Monday, December 29, 2008

New Anthology Publication!

I just received a copy of the "Labor Pains and Birth Stories" (edited by Jessica Powers). My essay "On The Day You Were Born, The Angels Got Together" describes the events and emotions related to my daughter's birth. I've actually waited 7 years for this book to be published!
I had taken my journal to the hospital, and had written details post-delivery. I written and submitted this story a few years ago. It was accepted quite easily, but the editor had a lot of challenges over the last few years. She ended up establishing her own publishing company. I'm really grateful for her perservance and passion for this book.
I read my story this morning and I was quite surprised to read certain details that I had forgotten. The most substantial part are the "new parent" anxieties that seem so foreign to me now. But, I'm happy these are documented down.
I received $50 for this story, which is the highest amount I've received for my writing. (Fine, I still need my day job!).
The anthology has various birth stories and I'm dying to read them. The book is available on Amazon, so check it out if you can. This will definitely appeal to new parents, old parents, wannabe parents.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ice skating in Bryant Park

Annika & I got a chance to skate in Bryant Park, NYC this weekend. She’s always wanted to skate in Rockefeller Center, but she conceded when she saw the lines and the crowd. When we stumbled onto the rink in Bryant Park, we decided to go for it. She’s skated a handful of times; I’ve thought about lessons for her, but it was hard to fit in our schedule.

I’m not a great skater after all these years (still not sure of how to stop without colliding into others). Now, attach 45 lbs on wobbly skates to my hip, and it’s a challenge. Because she was unsure I had to make sure I could hold her up. Remember in Superman where Lois Lane says to Superman “If you’ve got me, who’s got you?” Well, in this case, I’m no Superman or Kristi Yamaguchi and I have to hold onto the wall.
I’ve always thought the way a person learned to ice skate revealed their character. Years ago, my sister, cousin and I went to the rink. He’s an “engin-nerd” so he had his head down, analyzing how the skate moves, the degree and impact of each movement of the foot. My sister made her way right to the middle of the rink. She was unsteady, but she knew that’s where she had to go and would figure it out on the way. I stayed close to the wall. I don’t hug the wall, but skate away from it. However, I want to know I can fall back onto it if I need to. My husband is an excellent skater and goes for the speed around the rink, and you can't hold him back.
I loved Annika’s spirit – no fear, lots of enthusiasm. “Mommy, let’s get away from the wall. Let’s go to the middle. Step away from the wall, ok?” She fell a number of times, but I always had her hand. My right wrist was actually sore while we were skating because I had to hold her up so much. As much as I want to be there to support her, I can tell I'm holding her back where her spirit wants to go (even though her feet are going the other way).
After a few rounds, I was hot, exhausted and my feet hurt from the skates and right arm hurt from the extra 45 lbs. I sang along to the Tom Jones songs in the background, which I loved when I was her age. She said she was trying to glide to the music too.

However, I’m so happy we got to do this and she’ll remember it well.

P.S. I will look into the lessons this winter.

Opening Doors

At my office, there is a door separating the hallway and lunchroom. This door is security-enabled and a key card is required, which is not a big deal if you have one with you. This door has a fairly large portrait window so one can see who is on the other side up to the shoulder level.

I always have a cup of tea in the afternoon to give me a jolt through the last hour or so. I had my oversized mug of hot tea (Stash Chai Spice brewed with milk, filled to the top) and I was holding a notepad and pen in my other hand. I was walking towards the door, very steadily holding my cup in front of me. Two associates, “Jim” and “Mark,” appeared on the other side of the door. I waited a few steps away from the door, anticipating they would open the door for me. However, they were waiting for me to open the door so they could enter without using a key card. When I realized they were waiting, I decided I would go first. I managed to precariously open the door, keeping the mug in front of me, trying not to spill. They saw me with my hands full and said, “Oh!” Jim held the door open for me, allowing me to pass and we all said thanks to each other.

Ok, now you’ve read this far and are thinking, “Yeah, so what? You didn’t even spill the tea. What kind of blog is this?”

Stay with me on this one.

This incident reminded me of how we deal with others and our expectations. We can see each other through the window, but only half way. We can’t see the whole picture. They don’t know if I have a hot cup of tea in hand. I don’t know if they even have their key cards with them. Yet, we wait for the other person to make the first move, wanting them to accommodate our needs.

I could have stood there and refused to move with my hands full of my current responsibilities (i.e., hot tea, notepad), while Jim and Mark may not even have the capability to accommodate me (i.e., no key card). On the other side of the door, Jim and Mark probably are baffled by my slowness and it isn’t until I open the door do they see the whole picture on my side. If we all waited until the other moved, it would have led to frustration and unnecessary delays.

When dealing with others, we do have to make the first move sometimes. It isn’t until we open the door can we see exactly what the situation is on the other side.

- To N & R

Friday, December 12, 2008

Keeping up Pretenses

After 8 teeth, the Tooth Fairy is exhausted.

She's missed putting in the money, but Mr. Toothfairy stepped in with a nice dollar bill. But, he forgot to take the tooth, so Ms. Toothfairy came back with an extra dollar and a nice note. More recently, Ms. Toothfairy forgot again, but Mr. Toothfairy wasn't around. However, we determined the Toothfairy box was placed in a different spot, which confused her. So, the next night the box was placed in the correct spot, and two dollars appeared the next morning. Let's not talk about the time Ms.Toothfairy didn't have any singles in her wallet and had to dig around the house and car.

Ms. Toothfairy also has to hide the evidence of her contraband so there's a little tooth box to hold it. With 1-2, it was cute. Now, it's grisly.

When is the Ms. Toothfairy allowed to step down? She doesn't have to shell out for the molars too? Wisdom teeth?

I'm walking on eggshells around Santa. I think this may be the last year we have Santa. She's been asking too many questions. "Is Rudolf a real story? Did this really happen?" I almost blurted that it's not real, but then I caught myself. "Well, no one really knows what happened but this is what we think happens."

The challenge for me is that I want to give her straight answers. My husband is constantly teasing her. He will say one thing and she will turn and asks, "Is that true, Mommy?" And, I tell her the truth. Once we were in NYC when she was younger, and I made a comment about the rats in the subway. She asked if there were rats. Not wanting to cause concern, I said, "No, I was just kidding." She replied, "But you never kid." So, she's knows exactly when I'm kidding and when I'm giving her a correct answer.

Before I had a child, I thought the whole Santa experience was a terrible adult conspiracy against children, playing upon their innocence. Once I had a child, I jumped into the conspiracy whole-heartedly! I've always taken her to see Santa Claus at the mall, and she doesn't write letters because she figures she'll just tell him directly. After seeing "Polar Express", I found a jingle-bell on a string and I told her Santa left this. On Christmas morning, I actually knock over a few decorations to make it look like someone was there. I'll walk in, hands on my hips and say, "Can you believe it? Santa Claus made a mess!"

When she was three, she remarked on the wrapping paper. I quickly told her that Santa uses our wrapping paper, that seemed reasonable.

By the way, she and I decorated the house this year together and she was amazing. She came up with ideas that made sense and actually decorated the fireplace mantle by herself. I came back to straighten it, but it was great! A bow fell on the floor yesterday and my husband asked, "Where does this bow go?" and she replied, "On the bathroom door." We were amazed. My prediction is in less than 5 years I will not be decorating for Christmas, but she will. I was in wonder by the things she remembered about the ornaments and decorations - who gave it, I made it, did we always have it?

The excitement kids have about Santa and the Toothfairy is really amazing, and worth the effort. So, I guess I'll try to stay on my toes for just a little bit longer.

I do believe in Santa Clause and Fairies, I do, I do.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Motherhood Milestone

December 7, 2008 will be a day that lives on forever.
Annika ate peas - willingly!

I offered her a salad, and she dug into it. She avoided any lettuce with a hint of dressing, and started scooping up the "beans." She gobbled them up and went back to her pizza. She asked what kind of beans they were and I said "sweet peas." And, then she had a story about teachers planting sweet peas at her daycare years ago.

Here's the timeline of events:

0-7 years: cried, gagged (!), protested, negotiated and segregated green peas.

3 years: introduced her to raw sugar snap peas and that went well (sans dressing/dips).

5 years: introduced her to edamame with extra salt. I get the edamame in the pod and I steam/salt them. It's more rewarding to eat the bean after one has worked at it.

5-6 years: introduced frozen snap peas and it wasn't welcomed.

7 years: she ate the frozen snap peas without protest.

7 years: she ate the peas from my salad. These were frozen peas, which I microwaved for 1 minute and tossed in salad.
I'm really excited because it proves
1. You have to keep trying, even if it takes years.
2. Children eat what parents eat. Why should a child eat vegetables if parents do not?
3. Food marketing works. Two key words have been "sugar" and "sweet," which helped promote this vegetable.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Disney Hangover

So, my sister, daughter and I went to Disney over the Thanksgiving weekend. Our first trip was around my daughter's 3rd birthday and she loved it. She wore her princess t-shirts, chatted with all the princesses and cowered from the villians. She did have a wild breakdown during the fireworks and dark theaters, leaving both of us traumatized for years.

Now she's 7 and perfect for Disney experience. She definitely enjoyed the weekend.

My sister and I indulged her at the Bippidi Bobbidi Boutique. Yep, we splurged for the make up and the princess gown, and she worked it! She strolled and twirled through Disney in her red Belle dress. We figured this is a once in a lifetime experience. She was thrilled with the hair extensions they gave her. I haven't been too thrilled with the excess glitter that is still on her scalp, 4 shampoos later! (Note to others: If you do this, you can make a reservation, but they do accept people at the door, though you may need to wait. Also be sure to bring your own costumes. And, if you'd like an alternative experience, just do the hair, make up and glitter at your hotel and let the girl parade around all glammed up. I was really surprised how comfortable she was in that costume all day.)

Annika had a blast collecting autographs from "celebrities" like the Princesses, Mickey, Minnie, Stitch. She was thrilled out of her mind to bump into Aladdin and Jasmine in Epcot's Morocco exhibit. On the way out of the room, she went back up to Jasmine and told her "You're my favorite princess." The "princess" looked really touched and said "Aww! Thank you."

In the meantime, the whole Disney experience is overwhelming and surreal at times. People are genuinely nice, happy and polite. No one cuts in line for a ride or pushes to meet a character. Someone accidently bumped into me and my backpack, and he apologized profusely with a big smile on his face. I looked at him perplexed. Was he sincere? Why did he bump into my bag? Is this a scam?

One also has to step away for a minute and take a wide angle look at the Disney World. It seemed rather cultish at times with grown people walking around in mouse ears. And, it's not so much the mouse ears, but the way you can express yourself with the variety of mouse ears. One can be a princess, pirate, snowman, Goofy, Dumbo, whatever and still have ears.

It goes without saying everything is overpriced in the park. I couldn't find Annika a simple keychain under $6. (We reminded her that the costume/make over was her souvenir!) And, do not even get me started on the overpriced tickets! It's really sad that they've overpriced themselves out of the reach of average families. For a family of four, the non-resident, 3-day multi-park tickets would be over $1000. Have to ask if this is what Walt Disney anticipated?

So, it seems the Cult of Disney is "give us your money, we'll give you a tiara or ears." Anyway, we were ready to join the cult.

We enjoyed ourselves in Epcot's world countries by indulging in nachos in Mexico, Presseco and a rich red wine in Italy, and finishing off with a cafe au lait and pastries in France.

Couple of hints for future Disney recruits - skip a parade or the fireworks exhibit, and run to the rides. We jumped into "The Pirates of Carribean" with no lines! The best experience at Epcot was "Soarin", but the key is to get there early or grab a fast-pass for it. We waited 1 hour, but heard it can be up to 3 hours.

The Cinderella castle was absolutely breathtaking with the Christmas lights and decorations. I really felt as if I could stand there and just look at it all day. I've never seen anything like this before and it was incredible. There is something about this place that merges childhood fantasies and stories, allowing an escape into those corners of our minds and actually making them real.

While my daughter dreams of being a princess, I'm dreaming of a nice job at Disney. Running the "Small World" ride seems so much fun - just smile, wave to the people and say "Step out to the left. Step out to the left."

Monday, November 24, 2008

On Our Own

My husband is on an extended trip, a mix of business and personal. In the meantime, I'm in "single mom mode," holding down the fort. I start by alerting everyone at work that I'm leaving promptly every day, cannot come onsite over the weekend, etc. Family and friends extend warm invitations to come over and call if I need anything. However, she and I are better off with our daily straight forward routine.

After this weekend, I'm exhausted. People think that my chores and household duties must've lessened with my husband away. In fact, they haven't. I have my daughter's lessons and social calendar to attend to on weekends. Then, I try to sneak my errands in between her activities, since I've pretty much lost my lunch hour these days due to workload. So, now I'm driving all over town. I also have the usual managing the household activities, maintaining the same level of effort, if not more. Work is demanding as well, and I often need to work at night. Plus, we're leaving on vacation so I'm shopping, packing and booking.

I had a few thoughts about women who are truly single mothers, not a temporary state like myself. First of all, people should realize that women won't call for help - unless the house is truly or potentially on fire. When you're working towards being self-sufficient, you won't think to sway and you may not have time or want to impose. If someone else comes to you first, you may welcome it.

Having a support network would be the most important. On a day like today, I needed to be in two places at the same time. This would've been an instance where I would've asked my husband to do the drop off and I could do a pick up.

The key to managing on your own is managing your priorities and maintaining a routine. Once the routine is interrupted, it's difficult to get back on track.

I've been watching "Real Housewives of Atlanta," and I'm jelaous. No, not of the diamonds, the designer shoes, clothes and boobs. I'm jealous of the women with a house staff - personal chef, household managers! That's divine.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Soundtrack to Life

I've already talked about how much I love my iPhone, but here's one more reason:

Pandora is an internet radio site, which allows you to customize your music. I used to listen to Yahoo music, but it was annoying with the commercials and the pleas to pay to join. I came across this and really enjoyed the selections and voting functions. Since my office has a firewall against streaming audio, I can't use it at work. This is where the iPhone comes in, since it's a free App I can download to my phone. I don't have any songs downloaded on my phone; it's all on Pandora.

I typically listen to NPR all day at work. Now, I've been turning on the music on my phone (what an odd sentence?).

It's actually been emotionally uplifting. I've been entwined in a lot of stressful situations at work for the past few months. I realized that just turning on Dido or Sarah helps me so much. My favorite now is Suzanne Vega.

When I was in college, I had a Suzanne Vega cassette that a friend made for me. I listened to this cassette continuously, and I remember lying down with my headphones and listening to her soothing voice. It cleared my head of the stress I was feeling.

All of sudden, I hear "Undertow" or "Marlene on the Wall" and I'm pulled back almost 20 years. For a minute or two, I turn away from my laptop. I smile at memories, sing a few lines softly, just being true to myself. And, in the whirl of a day filled with conference calls, dodging culpabilities, putting out fires and handholding clients, it's refreshing to remember who I am. For about two minutes, I'm the girl who used to wear hats and fell into the dreamy words of Suzanne Vega's poetry and mellow voice.

By the way, I've mentioned one of Vega's songs on my blog before, The Queen and the Soldier. The other cool part about Pandora is that I'm exposed to new artists and songs. Check out these lyrics to Vega's song "(If You Were) In My Movie" and New York is a Woman (Launch the player on the site to hear it). I love the line that "she'll make you cry And to her you're just another guy." Very poignant and precise.

So, now my colleagues know that I have my music on my phone, and I do get requests from the adjacent cubicle. We do 80's Day (hear the best of Flock of Seagulls and Duran Duran), Michael Buble Big Band Day or go flamenco with Gipsy Kings.

By the time I drive to work in the morning at 9 am, I've already 2 hours of hectic activity and I'm trying to get myself mentally ready for work. The best thing for me to listen to is a good Bollywood song. Come on, nothing can beat a bit of "Mauja Mauja" from Jab We Met. The other day traffic was backed up and rather than being frustrated, I was bopping. I actually feel a bit sorry for my American colleagues who don't have Bollywood music in their lives. I'm sure many of our stress levels could be reduced if we played Bollywood songs in the background. I can create a bizarre visual of all my colleagues singing the ensemble song from "Om Shanti Om"!

It's such a small thing to play music during the workday, but the impact is so great.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Someone asked me today about what we're expecting from Obama, why are we so excited.
I know the troops won't come home in six months and Iraq will still have suicide bombers. My IT team can't get a new server stood up in six months, how is a country going to stand up? This war is going to stretch out for ten more years.
I'm excited for the administration that ruled the last 8 years to step down. This country really lost its face in the global arena. Lies, secrets, conspiracies became the norm. The basic values of the Constitution and individual freedoms were compromised and up for interpretation. The country was spoon fed fear and performed dances of knee-jerk reactions. Diplomacy was mocked, and military might was the "only" option. Words like "liberty", "democracy", and "freedom" lost their value.
I want a president who is composed, thoughtful and willing to sit at the table with the world leaders. And, the most refreshing part about President-Elect Obama (!!) is that he's not afraid to call something what it is - we saw that in the debates. He really is going to escort the US back to global forefront, and he's going to revive this country!
We do need to recognize that this victory was very close, so there is still a large population that strongly supported McCain. It is definitely a tough road to bridge this country. However, there are many people who do believe.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

New Blog Site

As an FYI, I've created a new blog site extracting my poetry and writing-centric blogs from this one. You'll still find everything on "Indigo Bubbles", but now you have "Dancing Leaves."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


The last time they won the World Series was 1980.. 28 years. Think about it.
This is city needed it! Woo hoo!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Waitress - Review

This is one of my new 'comfort' chick movies. You know, the one that's always on cable and as soon as it comes on, you settle down and watch it, reciting the lines along with the characters. I love the colorful characters of movies like "Where the Heart Is" and "Steel Magnolias," where "laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." I have no idea why an Indian girl from Jersey has such a penchant for movies about southerners. I find the southern culture more exotic than any other!

I never watched Kerri Russell before, so I was really impressed with her flawless and truthful portrayal of Jenna, a waitress stuck in a miserable marriage. She finds pie baking to be a creative release of her emotions, as well as her love. There's a bit of food having special powers as in "Like Water for Chocolate" where the "Fall in Love" pie actually works. It's not a traditional romantic comedy because the plot is quite unusual, but that's what makes it stand out.

The one scene I do not like is the last one. Jenna dances out of her diner with her little girl, skipping down the lane so carefree. I'm sorry, but a working mother of a toddler does not skip. She will have at least two to three bags strapped upon her while navigating a stroller because the child may walk only 10 feet before crying and whining she's tired. The ending just wrapped up too cute too quickly.

Of course, I had to research the cute doctor in this movie - Nathan Fillion. (He reminds me a bit of Jason Bateman)

The shocking and unfortunate aspect of this movie is the murder of Adrienne Shelly. She was the writer and director of this movie, as well as an actor (played the goofy, big hearted waitress Dawn). It was a random act of violence, and very tragic to know such a talent died so young.

If you've seen this movie and have this massive craving for some "Falling in Love Chocolate Mousse Pie" or "Baby Screamin’ Its Head Off In The Middle of the Night & Ruinin’ My Life Pie" or "I Can’t Have No Affair Because It’s Wrong & I Don’t Want Earl to Kill Me Pie" (with or without the banana!), here are Jenna's pie recipes. (Actually that chocolate mousse pie looks good!)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Poem for Barack Obama

I haven't blogged too much about the election, since I've been discussing everywhere else. If you know me and/or my blog, I've been an enthusiastic Hillary supporter. We saw Bill Clinton last spring at a rally promoting Hillary's campaign. When she stepped down in June, we were heartbroken. Her "18 million cracks" speech still gives me chills. Even her speech at Democratic Convention was inspiring, and my friend and I were texting each other in tears.

I've said to others that I feel like I'm in an arranged marriage with Obama: Other people like him and believe he's the One. I, on the other hand, prefer to with the person I feel passionate about. My primary doubt about Obama was his experience with Washington, as I felt Clinton could bring more to the domestic and global affairs.

Anyway, I'm admiring Obama more and more for who he is as a person. He has the ability to be cool and steady in the midst of chaos -- one of my personal strengths. After the VP debate, I was impressed with Joseph Biden, which confirmed that Obama knows the right type of people he needs to surround himself with. After understanding his resume, while he may not have the Washington or "executive" experience, he has incredible instincts and ability to be a positive influence on others.

Between the economy, war and all that has gone downhill the last 8 years, the world is looking for a change. Yes, the world. This election belongs to more than Americans.

That's a lot of weight for one man. So, I'm dedicating this poem to him.


by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son! !

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Second Grade Observations

One great thing about blogging is that I'm capturing moments with my daughter more vividly than a photograph can. She's in 2nd grade this year and I see more changes happening.

First Day of School
She would not call herself a 2nd grader until she went to school. "No, I'm still in first grade." I was wondering why she was resistent. She came home from school and proudly announced, "I was a first grader when I went into school. Then I started learning and now I'm a second grader!"

Adios Dora!
Dora's been out for the past year. It was kinda sad to see Dora go. I liked her going on adventure to Abuelas' house and her closing dance. (I admit, I've sang the "We did it! We did it!" dance in my head a few times at work!) And, my gosh, the girl and her monkey listened to kids.

We've had Hannah Montana, High School Musical and the Cheetah Girls as a strong presence in the house. We did the Hannah Montana birthday party this year (we had a dance floor in the basement). The Cheetah Girl's going to India just solidified their presence (I never understand what they were about anyway). Annika is all about the songs, dancing and clothes.

Princesses and fairies are still good though. We haven't fully traded in the paraphenalia we've collected.

Since she was young, she's always called me "Mommy." She's had fun with me when she was four or five by calling me "Molly," which is cute. She's teased me with "Ashini Auntie" when she's with friends.

For the past few weeks, she does this "Mother" thing.. it's "Oh Mo-ther-rr." When she does that I reply with "Yes, Daughter."

She did ask me recently why she can't call me Ashini because everyone else does. I flip to my stock answer for this (my former boss Cathy had related this story and I saved it). "Everyone in the whole world can call me Ashini. But, there's only 1 person who's allowed to call me Mommy and that's you."

Stepping Away
I'm taking her need for independence in stride. She's closing her door now when she gets ready in the morning. She wants a sign that says "Open" or "Close." On the other hand, she has no problem welcoming me when she's still undressed and has no idea what to wear. As soon as I help her, she replies, "Ok, you go out now!!" Geez.

I definitely feel like she's trying to take her own steps, but still stepping back and clutching my legs for support.

Experiments and Hypothesis
I did have a happy moment at Back To School Night, when I read her writing journals. I was really surprised to see how many references she had to me, especially related to art. She overheard me telling someone how I loved both art and writing (I put art on hold until I got my writing established, and hope to get back into it in the future.). Annika was thrilled to share this common skill with me. (I am seriously impressed with her work - her attention to details is so precise).

Her first grade teachers were raving about her creative writing skills. I was kinda stunned. Well, we are a family of writers on my side, but I'm surprised to hear about this so early. Personally, I hope she does maintain her writing skills to help her through life, but not want to become a published writer.

She's also got her father's technical side as she's asked me to sign her up for Science Explorers Club again this year. There's a session where they do some "pop" and "fizz" experiements. She has such a natural curiosity about everything.

I suppose raising children is like a science experiment. You can have all the inputs, set the conditions, create your hypothesis -- but until it's all combined, you don't know what the outcome will be.

You may be right or be totally off base. We'll have the results in another 10 years!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Butterfly On My Leg

Butterfly On My Leg

It was when I sat in the darkness
of my own anger at my loss
that I suddenly noticed the soft and subtle flickers.
White wings came together like an angel's hands in a greeting.
The black eyes studied me.
She moved with steady steps on my calf.
Could I not feel anymore?

I did not move as I looked down. I could feel each footstep.
The wings were translucent, shimmering with
silken fibers. Yet they were opaque.
I wanted to see.
I wanted to feel.
I need to hear.
I strained and did hear the little one's words to me.
Fly with me.
I explained I couldn't.
I must remain to guard my losses.
Her voice beat consistently.
Fly with me.
I told her I could not.

She flew higher and floated to my ears.
She told me of succulent lavendar and heathers,
the inebriating scents of the green grass,
and being quenched by the dew warmed by the rising sun.

She said she understood. She knew.
It was only when she left her cocoon
was she able to savor the lushness of life.
The dark confines were cozy and safe.
But, hunger raged. The fatigue.
The desire to break out, stretch her wings and senses.

She began with a tiny punch.

This was a writing prompt in my poetry journal - "Imagine a butterlfy lands on your leg."

Tribute to The Handsomest Drowned Man In The World

I've been reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez lately, and it's impossible not to be inspired and in love with his stories. Here is my interpretation of his short story "The Handsomest Drowned Man"

Entangled in Seaweed
Somehow, in the course of their normal days
without anyone realizing, they lost their
dreams. They were simply tossed
over the cliffs
with all the other loved and spent objects.
It was so uneventful. They didn't even know it.
They slept hard sleep, awakening to remember
only what was not done.
The women lost their softness,
while the men packed away their strengths
like wool blankets found in June.
Their bodies blurred into continuous days.
When the dreams happened to wash onto the shore,
the children did not know how to greet them,
as they had never been introduced.
Though the dreams lay entangled in scales and seaweed,
everyone took a risk to welcome an Unknown,
but possibly familiar.

They revived embers that barely glowed
and gave them a place to nestle, breathing into the fire.
A light of brilliance,
of all things enormous, wondrous and lustrous,
shone upon them. They wallowed
and followed in a sensuous and ethereal world,
that promised a Tomorrow.

They held their new found dreams above their heads,
allowing themselves to be lifted.
Their feet no longer touched the ground.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Me, Myself and iPhone

I resisted. I don't need it. Get me a Blackberry so I can check my work emails when I'm not at my desk. All the managers have Blackberries. All the techies have their Blackberries. What else is there?

Oh, the iPhone 3G.

So, I waited in line for an hour and half at the Apple store. There were only 5 people in line, so we were quite stunned by the wait. The store associates definitely could've stepped up productivity! I did get to chat with folks in line, and learned from one disgruntled geek that he dropped his iPhone from 18 inches and it cracked. We asked him if he was getting it fixed, and he said no. He just came over to complain to us. Anyway, we split up and learned the AT&T store had no line, and plenty of phones.

When we brought it home, I thought we should've put it on a silk pillow or something. No one was allowed to touch it. We went on Ebay and got leather case for it. I like the flip leather case since my other phones were flip phones. So, I can feel like I'm talking on a phone, not on my iPod.

So, three weeks later, I'm already spoiled. Yes, I am getting my work email on it (new attribute of the 3G is the Microsoft Exchange Server push technology). I don't have to keep logging into my PC or laptop to check the emails. The text feature as a conversation is very cool. I'm amazed by the quality of the photos for a phone. Annika loves the ability to watch Princess songs or the puppet singing Bollywood songs on YouTube. It actually came in handy at work when a colleague posted his embarrassing tourist video and we all got to check it out, since our firewall prohibits YouTube. My friends and family's pictures pop up when they call. It's fun to get an email from a friend with the link of the restaurant we're going to for dinner, peruse the menu all the while I'm running some other stuff at work.

I'm trying to organize my life so I'm noting my appointments and tasks with the calendars. I need to buy books for her music class? Let me punch it in. When am I working out anyway? Let me log my workout activities.

I haven't synched up my iPod, nor have I downloaded anything from Apps store.
(Psst - what is the login info it's asking for?)

1. Not designed for driving and dialing!
2. The passcode enforced by my company takes away the spontaniety of taking pictures
3. My boss, managers, and other colleagues know how to find me on weekends.
4. Just because I make notes and appointments doesn't mean I'll keep them or actually do them.
The definite upside is the "wow factor" and showing off part. I have some key features part of my demo: show a sample youtube, do the maps zone, and zoom in and out of the photos, display a text conversation.

The funniest part of this new phone is the impact that it has on my daughter. Her generation will not know about phones that were stuck to the wall and all you could do was talk while sitting next to it.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Rhythms of India: Nandalal Bose Exhibit

The Philadelphia Art Museum had an exhibit of Indian artist Nandalal Bose, which combined paintings from San Diego and New Delhi.

This was my first exposure to this period of Indian artwork. Bose benefitted from the artistic cultivation from Tagore's school Santiniketan. He strove to build the Indian cultural identity in art by drawing inspiration from Hindu mythology and local villagers and tribes.

For a sampling of the artwork presented, check this slideshow. There were many paintings, which were absolutely beautiful. I was pleasantly surprised to see the influence of Chinese and Japanese painting techniques in the artwork. I never realized there was such a mesh.

By the way, this was my daughter's first visit to the art museum. She was excited to see the Indian art and recognized Bose's religious images of Lakshmi, Shiva and Krishna. She questioned why they looked different, so I tried to explain "artistic interpretations" to her.

Both of us were fascinated by this painting, "Annapurna." The side description explained this was Bose's comment on a 1943 famine in Bengal. Annapurna as Shiva's wife (Parvati) represents nourishment and abundance of food. In this painting, she has the bowls of rice that she's offering. Shiva is dancing, which represents destruction. However, this Shiva has a skeletal appearance, which emphasizes death. And, he has an outstretched hand.

The museum had a short film on the history of Santiniketan and how students were encouraged to look at the world around them for inspiration.

It was nice to see black and white images in this film of students, teachers and also the tribal villagers. This painting shows girls walking through the woods, and I could almost touch them. The landscapes of Bengal are so distinct in all these paintings - rolling hills, waves from the ocean and the trees that stand straight.

It was exciting to learn that Bose was a man who was touched by Rabindranath Tagore and M.K. Gandhi - the two men who uphold India's torch in the light world history. Tagore guided Bose, while Gandhi encouraged Bose's contribution to preserving Indian artistic and cultural heritage.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Children Need to Play

This piece on Children and Play was on NBC Today Show yesterday and it's interesting to me on many levels. First of all, my daughter and I participated in this exact study the Temple University Infant Lab. I ended up on their mailing list and they would periodically call when there was a study for her age group. So, she was about 3 or 4 when we went to the lab for this one. We read a normal Dora book and then we read an electronic Dora book, as we were filmed. I received a note this was going to be on TV, so I definitely watched. It's great to see this study come to fruition.

The other reason I was engaged in this story was because I am trying to figure out activities for my daughter in this fall. I only do weekend classes, never a weeknight due to work and school. I'd rather run around Saturday morning because we need that time at home during the week. We hardly have that much time to do homework, dinner and relax. So, I say no to playdates during the week, too.

We already have violin lessons (to supplement the school lessons). She'll have her Indian classes on Sunday afternoon, which requires time and homework. Do I put her in singing/dancing class again?What about focusing on singing lessons? (I can't tell you how many people have been pushing me for that once they hear her belt out Miley Cyrus song.) But, she wants the singing/dancing. What about ice skating? She enjoyed skating that last winter, but they didn't have classes available. Just a few weeks of lessons will help her get some confidence on the ice. She's not in any competitive sports or activities? Should she be? My husband keeps talking about Kumon classes (that's a blog by itself!)

I watched this episode. Breathe, baby, breathe.

I haven't made any decisions yet. I need to think about this some more. The benefits to these activities is there. She has friends at these classes and she's got a bit of pride. "I play violin!" "I was in a show!" She still talks about knowing karate from a free month we did at a karate school 2 or 3 years ago. I will admit, the language classes are the only she has a problem with, but that's a separate issue.

The only decision I can make now is that we need to talk as a family on what we want to do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Zen Shorts Review

Jon J. Muth's book "Zen Shorts" is one of the most amazing children's books that I've come across.
It's beautifully illustrated with simple water colors, and it's about a large panda bear who befriends three children. There are three stories with stories within each one. The panda relates life lessons in a simple way. There's such a slowness and serenity, which stands out from the hectic hysteria of a Dr Seuss book.
They touch the values of simplicity (we're rich because we have the moon, not materials), letting go of bitterness and understanding life's every changing plan. The stories are illustrated with animals as the lead characters.
We picked this book from the library, and I started quoting those parables to my husband in an effort to pass along some of the wisdom. That's the beauty of this book - it's not just for children.
When I had a chance to buy the book, I snatched it up. When I'm in Barnes & Noble and I see someone looking for a book to buy for a new baby or young child, I always recommend "Zen Shorts" as a keepsake.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Behind Every Olympic Hero is a Mom or Dad..

The other night, Michael Phelps climbed out of the pool after breaking his own records and said to the reporter that he was looking for his mom. She's waving frantically from the stands trying to get his attention.

Beach volleyballer Misty May sprinkled her mom's ashes on the sands in Athens when she won her Gold medal. She plans to do the same this time because she shares that moment with her. Her mother was a beach Her father was watching her play from the stands, teeth clenched and watching every move to discuss afterwards.

Shawn Johnson's parents supposedly mortgaged their home twice to make sure she had coaching. There are dozens of other athletes and parents who had to move closer to the training facilities.

The commitment of fathers of the Williams sisters and Tiger Woods are legendary.

Athletes don't get to the Olympic stadium by themselves. There's a mom who's been driving to every swim meet, practice and championship event. She's been out selling cookies and wrapping paper to raise funds for the team's new uniforms. Let's not forget the financial commitment for lessons, equipment and general registration fees. Who's going to pick up? Who can drop off?

I'm not raising an Olympic athlete, and I'm exhausted!

This article in the New York Times about Deborah Phelps was absolutely moving. It's critical for a parent to find the potential in a child and channel that talent. As a single mother, she had to believe in herself and her son when all the experts were telling her the opposite.

I saw her on the Today show where she pointed out that she's not the manager, not the coach, but the mother. That is the key to success.

Remember, there's only one letter between "mothering" and "smothering"! There are plenty of sports moms and dads who are entangled in their child's wins and defeats. And, pressuring their children unbelievably. However, it seems the key is to know what your role is and to assure your child that you are there no matter what the final score is.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl - What the..!?

I finished Phillipa Gregory's "The Other Boleyn Girl" and was just irritated throughout the book. I only finished it to see how far she would go with this story.

I splurged on this book a few months ago - I find my literary treasures on the clearance table or at the library. Since I have such a Tudor obsession, let's go for it! Plus, there's an Eric Bana movie and I wanted to read it before the movie. (Wait for me, Eric!)
Within the first few pages, I was running to my Antonia Fraser book to look up timelines and events. When I checked online, I was happy to see that I wasn't the only one who spotted all the historical inaccuracies.
I can appreciate Phillipa Gregory's desire to bring alive a person who was forgotten by history. However, in trying to elevate Mary, the rest of the family became caricatures! Anne wasn't smart and strong, but extremely manipulative and heartless. She added modern sentiments to Mary - such as the desire to be with and raise her own children, much like Princess Diana.
I haven't seen the movie, but my father had. He was shaking his head about the story and how the Boleyn family had manipulated and used Mary and Anne as pawns. However, this was part of the author's artistic license. And, to your average viewer/reader (i.e., someone who is not going to check biographical references from 16th c.), these portrayals and stories become "factual." This novel also glossed over all the political and religious upheavals in the country.
To close with Dorothy Parker's famous words:
This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wall-E Review

We saw Pixar's "Wall-E" recently and the group I went with had mixed reviews.

"No one talked!" said the 7-year-old, who made up for that loss during the movie.

"This was the most boring movie EVER!" proclaimed the 13-year-old.
"I feel asleep," the overworked mom admitted sheepishly.

"I kinda liked it," said the pensive 17-year-old.

As for myself, I liked it. I love looking at details in these movies and you can see they've captured so many nuances of human existance. I loved how Wall-E throws away a diamond ring for the box because it is a gadget.

There's also something about Wall-E's big eyes. I've read that humans have a natural affinity for big eyes - babies have big eyes, puppies have big eyes. When we see big eyes, instincts kick in and we are stirred. Those eyes make this trash compactor more human than some corporate executives!

The irony of this futuristic movie is the anthromorphization of the robots and how people lost their own humanity and became machines. It touches on the elements that make us human - touch, community, stars and the sky.

One problem I did notice is that for a movie about earth being lost, it looks like only Americans got saved and transported to their disaster recovery site. What happened to everyone else?

Now that Hollywood realizes their animated features are not just for kids anymore, they have to balance the subtle humor directed towards adults and entertain children. I noticed a lot of online reviews talk about Rubik's Cube, which triggers recogniton in adults. Even 750 years from now, it'll still be frustrating. There are lots of resemblances to "Star Wars," which gives the ship some familiarity to the adults. (We all know there are trash compactors aboard these starships)

Here's an article by Ben Burtt who did the sounds for Wall-E, as well as that other beloved Hollywood robot, R2D2.

Bubbles (My Poetry) Eclipse

I had a great reading at Robin's Bookstore last week where I was one of the 3 featured poets in the Philadelphia Poets Journal's Annual Ethnic Voices event. It went really well and I was inspired to share more of my poems on this site and in future poetry events.
Here are two new poems:


When the moon finally
asked the earth to dance
he gazed into her oceans as
she locked her eyes upon
his marble beauty.
They leaned in closer
and blocked the sun and stars.


Moonlight just happens.
It's a naughty, decadent light
that breaks the rules.
There are brazen lines of blue and silver
luminescence where there should be shadows.
Not the clear yellow light of the sun,
but droplets from the wanton satellite.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pool Safety

Please watch this important video about children and pool safety. I've discussed this with my daughter and will be forwarding this to her camp.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Annual Philadelphia Poets' Ethnic Voices

Annual Philadelphia Poets' Ethnic Voices

This will be my first public reading of my work. I'm still trying to decide what poems to select, since this is a multicultural event. Most of my work isn't related to my ethnicity, but to other influences.

If you're in town, please come and be part of my cheering section!

Let's Talk About S&TC (Addendum)

I gave everyone 2 weeks now to see the movie. We did the ritual that thousands of other women did across the country on opening night. My girlfriends and I left the kids with the fathers, dressed up in our favorite kid-unfriendly clothes and shoes, toting the cute handbags that were pushed aside for diaper bags. We watched the movie, had martinis and good food off a menu that did not serve chicken nuggets and fries.
So, definitely, the new Sex and The City movie was enjoyable, light and fun. However, I was disappointed. One of the things I loved about the series was the writing. It was smart, witty and concise. Within a half an hour, so much happens in a story. For example, the show starts with Samantha claiming she wants breast implants. By the end of the show she discovers she has cancer and is going for treatments.

This movie had potential. I think that's where the disappointment lies for many of us. Only Carrie and Miranda had full blown stories created for them. Their men had rich scenes that made them human. Samantha and Charlotte were supporting roles.

Let's take Charlotte's story. She adopted an Asian child who she is raising Jewish, we presume. Is the only thing in their life reading fairy tales and dressing up? Does she have no concerns or challenges being a new mother? How about showing that it's not perfect or she doesn't have the answers? Harry is pretty much a dork in this movie. I loved him when they met - he was full of fire! He's so watered down now.

As for Samantha's character, what exactly does she do all day? As a Hollywood agent, she should be taking on more clients, shouldn't she? Also, did she just drop him flat without an agent too? What about the cancer treatments? I thought she was becoming an advocate for breast cancer.

The last episode of the show was really well done and tied everything together so well. Kind of disappointing that 4-5 years later, Big and Carrie just now got to the marriage part and Samantha and Smith were also going nowhere. I felt bad for Smith and Carrie - both hanging around commitmentphobes for so long.

I'm one of the minority who wanted Carrie to go for the Russian. His maturity and romance was enticing. I was always less sympathetic to Big. If he wanted to be with her, he would've. Stop all this natak for ten years! As my friend always said, it only proved to women that if you wait around for a jerk long enough, he'll come around. Not exactly.

Another disappointment my suburban friends and I had watching this movie was the lack of NYC in it. "Where is Barney's!?" one of my friends bemoaned. We missed it.

As per the much celebrated fashion, it was incredible. The whole audience was sighing and swooning with each wedding gown Sarah Jessica wore. However, after giving Sarah Jessica Parker 81 outfits, they still had a lot to show off. So, let's throw in a Fashion Week and get real models. They used to say NYC was the 5th main character, but in this movie Vivienne Westwood became the 5th.

Judith Warner from the New York Times wrote this interesting blog tying the media attitudes towards Hillary Clinton with the modern roles in "Sex and the City."

Anyway, I'll probably watch this again because I love the characters as old friends. I was quite crushed when the series ended because I was losing them. I first turned it on when Miranda was expecting. I loved her openness about her feelings of pregnancy and motherhood. I loved her complaints about breastfeeding, instead of making it all a perfect and holy experience.
I will say that some lines were stuck in my head and still funny. "I put a bird in my head"
Found one more interesting article in Newsweek talking about the vicious bashing by people who haven't seen it. I had a similar discussion with someone: "What's surprising is the lengths men go to push Carrie off her Manolos. "How much do you want to bet 'Sex and the City' drops 70 percent this weekend," said a guy colleague of mine, gleefully."
True, why do you even care?
The author Ramin Setoodeh brings up a good point about the role of women in the Hollywood:
Not just because they're usually sidelined as the blinking love interest (Gwyneth Paltrow in "Iron Man" or Liv Tyler in "The Incredible Hulk"). The blog "Women and Hollywood" features telling statistics: last year only five of the top 50 films of the year had major roles for women. Only 15 percent of directors, producers, writers and high-ranking staff are female. Thelma Adams, film critic for US Weekly, tells the site, "The point here is can women open movies? Meryl Streep can't. Jodie Foster can't. Julianne Moore can't. Julia Roberts can't." But Carrie? Yes she can.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Why Not?

I think the problem we have in our lives is we ask "Why?" too much -- Why do you want to do that? Why go through that trouble? Just leave it alone. We really should be asking "Why not?" - Why not? Let's give it a shot.

Called it!
Yep, we called it last March when we saw "In the Heights" on Broadway. Now they've won a Tony award for Best Musical. We told you it was good! We've seen the big shows and we knew this was different. Check out the acceptance speech for Best Score. Good luck getting $27 tickets like we did. (Doing a little dance here)

What I find most inspiring about this play is not on stage - it's the people and talent behind it. The story was born by young writer (Quiara Alegría Hudes) who wrote about a NYC neighborhood, close to the heart. With Miranda's lyrics and music, this was originally performed at Wesleyan University. They had something original, which was recognized as fresh.

So not only did they make it happen, they took it all the way! This is what happens when you ask "Why not?"

Monday, June 02, 2008

Occasional Quote

Just heard on a commercial for Laughing Cow cheese:
Have you laughed today?
Think about it.
Do it.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Surviving the Suzuki Concert

We had a Suzuki violin concert this week and when we came home, I just crashed on the couch! We've had rehearsals since last week, which required me to leave work at 3:30 (had to walk out of meetings), pick her up from one school and shuttle to another.

Last year in Kindergarten, her role in the concert was minimal, more of a demonstration. She doesn't even recall going to rehearsals. Also, during the concert last year Annika was extremely unfocused, looking around at everyone, missing her cues. We were quite frustrated.

As I said in a previous post, the difference between Kindergarten and First Grade is huge. This year, she had Twinkle variations and 3 songs under her belt. We were given a 4th song to learn, but not for the concert. I decided we would focus on refining the 3 songs. The other boy in her class, Andrew, is very good and picked up the 4th song.

A Suzuki concert is based on the Suzuki philosophy . They start with the advanced songs and continue to the beginner songs. They announce each song and whoever can play those songs will go to the stage.

In the parking lot, I saw two boys (1st and 3rd grade) getting out of their car. The older boy was hanging off the station wagon and trying to climb to the roof . (Since I don't have a boy, I don't get this urge they have to climb vehicles. I remember Annika at 3 giving her friend a bizarre look when he was climbing a car - what is wrong with you?) I felt a little bad for the mom who was trying to lock the car, balance the violins and pull these two boys off her car in the middle of the street.

On stage, these two boys were brilliant! The younger one walked around as if the violin was part of him. They both played at least 1-2 years ahead of their peers. They really were talented and serious when it came to music.

Anyway, at the previous night's rehearsal, the teacher asked Andrew (the classmate who knew the 4th song) to play on stage with the group. When they announced the 3rd song, Annika walked up to the stage. She was very excited and proud walking up there. Then she realized no one else walked up with her. She was distracted and worried, so she played badly.

I was feeling for her, and also blaming myself -- we should've practiced more, why didn't I teach her the 4th song, how can I make practices more interesting, why don't I leave work early so we have more time, I'm not supportive and loving enough during practices (I yell, threaten, beg, plead).

That night, Annika and I practiced a lot. She wanted to learn the 4th song so she could play it on stage the next day. I told her we could try it, but she won't be allowed to play on stage. Since the class stands on risers to perform, she stood on a stepstool at home.

The evening of the show was hectic and a lot of rushing to be there by 6:40. Unfortunately, family called that morning to say they couldn't make it for various reasons, though they were there in spirit. My husband was an hour away at a meeting. I was the cheering section.

Annika looked very pretty in a lavender spring dress and purple nailpolish ("Isn't it beautiful?" she said breathlessly). Once we got there, I had her warm up to the songs. One of the songs, she practiced in pieces, not completely. I had a flashback to my junior year in high school. I had to recite a French poem for a language competition. I kept rehearsing it in pieces, not completely. When the moment arrived, I stammered and forgot the poem. It was horribly humiliating and the biggest public speaking lesson of my life.

I told Annika to play the song in entirety. My mantra to her is "the more you practice, the better you are." She argued and said she didn't want to do that. I let her go. I have to, right?

The evening opened with one of the principals announcing she was a Suzuki parent, too. "I remember when my son was in 1st and 2nd grade and learning the cello. I used to hit the book on the floor so I wouldn't hit him! I know that's not the way to teach, but it was so hard. I must've done something right since he played all the way through high school and now is at L. College."

So it's not just me?

As we waited, Annika was bouncing and squirming in her seat. She whispered excitedly her stomach was in knots. When the 4th song came, she whispered that Andrew did not go and he was going to walk with her! However, she told me she noticed some other kids had walked up alone, too. So either way, she was fine. She needed that boost of confidence.

She was excellent! She wasn't distracted by the audience, played in step with everyone and really did her best. My husband arrived during the Twinkle finale, which has the children strolling and playing their violins. Her eyes lit up when she saw him. We all had punch and refreshments afterwards.

Do you see why I came home and crashed on the couch with a glass of wine?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tudor Me

What a brilliant idea! Where else can you find adultery, political conspiracy, religious power plays, innocent executions than 16th century England? Plenty of opportunities for busted corsets, toppled heads and stunning costumes and tiaras.

I've started watching "The Tudors" during Season 2 and am totally absorbed. I read Antonia Fraser's book "The Wives of Henry VIII" a few years ago. I don't read historical nonfiction, but I was captivated by these historical events and the people involved. So, I considered myself somewhat of a "Henry VIII authority".

Now, with this series, Anne Boleyn lives again (full headed). I'm absolutely impressed with Jonathan Rhys Meyers who I still remember as the cute soccer coach that kissed Parmindar Nagra in "Bend it Like Beckham."I loved him in Woody Allen's "Matchpoint," where he really stepped up to the character portrayal. Now, as King Henry, his acting is flawless - he'll do a small movement such as a flick of a wrist or raise of an eyebrow. I'm always impressed with actors who show ranges of expressions on their face, not their words.
Then, there's Natalie Dormer who is devastatingly cute, but so passionate in every sense. She's brought Anne Boleyn alive as the woman who could persuade a king to create his own church and laws at any cost. And, she becomes a woman who steps into her role as Queen of England so confidently. I'm really going to miss her. We have to wait for Katherine Howard to come along for some more passion.

Now, there was a piece on NPR some time ago that history scholars were upset by the historical inaccuracies. The show's screenwriters say they're exercising creative license. I won't make a fuss that they changed a Mary to a Margaret because there already was one Mary. However, the language strikes me odd when they use modern curses and humor. For example, someone made a flippant remark about "bondage" as a kinky fetish. Yet, in 1500's, bondage was an interrogation technique. Also, if they used the swear words of that era, it won't have the same impact on the audience of today. It was religious blasphemies that were powerful, while today it's more sexual nature.

There as also a woman who protested the Catholic Church and she talked about their influence on people's bodies. I thought that was anachronistic.

One thing I remember from the book how complicated the King's "administration" became with every new wife. It was as if there's a new wave over the land, as his moods changed.

It's great to have a series that transports you to a different time and place.

If there are fans out there, can someone explain to me who the woman is that has to travel in a box? I missed something there.

Shaping Our Daughters

Grrls Can Do Anything -Right?
I've mentioned before that my daughter is a Hillary Clinton fan, and now there's a change in direction of the political winds. This is a good article,"The Hillary Lesson" by Peggy Orenstein on the impact of Hillary's campaign on our daughters.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin fishnets?
I've talked about the issue of media and self-esteem and being the antiBratz mom . I would encourage and invite the whole group of Disney Princesses than one slutty Bratz doll. Here's another interesting article "Little Girls Gone Wild" and how the marketers are aiming lower and influencing girls' images of their own sexuality and self.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Positive Momentum

Our lives go through cycles. And with each rotation, something new comes out -- we're much dizzier, but we know how to regain our balance better!

There's a quote from the dumbest source, the soap opera "General Hospital" that I remember from years ago: "Good times end just like bad times." I always keep that in mind when going through a bad period. Maybe that's the source of super-optimism. I shouldn't neglect to say it adds to my worries when things are good, I wonder how it will end.

This week has been rough with a midnight call from an old friend whose husband passed away after an illness. I've been crying for the mothers who pulled their lifeless babies out of the earthquake rubble in China.

On the other hand, I received an invitation to read my poetry in public reading this summer. (Will post details later!!). The people in my inner circle are making excellent strides in career and personal relationships. A few months ago, they were frustrated and negative about their situation, which inevitably takes a toll on their self-confidence. They asked, "How much longer do I have to take this?" And, the bad times ended.

When I learned to drive, my father complained I jerked a lot on the highway, especially over bends. We were on a roadtrip and he was jostled awake when he was to rest. He said, "These roads are designed by highly skilled engineers. Trust them that they know where they're going." In a way, I let go of trying to control the car and let the road lead me along the bends. I got it!

I applied that advice to the "road of life." We need to know where we're going, but we have to trust that we'll get there.

My father had another driving analogy. On the way to college, he said "Life is like driving on a highway. People will pass you, you'll overtake others. But you know where you're going and need to get there. Don't worry about them." So, when people start fretting about other's successes, I remember we're all cars on a highway and we'll just get where we need to.

My father also taught us how to change tires so we wouldn't get stuck. Fortunately, I haven't had to apply that advice. Thank you, AAA!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Indigo Bubbles - The Green Issue

Every single magazine I pick up has a "Green" issue (once you remove the plastic wrapping encasing the magazine). By the way, the plastic wrap is there due to the loose postcards and inserts. Advertisers find it effective and the Post Office finds it annoying, which leads us to the plastic wrap. (Think of how much plastic and money they would save if the magazine publishers didn't have to spend on the extra step prior to mailing. Someone should do a Cost Benefit Analysis on this against the profit raised by the fall out postcard.)

Anyway, I've become very cognizant of my carbon foot print. And, living my suburban yuppie lifestyle, I've tried to incorporate a few measures.

We have an issue without garbage pick up. Our waste management company offers recycling pick up, but they've never come. We believe it's the awkward location of our house. Sadly, we have not been recycling. However, I'm remedying that situation!

o Newspapers and magazines come with me to work. My company recycles huge quantities of paper, and there's an agreement with the recycling company where we receive a bit of kick back from them based on the quantities. We use those extra funds for pizza for the holiday party. So, now my garage is clean, my company gets a little extra and paper gets recycled! Win-win-win!

o I am carrying my canvas totes to the store. I'm trying to leave them in the car so I have them when I need them. I found these bags shoved in my closet since they are freebies from conferences. These are excellent for heavy items like juice and milk! As for the plastic bags, my grocery store has a recycling bin. So, I'm collecting those in the garage, too. When shopping at the mall, I refuse new bags if I can combine into one bag.

o With the change of seasons, my daughter's growth spurts (and my recent weight loss!), I'm removing a lot of old clothes from our closets. I save some as giveaways to friends/family, or else I drop them off at the clothing collection boxes in the area. My husband likes using my daughter's soft old cotton tees for polishing the car.

o At work, my water bottle is a Snapple bottle with a rubber cover. This is great because I have dropped the bottle on occasion so the cover protects it. Plus, it's better to use the glass bottle since it can be washed.

o Plastic containers, oh how we desi women love them! I've got yogurt and sour cream containers, and a whole line of matching containers from Gourmet Wok. Ideal for takeaways after a dinner party. When my kitchen drawer becomes too full, I move them to my basement. I usually share my store with my mother who somehow loses the best of her containers. I also use rectangular containers for drawer separator as well as for small toys.

There have been other daily things we've done for years that are considered "being green."

o Before Select-A-Size paper towels, we were tearing paper towels in half to use. Also, get double uses out of one towel - if a towel was used to wipe a glass, use the same towel to wipe the counter or floor since it's a little wet. I realized the impact of this action when we had a family member staying with us and I needed to replenish the paper towel roll more frequently.

o Turning off excess water when brushing teeth or washing dishes. I've been aware of this since I returned from India in college. I realized how fortunate we are to having running water and try to use it wisely.

o Reuse plastic utensils. This is another Indian thing, which makes sense now.

o Share the love at work. We're particularly conscious of throwing away food when so many people don't have it. So, I bring in extra packets of teas, soy sauce, cookies, or whatever that comes my way and leave it in the lunchroom. It'll be gone before noon.

o Adopt Feng Shui . We're Feng Shui enthusiasts, and one of the key factors is to remove clutter. We try not to bring in new stuff unless there's a place for it. And, there has to be right place.

o Share the love with friends. Just about all of Annika's baby equipment (crib, bassinet, strollers, entertainers, chairs) are distributed among friends. We joke about how many babies have slept in her bassinet, since the average use is 4-5 months. I share the children's books she has outgrown, too. Her shelf is cleaner and has more space for the new books. Plus, it helps her learn to give and share. She gets very excited about designating who gets which book.

o We've been using fluorescent bulbs for a few years now, since we found them at Ikea.

o Save on office supplies. Currently, I've been receiving FedEx packs with CD inside. The sender is putting the CD in a bubble envelope and not really sealed. So, I'm saving those envelopes and I can slap a label and tape it up.

Visit Earth911 for lots of ideas. You can also plug in your zip code for recycling centers and services. Check out How Can I Recycle This for creative solutions.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

John Adams Series

We've been actively engaged in the HBO series, "John Adams." If you haven't seen this, catch it On-Demand or the DVD whenever it's out. It's filmed so vividly and realistically. Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney are sublime as John and Abigail Adams. They are true actors as they became these two real people - gave them a breath, a body and flaws. I'm not a history buff and I had to dig into my memory from freshman year in college in US history to remember who was who and how the Revolutionary War took place. My only complaint about the series is that a lot of events were crammed into the 7 part series. So, episodes leaped over years of events and it was hard to keep track.

I was struck by some essential themes of this series:
1. The marriage of John and Abigail was so strong. She voiced her opinions, and he listened to what she had to offer. There was a strong vein of mutual respect, yet the ability to criticize the other. When Abigail was on her deathbed, I felt John's pain. What would he do without her? How could he even survive since he leaned on her for everything? They were married over 50 years and at that point, every thought and movement is entwined with another person. To me, he seemed weaker without the strength of his wife. The common thought is a woman is weaker without her husband. Yet, I see otherwise.

2. I'm delighted this series has been shown in 2008. Of course, it would've been nicer if this was out in 2001. This country needs to be inspired by the fire and drive these "Founding Fathers" had. We can see the thought process, the debates and arguments for different points for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, as well as their intentions for the role of the Executive Office. Early Americans suffered so much and aspired so deeply towards a country of liberties that the world could not even conjure in its imaginations. They knew they had to break away from imperialism. And, they were able to do it! It's infuriating that in 2008, the US government is promoting one rule for themselves, and different rules for the rest of the world.

The John Adams series is definitely worthwhile and inspiring on many levels. Liberties and declarations aside, one becomes extremely grateful for modern day dental hygeniene and anesthesia!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Clinton Rally

I heard someone on the radio say that if you're in Pennsylvania and you haven't seen a presidential candidate yet, you haven't been trying.

I learned late Thursday night that Bill Clinton was coming to the local high school. If it was Hillary, then I wanted my daughter to be there since she's a huge Hillary fan. She believes we need a "girl president, not the boy."

I'm extremely excited that PA is such a critical state in this election. I was a bit disgruntled in February when everyone was jumping up and down about Super Tuesday primaries. I figured PA primaries would just be a formality. Here we are -- at the most critical junction! So, it shows you that you don't have to be "first" to make a difference.

By the way, I haven't been to a political rally since Mike Dukakis came to campus back in 1988. (Robert Redford was with him and my roommate and I gushed all over RR, and posted pics of his younger days in our dorm)

My friends and I arrived fairly early, but some how got herded behind the press riser. It was annoying because we couldn't see and had to wait until a photographer moved a bit so we could peek through their legs or chair. Clinton came more than an hour late - we figured he stopped at Wawa for coffee. Their campaigners kept the energy up by giving cheers and keeping the crowd busy with the Wave. We were behind the risers and bit annoyed by the Rachel Ray-esque show.

Finally Bill came and spoke for an hour. It was such a great and honest speech. He talked about where the country was when he left office, where it is now and what Hillary is going to do. He was witty and sharp! I was really impressed with the proposals and plans that Hillary has in place for Education, Healthcare and international issues. He talked about the environment, renewable energy resources, such as the windmills (Go Gamesa!) as he drove through PA. He mentioned an electric car that gets 100 miles per gallon. He joked that he knows the younger people are fine, but older people question the validity of that statement. A senior man next to me chuckled. He pointed out that when he and Hillary were young and Kennedy talked about landing on the moon, they felt the same way. You have to aim as high as you can. As someone working in technology, I know that this country is not short on innovation or creativity. There are other barriers to making things happen.

Political pundits are saying Americans like to vote for people who live like they do (thus, we got Bush because they'd invite him to their barbecue). If that's the case, Hillary's the first candidate I truly identify with as working mother. She had to balance ballet lessons with her law practice and support her husband's gubernatorial career. Part of me feels "she's a mom" and she knows how to get to the source of problems, resolve them swiftly and multitask. Also, I work for an organization that has strong women in visible and key positions. Women of her generation are seriously tougher and don't shirk in confrontation.

We came back to our car to find Obama flyers under the windshield. Hmph. I'm not an Obama supporter, though I like him as a person.

Whether it is Hillary or Obama in the White House, it'll be like a breath of fresh air over the country and the world. The economy has brought people down, the price of gas is inching towards $4, and Americans and Iraqis are dying every day. We do need a good leader, someone with a vision and ability to motivate people. Under a good leader are good managers, so you need a secure team.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Assumptions of Frida

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a great exhibit of Frida Kahlo until May. I wrote about Ms. Kahlo last September and it was extremely exciting to see her paintings in person. I had to refrain myself from caressing the canvas. Seeing her name, written sharply in the lower right corners just drew me in as much as the paintings themselves.

One interesting aspect I never knew about her work was the significance of painting the frames. She felt the subject of the painting was so powerful it could not be contained by a frame. For example, the frame for “A Few Small Nips” was stabbed with red paint and the clouds escaped from "Suicide of Dorothy Hale" onto the frame. The museum had displayed traditional Mexican spiritual and folk art, which were the inspiration for many of Kahlo’s works. She even adopted the Mexican tradition of oil on metal for many of her pieces.

I didn't know that she painted still life paintings (fruit, flower) in order to make money after her divorce. Obviously, her more painful and brutal paintings did not sell. This reminded me of the artists in Mumbai in front of Jehangir Art Gallery. They have bold, abstract and extraordinary pieces, which are their passion. However, they do Ganesha paintings because they know they can be sold.

As we walked out, my friend commented that it seemed like her life was so sad. Frida had painful recovery from an accident, miscarriages, a tumultuous marriage, and even isolation as she visited the US. I pointed out this is an assumption we make based on her paintings and other information. This was not Frida the person. After her husband had an affair with her sister, she did not paint for more than a year. When she did finally paint, of course it was going to be powerful exhibit of the jagged pills she swallowed.

When a life is rolled up into a 1-hour audio tour and gallery exhibit of photographs and paintings, one is intimate with just a part of the person. Kahlo paints self-portraits with her face unsmiling, doused with gravity. However, there were black and white photographs of Kahlo drinking from a bottle on a boat or simply seductive poses from experimental modeling. Her style of wearing traditional Mexican folk dresses and jewelry was more than a fashion statement, but a political one. It is hard to remember there was a lively, charming woman behind the flat paintings.

We all have assumptions in our own lives. When I was in college, I kept a journal. I didn’t have a lot of time to write, so usually wrote when I was emotionally charged (read: sad). After a few months, I browsed through old entries, reading them back to back. It was shocking! One would’ve thought I was depressed all the time! However, there were weeks and even months between entries. Obviously, those were happy moments, which didn’t call for me to write out my emotions.

This comes into play even when we communicate with people about our lives. We always hear stories from one side, not from the other people involved in an incident. We have to make assumptions to fill in the blanks.

Artists are fortunate of the lot. They leave their creative expressions behind, leaving bits of themselves immortal. Our lives are like pencil sketches, leaving others to fill in the colors for us and then view us the way they choose to see us.