Archive of ‘Blogging Shit’ category

Would You Be Mine? Could You Be Mine?

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 11.36.53 AMWon’t you be my neighbor?

I have the words to Mr. Roger’s timeless song at the forefront of my mind these days. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Tim Madigan, an esteemed journalist who became friends with Fred Rogers during a very difficult time in his life. Tim was at one of those low points that I believe most people encounter in their lives at some point, perhaps in a different form.

For Tim, the low point was his battles with a deep depression and what seemed like an imminent divorce. During this time, he looked to his friend, Fred Rogers for counsel and most importantly, acceptance.

In his book, I’m Proud of You: My Friendship With Fred Rogers, Tim explains the bond he had with this man who so many of us remember fondly from our childhood. (Well, for me, I remembered him fondly, but I wasn’t so crazy about those puppets. They freaked me out a little.)

Back to Tim. As he was contemplating getting a divorce, a divorce that he was driving, he wrote a letter to Mr. Rogers and asked him if he could still accept his friendship and forgive him as a man who would make this life changing step.

Mr. Rogers wrote him a long letter back, but the words that captured me the most sprung out at me from the first paragraph.

“Please know that I will never forsake you, that I will never be disappointed with you, that I would never stop loving you.”

I will never forsake you.

What a powerful thing to say. And what a powerful gift to receive from someone you love and admire.

I often think of the shame and hurt we carry in our lives due to the disappointments we feel. These disappointments might be ones we believe our family, friends and employers feel towards us. Or they might be deeply buried disappointments we feel for ourselves.

This shame and these disappointments build over time. And they place an unfair burden on all of us – one so heavy to hold that we sometimes fall beneath the weight of it. I have fallen before. In some ways, I believe many of us are continually looking for ways to get back up, because that weight can feel constant. The burden can be tremendous.

But imagine that your life was one where you were given the gift of acceptance by all the people you love and care for. Imagine that you took the stance that you would not place judgement and plant more seeds of shame for the people that you love in your life. What a gift that would be? What better gift could you give?

Human beings are prone to criticize. We are wired to look for how things can be improved, enhanced, fixed, made to shine more. We don’t stand still and accept things for what they are, because we know that the 2.0 version of it is just around the corner.

We do the same things with the people in our lives. We do it to our parents, to our children, to our friends and to our employees. We often do it without even realizing that we are doing it, because it’s what we know. We have watched our parents, teachers and spouses do it to us. And ultimately we learn that it’s what we do with our children and loved ones.

But just imagine, for just a minute, what it would feel like to know that despite your imperfections, despite your perceived shortcomings, or mistakes, or disappointments, that you knew that without question you were accepted, loved. And never forsaken.

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

I believe we already belong to each other in a way. And we are here on this crazy planet to help each other navigate through the highs and the lows of life. I believe each of us would feel a freedom in living without armor and realizing that we can’t control what others accept about us, but we can give acceptance and love freely and without fear. Our lives would be so much better for it.

I thank Mr. Rogers for his wisdom and his open heartedness. For teaching us about civility, grace and acceptance. He lived wholeheartedly, which is obvious from the words he used with Tim.

His words remind me of one of the most important responsibilities we all have. Think of the gift you can give to people in your life. Whether it’s in the form of forgiveness, acceptance, or just opening yourself to listen. You have that power and you have the ability to impact someone’s life today.

I will never forsake you, friends. As I hope you will never forsake me.

Peace and light.

Kiran








Letters to Myself: When I Have a Teenage Kid

When I was a kid, I used to write “Letters to Myself.” This may seem odd and no, I don’t have multiple personalities. I just wanted to make sure that as an adult, I didn’t forget about all the “horrible” things my parents did to to embarrass me while I lived under their roof. I figured if I could warn myself in the future and help prevent my children from suffering the same kind of embarrassment that I had been through, we could potentially break the cycle. Thus leading to less money spent on counseling sessions, which would be a win-win from any perspective, because even my parents would agree that we shouldn’t waste money. I didn’t start the letters until I was in middle school, but I think I covered my bases pretty well.

So without further ado, let me present you with the teenage Masala Chica’s list of parental “Dos” and “Don’ts.”

1)   Don’t wear saris when I pick my kids up from school. Try to be cool like the other moms and wear jeans.

Not wearing mom jeans = uncool!

My Teenage Dating Chronicles

I have a story to tell you guys. You might not believe it. But I swear, it’s all true. Every stinking word of it.

When I was younger, well…I wasn’t really a hit with the boys. I know. I KNOW. This is hard to believe since now I am so obviously ridiculously, ridiculously good looking and charming. But suspend your disbelief for just one minute, however hard that might be and go back in time with me.

When I hit my teens, I was awkward and shy. A bit pudgy, with braces and Jersey hair so big and so wide that it made Medusa look like she was a shampoo commercial model. Friends, it was bad.

But then things changed. The pounds fell off when I ran cross country. A teeny weeny eating disorder didn’t hurt either (another story, another day). The braces came off and I figured out (somewhat) how to work with the mop that God (yes, thank you for that God) gave me.

So around 16, I blossomed. Ok, maybe that’s too strong of a word. I wouldn’t say that I went through a case of the ugly duckling turning into a swan. Nothing that dramatic! But I was a more attractive duckling, which was progress and which helped confirm that a daily dietary supplement of my mother’s samosas was not conducive to weight loss.

I also got the whole facial hair thing under control. SCORE! This achievement involves a serious fist pull. You see, I’m Indian. And I have dark, coarse hair. And it sprouted on my face with a profound enthusiasm that I could not match, much less conquer alone. After a very unfortunate incident with a bottle of Nair when I was 13, I finally became a pro at using hot wax. No easy feat for a young teen with a small forest growing on her face.

So now, I no longer had a moustache that rivaled that of Mr. Kakos, my very Greek AP English teacher. Huge improvement folks.

And so all this happened. And I started hearing the word. Pretty. And people were using it to describe me. ME. Well, sometimes. Again, just roll with me here.

That's Me - 2nd row curly hair!

 

I’m in the second row – 1st on the left.

And yet friends, though I bought the milkshakes to the yard with all these changes, nobody came a-knocking at my door. Sure, we had some Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, but other than that – nothing. My phone wasn’t ringing off the hook either.

I had guy friends who were great, but nobody was romantically interested in me. I use the word romantically loosely, because we were in high school and all I knew about romance, I learned from watching Guiding Light and Fred and Daphne’s obvious sexcapades on Scooby Doo.

Was it the knowledge that not so long ago, I slightly resembled a yeti? Was it the fact that any time someone did call me, my strict, Indian father would interrogate them relentlessly?

“How do you know her?” Um. School, Papa.

“What do you want to talk about?” Math. Like, duh.

“How many girls have you deflowered?” Ok. No he didn’t. But I am sure he wanted to.

I remember being in the cafeteria one day hanging out with a guy I had been friends with for a while who I had a huge crush on. For the sake of this story we will call him Don*, because a few friends from high school read my blog. He said something really sweet to me. Something absentmindedly and God I don’t remember what it was. I think it was something like “Oh Kiran, you’re so great” accompanied by an affectionate nudge on the shoulder.

I recognize now that you say things like this to lost puppies and sympathy crushes. You know, to people you know that like you, but who you don’t have feelings for.

At the time though, I wasn’t that cool. (I know, I told you to suspend your disbelief!). So I mustered up my courage and said, “Well, Don. You know I think you’re great too.” And I could have left it at that.

But no friends. I did not. I did NOT leave it at that. Instead, I added, “Like, yeah. Like, I like you.” Fucking idiot I was. When over 50% of your sentence uses the word like, you officially qualify as a moron.

This is when Don said to me, “Well, Kiran, I like you too.”

“Really?”

“But you know I can’t date you.”

“Why?” I asked, perplexed.

“Because of what you are.”

I paused for a second. Wow. Harsh!

“Wait. Because I’m smarter than you?”

The next thing I know, the bell rings and we are surrounded by friends and apparently the boys aren’t dating me because of my lack of milkshakes but because I’m smarter. Well, at least I knew what the problem was.

When I told my friends about what happened though, they saw things a little differently than me.

“Because of what you ARE?!!”

“Yeah. Because I’m smart.”

“No, Kiran. Because you’re Indian!” my friends informed me. Apparently he had been overheard talking about it with a friend and had been a bit more clear about my unsavory characteristics.

Oh. OH.

Every other brush with dating in high school ended disastrously. I wasn’t often in the running, but when I was, it was not usually very smooth sailing.

And you know, while it sucked that a guy didn’t like me because I was Indian, I kind of am still proud of my first response. Because that’s who I was. I was a smart little cookie. Sure, I had shitty taste in footballin’ men, but I had some balls to take a chance and tell someone I liked them. It took courage for me to do that. And sometimes having courage is a lot more important than getting to make out with the high school quarterback. That’s the story I’m sticking to anyway.

Stay tuned for more adventures in awkward, Indian teenage dating….

XOXO,

Kiran

Live from Lisbon, Portugal, where I should have been in bed a LONG time ago.








I’m Just a Girl. A Girl With a Blog.

You know that line from the movie Notting Hill? The one where Julia Roberts, who plays a famous actress – real stretch role for her –  tells Hugh Grant’s character, the manager of a small bookstore, “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

First of all, I call bullshit. She’s not just a girl. He’s not just a boy. When most people become famous, odds are, they change. I have seen and known it to happen with some friends in my own life. They became more than just a girl or a boy and depending on their character, the people they need to surround themselves have to come with a pedigree I don’t have or serve a purpose I apparently don’t.

To them I’m just a girl.

But I do want to re-purpose that line for my own use and maybe change it just a little bit.

“I’m just a girl, writing a blog for anyone who will read it, asking them to understand me.”

You might be the ones calling “Bullshit” this time since I am using the word “girl” quite liberally here. But I wanted to tell you a little bit about what this girl, who is writing this post way too late at night, has learned about herself and her life over the years through the course of blogging. She’s not going to write it all today, but maybe she can start.

(Please don’t mind the use of the third person reference there. It’s 2 AM. Cut me/her/she some slack.)

Blogging about your life is a constant balance

I know you’re thinking, “Like, duh.” Of course with blogging, there is always the balance of time. Do I play with my child or answer the comments that are waiting for me after my last post? Do I try to work on the business model for the company I am launching or do I come up with new witty posts about what happened to me at Target the other day? Or today. Or on Saturday, just because I needed an extension cord. In pink.

That time balance is a constant struggle and I am not going to lie. If I was sitting on a seesaw and my family was on one end and the blog was on another, over the past few months, it would be clear that my family won out and I sat my butt on one end of that seesaw and pretty much stayed there. I needed to. Stuff was happening and it was a choice I needed to make.

But it’s the other stuff. The below the surface stuff. It’s deciding whether to write about the things going on in my life that are hard to talk about, but for whatever reason, seem to flow from my fingers with a power of their own as soon as I open WordPress. It’s about contemplating what daily struggles I want to share that I am having with my spouse, siblings, in-laws,  friends or co-workers. It’s talking about the issues that I am really thinking about but can’t write because I know that there will be collateral damage in doing so. Hurt feelings. Irreparable damage even.

I can’t write what I think all the time because I don’t live in a vacuum and every word I put out there impacts the people around me.

Some people call it brave to put it all out there. I think I used to believe that. Now, I think that there is a fine line between bravery and needing constant validation from people around the internet, sometimes at the expense of my own family. That? I don’t see that as bravery anymore, but I do think it’s pretty freaking selfish.

I was at a conference once and Jeff Goines, the author of “Wrecked” was taking questions after a presentation on creative writing. I asked him how he draws the line between writing about himself and impacting the privacy of those in his life. He didn’t seem to understand the question and I struggled to find the words during that 10 second period to explain what I meant. But It think it’s something like this.

If I were to tell you that I battle depression, it’s not just my story. It’s also my husband’s. It’s also my children’s. It may become their teacher’s story, who may look at them differently or treat them because of a different lens they now have on. Oh, your homework is late? Is it because of what’s going on at home?

If I were to tell you that my husband has done something to me, something which has shocked me, it’s not just my story or his. Again, it’s the story of my children, our friends and our families as well. Perhaps even his co-workers and colleagues who might have seen or read the piece (Don’t worry, John hasn’t done anything to me. Yet.)

The reality is that over time, as a blogger, you start to feel that you owe it to yourself to be honest. And that you owe something to your readers. And while this may be true, I find that there have been a few times where I took this a little too literally and did so at the expense of the most important people in my life. These people – my family, my friends – don’t always understand my blog and they don’t get why I have opened up about some of my life. When I talk about the cathartic aspect of it, I think I lose them a bit there too. In fact, I am pretty sure my Dad would just say, “Get a diary.” In fact, I am pretty sure that after I publish this, my Dad will ask me why I had to say that he would say, “Get a diary.”

What I consider to be my story has sometimes been violations of the story of others. Especially when it has come to my family. What was hard for me to learn was that in my re-telling of the stories, they also saw many of the things very differently than I did.

But I got to tell my side of it, so it’s all good, right?

I guess I just don’t know anymore.

I think one of the reasons I have also taken a break from blogging was to figure this part of things out. I can tell all and really mess my children over forever or I can write with boundaries. And sometimes writing with boundaries is so hard to do that I just opt to not write at all.

And that sucks. The not writing just sucks.

Things in my life are finally settling down after what has been a very tumultuous few months. Some of it I can tell you about. Some of it I can’t. And I think that’s what I am learning. These boundaries with blogging are just never going to be that clear cut.

Thanks for sticking with me through my ride though.

At the end of the day, I’m just a girl. A girl with a blog. And I really want it to be a good one.

All my love,

Kiran

P.S. If you are in the Northern VA/DC Metro area, there is a conference on October 26 empowering bloggers and small business owners being run by Femworking. I will have a stall there as Simply Om, my jewelry company dedicated to raising awareness and aid for women living in oppression around the world. If you haven’t signed up, please come out and check out my good friend, Jill Smokler, (Scary Mommy), as the keynote speaker. Hope to see you there!








How honest are your friends?

“And this wasn’t lying, not really. It was leaving out.” – Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis


A few years ago, I wrote a post about how good friends know what to say to each other in tough situations. They know the difference between being painfully truthful and kindly, gently delivering a message. Other times, they might even tell little white lies to help you get the message. Well, I called it lies, but I realize now what I meant was not necessarily lies… more like, omission?

My Doctors Read My Blog & Bring Back Banana Clips.

I had to go to the hospital for a small medical procedure this week. Don’t worry, everything is fine, but it’s something I have been putting off for a long time.

Anyway, I had to go under general anesthesia before the Doctor could operate. I was a little nervous, more about going under the knife and the pain I might feel afterwards than about my lack of consciousness. The Anesthesiologist was a sweet and lovable looking Indian man, with kind green eyes, and he assured me that everything would be fine. I allowed myself to be comforted by him and went under quietly and without a fight.

When I woke up, John was sitting beside me.

Me: It’s done?

John:  Yeah, it took no time at all.

Me: Did I poop on the table?

John: No, not that I know of.

Pooping on the table has been a big concern of mine since before I had kids. I always heard about women who went into labor and had a bowel movement while trying to push out the baby. This terrified me since and I was having no part of it, as long as I could control it.

The nurse came in and gave me some grape juice. I was quite capable of putting the straw in myself but instead I allowed John to unwrap and stick it in the little juice box hole.

I’m not stupid. I was going to milk as much as I could out of this hospital visit.

The Doctor came in mid-sip.

Doctor: You did great. Everything went well and you shouldn’t have any complications. Any questions?

Me: Did I poop on the table?

Doctor: Um. No. You didn’t.

Me: Good. Well thanks for everything!

Doctor: (Turning to John) You have the discharge instructions. Make sure she gets a lot of rest the next few days. (Turning to me) Now you can go back to writing your blog. Any questions?

Whoa, there, Doc. Back the heck up.
How did he know about my blog? I must have looked at him funny.

Doctor: Doctor X is looking at it right now. It’s good stuff.

And he turned around and walked out.

John: You told him about your blog?

Me: No. (shaking my head). Maybe they looked it up?

It made total sense to me that while I was under, quietly drooling out of the side of my mouth and being busy not pooping, that the following conversation could take place:

Nurse: Who is this incredible woman on the table in front of us, with the questionable taste in nail polish color?

Doctor X: I don’t know. But I sense there’s a story. Maybe we should Google her.

Upon Googling me, they would find that I was, in fact, the proud writer of a blog.  I still found this rather odd, but completely within reason.

At that moment, Dr. X walked into the room.

Doctor X: Hey Masala Chica! Love your blog. It’s great.

Me: How did….?

Doctor X: Oh. Well, you told me all about it while you were asleep.

John: Oh no. You didn’t.

Me: Oh shit.

Until this point, I didn’t know you could have conversations with people when you were under. Who knows what else I confided in him?  Did I tell him about how I successfully delivered two children without pooping on a table? Did I inform him about my undying love for Jon Bon Jovi? That the one fashion trend I miss most of the eighties was the banana clip?

Please be cool again!

Over at Scary Mommy…

I wrote a post over at Scary Mommy called, “I Would Do Anything For Love, but my Boobs Won’t Do THAT.”

Well, that was the original title, but I told Jill to call it whatever she wanted because she knows her shit, it’s her blog and I could NOT get that darn Meatloaf song out of my head.

If you are here, thanks so much for coming. I hope to get to know you better at Masala Chica.

That being said, let me tell you a few things:

1) I curse. A lot. Not at people. Just at air mostly. If I say fuck, just pretend I said, “fudge” or “muggles.” It usually works out. I promise I will never curse at you.

Well, unless you curse at me first.

2) I am Indian-American and I write a lot about growing up in a family that straddled two cultures. I will write as an Indian and as an American. You might get to see both sides of me. Think of me as a female Gandhi. With more hair, less wisdom and who drinks and curses more than Gandhi did. Oh screw it.

Think of me more like an Indian Sandra Bernhard.

Yeah, that’s better.

3) I love Les Mis. I saw the movie three times. This by no means indicates that I am not busy. It just means that I suckered my husband into watching the kids for a total of at least 16 hours so I could pretend I was Fantine.

4) I get really bent out of shape about a few things. Like people who blame rape on women or movies. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. OF course. Unless it’s weird and twisted and misogynistic and makes light of violence against women or children. Oh. And those people? Yeah, I probably will curse AT them. Not very Gandhi-like, I know.

5) I tweet over at “The Twitter” as @kferrandino. Give me a holler and let me know you’re a reader so we can connect!

Namaste,

Kiran

 

 








Minnie Mouse: “I’ve Looked Better”

I was sitting on the couch, ignoring the kids while they ran around, jumping on top of John. John is not feeling 100% after traveling for business this week, so I looked up to ask him if he was alright. I don’t know how he responded, but he wasn’t  puking or anything, so I’m guessing he said, “Couldn’t be Better!” with a thumbs or something.

Nico stuck something on my head and I told him, “That’s nice,” because that’s usually what I do when he asks me something and I am too busy doing something SUPER important (i.e. anything other THAN something super important) to respond.

Plus I think teaching him about positive reinforcement is really healthy. Of course, this backfired the time he was holding the knife and I was on my iPhone and said “That’s nice!” and now he thinks that playing with knives is a good thing.

Still, it’s better than guns, I say.

Anyway, I went out a little while later to check on the kids who rolled out the door to play with John, again, who is not showing signs of dehydration, so I’m thinking he’s just being a wuss on the whole “not feeling good” thing. And then, WTF? John started laughing at me. I would say “That’s not nice!” except I figure if he’s laughing, that’s a good thing, because it’s better than him being on the can all day or something and REALLY being sick.

I came back inside and caught my reflection in the window.

Oh.

Self-portrait.

From Jersey to Washington, With Love

Hey, so. I have a favor to ask. No, don’t worry, you don’t have to get naked or sing, or be naked while singing. You don’t have to cook or clean. Nothing hard at all. See, doesn’t that put things into perspective? I am going to ask you to do something which does not involve nudity, singing, cooking or cleaning.

Sounds like a decent gig to me.

I am putting an entry in for a contest over at Indiblogger.com, a blog community for Indian bloggers like me, or others who live in India. They are putting together the top 300 submissions, which will also be evaluated by how many votes/likes they get. The submission has to be 500 words and serves as a “teaser” for the short story they might later ask me to submit if I make the top 300. That will be a LOT more words (Maybe 3500?).

Could you maybe go to the Indiblogger site and click like?

Could you maybe even ask a friend who you think might like the idea to like it?

The winning stories will ultimately be published in a anthology/collection from Indian authors on love and will be published by Harper Collins.

Thanks for your support. And thanks to Renee at http://rasjacobson.com for making me think it might be something worth reading.

And if you know any friends who might want to participate, encourage them to enter as well.

*****************************************************

The flight from Newark, NJ to Washington, DC looks like it’s finally done boarding. I’m in the window seat ready to place my jacket on what appears to be an empty aisle seat. One of the last passengers to board the plane, an elegant Indian woman whom I judge to be in her fifties, stops alongside my seat.

“I think that’s my seat,” she says, smiling.

“Of course,” I say, placing the jacket back on my lap.

It’s a short flight from Newark to the Dulles Airport. I’ve been up in New Jersey, making last minute arrangements for my wedding, which is scheduled a month from now. I look at my watch, trying to estimate the time I’ll be home if the plane lands on time.

“What a beautiful watch,” the woman comments.

“Thank you,” I say, looking up at her and smiling. She has a lovely warmth about her and I can’t help but find myself drawn in by it.  Before I know it, I am extending my hand and introducing myself.

“Hi, I’m Rachel,” I say.

“Nice to meet you, Rachel. I am Madhu,” she says. “I’m going to Northern Virginia to visit my daughter and her family,” she volunteers.

“Where does she live?” I ask.

We speak about her daughter and her new home in Reston and how this is the first time Madhu will get to see her new granddaughter, who is only 2 weeks old.

“I had to come all the way from Mumbai. I stayed with family in Jersey for a few days and now, I will finally see my granddaughter.” She smiles and holds her palms tightly in her hands.

“Wow. That’s a long journey,” I say, always with a knack for stating the obvious. She nods.

I motion to my engagement ring.

“I was up in New Jersey, making some last minute arrangements for my wedding next month.”

“Oh! That’s lovely,” Madhu says. “Tell me, Rachel. Is this a love match?”

It takes me a second to realize what she is asking.

“Oh, yes. Yes! It’s a love match. I met him and you know, BAM, I fell in love,” I laugh, finding myself playing with the beautiful solitaire on my ring.

“That’s wonderful. So, you are in love then. What a wonderful thing to be. To know.” She smiles. But she seems somewhere else.

“Haven’t you been in love?” I ask. There is something sad about the idea that this beautiful woman with the melodic laugh sitting next to me, may never have known love.

“In love?” Madhu laughs. “Yes. Yes, I have been in love.” She looks at her own watch.

“Well, it looks like we have some time before we land at Dulles,” she says, smiling at me, a twinkle lighting up her hazel eyes. “Do you think that’s enough time for me to tell you a love story, Rachel?”

I nod, reclining my seat back. Something about Madhu’s voice tells me this is going to be good.

****************************************************************

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is running with input from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

So, that’s it. I know it’s just a “glimmer” of what I hope to put together, but if you can just go over there and click like, I will never ask you to sing naked again. I promise.

VOTE—-> Click on this link. Then click Like. If you want, you can do this EVERY DAY.

Trust me, my family is getting enlisted BIG time.








1 2