May 26, 2010

Apparently, you have questons. Sadly, I have no answers.

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent part of last week digging around in my Statcounter to see where folks are coming from.  Lately, I am have been peeking at the "keyword analysis" function.  It is obvious some people are coming to my page for information.


You see, there was a time on this blog when every post title was in the form of a question.  I did it for several years simply because it was fun.  However,  last summer, I royally decreed that it was no longer fun and allowed myself to use other methods of punctuation in my post titles.  In the meantime, it seems folks are thinking I will actually answer their question.

I almost feel bad.  

What is your favorite search request that has led to your site?

Where the Hell Are Max and Ruby's Parents?
Inquiring minds want to know!  Witness protection?  Hanging out with Jack and Kate on the island? Phish tour?  Two years later and I still have not been able to track down that elusive pair of ancestral bunnies.  Trixie Belden, I am not worthy to wear your crown..

I really feel sad for the saps surfing to my site via a giant wave of Google Juice prompted by this question.  Why?  Because this was a post with a silly, nonsensical title which never even made it into to the body of the post itself.   Deep down (way deep), I am a kindly sort of soul and I thought I should finally come clean with an answer.  After a bit of research, I found the answer via Virtual Bubble Wrap:
"Bubble Wrap manufacturing starts as polyethylene resin, in the form of beads about the size of pea gravel. The beads go into an extruder - a long cylinder with a screw inside that runs its entire length. As the screw is turned, heat builds up and the resin melts into a liquid that is squeezed out of the cylinder into two stacked sheets of clear plastic film. One layer of the film is wrapped around a drum with holes punched in it, and suction is applied drawing one web of film into the holes that form the bubbles. The second layer of film is then laminated over the first so that when the two films are joined, they stick together and trap the air in the bubbles."

Why is it called “taking a dump” when in reality, you are LEAVING one?
Yes, folks actually ask Google this question.  I mean, I am all for semantics, but this is pushing it. 

If pro and con are opposites, wouldn't the opposite of progress be congress?
It pleases me to no end that others love a good rhetorical question as much as I do.  These are my people.

Why is the Baby crying? Why is the Baby NOT crying?
You can almost feel the air of desperation that surely must accompany these searches.  Because seriously, if you have to turn to random strangers on the Internet for that one, you must be desperate.

If a man is standing in the middle of the forest speaking and there is no woman around to hear him - Is he still wrong?

May 24, 2010

Love, American Style

Update: Tongue totally entrenched in cheek, I do refer to some of the usual stereotypes bestowed upon Indians.  It may seem that I am saying all other Indians fulfill those stereotypes whereas my preciously perfect Manoj does not.  Do not get sucked into the sarcastic vortex, folks.  I know loads of Indians who would defy every stereotype you have ever heard.  Please do not think I was being serious.

Since I have had ample time to lie around doing nothing, I sifted through my stats last week.  I was curious to see how folks get here and why they even bother clicking around.  Some folks are trying to figure out whether they should knit English or continental (continental all the way, baby. Seriously, it is the most efficient method.)  Still, other folks appear to be arriving here under the mistaken Google Juice that they will learn something about multicultural marriage.  And I suspect they have been greatly disappointed.  Oh sure, I truck out my marriage for purposes of Making Points or Providing Punchlines, but for the most part, I do not dwell on the particulars that come with a Masala Marriage.  There are several reasons for this.  Some are simple, some are not.

Foremost? Manoj has been pretty clear in that he does not want me discussing intimate details of our marriage.    Period.  End of story.  Full stop.

However, even if Manoj was comfortable with me discussing our marriage, it is so much more complicated than that for me.  At this point in my life, I am not sure where I would begin.  My grandpa married an Indian woman before I was even born, so the sub-continent of Asia has always been sort of "around" for me.  In 1989, at the age of 18,  I began dating a Pakistani boy (Muhajjir ethnicity).  For the next 4.5 years, I studied Urdu, I followed Islam, I giddily wore the shalwar kameez with sparkly jewelry and I went to Pakistan in 1993 for 6 weeks.  Ultimately, in 1994, we broke up for reasons not really related to anything multicultural but rather that we were two young kids who were grossly immature and quite simply, not meant for each other.  What was particularly excruciating was that I not only lost my first serious,"thought-I-was-gonna-marry-him" boyfriend, but I also lost a family. Oh, how I loved his mother and father. They were good people.

After that relationship, I meandered.  I finished school, concentrated on my so-called career.  I tried dating Americans, but that did not really pan out.  I was in a weird place and I did not know where I belonged.  I realize that is probably more about me than anyone cares to know (all 3 of you still reading by now), but my past is very important to my relationship with Manoj.  I always tease him that I came "trained", but the truth is that there was little left to surprise me by the time I met Manoj in the fall of 2000.

I knew right away that Manoj was going to be different and we determined within a few months in our relationship that we were serious.

Manoj is from the same state as my Indian step-grandma (Kerala) and is the same religion. So yes, that helped.  And I already knew many things about Manoj before our first date, simple because of my experiences with dating desis. In short -  I already knew much of what to expect should it get serious.  For example, the responsibilities that many Indians feel towards their parents.  I knew that if I were to marry this boy, we would be sending cash (and loads of it, potentially) back to his parents or that we may be at the whims of requests for loans from cousins, etc.  I knew that if I were to marry this boy, that he would never grasp the importance of the holidays and traditions with which I grew up (yes, he will decorate the Christmas tree with me, but he does not enjoy it.)  I knew that if I were to marry this boy, he would never understand many of the silly things that make up the person that is me - why we should celebrate Valentine's day, why Ferris Bueller is not just a silly movie, why the 80s XM station is a permanent fixture on our car radio, why John Hughes is an icon for me, why as a little girl, I dreamed of being Laura Ingalls Wilder, why the remake of Electric Company is not as good as the original, why I loathe 100% polyester to the very core of my soul, why I know the plotline to every single Brady Bunch episode and more importantly, why it is important that I know those very plotlines.

I knew all of this going in.  And those are just the silly things in our cultural differences.

Even more complicated is that being married to Manoj is a little different than being married to just any old desi.  Yes, folks - I got me my very own special Indian boy.  He is from a very small, tiny ethnic group (Syrian-Christian) which is a sub-set of another very small, tiny ethnic group (Malayalee) in a very small, tiny province (Kerala) (Read: Malayalees are from Kerala, but a Malayalee can be a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or a Jew.  Yes, even a Jew, although most of them emigrated to Israel ages ago.)   Sure, Manoj celebrated Christmas as a kid, but they went to church, then came home and had a family dinner.  The end.  No Santa, no tree, no tinsel, no candy canes, no presents, no shopping malls.  And sure, he understands some Hindi, because he had to take Hindi courses in school - just like we learn a foreign language here.  Sure, he celebrated Diwali and Holi as kid, but only because they are huge holidays in India, the holidays do not really mean anything to him personally.  And sure, he does not eat beef but only because he is watching his diet (believe me, he never turns down a nibble when I have a steak.)

But.  Manoj does not speak with a lilting accent, he does not bob his head, he drives more cautiously than my grandma, he has no issues spending money, he wears tailored suits and he has an Anglo last name (most folks assume I did not change my name when we got married.)

Overall, I do not feel our life is very "Indian" or multicultural. Or maybe it is and I have been in this for so long, I can no longer see it after over 20 years of being in it  I keep an Indian kitchen and our parenting is very Indian, in many respects.  That is about it and I cannot take the blame.  Manoj has simply not been interested in sharing too much with Team Chaos.  For example, he has been adamant that our kids would learn Spanish or Chinese before they learn his mother tongue of Malayalam.  And while this fall, I am hoping to celebrate some parts of Onnum, the harvest festival celebrated in Kerala, I am not optimistic about doing it alone.  Realistically, we live in Kansas and some parts are not practical (snakeboats? elephants?)  and if Manoj is not on board, what's a white girl to do??

So.... yes..... I am not sure how much we have the Indian thing going on in our house.  I cannot imagine what I would write about even if I did try to document that part. Besides, there are already some excellent blogs out there doing this, so admittedly, I do not even feel a great pressure or desire to do so myself.  (Hat hip to the likes of Gori Wife Life who are doing a stellar job in this area)

And...and....  I am not sure what else.  Manoj moved to America because he wanted a new life here.  With his educational pedigree, we could easily move to India and live very, very well.  But we choose to live here, in a country that we believe in, a country that we love, a country to which we want to contribute.

At times,  I feel a little guilty, as if our children are being subjected to some great disservice by being denied their "Indian-ness".   At times, I do wish Manoj was more sentimental about his home and his past because I cannot be the sole provider of their Indian heritage.  However, I married a man who is constantly moving forward and rarely stops to dwell on the past.  I simply have to comfort myself with the fact that our kids are quintessentially American.

And hopefully, that will be good enough.

This layered varietal is grown in the midwest region.  Complex notes lean towards Asian-Indian, with a particularly strong density of Syrian-Christian, Malayalee extraction.   Smaller notes of Irish, Scottish and Native American flavors can also be detected.   Its bouquet is strong and highly dependent upon the timing of its most recent bath.  Pairs nicely with pizza.

May 21, 2010

I just like to over-react, over-reacting's my favorite!

Ugh.  I am still struggling.  However.  As I peer over the edge of my Melodramatic Diving Board, you can rest assured that I will not leap.  I am acutely aware that this will pass.  And as I was telling my friend Amanda, how lucky am I that all I need to do is rest and take it easy?  That all I have to do for recovery is lie down?  Fine.  Just fine.  I will plow through one delicious book after another and I will not complain. I have friends and family facing far more serious illnesses (damn you to hell, Cancer.)

I have not forgotten how good I have it.

Command Performance
I work in our dining room (aka The Room Where the 1990s Gold and Floral Decor Went to Die).  Team Chaos loves to come in and hang out with me. Usually, they color themselves with markers or cut paper with scissors or run through an entire container of glue dots.   Sometimes, they provide a soundtrack.  I normally try to take a second and simply relish it.  It is always worth it because these are the times that remind me of what parenting is all about.

Simple enjoyment of the little moments.  Ear plugs not included.

May 18, 2010

Great balls of fire, it really was all in my head.

After 2 days of convincing myself that I was over-reacting, after 2 close calls with blacking out and an embarrassing incident where I was trapped at my dentist's office because I was too scared to drive home, I finally convinced myself that perhaps, a visit to the doctor was in order.  My normal doctor was not available, so I saw one in her practice on Thursday.  A doctor who made it clear she thought I was over-reacting and sent me home with a prescription for Zyrtec.  To clear the fluid in my ears.  The same fluid that is there normally because I have problems with my left ear and was diagnosed with a dysfunctional Eustachian tube in the fall of 2000.  Yes, the same ear I have not properly heard out of for nearly 10 years now.  Because of the fluid.  In my ear.

It was almost as if the doctor had not heard the whole "Oh, hey! I smacked my head really hard, saw stars and have nearly black out twice.  Oh, and I am nauseous. And dizzy.  Sometimes, my hearing goes in and out.  And my vision, too."

Yes, I was given a prescription for Zyrtec and no further instructions.  Nothing.

By Friday, I was not feeling better (darn you, Zyrtec!) and told Manoj that I was tired of messing around and just wanted to go the ER. 

And that is what we did.

One CT Scan later and it was determined that yes, I have a mild concussion and that no, there was not any bleeding.  She lives!

So now, we wait.  I am still woozy and just need to sit or lie around (or is lay?)  Yesterday's Costco run was a colossal mistake.  It is so hard to not do anything.  I have read three books in a row now and am feeling increasingly lazy.  Last week, we ate nothing but processed, junk food for 3 straight days (believe me, a post is coming about that culinary disaster.  Bleh)  This week, I am going to concentrate on eating real food, paying attention to the kids and working on Snapgifts stuff.  I need to get better because this is getting old.  And apparently, the only way to really heal the brain is to rest.

Oh, and I gave Anjali a haircut. My friend Susan's daughter has the most beautiful hair and it is because Susan has always given her regular hair cuts.  No wispy, split-end fly-aways strands are to be found on her girl's head and truly, her hair is just beautiful and thick.  I was inspired and decided to take a pair of scissors to Anju's head.  Besides, who can afford a hair stylist now?  The ER doctors will need their pound of flesh very soon..

I am blaming it on the brain injury.  Hair grows, right?

May 12, 2010

This is your brain on crack. The verb, not the noun.

Last week, my double chins and I trekked out to Waldo to meet up with the long-limbed royalty known as "Bossy" .  I also met a few of the KC Bossy Posse (Rita, Average Jane, Angie, Anne, Becky, Kate, Jenny, and Deanna, with special shout out to Kim and Linda!)  It was a fun evening with an important lesson learned - find quiet spots for blogger meetups.  I really wanted to talk with folks, but barely managed a few shouted conversations.  Still, it was fun.  And I was going to talk about it, then yesterday cracked me upside the head.

Act 1:
Scene: Hapless, double-chinned heroine enters her garage and opens the door to her car.  As she begins the descent into the car, she hears a noise, turns her head and proceeds to whack her head into the car.

Immediately, I saw stars.  Then, my vision took on the form of a rolling wave.  Jerry Bruckheimer could not have directed my vision better at that point.

I sat for a few minutes, collected myself, then went back inside.  Gentle reader,  I was pretty shaken but as luck would have it, I married an Indian.  Did you not know that most Indians have a extra strand in their DNA labeled "MD".  Fortunately for me and Blue Cross/Blue Shield,  Dr. Manoj was able to surmise that my nausea was due to the adrenaline rush and that I would be fine. Fine!  Keep in mind that my personal un m├ędecin is battle worn when it comes to my medical dramaz.  Dr. Manoj has seen it all, at this point. (says she who regularly lops off fingertips with her fancy knives and considers Diego bandages an essential fashion accessory.  Heidi Klum, you listening?)

With relief at my medical verdict, I then headed out for my errands (some personal, some for work).

3 Hours Later:
I still seem to be a quivering, jellied plate of poo wandering in a weird cloud of haze. I have a headache.  My hearing is a roaring tunnel, at times.   I could not complete my errands.  I am actually a little scared at this point and consult Dr. Google.   However! As mentioned, there is a real human-like doctor in our house.  Lucky me!  Herr Doktor gently pushes Dr. Google out of the room and proceeds to examine me again.  He determines I have not actually vomited and that I can accurately count his fingers (technically speaking, he has 4 fingers, 1 thumb.  But el doctor has no sense of humor at that point. Tsk tsk. )  However, I am not vomiting and I have not actually taken a rest yet (hell no - I still managed to get two loads of laundry and one load of dishes done.  Top that, bitches).  As such, the good Doctor Sahib prescribes a strict regimen of bed rest and cheeseburgers (Five Guys: with pickles, jalapenos and grilled onions)

With a belly full of beef, I spend the rest of the evening in bed, thumbing through gossip rags.  Folks, don't try this at home.

And forget the lawyers.  Daughters,  marry yourselves a doctor.

May 5, 2010

Letting go.

This week is Garage Sale Week.  The week where I peer into every nook and cranny in my house and assess an item's importance to me and more importantly, its potential worth to others. 

I have written about garage sales before (my post What's Your Best Offer? includes some tips/hints for having your own garage sale) and currently, on other sites, there are some great posts to be had about garage sales and spring cleaning.  The one that has struck me most is by Tsh of Simple Mom - she wrote a post about "stewardship":
This isn't to say having stuff is bad.  It's not.  Many, many times the material things in our life truly are blessings, and in light of these things, we must be thankful.  God blesses us richly.  Heck, nine times out of ten, He blesses us beyond all we ask or imagine, with things we don't even need.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.

But while on Earth, we constantly need to be mindful of our status here as stewards, not as owners.  And stewardship means to manage well.

Let's manage the stuff that truly is a blessing with honor and integrity, to the glory of Him who gave it in the first place.  And the things that are no longer a blessing for us -- let's bless someone else by giving it away or selling it.

Because with spring cleaning, that's all decluttering really is -- thanking God by fully enjoying His blessings in our life, and passing on everything else so that it can bless someone else.
Now, obviously, I could not relate to the religious part, but the overall message still holds true for me.  It is hard to part with special items, though.  For example, I have an extensive collection of Franciscan Apple (some vintage, some modern) sitting in a cupboard. While I use the garlic keeper, the bowls and plates on a daily basis,  I do not use the coffee cups, saucers, salt shaker set, the butter set, the creamer/sugar set.  But I love the set and I have had fun collecting it over the years.  But is it time to let it go?  I am still deciding.  I mainly keep it because I adore the pattern and in general, enjoy china.  I still harbor hopes that I will have a proper china cabinet someday.

But Tsh's comment had me thinking.  Perhaps, someone else would actually use those items and love them as much as I do.  And therein, probably lies my answer.

However, today's title is a bit more than just about labeling my junk for sale and giddily collecting dimes and nickels for it.

It seems overnight that my babies are now children.  They walk with me everywhere now.  Like, you know - real people with actual legs.  I often see them as companions.  I kid you not, I actually missed them the other day while waiting forever at the post office.  I was bored and it would have been nice to have them around for someone to talk with. 

This fall, Arun begins pre-K and before I know it, both kids will be in school full-time.  They are on a bullet train headed for adulthood and I am still grappling with that.  The sad thing about having babies 20 months apart, is that I spent so many of those months in a haze, just trying to get by.  Life is so much easier now and I am determined to relish it while I can.

I was sifting through my Flickr account and wanted to share a few of my favorite snaps.  They are not stellar examples of photography, but they serve photography's most lofty goal - that of keeping memories.  In this age of Photoshop actions and visual artistic renderings, we forget that the act of preservation is the most important aspect of toting around a camera.

It certainly makes letting go a little easier to stomach.

This is one of my favorite pictures.  Ever.  Arun was over the frocking MOON about the "bee-bee" and was so obsessed with her, that I was afraid we would have to issue a restraining order on him.  This picture truly captures his excitement on his face about the "bee-bee"

This snap is special because it was taken while were waiting by the train tracks for a train to come by. An activity that we have spent many, many hours doing. At the time, it was just about watching trains.  Of course, we realize now that it was about us being a family and enjoying each other.

They are such best friends.  That may change someday, but in the meantime, I enjoy watching their sweet relationship.  The inside jokes that I do not understand, the simple joy they get from playing with each other and discovering their world around them.  Some of my favorite memories are the quiet moments in the car when I get to listen in on their conversations.

The look on Arun's face says it all.

May 4, 2010

Tales of a 4th Class Nothing.

It is never too late to be who you might have been. ~ George Eliot
I was born in April of 1971.  For the mathematically challenged, that means that a few weeks back, I turned 39.  A number that I particularly enjoy as it is divisible by 3 and that is my favorite number of all. (Totally Tangential: Overall, I really do not enjoy most prime numbers EXCEPT for the numbers 2, 3, 5, 13, and 89.  They don't bother me.  However, I loathe my birth year. It will always bother me that I was not born in a nice, even year . 1970 would have been nice.  And yes, I can concede to the fact that perhaps, maybe, I have over-thought ALL OF THIS. )

To be sure, gazing at the chronological cliff that is 40 Years Old does not convince me that I am wiser, but it certainly makes me older.  Some days I feel it.  Most days I do not.  I still have fun with current music, books, events, television and other things pop culture.  Sure, I have no earthly idea who Justin Beiber is, but I suspect it will not matter.  And if it does matter, US Magazine will keep me apprised of the situation (another win for gossip rags because my 87 year old grandma is actually pretty hip and she can point to her devoted People subscription.  Yes, the very same grandma who actually answers her cell phone.)

I have to admit this: when you turn 39, it is difficult to not get self-reflectively maudlin.  Particularly in a year that has seen a fair share of clearing out and cleaning up - and I am not simply talking about my impending garage sale efforts.  I am talking life.  The sort of thinking where you ponder what sort of friend, mother and wife you would like to be as you hit another momentous decade.  I have less than a year to get my ducks in a row (mmmm, DUCK.  Now I'm hungry. )  No worries, I will resist the urge to dig out yet more belly button lint.  You have seen enough lately.

That said, George Eliot's quote is something to live by.

Here is the only segue you are going to receive in this post. Live with it.

I have been on a reading rampage lately.  And I have found that some books that get hype?  Deserve the hype.  In the past month, I have read one 5 star book after another.....  I finished The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire.  Holy crap, folks - read these booksAll of these reads were totally worth the hoopla.  Guaranteed winners. (Note: if you attempt to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I recommend giving yourself time to read the first 50 pages or so in one reading.  Also, take care with the Swedish names, it is well worth the investment in getting the cast of characters down.)  I have recently began The Lightning Thief series - I never thought I would be one to be reading so much young adult fiction.  Huh.

At the beginning of the year, I made several Reading Resolutions for myself.  I have a number in my head of the books I would like to read but primarily, I want my reads this year to matter.  If I am reading a book that I am not enjoying, I give myself permission to put it down, or to skim it.  The last Resolution I made to myself was to re-read my favorites.  So far, I have re-read A Wrinkle in Time, The Wizard of Oz and the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler.  I think for a reader, there is something inspiring in re-reading something that stands the test of time.  Also, the childhood re-reads take no time - I read and finish them on lazy Sunday mornings while the kids are sleeping.

Before I hit publish, so that I can get back to clearing more cabinet space in my quest for a profitable garage sale (anyone need martini glasses?  Irish coffee mugs? champagne flutes?), I thought I would throw out some Simian snaps.

Team Chaos has been utterly adorable lately.  Adorable. They are so easy these days and I am still a little startled at how grown-up Arun has gotten to be.  Most mornings, he comes down already dressed to the nines and ready to start his day.  Who replaced my bug-eyed baby boy with this kid? Also, I am glad that Manoj and I are both home at this point in their lives so that we can relish all the sweet things they say and do.  Yes, I did just type that.  Yes, Manoj working from home has its challenges for us, but I am glad that he gets to share in the experience of being a work-at-home-parent, too.

Sleeping Beauty
We will never tire of happening upon Anjali sleeping in the oddest places and position.  
And I will never tire of snapping photos of her doing this.

Money Well Spent
Arun still relishes getting all dolled up in full vampiric regalia.

Chicken 65
This wee demi-desi loves Chicken 65, an Indian buffet staple.

Swear to God, we do not use the kennel as a time-out spot.  At least not for the puppy.  

Does this snap even need a caption?
No.  No, it does not.