Tuesday, October 31, 2006

On the Job Training: Motherhood - Halloween Badmash

This is my favorite comic from Badmash.com -- brings back very vivid childhood memories.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

On Being Five: Royal Pains

"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."
King Henry IV, part II: III, i

So says Shakespeare and my daughter.

She had her Halloween party at school where she was dressed up in full Barbie Princess regalia - lavender, pink and white tulle dress, silver crown, matching frou-frou in hair, Ariel plastic shoes.

In the evening, we cuddled up to watch "Annie," a favorite movie in the house (it reminds me of my grandmother actually. She didn't understand English, but enjoyed this movie immensely because of the singing and dancing kids).

Anyway, A asked me to rub her feet because the plastic shoes hurt her. (As if I forced them on her?)

Then she said her head hurt. I was concerned and asked her about it.

"Because I was wearing the crown."

Such is the pain of royals of which we plebians know not. Yet, we do our duty and rub the head and feet (given exact instructions on where the pain is, when it's being pressed effectively and if a foot is being ignored).

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Il Postino, Pablo and Poetry

I was listening to my one of my favorite CD's yesterday - the soundtrack to Il Postino.
I received it as a Christmas present years ago and it's absolutely a treasure.

The first part of the CD has Pablo Neruda's poetry read aloud by actors. First of all, I love literary readings performed by actors because they know how to bring life to the words. Julia Roberts reads "Poor Fellows" and you could feel how much the words resonate with her as a celebrity. When Andy Garcia reads "Tonight I Can Write," you just want to cry along with him. Ralph Fiennes, Sting and Ethan Hawke read other poems and well, you just want to be with them.

The other half of the CD is instrumental and to me, it all sounds the same. It's pretty much the same theme song performed by different instruments and given different titles on the CD cover.
Anyway, I can't believe I haven't talked about Neruda on my blog yet. I love his poetry and if I learned Spanish, it would be only to read the his work in the purest form -- his own language. There is such an unashamed sensuality and passion to his poems.

I have always loved and identified with the poem below. To me, it not language or admiration between two lovers, but my feelings toward my daughter, especially the bolded lines (bolding is mine).

I Love You As

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;

thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,

risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;

so I love because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Now, as a poet, I find this poem always strikes a crisp chord in me.


And it was at that age ... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

Here's one more that I had found and saved:

In my sky at Twilight

In my sky at twilight you are a cloud
and your form and colour ar
e the way I love them.
You are mine, mine, woman with sweet lips
and in your life my infinite dreams live.

The lamp of my soul dyes your feet.
My sour wine is sweeter on your lips,
oh reaper of my evening song.
how solitary dreams believe you to be mine!

You are mine, mine, I go shouting it to the afternoon's
wind, and the wind hauls on my widowed voice.
Huntress of the depths of my eyes, your plunder
stills your nocturnal regard as though it were water.

You are taken in the net of my music, my love,
and my nets of music are wide as the sky.
My soul is born on the shore of your eyes of mourning.
In your eyes of mourning the land of dreams begins.

Monday, October 16, 2006

On Being Five - Discussing Politics & Religion

We were driving to ballet and the roadsides are sprouting election signs. One of the candidates in our area is Raj Bhakta of "Apprentice" fame. He actually has his mug shot on the sign.

A: Why are the signs there?

Me: Well, he wants us to vote for him. Remember we went to the voting booth at the firehouse last year?

A: Yeah. What's his name?

Me: Raj Bhakta.

A: Is he Indian?

Me: Yes. (I didn't want to get into the details of his ancestory)

A: Are we going to vote for him?

Me: Welll...(no, because he's a Republican and I'm a registered Democrat. And, even if he's Indian, I'm still not going to vote for him because PA has enough Republicans going to DC. Isn't that more important? Wait, how do I explain that to a five year old? Let's change topic!) I will vote for someone else who I think can do the job. You know, PA is going to vote for a new governor!

A: Oh! I know what a governor is!

Me: Really? (suddenly impressed with KG in the public school system)

A: Yeah, from the "Sound of Music."

Me: (pause. thinking. He was a Captain. Did anyone call him "guv'ner"? Wait, that's "My Fair Lady") Sound of Music??

A: Remember Maria?

Me: Oh, wait! That was a governess! Not a governor.

A: Oh. (pause. thinking) What do you call the others? The ones who wore the white and the hats? Are they governors?

Me: No, they're nuns.

A: What's that?

Me: (deep breath) They're Christian. They pray all the time.

A: Did they have to study hard?

Me: Yeah, nuns do have to study hard.

A: So, they studied hard to be in the movie?

Me: Yes. (pressing on the gas pedal to get to ballet faster!)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

On the Job Training: Motherhood - Part 18 For What There is No Training

I wanted to remember all the mothers who in the last two weeks sent their children to school and learned they would not return home.

The Amish community is very close to home for me, so the pain of their tragedy is felt deeply. And there are mothers in other parts of the US that are also grieving.

I always remember a woman who lost her son to the Columbine tragedy saying she kept her son's laundry untouched, just so she could hold onto his smell a little bit longer.

We all want to hold our children closer to us and having our hearts brutally torn is unfathomable. The Amish community has comforted themselves with "It was God's will." Yes, you can say maybe that child's purpose was to bring 8 years of joy and happiness to those around her.

There are so many senseless acts of violence against children all over the world. I've been thinking about Gandhian philosophy a lot this week and how does one turn the other cheek when there is violence against the weakest and smallest. He always said change starts with one person and I hope that can be done. We can see how many lives would have been saved and different if one person had decided not to move forward that day. It is easier to take the violent approach than the nonviolent one, which require one the face fears head on.

I cannot look at this butchery going on in the world with indifference. I have an unchangeable faith that it is beneath the dignity of men to resort to mutual slaughter. I have no doubt that there is a way out.

M. K. Gandhi


To be honest, I saw this Hindi comedy movie "Munna Bahi Lage Raho" this week. I thought it'd be another slapstick comedy, but was suprised by the theme of Gandhian philosophy -- bringing in the man himself to do the preaching. It was a great movie in that they used every day examples and how basic philosophy of truth and nonviolence do have a place in our world.

I recently helped a friend deal with a situation. She was ready to walk out, avoid confrontation with another person and give up. If she did that, it would exacerbate the situation, affect many people involved and break relationships. Remembering the lessons from this week, I told her she had two choices - either walk out or confront the other person. Walking out would be the 'violent' option and open discussion would be "nonviolent."

Fortunately she chose the latter. She found her strength by finding someone to support her during the discusssion. That's ok. We don't have to do everything in life by ourselves. (Refer to my "Confessions of a Supermom" post about having real expectations). The discussion was worthwhile and they will have to compromise and work. However, that work will be a lot easier than try to live and deal with the disasters.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

On the Job Training: Motherhood - Part 17: Confessions of the Super Mom

So, I got another article published on ABCDLady's Oct issue. This month it's about Time Management for Moms. I didn't tell my husband because I know he would laugh. How could I be the expert on time management? I'm always late, ill-prepared and just frantic at the last minute. Maybe that's why I feel like I need to work harder.

It's a great article with lots of ideas I gathered from my friends, but I just wanted to share all the incidents that happened since I wrote that article.

1. There was a field trip on Wednesday and I did know about it. She had a meltdown in the morning because they always wore red shirts on field trip days and she couldn't find it. I found it, got her dressed and pulled up to the school at 9 am. Also, learned in the car that we left her bookbag at home. At the school, kids were getting on the bus. We hurried inside and met another mom and girl, who was having a meltdown "my class! my class is leaving me!" We both were confused as to what time we needed to be there. But, the teacher told us it was 9 and the kids were fine. So it ended well.

2. During dinner on Monday, I suddenly thought about Julianne's birthday. We received the invitation a week before. It was on the fridge where I keep invitations, but it was under the school calendar. Her birthday was on Sunday and I was to RSVP last Thursday! My daughter was a bit distraught about missing a party, but I told her that I would try to arrange a special playdate. I sent the mom an email apology for missing the party.

3. I went to Back to School last night. I realized there were 2 family photograph projects due last Friday and we didn't do. Like my article says, I check Annika's book bag every night and never saw papers about this. I asked the teacher whether she sent a note for this. She said it was on the reverse of the school calendar (remember the one on my fridge?). She said not to worry and she'll be sending Oct calendar too. I know we're in KG and don't have formal grades, but it seems bad to miss 2 projects.

Shall I continue? We all strive to be super moms, cover all the bases from the home front, school and work fronts and it's hard. There's no way we can be perfect. Though I know that intellectually, it's hard to absorb emotionally.

By the way, I loved Elastigirl from The Incredibles. Yes, she's an animated character, but I felt she was real. My favorite scene in the movie is when she checks out her butt in her uniform. She's a mom, she has birthing hips. Yet, she wears thigh-high, kick-ass black leather boots! Like her, we're stretching ourselves so much. Right now I have a lot of stressful situations at work, home and personally. I think most of the demands, guilt and need for perfection is self-imposed.

So, if you have read my article, please know that we're not superheroes.