“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
- Khalil Gibran, “The Prophet”
“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
- Khalil Gibran, “The Prophet”
On Wednesday, John and I are going to see my favorite band, Mumford and Sons. I am extremely excited and this was kind of both of our big Christmas/Birthday/Valentines gift to one another because I got the tickets too late and basically paid an astronomical amount for them.
It’s worth it for us though. Or, maybe I should say for me. John loves them, but not quite as much as I do. I sometimes think there is a 6th sense and that is the thing you experience when a song touches something in you that seems otherworldly. It’s bigger than the sense of hearing, because an amazingly written song can bring all of your senses into sharp focus.
I wrote something about Mumford & Sons a few years ago that I wanted to reshare.
A song that I have heard this year which has touched me deeply is “Roll Away Your Stone” by one of the best bands to emerge in the past five years, Mumford and Sons. For about the past 6 years, while I was able to experience many joys in life, especially my two children, Shaila and Nico, I found myself struggling with physical pain and weakness that doctors could not diagnose. I found myself feeling increasingly helpless. The doctors told me I was depressed, to which I replied, well, “Well duh. How long did it take you to get that degree again?” (Apparently it made me cranky too).
If you feel sick ALL the time and your body hurts so much that you have to give up the things that you love – like running, it makes you sad. Holding a guitar was hard on me, someone who had always taken pride in my athletic strength and abilities.
Holding my kids was tough, but that was one thing I always pushed through.
So yeah, the doctors told me it was depression, which I acknowledged could be a secondary issue.
Again, its a little bit of the chicken and the egg conundrum – which came first? Not positive, but I felt like the physical limitations did push my world into some darkness.
I could barely lift my kids. Look, if that’s not depressing, I really don’t know what is.
This year the diagnosis turned to one of fibromyalgia. To which I said, “Fibro my WHAT?!” As I listened to the doctors explain the symptoms, I started to feel relieved. I FINALLY had an answer. The symptoms I had matched the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Basically you hurt all over. Your muscles could be crunchy like mine were. You could have exhaustion which could render you more tired than the most tired pregnant woman.
But the relief kind of turned to something else pretty soon.
I let the doctors prescribe me meds. And the meds took away some of the pain but made me even more tired. And I couldn’t help but feel that maybe this wasn’t the problem either.
And I realized I would not let this physical pain continue.
So I fought. I fought to have MRIs. I made finding a solution a priority. I made coming up with a recovery plan more than just “upping” my meds. I think the enormity of what my life would become if I accepted this diagnosis hit me when I went to my rheumatologist. I could tell she was busy but wanted to get more than a five minute checkup.
“So how are you doing since I put you on the Lyrica?”
“I think it helps.” Just to be clear, Lyrica would help with pain for almost anybody. Like if you had a broken nail, it would help.
“Well, let’s go on and up yours then. Let’s double it.”
Um, ok. And I realized that my path to recovery would always just be about conquering the systems, not the underlying issues if I did things this way.
I wasn’t going to take this lying down, even if that is the position you want to be in if you really have fibromyalgia. Lying down in a bed, for long periods of time where sleep washes over you like the warmest blanket.
I decided to lift that blanket. To reduce the meds. To look for real answers. Sometimes those are with a doctor. Sometimes they reside with me.
And I am trying to get stronger every day. There are days when the diagnosis feels like a distant memory and I forget about it completely. And then there are days where I am thrown into a fatigue so deep that when my children stand next to my bed and say, “Mommy, are you sick?” I can hardly look up to reassure them that I just need a little rest. Even though it’s much more than that.
You told me that I would find a hole,
Within the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal,
And all the while my character it steals
Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I seek
It seems that all my bridges have been burned,
But, you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works
It’s not the long walk home
that will change this heart,
But the welcome I receive with the restart
I look at the past few years as a long walk in many ways and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it home. Some bridges have surely burned, those which should have even earlier and those which were too unstable to begin with.
By and large, the ones that needed to remain intact, have. I am able to plot a course to where I need to go with the support of those bridges.
In the last line of the verse, Mumford uses the word “Restart.”
I have decided to restart. This blog represents the me I want to embrace going forward. There are times where I have to restart again. Maybe not all the way back to the beginning, but I take a few big steps backward and have to remember that it’s not a race. That I am not racing myself.
I have to just remind myself that I am stronger than I think and I can burden the weight of these stones. And I have to start pushing the ones I can’t hold away.
“It seems that all my bridges have been burned,
But, you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works”
I am always trying to find my grace. I still don’t know how this grace thing works. Trying to figure it out is tough. And maybe in finding grace, we have to stumble a few times and be quite graceless about the whole thing. And I tell myself it’s okay.
Please join me? We can start with small grace things like telling each other if we have spinach stuck in our teeth as a starting point before moving on to bigger things.
Rolling away our stones. Together.
“I’m trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you’ve ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It’s only life after all”
Some of you know this about me. I love music. (Look at the top menu bar. It takes up about half of the drop downs). It is one of my greatest passions and has been since I was a child. Musical influences have had a huge impact on my life.
Music has been love and warmth when I felt I had none in my life.
Music has been inspiration when my mind and heart didn’t know which way to go.
Music lifted my soul like love, or what I thought was love, often couldn’t.
I discovered the Indigo Girls when I was in high school. They were an anchor for me in a time in my life where I couldn’t even find my way back to shore. They centered me, grounded me, and opened my eyes to what was missing in my own life.
I don’t think I understood the enormity of what the Indigo Girls were saying when I first heard “Closer to Fine” in high school decades ago. Perhaps if I had, I would have realized that I wasn’t so alone, that there were people who were dealing and coping and getting by.
And in the end, it’s only life after all.
Amy and Emily from “The Indigo Girls” are without a doubt two of the most influential musicians in my life. While I always loved the Indigo Girls, it was in my mid twenties that I really turned to them. I had come out of a bad breakup and was a little worse for the wear. After begging, and Begging and BEGGING and B!E!G!G!G!I!N!G! my ex to take me back (he didn’t, but I wasn’t really asking or anything) and then telling him I hated him (I didn’t, but I DID, but I didn’t, ya know?) and then drinking and crying to repeat this vicious cycle, I decided I needed to well…
Maybe find a hobby.
So I did what I knew. I put on my running shoes and I ran.
But it wasn’t enough and I just wasn’t having my “Forrest Gump” moment. I needed something else. Something other than the following options which I had exhausted and had done little for me:
Sorry, this post is a little later than promised and I know many of you are biting your nails and waiting with baited breath for me to hit publish. Oh, you’re not?
So I started my adventures in “Les Mis” over the holidays, writing in this post about how I had seen it twice in one day. I consider that to be pretty extreme, hard core movie lovin’. Sure, I didn’t sleep in a sleeping bag to get to see the first show – I’m not that pathetic. Especially not on Christmas. I mean, even for people who are crazy about something like “Twilight,” – well I think even those guys would look at me weird, which is pathetic because hello. They are in love with vampires.
It’s about perspective people.
So yes, I saw it that second time. And I walked back into the house twirling and singing and dancing.
“ONE DAY MORE,” I belt out, making large operatic gestures with my hands. My kids usually enjoy it the first few minutes. But then they are like, “Mommy. You sing nice. But can you please stop?” and I have to be like, “Come on, just one more verse?” or “Wait, wait, but this is the best part!” And they just look at each other, roll their eyes and turn back to me and let me finish.
And just know that I sing the ass out of this soundtrack. I do it all in the character voices. So what if I sound a bit like Sean Connery when I do Jean Valjean’s parts?
It’s authentic, guys. And has anyone thought it odd how only “Les Mis” makes it totally reasonable for a play that takes place in France to have everybody talking in an English or Scottish accent.
Even if they’re American? Or Australian?
And then I put out a poll on the blog’s Facebook page. Which is a smart way to parent, I think. Put it out there and make it democratic.
The gist of the question was this: “Can I bring Shaila, age 5, to see “Les Mis” with me, one of the things I am so passionate about in this world. John thinks I am crazy, but I’m not. Right? Right?”
I was waiting for all my friends and readers to tell me that “mother knows best!” and all that stuff. But it didn’t quite work out that way.
The answers were a resounding:
Hell to the no.
These were the responses I got. Opinions ranging from “Guuuurl, you be CRAZY,” to “I’m calling Child Protective Services on yo’ ass” were thrown out and I realized I would not bring Shaila. This would be a love we could not share for some time. I was on my own.
See how I did that? Get it? Eponine sings that song … Ok, fine I get it. I am a geek. My “Les Mis” jokes are a bit obscure.
So, when my parents came to visit us a few days before New Year’s and while Ma was making her amazing chicken curry, I sat around the kitchen table with a bottle of champagne making mimosas and set out three glasses. I reached out to serve Ma and Papa.
Me: “Ma, do you want some?“
Ma: “No. It make me too much gas.”
You might not understand what that means, but it made perfect sense to me. Papa declined too, but I had already popped the cork so what could I do?
So I sat there with my parents shooting the shit while they each had a glass of red wine and I had a bottle of champagne to make apparently enough mimosas for a sorority tea party.
It was FUN. And then I came up with the GREATEST idea EVER. If I couldn’t bring Shaila to see “Les Mis,” perhaps I could bring my parents? I mean they were of age and we could also take advantage of a senior citizen discount.
And so in my slightly buzzed state, it was decided. I would be taking Ma and Papa to see “Les Mis” in the movie theater while John watched the kids the next day at noon.
So the next day, the three of us bop along on our merry adventure. We get to the theater and grab some popcorn and head to our seats. This is hard for my dad because he has a cane and is legally blind, so he had to go really slow. I don’t have a particular need for speed, but I felt bad not realizing how uncomfortable and long the walk must be for him in a movie theater with no light on to guide him.
I felt terrible about that. So, better planning required on my part next time.
He was a trooper though. We got settled into our seats, me sitting in between the two of them. The previews started. I couldn’t really hear them, though I was aware of the loud crunching of popcorn resonating in my ears IN STEREO.
Am I the only one who realizes how loud her parents chew in public?
So, the movie started and I was immediately swept into another world. I sat there and watched when about ten minutes in, I heard someone snoring. Yes, it was my father on my left. Completely passed out. Now I was not going to wake him up, because it won’t end well. When he used to fall asleep when we would re-watch seasons of “24,” he would awaken in a panic and ask as he adjusted his glasses, “But where is Chloe?” It didn’t even matter if Chloe was IN the episodes. Heck, it didn’t even matter if we were watching “24.” I couldn’t wake him up and risk having him yell something like, “Has Chloe broken the code? Did she find Jack?” during “Les Mis.”
I let my father sleep and miracle of all miracles, he seemed to come to on his own.
I leaned over to my mother. “Do you know what’s going on, Ma?” I asked.
“Yes honey. It’s not too bayd.”
Good. So about 30 minutes in, when one of the characters becomes a prostitute and the audience is watching a gut-wrenching, terribly sad scene, tears running down many a face, Ma leans over and taps me on the shoulder.
“OH, THAT’S BAD,” she announced in her Megaphone Voice. Yes, having to turn to a life of prostitution because you can’t get a job to feed your daughter is a little bad, I would think. Um, to say the least.
“yes, ma, it’s bad.” I said, trying to whisper.
“VHAT?!” she asked, leaning in to hear better.
Now, I don’t want to give anything away, but Jean Valjean is the main character that is in the movie. It starts with him, it ends with him. About 40 minutes in, during a critical scene between Fantine and Jean Valjean, you know, the guy whose life we have been watching develop the LAST 40 MINUTES OF THE MOVIE, Ma leans over, grabs some of the popcorn I have taken back from her and says, “Yeh kaun hai?” (Who’s this guy?)
“Ma,” I whispered, just loud enough to be heard over Papa’s snore. “That’s Jean Valjean. You know, the same guy from the beginning of the movie.” ?
She looked perplexed.
“Ma, he’s been here since the movie started.”
I still don’t think she got it.
And it hit me. How could I forget that my mother has trouble telling white people apart? I mean, she has trouble telling anyone apart other than Indian people and she messes that up sometimes too. The only white person she could pick out of a crowd is Tony Danza and that’s because my mom thinks “he’s the boss.”
If you know what I mean.
At that point my father’s head fell on my shoulder and he started snoring fully in one ear with my mom eating popcorn at the highest volume in my other.
We went on this way for the remainder of the movie, Papa popping in and out of nap mode, waking up and catching himself before he yelled, “Has Chloe broken into the mainframe yet?!” Ma sat there and kept hitting me if I cried.
“Oh Gawd. It’s just movie, dohn’t be crybaby.“
We had a good time. No, seriously. It was awesome. I am so glad my parents went with me and I kind of love that they went to go see something I loved that much, just because I asked them to.
Well, asked. And then begged. And then begged some more.
Something still tells me that Shaila may have appreciated it a little more (no, don’t call CPS!), but I was glad to be able to have that day with my parents.
I don’t remember when I first learned that “Les Miserables” was coming to the big screen, but I am pretty sure I jumped up and down and screamed like I was a 12 year old girl with a new training bra at a Justin Bieber concert.
I know that there are people who find “Les Mis” to be cheesy. Let me be clear that I am NOT one of those people. If I was on a deserted island that had electricity and a CD player and a wall (because you need to have an outlet somewhere) and I only got to pick one CD, I would pick the original London “Les Mis” cast’s recording in its entirety.
Not to push things, but I might also ask for some chap-stick, a razor and some soap.
When I was 16 and in the High School Choir, our teacher, Mr. Diehl introduced me to “Bring Him Home” from “Les Mis.” It’s the song that the main character, Jean Valjean, sings to God, asking him to save his adopted daughter’s true love. Instead, he asks God to take him, for he had lived his life.
“If I die, let me die. But let him live. Bring me home.”
I remember falling in love. With the song. With this character, who would give up his life to ensure his daughter’s happiness. With Mr. Diehl, whom I had been previously upset with for not letting us sing Diana Ross’s “Do You Know Where You’re Going to?” My brother, who was always excited when I showed some passion towards something other than MTV, bought me the dual tape soundtrack.
I remember going to my room at night and looking up at my ceiling as I would listen to song after song. Pretty soon, I knew every line of the soundtrack, and it was committed to memory. I would weep to myself as I cleaned my room and heard Jean Valjean asking, “Who Am I?” I wanted to scream, “He’s Jean Valjean, bitches!” as the tears streamed down my face. Once or twice (or maybe like a hundred times) when a crush of mine went unrequited, I would sing along with Eponine, the beautiful brunette whose love for Marius, the brooding student revolutionary, was forever doomed in “On My Own.”
When I was in my twenties, I finally saw my first love showing at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C. In my life, I have seen the play for a total of four times at the same theater. Every time I brought more than enough tissues but still ended up with a sea of snot and tears running down my face.
When the movie came out on Christmas Day, I knew I needed to be one of the first to see it.
I got John to agree to go with me the day after Christmas while Heather, our Au Pair, stayed home with the kids. Things did not start off well. During the lunch we grabbed before the movie, I realized that I had forgotten the case for my Invisalign braces. In a MacGuyver-esque move, I decided to wrap the braces in a cocktail napkin and slip them into my pocket.
The theater darkens and about three minutes in, I start crying. I know, I know. It was just the previews, but still, that new Tyler Perry movie looks intense, yo. So you can imagine that during the film, perhaps the tears might come quickly. They did. I wasn’t about to get up and miss anything though and all I had was the napkin with my Invisalign braces in them.
Oh well, a cocktail napkin would have to do.
As I snotted and sobbed into my single lone cocktail napkin for the next 3 hours. I felt like I had been granted a Christmas gift that I had been waiting for for years. When John and I left the theater, I could not shut up. About how brilliant it was to bring back Colm Wilksinson, the orginal Jean Valjean to play the Monsignor who saves Valjean’s soul in the movie. About Anne Hathaway’s incredible performance. About how much I wish they had cast someone other than Russell Crowe as Javert, the officer whose life purpose had become chasing escaped ex-con Valjean. The brilliance of casting Sascha Baron-Coen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thenardiers.
John said he liked it, but I think he was just saying that to make me happy. When we got home, I told Heather, our Au Pair and friend, about the movie.
“Oh, I can’t wait to see it!” she said in her lovely Welsh accent.
“Ok!” I said, putting the coat back on that I had just thrown on the chair.
“Ok, what?” she asked.
“Ok, I’m in. Let’s go! That’s cool, right John? You’ve got the kids, right?“
He looked at me like I was crazy, and perhaps what he saw that moment WAS craziness because he did not argue. Not for too long anyway.
And so I went back to see “Les Mis” again, this time with Heather, on the SAME NIGHT.
And I decided I wanted to share this thing, this movie, this experience, which had been such a big influence on my own life and my own love of music, with my daughter.
But I was conflicted. You know? Because, well. She’s only 5 years old. But she is a mature 5 years old. If that makes any sense. Anyway, I talked to John about it and that went really, really well. (He said no and asked me what the hell I was thinking.) And of course, at that point, I decided I would put out how crazy I am on the Masala Chica Facebook page.
Here is what I posted:
“I keep trying to get John to agree that I can take our five year old, Shaila, to see “Les Miserables”. I know. I know. But if i close her eyes through a few bad scenes, I figure it should be alright. what do you think? (I grew up on Indian movies where I saw tons of violence).
Would really appreciate it.”
Of course, everybody agreed with me, which you can see if you go to the post written on December 28th.
Ok. They didn’t. At all, really. My favorite response is the one from Masala Chica supporter (in this case, dissenter, Sabina). Go and “Like” the page and add your own comment.
But don’t you fret, I did manage to see it a third time all before New Year’s Eve. Just in case you were worried for me.
More tomorrow on the “Les Mis Holiday Adventures.” Tomorrow’s post has a special guest appearance from Ma and Papa and a lesson on why you shouldn’t start drinking champagne in the middle of the day.
P.S. Sneak preview – this is Ma and Papa, at our wedding reception seven years ago. Ma is like a typical Hindu Desi woman. She is the original “Village People.” Papa is just like Gandhi, and not just because he is Indian and bald. Wait, now, that I think about it, he may not be like Gandhi at all other than those two things.
But he does remind me of Belle’s Papa in “Beauty and the Beast.“
“You’ve been getting really political lately” – My husband, in regards to my activity on Facebook, Twitter and yes, this blog.
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