Friendship

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!

These moms totally had it going on.

2)   Don’t send my kids to school with weird pickles on their sandwiches.

3)   Do learn how to make things like brownies and cupcakes. When it’s my kid’s birthday, make these things from scratch and don’t buy them in the plastic containers from Shop-Rite.

4)   Make interesting and exotic dinners, like Spaghetti and Meatballs or Fettucini Alfredo. Don’t serve rice and daal at every meal.

5)   Do not wear bindis. Do not wear anything resembling dots on my head.

6)   Do take my kids to fun places like Disneyland and Six Flags. Don’t wear saris. Wear cool jeans and shorts, like the other moms.

7)   Do let my daughter go to the mall on Friday nights to hang out with the rest of her friends.

8)   Do teach daughter about facial hair. And what to do with it. Teach her how to shave, wax, whatever. Don’t let her walk around feeling like a hairy gorilla.

9)   Do watch other movies with my kids other than Indian movies. Learn how to be comfortable with watching kissing scenes in front of my kids, like the other cool moms. Don’t make the kids leave the room if a kissing scene does take place.

10)  Don’t make my kid pray all the time. Pray less. Sometimes praying too much can give your kids a headache.

11)   Don’t yell at my kids if they say the word sex. Sex is not always dirty. Sometimes, sex is just a question on a form.

12)  Don’t take my kids out of school every year for a few weeks to see family in India.

My list of dos and don’ts was fairly black and white for me. Whatever my mother was doing was a “DON’T”. Whatever the other moms were doing was a “DO.” Apparently I had great respect for my friends’ mothers, their mom jeans and their ability to whip up a box of Duncan Hines baked goods at home.

I look back at this list and what’s clear is that I was obviously afraid of being different. I wanted, so very much, to be like the rest of my friends. I wasn’t thinking about how cool it was that my mom still embraced her culture so much. I wasn’t really thinking about how amazing it was to eat the sabzis and the curries my mother would make every night to go alongside the daal and rice.

So what if a few kids made fun of those differences? Buck up, I want to tell that kid now. Learn how to be different. Embrace those things. And for Pete’s sake, don’t worry so much about hairy legs. You will have a lifetime to worry about that.

Well, not really, if you get married.

In that case, you generally get most of the winter off.

Still, I want to tell that young girl that one day, she will be writing a post, much like this one, and will salivate at the thought of her mom’s homemade pickles on her sandwiches or eating her mother’s cooking that night. That it’s ok that her mom couldn’t shake and bake like her friends’ moms.

I will explain that she was comparing apples to oranges.

Or better yet, Apple pie to Ladoos.

My mom never had reason for me to question her cooking, especially when her samosas kick the Tri-State area’s ass.

I wish I could explain how precious it would be, that time when she is young. And how much it means to let her hold on to it for another day, another year. And if that means not letting her troll around a dingy mall so that she is less likely to get felt up by upperclassmen in the empty part of the parking lot over by J.C.Penney, so be it.

I would love to tell her how one day, those trips to India will teach her more than any textbook at home could. How those trips will inspire her to think beyond the world she lives in. To look beyond those walls and beyond the privilege she has been born into. How they will be the only way she would have had memories of her grandparents or cousins who are now gone. How maybe understanding the journey her parents took to get to the United States, might help her appreciate the ties they still cherish.

The customs they hope to keep alive.

I totally would back her up on the praying thing. Praying too much still gives me a headache.

But I would love to maybe give her a different point of view.

Maybe just a little perspective.

Namaste,

Kiran

 

Under the Bleachers and Far Away

“When I grow up I want to be a slut,” said no girl. EVER.

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The other night I was talking to an old friend about nothing and everything. We somehow ended up talking about a reality show, since everything in my life has about two degrees of separation from the Bravo Network. The subject moved to the storyline of one of the the women that appears on this show. I don’t know her, but she seems like a really sweet woman with an amazing personality, which says a lot for anyone represented on reality television. I think it’s fair to say that 80% of them DON’T seem like real “quality” people. Quite the opposite, even.

Anyway, I would guess that this woman is about 40 years old. I can’t say for sure, but she seems so nice, like she would give you the shirt off her own back.

Apparently, however, she has a reputation for not having a shirt on her back.

“Yeah, I heard she used to be a real slut in high school,” my friend mentioned casually. “My friend Rich went to high school with her. Apparently she used to have a reputation and used to go down on guys under the bleachers.”

Hmmm.

I thought about the woman in question. For the past few years, she has lived her life on television and allowed people to see her as a mother, a friend and a wife. This is reality television so take it for what it’s worth, but she seems kind, she seems loving and she seems like she works hard to have a good life.

But for whatever reason, to some people, she will be known always as the “girl who used to go down on guys under the bleachers.”

Over twenty years ago.

The whole conversation made me sad. I don’t know, nor do I care to know what choices this woman made about her sexuality when she was younger. I doubt they define her and I highly, HIGHLY  doubt that any male who participated in the activity is still remembered by anyone for whatever it was that he did under the bleachers with her.

Which takes me back to how I started this post. When I was a little kid and played dolls with my female friends, we talked about our dreams.

“When I grow up, I want to be a doctor.”

“When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut.”

“When I grow up, I want to get married and have two kids named Chanel and Coco.” (Ok, ok. Only once).

You know what I didn’t hear?

“When I grow up, I want to be a whore.”

“When I grow up, I want to be known as the girl who gives guys a good time.”

“Maybe if I work really hard I can become a pole dancer one day.”

No, these are not things that I hoped for as a young woman. I don’t remember any of my friends having those aspirations either.

The names that women are called for choices they make around their sexuality are brutal and meant to debase. We might not live in the day and age of a Scarlet Letter, but society shows a woman a huge double standard when it comes to her sexuality. It’s no wonder that the names women get called who are deemed as “too sexual”  carry such a stigma. They are meant to cause shame. They are meant to devalue her.

Which is why, as a woman, I make a conscious effort not to look at another woman as “a slut”, as “a whore”, or any of these other terms that get thrown around a little too comfortably and reduce a woman’s identity to the lowest common denominator. Society might be telling me to call her such a name.

I choose not to.

We’re playing on the same team here, sisters.

When I look back at high school and I look at the girls with a “reputation”, I see things a little differently now. They weren’t professional hookers at 16. They were lost and they were confused and they could have done with some light in their life.

To any girl I may have judged in high school because perhaps I’d “heard things about you,” I’d like to apologize. I look back at the young women you were and while we may not have always run in the same circles, I certainly judged you. I regret that and wish that instead, I had extended a hand in friendship and supported you.

Maybe if you been given a little more light and less judgement in your own life, you might not have mistaken love as one night of the quarterback’s affections.

I made my own mistakes later in life, I will admit. My college years were fueled by insecurity, pain and alcohol. I don’t really want to know what names I might have been called. I do know that my sorority named me “Most Likely to Hook up at a Mixer” which wasn’t even fair because I didn’t even go to mixers.

I don’t think that those years define me, but they certainly play a role in shaping who I am today. The sum of my parts are not comprised by my best days alone. They include my mistakes and my weaknesses, which I believe I continue to learn from.

I hope one day I can watch my Bravo television in peace, with my glass of wine in my hand, the kids tucked into bed and the dishes miraculously done. Where I can watch a woman act like a moron on national television while she drinks too much chardonnay, flips over a table and pulls her friend’s hair weave in a cat fight.

Just doing what they do on any given Tuesday.

Just don’t tell me what she did under the bleachers 20 years ago. I don’t care.

And neither should you.

XO.

Kiran

Worth That Weight

mistakesA few months ago, I was sitting in the kitchen with my husband, John, trying not to check Facebook.

I check Facebook too much. Whether it’s to look at my news feed or to read what someone REALLY thinks about John Mayer and Katy Perry dating again, it’s a total crutch for me. John knows this and if he sees me looking down at my phone, he’s always like, “Really? Facebook? Again?” So I try to be very stealthy about the whole thing.

So I was sitting there, trying to read my news feed in stealth mode when I got a message. I get very excited about Facebook messages. I don’t know why but I think it has something to do with not having a very exciting life.

Anyway, I opened the message and was a little confused.

Me: Honey?

John: Yeah.

Me: What’s an amend letter?

John: No idea.

Me: Does this have something to do with the steps? (I was thinking of AA)

John: No idea.

The message I got was from an old friend in college. He asked in just a few sentences if he could have my address because he wanted to send me an amend letter.

I had never heard the term “amend letter” and still don’t know if it’s a common one. I sent him my address and told him that he didn’t need to write me an amend letter – that he and I were good. That there was nothing that needed fixing.

But I realized that while in my mind, nothing needed fixing, that perhaps this was more for him.

A week or so later, I received a letter in the mail, apologizing for something I had truly long forgiven. In my mind, it was so long ago and I genuinely thought he and I made up at some point in college.

So to be standing in my kitchen, holding a letter, apologizing for something that happened almost 15 years before left me confused.

And a little bit raw.

The incident itself came back to me and I replayed it in my mind. It didn’t bring back a lot of pain as some of the past can do. But yeah, at the time I remember being terribly sad and confused. Words were exchanged that hurt. I lost a friend.

Yes. It sucked.

I took my old friend’s letter and put it away. Wondering when I had let the pain go at some point, but also wondering why he had held onto regret for that long. If I had known that he felt so bad about it, I would have reached out to him myself to give him that comfort and to make sure he knew I was ok.

I appreciate his letter and hope it gave him some peace because when I hear his name, I don’t associate it to the days when things went wrong, but to when things were right. To what a great guy he was, to how motivated he was. IS.

That he was my friend at some point in my life.

15 years feels like a long time for an apology. But in many ways, there was no better time. This was when he was ready to give it and the stars aligned somewho and I was ready to accept it.

The funny thing is, for most of the crappy or hurtful things in our lives, the ones that really take us for a loop and dump us ungracefully on our ass somewhere, we may never get the closure that he and I got with that letter.

We might want it. We might hope for it. Heck we might even dream about it.

It may come. It might not.

We may also never get a chance to apologize for regret. Just like my friend gave me the gift of an apology, I gave him the gift of my acceptance. Life doesn’t always package itself that neatly. Apologies aren’t always accepted, no matter how genuine they are.

Here’s the thing though.

Regret? It’s a terribly heavy thing to bear. It can weigh you down. It can turn your life dark. It can change you if you really, really let it.

You know this. As you are reading this, I bet you can think of something you regret. Of someone you feel like you wronged. At the same time, you might also be looking for resolution to something that never closed.  In in its wake, perhaps never healed. Perhaps you are hoping still for an apology.

So here’s what you do. Write down your regrets. Not the ones that are like, “Gosh, I really should have shared my lollipop with Susie Piscitielli in third grade.”

Susie has moved on. She is old enough to buy lots of lollipops by now.

Write the stuff that has truly felt like a weight on you. The kind where, when you think of it, you start to feel uncomfortable and it feels like someone is holding your heart a little tighter.

Can you change anything on that list? Can you apologize to someone today and make that weight a little lighter? Can you maybe accept the fact that you might not receive acceptance?

If you can. Just do it. Go on and throw that weight off of you for crying out loud, because it is making you sink a little more every day you hold it.

If you can’t change it?

LET. IT. GO.

Seriously. You have to move forward.

As for waiting for an apology or hoping for closure on something.

At some point, you just have to acknowledge this simple fact.

That’s NOT your weight to bear. Let it go. Let THEM keep it.

Control what you can. What you can control is yourself. You have NO control over what someone else chooses to “grant” you. If an apology comes later, and you have it in you to accept it and grant the person your empathy, please do it. But don’t live your life waiting in the shadows of your grief, hoping that it will come.

It might.

But it might not.

Remember this. It’s NOT YOUR WEIGHT ANYMORE.

I say this to you as if I don’t say it to myself. I am trying to lessen the weight every day. Of regrets. Of hurt. And it’s not easy to look at everything and say, “I can (or can’t) control this part of what I think I need to make me happy.

In my friend writing me that letter of apology for wrongs that I didn’t even know needed to be made right, I learned a valuable lesson.

I am so grateful for his apology. But I am so glad that I have not been sitting around freaking waiting for it for 15 years.

Cast off the weight. Just live.

Love,

Kiran

P.S. Dear friends, I have a favor to ask. If you haven’t already, would you like Simply Om on Facebook? It’s a fair trade jewelry marketplace to bring awareness and assistance to women around the world. Every piece tells a story, every purchase helps another woman tell hers. Would love your support!

Why Don’t We Just Chill?

I don’t have many friends who are models or on television. I do have a handful of friends who I sometimes get a get the opportunity to see unexpectedly, like when I’m waiting for a route canal and open a magazine at the Dentist’s office. This never becomes dull – I get excited every time. I still think it’s cool when we see our friend Craig peddle pretzels in commercials on television or notice my friend Sang’s cousin, Gene, on the Tempur-pedic brochure at the mattress store. In fact, I am pretty sure the reason we bought a Temper-pedic bed was because Cousin Gene looked like he was having so much fun on it. In a PG kind of way, of course.

The other person I see from time to time is my friend, Jennifer.

THIS is Jennifer.

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Every once in a while I’ll open a magazine and see that beautiful face smiling back. Every time, it’s a wonderful surprise.

Jennifer and I met almost 12 years ago when were being whored out for charity.

Ok, well, not exactly. We were in a “Buy a Date” auction to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. So, not “technically” whored out, but yeah. Pretty much.

Jennifer moved out to Los Angeles about 7 years ago. We’ve stayed in touch, mainly so I can tell her how excited I am every time I see her in a magazine or on T.V. (“Hey, that’s my friend Jenni! I KNOW her!”). I love her perspective on racial identity, feminism and just, you know.

Being awesome.

I wanted Jennifer to share something with you today. She is on an amazing journey – one that she is documenting to share with women everyone.

Check it out.

I don’t remember exactly how Kiran and I got roped into the “Buy a Date” auction.  I do remember that some blonde chick convinced us it was for a good cause so we agreed to do it.   Now that really I think about it, I agreed to do a lot of crazy things in my mid-twenties.

Wearing a red strapless gown and a “Hello My Name Is” sticky badge with a number instead of my name, I watched as The Ballroom filled with people. I was seriously regretting my charitable contribution.

“What the hell was I thinking?  I can’t do this.”

Thank goodness for Kiran. Looking completely amazing in her black slinky dress, she oozed the confidence I longed for.  She gave a quick pep talk and I was almost convinced I’d survive the evening. We made a pit stop at the bar for a couple shots.  Now, I’m ready.

“Let’s do this.”

As I watched Kiran sashay her way across the stage, I admired her fearlessness; it gave me the courage to attempt to do the same for my turn on stage.

Honestly, after the MC announced my name, I don’t remember one second of my time on stage.  The only reason I know I came out from behind the curtain, didn’t trip over the hem of my dress and fall flat on my face is because someone gave me a picture a couple weeks later.  Yes, an actual Kodak piece of paper.  The photo showed me, with a real smile not the terrified one I imagined, standing tall center stage.

I’m so thankful to have a friend like Kiran. Her beautiful spirit has inspired me in more ways than she probably knows.  She’s a thoughtful, supportive friend and a loving, hard working mother who dares to share her authentic self, which is one of the boldest things anyone can do.

I am honored by her invitation to contribute on Masala Chica.  Here goes nothing:

After ending yet another relationship, shortly before my 35th birthday, I had a serious freak-out moment.  Actually it was more than a moment.  It was like a panic month…or three.

Talking to my therapist about marriage, babies and all the grown up stuff people do, I felt behind, like time was running out.

You know that scene in When Harry Met Sally where Sally is in her bathrobe crying and saying, “And I’m gonna be 40…Someday.”  Well, that blubbering chick might as well have been me.  Forty was five years away, but looming.

The cold hard truth:  My biological clock was ticking, ticking so loud that everyone around me could hear it.  I had to figure out a way to slow it down.

After weeks of research and soul-searching, I decided to freeze my eggs.

Recently having its “experimental” label lifted, egg freezing is technically known as oocyte cryopreservation.  It’s a break-through technology where a woman’s eggs are extracted, stored and frozen indefinitely.

Unlike men, a woman’s fertility begins to decrease significantly after the age of 35.  In other words, as a woman ages so do her eggs.  Women over 40 have a two out of five chance for a successful pregnancy.

You know what I find the most fascinating about this information?  I didn’t learn it until I was 35!

Women spend the majority of their lives practicing pregnancy prevention.  It’s just what we’re taught.  No one talks about FERTILITY until they’re the position where it has drastically diminished.  So the question becomes – how do we get women to start the fertility conversation sooner?

To get and keep the conversation going, I decided to share my egg freezing journey in a documentary film titled Chill. The goal of the film is to empower and inform women about the reproductive options science and technology have made available today.  Unlike our mothers and grandmothers, we are no longer strictly limited by the time frames of nature.

I know egg freezing isn’t for everyone, but it’s important for women to know it’s an option.  I chose to do it because I didn’t want to feel pressured to find a partner just so I could have a family. I also wanted to preserve my chance to have biological children.  By freezing my eggs, I’ve extended that possibility.

There have been some notable changes since my eggos went into the freezer.  First, I learned more about fertility in the last year and a half than I have in my entire life…Did you know our ovaries have follicles?  Yeah, well, I didn’t until about a year ago.

Seriously, most of the changes I’ve noticed are emotional.  I no longer feel rushed to choose a partner.  Most of all, I have less anxiety about what the future holds for me when it comes to family.  I’m so grateful to have taken this journey and I look forward to sharing it with you through Chill.

To read more about my egg freezing experience, check out the Chill blog at www.chillthedocumentary.com.  If you’re interested in spreading the word and supporting the film, check out our Indiegogo Campaign. Thank you!

I am glad I got to bring you Jenni today. I think it’s amazing that she is documenting her experience to help other women who might be going through this as well. Help her voice get a little louder and the documentary get more support by sharing this.

Love,

Kiran

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?

What do you mean? I want someone to tell it to me straight, you might think. Yeah, I say the same thing, but when it comes at me too fast, too hard, I realize I’m not always ready for it. Let’s just walk through a few scenarios and see how this might work.

Scenario 1: Your house is a big, hot mess. It’s not dirty, necessarily, but it is NOT neat. At ALL. You thought you would have more time to straighten up before you friend came by for tea. But she’s not just on time, (who does that?) she’s 30 minutes early. You open the door, greet her and say, “Gosh, I’m so sorry, I haven’t had a chance to clean up! It’s kind of a mess around here.”

Your friend has a few options here.

1) She can tentatively walk through the door and say, “You’re right. This place is a mess! You let your kids live here?” She can wrinkle her nose as if the nose hairs in her teeny, pert little nose are offended. She might then go over and dramatically wipe some dirt off a table with her index finger.

The same finger you want to use to poke her in the eyes with.

OR

2) She can stride right in and wave her hands dismissively and say, “What mess? Seriously? You call this a mess? You should see my place!”

She will say this to you even if you know for a fact that her place is spotless.

OR

3) She will hug you, roll her eyes and and say, “Who cares? And I’m not really in the mood for tea. Here’s some wine instead!”

Now if you are one of my friends, the way you would most likely react upon entering my house is 2. There might be a little of 3 mixed in, but only if it’s after 5 PM.

Scenario 2: You haven’t had time to hit the gym. Your jeans are telling you that things are getting a little out of control and while you haven’t gained a lot of weight, your body has seen better days.

Particularly your abs. And your thighs. Oh and also, that wobbly part of your upper arm, along your tri…

Whatever.

You meet your friends at a restaurant and admit to them that you haven’t been working out. That things between work travel AND the family AND the house AND your in-laws visiting this week AND your car breaking down AND …  Well. They get it.

Friends can use this opportunity to really let you know how they feel.

1) “There is really no excuse for anyone to NOT do cardio for at least 20 minutes a day. That’s what Jennifer Aniston says,” Your one friend says while dipping her gluten-free, dairy-free, taste-free cookie in her herbal tea. She also makes sure to flex her arms to show you how toned they are. Also she might show you her abs, because she’s been doing boot camp at the gym.

2) “You’ve got a lot on your plate. You’ll get back in there. Just let things slow down and make it and yourself a priority.” They nod understandingly. One might even pat you on the back.

Just because. It looks like it needs patting.

3) “Oh. That’s sad. Do you want some chocolate cake?”

I think my friends would probably lean more towards answer 2. With a little bit of 3 sprinkled in, because everyone knows that sometimes? Everybody just needs a little chocolate.

Look, it’s not like we don’t know your house is a mess in Scenario 1. And its not like we didn’t notice the few extra pounds in Scenario 2. But you know what else a real friend notices? They might see the tiredness around your eyes as you are struggling to keep it all together. They might notice that you’ve lost your usual confident stride. They might notice that when they ask, “How are you?” and you say “Fine” that “fine” doesn’t really mean fine.

That today, “fine” might mean, “Hold me. Please?”

Friends GET it.

When I wrote that post a few years ago, one of my friends got upset with me. She thought I was questioning her integrity, when in fact, I was applauding her kindness and empathy in so many, many situations where her answers could have been so much less kind. I think what I’m calling “little white lies” is more about employing tact and some sensitivity. Using our words more carefully with each other.

Not every thought needs to be uttered; not every piece of advice needs to be given. Even sometimes when we think we know best.

I think about whether my answers to the scenarios would have changed between the time I originally wrote that post in 2010 and today and I don’t really think they would. If anything, perhaps I would be and also expect a little more softness now than I did then. A little more compassion. Because life hasn’t always been kind and my friends and I have all been through so much more than we ever expected in three years. Life has gotten harder. We didn’t know it would. It just DID.

I feel like a lot of times I hear people saying things like, “Look, I say it how I see it.” Or maybe, “I like to keep things real.” And that’s great. Good for you for being in touch with your feelings and having the confidence to get it out there. But sometimes, I think saying “I say it how I see it” is just an excuse to be rude. Hard. It lacks empathy. Humanity.

And ironically, you often STILL don’t see it.

I’ve come to realize that while my eyes can “see it,” if my heart and my hearing and my touch aren’t all part of the observation too, I’m missing a whole lot of IT, whatever IT is.

Saying it like you see it involves ONE sense. Sight. And ironically, when it’s used alone, I think it can make you a little blind.

In my life, I have come to realize that the meme below, while funny, just isn’t always necessary. In fact, it’s just a whole lot of noise sometimes that nobody else needs.

I have been that girl above. Especially the hair. I can TOTALLY see my hair doing that sometimes. The point is, I still won’t be quiet about a lot of things. But when it comes to my close friendships, I choose to tread lightly and with care. I owe it to the wonderful women in my life to give them that love and that courtesy.

If my friends are receiving judgment, let it be known that it won’t be from me.

XO,

Kiran

On Loyalty

This post is a departure from my normal shit. Sometimes I need to get serious. Curses have been kept to a minimum (don’t worry, I will still find a way to insert them). Oh and hoo hoo = vagina. Enjoy.

When our son, Nico, was born, John’s best friend, Craig, and his family bought Nico several gifts the day we returned home from the hospital. One of those gifts was a beautiful, plush blue dog blanket that looked so lush I wanted to rub it against my own cheek and fall asleep. What can I say? I was tired. Pushing a baby out of your hoo hoo can be exhausting.

I thought it would be bad form to steal one of Nico’s first gifts, especially since he was only three days old. Let him develop his motor skills first, I reasoned, so he at least has a fighting chance of defending his belongings.

The truth is, we were incredibly touched by the gift. Craig’s own son had the same blanket since he was a baby. He and that blanket were inseparable. In a moment of creative inspiration, his son called the blanket “Blue Dog.” Craig’s son and Blue Dog went everywhere together. Blue Dog slowly became worn down and in a cruel twist of fate, was decapitated. Realizing that a headless Dog might be somewhat disturbing to their child, his parents quickly bought a new Blue Dog to replace the old one.

But as you probably know, nothing could replace the original Blue Dog.

Nico quickly became attached to his blanket. So inspired by the name our friends had used, we decided to keep the tradition alive and dubbed him Blue Dog as well. At night we would hear Nico gurgling to the dog nonsensically, chattering away about the things that are generally on a child’s mind. When we would check on him, we would find the blanket nestled in his arms. If we ever tried to take it away, Nico would hold onto it, not letting it go even in his sleep.

Nico and Blue Dog in happier times

But as can be expected and as we saw before with Craig’s son, when your child becomes so attached to something, you can be sure it will take a beating. Recalling the horror of the original Blue Dog’s untimely decapitation, I thought that I would be proactive. So for Christmas, I bought Nico a new Blue Dog. I thought I would beat it up a little so I jumped on it a few times and threw it against the wall to give it more of a worn look.

When Nico was sleeping one night, I managed to get the old Blue Dog out of his Kung-Fu grip and replaced it with the new, slightly stomped on dog.

But when he woke up in the morning and saw the new dog, the first thing he said was, “Blue Doggy have no more boo boos?” He marveled at the silky paws and the smooth tummy on the new dog. I told him we brought Blue Dog to the Doggy Hospital and they fixed him, but he knew something was up. He eyed Blue Dog suspiciously. He kept holding the blanket in his hand, looking the doggy in the eyes, “Blue Dog? Blue Dog?” He kept asking the dog to confirm its identity as if he was asking, “Is it really you? Talk to me, Buddy.”

I couldn’t keep up the lie anymore. I went and got the mangled Blue Dog out and gave it to Nico. I explained that now he had two dogs and that one was just newer than the other. I was sure he would drop the old, slightly eviscerated dog in favor of the new, shiny 2.0 model.

But kids are funny like that. Nico quickly became possessive of both dogs and would hold one under each arm. Now at night, instead of just having one-sided conversations with one inanimate object, he has one-sided conversations with TWO inanimate objects. AWESOME.

He calls the old dog, Strong Doggy. The other Blue Doggy is just “Blue.”

I don’t know if it says anything about my son and his character, but I’m glad that he recognizes that the old dog is strong. That it might be battered and bruised and a little bit worse for the wear. Perhaps not as trendy or as cool or as popular as the new dog. Not as good looking. Maybe in need of a little more love and attention.

Strong doggy.

Strong Doggy.

As you probably guessed, somewhere in this post this became less about a beat up plush dog and a little bit more about how we treat people. We all know how things were in high school as we navigated the slippery turf of the social jungle. In our youth, we saw friendships shift, old friends forgotten as the other found themselves more desired and better positioned on the social ladder. We have all balanced on the see-saw of insecurity, finding ourselves and recognizing what true friendship means.

I think I have done some fucked up shit in my life when I look back at some friendships and I wasn’t even really that bad. But yes, the allure of being on the most desired part of the social spectrum always tugged at me a little.

Even as an adult, I find that some friends can pull away when they find the glossy, slick upgraded version of me. It has made me sad to realize that I can be replaced, but that’s life. As one of my new friends, Sabina would say, “That is some fucked up shit right there.”

I agree, Sabina. Some fucked up shit, indeed.

Some people may turn away from the Strong Dogs of their life. But I am grateful that my son holds his a little tighter, plays with him a little more, chooses him to have his more serious one-sided conversations with.

He is very fortunate to have Strong Doggy in his life.

Anyone who is blessed with both old friends and new, is fortunate too.

I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”- Jon Katz

Knocking, but Nobody Answers

This is a hard post to write. It’s about something that has bothered me for a while. It’s been in my head, but I haven’t unlocked the door on my thoughts to fully get the words out here until now. I get upset every time I go there. My heart hurts, I get a little achy, my throat gets choked up and the tears well up in my eyes. OH. FUCK. I’m losing it already. See what you made me do? Now I have boogers all over me. I never cry pretty. Where are the damn tissues?

Got ‘em. Anyway, at this point, I will vacillate between drinking and crying, so I decide to make it easy on myself. Do a little bit of both. If I am lucky, I won’t write a dumb ass Facebook status that makes no sense to me (or anybody else, for that matter) in the morning (See Rule #4 of Facebook Rules.)

I think I am ready to write this though. Will you grab a drink and pull up a chair? Maybe pat me on the back awkwardly if I look like I need it? Don’t get too touchy though. That might be weird.

Ok, here goes.

I have a friend.

Yes, I know. Earth-shattering news. OK, I take that back. I could see why that could surprise you, given some of the shit I say on this blog. But yes, I have friend(s) actually.

Plural (ish).

I need to stop making jokes.

Just write this. FACE THIS. Get ‘er DONE, Kiran.

Ok. Where was I? Oh yeah, so this friend is someone I considered to be a good friend. Someone whose children I always loved to spoil. Someone who was one of the first to visit our family when both of our children were born. Someone to whom I have turned to on rainy days or when I had an idea in my head that was getting ready to explode. Someone I thought was part of our extended family.

The thing I realize is that I don’t think she ever considered me to be much of a friend. Or perhaps she DID, but stopped somewhere along the way.

Over the past year, my emails go unanswered. Calls and messages have been ignored. Not only has there been no action to reach out to me on her part, but she has completely stopped communicating at all. It makes me feel that I misunderstood our friendship or have done something terrible that I am unaware of. For all I know, it may not even be like that. In her mind, it may not even be a case of my friendship not meaning much, her being upset with me or anything like that at all.

She just moved on. To other friends. Different friends.

It’s weird feeling like… Like you have been completely forgotten.

ERASED.

It started slowly. We’d make dates to meet up, but there was always a reason why she couldn’t meet.

Pretty soon I noticed how long it would take to get a response back on emails. Over time, there were no responses.

Over time, I would berate myself for even thinking anything was off. YET, there was still this nagging feeling. An instinct.

You think, is it in my head? Is this just me being my normal crazy? Cuz I know I am helluva crazy.

But then you realize that this person who used to “like” every picture of your kids on Facebook, who used to have comments on all the pictures you used to share has been conspicuously absent on anything involving any of your family.

But she is not conspicuously absent from Facebook. In fact, she is there a LOT.

You might say “Who GIVES a rat’s ass? Let it go, Kiran. Focus on people who care back.”

I can and DO focus on people who care for me and whom I love. Maybe not as well as I always should, but I still do. That doesn’t still mean that I don’t hurt or mourn the loss of this friendship.

You might think – what if your friend reads this? Won’t she know? Isn’t it easier to just talk to her? The answer is no, I don’t think she will recognize who I am speaking about, I don’t think she will read this post and I have already tried to talk too many times. Besides, this email is not an “outing.” Not at all.

I just have to accept and get rid of this feeling. The best analogy I can come up with is I keep knocking on a door and can hear people inside, the loud voices of a party, but nobody answers the door. I knock again, certain that I hear my friend’s laughter. But still. No answer.

Now, unless I a) want to try and blend in with the doormat b) have ten Papa John’s pizzas that need to get delivered or c) am a fucking stalker, I have to walk away from that door and stop knocking. Because my instincts are right. There is someone peering back at me through the peephole. They just choose not to answer.

Wait a minute. Is this what being on a Mormon mission feels like?

Ah, hell. That sucks. But just for the record, I ALWAYS answer, guys.

I have to accept that I may never get the closure I need. Maybe writing this post will help me. Sometimes life just works that way. You don’t always get a pretty ribbon to tie all the loose ends of your heart up. I need to put my big girl pants on and put a Little Mermaid band-aid over the part of my hand that is raw from all the knocking. I accept that it will heal.

Eventually.

In the meantime, I won’t lock my door. If she wants to knock on it, and come in,  she knows where to find me.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this?

Moving on Up? Or Laterally?


Oh – you don’t think I can? Oh because I never have matching socks? hmm. You are right. But can i STILL have a cape? I would really like a cape? Bueller? Mmmm, Bueller?

Not quite sure yet. What I do know is that if you “follow” Masala Chica through the wordpress.com “Follow” functionality, the nifty button that I used to look at with nary a glance and you still want to follow? Well – if you want to continue to follow the blog – can you manually add http://masalachica.com to your reader or subscribe through the feeds.

They say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Hells, yeah. I miss you guys. Come back! I got this snazzy new site – seriously pimped it out hardcore – and nobody is showing up. It’s like having a party and sitting around and eating all the cake by yourself because nobody came. Then you go home and drink more because you feel fat which makes you feel fatter.

Nothing good comes of it except swollen ankles and a hangover in the morning.

Sad visual, right? Yeah, no shit.

Don’t make me have fat ankles. That’s just cruel.

Remember. YOU can change the world. Or just give me an ego boost. Which one is easier?

That’s what I thought.

Have a great weekend, peeps.

Kiran, OUT.

Facebook Rules!

Do you like me? Do you really, REALLY like me?

The other day I read a great post by blogger and author, Tim Venable about why he shut down his Facebook account. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest it. Tim’s realization of the version or representation that we create of ourselves on Facebook brought with it an understanding that, well…

It’s not real.

Not all the time anyway. And the need for validation and the brief stamp of approval we may receive through Facebook is fleeting and impermanent. I think he says it best when he writes, “…the messages we receive, the comments on our comments on our comments, the pictures we see, are all part of the air we breathe, and it doesn’t sustain us.” He says a lot of other deep and profound things on his post, so hop over there and read it, because I can’t do it justice.

Am I quitting Facebook anytime soon? I don’t think so. But I do recognize that I am extremely “needy” when it comes to Facebook. I find myself relying on it to ease boredom, as a quick news source (Hurricane Sandy) but more so to hear that other people agree with me and that I am not alone in my thoughts.

And that they like me. That they really, really like me.

These are some embarrassing admissions about my relationship with Facebook.

1) I really like when people like my posts. I am so insecure about it that sometimes, when nobody likes my post after some time, I will delete it, because seeing it up there, all alone, makes me feel like it’s sitting in the high school cafeteria at a table all by itself.

2) I notice when I have not heard from certain friends in a LONG time, but I still see them commenting or liking other people’s posts. I know that this surely indicates some level of OCD on my part, but it also leaves me with a strong suspicion that they have hidden me from their news feed.

Yeah, that’s right. I am ON to you.

3) I sometimes accept friend requests from people who I am not crazy about. Like this girl in high school who used to be really mean to me. I don’t know if it’s because I believe that you should keep your friends close, and your enemies closer (which is why I follow Ann Coulter’s twitter feed), or just the fact that I still have a hard time saying “no” to people.

So you see, I recognize that my relationship with Facebook may be less than “healthy” at this point. Plus the shield of our computer screens give us so much more license to say something to someone that we wouldn’t normally say to their face. I have gotten into passive/aggressive arguments on Facebook because it’s just so darn easy to tell someone why you think they are wrong in a little comment section before pressing the “Enter” button.

Without ever having to look them in the eye.

Knowing that Facebook can be a minefield though – and an incredibly vulnerable one at that (you are typing into a world that can be seen by many FOREVER. Screenshots are not that hard to take and send to others even if you hit “delete”), here are some of the top suggestions I have to navigate gracefully through Facebook.

Rule #1 - Don’t use Facebook to tell us the weather. Things like, “The hurricane is coming. Preparing as fast as we can!” is one thing. But telling me it’s sunny outside is just silly. I have a window. If you are far away, your friends can find out by checking weather.com.

If they care.

Rule #2 – Don’t use Facebook to bitch about life. ALL THE TIME. It’s one thing to let your friends and family know you are stuck in traffic. Again. But if it happens everyday, just find a decent song on the radio and chill the fuck out. We don’t need you to text us another picture of the Interstate.

Rule #3 - Don’t use passive/aggressive/inflammatory remarks in your status field. When you say something like, “I HATE when someone says they’re your friend and then goes and stabs you in the back. You know who you are!” Well, that’s just asinine. And don’t get me wrong, I did something like this to a friend two years ago in my blog and it was just mean. And I regret it. Deeply. And I probably looked like a real asshole, because I was.

So just don’t do it, because it kind of makes you look like a real jerk. And anyone close to you knows exactly who the friend is so just pick up the freaking phone and call them or shut the hell up and don’t say anything.

Rule #4 - Don’t Facebook after having had too much to drink/popping an Ambien/or the combination of both. Nothing good will come of this. Nothing. It may not even come out in English, so God knows what the fuck you’re gonna say.

Rule #5 - Don’t tag your friends on Facebook in pictures where they look like ass. I know that your complexion is glowing and you look really skinny in it and all that, but for the love of God, people! Be nice. Don’t tag them. And if the picture is REALLY bad, don’t put it on Facebook – I don’t care how hot you look in it. Photoshop them out or find a picture where you might look a little less hot, but everybody is decent.

Rule #6 - Don’t say anything on Facebook that will make people think you are bat-shit crazy. As Tim explains in his blog, one of the breaking points for him with Facebook came when a stalker-ish Facebook friend told him she “…hoped he got cancer.” Like me, I am sure you are gasping.

“WHAT!!!???” Who would say such a thing?

In which case, I might respond that this was an obvious case of someone breaking Rule #4 (Alcohol/Ambien/Both) above or the person is bat-shit crazy.

And trust me, Facebook is full of people who are bat-shit crazy.

Rule #7 – Don’t be everybody’s savior. It’s good if you have a cause. A passion. I have been there. But just because somebody writes an anti-Romney or anti-Obama post, you don’t have to respond back EVERY time. It is also not your responsibility to interject in cases when it becomes clear that a person whom you are “friends” with is an asshole (racist, sexist, ridiculously ignorant). Just be calm, cool and press “Unfriend.”

Rule #8 - Don’t get into family feuds on Facebook. Oh man, these are just bad. And friends, I have erred. Oh boy. One of my worst Facebook performances to date. A couple of months ago, one of my uncles said something mean about another one of my uncles and I of course, I HAD to jump in, fully violating Rule # 7. The whole thing totally blew out of proportion. Finally, the uncle who had started the insults tried to inbox me.

Don’t let Facebook create any awkward moments over samosas. Not worth it.

First message comes bad mouthing my other uncle again.

My response: “I can’t hear you.” Send.

Second message appears. Same thing.

My response. “I’m not listening. I can’t hear you!” Send.

Then I unfriended him.

Now, I know that my responses here were less than mature. I am going to see this uncle again. And again. I may live in Virginia and he may live in New Jersey, but we shall meet, perhaps across a buffet table at an Indian party and have to have an awkward conversation over the samosas.

Which is why it is critical that you always abide by Rule #7.

And never, ever, EVER break Rule #4 and Rule #7 at the same time. The combination of the two can lead to irreparable Facebook damage.

Rule #9 – Don’t get all political up in my Facebook grill, yo.I probably know which candidate you support. And it’s nice that you are passionate about the electoral process and America being one nation, yada, yada. But when you have to shit talk about the candidate you don’t support EVERY freaking day, it makes me not like you. Even if we support the same candidate. And, even though we might still be “friends” on Facebook, you will always annoy me just a little bit and I will always think you are a closed-minded donkey.

Or elephant.

You know who they are. They know who they are. Delete. Delete. Delete.

Rule #10 – If you suspect someone else of being bat-shit crazy (see Rule #6), unfriend. Now, given everything I have admitted over the course of this post, I am expecting a few “unfriends” myself. But like, here is an example. A guy Facebook friended me. No biggie. He was married, cute wife, cute kids. Pretty safe, right? But EVERY time I would get on Facebook, he would chat me within the first two minutes. Like he was waiting. Ewww. And so I “unfriended” him and within three minutes received an inbox asking me why I “unfriended” him.

Which is weird, right?

So get the crazies off. You don’t want them seeing pictures of your kids and know that your are stuck in traffic again on the Interstate.

Rule #11 - Don’t post the a new version of the SAME picture of yourself regularly of you staring sultrily into the camera. I don’t get it. If you are female, is it to show us a new lipstick shade you are trying out? A new t-shirt? I don’t know how it’s any different than the picture you posted yesterday of you staring sultrily into the camera. Because they all look exactly the same. Yes, your cleavage looks really good in the picture. Check. Your hair looks nice. Check.

Girlfriend, you’re hot. We got it.

Move on.

If you are a guy. Stop posting gratuitous shots of you topless, looking for creative ways to show us you work out. Same thing. We know you are not the dorky guy you were in high school and you have great abs now. Now, go show someone who cares.

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

So friends, for now, this is where I will leave you today. I know that this list can go on and on and on and on. But I know blog posts can only be so long and I probably lost you (if I ever had you) somewhere around Rule #3.

If you have any suggestions for additional things that drive you INSANE on Facebook, please leave them in the comments below!

Kiran

Normal

When I was pregnant with my first child, Shaila, I had no idea what pregnancy would be like. My symptoms didn’t seem to fit the bill for what most of my friends went through.

For example, instead of gaining weight, I lost it. The day she was delivered, I actually weighed less than I weigh today.

I fainted frequently. Once on a plane going to a business conference. They almost landed the plane for me because they thought I needed immediate medical attention. I assured them that they didn’t need to, so they booted out the people sitting in my row so I could lie down. Little kids would come up to me and poke me to make sure I wasn’t dead.

I couldn’t walk straight for months and without pain. I heard about things like – ok – this is embarrassing – hemorrhoids – and stuff – but I mean, this was ridiculous. I could have sat in a vat of Preparation H and I would still have been miserable.

I STILL think I walk a little funny.

But no matter what, I remember the excitement. The anticipation. Getting excited for my visits with my doctor and the ultrasounds. My god, the ultrasounds. Could there be anything more exciting than getting your belly lubed up to see that amazing little heartbeat? To see the flutter of tiny feet?

I liked my Doctor well enough, but I felt like her nursing staff was pretty cold. I know that they have been through and seen all of this a million times, but for a first time mother, it’s all new. I even remember asking the nurse if there was a special way I should pee in the cup. You know – something different I should know about. She looked at me like I was speaking another language and ignored me.

And maybe I did ask some stupid questions. I think John did too. We just weren’t prepared and those appointments felt like a lifeline to the child we hadn’t yet met.

I remember when they did my blood screening to test me for any indication of Down Syndrome. No biggie, I thought.

Just another test.

I received a call a few days later. I was in a meeting at the office so I let it go to voicemail. When I came back to check the message, I found there was a message from a nurse from the office. This is what I heard:

“Hi, Mrs. Fer-nan-dee-nez.” It’s Ferrandino, people. Ferrandino.

“We’re just calling you to let you know that your test for Down Syndrome came back abnormal. Call us back so we can schedule an ultrasound. Have a great day!”

My heart started pounding and I went into a panic. What does this mean I thought? I settled into a private office and called the office back. When the nurse got on the line, she told me in a dry voice – very dry – that yes, my tests were abnormal, but that they could get me in for an ultrasound in ten days.

Me: But what does abnormal mean?

Nurse: Your numbers came back higher than normal.

Me: How much higher?

She gave me some numbers which basically could have been Greek to me. I told her I needed to talk to a Doctor right away. Like ASAP or this bitch (me) was gonna go apeshit on them.

When a Doctor from the practice called me, she gave me more information. She also explained that they like to verify early to give the mother a chance to decide whether to keep the child or terminate in the event that Down or something more serious is confirmed.

I remember being in a daze and crying and calling John and us being in shock. When I called my brother, who is a Doctor, he kind of calmed me down – he explained that the test puts out a large umbrella and there was a high likelihood that my child would not have Down Syndrome. That relieved me. My child could be normal.

But of course, I didn’t go home and just relax. I went on boards for parents of children with Down Syndrome. I read their stories. I cried. I cried for them. Not just tears of sadness, but of happiness – because all of these parents loved their children like crazy. Because you got the sense that each of the families with a Down Syndrome child seemed to take it more as a blessing – that they had been chosen for this for a purpose.

To love that child uniquely. As only they could.

When John and I discussed what we would do if further tests came back positive, we both agreed we would want to keep the baby. That we would want that baby no matter what and we would re-define what normal was going to be.

It ultimately did not come down to that. Shaila did not show any markers during the ultrasound. When I was pregnant with Nico I told them I did NOT want the test. That it would not change my decision.

This year, one of my best friends in the world welcomed a beautiful baby girl into her family’s life. The baby is beautiful. She is perfect.

She has Down Syndrome.

She does have some health complications that need to be addressed and until she is fully stabilized, I don’t think my friend and her husband will get much rest. They both work full time, have a two year old in tow and are in and out of the hospital for procedures. Right now, life is really, really hard.

But they are blessed. And the baby is blessed to be born into that wonderful family.

Nobody is making light of the challenges that lie ahead. Nobody is that naive. But my friends will do whatever they can to make sure that baby loves her life. And while she is blessed to have them, they are equally blessed to have her. Because she will also make sure that they love their lives too.

As John Franklin Stevens, a Special Olympics athlete, so eloquently said in response to Ann Coulter’s hateful tweet the other night in which she referred to President Barack Obama as a “retard”:

“…Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.

No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.”

In speaking and hearing stories from mothers of childrens with Down Syndrome, both joy and loss are felt at the same time. The love for that baby in your arms. But the loss of certain expectations of the kind of life that baby will now lead.

One of the hardest things I think parents of children with special needs have said they deal with is fear of how their child will be treated. And you think to yourself, maybe kids can be cruel, right? But over time, through education, people learn and understand and appreciate and love. Isn’t that what growing up is about? Overcoming ignorance?

But when you see dumb shit like this?

You realize that ignorance knows no bounds. And ignorance has a voice. A very loud one.

I received some criticism of the letter I wrote to Ann Coulter yesterday (which I am sure she is just continually mulling over). Some said that I was TOO nice. But a few asked if I was just as bad as Ann Coulter in mocking her.

I don’t know. Am I?

Perhaps I am. And if that’s the case, I apologize.

Oh, who am I kidding? NAH. She is like the spawn of Satan, people. For anyone who said my letter is as bad as half the shit that comes out of her mouth, get a freaking reality check.

I know that you cannot fight hatred with more hatred. Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Henry David Thoreau all taught me that.

But for now the thing that’s first and foremost in my mind is that she owes people an apology. President Obama can take care of himself. But for the individuals and families who deal with the challenges of special needs EVERY DAY, she most certainly should be apologizing.

One thing I have learned is that there is no normal. Parents and families will love their kids no matter what – and normal is redefined for every family every day.

Ok. I will stop writing about her now. I am done. My lips are sealed. I will not mention her name on this blog again. PROMISE.

Until the next time she says something horrifying.

Which, gosh. Could be any day?

Ah well.

Kiran

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MEET KIRAN

I'm Kiran, I'm a dreamer. A writer. A singer. A mother. An ugly crier. An Indian-American. Who loves Gandhi. My stories are full of truth that is sometimes hard for me to say out loud. This blog is where I overcome my fears and live (and love) out loud. Read More....

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