "Oh, this would go with your blue shirt." Sometimes she's right. She told me I dress drab and boring with my darks and neutrals. I need more pink and sparkle in my life.

Yes, I look at this girl and wonder where she came from at times. In one way, the less she can be like me the better - I love her surprising individuality and enthusiasm for everything.