A little over a decade ago, I bought a guitar so I wouldn’t do recreational drugs. When I realized that I wouldn’t just learn through osmosis, I decided to pick it up and teach myself some songs. Mostly Indigo Girls, Patty Griffin and some Dar Williams – you know, the really “bitchin” stuff.
Well, let me be clear about one thing. I use the term “learn” loosely. If by saying learn, I mean that I could actually hold the guitar in my hands and make sounds to accompany my voice, then we are both on the same page. I was no Jimi Hendrix. Or even Taylor Swift for that matter with the 8 open chords I knew how to play at the time.
During one of the indie performances I went to see, a young woman named Kris Delmhorst played, opening for Dar Williams. (I say these names assuming you do not follow Indie folk artists like me. If you do, ROCK on. Totally bitchin!)
I fell in lurve. (This is what I call love when I develop non-sexual crushes on really cool women).
So now I am in “lurve” with Kris Delmhorst. I would drag my friends to go see her at all her shows in the Northern Virginia area. I would be near tears like I was at a Bon Jovi concert, while my friends would be trying not to fall asleep.
I brought my friend Deana, a pretty solid fashionista, to one of the shows. While she was impressed with Kris’s singing, she was not impressed by Kris’s fashion sense and as what she called them, her “man pants.”
Some people just don’t get true “lurve.”
Anyway, fast forward a few years later. Kris is back in town playing at a Washington DC venue called the Birchmere. My boyfriend at the time, John (now my husband – he was okay with this whole “lurve” thing) came with me. We had some beers and split a pizza and I was pumped to say the least. Kris ended her set, and another artist took the stage.
As we turned to leave, we walked out through the concert hall’s gift shop. And that is when the stars aligned (or didn’t) and my heart just crashed in my chest.
There was my true lurve. Standing right in front of me in her awesome man pants.
“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my GOD?” I said to John through clenched teeth. “What do I do!?”
“I don’t know. Go ask her for her autograph?” He asked dubiously.
As if it was just that simple.
“No I need to have her sign a CD!” I was frantic now. What if she left? What if my true lurve walked away?
I looked at John.
“Go buy a CD! Hurry!”
“But we have one in the car,” said John. Why does he always try to sabotage me?
“GO GET A CD NOW!” I said in my best Linda Blair voice. I am fairly sure John thought my head was going to start spinning, so he hurried off to get the CD.
I tried to play it cool, idly looking through a bunch of other CDs from other musicians, leaving pools of sweat from my palms all over the poor artists’ heart and souls and CD covers.
I was a mess. A hot one, because my palms were so sweaty.
John came back with the CD and we casually (?!!!) walked over to get her autograph. She was talking in her totally chill manner to a couple, with her hands in the back pocket of her man pants. I was enamored.
Her pants were just as unflattering in person as on her CD.
And then she was done. She smiled at us and reached out to shake our hands, reaching also for the CD to sign it.
Like Eminem says, “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo.”
So there I went. Seizing that opportunity, yo.
“Oh my god, I just wanted to let you know that I am such a fan of yours and I saw you open for Dar and then I went to Iota and Jamming Java a few times, and oh my god, I just want to let you know that you are one of the reasons I picked up guitar and I just love you, even your pants and if you ever, ever need a back up singer, you see – i am a singer too – and I can do backup vocals for you and we would be great together – it would be magical.”
I looked at John. He seemed bemused. To his credit, he did not blush or deny that he was with me, though he seemed to be few feet further behind me.
I don’t think I let her get a word in edgewise as she tried to collect herself. She probably wanted to know where I got my pants from.
But I wasn’t done.
I reached into the pocket of my own non-man pants and pulled out my business card.
Yes, people. I used to have a singing business card.
She reached over as I threw it in her hand – she really had no other choice as I crammed it into her non-suspecting hands.
“SoAnywaysJustCallMeorEmailMeandMaybeWeCanJam (did I say that?)TogetherIfYouAreBackInTOwn.OhGreattoMeetYou.BYE”
And I ran out of the store so fast. I couldn’t believe it.
I actually spoke to Kris Delmhorst.
I turned to John (who did NOT look embarrassed at all) and said, “Well, how do you think that went?”
“What do you mean? Kiran, you gave her your card. How do you THINK it went?”
Oh. Was that kind of weird? Was I NOT supposed to do that?
Suffice to say, she NEVER did call.
Here is a performance of one of my favorite songs. Man pants or not, I still lurve her. Listen and you will know why.
“But sometimes I take your picture and I turn it to the wall
You are still a cliff and babe, I still know how to fall.”
– Kris Delmhorst, “Broken White Line”
I wonder if she still keeps my card with her and turns it to the wall. I guess I will never know.
P.S. John has been asking me for years to write this post. It is one of his favorite moments of mine where I look like an asshole.
I remember hearing those words and feeling crushed. I was 17 years old and I was a pretty determined kid. My parents had agreed that when it came to college, I could go wherever I wanted in the country, because of their desire to give me the best opportunity when it came to education. If I got into a top tier school, would be willing to take on some financial aid and it was generally affordable, they would cut the umbilical cord and let me go.
Somehow, I decided that I was going to go, that I NEEDED to go to the University of Virginia.
My rationale was simple. It was FAR. At least 6 hours far.
It was beautiful. Full of Thomas Jefferson’s vision, architecture and history – the majestic grounds of the school were some of the prettiest I had seen.
It WAS a challenge. For a middle-class kid from New Jersey who just wanted a chance, I knew it would be hard – to get into and to achieve at. But I was determined.
“You can try, but you’re never going to get in,” my guidance counselor told me. I know she meant well and wanted to prepare me with getting the right back-ups in place, but I still remember how she could speak of my imminent failure with such conviction.
Little did she know that just by saying that, I was going. No question about it.
And I toiled. And I worked. I pumped through the application, laboring endlessly on the essays but finding that magical inspiration which turned out several essays I was extremely proud of. I knew I killed the application on the extracurricular part – lots of President, Captain, Treasurer titles amongst societies and teams that confirmed I busted my butt a lot.
When I sent that application in the mail for early admission, I crossed my fingers and prayed. But just in case, I continued to work on my applications for Northwestern, Columbia, Stanford, Berkeley and Brown. (All other schools I was told not to even consider).
One of my best friends was also applying. We would talk about how great UVA would be together and how these two Jersey girls would take the Southern campus by storm. At the time, I was woefully unaware that people from New Jersey seem to permeate every college campus in this country like ants. Apparently, my friend and I were not the only ones who wanted to “RUN.”
The letter came. I got accepted. My friend didn’t.
I was sad, but excited. I felt guilty, but validated. I felt disappointed to not be going with my friend, but also felt like I was taking a leap off a big, scary cliff.
By myself. And it felt pretty freaking cool.
I could rock this.
I rode that crest of happiness for a bit till I went back to school that Monday.
In Calculus that day, my friend and I sat in our usual seats, drinking our diet Snapple. When our teacher, Mr. Buxbaum asked everyone how their weekends were, my friend told him about what happened – that I had been accepted to the university we both dreamed of going to and that she hadn’t.
I don’t think I will ever forget his reaction. He kind of closed his eyes and took a long breath. His hands were clasped together under his chin and he shook his head over them, grinding his chin into his knuckles. When he opened his eyes, he shrugged his shoulders, still shaking his head and said:
“Well, who is the minority?”
Here is my balloon. Here is a needle. Go ahead, Mr. Buxbaum – just pop it. Not just to reassure my friend but to also reassure me that my years of busting my ass meant nothing. Make sure you say it in front of the class as well.
That I achieved a big dream of mine because I was brown.
I felt a lot of shame. The crest of that wave I was riding crashed. So did a lot of other things.
A few years ago, I was having a conversation with my neighbor who is a friend of mine. She was saying she would love it if her sons could go to UVA. (I now live in Northern VA, never made it back to New Jersey). While I had gotten in as an out of state student, she explained to me it was much harder to go as an in-state student.
Unless things have changed, I know that the standards for in-state are always going to be lower in terms of standardized testing scores. But yeah – i get that if 100 people from your high school are applying there, it might be tougher.
I tried to explain that, but stopped. She wasn’t trying to invalidate me. She was just wanting the best for her own kids and explaining how she felt.
“You can try, but you’ll never get in.”
“Well, who is the minority?”
There are days when I wonder why I am scared to pursue things I might fail at. Why I let that spunky 17 year old girl from New Jersey disappear. But a part of me knows she is there somewhere, still standing up for herself and fighting what she believes in.
Its just that the weight of all the words from detractors over the years has started to feel heavy. And it shouldn’t.
There will always be detractors in your life. They can hold you down, they can try to drag you down (Kind of like the Chumbawaba song, “I Get Knocked Down”) but you just have to take the words and release them. Or at least acknowledge them and say to yourself,
“You’re WRONG. I AM special. I AM a rock star. Don’t put the weight of your disappointments on me.”
Detractors are often not just “saying it like it is” as many like to say. They have their own disappointments. Their own dreams that have faded. And sometimes its a little hard to watch someone dream and maybe succeed while they have given up.
Probably because they also had they own detractors.
I wish more children and youth received this message:
“You ARE special. You ARE a rock star. Don’t let anyone take your dreams from you. And don’t let anyone tell you that when you achieve them, you didn’t deserve them.”
Because you will achieve them. If you stop listening to your detractors. And over time, the biggest one to challenge what we want to do, what we want to achieve, what we have accomplished?
It becomes, well, ourselves.
Build yourself back up. That child with the dreams?
That child deserves it.
YOU deserve it.
I have struggled with food my whole life.
When I was little, I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. It was more of a nuisance that interrupted the time I would rather spend playing.
As a pre-teen I abused it and found comfort in it, mistakenly thinking I could fill the empty places in my heart with another bite.
My junior year in High School, I walked away from it and found power in turning my back on the calories and embraced the solace in running.
But I often didn’t know what I was running from.
In college, I mistakenly followed what I jokingly called the “Sorority Girl Diet,” eliminating fat but eating my fill of jelly beans and bagels and ensuring that beer was part of the regimen (at least from Thursday – Saturday nights).
I would like to say I found my way in my 20’s.
But as I sit here in my 30’s, with two impressionable children who I have the power to influence, I realize I am just as messed up today in how I view food as I was in my teens. Not much has changed.
I can’t remember a day when I thought I was “thin enough.” Even as I look back at pictures of myself when I was my fittest, I try to remember what was going through my head at the time the pictures were snapped.
Not good enough.
Not pretty enough.
Not thin enough.
My husband asks me to acknowledge this strange relationship I have with food. Perhaps he didn’t want me to write it on this blog, but oh what the heck. It’s hard to admit to crazy, but I can truly say that when it comes to food, I have always been a nutjob. Completely.
I sometimes feel shame that as someone who has seen poverty first hand, in such extreme circumstances in the villages of India, that I would reject or abuse what so many people don’t have access to and are literally starving for.
I bought a magazine at the store the other day. Like a junkie being pulled in by a vial of coke, I found myself adding it to my cart.
“Starving to Be Sexy” the cover said, showing images of celebrities who have fought their battles against any body fat and appear to be successful, flaunting clavicles, pelvic bones and ribcages that defy any unwanted calorie to even try to slip by.
“Isn’t this crazy?” I showed the magazine to my niece when she came to visit me.
“Yeah, but it’s what people expect. Of course they feel the need to be thin.”
As I found myself being drawn back to the magazine, I realized that it’s not so much that I think those celebrities are crazy. The rational part of me does, of course.
But there is also this part of me that relates to them. And where I have never been able to get “thin enough,” these celebrities have.
And it made me jealous.
How does this happen? I ask.
I think of myself as intelligent (reasonably). Not vapid (most of the times). Rational (cyclically).
The irony of one of the images actually made me laugh. One of the celebrities on the “Starving to Be Sexy Cover,” is reality show actress, Audrina Patridge. Wearing the same bikini that she recently wore on this month’s cover of Shape Magazine, a fitness magazine. One of the other celebrities touted as “too skinny,” Leann Rimes, just appeared on the cover of Shape Magazine, perhaps five or six months ago.
So let me get this straight. On the one hand, we look at these images and are being told that these women have gone to an unhealthy extreme. At the same time, we will see these same women highlighted on covers of purported “health” magazines.
It’s confusing, right?
I realize that the things I say glibly around the house are making an impression on my daughter. And that I need to ensure she doesn’t have this same messed up relationship with food that I feel like I have had.
So I try not to say things. I try not to show her just how preoccupied I am with food labels or show her any of my insecurities I feel when I look in the mirror.
And I hope she never goes through these mindless cycles that I have gone through.
Self-loathing when I “cheat.”
Hunger when I punish myself for not being strong enough.
Judgement when the scale taunts me with a number I want to deduct another 10 pounds from.
Or maybe even 15.
I am writing this post to say that I am one of many women who is too hard on herself. Too quick to judge myself. Too quick to punish myself. Insecure enough to buy in to the images that are telling me what society values in women.
But one thing I am NOT is a woman who plans to keep her subscription to Shape Magazine.
After years of trying to embrace healthy, I think that it’s time to acknowledge what “healthy” really means. And its not about the photoshopped celebrity on the cover.
It’s about acceptance.
(This post was originally posted at my old blog site on July 17, 2011)
“And I thought of all the bad luck
And the troubles we’ve been through
And how I lost me and you lost you.”
– Don Henley, “The Heart of the Matter”
I always knew that things were not what they seemed in my house, even early as a child.
Ever since I can remember, I remember tension. I remember wanting my family to be anywhere else but at home together because when we were at home, that’s when bad things happened. The fighting, the yelling, the screaming and the endless tears made my heart beat so fast in my tiny chest that I thought I would burst.
I recall being 4 years old and begging for my parents to invite family or friends over, thinking that perhaps they could diffuse that tension. Sometimes it would work and the levity that family and friends would bring to the house would allow everyone to breathe.
When my aunties and uncles would leave the house, I would hold on to their legs kicking and screaming, knowing what would come. Sometimes my tears were so convincing that they would decide to stay an extra day, just to appease me. They were most likely flattered at the inordinate amount of love I felt towards them.
Which I did.
But I also couldn’t stand to see them leave. I would wrap myself in the warmth of my auntie’s saris and breathe a sigh of relief for the reprieve that might come.
For at least a day.
Sometimes even company couldn’t stop the fighting. While I was embarrassed to see this at times, I was always more sad that another weekend was gone, ruined. Though in my mind, it was my mother who seemed more angry, I recall wishing that the weekend would end so my father would go back to work and my mother could not spend so much time yelling.
My heart hurt. But so did my ears.
There is a funny story that my family will retell. I was 4 1/2 years old and my parents bought me a swing set. It was one of those big clunky metal ones that gets all rusty – but when I got it, I was in Heaven. My father told me that he and my brother, Sudhu Bhaiya would assemble the swing set that Monday.
As the story goes, unbeknownst to my parents and family, I decided to announce a party. For a Monday night. I went and found my parents maroon phone book and called a few of my favorite aunts and uncles for a “Swing Party.”
PLEASE NOTE: I said SWING party, not SWINGER party. I was only 4 for crying out loud. So anyway one who was going there, kindly please remove head from gutter now. Thanks.
My parents came from work the next day wondering why there were so many cars in front of the house. There was no food, no drinks prepared. Just me running around like a moron screaming, “It’s my swing set party! Yay!”
My elder sister, Munni and my brother, Sudhu just kind of rolled with it. As most Indian people can roll when needed, the aunties took inventory of the situation and started helping my mother prepare dinner while the uncles got the swing set up, happy to help as they drank some cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon on that humid Jersey summer night.
The story was later told with humor. And it is funny – achingly so. I invited those family friends to the house because I was scared.
I am glad they came.
(Why nobody questioned a dinner party invitation on a Monday night from a 4 1/2 year old is beyond me, but I am guessing they thought it was cute. And like I said, most Indian people will just roll with it).
And it WAS an awesome day. People should have “swing set” parties, NOT “swinger” parties, more often.
“I’m learning to live without you now,
But I miss you baby.
And the more I know, the less I understand.
All the things I thought I knew, I have to learn again.”
I am the youngest of five children. My eldest sister is 15 years older than me and my youngest sibling (excluding me) is ten years older than me. There was a large age difference between us, and while I was very close to them, I was sort of living on my own island.
You might say it was like I was an only child at times. As a matter of fact, I am fairly certain that many people who knew our family actually would say this.
Not understanding the wounds they would open. How much we all hated the implication.
When I was 1 year old, my mother, father, eldest sister and eldest brother took a trip to India.
Two of us did not return on the Air India Flight back to the United States.
The year was 1977. My sister, Kanchan Didi would not set foot back on American soil until 1992. My brother, Himanshu, came back a little earlier.
1990. 13 whole years.
My sister was married to a man she had not met. She stayed in India with her new family in a northern village close to where much of my family lives. She did not have running water or electricity.
She didn’t have a lot of things, even though she gained some. I love my brother in law, there is no question about that. However, when I chose to get married almost 28 years later, in America, to an American and by my own volition, the situations seemed to beg for comparison. Which many did, although twenty eight years had passed in which my parents, circumstances, and assimilation into the culture had also changed a great deal.
But there is only so much that can be justified.
She was 16 years old.
My brother, Munna, was left in India. He did not know this was going to happen before the trip. It was once they reached India that he was given they news, not having adequately saying goodbye to his younger sister, Munni. He would not see her for another 4 years. He would not see his younger brother and best friend, Sudhu for another 12.
He had started acting up at school, as many teenagers do. He smoked (ooooh!), talked back (what?! to the gallows!) and even had a girlfriend, meaning my dad caught him kiss a girl.
He did not like it.
My father made the decision by sending Munna Bhaiya to India he would receive the right kind of discipline and education.
The rationale behind it is still a bit fuzzy, but it is what happened.
God, this is hard to write.
So things were kind of a blur, but going back, I always knew that it was strange that I had two brothers and sisters who were continents away from us. I guess some would call me a genius. Or just very, VERY slow.
Genius or severely blind to the truth, the intuition was apparently right.
One day, my mother and my sister, Moon, got into a fight. I was probably 7 years old. My mom left angry and my sister was crying. Which meant that I was crying because we had a fairly symbiotic relationship. (Also, when she cries, she does this really cute thing where her nose crinkles up a lot. The more it crinkles, the sadder she is). I, on the other hand, just ended up with a lot of boogers on my face.
She was really, REALLY sad that day.
It was 1983. I was 7 years old. Munni Didi was 19 and had been married in India the previous year at the age of 18. I went to comfort my sister and patted her on the shoulder and tried to hug her. She shrugged off my hand, which was unlike her.
“Don’t worry, Didi,” I said. (Didi means older sister in Hindi) trying to speak in a soft cooing voice the way she so often did when she would comfort me. “Don’t be sad. It’s just a fight. Ma still loves you.”
She was crying so hard that her shoulders were shaking. I almost didn’t understand her when she replied.
“No she doesn’t,” she said.
“Of course she does,” I said, trying again to consolingly rub her back this time. Though I could feel her stiffness, she didn’t shrug off my arm this time. “She has to. She’s your mother.”
“No, she’s NOT.”
And though the world started to make a little more sense to me, that’s when my walls started to crumble. They never quite rebuilt on the same foundation. Not that there was much of one to begin with.
All I knew was that I wasn’t crazy. It wasn’t JUST in my head.
If you’ll bear with me it’s getting late. If you have stayed this long, thank you. It’s just too long of a story for just one post or even for just a few.
This is my family’s life.
I am not looking to place blame or even understand. There are no villains. In many ways, the circumstances everyone was plunged into were far from traditional and there were no self-help books to walk you through the situation we were in. But writing this is not about looking for fault – it is about creating some kind of closure – for me, and maybe some of my family.
There comes a point where real like doesn’t play out like the movies. It took me a while to understand that there was no good guy. No bad guy.
And all that really matters is where you go from here.
“I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter
Because the flesh will get weak
And the thoughts seem to scatter
So I’m thinking about, forgiveness.
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore.”
Continue on this journey with me. I could use some friends getting through this bumpy ride.
But it was not your fault but mine,
And it was your heart on the line,
I really f^%$#ed it up this time.
Didn’t I my dear?Didn’t I my dear.?
– Mumford and Sons, “Little Lion Man”
I have a confession to make and perhaps you will judge me, but I said that this blog was about telling the truth and cutting past the phoniness, so I have to come clean.
I have a really bad habit. I listen to songs with curses in them. If the songs are on when the kids are around the room or if they walk in while I am singing my lungs out, I may NOT turn them off right away. I may not sing louder or turn up the volume.
Most of the time, anyway.
This is distressing to John.
“Kiran, turn it off – we don’t want the kids to hear that!”
And yes, I know. I don’t want them to be hearing songs where women are being disrespected and objectified and called names. I also don’t want them to hear cursing in rage and directed at people. Nothing like that.
But every once in a while, well, I think it’s ok to be listening to a GREAT song and let a little F bomb drop.
My rationale for this is the following:
1) Most adults, never mind most kids, hardly know what the heck they are singing along with on the radio most times anyway. I mean, I used to gyrate on the floor when I was 9 singing “Like A Virgin” thinking it was just a song about a girl who had never been on a date. Seriously, who gives a rat’s ass? I still didn’t get any action till I was 19, so who really cares?
2) They are going to hear it anyway and probably in much worse context than in the songs that they might overhear from my Pandora playlist. I just don’t make that big deal about it, and I think they probably won’t either.
3) Well, the reality is that their father curses like a sailor anyway. Let’s just say that John stubs his toe. The likely result is that John’s toe now hurts. (Poor John).
So, now, my husband has a throbbing toe and a desire to let the world know about how upset and hurt this makes him.
(Now, I know that this is just a re-enactment through prose, and I know its just instinct on John’s part, but this is kind of what it sounds like.)
I hear a loud crash coming from the family room.
John: “Oh shit! Oh MY God! That fu^$^$g hurt so bad!”
Me: “John, the kids. Seriously?”
John: “I am fu%^%ing hurt. Don’t you care?”
Well of course I do, but I am too busy listening to profanity filled music in the kitchen to deal with it right now.
So the long and the short of it is, it’s finally caught up with me. I have received my comeuppance for once and for all. (Though I still blame John’s outbursts more than the music).
The other day, our Au Pair, Monica went out to heat up the car to drive Shaila and Nico in the morning. She asked Shaila to stay in the house for a bit.
Monica: “Now Shaila, you need to stay inside until the car is warmed up. It’s very cold outside.”
Shaila: “Oh, ok.” Pause. “Like, is it F^%&ing cold?”
When Monica told me this I was very upset because I had no f%$%ing idea where she got this from and why she thought it would be ok to say f&&^*ing within our walls. Its just f^&*^ed up, I tell you.
A few weeks ago, Shaila dropped something in the bathroom. I was in her bedroom picking out a bedtime story. I heard her gasp and then so clearly, I heard the following:
“Oh Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Reaally, really stinky shit!”
I didn’t say anything, but I had a hard time keeping a straight face.
But trust me, it was f%&&ing hard.
So, one of my favorite songs which has cursing in it, but which I personally love within the context of the song is Mumford and Son’s “Little Lion Man“.
And I am sorry, but that won’t be deleted off of my playlist anytime soon.
Go on and have a curse fest. Despite the curses, its still one of the most beautiful and inspiring songs of the year.
Here is it.
And if this is my fault, and I really did f^&^&* this up? I’m sorry, my dears.
Listen to the video and sing your heart out (and drop some f-bombs) away!
When I got to my college at the University of Virginia as a straight up thug Indian kid from New Jersey, I remember about everybody talking about this guy named Dave Matthews and his upcoming show at the UVA outdoor pavilion called, the Amphitheater.
“Who the f@#! is Dave Matthews and why would I spend 12 dollars to go see him?” I asked in my thug Jersey way.
Yeah, I know. What a dumb. ASS. Twelve freaking dollars.
And regarding how others might have seen me, I wasn’t very thug (it’s so relative, right?), but I did (DO) curse a lot and have an accent. Plus, I was brown and I said things like “water” as “wahttuh”. It’s understandable how I could intimidate so many with my dark Indian looks and overwhelming stature (5’4″ to be exact). Especially my one “sweet as honey” suite mate who proudly hung her Confederate flag a few doors away from me. I used to give her dirty looks and yell things like Boo! when she’d walk out of the bathroom. I also used to talk about how many people how I knew from the Mob as I stared at the flag in her room shaking my head.
I really didn’t “know” anybody (not confirmed anyway), but it was fun to “reinvent” myself. It’s always good to start a new experience solid, I say.
Anyway, back to original point. (See long, long rides).
I quickly learned who Dave Matthews was and fell in love. It made me love Charlottesville, his hometown as well as UVA’s college town, just a little more. And though I already loved music, I fell a bit deeper into my obsession.
When I came back to New Jersey for the holidays, people still didn’t know who he was. But by the summer, they were playing “The Best of What’s Around” on all the radio stations. As normally occurs in these situations, I did not want to share. I wanted to make sure I could still get into concerts where he was only 20 feet away from me.
That of course, would end. And I never had any idea just how big he would become.
If you like Dave Matthews, then I am going to go out on a limb here and say that you love “Lie in Our Graves” off of Crash. If you really love Dave Matthews, then I would further venture to say you love his collaborations with Tim Reynolds.
So take a walk with me. Its my birthday, so if you want to wish me a happy birthday, do it by sitting back and listening to not only this song, but this particular version of the song. Play special attention to the guitar solo.
I never really paid attention to the lyrics of the song but always thought it odd how a song with the word, “graves” in the title could sound so damn happy and make me want to roll down my windows and blast my speakers and sing until my throat hurt. I would bop my head around (a non-thug trait) with a smile on my face and listen as my spirit SOARED through the guitar solo.
Well once you listen, the song is about not facing your grave. It’s about not lying down and letting life pass you by as if each day is just another day to prepare for death.
I THINK it’s also about the joy you experience as a child. When everything is new and everything feels free.
It MIGHT be about climbing to your summits and letting go, letting your legs dangle and enjoying the things you achieve.
And POSSIBLY about looking at life with fresh eyes and letting it absorb you, embrace you – up to your toes, to your ankles, to your soul.
And I KNOW its about being blown away.
How often do you let yourself get blown away? Like really BLOWN. AWAY? For me, it’s not often enough – and that’s not anybody’s doing but my own.
When I hear the guitar solo, one of the most moving compositions EVER (not up for debate, its my b-day!), I just think of life. The highs, the lows, the leaps, the falls. But overall I think of joy. The joy we have the ability to look towards every day in our lives.
No matter how bad things are you can choose to live, really live.
Or you can take a seat, or better yet, a bed – and watch everyone else do it.
Let’s face it. I can’t believe that you would not like to be.
Listen to the song. I said it was for my birthday, but make it about your birthday and your every day.
Happy Any Day to You!
Thanks for posting Ujio7!. You made my day
“When I step into the light
My arms are open wide
When I step into the light
My eyes searching wildly
Would you not like to be
Sitting on top of the world with
Your legs hanging free
Would you not like to be ok, ok, ok?
When I’m walking by the water
Splish splash me and you takin a bath
When I’m walking by the water
Come up through my toes
To my ankles
To my head
To my soul
And I’m blown away
When I’m walking by the water
Splish splash me and you takin a bath
When I’m walking by the water
Come up through my toes
To my ankles
To my head
To my soul
And I’m blown away
I can’t believe that we would
Lie in our graves
Wondering if we had
Spent our living days well
I can’t believe that we would
Lie in our graves
Dreaming of things that we
Might have been
I can’t believe that we would
Lie in our graves
Wondering if we had
Spent our living days well
I can’t believe that we would
Lie in our graves
Dreaming of things that we
Might have been
Would you not like to be?
I can’t believe that you
Would not like to be
Would you not like to be?
Ok, ok, ok”
Go on now. Be MORE THAN OK.
GET BLOWN AWAY.
I have a problem.
Well, to be fair, I have many, but right now I want to speak specifically towards one. I think it would be unfair to burden you with more since this might even be the first time you are visiting my blog.
I like to let the crazy out slowly. Gradually.
So, the problem du jour is my spending problem. I like the color of money. But apparently not enough to save lots of it in our bank accounts. I also don’t feel a need to stare at piles of it on the floor. Instead I make sure our credit cards get a frequent workout and find lots of creative ways to spend that green stuff.
Which I think is a talent.
Add to cart, enter coupon code, enter payment info, submit, confirm order and take it from the top! Its a great cardio burning workout and you can break a real sweat.
John is not happy about this and does not appreciate my credit card assisted cardio.
If he sees me in a new shirt, he will kind of narrow his eyes and ask, while trying to sound very lighthearted (doesn’t work), “Oh, nice shirt babe.”
Don’t think I don’t know where you are going with this, babe.
“Have you had that for a while?” he asks. “Or is it new?”
And this all really annoys me. Irks me. Why doesn’t he trust me? I know how to spend money. But he won’t understand that the shirt was on sale and the color does amazing things for my skin tone. Plus he also doesn’t realize that on top of everything, the shirt goes awesome with the new necklace I bought with it.
You know the shirt to go with the necklace. Or the necklace to go with the shirt.
It’s kind of the whole, chicken before the egg thing.
So in my confusion, and knowing full well that he knows the truth, I do what any smart wife would do.
“Oh this old thing?” I say, which is absolutely true if you think that old is at least a week old. It’s all relative. After all, there are some insects for whom that would equate to centuries!
“No it’s been sitting in my closet forever.” (Forever = whole week).
“Oh, I’ve never seen you wear that,” he says, suspiciously.
“That’s because you don’t pay attention, honey.” See how I turned that around? That takes skill.
“Well it looks nice,” he says, walking away still watching me out of the corner of his eyes. Probably to make sure I don’t buy anything while he walks from one room to the next.
Snort, yeah, good luck with that, John (I’ve got Amazon one click set up on my iPhone)
In all seriousness, I am getting a handle on this need to spend. I don’t think of it as a problem with spending as much as a desire to be really prepared in the event of an emergency disaster.
Because you can NEVER have too many Ann Taylor cardigans when a natural disaster happens.
Anyway, another thing I actually do save our money for is annual family pictures. Every year, John and I get a family session done with our family friends, Julie Monticello and Emily Hellmuth. Julie and Emily are an amazingly talented sister team. They are bubbly, relaxed, amazingly easy to work. Most importantly they have gob loads of talent.
They have a way of capturing a fairly non-camera friendly family and transforming us into the most photogenic versions of ourselves. No spinach in our teeth, no lazy eyes and no studio posing, which we are honestly just terrible at. Like, Chandler Bing terrible.
(Yes, you can observe that fact that they are very beautiful. More like, gorgeous. They look like the mean, snooty cheerleader from your High School but they are WAY nicer and cooler. But in hanging out with them I would say they are more like the coolest band geeks. EVER.)
All joking aside, one of the things John and I have spoken about doing this year is taking pictures with each set of grandparents in our family. Over the past few years, we have gained an even greater appreciation for how quickly things can change in life as we have braced ourself for one loss after another. My perspective on how valuable family time is has changed as more loved ones have passed in recent years than I was prepared to handle.
I don’t mean to sound morbid, because its not just about taking these pictures for the extreme scenario of, “Well, what if someone dies?” God, how terrible! But I can’t dismiss that. What if the health we take for granted fails us? What if that light in my daughter’s eyes vanishes for reasons I can’t foresee today? What if the most precious things in my life are taken from me?
I need to take advantage of the time I have and capture it as best as I can.
You see this picture of Nico? Its from October 2010. It seems like it was so recent but when you talk about how fast your children grow, a lot changes in 1.5 years. More than I can remember at times.
Do you see the beautiful corners of his outer eyes? It’s hard to notice, but do you see the remaining signs of the eczema that left me thinking his face might be scarred forever? Do you see the plump roundness of his cheeks?
I do. But I can’t say that I remember those things exactly that way. But its so vivid when I look at pictures like these. Because it all goes so darn fast that at times I feel like my memories and pictures and stories and recollections are blurred together.
So Julie and Emily help me. By doing what they do.
Life is too short and its just so fragile. I don’t have many pictures of my kids with their grandparents but beyond that, neither John and I have that many pictures of ourselves with our parents – and we both agreed that we would finally commit to making this a priority and do these shoots in the next few years.
This is a shoot we did this year with my parents, good old Kameshwar and Moti Kairab. Let me know what you think – or actually let Julie and Emily know what you think. If you like their work, go let them know and “like” them on Facebook at Tellchronicles.
What I believe makes their pictures so beautiful is that are not just photographers but storytellers.
Have you gotten someone to tell your family stories and capture those smiles and those eyes and those images that you sometimes think will stay frozen in your head forever, but which have a way of slowly fading, as if there is a slow leak somewhere in your brain?
Because images in our heads do fade. And I don’t just want to tell my stories to my kids. I want to tell my parents’ stories to my kids and I want them to share those stories with their kids.
I feel like in life we are always in such a rush to get where we need to go. Where we want to be. But how often do you just stop and realize the richness of where you are? And how often do we look back and say, why didn’t I pay closer attention to that?
I love Julie and Emily and the stories they weave. The gifts they give me with these images is one of the most valuable things I do spend our hard earned money on each year.
And I think that for this case, John would agree.
Enjoy! Book with Tellchronicles and tell my girls I sent you. No, I don’t get a kickback – I just want people to know how amazing they are before they become way too expensive and you can’t book with them any more. And I will just shake my head disapprovingly (kind of how John does when he catches me with a brand new shirt) and tell you I told you so.
All of these lines across my face, tell you the story of who I am.
So many stories of where I’ve been and how I got to where I am.
But these stories don’t mean anything
If you got no one to tell them to – it’s true.
I was made for you.
– Brandi Carlile, “The Story”
Here is the video from that day, if you would like to see it. Julie and Emily make that for their customers as part of some of the packages, along with a great bound photo album and copies of all the images. You will hear two of my favorite feel good songs on it – “Simple as it Should Be” by Tristan Prettyman and “You and I” by Ingrid Michelson.
That was a day when everything, in fact, was simple as it should be.
I have always been hard on myself and the expectations I place on myself. There are times where I struggle with the realization that the desire to succeed is in fact some form of self-punishment. Punishment in that I create near impossible situations to accomplish.
This causes me a great deal of angst.
I have always lived in the world of “ideally.” I have held myself to an often impossible standard. Some of these standards are driven by societal expectations, others by arbitrary deadlines and confines I place on myself.
Do any of these situations sound like they might be familiar to you?
Sharing a dinner with an amazing beautiful, brilliant and accomplished friend lamenting the fact that she is still single. Because ideally, she would have met her dream man by 30 (not 40) and had the 2.5 kids she always expected to have.
She is a city girl, so ideally, she would not have picket fences, but a laundry machine would be nice.
A young married woman struggles with issues bearing children. Ideally, she would have had at least two by now, but its been impossible to conceive and the one time she got pregnant, she miscarried so early on.
She struggles under the weight of this consuming need to love and hold the child she dreams of.
Instead she presses her abdomen as she shudders from the coldness and unforgiving nature of the womb she has been dealt.
Ideally, she wishes God would hear her pleas and grant her this gift so many women stumble upon without even really trying.
Ideally, she would like to conceive, but would be open to adoption.
It’s just not ideal. Not to her anyway.
A woman goes to bed alone. Her kids are sleeping and she sighs a tired breath as she inhales her loneliness and exhales out her frustration. This was not supposed to be her life. Ideally, she would have a husband who saw her, respected her. She thought in her twenties that by the time she was thirty she should be married with kids, ideally. Have a nice house and a great job.
Those things have all happened. But her idea of “ideally” is far from ideal. The check boxes have all been marked, but there was so much nobody told her, so much she didn’t understand.
She takes off her reading glasses and turns off the light, alone with the thoughts that haunt her every night.
On the surface, it looks ideal. But boiling under the surface, below that layer of her mind where her thoughts run like a river, there is a parallel stream of regret that clenches her heart and makes her ache inside.
I have often chased after what seemed like required milestones in my life with the “Ideally” lenses on. When you put on the “ideally” lenses, they skew things a little. You see life the way you think it should be, the way you want so badly for it it be.
But life is rarely that predictable. And the missteps we often take in our rush to the summit of “Ideally” are often hard to backtrack from. Retracing to a new “ideally” seems impossible for many.
I sometimes get asked questions along the lines of “Ideally, what is it that you are looking for?” I think if you had asked me many years ago, my answer would be pretty clear. But life happens and you realize that the weight of “Ideally” runs the same risks of trying to accomplish perfection.
And perfection scares me. It leaves me in a pile of angst and insecurity, completely unsure of myself. Its a whole lot of pressure that I don’t need in the high expectation filled life I lead where I feel I often let myself down the most on unrealistic expectations of myself and others around me.
If you are waiting for perfect from me, you better get in line and plan to wait a while.
Grab a seat.
Bring some popcorn, even.
As a mother, a professional, a business owner, a wife and friend, there are few things I do perfectly. I bust my little Indian hiny trying to get there, but I have come to terms with the fact that both the number of hours and the energy I can dedicate in this life are finite. And my best will just have to do.
Ideally, that will be as close to perfect as I can get.
I bet you are thinking, well you MUST think your kids are perfect. So lets do a brief inventory, everything from their little limbs, to their big brown eyes, to their distinct little voices can bring me to tears.
Because those little limbs can pack a mean punch, those brown eyes can weep tears the size of marbles over not being given the right color Skittle (who knew today was the day Orange was the best?) and those voices can say some pretty mean stuff to a mother, who IDEALLY, would not want her kids to talk fresh.
But I think that perfection is a heavy burden for any of us to bear. I can’t and won’t be the one to place it on my children, Shaila and Nico. Let’s face it, being perfect is damn near impossible and to be honest, its a bit boring, isn’t it?
Its great to have dreams. Its great to want things. But I think if we tried a little less to live our lives in the world of “ideally” and spent a little more time listening to our hearts and ignoring the voices in our heads and around us that say things like the things I have heard said to friends below, we’d be a whole lot happier.
“Oh, you’re not married? Oh I’m so embarrassed – sorry! You’ll meet Mr. Right one day!” Pause. “Or, um, Mrs. Right?! You’re not gay, are you? It’s just so unusual to find straight women in their forties.”
“HOW many kids do you have? Oh, none?! Well, hopefully you guys get cracking soon. Its harder the older you get, you know!”
“When are you guys getting married? You seem perfect together! I know we only saw you together that one time, but I could tell by the way he held your hair over the deck when you puked that he really loves you. You better nab that one!”
“Oh, you look so good. Have you put on some weight? I can tell you must be under pressure. You’re just not at your ideal weight.”
Give the voice you hear and often block out, the one deep inside you, a little more credit. Give it a listen. And remember, you don’t have to follow my advice.
But ideally, you will.
Do you ever feel like your day just kind of ran away from you? I sit here and it’s 11 PM. I know I should be in bed, because I know the trouble I have when my kids get up. I want to stay curled up under the covers and no amount of coffee can make me move from out and under the lovely, comfortable, soft and downy warmth of my bed which all make me want to ….
Sorry – that’s about how easy it is to pass back out in the mornings, so excuse me while I get some coffee.
Well, I feel like whether you are a working mother or a stay at home one (I will include daddies in this too, because I know plenty who fulfill both roles), by the time everything (and I mean EVERYTHING, as if I really did sweep every last bit of rice off the floor) is done and the kids are FINALLY in bed, I feel a little like…
“Ok what the HELL just happened?”
Because the day is done. Finito. Pretty much gone. And while I had some great highs in my work day (maybe some lows) and some amazing moments with my kids (or not), I just feel like, when the heck do you get to do the things that YOU need to do. NOT the laundry. Not the bills. Not even time on the phone with family.
I mean the things that make you more balanced as individuals – you know – journaling, exercising, writing, playing music. Just examples, please don’t throw a rock at my head because I left off basket-making or pottery or anything. Those are very noteworthy as well.
Everybody has a heartsong. So how do you find yours? Or recognize that maybe it has gone someplace to hide with the sentiment, “hey she is not ready for me now with all this crazy stuff going on, but she will be ready by the time the kids are both in school” so you can put it in the drafty part of your closet right next to the old BCBG dress you refuse to donate because you JUST KNOW you will fit into it again.
Are you delaying singing that heartsong or maybe just saying goodbye to your dream?
Are you maybe, just a teensy bit scared? Of not being successful? Of risks? Of what people might think?
Still a mother.
Still a professional.
Still a wife.
Still a dreamer.
I have friends who have found their “heartsong.” It’s the ability to take what they have passion for in their hearts and make it integral part of their lives in some way, a way that it is woven in that it cannot be denied or perhaps made into less of a priority. For them, fulfilling these heartsongs has allowed them to live to new potentials they would never have known. Yes – they were mothers, but beyond mothers, they are also artists and needed a push in finding that song.
I think that I want these moments because right now my heart is kind of “skipping” in terms of playing the song. Its got a lot of static and it just sounds like a really crappy recording, probably similar to the recordings I used to tape off of Z100’s top 5 at night on my radio/cassette player.
I can hear it, but because maybe its singing a few different tunes, I haven’t found my “song” yet.
Is that crazy? Do you believe that you have a heartsong that you were meant to pursue? Something that always brings you back to a dream that you feel is unfulfilled.
Now listen here. If you tell me your heart always wanted to be Eva Longoria, I know that this will be a LIE because she only rose in popularity in the last six years. It needs to be a legit heartsong. A yearning, really. A yearning to pursue something which you have captured and mastered in your dreams in a way that you are comforted by the thought, and saddened by its absence in life.
For friends who I have who have taken that leap of faith, I must say that I applaud you. You are braver than me, and definitely more talented than I will ever be in the areas you found your heartsongs.
You make me want to be brave and own up to my own dreams.
And do you think that maybe if we listened a little harder to that song, and muted all of the other crap in our lives while also paying less attention to all of the areas that we are weak or make excuses for – that we are denying ourselves and our families a better life?
Just because YOU would ultimately be happier.
The journey to find your heartsong is a tough one. Sometimes realizing you have not achieved it makes it hard for your heart to sing anything, even happy Christmas songs. But you are brave and you can do this. Maybe in 2012 we can all listen a little bit HARDER and sing a little bit LOUDER.
It’s not easy. Hard things never are. That’s what makes them hard.
But soooo worth it.
I may not know my heartsong yet, but I can sing a bra off a drunk girl in a crowded bar. (True story, I HAVE done this). So I think its important that I really give this whole thing a try.
Don’t you think you should too?
Dig deep. Don’t tell me resolutions. Tell me your dreams. What have you always wanted to do? What made you stop? Could you, WOULD you – if you knew that it was an option?
If you could, but you won’t, why not? Are you scared?
Please don’t stop dreaming sisters and misters. You are brave. You CAN do it. I will try with you and I guarantee that if we do – we will sing this song in really kick ass harmony together. Like a “Feed the World” meets “USA for Africa” kind of harmony.
Sing your heart out. Just don’t let you heart ever stop singing. Even if right now, it may only be a whisper.